The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past - Page 9
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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    None taken. To that point. The rest, well, I can prettymuch tell what you're going to post when the subject's 4e, so I didn't bother to read it.
    - no offense, of course.
    Cool.
    Laugh Tony Vargas laughed with this post

  2. #82
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    I can't get "Replay With Quote" to work but there are definitely points I want to respond to. Maybe over the weekend.

    I will note for the record that I work in UX (user experience) design. So I am likely to take a dim view of attempts to cast it as pointless.

    And, spoiler alert, part of my love for 4e comes from its better *UX* design... leaving aside any concerns about *game mechanical* design.

  3. #83
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    Speaking from my personal experience, whereas it took almost the entire run of 3rd/3.5 D&D before I saw the flaws that made me realize I never wanted to play with that particular ruleset again, with 4th Edition I had concerns going in and within a year of launch both my groups had moved out of playing D&D as our primary RPG for various other systems.

    4th Edition tried to move the game too far into the realm of minature wargame or boardgame. Yes other versions of D&D had developed from war gaming, but 4th editions focus on powers moving pieces around the board in squares was clearly designed with the selling of minatures in mind. My groups found it entirely unsuited to theater of the mind play.

    Then there were the powers themselves. My players who were previously quite creative in their solutions to encounters in other games we played instead moved to only ever considering their cards in front of them. Every encounter became a combat one. And even within combat it just became a bland repetition of the same at will and encounter powers over and over again. That's the thing about striving for perfect balance, when all the choices are totally balanced they aren't truly choices anymore. At least not ones that really matter. When we switched back to other systems almost immediately my players started branching out, trying different tactics again, and not just blindly attacking because that was what the system prompted them to do.

    While I don't consider 5th edition perfect, I am at least willing to play and run it from time to time. I don't feel constrained in running games like it felt with 4th Ed, and the classes no longer feel all same which they definitely did last edition.

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Futurity View Post
    I said this like 6 years ago and I'll say it again: there's room for a "D&D 5E" and a "D&D Tactics RPG" in the market. 4E was sufficiently different and unique from other iterations of D&D that it could easily stand on its own, if it were marketed not as the New D&D but instead as the Alternative/Optional D&D. I don't even think this would fracture the market, because what one game offers the other doesn't, and the markets have a very thin sliver on the venn diagram of cross-compatibility, as demonstrated by how contentious 4E was.
    I'm reminded of the game Strike! Its got a very light core, that could easily run a narrative/light style game. Almost all the "tactics" stuff is left out of that. However, there is a good solid section of X's and O's tactical rules, that can be invoked if the table wished. (Its sorta based on 4e, but a much more finely distilled version of it. Honestly, its kinda a masterpiece in that regard.) Personally, I could really go for a version of D&D that was set up like that. I've grown a bit weary of D&D-style combat. It all seems kinda grindy to me nowadays.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottius View Post
    Speaking from my personal experience, whereas it took almost the entire run of 3rd/3.5 D&D before I saw the flaws that made me realize I never wanted to play with that particular ruleset again,
    That's pretty extreme. 3.x had issues with some spells, and at high level, but core-only games in the 'sweet spot' were as workable as any ed, if you avoided a few obvious abuses. E6 style play could keep you out of trouble, that way indefinitely.
    And, it's not just academic: 3e gives players far more and more detailed options than any prior edition or 5e. 4e might have rivaled 3e that way had it's run been longer, but that didn't happen.
    So 3e is simply the top ed for sheer range and number of player options. Its well worth playing, today.

    move the game too far into the realm of minature wargame or boardgame.
    was clearly designed with the selling of minatures in mind. My groups found it entirely unsuited to theater of the mind play.
    Yes, WotC produced a mini game of some sort which could be used with D&D from 2000 through to spinning that off to WizKids in 2014.
    But, from 2010 Encounters offered D&D intro games using poster maps and counters - all free, and the Essentials Monster Vault came with tokens for all the monsters. Also around that time D&D minis went from strictly blind/random to sets.

    That's the thing about striving for perfect balance, when all the choices are totally balanced they aren't truly choices anymore. At least not ones that really matter.
    That's the opposite of balance. Imbalanced systems stifle meaningful choice by presenting only a few, strictly superior options. Consider if a 1st level 1e MU had a choice of 1st level spells: Sleep, with no save, was so much better than the others they were more distractions than choices. In 3e, sleep granted a save, so other 1st level spells could compete, in 4e Sleep was more powerful than most other 1st level spells, as a Daily, but wasn't interchangeable with those less potent at-will or encounter spells.

