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Further to the task resolution/conflict resolution thing
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:39 pm    Post subject: Further to the task resolution/conflict resolution thing Reply with quote

Here's Vincent Baker's article on this. It's pretty much what I was trying to say at the meeting: http://www.lumpley.com/hardcore.html#4

Ben Lehman's comments here are also interesting and maybe why Morgue wasn't getting what I was trying to say: http://benlehman.thesmerf.com/?p=59. And you may be right about that pretty much defining it away as a game design element.

Which would leave me railing against illusionist play rather than task resolution. Which is okay.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Further to the task resolution/conflict resolution thing Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
Here's Vincent Baker's article on this. It's pretty much what I was trying to say at the meeting: http://www.lumpley.com/hardcore.html#4


This is interesting, especially after reading the Mountain Witch.

I think the use of conflict and task can be problmatic and I will explain why (though excuse my rambling path) Smile The real difference between the 2 approaches seems to me to whether the impact of the roll is negotiated before the roll (conflict) or after (task).

By making it "after" like in most traditional RPGs, the ability of the player to negotiate is reduced (as the task has been set and the dice have already spoken) and the GM seemingly takes on greater narrative control.

This makes me wonder whether you can have a task resolution system that requires negotiation beforehand? What would its impact be?

I find it interesting that in many conflict resolution mechanics, the GM is still given the ultimate say on the results of the prior negotiation. In MW and DitV, the GM is left with the reponsibilty to insure the stakes decided are reasonable and work in conctext of the greater narrative. Both games include considerable guidelines on how the GM should to do this but the discretion remains.

My question is whether this discretion is really all that different from the discretion to narrate the impact of a task resolution system?

My thoughts are leading me to suspect that what is really important is the commonality of expectation. Conflict based resolution systems aren't that inherently different from task based ones except they create a coomon expectation in advance. Essentially, they provide a forum for player input and also make the GM's intention clear. Ultimately the GM still has the responsibility and discretion for ensuring the resolution fits the overall narration. It is just that he can't change his mind after setting the ground rules, and the player has a more definite way to contribute.

This is very similar to how Dale runs Cthulhu. Before he makes a task based roll, he will let you know the results and ask whether you want to proceed. This cuts through the concept of "illusion" and gives the player a common expectation with the GM. However, a good chunk of the GM discretion remains.

Where does this lead me? Well I think the distinction between task and conflict is difficult to make and as a result can produce misunderstanding as people try and deifine what is a task and what is conflict. From reading MW, I realise just how narrow that line can be. The important distinction is whether you negotiate the result of the dice roll before or after the roll is made. If you negotiate before hand, the player and GM can often change and redefine the outcome in such a way that the rules often resolve conflicts. If you leave negotiation afterward, things are more difficult as the subject of the roll has been set as the task.
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke, that shared expectation beforehand is absolutely the key thing.

If both players rolling know beforehand the consequences of the roll, then everything is cool.

The problem is when there's a possibility for a player (usually the GM) to change the stakes after the roll is made. In most games this is the case and rarely causes problems, but if the trust fails, it can be really annoying.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
The problem is when there's a possibility for a player (usually the GM) to change the stakes after the roll is made. In most games this is the case and rarely causes problems, but if the trust fails, it can be really annoying.


This brings me back to the GM cheating issue, Mike. I have just realised that I was arguing for retaining GM discretion which I see as in both task and conflict resolution systems. I suspect you may have been arguing the GM's ability to go back on a set expectation. I still think we are at slight odds but in a different way and not to the extent that I thought Smile Interesting.

FWIW when reading MW I kept thinking this is essentially a very traditional rule set with some cool mechanics added. It made me realise that you could in many ways apply the conflict resolution concept to even task resolution systems.

It also relates to my Grand Experiement about generating common expectations. Interestinger and interestinger.

I am so looking forward to DitV this weekend Smile
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:
FWIW when reading MW I kept thinking this is essentially a very traditional rule set with some cool mechanics added.


