Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FPS idea where you don't die every minute

I think maybe there's a moral in multiplayer first person shooters - I mean, you tend to get wasted time and time again. Kind of pounds in the idea that you'd just die if you went into a real life gun battle. And in real life, you tend not to respawn (if the games are somehow giving people the impression they respawn after death, well, that's surprising...)

So possibly my idea is more violent for there being less death.

The idea is that you have some sort of beat down status, instead of dying. Your character goes into a sort of defensive mode - you can't shoot, only try and get away. In the levels, there are escape hatches, which only people in beatdown status can use. You get to one, you crawl in and you see your character run down a series of escape tunnels, grab some supplies to replenish themselves, then exit from another escape tunnel point. Effectively much the same as respawning, but you have a solid narrative link from one event to the other.

It is possible to get killed whilst trying to get to an escape hatch, you only have X amount of life left. Getting killed lowers your beatdown score. So you want to develop a strategy with where they are, in case you get beat down. Or maybe your good enough you wont need it...hehe. Sure!

Getting killed can only lower your score, say, three times. And only after you've made two beat downs. So if you've only beaten down one member of the other side, you don't loose that (to give newer players some sense of accomplishment, rather than losing their very first three points of beatdown score). But if you beat down two then being killed loses that second beatdown score.

I think it'd be interesting to play in a combat where the core of the combat isn't...so freankin' rediculous, ie, coming back to life just out of thin air? Ahh, that's stupid!

Some sort of play where self preservation is actually part of play, instead of a stupid macho fantasy of going in guns blazing, neva gunna miss a shot. A fantasy that can only be supported by a rediculous respawn mechanic, showing just how stupid dumb ass that macho fantasy is!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bola. B-O-L-A. Bola.

There's something that happens when you find a +3 ranged weapon in D&D. It's a moment. A moment, commemorated in song...(gasp!: now with interwebs youtubes video!)

I met her in a dungeon down in old module XV-0.
Where you drink healing potions and it tastes just like cherry-cola
See-oh-el-aye cola
She walked up to me and asked me to roll a crit chance
I asked her name and with a clinking chain she said Bola
B-oh-el-aye Bola la-la-la-la Bola

Well I'm not the world's most DPS guy
But when she critted that night it almost broke their spine
Oh my Bola la-la-la-la Bola
Well I'm not dumb (int 10!) but I can't understand
Why she looks like nun chucks but gets thrown from the hand
Oh my Bola la-la-la-la Bola la-la-la-la Bola

Well we drank healing potions and ranged basic all night
Under dungeon torchlight
She picked me up when the enemy immobilised my knee
And said dear boy won't you crit with me
Well I'm not the world's most passionate guy
But when I looked in her stats (+3!) well I almost fell for my Bola
La-la-la-la Bola la-la-la-la Bola

la-la-la-la Bola la-la-la-la Bola
I threw her away
I walked to the door
I fell to the floor
I got down on my (yet again) immobilised knees
Then looked at her wrapped around a monsters throat, and she at me

Well that's the way that I want her to slay
And I always want it to be that way for my Bola
La-la-la-la Bola
Girls will be Eladrin and boys will be female Halflings (hot, but looks about 8 years old?)
It's a mixed up muddled up shook up pseudo medieval world except for Bola
La-la-la-la Bola

Well I'd only leveled up just a week before
And I'd never ever killed a succubi before
But Bola smiled and returned automatically to my hand
And said dear boy I'm gonna make you a paragon man

Well I'm not the world's most broken character build man
But I know what I am and I'm glad I can now ranged spam
And so is Bola
La-la-la-la Bola la-la-la-la Bola
Bola la-la-la-la Bola la-la-la-la Bola

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Character death and nuts

Ran across a post today
1. The dice are never adjusted. What you roll is what you get.

2. If the dice are adjusted, that only happens transparently and in the open.

3. If the dice are adjusted it is done secretly by the GM.


The players were in favor of either 2 or 3 as long as it supported their play goals of doing cool things and avoiding a non-meaningful death.

