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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 May 2020 7:25 p.m. PST

The next great ruleset comes out, elegant but simple, we all love it, then we ask the designer to cover our special requests, amendments are made, then a new edition, until the rules are so complicated that we welcome the next new ruleset!

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 8:27 p.m. PST

It's certainly a factor.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2020 8:42 p.m. PST

I call it the ‘grognard factor.' Start with a simple, elegant set of rules. A fan base emerges around those rules. Some of those fans insist on ‘minor tweaks' to the rules ‘for realism' and to ‘handle all cases.' The rules begin to cater more and more to those hardcore fans, who, like stone soup, keep adding new ingredients to add to the flavor. Then a new edition is released that adds in the new ideas and rules. Rinse and repeat until those simple, elegant rules are a bloated, over indulgent set that a small set of Uber fans still cling to while the wider audience moves on. I cite Star Fleet Battles as just one example. A game I once enjoyed, but stopped playing mainly due to the kinds of players that became the norm when the rules reached peak grognard.

Wargamer Blue13 May 2020 9:05 p.m. PST

The exact thing as described happened to the first editions of Flames of War and Bolt Action.

Leave our simple games alone grognards. Go play Advanced Squad Leader.

UshCha14 May 2020 1:05 a.m. PST

You might argue the designer got it wrong. The base was too simple amd not well thought out so when the flaws were exposed in the underlieing system it was too late, too much was wrong to start with.

tabletopwargamer14 May 2020 1:46 a.m. PST

They aren't talking about flaws. They are talking about bloat.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 3:41 a.m. PST

"Our?" "We?" I never did such a thing in my life.

And none of us could make it happen. Only the copyright holder can mess with his own clear, simple original idea, and then refuse to reprint the version which actually worked.

Nothing irks me more than "in copyright" combined with "out of print." But that's something like three quarters of all English language fiction and I suspect a higher percentage of miniature wargame rules.

Tom Molon Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 5:29 a.m. PST

It brings to mind the old adage: "Better is the enemy of 'good enough'."

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2020 7:03 a.m. PST

Yes and no.

As robert piepenbrink points out, there is no "we". Especially in a niche hobby like wargaming. Disproportionate market effects are more pronounced with a small, fractured customer base. It is easy for what a publisher sees as the demand signal to vary significantly from the real wants of the majority of the market. It is also easier for the wants of those willing to spend certain amounts of money to outbalance the majority of the market demand (a lowest common denominator market effect).

But, in general, people (which, despite what you might think, includes wargamers) have a tendency to favor what they want now over what they want in the long term. This creates demand for the market to go to places we ultimately may not like (which kills off lines). We also don't consider the momentum in our demand signals, so once a game reaches the point we "like" (short or long term), we may not have communicated beforehand where the destination was, so the "progress" keeps on rolling.

JMcCarroll14 May 2020 9:59 a.m. PST

But I much rather pay for specialty dice and cards that only work for that game with a mark up that only leaves you shaking your head.

Sgt Slag14 May 2020 11:23 a.m. PST

I wrote up some "simple" rules for gaming with plastic Army Men figures, back in 1998. I've been modifying them due to feedback from my players. I also am intrigued with the idea of adding "leaders" into the rules: simple +/- modifiers to combat results, in the range of 1-3, up/down. But then, what is the penalty for not having any leader (penalty of no leader should be worse than a bad leader…).

Just that small modification to the "simple" rules, adds in a great deal of complexity to the system. I like the idea, but it will slightly slow down, as well as complicate, the game play.

My rules are relatively simple, and the combat is pretty quick to resolve. "It is a game, not a simulation," which is a point I make, often, during play, reminding the players that it is not supposed to be like reality, in any way.

