Stop Complaining and Make Your Own Game

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Stop Complaining and Make Your Own Game

You think you can build a better tabletop game than what's already out there? It's group workshop time, everybody!

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Helpful. These tips would work well for making a video game too, assuming one of you is good with that Adventure game making software.

You're absolutely correct.

What I've done here is given a basic outline for putting down a design document, which for most video game companies is the heart of the process. It's not dissimilar at all.

(That's not a coincidence, most game designers seem to have a background in tabletop gaming.)

Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

I love me some Pathfinder.

However, I can see an argument against buying 50$ houserules for 3.5. I got the book, and it's awesome, but I am a firm advocate of trying new things.

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

Except for those of us who wanted 4th Ed to be more like Star Wars SAGA edition... for us rare folk Pathfinder is just a new coat of paint on the broken down 3.5 system.

For the record, before I read this article I already had a separate window open where I'm trying to build my own game. The process is difficult.

PedroSteckecilo:

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

Except for those of us who wanted 4th Ed to be more like Star Wars SAGA edition... for us rare folk Pathfinder is just a new coat of paint on the broken down 3.5 system.

Saga had many flaws, and was like 4e far too overpowered. Try Pathfinder. It actually fixes 3.5 and gives you a power boost without being the godlike unkillable badass who has basically got regen health from 4e.

Simriel:

Saga had many flaws, and was like 4e far too overpowered. Try Pathfinder. It actually fixes 3.5 and gives you a power boost without being the godlike unkillable badass who has basically got regen health from 4e.

Not a really good argument for me, I like the Overpoweredness of 4th and SAGA, if I wanted to play gritty fantasy I'd play either the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or Burning Wheel, both do it better than DnD or Pathfinder.

My primary issue with Pathfinder is that it doesn't fix NEARLY enough to make me happy, there's no incentive system (see something like Fate Points in Burning Wheel, Bennies in Savage Worlds or Destiny Points in Star Wars), there are too many useless skills and it still takes FOREVER to stat anything out, unless you just want to use monsters straight out of the monster manual.

PedroSteckecilo:

Simriel:

Saga had many flaws, and was like 4e far too overpowered. Try Pathfinder. It actually fixes 3.5 and gives you a power boost without being the godlike unkillable badass who has basically got regen health from 4e.

Not a really good argument for me, I like the Overpoweredness of 4th and SAGA, if I wanted to play gritty fantasy I'd play either the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or Burning Wheel, both do it better than DnD or Pathfinder.

My primary issue with Pathfinder is that it doesn't fix NEARLY enough to make me happy, there's no incentive system (see something like Fate Points in Burning Wheel, Bennies in Savage Worlds or Destiny Points in Star Wars), there are too many useless skills and it still takes FOREVER to stat anything out, unless you just want to use monsters straight out of the monster manual.

Not seen the Pathfinder monster manual huh? Also my incentive and most peoples is ya know... Playing the game and taking part in a story, and also getting to kill things.

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

BUY PATHFINDER

/courage wolf

ROLL TWENTIES

to hell with making the actual picture. Great game though.

Hiphophippo:

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

BUY PATHFINDER

/courage wolf

ROLL TWENTIES

to hell with making the actual picture. Great game though.

Ah a fellow player of the game where a Half Orc Bard is actually a GOOD thing? I love pathfinder...

I've been playing RPGs for, what, almost ten years now and the first time I run a game that I didn't create, mechanics and settings and everything, from the ground up, was, well, last week.

Simriel:

Hiphophippo:

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

BUY PATHFINDER

/courage wolf

ROLL TWENTIES

to hell with making the actual picture. Great game though.

Ah a fellow player of the game where a Half Orc Bard is actually a GOOD thing? I love pathfinder...

I'm personally of the opinion that Bards are always awesome, regardless of the system. In 3.5 one of my favorite class combos was to spec a bard into Loremaster. It was a little wonky setting it up and it took some time to hit the prereqs but the flavor of it always appealed to me.

Hiphophippo:

Simriel:

Hiphophippo:

Simriel:
Or: To the fourth ed complainers, Buy Pathfinder.

BUY PATHFINDER

/courage wolf

ROLL TWENTIES

to hell with making the actual picture. Great game though.

Ah a fellow player of the game where a Half Orc Bard is actually a GOOD thing? I love pathfinder...

I'm personally of the opinion that Bards are always awesome, regardless of the system. In 3.5 one of my favorite class combos was to spec a bard into Loremaster. It was a little wonky setting it up and it took some time to hit the prereqs but the flavor of it always appealed to me.

yeah but have you seen the level 20 pathfinder ability for bards? Death by laughter? That rocks. Bard to loremaster is easier now as well I think.

I would like to try this sometime. Unfortunately, I don't think I can get together a group of friends who can get along and stay focused for 4 hours. Excellent tips, though.

While I support the overall message of this article, 4E does suck.