Comments included: “This seems like something that only people on a RPG forum would  care about. This is why I don’t post on an online forum.”

I really love the attempted pigeon holing at the end. Never mind that if your enforcing 2 & 3 (never mind how nebulous the idea of a 'heroic' or 'meaningful' death is), your still following rules.

It's the fact that these players are allergic to character death just out of the blue. But hey, only someone who reads forums would care about, crazily enough, trying to only play games that don't have random PC death or care about getting their GM to add house rules against it.

It's like someone with a nut alergy saying "Only those people on forums about food alergies care about this stuff! I just buy whatever!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

D&D 5E Modularity: Means many more games - to be frustrated with!

The spin on fifth edition dungeons and dragons is the modularity component. Ie, you (which actually means, the GM (so if that's not you, you choose nothing)) choose the components of the game.

The fact is though, this means there will be about 100 games (probably far more) all calling themselves D&D 5E.

Lets say your own preferred game is at position 46 on the spectrum. The further you go up or down, the more it's like wearing a shoe which is not your size - either it's loose and comes off unexpectedly, or it's painfully tight and it's a fight between the shoe remaining the size it is and your own pain tolerance as your foot will not change size, of course!

Really D&D has always been like this, but as you got to third and fourth, it actually started to focus. Maybe a spectrum of about 20 game types.

But now this takes us back and this is part of why roleplay is so niche - the player base is absolutely fragmented. No one can really play with anyone else, because they are all playing one of the 99 other variants that still all call themselves D&D. It's like calling pizza and roast beef the same name - it ends up a bait and switch (except for the niche who ultimate get the thing they wanted - and the small size of that niche is partly why the RP hobby is so small)

Not to mention how that shuns any new blood. Having the game be around 100 games yet all share the same name means a potential new gamer who'd like game variant #33 has a 1 in 100 chance of bumping into that on his first game. He or she will associate D&D as being some other thing that they don't like, DESPITE the supposed wonderfulness of modularity. Oh, you could make just the game he likes with modularity, thus modularity is great? No, it means there will be 100 game iterations out there and he'll run into one he does not like. He will not try again (or wont try over and over and over, anyway). Modularity blocks out people, it does not include them!

The only person it includes is the GM who buys it and then makes a game which is incredibly specific to them. Maybe you haven't roleplayed before, but you kinda heard that there are dungeons, and dragons, and rogues and lots of battles. Okay, this sounds kind of interesting to you. You turn up and...actually your all plant people having courtly discussions whilst floating in clouds. Don't be silly, it's obvious that Plant people don't have rogues amongst them!

Such is the plant person scenario just swimmingly perfect for some dude out there (he will say "How D&D was meant to be!"). And exactly as it's customised to one person, the more it's a complete non fit to another. The more you customise, the more it wont fit other people - that isn't even a controversial proposition, just boring common sense!

The modularity will just make a disjunct between the advertising (by word of mouth or whatever) and what the person encounters on joining a game (unless they get really lucky and land in a game that modular choices actually align with what they want).

The new person wont see some wonder of modularity. They will just see (most likely) something they didn't actually come for. And they will assume THAT is D&D in its entirety - that it advertises itself as one thing, but does another that they weren't interested in doing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Driftwurld: Ostrosaurus's!

I'm not even sure if they are called Ostrosaurus's anymore!

Implimenting things on the Driftwurld map isn't as straight forward as making single pages before. Because I have to intigrate things and put in one thing at a time without actually getting to the fun part. I mean, making a monster attack you. Making you be able to detect them around your map position. Making them form from one side of the map and slowly migrate across the map. The fun bit is tip toeing around them like they are a minefield on the play map. But that's a long way away!

I suppose I'll draw them into the map manually first, and I kind of know how to do the detection coding. So that'll get the minefield part going - it will just be a static minefield. Ideally in future they will move around once a week. And in future you will be able to fight and kill them - and then one a week there's a chance (maybe 50%) another will spawn at the far side of the map (hatched from an egg) and move in!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Whoa! What if there was more than one ending?

