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Have computer games ruined table RPGs?

Driddle

First Post
Have computer games ruined table RPGs? I'm not talking about product vs. product, but rather the process, interaction and appreciation of people as they play the game.

As time passes, I'm seeing more and more references (here) to number-crunching, min-maximizing, strikeforce team tactics, and building new characters at higher levels. RPG character construction elements are becoming more like computer programing modules - plug in a new prestige class here, add a template there. ... It reminds me of the mouse click-click-click quick changes as you play a computer game. Maybe it's because within just a few minutes you can experiment with so many options on screen and that's being taken to the table with our friends. I don't know. I'm having a hard time clarifying a vaguely defined sense of change.

This might be more apparent to old-school gamers with many years of experience, and even the young pups among us who have the most creativity. Am I way off base?
 

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Driddle

First Post
Or maybe it's just so noticable to me here because of the computer medium itself and those attracted to its extensive use.
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
I don't think so but it is time and availability, getting a group together to play, finding the time to set up, location to play, all add together. The time at the table is better, it is time with friends, laughing, interacting, something a computer does not allow.

The issue I see is the younger generation of gamers, they are turning to CRPG. Wish there was a way to get them to the table to surport the industry because they miss a lot of the background of rules, interaction of players at the table.
 

Hjorimir

Adventurer
While I will certainly agree that CRPGs have lowered the role-playing bar (/sigh) in the arena of tactics they have provided a huge boon to the hobby.

I know that I really started to appreciate 'crowd-control' spells in D&D after seeing them at work playing EverQuest. I used to be enraptured with fireballs and lightning bolts. Now I find so much more value in spells like haste and slow or a well placed compulsion.

Our group, especially, suffered for a year or so while we were all on our EQ kick. But we’ve slowly turned it around as we seek for deeper stories and more sophisticated plots. I have players who are motivated by discovering a truth, knowledge, or philosophical insights playing IMC now (I know this because I’ve forced each of them to quantify personal goals).

At the same time, they can really be effective whenever initiative is rolled. It’s kind of nice to not have to hold back.
 

Utrecht

First Post
I would say, in a word - no.

CRPGs are basically a box - you are allowed to do a failry broad set of actions inside that box - whereas with RPGs - there is no box.

Secondly, when I play a computer game I am looking at anothers person's interpretation of a world - whereas with a RPG - I paint the imagry
 

Micar Sin

First Post
You know, I seem to remember hearing this exact arguement back in the gold box days... I don't really think things are truly that much different now... It looks different, I think, because there are more people playing video games, but I don't think those people would necessarily be playing RPG's if they didn't have the CRPGs and such...Video games, even CRPGs, are no longr the sole provence of geeks like they were when I was a kid, whereas P&P RPGs still are for the most part...Heck, I'm an IT Professional (TM) and play a lot of video and pc games, including CRPGs, but I still game every Sunday, and we even have a couple of teenagers in our group....
;)
 

WayneLigon

Adventurer
Driddle said:
As time passes, I'm seeing more and more references (here) to number-crunching, min-maximizing, strikeforce team tactics, and building new characters at higher levels.
I saw all those things back when I played Original D&D, AD&D 1E, and pretty much every RPG since then. Back then, the people I played with were either the people taking first place at the school science fair or they were (or had been) in the military. The people that were concerned with squeezing as much as they could out of a character were just as prevalent then as they are now, and in much the same proportions.

I think we see a bit more min-maxing in some instances because now it's possible to min-max, rather than just push a stat as high as it would go. You may be seeing more consideration given to a character's stats because now all of those stats mean something, and they give bonuses at lower levels.
 

alsih2o

First Post
No.

I see this as being like asking if the advent of the microwave has lessened French Cuisine. :p

I think there are just more and more options, allowing each person to find their own ideal mix.
 

Creamsteak

First Post
I'll have to state the disclaimer that I hope to design CRPGs one day, and although there are designers that may never have even played a tabletop game, many are trying to bring the table back to life on the computer/console. Some thought that MMORPGs were the way to do this, while others want to make single player RPGs where you can truly decide what kind of character you are (Morrowind and Fabal). My opinion is a variant of the two. I want online games, but not like an MMORPG and not quite as small as a normal gaming table. I like persistent worlds that are alive because of the players, and I hope that the fusion of these two currently seperate RPGs leads us there.

The day that it becomes just as fun and viable to be the merchant trying to convince the ruler of his county (another player) to reduce taxes on imports or to send his militia after the rogues that stole his caravan as it is to be the lone adventurer plumbing the depths of hell is the day that I think we will start to see RPGs start to curve back towards playing the character, and not the statistics. My opinion is the reason why table tops are so much more psuedo-realistic is because the table is so small. It can be incredibly fun to try politicing in a tabletop game, but it's so few people and easy to regulate. You'll still have stat driven CRPGs for all of the life of CRPGs, but were just not at the point yet where you can have a mature game on the computer that incorporates all of the elements of a gaming table.
 
