Sunday, June 17, 2018

Plan-Do-Check-ACt in EVERYTHING - even in Game Systems, and Game System Design

Seeing Cyberpunk 2077 and Cyberpunk 2020 it makes me wonder why it isnt an acceptable model to Rewrite a Scifi Setting every 3-5 years updated to consider all the new technology and Trends like a new D&D edition?

It would be so beautiful work of Documentation Management 😅. But I realize people are people and Change and updates are not very welcome, what's wrong with how I do things now? Still its an exercise of creating an Approachable Living System.

Its kinda weird since most Gamers I encounter in G+ are Programmers and Version Control and Iterated Improvements and Rollouts/handoffs are something deeply understood and appreciated. 

So PDCA in Everything - A System for Systems - is a very meta but usable framework in Looking at TRPG systems. TRPGs are not just Games but Playable Models of a Story (or Narrative "reality").

What's wrong of how I do things? Or Whats wrong with the Status quo?
Architecture is a word I encountered in CISP and in BPM that talks about Designing Frameworks - Designing how a System in teaching a Target system (Designing System A, System A is designed to Teach System B). Architecture is the Term for Designing System A. So wow take a breather.

Anyway, so Architecture in Designing a TRPG's Design would be kind of Heavy. But the things Some TRPG Game System nerds think in this way. They can put to writing the system by which they design the system of Developing the User Experience. Tobie Abad's works and his discussion of these works is what reminds me of this. This is Architecture. There is a Wikipedia Article in TRPG Design Theory and there was another book about it - which come to think of it was a great foundation for me getting into ISO, BPM, and other PDCA systems.

So what's the point
TRPGs is a great way to Learn some Key System Literacy skills that is essential in Learning more complicated frameworks and models that deal with real life work. The obsession about it is what allows us to get deeper and deeper into it and seem to see PDCA systems like in ISO or BPM (and the many other Process Frameworks) one of many systems we can understand as we've been given a system framework from TRPGs.

Its great education - its a life skill, and its fun to talk to other Gamers who think in System Architecture and find a FUN use of such  a serious skill. A fun use of a serious skill - how games and play is a strange evolutionary memetic of preparing us for harder problems ahead.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Initial Cost and Running Cost of Skills in Life

So I've been keeping a notebook of my TRPG mental ramblings. One of the Key thing I've gotten into is Decision Analysis for stuff. I realize that the same Decision Analysis for a Car or a House has some parallels to Skills.

Example.
Becoming Literate in Chinese has an Initial Cost. This can come in the form of the Classes as well as the manhours invested.
Buying a Car has its Initial Cost, both in Manhours and Investment.
Getting into Linux has an Initial Manhour Cost.

Then there is a Running Cost.
For a car this can be the Gass, Maintenance, cleaning, parking, etc....
For Chinese its Usage of the skill, See forgetting Curve,

These two costs are a key to understanding Skills, Opportunity Costs in life, and creating a model in understanding what We Put Into pursuits and what can we expect to get from them.

How do I spend my Time is a question I always ask about myself. Its my reflection about what I should expect from myself. If I put my time in Family, Distractions, Skills, Work, relationships, etc... then I can only expect this is what will grow and what will evolve.

In the same way Character Creation and Development follows this basic principle. That What we spend time in is what makes us who we are. That our choices shape us - even our flawed choices (choices out of weaknesses ) shape us. 

Combined with the Scale of Manhours,
Tens, hundreds, and Thousands.

Plus the model Consistency
Reliably (of course exceptions do exist),
Unreliably,
and Rarely to Never

Then add a mechanic for Conscientious Learning - that the Person Identifies with a Skill or a set of skills. That when it comes to this skill - he has some Flow .

And then a mechanic of Building Complexity:
Defining what 10s, 100s, and 1000s manhours means to the Character of a particular pursuit or practice.

Skills, the Pursuit of Knowledge and the acceptance of Forgetting (and Atrophy) of some skills is one of the most troubling and challenging aspects of the Real world that games simplify to make it fun - but when explored is quite satisfying.

