06 November, 2016

Another perspective

So, I bookmarked this video to watch, and just sat through it.

I'm not going to say that I disagree completely, because I can see some of the points that he is trying to get at...but it's like listening to a fish tell me how to climb trees.

Twenty years ago I might have considered a lot of these points revolutionary (and the fact that the games used as examples are all more than twenty years old reflectsthis to some degree), but so much theory has been generated and so many new systems have developed since the mid-90s that a lot of these points seem obsolete. Changing die rolling mechanisms or existing on a spectrum between simplistic and byzantine are just methods of manipulating a single part of the game. If I was to go back to my own Vector Theory thoughts, these changes manipulate the way nodes are addressed in the story, but there is far more to gaming than those mechanisms. The example of shifting a flat progression to a bell curve really does nothing but manipulate the degree to which a node will stop the story or allow progress...it's still a binary "yes/no" outcome, there's just a change in the numbers that determine how the outcome is achieved. Nothing here changes the way the story is addressed, it's still all task resolution within a game that's under the narrative control of a GM.

So many games in recent years have extended far beyond that scope. There's not even a discussion of how games can use randomising systems other than dice, or even of they need to use randomisers at all. It's like looking at a monochrome painting after being exposed to a world of colour...then having the artist tell you how dynamic their image is because they've used black and white to create nuanced shades of grey. Don't get me wrong, there's some wonderful pieces of monochrome artwork, and there are some wonderful examples of dice rolling mechanisms that have been designed to capture a specific mood, but this is such a limited way of addresing changes in atmosphere.

Maybe I was expecting something more here. I was just generally depressed with how pedestrian the advice was. It didn't do much at all as a source of inspiration for my current project.

On the other hand, we had a guy in Sydney who ran Clay-o-rama, or his own modified interpretation of it, at conventions for a few years. I've got fond recollections of that, so it was nice to see that game get a shout out.
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