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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
One of the things I'd love to see is integrated game play loops.

Hunt monsters, gather resources (XP, gold, loot, etc), use those resources to hunt monsters. is fine as the main game play loop. But whatever minigames people tack onto the game don't integrate into the main loop very well, with the exception of some iterations of monster harvesting and crafting...but that's really just a slight variation on the same game play loop. Hunt monsters, gather resources, use those resources to hunt monsters. I want to see all those minigames actually connected into branching game play loops instead of stand alone and easily ignored side content.

One problem a lot of people have with 5E is the overabundance of gold. By 4th or 5th level you typically have more gold than you know what to do with. Back in AD&D and BECMI you got XP for gold and you would spend that gold on building a castle/keep/etc. so you would have something to spend it on. You don't need to bring back domain management as a gold dump, but some of the gold could be swapped out for other rewards that point to other minigames. Trade goods, basically. Only they fuel minigames.

One video I came across as really interesting in that it suggested that minigames like fishing are specifically put into so many games because they keep the player engaged but let them "de-stress" from the action of the main game play loop. While I can see the benefit of that in action shooter games, I'm not sure they're needed for the same reason in games like D&D.

The more open-ended games like D&D learn from life sims the better. AD&D has a lot of life sim mechanics. But most of that stuff has gone out of fashion. 5E still has vestigial bits of that hanging around. They should either bring them back full force or eliminate them completely.
 

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Scribe

Legend
One video I came across as really interesting in that it suggested that minigames like fishing are specifically put into so many games because they keep the player engaged but let them "de-stress" from the action of the main game play loop. While I can see the benefit of that in action shooter games, I'm not sure they're needed for the same reason in games like D&D.

Ocarina of Time. I loved the fishing in that game.
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
The premise of the thread is: D&D 5E can be improved by learning from video games.

If you want to argue against the premise of the thread, then this thread isn't for you. Please keep those comments to yourself and move on.

#

So the question is: what specifically can D&D 5E use from video games to improve the game?

I think it's fruitful to first eliminate all the things that video games can do that people at a table cannot. Talking about graphics, soundtracks, etc are not really things the people at a table can curate in the way that video game companies with millions to spend can.

So what can people at a table do to improve the game by emulating video games?

Speed of Play. RPGs infamously pack 30 minutes of fun into four+ hours of play. Working to shrink that ratio as much as possible would be a great step. Video games have a computer to run all the complex maths and systems, but this is generally mental work the players at the table have to perform themselves, so either introducing computers into the game to resolve all the complex maths and systems or simplifying the maths and systems to be more easily run by the players at the table. While RPGs will never realistically get to the point of reflexive button smashing that some video games thrive on, I think it's a worthwhile endeavor to speed up game play.

Solo Play. Most video games are designed for solo play; most tabletop RPGs are designed for group play. Some video games include group play; some RPGs include solo play. Do you play World of Warcraft? Imagine only being able to play when there's a raid. While there are a few tools out there and solo play is becoming more accepted, it's still a niche within a niche within a niche. Getting more tools, more acceptance, and including solo play by design would be great.

Focused Theme. Video games are, generally speaking, much more focused than most RPGs. Traditional RPGs tend more towards life sims while storygames tend more towards the kinds of thematically-focused experience you'd find in video games. While there are pros and cons of both trad and storygames, there's a lot to be said for focusing on one type of experience, one kind of play and doing that incredibly well rather than trying to do everything and being not that great at delivering.

Wide-Open World. Some video games have very limited themes and therefore very limited maps or areas where the game takes place, other video games have exploration as their theme (or one of their themes) so they come with huge, wide-open world maps that you can explore. This is a staple of the most D&D-like video games, such as WoW. Some D&D games have this, some don't. This is a staple of a lot of old-school play.

Persistent World. Video games like MMOs where group activities are a regular occurrence tend to have persistent worlds. While having a persistent world created by the referee and having huge groups or multiple groups playing in that same, persistent world is a staple of some old-school play, it's generally not that common any more. One group of a few players in a persistent world is the norm, from what I can tell, but massive games with dozens of players and multiple concurrent groups is not.

