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Have computer games ruined table RPGs?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Driddle said:
Am I way off base?

Sorry to say it, but in a word, yes. Or so it seems to me, anyway.

"Number-crunching, min-maximizing, strikeforce team tactics, and building new characters at higher levels" have been in gaming since the beginning, back before desktop computers existed. Remember that D&D has it's roots in wargaming, where all of that is essential to success. Those things remain an obvious playstyle choice, and there have always been gamers who choose it.

The fact that you hear about it more now doesn't mean it is more prevalent in the gaming population. It probably only means that bulletin boards like this one make it easier to communicate with more gamers. If only 10% of the gamers choose this mode, and at home you know 10 gamers, only one of them will show the behavior. But on EN World, you may see 1600 such people, and it looks like a mob compared to your previous personal experience.

Character construction may look like computer gaming modules, but that has nothing to do with actual play. In the past with D&D, there were relatively few choices to make in character construction. 3e gave us much more customizability, and did so in an organized manner. Some may use this as a tool to min-max. Others may use it as a tool to create a specific persona. The tool is a tool - it doesn't make you use it in any particular way.
 

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Spatula

Explorer
Driddle said:
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.
The number-crunching, min-maxing, etc. has been there since the beginning (well, my experience only goes back to 1980 or so, but close enough). Heck, the topic is even addressed in the 2ed PHB or DMG. Perhaps you never saw it, but in those days our view of the hobby was much more limited. Jgsugden has a very good point above about how the internet has changed tabletop RPGs much more than CRPGs have. You're seeing the number-crunchers now because the internet puts you in touch with a much larger group of players than you were exposed to in the pre-internet days. And exposure to that wider group has affected our approach to the game.
 

jessemock

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.

...

Am I way off base?

You're not way off base, but I think that the behaviours you cite have been exacerbated (not caused) by the influence of CRPGs, insofar as tabletops have begun to emulate them, rather than, well, whatever they used to and otherwise now emulate.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Driddle said:
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.

Let me tell you a story about one of my favorite players in my college days. He was a pre-med student, but his love of numbers as that of an accountant or statistician. He used to compute average damage output of characters in the group per round. In the days before anyone had ever heard of graduated point buy, he made up matrices of ability scores, where we rolled a result on the matrix, not the ability scores themselves, to give us a set of stats that were mathematically balanced with one another. He fiddled with his own weapons specialization systems, his own house rules on character advancement - and we pretty good at it. You might see more stat-concentration now than previously, but that's not to say it was already there pretty strongly.

I don't even think that computer games are the cause - the REAL cause is Johnathan Tweet, Sean Reynolds, et. al. making the WHYs and WHEREFOREs behind the 3E rules changes so open. It got people thinking more about how important it is to successful RPG design. The very concept of D&D class modulization grew from the attempts to make multi-classing more statistically balanced between two PC's of equal level.
 

Krafen

First Post
Creamsteak said:
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).

What is "Fabal"? I don't recognize the name and I'm not having any luck with web searches.
 

takyris

First Post
Interesting. I'm in an interesting niche -- my gaming group formed from a bunch of buddies, most of them from a computer company we all used to work at. At least one of the guys had done CRPGing, but no live RPGing ever. So, in my group, I wouldn't say that it's RUINED it, but it HAS altered it.

Much less free-form, and much more interest in figuring out "How I'm supposed to solve this problem". There was some initial confusion over the fact that sometimes, as a DM, I will give the party fights that they're supposed to run away from, and reloading is not an option. I think that the group has for the most part gotten into a good balance -- we still sometimes joke about the players responding to NPCs with "Okay, I'll use Option Two: I'm solving the problem, but I want to get paid for it," but nothing much bigger than that.

I agree that 3E's open engine encourages number-crunching. I don't necessarily think that that's bad, but I've seen people come up with systems that are far too involved to be handled at an enjoyable pace by anyone who isn't using a computer. Heck, in high-level play, one of my players wrote a Squib-Tracker program that kept track of numbered and colored counters and could handle things like "Do 10d6 fire damage, Reflex Half, SR applies, to Red1 through Red10", and have the computer spit out the results -- these guys dead, these guys reduced to this many hit points, these guys took no damage because of SR. It'd be tough to run high-level games without that.

So... for my particular case, it hasn't ruined the game, but it has affected it.
 

Driddle

First Post
jessemock said:
You're not way off base, but I think that the behaviours you cite have been exacerbated (not caused) by the influence of CRPGs, insofar as tabletops have begun to emulate them, rather than, well, whatever they used to and otherwise now emulate.

Exacerbate, not cause.
... Yeah. That sounds like a better choice of words.
 

Driddle

First Post
Henry said:
I don't even think that computer games are the cause - the REAL cause is Johnathan Tweet, Sean Reynolds, et. al. making the WHYs and WHEREFOREs behind the 3E rules changes so open. ...

(nod) Another good point.
 

