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RPR Archive The Codex09 GM Club ~Now Offering Game Analysis~

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource Archive' started by LordTroepfchen, Feb 16, 2009.

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  1. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    The Three Act System

    Without a doubt the most used, analysed and perfected system of narrative structure.

    Classical Structure:

    Act I - Introduction and Point-of-Attack (therefore we introduce the Antagonist of the game)

    Act II - Climax to First Plot Point usually leaving the Protagonist in a situation that leads to

    Act III - The Final Plot Point and Resolution.


    Atypical Structure of Unchained Narratives

    Act I - Introduction, PoA

    Act II - Plot Point, PoA 2 (Twist)

    Act III - Climax, Final Plotpoint and Resolution



    There are obviously two ways to do this. Play and vary it in every character´s arc or do it for the whole game, with the players experiencing it together. The ensemble nature of RPGs are difficult to work with under this premise. Plot Points for all players mean they should be of such meaning, they actually work on every level of the game. Hard to do, even though in concentrated storylines, not impossible.
    One must consider having more plotpoints. Also possible is a structure where in every act we echo another three-act structure. To have an actual nine act structure.

    I´ll use three games as examples to talk for now about Act-One structures - Introductions to PoA. I´ll have Winged-Jedi´s ManCubs, Fins 133 ABY and Sinrebirth 41 ABY

    Examples -

    Man-Cubs: Winged-Jedi killed Mischa in Shere Khan´s attack on the village. A typical PoA in the first Act. With her return he began the climax to Plot-Point 1. Which every member of the group will probably experience on his own.
    I also think a second PoA might come and introduce Part II of the story.


    133 ABY:
    Fin introduced us right into a prison break-out. I think he prolonged this stage when we had to fight an infiltrator and only recently had the PoA with the Xenly attacking and Hoole appearing. Plot Point 1. As I think he seperated our groups, too. But as most players have read what others have written, he seems to have plotpoints for the whole group while having minor points for the individual characters.

    41 ABY: Sinre has done this in a very,, very classical way. Team meets. Introduction. Then down to the planet. Attack of Killiks and Tentacles PoA. Gorog and Anakin Skywalker appear . . . Plot Point One. Really classical. Here obviously all plotpoints of the story are for all of us. As we all work on the same problem.

    As one can see, usual first act strucutre is pretty much common in all stories. Only Fin´s in media res seems to vary on the first view but actually is an introduction to characters. But with lots of action.

    I´ll search for some good examples for Act 2 games. And I think Act 3 games are few. As most games never make it so far.


    />
  2. RachelTyrell Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2009
    star 1
    I wanted to do something like this for years. So I´ll begin it now and see where it takes me. My analysis of Game-structure




    The Narration in Forum-Games

    Narrative structure and it´s analysis is part of everydays storytelling. The concept of creating and telling a fictional tale is one of the eldest theories in literature and theatre. Concepts like the classic Three-Act-Structure or the Aristoteles-Five-Act-Structure are used in millions of movies, tv-series and novels. They are also used in RPG supplements and adventures. Often unconsciously by aping the structure the media has provided.
    This text will try to find out, if this classical structures are of any use in a story told with multiple players on a board.
    I´ll incoorporate my experience from various boards and their various games into this. For the beginning I´ll try to classify the theory, the practice and the difficulties among these two.

    I´ll begin today and will post regular updates whenever I find time to do any.


    I. The Structure of Story


    1. The Introduction
    2. The Confrontation
    3. The Resolution


    II. The Difference

    1. Player´s change
    2. Late beginners
    3. The lack of structure


    III. The Narration of Forum-RPGs



    I. The Structure of STORY

    It is not important how many acts a story has or how many storylines. If it is one story, you will always have a red line running through the Narration. This red line will provide an introduction followed by whatever build-up is necessary which will lead to some sort of resolution. Which can also consist of no resolution at all. Despite the differences of classical theatre, novel-structure of movies to a board this rule never changes. The structure applies to every character, the story as a whole and also every Act. [An Act might not necessary be what the GM has signed out as being his ACTS, though]

    The story is always linear. It might only appear not to be, while writing it. Therefore a game is not linear. The story it generates always is. You cannot change a story thorugh your player-actions. The story will be what you do. Everything else are the unrealized plans of the GM.