Kinda. The prisoner's dilemma trust mechanic is pretty damn radical, in my opinion. Also the players have a large amount of narrative control, which you may be overlooking - recall that they can just add stuff to the game related to their dark fate. I don't remember that there are many constraints on this - specifically, the GM and other players can't veto dark fate elements being brought in.

Luke wrote:
It made me realise that you could in many ways apply the conflict resolution concept to even task resolution systems.


You can, but I've found that games built with a thoroughly task resolution mindset sometimes resist the change. This is why I gave up on WFRP - it felt like it was pulling my game down.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
Kinda. The prisoner's dilemma trust mechanic is pretty damn radical, in my opinion. Also the players have a large amount of narrative control, which you may be overlooking - recall that they can just add stuff to the game related to their dark fate. I don't remember that there are many constraints on this - specifically, the GM and other players can't veto dark fate elements being brought in.


Possibly though this seems to be the same difference of opinion that we had with Shadows of Yesterday Smile

Maybe it has something to do with how I run games, but I see both games as providing some great advice on these ideas and some new mechanics but essentially at there heart are very little different from other traditional RPGs. The Trust mechanic is no more radical than Hero Points in M&M or Virtues iN Exalted.

For example, MW is interesting as it essentially contains lots of encouragement as to conflict negotiation and player control of narrative but at the end of the day these will only appear if the GM and players follow them through with actual play. In fact, in MW I was surprised how much the mechanics required on the players to make appropriate choices to make the system work as intended, in terms of trust and fate, to the point where these choices could be made by those players in any RPG (it is just that they wouldn't be mechanically focussed on them).

I guess in a way that this relates to my Grand Experiment. All the encouragment in the world is going to have no impact unless the GM and players act in way to give them effect. It is about buidling a common expectation. Many Forge games are great at encouraging this sort of behaviour by providing quick fire rules and guidelines but essentially they don't fundamentally change the underlying nature of a traditional RPG.

I will point out that in comparison to these I do see My Life With Master and Dogs in the Vineyard as fundamentally changing the nature of a traditional RPGs. Strangely I don't like the first but think the latter is a masterpiece. The way Dogs actually creates genre appropriate action without restricting the narrative is sublime. Also, unlike MW, DitV does this without requiring the players to consciously make actions to give these effect. In this sense what DitV does cannot be replicated in a traditional RPG at all.

I am not trying to knock MW or TSoY. I really like both and embrace the cool ideas they contain. However, they are not to me a significant step away from traditional style RPGs. I certainly intend to use the ideas as guidelines in traditional RPGs.
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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mean that the trust stuff is radical because it is a bigger rule than hero points (for example). Just that nobody has done it before.

Same with keys in TSoY.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
I don't mean that the trust stuff is radical because it is a bigger rule than hero points (for example). Just that nobody has done it before.

Same with keys in TSoY.


Fair enough.
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hix



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No time to read at the mo', but I'll point to some current threads on Story Games:

Sell me on: Task resolution.

Sell me on: Conflict resolution.

Hopefully they have something to contribute.
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Luke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hix wrote:
Hopefully they have something to contribute.


Interesting. Most of this confirms what I have been thinking.

The distinction between resolving tasks and conflicts can be difficult. The underlying difference appears to be whether the system pre-sets the expectations between players and GM.

I thought there was an interesting comment made that conflict resolution tends to focus on player intent (rather than character intent). It may not always be true but it certainly articulates one issue with Forge Style games that I hope to explore with my Grand Experiment.
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Highwayman



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eeek!

I'm only halfway through one of those links you gave, but I already know that I never want to get in a conversation with those guys.

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MikeSands



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Um... why not?
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Highwayman



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't really summarise it in a few words without seeming picky, but the posters seem to me to be incredibly intolerant of points of view other than their own, and the whole "Sell me on TR" Thread seems to consist of people trying to patiently explain why their point of view is the only possible one.

Brrr.

