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. 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Game Mastering Research Update; leave it to Gamers to Game Self Improvement.

So I'm preoccupied in updating my Game Mastering Skills and Heuristics Document. I found this so much easier to update than blog posts because blog posts have an expectation to have a 500 word singular theme or  idea. I cant exactly say a small thing like "I finished reading dungeon world" lolz. An idea as incomplete as that, I might as well post in G+.

Anyway I've just finished a BUNCH of readings:

  1. GURPS Horror (finally after all a few years I finally got to finish it). 
  2. Chronicle of Darkness
  3. Dungeon World (its rather short compared to the rest). 
  4. Qin The Warring States (thoroughly, not just a systems analysis).
  5. Qin the Warring States the Art of War
Using my Production and Operation Studies. 
So I've been studying Production Operations for about 4-6 months now. Reading stuff recommended, and those that an Industrial Engineer should have studied. One thing I'm clearly taking away is the techniques that refine and improve Processes and Activities that can be clearly applied to the way Games are run and played. 
I'm self studied in Game Design and User Interface or designing a User Experience since the 2000s when I hoped to get into Game Design Course (which didnt exist then). These "User" design techniques augmented by studies of Behavior Sciences, particularly Kahneman and Tversky's work (thinking Fast and Slow, Prospect Theory, and Applying the Behavior Sciences in Designing an Experience and Process). 
To put simply The Game Master Skills and Heuristics are actions and activities that allow someone to repeat and practice certain abilities that would enhance their Gaming Experience. Its have emphasized the following:
  1. Actions. instead of Principles, Guidelines, long Essays of theory. Lets give  the Gamers ACTIONS to do. We can give them a default set of actions, and we can expand to how to modify and improve what ever Action Process they use to improve their gaming experience. 
  2. Working Memory Management. Many of the Techniques have their emphasis in dealing with a terrible working memory or hacking and conditioning it so that skills are so ingrained that they occupy less of the working memory and allow greater bounds of complexity as well as preventing the gamer from being overwhelmed. A good mental environment, a 5S inside one's head.  
  3. Opportunities for Deep Work. As we identify skills and heuristics, a lot of small techniques get mastered quite quickly and more opportunities for DEEP WORK begin to emerge for the Gamer. This can take the form of Flow in prep and refining improvisational abilities OR with his/her players. 
Moving into Gaming Agnositic has had some Interesting results. One of the most useful is focusing on the User Experience and Game Experience that does not hinge on any system. To have tools that allows the Gamer to have greater levels of engagement, experience, and enjoyment regardless of system. Isolating core principles that no one system can hold monopoly lolz (LIKE SCIENCE! Lolz)

You'll notice the Studies in Operations Sciences are BLENDED with Zen and some Philosophical Works. If you've checked out the Toyota Production System and Kaizan, its kinda steeped with Eastern Philosophy. Particularly the derivations of Buddhist and Confucian continuous improvement (commonly known as Kaizen). Whats notable about this is how it related to Memory and Skill Mastery. There is so much mysticism about it, but when you explore works concerning memory, behavior and biases it can be interpreted as a 5S and Lean Six Sigma approach to self improvement. 

Arthur V. Hill and many of the Operations Sciences researchers have noticed that MANY of  the "tricks" in the science can be applied in a personal level (coining Personal Operations). Especially since its an OBSESSION with heuristics which should be very familiar to gamers because these are basically the Models and mechanics we horde in our memory when we learn other game systems. Imagine using that memory, conditioned to memorize tons of Heuristics (game mechanics) applied to more practical mechanics and GAMIFYING those mechanics . That mindset that can pick and choose, modify and improve, or HACK, heuristics and models to serve what ever ends we gamers so desire lolz. 

To be a Gamer, particularly a TRPG gamer, maybe a kind of heuristic collector. There is some gamer pride about being able to learn ANY heuristic or mechanic or model. And there is an amount of satisfaction with being able to PLAY with any  heuristic or mechanic. And to play and play with these models - how MUNCHKIN is that method to max out a particular skill. 

I can go on and on. I'll just leave with the note that I'm always on the look out for feedback and collaboration in developing the Skills and Heuristics document. Feedback is a key aspect  of being a Gamer - when our expectations dont match up with reality, our ability to adapt and improvise is one of our strong suits. So if you want to join a particular feedback loop of challenge its good to look for places that would allow our limits and flaws to be visible and work on them.