My simple example is likely what happens with most rule sets, and their designers. We set out with defined limitations on the rules, such that we keep the rules succinct, and on-task, narrowly focused to achieve our goals. Then, over time, we see "shiny", just outside the fence lines we set up, initially. "It won't matter that much, if I move the fence lines, just a little bit…"

Wrong answer. Moving the limits, even a little, can have a dramatic effect upon the rules bulk, complexity, and play-ability. 'Small' changes have dramatic effects upon the whole of the game play, often not realized, until long after the new version is released into publication; the author(s) is convinced the new widgets will improve the game play, tremendously, even if it does make it more complex -- "It's worth it," they tell themselves!). This can offend the loyal players, who thought they were getting a new "shiny" set of their favorite rules, only to be disappointed, over time, to discover the "elegant" feel is gone.

There are other factors, I am certain, but this is one issue I am wrestling with, personally. Cheers!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 1:11 p.m. PST

Otto Schmidt used to say a month of playtest per page of rules. Actually, I think it's some sort of square ratio: the pursuit of the rule set which covers everything is guaranteed to end in the rules set where page 27 is incompatible with page 13, and the rules on pages 15 and 42 interact in ways never thought of, let alone intended. The only hope is to reach a certain page count and level of complexity and then quit.

And as I write this, I'm working on how to add supporting defensive artillery and the occupation of villages to Wessencraft's "Corps Level Rules" without adding to the problem. That is, of course, why we have the problem. But I never ask the designer to solve it by making the set more complex for everyone.

Legion 414 May 2020 2:10 p.m. PST

Otto +1

Zephyr114 May 2020 3:07 p.m. PST

"The next great ruleset comes out, elegant but simple, we all love it, then we ask the designer to cover our special requests, amendments are made, then a new edition, until the rules are so complicated that we welcome the next new ruleset!"

The first game was the equivalent of a coin toss, and now look where we're at… ;-)

Personal logo gamertom Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 5:56 p.m. PST

I have experienced this both as a player and as a rules writer of home brew versions. I have a set of modified On To Richmond rules meant for regiments as individual units. It started out 30 years ago as no more complicated than the original "blue book" version of On To Richmond. Shortly before I retired 3 years ago, I acknowledged it had become virtually unplayable unless one had played it all along and understood the intent of all the changes. So I tried to simplify it to get back to its roots. This quickly convinced me it is much, much easier to make wargame rules more complex than it is to make them more simple.

Last Hussar14 May 2020 5:58 p.m. PST

I think too many people want to see accurate mechanics and feel there is something wrong if everything isn't modelled. Me, I'm in favour of 'black boxing' it – I don't care how you got the result, as long as it is consistently reasonable over a set of average dice throws.

A extreme example is one I use as a demonstration – extreme to make the point.

Yes- we could model tank A acquiring, shooting at, penetrating and damaging Tank B, and write a mechanic for each part. but if we know A got a battle field KO 70% of the time, why not just roll d10, 7 or less kills?

Then you get "Ah, but during 25 July to 14 August, the leaves on the Bocage hedge reduced Sherman 75mm accuracy by 17%, and velocity by 4%, but only 13% and 2% for the 76mm, unless it was manufactured before 14th May… I have links all about this."

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2020 8:46 p.m. PST

This tendency for successful products to become more complicated, bigger or just changed alot is typical of ALL products.

Remember the Toyota Camry when it first came out in the 80s? It was tiny compared to the 2020 Camry. Then it was a compact, targeted the inexpensive market. Simple and reliable. Inches and gizmos have repeatedly been added.

The same is true of most games. Settlers of Catan? Killer Bunnies? There are several reasons for this:

1. The search for a bigger market is difficult with the same old product regardless of popularity.
2. It is easier to sell to someone who is already sold on the system, so that means scenarios, varients, more models, more periods represented and more rules in the "NEW and IMPROVED" edition.
3. Completitors start making 'similar' products, so there is a drive to differentiate…that and to justify the higher prices.
4. Only forth in importance in this list are the customers specifically asking for more X, but it certainly is a factor.

Me, I'm in favour of 'black boxing' it – I don't care how you got the result, as long as it is consistently reasonable over a set of average dice throws.

And 5th, product mysteries and the need for explanations.
How does one determine what is 'reasonable' when the factors producting the result are hidden within the 'black box'?