Not that this point really needs my support, but of the various garage game projects I've worked for myself or with friends, the ones that turn out the best are the ones where we used a tabletop prototype to pin down the gameplay. Don't even think about coding until you've got a completed design document. This sounds like it could be a programmer's nightmare, having to bring into existence a game designed without regard for technical limitations, but it shouldn't be. Very rarely does pushing technical limits yield a better game, and if you've been working with that tabletop prototype you simply cannot go beyond technical limits. There are no day/night cycles or weather effects on your tabletop. There is no depth or field or motion blur. You can declare that it is night time and raining, and because of that archers have a penalty to hit (or whatever), but this can be as simple as having a token or a spinner to indicate the time of day and weather conditions. Keep it simple, especially if you haven't done this sort of thing before.

Taco: Do it in an hour. I do it pretty frequently, and it works well. It's actually more fun, the faster paced you make the exercise.

TheEndlessGrey:
While I support the overall message of this article, 4E does suck.

Meh. That's a perfectly valid opinion. I've been playing 4e with some regularity. I don't like it as much as the games I tend to play most (World of Darkness and my own games mostly topping that list,) but it certainly does what it's supposed to do rather well.

TheEndlessGrey:
Not that this point really needs my support, but of the various garage game projects I've worked for myself or with friends, the ones that turn out the best are the ones where we used a tabletop prototype to pin down the gameplay. Don't even think about coding until you've got a completed design document. This sounds like it could be a programmer's nightmare, having to bring into existence a game designed without regard for technical limitations, but it shouldn't be. Very rarely does pushing technical limits yield a better game, and if you've been working with that tabletop prototype you simply cannot go beyond technical limits. There are no day/night cycles or weather effects on your tabletop. There is no depth or field or motion blur. You can declare that it is night time and raining, and because of that archers have a penalty to hit (or whatever), but this can be as simple as having a token or a spinner to indicate the time of day and weather conditions. Keep it simple, especially if you haven't done this sort of thing before.

Absolutely. When working on video game material, I think you're best served by working with your head in the clouds, letting the actual technical material reign you in than to try to make something within constraints first. Pushing boundaries brings us the best video games in the world.

Holy shit, that could work. I'm gonna write this down for a future date, when i have friends near-by that share this interest. that was the saddest sentence of my life. But i just thoughtn of someone who could help.

whaleswiththumbs:
Holy shit, that could work. I'm gonna write this down for a future date, when i have friends near-by that share this interest. that was the saddest sentence of my life. But i just thoughtn of someone who could help.

For bonus points, you could post your notes online so we can see what you came up with.

Well, I'll go so far as to say that I think this article is a bit funny because some RPG periodicals I've read in the past made exactly the opposite point about RPG gaming, explained the process in more detail, and exactly why people should abandon the idea of taking their favorite homebrew fantasy setting "which is much better than the published settings" or collections of house rules "like Arcana Unearthed/Unearthed Arcana/Whatever" and publishing them. This going back as far as like the days of TSR (pre-WoTC/Hasbro). A lot of it in response to like how Ed Greenwood and the Weiss/Hickman team both basically sold their game worlds and personal house rule collections.

You can also find plenty of examples of "fly by night" RPGs published with a laser printer and a dream. Doomed not because of the inherant ideas, but simple things like lack of distribution and printing.

Sort of like the RPG version of the "Your game idea sucks" article here on The Escapist a while ago.

-

As far as being critical of PnP RPG products, well there is no denying that over time it got vastly more corperate. Simply making *A* profit rapidly became eclipsed by making enough of a profit to justify a project/setting/whatever compared to what MIGHT happen by the figures if they were to invest that money in another product line, or even something else all together.

PnP RPGs being more or less a hobby undertaking, and one that I think started to hit it's roughest stride when various companies decided more or less around the same time that they could go mainstream, which they really couldn't.

In general I tend to notice that about the time that "fandom" based businesses reform to have shareholders and such that's usually the beginning of the end. Heck, I remember reading in "Dragon Magazine" how impressed the guys were at the quality and professionalism shown in some of the business meetings and such set up by WoTC, which was new to the industry. Once they started to operate at that level... well...

I see the transition of AD&D2 into D20 as being the kind of thing that really hurt paper and pencil RPGs. The big thing was that AD&D was played by mostly college age pseudo-intellectuals. The game itself was very complicated and intimidating to get involved in, but the results were pretty impressive for those who mastered it (there was literally a rules system for everything). WoTC sort of got the idea that if they could simplify D&D and make it more approachable to the masses, and more appealing to a younger age group, they could increase sales.

This worked for a time, but in doing so they chased away a lot of their solid (and still profitable) fan base in pursuit of bigger profits. Kids being kids, they were also disloyal and despite some strong initial sales things started to slow down substantially. Leading to 3.5E to try and save the product like by re-selling the initial books which sold better (for obvious reasons) than all of the "xtra stuff", and then eventually to 4E which seems to be an even more watered down and easier to grasp game than 3.5E designed so pretty much the only intellectual requirement is brainwave activity. We're not talking the good kind of "zen like" simplicity where something can be deep while remaining simple, we're talking just a really basic and dumbed down game masqueading as D&D.

4E is basically an attempt to try and stop a downward spiral by doing more of what created that downward spiral to begin with. The entire trend having been started by what amount to a "we need to make our shareholders even happier" cash grab, that was made with little or no understanding of what made the product succussful to begin with. It's a situation where they should have been content with what they had.