    1. The Introduction


    Every story needs to set itself up. If it is a serial, this will usually be short, as most characters are known to the players and the setting in itself is well known. Nevertheless, some sort of set-up develops naturally to any story. Where are we? What are wedoing? Who are the others? Entering is a story is much like entering a Party. You need to orient yourself before getting comfortable with the surrounding.
    The first pages of a novel show the reader where and when they are. The same does the opening-post of a game. Players are set into the GM´s story and universe. There are many variations how to do this.
    The most famous might be the in media res beginning where you start into an ongoing scene, without further explanation. This appears as the lack of introduction, while usually being one of the most effective ones. And a rather fast one as you establish early on what the crisis is the player needs to fight. You also learn a lot about the characters in the situation.
    More conservative approaches is a first meeting, the mission handed to the protagonists or the first steps to fulfill whatever Quest might be the center of their story. Actually the Introduction is pretty much the defining moment of a story. And fails if it doesn´t represent what is to follow. Many players drop out right after their introduction. The reasons are simple. They haven´t got what they wanted, feel this isn´t the right game for them. Then again, introductions leave interested players with the promise of what is to come. An effective Introduction generates interest for the story. In forum-based games you should have your player with the opening. Because players are fast to leave.

    But theory of />/>
  3. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
  4. RachelTyrell Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2009
    star 1
    I have been ill and busy lately. So my second act is going to come soon. Probably somewhere else, if LordT reforms this thread. But anyway, it is much more tricky to work from the "confrontation" on . . .

    Because that´s where most stories fail. Especially in RPing.
  5. Phantasmagoria Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 4, 2007
    I sympathize with the idea of Codex09. I had several variations on the same outcome in mind well before I posted Titanomachy, and I knew exactly what the plot twists would be and where they would spring up. To plan any less stunts a GM's ability to foreshadow and maintain a sense of intrigue, and a trailblazing, wholly player-driven sandbox style of storytelling often leads in different, weird directions. While I respect the players' input and the actions of their characters, there's only so much they can do, and it's not a contravention of their free will to have specific outcomes in mind that you can adapt to their storylines later.

    But don't get me wrong- I'm not leveling a low blow at the sandbox style of RPG. A lot of players would rather grow with characters and take them where they want than be forced to view them through the constrictive lens of a tight storyline, and that's ok; in fact, it's one of the strengths of this medium that this style of play is even possible. But I believe restriction can indeed breed creativity.

    Some of the minutiae, such as post caps and player limits, I believe to be flexible based on how the GM runs games. But I certainly agree with the spirit of this initiative if not always the letter.
  6. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Well, first of all . . . welcome to our little Club Phanasmogoria.

    Good to see you got our point. Codex isn´t a et of fixed rules, but rather guidelines. And not everybody takes them word by word . . . actualy in the RPF nobody is.

    Do you have link to your game, probably? I hear a lot about it since you returned but I think most of us were inactive when you started it.
  7. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Codex06 projects I know of:

    133 ABY: The Cold Embrace (running)

    ~Beyond~ (somewhen around August?)

    Batman: Death Note (After TCE?)

    My unnamed next and last game . . . (November - December 09)
  8. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    I must say I missed ~Beyond~. It was a challenging concept, but one with many layers in the first one or two posts. I think stories with a lot background can easily become confusing, like 133 ABY was for some players. Then again, it´s a question of structure. Anybody knows now what a Xenly is, do they?

    Many simple games turn complicated and die. Many twists lead to sudden lack of interest. Yet twists in simple games . . . like ManCubs, seem to work very, very fine. Simple games aren´t bad, obviously. They often have the better approachability and atmosphere.

    So, I want to post a question to the club. What makes a complicated game work? I think the often misunderstood limitation of complexity is part of it, but what else?

    And add Blade Runner to the list, Fin. It´s coming and it is Codex.
  9. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Complex Games. I gave it some thought. Obviously complex games are more difficult to crete. once they work they are also easier to keep alive, though. As the players who incest themselves into them have the feeling of something special they are involved. What are complex games? Loads of factors can make a game difficult. Winged´s Fate system makes it a challenging multi-layered experience to play ManCubs I guess. Foreshadowing is a strong narrative tool. Expectations are to be met, by that, too.

    Aria was complex due to it´s extend. Looks where this ended.

