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And then what? - or a lack of scope in gaming

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Thoth View Post

    My example only shows that people routinely don't think about anything character wise, story wise, or mechanics wise beyond what is directly in front of them.
    It seems kind of hard for this format to model anything other than that.

    What is the satisfying play experience of the person who sits behind their desk issuing orders for somebody else to design and construct a monumental building? I agree that it's not insurmountable, but it seems to me to be a lot of work for what may well be an ultimately very narrow audience, so I wouldn't blame designers for a lack of attention to it.

    Originally posted by Thoth
    is demonstrably bad for gaming in general.
    Demonstrated by what?


    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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    • #17
      These games do have these things. Even D&D had supplements on lords and rulership. If they were more of a draw they would probably be made and sold more. But as it is it's mostly relegated to 'end game' content. Stuff like the Archmages in Awakening. Their experience is so vastly different from that of a Mage that they are their own template with their own rules. And not every game lends itself easily to that kind of thing. A Hunter the Vigil game would involve compact and conspiracy heads, like the Lucifuge, whose existence would like a management simulation game (incidentally a good example of this kind of thing done in a PC/video game), but instead of just going bankrupt an angel could kick in your door and smite you.

      I imagine another likely problem with selling these games is that tabletop games in general focus around a group, like 5 players, with one being a Storyteller or DM. So say you're having a group and everyone hits level whatever and now Player A who married the princess is the King and can enact sweeping changes across their kingdom. What is Player B doing? And C? And D? You could say that they have different focuses, Rogue Trader did something like that, but there's a reason there have been so many attempts by Generals to usurp Kings, and fewer Kings trying to take over as General. The point of being a leader or 'head' of something usually suggests there's just one.

      Games that tend to 'work' the best on this format tend to be solely dedicated to it, like Rogue Trader or Lame Mage's stuff, or not have the more common 'start tiny, grow big' escalating story setup.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Thoth View Post
        My example only shows that people routinely don't think about anything character wise, story wise, or mechanics wise beyond what is directly in front of them.
        I do not understand, in the slightest, why you think the example demonstrates this.

        Is this a good or a bad thing? Who knows, but if we never ask the question or try it out, then that is demonstrably bad for gaming in general.
        Can you take a moment to pause and consider that this (and really not just this line) comes off as extremely self-aggrandizing?

        It is getting increasingly harder to charitably read your posts on this stuff.

        Until White Wolf you were generally expected to hand your character over to the GM for use as an NPC if they got turned into a Vampire or contracted Lycanthropy.
        While WW was certainly innovative, it wasn't some quantum leap in game design. Long before VtM 1e we had CoC and Ravenloft presenting mechanics and explorations and slow descents into madness or evil instead. Shadowrun beat the WoD to playable creatures that were normally off-limits for being evil. Kult came out the same year as VtM 1e.

        It's plenty obvious WW was far more in the right place at the right time to introduce VtM and make a big splash with it, than this was some unique exploration of what RPGs can do. Most of the 80s was leading up to games in this direction. Developers were experimenting. WW hit the formula first.

        Developers have not stopped experimenting. A bunch of game engines over the last two decades have made significant splashes (Fudge/Fate, Cortex, PbtA, etc.) that are clearly influential via introducing new design modes to the toolkit developers are using.

        Just because nobody's gotten to the same perfect moment that VtM 1e's release did, doesn't mean WW did something unique.

        But with something like Vampire or Exalted you start from character generation as an immortal whose lifespan is conceivably endless. Thus with the retirement question some what taken off the table you are faced with a character dilemma.
        The reason to retire characters just got more honest: the character finished their story. We stopped worrying as much about in-universe justifications for considering a character "done," and just moved to accepting that you don't have to keep playing a character until they're infirm or dead.

        Vampire and Exalted allow for things that other setups don't, like big time skips, but the functional life of a character as something a player wants to play isn't based on the character's physical age; it's based on the lifespan of their interesting narratives.

