Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Character Actions, becoming Character Limits.

I read Atul Gawande's Checklist Manifesto and it dawned on me how Dungeon World really helped with the Character Options List called Basic Moves.  I didnt realize how important it was till I had some work related problems where people don't know what they're options are.

In real life we get frustrated when we don't know our options. In work people will feel disempowered if they dont know their options and while some game options are common sense its carry-over from a life of gaming. 

So I proceeded to Make a list of Character Options. It a appeared to be a Problem Solving Procedure. 

It begins with Gathering Information. It started out with Observe and Inquire, but then proceeded to get detailed like Examine, Measure, Document/Take Note, Research, and on the Player's part planning what to decide on and how best to use their Time. 

There are a lot of other actions after that that I can draw from my work and productivity studies, and not just Gaming. Its just that ALL of this, all actions exists in a world of scarcity and limits. I was afraid options would create Analysis Paralysis And Modeling these limits are mostly ad hoc in game systems. Not many game systems go into Time and Motion, or specifically the linked entries to Efficiency in the Operations Encyclopedia. 

But the thing is We can have a Good Mental Model of the Limitations of the Characters. We have a powerful Intuition engine for guessing scarcity and limits of our resources. People in work need to monitor scarcity everyday and this judgement needs to be done faster and faster till it becomes an afterthought.  So why can't we make an interesting, empowering, and helpful mental model of Character Limits. 

Character Resources
Limits characters have to work with along with their Options. 

Social Resources. A lot of Games model social resources poorly. It appears people dont seem to have the consequences of being Total Assholes to other people. 

Credibility. Our reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness is a valuable resource we can't  normally assign value but is definitely valuable.  This pretty much tracks our ability to keep promises and give our word. 

Network and Relationships. Relationships are seperate from Credibility and is basically modeled like a very narrow version of Credibility, specifically to groups and individuals. 

Wealth. Material Resources needs to be aspected because it can be very very difficult to track and detailed. Some people are manpower rich, commodity rich, capital rich, future income rich, etc... 

Physical Effort. The effort we can give in a day is always finite. Our attitudes and behaviors even change depending on our physical conditions. Its usually poorly tracked and modeled and there has been a lot of progress in making a better mental model of this for game and in life.  

Mental Reserve. As with physical limit the amount of stress and distractions we can take are only so much. Many of us live in states of constant distraction and stress, and have felt the power and agency we miss out in these states in games and in flow states. GTD and Deepwork are various strategies in approaching it and there are many more that can be drawn from to create a mental model of reserve in our growing Behavior Science understanding. 

Health. Other than effort our bodies do have its limits. While effort tracks the Physical Weather, health tracks the Climate. You can have Effort day to day and Health week to week. 

Experimental Mechanics
There are a lot of Check Based Resource Systems out there. One I'm experimenting with is with a 2d6 resolution. 

Roll On or Below the TN. The TN is the Score and Modifier. Roll 2d6 on or Below to succeed. 
Conditional Success. Rolling over the TN is a conditional success. The difference squared is the Time and Cost multiplier to succeed (typically applied to Time and Materials). If the Resource is kept as a Score below is the Cost Mechanic.  

A Cost Mechanic (to model scarcity and limits). 
Conditional success...
... < 1/2 Score (not TN) is a scene lasting -1. 
... < Score is a -1 5 days to recovery (if recoverable, this can be accelerated by treatment). 
... < Score x2 is a -2 25 days to diminish it by a -1 (for a total of 50 days). 
... < Score x3 is a -3 125 days to diminish it by -1 (for a total of 375 days). 
... every Score greater than x3 Score is a permanent score reduction of -1

there are other implications of this system I've not yet fully tested out. But it can be adopted to other systems. 

Take Away.
  • Have a list of Character Options. 
  • Have a list of Limits and how to track them.  
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