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Theory Nostalgia: Role Playing Mastery

Started by joe_llama, May 02, 2002, 12:27:30 PM

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Hi everyone,

I have recently received from a friend a copy of Gary Gygax's 1987 "masterpiece" - Role Playing Mastery. While it would be very easy to laugh at all the silly tips and strategies of that gaming period, let's all remember we were all like that once (at least those of us who played back then). In fact, this book might stll be useful to some gamers who might be interested in the original Gaming perspective that started it all.

This book gave me an interesting "window to the past" of the gaming world in a very concentrated manner. While it came from the D&D community, it quite accurately represents most of the gaming community of that period since most games back then were no more than D&D clones (not surprisingly, this is also true today with the rise of the d20 empire).

I thought it would be nice to share with you some 15 year old game design anecdotes - compare them with the GNS model and the iSystem Manifesto :)

There is a chapter in the book called "Designing Your Own Game" (guess what's it about) and it more or less starts with this paragraph:
Quote"Before a single rule is written or even thought about, the designer must make three important decisions concerning his game to-be - its genre, its period, and its scope".

After a detailed explanation of these terms (you know what they mean), we come to a section called "Writing the rules" which starts with:

Quote"The major considerations for rules themselves are these: technological base; game area; time scale(s); distance scale(s); movement; combat at a distance; hand-to-hand combat; morale; player character generation; non-player character generation; opponents; reward system for progression; and specifics of unknown or unreal weapons and powers".

Well, what do you think? Have we advanced much since those days? Are we still stuck?

With respect,

Joe Llama


You might wanna look at this thread in relation to this. Gygax's assumptions (like the assumption there should be a combat system, or there needs to be reward system) are just the sorts of things being railed against in that thread.
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Quote from: joe_llama
Well, what do you think? Have we advanced much since those days? Are we still stuck?

We're still fundamentally in the same place, because the animal playing the games is still fundamentally the same.  Our big advances have been in finding new ways to deal with these issues.  We've figurd out new ways to generate weighted random signals and compare them.

This is not insignificant.  All of the principles of modern computer software have been around for a very long time.  The real developments have been in how we've implemented those ideas. Binary trees are a very old idea, as is the Btree (a related concept).  Those are still the underlying principles in even the most modern, slick, expensive database engines.  We've taken this old idea and figured out to use it in cool new ways.

So no, there wasn't anything in the passages you quoted to me that seemed terribly outdated.  It's true that some games now seem to be tending towards not having a separate combat system, I don't see anyone designing a game where a good fight isn't possible, and would never have a chance to come up.  Again, it's because the animal playing the game is pretty much the same animal that was playing the game in 1970, or for that matter in 1870.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management



Interesting thoughts. If I read you right, what you're saying is that in actuality there is very little difference between RPG's designed 20 years ago and those designed 20 days ago. So what is achieved by learning the GNS model or reading other game design articles? Are they useless?

I think the answer to my question probably lies in your words: "We've figurd out new ways to generate weighted random signals and compare them". The problem is that I don't understand this sentence. Could you please elaborate?

With respect,

Joe Llama