Speaking of TSR (or it's remnants more appropriatly) as well, one of their other major issues has been what seems to have been an old guard with no new ideas, vehemently defending their jobs despite having very little to add to the products. D&D very much got into a rut of re-releasing the same exact products again and again. Rather than developing something new they pretty much decide "oh well, there was a cataclysm in our established campaign world, and we're not re-releasing the same old world information reflecting the changes". This was kind of cool when they did it the very first time with "The Time Of Troubles" in The Forgotten Realms. It became lulzworthy with "The Threat From The Sea", and truely pathetic with the 4th edition decimation which was even more of an undisguised money grab than either of the other events. Using The Forgotten Realms as an example there are plenty of far off lands and areas that were going to be developed (or detailed more) and never got any love because nobody had any clue what to write there. It was much eaiser to say "hey, let's invalidate the previous Waterdeep product, and release a new one. Fanboys love those Waterdeep game supplements, they always sell well...".

Of course the overall worst excesses of TSR were probably when they cancelled Planescape due to alleged "Lack of Interest" desplite claiming that if "Planescape: Torment" went gold it would save the product line. Ironically it not only went gold but became one of the most acclaimed CRPGs of all time, with people screaming for mor, and yet the setting was still canned right in the face of the fanboys... and the whole Alternity fiasco where they got the "Star Wars" liscence and pretty much cancelled their own successful science fiction line so as not to compete with themselves. Their quoted reason for this was the last couple of supplements (Klick Klak, and I believe Tangents) which were rushed out the door due to them shuffling Alternity team members to Star Wars "didn't sell well" and had people complaining about the quality... :/

Then of course we've got White "we're a big happy family, and will ban you for saying otherwise" Wolf with it's problems through the years. I could write a message 10x the size of this one all about White Wolf as a company... honestly I'm shocked they still exist as they sometimes strike me as being actively self destructive. Pretty much the only time I've been banned from anything on the internet is when I actually made an effort to try and save the "Aberrant"/"Aeonverse" games (perhaps the best super-hero RPG world ever). To be totally honest I was never a big fan of the whole "World Of Darkness" thing despite giving it numerous attempts (maybe it was the GMs) the only one I ever got 'into' for any period of time being a bit of Mage. The new World Of Darkness pretty much seems to be the old World Of Darkness with most of what made it cool stripped away. Probably with the intent that they can kick it T$R style and re-sell new versions of the old material and thus avoid having to do much that is actually new. I think the last WW book I bought was the third "Scion" book a while back (that was an interesting concept) still haven't gotten around to getting the 4th one.

Ahh well, enough rambling. I doubt many people read this far. In summary I basically think that someone being able to just go out and self-publish their own RPG with any degree of success is untrue, and always has been. I can think of examples like "Tinker's Damn" and other games where people have tried with it generally not ending successfully. I *ALSO* think the game industry is veery much deserving of criticism. I'm not really into PnP games that much anymore, but frankly I used to follow it, and try and keep current (in my own pessimistic way). Right now the game industry looks very much like the aftermath of a train wreck to me, one that I saw coming. I've kind of "looked away" from the gory site. I bought my 4E core books when they came out just in case I decided to game again (sometimes I find myself falling in with gaming groups at odd times, it just sort of happens spontaneously and unplanned... before I retired I wound up gaming with some co-workers for a while when we formed a group on a lark and it lasted a while). In reading my 4E rule books though any illusions were smashed and all I could think is "OMG, this is pure drek!". What's more given the price (and my current retirement) the odds of me buying a 5th edition are minimal given what 4E was like unless somehow WoTC/Hasbro was to start publishing profuse apologies... it's not a one time thing either, this is pretyt much what I'd expect from the downward D&D spiral.

machineiv:

TheEndlessGrey:
While I support the overall message of this article, 4E does suck.

Meh. That's a perfectly valid opinion. I've been playing 4e with some regularity. I don't like it as much as the games I tend to play most (World of Darkness and my own games mostly topping that list,) but it certainly does what it's supposed to do rather well.

I have the bad habit of phrasing things tersely when I want to quickly get something out on the way to a bigger point. What I should have said is that 4E doesn't suit my style. It's a whole different thing from what I was used to with 3.5E (which is where I drew my expectations for 4E), and because of that I don't particularly care for it. Or just said nothing at all. Ah, the joys of anonymity.

machineiv:
Absolutely. When working on video game material, I think you're best served by working with your head in the clouds, letting the actual technical material reign you in than to try to make something within constraints first. Pushing boundaries brings us the best video games in the world.

I get the sense that we agree on the broad points, but I'm not sure that we're saying quite the same thing. I agree that you shouldn't allow technical limitations to constrain your ideal design, but the point I was going for is that you should avoid building your design around flashy technology. If your design calls for weather to influence the gameplay that's great, make it as flashy as your tech allows, but don't design weather just because you want rain and snow effects as eye candy.

