Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Methodology Upgrade: Formula, Definitions, Example, and Anki Deck

I updated the Gaming List  document to be more actionable. Basically i now added a methodology section as to state how it go about it. My methodology improvement is inspired by my Chinese studies as Grammar and Sentence building is formulaic just like how many narrative techniques are formulaic.

Note that It would take me a 2-3 hour uninterrupted writing session just to update all of this, among all the distractions I'm juggling. So you're going to have to wait a long while before I input: Narrative Combat Techniques - Heuristics and Procedures so that the gamers can best describe Combat in as fewer words and as little time, while maximizing its effect and engagement. These next tools is designed to educate and train ME (or any other gamer who wants to collaborate) to be able to describe action scenes (i'm drawing from my favorite authors Christian Cameron's and Bernard Cornwell's simpler techniques that I can formulate).

After reading all those books on Gaming, some have processes, few books give Actionable knowledge beyond the most basic Technique: Yes and/but/or... I will hope to correct that and give gamers Framing, Narrative, Influence, Inquiry, Analysis, Ideation, and Problem Solving procedural techniques for their game. These are techniques meant to be learned like a language - recalled and formulated without thought because of the Spaced Repetition System and Active Recall exercises.


The methodology is written so that:
  • Collaborators can feedback
    • Corrections,
    • Identify steps, sequences, or elements that have reliability or risk issues.
    • to improve on the methodology
  • Collaborators can use the same methodology

Formula, Definition, and Examples

The formula, a grammar like algorithm, will be given and its elements given definitions. In this way, like Grammar, it is a procedural processes that can be exercised and trained. Gamers who want to get better can try to exercise plugging in variables of the algorithm and working them into a narrative or descriptive or immersive exposition.

Actionable Knowledge

Giver readers action and a way to adapt to feedback and new information. Action first, then we discuss the theory where supporting experience, knowledge, and information can be organized along the theory for analysis and evaluation.
  1. Untestable Thesis
  2. Echo Chamber or Circle Jerks

Study Time

As each of these techniques are exercisable, they all depend on the use of Active recall.  

Anki Deck of GMing Skills

There will be an Ankideck for this created so that gamers can work on this. The Methodology of Formula, Definition, and Examples allow that Spaced Repetition System and Cards can be created to exercise these techniques.

Challenges for the Anki Deck

  • Random Elements. The knowledge presented here is best used with randomly generated elements that can be filled into the formula’s variables.
    • Interim solution. There are many random word generators that can be used along side the anki deck. The Gaming Skills deck can be physical (as index cards) and the phone can just host the random element generators.  


Core Skills and Heuristics are those that are prioritized, as it has the most utility/usability and reward for the time spent learning them. The differentiation of Heuristics and Skills is so that end-users can break down a skill into component heuristics they can train in, and bundle into a skill for the future.


Heuristics are simple formulas or processes. Typically they are:
  • one or two testable statements (see also falsifiability),
    Example would be
    • What limited resource is spent by the action?
  • a condition and action,  
    Example would be
    • Listen to the (other)players and say “Yes and/but/or…”


Skills are more complicated heuristics that are linked or chunked together.
Examples are
  • Pacing,
  • Active Listening
  • Planning

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Touch Time and Value Adding to Ideas in RPG Collaboration

There is a concept of Touch Time in Lean Six Sigma time and Motion Studies (Aka processing time). Its brilliant and simple way of measuring waste. Its basically the actual time the worker is touching the product in a value adding way. Its such a revelation to me because it applies to Ideas and Information and not just materials.

Am I adding value to the idea?
Is my GM or the Player adding value to the Idea?
How long am I processing this idea? How much value am I adding to it?

Now its relevance to RPG is how much "touch time" do we have in Mechanics and Ideas? This is exemplified by the GM who creates a lot of Fluff and how much of that fluff is "touched" by the Player's minds. How much of that fluff is handled by the Players.
Like in Touch Time studies its as simple as who has Known the Idea and remembered that idea, and who it matters more.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Biases/Criteria of RPG Review, Looking for Feedback

I've been ask to review an RPG and I realized that this Criteria I have is worth publishing for feedback.
All review is subject to the Bias of the Individual who is reveiwing it, but that reviewer has to be able to think of the market or audience the product is trying to address and must be constructive in that consideration.

