Friday, May 08, 2009

Tales of the Rampant Coyote: RPG Design: That Which Is Not Forbidden...

Very interesting post at Tales of the Rampant Coyote which ties in directly with my concept of player input variance and open-endedness in RPGs. In discussing two of Gary Gygax's published pen-and-paper adventures:
But both Tomb of Horrors and Necropolis left a lot up to interpretation by the Dungeon Master (the person who "runs" the game). And I try and run my games by a guiding rule which, lamentably, tends to be ignored in more recent editions of the game, and ignored by players who are used to computer games: That which is not expressly forbidden is fair game to try.
And the conclusion:
The problem is that - for the most part - RPGs aren't made as anything resembling simulations. That's too difficult, and it is too hard to put the player on the kinds of rails that many designers prefer. So spells have very particular, extremely limited uses, and tend to be more of the "blow crap up" variety. Spells that provide knowledge, hints, or "intelligence" are subject to exploit in single-player games, as the information they provide to the player is persistent, even when the player reloads the game immediately to 'restore' the expended spell.

Our worlds are just too restrictive to allow this kind of play. But do they have to be?
They definitely do not have to be so restrictive. One way to deal with the issue is through random procedural content. Another is by limiting the ability to save/reload. Roguelike developers already care about these issues. I'm just waiting for the mainstream to catch on and it makes me very happy to see someone else talking about it.

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