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Sir Whiskers

First Post
Driddle said:
RPG character construction elements are becoming more like computer programing modules - plug in a new prestige class here, add a template there. ... It reminds me of the mouse click-click-click quick changes as you play a computer game. Maybe it's because within just a few minutes you can experiment with so many options on screen and that's being taken to the table with our friends.

There's no question that there is some cross-fertilization between the two mediums, but I wouldn't say that computer RPG's have had significant effect on tabletop play. If anything, I see some of the elements you list above as a good thing, allowing characters to be more complex and flexible, without increasing the difficulty of the game too much.


Driddle said:
As time passes, I'm seeing more and more references (here) to number-crunching, min-maximizing, strikeforce team tactics, and building new characters at higher levels.

This actually reminds me more of how D&D started, with the old white box set and dungeons full of randomly generated monsters and treasure. Roleplaying was in its infancy and we basically just killed things, solved puzzles, and avoided (or triggered) traps.


Only over time did the hobby develop the idea that character development - as opposed to character advancement - should have equal time and effort. But D&D still has wargaming elements and players in most campaigns have to concern themselves with both sides of the character - power and personality - or be resigned to a frustrating experience. And even in the very earliest campaigns, players focused on good tactics and equipment - you just have read some of G. Gygax's stories to see this.


Driddle said:
Have computer games ruined table RPGs? I'm not talking about product vs. product, but rather the process, interaction and appreciation of people as they play the game...(snip)... Am I way off base?

The two mediums really serve different purposes. I play CRPG's for the tactical challenges, as roleplaying is extremely limited in a single-player game (only Planescape: Torment came close to putting the story first and combat second). Tabletop play, OTOH, is about social interaction, both among characters in a campaign, and among friends around the table. CRPG's don't change this dynamic for me.

To respond to your final question, I think saying CRPG's have "ruined" the hobby is going too far. They have influenced the tabletop games, just as the evolving nature of tabletop games influences CRPG's. I see this as a mostly good thing, but YMMV.
 

Altalazar

First Post
I don't think so.

Hell, in many computer games, a lot of the numbers are behind the scenes, where you don't even know what they are used for or how they work.

Also, have you ever seen "Rolemaster"? ;)
 

jgsugden

Legend
Video games have been around for a long time. I remember playing Pool of Radiance back in the late 80s. It didn't change how I role played. It wasn't until the internet became a regular part of my life that I began to see my approach to the game change.

Back in the days of 1E and early 2E, people had only the books and Dragon magazine (White Dwarf, Dungeon, etc ...) to use as aides in designing a game and running a character. The limits of their tactics were bound by their mind and the things in those books. If you wanted to figure out how to optimize an attack strategy, you had to do all the work yourself.

Now, we have the internet. Somebody comes up with an issue and starts discussing it on a message board. Then, someone else takes the work of the first person, analyses it and adds their own $0.02. Then another person adds their perspective and analysis. Soon, you have a 200 post long thread discussing the optimized use of power attack that has been read by thousands of players. Those players take that knowledge back to their games and spread it amongst all their friends. One of them returns to the internet to discuss the use of power attack in a particular scenario and the cycle begins again, but in a narrower area of the general rule.

This has resulted in an optimization of tactics in the game by players and DMs. In the old days, many players did not consider the benefits of interacting their abilities with the abilities of other PCs. Now, these discussions flood message boards on a daily basis.

As people have begun to discuss the optimization of the game, they tend to pull back from the game and see it as a collection of rules instead of as a game as a whole.

Think back to the earliest board games you ever played. Candyland. Chutes and Ladders. Hungry, Hungry Hippys. Those games had rules, but we approached the games as a whole entity instead of thinking about how to maximize our chances of winning by analyzing each rule in isolation. That was how I approached D&D when I was learning to play it in the early 80s at the age of 7. Not as a subset of rules that could be optimized, but as a framework for fun.

In other words, the game has changed because we've been given too much info on how to optimize the game. If you want to return to the days of old when the game was less like a computer game and more like a storytelling session, I suggest either:

1.) Finding players that have no idea of how to use the internet (I think there are 6 left in the US), or

2.) Use a new rule system - but don't let your players buy or look at the rule books or touch their character sheets! Instead, just help them through character construction and hold all the paper yourself. Just tell them to roll a die when they need to and verbally explain what they need to know. If they can't hold the rules to min/max them, they'll approach the game from a more of a storytelling perspective.
 

LostWorldsMike

First Post
Driddle said:
Have computer games ruined table RPGs? I'm not talking about product vs. product, but rather the process, interaction and appreciation of people as they play the game.

