Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Gameons and a unified theory of gaming

It's been stimulating few days, even weeks, and today reflected that. I've been working on an increasingly holistic resolution system, holistic in the sense of Beedo's recent post on tiers in a game. I've also pondered Tim's malgic, the Terminal Space spells of NetherWerks and Needles, and Gotthammer's destructible buildings for FireZone.

It has me wondering what the basic practical and even fundamental unit of gaming is or could be. I'm imagining if you mixed up all the various game systems, what you might see in the overlap is a universal game 'space' formed of particles. These particles would be the smallest elements dealt with in any game. For fun, let's call them gameons.

A human say might be composed of various gameons down to the level of individual fingers, in that injury in a given game may see the loss of one or more digits, as in say Necromunda. The gameons would have a kind of pseudo-spin so that those forming the human body generally would be affected by particular other particles, those that are solid, sharp, hot etc. They could be made lycanthropic and gain a vulnerability to silver.

These gameons would also have bonds with each other reflecting the musculoskeletal system say, or the violent dissociation Shawn mentioned yesterday. Although few if any game systems deal with this directly, some may allow particular limb movements, hacks or slashes for example, and others do assume amputation, as with those fingers.

What game systems are effectively doing is gathering up these hypothetical gameons or gameon interactions and forming them into rules, for magic, vehicle hulls, reactions in certain circumstances. I think part of what we speak of as elegance in rulesets is a recognition that the cuts have been made in the right places, or consistently.

What interests me is taking the gameon as a reflection of the broad concepts in gaming, all the potential we know and maybe don't, and producing a system corresponding to it.

Would anyone want to play a game at gameon level? Could it even be done?


Cygnus said...

Would anyone want to play a game at gameon level?

Not to be too facetious, but isn't that what computers do? ;-)

I guess it's possible, though, to view the various possible levels of "crunch" or "grind" in a tabletop game as equivalent to collecting the gameons into molecules (gamecules??) of different sizes. The question becomes: How blurry do you want your vision to be?

Porky said...

Fair point. 'Gaming' is a rather misleading term. I wasn't thinking computers, but I do wonder how long we have to wait before electronic realities seem more sharply defined than the real thing, in areas other than the visual too, levels of interaction for example.

'Gamecule' carries on the metaphor well. The question of blurriness looks at the thing from one direction, but suggests loss. We could turn it into a question of gain and ask 'How much we need to know?' or 'How much can we know?' given the constraints of time and tools.

I like the underlying theme of gaming theory at your blog by the way. Going deeper into the thing is very interesting.

Gotthammer said...

It would be interesting to do some research into it and hash out what the most common / basic elements of games actually are.
A while ago some clearly mad scientists did research and data analysis on music to make 'the most popular song ever' or somesuch by combining the most popular and common elements of music.

Of course it was terrible, hillarious, but terrible. I imagine a game made in such a way would be equally bad, pleasing no-one, but as an exercise in theory I'd love to see it.
Think I could get a research grant?

For how small, your D2 post probably covered that in a mechanical sense very well. The most basic unit of gaming is a yes/no algorithm - I guess it depends on how fiddly you want the yesses and nos to be.

Porky said...

That's an intriguing thought. Maybe a consortium for that grant? I'd love to spend some time on it, and I'd bet we could very easily find a few other willing researchers.

A very rough take, maybe with a narrower focus, could probably be put together by one of us, anyone with a fair knowledge of our kind of gaming, and of course the necessary time. We're probably most of us aware of the common mechanisms. Something to keep in mind for a quiet hour or two.

I've actually been thinking about the D2 post recently, and the D1 as well. The D1 is still the most visited page on the blog and going back to the discussion now, it's still mind expanding, a wonderful reminder of what passionate and knowledgable people can do. There were some great thoughts in there.

For anyone who hasn't had a look, the D1 is here and the D2 here. The law of identity, mentioned in the final D2 comment, was covered in a Deep thought Friday, here.