And by the end of the thread the only compromise that anyone has made is that there ought to be new definitions for the argument.


Without knowing much more about Conflict resolution vs Task resolution than I've read here and in these threads, the manner of the people doing the arguing has actually put me off investigating Conflict Resolution systems.

Anyway, maybe those just happened to be particularly bellicose posters. Like the prolific poster who posted this example of arrogant patronisation:
Quote:

Shreyas Sampat3 days ago
Dave, I really think you need to play some of this conflict-resolution stuff. I'm not deft enough to extricate and explain the misconceptions in your post, but I see them.

Maybe you can drop by #indierpgs and the IRC crowd can show you around a system or two. It has worked for other people!


Cheers
Grant
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morgue



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Further to the task resolution/conflict resolution thing Reply with quote

MikeSands wrote:
Ben Lehman's comments here are also interesting and maybe why Morgue wasn't getting what I was trying to say: http://benlehman.thesmerf.com/?p=59. And you may be right about that pretty much defining it away as a game design element.


Thanks for this - I'd seen Vincent's stuff before but not this tag from Ben.

I'm increasingly leaning towards the interpretation that Task Resolution is being used as a shorthand for 'meaningless instances of resolution' (which maybe a.k.a. illusionism). The fact that task and conflict resolution both scale up and down so readily just reinforces my belief that Vincent's seeing something that isn't actually there - the perceived distinction is an artifact of other elements at work.

Ben's spiel about other ways resolution counts as conflict resolution resonates with me a bunch. His comment in the story games thread about an orthogonal task and conflict res system is also interesting, but I think ultimately doesn't change where I'm heading with this line of thought.
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Highwayman



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having mulled the item over for a while, I think I can now clarify where I stand in this area and why. I think at the moment I am a Task-Resolution favoring person who preferrs immersion.

This might well change, for example I thoroughly enjoyed the Shared Narration game at KapCon (The Lucky Jonses IIRC). Anyway, on with my reasoning.

I like to program computers. I work all day "Scripting" in a custom interpreted programming language, as well as a few industry standard ones. The programming approach is one that I enjoy. When i'm programming something that I've not done before I go through the following process:

1) Identify the goals of the program
2) Systematically plot out the steps involved until I'm confident that I've got a plan that outlines the steps involved and the likely consequences, using my knowledge of the language.
3) Make a Skeleton of the program for each step that involves checking for errors.
4) Actually coding each little step.

Now in that coding phase there is the corollary that I'll plan for failure: i.e. if I get duff input into one part of the program it'll either catch the error and work around it or it'll fail gracefully.

To me this is an enjoyable process, it's problem solving and requires clear logical thought.

Getting (slowly) to the point, a Taskbased resolution system holds a lot in common, if I might presume to draw an analogy, the following might be a plausable step-process:

1) I Decide on how I want a particular Conflict resolved
2) Using my knowledge of the system and it's starting variables (i.e. my character + environment) I'll link together a string of tasks systematically until I'm confident that I've got a plausable method of resolving the Conflict.
3) Make preperations for each step, possibly including training or buying equipment
4) Start describing my actions to the GM.

Now this is modified by feedback loops and error checks.


To me, that's a lot of fun. I can enjoy an immersive character experience implementing the plan, as well, I can enjoy the intellectual stimulation that comes of solving problems by breaking them into little pieces.

Now from what I understand, Colflict Resolution consists of the following process:
1)Identify what I want to do based on the scale of the conflict and what I precieve as important
2) Roll the dice.

This can be a lot more theatrical, and I've had awesome games ("Normality" at KapCon for example) where this has happened, but it does lack the intellectual stimulation of working through a process to get the desired results.

So, I think that based on the threads linked to earlier, I am now leaning more towards task-based resolution and less towards Conflict.... if I had to put numbers on them, I'd say I'm at the 75% TR / 25% CR point.

Ahhh, that feels better, spleen vented Smile

Have a good weekend everyone.

Cheers
Grant
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