We see this all the time, some issue is deemed 'unrealistic' or 'unhistorical' when there really isn't any reasonable knowledge about what was actually being represented by the game mechanics in question.

You see new editions changing and adding to the rules [the processes leading to the results] or designers eliminating the rules, or trying to explain what factors are 'the black boxed.' The notion of 'results-oriented' games tend to have this kind of fallout.

One reason is that there are no actual 'results-oriented' games. All games have processes leading to particular results. Some are simple with one die roll per result, some have several die rolls for several results leading to a final result, but you still have to have both processes and results in equal proportions. It is cause and effect, simple processes and results, vs complex results and processes.

All wargames have both in some amount, but it is clearer to just say the game is simple or complex.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:04 a.m. PST

Since 1966, a set of simple Napoleonic rules has
been in development.

Oh, they've been on the table scores if not hundreds
of times. Sometimes changes are suggested by players
whether veterans of the rules or relatively new to
them.

A protocol was, back in the day, no adopting a rule as
a change until it has been play tested 10 times.

Which is why the rules are still 'in development.'

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 11:18 a.m. PST

McLaddie. The "black box" is a realistic approach to creating friction at the right level. Afterall, there are so many possible variables to everything that to even try to model the "whys" something happened would quickly bog down the game when all you needed to know is "What happened- who won, lost and how bad?" If your game is putting the gamer into the seat of a commander, every participant has to realize that nobody can control 100% of the outcomes. But knowing the results coming out of that "Black box" will keep the game moving as that is what fate has delt them in the cards (so to speak) and they must apply their problem solving skills and knowledge to work his way out of a jam. Seems that the computer game designers know that , why is it so hard for we mini rules designers to understand such? Just trying to understand why people insist that a simulation MUST contain a library of charts and will be unplayable as a game. As you can probably tell, I no longer buy into the "must be complex" school of thought.

Last Hussar15 May 2020 2:25 p.m. PST

What Dye4 said.

Every single non-computer game involves a black box. Even 1:1 figure scale games, unless you are calculating hit, hit location, effect of hit in that location. A computer can roll 600d% before you even notice. Humans don't have the time to – can you imagine if firing 1 battalion took 3 minutes per unit?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 9:32 p.m. PST

The "black box" is a realistic approach to creating friction at the right level. Afterall, there are so many possible variables to everything that to even try to model the "whys" something happened would quickly bog down the game when all you needed to know is "What happened- who won, lost and how bad?"

Dye4minis

As Last Hussar explained, every single wargame ever created subsumes a vast mountain of detail in every single mechanic, procedure and result, regardless of how complex or simple the game is… If every game 'black boxes' innumerable amounts of detail, how do you differentiate between them as using 'black boxing' and one not using it?

ust trying to understand why people insist that a simulation MUST contain a library of charts and will be unplayable as a game. As you can probably tell, I no longer buy into the "must be complex" school of thought.

I certainly wasn't suggesting anything like that--nor is that the only option if 'black boxing' as a game design method doesn't work. I was pointing out how meaningless the 'black box' concept is when it comes to describing game systems or as a design method. All you have are systems with lots of mechanics and results, and those which have a few of each, complex games version simple. That's it. Both require massive amounts of 'black boxing.'

I challenge you to provide two examples of wargame rules, one that uses the 'black box' concept and one that doesn't, and tell me how you tell the difference and I'll show you what I mean. OR one that black boxes a lot and one not so much.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2020 6:36 a.m. PST

I was pointing out how meaningless the 'black box' concept is when it comes to describing game systems or as a design method.

I disagree with this statement because I agree with your point. Black boxing is not a Boolean condition, it is a set of multivariate scales.

While you could easily come up with empirical measurements of what is black boxed, the impact of the black boxing is subjective. And though it is easier to do it the other way (quantify and evaluate what is in the rules, not what detail is left out), you still have the same subjectivity on impact.

