Philosophical Implementation

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AuthorTopic: Philosophical Implementation
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #0
It seems a number of scenarios are designed around preaching, demonstrating, or expounding a specific philosophy. I think this was true of Roses of Reckoning, A Perfect Forest, and Emerald Mountain.

In your opinion what game mechanics seem to help or harm this style of scenario.

Some suggestions which seem to help scenarios focused on philosophy are:

1) Include character items like the Silver Cross Bracelet which are symbolic of the philosophy.

2) Put symbols into the scenario which represent the philosophy. Graphics of wall banners, statues, etc.

3) Put in a book or two or a tome about the philosophy.

4) Use text bubbles as slogans an Anama priest might say "Magic is Demonic".

5) Use secondary characters to give opinions outside of the main character which differ from the main character.

6) Preach to the character at appropriate points-- school lecture hall, library, temple, mayors office, etc.

Thoughts, views, opinions.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Shaper
Member # 22
Profile #1
I think that philosophy has yet to be put forward in a convincing manner in BoA, as of yet. Those three scenarios made their philosophies glaringly obvious, in a very unbelievable manner.

Personally, I think that if philosophy is going to be the purpose of your scenario (something which I would, as a player, advise against), you should make it lie beneath the surface of the scenario, rather than in your face.
Posts: 2862 | Registered: Tuesday, October 2 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #2
When you make a scenario that is not a shallow hack-only action thing, it seems quite easy to make the plot allegorical. Of course, anything with a plot contains a theme, and a message to the audience, just like literature.

I can't think of any reason why scenarios tend to make this message less subtle than books, but I suppose it is all a matter of skill (not technical designing skill, but plot design). Perhaps the fact that everything you put into a scenario is experienced directly by the player, while you can just 'overlook' key passages in a book, makes such things rise to the surface more easily.

All of TM's BoA works I've played (I haven't played many others yet, that is, many others that were worthwhile) have had a viewpoint to push. The views aren't radical in a way that I can't identify with any of them, but I don't like someone's moral ethics and opinions rubbed into my face when playing/reading something. :P

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
The Establishment
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All scenarios have really been too short to really delve into any philosophical issue that it deserves.

A Perfect Forest is not really about the Nazi philosophy. The philosophy serves as a means to make the party to join the "good" side, if for no other reason the "bad" side will not accept them. Otherwise, I could have picked any issue to accomplish this. I agree, this needed a lot more work, but it served its intended purpose, I feel.

Anyway, APF has two main purposes:

1) Primarily as a toy scenario to gain skill with the editor.

2) Introduce that nasty Perfect Spirit. There are still a lot of open questions about this thing.

If anything the philosophy was more of the Perfect Spirit than anything else.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
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Pretty much all TM's stuff is very philosophical. I'm sure he'll have plenty to say as soon as he sees this topic.

Me, I don't mind a bit of philosophy as long as it's on the part of the characters rather than the scenario. Anything too heavy-handed or too aware of it's own supposed meaningfulness puts me right off. I thought A Perfect Forest handled it pretty well.

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Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Agent
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I think there is a difference between standard plotting in an adventure game and a novel. The closest fixed written thing I can think of compared to computer game writing is Choose Your Own Adventure books-- It is almost counterintuitive to write a Choose Your Own Adventure type story with a strong moral story. Most are fluff. I can't imagine a strong philosophy working well in a short scenario.

I think it would have to be in a much longer scenario so the philosophy could be worked into the background more with less exposition.

Then there is interactive fiction which is a closer form of writing. I am not sure how plot is worked out in Interactive Fiction. Somehow three or four "plots" would have to be worked into the writing come up with different endings. This could get pretty complicated.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Warrior
Member # 4204
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Philosophy as grist for the plot is fine, up until I, the player, have to buy into it in order to advance the story. As was stated earlier, it's extremely irritating to be forced to view things from a perspective I may not agree with or even understand.

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Posts: 68 | Registered: Sunday, April 4 2004 08:00
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I've spoken voiciferously too often to repeat myself again. Put consicely...

