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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Callan S. on May 22, 2011, 04:35:11 PM



Title: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on May 22, 2011, 04:35:11 PM
For awhile now I've been playing at one of those D&D game nights WOTC kind of organises and provides the adventure material for at various game stores. I have to say the play isn't a done deal/definate win as alot of people seem to report? Monsters who when they hit almost do my characters bloodied damage? Ouch! I've actually had a character die at one session - though I think the GM wasn't running the enemy ghosts insubstantial by the book, making them always take half damage. In the last session another GM ran and when the ghosts were hit by radiant damage they lost that insubstantial quality until their next turn, making the ability far less powerful. Though maybe it was a different type of ghosts, not sure?

The game sessions primarly come down to a battle grid and one battle. Sometimes there are perception rolls or skill rolls before the battle, as if that links up to the idea of a living, shifting imagined world - but really your not engaging (verbally) someones imagination. The only imaginative element is that dice roll X against target number Y is called 'perception' or whatever. It always makes me think the designers can only work in some sort of binary state - either they have the GM in charge of controlling all elements (which essentially means the GM controls the outcome of the session) or the make it an utter board game with imaginative sounding names for the mechanics. No in between.

There have been some elements urged by players, which works in that outside the written system 'Ah, he's really excited about this and the enemies almost beaten anyway so...I'll just let it fly'. In some previous sessions it was a player urging to use their intimdate - though it seems there are some rules on doing that to bloodied enemies and it working. In another game a player used ghost sound to distract the final(?) ghost who was going to finish him off (this is where my PC had died and the ghosts had continual insubstantiality). Basically I could almost hear the scales in the GM's head, weighing up the total TPK, whether that really mattered (it's a drop in game) vs the drop in games overall story and how do the characters return to the next game (side note: Everyone got ressurected for free at the end of that...whatever, we lost the session either way - it's not like we got ressurected mid session AND for free so we could pretend nothing had happened). Anyway, the ghost sound worked. In the latest game one PC (different player, but again a wizard) was facing off with a ghost, using ghost sound and illusion to try and make it think it's boss was telling it to stop. Again at this point it was the last ghost, so the GM just basically let go of fighting mode (ie, where he actually optimises their moves - like he had them skirting our attack of opportunity areas and flanking us before) and let the player toy with it for a bit (both somewhat successfully and somewhat at a failure) before having it give up and march off.

Back to that binary of 'GM decides everything' Vs 'Total boardgame', I think it'd be interesting if an RPG had the option for both written into it, and players simply vote for which they want to do at the time. Perhaps it having such a vote at the first half of the session, then again at the middle for the last half of the session. The GM being a player himself, he'd also get one vote. There are other things that could be done to blend the two so they effect each other. But I think the main thing is if players always wanted a 'GM decides everything' game, then they would always vote for that, wouldn't they? I think it'd show up for various groups just how much players want their GM determining everything, while with a traditional game that can be obscured and then that obscurement used as a 'reason' to continue to write GM decides everything designs.

Nice game sessions - mostly a board game, with some deferment to some pre game decided imaginative element (ie, there's a ghost army attacking), then sometimes at the end the GM simply letting go of pressing the conflict, which in spite of the written texts allows some imaginative elements to become concrete game resources/points/effects/a change to the board.

I don't know why they just don't build in some points which the GM (or somebody) has, which are useful and the GM hands them out 'when the situation warrants' (which is to say when the GM wants to, but were enjoying the illusion (like we do a magic show) that were interacting with a situation). Instead it always seems to be the binary design, never a blend?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Vulpinoid on May 22, 2011, 11:30:46 PM
Sounds like a very similar experience to what I faced at Gencon Oz when I played the prewritten "Heroes of Rokugan" L5R games.

I had some great expectations that simply weren't met. Lots of promise about character driven narrative, then everything comes down to a simple combat or conflict where very little of the character's choices actually make a difference. I could have sat listening to someone tel me a story, then flipped a coin.

Heads my character dies.
Tails they save the day but someone else gains the honour/prestige (but that's just the L5R way).

The most fun element of the session was watching the GM try to railroad us, while one of the players kept flipping through the rulebook showing ways that he had managed to abuse the system to prevent the GM from railroading us. The rest of us basically sat around listening in, then talking about the sessions we'd be playing next.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Jeff B on May 23, 2011, 01:40:34 PM

Quote
I don't know why they just don't build in some points which the GM (or somebody) has, which are useful and the GM hands them out 'when the situation warrants' (which is to say when the GM wants to, but were enjoying the illusion

Callan, can you elaborate a little?  What kind of 'points' are you thinking of?

Quote
I think it'd show up for various groups just how much players want their GM determining everything, while with a traditional game that can be obscured and then that obscurement used as a 'reason' to continue to write GM decides everything designs.

I agree, there are many players who like the GM to have all the power.  Well, at least until characters die.  Then it's kind of like ancient kings who were honored as gods until the harvest went bad, and then they were beheaded.  Heh heh.  But what do you mean by 'traditional game'?  I consider D&D4e to be traditional in format.

Re. Vulpinoid's experience with L5R:  My thinking is that L5R creates more opportunity for character-driven action and story but doesn't require it.  One could easily run a game of L5R with the same feel as a 4e game, if they don't actively incorporate the roleplay potential.  Sounds like you weren't engaged in the game.  As with Callan's experience, above, i wonder if both of these "failures to provide great roleplay" can be traced to something missed at the social contract level:  Setting and (hopefully) agreeing upon expectations prior to play.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on May 23, 2011, 05:46:06 PM
Hello Jeff,
Quote
Callan, can you elaborate a little?  What kind of 'points' are you thinking of?
It's a modular mechanic I'm refering to - it could be a rule that says the GM can hand out X number of gold, or X number of experience points, or X number of bonus to hit points. It's modular, you can plug any game currency into it. The main thing is A: The GM can hand out some currency based on his reaction to spoken fiction and B: It is a limited amount, so the GM cannot override the conflict built into the games design by handing out as much of the currency as he deems fit (eg, if a game is supposed to be around not having alot of money...and the GM can hand out as much money as he sees fit...then he can overide the design). Alot of traditional RPG's do A, but fail miserably at B (usually by pursuing some simulationist goal (or by pursuing an explorative goal so much it overshadows their N or G goal)).

Quote
I agree, there are many players who like the GM to have all the power.  Well, at least until characters die.  Then it's kind of like ancient kings who were honored as gods until the harvest went bad, and then they were beheaded.  Heh heh.
Wow, that such an accurate parralel? I wish I'd observed it - I'll remember it for future discussions!

Quote
But what do you mean by 'traditional game'?  I consider D&D4e to be traditional in format.
Yep, D&D4E is still a traditional design, despite how many players try and dismiss it as a boardgame/boardgamey (I kinda feel sorry for the thing - it's neither boardgame, nor is it that 'GM decides everything' thing that many gamers use as their definition of an RPG). You have to remember that the game shop session I went to are prewritten modules - this actually gets rid of vast swaths of 'GM decides everything', literally breaking it from the traditional design. In this case the pre written modules make it largely a boardgame with set ups inspired by fiction (much like some wargamers have their battle set up based on ficion).

Quote
As with Callan's experience, above, i wonder if both of these "failures to provide great roleplay" can be traced to something missed at the social contract level:  Setting and (hopefully) agreeing upon expectations prior to play.
I don't think roleplay, great or otherwise, somehow rests in the bosom of social contract. If one overlayed the spritual attribute rules from the riddle of steel on to D&D or L5R, you would find more character play occuring and not because 'We had a social contract agreement!!', but simply because it's fun and people will gravitate to the fun that is enabled in play (by the written SA rules). To be honest I cringe at social contract agreements - they suck the fun out of stuff. I can't have fun doing something that I've agreed to do or otherwise I accept social sanction? On other stuff, like agreeing to bring food or agreeing to split the price of a pizza or stuff, that's fine as a social contract. But in terms of having fun, the game has to actually be fun to roleplay in, by it's very mechanics. The product has to actually be good (in some way or other) in it's own right. Rather than what's happened for around thirty years, where people have had fun despite the written rules.

As is, with the prewritten module bolted onto the game engine, these game sessions are fun without any social contract agreement on how to have that fun. Simply coming into contact with the gameplay does it. Sure, it's gamist boardgamey, but for myself I'd prefer a fun that comes naturally over great roleplay that came at, atleast to me, great character roleplay that came from any amount of social contract wrangling.