My Criteria/Biases/Values are for feedback and adapting to new information.

I dont think one is supposed to score 100% in the reviewer's Criteria, instead they have to score 100% in their Goals and their Model of their Target Audience/Market. The review has to try to objectively assess if it makes this call.

There will be definitey Stupid sounding questions as this progresses.

Again I'm biased in the use of a Collaborative Project Documenation Sheet. Where it is easy to put all supporting links and the specific ideas being discussed.

Biases or Criteria of the Reviewer

  • Focuses on Limiting Scope of Learned TRPG Mechanics, or careful and calculated introduction of mechanics. 
    • Updated 4/18/2017 - more specifically how the Designers count the amount of mental load it asks of its Players and GM. 
    • Updated 4/19/2017 - the 20 rules of formulating knowledge is a great guideline in game design when there is an expectation of people following or learning the game system. 
  • Focus on how the system improves on GM-Player Collaboration. This means if the game system improves or aids in the sharing of narrative or creating a way for collaborative complicated escallation is resolved through collaboration (and the use of a Randomizer). 
  • Focus on methodology, how does the system or the game designer try to prepare a GM or player to get into TRPGs. What is the Designers’ methodology and what are their values? How do they allocate their competing constraints (utility/quality - cost - time) . 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. The document will involve a growing definition of terms we can agree on. 
  • Looking for the self-aware nature of the Designer’s Products as compared to market trends and drawing from best practices from other disciplines.  
  • Looking for Feedback Mechanism - how does the Knowledge base react to and adapt to feedback? 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. You may examine my methodlogy and criteria to see if it is in your best interests. Otherwise if it  isn’t we can alter it. 

Methodology of the Reviewer. 

  • Once a Week updates. (i’ll try)
  • About 100-200 words of review. 
  • Typically in the form of clarifying questions. 
  • As I match Goals to Execution and Implementation, 
  • How the proponent handles competing constraints (utility/quality/value, cost, time) and my other criteria
  •  Answers are tracked and allocated to either:
  • Clarification of Goals
  • Tracking of Constraints, Methodology, and Issues. 
  • This all serves as a Project Documentation so that if anything happens anyone else can pick up where it left off. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

80% Storytelling Techniques, and 20% system mechanics

Its easy to progress in Game mechanics since there are so many to learn, but the Collaborative Storytelling, Preparation, and Session Running seems to have a greater weight per Scene than mechanics.
What I mean as per Scene is the elements that build up right before "What do you do?" part until the scene is resolved (ideally we have enough of a transitional pause to jot down 20 seconds of notes).

  • Various Framing Techniques (frame a loss, risk, gain, strawman, steelman, etc...), 
  • Show not Tell, 
  • Counterpoint Sandwich (like a compliment sandwich but with either buns as counterpoints or the middle is the counterpoint), 
  • 3 contrasting descriptors, 
  • Action not Adverbs, 
  • 20-30% sensory narrative (in words or gm talk time; this means that when the GM narrates he narrates 80-70% in visual and makes sure he dashes it with other sensory narratives), 
  • Yes And/But/Or, 
  • Listening and Collaboration (as an exercise this would mean listening for 2 minutes and having to make good notes related to that; and as part of collaboration infer all the other goals and constraints of the speaker), 
  • etc.. is not given as much emphasis.
    If it was a GM screen it would be 80% of the space, and mechanics would be 20%. 

It reminds me of Grammar Cards for Language Learning Anki Cards- its a formula and there are randomly generated elements (nouns, verbs, descriptors) the Learner has to work into the formula.

