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How D&D Shaped the Modern Videogame

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the roll-to-save-vs-awesome dept.

Role Playing (Games) 128

PC Gamer UK, via the CVG site, has a feature up on the influence Dungeons and Dragons had on the development of videogaming. The role D&D has had in inspiring gamers is fairly well known; Masters of Doom chronicles the inspiration the Johns' campaign had on the creation of Doom and Quake. The article discusses more recent confluences of the tabletop game and videogame development, such as Obsidian's use of pen-and-paper to develop the early areas of Neverwinter Nights 2. Ideas for the late, lamented, Fallout 3 were sparked by a number of tabletop roleplaying moments from developer campaigns.

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128 comments

HP (4, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955458)

Two words: Hit Points. Every game has them and as kids we learned the concept from D&D.

Re:HP (4, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955610)

And now that we have computers that can easily represent and display physical damage in terms of gameplay and character efficiency...we still use hit points.

At times I wish game designers would FORGET about hit points.

Re:HP (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955804)

I don't think "miss points" would work out that well. You don't want the monsters to chant, "Loser! Loser! Loser!"

Re:HP (4, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955960)

We have forgotten about hit points. Play games like Gears of War or Call of Duty, where death is based on the rate at which you're taking damage, as opposed to depleting an existing HP supply.

Call of Duty: Get shot, it's ok. Get shot too much in too little time, your screen starts turning red. Keep getting shot, die.

Re:HP (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Daredevil (109528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957152)

CoD absolutely had HPs. Just because they added some temporary damage as well doesn't mean it's suddenly a new concept. If I recall correctly, when you got hit you took some permanent damage and some temporary damage that slowly returned. Temporary damage wouldn't kill you, but if you got hit again while your temporary damage had you below zero you would die.

It even had a bar that clearly represented a hidden numerical value (Hit points) and you died when it was empty (zero).

Not sure if this link will work, but here is a screenshot (off GameSpot) showing the hit points in action:

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2003/pc/callo fduty/1029/call_screen006.jpg [com.com]

Re:HP (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957812)

My mistake, I meant to say Call of Duty 2. COD1 had a very very traditional health system, except it had a bar and didn't show you the actual number.

Re:HP (3, Insightful)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957428)

And people say Halo isn't innovative... as far as I know, this type of health system was invented in Halo 2. IMO it's infinitely superior to hit points.

Re:HP (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957856)

Perhaps in a popular FPS. But a lot of games had the regenerative shield idea(ie.Starcraft protoss) . which is just a addition to the idea of "X hits will kill you" HP. Still a good idea. It removed the attrition factor making skilled players able to streak a lot more.

Re:HP (3, Interesting)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957526)

Call of Duty: Get shot, it's ok. Get shot too much in too little time, your screen starts turning red. Keep getting shot, die.
I agree completely. I run in blindly and kill as many people as possible and when I go red, I hide until I "heal." This makes the game way too easy when combined with the number of checkpoints in every level. Why both playing seriously? Honestly, I wished for something more after beating the game.

It feels like the game is more suited for a casual gamer than serious players that want more realism. I forsee this trend to continue since although design for both is not impossible, adding features and programming additional characteristics to be more than publishers would like to do. I would almost be willing to believe completely that the serious player desiring realism is going to be ignored more and more in many major games.

Re:HP (1)

immaculatewang (832453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958268)

That's still hit points, you just can't see the numbers. It's a regenerating supply.

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17958600)

We have forgotten about hit points. Play games like Gears of War or Call of Duty, where death is based on the rate at which you're taking damage, as opposed to depleting an existing HP supply.

maybe you don't realize that just because the HPs aren't displayed on screen doesn't mean those statistics aren't calculated and updated in the back end.

Re:HP (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17965682)

Two words: Fast Healing

Re:HP (1)

pregister (443318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956064)

Most players like numbers. I tried moving from hit points and stat points and foo points on a Mud for years, players always hated it. Theres a good number of players who like min/maxing, like crunching the numbers, etc.

Re:HP (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956412)

On a text-based mud, I can understand it. There's no real-time (using the term loosely) feedback as there is in an MMORPG.

