What makes a RPG a RPG?

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:55 pm UTC

I think I'm going to pretend that RPG stands for "Rapid Procedure Game" and call the games Mr. Wick focuses on "Roll playing games" (spelt out). I see value in both.

One thing Mr. Wick didn't address (which is fine, because it wasn't within the focus of the article) is: How can a mechanic make the player feel like a part of the story?

In Suikoden, you're given the choice of whether or not to join the rebellion. When I first was presented the option, I decided the rebels hadn't made their case and I decided my character would return to the capital and continue to serve the empire. That wasn't possible; the only way to advance the plot was to agree to join the rebellion.

At first I wondered why they even included that choice, if it wasn't really a true choice. The answer: If you decide to join the rebellion you feel like pursuing the cause of the rebellion is something you want, no just that these characters want. The problems (as I see it now) where that they didn't set up motivation properly. Spoilered for excessive detail:
Spoiler:
Most of the evidence was a bunch of vague statements (from the rebels themselves) like "The empire is corrupt"; no specifics, no examples, no independent sources, everything said, nothing shown or done.
Later games in the series did a much better job of supplying motivations: You'll see someone being horrible before you start fighting against them; Street NPCs will have political opinions, you'll get specifics like "Most armorers get military contacts through bribes.".
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:17 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:I don't see a date on that. But congratulations, he (presumably independently) discovered something that's been known since the late 70s.

But - honestly, in the context of the computer RPG, it's still an obvious conclusion. We do not currently possess the technology to have a computer simulate an environment in the same way a human can simulate it and allow for completely unexpected roleplaying responses. But computers do numbers really well. Expecting a game to allow you to use a teacup as a weapon as well as a greatsword and allow you to kill whatever you want does not make a game, it makes a killing simulator.

Now, simplifying combat and making it unimportant while increasing the importance of roleplaying would be a neat trick for a computer... but currently impossible.

So they do what they can - they simplify the math of combat, of skill checks, of everything. If the game has a jumping skill that is modified by carried weight in two pound increments as well as style of footwear, conditions of the ground, air resistance, altitude, air pressure and humidity, that would be ridiculous to expect a human player to calculate every time someone wanted to jump - but a computer can do it in between my key presses.

Which is why computer RPGs put such an importance on combat - it's one of the things the computer can do very, very well and a human can do... not so well. I recall my 2nd edition games, where combats took up to 20 minutes a round for six players and eight monsters... but Baldur's Gate can do it in six seconds.

Really, until we get computers with even rudamentary AI that can react to unexpected situations and respond accordingly and somewhat accurately, we'll never see anything like that on the computer.

.... which is kinda the entire point of this thread - perhaps I should change the title, as it should be "What makes a CRPG a RPG?" - what precisely is it about the computer RPG that allows it to be an RPG while The Legend of Zelda is not.


John Wick is an interesting fellow. Some sound theory here, but...let's look at some of the games he's actually created. Most notably, games to which he contributed heavily, and had something of a free hand. L5R and 7th Sea would both be excellent examples.

Both were filled with absolutely broken mechanics AND some utterly broken storytelling aspects. Some really good, clever areas where mechanics supported a given roleplaying option, but some areas that are just disasterous. Let's pull examples from 7th Sea because, given only one d10 edition, there's little chance of confusion, attributing stuff to him improperly, etc.

The Avalon sourcebook, the one he wrote, is widely held to be the most broken of the basic country books, in part because it has magic that is...abusable. For instance, it lacks all traditional storyline and mechanical downsides to magic. It also is one of the two broken magics that allows you to gain xp at a faster overall rate(significantly so). Additionally, just about all of his story aspects came back to one element...the fae. These were utterly untouchable super-creatures that were better than humanity in every way, were terrible to humanity, are also the 'good' guys, and literally everything they do is saving the world. Every single plot element around them offered almost nothing in terms of player interactivity that had more than one right answer. Oh, you choose to kill one of them? Basically impossible, and doing so is straight up death for your char. Roll a new one, and "choose" the only allowed choice.

So, in my opinion, the fellow is alright as a storyteller, but...not the greatest game designer. Games are not stories. The whole point of a game is that there is, yknow, gameplay. The player's input matters. Yes, the role matters, but it's not the only thing that does.

