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Friday, July 31, 2015

WHAT? It really only works at the table?

I have a conundrum.
Or at least a minor problem.

I have been kicking around an idea for an RPG, in the  vein of the Borderlands Video games, but  more decidedly RPG-ish. I don't want to create a board game emulating the video game. I want to create an RPG that captures the tone of the games.

My conundrum happens as I start to work out system. I want to use visual  tactile items, such as drop charts and a box to roll the dice in. All of that would be fine except...
...Drum roll...
I do 90% of my RPG gaming via PC on Roll 20 these days and I don't see clear ways to implement my ideas on Roll20. I have to assume others wanting to play the game would have the same issues.

My first inclination is to scale back, and go a cleaner route, eliminate the  extra widgets and write a game similar to other paper and pencil games. There is something to admire in games like RISUS that you can just print out on a few sheets of paper and  start playing.
Even wihtt D&D  (any edition.) A group needs to invest in the  Players hand book if nothing else. Once that initial purchase is made and you have read that 200 some odd pages the only things anyone needs are a character and some dice.

Two things that roll 20 emulates well are random numbers and character sheets.

I have gone as far as posting a question on the roll 20 forums about using the virtual dice for drop charts. (Virtual dice are these 3D renditions of dice that clatter along your computer screen annoyingly before settling on a number I never use them. I may try them in an effort to simulate drop charts.)
I will update here when I get some responses.

This is the juicy part. As I have said on this blog and to to others who have asked, I pretty much only  write games that I think the group I game with will enjoy, play and  get a kick out of. Sure I have had greater aspirations at various times, but in the end I have to stick what I can accomplish and what is important to me. I just want to have a good time gaming with the folks I game with. I share ideas and  thoughts and blobs of game design here sure, but that's because you folks are part of what's important to me. I hope you get some use out of it.

With that in mind, (much like the "block game*" before it) I start to think that this latest bit of work I'm doing is destined to fall into the, "this only works at the table" category.
Which was fine when we could all get together on some kind of schedule. Life as all of you know tends to take wide shits on all such planned activities.
I hardly ever get to sit with everyone at the table. When we do there is a smorgasbord of games we can play.

So here are my immediate design choices:

  1. Create the game in my head with all of it's accouterments. I will have to do this knowing full well it may never see the run at a table that I would like it to. We just might never get to it. The  game being hard or impossible to implement on the computer will limit its exposure, my play-testing opportunities, and in turn the games overall development. 
  2. Or compromise some of the bits and parts that I have in my minds eye to create a game optimized to run in the medium of an online game. knowing that at the very least every one will get the chance to try the game a few times. Also knowing that some of my Ideas have to be  cut or dramatically altered.
My gut says, "Just make the game you want to make and to hell with it." Which is sound thinking. I agree with that thinking. That thinking appeals to me.
My Pragmatic side knows that I want to write games for my friends and I to PLAY, not a cute intellectual  construct, but a game we play and enjoy. I also want to play it more than once a year.

I imagine these are the balancing acts every designer tackles, solves, and lives with.

Here is the  feed back I have received from the  Roll 20 Team, posted here with out any kind of consent, which I understand is shitty, so I blanked out the  names of the  folks who replied. On the other hand though I am really grateful for the replies which I received very quickly, and which I feel were quite helpful. (I had never considered the scaling issues on the drop charts! That threw me.)

So thank you Roll 20  Mod Team you guys / girls are good eggs. Just keeping things on the up and up by taking your names out.

* In fairness our Friend Neal created a version off the Block Game Second Life which is awesome. He also alphabetized something like 120 skills, and turned his avatar into a dragon, and created a die roller named Spock. All of which is crazy and awesome. I know NOTHING about second life accept that we can get a game of blocks there.

Well that's that ,
enjoy your day leave comments and all that good stuff under the flaperon Below.