What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?
Page 1 of 7 1234567 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 63
  1. #1
    Member
    Time Agent (Lvl 24)



    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    4,271

    What would be some good metics to evaluate RPG rules/systems?

    When an interesting sounding RPG comes along, I struggle to get a sense of what the rules are like. Reading reviews I get a good sense for the genre and mood, but what I really want to know is where the rules are in terms of complexity and...well, I'm not really sure what the axes are. I think about the differences between (to grab a few random examples) systems like Dungeon World, various editions of D&D, MERP (!!!), Fantasy Flight Star Wars, and some others and although I have preferences I have trouble specifying how you would measure the differences.

    What I'd LOVE is a 2D scatter plot, where games are placed (by consensus?) on two axes. I suspect one axis would be "complexity". What other axis would provide the most useful information? Maybe something about adherence to strict rules, versus narration/interpretation? Although I suspect that axis would correlate pretty strongly to general complexity.

    Alternatively (or additionally) having two axes of "chargen complexity/options" and "gameplay complexity" might be interesting.

    And then, in addition to numerical ratings, maybe there are some categorical tags that help explain what the rules/systems are like. But, again, I'm not sure what they are.

    An analogy of what I'm looking for might be how we shop for cars (size, type, seating, engine, performance, etc.) or houses (price, zip code, style, # of rooms, etc.). Those axes don't give *all* information, but they help you narrow down your search.

    What would the equivalent be for RPGs?

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Frazzled
    Dracolich (Lvl 29)

    Morrus's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Intrawebs
    Posts
    40,725
    It's not like a car. It's much more subjective and much more of an art. You can directly and objectively measure a car's horsepower or weight, but you can't do that with an RPG.

    I don't think anything can substitute for actually trying the thing. All the graphs in the world won't give you a sense of how you feel when you play the game.
    XP Aldarc, uzirath, Dannyalcatraz, Xaelvaen gave XP for this post

  3. #3
    Member
    A "Drizzit" Type-Thing (Lvl 28)



    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    The Stately Pleasure Dome of Xanadu.
    Posts
    7,306
    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post

    An analogy of what I'm looking for might be how we shop for cars (size, type, seating, engine, performance, etc.) or houses (price, zip code, style, # of rooms, etc.). Those axes don't give *all* information, but they help you narrow down your search.

    What would the equivalent be for RPGs?

    Thoughts?
    1. Tables / page.

    2. Different dice used (scatterplot of type of dice, e.g., d4, d6, d8, etc. with frequency of use).

    3. Frequency of use of percentile dice.

    4. Expected reading level (in other words, what is the reading level of the source material).

    5. Rules / fluff ratio.

    6. Possible number of characters created using base rules (permutations, not including such things as hit point variability, names etc.).

    7. Number of ibuprofen required to contemplate the rule in toto.

    8. Number of meta-rules (rules to modify other rules).

    9. Number of cross-references within text.

    10. And .... number of words not found in the OED per page.
    XP ART!, DrunkonDuty, Kaulesh gave XP for this post
    Laugh Elfcrusher, Satyrn laughed with this post

  4. #4
    Member
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)



    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,410
    The core mechanic may be a good indicator of how the game will play, but I don't think that's something that can be put on an axis in a graph. I agree with Morrus in that it's much more subjective than that.

    But there are some things that do help understand how a game will play.....d20 based, d6 based, percentile dice....those give an idea of things. Then there are systems like Powered by the Apocalypse or FATE or Savage Worlds, where there are multiple games, but all share a good deal of mechanics or gameplay design.

    But the kind of metrics you're looking for....not sure if there are any suitable ones.

  5. #5
    Member
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)



    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Bloomington, IN, USA
    Posts
    160
    boardgamegeek has a pretty good rating system for boardgames. Here's a random sample of their header for a board game:

    Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.04.18 AM.png
Views: 1379
Size:  256.3 KB

    Their sister site rpggeek does NOT have similar headers for RPGs, but does have the same kind of 1-10 user ratings.