        Because what we have now is just improving stats & gear until we get bored and drop the character or the game.
        And thus we get to my point about vertical vs. horizontal growth. They might both involve "leveling up" in some form, but horizontal growth allows characters to stay fresh by exploring new aspects of their story. The best boxer ever could decide to start new lives and in each master a new form of combat. The best boxer could turn their fame and fortune into working outside te ring with a chain of gyms, promoting new fighters, and building connections and power through ownership instead of competition.

        And the games handle those sorts of things just fine.

        What I am asking about is what can happen next and why isn't there design space for it.
        It's a conflation.

        "What can happen next," may or may not have plenty of design space already dedicated to it. It depends what you want to be next for your character, and how that slots into the expectations of the game.

        If I was going to be conspiratorial about all this, I could see a business strategy where the game designer keeps churning out new starter options because that is more profitable than figuring out end game options. Both new players and veterans will want new starting options, but only committed veterans who have long term games and groups would want large scale play options.
        Either you're explaining yourself exceedingly poorly, or you're really just projecting a lot here.

        RPG publication is a business. The goal is to make money. RPGs are going to be made to attempt to sell units. If the customer base is voting with their wallets for X and not Y, X is going to get made. It's just that simple.

        My longest running WoD PC is almost 11 years old now. I haven't hit a "scale play option," issue yet. Even with something like 750 XP there's still places he hasn't scene, antagonists more powerful than the PC group, and so on.

        If I recall correctly Wizards of the Coast once messed around with restricting D&D to 10th level because in their opinion most groups and games broke up or got bored before getting that far along. But all that says is that they didn't consider putting out a rule set for starting at 10+ and how to scale the games from there, not to mention that perhaps the character progression wasn't well tuned enough to keep peoples interests.
        ... and this just makes me wonder how well you understand the history of D&D. Basic D&D was built around playbooks that assumed characters of relatively tight ranges of levels, while Advanced D&D opted for the paradigm we're more familiar with from WotC of level 1 to however high you get, because WotC made AD&D the norm. RPG design saw "this book does level 1 to as high as you can get the XP for," side by side with, "This book is for level 1-4, and this other books if for level 15-25."

        The evidence doesn't support a lack of consideration, it supports them considering more information than you.

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        • #19
          Also, it wasn’t just WotC’s opinion that most players weren’t playing past 10th level, it was what the actual data showed. And continues to show. They considered designing 5th edition around 10 levels of play because the vast majority of games end by or before the time the characters reach 10th level, and it makes sense to focus on making the typical play experience as strong as possible rather than building twice as much scaling into the game as most players will ever need. They ended up going with 20 levels because they were trying to hone in on what makes D&D “feel like D&D” and the survey data showed that 20 levels of advancement was an important element of that for a statistically significant portion of the fan base.


          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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          • #20
            Microscope. Kingdom. Legacy: Life Among The Ruins, and its great setting hacks. Reign. Lots of stuff gets to a bigger scale:


            Remi. she/her. game designer.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
              Microscope. Kingdom. Legacy: Life Among The Ruins, and its great setting hacks. Reign. Lots of stuff gets to a bigger scale:
              Yeah, I have played a few of those, sadly they tend to get too far removed from the sweet spot that I am talking about. The character still has to matter on a personal play level, while the grander scale still has to be viable. Otherwise you are just playing a 4x game with a character editor.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                It seems kind of hard for this format to model anything other than that.

                What is the satisfying play experience of the person who sits behind their desk issuing orders for somebody else to design and construct a monumental building? I agree that it's not insurmountable, but it seems to me to be a lot of work for what may well be an ultimately very narrow audience, so I wouldn't blame designers for a lack of attention to it.

                Okay I think we have several people talking about the same terms, but using very different definitions and thus talking past each other.

                Standard game =
                ST watches a movie such as "
                The Sting
                " and says to their players "hey I want to do a one off pulp con man game, go make some era correct con artists". The game concludes when the heist is pulled off and the PCs make their escape.

                But everyone had a lot of fun so the game gets extended and continues with further heists and scores. But fundamentally it stays at the same level, the PCs always burn through their loot and are hungry for the next score. Essentially the characters don't progress, it is more like a very elaborate form of "instanced co-op level" in an online video game. Once complete, the game and players have remarkably little affect on the setting itself, indeed it just resets with each new story.


                Game Scale/Level I am trying to discuss =
                ST and Players build a beginning, middle, and end to the game before the game ever starts. Sure they might start out as petty con artists working winos and other easy marks, but as the games progress they use their loot/scores to some greater end. Do they form their own criminal syndicate, do they take over all organized crime in a given city or possibly a state? Alternatively do they leverage all that wealth and influence to move in a more legit direction like becoming a major banking institution or create a private military corporation and look into 3rd world mining options?

                Once they have achieved those goals, then what? Do they use what they have achieved in game to change the setting in some way, if so how? It's not about commanding minions, but having the stats to upend the status que. In other words how do you model or build games for the space that happens when you want to keep going, rather than just rehashing the same thing.

                It is easy to fall down the design hole of thinking of this purely in simulationist terms, but RPG by spread sheet has rarely been pulled off well if at all. While some game systems favor an "on rails" style like CoC that also doesn't entirely work because the area of gaming I am talking about tends to have a more personal aspect to it than games that chew through characters.

                As for how much work goes into this for what result, that is always hard to say. Though I do know that I have yet to see devs in various media talking about this sort of thing. One would think it would have come up at some point by now.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  I do not understand, in the slightest
                  That is evident from your tone and your tendency over the years to take offense at my posts. Perhaps we value different things and that prevents understanding.

                  I am essentially claiming that a disproportionate amount of our game books only concern themselves with stuff on par with the very first iterations of dungeons and dragons. IE that you make a character, do a dungeon run for loot, go back to town and party. Then you repeat over and over.

                  In vampire your brujah biker gang does their Lost Boys impression until the players or ST get bored with it. Then they start a new game with different characters and new goals. As long as everyone is having fun, why not. But it shouldn't cause you to get uppity because some one is asking about why there isn't mechanics or rules support for character and game evolution beyond the normal scope of repeating what is essentially the tutorial levels in a video game.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                    Yeah, I have played a few of those, sadly they tend to get too far removed from the sweet spot that I am talking about. The character still has to matter on a personal play level, while the grander scale still has to be viable. Otherwise you are just playing a 4x game with a character editor.
                    If you haven't cracked into Legacy, you want it for exactly that; you swing between playing a faction and a specific character within it, who grows and takes on many different roles across the passing of time - as does everyone else at the table.


                    Remi. she/her. game designer.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                      That is evident from your tone and your tendency over the years to take offense at my posts.
                      I dunno, I'm fairly sure I just met you recently and I'm pretty sure you're just not on a rational track.


                      Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                      The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                      Feminine pronouns, please.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                        Sure they might start out as petty con artists working winos and other easy marks, but as the games progress they use their loot/scores to some greater end. Do they form their own criminal syndicate, do they take over all organized crime in a given city or possibly a state? Alternatively do they leverage all that wealth and influence to move in a more legit direction like becoming a major banking institution or create a private military corporation and look into 3rd world mining options?
                        Have you tried this game called Blades in the Dark? You know, the one where you play as a bunch of low level crooks that commit crimes and build up their criminal organization to possibly rule the underworld of their city (and really nothing actually caps it from going farther if you wanted)? Where the scores you go on help influence how your crew grows by character choices helping improve different aspects of it?

                        ..but having the stats to upend the status que. In other words how do you model or build games for the space that happens when you want to keep going, rather than just rehashing the same thing.
                        And you're still conflating things by only looking at vertical growth for "what's next." Upending the status quo of the setting isn't the same as upending the status quo of gameplay.

                        Most games have all the mechanics you need to upend the status quo of the setting; your group just needs to be interested in doing so.

                        Few games have mechanics for upending the status quo of gameplay because most people don't want that. You pick up Game A to play Game A, not play Game A, that then turns into Game B, that then turns into game C. TT RPGs might not have many examples of this to point to (because it seems RPG designers avoid it rather thoroughly) but video games have lots of examples of how negatively fans react to these sorts of changes; even generally well received and popular games might have a big asterisk around some level or late stage gameplay change that people would rather just pretend was never there.

                        Though I do know that I have yet to see devs in various media talking about this sort of thing. One would think it would have come up at some point by now.
                        Well, for most of us, the obvious thought here would be, "clearly over the almost 50 years of TT RPGs being a thing, designers have probably talked about this and experimented with it plenty, but decided not to pursue it enough to be talking about it much. Rather than try to imply that just because we have not personally witnessed something, we must be the first people to be seriously thinking about it.

                        Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                        That is evident from your tone and your tendency over the years to take offense at my posts.
                        If you've actually been paying attention to my posting habits over the years, you'd know that childish little barbs like cutting off parts of a quoted passage to try to make it look like I said something stupid tends offend me... because it's a stupid offensive thing to do.

                        But sure, go ahead and try to both-sides that.

                        Perhaps we value different things and that prevents understanding.
                        I actually pointed to far more concrete things that are preventing understanding on this topic. A lot of it comes down to you saying a lot of things that don't seem to have any sort of coherent thought behind them, but you keep insisting is some important thing of value. And it's not like I'm the sole voice saying you're not making yourself all that clear.

                        I am essentially claiming that a disproportionate amount of our game books only concern themselves with stuff on par with the very first iterations of dungeons and dragons. IE that you make a character, do a dungeon run for loot, go back to town and party. Then you repeat over and over.
                        And it's a meaningless claim because there is no definition of "disproportionate," to abide by. What is the proper proportion of games that do this?

                        There's also the issue where you are conflating play styles with actual content. D&D, for example, has plenty of material that doesn't play into the murderhobo play style. There's adventure paths where you actually are progressing a plot punctuated by fights where the main goal of each battle is more to overcome some plot obstacle than loot. D&D has had kingdom building options in it. Etc. It just turns out that enough people have fun with the dungeon-loot-level-up-repeat cycle without all the other stuff, that the other stuff has consistently become less prominent and shifted to supplemental material.

                        With VtM and the WoD in general, one of the long standing things was that how people played the games was often quite different from how the designers envisioned the games. One of the regular criticisms of the Revised era was the games being contracted to better fit the vision at the expense of how many people were playing the games. Attempts to push people out of their favored game loop didn't actually make the games better.

                        In vampire your brujah biker gang does their Lost Boys impression until the players or ST get bored with it. Then they start a new game with different characters and new goals. As long as everyone is having fun, why not. But it shouldn't cause you to get uppity because some one is asking about why there isn't mechanics or rules support for character and game evolution beyond the normal scope of repeating what is essentially the tutorial levels in a video game.
                        What makes me "uppity" is that this, like many of your other assertions about various games, is just flat out false.

                        Crack open any edition of VtM (or VtR with a small terminology change) and flip to these things called Backgrounds. Traits like Influence, Contacts, Status? Those are mechanics and rules support for having your Brujah biker gang coterie build up beyond repeating the same Lost Boys stuff they started on. If you want to play a band of hoodlum vampires that will do more than stay hoodlum vampires... the mechanics are right there, staring you in the face.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                          That is evident from your tone and your tendency over the years to take offense at my posts. Perhaps we value different things and that prevents understanding..
                          It's not your job to police the forums. If you have an issue with someone else's postings, report them.


                          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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