Recommend
19 
 Thumb up
 Hide
47 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Why RPGs Suck rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Prelude / I come in peace
I do play RPGs. I like RPGs. The goal of this post is to explore limitations of the genre, or all the ways in which RPGs do suck, and in spite of that, why I keep playing. It's me writing about something that's been on my mind a lot recently, and isn't meant to be at all provocative¹. That being said, my writing has been characterized as "hostile" before, and I doubt I've changed much. Please note that all invective is, as always, merely my opinion, even if I don't state it as such.

What RPGs are
What is an RPG? This is a question which has caused many a flame war (and I seek forgiveness for my past sins in this respect), and which is rather hard to answer definitely, except in a "I know it when I see it"² kind of way. Nonetheless, a discussion about how RPGs suck would be remiss without an explanation of an RPG is (even when we ignore story games, as I will be doing here, because they're quite their own thing really). I've seen a fair amounts of comparisons of RPGs to movies, video games, board games, books, and other such entertainment media, so I'm going to treat an RPG as an entertainment media. But isn't it a book? I actually think that, when talking about RPGing, we "RPG"ing is the session, and the rules and associated books are only reference materials. After all, the books themselves without players to play them is useless. Much like a play is more than a script³, I'd like to think that an RPG is more than just a ruleset and an adventure.

But I digress, if only slightly.

When we compare entertainment media to each other, it turns out that some are really good at doing certain things better than others. For instance, TV and movies have always struggled with how to portray a character's inner thoughts and conflicts, something that books do really well with, just as books fail to capture the engagement and choice that a video game does. And the silver screen is really able to do suspense and shock and thrill far better than books and video games, because of the control that editors and directors have over timing. Plays, well, erm... We'll skip that one.

Why they suck
When looking at RPGs, and comparing to these media, it's clear that there are a lot of things that RPGs suck at (see, I finally got to it!). In fact, RPGs suck quite a bit.

Video games are way better at mechanics than an RPG could ever hope to be. A computer can easily take complex mechanics, and take away a whole lot of bookkeeping, and more tables, and, because of the way it's built, get more feedback and balancing. Building classes in Pathfinder? MMOs can have tons more complexity - I mean just look at the weapon varieties in Destiny or Anthem. Or check out the crafting systems in these games that I often see players talk about.

They can craft a story that thousands get to witness, and are far better at setting up narrative beats than RPGs are, because a vidya RPG can control timing, set a picture by actually setting a picture, and generally use images to convey moods and feelings far better than words often can.

In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.

Even if we just like the clatter of dice, board games can deliver that, often with their own mix of lore, story, or mechanics.

True, an RPG is relatively easier to make than a movie, yes. It takes thousands of people hundreds of hours to make a movie, whereas it takes 5 people about 4 hours or so to crank out a session. Nonetheless, each movie can be seen by hundreds of millions of people, whereas an RPG session is witnessed by usually about 5 ⁴. Plus, with movies and video games, it's the most talented (supposedly) writers the studio could find, mixed in with the best coders/actors/editors etc. they could find that create a product that's widely viewed. Whereas, with an RPG, you're really relying on your friend Steve ^5 to GM a session for you. And hey, Steve's probably good ^6. But each Steve can only GM for about 6 players at a time, so inevitably, some people play with GMs who aren't as utterly amazing as Steve, whereas if Steve wrote and directed a movie, we'd all get to see Steve's movie.

And yet, here we are, stuck in our basements, hewing away at a product that will only ever be witnessed by ourselves.
So, it turns out that there is in fact, a tiny little thing that RPGs blow every other media out of the water at.

Choice. Bounless choice. Even the choice offered by video games is at best, numeric. Choose one of X options. It's an inherrent limit of a machine which functions in 1s and 0s. And sure, a board game might offer you more, but nothing comes close to a player telling a GM that they'd like to try to put their helmet backwards on the enemy mage in order to blind him, and to actually be able to have that play out.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say, is that choice lies at the heart of RPGing, and without it, there's not much of a reason to play, is there? If you strip choice from an RPG, you're left with what's essentially a live reading of a choose-your-own-adventure book.

But isn't that obvious?
Well, writing this, it certainly does (at least to me), but I actually thought about this from a threads many years back about fudging. I was always against fudging, but I could never really put my finger on why I felt so strongly about it (and why that particular incarnation of that argument went on for over 6 pages). But I think (not just in fudging), we can often forget about this.