And sure, a number system is easy to follow in any game. We use it every day to drive to work, check the time, see how much we spent, etc. But if you're in a fight? After taking a punch to the gut, do you find yourself saying, "Wow...that was a 10 pointer!" No...you say "Ow." and you might go woozy or you might get emotional or some part of your body might not work right. And you might recover very quickly, or that one punch might give your opponent the upper hand for awhile.

That's what I'd like to see. Dragging around virtual broken legs isn't very fun, but being in a fight, knowing that your character is hobbled for a few moments, can't run....I find that more interesting than "He hit you for 5 points of damage."

EQ had stun damage when you were hit particularly hard. You'd be trading blows, then WHACK! and your character's viewpoint slows and sort of reels to the right. It was still a hit point loss, but that sort of feedback is what I'm talking about.

Re:HP (3, Informative)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956744)

you say "Ow." and you might go woozy or you might get emotional or some part of your body might not work right

Call of Cthulhu the PC game handles this very well. While you do have a form of hitpoints on your character sheet (an EKG), your real indicators of your state are the blurred vision that gets worse with additional damage, blood spatter in your view, vision slowly going white from blood-loss, controls that stop working quite correctly, labored breathing, and the slow shuffle of walking on a broken leg with that horrible little crunching noise with each step. Insanity-inducing events or locations pull in some of these elements as well, such as the vision problems, breathing, and loss of movement control. All in all, the game is downright heart-pounding at various points throughout.

Re:HP (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959026)

That does sound fun. Hope it comes out for PC someday. Tee-hee, this discussion does remind me of occasions in Deus Ex when I'd suddenly find myself moving only much closer to the ground than normal, very slowly and with a dragging motion, and eventually realise that it was because my legs had stopped working.

Re:HP (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959052)

Whoops, it is of course out for PC, it's just that my usual game store doesn't have it in its catalogue at the moment. Ho-hum ...

Re:HP (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956360)

I totally agree.

I remember trying to convince my friends of the complete lack of need for using stats in a game, and how it would be better if they were a lot more obscure. But people just didn't seem to understand. For some reason, I couldn't get across to them that just because something is represented numerically internally, it doesn't have to be explicitely known.

Re:HP (2, Interesting)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956892)

I remember trying to convince my friends of the complete lack of need for using stats in a game, and how it would be better if they were a lot more obscure. But people just didn't seem to understand.


Most people familiar with Table-top RPGs consider a lack of numbers to be equivalant to arbitrary - in the same way that some consequences of a Choose-your-own-adventure book are just as arbitrary.

People are comfortable with numbers because it gives them a comfort that their Infinitly-powerful character won't be one-hit-perma-killed by a lowly kobold.

For some reason, I couldn't get across to them that just because something is represented numerically internally, it doesn't have to be explicitely known.


Try an example, such as explaining it's just like playing Tie Fighter when you receive a critical hit that takes out the screen that shows your craft's hull and shield strength. You know that your craft is severly damaged, but not by how much (unless you've been counting hull hits.)

Re:HP (4, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956416)

Well, it's an abstraction. I've talked to someone who has extensive real-world experience with sword/knife combat and the injuries that result, and he sketched out a system (in the context of a true medieval RPG) where each limb would have its own status: broken, different levels of bleeding, etc. All of which would have an effect on gameplay; for example, if your arm was damaged, you couldn't fight as well. Like MechWarrior 2, but for people.

It's an interesting idea, and likely something I will be implementing for various reasons, but does it really add enjoyment for the player? Probably not. Just get rid of the absurd situation where a character is nearly dead and can still fight at full capacity, and the traditional global HP isn't a bad abstraction.

Re:HP (5, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956786)

and he sketched out a system (in the context of a true medieval RPG) where each limb would have its own status: broken, different levels of bleeding, etc.

Phantasie III on the C64 (I think there was a PC version as well, amongst others) had that kind of a system. In addition to hit points, your limbs, chest, and head could be "injured" "broken" or "gone", with obvious implications for losing your head or body. It led to interesting battles, where I'd have characters with two broken arms continuing to fight because they still had most of their hitpoints and I needed to conserve the appropriate level of potion (IIRC, Potion 3 would heal 60hp and either 2 broken limbs or one lost limb). As far as actual gameplay went, it didn't really add or detract anything significant, it just made it different.