Game balance still matters.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:33 pm UTC

Eh, the ability to see flaws in a system =/= the ability to make a system without flaws. Or even one that's good.

My assumption when dealing with obviously broken mechanics [See 3rd Edition D&D Diplomancy] is that the designers never thought someone would ever do it as even a secondary way of interacting with a world, much less a primary way. Yet when used as your primary method of interaction, it's clearly overpowered.

Or, in the case of Fae, these guys are so totes cool why would you ever not be their BFF Jill?
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:22 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Eh, the ability to see flaws in a system =/= the ability to make a system without flaws. Or even one that's good.

My assumption when dealing with obviously broken mechanics [See 3rd Edition D&D Diplomancy] is that the designers never thought someone would ever do it as even a secondary way of interacting with a world, much less a primary way. Yet when used as your primary method of interaction, it's clearly overpowered.

Or, in the case of Fae, these guys are so totes cool why would you ever not be their BFF Jill?


There is a valid complaint in Wick's work in the case of games with excellent mechanical balance but rubbish story(see, D&D 4e skill challenges).

In this case, however, it's...odd. They made unused drama dice translate directly to xp. And then, to encourage well rounded chars, they made drama dice assigned by lowest stat. All of that is basic stuff, in core, and works well. The master ability for glamor changes that to highest stat. Leaving aside for the moment that glamor mages are eligible for an xp discount on getting higher stats than everyone else, it seems...difficult to miss the interaction. It wasn't one that required twelve books, just the single interaction with the original rules being modified.

They also gave you an alternative to using drama dice for spellcasting, thus ensuring your drama dice would go unspent as well. Again, an interaction that isn't complicated, it's...the only potential use. And one that doesn't require 27 books to pull off, just core....which he also wrote.

D&D 3.x at least has the excuse of being composed of a great many books written by a great many people. Combos such as pun-pun are clearly unintentional interactions between rules made by many different folks for different ends. I don't really hold that against a designer. It's hard to have encyclopedic knowledge of 30+ rulebooks.

The Fae were wierd. Like, they screw with people just for the hell of it. Everything has a metaplot, but in the case of the Fae, it's that they really are the good guys. Yes, even when crazy psycho killers, they're the good guys. There's no attempt to make it make any more sense than that. They end up coming across as a reason for a DM to do literally anything, forever, with pet NPCs that you cannot do anything to. In fact, if memory serves, there is explicit advice to do exactly that with them.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:31 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I think I'm going to pretend that RPG stands for "Rapid Procedure Game" and call the games Mr. Wick focuses on "Roll playing games" (spelt out). I see value in both.


"roll-playing" is already used by people for the overly-mechanical style of play fostered by D&D and cRPGs - where instead of playing a role in telling a collaborative story, players are rolling dice to do stuff. Giving an impassioned speech about the dignity of human life and the value of peaceful cohabitation to the local monarch is role-playing; making a Diplomacy check (or a series of them as a skill challenge) is roll-playing.

That's not to say that there's no value in roll-playing - just as few gamers have the skill necessary to have a 50% chance of hitting a man-sized target with an arrow using a longbow at 120' (or 35 meters), gamers will sometimes have characters with much higher social skills then their players. However, go too far down that route, and you end up arguing that the player shouldn't make any choices for the character because the character's intelligence and wisdom don't match the player's...

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:58 am UTC

Combat and skill checks are a test of the character. No matter who has the sheet in front of them, the character will succeed 70% of the time at Task A.

Puzzles and conversations are a test of the player. The sheet is entirely irrelevant, it's all about the person accomplishing the task.

Pat sucks at conversations. Pat is playing Androika, conversation wizard.

Wick would have Pat never play Androika, as Pat is incapable of doing what Androika does. That's kinda shitty. On the other hand, Pat simply saying "I convince the dragon to join us" rolling a die and waiting to see if it succeeds is also kinda shitty.

I myself usually just give bonuses to good arguments, points, opening lines, whatever... Negatives to "I do X", and neutral to everything in between.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Grop » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Pat sucks at conversations. Pat is playing Androika, conversation wizard.


