Monday, September 27, 2010

Dueling Theory, A Discussion on a New Style/Form of Dueling

(22:49:31) Wolf: Okay, here's a thought. Let's break down exactly what a duel is into the core components that make it up.

Intro 1; it usually defines the setting and places the main protagonist. Generally it implies that the character specified is looking for a fight (or interaction of some kind, action or story based).

Intro 2; this is done by the antagonist who provides a counter-balance. The setting is further defined, redefined, or expanded upon by the second character to suit that char's outlook. This acts as the introduction to any kind of conflict between the two characters and sets up how the series of events (responses to the interaction) will take place.

Attack/Counter 1; the initial poster will then respond, and based on how the antagonist introduced himself, this could lead to either an attack (if the antagonist didn't do one himself in his own intro) or a counter. Attack and counter, as verbiage, can also signify an exchange of threats, condescending conversation, arrogant, supercilious interchanges or even a weaving of story into the exposition. Situationally dependent on the characters/writers involved.

Attack/Counter 2; this is lead by the antagonist, who upon being attacked (physically or otherwise) will move to counter the initially engaging motion. This can also be where, if the action is more drama and story-involved, be where they begin diving into the depths of character development. However, if it is an actual fight, will be where the antagonist moves to counter, evade, turn aside, or parry the incoming attack from the protagonist. The conflict will most likely escalate at this point after the opening attacks have been done. With the counter 2 comes either the attack 2 or 3 (situationally dependent). Again, the story, or action, will be moved forward by these events.

Now, taking a step back to look at the scenario so far, it isn't the protagonist that drives the motion of the encounter, but whoever is playing the antagonist, as they provide the main source of conflict. This is because the second poster/writer is foreign, and by interjecting their own ideals/imagery into the scale of the tale, create that conflict. The conflict needs not be actual combat. It just is by the mere presence of the second individual affecting and changing events for the primary character, the protagonist, just by showing up.

Attack/Counter 3: again, there is an escalation of force. This will either be actual attacks/combos/counters or in the continued story-telling. The conflict most proceed forward, and the protagonist will respond to whatever the antagonist presents. Conversation, actions, thoughts, motions -- all of it leads the protagonist along on an invisible leash. Through this, the antagonist actually leads even though they did not create the initial setting.

Attack/Counter 4: it follows that the antagonist will continue the onslaught, conversationally or through combat.

At some point, either through a series of events, there will be resolution, as there will always be in any kind of story or tale. The problem with dueling, however, is that duelists/writers always feel the need to get the last word in. Sometimes they might decide upon a limit to their interaction, or other times, if they cannot reach a resolution, will ask a third party (judge) to provide an outside resolution even though the characters are not properly resolved in their conflict.

If you think about it, all duels follow that formula. You can't NOT follow it. Whatever exchange takes place, there will be a form of conflict. You can postpone the actual fighting, but there will be an exchange regardless, either story defined or generalized fighting. In this regard, dueling is somewhat stale in its turn-based medium

(23:08:47) StarryKnights: We will do better. We will improve the duel. Higher level dueling, almost but not quite it's own story. Imagine Preamble/The Alliance. There's conflict, or going to be, but it's largely a story told through not-antagonists interaction. What I want to do is toned down, more streamlined, but still separate from a duel in the traditional sense.

For instance, I've thought a very long time about how to twist the intro post protagonist role on its head.

(23:11:37) Wolf: You mean have the protagonist lead instead of the antagonist?

(23:11:52) StarryKnights: Where the intro may create its own setting, but the intro maker is the antagonist of the story. Such as, there is a mall. The antagonist is the sniper entering the mall to shoot people. Antagonist first, then protagonist.

(23:12:29) Wolf: I think many people think of the antagonist is the reactionary force, but in reality, they aren't. They are the dagger piercing the world created by the protagonist and forcing the protagonist to react to the antagonists dance. It's a simple idea, but I've never really seen it done.

(23:13:14) Wolf: I form the idea of protagonist as the person who creates the intro, regardless of moral vibe

(23:14:39) StarryKnights: Hrm. You are correct, it can be viewed that way.

(23:15:19) Wolf: The antagonist is merely such because they provide the conflict for the antagonist. Moral compass has nothing to do with the labeling, at least not in my mind.