    The "tactical" games like System Lords, Clans etc. seem to be of great complexity, but due to lack of actual RPing it is probably an illusion.

    Then again to those diving into and and originting from germany 133 ABY might be the most complex game I have seen to this day. Solving as a final game for both the 128 series and the Honor campaign it contains, transists and develops places and characters of 12 years of RPing while telling the new players a story of it´s own and providing closure fpr the veterans. Yet Fin makes it work easily. How? He hides it all in a plot that doesn´t build on the premie of being everything, but simply the fight of some chars against the spreading Xenly.

    Showing differencesbrings me to my next point.

    I have thought about we´ll do with this Club. Our Codex Games seem to come but seem to be in no need for discussion. We are a subgroup here. While other boards are floated with failing attempts of these rules.




    What do you people think of a GAME ANALYSIS offer? We do it in Chat all the time. Why not offer it as a service? GMs who have closed games can submit them an we´ll analyse them. Learn from it´s strong points and failure. I mean in depth analysis.

    I think it´s a good idea. Giving the "scientfication" of GM-theory a new playground.

    I´d like opinions. And anyone offering his game as the first one to be analysed? What would be our criteria? Only finished games? Games above 300 posts? Only Star Wars? How long would an analysis last? A month? Opinions, please. />
  10. RachelTyrell Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2009
    star 1
    It´s a brilliant idea. Breaks my heart these games will most likely have to originate from this board, but I love it.

    Who would analyse? I think we should create various categories and divide them. Maybe players and GMs having their sections.

    I. Development/PR/Opening Post/Player Submission

    II. Story/GM-Style/Playing-Style/Narrative/Progress/Player Response

    III. NoteworthySpecialties/EndGame/PublicReaction/Legacy/Conclusions

    I´ve taken this from a usual movie-analysis checklist. Should work with RPs, yes?
  11. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    I love that idea.

    Concerning the judges. The Club has few active members, all GMs and players of some reputation and experience. I think we have a wide field of scientists here, so I´d say LordT, me and you Rachel should make a fine team for analysis.

    Concerning your criteria? Perfect. Add "game-type" (taking DarthXan´s model as an outline )"player-development" to the list to reflect on the ensemble development as a whole and "Genre" to analyse what kind of RP we have there. Also a "Mechanics" section is needed.
    And I think only locked games. So we do not influence ongoing games. I doubt the interest in this beyond our Club will be to reat, as we stay a little among ourselves here, lately. Criteria come to my mind like this.

    1. The Game must be submitted by the GM who was in charge of it.

    2. The Game must have ended in one way or another.

    3. The Analysis lasts for two month. One of reasearch, one of discussion.

    4. Every Analysis is truthful, remorseless and respectful.

    5. There can not be more than two games analysed at the same time.

    One question remaining. Do we rename the threat to PR it? Or do we even create a new one?


    If my 133 ABY has ended I´d be happy to add it to the list. I think Sinre once showed interest to have his games analysed. I think 128 ABY - Turning Point would be a fantastic candidate for a first game. It ended by a conclusion and was very complex. We might also approach Winged-Jedi for "Seven Orphans" or "Lea Monde". Both interesting subjects.

    Otherwise I´d be open for any suggestion. No matter what game or genre I think there is much to learn.

    -Fin-
    />
  12. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Analysis Outline


    I.

    Development

    Type of Game & Genre:

    Opening Post:

    Player Submission:


    II.

    Mechanics

    Story

    GM-Style

    Playing-Style

    Narrative

    Progress

    Player Response

    III.

    Noteworthy Specialties

    EndGame

    PublicReaction

    Legacy

    Conclusions


    Game Submission

    1. The Game must be submitted by the GM who was in charge of it.

    2. The Game must have ended in one way or another.

    3. The Analysis lasts for two month. One of reasearch, one of discussion.

    4. Every Analysis is truthful, remorseless and respectful. No hypocracy of diplomacy, no bashing, flaming or mobbing.

    5. There can not be more than one game analysed at the same time.



    Enlisted Analysts so far: RachelTyrell (Narration and Story), DarkLordoftheFins (general), LordTroepfchen (general, too)


    Sounds right to everyone?
  13. Imperial_Hammer Manager Emeritus: RPFs

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2004
    star 5
    I'd be happy to put Podracer 1 up for your review process. I'm very curious to see what this group of people think about it, and you might even find it educational. ;)

    -I_H
  14. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Actually Podracer was one of the first games I was thinking about. Simply because we know little about it (Fin was here when it was played, but I think I wasn´t and Rachel certainly not) and it was very succesful. We should begin with a good one, before turning to failures (I might also find them very interesting, though)

    So, you don´t have a link by accident, Hammer?