Therumancer:
Well, I'll go so far as to say that I think this article is a bit funny because some RPG periodicals I've read in the past made exactly the opposite point about RPG gaming, explained the process in more detail, and exactly why people should abandon the idea of taking their favorite homebrew fantasy setting "which is much better than the published settings" or collections of house rules "like Arcana Unearthed/Unearthed Arcana/Whatever" and publishing them. This going back as far as like the days of TSR (pre-WoTC/Hasbro). A lot of it in response to like how Ed Greenwood and the Weiss/Hickman team both basically sold their game worlds and personal house rule collections.

They're opposing opinions. Although, a number of 'homebrew settings' and 'houserules' have become award-winning games that have carried a number of peoples' careers.

Therumancer:
You can also find plenty of examples of "fly by night" RPGs published with a laser printer and a dream. Doomed not because of the inherant ideas, but simple things like lack of distribution and printing.

I hope to make no illusions: Most RPGs don't sell. I'm not telling people to sell their ideas. If they want, that's fine. Self-publishing is a rough but fulfilling endeavor. I'm encouraging people to play by their own rules. It's the mentality that's brought the genesis of some of the best RPGs out there. (And arguably the RPG industry in general, if you look at the history of RPGs.)

Therumancer:
As far as being critical of PnP RPG products, well there is no denying that over time it got vastly more corperate. Simply making *A* profit rapidly became eclipsed by making enough of a profit to justify a project/setting/whatever compared to what MIGHT happen by the figures if they were to invest that money in another product line, or even something else all together.

For some game lines and companies, this is very true. However, for some it's not. In fact, the relative lack of success in RPG publishing has led to very ambitious work that would otherwise not fly in a 'corporate' environment.

Therumancer:
PnP RPGs being more or less a hobby undertaking, and one that I think started to hit it's roughest stride when various companies decided more or less around the same time that they could go mainstream, which they really couldn't.

Its roughest stride came well after that. "Going mainstream" brought some of the highest revenues in the industry. A lot of publishers, big and small (in RPGs, this is all relative,) are going for a more "back to the basics" approach. It works well for some of them.

Therumancer:
In general I tend to notice that about the time that "fandom" based businesses reform to have shareholders and such that's usually the beginning of the end. Heck, I remember reading in "Dragon Magazine" how impressed the guys were at the quality and professionalism shown in some of the business meetings and such set up by WoTC, which was new to the industry. Once they started to operate at that level... well...

If you look at sales numbers, Wizards of the Coast is the best thing that could have happened to Dungeons and Dragons.

Therumancer:
I see the transition of AD&D2 into D20 as being the kind of thing that really hurt paper and pencil RPGs. The big thing was that AD&D was played by mostly college age pseudo-intellectuals. The game itself was very complicated and intimidating to get involved in, but the results were pretty impressive for those who mastered it (there was literally a rules system for everything). WoTC sort of got the idea that if they could simplify D&D and make it more approachable to the masses, and more appealing to a younger age group, they could increase sales.

And they did. Alas.

Also, the real heyday of RPGs came well after AD&D. 3rd Edition was a powerhouse. It carried the industry in a number of ways.

I design RPGs for a living. It's what I do. And I can say, I wouldn't be caught dead playing AD&D, with so many better alternatives available. Complexity doesn't mean quality. Compared to newer RPGs, and even newer editions of D&D, the level of logic has gone up dramatically. There are far fewer rules that are just plain silly. The rules don't hamper the actual value of gameplay as much in later games.

Therumancer:
This worked for a time, but in doing so they chased away a lot of their solid (and still profitable) fan base in pursuit of bigger profits. Kids being kids, they were also disloyal and despite some strong initial sales things started to slow down substantially. Leading to 3.5E to try and save the product like by re-selling the initial books which sold better (for obvious reasons) than all of the "xtra stuff", and then eventually to 4E which seems to be an even more watered down and easier to grasp game than 3.5E designed so pretty much the only intellectual requirement is brainwave activity. We're not talking the good kind of "zen like" simplicity where something can be deep while remaining simple, we're talking just a really basic and dumbed down game masqueading as D&D.

This is loaded with opinion, and a few facts that don't really stand up to scrutiny. Sometimes, a business must evolve or die.

Therumancer:
4E is basically an attempt to try and stop a downward spiral by doing more of what created that downward spiral to begin with. The entire trend having been started by what amount to a "we need to make our shareholders even happier" cash grab, that was made with little or no understanding of what made the product succussful to begin with. It's a situation where they should have been content with what they had.

Sometimes, shareholders are happy because consumers are happy. If books are flying off a shelf, can you fault the company for following a proven design philosophy?

Therumancer:
Speaking of TSR (or it's remnants more appropriatly) as well, one of their other major issues has been what seems to have been an old guard with no new ideas, vehemently defending their jobs despite having very little to add to the products. D&D very much got into a rut of re-releasing the same exact products again and again. Rather than developing something new they pretty much decide "oh well, there was a cataclysm in our established campaign world, and we're not re-releasing the same old world information reflecting the changes". This was kind of cool when they did it the very first time with "The Time Of Troubles" in The Forgotten Realms. It became lulzworthy with "The Threat From The Sea", and truely pathetic with the 4th edition decimation which was even more of an undisguised money grab than either of the other events. Using The Forgotten Realms as an example there are plenty of far off lands and areas that were going to be developed (or detailed more) and never got any love because nobody had any clue what to write there. It was much eaiser to say "hey, let's invalidate the previous Waterdeep product, and release a new one. Fanboys love those Waterdeep game supplements, they always sell well...".