I can imagine a Anki Card for Counterpoint Sandwich asking for me to Work in Cat, Watch, Coughing, Redish, Quickly and GO! Conditioning the brain till it can improve on the most subtle mentions of the other person.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Index Card RPG

I've discussed Index Cards as a key tool for RPGs before. I've not had the inspiration or the framework to make a fairly complete system until I saw +Matthew Isom's post of Index Card D&D. This is the resulting product.

What has Changed and Why was I able to do this now?

  1. Mathew Isom's system was great Scaffolding/Framework to start with. 
  2. I learned all that Lean techniques at work inspired me to engineer the system differently. 
  3. I learned to set Goals better, SMARTER,  and various other Analysis and Problem Solving skills have matured to get me through most of my mental blocks.
  4. My Goals Have Changed
    1. GMless is the ideal. But how do we do that? 
      1. First Break it down to Encounters and Scenes (which I've droned on an on about). 
      2. Learn Pacing. This is a Process Heuristic. Knowing how to build up conflict and expectation. An example of a Pacing Structure (this is not the only one)
        1. Work with Assumptions and Expectations. Work them in. Say Yes-and or Yes but! 
        2. Turn those around. Do not let the "Plan survive Initial Contact!" Complicate and Compound. 
        3. Resolve - Through Change, Development, Learning Something new, Coming away with something Different. 
      3. Keep Tight Feedback loops. You can begin with Any Process! There is no wrong answer BUT you need feedbackloops to correct and adjust and adapt. So Start something but COLLABORATE=FEEDBACK. 
        1. Ideas without Feedback is masturbation lolz
    2. FUN AS YOU GO! Do all the stuff while having fun!
      1. Learn as You Go!
      2. Having Fun in the Prep! BUT involving EVERYONE in the Prep!
      3. Have fun making Characters as you go!
      4. Immerse as you go! 
      5. Do the stuff, but the stuff is FUN! 
    3. Give the Players Scaffolding. Things are more fun when we dont have to worry about balance and fairness. 
      1. Give a Benchmark or use a Testable Statement. (the lack of testable statements is why we have bad laws lolz). 
    4. Keep it Short and Simple. 
    5. Leave Room to Collect Feedback! Have a Reference Document to keep track of suggestions and feedback. 
  5. Well I kept track of my failures lolz. Keeping a blog or documenting as I went basically allowed me to be able to say what was different between then and now.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Improvisation hypothesis: Ideation Techniques

So I just finished Unframed by Engine Publishing. Among my other studies (found in the Gaming Skills doc) is that one unifying hypothesis is that Improvisation is similar to mastering a language, process, a song, etc... that the most complicated feats of Improvisation is like a dance or song: mastering chunks of procedural information. My recommendation is taking your favorite or most used Ideation Technique and using it for improvisation. Modifying it so that it can be used to bring out ideas that would color or aid the scene you are collaboratively building with others. 

Improvisation hypothesis: Ideation Techniques

The Improvisation Hypothesis of Ideation Techniques means that We can master ideation and problem solving techniques and use them for improvisation. These techniques when employed Elaborate or Create Blanks to be filled by a certain criteria. We fill in those blanks very quickly through master of the Ideation technique. Mastery, used to master language, where the technique is stored in long term memory and recalled immediately as soon as triggering events occur.

Ideation Techniques Include

Spaced Repetition

Spaced Repetition is important in Improvisation because it is the same technique that allows people to most effectively learn and use language, complicated processes, physical techniques and procedures. Creating the triggering conditions to exercise the Recall that is needed to draw out from Long Term memory the skill, process, or heuristic is key to appear to make a lot out of thin air. This technique requires the forgetting the technique in the conscious level, aka working memory, aka attention and to draw or pull the information under certain conditions in order to create the mental hardwiring to recall.

*again open call for collaborators or feedback.

One of my realizations is Musashi's No Thought technique in his book of 5 rings is the use of Long Term memory (the same memory we use for language) to unleash sophisticated attacks and tactics. The same can be said in improv. We master various Ideation Techniques to be able to create facinating improvisation using the Collaboration of our fellow players.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TRPG Books as Process Documents

*That TRPGs moving to a shorter feedbackloop with the community through using best practices in Operations Sciences would create more powerful tools and newer better value services and material in this very poor market.