I remember laughing a lot when a friend of mine played some bard with a spell for speaking foreign languages, but would ask such silly questions to NPCs, that they would get offended and refuse to tell him anything.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:38 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:"roll-playing" is already used .....
Umm... yes, I know what "RPG" actually stands for (hence I said "pretend") and what it actually means (in fact I've specifically mentioned playing several RPGs in this thread recently); if you were being meta or something: I don't get it.

My facetious redefinition of "RPG" was an attempt to formally separate the term "RPG" from the composition of "roll-playing" and "game". My actual proposal of terminology (stripped of fluff and made more explicit) is thus:
Use "roll playing game" (spelt out, not abbreviated) to describe the category of games Mr. Wick creates and defines in his article.
Use "RPG" (abbreviated only) to describe games with leveling, transparent statistics, small parties, and an emphasis on story.
Tyndmyr wrote:The Fae were wierd. Like, they screw with people just for the hell of it. Everything has a metaplot, but in the case of the Fae, it's that they really are the good guys. Yes, even when crazy psycho killers, they're the good guys. There's no attempt to make it make any more sense than that. They end up coming across as a reason for a DM to do literally anything, forever, with pet NPCs that you cannot do anything to. In fact, if memory serves, there is explicit advice to do exactly that with them.
That seems to be aiming for a low bar, which isn't always a bad thing. A mediocre DM can keep a plot together with deus/diablos ex machina, and at least keep it consistent with the setting.
Tyndmyr wrote:Game balance still matters.
Agreed. I can see what he's saying about spotlight mattering, but there's two roll playing problems with game imbalance:
1) Most people don't want to play a weak/powerless character. Weak characters can be fine from a literary perspective, but if done poorly they come across as superfluous in action heavy stories. And if you actually have to be the weak character?
2) It makes roll playing hurt your success if you're not choosing from approximately equal (but different) classes; Want to roll-play a fighter? well their lack of ability to shape reality with their mind will really hurt your party.
Grop wrote:I remember laughing a lot when a friend of mine played some bard with a spell for speaking foreign languages, but would ask such silly questions to NPCs, that they would get offended and refuse to tell him anything.
"Speak languages, badly" would be a great ability/spell. The DM could put the NPC's responses through google translate twice. Also have every idiom get garbled. And use idioms not in English:
PC: Why aren't you at work?
NPC: Is not wolf, not run to woods.
PC: ?????
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Oct 07, 2014 7:58 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Game balance still matters.
Agreed. I can what he's saying about spotlight mattering, but there's two roll playing problems with game imbalance:
1) Most people don't want to play a weak/powerless character. Weak characters can be fine from a literary perspective, but if done poorly the come across as superfluous in action heavy stories. And if you actually have to be the weak character?
2) It makes roll playing hurt your success if you're not choosing from approximately equal (but different) classes; Want to roll-play a fighter? well their lack of ability to shape reality with their mind will really hurt your party


Well.. assuming your weak-as-a-kitten can't-reshape-reality doesn't-talk-to-Gods can't-pick-locks-or-remove-traps character has a goddamn fantastic set of talking skills and an ability for analysis of data (and the ability to gather it) and a lot of the game relies not just on kicking in the door, killing what resists and taking the loot, but on actually talking to people but on using those talking and data gathering/analysis skills, it can work.

Part of the game involves Meatwall Ted and Jerry, Reality Fucker Extraordinaire using their respective skills of facepunching and turning you into nothing but a giant face so Ted can punch it better... then Carl waltzes in, looks around the room and finds the evidence pointing to Dr. Guy Acula as being the bloodthief and then talks a judge into giving them a warrant to search Guy Acula's (PhD in History, specializing in the 12th century Eastern Europe) apartment where the three of them go and search the place... that's one thing.

But Carl is still a powerful character in that setting. No, he can't punch through a concrete wall like Ted and no, he can't just turn the wall into oxygen gas and walk through like Jerry, but he has his own skills that put him above Ted and Jerry. Provided the setting uses them. That's balance.

It ceases to be balance when the game is nothing but a dungeon crawl. The various D&D versions I've spent time with (So..2nd, 3.X, and unofficially D&D Pathfinder) *can* allow for characters like Carl, but they require the DM to do a bunch of extra work and rarely allow for incredibly unexpected things to happen as the DM can't just crack a book open and grab some random stuff like they can for combat scenarios.

Being Carl in the standard D&D game sucks.