For example:

– If you are a certain type of nerd, having a player conduct a maneuvering board problem to execute the orders he has given to his ship in a naval game is fun. If you hate that type of stuff, it is painful. If you are ambivalent but poor at such things, it is drudgery.

– If you are a "Yo, ho, ho! Get to the [expletive deleted] boarding! kind of guy, spending some action points to move and turn your ship on a hex grid is fun and moves the game along. If you're a mo board kind of guy, you're disappointed because "ships don't move like that". If you're ambivalent, tracking action points is another kind of drudgery.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 7:56 a.m. PST

McLaddie: I was agreeing with you. But to your comparitive example: (this is an easy one) Empire with it's sliding Combat Effectiveness table verses Napoleon's Battles. Empire is based upon casting vs men ratio- combat results expressed in number of castings made casualty, always in multiples of figure ratio (ie" 1:33). NB does it with stand removal but no attempt to relate to numbers, but in effects to the unit's combat value only. In both, no effects of the efforts of unit leadership's success/failure to maintain control over the men (or the associated effects) up to that point nor fatigue on the men's continued ability to continue to function and at what level, and no attempot to link fatigue to movement. (No unit should ever be as fresh as it was at the beginning of the game.) Please note that the issues I just eluted to are rooted on factors that affect the unit's ability to function- the black box should be spitting out results that are focused upon the unit's ability to continue to function. Because no commander (even to this day) will know exactly how many effectives he has left during an engagement but he will have a general idea what shape his unit remains in. (The numbers is A factor, but not THE factor in the determination- this is his sitiuation at THIS point in (game) time.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 5:40 p.m. PST

Etotheipi:

So, how is that different from your first example just being more complex than the second example?

In both cases lots of details are subsummed. The nerd simply wanted more detail/processes that track ship maneuvering.

Why is one 'black-boxed' and the other isn't? What is the definition of 'black-boxed?'

it is a set of multivariate scales.

Very multivariate… to the point of being invisible and I'd love to see the measurement scale used.

While you could easily come up with empirical measurements of what is black boxed, the impact of the black boxing is subjective.

Where do you see the 'empirical measurements' of black boxing? And I will agree that the entire notion including its impact is subjective.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 5:42 p.m. PST

Dye4minis:

If you were agreeing with me, this first line threw me:

"The "black box" is a realistic approach to creating friction at the right level."

I am saying that it can't be because 'black-boxing' does mean anything in game design other than one game being simpler than another… but even there, what mechanisms are identifiable as being blackboxed?

Wolfhag17 May 2020 6:44 p.m. PST

Isn't Black Boxing just another term for a level of abstraction?

Wolfhag

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 8:05 p.m. PST

McLaddie: Here is an example where the "black Box" simplifies results oriented mechanics: How many possible modifiers are there involved in just firing a volley? Range?, Experience of the trigger puller? Experience of the low level leader telling the men what to aim for? Each musket properly loaded AND ramrod removed? Windage? Foulding of barrell? Powder wet/dry? and 10, 000 more "what if's"- each having a possible input to the question "What damage did I inflict upon the target unit?" There are only two constants in nature that needs to remain a constant in our games: Time and distance. Everything else will always have an indefinate amount of some sort of variables. Black Boxes are a way to determine the end result quickly (in most cases, either they did or they didn't inflict enough damage to make them leave their ground.

The Black Box idea provides you results and makes no attempt to arrive at that conclusion via the scenic route. If the real life leader/commander did not have the advantage of knowing how many of his people were killed, wounded, ran away during an engagement, why should the gamer? Sure, we have grown up expecting to look at those factors to arrive at that resolution looking at those factors deemed most important to the designer. But in my exampole above, who wants to run the gambit of all the possibilites instead of getting on with the game? (I used to cringe when a melee needed to be resolved!) If the black box approach produces reasonable results (or results that will add tension to the participants) in just a few seconds, then I say syonara to the thousands of potential combinations of results.