So in my studies I've noticed how much TRPG books compare to process documents. TRPG books are filled with models or heuristics in the form of game mechanics, as well as Roles, Tools, and Processes of how to perform certain activities. The most interesting parallel is how TRPGs feedback as compared to Process Documents.

Process Documents aka Business Process in wikipedia is the Institutional Memory of a Company. Its all the processes written down so that it can be corrected, measured and improved. It allows organizations to reach higher forms of sophistication and capability through having the shared memory of the documentation and being able to adapt to reality and changing conditions through the institutional memory.

What is interesting when I compare TRPGs to Process Documents is that it does not have the same feedback loop. We feedback to TRPG book by making Homebrews and picking and choosing our mechanics. That feedback ends there. Instead of an idea and feedback going up and around and making its way to other people so they can appreciate and see if this would make their job easier it ends there. With the Wiki and Crowdsourcing, the Collaboration of TRPGs as Process Documentation would be amazing to witness as it Rapidly Iterates the consequences of their Charter/Goals and Attributes (Mechanics, Processes, Roles, Functions, and Tools).

This leads me to wonder if the New Generation of TRPGs would draw from Process Documentaton best practice. That communities feedback to the TRPG system and allow it to evolve better and more streamlined mechanics and techniques. One example is to apply Chunking in a lot of rules (particularly to GURPS rules). Imagine if one can feedback to evolve 2-4 options in Combat Manuevers instead of the 13 or so options in GURPS. Or drawing from Lean principle, shortening the Cycle Time or feedback loop in combat and removing all the Waiting and Waste in a sessions' Experience. Process Mapping via flow charts and Issues with certain processes are available for customization. Like simulationists use these Process Modifications in their Combat. This adds this much more steps and requires the knowledge of this many options.

If TRPGs take the Wiki and Open Collaboration Route what service to Game Designers have in this new ecology? I guess they deal with the Hardest Part  of running games: Creating the Tools to Tailor the TRPG experience. Creating the tools to manage and budget the TRPG experience. Allowing people to have more consistent and exceptional emotional heights in their TRPG sessions. To craft the training, skills, and heursitics for TRPGers to better craft and design these tools and techniques.

When mega nerds apply  their sills to something like TRPGs and creating a sustainable environment for the hobby to survive and thrive I think the product would be amazing. I compare the TRPG game to that of a Problem Solving session, I find them very similar. Particularly when Achieving Flow.

Walker's Retreat: The Internet Changed the Tabletop RPG business
I agree with the article and one of they key variables to implementing this is having the Skills to create a better business model. Problem Solve this shit .

The Same skills applied to this:
How to run a Large D&D Group (7+ Players)
The tools and the techniques to process design the experience is what is needed more than the "Campaign Fluf" or mechanics. Off the bat, Drawing form myH Game Maters Skill list min-maxing the Cycle Time between players and maxing out the Player experience would be a key objective. particularly identifying all the MUDA and getting rid of clunky and inelegant mechanics. By improving the Cycle time The GM will be checking for 1-scene per Player engage the player as much as possible per scene and try to keep it under a few minutes. Ideally engaging 2-4 players at the same time so that the cycle time of wait is about 2-5 minutes per group. He will need to design "Scenes" which engage many players (2-4) simulateneously and try to check if he's "engaged" a player every Cycle. He needs to learn to Defer Distractions or Concerns, when a set of activities would trigger one group to dominate the spotlight for a period, he needs to learn to break up the activites and steps (exploiting peak end or cliff hangers) to deal with the other groups.
I'm just pointing out that skills that allow us to design better experiences in play is the riches vein of discussion. Consider every detail and atmosphere mechanic as just fluff generation and the real problem is helping the GM and Players achieve a emotionally engaging level of participation and experience.

*Bottom Line up Front (BLUF, a different kind of TLDR)
Poor Market. Size of the market and its value as compared to similar ways of spending time.