And in so many published adventures, I do see this desire to make "the story" play out as something that the PCs experience, but don't actually choose. Take Paizo's APs, or WotC's adventures. So I do think it's something that gets lost from time to time, and so needed to be said.


Footnotes
1. Honestly, I almost never mean to be provocative. But it seems like it ends up happening when I say something, so it is probably me and not RPGG.
2. This expression actually originates in Justice Stewart's concurrance in Jacobellis v. Ohio on defining obscenity, which he later abandoned as being "unworkable", after having to apply it to a host of movies in a case-by-case basis.
3. I know, a play is technically script. Nonetheless, the production of a play is what gets witnessed, not the play. The play itself is really more of a guide and reference for the production, much like an adventure is a guide to a session. The point is, I'm going to use "play" as shorthand for "production of a play".
4. Okay, streaming, I know. But I don't think that really counts, because those watching a stream don't really participate in the same way as a player in the telling of a story, just as there's only one person playing a game even if a thousand stream his play of it.
5. I use Steve because there's way too many Steves here for this to be pure coincidence. People with the surname Steve are naturally drawn towards RPGing.
6. I mean, like really good. Like, one of the best GMs ever and an awesome RPGG admin (please don't ban me Council of Steves).
13 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
United Kingdom
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:

Why they suck
When looking at RPGs, and comparing to these media, it's clear that there are a lot of things that RPGs suck at (see, I finally got to it!). In fact, RPGs suck quite a bit.

Video games are way better at mechanics than an RPG could ever hope to be. A computer can easily take complex mechanics, and take away a whole lot of bookkeeping, and more tables, and, because of the way it's built, get more feedback and balancing. Building classes in Pathfinder? MMOs can have tons more complexity - I mean just look at the weapon varieties in Destiny or Anthem. Or check out the crafting systems in these games that I often see players talk about.
But is complexity good? I would posit that too much complexity is bad, especially if it isn't transparent.

There isn't anywhere near agreement that a RPG with more complex mechanics is better than one with simpler mechanics. Indeed some of my favourite games have very simple mechanics.

Quote:
They can craft a story that thousands get to witness, and are far better at setting up narrative beats than RPGs are, because a vidya RPG can control timing, set a picture by actually setting a picture, and generally use images to convey moods and feelings far better than words often can.
Well I think the big point there is witness. I don't witness a game, I play a game. Controlling the timing means that you are effectively restricting the players' freedom. As for RPGs setting up narrative beats - well that is really up to the GM. A good GM can be even better than a video game RPG.

As for the visual nature, well that is just a matter of taste. Films don't replace novels. Video-game RPGs aren't a replacement for tabletop.

Quote:
In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.
Yep but George RR Martin was (maybe still is) a tabletop RPGer. I would say that Tekumel and Glorantha are every bit as deep, every bit as rich, every bit as enjoyable as the worlds of LotR and GoT.

Quote:
True, an RPG is relatively easier to make than a movie, yes. It takes thousands of people hundreds of hours to make a movie, whereas it takes 5 people about 4 hours or so to crank out a session. Nonetheless, each movie can be seen by hundreds of millions of people, whereas an RPG session is witnessed by usually about 5 ⁴.
Again witnessed. RPG is not a passive entertainment, it is an active one. It is not comparable to film or tv. Video games are a more active entertainment but it isn't intrinsically social or collaborative like tabletop (or LARP for that matter). We as tabletop RPG players do not, well mostly, merely experience the GM's story, but we also alter it and control its direction and focus - sometimes this is fairly subtle, sometimes it produces something massively different to what the GM had originally planned. That is something that film, TV, video games, board games and even traditional novels can't really do.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alan - Son of Hett
United States
The Triangle
North Carolina
flag msg tools
 "…and in the darkness bind them / In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie." …gives me goosebumps every time, even all these years later.
Avatar
mbmbmb
Well I am glad your final conclusion is player agency. 'Choice' is exactly what I was thinking before you arrived to that point. I do not believe I have ever read a book or watched a film and not thought, "Well that was stupid; they should have done it this way."