Re:HP (2, Interesting)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958984)

Some games in the Resident Evil series had the "get-hurt-and-watch-your-leg-drag-behind-you." Though it is still a HP based game, it was neat to have a game directly affect gameplay based on damage.

Re:HP (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17960934)

It led to interesting battles, where I'd have characters with two broken arms continuing to fight

What are you going to do? Bleed on me? [youtube.com]

-

Re:HP (2, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961862)

Deus Ex also had such a system. The body parts were each arm, leg, trunk & head. If your arms were injured, you'd be less effective with melee weapons, and finally you couldn't even wield a weapon. If your legs were seriously injured, you could only crawl. Take too much head damage, you're dead no matter what.

Further thoughts on HP for the limbs. (1)

ghastlygray (968662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972734)

Phantasie III on the C64 ... had that kind of a system. In addition to hit points, your limbs, chest, and head could be "injured" "broken" or "gone", with obvious implications for losing your head or body.
Your description of this game was thought-provoking. It's interesting you report it didn't "add or detract anything significant" from the gameplay. I don't wish to look down on it, but my thoughts were: it's a like an "ad absurdum" for role playing games in general. If the initial idea was to immerse yourself in a living, realistic and "concrete" world by keeping track of its various "statistics", then this game pushes the premise further, to the point where it becomes absurd: you immerse yourself in a bleeding, fractured, aching body, by keeping tabs of the hitpoints of the limbs?!

Hit points are a useful abstraction, for sure. But I'm not sure that mapping them any further (for example, for each limb) would enhance the immersion -- or the realism, for that matter. I don't think the medical condition of the body can be mapped that way. (In that respect, perhaps it would be better to keep hitpoints of the lymphatic system, etc.) But realism isn't the point here. What's more jarring is that you are supposed to sympathize with your avatar, and you (I hope) have a true actual body, that sometimes gets injured. And when you get injured, it's NEVER like keeping tabs on hitpoints. Anyone who had a serious medical conditional can tell that the intense pain is an almost pre-verbal and pre-conscious experience, which loosens your ties with the reality that surrounds you. Why, then, do we think it appropriate to represent this with minute statistical detail? I genuinely wonder. This question goes for traditional RPGs as well (that's the point of the earlier "ad absurdum").

Re:Further thoughts on HP for the limbs. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972904)

by keeping tabs of the hitpoints of the limbs?!

It seems that I glossed over my explanation a bit much. Each limb didn't have its own hitpoints, instead they simply became damaged when struck by a critical hit or something. If they were injured, then they would become broken, if they were broken, they'd be lost. They were also somewhat separate from healing, meaning that if you lost a limb, you could drink enough low level potions to refill your HP to max, but your limb would still be missing, leading to situations where you could have lost most of your body parts yet still have full HP. Or where you were killed without injuring a single limb.

Re:Further thoughts on HP for the limbs. (1)

ghastlygray (968662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973758)

Thanks for filling in this info. I think it doesn't invalidate my thoughts by much, is it? I mean, the situations you mention (getting killed without injuring a single limb) seem in themselves a bit absurd. It was this kind of absurdity that was the catalyst of my thinking about the entire topic of representing imaginative worlds with a bunch of statistics. As I said, I get immersed in these representations as much as anyone, but at times I just feel it starts to fall apart.

Re:HP (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958022)

DragonRealms, a MUD, has this type of system. The 'effect on gameplay' is a bit weak, but it does prevent you from holding something with a hand that isn't there, etc. Damage and healing is all per-bodypart, as well as having internal and external damage.

Does it add enjoyment? I'd say yes. It's probably one of the reasons that it is so popular. (It's a lot more interesting when different armor actually has an effect, and aiming at body parts matters as well.)

Re:HP (1)

pfafrich (647460) | more than 7 years ago | (#17960768)

RuneQuest [wikipedia.org] had a system of hit location. It tended to make combat more risky.

Re:HP (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961674)

Fallout has a system like that, at least to some extent. Another game that comes to mind is Silent Storm, where you can lose accuracy from arm shots and action points from leg shots. You can also suffer from bleeding, blindess, deafness and unconsciousness.

extensive real-world experience with sword/knife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17973028)

>> extensive real-world experience with sword/knife combat

I call bullshit on this. No one has extensive experience of sword combat in the present day. Sure they may fence or they may even have stabbed someone in the past. But extensive experience. You're being BS'd.

