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Subject: What can we learn from an RPG? rss

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john m
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Was thinking about this and wondered what you thought. It seems a board game maker could learn a lot about making a game from an RPG.
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Hunter Shelburne
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Yeah, the main thing?

Theme is important.
 
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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As I go back to the days of the Red Box, are you kidding?

While, yes, there are a lot of lessons to be learned, most of them are cautionary at best. Does the term "Errors of Gygaxian Proportions" mean anything to you?
 
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Walt
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I have to agree that much of the learning is of what not to do, especially considering the current state of RPGs.

Games should be easy to learn. They should not have the 50 page manuals of simulationist board games of the '80s, much less the 500 page manuals of the current leading (but declining) RPGs.

Game set up should be short. Creating characters in GURPS 4 is a nightmare. I'd rather do taxes! The other major systems also leave much to be desired. For a boardgame example, Ticket to Ride: Märklin is poor in this regard: I can think of a dozen better ways to handle passenger scoring than stacking a hundred little disks on tiny circles before play. Puerto Rico also offends somewhat in this regard--but it doesn't have alternative versions of the game that don't offend.

Do the math and playtest the balance. This is where Marklin shines, giving points equally to tracks, routes, and passengers.

Games should play efficiently without long series of cascading actions--often rolls in RPGs. Down time for players should be minimized. If you have essentially total downtime--because the actions of the preceding player can totally change the situation--the game needs to be very fast. Or you need to go closer to "multiplayer solitaire" so players can plan ahead.

Theme is a great thing--I'm not fond of abstracts. Theme provides emotional content as well as a mnemonic framework to make rules easier to remember--a shade of simulationism. But theme can't recover a broken game. Nor can thematic chrome stretch a half hour game to a three hour game: you then just have a half hour game that bores everyone for three hours. IMHO, good: Mission: Red Planet; bad: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)

A positive lesson from D&D 3, Civ 4, and other sources is be positive: Don't screw a player for doing something (as with a fumble or city limits), do the opposite and reward the player for the opposite thing (like critical hits). I think this is something screwage games could learn: have a cooperation reward instead of screwage. For example, instead of one player penalizing another player--a common mechanic (e.g., Citadel's assassin)--in SdJ 2007 winner Zooloretto, you buy an animal from another player, rewarding you both. Yes, some people like screwage, but some (especially women) loathe it, or are even frightened by it, making them ineffectual, unchallenging players of screwage games. But I can think of buying an animal in Zooloretto as screwing the player(s) I don't buy from. Obviously, this is incompatible with a game that's all about screwage--Uno for example--but it's an option.

A final lesson from Hasborg is not to let one company dominate games: the wonderful thing about boardgames is that even if you disagree with everything I say, you have companies making games for you, and I have companies making games for me. I can think of nothing more boring (or scary) than we all having to have the same taste. As the late Franz Benno Delong (TransAmerica et alii) was fond of quoting, De gustibus non est disputandum: taste cannot be disputed: what we like, we like. Euro-ized US games and Euro games with screwage just give us more choices!
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Brian M
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I think RPG makers have a lot more to learn from boardgame makers.

Quote:
Theme is important.

Except when its not.
 
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Bernd Caspers
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StormKnight wrote:
I think RPG makers have a lot more to learn from boardgame makers.

Quote:
Theme is important.

Except when its not.


You mean like in an abstract boardgame?
Well, that "lesson" is pretty useless to RPG designers, because there theme is everything.
Know an abstract RPG?
 
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James Due
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A social game that can be modified by the players themselves can overcome clunky rules, heaviness and poor artwork in time.
 
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