Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

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Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

Post by FaerieGodfather » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:04 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:31 pm
The shoehorning of other settings to make it more appealing to modern gamers who like the new races & classes, it is no longer the Forgotten Realms or Mystara.
Plenty of older gamers love the "new" races & classes, too, as evinced by the enormous popularity of Planescape and Dark Sun.

The problem is the modern designers' sentiment that everything should be playable in every setting, and that every setting needs to be intercompatible and connected-- something that started as early as 1991, and has been growing increasingly prevalent. I believe this is very much a reaction to TSR's attempted suicide by market fragmentation, rather than any attempt to appeal to the modern fanbase. They just want to make sure every book they publish is going to be relevant to every customer they have.

I don't like it, either, but let's not shake our canes at those damned d20 kids over a trend TSR started in AD&D.
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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by RobJN » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:59 pm

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:04 pm
I don't like it, either, but let's not shake our canes at those damned d20 kids over a trend TSR started in AD&D.
You kids with your ascending Armor Class and your 'let's make the monsters we're supposed to be killing playable as characters.'

Get off my lawn!

Basic D&D came in a box, not three books. And it didn't always even have dice. Why, sometimes, we had to use chits. Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling didn't have another class. It was its own class.

AND WE LIKED IT!
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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by Khedrac » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:40 pm

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:04 pm
The problem is the modern designers' sentiment that everything should be playable in every setting
It's not just the designers - over on the GiantInThePlayground forums there seem to be plenty of players who believe that they should be able to play whatever combination of races and classes they want regardless of the DM's description of the campaign world. Example exagurated for effect: DM: "This is a new world, elves and humans are the only races that have developed civilizations so you need to play one of them (dwarves exist but are not yet in contact)"; player "my character is a warforged dwarf/orc crossbreed aiming for an alignment-limited prestige class with the alignment restriction removed, they ride a halfling-only optional mount."
There have actully been long discussion threads with people arguing this position (that they should be able to play whatever they want); thankfully the majority seem rather more sensible but far too many of them believe it.

I do have a fair bit of sympathy with the designers here though; I don't necessarily think it is their idea - I think they may be instructed to do this. For one thing, it is a major step towards solving the old problem that books for DMs only don't sell to people who don't DM, and if a section is for DMs only then non-DMs may stop buying because of those sections 'wasting' their money.
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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by FaerieGodfather » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:55 pm

RobJN wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:59 pm
You kids with your ascending Armor Class and your 'let's make the monsters we're supposed to be killing playable as characters.'
DIdn't Gygax let one of this players run a Balrog before he was forced to rename them Balors?
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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by shesheyan » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:12 pm

RobJN wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:59 pm
Basic D&D came in a box, not three books. And it didn't always even have dice. Why, sometimes, we had to use chits. Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling didn't have another class. It was its own class.

AND WE LIKED IT!
D&D came in 5 boxes (BECMI) if you wanted to get past 3rd level... also probably more expensive then 3 AD&D core books. :P :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by NPCDave » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:03 am

Khedrac wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:40 pm
FaerieGodfather wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:04 pm
The problem is the modern designers' sentiment that everything should be playable in every setting
It's not just the designers - over on the GiantInThePlayground forums there seem to be plenty of players who believe that they should be able to play whatever combination of races and classes they want regardless of the DM's description of the campaign world. Example exagurated for effect: DM: "This is a new world, elves and humans are the only races that have developed civilizations so you need to play one of them (dwarves exist but are not yet in contact)"; player "my character is a warforged dwarf/orc crossbreed aiming for an alignment-limited prestige class with the alignment restriction removed, they ride a halfling-only optional mount."
There have actully been long discussion threads with people arguing this position (that they should be able to play whatever they want); thankfully the majority seem rather more sensible but far too many of them believe it.

I do have a fair bit of sympathy with the designers here though; I don't necessarily think it is their idea - I think they may be instructed to do this. For one thing, it is a major step towards solving the old problem that books for DMs only don't sell to people who don't DM, and if a section is for DMs only then non-DMs may stop buying because of those sections 'wasting' their money.
You guys are hitting on an fascinating aspect of tabletop RPG gaming that bleeds over into other areas, such as MMOs. What do people most enjoy and get out of playing RPGs other than spending time with friends? It comes down to one of two possible reasons, or a mix of those two reasons.

1) Some people like adventuring into the unknown and overcoming challenges. This is the original style of play developed by Gygax adapting wargame rules to heroes and their small band of henchmen.
2) Some people like playing a hero vicariously in a story, this is a latter style that probably includes the majority of players now.

I want to emphasize neither of these is "wrong". Later editions of D&D rules cater more to the second type of player, as many people want to play a hero who receives regular power upgrades(aka wish fulfillment). OSR gaming tends to meet the needs of the first type of player. Type 2) players tend to play in games where the characters overcome challenges using their powers, type 1) players tend to play in games where the players overcome challenges with a mix of their own wit along with their characters.