Being Patrick, someone who tried to be Meatwall Patrick and despite even being a higher level than Ted and having higher stats in what should matter (Facepunching score of 20 to Ted's 16) made apparently suboptimal choices or had bad die rolls and is inferior in every respect despite seeming numeric superiority? That sucks worse. And is incredibly common in roleplaying systems with too many rules and options. More options sometimes doesn't mean different characters, it means you have a 9/10 chance of fucking your character by picking the wrong thing. Good luck!
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Telchar » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:01 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:Telchar, I don't think you drew the right conclusion from that article. The point was that most RPGs, computer or tabletop, focus on mechanics other than role playing to their detriment. According to the author, D&D is not an RPG, while Skyrim is. At least that's my takeaway.


Why do is it prima facie that focusing on mechanics is a detriment? That's the first place where this argument breaks down, because you don't get to tell everyone what a detriment is to them, and so making this broad argument is impossible.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:11 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:
Adam H wrote:Telchar, I don't think you drew the right conclusion from that article. The point was that most RPGs, computer or tabletop, focus on mechanics other than role playing to their detriment. According to the author, D&D is not an RPG, while Skyrim is. At least that's my takeaway.


Why do is it prima facie that focusing on mechanics is a detriment? That's the first place where this argument breaks down, because you don't get to tell everyone what a detriment is to them, and so making this broad argument is impossible.


If players are generally focused on something other than role-playing then it's harder to call it a role-playing game - the mechanics of Ludo are a detriment to Ludo as a role-playing game, even though historical evidence suggests, quite emphatically, that they're an asset to Ludo as a game.

Of course, there's also conflict between "role-playing" and "game", so it's not as simple as "more role-playing means better role-playing game", but it is true that deterring role-playing generally means a worse role-playing game.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Euphonium » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:44 pm UTC

Rocket propulsion.

0/10 Not funny. Disapprove. -ST

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Telchar » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:34 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Telchar wrote:
Adam H wrote:Telchar, I don't think you drew the right conclusion from that article. The point was that most RPGs, computer or tabletop, focus on mechanics other than role playing to their detriment. According to the author, D&D is not an RPG, while Skyrim is. At least that's my takeaway.


Why do is it prima facie that focusing on mechanics is a detriment? That's the first place where this argument breaks down, because you don't get to tell everyone what a detriment is to them, and so making this broad argument is impossible.


If players are generally focused on something other than role-playing then it's harder to call it a role-playing game - the mechanics of Ludo are a detriment to Ludo as a role-playing game, even though historical evidence suggests, quite emphatically, that they're an asset to Ludo as a game.

Of course, there's also conflict between "role-playing" and "game", so it's not as simple as "more role-playing means better role-playing game", but it is true that deterring role-playing generally means a worse role-playing game.


But why does that matter? Why is putting people into boxes based on "actual roleplaying" and "not actual roleplaying" a goal I should have? Or, more to the point, is the conversation helpful to anyone? Are my games now more enjoyable because I'm "really roleplaying" ? And does that come at the expense of others who get to feel like they aren't actually roleplaying?

I think it's pretty clear what my point of view is on those questions.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:48 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:But why does that matter? Why is putting people into boxes based on "actual roleplaying" and "not actual roleplaying" a goal I should have? Or, more to the point, is the conversation helpful to anyone? Are my games now more enjoyable because I'm "really roleplaying" ? And does that come at the expense of others who get to feel like they aren't actually roleplaying?

I think it's pretty clear what my point of view is on those questions.


There are people who enjoy (or don't enjoy) playing a role in the context of a game, and for them, the distinction is important and useful information. There are also people who don't care either way. For the latter group, it doesn't matter in the same way, but it's courteous of them to use the term to suit those who do care.

There may be a parallel with the term "science fiction", which is used by scientifically illiterate people as a term for "something with ray guns and robots and spaceships" because they either can't tell, or don't care about, the difference between something scientifically plausible with a limited number of acceptable breaks from reality and something that's just making it up as it goes along with no attempt at reflecting a realistic scientific understanding of how things work. Though with SF, the "robots and spaceships" definition seems to have won, leaving people who are interested in "fiction that is about or explores interesting and/or speculative science and technology and its consequences" without a convenient label...

