D&D 5E [+] What can D&D 5E learn from video games?

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Oh so much more. I just finished reading Level Up! the Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers. There’s so much tabletop RPGs can, should, and need to learn from video games.
 

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Dunno if it's come up earlier in the thread, but if the One playtest is any indication, D&D could stand to learn more about how to figure out who is playing their game and why from video games. E.g. video game design teams have discerned that players aren't always very good at consciously articulating what they do or don't like about a game, and so have come up with methodologies to figure that kind of stuff out. I suspect the Magic: the Gathering unit does do this kind of stuff, and with far better sophistication now than it did in the Spike-Johnny-TImmy days.

For instance if, as I have asserted elsewhere, 5e has been enormously successful because it has done a better job than any previous version of the game at facilitating the kind of gameplay that its largest player constituencies want to play, then proper player research would at minmum help make it a better-designed game, and maximally might actually make it more successful in either the short term or the long haul (or both). Such research would also probably make D&D better at reconciling - or at least managing - the competing preferences and demands of different constituencies - probably not unlike how dedicated raiders versus PvPers versus casual guildies versus casual solitaire players are all different WoW player constituencies whose preferences are also sometimes at odds with one another and which WoW sometimes has to reconcile or manage as part of its design.
 

Retros_x

Explorer
Boss Monsters with cool Power moves

Boss Monsters with semi-predictable/exploitable patterns that can be used to give Players an advantage

Boss Monsters that adapt to player interactions by releasing the next ‘Power move’

Boss Monsters that get to summon waves of mooks to keep the player busy while the recover or set up the next Power Move

Dungeons that include Sub-Bosses before reaching the Boss monster

waves of easy mooks to keep the player occupied
Half of that is adventure design or DMing IMO.

Also in my opinion D&D has not too much to learn from video games, the experiences are different and I dont want to play a video game when playing D&D. I think though exploration is really underdeveloped in 5e and some video games have a beautiful sense of adventuring, exploration and discovery that I often miss in 5e and have to implement myself.

Another point is ... presentation. I mean not the graphics, obviously video games can't beat human imagination, but character sheets have the charm of spreadsheets and the books are like a game with really bad UI in terms of usability and layout etc. Here 5e could learn a lot from some video games which do a lot of testing for usability of the tools, which I have the feeling is not a real criteria for playtesting for D&D.

Pulling in advice from people like Justin Alexander and Mike Shea would go a long way to answer any questions people might have about doing this in a game. Bringing back something like skill challenges, though much looser, would solve so many problems.
Skill challenges are the opposite of a sense of discovery for me. They feel mechanical, cold, abstract and crunchy. I really dislike them and I hate that they get advertised as a solution for everything. For some problems it might help, but definitely not with a sense of discovery.
 
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Pedantic

Legend
If you're not watching Trekiros' content on Youtube for this, you should be. His recent stealth video, pointing out how the stealth gameplay loop works in videogames committed to it, and how that can be mined for 5e play is a perfect example of exactly what we can learn. Really, he's done some brilliant work in general in improving 5e with precisely this outlook.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Skill challenges are the opposite of a sense of discovery for me. They feel mechanical, cold, abstract and crunchy. I really dislike them and I hate that they get advertised as a solution for everything. For some problems it might help, but definitely not with a sense of discovery.
Hence the "only looser" bit there at the end. As written, skill challenges sucked. Full stop. If you view them as an early and awkward version of clocks, which I do, and you use clocks instead, they work perfectly. Trouble is, most people around here don't know clocks, but they do know skill challenges. So saying "skill challenges only looser" generally gets the point across better than starting by explaining clocks...because the response to that is generally "you mean like skill challenges that don't suck?"
 

Pedantic

Legend
Hence the "only looser" bit there at the end. As written, skill challenges sucked. Full stop. If you view them as an early and awkward version of clocks, which I do, and you use clocks instead, they work perfectly. Trouble is, most people around here don't know clocks, but they do know skill challenges. So saying "skill challenges only looser" generally gets the point across better than starting by explaining clocks...because the response to that is generally "you mean like skill challenges that don't suck?"
It doesn't help that clocks are also quite poorly described in their source material.
 

Retros_x

Explorer
It doesn't help that clocks are also quite poorly described in their source material.
Thats my biggest gripe with them. I start to use them, but I think I still have to fully grasp them.

Hence the "only looser" bit there at the end. As written, skill challenges sucked. Full stop. If you view them as an early and awkward version of clocks, which I do, and you use clocks instead, they work perfectly.
ops, completely overread these two words. Yeah, clocks are definitely better, but I don't get how they would help with a sense of discovery for the players. Maybe I misunderstand them (see first quote), but for me skill challenges or the more abstract (and better) clocks are to track complex, dynamic challenges and situations. I don't see how they can enhance the magical discovery and exploration of a Zelda or an Elden Ring to name two recent video games that have almost perfected that feeling for me.
 

Reynard

Legend
It doesn't help that clocks are also quite poorly described in their source material.
I prefer progress tracks, a la Ironsworn and Starforged, but with milestones built in. You can use them for anything, including exploration, fights against hordes you don't want to keep track of, political machinations, and, of course, traps.

For example, you might have the classic "locked room filling with water" trap as a progress track with, say 10, boxes. As the room fills with water, the PCs have to located and then manipulate a bunch of levers to force the water out. Each box requires a successful check against a DC -- skill is variable and the GM asks the players to describe what they are doing to make the check. When 5 boxes are filled, the levers are revealed. When 8 boxes are filled, the PCs managed to reveal the "plug." When the last box is filled, they manage to release the plug and wash themselves down the drain to the next level (or whatever). The danger is that the room fills after X rounds and then the PCs have to start holding their breath, have to swim, get disadvantage on their checks, or some combination.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
If you're not watching Trekiros' content on Youtube for this, you should be. His recent stealth video, pointing out how the stealth gameplay loop works in videogames committed to it, and how that can be mined for 5e play is a perfect example of exactly what we can learn. Really, he's done some brilliant work in general in improving 5e with precisely this outlook.
I watched a couple of his videos but wasn’t impressed. His one on Disneyland seemed like an iffy summary of sections of the book Level Up I finished last night. Reading that book and watching Architect of Games and Game Maker’s Toolkit will get people way further down this road.
 

Pedantic

Legend
For example, you might have the classic "locked room filling with water" trap as a progress track with, say 10, boxes. As the room fills with water, the PCs have to located and then manipulate a bunch of levers to force the water out. Each box requires a successful check against a DC -- skill is variable and the GM asks the players to describe what they are doing to make the check. When 5 boxes are filled, the levers are revealed. When 8 boxes are filled, the PCs managed to reveal the "plug." When the last box is filled, they manage to release the plug and wash themselves down the drain to the next level (or whatever). The danger is that the room fills after X rounds and then the PCs have to start holding their breath, have to swim, get disadvantage on their checks, or some combination.
This is precisely an example of why I hate such systems. You have 1 line of text here that's the entire loadbearing part of the game. What skill checks? How do I know which one is better to make? Can I use an ability to circumvent the entire puzzle? If I use a skill check to achieve 1 level of success this time, can I declare the same course of action elsewhere for the same DC and chance of success?

TTRPGs should not be push your luck dice games with improv prompts. Skills and player abilities should do things, those things should have obvious impacts on situations, and leveraging those abilities to overcome situations should be the core gameplay loop. The impact of my action should never be interchangeable with a different action.
 

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