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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
One of OP points was "discovery" and skill challenges were put as an answer to that. I don't understand how skill challenges or clocks are helping with building a sense for discovery, thats why I asked.
I think you’re misremembering. I am the OP and discovery does not appear in my OP.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Something tabletop RPGs can learn is something Robin Law implemented over a decade ago. Dynamic difficulty.


I love that has a name - thank you for the link!

I think the easy ways to do this on the fly raise hackles as fudging or illusionism on here? If the rules formally allow it, or the encounters have it written in, is that better or is it called gamist?

13th age certainly has some things, especially escape hatches, built in.
 
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What D&D should learn is ignore everything video games do well and focus on what they can’t do. The lesson from video games is they do tracking arrows, encumbrance, and random monsters way way better, but what they don’t do is ‘I set this NPC on fire and cast fly and take a poop on the gathering from the sky”. TTRPGs fun is the goofing, the rolling and mechanics and fights are yeah done better by computers, but wrestling an NPC, with made up on the spot rules, not for computers…

i can and do play games on the computer, great stuff, D&D in the live world is for freaking out and being alive outside the mechanical world, goofing and stuff.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
What D&D should learn is ignore everything video games do well and focus on what they can’t do. The lesson from video games is they do tracking arrows, encumbrance, and random monsters way way better, but what they don’t do is ‘I set this NPC on fire and cast fly and take a poop on the gathering from the sky”. TTRPGs fun is the goofing, the rolling and mechanics and fights are yeah done better by computers, but wrestling an NPC, with made up on the spot rules, not for computers…

i can and do play games on the computer, great stuff, D&D in the live world is for freaking out and being alive outside the mechanical world, goofing and stuff.
You say this as though it's not possible for both TTRPGs and video games to do some of the same things.

There is some overlap between the two. They aren't perfectly the same. But they also aren't perfectly different, either. That means there can still be useful lessons to learn.
Iroh: "It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it become rigid and stale. Understanding others, the other elements, and the other nations, will help you become whole."
Zuko: "All this four elements talk is sounding like Avatar stuff."
Iroh: "It is the combination of the four elements in one person that makes the Avatar so powerful. But it can make you more powerful, too."
We learn, not by plugging our ears and focusing only on our own perspective, but by understanding how other perspectives work--and how those perspectives can enrich our own.
 

Retros_x

Explorer
I think you’re misremembering. I am the OP and discovery does not appear in my OP.
My bad. Deganawida brought it up in the first answer to the thread and you quoted him and answered:

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.
To which I gave my opinion that skill challenges (and clocks too) have nothing to do with discovery for me. And at the end of that discussion you asked me
I really don’t see what you’re asking. Why are clocks connected to a sense of discovery?
although you were the one that brought it up as a connection to discovery in the first place. Hence my confusion.

------
I love that has a name - thank you for the link!

I think the easy ways to do this on the fly raise hackles as fudging or illusionism on here? If the rules formally allow it, or the encounters have it written in, is that better or is it called gamist?

13th age certainly has some things, especially escape hatches, built in.
I found it hilarious that some people hate fudging in TTRPGs so much that other games need to built it in as rules so it is ok. It change nothing about how it actually plays at the table, but changes the psychology behind it: Because it isnt the DM who fudges, but the rules who offer "dynamic difficulty" its ok now.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I cast raise dead.

This is going to be a bit of a rambling post where I try to bring together or work through a few related thoughts I'm having.

With the Backerkit of MCDM RPG I decided to dive back into my 4E stuff and have a look see. I still absolutely love that edition of the game and it does what it does incredibly well. My single issue with the system is that combat took too long to actually play through. One of the selling points of MCDM RPG is that you can have similar levels of crunch and options as 4E only the game is streamlined, jettisons several sacred cows, and plays much quicker than 4E. Which all sounds amazing. It should 100% be right in my wheelhouse.

But something about it has left me cold. I'm an unabashed fan of Matt Colville's YouTube channel and I've enjoyed a lot of what he's done in the past. But something was off. To be clear, that's 100% a me thing, nothing to do with Matt or the game his company is designing. I didn't quite figure it out until I recently jumped back into playing World of Warcraft.

No, I'm not interested in rehashing that particular argument in any way. Nor am I interested in any kind of new argument about WoW and the MCDM RPG. If you want that kind of silliness, start your own thread.

I played the free trial of WoW for a few days, got bored with it, and wanted to play around with my older, higher-level characters. The WoW free trial only goes to level 20. The current full game goes to 70. At one point it went to 120...don't ask. So I'm playing around, running quests, fighting monsters, exploring the new stuff since I left the last time about 5-6 years ago. It was cool to see old friends (not many still playing) and poke around the world. But it just didn't quite engage me like it did before.