(23:15:46) StarryKnights: Perhaps then it should be more like a dance where the lead changes, where neither is consistently the antagonist or protagonist. Although, the protagonist is generally considered the hero, or goodly. The main character.

(23:16:15) Wolf: I'm aware of that. I think that's a fallacy based on English teachers.

(23:17:08) StarryKnights: So you propose that the protagonist is some kind of neutral force which the antagonist acts upon like gravity to a interstellar dust cloud?

(23:17:17) Wolf: Yes.

(23:17:37) StarryKnights: I shouldn't say neutral. Untouched force?

(23:17:46) Wolf: Something like that, yeah.

(23:17:53) StarryKnights: A roaming army of death can't really be called neutral in any sense.

(23:18:18) Wolf: The antagonist acts as the force that pulls the protagonist in. A force that cannot be denied or ignored. Pretty much the train wreak that railroads your RPG.

(23:21:02) StarryKnights: However, dueling the way I've seen it has been someone standing around going "I await mine enemy." With said enemy showing up in their intro.

(23:21:29) Wolf: Yeah, still conforms, though, because they are reacting to the arrival of the enemy.

(23:22:02) StarryKnights: I've not seen an intro where the protagonist goes after the antagonist, is the source of conflict, along with creating the battle arena. Perhaps that's because the general thought in GameFAQs RPing, and RPing in general, is that doing such is too presumptuous, doesn't give the other RP'er enough control of the situation.

(23:24:34) Wolf: Probably. I think it's because of the way posting is set up, too, which leads to the way it follows the same formula. There must always be a singular intro.

(23:26:48) StarryKnights: A lot of this has to do with perspective. A different kind of duel would have the antagonist be willing to enter a world outside of their own, as they would in a RP. Limited effect on their environment. A traditional duel has the protagonist write from a relatively limited the end it boils down to a single area for the first to take place. It doesn't matter if they create a whole universe, the antagonist can still utterly change it in their own intro.

(23:28:10) Wolf: Yup.

(23:29:03) StarryKnights: For the idea I have, the protagonists creation has to altered minimally. The storyline needs to trump the world building. You and I duel. I create the stage, but anything you add onto it will only further elaborate on the set involved, not add new pieces or twists that change the purpose of the stage. The protagonist is carrying extra water in this situation, because they can't rely on other to do the world building work for them. They need to fully elaborate and detail the battleground involved, or well enough that there will be no question it's a forest with a giant, uncuttable giant tree in the middle.

(23:31:33) Wolf: XD

(23:31:36) Wolf: True enough.

(23:32:08) StarryKnights: The antagonist's ego is important, here, as they have to be willing to let go enough control to view the duel closer to a RP. Perhaps we can't redefine the duel, but we can refine it, certainly. First, flip the way the intro is handled. The intro details not only that there is some kind of conflict wanted, it starts the conflict as well as defines the stage as a whole.

(23:35:01) Wolf: Instead of interjecting the antagonist as the method of conflict.

(23:35:11) StarryKnights: Exactly. Attack/Counter 2. The problem I have with dueling now, and you encountered years ago, is that there is too much chatting during it. Storyline and combat must be separate. Real combat is quick, brutal, and instinctual. The duel as commonly executed is full of purple prose and introspection. I think you hit the nail on the head with Stent in this respect. Quick, detailed and technical, with limited wandering off the rail.

(23:38:10) Wolf: Yeah. Never mind the rants I did in regards to that filed under FDB. Combat is fast and brutal. The flowery introspection which often-times takes place detracts from the actual fighting, and in some ways, ruins it. You can be a class A act, top-notch writer, but if you destroy your ability to fight by thinking too much, you're as good as a coward who runs from battle. True fights don't have people thinking.

(23:39:11) StarryKnights: What I tried to do with the last section of my intro for Preamble is attempt to do a combat situation where there is no chatting, just doing. Not perfect, but I'm far more comfortable with it than I am with the way I used to do combat scenes.

(23:39:56) Wolf: Well, that's the point of the whole thing. Animalistic instinct is what drives combat. Rational thought usually takes a backseat unless you've been trained to have your body react leaving your mind open to interpret.

(23:40:26) StarryKnights: That's the whole point of training. Turning non-natural reactions into instinct. I have no idea how to pull apart a gun and put it back together without a guide. You can do it in your sleep.

