Monday, December 10, 2012

My Thoughts on a Post at RPG.NET about Counter-Intuitive Lessons from Video Games

I was just at RPG.NET and found a topic with some interesting points, posted originally by forum member Lugaru, and I'd like to duplicate my thoughts here, paraphrasing his points:

Gamer cries of "that's not realistic" are really cries of "that's not authentic/intuitive".

I personally like the refinement of the "realistic" issue into "authentic", which only means "authentic to what we expect", not necessarily what is. This is a fine point and the reason you can have arguments about whether zombies "realistically" be killed with head shots or not, or if you can dive away from a 20 foot diameter fireball with no damage. It's not whether it really happens in real life, but whether we can generally agree, "Okay, that makes sense".

Overpowered isn't as bad as repetitive
"Playing Superman is by definition, overpowered. If players can use their overwhelming superpowers to immediately defeat any threat, that is a flaw in game design (or at least GMing).

I would note that this is true, but, having an overpowered or all-applicable tool to deal with almost everything, does tend to LEAD to repetitiveness, so while one may not equal the other, there is a strong correlation that could nearly be a direct evolution, making both almost equally worthy of being on guard against.

Games are timewasters, but don't waste players' time

"Fetch and collecting quests, mini games and long distance walks in video games pad out  the running time, while tabletop games seem to fall into this same pattern with excessive die rolling (to hit, critical, damage, location, etc). Standard actions that should be expected to be routine shouldn't need a roll at all, such as picking a typical lock or eating well enough while in town, unless there's a monster bearing down on you, a battle is going on, food is scarce, etc."

My main issue here is that an example of "picking a standard lock" is mentioned as something that shouldn't even be rolled for, to keep the game flowing, to avoid doing things that by and large, aren't important until a certain situation arises, yet in Point 1 above, it is considered a given that vehicles run out of gas and guns run out of bullets, which, though not explicitly stated, seems to indicate a pretty prosaic adherence to ammo tracking and bookkeeping, which I personally find the worst violator of game flow, bar none. To me, unless there is a REASON to be making tickmarks while you're just in standard combat or driving from one place to another, that should be turned into some sort of resource roll, to leave the mundanity in the background where it belongs, like itemizing every single envelope, piece of string and iron ration you have.

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