    If you do an advanced search for a board game, there are lots of mechanics and other ways to narrow things down. These are screencap samples of the three criteria/categories:

    Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.09.59 AM.png
Views: 207
Size:  84.2 KB Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.10.12 AM.png
Views: 207
Size:  101.6 KB Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.10.23 AM.png
Views: 209
Size:  25.5 KB


    If you do an advanced search for an rpg, there's much less of that, and more about genre and setting. These are screencap samples of the three criteria/categories:


    Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.10.38 AM.png
Views: 206
Size:  53.8 KB Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.10.46 AM.png
Views: 205
Size:  86.3 KB Name:  Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.11.02 AM.png
Views: 224
Size:  83.1 KB


    I don't have time to draw any conclusions from that.
    Last edited by ART!; Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 at 05:23 PM.
    XP TarionzCousin, pogre gave XP for this post
    Laugh DMMike laughed with this post

  6. #6
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Saint Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    129
    A major challenge for this endeavor is that one's actual play experience is not always tightly linked to the rules. This is not to say that system doesn't matter it definitely has an impact but RPGs are so complicated and have so many aesthetic dimensions that different groups run them entirely differently.

    For example, I recall one of the great dungeon master's of my youth would ask everyone to show up with a description of their character on a single 3x5 index card. No stats, no equipment lists, just a bit of backstory fluff and a description of their basic talents. This was 1e AD&D. It sure didn't feel like a lot of other AD&D tables. Similarly, I've played D&D games in other editions that were all combat and others that were mostly role-playing with precious few die rolls in any given session. I've played at GURPS tables where every optional rule seemed to be in effect with scores of books available for consultation and where the tactical combat system was really its own hyper-complex battle simulation. And I've played at GURPS tables that were minimalist with simple wildcard skills, zero combat, and no books at all.

    Again, this isn't to say that the rules systems themselves might not be measurable in some manner, and compared against each other, but I wonder how much utility this would have in terms of predicting the actual experience of play? A narrative review may have more utility because it won't be constrained by the elements that are being measured, but reviewers may need to do a better job at describing the crunch
    XP Yaarel gave XP for this post

  7. #7
    Member
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)



    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Bloomington, IN, USA
    Posts
    160
    You could have users rate a game overall on some scale, and/or rate things like layout, indexing, clarity, organization, etc.

    You could list if there's randomization, and if so what is used for randomization (generic 52-card deck, proprietary cards, dice - of what kind and number, etc...). Then you could list general mechanics like "roll under", "roll over", "count successes", "degrees of success", "exploding dice", etc.
    Last edited by ART!; Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 at 07:49 PM.
    Laugh Jacob Lewis laughed with this post

  8. #8
    Mod Squad
    Pit Fiend (Lvl 26)

    Umbran's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    34,512
    Don't ask, "What would be a good metric?"

    Ask instead: "What matters to you about a game?" Not just as a thought exercise - Make an actual list of things that matter to you.

    We can try to separate what of those things are GM/group dependent, and what's rules-dependent, and what measures we could put that could be useful.

    Metrics should be chosen to answer specific questions.
    XP Len, Aldarc, Dannyalcatraz, steenan gave XP for this post

  9. #9
    Member
    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)



    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    502
    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    Metrics should be chosen to answer specific questions.
    I think there are a few good metrics for rules that are universal. Organization, clarity of writing, really anything one would use to evaluate whether any reference book is good at doing what it is supposed to do.

  10. #10
    Member
    Time Agent (Lvl 24)



    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    4,271
    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    It's not like a car. It's much more subjective and much more of an art. You can directly and objectively measure a car's horsepower or weight, but you can't do that with an RPG.

    I probably shouldn't have used the word "metric" because it suggests something objective, whereas I'm imagining a value that's subjective, and/or maybe an aggregate/consensus value.

    But I do think think there are things that can be evaluated this way, such as the examples I gave.

    Or maybe it's sort of a correspondence analysis, where you would say the game in question has these features like games A, B, and C, and these other features like games D, and E, but this other feature like game F.


    I don't think anything can substitute for actually trying the thing. All the graphs in the world won't give you a sense of how you feel when you play the game.
    The same could be said for driving cars and visiting houses. And yet time is finite.
    XP Riley37, ART!, hawkeyefan gave XP for this post

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 2
    Last Post: Wednesday, 6th February, 2013, 05:22 AM
  2. Evaluate My Multiclass Rules
    By airwalkrr in forum *Pathfinder & Starfinder
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: Monday, 12th June, 2006, 12:52 PM
  3. Any RPG systems have good Firearms rules and feel ?
    By Rashak Mani in forum *General Roleplaying Games Discussion
    Replies: 65
    Last Post: Friday, 19th September, 2003, 05:03 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •