Monday, 14 February 2011

The D2

There's plenty of discussion of game systems going on, and their merits or otherwise. To argue in an informed way, give constructive criticism or design a game ourselves we need to understand what a game is, what the desired effect is - or effects are - and what the mechanisms need to do to achieve this.

Games usually involve choice, and if not a conscious choice, negotiated or otherwise, at least a means of selecting from a range of options. The recent D1 discussion is a good starting point for a long ponder on this subject, and I'd recommend having a browse to anyone who hasn't yet. For now, we'll take a more specific look at one aspect, the idea of selecting one of only two options, represented when random by the D2.

There's at least one game available based on the D2, which I learnt here at Tenkar's Tavern. The choice between two options is simple and may well be a false dichotomy, but to go by some of the entries in the list below, it is fundamental to our thinking.

0-1; positive-negative; true-false; fact-fiction; good-bad; right-wrong; best-worst; black-white; light-dark; love-hate; you and I; to be or not to be; do or die; order from chaos; heaven and earth; "Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not."; life or death; in sickness and in health; then and now; up-down; left-right; on-off; in-out; the ins and outs; the long and the short of it; push-pull; action-reaction; back and forth; there and back again; walk or run; near-far; stop-start; come and go; stay or go; first and last; win or lose; all or nothing; stand or fall; sink or swim; put up or shut up; hot and cold; fire and ice; add-subtract; speak now or forever hold your peace; take it or leave it; you're either with us or against us; my way or the highway; "ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak' the low road"; together we stand, divided we fall; with or without you; rich and poor; haves and have-nots; Beauty and the Beast; War and Peace; book-film; give and take; ask and answer; food and drink; be there or be square; red or dead...

There are also many, many more paired parts of speech, most obviously those using negative affixes like 'un-', 'dis-' and '-less', but plenty without too, even if suggestive of a larger scale, like 'happy' and 'sad'.

As I wrote, it is fundamental to our thinking, but that clearly doesn't mean it's desirable. The choice may be a false choice, but fiction has its own rules, and our expectations of fiction may be far less than we expect, as suggested in the series on fundamental laws. It's a starting point to go beyond.

For more thoughts on dice, you could take a look at this older post on the D6.


The Angry Lurker said...

I love this, the D2 or the DCoin, as your life is held to the design of 50/50 (but not always as it can take a while for it to work ou tto 50/50), or the fate of "we'll flip for it" or with this individual

Desert Scribe said...

The either-or decision tree can be a false dichotomy, if you'll pardon the pun. After all, to quote Geddy Lee & Co., "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

Paul´s Bods said...

The dice man cometh!!! Or is it two face from Batman?
Using a 50/50 decision on the throw of a coin isn´t as unimportant as it might appear.
A fork in the road...left or right?
To attack or defend?
To kill or not to kill?
To go through the trap door or to ignore it and go on??
It would be an impractibility to use say a 6D in such decision unless say, 1,2,3 was left/no/kill and 4,5,6 was right, yes, not kill, which in end effect is just like flipping a coin.
The only way a 6D could be used in such open closed computer language decision would be to take into account the history of the character and it´s prevelance for making certain decisions ie; if say the character was right handed so would more than likely (psychologically) pick the right way (wether that has been tested I don´t know, it´s just hypothetical from me)or if the character had muderess tendencies and therefore would lean more to the act of violence than a more timid character. The 6D would then have to be "unbalanced" with 1,2,3,4...right path and 5,6 left, which is then presupposing the act of chance or the "I´ll flip a coin to help me decide"
It could also be the case that the character is religious (or not) and find the act of putting things to chance not very appealing.

netherwerks said...

The D2/Dcoin does have some allure to it, but in general, we try to make sure that there are always other choices and alternatives than just an either/or proposition in our scenarios and adventures. Sometimes the implications aren't really obvious, as in real life, but they're there. The D2 enforces a really rigid right/wrong emphasis that just doesn't work for us. Neither option is necessarily more 'right,' or more 'wrong,' they just open up alternate paths, options or opportunities...and repercussions.

It seems that the D2 approach might lend itself well to Labyrinths, Mazes and some of the more rigid structural appraoches to scenario-design like the dreaded railroading stuff...and that could really speed things up for a rapid-paced hyper-delve of some sort.

That sounds like something that could be fun to experiment with...

thekelvingreen said...

Lots of musing on choice here, perhaps inevitable when you're more or less talking about flipping a coin. Dice have another function though, especially in the games we play, and that's as a random number generator. How useful is the D2 in this regard? More? Less?

Porky said...

@ The Angry Lurker - There's a romance in it, that's for sure. As for The Dice Man, are we a risk group?

@ Desert Scribe - I agree, but I'd go further and say that there may be multiple options we're not even aware of, or can be aware of. More of that thinking here.

@ Paul's Bods - How could I miss 'attack-defend' at the very least? Dang. There's depth in that answer again. An understanding of what random is - and what's random - does seem very important. Have you read this?

@ NetherWerks - Completely agree, and probably not for the first or last time. I'm pleased to hear it too, although that last line does sound ominous..!

@ kelvingreen - As a superficial attempt to answer that, we can get a wider range of numbers by rolling / flipping multiple times. My feeling is that we all do think to a lesser or greater degree - though likely in varying situations - in this kind of duality or opposition; we might be wrong to do so of course in a given situation, and I'd imagine we almost certainly must be, but when it comes to having fun, expectation is surely important, whether it is met, unmet or subverted.

Paul´s Bods said...

Is random really random....tic tac toe is to the trained and the one that moves first not random...
For example, if the successive tosses of a coin are recorded as a string of "H" and "T", then for any trial of tosses, it is twice as likely that the triplet TTH will occur before THT than after it. It is three times as likely that THH will precede HHT.
Also Coin tossing may be modeled as a problem in Lagrangian mechanics. The important aspects are the tumbling motion of the coin, the precession (wobbling) of its axis, and whether the coin bounces at the end of its trajectory.

By the way...I´m not being clever by creating this out of my head...I nicked it from wiki ;-D

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to do paper on fuzzy logic? Binary of on and off which is 1 and 0 is good and enough for me. some predicted fuzzy logic to shoot up somewhere , never seen tht.

Porky said...

@ Paul's Bods - You did a good job of fooling me. There are similar factors with dice of course. This is a very interesting subject; is there a deep underlying random in anything? Marvin Minsky makes a related point with his summary: "If you wire it randomly, it will still have preconceptions of how to play. But you just won't know what those preconceptions are."

@ meandmythinkingcap - I'm not trying, but you've got me thinking that might be how it's turning out..! Binary logic makes a big assumption, as does logic in general, and even the law of identity can be made to look shaky.