Yeah, I went on a bit about that - it's hard to describe it in a shorter space, otherwise I could have just made a short note.


Hello Michael,

How long was the preamble before the fight in your L5R game? In the game sessions I've been going to, it's very very short (in RP terms) - prolly five to ten minutes. Which is to say it doesn't screw you around thinking all that stuff matters for thirty minutes to two hours, then really you find out it doesn't. Also is L5R mostly gamble based combat? So even when you get there, your not going to even be making short term tactical choices?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on June 11, 2011, 06:45:08 PM
To update, played a few more games...by gum, for drop in games, WOTC have designed the modules with the most kick ass monsters. I was sure we were defeated about half way through.

Indeed I felt quite dispondent after a few of us went down like ninepins. I had to think about that - am I whinging about losing?

Probably, but I think classic whiff was the issue. I think in the whole battle of the night I hit...once? We were facing druegar...or as I think of them now, fantasies answer to preditors (as in the fuckers turn invisible then become visible again next to you, for massive bonus damage).

But basically what is the difference between missing and having utterly done nothing on your turn/skipped a turn? At an emperical level, nothing! Given that some powers (mostly dailies) in D&D 4e have an effect even if they miss, I am almost willing to bet money 5th edition (of course there will be) will have miss effects on nearly all powers, or miss effects on absolutely all powers.

Because honestly it reminds me of this (http://youarenotsosmart.com/2009/11/11/learned-helplessness/), where the dog is tied down and shocked and then even after it's not tied down, it just suffers the shocks, having given up hope of anything else. I think that's where the dispondency comes from - can't do fuck for missing and oh, now I can't do fuck for being unconcious as well...so just give the fuck up but sit there all the same. As you can see, people don't leave the table when things start to turn sour - especially if it turns sour over a time period (instead of in a short, sharp snap).

Indeed an idea came to mind that would be too radical for 5th edition and breaks simulationist norms a little too much. But the idea is that no one goes down when they hit zero hitpoints - everyones still in the game. BUT, the moment the last pc is put on or below zero hitpoints, instantly the monsters win. That way you lose as a team. Doesn't make sense much in simmy terms because surely it's 'realistic' for people to go down one by one. But as usual that's the divide point, since what I'm talking about doesn't hold realism or genre faithfulness as a number one goal.

Somehow, we won in the end, some heal effects raising myself and others (I think to a lucky nat 20 recovery roll by one player, to a large part helped the win occur too).

But seriously. Drugar. Fuckers!

And fuck whiff as well - time to get rid of 'Roll to see if you do nothing' mechanics. Atleast in what I design.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 01, 2011, 12:38:02 AM
This is all sort of rambling but at least tangentially related to your last post.

The whiff factor is one of the least enjoyable aspects of 4E, and one of the reasons other than pure effectiveness to hunt for as many to-hit bonuses as possible. (There are more of those than there used to be, I think, but I'm not sure - it used to be pretty hard to get anything beyond a +1 in a specific situation until they tried to fix the math problems with the Expertise feats which was a bad, bad way to go. But I digress.)

But the way that most combat encounters create that "Oh shit we're gonna die!" feeling even though you're almost certain to pull through okay... they've done that extremely well. My players say they almost never feel a combat is a sure thing until the last couple of turns, and that can be with a +1 encounter that I know will at most knock out one of them, and probably not even that. (They're running double leaders in a five-person team, with one of them being a healing-focused Cleric.) That makes it fun both for them, in that they get a real sense of danger and get to feel that their choices matter, and for me, since I don't have to hold back but can go all-out with the monsters. And very occasionally, in a tough fight one of the PCs will die which keeps the players on their toes. (I think it's happened twice in something like 40-50 encounters.)

I think one reason why missing is so frustrating compare to not being able to act is that when you do get to act you have the potential to do something really cool and meaningful, but when you're knocked out that's that - there's nothing you can do so there's nothing to be disappointed about when your turn rolls around and nothing cool happens.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 03, 2011, 01:07:50 AM
Quote
But the way that most combat encounters create that "Oh shit we're gonna die!" feeling even though you're almost certain to pull through okay... they've done that extremely well.
Wow, that actually just made me really wary? I'm all too aware of how the feeling of danger and actual danger are not just linked together. Given that, to me it calls for seeing if you can actually fail or whether it just feels like you can fail...hmmm, well, if a TPK is classed as a fail, that happened once in about ten games at the store. That's not a good sign, by itself. Bummer.

If I could measure what the actual challenge is, then you can just check if it's being delivered each game and then even if it's beneath your skill level, atleast you know it's being delivered. Like if a game was about remembering sequences of numbers of five in length, then if it delivers five length sequences, you know it's presenting that challenge (even if your so good at it you beat it all the time). What challenge is the current iteration of D&D providing? It's hard to test if it's delivering anything and instead simply obsfucating through myriad flow chart choices a predetermined result. And no 'the need to be tactical' isn't what it's presenting - 'tactical' is an empty, unmeasurable word.

Gah, and I was enjoying that...or more to the point, what I had gone and assumed was there.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 03, 2011, 03:42:55 AM
I'm not entirely sure I understand your last post, but I'll try to answer the question "What challenge does 4E actually present compared to what the players experience?", assuming that's what you asked. If not, please correct me.

In my experience, the actual danger is still there, it's just not as big as the players experience it. Part of this is probably that much of the actual danger is front-loaded: many, probably the vast majority, of the monsters' most dangerous attacks are single-use or recharge abilities, meaning they will be used early in the fight and then maybe once more (unless the GM rolls really well for recharge). When a monster's first attack takes away a third of your hitpoints that makes you feel it's very dangerous, but when that attack is "Recharge when bloodied" and the monster's at-wills do much less damage it's actually not that bad.

Another factor is the "he does what?" experience you get when a monster triggers an unexpected ability or a (seemingly) very powerful effect you haven't seen before. That often makes the players feel they've been thrown into the deep end without warning, even if the ability is actually quite limited (through limited uses as above, or because it can only be triggered when fairly specific conditions are met).

I can take a specific example of the latter from a recent encounter I ran for my group, which involved an Umber Hulk (probably one from the Monster Vault but I'm not sure). It can attack with both claws as a standard action, and if both hit the same target it becomes grabber. If the Hulk has a target grabbed it can do an attack against it that does a lot of damage. Since the UH is an elite it has an action point, so in the encounter I ran I used that AP to trigger the conditional attack when the UH managed to grab someone. The attack did a bunch of damage and my players were freaked out - "That thing's really dangerous!" And that's true - kind of. If you get grabbed and if you don't get out of the grab you're going to take a whole bunch of damage, but it's fairly hard to get grabbed and fairly easy to get out of a grab so if you're playing reasonably well - putting someone with high defenses up against the Hulk and having someone in a position to do forced movement on one of them if they still do get grabbed and don't manage to get lose - the danger is minimal.

So yes, the danger is less than it may seem, but it's still there. A group that mismanage their resources and don't cooperate will get wiped out by encounters that a group with identical characters but who use them better will have no problems with. In other words, whatchoices the players make matter.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Chris_Chinn on July 03, 2011, 08:50:21 AM
Hi,

4E's default philosophy is that each encounter should eat up about 1/4th of the party's resources.  This is actually a pretty safe margin for encounters overall, and basically fits what a lot of players are looking for- "risk" that isn't terribly risky.

Given that D&D Encounters and similar organized play thrives on having continuous participation - there's more incentive to do low risk play than high risk challenging encounters (such as classic tournament D&D, or "deathtrap dungeons").

That said, it's not inherent to the system itself by any means- you can look up tons of stuff online where people are talking about upping the challenge - players using better tactics and teamwork, DMs using challenging setups.   

Tactics and teamwork do make a major difference in effectiveness- though it requires full group buy-in as part of the Creative Agenda of play- the DM has to build encounters with that in mind to challenge the players, the players need to work together for gamist strategies.

I tend to see it as a spectrum - on one end you have the high challenge gamists, who want to think hard, and play hard to win, down to the low challenge gamists who are happy if they figure out a slightly more effective tactic, here and there, and aren't much in danger of losing, and the very end being players who want Illusionism with zero threat of risk at all.   All of these folks want very different games, and usually find themselves frustrated when they encounter something other than what they were looking for.