Re:extensive real-world experience with sword/knif (1)

Molt (116343) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974030)

Try looking into Western Martial Arts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Martial_Arts ). A lot of the guys involved do have quite scarily extensive experience of sword combat, although admittedly mainly with blunts.

Re:HP (1)

skymt (968075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956738)

See Lugaru [wolfire.com] for an excellent example of what you're talking about. In Lugaru, as you take hits, your model starts looking more beat-up, animations change, and if you're close to death (or just got a nasty knock on the head) your vision blurs.

Re:HP (2, Informative)

Thangodin (177516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959064)

Hit points allows for gradual damage, allowing you to change strategy, withdraw, etc. Limb damage takes you out of the fight, instant kills make for an unplayable game, and auto-recovery unless you take a lot of damage quickly is just too unrealistic--particularly when the damage is done by bullets. What the hit point system does is give you reaction time.

In any case, the hit point system did not reflect actual damage, but exhaustion, bruising, blood loss from superficial wounds, disorientation, etc. The final blow or two did the actual damage. This works better when the combat is swords and sorcery. But as a friend pointed out to me, bullets do one of three things: kill you, maim you, or almost nothing. Yes, there are soldiers who've been shot six times and still kept fighting. This friend was a military historian told me about a Canadian soldier in a peace-keeping mission who got hit five times (once in the mouth--he spit the bullet out with a couple of teeth.) It all depends on where you're hit--the first hit could kill. Melee is different, since most wounds tend to be superficial until you're too tired to dodge or fend off the killing blow.

Re:HP (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17960908)

Plenty of designers hate hit points; HP alone is probably the #1 reason why so many alternative RPG systems were created.

As for computers, there are plenty of games with location damage, weapon loss, equipment malfunction, critical hits, headshots, limb loss, spreading damage, armor and structure points, reduced movement, mental and physical exhaustion...need I go on?

Re:HP (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17966642)

At times I wish game designers would FORGET about hit points.

Way back in the day there was a minigame asteroids like game called "lunatic fringe." Instead of hit points, your ship had various features, like thrust, maneuvering jets, lasers, and a few more. You could repair them over time if you had enough spare parts. When you took damage, one or more of these features was degraded. Take a hit from an alien craft and suddenly your ability to turn would behave sporadically, or you would accelerate more slowly, or your lasers would fire one time in three. It was one of the best ideas ever, and I wish modern games would take their cue from it.

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17967684)

My complaint with crippling the character is that you get into situations where the first blow decides the entire battle. Whether it manifests itself as stunlock or a crippling wound preventing the character to act to defend themselves, you pretty much just draw out an inevitable death into a frustrating charade, most likely raising the player's blood pressure. In that case, why not just go back to one hit kills like the good old coin-ops?

Re:HP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17956174)

Two more words: Broken English.

By 1977, game was popular enough for two editions to exist: the basic system and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Its rise mirrored that of early home computers: dice would sit alongside Apple II in teenage boys' bedrooms. was inevitable that the two would eventually merge. Could you teach computer to run a D&D campaign?

Did anyone even bother reading this article before posting it to the web? It's really hard to take magazines like this seriously (especially considering this one is fairly big) when there are errors in literally every sentence. Four sentences; four different types of grammatical errors. Sad.

Re:HP (2, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956472)

Even more important to MMORPGs and other comparable games: experience points and levels. Apotheosis as a numbers game.

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17956596)

Every game... except for the ones that don't.

Re:HP (1)

psychogentoo (582658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956782)

This is... *roll* ...indeed true.

Re:HP (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957002)

Even Star Trek ships have HPs... Hull integrity %, Shield strength %, etc...

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17963612)

Actually I learned about that from Final Fantasy. Perhaps D&D was the birth of most of these concepts, but I doubt that's where most people have encountered them. I wonder why D&D isn't as popular as its borrowers?

Re:HP (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17978070)

"If it has hit points, it can die!"

Imagine that.. (5, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955528)

A Game built around Math, paper, and your imagination inspired the development of other games.

I've been a long time player of D&D type games, and I personally think they should be done in school. They helped me in school early on learning Math, giving me a solid foundation to build on. Story writing being the DM of such a game gets developed quite well if you're sucessfull anyway.

