[RMVX ACE] D&D SYSTEMS IN VIDEO GAMES: OBSOLETE?

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AtiyaTheSeeker
In all fairness, bird shrapnel isn't as deadly as wood shrapnel
5514
Hey folks. So I know this may have been covered a bit by a previous thread by Toaster_Team (found here), but I figure I may as well as despite the similarities: are dice-based systems a la D&D or other tabletop games obsolete in computer/video games?

Let me explain. In trying to come up with a more retro-styled game, I've looked up ways to implement a d20 system akin to Dungeons and Dragons for VX Ace. For those unaware, the system involves rolling a twenty-sided die and trying to meet or exceed a certain static number, applying bonuses or penalties to the rolls based on stats.

The thing is, I'm not entirely sure if it would go over well. Games such as Knights of the Old Republic use D&D 3rd edition rules to determine whether or not attacks and Force powers (among other special effects) hit or work at full power. Even old CRPGs like Wizardry use such mechanics.

But the problem is, if not handled well or if the digital dice roll like garbage against your favor, it comes down to relying on RNG. Or potentially grinding, which in my mind isn't fun. Even the more modern Japanese-made Wizardry games utilize a more JRPG-esque system.

So, I am wondering what you fine folks think of such a dice-based system in your computer/vidya RPGs. Can a D&D-esque dice system to determine attack and spell accuracy/potency be salvaged, or is it a facet of a bygone era of video games?
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13829
The big difference imo is defense being mitigation in jrpgs instead of primarily evasion (armor class). A lot of games don't do that because it feels awful without friends to make everything dramatic. I guess my main question is why do you want to make a game with this system (even if only hypothetically)? Is it to have a design challenge, to celebrate D&D, or just to be different? I'm all for restructuring the core of a genre, but like... you've talked about issues already.
One way to mitigate a kind of... RNG wtf-ery is to be completely transparent with the die rolls. If there is a die animation or even just a log where you see what number you rolled it will (somehow) feel very different than just an arbitrary "miss" or "hit".

Another way to play with dice is also to allow rerolls. I go back to my favourite dice-fest which is Blood Bowl (which I have also played digitally for over ten years). That game has a number of skills that allow rerolls and there is also a general, limited quantity "team reroll" that you can use once per turn. having rerolls as a resource gives the player interesting decisions and it also gives a way to at least feel like you can do something about bad dice.

Personally I'm not a fan of the one die, dice systems. I much more enjoy the playing with probabilities that rolling two or even three dice can give. (on a d20 a 1 is as likely as a 10, but on 2d20 a 2 is not as likely as a 21 on those dice)

In the end it's all dice. percentage numbers are the same as rolling a hundred sided die. If you're having randomness it's some kind of dice-mechanic. So it's not like it's obsolete. RPGs especially are very much random number dependent since the idea is to play a character so there is a difference between "player skill" and "character skill".
I am DMing a 5E campaign and wiped my party last night. I didn't intend to, but a series of poor decisions (and bad rolls) put them at a big disadvantage and they turned a reasonably challenging fight into a struggle for their lives. As they got hacked to bits by orcs they lamented not taking a stealthier approach as one of them had suggested, and tried one last futile attempt to kill everyone in the cave they were in. Unfortunately, despite a bit of luck midway that seemed like they might rally, the dice turned against them and they were all killed. Together they mourned the loss of their beloved characters (started for the campaign, so not longstanding) and then turned on eachother (in a good natured way) to try and place the blame for their defeat on someone. It was a decent end to their run, and we had fun laying the groundwork for the characters they'd play in the next campaign before we all went home.

But that was tabletop. In a single-player video game, two things would have happened:
1) an expletive
2) reload a save

And therein lies the problem with RNG in singleplayer games. You either lock the player into those rolls with permadeath or "save-and-quit" systems or the player is given carte blanche to abuse the RNG. I know I certainly have. Chests with randomized loot suffer the same problems. I don't like RNG-based games when I'm playing by myself. I much prefer carefully building a character and rising to meet new challenges, knowing that his/her skill is sufficient to overcome them.

Multiplayer (namely cooperative multiplayer) is a different beast entirely. When you and your friends are at the collective whim of fate, it's much more interesting. It allows for people to try anything they're willing to fail, and helps to balance one person dominating play, since they're just as vulnerable to a critical fail as anyone else is. Like Craze said, things are more dramatic with your friends. When you score an important or improbable critical hit with your friends present, there is a round of cheers at your success. When you can load your saves until you can muster one on your own it robs it of all value.

Obviously, individuals might choose not to abuse saving/loading to get around the RNG, but then you run the risk of punishing them unnecessarily for doing so. There's nothing worse than fighting your way to a randomized chest and getting six coins instead of that magical sword that could be in there. And if the player knows there could be something awesome in there but he got the shit thing it just makes him or her upset.

Computer games are generally run without a DM, which means there's no one to decide if you deserve a break or not. A DM might decide to roll and check a loot table to determine the contents of a chest, or he might decide on what is in there based on how the players have been playing, rewarding daring and interesting actions or good character building.

I think RNG is better suited to situations where fate is better appreciated, where you can laugh at your friend as he rolls a 1 and gets his axe stuck in a tree. It's less well suited to situations where you are on your own, and you have to rely on being smart and prepared.
The one thing that D&D gets right and video games could learn from is dungeon exploration.

The only advantage from putting the D&D ruleset into your game is that people who are familiar with the ruleset have it much easier to access it and decide for classes and stuff.

However when you look at special abilities and spells and how classes are designed, I guess you can at least draw a lot of good inspiration from that.
Using a d20 in a computer game looks to me like arbitrarily limiting yourself. The d20 was used because of physical limitations, it's very messy to try to roll a d21, or other uncomfortable number of sides, with physical dice. Humans also cannot make calculations anywhere as fast as computers, so rules have to be designed to avoid difficult calculations (other than maybe occasionally).

One good example is aD&D's "only even stats actually counts" system. They wanted ten to be average, but getting a +8 modifier if you have an 18 is too powerful, so the player gets a +4 modifier instead and odd number are, with a few exceptions, told to get bent. In a computer game, you could just have made the game roll a d40.

In general, I prefer to think of how I want the randomness to work and then design a roll that meets my specification. If I start with deciding that the computer rolls 1 to 20, it means I have to adjust everything else accordingly rather than adjusting one single random roll.
Magi
Resident Terrapin
1028
If you want to include D&D style mechanics, it would be good to really make sure you apply as much of the rule set as possible. This would make it a conscious aesthetic decision rather than something implemented by sheer impulse. I've believed (for years) that random chance dice rolls aren't really at the true heart of what makes a role playing game, and it appears based on a glance that the trend is to move further away from it.

That said, crafting a game around D&D's rules is entirely your choice and is totally acceptable if it is part of your design intent. Just let players know the limits of your system and offer some transparency into how it all works. Then it can inject some decision making into the process.

So, I am wondering what you fine folks think of such a dice-based system in your computer/vidya RPGs. Can a D&D-esque dice system to determine attack and spell accuracy/potency be salvaged, or is it a facet of a bygone era of video games?

I think the ultimate problem with dice systems is that they are not as exciting in single-player games as they are in an actual tabletop RP session. It reduces decision making to committing the same few actions that provides the most reliable results, rather than situational decision-making. You can design around this, but my personal opinion is that you're toiling unnecessarily with rickety mechanics that have more modern, elegant solutions. (im bit biased, k.)
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