01 May, 2010

Vector Theory #14: Definitions

"Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."

"The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. "

-Two quotes from Confucius

"The more you know the less you understand."

"The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao." (although a more correct interpretation is "The Tao that can be Tao'd is not the true Tao.")

-Two quotes from Lao Tzu

"Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions."

-Wikipedia

"From the year 1540 and onward, the basic levels of Kabbalah must be taught publicly to everyone, young and old. Only through Kabbalah will we forever eliminate war, destruction, and man's inhumanity to his fellow man."

-Rabbi Avraham Azulai

(Also have a look at this web page.)

Definitions are hugely important. They have been so since the founding of society, in fact society can only survive through a common sharing of defined terms. "The Law" is a strict definitions of what should and should not occur, with accompanying definitions of what ramifications will arise when those actions are violated. Language is a set of definitions used to convey ideas between minds. Science is a growing set of definitions attempting to categorise and understand the universe.

Definitions are the founding of the Tao, the essence of Confucianism, the core of Zen and the embodiment of the Kaballah. Kabbalah has become a very tempting jump for the blog, for two reasons. Firstly, it uses analogies at many levels to reveal knowledge, in much the same way that I'm using an analogy between the telling of a story and the path of a beam of light. Secondly, light is a fundamental piece of imagery in all kabbalistic teachings. But let's not turn this into a pseudo-religious discourse, it is after all a blog about roleplaying.

I considered changing the name of this blog series to "Zen and the Art of Game Design", "The Tao of Game Design" or "A Kabbalists guide to Game Design", but for the moment I'll leave it as "Vector Theory".

Let's look at the story vector as a mysterious wave/particle hybrid called a Narraton. It shares virtually everything in common with our current understanding of a photon (a light particle), the is only one fundamental difference between the two.l

It can be defined in many ways.

Direction
Photons: Simply where the light is coming from and where it is going. This is manifest in our perception as the side of an object illuminated when a stream of photons interacts with a physical object (the photon has come from a direction opposite the illuminated side).
Narratons: Where a story is coming from and where it is heading. This is manifest in our perception through the way scenes are opened to our awareness. Scenes appear based on where the story has been, even if they are constructed in a path to lead the story to a specific end point).

Intensity
Photons: The strength of the illumination. This could be measured in candela, lux or phots; but is generally the amount of luminous potential provided by a light source. The more light present, the more particles are heading toward an object; which in turn provides greater illumination of the object and more potential to penetrate any obstacles. At the outer ends of the electromagnetic spectrum (such as X-Rays), Photons can pass through many types of objects, but they may be impeded, deflected or even stopped by certain dense particles.
Narratons: The capacity to reveal subjects and objects within scenes along the story path, and the ability to pass through them to the next scene. Narratons interact with different types of game element in much the same way that photons interact with different atomic and subatomic particles.

Wavelength
Photons: The oscillations of photons over the course of its travels. If a photon oscillates and returns to it's original state between 400 and 700 nanometres along it's path, it is considered in the visible spectrum. If it takes less space to do so, it tends toward x-rays and gamma rays; if it takes longer it tends toward radio waves. Wavelength doesn't change in general travel, until a photon interacts with a particle and conducts some form of energy exchange. A beam of light tends to be made up of different photons of different wavelengths. Purely white light is an even balance of all light in the visible spectrum.
Narratons: Narratons travel through story space with a specific theme, and the componentry that makes up the agendas and tools. In much the same way that a light beam is made up of many photons each with their own wavelength, a story path is made up of many narratons each with their own agendas and tools. Certain Narraton wavelengths may be blocked by certain types of obstacles in its path, while others suffer minor deflections, and others still pass through unharmed.

Polarisation
Photons: The direction a wave oscillates. There are a number of types of oscillation, but for electromagnetic particles they tend to be perpendicular to the path of travel. The actual direction of the oscillation can be controlled by a series of filters. These filters are effectively clusters of particles forcing an interaction with the photons, the result of which is to eliminate erratic vibrations/oscillations and enforce a degree of conformity on the light wave. Multiple polarisation filters can have dramatic effects on a stream of photons.
Narratons: Here's where some of the definitions have started to fall down. From this point onward, the analogy of Polarisation will reflect the notion of theme, mood and flavour within a story. Certain events will alter these aspects of the story, and they can easily disrupt the flow of a story to the point where it simply cannot continue.

Phase
I haven't quite worked this one out in the context of Narratons, and I don't want to force a definition purely for the sake of completing the analogy.

That's enough for today.
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