I have the components of a Skill System that can be used for a Game but used to Ask some hard personal questions to the Younger me about what I want out of my life. Its easy to Answer for a Character but hard to Answer if it was really being asked of me. But in a TRPG I can explore characters and world views.

I cannot have all the Skills, I will have to choose between some skills in many points in my life, and will have to work with the ignorance of the skill I did not pursue (the inability to make an informed decision). That the world is changing - and that as awesome as a skill may be in a TRPG he real world will create so much noise, uncertainty, and screwed up incentives to devalue hard won knowledge and painful decisions. 

That the world does not care how much you paid for a skill - that it makes you need them but won't pay a fair price for them without a lie or a story. Speaking as a person from the Developing world where you can look out our Education index as see how unfair and inaccessible knowledge is to the rest of our country.

I see it when I have to plan in the scale of years and months the smallest detail of ability for personnel in our company.  That there is so much grift and noise - and skills (and people) are devalued in the machine of the world.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ideas/musings: Applying Life Lessons in TRPG Design. 10 years of blogging Game in the Brain.

My Work Fuels my TRPG musings, TRPG musings inspire my work.

I know break things down to 5-10mh (manhours), then ordeals of 20mh. Its based on the load I have to juggle at work and how difficult it is to have time to Write and Concentrate until there is greater level of mastery (in the form of Predictability and Systems set up to use this predictions).

A TRPG booklet where I apply a lot of the Gamer Systems Thinking lessons and skills.

An A5 or Statements sized booklet that makes it easy to carry around. Optional and Expansive rules are easily added on physically. Example expansive Character creation tools - allowing for other regions, ethnicity, backgrounds, etc... modularly designed. Designed with a particularly LOAD out in running games or with Phones in mind.

Handbooks is something that work has migrated towards. Particularly Pocket sized handbooks where I work. When I need to transmit a body of knowledge - like Material Handling (Inspection of Delivered Goods, Their Custody, Care, and Reporting on their COnditions, security, and Quality), to Basic Project Management, and other Skills that people do not have the Luxury to Study but I have since I'm the (child of the Owner and a Gaming nerd that is skill obsessed). Its strange Listening (using an App to read to me the text and my brain learning to recognize context despite the robotic nature of the reading) to all these books and textbooks and picking up applications and uses of some of  the skills and learning What skill covers what.

Small Pocket sized Handbooks is a remnant of a lower Technology Level that is natural for an Emerging Market of the Philippines - that is needed even when Phones can contain all that data. It is that mixed nature of Technology and the World where we have Analog and Digital despite creeping closer to 2020.

Revolving around this is the Analogue skills of Note taking and writing. The ability to write with the barest and most basic of tools. This is an inportant skills because Writing is still one of the best techniques, a thousand manhour pursuite, that allow us to train our thinking. Blogging and Writing constantly is a Valuable skill - since you have learned to express yourself in a way Everyone (especially yourself) can Pick Apart the Thesis to Learn from its Flaws. A BAD IDEA stays a bad idea until it can be viewed objectively in context with a Ton of Other Data.

I want the Character sheets are not sheets but Notebooks and a note how to plan, layout, or arrange the Stats and the character's goals, experiences and progress. Its basically the kind of note taking you would eventually have if you were religious in note taking and approached everything with a PDSA/PDCA. A skill for your character but also for yourself - how you take stock of your status in life and how you plan for the pursuits and challenges that lie ahead.

I have a sprained wrist right now. This is kinda painful to type.

So yeah I'm in a many year hiatus because I have to fix the family business - as I'm in a strange position of Using a ton of skills I learned because of gaming and applying that Gamer Approach to life. I learned to do Costing, Bill of Materials, Bill of Scope/Scope of Work, Analysis, Tables-Data Arrays, etc... from Gaming in TRPGs. Its weird how "Fun" it is to enjoy a textbook when one grows up with TRPG books.