So far, the best solution I have discovered is to ditch the casualty/casting removal method value set to drive game mechanics and replace it with a Unit Cohesioon value set.(Focusing on the factors that kept units functioning and realizing that unit leadership can make unit cohesion improve but casualty based systems seem to never allow for that.) Game designes also need to examine other value sets to ensure they are rooted in reality per the historical record. Too many mechanics do not reflect real systems (like Command and Control process). Allowing orders to be issued every turn to where they discover unit X needs reinforcement, writes order to the reinforcing unit he chose, transmitted the message, the affected unit's commander can get his unit moving to help all within the confines of a game turn! (representing 15-30 minutes?) In this day and age of nearly instant communications, a typical Battalion staff can't seem to make that happen in that time frame! (remember, time and distance will always be linear in effect in out games if you are playing historicals as we can't speed up or slow down time and 1 mile will always be 5,280 feet.

So a re-evaluation and rediscovering of what we devise rules for in our games needs to be re-examined, IMHO. Just because the last 100 rules sets included a variation on a theme does not mean it "must" be included in the next set of rules! It's being lazy if a designer does not question why we have been doing the same things the same way for past 50+ years. Well that's my view from the pulpit!

UshCha18 May 2020 2:59 a.m. PST

Dye4minis,
Black boxed exist even for engineers. I run CFD codes to get solutions. I have to confess I really don't understand in any detail whatsoever how the code gets the solution, it really is a black box. However the solutions do give answeres that when tested do fit quite closely with the real world. So a black box is not a bad solution. I could read up on CFD but I really don't have the mathermatical skills or the time to get to grips with it.
I could write up my designers notes where, what and why for every rule I have written, However that wauld be a book far larger than my rules and few indeed would want to read that.

I do have to agree that there is a staggering amount of "fashion" in rules even when that is contary to the real world. Some obvious ones are for my period anyway.

casualtty removal most forces become pretty useless once they losse 10% some may take 20% and a very few may take 50% but they are the exception rather than the rule. On that basis casualty removal is a very poor simulation parameter choce.

Some "moderen" rules ignore "suppression" even though its something that is a major discussion point in tghe real wold.

The last and most absurd (to me) is artillery. In amy modern games it is allocated as an area represented by a shell. Read any decent book and the area hit is a function of how big the tarhet is. Having got that the number of shells is worked out on the basis of the calibre of the rounds being fired. The wargame version is totally pointless and covers it poorly but "its how it's always been done".


I have had folk come up to us in shows and say how it ought to be, which is a disasterous Fetherstone clone. Clearly history and reality do not feature is such folks ideas.

Lastly die rolls, it worries me (perhaps it should not) that some players are really gamblers, and would rather lady luck (a bad mistress) play than use their thought.

I suppose we as designers have to decide do we want to write a version of a traditional game with lots of gambling which clearly sells well or write a cerdible set. Me I am for the latter and no it does not sell in vast quantities but I live in hope that one day folk will playe serious games.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 7:16 a.m. PST

How many possible modifiers are there involved in just firing a volley? Range?, Experience of the trigger puller? Experience of the low level leader telling the men what to aim for? Each musket properly loaded AND ramrod removed? Windage? Foulding of barrell? Powder wet/dry? and 10, 000 more "what if's"- each having a possible input to the question "What damage did I inflict upon the target unit?" There are only two constants in nature that needs to remain a constant in our games: Time and distance. Everything else will always have an indefinate amount of some sort of variables. Black Boxes are a way to determine the end result quickly (in most cases, either they did or they didn't inflict enough damage to make them leave their ground.

Dye4minis:

I agree that there are a nearly infinite number of possible factors and more that 10,000 'what if's', so if one game has 2 processes for a particular game event and another 10, all you have is both black boxing an infinite number of variables. One is simpler than another--that's all. Even time and distance can be presented in a complicated or simple way in a wargame--with many, many different mechanics.

The Black Box idea provides you results and makes no attempt to arrive at that conclusion via the scenic route.

One is simpler than another… Which wouldn't be the case if the processes were a focus of the wargame… then you would want the scenic route. The processes to get to the result IS the scenic route, the decsion-making arena, the meat of a game. Eliminate the scenic route and you have tic-tac-toe.