RPG.net has been giving a few surprising posts recently.

what if it all came down to a single roll, before the game even began?

I'm not sure how to calculate the target number needed, or the type of die that's rolled, or even how many rolls would be made, but players would each go around the table and make at least two rolls: one for obtaining their goal, and perhaps another one for survival. No "do overs", no player controlled modifiers, just one roll of the die. Impartial and unyielding. And by the end of the game the outcome of that die roll would be shared around the table. How the players get to that point doesn't really matter. They can't be cut down by a foe before reaching their goal because the dice said so. They can't save the princess because the dice said so. They will found a kingdom and die because the dice said so.

Now I didn't get this at first. Why play out a fixed outcome (even if you don't know what it is until it's revealed at the ending). But then I realised, if you are used to playing in predetermined outcome, railroaded games, then suddenly dice seem a way of having more than one ending! Suddenly those dice things which seem kinda pointless actually open up a surprising, unexpected outcome!

However, the design still surprised me - to go from dice rolls which mean nothing (because the outcome is predetermined in railroaded games) to having one actually determine the ending? That's a massive step. Plus the clarity of it - no fuffing around with a long set of rules to show how dice will determine this, it's right there! Very neat! Another useful one to link to in future!

Friday, January 20, 2012

How'd death become boring?

I also ran across this post the other day at RPG.net

Old school gaming, for me, has always been a fighter, a rogue, a wizard and a cleric exploring a chain of identifical 10'x10' rooms to find the gold. An orc, a kobold and a skeleton appear and kill the cleric. The wizard steps on a trap. Yawn.
You know, I'd pay if that takes you four hours to do that much, fair enough.

But ignoring time taken for now, what's the issue here? Is there no chance of the cleric avoiding death? Not by luck and/or by player choice? Same with the trap?

Does the cleric not count as anything tragic - a human death? If it's not a glamourous death, its nothing and boring?

I dunno about you, but I get this weird hollow feeling trying to figure the mindset behind this. It's a mindset where death means nothing while granduer and style apparently are the significant thing. All style, really, really big style. But no heart underneath, just a hollow in the middle.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The honest 'No Challenge' gamer

Wow. I just found a post by someone who openly says they want something that I suspect alot of other gamers do, but just can't openly admit it. Link.

And to quote it
I'll continue to freely admit that I don't want challenge in my games. I want a story about how my character starts awesome (born the chosen one) and then goes about being awesome (fated to save the world). It's already known and decided that the world will be saved, the story is just how that comes about. The drama comes from the NPCs who can't or won't hop on the train of inevitability to awesometown.

I want the game to be a sycophant for me. In the movie Minority Report where there is that virtual "arcade" (or whatever you want to call it) where people are in pods where their fantasies are being enacted, crowds shouting adorations, etc. That's what I want out of an RPG.
 See, I hate the game style, but because this guy is honest and open I think that's valid. It's where someone wants this, but they pretend they are gaming in some other way, that strikes me as denial. A kind of gamer closet, if you will.

I'm actually thankful of coming across this. So many times I suspect someone just wants the above but wont admit it - I try and describe it but they will tip toe around it, even as they use a bunch of techniques to make the above happen. Now I don't have to describe it in abstract - I have a living, breathing example of a real person embracing this gaming. One of the things that kept it all in the closet is only being able to refer to it in abstract before. Hell, even the word sycophancy - I've wanted to use that exact word! Perfect example!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lost in Bloglation

I just blundered with three posts in a row on another blog, one with a white background.

In my defence, imagine if someone said "Hey, we saw this house on fire today. So, I start talking with a guy about the firehose..."

"The fireman was talking to you instead of putting out the fire!?"

"No, listen, I didn't say a fireman, I just said a guy."

"So you talked with him about the fire, how big it was? What sort of hose you need to put it out, maybe?"

"No, listen again, we talked about the firehose! It's a firehose talk!"

"But...isn't the fire the big thing you first mentioned?"

So, having said that - how do you feel about white backgrounds in blogs?