In one paragraph, you're complaining about the introduction of new ideas. In another, you're complaining about the lack of new ideas. You're saying they should keep doing what they used to, but that it's a problem when they keep doing what they used to. That doesn't really leave them for much room now, does it?

Therumancer:
Then of course we've got White "we're a big happy family, and will ban you for saying otherwise" Wolf with it's problems through the years. I could write a message 10x the size of this one all about White Wolf as a company... honestly I'm shocked they still exist as they sometimes strike me as being actively self destructive. Pretty much the only time I've been banned from anything on the internet is when I actually made an effort to try and save the "Aberrant"/"Aeonverse" games (perhaps the best super-hero RPG world ever). To be totally honest I was never a big fan of the whole "World Of Darkness" thing despite giving it numerous attempts (maybe it was the GMs) the only one I ever got 'into' for any period of time being a bit of Mage. The new World Of Darkness pretty much seems to be the old World Of Darkness with most of what made it cool stripped away. Probably with the intent that they can kick it T$R style and re-sell new versions of the old material and thus avoid having to do much that is actually new. I think the last WW book I bought was the third "Scion" book a while back (that was an interesting concept) still haven't gotten around to getting the 4th one.

I'll limit my commentary here. White Wolf has signed a number of checks that have paid a number of my bills.

But I will say that reselling new versions of old material is the last thing on most White Wolf designers' minds. It doesn't seem like the White Wolf play style really works for you. That's fine. But it works for a number of people, myself included. I swear by the Storytelling system, and I think the new World of Darkness line is easily the best all-around RPG series available.

Therumancer:
Ahh well, enough rambling. I doubt many people read this far. In summary I basically think that someone being able to just go out and self-publish their own RPG with any degree of success is untrue, and always has been. I can think of examples like "Tinker's Damn" and other games where people have tried with it generally not ending successfully. I *ALSO* think the game industry is veery much deserving of criticism. I'm not really into PnP games that much anymore, but frankly I used to follow it, and try and keep current (in my own pessimistic way). Right now the game industry looks very much like the aftermath of a train wreck to me, one that I saw coming. I've kind of "looked away" from the gory site. I bought my 4E core books when they came out just in case I decided to game again (sometimes I find myself falling in with gaming groups at odd times, it just sort of happens spontaneously and unplanned... before I retired I wound up gaming with some co-workers for a while when we formed a group on a lark and it lasted a while). In reading my 4E rule books though any illusions were smashed and all I could think is "OMG, this is pure drek!". What's more given the price (and my current retirement) the odds of me buying a 5th edition are minimal given what 4E was like unless somehow WoTC/Hasbro was to start publishing profuse apologies... it's not a one time thing either, this is pretyt much what I'd expect from the downward D&D spiral.

Again: I'm sorry if I led you to believe that it was my impression that people could immediately and successfully sell homebrew games. They can sometimes. I've seen a number of designers do so. But a homebrew game makes a killer at the table. The best gaming experiences I've ever had were with homebrews. Also, there's a big difference between commercial success and success in execution. I can point to ten games right now that aren't impressive commercially, but are phenomenal in their own spheres.

The game industry, like any other, is deserving of criticism. Criticism can make them stronger. It has made them stronger.

Lastly, I doubt Hasbro will issue apologies because you didn't like something. A lot of people love 4e. Why should they feel bad that you, who admittedly isn't really involved in the purchase and play of their games, doesn't like what they've done?

TheEndlessGrey:
I have the bad habit of phrasing things tersely when I want to quickly get something out on the way to a bigger point. What I should have said is that 4E doesn't suit my style. It's a whole different thing from what I was used to with 3.5E (which is where I drew my expectations for 4E), and because of that I don't particularly care for it. Or just said nothing at all. Ah, the joys of anonymity.

Oh I get you. No big deal at all.

My favorite thing about 4e is that it's NOT 3e. I tend to get bored with newer editions of games that aren't fundamentally different.

machineiv:
I get the sense that we agree on the broad points, but I'm not sure that we're saying quite the same thing. I agree that you shouldn't allow technical limitations to constrain your ideal design, but the point I was going for is that you should avoid building your design around flashy technology. If your design calls for weather to influence the gameplay that's great, make it as flashy as your tech allows, but don't design weather just because you want rain and snow effects as eye candy.

Certainly. You get to focus on what's actually important in the storytelling and gameplay experience. I think that's very important, something that's often overlooked in a lot of flashy modern games.

machineiv:
Taco: Do it in an hour. I do it pretty frequently, and it works well. It's actually more fun, the faster paced you make the exercise.

And when you have a big room full of eager and smart volunteers, it's even better.