I'm in a weird position coming from a nouveau rich family - in the emerging market of the Philippines - and to see the wild untamed worlds of Philippines and my neighboring regions  as well as Studying Chinese and China. Because of the 0.61 education index - that incredible skill gap and unstable conditions of an Emerging Market - its a strange time to be alive and to look at the world. We are a generation different from the Technology Literate world and we are playing catch up - and so much resources are concentrating around various people who can either abuse it or enrich those around them.

been blogging since 2003, and this blog is practically 10 years old since I started this branch of my life at 2008. You can see pretty much the evolution of studying arcane gaming stuff evolve and escalate to practical skills.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hi from my Hiatus

I have two kids now and I'm trying to turn around the family business, which by experience (of those who know better than me) takes about 3-5 years. So I'm definitely not able to game for the Longest Time - probably in the next 5-8 years.

I hope to be able to Say Hi, time to time from my hiatus.

Some musings.

  1. Following the FB groups about Romans and Medieval groups, the very active ones, I realize the Roman Tech (and thanks to De Agricultura) is pretty much a wealthy source of Low Tech Economics and Business Models to understand the times and the limits. Also they have awesome photo albums or Naval Pictures and Diagrams. 
  2. My Work is giving me inspiration for Games and Games inspire my work (I work as a Director of a Design and Build Furniture and Construction company). Particularly the models and mechanics that let me run a Fun Logistics Puzzle Games, and the uncertainty of human organizations. I work like a prep heavy GM that is unafraid of improv and has a focus on feedback with the players. 
  3. I definitely will need to run Warring States 200-500BCE China. The Diodochi series of Christian Cameron and my Chinese Studies have given me a great appreciation of the Time Before the Roman Empire or the Qin and Han Dynasty.  I'm able to see the Technological Parallels of the Roman Empire and their Eastern Counterparts in a way they are similar with exceptions that can be used to Model other such levels of organization. 
  4. The Human Era 10,000BCE or seeing everything from the perspective of the most Ancient Monuments in Turkey - that we are 12,017HE puts the 200-500BCE the 9500-9800HE. That they Great Bronze Age collapse is just the 8500-8800HE. That humanity may have had other levels of organization from 0HE to what we were able to dig up. That there are still an amazing set of things we are able to do prior to Metallurgy. 
  5. That Aging Penalties were a Buzz Kill that I have to accept now that I'm nearing 40 and i am able to monitor and document the decline of my physical performance. My median performance is more stable and better in some cases, but the limits I can push them have decreased. Its not that I've become weaker -its just I learned how much pointless damage I'm inflicting on my body. That It takes more effort (time in the day) to maintain my health than when I was young and I wasted it. That every excursion (like an airsoft game) is a risk of some injury that will give me pain for a long time, while sitting on my ass and playing something for 4-6 hours straight is not a luxury I can afford (given how my joints and body reacts when not active).  
    1. Basically I learned the long term effects of periods of Youthful exuberance, mindless of safety and the long term costs.  
  6. if I run games again, that it would be 40-50 minutes increments with a Tabata/Pomodoro Timer and have 10-20mins to move around, freshen up, and take notes. My Session planning will be based on those time units. 
    1. I would want to record them all. 
    2. A strategy of Cutting and Editing a Game session for ease of viewing. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finished Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson

A great read 5/5.

And I  need to sched a sit down reread it:
1) for the jeffro criteria of bad and good rpg elements. I need to nail it down into a criteria for my gaming skills Gdoc.
2) to form a to read list so I can download it all in one sitting. I also need to improve on my author style analysis criteria. So that as I go through the yo read list I capture examples and great portions for analysis, modeling, and methodology development.
A good book for me has actionable knowledge - even if the action is directing me to knowledge. It also has a great criterias to allow me my own judgement and understand underlying assumptions.
I personally like alway checking the source material, always check or make accessible the sources. Having the derivative and originals is a great data point for comparisons.

Personal notes. 