(23:41:55) Wolf: Well, not in my sleep, but I can do it and chat about something else while I do it.

(23:42:21) StarryKnights: Another reason working with you is optimal, since you've had real life experience. I could mimic it in a respect, sure, but you'll always be able to write it a bit better. That's my weakness. No real life experience. You understand the guts. I write well, but if you ask me to break it down and explain why I write good, I'd fail pretty miserably. It's more instinct with me.

(23:44:17) Wolf: I couldn't properly explain it well, either. It is an instinct. It's like artists that draw. They can show you, but only through rigorous practice can you attain the same level.

(23:44:54) StarryKnights: True enough. I feel we need to change the attack/counter relationship, along with the combat storyline relationship. Or, rather, "fix" them as they currently are implemented in dueling. Attack/counter is a very rigid way to fight someone, almost like a move in an RPG where you only find out a second or two after the attack whether it worked or missed.

(23:47:38) Wolf: You mean how the whole thing is rather disjointed?

(23:47:46) StarryKnights: Yeah. Basically.

(23:48:12) Wolf: It is a turn-based battle system, though. I think there-in lies the problem, but it can't be helped.

(23:49:21) StarryKnights: That is the problem, and I'm not sure if anything can be done to mitigate the situation. Perhaps introduce a concept of continual flow. While there's an attack/counter, there's something else going on at the same time.

(23:49:50) Wolf: That'd work. But how would you introduce something? We're have to get back out there and duel to show examples.

(23:49:54) StarryKnights: Maybe one guy's throwing a grenade at the enemy, another moving to take a secondary position. The grenade is the toss up, while the secondary position is the continual flow aspect. This is where more detail is required overall. Most duels have guy 1 and guy 2, and it's centered on them. Here, it's not centered on a single person.

(23:52:09) Wolf: Would also require a certain, limited amount of surrender in regards to character control.

(23:52:22) StarryKnights: Elaborate.

(23:54:31) Wolf: To gain that form of continual flow would probably, I think, require surrendering partial control of ones character to the opponent. Like, you set up your attack, and end before finishing, allowing me to finish your attack and the motions you went through before going into my own attack, which I never quite conclude. It's a similar formula, but then it could, sort of, keep everything moving.

(23:56:15) StarryKnights: Like the grenade.

(23:56:21) Wolf: Yes.

(23:56:34) StarryKnights: An acceptable loss in comparison to what is gained.

(23:57:03) Wolf: The style is almost...Mix like. Not quite True anymore, is it?

(23:58:18) StarryKnights: RP'er discretion, therefore ego and skill, is very important. For instance, it would help the storyline if I could knock you to the ground, then pull my weapon back for a kill. Your post, you knock my sword aside, have a dagger going at my gut by the end of it.

(00:00:46) Wolf: That actually sounds like a fun scenario. Less control, but more fluidity, and possibly, a far better story overall. Quicker action sequence, too. Probably leads to shorter posts. This would solve a lot of the conundrum of over-long dueling posts, which generally is unnecessary and superfluous.

(00:01:59) StarryKnights: I don't think a single style truly encompasses what I'm aiming for. A lot of it depends specifically on the lack of sharply defined rules and a lot more on the writer's to know the limits in a given situation. For instance, the above scenario. I know not to stab you, and you know not to have the knife gut me, though you've bashed my hand aside by some method, possibly crippling it.

(00:03:56) Wolf: Definitely a Mix style. Would have to give it a new definition.

(00:04:35) StarryKnights: Let's review what we have so far. The protagonist is the main stage setter, as well as the main source of conflict. It is very important to define the stage well, while not completely snuffing out the ability of the antagonist to elaborate upon the stage.

(00:05:34) Wolf: Current dueling falls too much into a "same-old" predictable pattern where the antagonist retains far too much situational control of the formula, and possibly, the outcome.

(00:06:38) StarryKnights: Attack/counter scenario is more fluid, a more "mix style" as you say, where limited control of the actors are allowed in a situational basis. Needless to say, the duelists on all sides need to be willing to take injury and have their pretty boy characters fucked up. Storyline and combat segregation. Not purple prose introspective bullshit between pulling the sword back and stabbing someone with it unless the character is having a complete meltdown during the battle and is going to be useless anyway.

(00:08:58) Wolf: That pretty much covers it, doesn't it?