    While I don't consider 5th edition perfect, I am at least willing to play and run it from time to time. I don't feel constrained in running games
    5e certainly doesn't seem that much better than 3e, heck, I'd rather play the latter if I get to try one of the many builds I never got to.
    But I can somewhat agree about 5e DMs getting to be unconstrained - The rules leave us a great deal of latitude in deciding how things resolve. But, it can be constraining, too, as it's encounter guidelines and classes only play well together under a narrow, artificial pacing of 6-8 encounters and 2-3 short rests between long rests.

    and the classes no longer feel all same which they definitely did last edition.
    OK, finally, a hook to get back on topic. 5e is very familiar, and reasonably traditional in its class designs. Spells are 9 levels, and if you don't have em, your role is simply to hit things and hopefully kill them before they kill you. Same as it ever was.

    But, really, with every 5e class getting at least some spells in at least one sub-class, and no class spell list being entirely unique (the Sorcerer, EK & AT get no unique spells), the reality of 'sameness,' seems to be independent of the 'feel.'
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Saturday, 8th June, 2019 at 07:42 AM.

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    That's pretty extreme. 3.x had issues with some spells, and at high level, but core-only games in the 'sweet spot' were as workable as any ed, if you avoided a few obvious abuses. E6 style play could keep you out of trouble, that way indefinitely.
    And, it's not just academic: 3e gives players far more and more detailed options than any prior edition or 5e. 4e might have rivaled 3e that way had it's run been longer, but that didn't happen.
    So 3e is simply the top ed for sheer range and number of player options. Its well worth playing, today.
    3rd Ed's true problem comes down to math. The sheer variety of bonuses and how much you can stack upon each other to build up increasingly ridiculous numbers. It was extremely easy for players to come up with wildly disparate characters as far as power level when they were supposedly the same character level. Having run dozens of campaigns in the 3e years I've seen so many characters where they were woefully ineffective in combat because they hadn't tweaked their character for optimization the way one or more of their fellow party members had. I came to the same realization that D&D's current batch of creators did, that a flatter system of numbers and bonuses is far superior to the chaotic assortment of bonuses and stacking that went on in 3e. This is something that 5e, DCC, and Mutants and Masterminds all seem to understand.

    Beyond that, my other main issues with 3e are the system of magic item economy which set the expectation of magic items per level. This really killed the wonderous nature of magic removing all the fun as instead of something cool magic items just became a series of bland character features you could expect as you leveled. And lastly, the fact that game preparation as a GM took forever in 3e (and 4e) in my experience. 5e and DCC are comparatively quick and easy.

    Clearly some people still enjoy the 3e style of play. The continued success of Pathfinder shows that. But in my opinion it is a deeply flawed system that I do not enjoy and would not run or play again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Yes, WotC produced a mini game of some sort which could be used with D&D from 2000 through to spinning that off to WizKids in 2014.
    But, from 2010 Encounters offered D&D intro games using poster maps and counters - all free, and the Essentials Monster Vault came with tokens for all the monsters. Also around that time D&D minis went from strictly blind/random to sets.
    It doesn't matter if it's easy to obtain miniatures or chits or the like. You can play with pennies and graph paper or whatever you have on hand. The point is that it practically requires it. ToTM play is far more difficult than in any other edition, even moreso than 3e which would be the runner up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    That's the opposite of balance. Imbalanced systems stifle meaningful choice by presenting only a few, strictly superior options. Consider if a 1st level 1e MU had a choice of 1st level spells: Sleep, with no save, was so much better than the others they were more distractions than choices. In 3e, sleep granted a save, so other 1st level spells could compete, in 4e Sleep was more powerful than most other 1st level spells, as a Daily, but wasn't interchangeable with those less potent at-will or encounter spells.
    The sleep spell isn't going to do you much good if your GM has a thing for constructs, undead, or even elven foes. So it's situational at best. And I'd much rather have that choice versus an at will attack that moved my for a square and an at will attack that moves me a square.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    5e certainly doesn't seem that much better than 3e, heck, I'd rather play the latter if I get to try one of the many builds I never got to.
    But I can somewhat agree about 5e DMs getting to be unconstrained - The rules leave us a great deal of latitude in deciding how things resolve. But, it can be constraining, too, as it's encounter guidelines and classes only play well together under a narrow, artificial pacing of 6-8 encounters and 2-3 short rests between long rests.
    I've never been that concerned about following encounter building and pacing guidelines. After GMing enough games you should be able to get a sense for what the players can handle and you can use that wonderful GM skill of winging it when necessary to up or downscale an encounter that isn't going well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    OK, finally, a hook to get back on topic. 5e is very familiar, and reasonably traditional in its class designs. Spells are 9 levels, and if you don't have em, your role is simply to hit things and hopefully kill them before they kill you. Same as it ever was.