I can relate. I'm born 1979. The guys that got me into gaming were guys 4-5 years older than me. the guys who got them into Gaming were 10-12 years older than me. I got to game with the guys who taught them to game like Bobby Navarro, Nikos Ong, Ben-g Perez etc... These guys were the original group of guys who played in the Baredo Home, during the early 80s when they first brought D&D in the philippines. So I have this weird relationship going half a generation to our senior Gaming Generation. I tried to read what they read, and saw how hey gamed.

Being able to look at the Source Material is always important. Especially when things can be so confusing and derivative and we lose track of inspirations and technique. We lose track of getting better if we can't track where we learned and our mistakes (and the mistakes of others).

After reading it I've set up my library to check out the sources. I love studying author styles, so learning how present day authors learned their techniques and pacing is a great learning experience and opportunity.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Complexity and Details; Bad Benchmarks

In the last Post I talked about how I use The 20 Rules of Formulating Knowledge as a criteria for books and knowledge in general.

I wanted to talk about some pet peeve, particularly Physical limitations. Something I talked about before and can be seen in how I use movement rules to look at how well a game models physical limitations. Now that shit doesnt matter in the grand scheme of things, at the same time details do matter. The whole argument about GURPS and other such crunchy systems is about how to deal with complexity.

This is where 20rffk applies and can make my life in gaming and work so much easier. It helps us by being able to deal with complexity - we are not afraid of it, neither daunted, or bothered in a way that would distract us. It is in mastering how we organized knowledge (what ever note taking system you use) and how we 5S our mind, workspace, or gaming space that allows us to deal with any sort of complexity.

Of course there are details to this thesis. There are Constraints (a term I  use to categorize a group of details that limit actions and goals) to consider.

  • It helps that the Game Book educates or facilitates the learning of being better organized and able to prioritize. That it give knowledge that adheres to the 20rffk - so its saves time and facilitate practice in 
  • That the game book has well defined goals and objectives for the gamers can use for themselves. Something more useful and SMART than FUN.
  • That it teaches how to set up a feedbackloop between the Participants and the Goals.

Call to Action

to deal with Complexity we have to have a foundation of Knowledge acquisition and organization. 

  1. Try to Define your SMART gaming goals. Define and Measure how you and your group, have fun. When you do, you slowly start creating testable criterias. 
  2. Have a Methodology, Communicate that with your Peers or Group, and have feedback loop going. 
  3. Organize your knowledge and feedback, adapt, think and feedback. 

The Distracting Rant I wanted to talk about

Physical Limitations are details worthy of our attention. Physical Education 体育 is one of those things related to First Aid, Being healthy, and understanding the Ethics of Being Healthy. Its one of those Skills that are prerequisite to a healthy and stable society. 

No your character cannot hike 30miles/48km a day carrying 60lbs/27kg for  like a month! Reasonable physical benchmarks have become more accessible each passing year. Its just amazing how a person without lifting skill can pick up 50% their bodymass and not injure themselves. 

You know how often I think of Physical Limitations- EVERY TIME I WORK OUT! EVERYDAY I wonder if I'm permanently injuring myself or making my core stronger so I can do HEMA in 30lbs of gear one day or when I play airsoft  with 20lbs of gear doing encircling maneuvers in hilly terrain with my 38 year old knees against guys under 30. That all my friends are suffering some kind of physical ailment and are trying to do some physical therapy to get over their weaknesses. 

I dont like character physical benchmarks and limitations to be set on SUPER specialized Modern day Olympians. I dont like Physical Limitations that fail to capture what IS remarkable. I don't like setting up the wrong benchmarks - that demotivate people from achieving tangible gains or appreciate every hard won millimeter. 

The same goes with Mental Limitations - my learning Chinese has taught me a lot of what it costs to be able to speak it and read it. That when every company tries to squeeze the productive hours of its employees to the last drop, that what is left is for self-care, family, relationships, and recovery - that there is barely any time or space for personal development. 