However, I do not think you should dismiss cinematography, pacing/timing/suspense/surprise/etc., or world-building/lore from RPGs. Granted, those are heavily dependent upon the skill of Steve the GM, but so are books and films (upon authors and directors). When one starts the first book in a series, one has no clue about the histories and cultures of that realm; so, too, with an RPG (unless it is one based upon a pre-existing story, such as Star Wars or Middle Earth). The myths and legends and cultures and nuances are teased out over the course of play. And a good GM with a good story will present pacing and suspense and surprise and all manner of thing one can also get from a novel or movie. And as for cinematography, well nothing beats the human imagination. I absolutely assure you that the worlds in my mind are just as rich, just as textured, as colorful, as complex, nuanced, historied, etc., etc., etc. as anything I have read or witnessed on paper or screen. I suppose the only catch is that what I have in my mind differs from what everyone else at the table has in their mind. But that is why the artwork for different editions of books each differ from the other. We all have a slightly different imagining of a thing, and books or films are not immune. I find it a bit jarring, for example, to have read a book and then see the film adaptation. I have imagined Rivendell in my mind's eye, and then it is presented to me on-screen, but I balk, "What the hell is that? That is not what Rivendell looks like!" But I suppose that goes back to player agency; we all get to choose the scenery and dramatic effects in our own minds.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Hardy
msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:

Video games are way better at mechanics than an RPG could ever hope to be. A computer can easily take complex mechanics, and take away a whole lot of bookkeeping, and more tables, and, because of the way it's built, get more feedback and balancing. Building classes in Pathfinder? MMOs can have tons more complexity - I mean just look at the weapon varieties in Destiny or Anthem. Or check out the crafting systems in these games that I often see players talk about.

This probably does not really harm the point you are trying to make, but I would like to point out that the mechanics are actually simple in video games. For example, to hit is simply a target number. What they do is factor in a lot of additional data.

For example, it could be level+class bonus+ weapon type+spell bonuses+potion bonuses + random number that is then subtracted from class+level+armor+race resistance+spell resistance, etc.

The underlying mechanics are pretty basic. I know designers who would say that they worked out the underlying resolution system and mechanics at a table and played around with it. Then, they translated and programmed it into a computer.

I do think that mmorpgs handle certain things better than RPGs. But I think it is important to keep in mind that was a computer allows is more complexity. Of course, in the future, most of that could be handled easily by people tablets/phones. You have everything programmed in. Then all you need is the random number which would either be digital or manually inputted from rolled dice. I just do think people are ready to input all of their information into a data base for a computer to handle.

In other words, how much is gained by all of the extra information? Probably not much and many high-crunch games do take into account many of the things video games do.

I will say that video games handle simultaneous and real time combat better. While I am sure it could be done in tabletop somehow, a turn based approach seems the default.

Dutys_Fist wrote:
They can craft a story that thousands get to witness, and are far better at setting up narrative beats than RPGs are, because a vidya RPG can control timing, set a picture by actually setting a picture, and generally use images to convey moods and feelings far better than words often can.

Some of that would apply to books.

Dutys_Fist wrote:

In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.

You would play an RPG in those worlds. Additionally, while I hate Forgotten Realm, it seems even more detailed than Tolkien or Martin.

(For the record, I find Tolkein's story so boring. I do not like Martin's writing style. The TV show does a much better job at conveying the world than his writing does.)
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Hardy
msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JVgamer wrote:
And as for cinematography, well nothing beats the human imagination. I absolutely assure you that the worlds in my mind are just as rich, just as textured, as colorful, as complex, nuanced, historied, etc., etc., etc. as anything I have read or witnessed on paper or screen.

You should look up mind's eye blindness. While many people have the capacity you do, many other people's mind's eye is less vivid. Some to the point where they have no internal visual sight. So, for these people, movies are better. Even for those with normalish mind's eye, it is dependent on the writing and imagination. There is a reason that special effect laden movies blow a large section of society away, but books do not. It takes a person with good imagination, good writing, and a normal or above normal mind's eye to top the level of special effects now.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
United Kingdom
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SteamCraft wrote:
JVgamer wrote:
And as for cinematography, well nothing beats the human imagination. I absolutely assure you that the worlds in my mind are just as rich, just as textured, as colorful, as complex, nuanced, historied, etc., etc., etc. as anything I have read or witnessed on paper or screen.

You should look up mind's eye blindness. While many people have the capacity you do, many other people's mind's eye is less vivid. Some to the point where they have no internal visual sight. So, for these people, movies are better. Even for those with normalish mind's eye, it is dependent on the writing and imagination. There is a reason that special effect laden movies blow a large section of society away, but books do not. It takes a person with good imagination, good writing, and a normal or above normal mind's eye to top the level of special effects now.
It is called aphantasia. I am not completely aphantasic but I often struggle to see an image, and often fail with complex images - basically the simpler and more familiar the better, in my head. However for me books, radio plays, RPGs are all far better entertainment media than films and TV.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mario Silva
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Media comparisons?
James Cameron with his millions, teams and studios, didn't get Alita Battle angel done right. The author used ink and paper, infinite less time, alone.
Part of the issue is manga/comics/BD have a peculiar form of non temporal storytelling: the action happens exactly at the speed you read, then you time it to the story in your mind. (with animation, video & films you have to wait for the time the action takes...)