In other words, all games must blackbox [i.e. simplify] processes compared to the reality they wish to illustrate. All games are built on processes AND results, so, it is a matter of wanting a particular game system to have several processes or few, several results or few.

Simple or complex. Napoleon's Battles, Empire and Blucher all black box an infinite amount of information. If the suggestion is that Blucher blackboxes more than Empire because one is simpler than the other, then why not just say simpler? Both black box or subsume in their machanics an uncountable number of 'what ifs' and historical factors.

Isn't Black Boxing just another term for a level of abstraction?

Wolfhag: What level are you talking about other than simple and complex? All simulations and wargames are nothing but abstractions. To say one is more abstract than another is like say a Porsche is more of a car than a Toyota.

If I have a game mechanic where one die roll completes the entire fire combat of a unit and in another I have a die roll for fire and another for the morale check, is one more abstract than the other? One is just a simpler process, the other wanting to show more of the process.

Is one more realistic? That would have to be tested, and the answer wouldn't be dependent on the number of processes.

The bottom line is this:

If I sit down to design a wargame, I will be thinking of simplifying and focusing mechanics based on what I want to portray in the game, the interesting processes/decisions, how fast it will play etc. If I 'black box' something, I will be just simplify the processes, so why not say that without the empty jargon?

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 6:08 p.m. PST

UshCha; I am with you 100%! Writing up the notes for your choices is a book unto itself! Enjoyed your post very much.

McLaddie: "Eliminate the scenic route and you have tic-tac-toe." Cannot disagree more! Most gamers I have interfaced with are more interested in completing a game in a reasonable amount of time that life is allotted to them than chart cranking that would give them a "Scenic Route" and hardly ever complete a game.

Am sure there are some that are more interested in nuts and bolts of tactical tricks that corporals and Sgt's used to keep the troops in line but such granularity has no place in a game that is using Brigades, Divisions and Corps/Wings! So a designer needs to pick at what level his game operates at and should provide just the granularity at that level.

An enjoyable expression of ideas this time. Thanks, all.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 8:02 p.m. PST

McLaddie: "Eliminate the scenic route and you have tic-tac-toe." Cannot disagree more! Most gamers I have interfaced with are more interested in completing a game in a reasonable amount of time that life is allotted to them than chart cranking that would give them a "Scenic Route" and hardly ever complete a game.

Dye4minis:
Is this a yes/no, all or nothing issue, either the 'scenic route' or finishing the game? My point is regardless of the choices and all the variations inbetween, you will see black boxing most of the way.

For me the scenic route is the process, the choices and mechanics that lead to the result as much as the result. If all one wants is a quick game with results, then roll a die and see who won Waterloo. Neither of us are talking about that kind of reduction to results.

Black boxed exist even for engineers. I run CFD codes to get solutions. I have to confess I really don't understand in any detail whatsoever how the code gets the solution, it really is a black box.

Ushcha: Don't confuse computer codes with game mechanics.
Not understanding any of the detail is something all wargames 'provide' regardless of the complexity.

In a thread about cavalry frontages, this was stated:

One of the biggest advantages of infantry over cavalry, in any period, is simply its ability to pack more men into the same amount of space.

Yet, it seems that most wargame rules ignore this and simply call for basing the cavalry on the same-sized bases as infantry.

Is this true, or simply simplified rules that take into account such infantry advantages? Is this a case of not knowing 'the code?' or having it wrong? What historical results were supposed to be illustrated?

Obviously, unlike your CFD codes, the author of that comment can't say, "However the solutions do give answeres that when tested do fit quite closely with the real world."

Simply because you don't know how the code works isn't the same as a designer reducing a process to simplify the game system and players not know what is being blackboxed or which solutions were supposed to be resolved.

IF wargames are narratives, then blackboxing often hides the story, but it does like the players make up whatever they want…or deem the result unrealistic.