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Adam H » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:05 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:But why does that matter? Why is putting people into boxes based on "actual roleplaying" and "not actual roleplaying" a goal I should have? Or, more to the point, is the conversation helpful to anyone? Are my games now more enjoyable because I'm "really roleplaying" ? And does that come at the expense of others who get to feel like they aren't actually roleplaying?
The entire point of this thread is to put games into one of two boxes (RPG or not RPG), so it's kind of late in pointing out that we shouldn't bother with that type of question.

Some people like to play RPGs heavy on roleplaying. Some like to play RPGs heavy on game mechanics. There's really no reason for those types to significantly overlap. So of course there's value in labeling them appropriately so that players don't have to spend time playing the game to find out whether it's the sort of game they like.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quercus » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:26 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:There may be a parallel with the term "science fiction", which is used by scientifically illiterate people as a term for "something with ray guns and robots and spaceships" because they either can't tell, or don't care about, the difference between something scientifically plausible with a limited number of acceptable breaks from reality and something that's just making it up as it goes along with no attempt at reflecting a realistic scientific understanding of how things work. Though with SF, the "robots and spaceships" definition seems to have won, leaving people who are interested in "fiction that is about or explores interesting and/or speculative science and technology and its consequences" without a convenient label...


Going a bit off topic, but as for convenient labels there's "speculative fiction" (what Neal Stephenson calls most of his books), and "hard SF", if you're looking for total realism there's "ultra hard SF".

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:33 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:
Adam H wrote:Telchar, I don't think you drew the right conclusion from that article. The point was that most RPGs, computer or tabletop, focus on mechanics other than role playing to their detriment. According to the author, D&D is not an RPG, while Skyrim is. At least that's my takeaway.


Why do is it prima facie that focusing on mechanics is a detriment? That's the first place where this argument breaks down, because you don't get to tell everyone what a detriment is to them, and so making this broad argument is impossible.


Well, I suppose it's possible, but it'd be something you want to demonstrate with evidence like "these games were designed with a focus on mechanics, and universally sucked". Not, yknow, something you just assume.

But yes...so long as the gamers are having fun and enjoying the game, that's really the only ultimate proof. A game that nobody wants to play isn't particularly good by any reasonable metric. Of course, players want different things, some of which are contradictory. You need not make everyone happy with a single game, though.

In my opinion, mechanics ARE important, even for roleplaying aspects. The roles in a game are largely defined by the things written in the books, and rules for what players can do. Yes, yes, we all know that anyone CAN bend rules(at least for pen and paper), but people are buying the book/game for what is there, not what is not there. Thus, people who buy D&D probably expect to crawl through some dungeons and kill some dragons. They're relying on your mechanics to define the role they play. Ignoring mechanics to build the game is like ignoring engineering when designing a car.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:01 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:There may be a parallel with the term "science fiction", which is used by scientifically illiterate people as a term for "something with ray guns and robots and spaceships" because they either can't tell, or don't care about, the difference between something scientifically plausible with a limited number of acceptable breaks from reality and something that's just making it up as it goes along with no attempt at reflecting a realistic scientific understanding of how things work. Though with SF, the "robots and spaceships" definition seems to have won, leaving people who are interested in "fiction that is about or explores interesting and/or speculative science and technology and its consequences" without a convenient label...


Going a bit off topic, but as for convenient labels there's "speculative fiction" (what Neal Stephenson calls most of his books), and "hard SF", if you're looking for total realism there's "ultra hard SF".


The Star Wars thread in Movies has a lovely discussion about this, if you want to blather about it further.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:01 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
Telchar wrote:But why does that matter? Why is putting people into boxes based on "actual roleplaying" and "not actual roleplaying" a goal I should have? Or, more to the point, is the conversation helpful to anyone? Are my games now more enjoyable because I'm "really roleplaying" ? And does that come at the expense of others who get to feel like they aren't actually roleplaying?
The entire point of this thread is to put games into one of two boxes (RPG or not RPG), so it's kind of late in pointing out that we shouldn't bother with that type of question.

Some people like to play RPGs heavy on roleplaying. Some like to play RPGs heavy on game mechanics. There's really no reason for those types to significantly overlap. So of course there's value in labeling them appropriately so that players don't have to spend time playing the game to find out whether it's the sort of game they like.
It seems Telchar is really arguing that we don't need three buckets; "roll playing game", "rapid procedure game" and "neither"; which (I think) is a perfectly legitimate question to ask in this context.