So the motor-ball on screen is dead slow, the cyborg fighting styles non existent, Alita is 1000000 less deadly, the potential untapped.

The biggest reason people don't get my supers game tastes is because they want a game to emulate comics, animation or movies. I say the opposite is true, comics, animation and movies of this multi-genre we call supers should emulate rpgs , it would improve them 10000000 fold. I Gm rpgs, my supers stories and concepts are geared to play, not for storytelling.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard
Greece
Marousi
Athens
flag msg tools
Τhe cave you fear holds the treasure you seek.
badge
My lucky number is four billion. That doesn't come in real handy when you're gambling. "Come on, four billion! Darn! Seven. Not even close. I need more dice." Mitch Hedberg
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:


Choice. Boundless choice.

thumbsup

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Daumen
United States
The Triangle
flag msg tools
designer
(Tennessee and Wisconsin in between)
badge
I think you should realize these wings are really hot
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would flip the description around and say freedom, since the GM can set a game wherever she wants, and the group can use whatever system they want.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Hardy
msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Not to derail this, but given the emphasis on choice, this would mean that railroading is bad because it takes away the advantage RPGs have.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike D.
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The strange thing is, I have grown to eschew all those forms of entertainment other then RPGs. I could write a similar post on Why everything other then RPGs suck. That isn't really true though, I just don't care for them.

If you have a strong option of something over which you have no control, you've pretty much "lost".

Edit: to be clear I mean "lost" as in you can never really win an argument on the internet. You can point out your own point of view but if you're trying to "win" you've already lost.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chuck Dee
United States
flag msg tools
designer
Sometimes, you just have to roll it.
badge
Why are we in this handbasket, and where are we going?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In all honesty, many of the statements about the inherent suckiness of RPGs is why I play them, in addition to choice. I like the fact that streamlining is a relative necessity over unnecessary complexity in order to make the experience workable. I like the fact that the RPG is more intimate, and not shared with the world other than what I choose. I like the fact that the lore is reactive, the ability to tailor what the lore is so that it's consistent and not overwhelming is the reason that I view GMing as an art form.

I play RPGs for the experience that they provide. And honestly, having worked on video games before, the complexities of the systems vary just as much as with video games, with more complex simulations becoming a nightmare to balance and QA, and inflexibility of the rules and the adjudicator that the GM provides inherently in the act of running a game.

What Video games excel at is repeatability and predictability. You can only be surprised by a video game to a certain extent. It can only react to the players in a limited way. And as you point out, the choices matter only so much and are only free within a limited set of parameters. They also excel at being available at those times that your schedule or mood fit, rather than having to deal with the moods and schedules of others.

I posit that this doesn't make either suck. It just makes them different experiences.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mario Silva
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Rpgs are a creative endeavor, you play by creating possibilities, making choices, improvisation.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Truesdell
United States
Uniontown
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Boards of Games wrote:
Dutys_Fist wrote:

Choice. Boundless choice.
thumbsup


I agree, that's exactly what sets RPGs apart from all other forms of entertainment (books, movies, video games, boardgames, minis, choose your own death books). I created a simple low level adventure and I wanted to think of the different ways they could solve it. I stopped at 5 very different ways and felt like I could have kept going. Even low level crappy spells can be used in very creative ways that could impact an adventure just as much as a fireball spell.

However, many RPGs focus on everything but roleplaying and more on combat or various "builds". I believe boardgames are much better at combat and I would use them to resolve combat when the time comes. However, gamers in my limited observation do not like to mix boardgames and RPGs no matter how much I wish they would. I do have Commando which has rules for both.

I play them all though, I still remember watching a wizard cast a magic missile spell in Baldur's Gate for the first time. Fun stuff even with their flaws.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:

But is complexity good? I would posit that too much complexity is bad, especially if it isn't transparent.

There isn't anywhere near agreement that a RPG with more complex mechanics is better than one with simpler mechanics. Indeed some of my favourite games have very simple mechanics.
Oh, I entirely agree! Look, rereading this, I didn't quite get my point across (more like I realized what my point actually was 6 hours after pressing submit. What I'm trying to say is that RPGs inherrently are really bad at mechanical complexity. Like, the more complex the system, the more downtime and the less game actually happens per time.