But the most important part is it spurs your imagination into high gear. Something that alot of people, old and young, are lacking more and more. Its nerdy as hell, but its fun to pretend to be that strong warrior loping the head of an orc off.

Re:Imagine that.. (2, Informative)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955820)

They helped me in school early on learning Math, giving me a solid foundation to build on.

Solid foundation? I swear you need a freaking PhD in Mathematics to figure out what the hell THAC0 means!

Nerd: My armor class just went negative, w00t!
Bystander: Huh?

AC -10 award (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956176)

Nerd: My armor class just went negative, w00t!
Bystander: Huh?
"AC -10" means you're playing GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64 and camping the body armor.

Re:Imagine that.. (2, Informative)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956286)

Yeah, Thac0 is rather complicated.

For those of you who dont know, Thac0 is the number your character must roll in a 20 sided dice to hit an Armor Class (AC) of 0.

If your AC is 5, and my Thaco is 15, I need to roll a 10 or better (15-5). If your AC is -5, I need to roll a 20 (15-(-5)). 20 always hits, 1 always misses.

Personally, yeah, i'd consider that a good foundation. :P

Re:Imagine that.. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958890)

gee my head just exploded trying to understand that. you have to SUBTRACT AND COMPARE WTF bullshit i'm going to play something else.

Re:Imagine that.. (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959122)

I haven't played PNP D&D since the Basic days; all my contact since then has been via video games. But I actually really miss the numerical oddities of AD&D (2nd edition, I presume; I'm not sure if editions 1 or 2.5 have been used in video games). I also miss the less linear saving throw tables and the esoteric issues over multi-classing. I just kinda feel that because video games already simplify things enormously, the added simplification of using version 3/3.5 rules takes some of the fun away ...

... it takes all sorts.

I wonder how difficult it would be for a D&D video game to implement multiple sets of stats in-game, and allow the player to choose 2nd or 3rd edition rules when starting a new game? ... very, I suppose.

Re:Imagine that.. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959178)

it wouldn't be HARD but it would be obnoxious for the devs, since they are making and testing two games at once

Re:Imagine that.. (1)

Vacuous (652107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17970230)

thac0 is easy as pie to figure out.

Take your character's thac0, subtract target's AC, that is the number you need to roll to hit (Note, 20 always hits)

So for example, someone has a thac0 of 20 and attacks something with an AC of 6. 20-6=14
or someone with a thac0 of 9 attacks something with an AC of -3, 9 - -3 = 12

It'd be freaking 2nd grade math if it wasn't fior the negatives (which isn't exactly a difficult concept)

Re:Imagine that.. (1)

Vacuous (652107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17970346)

For my next lesson, we'll learn about varios modifiers to hit due to varions situations and weather and such.

First, since the grass is wet ans slippery, making dodgeing hard, you suhbtract -1 from thac0, then you have to calculate if the sun is in their eyes, the formula for this is pi * the speed of an african swallow divided by the half life of bannaium, a radioactive metal often found on the planet blargh. After that you add George Bush's IQ to the total number of cheeto stains on your DM's shirt and divide by the number of stars in the cosmos. After that, you say screw this game and go hit a bar instead.

What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (4, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955532)

What if TSR had patented "hit points?" Or, "the idea that one hit doesn't kill the player"?

Could you teach computer to run a D&D campaign?
You'd probably have a better shot with English, first. But for Christ's sake, who among us DIDN'T write a dice simulator or treasure generator before hitting the teenage years?

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (4, Funny)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17955690)

What if TSR had patented "hit points?" Or, "the idea that one hit doesn't kill the player"?

They would have licensed it, managed it badly, and the patent would have been hocked to a bank to keep them afloat a bit longer into the 90s. At worst, WotC might not have bought them.

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956438)

I thought I'd need something to top off my senior year, so I went ahead and wrote a dice roller for my TI89. I hope you feel happy now!

(Although I'll have to look into the mechanics of that treasure generator.... I've never actually been invited to any D&D sessions... :P )

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956704)

Everyone else would use a stat like "body" like the HERO System.

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (2, Informative)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957088)

What if TSR had patented "hit points?" Or, "the idea that one hit doesn't kill the player"?