Anders is quite correct in the psychology of perceived danger, though.  The nice thing about perceived danger is that it makes the players feel like the stakes are much higher than they are, which is usually great for low-challenge gamists or illusionists, and non-existent for high challenge gamists.

Chris


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 04, 2011, 07:10:02 PM
As I said, in terms of two people communicating with a relatively high understanding of what each other mean, the words 'tactics' and 'tactical' are quite empty words. Or atleast with me, I wont know what your talking about.


Anyway, it's ironic, because the situations possible easyness is really hard to overall grasp.

Basically, looking past TPK's for now, there is no yardstick to judge performance by. Of course in a direct PVP board game, the yardstick is did I bet Kevin or Bob. In a PVE (player Vs environment) game, there needs to be a mechanical yardstick.

Or when you look at a TPK as a yardstick, it's entirely binary - you all die, or atleast one of you lives. Unlike many board games where you have points (often with a point total you must reach) and thus you have a gradiated yardstick. Here with D&D, you could not TPK against a group of minion goblins or not TPK against a group of dragons and therefore...not TPK'ing is nothing in terms of a yardstick. The supposed importance of 'Do you liiiiiive!!!!???1!?' is, at the very least, illusionous. It wouldn't be illusionous if D&D had no levels and all monster encounters were of the same challenge rating. Then you would have a definate yardstick of how good you are at the game.

Perhaps I should ask the GM what the WOTC's modules challenge rating was? Perhaps, in terms of a gamist CA, it's vital I ask?


Anders,
Quote
Another factor is the "he does what?" experience you get when a monster triggers an unexpected ability or a (seemingly) very powerful effect you haven't seen before. That often makes the players feel they've been thrown into the deep end without warning, even if the ability is actually quite limited (through limited uses as above, or because it can only be triggered when fairly specific conditions are met).
Yeah, I think I know exactly the feeling your talking about.

Hmmm, it strikes me as an obsfucation - you assume the monster can keep doing so and so. Why is it an obsfucation? Because once you realise the pattern, your immediately able to see it from the outside (instead of being stuck inside "He does what!!??").


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Chris_Chinn on July 04, 2011, 08:57:19 PM
Hi Callan,

Quote
Basically, looking past TPK's for now, there is no yardstick to judge performance by.

Actually, there's quite a bit of yardsticks you can use, when you're judging combat:

1. How many rounds did it take to defeat the opponents?
2. How many hitpoints did the party lose?  Did the party have to use any Healing Surges?
3. Did the party have to use any Daily Powers?
4. Did the party have to use any consumable resources (Healing potions, "Fire Bombs" via alchemy, etc.)?

All of these form simple metrics you can use to judge a party's ability to deal with an encounter.

"Tactics" involve specific choices, round to round, to improve these metrics.  If you're actually at all interested in gamist D&D tactics, just take a look around the WOTC D&D boards and ENworld forum as well - there's plenty of folks talking about better or worse tactics to use in play.

Chris


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 04, 2011, 09:50:14 PM
I agree with Chris that there is more gradation to victory and loss than TPK or not TPK. The characters could flee (with some left dead or not), different amount of resources could be used etc.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 04, 2011, 11:51:17 PM
Guys, it's not a mechanic/a mechanical component just because it comes to your mind!? These are all made up evaluations! Or if your going to leap to argue that, then tell me what an actual built into the mechanics yardstick would look like? Would it be written in the physical text along with some 'this is important' text near it?

That even cuts both ways - even my assertion that a TPK is a fail - is that written in the text as a fail? Explicitly? Even I could be said to be making that up, given the wording that I recall in the texts.

Anyway, regardless, I'd like to talk about yardsticks that are written in the physical text itself. I want the yardstick the authors have to give (if any!), I don't want to turn around and ignore them in favour of something I made up. I wouldn't bother reaching out to someone else if in the end I was just going to turn to myself for that.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Chris_Chinn on July 05, 2011, 05:33:31 AM
Hi Callan,

That's a rather ridiculous narrow definition of what qualifies for talking about D&D gamism and success, here.  Plenty of games from most sports to chess measure more than simply win/loss ratios as important measurements of ability - even though "no mechanics for tracking such things exist" as part of the game.

Were you actually interested in talking about D&D and challenge or just to grind your axe about D&D?

Chris


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 06, 2011, 02:26:38 AM
Chris, with the right set of eyes they would find your own preferences ridiculous. C'mon, the human default is to think oneself has won the magical belief lottery and has the right belief/preference and so is qualified to determine what is, overall, rediculous. If were working from the default, well then my dad could beat your dad anyday...

C'mon, take two! No default! Or you can instead just say my preference is so rare and held by so few (or just me) you'll skip talking on it, fair enough.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 06, 2011, 03:33:12 AM
Chris, with the right set of eyes they would find your own preferences ridiculous. C'mon, the human default is to think oneself has won the magical belief lottery and has the right belief/preference and so is qualified to determine what is, overall, rediculous. If were working from the default, well then my dad could beat your dad anyday...

C'mon, take two! No default! Or you can instead just say my preference is so rare and held by so few (or just me) you'll skip talking on it, fair enough.
I don't know about Chris, but I don't understand this post at all.

I'm fairly sure (but I don't have my books here so I can't quote chapter and verse) that you only get XP for an encounter if you defeat it - basically, kill all the monsters, which you can't do (bar some weird edge case that's not going to matter anyway) if you're dead yourself. I highly doubt the text goes into it more than that.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Chris_Chinn on July 06, 2011, 10:17:00 AM
Hi Callan,

You asked about yardsticks to measure what kind of challenge is being faced beyond TPKs.   Then you added the qualifier that the book must explicitly explain to you that doing something faster, better, with less resource costs is better than doing it slower, worse, with more costs.

No one seems to require soccer teams to explain winning by 5 goals is way better than barely winning by 1 goal in overtime.

If you are interested in what kinds of challenge D&D 4E provides, as a system, or comparing the kinds of challenge you get from following the encounter rules vs. prepackaged adventures (such as D&D Encounters), then there's plenty of yardsticks.

Those yard sticks also become the tools by which you can define "tactical" - choices made to improve the outcomes of tackling challenges, much more than Win/Lose as a binary.

Otherwise, it sounds like you've already decided what you feel about the game without actually engaging with it.  I'm not sure anyone can have much of a conversation with you if that's the case.

Chris


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 11, 2011, 01:46:17 PM
Well, hold on a moment. I think we might well examine the distinction between textually explicit success and what becomes experienced as success in any given game. I read a lot of card game rules about six years ago, while trying to understand card games better, and although for every game the rules were absolutely explicit about who wins and who does not, not one explanation addressed the issue from a personal enjoyment level. Not one addressed, for example, the possibility of someone who plays the best but happens to lose this particular round, even for a game which necessarily relies on multiple repetitions, like poker.

There may be some kind of shared understanding among practitioners of a given game regarding the unstated avenues of success. I'm thinking especially of pre-4th edition Champions, which I have previously described as a car that can run in any GNS direction, as long as the group in question kicks the tires in a particular way and throws out specific portions of the material. More important to this thread, the game was also highly customizable, or rather interpretable, in terms of the various flavors of Gamism. Sitting in with multiple groups and reading about even more groups' accounts, I realized that no one ever explained these extremely necessary avenues of reading and modifying the rules - it was always about sharing a group ... call it "value system," in which explicit success, like winning fights, acted as a practical framework.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on July 11, 2011, 07:08:45 PM
I'm reminded of the old Streetfighter game (maybe?) which would reward you with a "PERFECT!" if you took your opponent down without sustaining any damage yourself.  Would something like that qualify for a Callan's textually explicit yardstick?  Say you shifted, or modified, rewarded XP by what proportion of hit points you had at the end, for the D&D type case.  Of course I'm not really sure that would actually work because current D&D seems to be attritional and quite finely calculated, but is that useful as a thought experiment?

