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Author Topic: Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics  (Read 724 times)

beejazz

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« on: September 13, 2006, 03:58:10 pm »
Okay, the title is long and probably sounds pretensious (sp?) but the question is simple:

When designing a game, is one mechanic a natural result of another? Are certain methods of dice rolling, for example, more or less condusive to point-buy classless/levelless character creation as opposed to classed, levelled character creation... Or are dicepools more likely to have such-and such in the gradation of difficulties (I know, "such-and-such," my scientific terminology is overwhelming)... or what have you?

Discuss.

Mcrow

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2006, 04:06:18 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Okay, the title is long and probably sounds pretensious (sp?) but the question is simple:

When designing a game, is one mechanic a natural result of another? Are certain methods of dice rolling, for example, more or less condusive to point-buy classless/levelless character creation as opposed to classed, levelled character creation... Or are dicepools more likely to have such-and such in the gradation of difficulties (I know, "such-and-such," my scientific terminology is overwhelming)... or what have you?

Discuss.


I would say, no, dicing methods do not work better or worse either way. It just depends on if you like classes and levels or not.

gleichman

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2006, 04:07:36 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Discuss.


A think a narrower subject selection would have been better. That set caused my eyes to glaze over. I want a nap now.
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Mcrow

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2006, 04:08:23 pm »
Quote from: gleichman
A think a narrower subject selection would have been better. That set caused my eyes to glaze over. I want a nap now.
yeah it mught be better to get it down to one specific thing.

beejazz

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2006, 04:21:11 pm »
Okay, I've been designing a game recently and early on it was decided that it should be classless and levelless.

Someone brought up the concern of some characters being *overwhelmingly* incompetent in fields they didn't deem important at character creation.

There were pretty much a couple of solutions to this.
1) The cost of an advantage could progress exponentially (distributing smaller bonuses in lots of things is encouraged, as opposed to dumping everything in one place).

2) A percent limit on how many of your total character points could be spent on one thing (again, there's a limit on *how* far competency can vary)

3) Dice pools (a pretty easy way of making it so there's a "maximum" of difficulty in any task... progressing dice means you can increase your likelihood of hitting the max, without actually increasing your max).

Likewise, we have an "Adventure Points" resource, wherein a critical success (a success on x-number of dice, where x is one more than normally even rolled, so "you do what you're best at"... long story) gives you adventure points. This means that any character with a high enough ability score to automatically succeed at something would be broken. Hence, we knew our minimum and maximum in terms of abilities.

Likewise, on analysis of the affects of adding one more die... it generally doubled the likelihood of success. So we pretty much had to use the exponential dice-price and the percent limit (one fifth of your total on any one ability) anyway.

And so on and so forth...

Mcrow

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2006, 04:26:04 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Okay, I've been designing a game recently and early on it was decided that it should be classless and levelless.

Someone brought up the concern of some characters being *overwhelmingly* incompetent in fields they didn't deem important at character creation.

...


You lost me already.

IMO characters should be overwhelminly incompetent in areas they wouldn't think are important. That seem fine to me, a beging character shouldn't be good at everything.

So I don't see the need to fix it or how being classless or levelless has anything to do with it. :shrug:

beejazz

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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2006, 04:34:11 pm »
Quote from: Mcrow
You lost me already.

IMO characters should be overwhelminly incompetent in areas they wouldn't think are important. That seem fine to me, a beging character shouldn't be good at everything.

So I don't see the need to fix it or how being classless or levelless has anything to do with it. :shrug:

Yeah, but when that incompetency falls in some really crucial aspect of the game?
Like hit points?
The idea isn't that "no one is incompetent"
Incompetent people usually succeed 70% of the time where ordinary people succeed 50% of the time... In *this* system.
The idea isn't that it's bad for people to be behind in a couple of areas. The idea is that it's bad for falling behind in one area to mean just sucking at life.

Mcrow

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2006, 04:59:31 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Yeah, but when that incompetency falls in some really crucial aspect of the game?
Like hit points?
The idea isn't that "no one is incompetent"
Incompetent people usually succeed 70% of the time where ordinary people succeed 50% of the time... In *this* system.
The idea isn't that it's bad for people to be behind in a couple of areas. The idea is that it's bad for falling behind in one area to mean just sucking at life.


Well HP are totally independant of whether it is classes or levelless. There are systems of all kinds that use HP and don't have any problems. If you are having an issue with two few HPs that is local to your design.

Caesar Slaad

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2006, 05:05:41 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
When designing a game, is one mechanic a natural result of another? Are certain methods of dice rolling, for example, more or less condusive to point-buy classless/levelless character creation as opposed to classed, levelled character creation... Or are dicepools more likely to have such-and such in the gradation of difficulties (I know, "such-and-such," my scientific terminology is overwhelming)... or what have you?


Brian's Elements of Gaming discussion mentions one such relationship. Games without carefully balanced options using dice pools because the odds are less obvious, so it helps prevent "gaming" the options.

I think it's a sleazy shortcut, but I've seen in happen. Mostly in the 90s... and from game designers that never left the 90s.
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beejazz

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2006, 05:18:08 pm »
Quote from: Caesar Slaad
Brian's Elements of Gaming discussion mentions one such relationship. Games without carefully balanced options using dice pools because the odds are less obvious, so it helps prevent "gaming" the options.

I think it's a sleazy shortcut, but I've seen in happen. Mostly in the 90s... and from game designers that never left the 90s.

Well, aside from barely being able to remember the 90s,
I'm having a hard time understandign what you're saying...
Dicepools are harder to calculate, hence harder to powergame???
What?

John Morrow

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2006, 05:25:30 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Okay, I've been designing a game recently and early on it was decided that it should be classless and levelless.

Someone brought up the concern of some characters being *overwhelmingly* incompetent in fields they didn't deem important at character creation.

There were pretty much a couple of solutions to this.
1) The cost of an advantage could progress exponentially (distributing smaller bonuses in lots of things is encouraged, as opposed to dumping everything in one place).

2) A percent limit on how many of your total character points could be spent on one thing (again, there's a limit on *how* far competency can vary)

3) Dice pools (a pretty easy way of making it so there's a "maximum" of difficulty in any task... progressing dice means you can increase your likelihood of hitting the max, without actually increasing your max).


There are others.

4) Allow or even require players to hold unassigned skill points aside during character creation to be assigned during play.

5) Use broad skills with specializations so that, for example, a player picks a "Doctor" skill instead of "Medicine", "Surgery", "First Aid", "Diagnosis", etc.  A player can't miss something that isn't broken out.

6) Link skills into packages or some other way to remind a player what to pick.

I highly recommend this article (it's about board game design but it makes a point applicable to RPG rule design).
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Caesar Slaad

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Cause and Effect in Game Mechanics
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2006, 05:31:26 pm »
Quote from: beejazz
Well, aside from barely being able to remember the 90s,
I'm having a hard time understandign what you're saying...
Dicepools are harder to calculate, hence harder to powergame???
What?


Yup.

Lets say in combat that if you calculate the odds, there is one "best move" for your character. The player figures that out by figuring the odds, average damage, etc., and always uses that one move. A bit boring.

But if you obscure the odds, you make it so you can't immediately identify the "best move".

Here's the article in question:
http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/elements14jan03.html
(Scroll down to numeral V.)
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