Fortunately, such things are not patentable. They would have if they could, and in fact, they pissed a lot of people off by trying to enforce a trademark on hit points. (They asked people to use "hits to kill" instead, which never caught on). They also sent takedown notices to various fan sites for fan-created but D&D-related content, and claimed copyright over some things that they'd obviously copied from mythology. TSR was everything that Slashdot loves to hate, and the hate contributed to their eventual demise.

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17962754)

Fortunately, such things are not patentable.
Oh really? [uspto.gov]

Re:What if TSR had patented "hit points?" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17960382)

What if TSR had patented "hit points?" Or, "the idea that one hit doesn't kill the player"?

Ah, and what if Jack Vance [wikipedia.org] had patented the idea that wizards can memorize a certain number of spells, and then forget each spell immediately after it is cast?

That's easy... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17955630)

CAST MAGIC MISSLE!!!

Re:That's easy... (2, Insightful)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956316)

at the darkness?

Re:That's easy... (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957420)

at the darkness?


The 1st edition D&D had the magic missles follow your character until you decide to release them (duration was 1 turn). I don't know why they did it that way, as most people preferred it to fire all those projectiles at once.

Re:That's easy... (0, Redundant)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958290)

...of your ass.

Re:That's easy... (0, Redundant)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17958756)

WHERE'S THE MOUNTAIN DEW!?!?!

Re:That's easy... (1)

Kuros_overkill (879102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959032)

"HEY GRHAM, ROLL THE DICE TO SEE IF I'M GETTING DRUNK!" - sorry couldn't resist. - To the Lameness filter: It's called quoting,

Emergent Gameplay (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17955856)

What D&D still rules at is emergent gameplay- IE, setting the gigantic boss villain on fire by collapsing the house on her, etc. Rather than focusing on simple "dice mechanics," game devs should be putting their money towards physics engines and other things that will let players PLAY with the world.

What's funny is a lot of devs get it backwards trying to emulate the simplicity of D&D: D&D uses simple mechanics because players have to do all the work themselves. Computers are happy to calculate THAC0 a hundred times a minute if it makes for better gameplay.

Re:Emergent Gameplay (1)

Dark Kenshin (764678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956030)

Though I agree that the emergent factor was good with the old style of game play, I believe the fact that they did use math and mechanics, (i.e. will for mental attacks, agility for movement, constitution for hit point, etc) played a large role in video game development. Old style games didn't really calculate what was going on in the world by measurable forces, but rather were "just what's happing" and scoring issues. The fact the D&D had a algorithms and mathematical problems attached to almost every action you did, sort of paved the road for games to simple apply that logic to all aspects of modern gaming.

Re:Emergent Gameplay (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959136)

"What D&D still rules at is emergent gameplay- IE, setting the gigantic boss villain on fire by collapsing the house on her, etc. Rather than focusing on simple "dice mechanics," game devs should be putting their money towards physics engines and other things that will let players PLAY with the world."

The problem with these scenarios is that it takes the fun out of the interaction, while collapsing a house on a boss villain to set her on file *is cool*. In a video game it's not anything we haven't seen before. It's ho'hum and old hat.

The real challenge and fun comes from emotional stimulation and challenges, and bosses wouldn't be challenging in the same way without the underlying dice mechanics/mathematics that riddles all modern video game RPG's and MMO's.

The truth is some RPG's are about story, other RPG's are about fighting and battle mechanics.... it's where the developer chooses to focus their resources and specialize in terms of where the fun in their game should be had.

Ideally I'd love to have the UltimateGame(tm) but even the ultimate game would get boring after the 20th or 50th time playing it. The real hook of games is in emotional addicting qualities of how the game reward system and battle is set up. You get over a games graphics very quickly when you actually play a game and if there is no substance to it, you will feel dulled sense of enjoyment playing it.

You got hooked on the graphics, but you realized the game was bittersweet.

Re:Emergent Gameplay (1)

despik (691728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959634)

The problem with these scenarios is that it takes the fun out of the interaction, while collapsing a house on a boss villain to set her on file *is cool*. In a video game it's not anything we haven't seen before. It's ho'hum and old hat.