Quote:
Quote:
They can craft a story that thousands get to witness, and are far better at setting up narrative beats than RPGs are, because a vidya RPG can control timing, set a picture by actually setting a picture, and generally use images to convey moods and feelings far better than words often can.
Well I think the big point there is witness. I don't witness a game, I play a game. Controlling the timing means that you are effectively restricting the players' freedom. As for RPGs setting up narrative beats - well that is really up to the GM. A good GM can be even better than a video game RPG.

As for the visual nature, well that is just a matter of taste. Films don't replace novels. Video-game RPGs aren't a replacement for tabletop.
Quote:
In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.
Yep but George RR Martin was (maybe still is) a tabletop RPGer. I would say that Tekumel and Glorantha are every bit as deep, every bit as rich, every bit as enjoyable as the worlds of LotR and GoT.

Quote:
True, an RPG is relatively easier to make than a movie, yes. It takes thousands of people hundreds of hours to make a movie, whereas it takes 5 people about 4 hours or so to crank out a session. Nonetheless, each movie can be seen by hundreds of millions of people, whereas an RPG session is witnessed by usually about 5 ⁴.
Again witnessed. RPG is not a passive entertainment, it is an active one. It is not comparable to film or tv. Video games are a more active entertainment but it isn't intrinsically social or collaborative like tabletop (or LARP for that matter). We as tabletop RPG players do not, well mostly, merely experience the GM's story, but we also alter it and control its direction and focus - sometimes this is fairly subtle, sometimes it produces something massively different to what the GM had originally planned. That is something that film, TV, video games, board games and even traditional novels can't really do.
So, I disagree here. Sure, RPGs are active entertainment, and movies and books passive (save for CYOA, which is its own thing). What I'm trying to say is that a lot of times, people get caught up in making a game "like a movie" or book, and trying to model something that TV or books do well in RPGs. I'm not saying that it's entirely wrong in every case, but I'm trying to say that it's the wrong general approach.

I think we really are talking past each other, because I'm agreeing with everything you're saying, except that RPGs are comparable to these media in that I can transmit a story through each of these media, but depending on my choice of story, the correct media may be different.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SteamCraft wrote:

Dutys_Fist wrote:

In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.

You would play an RPG in those worlds. Additionally, while I hate Forgotten Realm, it seems even more detailed than Tolkien or Martin.

Okay, yes. And forgotten realms does it right, in that all the worldbuilding and lore is fleshed out in sourcebooks. Let me put it this way: If I had a group of people who knew nothing about the Forgotten Realms, and I wanted to expose them to the lore, having them read the books is a far faster and better way of getting that lore out than via an RPG.

Sure, you can do it in an RPG. But if your primary aim is to produce lore, then I think that an RPG is the wrong place to do it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
chuckdee68 wrote:

I posit that this doesn't make either suck. It just makes them different experiences.
Well, yeah. As I said in the foreword, I too play RPGs. But I think that the difference in the experience can often be ignored.

SteamCraft wrote:
Not to derail this, but given the emphasis on choice, this would mean that railroading is bad because it takes away the advantage RPGs have.
Haha. Very punny.

But yeah. That was basically my point. There are indeed wrong ways to play RPGs.



Okay. I'm seeing a lot of commenters that think they're disagreeing with me when I'm in agreement with all of what's being said. Based on these responses, and rereading what I wrote, it's clear that I did a terrible job and didn't at all get my point across. I'll expand on this and try again next week.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike D.
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:
SteamCraft wrote:

Dutys_Fist wrote:

In terms of lore, who can rival RRs Tolkien or Martin with the depth of their world. What player in an RPG would ever get to experience that.

You would play an RPG in those worlds. Additionally, while I hate Forgotten Realm, it seems even more detailed than Tolkien or Martin.

Okay, yes. And forgotten realms does it right, in that all the worldbuilding and lore is fleshed out in sourcebooks. Let me put it this way: If I had a group of people who knew nothing about the Forgotten Realms, and I wanted to expose them to the lore, having them read the books is a far faster and better way of getting that lore out than via an RPG.

Sure, you can do it in an RPG. But if your primary aim is to produce lore, then I think that an RPG is the wrong place to do it.