    But, really, with every 5e class getting at least some spells in at least one sub-class, and no class spell list being entirely unique (the Sorcerer, EK & AT get no unique spells), the reality of 'sameness,' seems to be independent of the 'feel.'
    I feel that boiling things down to just spells and attacks is a bit reductive. For one thing there are other class abilities which help make them feel distinct. Even within a class the subclasses make them stand out more from one to another. A Shadow Monk feels different than the more traditional Monk even though they're built upon the same chassis.

    Lastly, thanks for the lengthy and well thought out response!

  7. #87
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    My biggest complaint about 4e was how difficult it was to use TotM to run. It was far, far better as a game if you used at least a battlemap. So those people who love TotM? I totally get why they didn't get into 4e. Could it be done? Sure. But it wasnt easy.

    However, 4e is also my favorite addition to play a non-spell casting class. In fact, whenever I play 5e I ensure I play a casting class because otherwise...well, what am I going to do in a combat encounter? Im going to say "I hit it with my sword/axe/whatever" 95% of the time. And even casters, at lower levels, seem to be just 'spam the damaging cantrip'. This makes combat something I avoid whenever possible...because its not fun.

    Now, a lot of people talk about how 4e was all about combat. And I confess, when I played and ran 4e, there were far more combat encounters and far more time was spent on them than other editions. Not because non-combat encounters were bad under the system, or because 4e hindered roleplay...but because finally combat was actually fun. It was a joy to play. Each turn I had to work with my party and make decisions and pay attention! To some this is a con, if you just plain don't like combat at all in any edition or if you aren't there to pay attention.

    As for creative solutions, I had just as many in 4e given to me by my players as I do when I run 5e. They are neither better nor worse, there really isnt a difference. In 4e it was a tad easier for me to adjudicate but then I was far more experienced with 4e than I am with 5e.

    But there has been too many people who have reported vastly different experiences to me that I can't really honestly say all of them are just making it up. However, it does make me curious WHY there is such a huge discrepency. What was I doing wrong/right at my table? Were my players just gods amongst men creatively? In retrospect....no. No they were not lol. So what was it? Why was my table full of interesting, creative roleplay and combat solutions that didnt involve all powers in 4e and so many others were not? Was it that I had more rulebooks? Was I simply less burdened with expectations...as I mostly did AD&D and 2e, I didnt play much 3/3.5?

    It just makes me very curious. As I read these replies...and they are reasoned, well thought out, believable...but they fly in the face of the personal experiences I've had with the edition. And I have run it recently(ish)...though I now run 13th Age almost exclusively as it allows for far better TotM. So what gives guys? Did I just read a rule wrong that allowed me to experience 4e in some idealized glory mode?

  8. #88
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    Loewy's train wasn't influential because of the bullet design, although that was what naive people paid attention to. It was because he fixed the toilets and the food.

    I consult on product strategy professionally. For the first time since I got the Blue Box in 1979, Dungeons and Dragons shows signs of being a professionally managed product. It's not quite there yet, but it's getting really close, and the problems that remain may be inherent to the form and the industry. (Discovering them is a major sign of an industry's maturity.) Put simply, the rules are the least important part of this product. Being able to play it is the most important part.

    4e failed because it was too complex for new players, even players with roleplaying experience from other RPGs or earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons (1e and 2e). It required too much cognitive and financial investment. For instance, understanding the structure of WoW-style raid optimization was central to the rules. (Tank, buffer, etc.) People who didn't play WoW didn't get that. (Also, one wondered why, if you did get that, you weren't playing WoW.) Optimizing your character's progression was a huge part of the game. Unfortunately, the kind of people who are into this can't sustain an entire product, not at scale.

    5e has been designed to appeal to new players, especially those without experience; to be playable frequently, e.g. by an organized event circuit; and to require (relatively) little time and financial investment. That said, it's also in the middle of a literal once-in-a-generation demographic boom. Most people in the US today are 25 or 26. That is a perfect age: still lots of friends, many from college; not enough money, but enough to spend on things like roleplaying and beer at a bar where there's roleplaying; and generally fewer commitments like kids, six-figure jobs, and taking care of parents. They love geek culture!!!! but it's the Avengers movies, not a 20-year-collection of the books.