I don't think so. Someone (Uthrecht?) pointed out that CRPGs are much more limited in scope than tabletop RPGs and, while I can see that changing SOME day, I can't imagine it happening any time soon. Right now, the absolute BEST computer "GM" can't hold a candle to a decent human GM in terms of being able to adapt to player actions.

And I think CRPGs hold the most appeal for people who want something different than the typical tabletop game.

(Disclaimer: I am not attempting to cast aspersions on any style of play. The only RIGHT way to play ANY RPG is the way that's fun for you.)

Back to my point...

If all you want out of an RPG is combat, then you won't miss too much if you play the computer version. However, if you want in-depth interaction between your character and NPCs, well, you're not going to get that from your computer.

Anywho. I guess what I'm getting at is that both types of games (tabletop and computer) have their strengths, and both types of game draw in people who appreciate the particular strength of the game they're playing.

The bottom line, in my not so humble opinion, is that, irregardless of how the tabletop game you love changes it's published rules, you're always free to modify them so they suit the style of play you want for your home game.
 
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Henry

Autoexreginated
Not for 2004, apparently. :) I haven't found a single worthwhile (to me) product on any release lists for 2004.

As a whole, however, it has definitely influenced tabletop RPG's - especially in the realms of rules consistency and emphasis on game balance (PC's vs. opposition). However, it hasn't "ruined" it by a long shot. Computer RPG's tend towards the specific, whereas Tabletop games are extensible, just by the imagination of the human brain. If Computer programs get near-human-level inspiration enough to run the equivalent of multiple awesome tabletop sessions, then we have MORE SERIOUS problems than them surpassing RPG's. :) (Cybernet anyone?)

Also is the element of human interaction, which in my opinion cannot be duplicated in a computer environment. In my opinion, someone who has actually gamed with a good group of players in person, and comparing that experience with gaming remotely, no matter how good the players, cannot seriously rate the online experience as better. The human interaction brings a different dimension that cannot br replaced (short of "Matrix-style" virtual reality.) In gaming remotely, you experience things with only two senses - sight and sound - whereas in person all your senses are working to provide you with a fuller experience. Good graphics count, good sounds count, good storylines count - but a good narrator in a live environment can make the experience far more enjoyable. Your mileage may vary, but I will never give up that belief - nay, statement of truth. :)

So, until we get a "Matrix-style" VR system, where players can plug in and experience not only sight and sound, but taste, touch, and scent, then in-person tabletop games will always have an element that Computer games cannot have.
 


Cerubus Dark

First Post
Utrecht said:
I would say, in a word - no.

CRPGs are basically a box - you are allowed to do a failry broad set of actions inside that box - whereas with RPGs - there is no box.

Secondly, when I play a computer game I am looking at anothers person's interpretation of a world - whereas with a RPG - I paint the imagry
There is too a box on Pen and Paper RPGs. Its call Imagination, limit this and you limit your games.

As far as painting the world goes, I need more paint, Its getting bland with just shades of gray. Time to shake the Pc's world abit. Time to put the fear of the gods back in them. :]
 
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WayneLigon

Adventurer
Henry said:
So, until we get a "Matrix-style" VR system, where players can plug in and experience not only sight and sound, but taste, touch, and scent...
Someone, I cannot remember who, said that a system like that will be the last invention humanity ever makes :) Bring it on. I want my Dream Park :)
 

Sejs

First Post
Nope, they have not.

CRPGs can be fun and whatnot, but they can't come anywhere near the depth of tabletop gaming. There's no human intelligence on the other end of a crpg to interpret and react to what you want to do. CRPGs are just the next step up from a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. Fun, but ultimatly limited.

And as Hjorimir and others have said - it's not all bad, either. Some of the things learned from CRPGs can really add to the tabletop game.
 

Driddle

First Post
Henry said:
... Also is the element of human interaction, which in my opinion cannot be duplicated in a computer environment. ...

So, until we get a "Matrix-style" VR system, where players can plug in and experience not only sight and sound, but taste, touch, and scent, then in-person tabletop games will always have an element that Computer games cannot have.

Well, yeah. Of course they'll have the element of face-to-face human interaction. (Insert good-natured "Duh!" here + smiley face)

What I'm suggesting is that the human interaction has shifted toward an attitude more akin to how we approach computer games. The style of character manipulation has shifted. ... Yes, we'll still sit around the table and talk about our characters with each other, but now there are growing elements of the stuff I listed above -- number-crunching, class modulization, etc.
 

WayneLigon said:
Someone, I cannot remember who, said that a system like that will be the last invention humanity ever makes :) Bring it on. I want my Dream Park :)
Actually, there is no way that we could ever be completely sure that we are not living in a simulation. :cool:
 

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