Nobody has ever, to wit, made a scenario whose crux is a message and whose form is part of the mechanism utilized to express that message. I would RATHER depart dramatically from traditional form within the context of my own devices than make a common "beat up 500 HP," only to receive the Star Cosmo Hit-Thing, 1000 gold and a philosophical rant on my way out. I don't even mind being forced into one philosophical viewpoint, as long as it isn't arbitrary. (Of course, in the case of RoR, the argument that it IS arbitrary backs up the "point" to be made with that work- again, paradoxes everywhere. More on that if you want, but it'll only leave you disliking it more.)

I guess I'm just angry 'cuz nobody has been tackling exposition in this avenue with courage yet, and I only get lambasted when I try to.

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #8
This.

To put it simply, the plot comes first and the philosophy second. If I can't recognize that the scenario reflects reality in some way, there's no way in hell I'm going to be convinced by the argument the scenario makes.

[ Sunday, September 19, 2004 10:43: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
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The thing is, to push a view point, the maker doesn't even have to be aware of doing it, or intending it. I was halfway through a plot draft for a scenario based on the Anama War when I realized the finished product, following this plan, was going to look like an allegorical, outright and obvious attack on Fundamentalism. I haven't yet started designing, because I want to get this out of the way first. I would hate to think of a work I complete as allegorical, or with any purpose beyond producing something for entertainment.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
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"Plot comes first?" Ain't that itself a philosophy? Paradoxes, again...

I'm getting bored of designing for an audience that only wants one thing. It's infuriating hearing, "I liked the fact that I could blatantly pass over the core of the scenario, so I did, but the fact that its core wasn't old-skool Tolkien-fellatio nonsense really got to me." And that's not to insult Tolkien- he had a very well-written symbolic discourse in that book that flat-out nobody saw, resulting in teeny-boppers and sweaty fanboys nattering amongst themselves about the going-ons of Orcs and Hobbits and the hottness rating of elven archers. If Tolkien made even the slightest attempt to reveal the discourse in that text, however, he would have been lambasted by the philistine masses. (Which is why, in NTH, I take care to separate what Tolkien left in his wake in the form of his ghost and utterly insane fans rather than insult the man himself. Well, I could make a few pederast jokes, but...) I stayed in the Blades community because I saw innovation, but the resistance to change is beginning to grate on my nerves. And people say that the American Revolution was an act of liberation from Britain? But they too have a modern liberal democracy. The ideological branching away from Squaresoft has almost grinded to a halt, and we as a designing community have let mainstream RPG design catch up with our level of advancement.

. . .

Why do I waste my time, anyway?

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #11
I liked Emerald Mountain and A Perfect Forest. I didn't have a problem with the use of philosophy in them. As far as the Anama thing I think it would be a good idea to do this. It might be refreshing to see some nonstandard fantasy. Allegory is an excellent idea. Hack and slash is boring. Tolkien is far from the best of the fantasists. Lord Dunsany and in some cases Jack Vance far outstrip him.

I think the objection is being the direct receiver of a lecture. Being an arbiter between two different fighting factions of philosophy like the Empire and Anama or Empire and Rebels seems to be more acceptable form of presenting the battle of ideas. For example you might be caught up in a schism in the Anama church, or a religious idea from the Vahnati that slipped into Avernum.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Shock Trooper
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I don't see anything wrong with blatant attacks are certain philosophies. It is simply impossible to defend everything. In A3, there are several attacks on racism - eg. the party is of mixed race, and is beset occassionally by various rednecks, whom they proceed to quite happily kill.

GF and GF2 are philosophyathons. We don't all hate them... do we?

The trouble comes when you make philosophies the centre of stuff, at the heart of the scenario.

1. It is simply boring to have an obviously bad philosophy. That's why I think the Barzites are an imbalancing force in GF2, and so it is less involving than GF. Similarly, no clearly good philosophy. If your philosophies are merely labels for good guy/bad guy, you might as well keep it simple and strip it out. Don't stop yourself. Insert the mad cackles.

2. The various philosophies must affect the player, as well. This, I think, GF does well. You don't use philosophies as simple allegiance - you show philosophies as part of the player's conduct. The player should be pivotal as a character.