Space Vampires. Seriously.

machineiv:
[quote="Therumancer" post="6.157779.3925905"]Well,

Again: I'm sorry if I led you to believe that it was my impression that people could immediately and successfully sell homebrew games. They can sometimes. I've seen a number of designers do so. But a homebrew game makes a killer at the table. The best gaming experiences I've ever had were with homebrews. Also, there's a big difference between commercial success and success in execution. I can point to ten games right now that aren't impressive commercially, but are phenomenal in their own spheres.

The game industry, like any other, is deserving of criticism. Criticism can make them stronger. It has made them stronger.

Lastly, I doubt Hasbro will issue apologies because you didn't like something. A lot of people love 4e. Why should they feel bad that you, who admittedly isn't really involved in the purchase and play of their games, doesn't like what they've done?

-

I snipped a lot since that was a massive wall of quoting.

Truthfully if you don't want to give the impression I got, you might consider changing some things about your article like the title, which to me set the tone of the entire thing. I think your response to me is a bit more reasonable than the article itself.

Also, I will mention that I don't expect any professional industry to issue apologies, ever, even when they should. With professionalism, especially in a creative industry, comes what I see as a degree of arrogance that causes people to want to ride something down in flames before issueing an apology, recalling a product, or doing any of the things that fans demand (oftentimes with great fervor) even if it would save them in the end. I could qualify this to some extent, but it would turn into a long side-rant.

My point with 4E is that even in the unlikely alternative of them doing so, 4E was such a charlie foxtrot, that I'd be unlikely to trust a 5E. Ultimatly as someone who bought their books, and sort of stopped buying their product due to 4E I'm arguably the kind of guy that they should want to bring back.

When it comes to the relative merits of AD&D vs. D20 and such, I mostly rate 2E more highly because of all the subsystems which COULD get into things as advanced as fighting stances, blocks, counter attacks, and similar things (from combat and tactics). D20 in general does not present the same array of options (not just there, but on a lot of fronts) even years later. Generally speaking the best defense I can make of D20, and even 4E is that it's both simplistic and fairly well balanced in of itself. I wouldn't call it any more realistic than AD&D, and actually less so because the option for ridiculous amounts of realism existed in 2E even if it wasn't frequently used (little demand for it). Heck, I'd say it could even compete with Harnmaster in that respect.

I will also admit that part of my thought process is adaptability. Truthfully it seems like I've seen far less D&D games of note since the release of 3E than I did under AD&D. Oh they exist, but other than say Neverwinter Nights I can't think of any that were paticularly huge successes, and truthfully it seems there were more failures (like D&D Tactics, or Pool Of Radience) than under say 2E. Granted in absolute terms they might have sold more units, but the gaming industry is generally bigger, and truthfully I've seen more complaints over things like "Temple Of Elemental Evil" and "Neverwinter Nights 2" than I ever did over the various "Infinity Engine" games or even the now ancient "Eye Of The Beholder" series. While I guess it's relatively new, I have yet to even hear about a single 4E D&D game being developed.

Also while initial sales might have been strong with 4E, I see very few people with anything nice to say about it. In various PBP sites, I can't think of many people even running it. On say Explorer's Unlimited's "Non Palladium Games" section nobody even wanted to run it it seems, yet there was admittedly a bit of competition over who was going to run D20 (sadly for my case nobody was much interested in playing 2E, but at least someone offered to run that).

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As far as me contridicting myself in terms of complaining both about doing new things, and not doing new things, perhaps what I messed up what I was trying to say. In general doing something new on a marketing front was a bad move IMO when their existing market was working even if it wasn't massively profitable. They gave up a solid player customer base in exchange for a larger, and more fickle one, and have been fighting to maintain that. In the process losing more and more of their "soul" (if that's the right word) and becoming increasingly more corperate. I see 4E D&D as sort of being an RPG designed by a corperation committee.

This has nothing to do with the issue of them recycling the same products covering the same regions of the same campaign worlds constantly. From where I'm sitting it seems like they level the Forgotten Realms "Heartlands" periodically specifically so they can release a new book on regions like "Waterdeep" which they know they can churn out, as opposed to simply leaving the setting more or less intact and moving on to develop other areas and try and make them popular as opposed to continueing to work on what they figure they can keep reselling to the same group of people.

Differant "fronts" entirely.

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I understand your position on White Wolf, I'm sure we COULD argue about it, but there really is no point. So I'm not going going harp on it.

As far as the new Vampire and it being the best RPG out there, well I'm guessing your standing by your work, and if you write for it, your probably doing the best job you can and really feel that way. However I can't say that I've heard much good about it from people I know who are fairly into the World Of Darkness thing. I see it as being similar to 4E D&D from where I'm sitting. You apparently feel differant however, and probably for good reason.

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As far as WoTC being the best thing that could have happened to TSR, well I guess we'll never really know what would have happened if they refused to sell. Honestly I think they would have made more money, but would have retained a solid customer base, and produced a better overall product from a critical sense. Right now I see D&D as having gone the route of coca cola, bubble gum, and pop music, and I think that it's going to die as a result. I guess my position is similar to a music fan who preferred the work of a band before they "sold out" and went mainstream.

