Fundamental Assumptions

Speculation, discoveries, complaints, accusations, praise, and all other Erfworld discussion.

Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Welf von Ehrwald » Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:47 pm

Kreistor wrote:The only exceptions are Casters, and those are rare. What happens when a unit is advanced from Infantry to Warlord? Someone spends money and bang, you are now a Warlord.

If you think you know everything, you never ask the question "What could I invent?" It's all been invented, because you all know everything. They don't learn because they are ignorant that they can.


Well, there is Stanley. There must have been a reason why he was promoted to warlord. If Saline IV needed a warlord, he simply could have ordered one. And a popped warlord would have been an noble, starting with basic warlord knowledge and he would have leveled faster. And he came up with the idea of the eyemancer set.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Pax » Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:56 pm

Kreistor wrote:Physics are an absolute. They are laws. Game mechanics are laws. I can, in my world, break game rules, but the other players will see that, stand up, and stop playing with me.

One: Game mechanics are rules, not Laws ... and as they say: "Rules are meant to be broken".

Two: that really depends on what game you're playing. If you're playing the pre-CCG version of Illuminati ...? Cheating, or at least the option to do so, is written right into the Rules of the game. Which is to say, the rules tell you "if you cheat, and noone catches you, then it's legal, and congratulations."



Housellama wrote:I cannot count the number of times I have done something completely legal within the game rules that absolutely breaks the system, to the point that the GMs made house rules specifically forbidding the loophole or combination I used. That is a form of 'breaking the rules'. Game mechanics ARE rules, but exploiting rules and cheating are two VERY different things. I don't know if this was your intent, but your statement came off as a lot more absolute than the situation actually is.

Heck, yeah! There are groups where I am personally and directly forbidden to help anyone else make (or advance) their character in any RPG ... because I proved so darned good at it. :ugeek:
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Kreistor » Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:48 pm

Kreistor wrote:Physics are an absolute. They are laws. Game mechanics are laws. I can, in my world, break game rules, but the other players will see that, stand up, and stop playing with me.


A lot of people misunderstand that. You're taking it out of context and looking only at the specific words.

What I was saying is that when I'm playing a game, I must treat the game rules as Laws. (Illuminati actually makes a Rule for cheating... but some cheating is still not allowed, specifically anything involving the bank. Yes, I own it. It's a tongue-in-cheek treatment of paranoid conspiracies and urban legend.)

Please look at everything else I say on this subject before pouncing on one sentence that's inconsistent. I did not reference game rules as being Laws in Erfworld: the example is me playing a game at a table with friends. Yes, I admit that I wrote that poorly. We all make mistakes. I was saying that when I play a game, I need to treat those rules as Laws, or risk losing friends.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Maldeus » Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:58 pm

The real question here is how many of these game rules are laws of physics and how many are laws of the land. If they're laws of the land, then any unit can break them. If they're laws of physics, then only Parson can break them, and probably not even that (again, Parson is an exception to practically everything, so until we see someone else break a rule, or until we figure out exactly how Parson differs from normal Erfworld units, his abilities prove nothing). Certain things, like moving through hex walls at night, surely must have occurred to someone at some point in the past. Warlords do think, after all, they just don't think outside the box (and it's quite possible some do, but they're being saved by Rob for later battles). How hard would it be for a warlord to go up to a unit and say "try to walk through that hex wall even though it's not your turn, and if you don't I'll disband you" (there's no point getting into a disbanding argument, here; assume the warlord was smart enough to rig things so that disbanding equals death no matter what the exact effects of disbanding itself are)? Not very. In Erfworld's reasonably long history, there must have been at least one warlord who tried it, and if he had and it had worked, he would've used it, and word would've gotten out. In other words, it's most likely that a unit is physically incapable of moving through a hex wall at night (though potentially only in the same sense that humans are physically incapable of flight...We are, but that doesn't mean we can't make airplanes).

Also, Illuminati sounds fun, I should look into it.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby MarbitChow » Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:30 pm

Talking about physics is really misleading when dealing with a magical fantasy world. When most people hear the word "physics", they tend to think "objects in motion stay in motion until acted upon", etc.

We've got a LOT of evidence that 'physics', as we understand it, does not exist in Erfworld. E=mc2 probably doesn't apply in a world where money can be converted into units and buildings. "Conservation of Energy" in our world might become something like a law of "Conservation of Shmuckers" instead. Animate bodies cannot cross hex boundaries if they're at zero (0) move, but inanimate objects can (Rob has mentioned that status notes were passed from hex to hex in a post).