Also seems to me the issue gets a bit fuzzier with team games as opposed to 1 on 1 games.  In a team game you might actually lose but still individually be recognised as man of the match, or as having the highest kill count, or something else related to individual contribution.  Hence I think in team games one of the yardsticks that will always be present, and isn't made up, will be the recognition of your peers.  Also, given the nature of these encounters, as I understand them, a local club could put up a leaderboard of different groups playing through each, and as with my HP suggestion, rank each group by how many HP they came out with.  That isn;t exactly how its designed to be played now, but it certainly could be textual.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 11, 2011, 09:02:20 PM
I'm not sure if this is what you're after, but poker is actually a fairly illustrative example of different measures of winning: hands or money; long-term or short-term. Many poker books heavily stress playing "correctly"; i.e., for long-term monetary gain (for ring games - tournament play is a different beast). Handling repeated defeats at the hands of less skillful players is one of the most important skills for a professional poker player because it happens a lot and maintaining discipline is key to being successful in the long-term monetary sense.

However, for an amateur player, "getting one up on the pro" - correctly calling a bluff, avoiding a trap, making them fold - can be a victory, even if they're down money by the end of the year.

To make D&D more like poker there would have to be many more encounters in a day but the party should have the ability to easily avoid or escape from them. That way they would be better able to choose when to commit their resources for as much gain as possible.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 13, 2011, 02:05:46 AM
Quote from: Chris
You asked about yardsticks to measure what kind of challenge is being faced beyond TPKs.   Then you added the qualifier that the book must explicitly explain to you that doing something faster, better, with less resource costs is better than doing it slower, worse, with more costs.

No one seems to require soccer teams to explain winning by 5 goals is way better than barely winning by 1 goal in overtime.

Those aren't the same things? In D&D you HAVE to expend resources - you have to lose some amount of HP, or use up a encounter power, or some amount healing surges. Therefore if you HAVE to expend some, how do you judge how much is too much? You can't compare a system where you can keep adding on goals with no limit, to a system where you start with a number of goals then you HAVE to lose some amount of goals! Unless your arguing for a perfect encounter (somewhat like Gareth's street fighter 'Perfect' result) - no HP loss on anyone, no encounter powers used, etc etc?

Or what about the 1/4 the parties resouces you mentioned? Like if you can beat an encounter and to the extent you can do it underneath that 1/4 resources (ie, under budget), the better you've done (in personal skill and/or ballsy luck)?

That goal isn't exactly spelled out in the books, but it could be used as a metric to judge player performance by. Surely that's both an example that shows I'm not just already deciding what my feelings are here (I am putting effort into looking) and also an example that even if you used the 1/4th thing to try beat the designers at their own game (literally), it's still not actually a spelled out player skill judgement method, in the book. Certainly nowhere does it tell players to add up all their PC hitpoints added together, for example, even though to work out this 1/4th thing you'd have to do that and other stuff. So I could agree there's a metric there - just one that the designers certainly aren't talking about.


I wont argue other posts, as my estimates of the situation are rough and slightly off topic and the above post might be sufficient for this topic/thread. Thanks for the input anyway, guys :)


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Balesir on July 22, 2011, 08:43:00 AM
Hi,

I think Callan makes a very good point from the point of view of gamist 4E, in fact.  Our games thrive pretty well on the "kudos yardstick", in that players are handing out kudos for good tactical combos (and that is one area 4E really makes sing!), but really functional gamist measures are really not realised, in my view.

I think there is a "near miss", though, in milestones.  Milestones happen every two encounters (or maybe more or fewer, at GM discretion, based on encounter level).  At each milestone you get some extra resources (an action point and, until recently, the capability to use a daily magic item power one more time).  If you want a real gamist measure that can work with a longer campaign (i.e. isn't a binary TPK/live), the number of milestones reached before taking an extended rest is pretty fair.  Maximum in one day and average over time both make sense - sort of like a batting score/batting average in cricket or baseball.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 24, 2011, 12:03:43 AM
How are the milestones counted? I'm not too well read in encounter construction, but as I understand it it's like 3E - ie, party level plus or minus a number of levels.

The thing is, if you can get to a milestone or X amount of milestones with party level-2 encounter(s), as an example, then that makes milestones a meaningless measure.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on July 24, 2011, 02:06:06 AM
The default is that you reach one milestone after every two encounters.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Balesir on July 24, 2011, 09:33:02 AM
How are the milestones counted? I'm not too well read in encounter construction, but as I understand it it's like 3E - ie, party level plus or minus a number of levels.

The thing is, if you can get to a milestone or X amount of milestones with party level-2 encounter(s), as an example, then that makes milestones a meaningless measure.
Milestones are counted from Extended Rest to Extended Rest, in other words they are a measure of how much "encounter meat" you get through before replenishing your resources.

The number of encounters to reach a milestone is "two, or more or less at DM discretion for encounters that are above or below the party's level".  That's what I mean with it being a "near miss"; if they had been a bit more explicit and made a bit bigger a thing of it, it could have fitted the role nicely.  But they didn't.

An individual DM can still standardise things a bit, though.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: happysmellyfish on July 24, 2011, 04:52:52 PM
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An individual DM can still standardise things a bit, though.

I've recently finished GMing a 12 week Savage Worlds campaign, in which we did just that. The whole thing was solely, explicitly a gamist exercise. I used a point system to match encounters to the players, and each session would have three encounters. I tallied each player's kill count as we went, and the winner became team leader for the next session, which had mechanical benefits. We averaged a TPK every four sessions, but survival wasn't the real goal. The coveted title of MVP was their real aim.

It eventually got a bit stale when we all realised that in-world fiction wasn't having any impact on the game play. My point is that Savage Worlds doesn't support or advocate that sort of play whatsoever, but groups still can and do beat it into shape for whatever they're after.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on July 24, 2011, 04:54:22 PM
For all the 'boardgamey' charges laid against it, D&D still, out of the box, lacks the vital components of a board game. And probably raises another generation to intimately link incoherance and the notion of 'roleplay' together, utterly intertwined. With all the interferance that garners against developing coherant games. To make a coherant game is actually against market.

I wonder if I could announce a design comp somewhere (here?) where you take snakes and ladders and make an RPG from that base, without breaking the flow chart/having dead ends in the flow chart towards the end/win condition. I have no prizes though, except to read entries avidly. On the other hand, I'm curious about how much the idea would be like a chicken bone in the throat?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: mark2v on August 04, 2011, 04:35:31 AM
D&D 4th Ed is a strategy game, with strategy game goals and measures of success. 
If you get through the encounter and still have a few healing surges and no one is dead. Congrats that was good use of skills and management of resources. . Exp points for you.
Finding the best way to fiddle your party skills in unexpected ways while overcoming the encounter is another form of success that I think gets less attention than it deserves. Players love to talk about skill combos, figure positioning and fiddly bits. Many players get a great deal of satisfaction from that part of the game.  It is the same personal reward a player gets for a good move in chess or checkers. That satisfaction is a meta effect of the game and not a written part of the system, but it is real none the less. 
I have never been able to mentally jive that part of the system together with a “role playing.”  That’s a discussion that been beat to death already, and not really part of this one.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 04, 2011, 03:38:28 PM
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If you get through the encounter and still have a few healing surges and no one is dead. Congrats that was good use of skills and management of resources.
So if we beat four minions or we beat four dragons, we get the same congrats? The same social salute for either?

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Players love to talk about skill combos, figure positioning and fiddly bits. Many players get a great deal of satisfaction from that part of the game.  It is the same personal reward a player gets for a good move in chess or checkers.
I think if your playing to win, you don't play to have fun, you play to win. If your inclined to have fun while playing to win, then having fun is a side effect of that. Generally when I hear about player satisfaction, it's reversing the priority. Ala 'It's all about the fun'.

Anyway, these things do hinge on written system, because that's the method of determining win or lose. Or, if your making up win conditions, a hard question to ask for anybody is 'If you want to face win/lose conditions, why do you keep playing games where there is such an absence of them that you start making them up?"


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 04, 2011, 09:33:26 PM
Hmmm...  I think there's room for some nuance in there.  I'm sure people like professional athletes play to win to such an extent that whatever fun they might have had from the sport when they started out is totally lost.  Which is understandable when it's a career.  For hobbyists, though, I think both usually co-exist in varying degrees.  Eevry online, mass-player game I've played has a range among the regulars between the seriously competitive and those who simply enjoy the way the game plays.  Even for people who totally play to win, there must be some means to choose between this game and that, and I expect that is the play experience.  Which I think is an adequate explanation for why competitive players are still found in games like RPG's with fuzzy conditions.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 05, 2011, 05:23:15 PM
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For hobbyists, though, I think both usually co-exist in varying degrees.
They can't co-exist if one isn't actually physically enabled. You can't cross a finish line that doesn't exist, no matter how much that enables the people who like pottering around and meandering. The funny thing is people can and do putter about in chess games with each other, even though it's structure is set in stone. Setting in stone doesn't disable that sort of activity.

