18 May, 2010

Vector Theory #21: An Alternative look at Task Resolution and Conflict Resolution

I was just driving home this morning and something struck me....not like the road rage incident I was involved in a couple of weeks ago, when an aggressive idiot got out of his car and broke my nose...I mean more of a metaphysical striking.

I previously referred to a definition of task resolution and conflict resolution by Eero T. According to my interpretation of this definition in the context of Vector Theory, a scene is a cluster of nodes (decision points). The narraton heads into this cluster like a ball being shot into a pinball machine. It passes through some obstacles, and it's deflects of others to twist the story in a new direction. Once the narraton emerges from the cluster, there are a variety of directions it could end up heading (depending on how the conflict was resolved and the outcome of that resolution).

The resolution of a task is reflected by the narraton interacting with a specific node. The resolution of a conflict is reflected by the narraton's overall interaction with the cluster. Many simplistic games resolve the entire cluster with a single node interaction (I'm not using simplistic in a derogatory fashion here, I'm merely using it to say these games aren't complicated and crunchy).

I've now thought of a different metaphor that might make more sense in Vector Theory.

Some parallel topics on a few forums at the moment are describing the differences between narrative play and simulationist play (here) and (here) while others are discussing the nature of task and conflict resolution (here) ... and a link to a related thread (here)

...And this has gotten me thinking.

A narrative basis for game play doesn't focus on the cluster of nodes, it focuses on the changes of direction of the narraton.It is focused on the way the story unfolds, where it is going and where it has been.

A simulationist basis for game play doesn't focus on the individual node, it focuses on the wavelength changes of the narraton. It is focused on the individual obstacles and how well a character (or group of characters) is able to confront the task at hand.

Individual nodes or cluster of nodes no longer become the basis for judging the difference between a task and a conflict. A task is purely an interaction that adjusts the capabilities of the narraton, a conflict is purely an interaction that adjust the narraton's trajectory.

Inappropriate task resolutions become sequences of events that don't change a characters capabilities. The character suffers no harm, and they gain no benefits. The story just keeps pumping along as it did before.

Inappropriate conflict resolutions become sequences of events that make no dramatic difference to the story. The story doesn't twist in a new direction, no new tensions pull at the narraton.

Inappropriate scenes combining inappropriate task and conflict resolution are basically just expositions from the narrator/GM. The players don't do anything meaningful, they don't gain any way to change the direction of the story or their capacity within it. You might as well be watching a movie.

Just some thoughts...

Do they make sense?
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