The people who insist on being able to play any type of character are type 2) players, the DM applying constraints on what their hero can be interferes with their enjoyment. Type 2) players are also more likely to object to a version of a setting not being up to date because their concept of the story their hero is in might be impacted, but a type 1) player who has fond memories of Greyhawk pre-Ashes isn't going to like an updated Greyhawk either.

My own group tends to be a mix of the two, or at least I try and mix in as much of 1) as I can with 2) being the default.

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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by shesheyan » Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:47 am

NPCDave wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:03 am
1) Some people like adventuring into the unknown and overcoming challenges. This is the original style of play developed by Gygax adapting wargame rules to heroes and their small band of henchmen.
My Type-1 players of the 80s were very keen to receive more powerful magic items as they gain levels to be able to take down stronger foes. During the pre-D20 era it was all about «what your character possessed» to perform in game. In the D20 era it became «what your character can do» to perform in game. Magical items in the older editions served the same purpose then that the feats and skills nowadays.

What has changed with advent of D20 is the balance of power at the table. In older editions the DM would hand out magical items at the rate he judge appropriate. Some were too generous while others were too stingy, it created severe balance problems and complaints by the players. With the D20 era, the designers added feats and skills to address that. Thus the DM lost control over how fast characters became more powerful. Items are still important in D20 editions but not as much as in older editions. The game became more streamlined. Min/Maxing became a thing. Players became empowered to dream about combos of skills and feats by themselves without DM input. Its very hard now to tell a player he can't play a class or a race because it doesn't fit the campaign concept. The only way I have found around this problem is to give out incentives to play campaign friendly concepts. Cool unique mechanical stuff that a non-campaign centric class doesn't get.

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Re: Open Letter to Mike Mearls and the Wizards Team about Mystara

Post by Havard » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:27 am

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:55 pm
RobJN wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:59 pm
You kids with your ascending Armor Class and your 'let's make the monsters we're supposed to be killing playable as characters.'
DIdn't Gygax let one of this players run a Balrog before he was forced to rename them Balors?
Balrogs were monsters in the early campaigns and in the first version of OD&D untill Tolkien Enterprises decided to sue TSR for using that term, along with Ents, Hobbits and others. They then changed the name to Demon Type IV. The name Balor is more recent IIRC.

I don't know about Gary's campaign, but Dave Arneson had several players play Balrogs. Of course Dave would let players play anything.

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Re: Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

Post by Havard » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:36 am

Split from Open Letter to Mike Mearls thread

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Re: Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:58 am

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:04 pm
Dread Delgath wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:31 pm
The shoehorning of other settings to make it more appealing to modern gamers who like the new races & classes, it is no longer the Forgotten Realms or Mystara.
Plenty of older gamers love the "new" races & classes, too, as evinced by the enormous popularity of Planescape and Dark Sun.

The problem is the modern designers' sentiment that everything should be playable in every setting, and that every setting needs to be intercompatible and connected-- something that started as early as 1991, and has been growing increasingly prevalent. I believe this is very much a reaction to TSR's attempted suicide by market fragmentation, rather than any attempt to appeal to the modern fanbase. They just want to make sure every book they publish is going to be relevant to every customer they have.

I don't like it, either, but let's not shake our canes at those damned d20 kids over a trend TSR started in AD&D.
Yes, this makes sense from a designer pov, and, I agree they are forced to add everything to each campaign setting to appeal to as many customers as possible. Ultimately, it is up to each group's DM (and players) to decide what is best for their campaigns.

That said, I wish they'd design spankin' brand new settings that could cater to players who want the all-new character options, rather than augment existing ones.
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Re: Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

Post by Havard » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:07 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:58 am
Yes, this makes sense from a designer pov, and, I agree they are forced to add everything to each campaign setting to appeal to as many customers as possible. Ultimately, it is up to each group's DM (and players) to decide what is best for their campaigns.

That said, I wish they'd design spankin' brand new settings that could cater to players who want the all-new character options, rather than augment existing ones.
Honestly, I think we have seen much less of this in more recent years than we did maybe 5-10 years ago. Sure, we see Dragonborn, Tieflings, Warlocks etc in the Forgotten Realms, but Tieflings have been around since 2nd edition and Dragonborn and Warlocks have had a presence there over multiple editions now.

Mordenkeinen lives in the Forgotten Realms now, but at least it is made clear that he comes from Greyhawk.

I think that whether they would do a good job presenting other settings for 5E is something we will have to reserve judgement on to when they actually go ahead and publish those settings.

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Re: Game Design Then and Now (Was Open Letter to Mike Mearls)

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:09 am

Savage Species for D&D 3E allowed for monstrous PCs if the DM approved it. Even the Races Of books for 3E allowed for statistics of monsters to be played as characters. Rite Publishing does a product line "in the Company of [name]" for Pathfinder that carries on the concept...if you ever wanted to do Council of Wyrms with the Pathfinder or 5E, Rite Publishing has you covered!

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