Cerubus Dark

First Post
Krafen said:
What is "Fabal"? I don't recognize the name and I'm not having any luck with web searches.
Fable Is a new RPG soon to be put out by Lionhead studios. In the game you start out as a young boy, and your actions determin if you will be a hero or tyrant.
 

DaveMage

Slumbering in Tsar
No, I don't think they have ruined tabletop games.

About the only thing I've noticed is that my players ask if they can "save game" just before they go into a big battle. :)
 

Dark Jezter

First Post
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, then in-person tabletop games will always have an element that Computer games cannot have.

When that happens, then nobody will ever reach the adventuring segments of the VR RPGs because they'll spend all of their time trying to get the busty tavern wench into bed. :p

When VR technology reaches those levels, we all know what people will really use it for. ;)
 

AFGNCAAP

First Post
IMHO, from what I can tell, it really hasn't impacted games as it has the attitudes of some gamers at the table.

Esp. with some CRPGs like Ultima, Baldur's Gate, & other single-player games, I think that this adds to some players focusing solely on their characters & what they can/can't do, & not necessarily in their role as part of a group/team. Also, it seems to add to the concept of the player's character being the "star" of the adventure/game/campaign, while everyone else winds up taking "supporting" roles.

OTOH (to another extreme), with games that have a sole player in charge of an entire party of PCs, it seems that some players try to take charge over the party, trying to direct the gameplay & development of the other characters.

Also, it does seem that some players don't take the tabletop games seriously--much in the same vein as a player simply messing around on a CPRG.

Of course, these are only worst-case examples, & aren't really the standard at all. However, I think that CRPGs can & do shape the attitudes of some gamers on what the gaming experience is supposed to be like.
 

Impeesa

Explorer
Yeah, comparing the people I've dragged into RPGs, I've found that those who weren't big into computer games previously only took a few years for the basic rules to sink in. Compare that to the guy I brough into our game just last week, a hardcore computer gamer - took to it like a duck to water. Wait, what was the question?

jgsugden said:
Hungry, Hungry Hippys.

It's all that weed, gives you the munchies after a while. ;)

--Impeesa--
 
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tarchon

First Post
*sput* CGs ruined RPGS! Much the other way around - whatever happened to Pong and Space Invaders, dagnabbit? Can't shoot an alien anymore without hearing about how many hitpoints it's got... *curmudge* *curmudge*
 

Psion

Adventurer
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.

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.(...)
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?

I have many years of experience, and I certainly do not think anything of the sort. I think back to 1e, where you had a dizzying array of weapon vs. AC modifiers that would really only be practical if it was being tracked by a computer. It seems to me many tabletop RPGs are more stripped of excess baggage which doesn't work to well at the table these days, if anything.
 

pogre

Legend
I think CPU games have done some things to change expectations. Everyone is more accustomed to asking about "balance issues" and other related issues. Not sure if that is a bad thing.

For me as a miniatures fan, CPUs are a long way off from replacing that part of the hobby.
 

ThoughtBubble

First Post
No, but they have ruined my players.

My main group of players suffers from "A button" syndrome. This is where they want a cool epic plot, lots of character interaction, a well weaved story full of intrigue, dynamic combat, witty repartee and highly personal events. However, they expect it to happen automatically, or rather, they take the approach that as soon as they 'hit the right button' these actions will begin to happen. Thus you end up with the apathetic fighter, the wizard who stays in his room all day, the cleric who never leaves the temple, the strong silent cleric and the 'adventurer' thief who wants a steady day job and avoids people.

However, this is an attribute of the people more than it is the game. When you get antisocial introverts together that's the sort of thing that happens. They're anti-social and introverted. Overexposure to computer games only did a little more re-enforcing of that set of behaviors. Actually, it probablly didn't even do that, so much as it created a higher set of expectations. Now there's the potential to do more than smack orcs around.

And that's not a bad thing at all. We just need to learn how.
 

Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
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 CRPGs have 'ruined' tabletop RPGs, but I do have one beef - I really dislike how the vocabulary of CRPGs has infected the tabletop games I play in.

The clerics all cast 'buffs' now, while the wizards 'nuke' and the fighters 'tank'. I'm waiting for the day the DM explains how we meet a group of 'toons' as we're 'zoning out of town'. Or worse, the party asking what the orcs in the distance 'con' to them...

--
Pauper
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
re

I think CRPG's, and the computer in general as well as the TV, have lessened the amount of time people spend reading. With player's that don't read, I have a real hard time creating a storyline campaign because they are into video game hack n' slash.

Even character creation seems to be focused on cool abilities rather than what is my character's motivation and personality. If all the player has focused on is what cool abilities his character will have, that doesn't give the DM much to focus on for that character.
 

Wereserpent

Explorer
I do not really play that many Computer RPGs(Except for Morrowwind). I however do play a lot of Console RPGs. I actually enjoy them more than D&D. But for the original question, no I do not think they have ruined them, although some lingo has slipped trough from them.
 

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