D&D General Games People Play: Looking at the Gaming Aspects of D&D

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
And so forth. Having a loop like this built into the gameplay is limited to games like Dark Souls, not eg Diablo, even though you can repeat the same area in Diablo too
I'd argue it's inherent to any game in which "following a narrative" is part of the gameplay?

God of War, Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, The Witcher, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Resident Evil are all non-Souls games in which dying and restarting from a recent completed point are core parts of the gameplay.

The only games I can think of that aren't like that are match-based competitive games (Rocket League, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, etc.), or certain solo games based on sports (racing, golf, etc.).
 

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mamba

Legend
I'd argue it's inherent to any game in which "following a narrative" is part of the gameplay?
I think we have a different idea what we are talking about. I am talking about how in bullet hell and Souls-like game you are expected to repeat the same wave / enemy time and time again until you understand their attack pattern and overcome them. Repetition is part of the gameplay loop.

This is fundamentally different from you losing two fights over the course of the story and reloading to continue the story. Here repetition is accidental and not part of the gameplay loop itself.

Within limits, failure does not even require a reload, if I lose w city in Civilization I can reload and try a few more times until I manage to defend it, or I can accept it, continue and turn the war around. Here the story is more emergent, if it is fixed and non-branching then yes, you will reload to continue but again, that still does not mean it is part of the design of the gameplay loop the way it is integrated in DS, it merely allows a reset

Speaking of the Witcher, I believe there was one fight in the whole game I had to try twice, now compare that to Dark Souls…
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
It's apparently being lost in the conversation, but it's important to note that RPGs aren't video games. Whether certain video games have save points or not is entirely irrelevant to how the vast majority of RPGs are played and designed. They're not the same thing. Expecting to be able to play a tabletop RPG exactly how you play a video game is intentionally missing out on and ignoring the unique characteristics of RPGs. If explicitly emulating video games is something you want, please design such a game. There's apparently a sizeable group that wants just such an experience. There are a few RPGs that specifically emulate video games, if that's your jam. A recent entry in that space is Fabula Ultima, a JRPG emulating tabletop RPG.
 

TwoSix

Uncomfortably diegetic
I think we have a different idea what we are talking about. I am talking about how in bullet hell and Souls-like game you are expected to repeat the same wave / enemy time and time again until you understand their attack pattern and overcome them. Repetition is part of the gameplay loop.

This is fundamentally different from you losing two fights over the course of the story and reloading to continue the story. Here repetition is accidental and not part of the gameplay loop itself.

Within limits, failure does not even require a reload, if I lose w city in Civilization I can reload and try a few more times until I manage to defend it, or I can accept it, continue and turn the war around. Here the story is more emergent, if it is fixed and non-branching then yes, you will reload to continue but again, that still does not mean it is part of the design of the gameplay loop the way it is integrated in DS, it merely allows a reset

Speaking of the Witcher, I believe there was one fight in the whole game I had to try twice, now compare that to Dark Souls…
Can’t say I agree. There’s a difference in degree of difficulty, but not a difference in the possession of the quality that death and restarting at a nearby point will occur. I mean, that’s why in most old JRPGs most bosses had a save point right beforehand.

That would be in direct opposition to most TTRPGs, where any encounter, whether a victory or defeat, merely sets the frame for the next scene. (Or a whole new game in the case of a TPK.)
 

mamba

Legend
Can’t say I agree. There’s a difference in degree of difficulty, but not a difference in the possession of the quality that death and restarting at a nearby point will occur. I mean, that’s why in most old JRPGs most bosses had a save point right beforehand.

That would be in direct opposition to most TTRPGs, where any encounter, whether a victory or defeat, merely sets the frame for the next scene. (Or a whole new game in the case of a TPK.)
We are saying the same thing. Ultimately this is a difference in frequency and importance to the gameplay only, most games offer the ability. In some games doing so is a given and part of the gameplay loop, and you having to reload many times is close to unavoidable. In others it occurs infrequently and is only a comfort function, not part of the game design beyond offering the feature. In Dark Souls or bullet hells, it is much more than that.

If your point is that there are some more games that fall on that side, I have no issue with that.

Either way, in TTRPGs this is basically never the case.
 
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Funnily, both the design and the "culture" around D&D specifically and games of it's ilk generally, is pretty decidedly anti-game.

High degree of randomness certainly doesn't help, but more importantly, it's expected that players... Actively refuse to play the goddamn game. It's frowned upon to look up monster stats, it's expected from the GM to change the adventure and playing module that you know by heart? Unspeakable!