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Even for people who totally play to win, there must be some means to choose between this game and that, and I expect that is the play experience.  Which I think is an adequate explanation for why competitive players are still found in games like RPG's with fuzzy conditions.
Perhaps, like myself for quite some time, they think they are learning a structure, when all they are learning are others moment to moment whims glased over with a veneer of genuine rules, but which are mere fragments and are easily co-opted to any end those whims feel like from moment to moment.

And I think often the fuzzy conditions are treated as having to be there (or perhaps otherwise it's 'not a roleplay game') not as a choice, but like it's a law of nature, like gravity and you just accept it and never think about it as if it were a choice. So if one is sticking around with fuzzy RPG's trying to design ones way out by removing the fuzzyness, one can only leave by oneself. Which conflicts with the idea of having multiple players and so on and so forth, blah blah blah ugh.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 05, 2011, 11:17:23 PM
That seems a little OTT to me; as already discussed, you can measure a whole bunch of things in order to determine relative success. 

Which would take more competitve pleasure in, as a player of countersrike?  A game where you won, but in which you didn't even fire your gun and your team-mates did everything, or a game in which your team was gunned down in the first 3 seconds, and you alone hunted down all the opposition and got within half a second of defusing the bomb?  I think the second is a much better demonstration of ability, even if it was ultimaterly and formally a loss.  Thos other measures, especially peer respect, are not trivial and insubstantial things.

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Perhaps, like myself for quite some time, they think they are learning a structure, when all they are learning are others moment to moment whims glased over with a veneer of genuine rules, but which are mere fragments and are easily co-opted to any end those whims feel like from moment to moment.

I'm not ruling that out.  There may well be people having that experience, it seems perfectly plausible to me.  As for fuzziness, I'm still not convinced that is a solveable problem, but itmight be.  Hence it seems to me a bit early to talk about being a choice, because at the moment there are no obviously available alternatives.  I'll mention, though, that Rune, which is about as clearly competitve a game as ever seen in RPG, doesn't seem to have attracted a significant following.

Come to think of it, Rune encounters might be interesting to you as a comparison against the WOTC ones, here are a few:
http://blewer-d.tripod.com/runemain.htm


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 07, 2011, 12:13:54 AM
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Which would take more competitve pleasure in, as a player of countersrike?  A game where you won, but in which you didn't even fire your gun and your team-mates did everything, or a game in which your team was gunned down in the first 3 seconds, and you alone hunted down all the opposition and got within half a second of defusing the bomb?  I think the second is a much better demonstration of ability, even if it was ultimaterly and formally a loss.  Thos other measures, especially peer respect, are not trivial and insubstantial things.
I think if you want to learn how to always be a half second short, taking the possitive feedback for that will do it. I'm not against taking pride in small, made up victories - in quake live (vs bots, mostly) when I started I would congrats myself for even hitting the bastards once. But it was always made up and most importantly, not sufficient.

There was a David Sirlin article about a player in a mmorpg who got a bad name, because he would teleport the other sides groups into unkillable robot NPC's who would ahnihilate. And alot of people, even on his side of the game (the hero's side in city of heroes) hated him. They'd gotten used to 'not doing that' and 'that's not how you play'. Which is exactly what happens when you count peer approval higher than any particular win condition. You basically start making up and adhering to taboos. Superstitions. Or Sirlin would more bluntly just call them scrub players.

And If your constantly doing relatively nothing while winning, you've pretty much mastered that game (or atleast that team role). There, done, another notch in the belt! If you think it's notch worthy, of course. But your asking is it satisfying enough to keep playing? But all I can say is it isn't a matter of satisfaction and instead it appears I have mastered the game. Whether I enjoyed myself or not, I am done?

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I'm not ruling that out.  There may well be people having that experience, it seems perfectly plausible to me.  As for fuzziness, I'm still not convinced that is a solveable problem, but itmight be.  Hence it seems to me a bit early to talk about being a choice, because at the moment there are no obviously available alternatives.  I'll mention, though, that Rune, which is about as clearly competitve a game as ever seen in RPG, doesn't seem to have attracted a significant following.
I have looked at pages about Rune before and I may have read it wrong, but it seems to employ no 'imagination couplers' as I call them. It's all a hard flowchart.

In current design trends, they always seem to go absolutely for one end of the spectrum or the other. Either the GM can call for any difficulty he wants and is only constrained by made up taboos (see above) as well as golden rule BS all over the place, or the flowchart of the game is utterly dominant like chess or Rune.

A simple example of an imagination coupler more in between is that the GM has a set amount of points per session and the ruleset itself calls for certain skill rolls, but the GM spends his points to determine the difficulty based on his own responce to the prior spoken fiction (or the shared imagined space as it's usually called here). This couples the spoken fiction to actual concrete numbers, converting one into the other. Yet since it works from a budget and the skill call is determined by rules instead of the GM, the GM's influence on the outcome is much more muted. But without becoming an absolute boardgame. Oh, and this happens in play. I know with Rune you build encounters before the event. But that's before the moment. Probably what makes Rune seem rpg like to it's developers is where the designer actually spent his budget mid play, after hearing spoken fiction. Which makes it a clumsy imagination coupler, since it takes time to spend that budget and as I understand it not really how it's designed to be used.

Anyway, I'm always surprised at how binary the designs go - either the GM is incredibly dominant, only held back by social taboos (which really have nothing to do with the game and are simply the silly things we do as people), or they go straight to full on board game in the design.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 07, 2011, 09:12:44 PM
I think if you want to learn how to always be a half second short, taking the possitive feedback for that will do it. I'm not against taking pride in small, made up victories - in quake live (vs bots, mostly) when I started I would congrats myself for even hitting the bastards once. But it was always made up and most importantly, not sufficient.

Well I think that's a bit overstated.  I don't think silver medallists in an Olympic event are thereby conditioned to seek silver medals in the future.  I think they'll take away from that a sense that they were "nearly good enough" and that with a little (lot) more training and effort they could have the gold.  But in that regard it's also much more enouraging than coming dead last.

As for your City of Heroes example, I think you're assuming a bit too much about what is going on.  I suggest that much of the objection could easily have derived from exactly the motive I suggested - that people want to play a certain kind of game, and that was what they signed up for.  Winning in a manner that prevents them from having the play experience (fun) they want does indeed totally defeat the purpose, for them.  To dismiss them as "scrub players" is to hold them to some presumed standard which may well be a totally false expectation of what they "should" be doing.

In a similar light, there's a large community of players of Battlefield 2 that eliminate vehicles in the game.  They find the fun of running around as infantry more entertaining than the game being full of vehicles; and one of the main reasons for that is that specifically the aircraft were so powerful that if you chose or had to play as infantry it could get into a boring cycle of spawn-die-spawn-die ad infinitum.  Under those circumstances, the only people having fun were the pilots, and everyone else was grinding their teeth (there were other negative consequences, such as people killing friendlies to get planes).  This was recognised by the designers who introduced a server switch to remove vehicles, and lo and behold it was very popular.

I don't think that it is valid to argue that such preferences amount to excessive regard for peer approval, or an insufficient commitment to victory.  There is an aesthetic choice about what kind of game they want to play based on the content and the experience it offers.  And that, I think, is a point relevant to why people choose to play one game or another, or to play with certain "restrictions" or whatever you want to call them.

As for Rune, I'd have to read it again to be sure, but I vaguely think there is some kind of limited budget for introducing new problems in play, with the significance that unspent points can be carried over as XP to the GM's character when they rotate into a players seat.  But I don't recall with any precision.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 07, 2011, 10:19:25 PM
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I don't think that it is valid to argue that such preferences amount to excessive regard for peer approval, or an insufficient commitment to victory.
I don't think I'm arguing 'insufficient'. I'm saying they are not playing to win. I'm not saying people have to play to win. It is, however, difficult when someone demands they are a 'play to win' guy, but avoids perfectly legitimate and intended game elements - ie, as Sirlin example, the guy who says 'Throws are cheap!'. It's about as different as a nar/sim agenda clash.

