5 Analysis of Typical Component Interactions in the Model

While it is useful to remember that none of the support/hinder relationships between the components of the model discussed in chapter 3.1 are absolute, there are many common patterns that usually hold. This section tries to analyze some of them, starting with the Processes of the normative version of the model and then moving on to a few sample Methods.

5.0.1 Process: Competition

Usually, Competition co-exists poorly with the other Processes. The grounds for decision-making required in Competition are very rarely in sync with the decision-making grounds of other Processes. With Tension, Competition can coexist for as long as other factors like the game rules can keep Tension alive. When this is the case, the decision-making priorities between the two are the same. It is only when balance is broken that problems arise, but then they may be as severe as with all the other Processes. With respect to Challenge, the situation is much the same.

5.0.2 Process: Tension

Tension shares much of the same interactions as Competition. It can rarely truly coexist with most of the other Processes. But because the imperative to do well is not as strong as in Competition, it may be easier to blend with the others. For example, in a murder mystery game, Tension (and even Competition) could exist alongside the Exploration of detective work or even Immersion, with the various characters racing to find the murderer first. Tension and Challenge are mutually compatible.

5.0.3 Process: Challenge

Challenge, existing primarily on an individual level, rarely affects the running of other processes. Tension and Competition are especially congruent. Immersion however, can be adversely affected, if challenge is actively sought from the one Immersing. To an extent, the same goes for the Exploration of an Entity and the Exploration of a Concept.

5.0.4 Process: Immersion

Immersion is a companion of the Exploration of an Entity. The two can share the exact space for a long time, so that the other players get Exploration and the one Immersing into the entity gets Immersion.

Those Competing will not be bothered by Immersionists much -- except if they perceive a total lack of challenge, but anyone valuing Tension may be spoiled by having to keep dragging the Immersionists along to keep it going. Challenge is also usually unaffected, as long as the one Immersing does not inadvertently ruin the challenge.

5.0.5 Process: Exploration of an Entity of the SIS

As previously stated, Exploration of an Entity goes well with Immersion, if the entity being explored is the same that the immersionists are trying to immerse into. But if true Immersion is attained, at least for that player, it completely replaces the Exploration.

As for the other processes, they are not very much constrained by the Exploration of an Entity, unless they touch on that Entity directly and profusely.

5.0.6 Process: Exploration of a Concept through the SIS

Exploration of a Concept doesn't often do really well with the Exploration of an Entity. They approach exploration from too different vantage points, with the Explorers of a Concept wanting to inject that concept into all interactions, while the Explorers of an Entity would just like to see that entity interact with a multitude of different elements. With the other Processes, the situation is similar.

5.0.7 Method: Consequence Rules

Consequence Rules are a rule Method that describes the consequences of a characters actions in relation to a meter. In turn, the value of this meter measures some important aspect of the character, and also affects how he can function in the game-world. Examples of such mechanics are the humanity mechanic in Sorcerer[7] and all the attributes of characters in My Life With Master[8].

These methods are directly built for a subclass of the Exploration of a Concept, the exploration of the consequences of one's actions. In relation to the other processes, these rules are usually reasonably isolated. However, Immersion can suffer from any forced behavior resulting from the Consequence Rules.

5.0.8 Methods: Use of Only In-Character Knowledge, In-SIS Causality and Realism

Use of Only IC Knowledge, In-SIS Causality and Realism are all Methods drawing a border between the Shared Imagined Space and the Shared Space of Imagining. They all deal with insulating the SIS from outside influences to various degrees and in various ways.

The Method of using only In-Character Knowledge versus also including Out-of-Character Knowledge does this by limiting the bases of decisions. This Method certainly supports the Process of Immersion.

The requirement for In-SIS Causality on the other hand forces adherence to an In-SIS simulation of event causes and effects. This supports those Processes that benefit from an ability to conclusively and believably rationalize events from a purely in-SIS perspective. Immersion again certainly qualifies, but also some forms of Exploration of an Entity would probably benefit.

Finally, Realism, or perhaps better termed believability with respect to genre conventions, is a looser restriction, only requiring that any change to the SIS can be rationalized as believable after the fact. Usually, this is sufficient for maintaining Empathy in Exploration, but the mere act of applying outside rationale to decisions can be enough to break Immersion.

The Processes of Competition and Tension both suffer from all these Methods.

Eetu Mäkelä 2005-03-02