You shouldn't even try to get better at D&D, or you are a dirty metagamer and cheater.

And not even mentioning that there's a person at the table who isn't bound by the rules (and a notion that they should be is heresy), so... Yeah.
You need to move with a different crowd ;) Also I'd argue that something like BitD is VERY VERY game. Sure, its not ALL about the game part, but you will be chewed up and spit out by Doskvol in no time flat if you don't pay attention to the GAME part, unless your GM is just plain bad.
 

The point is, long campaigns aren't a some kind of feature of rules-heavy games. It's a byproduct of human beings resolving complex rules that makes the density of important events per session low.

D&D, when played on a properly configured VTT that automates everything isn't suited for years-long campaigns either, because you are chewing of 3-4 PnP sessions worth of content in one.
What VTT is that good and doesn't just demand a huge amount of detailed work up front to set everything up instead? I ran 4e in Maptool for YEARS, it has FAR more features than any web-based VTT ever dreamed of, and it required MANY hours per week of work to set everything up. Sure, combat could often go pretty fast (I mean, buggy macros and whatnot could kill that promise, but the potential was there). Other than that, it did nothing for play speed, and overall I found that my face-to-face games required 3-5x less prep and went at least as fast, usually faster.
 

My campaigns are heavily integrated into D&D Beyond so everything mathematical is already automated. I also don't run tons of encounters, focusing more on story.

I'm trying to clarify your argument - do you think that folks are engaged with years-long campaigns because they just have no other choice? If so, then I disagree. I am arguing that there is a system of intermittent rewards built into the heavy emphasis on rules and randomness that promotes long-term engagement. Other long-form, shared storytelling options are available, but folks keep overwhelmingly choosing this one.

Edit: I emphasize that I am not taking sides or arguing that one thing is better than another. My favourite RPG is Dread, an indie-RPG with rules so simple you can, and I have, explain them in their entirety in less than a minute before successfully playing the game. No dice. Almost all narrative.

I am trying to look at the success of rules-heavy RPG games, particularly D&D (though from my perspective, they're all basically D&D) and speculating as to causes. If the density and slowness of the game was strictly a negative, then it seems reasonable to suggest that people would stop playing it. But the opposite has happened. So maybe those aspects are features, not flaws, at least from the perspective of many players.
I think you are just seeing a selection factor that skews the view of what is typical and what people want. 95% of tables won't sustain a given campaign for more than 1 year, tops. Maybe 10% will go 2 years, tops. One in 100 will go longer. That's my experience. Many of you may run games that are longer, but you're hardly average. And thus I think for a LARGE subset of players, a game with higher plot density (regardless of the supposed type of the game, narrative, trad, whatever) will serve them well. I suspect a large fraction of those people are not posting on message boards that largely talk about D&D and similar games.

I like to do a campaign, end-to-end, but I also am not really that interested in some endless tedious slogfest that takes years to get to the point.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I am aware that most campaigns don't run that long. But for almost any length past a few games, or even if you simply aspire to a campaign when planning your character, most players are opting for D&D, and the distant runners-up are also basically D&D. Indie RPGs are generally designed for one-shots or limited campaigns (certainly Forge-type games are). It's possible that some of these games might serve these players...but most players aren't super interested in that style of play. Why not?

What I'm interested in, and primarily speculating about, is: what is it about the structure of D&D that makes it so popular? I think @loverdrive, for example, has raised very valid criticisms, yet the game continues to dominate.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
You're asserting that the intent of most digital games, excepting a few genres is that you should not in fact try again after hitting a failure state? That "Game Over" should be functionally identical to the game's files deleting themselves?

That's madness. Even if you're arguing that design intent should pretend it exists in a vacuum where games can only ever be played once, and that players aren't expected to retry them, that doesn't match the experience (for multiple decades now) of people actually playing those games. And it's just not true. There's a whole bunch of games that use the existence of save states to do meta-commentary on the nature of playing games!

It also gets into some weird things where "intent" and "practice" are strangely divorced. In practice, even in one person tactical games (XCOM comes to mind here) people don't just typically let a full failure be a failure and move on; that's the whole difference in the Iron Man ethic/toggle in such games. There's a lot of matters of degree here (full-blown save-scumming where you save before every turn in contrast with saving at the start of a tactical segment (which almost everyone does, for protection against potential glitches if nothing else) for example). Similar things are endemic to CRPGs, where almost no one seems to want to replay a whole game just because one fight went badly (heck, there are some CRPGs that just automatically put you back to the start of the fight if that happens).

You can argue in some games that isn't the "intent", but I'd be very surprised if its not very much "expected".
 

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