To sum it up, I dont like bad benchmarks. I know we make shit up in the fly but when more realistic benchmark comes up, lets be ready to adapt to a better model. We go through game mechanics the way we go through apps, games, movies, tv shows, etc.... Its a tiny detail - its wrong, but it annoys me to no end because everyday mandarin at broken has added up to more than 600 manhours. That just eating right takes about hundreds of hours of Tries, failed experiments, and going too far. That there is a lot of Human Experience behind some bad numbers. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How I use the 20rffk to evaluate RPG books.

The 20 rules of formulating knowledge violates its own rules. I'm spoiling for anyone who hasn't read this and removing the chance to have this awesome discovery. When you realize it violates itself, then you may realize that it becomes the first exercise of the 20rffk.

Going back to TRPGs, below is the simplified version of the 20rffk.

  1. Understandable. 
  2. Simplified.
  3. Organized.
  4. Engaging. 

#5 User Friendly. Does it give me all the tools that saves me time to run my game. In one prep session can I print out all the tools? Tables, Character Sheets, Rule References, Flow Charts etc...

My Methodology

Basically this is Auditing, we check against something, typically criteria or SMART goals
  1. Take note of Violations to the 5 point criteria.
  2. Taken note when they go out of their way to explain further. If they use more than one way to explain a point and they used one of the 5 point criteria. 
  3. Take note when I don't understand. 

The 20 rules of formulating knowledge Simplified to 4 points.

Understandable

1 Understand to learn.* (Do not learn if you do not understand)
2 Learn before you memorize
3 Build on the Basics

*my favored methodology is always to frame as an action and detail as a constraint. 

Simplified

3 Build on the Basics
4 Use the minimum information principle
5 Simplify and make discrete each bit of knowledge (originally Cloze deletion is easy and effective)
6 Use Imagery. It takes some visual planning and design to formualte what images help engage the audience as well as serve a learning tool. Rarely do game writer work with their designers for visual learning aids the focus more on engagement. 
7 Use Mnemonic Techniques
12 Optimize Wording

Organized

8 Use formulas, models, or definition (originally Avoid Sets). instead of creating a set and filling in the elements of the set, just use a formula to describe the category. 
Chunk Information (Originally Avoid enumeration; chunking means keeping this 2-4 bits long)
11 Track Interference (Originally Combat Interference)
12 Optimize Wording
18 Provide Sources
17 #3 and always create a link to the basics (originally Redundancy does not contradict the minimum information principle)
19 All relevant accessible and referenced. (original Provide Date stamping. in the case of TRPGs, create a way for people to see all the relevant topics under a category like the See Also section in wikipedia. this is for the purpose of updates, errata, and other such added details that accumulate over time)
20 Prioritize.

Engaging

6 Use Imagery
7 Make discrete Imagery notes, while keeping a holistic view (Graphic deletion is as good as cloze deletion)
13 Give tools for Personalization (Originally Refer to others memories; the best way to create tools for personalization is knowing your audience)
14 Personalize and Provide Examples. (allow the audience to be able to personalize)
15 Rely on Emotional States
16 Context cues simplify wording

Goals and Objectives

A strong relationship with our audience, even those who don't agree with us or have the same preferences. A methodology and process can be critiqued and communicated to other people. It creates a basis to align our perspectives as well as to allow us to include the perspectives of others. 

Assuming (Criteria, Goals and Objectives, and Methodology) is where a lot of miscommunication begins. Its better to have it all out and written for feedback than to not write it and make incorrect assumptions.  

Reasons

What caused me to write this is the argument about knowledge complexity. The 20rffk helped create a method of measuring complexity. I will post more on bridging the Gap of Audience and Product in the future. But this post and the related post are the basics.

Inaccessible Knowledge is knowledge that cannot be used or enjoyed. Everything learned occupies space (in its written form) and time, and it all adds up to make things more complicated and complex as to be inaccessible. If we are very connected with our audience and empathic of their circumstance we can overcome the Isolationist tendency of being in an Ivory tower with our knowledge.

Related