I don't think I have played a single computer game that would let me interact with the environment in a completely unconstrained manner. I believe you're talking about scripted sequences -- actions provided by the game developers to give the player an illusion of freedom. (For example, clicking on a weakened support beam to trigger a cutscene of the house collapsing.)

However, the parent poster meant precisely the opposite -- D&D allows emergent gameplay, because the actions available to players are limited only by their imagination (and the GM's whims, of course).

Re:Emergent Gameplay (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961410)

It isn't just a question of what would be cool and not. Having real world physics in a game is extremely hard to do real time, but it is coming, just look at the new crytek engine.

Most game developers started with D&D (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956056)

In fact, from just the club I co-founded at SFU, The GoT, I think half of us went on to become game designers.

Many of us were computer scientists, so making the jump into video games was pretty easy back then.

D&D Was great back in the day...not so much no (0, Flamebait)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956334)

It's a shame DDO fumbled...

I remember playing the old D&D game back in the day with paper....Now a days we have computer so we don't have to ruin our paper by erasing so damn much. It was so much fun we would make up our guys, have our DM create the world as we knew it and we just had a blast not knowing what was ahead of us.

Now I have to say....I don't like these new....fangldydangldy rules. Before it was a simple game now theres like 75 books you have to buy if you want to understand the rules. It has become so involved that it just really isn't as fun as it used to be. However we still can use our imagination and go with it.

Before it was a simple game... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957178)

Did your old D&D rule books suddenly self-destruct or something? You can play by the old rules all you want.

destructing rule books (3, Funny)

Rizzer (122184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17959008)

Did your old D&D rule books suddenly self-destruct or something?
Heh, mine did. That is, my mother burnt them while I was studying away from home. "satanic" or something, apparently...

Re:destructing rule books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17959702)

I lost mine as punishment for bringing a Playboy to school in 7th (maybe 8th) grade.
Stupid friend asked to borrow it, then got caught, and ratted on me.

Of course, she was looking for an excuse to remove them. I just finally provided her with enough of a reason.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (3, Informative)

CrashPoint (564165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957452)

Before it was a simple game now theres like 75 books you have to buy if you want to understand the rules.

If by "75" you mean "between one and three", sure. The Player's Handbook is the only "required" book. The DM's Guide and Monster Manual make things easier but are not strictly necessary - you can run a perfectly good game without them. Everything else is purely optional. This, by the way, is exactly how it was in the older editions, so nothing has changed in that respect.

Also, the rules in 3rd Edition are actually a lot simpler, saner, and more streamlined than in 1st or 2nd.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17958378)

Take a look at the Basic/Expert 1981 rules one day. YOu might be surprised how clean and simple the game was in those days. Gygax and TSR really pushed AD&D hard, but it wasn't as good of an engine as the Basic/Expert line. And I still consider those 1981 rules to be superior to d20, since they encompass entire campaigns (real-world years of gameplay) in only 128 pages total of rules simple enough that even a 11-year old can pick them up on his own.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 7 years ago | (#17974262)

Basic D&D still has the bane of all non-math types: ThAC0
While it is easy for anyone who is somewhat math inclined, I have seen many people struggle over that small aspect. One of the great things about 3rd Ed. was that the designers finally figured out how stupid it was to have people subtracting negative numbers, turned the whole system around so that it was all addition. Really, if you spend a bit of time with the math behind it, you'll find that the dice rolls to hit are the same, the math is just simplified.
Also, Basic D&D was good if all you wanted to do was "roll" play, but god forbid you wanted to do anything which was not combat based. It was certainly a good start, and I am thankful for the time I got to spend with that game when I young, but it really does belong in a museum an not on the tabletop anymore.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17977248)

Nonono... THAC0 (ick) came later on, in the 1983 Basic edition. Thankfully the older release was speared that madness, and the inflated levels as well (1983 edition went to level 36, whereas 1981 stopped at level 14). In the older edition you just read the result off the table, or from your character sheet (which handilly had a 1-liner from the chart for your current class/level combo). Speaking of chart, it was nice and small, since ACs only typically varied between 9 and 2 (only a couple monsters, a dragon or two I think, had an actual negative AC).
As far as doing stuff "not in the rules" well that was just a judgement call by the DM. It's not game for simulationists that's for sure. But frankly, I can't stand the way AD&D and d20 went with all the attempts to simulate or have a rule for everything. Ergo, the only D&D books I kept are Basic, and a few other "rules light" games that force the DM and players to think on their feet.
BTW, despite what you imply about museums, there is a resurgence in old-school gameplay. Google for BFRPG, OSRIC, and C&C. Just cause it doesn't suit your style doesn't mean nobody else likes it.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17960648)

The Player's Handbook is the only "required" book. The DM's Guide and Monster Manual make things easier but are not strictly necessary - you can run a perfectly good game without them.