Blackboxing isn't a method distinct from simplifying, If they are the same thing, then you don't need one of the terms.

UshCha18 May 2020 11:54 p.m. PST

McLaddie I can't agree. To me a wargame is just a set of manually run code. you might even go further and argue its is not like code but is code, your head being the computor. Also like in CFD code there are significant approximations, you can even switch approximations depending on the problem, how accurate you want the answer and how long you want to wait for the answer. This is exactly the situation of a wargame.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 10:08 a.m. PST

To me a wargame is just a set of manually run code. you might even go further and argue its is not like code but is code, your head being the computor.

UschCha: If you use the simile that wargames rules are just like code, then the die is the computer kicking out the result, not the player's head. The player is the one deciding which buttons to push. The point being, using this simile, if computer code is blackboxing, then all computer codes are blackboxing… so why not just say you don't see the code working on any computer?

Also like in CFD code there are significant approximations, you can even switch approximations depending on the problem, how accurate you want the answer and how long you want to wait for the answer. This is exactly the situation of a wargame.

Your notion of approximations sound like the more and less detail, more detail taking longer. The problem is that all wargames are approximations, so you have to have some way to gauge that some are MORE approximations than others… and that isn't possible when any wargame is all approximation.

The idea that F&F's generic artillery rules are more of an approximation than Regimental F&Fs rifled and smoothbore guns doesn't hold up when asking what is being
'blackboxed'. Both have an infinite number of details not seen and subsumed within each set of mechanics. It is like saying one black boxed system [F&F] is more blackboxed than two. [RF&F] It is just a matter of scale, not blackboxing.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 12:24 p.m. PST

How about putting it another way:

What is the difference between simplifying a game system and blackboxing? If there is no difference, then two terms aren't needed.

If there is a difference, it must be recognizable when looking at a game system.

UshCha19 May 2020 2:02 p.m. PST

Not sure wher die comes into your comments. In wargames like CFD the user is responsible for setting the problem. The code simply runs to give its best approximation of the solution to that problem. In some cases that involves some random roles where that is considered by the designet as a sufficient approximation. This is perfectly valid as for example Armour penetration is often quoted as a statistic where the value of armor penetrated is at lest Y for 50% of shots, sometimes it includes a standard deviation. That is much of what the die rolling does its part of the valid simulation. It does not control the situation it updates its analysis for the player to either continue his current plan or attempt to update it at a rate contolled by the simulated system response.

Your last comment I don't understand. All CFD codes are an approximation, some issues are still resolved by approximation the actual solution is beyond the current code/understanding of the issue. This is no different to a Wargame where not all the variables can be fully defined so approximations are required. No difference QED.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 6:35 p.m. PST

Not sure wher die comes into your comments.In wargames like CFD the user is responsible for setting the problem. The code simply runs to give its best approximation of the solution to that problem.

UshCha:

The die [or cards] is, like the computer, the thing which determines the result of a process, the solution to the process problem.

It[the die] does not control the situation it updates its analysis for the player to either continue his current plan or attempt to update it at a rate contolled by the simulated system response.

The player has decisions where he adjusts the processes,Just like a computer with a user and a program/process. The computer resolves processes [updates] the resolution/updates in a wargame are resolved by dice or cards or other game procedures unless you are using a computer program like Carnage.

All CFD codes are an approximation, some issues are still resolved by approximation the actual solution is beyond the current code/understanding of the issue.

Wargames are approximations, every single one for the same reason CFD codes are: This is no different to a Wargame where not all the variables can be fully defined so approximations are required. No difference QED

I agree: If the approximation gets you the workable solution--tests well, then the approximation is great…and realistic. [and one can continue to calculate using spherical chickens…]

That doesn't change what I have suggested about the term
'black-box' in regards to either computer codes or simplified game processes. In game design terms just say the game procedures were simplified. Everything is approximation and everything is 'blackboxed.'

What is the difference between simplifying a game system and blackboxing? If there is no difference, then two terms aren't needed…QED

Which 'last comment' don't you understand?

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