Dependency on Character Creation Apps?

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
If a RPG functionally requires a character creation app then it isn't a tabletop RPG. Yet a surprising number of so called TTRPGs are beyond most people's ability to play as intended without one. There's a reason MtG became the perennial hit it did, and the way it manages presentation and complexity is a big part of it.

Ultimately all design is human design, and ignoring human limits when designing is simply bad practice.


No, it's not.


Because for most they're a cost to participation, not a reason for it.
So, if I have zero problems with these TTRPGs without a chargen app, but OPs players do need it, who decides when the baseline is beyond people's ability? How do we know by your standards where a TTRPG is no longer one?
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
So agree. I remember struggling trying to put in some custom content to a different character builder, PCGen, back in the 3.5 (or was it 3ed) era. Not fun, and I knew coding.

With HL its not stupid hard to do for Savage Worlds, but its, at best, tedious as can with something like D&D (I did some work with it with D&D 4e at one time).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
In the extended group of D&D players, there are several who use apps to build/manage their characters and they are not in the slightest forced to learn the rules when updating them.

Even if they updated them from the books, it would teach them character advancement rules, which aren't what's in use at the table.

But since they use apps, they don't even know those. Or rather they can get new features and not even remember they exist by the time the next session rolls around.

Well, depending on the person, I can do that even while being mechanically engaged. I tended to lose track of some of my options at the higher end with both PF2e and D&D4e, just because there were so many.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
If a RPG functionally requires a character creation app then it isn't a tabletop RPG. Yet a surprising number of so called TTRPGs are beyond most people's ability to play as intended without one. There's a reason MtG became the perennial hit it did, and the way it manages presentation and complexity is a big part of it.

"Most people" is doing a huge amount of heavy lifting here.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I would find this unacceptable.

I have a few true newbies on my D&D Beyond account, but they have used those characters a total of four times between the three of them. I could not, and would not, let it turn into an ongoing thing with regular leveling up, etc.
I do find it unacceptable to need software for CGen other than a die-roller for the online group. I do find it useful for ensuring rules adherence and/or quick NPC gen.

Which is part of why I never bothered trying to run 4E, and only played pregens in one-offs. (Encounters, H1)

I'll note that Rolemaster is right at the point where it really benefits from automation, but doesn't actually need it. I'm not about to use it on my current groups; at least one player would consider it a violation of the Geneva Convention.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I will say that when you ask your players to update their characters, they learn the rules; full stop.
False. A significant number will need help and not bother learning from it, and if not helped, will quit.

Hard core players oft way overestimate the tolerances of casual players, especially for complex systems or systems with complex mechanical interactions. (4E isn't itself terribly complex, but the powers choices have complex interactions... despite their individual simplicity.)
 

Anon Adderlan

Adventurer
Common norms matter. Chairs and doors account for human dimensions. Speed limits account for human reaction times. Font sizes account for human visual acuity. Game controllers account for the shape of human hands. And while outliers may benefit from variations, there are also variations nobody would ever appreciate or be able to take advantage of.

Game design needs to account for the same kind of norms, and the more common those are the wider the potential market. Even the app must be designed with these considerations in mind. So is it like a spreadsheet? A series of dropdowns? A smart character sheet? Because regardless of what you decide it will end up being more appealing/accessible to one demographic over another. So who exactly is it designed for?

Like it or not human limits exist, and if even one person has trouble playing a 'tabletop' game without the aid of an 'app' it's a red flag that should be evaluated.

So, if I have zero problems with these TTRPGs without a chargen app, but OPs players do need it, who decides when the baseline is beyond people's ability? How do we know by your standards where a TTRPG is no longer one?
Then it's a tabletop RPG for you, and a mixed media game for them. Question is which one's the outlier.

And ability is only part of the equation, as someone might be able to play a thing but not enjoy doing so. So are these character apps a feature or a bug? Are they an intended part of play? Do players find them fun to engage with in themselves or the price of admission?

"Most people" is doing a huge amount of heavy lifting here.
Apparently so are the character creation apps.

Most people are not professional athletes. Most people do not have eidetic memory. Most people can not do advanced mathematics in their heads. So you can either design for common human norms, or for outliers which will make your games less accessible to the former.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Most people are not professional athletes. Most people do not have eidetic memory. Most people can not do advanced mathematics in their heads. So you can either design for common human norms, or for outliers which will make your games less accessible to the former.

This still requires me to accept that people I played with for decades had eidetic memory and could do advanced mechanics in their head. This is not a pair of assumption--especially the latter, which I've seen people, effectively, claim about doing basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division before--I am willing to cede. In addition, the former assumes that somehow the ability for people to reference books or even cheat sheets has suddenly vanished.
 

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