So what happens if you build a shell big enough to fit a person in, seal that shell, and launch it across a hex boundary? We don't know. If it's some sort of mind control that prevents units from crossing hexes, then the shell would sail through. If it's a 'force field' effect, the person in the shell may be crushed against the wall of the shell as it passes through. But talking about 'physics' when magic is a known quantity is misleading at best, and confusing.

What might be easier is to keep it simple: Is the world internally consistent? If a certain process is established, does the world behave logically based on that process?

For example, we know that Erfworld behaves as a 'game-like' world, and units pop fully-formed. There is no childhood. Is there aging? We've seen units that look older, but did they pop at that age? Does the physical appearance of being older simply imply a higher "wisdom score"? Is wisdom / intelligence / etc. a hidden score in Erfworld?

Or do units really age? There's a song that talks about 'the turn you decay' - are they referring to an aging process, or does 'decay' refer to when a corpse de-pops?

Speaking of decay, is there bacteria in Erfworld? If the world is created, Evolution clearly has no place, so there's no reason for there to be single-celled organisms. Trying to figure out fundamental assumptions can lead to a lot of crazy theories.

Unlike Parson, we can't actually experiment in Erfworld. We can simply observe, so most of our conjectures will be nothing more than arguing for the sake of arguing, which is still very enjoyable, I'll grant you. But it ends up being more like a religious debate attempting to analyze scripture - "What did the gods intend by this statement?" Fortunately for us, our 'god' is distant, but still responsive. :)
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby SteveMB » Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:41 pm

Welf von Ehrwald wrote:Well, there is Stanley. There must have been a reason why he was promoted to warlord. If Saline IV needed a warlord, he simply could have ordered one. And a popped warlord would have been an noble, starting with basic warlord knowledge and he would have leveled faster.

I don't know that it necessarily follows that a unit popped as a warlord would be noble. The one possible hint of that is that Stanley and Wanda never raised the option of popping a new warlord when they needed to replace Manpower. Nobles pop in royal-ruled cities; ergo, if new-popped warlords are always noble then Overlord Stanley couldn't order one popped. However, a more straightforward explanation is that popping new warlords takes too long, given the situation.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Cmdr I. Heartly Noah » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:06 pm

Popping a warlord would take time that they probably didn't have, while promoting one would be instantaneous. (Though quality likely suffers unless there is an excellent candidate).

Royal-run cities pop noble & royal Warlords. It is possible that they also pop non-noble Warlords. Maybe 10% royal, 60% noble, 30% non-noble or something like that. Unless they can choose which to pop and it just takes longer for the good ones, but I'm betting it's just "warlord" on the 'menu' and the nobility of the Warlord is random.

Non-Royal cities can't pop Royal or Noble Warlords. They just pop regular ones.

Of course, Royal > Noble > Base when it comes to stats & levelling and such, so obviously it's better to be Royal.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Housellama » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:55 pm

Kreistor wrote:
Kreistor wrote:Physics are an absolute. They are laws. Game mechanics are laws. I can, in my world, break game rules, but the other players will see that, stand up, and stop playing with me.


A lot of people misunderstand that. You're taking it out of context and looking only at the specific words.


Fair enough. I don't disagree with a lot of what you said. In particular, I think you really hit the nail on the head here. (emphasis mine)

Kreistor wrote:Good. And now, "Why?" As in, "Why" don't Erfworlders think outside the box of tradition?

Simple. Because they born without a need to ever learn anything.

They are born with a knowledge of the world that allows them to participate as a mature adult. They learn by killing enemies (or they think they do... experience is not a known rule, only suspected). They get better by levelling, not spending time in libraries. The only exceptions are Casters, and those are rare. What happens when a unit is advanced from Infantry to Warlord? Someone spends money and bang, you are now a Warlord.

If you think you know everything, you never ask the question "What could I invent?" It's all been invented, because you all know everything. They don't learn because they are ignorant that they can.


If you never have to think critically, then you never learn how to think critically. They think like game pieces. Not like game players. That is the essential difference.

In the newest piece (Summer 008), Parson talks about thinking like a gamer. Thinking like a strategist and thinking like a gamer are two different things. They often overlap, especially in this genre, but there are key differences. Gamers (of a certain breed) look for exploits. Ways in which the rules don't quite fit. Unconventional uses for rules, etc. This is -important- here, because Parson is in a world that is governed by GAME rules. Yes, there's still gravity, etc, but the most important rules are the ones that we identify as the game mechanics. As a gamer, I know that there are many ways to exploit game mechanics. That, I think is why Parson was brought in, rather than an actual general. Parson is a fantastic strategist, but more importantly, he thinks like a gamer. He thinks about systems and rules and how they can be bent and broken without cheating. That is what Grandmaster Abbie was talking about, I believe. Parson is a gamer, and a very good one. He could very easily break this world.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Kreistor » Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:18 pm

MarbitChow wrote:Talking about physics is really misleading when dealing with a magical fantasy world.


Is it? What is Physics? Physics is the science of the physical world. We experiemtn to determine how the world works, and as accurately as possible reperesent that with rules.

What then is Magic? If Magic operates by a set of Rules, how is it different from Physics? If I can write out exactly how a spell works, eveyr step, and every repercussion, how is that different from "Momentum must be conserved."?

A lot of peopel miss that fact. They think that when Magic is proven to exist, the world will change and science will end. No, it won't. When the Laws of Magic are determined, they become a Science.

Magic is only magical when it cannot be explained. You' ve heard the saying that "Any advanced science is indistinguishable from magic to the unaware." That statement can be reversed. "Any magic is an advanced science." Magic, then, is merely those parts of the world that have not yet been explained by science. When science explains magic, magic becomes science.

So if "Magic" in Erfword is explained, then it is already science. It is magic to the reader because we do not understand it: it is outside physics to us. But to Erfworlders, it is the same as science is to us. They understand it and can use it, n the same way as we understand and can use Physics.

Erfworld is governed by Rules. Determining what the unknown rules of our world is what Science is. Why would that be any different in Erfworld? Because it has creatures and rules different from ours? No, we know it is governed by rules. Trying to explain a world is the act of committing scientific study, no matter what word you choose to call it. A rose is a rose, if it has petals and thorns, even if you call it a sow's ear.
http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/TBFGK_1 Here you can find all comic pages written as text for convenient quoting.

http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/Erfworld_Mechanics The starting page for accessing all known Erfworld "rules".
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby MarbitChow » Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:42 pm

Kreistor wrote:Is it? What is Physics? Physics is the science of the physical world. We experiemtn to determine how the world works, and as accurately as possible reperesent that with rules.

What then is Magic? If Magic operates by a set of Rules, how is it different from Physics? If I can write out exactly how a spell works, eveyr step, and every repercussion, how is that different from "Momentum must be conserved."?


I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm only saying that if we refer to it as "Rules" or "Universal Principals", it may help to avoid an automatic bias that the word 'Physics' might have associated with it. Physics is already loaded with meaning. We can mention Newtonian Physics, Relativistic Physics and Quantum Mechanics, and many people will know immediately what we're talking about. The word 'Physics' is heavy with meaning and assumption that it may be wise to avoid until we know more about how Erfworld works, and whether those same principals apply.

For example, if we know that Force = Mass x Acceleration, we may accidentally assume that we're able to apply the same damage from a force hitting a body at rest each time, but in Erfworld, the same boulder thrown at a Level 1 Twoll and and Level 10 Twoll, hitting both squarely, might have dramatically different results, due to the number of Hits each has.

In this hypothetical example, there are obvious rules and calculations involved, but our normal definition of Physics doesn't apply - in our world, if the same mass hits two similar bodies, the same force is applied to both.

We (or at least Parson) can absolutely use the methodology of Science to determine the Universal Principals of Erfworld. I'd prefer to avoid the use of the word Physics when describing it, however, in much the same way that I'd avoid the use of the word Evolution when describing how Erfworld natives came to be unless we had a strong indication that natural selection is involved.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Kreistor » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:40 pm

No, I don't think so. The details of what G, A, pi, and other numerical values in Erfworld are never going to be inside the scope of the comic. The Physics of Erfworld and the Game Mechanics of Erfworld are recognizably different terms.

The extent of the Physics is going to be limited to little more than:
Gravity -- things fall.
Momentum -- things don't stop unless something stops them

And I doubt much more. Thermodynamics? Seriosuly doubt it'll see the light of day. Electricity? Only in the limitation of Shockmancy, and that will have its own rule set. It will only get confusing if people try to make it confusing. We're not going to wind up in discussions of how fast things accelerate, whether G[sub]erf[/sub] = G[sub]earth[/sub], etc. Physics is a good enough term for discussions like this, because it's only discussions like this where it wil come up.
http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/TBFGK_1 Here you can find all comic pages written as text for convenient quoting.

http://www.erfworld.com/wiki/index.php/Erfworld_Mechanics The starting page for accessing all known Erfworld "rules".
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Maldeus » Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:42 am

Physics has connotations of something significantly more complex than we actually need to discuss. The word "physics" brings with it thoughts of thermodynamics, electricity, etc. etc. The word "game rules" brings with it thoughts of move points and unit stats. Physics may be accurate literally, but game rules is a better term due to these connotations.