Therumancer:
Truthfully if you don't want to give the impression I got, you might consider changing some things about your article like the title, which to me set the tone of the entire thing. I think your response to me is a bit more reasonable than the article itself.

Did I indicate that the reader could market a successful RPG on a night's exercise? I'm sorry if that's the indication I gave. The exercise makes a game. It doesn't publish it. It doesn't market it. It most certainly doesn't cater it to a wide market. But it does make a game that works well for the table of people that made it.

The title was a tongue-in-cheek reference to those that spend so much time complaining about games. It's not hard to just make a game that works well for your circle of friends. That's the point. I'm not saying, "GO MAKE THE NEXT DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS!" Nobody has been successful in doing that. I'm saying, "If you don't like something someone else did, do your own." We're talking about games you can enjoy, not games you can sell. If you can sell it, more power to you. But the goal is to have fun. If you're trying to make a successful business strategy, hobby games are something you should reconsider.

Therumancer:
Also while initial sales might have been strong with 4E, I see very few people with anything nice to say about it. In various PBP sites, I can't think of many people even running it. On say Explorer's Unlimited's "Non Palladium Games" section nobody even wanted to run it it seems, yet there was admittedly a bit of competition over who was going to run D20 (sadly for my case nobody was much interested in playing 2E, but at least someone offered to run that).

Anecdotal evidence doesn't say a lot. WOTC will be releasing a Players Handbook 3 before long. They wouldn't do that if it weren't a successful endeavor. So maybe where you're looking, people are saying negative things. But this is the internet. They said terrible things about third edition D&D, which is the top selling game line of all time.

Or, and this is just my editorializing, people aren't saying good things about the game online, because if they enjoy it, they're busy playing it.

Therumancer:
As far as me contridicting myself in terms of complaining both about doing new things, and not doing new things, perhaps what I messed up what I was trying to say. In general doing something new on a marketing front was a bad move IMO when their existing market was working even if it wasn't massively profitable. They gave up a solid player customer base in exchange for a larger, and more fickle one, and have been fighting to maintain that. In the process losing more and more of their "soul" (if that's the right word) and becoming increasingly more corperate. I see 4E D&D as sort of being an RPG designed by a corperation committee.

Maybe. Sometimes though, you have to make changes because maybe your existing market 'isn't' working. TSR didn't sell because they were in a wonderful position. They couldn't sustain themselves as they stood. It was sell, go out of business, or cut production and payroll dramatically.

Therumancer:
This has nothing to do with the issue of them recycling the same products covering the same regions of the same campaign worlds constantly. From where I'm sitting it seems like they level the Forgotten Realms "Heartlands" periodically specifically so they can release a new book on regions like "Waterdeep" which they know they can churn out, as opposed to simply leaving the setting more or less intact and moving on to develop other areas and try and make them popular as opposed to continueing to work on what they figure they can keep reselling to the same group of people.

I think we're approaching a lot of things that we can't really speak for, since we don't know the "why" of a lot of decisions, we only know the decisions.

Although now, they do more broad, sweeping 'campaign books,' instead of specific location books.

Therumancer:
As far as the new Vampire and it being the best RPG out there, well I'm guessing your standing by your work, and if you write for it, your probably doing the best job you can and really feel that way. However I can't say that I've heard much good about it from people I know who are fairly into the World Of Darkness thing. I see it as being similar to 4E D&D from where I'm sitting. You apparently feel differant however, and probably for good reason.

Ironically, my position is kind of the opposite end. I write for it because I love it. I didn't start the NWoD. I loved it. It was so good, in fact, that I decided I should write in the RPG industry.

Therumancer:
As far as WoTC being the best thing that could have happened to TSR, well I guess we'll never really know what would have happened if they refused to sell. Honestly I think they would have made more money, but would have retained a solid customer base, and produced a better overall product from a critical sense. Right now I see D&D as having gone the route of coca cola, bubble gum, and pop music, and I think that it's going to die as a result. I guess my position is similar to a music fan who preferred the work of a band before they "sold out" and went mainstream.

We'll see. I can see what you're saying. But to follow the analogy, bands like Green Day and Metallica didn't die because they went more mainstream.

There's a reason that people who actually work in the tabletop industry call them "fantasy heartbreakers".

Sure, there's a chance that you'll strike gold and get a lucrative contract to write more but that's more of a one in a million shot. I personally enjoy writing games, however there's still plenty of room out there for tacking on things to existing rpgs.

Also, I really like pathfinder. I'd rather play an mmo for my 4th ed. fix. Sorry.

TarkXT:
There's a reason that people who actually work in the tabletop industry call them "fantasy heartbreakers".

Fantasy heartbreakers? I don't think I've ever heard that one. Weird.

TarkXT:
Sure, there's a chance that you'll strike gold and get a lucrative contract to write more but that's more of a one in a million shot. I personally enjoy writing games, however there's still plenty of room out there for tacking on things to existing rpgs.

To be fair, it's actually more common than one in a million. But that's another article altogether. Writing games is my life. If I weren't doing it professionally, I'd definitely be doing it as a hobby.