Any comments that aren't discussing white backgrounds are off topic! >:)

I mean, you can see that's what I wanted to talk about. I did mention it at the top, after all!

Just teasing. ;)

(I should probably note my prior post is a result of such missunderstanding, but I'm too lazy to edit and atleast in the context I wrote it, it's applicable. Even if no one was talking about that at the time!!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yet another TPK dysfunction: Death Illusionists

I was reading Zak's blog and wrote an overly long reply, which I think warrants repeating on my own blog (dang I hate how I tend to be more inspired to write in responce to people rather than simply writing when I decide to) .

I'll quote a sample of the guy Zak was talking to/about. And I'll highlight the important part.
THe way I see it is, I want to have maximum control over the encounter difficulty so that when my party fights a BBEG or other major battle, I can be reasonably sure that they're not going to end up steamrolling it or being TPK'd unexpectedly. In my experience that's not really fun for the players or the DM. To me a lot of the drama from combat is sometimes coming down to the wire. Who is going to win? I want to be able to play my NPCs and monsters to their fullest without either wiping the party or being slaughtered, unless of course that's the purpose of the encounter.

The guy wants complete control over whether a TPK happens, which is to say he wants to make sure a TPK does not happen.

You can actually see the contrast in Zak's post
Zak S - Exactly! I want to be able to play my monsters and NPCs to the fullest knowing It MIGHT lead to a TPK!

You can see the difference between "without" and "might". But even Zak's "might" is problematic.

So, here's my comment:

You do know this guy is trying for the illusion of death/a TPK, by having a system which is so fined tuned it appears your going to die, but actually it's so fined tuned you wont. He just can't admit that, he has to say "I want to better gauge the results". And why does he need to better gauge them/know them in advance? So he can pick the one where the group doesn't die.

It's a recurring phenomena in gamers. I've had this chat with a friend of mine where he was doing everything to stop a PC from dying, yet when I suggested we just acknowledge PC's can't die, just defeated, he couldn't stomach it. And here's a link to another, with the guy quoted. He has a million reasons why killing PC's sucks, yet he can't get that that means PC's will never die (the system certainly wont force him to kill a PC - so if he hates killing PC's, when are PC's ever going to die? Never. But he couldn't admit that).

Not that your own approach isn't potentially problematic
Sure they sometimes steamroll or get TPK'd (maybe 10% of the time)
So let's say a TPK happens 5% of the time. So after, on average, twenty fights the whole party dies and everyone makes new characters? Predictably? So you'd never really make double digit levels, let alone top level. That kind of conflicts with the high levels. Which if your cool with that, okay.

Or does TPK mean one guy actually gets away and arranges some recover or resurrection? Or even if no one gets away, res's can still occur? In these cases the K in TPK stands more for Knock Out than kill. TPKO.

The death thing is a problematic issue (which leads to gamers like the linked guy, who can't admit they are attempting to have the illusion of being able to die, while fiercely demanding rules which will avoid death occuring (always by an apparent skin of the PC's teeth though (though on serious analysis, its not at all skin of the teeth)) or you just get a TPK predictably after X amount of combats. It doesn't matter if it's a 1% chance of TPK, if you do around 100 combats, you eventually die.

Monday, January 16, 2012

SWTOR comparisons to WOW: Why not compare it to any single player RPG?

If you have a prior game like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which involves killing monsters and doin' quests, does it seem missplaced to say Star Wars: The Old Republic is a clone of World of Warcraft?

Really that game structure is in alot of single player RPG's.

Of course maybe SWTOR picks up nuances of WOW's overall design. But if WOW's only distinguishing features are nuances of design, it's not like theres some sort of deep substance there to be copied.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SWTOR: Search your feelings...you know it's romance!

The Star Wars: The Old Republic mmorpg seems to be provoking ground you don't see much in other mmorpgs. A romance thread, for example.

Maybe we'll see more mmorpgs cover this sort of dimension in future, where we consider how we relate to each other in a way that isn't hacking each others head off or counting how many more purples we have than the other guy?

A new hope.

The make money tag was for lol, BTW! >:)