Friday, May 21, 2010

Game Design: Objectivity of Skills and Ability

The real world works on a mix of both relative and objective standards. We notice relative Standards in passing rates, grading curves, and supply and demand. When there is relative scarcity of abundance of something price and wages changes to suit the comparative demand.

Objectivity can be seen in standards, grading and bottom line output. Standards may require X in hours, percent successful performance, output, etc. An example is the abundance demand of nurses and mariners. Greater and greater free trade has made shipping grow and the same can be said about longer living Population and a higher quality of life when compared to health care. Because of such manpower demands, objective skill assessment are in place to make sure the market grows in a healthy rate.

If skills can be objectively assessed, then one can actually compile a list of industry and performance tasks that are used to assess these abilities. At least create a set of parameters and steps people can measure and compare standards and performance under scientific method so that they can post it on a thread and .

I think professionals who are gamers around the net can cite from personal experience regarding standards of their industry, the level tolerance for failure, and what is professional reality. Such information made available goes a long way in understanding other people and their work as well taking in the lessons of other disciplines as to applying it to our own.

Maybe to make this exercise easier a default format and a wiki would be useful. The wiki helps people who don't have whole pieces of information contribute their tiny nuggets to build up into a complete idea.

The Game System as a Language to augment the transmission of ideas, work and risk. In communicating these ideas: Study and Work are the typical currency of progress. They are used to measure the cost of performance levels relative to the value of the skill in a given market, individual or point of time.

I find this very useful in describing and narrating games and its challenges. After having compiled or read through several sample standards from a variety of fields certain patters emerge for intuitive application. Such study on professional insight would make other people of different professions appreciate the work that goes behind the scenes in other professionals.

Game System Progress:
The Relationship of Utility, Diminishing Returns, and Time is a strategic insight. In our decisions and everything we do there is diminishing utility that influence how much time we spend on any given action. The limited human rationality is what make these decisions when something has lost its utility: from the number of push-ups, overtime, amount of GM prep time etc.

Describing it in a simple way that allows GM's to apply the intuition and communicate concepts to players has been a challenge. I had to rewrite a bit, using these concepts in mind.

They are useful because it answers several fundamental questions regarding risk and uncertainty: how much more time and resources can you allocate until the utility is optimized. It answers "what actions are worth taking", or "has the maximum utility". Highlighting the limitation, also helps get an adventure underway when you can point out that The Time and Opportunity lost to bickering diminishes the utility of the game and the group has to move forward because even at the worse case scenario: it is better than to be still arguing and paralyzed.

I'm also describing in detail weapons and making sure most of the key assumptions are transparent. I think declaring assumptions is a great way to prevent getting into an argument. Once these are exposed, the logical method is easier to follow. When people don't agree on or tend to favor different assumptions then you can easily weigh the cost of pursuing the ardous task of bringing evidence and proof to bear vs what you get from it.
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