3. The player must have a choice.

And we need to keep in mind a little psychology - any preaching will probably have the opposite effect. I was more persuaded to join the awakened than the actions of their enemies, than what Learned Pinner recited. Actions are better than dialogue.

Which would persuade you more to join the anama?

A few paragraphs of opinions from a head priest.

Taking part in a botched raid where a firebolt accidentally sets off an explosion, spawning quickfire in a busy town.
Posts: 269 | Registered: Saturday, May 24 2003 07:00
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Who actually cares when a town gets ruined? Anybody? Trying to make a tragedy by use of people dying around you is a coersive and pointless exercise, and makes for insipid gameplay. We all remember the twist ending of Johnny Fav, but who really remembers the murdered town? But that's not about philosophy either.

In response to your question- Who hates GF1 and GF2? I do.

The "philosophy" in GF is one where you're a pivotal characer, only insomuch as you answer "yes, I love Serviles" or "no, I do not love Serviles" in the dialog boxes that pop up. Why not just make an online quiz and be done with it? Philosophy should exist to say something- if you have totally free and obscenely obtuse reign in it, then it's the message of the author that your choice is meaningless anyway, which of course is something I don't put above Jeff. (Now don't get me wrong- I play around with meaningless a good deal, and meaningless choices have a time and place. But Jeff in general is too philosophically ilitterate to use this to make a game whose storyline is worth its weight in excretion.)

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
BoE Posse
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Haven't played GF2 beyond the demo, but I liked GF1 for the most part. It's fun to look at an issue from a lot of different angles. If there's a message to GF, it's "There's two (or more) sides to every story". I think it presents this argument very well, by letting us see for ourselves that virtually every character is sympathetic and has good reasons for doing what he does, no matter what side he's on. It is a bit too shallow - many of the characters don't feel like real people - but overall it's very good.

So, yeah, I'm very much with Kel on this one. I'd pay a lot more attention to the message of TM's stuff if the story and characters made sense. If they don't, why should I expect the underlying message to? An author needs to show that he understands what makes people tick before I'll believe he has anything worthwhile to say about the human condition (whatever that is).

TM, I'm sure you'll probably spontaneously combust from reading this, but if you hold together long enough to type out a reply, keep in mind that you'll never convince me of anything if I can't understand what you're saying. Use small words. :)

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Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
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It might be interesting to use the non-human races-- Sliths, Nephils, and Vahnati to present philosophies which are counterintuitive or anti-hegemonic as a plot device. They don't and shouldn't think like us. It could be a way of escaping from the trap of standard lecturing.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3022
Profile #16
In any case, my impressions of the 'philosophies' in the BoA scenarios I played so far.

PF: Ok, when do I get to kill Arvian? I mentioned this in a beta report - I was really disappointed that Arvian disappears. The Perfect Spirit never appears to be a threat.

The portrayal is reasonable, though, at least in parts. Arvian's tribe talking philosophy is credible - Arvain probably wants everybody to be tone perfect in their recitation. Arvain herself didn't come out so well - espousing her philosophy with a hostile tone of voice seems plain dumb.

EM: I liked this scenario. Good gameplay. But philosophy was crap. The first time I hear Honor, Tradition and Conviction, I think - Prats. At that moment, I wanted to slaughter the entire tribe. And in the end, does the party show an ounce of honor, tradition, or conviction? Nope. And we win.

TM, sorry, but I gotta disagree with you. I actually do care about the towns - the slaughter everyone mode only comes in when I completed a game, to find if there are any other cool things I can do with it. If there is enough of an unintended collapse of empathy for the player to automatically want to kill everyone, then I'd see that as a fault of the scenario. I mean, what are you doing in that scenario, then? Taking notes for an author's seminar? Increasing the value of meaningless numbers and stats?

Did you complete GF? I think the real goodness of GF's philosophy system is the way it develops - yes, it begins with just dumb questions, but its when they have an influence on the game world that things get interesting. Choices have a consequence above that of a score, or simple 'progress'. And none of your choices are meaningless - because of your actions, any sect can get precisely what they desired. The ultimate message, of course, is that everything has a price.
Posts: 269 | Registered: Saturday, May 24 2003 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 455
Profile #17
Kel (re: ponter to the other thread):
Quoting Nabokov to establish "plot first, philosophy later" doesn't get us much beyond "plot first, smug Liberal pieties later": he's not abstracting literary form from all social consequence just to pass the time of day.