    When you get serious fans, usually on boards like these, this stuff doesn't get taken into account. They'd much rather argue about THACO, simulationist approaches, or the fact that one rule system is objectively "better" (insert spluttering here) than another. While these various points may even be TRUE, none of them are GERMANE to how a professionally-designed product works at scale. (Hint: it isn't professional until it works at scale.) To put it another way, people don't buy Dungeons and Dragons because of the rules. The rules are a means to various larger ends. (These ends are considered at some length by e.g. Ulwick and Christensen in their "Jobs to be Done" framework. If you're really interested in this stuff, their work is fascinating and essential.)

    The second part of scale is, well, scale. GURPS, the vegan crossfit atheism of roleplaying systems, may be a superior system. (I don't think so, because the problems it solves it solves at a mediocre level and those problems weren't very important in the 1980s and are MUCH less important now. Also, the "flexibility" of the system requires significant cognitive outlay, usually in the form of RPG experience, to make work. Yeah, it can simulate anything. But it's Tuesday...what the hell do I simulate with it TONIGHT?) But that said, the reason it's dying is because nobody plays it, and the reason nobody plays it is that SJG doesn't have the money to throw events where people would play it. SJG doesn't even have enough money to pay people to tell other people to play GURPS, even at a few cents a click. This is why most people aren't atheists, crossfit customers, or vegans. Although they never shut up about it, there aren't enough of them to tell enough people to make it a breakthrough phenomenon.

    EVERY other roleplaying system will have this problem and will fail. PERIOD. If you can't solve this problem you won't scale and you won't survive. Sure, you can throw a game of Paranoia *tomorrow* if you want. Get the books off Ebay, do some Web research to grab hints and adventures, and go. But don't mistake perpetual availability of every cultural product forever as a living system. Essentially you're combing through the ruins and playing with some cool weird old tech you found there. Go ahead, show a few guys in your village. But when you lose interest, that tech goes back in the junk heap. It's never going to become The Next Big Thing.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by HJFudge View Post
    It was far, far better as a game if you used at least a battlemap. So those people who love TotM? Could it be done? Sure. But it wasnt easy.
    I'm suspicious of complaints (or praise) that rest on appeal to tradition, yet require new terminology to express in a way that actually sounds negative (or positive).

    When 3e came out and used 1":5' squares, like 2e C&T, but by default, instead of AD&D wargame-provenance 1":10' (and grid maps) indoors, 1":10yds (and hex maps) outdoors, there was a hew & cry over "grid dependence."

    But what did that really mean? It wasn't that 3e had settled on a scale that more closely matched the 25-30mm minis long used with the game. It wasn't that it had dropped the arbitrary complexity of outdoor hex maps at a different scale. And it wasn't that the movement & positioning tactics made easier by those simplifications - flanking, 'parting shots'/fighting retreats, impracticality of missiles and casting in melee, charging, holding choke points, careful placement of area effects, etc - hadn't always been nominally part of the game, and were now just easier to understand and more functional & practical to actually use.

    If you used a graph paper map (as D&D always had, /indoors/) and a play surface like a chessex battlemat you got more out of the game then you likely had before (unless you were an old wargamer with a sandtable and crates of Napoleonics miniatures you weren't afraid to imagine were goblins), and, if not, you didn't get anything less.

    But, call those simplified, more useable (more likely to /be/ used) rules "Grid Dependence" and you can make it sound bad.

    Contrarywise, there's TotM, cute acronym, you can spell it out Theatre for extra snoot, and like WWGS's 90s larp system, Mind's Eye Theatre, /mind/ makes it sound vaguely intellectual.

    But, what is it, really? It's just giving up a tool that makes it easier to track range/area & movement/positioning. That's not terrible, if you provide alternate tools. 13th Age does that: the rules are written to add back much of the options and depth that a TT sub-sytem can deliver. 5e does not, it simply removes options, depth and facilitation from it's support for a play surface, so that you lose little if you don't use one - the loss is all up-front, when you choose 5e over 3.x/PF, 4e or 13A.

    But call it "Supporting Theatre of the Mind by default," and it sounds positive.

    In fact, whenever I play 5e I ensure I play a casting class because otherwise...well, what am I going to do in a combat encounter? Im going to say "I hit it with my sword/axe/whatever" 95% of the time.
    First off, 5e makes that easy: every class but the Barbarian has the option of casting spells in combat (the Totem Barbarian only gets rituals).
    Secondly, until your EK or AT gets spells at 3rd level, you can "get creative." That is, you can propose an action that the rules don't cover (which admittedly, if you don't cast spells, is
    almost anything other than "I attack," or maybe "I grab" or "I Help"), and persuade the DM to resolve it in your favor.

