The main use of the process model is in analyzing how the different components support or hinder each other. For this purpose, because the components of the model are distinct and complete entities in themselves, the interactions between them can be modeled as a simple support/hinder dichotomy.
Also, in this context, the choosing of Methods according to Process requirements as well as the restrictions Circumstances place on the available Methods lose significance. The resulting simplified flow is visualized in figure 2. Methods and Circumstances support or hinder Processes, while Processes affect each other and the realization of Results. Of the two remaining feedback loops, the one directly between two Processes is the more important, and thankfully usually both easy to recognize and analyze. The more complex interaction, in which a Process affects another indirectly through affecting Circumstances, fortunately proved in our six months of testing the model to be infrequent and/or inconsequential, and can thus often be ignored.
A flowchart depicting the support/hinder relations of components of a sample session can be seen in figure 3. Such a flowchart is of necessity a conglomerate description, because the relationships between the components change over time inside a session. In cases where this is problematic, multiple flowcharts from different points of time or different viewpoints can be crafted.
In the example, Meaning, a positive emotional connect, has been generated through the Exploration of a Theme. There was also some Competition among the players, but no-one actually enjoyed that enough to gain any benefit from it. In contrast, the existence of Competition was seen to pollute the Exploration of Theme with incompatible priorities.
The Method of Distributing Power over the Shared Imaginary Space to All Players and the Method of Encouraging Discussion of Potential Future Plot Twists were seen to help in Exploration of the Theme, while certain aspects of the rules were seen to be the forces fostering the air of Competition among the players. The Circumstance of Player Tiredness was seen to hinder both of the Processes - but conversely, by keeping the players on their toes and thus reducing Player Tiredness, the Process of Competition actually ended up also indirectly benefiting the Exploration of Theme.
This same simple formalization of interactions can also be used to plan future sessions, trying to predict what the interactions of the various components will be and selecting a blend that supports the most wanted components best. Perfect support between the Processes is extremely hard to obtain and perhaps not even advantageous -- humans are extremely good at adapting, and cross-Process interference can be easily forgiven if the Processes still provide a good enough yield of Benefits.
When using the concepts of the Process Model for stating play preferences or describing visions of future sessions or campaigns, one should always start with the Benefits desired. After that, other layers of components can be added on, if desired.
The simplest form of stating a preference or vision is only stating the Benefits a person is interested in. For example: ``I'm interested in gaining Meaning and Entertainment from role-playing'', or ``I'm thinking my next campaign will be pure Meaning''.
To this, Process restrictions can be added: ``I'm interested in gaining Meaning and Entertainment from role-playing, and want to do it by Immersion and/or Exploring the Social Surroundings of My Character'' or ``I'm thinking my next campaign will be pure Meaning, through the Exploration of Moral Social Dilemmas''.
Finally, if necessary, Method restrictions can be added: ``I'm interested in gaining Meaning and Entertainment from role-playing, and want to do it by Immersion and/or Exploring the Social Surroundings of My Character by Pure in-SIS Causality Simulation'' or ``I'm thinking my next campaign will be pure Meaning, through the Exploration of Moral Social Dilemmas, with Much Scene Framing Power Given to the Players''.
In this way, the preferences stated never lose sight of what actually is important. all role-playing that is enjoyable must lead to a Benefit, and that Benefit must come through a Process. A plain statement like ``I want to play a game with Pure in-SIS Causality Simulation'' guarantees an enjoyable game only in the rare circumstance that actually all Processes and Benefits are equally palatable to the one giving the statement.
Eetu Mäkelä 2005-03-02