It wasn't until the MCDM RPG stuff started coming out that it really hit me as to why. In WoW, your character has a massive list of abilities they can use. There are some that are core abilities that you'll use all the time, that synergize well, but most of them are niche abilities that you'll use maybe a dozen times in your hundreds of hours of game play. Those core abilities are what become your "rotation." In WoW terms, these are the abilities you're going to use constantly because they're the best, have the best synergies, do the most damage, give the best buffs, etc.

It didn't take long for 4E to fall into a similar pattern. So fairly quickly we ended up with what were effectively rotations. Some abilities were clearly trap options, other abilities were clearly meant to be used with this build or that, powers from one class synergized well with the powers of another, etc. As a result, players would always run fights the same. Start with your highest level & best synergy encounter power, check to see if the encounter was over. If not, use your next highest level & next best synergy encounter power...then check to see if the encounter was over. If not, repeat until it was.

The problem wasn't that there were powers or abilities, the problem was there was a limited list of options and among them were a small subset of objectively right choices to make. Once you have that as a design, it doesn't take long for combat to be solved. People run the numbers, see what works best, and that takes all the fun and interest out of the game. (See the Players Optimizing the Fun out of Games and Developers Protecting Players from Themselves videos I posted up thread.) Rotations are boring as hell. Sure, you can choose to not use those abilities or powers, but most games designed around that style of play are punishing when you don't follow the rotation. You're intentionally dragging out the fight not using the rotation. You're turning a fast fight into a slog by not using the rotation, you're risking the success of the encounter, the other PCs' lives, etc.

And that's what was boring me about my recent trip back to Azeroth (the setting of WoW). Combat was a mindless slog. Not slog in the sense of a single combat taking too long, no...single fights were over fairly quickly...maybe 8-10 seconds for an equal level monster. Rather the game as a whole became a slog because it was effectively going to be an endless string of rotation abilities. WoW is a video game about fighting monsters, collecting XP gold and gear, then using those to gain more power so you can fight bigger, badder monsters. Lather, rinse, repeat. As your character levels, new abilities enter the rotation and older ones fall away...but you're still running a rotation from start to finish. You're not expected to think and expected to just mindlessly hit the same rotation over and over and over again.

In one of the articles I posted earlier in this thread, that's what's called abnigation. You're grinding. Doing a long string of repetitive behaviors and effectively zoning out your mind as you perform these tasks. Like turning on the tube and zoning out while watching something. Only in a game you're slightly more engaged as you have to actively press buttons to control your character.

But, in the spirit of the thread, the idea is to bring some of the cool stuff from video games into tabletop RPGs. There's no problem with characters in RPGs having cool abilities and neat powers, the problem is in having a limited, predefined list. Because inevitably there will be right answers on that list and before long all you'll actually use are the right answers and everything else becomes a trap.

Okay, but how?

Design the game around player creativity instead of limited menus of options and design the game around player creativity being the optimal strategy.

Sound impossible?

There's already one game that's done just that...for one class anyway. It came out back in 2012. A few years before 5E.

It's Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I'm talking about the warrior. If you're not familiar the crown-jewel mechanic for the warrior is Mighty Deeds. The warrior gets a deed die that they roll every round. This is their bonus to hit and damage for any attacks they do in that round. The warrior gets to declare a Mighty Deed before rolling. If the deed die rolls high enough, and the attack hits, the deed happens. The warrior's Mighty Deeds covers a whole host of situations that other games would spend hundreds of pages to cover. Called shots, sand in the eyes, disarming, shield bash, throw, shove...all of it and more.

Optimal play as a warrior is to try a Mighty Deed every single action. There is no penalty for trying a Mighty Deed every single action. No resources to run out of. But to perform a Mighty Deed, the player has to be creative.

That is what designing the game around player creativity and making creativity the optimal strategy looks like.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
But, in the spirit of the thread, the idea is to bring some of the cool stuff from video games into tabletop RPGs. There's no problem with characters in RPGs having cool abilities and neat powers, the problem is in having a limited, predefined list. Because inevitably there will be right answers on that list and before long all you'll actually use are the right answers and everything else becomes a trap.
This makes me think of the issue of archetype balance and usefulness in PF 1e and why that was annoying.

It also makes me think back to 1e where there weren't that many powers/abilities/things a character could do relative to now... but I don't remember it feeling bad at the time.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
The lesson from video games is they do tracking arrows, encumbrance, and random monsters way way better
Arrow tracking and encumbrance still aren't fun in videogames.

"Oh, see all this loot in this place? Well it's literally impossible for you to get it without multiple arduous trips with the pathetic amount of inventory slots we give you' is right up there with 'I know you like the main genre of this game, but in order to advance, we're going to make you play a tower defense, stealth or rhythm game for the next frustrating hour' or 'here's an underwater level'.
 

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