(00:09:04) StarryKnights: Neither the antagonist nor protagonist control the flow of the storyline, ideally, but the protagonist will in this scenario have a bit of an advantage given.

(00:09:57) Wolf: The reason Mix got it's name because it took elements from Cheez (preemptive auto hits) and True (not describing full attack damage). This uses the idea of Mix (with small auto-hits and character control) with something else that is new to the idea.

(00:10:42) StarryKnights: In a perfect world, people would know to die and such styles wouldn't be needed...people would take and give on a relatively equal basis. Means to an end. This conversation is the culmination of an idea I've had for years, but neither had the mindset or proper opponents to test it on. Attack/Counter 3: While any good story is going to have a climax, it can't be easily defined if it's going to be any good. The problem with most duels, I find, is that the attacks get bigger and more ridiculous as the battle winds on. While a realistic battle is going to have both sides wearing out, getting weaker until one runs out of poop to shovel.

(00:13:02) Wolf: Yeah, because nobody wants to lose (both the match or their character). It follows a simple escalation of force rule.

(00:13:22) StarryKnights: Or, God forbid, one side or another retreats or starts gorilla warfare. Again, it goes back to being too predictable. Partly because of what you said, people don't like losing characters or having them crippled (Requiring a shift in ideas and plans), partly because most people aren't creative enough to be willing to change their ideas midstream. Like real combat. When shit hit the fan, you didn't Hulk out and keep doing the same thing over and over, you changed tactics to keep from being killed. Because, it's reality. Reality is something sorely lacking from duels as a whole. You have to understand your character is not God, and besides a few special powers, is generally not much harder to kill than a normal person when weaknesses are known.

(00:16:16) Wolf: I'm a proponent of a bit more reality in dueling, but there are...persons who disagree with me.

(00:16:26) StarryKnights: See, example: Ice person. Just because you control ice, does not mean you can create ice swords and ice armor. You do not innately know how to make a sword using your ice power. That requires training and years of experience. Same with ice armor. Are you immune to your own ice powers (Required secondary abilities). Hell, Bioshock 2. Little Sisters. Heal quickly, their bones don't automatically fall back into the correct position. So correcting a fucked up limb requires breaking the bone again..and again... This is different issue related to people not thinking out their characters on deep levels, but becomes apparent in duels when people take a relatively broad power - pure darkness, for instance - and can do anything with it. Again, the ice person. If they lack immunity to their own ability, they can severely damage themselves if it gets out of control. Which, in the midst of combat, is likely. Besides, the ideal route for killing someone with ice powers is getting close enough to them that you freeze their chest. Ice swords not only require the ability to make the sword, BUT also the ability to use it. Swords take many years of experience to use proficiently.

(00:21:29) Wolf: Ice swords would also shatter pretty quick.

(00:21:35) StarryKnights: Yeah.

(00:22:19) Wolf: Mind you, you don't want to completely remove the superpowers, otherwise it isn't completely interesting anymore. But definitely needs to be balance.

(00:22:39) StarryKnights: Regardless. Predictability during the 3rd cycle is boring. Again, model it after real life combat to an extent, plus superpowers. Real combat has a flow to it. Things happen that change the flow, and thus tactics used. Improvised explosive goes off, takes out the guys who're going to cover for you while you take out a house full of squishy terrorists. You need to change something in the formula, or you're going to end up getting raped from the flanks. Ending: Has to be flexible. A lot of this has to do with a general lack of goals in duels. No point A to B, no obtain Naked Gold Monkey Butt Statue. Predictably previously in the duel is at its worst, here, since it's here that the previous movements will have the most impact. Then again, given that most duels go through with neither side taking meaningful damage...the ending itself is worthless since nothing is really fought or died for.

There must go a goal for both sides. Both must be willing to die or be several injured for the goal. Predictability and cliches must therefore be avoided to prevent the ending from being cheezy. A series of checks and balances must be in the duelist's mind during each round of combat. "Is this move predictable?" "Should my character be able to dodge this/take minimal damage?" "Are my forces being overwhelmed by the enemy's forces? If so, can I turn a disadvantage into an advantage by changing my tactics?"

It's important to de-emphasis on main characters. Because it encourages ego, predictability, and limits what can be done with the stage that's been set. More people controlled, I feel, the better the duel will be to an extent. Also requires higher skilled players, of course.