Koveras' Korner

My academic and pseudo-academic research.

The present survey provides an overview of persuasion mechanics in 15 contemporary and historical commercial pen-and-paper role-paying games (RPGs). "Persuasion mechanics" (not to be confused with "persuasive mechanics", which is another term for Ian Bogost's "procedural rhetoric") here refer to gameplay rules and procedures employed to determine the outcome of in-fiction attempts to exert social influence by or, less commonly, upon player characters (PCs) in RPGs. Due to the RPG medium's historical origins in war gaming and fantasy literature, the vast majority of rules in RPGs concern tactical combat and magical effects, while in-fiction social interactions have been often relegated entirely to "role-play" (RP), meaning that their success or failure depends mainly on actual persuasive performances and judgment calls, rather than gameplay procedures. Nevertheless, many such procedures have been proposed throughout the decades and eventually converged into a number of recurrent design patterns that we will outline in the conclusions.

In the previous post, I have discussed the various AI systems in Ghul. This is a similarly deep dive into the behavior-governing systems of my other AI-intense game, Winter Palace (a.k.a. "my Love Letter clone").

It has just dawned on me that I have never published my diagram illustrating the structural composition of games as interactive systems. I have originally put it together for the presentation of my seminar paper on Journey and semiotics (my slides can never be published because they contained way too many copyrighted pictures) and got very positive feedback on it, but it had not occurred to me until now to make it publicly available. I will also take this opportunity to explain the very low-level terms I use to talk about games and how they relate to each other.

As I was giving a talk on the topic of AI in games recently, I was asked whether I have ever developed an AI system myself, and it inspired me to write about two of my video game projects that required a behavior-controlling component. This is part one, concerning the pixel horror game Ghul from back in 2017. Note that this post will spoil the final twist of the game, so if you haven't played it, please consider doing so before you read (you can beat it in 20 minutes, tops), or watch Lugmilord's Let's Play of it.

Journey and the Semiotics of Meaningful Play is my paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Forum Ludorum seminar (Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany), alongside a public presentation held on January 11, 2017.