Save Points & Respawning. Video games have save points and RPGs do not. It is a difference between the two, though I'm not sure RPGs would benefit from save points. Some RPGs, most notably D&D, has effectively respawning in the form of reliable and easy resurrection.

Dungeon Scaling. This is specific to WoW, rather than video games generally. In WoW you can take just about any level character into just about any dungeon and have the experience scaled to your level. This is done by adjusting the PCs' current numbers and the NPCs numbers to basically match what they should be if the PCs were the appropriate level. Generally reducing the numbers by quite a lot. This is easy to do with a computer, but not that easy for a person at the table. However, there are lots of tools referees could use to inflate the NPCs' numbers to bring them in line with a higher level group. This allows a group of almost any level to engage with a dungeon of almost any level.

What else is there?
So far (a few tens of hours in) I have found Baldur's Gate 3 to be a faithful rendition of the 5e game mechanics. As strictly interpreted and enforced, of course (separating them from TT play.)

One implication that has for me is that it could be taken to show that 5e does indeed support gamist approaches to play, while at the same time potentially (and this is what I want to moot) casting their worth in significant doubt for TT play. That is, it is only really be worth doing in TTRPG that which cannot be done well in CRPG.

The plus aspect of this is that I think Baldur's Gate 3 shows us where the focus of TTRPG must most valuably be.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Ocarina of Time. I loved the fishing in that game.
I spent so much time fishing in WoW. It tracks with the “de-stress but keep playing premise” as I did lots of crafting and was a regular raid healer.

I’m pretty sure this is the video I’m thinking of.

 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
So far (a few tens of hours in) I have found Baldur's Gate 3 to be a faithful rendition of the 5e game mechanics. As strictly interpreted and enforced, of course (separating them from TT play.)

One implication that has for me is that it could be taken to show that 5e does indeed support gamist approaches to play, while at the same time potentially (and this is what I want to moot) casting their worth in significant doubt for TT play. That is, it is only really be worth doing in TTRPG that which cannot be done well in CRPG.

The plus aspect of this is that I think Baldur's Gate 3 shows us where the focus of TTRPG must most valuably be.
For me, the thread is about looking at video game design and seeing what tabletop RPGs can learn. Yes, you can have gamist design in tabletop RPGs, but that kind of misses the point. Having a computer run numbers and handle things is far easier than a live person, so streamlining things for the humans at the table makes more sense. Play to the strengths of the medium while actively learning from other mediums.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
For me, the thread is about looking at video game design and seeing what tabletop RPGs can learn. Yes, you can have gamist design in tabletop RPGs, but that kind of misses the point. Having a computer run numbers and handle things is far easier than a live person, so streamlining things for the humans at the table makes more sense. Play to the strengths of the medium while actively learning from other mediums.
That's exactly what I'm suggesting. BG3 both shows the gamist strengths of the 5e mechanics design, while also showing that in TT we probably want to focus on other strengths.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I want to talk about this one for a minute because I think it has a very powerful effect on play. Before I begin, tho, I want to note that there are games (or at least game modes) that eliminate this in video games: permadeath in roguelikes is one example, as are "nightmare" modes in other kinds of games.
I just dropped in here to say a) that it depends on the type of videogame one wants D&D to learn from and b) that IMO D&D can learn a whole bunch of very good stuff from roguelikes. Didn't expect someone else to have caught them so soon into the thread. :)
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
That's exactly what I'm suggesting. BG3 both shows the gamist strengths of the 5e mechanics design, while also showing that in TT we probably want to focus on other strengths.
I couldn't disagree more. More like exactly the opposite. The computer will always handle the complicated maths involved in intricate subsystems like encumbrance, light, rations, water, etc and present a far more appealing visual and auditory experience than tabletop games ever could. So things like life simulation and deep immersion are what should be squarely in the purview of video games. Because computers can simulate a fictional environment infinitely better than any tabletop game.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
If this topic is of interest, there are two great channels talking about video game design. One I linked above, Architect of Games. The other is Game Maker's Toolkit.

After a little digging around, I came across two books that are apparently very good texts on the topic of games, design, and video games. Level Up! and Rules of Play. Reading Level Up! now and it's amazing.
 

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