    Otherwise I´d say it fits all criteria and might be a perfect No. 1 game to go with.

  15. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Wow, thinks move fast, now. :DLike a Podracer.

    Link to the first game. PODRACER
  16. Imperial_Hammer Manager Emeritus: RPFs

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2004
    star 5
    Every single game I have run can be found in my profile. The link for Podracer I is right here. :)

    I'm usually the one doing the reviewing and judging of games, so when things come about that allow other people to review, I take a jump at it.

    Plus I think most of my games are not great fits with your Codex 09 principals, so it will be very amusing and interesting to see what you guys come up with. ;)

    Hopefully there will be some great knowledge to be made!

    -I_H
  17. Winged_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 28, 2003
    star 4
    Personally I think that a two-month period is overkill, and that one month would be more than sufficient. But apart from that, I think you've got an excellent idea here.

    I'd like to offer up Lea Monde to be dissected whenever you're finished with Podracer.
  18. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    That´s why I put two games into my approach of the rules, my idea was to have always one we read and one we analyse. So always one of them is in the posting.

    Yet, I think what LordT envisions is a pretty ambitious analysis. So we won´t just skip through some pages, but actually read the games. So, a month is for a 1700 post game a good time-table.
    Lea Monde, which if I remember right is about 300 posts . . . could be done a lot faster.

    As I said, I´d offer my 133 as soon as it´s over. We seem to have two interesting games, though. Within´our first few hours. LordT, I assume you do our list . . .
  19. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    So, work on Podracer-Analysis has begun. I´ll make the beginning and I´ll have my results in about a week. Two, maximum. From there Rachel takes over and does the heavy lifting.
  20. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    I´ve read it. Pretty good read. It was very different from what I tohught. But how will we cooridnate? Hotmail? Google? Spinner? We should decide and come together ASAP
  21. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Sorry for double posting. But guys, girl. I can´t enter hotmail today. Sorry. Discussion must be postponed until I solved the problem, yeah?
  22. Imperial_Hammer Manager Emeritus: RPFs

    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2004
    star 5
    Reposted at LordT's request! 8-}


    A Defense of Large Games

    This is a traditionalist argument that advances the strength of larger-scale GMing as opposed to smaller scale GMing. This defense is largely compatible with the Market Theory of RPing and thus uses many of the same concepts and ideas.

    According to Market Theory, there are three types of games when it comes to size: Artisan Games, Mixed Games, and Mass Production Games. Each game size comes with their own advantages and disadvantageous. For the purpose of this piece, I will focus only on Mass Production / Large Games, especially their strengths and a method by which to run them that has proved relatively successful for me thus far. It is important to note that this is certainly not the only way to run large games, just one that has been time proven for me in 4-5 games thus far.

    How to Run a Large/Mass Production Game

    What follows is a GM?s guide to large games. As it?s written from a GM?s perspective, it minimalizes the role of players. While GMing should be for the player, it seems an idealistic oversight to minimize the GMs role/needs/desires. This could be taken as a cynical interpretation, but I argue most GMing has some element (however small) of self-interest behind it. It should also be remembered that all GMing, even self-interested gaming, is a form of volunteerism, and player satisfaction pays for everyone. Large games that don?t satisfy their players aren?t doing their jobs, and the market will react accordingly.

    The first rule of large gaming is work minimization. Because you are running a large game, and fielding in excess of 15 or so active characters, it is simply infeasible for one to devote the amount of attention usually granted to characters in smaller type games.

    Because of this, one needs to re-imagine the GM?s relationship to his/her game. Instead of being an active participant in the game, a mass production GM needs to view his game like an engine. You want to aim to put the least amount of work in to achieve the largest yield of return posts possible. This defense uses post amounts as a viable measure of game strength. Although it has its drawbacks, specially spam posts, it has the advantage of being quantified and used for analysis. The GM then, in an Large RPG becomes a technician, monitoring the performance of his/her engine and adjusting it as needed. The GM is a hands-off force whose purpose is to keep his game going.