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that people want to play a certain kind of game, and that was what they signed up for.  Winning in a manner that prevents them from having the play experience (fun) they want does indeed totally defeat the purpose, for them.  To dismiss them as "scrub players" is to hold them to some presumed standard which may well be a totally false expectation of what they "should" be doing.
Gareth, I don't think I've drawn the 'should' gun first? Are your example players, who have had their purpose defeated, about to draw the 'should gun', as in what the other guy 'should' do? To me it sounds like using victim status to determine others actions. They've had their purpose defeated - this implies that someone else must do something other than what they were prior doing, as I read it? A new taboo?

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but I vaguely think there is some kind of limited budget for introducing new problems in play
Yes, but this is introducing a new problem. What I'm describing is simply introducing material. Maybe with my coupler example the players, from their subjective position, will see the difficulty introduced as easy, or hard, or whatever. The GM just depicting, without any real intent. As opposed to traditional GM'ing where the GM thinks 'Oh, they skipped having a short rest, should I tone down the next encounter - I really must decide my intent on this! And that's actually an example from the 4th edition dungeon masters guide.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 08, 2011, 07:35:23 AM
I don't think I'm arguing 'insufficient'. I'm saying they are not playing to win. I'm not saying people have to play to win. It is, however, difficult when someone demands they are a 'play to win' guy, but avoids perfectly legitimate and intended game elements - ie, as Sirlin example, the guy who says 'Throws are cheap!'. It's about as different as a nar/sim agenda clash.

Well if that is what you are saying, then I'm just going to have to say you are wrong.  As I have already pointed out, you don't seemt able to explain why people choose to play one game or sport over another.  If the only goal is "winning", why isn't flipping coins the ultimate game?  You get to win roughly half the time, and you can repeat the exsperience instantly.  The answer is, "its cool/fun to fly planes and dogfight" or "it's cool/fun to fight with swords" or whatever it might be.

You talk about legitimate and intended game elements, and that is apparently the case with the Sirlin example (which I have read) but I would argue that its not true, or not necessarily true, with the City of Heroes or BF2 example.  In both cases, many if not most of the players don't get to do what it was they signed up to do.  That is a matter at right angles to whether they are playing to win or not.  In fact what is happening is that intended game elements are being lost.  The CoH players don't get to zap people with their heat rays or whatever, and a whole bunch of dynamics around infantry squads was suppressed in BF2.  Just becuase a game is designed in a certain way doesn't mean there can't be unintended consequences which only come to light when it is in the hands of large numbers of players who, yes, are playing to win.

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Gareth, I don't think I've drawn the 'should' gun first? Are your example players, who have had their purpose defeated, about to draw the 'should gun', as in what the other guy 'should' do? To me it sounds like using victim status to determine others actions. They've had their purpose defeated - this implies that someone else must do something other than what they were prior doing, as I read it? A new taboo?

You're interpolating too much.  The BF2 server switch I mentioned solved the problem neatly - those who wanted infantry only servers set them up and played on them.  The air players were still happy; the infantry players were happy because they got to do their infantry thing, and Dice and EA were happy because it prevented players from leaving.  Instead of lecturing people about "not playing to win", they fixed the problem.

I think you go to far in ruling out the possibly of aesthetic, experiential differences, and concentrate too much on assuming or presuming that all such differences are based on attitudes to winning. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a shooter game, sometimes for a flying game, sometimes for lancing from horseback.  My attitude to winning doesn't change at the same time.

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Yes, but this is introducing a new problem. What I'm describing is simply introducing material.

Well Universalis has a system by which introducing anything at all is budgetary.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 08, 2011, 11:39:13 AM
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As I have already pointed out, you don't seemt able to explain why people choose to play one game or sport over another.  If the only goal is "winning", why isn't flipping coins the ultimate game?  You get to win roughly half the time, and you can repeat the exsperience instantly.  The answer is, "its cool/fun to fly planes and dogfight" or "it's cool/fun to fight with swords" or whatever it might be.
Gareth, you seem to be treating your own answer for how a person chooses as the entire spectrum and there is nothing outside of that? Are you making that claim, that your answer is the entire spectrum? If so, I'll shrug. If not, I'll say the coin toss is already as mastered as one can get it. Some people don't play for pleasure as first and only priority, they play to master an activity. Then seek out another one to master. This hinges on the idea of games as being some sort of training for real life, like the lion cub pouncing on it's sibling is play, yet training for hunting. Games that have a practical use, not just a pure pleasure function. While if you only take games as efforts purely in the spectrum of pressing the users fun/cool brain buttons, I can see how the only method of choice would, in that circumstance, appear to be to choose what is fun or cool to you.

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Just becuase a game is designed in a certain way doesn't mean there can't be unintended consequences which only come to light when it is in the hands of large numbers of players who, yes, are playing to win.
If the game designers take responsibility for their design, there aren't unintended consequences. Everything is their intent, even if in a 'Yeah, that's my mistake' way. Have you read Sirlin's warcraft article, where he points out how apparently it's against terms of service to travel to certain parts of WOW - but why do that, why not have an invisible wall? Basically, when it comes to responsibility, you give authority a waiver, if I'm reading you right - you place the responsibility on the player who is stopping the others players from 'getting to do what it was they signed up to do'. I'm not pitching you a moral imperitive here, not saying what you should do, just describing the structure I'm left thinking you work from.

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Instead of lecturing people about "not playing to win", they fixed the problem.
Well, you describe it as a problem, which was what I refered to. To me, your just describing a previously unforfilled preference. The people who signed up for a certain experience are just missing out on a preference of theirs. There is no problem, unless the designers goal was to forfil that particular preference to begin with.

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Yes, but this is introducing a new problem. What I'm describing is simply introducing material.

Well Universalis has a system by which introducing anything at all is budgetary.
If introducing material without intent were a dial, universalis has it turned up to 11. I think my imagination coupler example has the dial at about one or two.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 08, 2011, 04:43:08 PM
Gareth, you seem to be treating your own answer for how a person chooses as the entire spectrum and there is nothing outside of that?

No, I'm objecting to you doing that.

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Some people don't play for pleasure as first and only priority, they play to master an activity. Then seek out another one to master. This hinges on the idea of games as being some sort of training for real life, like the lion cub pouncing on it's sibling is play, yet training for hunting.

I've argued that very point myself.  But Its tangential, because if the activity is obviated, it can't be mastered. 

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If the game designers take responsibility for their design, there aren't unintended consequences.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

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Basically, when it comes to responsibility, you give authority a waiver, if I'm reading you right - you place the responsibility on the player who is stopping the others players from 'getting to do what it was they signed up to do'. I'm not pitching you a moral imperitive here, not saying what you should do, just describing the structure I'm left thinking you work from.

Well I don't see how you are being anything other than moralist if you are insisting that it is impossible for there to be accidents in design and therefore that any unhappiness or frustration demonstrates some sort of personal failing.  I'm presenting a pretty anodyne alternative - aesthetic and contextual preferences differ.

I'm not interested in "responsibility" - in my experience its just a word which people use to point fingers and lay blame.  What I am interested in is practicalities and solutions.

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Well, you describe it as a problem, which was what I refered to. To me, your just describing a previously unforfilled preference. The people who signed up for a certain experience are just missing out on a preference of theirs. There is no problem, unless the designers goal was to forfil that particular preference to begin with.

Which it pretty much was, as they had designed several systems to support it.

We're talking about people who play games, for fun and to a degree personal fulfillment of a sort.  It seems obvious to me, given the broad array of game topics in every sort of game medium, that the content matters to people.  I don't think it's useful to describe those preferences as some sort of failure to play to win.  Which is why, as I initially suggested, I don't find it surprising that there are some people who, while motivated by winning, find themselves attracted to RPG's because of their content, even if they are not the best vehicle for clear cut victories.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 08, 2011, 07:13:12 PM
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Gareth, you seem to be treating your own answer for how a person chooses as the entire spectrum and there is nothing outside of that?
No, I'm objecting to you doing that.
I think I recognised atleast one other method of simply playing above, ie choosing simply for pleasure purposes. I'm sure that should be enough for some common ground there, but it isn't and I don't know why at all - until I can figure that break in common ground, I'm just at a standstill? I wont dare on answering the rest, given the gap that seems to have appeared here?