TM:
Sure, it's pointless for people to slurp up the wizz-bangs in your scenarios as if they could eat their caramel without touching their "philosophical" apple. So why are you buying the same distinction and resorting to that "philistine masses" nonsense? Tolkien hardly cloaked his Little England propaganda in dark conceits. Readers don't ignore it: they just find it so complaisant and affirming that it goes without saying in their consumption of the text.

If there is a consistent limit which your scenarios encounter — and which the "philistine" response to them symptomatically evidences — it arises because you tend to use a didactic-allegorical mode of quest narrative to grapple with concerns that, by definition, renounce the basic premises of allegorical representation, instruction, individual heroic action, etc. So many of your conceptual "needs" then cannot be registered by your chosen plot structure that the actual action of the resulting scenarios can do little but stage the brittle negation of their narrative form by their "philosophical" content. And that's why players find it inviting to take the one and leave the other.

What other means of cognition does a story offer besides narrative? It isn't just packaging or sugar-coating; it's a mode of thought: in particular, a mode of thought for reflecting upon problems that strict deracination cannot render intelligible. So if a scenario's action can't "think" what you want it to think, then Thuryl is right (in the other thread): instead of cursing eleven-year-olds in the darkness, find a form of narrative that better answers your purposes. That kind of experimentation is bound to be well-received.

[ Sunday, September 19, 2004 17:21: Message edited by: Boots ]

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Posts: 265 | Registered: Saturday, December 29 2001 08:00
Triad Mage
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I agree with FZ, if a scenario is done correctly, you care about its characters and towns. Of Good and Evil, Quintessence, and Chains are all examples of scenarios like that.

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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Guardian
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Does it always have to be philosophy? I liked playing Stareye's scenario just for its own sake. But in the end, the question it left me with was: who owns your mind. To me, this is a very real, very realistic question. I don't know what Stareye has in mind. My impression of The Perfect Forest was that of an introduction into a theme and I look forward to what he will be doing with it.

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Posts: 1828 | Registered: Saturday, January 11 2003 08:00
Agent
Member # 2210
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Found philosophies in Avernum. Don't take this too seriously.

1) Giganticus Sadomasachistus-- a form of savagery created by giants.

2) Vampiric Romanticism-- The idea that vampires are studs, and like roses, women, and music. Exhibited in Roses of Reckoning, and Dealing With The Dead.

3) Anamaism- Magic is evil and should not be practiced only priestly magic.

4) Imperial Elitism-- It is alright to turn all non-imperials into serfs and slaughter non-humans indiscriminately.

5) Ancestral Gods-- Sliths worship their gods in temples and carve statues of their ancestors.

6) Soul Crystals-- Vahnati-- those revered in life should be turned into superior crystalline beings upon death.

7) Triadic Magery-- Centers of magical learning should be in towers ruled by three wiards.

8) Purism (my term for this)-- A strange philosophy invented by a being called the Perfect Spirit. Uses a combination of religious eugenics (not sure of this -- I think this may be true) , genocide, and perfectionism to direct Nephilim culture.

9) Speres -- Tribal philosophy based on "Honor, Loyalty, Tradition" think these are the right three.

I am sure there are others floating around in the mix. This is a sample.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
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I have never seen my scenarios' ideals butchered so thoroughly.

Well, you try, at any rate...

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
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I didn't mind the philosophical part in any of the scenarios - hell, it's a pleasant sort of relief to be able to see it at first glance rather than having to fish for the symbolism and allegory for hours on end when reading a book. I get that enough when analyzing novels in school. What I didn't like was the total inability to choose. Especially noticeable in Roses of Reckoning (nice Great Gatsby cameos, btw). Okay, the vampires were probably evil, but who cares about it? Let the corrupt town die, right? Given a choice, I'd have simply left the story at that point. :P

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You CAN leave the story until you actually begin chasing the vamps down. Not that RoR's worthy of much cogitation: 'Twas more of an irate rant in a way that nobody really discovered.

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Agent
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ROR was fun that was what mattered to me.

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