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Author Topic: Can having 2 mechanics for the same game hurt?  (Read 3520 times)
Sylus Thane
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« on: September 07, 2003, 09:31:56 PM »

I was wondering, all other things aside, can it hurt to have more than one option of game mechainc for your game?

I've been pondering for awhile now, and it seems out of all the varying styles there are solid types of mechanic.

The single die and the dice pool.

And then I thought, can it really hurt to have both?

If everything still works the same for the most part, character creation and all that, would you consider having more than mechanic option a benefit, or a hindrance?

I'm putting this up two the masses as it really intrigues me.

I'm of the opinion that more is better as long as it doesn't become crowded.

What do you guys think?

Sylus
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Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2003, 10:02:26 PM »

No, but it's generally a good idea to clearly define it or you run the risk of not having a game just a collection of ideas.

Have dice pool and fixed dice rolling worked for Tunnels & Trolls. See Ron's threads in actual play.
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Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2003, 12:27:01 AM »

Quote from: Sylus Thane
I was wondering, all other things aside, can it hurt to have more than one option of game mechainc for your game?

I've been pondering for awhile now, and it seems out of all the varying styles there are solid types of mechanic.

The single die and the dice pool.

And then I thought, can it really hurt to have both?

If everything still works the same for the most part, character creation and all that, would you consider having more than mechanic option a benefit, or a hindrance?

I'm putting this up two the masses as it really intrigues me.

I'm of the opinion that more is better as long as it doesn't become crowded.

What do you guys think?

Sylus


I think that different mechanics can be advantageous, provided it's designed well and fits the game.

For example in my new game "The Deck" (I'm still writing it up), where players use a deck of cards to describe their characters, I allow players to shuffle their draw deck or not, and they can literally stack their draw deck if it's appropriate for their character. That's as well as allowing character generation, character advancement and even character modification during normal play.

In single die systems, like my S combat system for Fudge, I use the single dice system for combat, and 4DFudge for general or situational rolls.
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Andrew Martin
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2003, 05:55:19 AM »

Just for clarification, do you mean two ways of doing the exact same rolls? That is, the player can choose to do a die pool, or a single die resolution system for a particular roll? Because if that's what you're talking about, then a coulle of things are very likely true. First, making the odds actually the same, while not impossible, is likely very difficult. And if you did make them the same, then why not use the single die method? I mean there might be some players who like rolling a lot of dice, but the likely added amount of handling time would probably not seem justified.

Typically the reason that people use die pools is that they add all sorts of nuances to the system's effect on play that a single die cannot provide.

Or have I misread you, and you're just talking about including multiple die rolling methods in the same game. If that's the case, then I'd say that it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish with the multiple systems are whether they can all be accomplished as well with a single system.

Mike
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2003, 06:27:45 AM »

Quote from: Sylus Thane
I've been pondering for awhile now, and it seems out of all the varying styles there are solid types of mechanic.

The single die and the dice pool.

And then I thought, can it really hurt to have both?


I don't think it can hurt to present an optional alternative rules set.

I'd definitely opt for one or the other as the default though, otherwise it will just look confusing. Most people will just go with what you offer them. A few will also check out the alternative, especialy if it is similar to something they've already played. But presenting two options as equaly valid will just put most people off. It means they have to do twice as much reading before they can make a choice, increasing the barrier to entry into the game.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2003, 06:52:44 AM »

Hi there,

Sylus, please clarify. Are you talking about:

a) two distinct rules-sets for performing the same stuff? As in, here's one way to play this game, and over here, here's another?

b) distinct rules-sets for different stuff going on in the game? As in, here's how you do magic, and here's how you do fighting?

Mike and I want to know.

Oh yeah, and please clarify, what exactly do you mean by "hurt"? Hurt who? How?

Best,
Ron
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Sylus Thane
Guest
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2003, 09:08:09 AM »

Hey Ron,
To clarify what I'm asking.

Can it hurt to have two different dice mechanics.

A single die and a dice pool mechanic.

Not variable stuff with the rules itself. But more if you prefer using single die mechanics here you go, or if you prefer to use dice pool mechanics we can accomodate that to. I'm meaning put a ton of different rules sets, just two, each that give you the same results but accomodate the two major preferences I see in gaming.

As far as who can it hurt, can it hurt the game itself? Would it be seen as to complicated or taking up too much book space.

Like I said this has had me wondering and curious as to what others think.

Sylus
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John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2003, 09:43:07 AM »

Quote from: Sylus Thane
Not variable stuff with the rules itself. But more if you prefer using single die mechanics here you go, or if you prefer to use dice pool mechanics we can accomodate that to. I'm meaning put a ton of different rules sets, just two, each that give you the same results but accomodate the two major preferences I see in gaming.

As far as who can it hurt, can it hurt the game itself? Would it be seen as to complicated or taking up too much book space.

Well, I can say that I really didn't like Fuzion's approach.  Fuzion tried to keep up two versions of the central die roll mechanic: the Hero System's single 3d6 vs Interlock's opposed 1d10 rolls.  It felt very klunky, and it seemed that the result was that neither one worked particularly well.
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- John
Jasper
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2003, 02:15:21 PM »

I think there are more disadvantages than advantages, in general.   You would of course have to write more rules, with extra examples for everything, etc etc.  The benefit also seems fairly marginal.  As regards games in the past choosing one system or the other...I think there are oftne very good reasons to make such a choice that depend on more than the personal preference of the designer.  Certainly, some people do like "big handfuls of dice," but is such a preference enough to make them buy or nto buy a game?  Seems kind of silly to me.