Are you saying I don't recognise 'different ways of playing to win'? In terms of where someone says 'throws are cheap, you can't do them!', your right, I don't recognise that as play to win. I do recognise it as some sort of play method though.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 09, 2011, 04:02:57 AM
You're not recognising that person A may choose to play game A, and person B may choose to play game B, and that this choice has nothing to do with whether or not they honestly playing to win, but simply for from an interest in the activities of which games A and B are comprised.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 09, 2011, 04:26:52 PM
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that this choice has nothing to do with whether or not they honestly playing to win, but simply for from an interest in the activities of which games A and B are comprised.
If I'm reading you right, Gareth, you seem to include no chance that person A & B are doing anything other than this. You seem to be saying everyone does this? As I said, from my evaluation your confusing your answer on how they choose for the entire spectrum. While I grant some people, even alot of people, do exactly what you say, not all do. The spectrum is wider than that. I can atleast see two ways of choosing.

But if I'm reading right, you don't - both A and B and everyone else chooses by the method you describe. Okay, if that's what your saying, I've heard it. We just don't share enough common ground to talk about the rest of the stuff by my estimate, as all that stuff uses that ground as its foundation.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 09, 2011, 09:44:52 PM
I know I'm jumping in the middle here, but that doesn't seem to be what he's saying at all.

But what if he is? Can you give an example of someone playing a game (in the context of this discussion) who does it without interest in the activities comprising that game?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 10, 2011, 12:13:12 AM
I haven't mentioned anyone compromising the game. I've mentioned people using everything that is there, within the arena of the game, to win. I can recall recently on RPG.net about even online saying people exploit the meta game or some negative term, by reading an opposing corps forum. But then someone else said CCP corp (makers of eve) said that's valid. So you can either stick with the superstitious taboo or you can opt to read opposing corp forums for advantage.

When it's within the arena the maker of the game set, it's valid, it's not compromising the game. It might compromise someones sense of how the game is played, but if they lose and the 'compromiser' wins, they are someone who can't accept they lost. Another account on RPG.net was of a poster who said he got a duel challenge from someone - the poster wasn't very good with his class, but accepted. The thing was, the challenger expected him to do the classic moves of the class, which he knew how to counter. Except the poster didn't know the class or those moves and so, curiously enough, won from being erratic. The challenger exploded into a fit of rage, calling the poster a noob and didn't know how to play. Telling this to the guy who had won.

So sometimes, what seems to be compromising the game, it is really just ones inability to accept reality. It happens sometimes. I remember in warhammer quest losing half my gold to a random fire encounter...which at higher levels is thousands...but I'll hide that little skeleton...


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 10, 2011, 12:17:08 AM
If I'm reading you right, Gareth, you seem to include no chance that person A & B are doing anything other than this.

No, obviously not.  Persons A & B might have any number of relevant motivations - playing a game because their friend plays it, for example.

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But if I'm reading right, you don't - both A and B and everyone else chooses by the method you describe.

Nonsense.  I said nothing of the sort, and nothing that even be contstrued as saying that.

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While I grant some people, even alot of people, do exactly what you say, not all do.

Well, like Anders, I'm not sure why they would play a game, short of being compelled, if they had not interest in its content.  But if you are willing to acknowledge that people do actually have content preferences, than I suggest again that describing all conflicts over content as originating from "scrub players" is self-evidently mistaken.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 10, 2011, 12:18:48 AM
I haven't mentioned anyone compromising the game.

Neither did Anders.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 10, 2011, 01:53:07 AM
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But if I'm reading right, you don't - both A and B and everyone else chooses by the method you describe.

Nonsense.  I said nothing of the sort, and nothing that even be contstrued as saying that.
I was stuck - if I assumed your just describing a player A and B (who both seem identical, so I don't know why there is an A and B) as choosing a certain way - I don't understand how this says anything in particular about the method of game engagement I'm describing? That interpretation seemed pointless. Some people do what A and B do...okay? Is there a third interpretation I missed - charitably I skipped the seemingly pointless one. Alot of regular debaters would just latch onto the worst interpretation they could find and flog that.

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But if you are willing to acknowledge that people do actually have content preferences, than I suggest again that describing all conflicts over content as originating from "scrub players" is self-evidently mistaken.
If it's intended to be played to win, then it's not mistaken. If it's meant as a themepark sort of game, I wouldn't bring up the play to win thing as it's not actually part of the design.

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But what if he is? Can you give an example of someone playing a game (in the context of this discussion) who does it without interest in the activities comprising that game?
Ok, comprising, not compromising. My mistake.

Your simplyfying things a bit. Someone with a nar interest, for example, could enjoy narrativism first, but as a secondary desire enjoy strategic sword moves. So they might play riddle of steel. The important thing is is that if they miss out on the secondary desire because of the first, that's okay because first comes...well, first!

Okay, play to win. You want to play to win as first priority, but as a secondary desire, maybe you like X. You sign up for a game with the first priority in mind and that has X. But then maybe you miss out on X. Shock! Horror! But no, it's fine if the first priority is being met. There is no problem.

As far as I can tell this is different from what Gareth is describing to me, which is people who, first and foremost, signed up for X but then miss out on it because of how others play.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 10, 2011, 03:04:14 AM
Callan, I'm not sure I understand your position correctly so I'm going to ask a couple of questions to see if I can make sense of it. This is not meant as a provocation or an attack on your position; I'm just trying to figure out what you're saying to see if I can bring the discussion forward.

1) If a game has explicit winning conditions, do you think anyone is justified in playing to win by any means within the rules as written even if the (whole) group of players have explicitly added other restrictions? What if the restrictions are implicit?

2) Do you think winning conditions added by the group of players but not present in the text has any value? If not, in what way are they different from the ones in the text? Specifically, if a player is introduced to the game without himself having read the rules and everyone else in the group is playing with the added winning conditions, is his experience any different from that of a player who has read a version of the rules where those winning conditions are present?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 10, 2011, 07:15:56 AM
If it's intended to be played to win, then it's not mistaken. If it's meant as a themepark sort of game, I wouldn't bring up the play to win thing as it's not actually part of the design.

Yes, it is mistaken, because the content is a separate and different issue to playing competitively.  Right?  One doesn't imply anything about the other.

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As far as I can tell this is different from what Gareth is describing to me, which is people who, first and foremost, signed up for X but then miss out on it because of how others play.

No, I'm saying they are orthogonal, that they are not ordered in a priority, that they occur simultaneously.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 10, 2011, 10:02:10 AM
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1) If a game has explicit winning conditions, do you think anyone is justified in playing to win by any means within the rules as written even if the (whole) group of players have explicitly added other restrictions? What if the restrictions are implicit?
First I'll add a note about semantically vague wording (weasel words). This is wording, which, if you ran a survey and showed them to a thousand people, you would not get the same interpretation each time, or even over 95% of the survey.

Anyway, assuming the restrictions aren't those, this new restrictions simply make a new game and are as the maker of this new game intended it to have. In other words, these rules become the 'the rules as written'. And so anyone is justified in playing to win by any means within the rules as written, as before. Unless weve just simply given up on playing to win for some reason.

If the rules are implicit? That could either be weasel wording, or it could be so clear cut (ie, 1000 readings, 1 interpretation) and identical in each head that it may as well be a written rule. It's certainly written into their heads. So with the latter, why bother calling it implicit (except if you bring in a new member and, while you can remember these rules when they come up, you can't remember them in serial form to inform them in advance of when they come up - then that's a prob)

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2) Do you think winning conditions added by the group of players but not present in the text has any value? If not, in what way are they different from the ones in the text?
If you came to play game X and it's winning conditions, then clearly the difference is your not doing what you set out to do.

If you don't really give a stuff, it doesn't make much difference. But I think people who don't give a stuff generally don't do much at a table, either.

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Specifically, if a player is introduced to the game without himself having read the rules and everyone else in the group is playing with the added winning conditions, is his experience any different from that of a player who has read a version of the rules where those winning conditions are present?
I'm not sure if above you meant adding extra winning conditions?

My problem in the thread has been that there are no initial winning conditions to begin with? Not having some win conditions built in already and then adding more on top.