Magic, by the way, is presumably the manipulation of a fifth energy field which does not exist in our reality.

Also, it just occurred to me how ironic it is that there used to be four elements, and now there are four energies. I wonder if one could match up each energy to one of the elements?
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby Pax » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:44 am

I want to revisit a single, small comment:

Kreistor wrote:[...] experience is not a known rule, only suspected [...]


I disagree. Experience points, and the resultant increase in levels, directly fro killing opponents is proven fact. And to support that claim, I submit Exhibit A: Bogroll the Twoll. Upon killing Ansom, he levelled. Twice. Instantly. And all he did to level, was kill Ansom.

(And was then set upon by an angry mob, and killed - but that's neither here nor there.)
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby raphfrk » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:09 pm

Kreistor wrote:Erfworld is governed by Rules. Determining what the unknown rules of our world is what Science is.


Right, an important piece of knowledge that Parson brings is the scientific method itself.

If he starts applying it rigorously, then he will gain similar advantages to the ones a high technology country has over a low tech country on Earth.

Accurate knowledge about how experience points work would allow him to level his units at the max possible rate (also if there are ways of specialising then he could work out the optimal). He wants to find a way to power level new units. Kinda like how a guild might do it in a MMORPG for alts.

Things like the brick example would allow him to use units in non-conventional ways.

It is unclear what "knowledge" is in-built into his bracer. He was able to carry out the "brick experiment" without actually doing the experiment. This would be extremely useful for a theoretical physicist in our world. They could try out their theories instantly. Also, there would be no need to spend money on major physics project like the Large Hadron Collider.

His bracer clearly has knowledge that he doesn't. If he already knew the equations, then he would already know that a brick can do damage, in principal.

However, if the bracer is limited to knowledge Erf mathemancers already have, then he may hit a wall. After which point the bracer will give incorrect results, as this isn't knowledge mathemancers (or his bracer) actually has. If he carries out the experiment, then it might be incorporated into the bracer.
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Re: Fundamental Assumptions

Postby MarbitChow » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:45 pm

Pax wrote:I want to revisit a single, small comment:

Kreistor wrote:[...] experience is not a known rule, only suspected [...]


I disagree. Experience points, and the resultant increase in levels, directly fro killing opponents is proven fact. And to support that claim, I submit Exhibit A: Bogroll the Twoll. Upon killing Ansom, he levelled. Twice. Instantly. And all he did to level, was kill Ansom.


"Experience Points" are a game mechanic. Rob has stated that XP is "just a theory", although a solid one. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6012585&postcount=10

We know that killing triggers leveling. We don't know exactly what that mechanic is, and XP is a just a theory. Other theories may be possible, and other actions may also lead to levelling. For example, creation of magic items of sufficient quantity or power may cause a caster to level, or, as in DnD, use up XP that they've accumulated. We have no way of knowing, currently.

We only have a few data points on which to base our theory of leveling: leveling isn't necessarily immediate for all units (command units don't level if they withdraw from a combat), only the killing blow counts (Bogroll leveled twice off of Ansom, even though a LOT of damage was done before Bogroll got his attack in), you might only need to be 'in combat' with a unit when it dies to get xp (the impact with the ground might just have easily been what finished Ansom off, but since he dies off-panel, we don't know) ,and it gets harder to level the higher level you are (per the author's note, above).

Our gaming backgrounds naturally lead us to assume that Experience Points are the logical method, but Erfworld hasn't proved that yet. If we are able to determine that there is a quantifiable unit of measurement for how a unit gains levels, we will almost certainly call that unit an Experience Point, since we're all already familiar with it.

it's also possible, for example, that the mechanic ends up being a probability of gaining a level based on number and power of previous kills, where once a certain point is reached, leveling is automatic, and excess carries over to the next level, allowing for a chance at gaining 2 levels if a sufficiently powerful opponent is slain. If this were the case, we'd have to track 'Leveling Probability' instead of 'Experience Points'.
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