So, in other words, I'm having a hard time imagining anyone picking up a game like the one you propose, playing it in a group and having people say "Oh sweet, finally a game where Bob gets to roll lots of dice like he wants, but I can stick to one cool d20!"

On the other hand, if you had a real reason to offer both rule systems, in the game, it could certainly work.  For instance, demons use one system while angels use the other.
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Jasper McChesney
Primeval Games Press
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2003, 07:26:15 PM »

It should become apparent fairly quickly that because of the way dice probabilities work, you can't have two systems which will work so similarly that they could be used simultaneously without complication. If we assume we've got a pool of d10s or a percentile roll, figuring out what number of successes at what level is equivalent to what target number is so complex that no one would know. People would eventually fall to whichever the game seemed to favor (that is, will you win more with one method or the other) unless they really had a die-hard preference the other way.

I don't think that's what you meant.

Multiverser does offer multiple approaches to specific resolution problems; that is, for certain situations the referee is given options on how to handle it. This is not an option given to the player, but to the referee. For example, if the resolution roll indicates a botch, there are at least three ways a referee can determine what happens:[list=1][*]If the probability of success is very low, then the chance to botch will be higher, and there will be a range of rolls that would be botches. This can be interpreted as less serious versus more serious botches, as an extension of relative failure in the game, using the original skill roll as the guide.[*]Failing that, the referee can use a general effects roll to determine how bad a botch it is, rolling a curved roll with a weight against it and comparing it to a descriptive chart of how bad it is.[*]My own preference, and the one I recommend when people ask (although I have used both of the others) is to make a short list of things that might have gone wrong and dice between them, and then compare that against any precautions the character took to determine how bad it is.[/list:o]In that sense, you can have different mechanics that achieve the same end, leaving it up to the referee to decide which is the smoothest to use in play at this moment. You can't really do that with core mechanics, though (in most games), because the more central a mechanic is to play, the more consistent the players expect it to be. Skill checks in Multiverser are always the same. We toyed with the idea of allowing the referee to invert the range (to decide from one roll to the next whether high or low was good) so as to prevent the players from being able to so easily guess the odds, but there were a lot of problems with this--not the least of which being that on the rolls the players think important they expect to be able to identify their chance of success at least by watching the rolls, if nothing else.

But I don't think this is what you mean, either.

It sounds like you mean designing a game with two disparate game engines, and letting each play group decide which they would prefer to use. Can you do that? Will it hurt the game?

My answer is that you need a good reason to do it, and "player preferences for a particular approach to dice" is not a good enough reason.

Legends of Alyria (rumored approaching publication) has a wonderful resolution system built into the game that is perfect for what it does (an application of Scarlet Jester's Diverse Lunacy system). The entire game is explained using that system. It then has two appendices related to other game systems.

The first is how to play the game using Fudge mechanics. This is there so that people who want to play in the Alyria world and get some of the flavor of it, but don't want to learn the Alyria system or use the moon dice, can play Fudge with a few tweaks. That might improve the marketability of the game, because there are people out there who don't want to learn a new system. It's not there to teach people to play Fudge; if they're willing to learn a new system, the one in the game is the one to use.

The second is how to use the game as a Multiverser game world--that is, if you're running a Multiverser campaign and you want to include Alyria as one of the worlds, this appendix gives guidance on how to bring Multiverser characters into the Alyria system. Multiverser's interfacing rules cause it to fall into the background and support play in the Alyria game (filling in any gaps that arise). This is there to sell the game to Multiverser fans, but with the notion that they'll learn the Alyria system while there.

I don't hear you suggesting either of these approaches. You're not, I think, saying you'd like to do a good version of your game with its own system but also do a D20 version to reach a broader audience, and put it all in the same book. You're saying you want to design two different engines for the same game, both from the ground up, based on two different common approaches to system preferences.

The problem I have is that they can't possibly both be the best system for the game. One has to be better than the other, or else you've created a game world in which the system is not particularly relevant and two games that can be used to run that one world. If you're doing that, my advice is to toss out the mechanics entirely and design generic setting/adventure materials which can be easily adapted to various game systems (possibly, to the degree that it can be done without violating license restrictions and copyrights, giving some suggestion as to what values would be appropriate in several different systems).

If you're designing a system, that suggests that there is something about this game that can't be done by existing systems. The odds that you can design two so disparate systems both of which do that same thing better than any existing system seems negligible.

So, what's the point, really?

--M. J. Young
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Sylus Thane
Guest
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2003, 09:09:21 PM »

Hey M.J.
Your absolutely right. I think in a way at the back of my mind I was thinking about what was done with Alyria, but was doing it in a bass ackwards of thinking I would have to come of with the two different mechanics and have it all in there.

I know my game Frontier has some unique things about it that make it work with its setting. But I was worrying about what if people prefer a dice pool compared to my single die mechanic. In hindsight I think it was my doubt trying to really say, what if people don't like my rules and prefer to use someone elses, if I can try and cover both ends I can try and please everybody which we all know can't happen.

Maybe in the long run I've just hit that hump we all get to when we know we're almost there but are having to fight off the doubt of will people like it.

I have to say though I do like the idea of putting in an appendices of a known game mechanic to give people a chance to get comfortable with a world before they begin tackling the process of learning a new set of rules. In a way it makes for a great way for independent designers to help each out and introduce people to each others games. In theory a person could buy Alyria just because it looks cool, learn it's rules and then see Multiverser's in the back and say hey that looks cool lets check that one out too.

I'd like to thank everybody who replied, in a way all of you guys have helped me get over that hump doubt that all of us designers face from time to time.

Sylus
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