    (Of course, if you cast spells, you can also get really creative with implied consequences of the spells effects...)

    '. This makes combat something I avoid whenever possible...because its not fun.
    No, no, we don't say that - instead, say: "this game really supports role-playing, not just combat."
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Saturday, 8th June, 2019 at 06:10 PM.

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanveen View Post
    Dungeons and Dragons shows signs of being a professionally managed product. It's not quite there yet, but it's getting really close
    Hey, and it only took 45 years, and the IP changing hands 3 or 4 times.

    4e failed because it was too complex for new players, even players with roleplaying experience from other RPGs or earlier editions of Dungeons and Dragons (1e and 2e)
    IDK how many new players you introduced to 4e, but, judging from the fact you didn't lead with that info, and seem to assume that returning fans should have had an easier time with it, I'm forced to conclude 0.

    I participated in the Encounters program from the 2nd season on - It's no longer called that, but AL is still pretty similar. I also ran intro games at conventions until a couple years ago, when RL intervened.

    D&D, from 1e through 3.x, was always a tough sell and a lot of ramping up for a new player. 3e just had a plethora of options, many designed to confuse or suck in less skillful players, a device lifted from M:tG as part of designing lavish rewards for system mastery into the game. 1e wasn't intentionally designed that way, but it was quixotic and baroque in its arbitrary, nerdly complexity. New players- and that really included anyone who hadn't mastered the art of DMing yet - were 'paying their dues' in dead PCs, unrealized character concepts, and general wonder and frustration.

    5e turned that down from 11, but only to about 8. With a good DM and a Champion Fighter pregen in a rules-stable, open entry, characters raised after every session, organized play setting - AL - preferably with an experienced AD&D veteran at the table (or at least venue), 5e is reasonably accessible to new players. I still see it lose more new players after 1 session than I saw with 4e (but also retain more returning ones) - but 5e attracts so many more, it doesn't matter.

    It required too much cognitive and financial investment.
    One difference is that Encounters was free throughout the 4e/E era, while in AL, the DM purchases the adventure (and you at least need to borrow a PH to look up spells, for instance).
    Encounters, you sat down, picked a character, played using a poster map with counters that the DM got with the adventure. So, the financial investment was 0.
    You probably buy your own dice by the end of the season. When a new player would take up DMing after a season or two, and a stable group form, it'd often spin off to a home campaign... and they'd all buy no books & share one DDI account.
    I remember wondering how the heck WotC planned to make a profit.

    For instance, understanding the structure of WoW-style raid optimization was central to the rules. (Tank, buffer, etc.) People who didn't play WoW didn't get that.
    The roles were pretty intuitive, and the pregens would be a moderately balanced party (much smaller than a WoW raid, as I understand it), so that was consistently a non-issue, IMX.

    (Also, one wondered why, if you did get that, you weren't playing WoW.)
    Presumably, for the TTRPG experience that 4e provided.

    Optimizing your character's progression was a huge part of the game. Unfortunately, the kind of people who are into this can't sustain an entire product, not at scale.
    In 3.x that was true (and the people into it sustained PF pretty well). But, in 4e, while you could engage in planned builds, the payoff was low by comparison. Coming up with a viable build was a matter of simply picking a power or feat you liked when you leveled - maybe retraining something that didn't work out for you - and putting one of your stat bumps to your primary, every time.

    5e has been designed to appeal to new players, especially those without experience;
    5e's design & presentation is a brilliant compromise between accessibility to new players and acceptability to long-time & returning ones. 4e got that wrong, erring too much on the design side to new-player appeal, yet marketing to long-time players at initial release, and returning ones with the "Red Box"/Essentials reboot.

    to be playable frequently, e.g. by an organized event circuit; and to require (relatively) little time and financial investment.
    in that, 5e & AL is just like 4e & Encounters was - just minus all the edition warring, and plus a TT gaming renaissance and over-due 80s come-back.
    That said, it's also in the middle of a literal once-in-a-generation demographic boom. Most people in the US today are 25 or 26. That is a perfect age: still lots of friends, many from college; not enough money, but enough to spend on things like roleplaying and beer at a bar where there's roleplaying; and generally fewer commitments like kids, six-figure jobs, and taking care of parents. They love geek culture!!!!
    OK/and/ that, too.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Sunday, 9th June, 2019 at 03:02 AM.
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