If your primary aim is to produce lore, then it isn't to play a game. While not mutually exclusive, it helps to have an idea of what you want to accomplish before you start a process.
If I want to play a game and some interesting world building takes place that's BONUS.
"I justt came here to play a game and now we've got all this interesting stuff, cool!"
Not,
"I'm developing a Novel (Movie, TV show insert "thing that isn't a game here") I think I'll run a game of (pick your game) with my friends that are neither writers or developers but let's keep typing till we get Shakespeare."

I haven't played a role playing game without meaning to play a role playing game before.

Edit: While the idea of playing a role playing game to do anything other then play a role playing game is alien to me, it can be perfectly valid way to play.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
pestigor wrote:
Edit: While the idea of playing a role playing game to do anything other then play a role playing game is alien to me, it can be perfectly valid way to play.
What exactly do you mean by valid? I think such a thing is certainly condemnable and should be dissuaded at the least.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike D.
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As long long as there isn't RPG police kicking in my door, putting a gun to my head and yelling: "Start power gaming like this is some board game RIGHT NOW!" If you're doing what you want to do with others that want to to that...there is no BADWRONGFUN to be found here.

Edit: to be clear my intention is to not be one of those guys you see at the shop that hasn’t played a version of the game you’re playing in 20+ years yet without fail will come to your table and wax poetical of how the version of the game you’re playing (the one that came out last week) is awful with such fervor that you think he’s a pastor preaching to a gambling den.
I don’t think anyone should apologize for having an opinion but the spite and vitriol needs to go...I mean did this book break into your house and hit your mom with a ratchet?
We’re not trying to solve world hunger here, it’s just a damn game, one we really enjoy but seriously the stuff that might actually harm lurks at the bottom of the database not everyday games.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
United Kingdom
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:
andyl wrote:

But is complexity good? I would posit that too much complexity is bad, especially if it isn't transparent.

There isn't anywhere near agreement that a RPG with more complex mechanics is better than one with simpler mechanics. Indeed some of my favourite games have very simple mechanics.
Oh, I entirely agree! Look, rereading this, I didn't quite get my point across (more like I realized what my point actually was 6 hours after pressing submit. What I'm trying to say is that RPGs inherrently are really bad at mechanical complexity. Like, the more complex the system, the more downtime and the less game actually happens per time.

Yep - but mechanical complexity in and of itself isn't a desirable thing in anything. I'm a computer programmer - aiming for something to be "as simple as it needs to be" is a big virtue. This is true of gaming as much as it is my professional life. Remember for a lot of RPGs we are not trying to simulate the real world anyway, we are not trying to embed a physics engine (or even a partial one) in our game. However having said that some games (even some popular games) have added too much complexity, especially too much up-front complexity, and many gamers try to embrace that. However that isn't the entirety of the RPG world.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
flag msg tools
Now who are these five?
badge
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The power of tabletop RPGs is because it relies on the sheer joy of "telling each other a story", while the story is interactive.

The system (in my eyes) is merely there to inspire various tales to be told.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Guest Starring...
Austria
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Dutys_Fist wrote:
And in so many published adventures, I do see this desire to make "the story" play out as something that the PCs experience, but don't actually choose. Take Paizo's APs, or WotC's adventures. So I do think it's something that gets lost from time to time, and so needed to be said.
Wait, this is the bottom line? I see the problem: you're not talking about RPGs, you're talking about a very specific school of scenario writing.

A lot of people who play RPGs completely agree with you.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Daumen
United States
The Triangle
flag msg tools
designer
(Tennessee and Wisconsin in between)
badge
I think you should realize these wings are really hot
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SteamCraft wrote:
Not to derail this, but given the emphasis on choice, this would mean that railroading is bad because it takes away the advantage RPGs have.

At the very least, you will question why playing that particular game is a better use of time than watching a movie or playing a CRPG.

Here is another thing that distinguishes RPGs from other media (but, importantly, not sports - that's why both events are called games): the outcome is not predetermined. Which I submit is why complexity, or simply just randomness, is valued.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Odd comparisons to be making. You play an RPG to play make-believe and get to take the part of an imaginary character. Movies/books/TV aren't that sort of experience at all. Computer games barely touch on it.

Quote:
Video games are way better at mechanics than an RPG could ever hope to be
Can't say I agree with this though. I think many video games probably do have better mechanics than RPGs (and a lot of bad mechanics in video games are because they derived from RPGs), but that's just because so many RPGs have really bad mechanics. I don't see any reason RPGs couldn't have better mechanics; people just have to want them and designers have to be willing to pursue them.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   |