Anyway, with your example, it depends if they start treating their added win conditions as more important than the ones in the game. If so they have ceased playing the game and invented a new one and are playing that, while denying to themselves (and especially to the clueless newbie) that they have. It gets rather complicated.


Gareth,
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Yes, it is mistaken, because the content is a separate and different issue to playing competitively.  Right?  One doesn't imply anything about the other.
Not at all. Play to win does even more than imply, it points it's finger at content and in the voice of god says the content comes second. Indeed I think Sirlin even wrote an article about playing streetfighter, but hypothesizing a version just using bounding boxes - no graphics at all. To really consider distilling it right down.

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No, I'm saying they are orthogonal, that they are not ordered in a priority, that they occur simultaneously.
Well, for your A and B, maybe they do? By and large?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 10, 2011, 10:55:15 AM
Not at all. Play to win does even more than imply, it points it's finger at content and in the voice of god says the content comes second. Indeed I think Sirlin even wrote an article about playing streetfighter, but hypothesizing a version just using bounding boxes - no graphics at all. To really consider distilling it right down.

No, because as I have pointed out, that doesn't explain why people choose streetfighter over space invaders or vice versa.

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Well, for your A and B, maybe they do? By and large?

For everyone.  To borrow from the music analogy, you can't assert that a musician drawn to rock is less committed than one drawn to jazz and vice versa. 


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 10, 2011, 11:53:15 AM
Okay, now I'm even more confused. Earlier it seemed you were vehemently opposed to new measures of victory (number of encounters defeated per extended rest etc). Could you clarify?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 10, 2011, 05:07:28 PM
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No, because as I have pointed out, that doesn't explain why people choose streetfighter over space invaders or vice versa.
I haven't explained it much as you haven't explained why
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but simply for from an interest in the activities of which games A and B are comprised.
these people in your example have an an interest in these activities over something else?

If you want to treat 'play to win' as a content itself, then the 'play to win' people are choosing games with that 'playt to win' content in it. They may also like other content, but it's optional. It's like they want a steak, but they would like chips but if they can only have the steak and no chips, they are happy. Or maybe they would like a salad instead of chips, or some soup, but the same thing applies. You can't make a play to win desiring person happy by making really fucking awesome chips, but not serving any steak. You can add all the 'infantry only' switches you like, but if the game doesn't have the play to win steak, it don't mean a thing. In such a case, the 'infantry only' switch is worthless.

Frankly I think it takes an act of sympathy to recognise a different set of priorities, and I suspect theres a tension in this thread that will block that sympathy.

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To borrow from the music analogy, you can't assert that a musician drawn to rock is less committed than one drawn to jazz and vice versa. 
You can. The guy into jazz is less commited to rock (or not at all commited to rock, even).

The thing is, every time I say 'play to win', I think you want to claim that as something you do. Or that 'all gamers play to win!'. Well, whatever you do, your probably commited to it. But in terms of my 'play to win, version 2', you may not be and nor are alot of other people. And so what - do you need to feel you've met my 'play to win, V2' specifications - hardly!


Anders,
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Okay, now I'm even more confused. Earlier it seemed you were vehemently opposed to new measures of victory (number of encounters defeated per extended rest etc). Could you clarify?
If the game has no win conditions defined at all, I'm vehemently opposed to making up some but pretending that that's really the win conditions of the game I originally came to play - it strikes me (at best) as being constructive denial (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17334.msg188019#msg188019). Emphasis on denial.

We can add on win conditions, but that's making a new game in doing so. Which isn't what I originally set out to do. How is it confusing for me to want to do an activity that already exists? I'll forwarn, if your a long term practitioner of constructive denail, I think that's why I'd look confusing. For the long term constructive denial practioner, it's as natural as drawing breath to invent a new game based on X, but to just say they are playing X. This might not apply to you, but its worth a footnote in case.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 10, 2011, 11:13:22 PM
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If the game has no win conditions defined at all, I'm vehemently opposed to making up some but pretending that that's really the win conditions of the game I originally came to play - it strikes me (at best) as being constructive denial.
That's the piece I was missing. Thanks for clarifying.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: contracycle on August 11, 2011, 03:28:13 AM
If you want to treat 'play to win' as a content itself, then the 'play to win' people are choosing games with that 'playt to win' content in it.

Irrelevant.  That has nothing to do with what I have suggested.  I have always allowed that any game can be played in that way, but that there nevertheless is some choice as to which game to play.  You keep denying any such choice except about commitment to winning.

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. You can add all the 'infantry only' switches you like, but if the game doesn't have the play to win steak, it don't mean a thing. In such a case, the 'infantry only' switch is worthless.

Which is exactly where you are wrong.  The infantry only games are still played to win.  That's what I keep trying to point out to you, people have preferences for certain game content without that having any impact on their desire to win.

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You can. The guy into jazz is less commited to rock (or not at all commited to rock, even).

That's not the simile I gave.  Can you at least try to understand what I'm getting at?

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The thing is, every time I say 'play to win', I think you want to claim that as something you do. Or that 'all gamers play to win!'.

No, I don't think that.  Please address what I say, not what you imagine I said.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 11, 2011, 07:46:35 PM
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The thing is, every time I say 'play to win', I think you want to claim that as something you do. Or that 'all gamers play to win!'.

No, I don't think that.  Please address what I say, not what you imagine I said.
Except your saying exactly what I'm describing, below - I described what your saying and you then went and made the very claim I described.
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Which is exactly where you are wrong.  The infantry only games are still played to win.
You do want to claim they are playing to win, regardless of what I say.

By MY paradigm, either they admit they have made a new game, and then I grant that if they go on to use every resource in an attempt to win/they are playing to play to win (I've played single player FPS's where I have restricted myself to certain weapons - it was inventing a new game based on that FPS). Or if they are avoiding using planes and by ignoring valid parts of the game they are not playing to win - even as they intensely tell themselves it's about infantry, so were only playing infantry and so were playing the game intended. See the creative denial link above.

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That's what I keep trying to point out to you, people have preferences for certain game content without that having any impact on their desire to win.
You describe your preference as if it is a universal law. Atleast I describe my paradigm simply as one preference one might adopt or not - not a law of the universe.

Gareth, either own your paradigm and realise it's just what you've chosen or be honest and come out saying "Callan, I know how the universe works, at it's very foundations, and it what I say is built into that very foundation! Yours is just a made up paradigm that has nothing to do with the universe and how it works." Don't pussy foot around, if you think your in on the one way the universe works you aught to be proud enough to proclaim it. Loudly. C'mon, don't give me another 'that's not what I'm saying' line - I can feel it coming so it's lost it's bite already. You absolutely think your right - not in a 'I'm right that team X will win this sports event' way, but in a 'this is the utter truth of the world' way. Surely when you know it that certainly, theres nothing wrong in you saying such is the case?

For anyone else reading, how do you discuss differing paradigms of evaluation, when one person acts as if their paradigm is a universal rule, like physics? I do not know. If it seems I'm just bobbing out without really 'addressing the issues', it's not issues but scripture being brought up. I can feel the shadow of ModRon hovering over us, anyway. And even my inner mod kinda agrees with that.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 11, 2011, 09:48:51 PM
Don't pussy foot around, if you think your in on the one way the universe works you aught to be proud enough to proclaim it. Loudly. C'mon, don't give me another 'that's not what I'm saying' line - I can feel it coming so it's lost it's bite already. You absolutely think your right - not in a 'I'm right that team X will win this sports event' way, but in a 'this is the utter truth of the world' way. Surely when you know it that certainly, theres nothing wrong in you saying such is the case?
Oh come on, there's no need for this kind of provocative hyperbole. The only reason for you to go on like this is if you're trying to provoke a response that will force Ron to step in. If you can't read the unstated "in my opinion" in this kind of discussion you're just trying to make trouble.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Callan S. on August 11, 2011, 11:41:54 PM
Just use the report button, Anders. It's fine to do so.


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Anders Gabrielsson on August 12, 2011, 01:03:44 AM
Just use the report button, Anders. It's fine to do so.
But trying to talk to you like a person isn't?


Title: Re: [D&D4E] Some WOTC encounters
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 12, 2011, 03:55:30 AM
Well, time to close it. There are some neat bits in here to mine if people want to dig.

It went off the rails as soon as actual play ceased to be discussed.

Best, Ron