Therumancer:
As far as WoTC being the best thing that could have happened to TSR, well I guess we'll never really know what would have happened if they refused to sell. Honestly I think they would have made more money, but would have retained a solid customer base, and produced a better overall product from a critical sense.

On the contrary, the fate of TSR, had Wizards not bought it, was universally recognized and acknowledged. At the time of the purchase, according to the management itself, TSR was weeks away from bankruptcy and receivership, with no prospects whatever for improvement. (I was following this closely because TSR owed me thousands of dollars for freelance design work.) Had Wizards not bought the company, TSR would, with absolute certainty, have died the death. In all the years since, I have never heard anyone argue otherwise.

Who would have ended up with D&D? Who knows? I would bet big money, though, that whoever wound up with D&D would have loved the game less than did Wizards CEO Peter Adkison, who got into the game business specifically to publish his own D&D/FRPG rules expansion, "The Primal Order."

I've actually made my own RPG with the help of my friends before, something of a cross between Robotech and Armored Core. It was quite fun and actually well balanced, with the only real downside being that making the PC mechs took a great deal of time. The combat was intense and quite fun, making for some very memorable moments.

The only problem with the game was the parts list. Not that the layout was crappy (I was making sheets to fix it), or that there were too many parts (we had them quite well organized and most of the 'bullet points' easy to see). It was that we had around 500-ish parts and then the binder with them went missing.

I miss that game.

Heh. I already have started whipping up a tabletop game to my liking in the past few weeks, though it's a squad-based tactical one ala a single combat in Final Fantasy Tactics/X-Com (but being heavy influenced by terrain) not a full RPG. The rules should work well and allow (and have written up) a lot of options, though I still need a lot more playtesting to make sure they're balanced. I need to flesh out the setting more beyond "magic eats up nearby grassland to fuel it" but I'm working on it, with further plans of making it into a computer game.

But yeah, it's not too hard to make a role-playing system. You just need to figure out what you want.

Good combat, or in-depth rules of any kind are harder to make, though. That's D&D 4th edition's primary draw: they cut out most of the system's ability to handle actual situations in order to focus on making a really good combat system. The rest is skill challenges, rituals carefully crafted to discourage creativity, and highly subjective fluff elements that the rulebook encourages you to change to your liking. There's not much to D&D 4e outside of combat, which renders it a poor roleplaying system IMO. But the combat is something that you can't mimic easily in a homebrew game; it lets you have so many options and they're all fairly balanced with eachother.

There's also another element that homebrew games are bad with. Because the rules are determined easily, it also can lead to long arguments about the way a rule should be resolved, which slows down the game. As long as the rules aren't too difficult to navigate/comprehend, arguments within published games set in stone are resolved by looking up a rule, and that's it. You can house rule it if you don't like it, but either having a house rule or a clear rule is usually simpler than writing up a rule on the spot that homebrew games lead to. Note that good DMs can alleviate this problem somewhat, but that's a general rule of pretty much every problem in P&P gaming.

Kilo24:
Good combat, or in-depth rules of any kind are harder to make, though. That's D&D 4th edition's primary draw: they cut out most of the system's ability to handle actual situations in order to focus on making a really good combat system. The rest is skill challenges, rituals carefully crafted to discourage creativity, and highly subjective fluff elements that the rulebook encourages you to change to your liking. There's not much to D&D 4e outside of combat, which renders it a poor roleplaying system IMO. But the combat is something that you can't mimic easily in a homebrew game; it lets you have so many options and they're all fairly balanced with eachother.

There's also another element that homebrew games are bad with. Because the rules are determined easily, it also can lead to long arguments about the way a rule should be resolved, which slows down the game. As long as the rules aren't too difficult to navigate/comprehend, arguments within published games set in stone are resolved by looking up a rule, and that's it. You can house rule it if you don't like it, but either having a house rule or a clear rule is usually simpler than writing up a rule on the spot that homebrew games lead to. Note that good DMs can alleviate this problem somewhat, but that's a general rule of pretty much every problem in P&P gaming.

Have you read the DMG2? Robin Laws did some amazing things with the skill challenge system. Itdoes some very ambitious, non-combat things unlike D&D has never seen before. It's really keen.

I'm a firm advocate of "core mechanics." I like rules that more or less cover everything. You don't have a million different rules for a million different circumstances. So if you develop a strong core mechanic, you shouldn't have those problems. If you do, you're just polishing the system by determining those things.

Hammith:
I've actually made my own RPG with the help of my friends before, something of a cross between Robotech and Armored Core. It was quite fun and actually well balanced, with the only real downside being that making the PC mechs took a great deal of time. The combat was intense and quite fun, making for some very memorable moments.

The only problem with the game was the parts list. Not that the layout was crappy (I was making sheets to fix it), or that there were too many parts (we had them quite well organized and most of the 'bullet points' easy to see). It was that we had around 500-ish parts and then the binder with them went missing.

I miss that game.

That sounds like it could be an interesting tactical game. Some people like that sort of deep detail.

The article was quite interresting (I've tried doing this sort of thing before, but I always seem to run out of ideas easily (creativity isn't my strong point at all).

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