Monday, March 15, 2010

Strange Loves

Clearly, no one is particularly thrilled that I occasionally post statistics on this site. I understand, I suppose, but for me personally I see nothing but world design in numbers like those appearing on the previous post. I see evidence that the general population should be dirt poor; that food and clothes should be a much heavier cost compared to the present, while housing should be much cheaper. I see evidence for how tightly packed a city should be, where a room is no larger than 14 by 12.

I find here the basis on how much of an individual’s wealth should be invested in housewares, art, furniture, clothing and jewelry, as compared to pure coin. In what the cost should be for servants, and in what foods were eaten by people. I have evidence for the weight of a gold coin (much less than the Gygaxian universe), and what goods would be laden upon a caravan.

In short, I get a sense for how the world works, how the tens of thousands of elements begin to fit together, to make sense of what a party is doing in a particular place and time. Who has something to gain by paying pirates to sink not-so-random shipping? How much should it cost to build a castle, what labor is available, and how might their morale be improved? For me, these things are world building.

But yes, boring for most people. Or not particularly worth commentary. Statistics do speak for themselves, I know. But since I’m in love with them, I thought I’d drop a note about how they affect me.

The response to my saying I love them would be, I should think, to assume that I am as boring and staid as statistics are. I must argue, however, that statistics are not staid ... they are pure life rendered comprehensible. They are descriptions of the great mechanism of existence, captured so that they might be applied, to raise monoliths of civilization, to send migrations of peoples hither and thither, or to define the simple daily existence of one small peasant toiling along the edge of a road.

It is in what you can see within the statistics that creativity is born.


Chgowiz said...

Interesting coincidence. I was just about to post some updates to my economy to the group and then to my blog when you post this. I think I'll borrow your phrase for the email - the evidence - because that matches exactly what is happening in Enonia.

House on Fire said...

I lack your decades of experience worldbuilding, but I agree strongly with how you approach it. Statistics blocks are challenging precisely because of how informative they are. I concur that the statistical distribution of the world points the way down avenues of creativity.

We do things differently, you and I. I'm a loyal 3.5 gamer who believes the system really could model entire worlds in an alife scenario, and wants to build an immense computer simulation to prove it. This reflects my age (27) and the recency of my degree in Statistics (B.S., UWash-Seattle, 2007).

But I get where you're coming from. Pray continue.

Elton said...

I think statistics go over my head, since I don't pay attention to them. I pay attention to statistics, and I wonder if they are generated as a point of truth, or skewed to fit some weird Agenda.

In any case, the well spring of my creativity has been and will be the soft sciences. Okay, there is much hard science that goes into my world building technique. But I don't pay much attention to Statistics. However, if you manage to present your findings in a good way, I'll be able to use your ideas and your findings. I'm looking forward to see what you have to offer.

Chgowiz said...

@Elton - if I may be so bold, having read Alexis for awhile... the idea here is not to provide you with a game ready society that you can use. Rather, this is inspiration. Take the time to develop your own system, even if flawed and silly. I did. It might not meet the standards that a real world simulation might, but I'm invested in it, I've thought about it and I've made it consistent to my world and vision. That's the best thing that can happen, even if just taking an hour to do so. You cut yourself short by looking at someone like this to feed you your game.

Alexis said...

House on Fire,

It is a huge fantasy of mine that my world could somehow, someday be rebuilt into a simulation, something along the lines of Second Life, with realistic detail in each of the thousands of hexes I've mapped out, and the thousands of habitations I've researched. I simply don't have the computer skill necessary (or I would be spending a lot of time at that).

We are not so different.

PatrickW said...

I'm reading you. When I feel I can contribute, I speak. Please do not take a lack of comment for a lack of interest. I found the economic break down highly educational.

(Yeah, I know, a bit stuffy, but my original response was "word". I felt a need to expand on that a bit. Keep up the cool work!)

Alexis said...

I'm just so used to people disagreeing with me, Patrick ...

Darok said...

Alexis, much of what you've posted here has been awe-inspiring for me. I for one love it.

Unfortunately, those that are like me usually have very little to contribute; you've already gone down the roads we are now, and I for one am consistently impressed with what you have put here.

Unfortunately posts saying "I like it!" are a bit too vapid to bother posting.

Zak S said...

“The sign of a truly educated man is to be deeply moved by statistics.”
-George Bernard Shaw I think

I see the stat posts and go
"Ok, that's there, good--and interesting--if I ever need that I know Alexis has it"

I think I assume (rightly or wrongly) that whatever conclusions I am drawing when I read are the ones you imply you came to by posting them at all in the first place so it'd be redundant to point them out.

Anyway, point is, I'm more likely to comment when I disagree or think I noticed something you didn't.

Adam Thornton said...

I'm thrilled when you post them.

I also enjoyed Senn's Dicing with Death, so maybe it's just my kink.

Elton said...

@Chgowiz You are right from your perspective. But when I said "use" I meant as inspiration. :) But you were right to point what you did. Thank you.