    Oftentimes this type of RPing is accompanied by a very keen eye to game design. True to its namesake, a mass production game puts in much more effort to make sure the machine that mass-produces the RPing experience works well. The game needs to be crafted carefully with an eye for making it very GM-unintensive. Ideal games under this viewpoint would almost run themselves, a perpetual posting machine. A few large subgroups within the game go far here, allowing players to advance the game amongst themselves. Additionally, a super-system of rules can attain this benefit, creating an environment by which players are forced to play off themselves with little GM interaction.

    It goes without saying that large scale RPG projects absolutely need to have the three elements of good game launching (according to Market Theory) down 100%: advertisement, a demand, and an assurance of success. A careful reading of the state of the market will do nothing but help a large game to launch.

    Large RPGs also should never have a player cap. The strength of mass-production RPGs is in their ability to mass produce entertainment. The more players in this type of game, the more vigorous the plot, and the better the game. The GM needs to have a calm head on his/her shoulders so as to not get overwhelmed, but if they can coordinate all the players, their game can reap the benefits.

    In large RPGs, endings are nice, but overrated. Remember, the purpose of gaming under this type of system is to get as most quality posts as possible. So there is no shame starting out on a large RPG with no ending, because y/>
  23. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    First of all, I want to congratulate IH to his sharp argument and well written execution of the "defense".

    Obviously, if this defense is viewed as a repsonse to our club´s policiy, idea, ideal . . . one must first say that I do agree. With most of it. I am not opposed to Large Games. The Codex wishes to evolve the technique of the smaller ones because we think, especially thorugh the lack of input, they haven´t developed to a degree of perfection as the large games have.

    Despite this, I´ll be happy to pick it appart argument for argument. But I think I shouldn´t begin, as I have asked him to post. Members, get away from IH´s podracer you´ve all been reading and give me some ideas about it.
  24. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Before Rachel makes her surely much superior argument to IH´s comments, I would like to offer my humble opinion.

    I think the argument makes ONE point that is especially strong. The responsibility of established members (and when you get a nickname like Panzer-RPers you´re established) to help and train those who come to the realms of the RPF. It´s a duty to the community. One where all games of Codex fail to serve. Obviously.

    A RPF, or any board as a matter of fact, only consisting of epic, well designed Codex-Games . . . would be doomed to eventually die. No new blood would come to these boards.


    but the argument surely has one weakness which is the unproven assumption endings do not matter. It is a GM perspective I guess. I like to share it from time to time. But it is not the reality of playing games. RPing is the art of storytelling. In what ever function that is. Even a mass-producer of entertainment has the promise to tell you a story. A story isn´t told without a conclusion. Look at the players jumping at any chance to reprise characters of dead games (our own forced departure of 128-CG might have been the birth of the player-rush into the 133-franchise, but even the fanfic section has lots of proof for that!) and how careful many players plan their departure.

    Look at the awards. Who wins? The best beginnings or ends. Why? People WANT endings. We look season-finales of series we do not even like.

    It´s a conclusion. It is the most interesting point of a game. And that´s were Codex-games have their strong point. I like to think it is especially THIS promise to conclude the story that makes Codex so far a success (concerning submissions, at least)

    Many other arguments of the piece shall be left to more able hands of analysts. This was myi initial approach of IH´s material

    -Fin-
  25. RachelTyrell Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2009
    star 1
    To nobodies surprise . . . I do not fully agree with both parts.

    Even through I must say the "Community" thing is something we do not have to assume about. The fate of our once giant "Elven-Domain" is surely proof of it. But . . .

    I have seen Codex as an example of a "type of game" which is sacrificed for the IH described need of "standing inside the community". Which I think is unhealthy.

    The detailed argument follow in a few weeks at which point I am sure we´ll have a discussion with IH, LordT and Fin. And I know there are even members of our club who agree with IH. I hope they´ll raise their voice.

    Much interesting and good can come from this discussion.

    On another note: I read Podracer by now, which is a good read. My part won´t be as central as one might have thought but I am ready to slowly and constantly begin my analysis. Expect mine to make it online right after LordT. Another two weeks, is it? A third one might not hurt the quality, I must say.
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