For a non-critical player, distinction between role-playing and rapid-procedure may not be needed, their mechanisms very often come paired together and are enjoyed together. The sophisticated critic (which I pretend to be) and the developer will need to discriminate between the two.
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby mathmannix » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:28 pm UTC

Euphonium wrote:Rocket propulsion.

0/10 Not funny. Disapprove. -ST


I think it's funny, 0/10 seems too low. And it's not like the weapon RPG is irrelevant to gaming.
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:26 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
Euphonium wrote:Rocket propulsion.

0/10 Not funny. Disapprove. -ST


I think it's funny, 0/10 seems too low. And it's not like the weapon RPG is irrelevant to gaming.
I actually entirely failed to get the joke because of ST's edit. I just assumed there was something truly objectionable like "rape prediction" removed (as befitting an admin editing other people's posts); I was so focused on that I didn't see the obvious joke.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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SecondTalon
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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:40 pm UTC

If you post a joke answer like that in, say, the first page, preferably the first two or three posts? Hilarious. But then let's move on.

You post that on page 5 in the middle of a fairly involved conversation? You're breaking Rule #5 of the General Forum Rules and Rule #8 of Gaming.

Now let's stop talking about it and get back to the actual thread where people are posting long, thoughtful, interesting replies.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Biliboy » Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:30 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Telchar wrote:But why does that matter? Why is putting people into boxes based on "actual roleplaying" and "not actual roleplaying" a goal I should have? Or, more to the point, is the conversation helpful to anyone? Are my games now more enjoyable because I'm "really roleplaying" ? And does that come at the expense of others who get to feel like they aren't actually roleplaying?

I think it's pretty clear what my point of view is on those questions.


There are people who enjoy (or don't enjoy) playing a role in the context of a game, and for them, the distinction is important and useful information. There are also people who don't care either way. For the latter group, it doesn't matter in the same way, but it's courteous of them to use the term to suit those who do care.

There may be a parallel with the term "science fiction", which is used by scientifically illiterate people as a term for "something with ray guns and robots and spaceships" because they either can't tell, or don't care about, the difference between something scientifically plausible with a limited number of acceptable breaks from reality and something that's just making it up as it goes along with no attempt at reflecting a realistic scientific understanding of how things work. Though with SF, the "robots and spaceships" definition seems to have won, leaving people who are interested in "fiction that is about or explores interesting and/or speculative science and technology and its consequences" without a convenient label...


I wonder if the definition doesn't just come down to "The thing that makes a rpg a rpg is the player playing it"

I personally don't do well when given a 'role' to play in a video game, I tend to revert to my normal morals and personality at some point, no matter the situation, and also tend to focus on mechanics. That makes me a min/max munchkin-y person, which while not necessarily a bad thing, doesn't bring out the rp in a particular rpg.

I have a friend who does extremely well at the rp part, while mechanics equal/secondary. We could both play the same game and for me, it's a roll playing game, and to her, a role playing game.

For the science fiction comment, for me it's always been: sf- hard science fiction, sci-fi for the mushier sort, and syfy (pronounced siffy just cuz) is for the really really squishy tv sort of ray guns and ghostbusters 'science' fiction.

None of those are worse than the other, as long as it's clearly labeled and well written.

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Re: What makes a RPG a RPG?

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:48 pm UTC

Biliboy wrote:I wonder if the definition doesn't just come down to "The thing that makes a rpg a rpg is the player playing it"
While it's obviously true the experience depends on the player; that's not a useful definition. We want to be able to classify the game in terms of properties of the game itself, or at the very least how it's typically played.

The questions (to me) become: what mechanics are present to support what interactions? How much emphasis on those mechanics? And subjectively, how strongly and widely are people cultured to respond to these mechanics?
Biliboy wrote:I personally don't do well when given a 'role' to play in a video game, I tend to revert to my normal morals and personality at some point, no matter the situation
I'd consider playing yourself, as if you were a grey warden in Fareldin, to be legitimate (if limited) role playing. The important thing (when analyzing the game itself) is that you are able to insert your (or whomever's) morals and personality into the narrative.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.


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