Unearthed Arcana, on the other hand, actually made it harder to run a perfectly good game...

(It was still neat to read, though.)

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17965720)

Actually, you don't NEED any books at all. The d20 and d20 modern System Reference Doccument is avaliable for free off the WotC [wizards.com] site. There's also a html copy at http://www.d20srd.com/ [d20srd.com] which is pretty nice.

If you've got an even remotely creative DM, (s)he can fill in the few gaps the rules leave (ie: character stat generation, XP and $ rewards) pretty easily.

This said by a man who owns a "tub of books" that's half my body weight...

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1)

CrashPoint (564165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17972902)

Well, it's technically true that you don't actually need the Player's Handbook per se, but the portions of the SRD that you do need are equivalent to the PHB in rules content. Therefore, I stopped just short of saying that you don't even need the one book, since you do in fact need it in one form or the other.

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17958580)

Every single edition of D&D has exploded to "75" books that you "need" if you want to have real ultimate power. But at the same time it has always been playable (and still is) with just a few core books

Re:D&D Was great back in the day...not so much (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17960900)

75!!! crap That means I'm missing 6 of them.
Seriously though I think my brother has that many or more for second ed.
    I've been playing on and off since '81 and the current group I'm in has been playing since just before 3.0 came out and I've accumulated enough books that I'm planning on
getting a FOURTH book bag to cart them all around in.
      To be honest many were bought just for a few clever ideas or more background material.

Mycroft

Helped shape the gamer too! (5, Funny)

Morris Thorpe (762715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956396)

How D&D Shaped the Modern Videogame

How D&D shaped the modern videogamer: like a pear.

Re:Helped shape the gamer too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17957548)

I wonder how many Americans actually got the British humour in that?

I wonder if perhaps you're not even British. That would make it even funnier!

Re:Helped shape the gamer too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17958860)

Hey screw you! I'm an American and I know what a pear is!!!

Re:Helped shape the gamer too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17963836)

I'm an American who understands both:
1. the British phrase "gone pear-shaped" as in "gone to pot", "buggered", "fucked up", "pwned", etc.
2. the broad english-language "shaped like a pear", usually used to describe someone's overall morphology

If you were half as clever as you think you are, you'd realize that the poster wasn't using the term in the British sense. In fact, they almost certainly meant it in the second way, as in "Some D&D players are sedentary and unathletic, and as a result they literally become doughy and pear-shaped. Endomorphs, if you will."

The poster is playing off the post title "How D&D Shaped the Modern Videogame", where "shaped" is used to mean "influenced." They then create a humorous (or humourous, if you prefer) play on the word "shape" by noting that D&D also "helped shape the gamer", where "shape" is now used in the sense of "altering the physical shape of something." In this case, shaping them "like a pear."

Do you understand now?

Re:Helped shape the gamer too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17974342)

I think buggered does not mean what you think it means:

v. buggered, buggering, buggers Vulgar Slang
v.intr.
To practice sodomy.
v.tr.
1. To practice sodomy with.
2. To damn.

Re:Helped shape the gamer too! (1)

Nanookanano (213568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977178)

. . and surround with Creeping Crud.

Seems rather obvious... (3, Interesting)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17956972)

"Obsidian's use of pen-and-paper to develop the early areas of Neverwinter Nights 2." Wouldn't that be considered an amazingly obvious first step, seeing how the game is based in D&D?

This should have a follow up (3, Funny)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17957618)

called how the modern video game raped D&D and abused its children. Early D&D games were great. lately they've been rotten.

Full Sail (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17958286)

All you need to know about this: There is a class at Full Sail, the world's top video game design school, called Rules of the Game. It talks about how all games - from card games to D&D to video games, are all based on the same principles. Best game design class I've ever had.

The instructor? Dave Arneson, co-creator, Dungeons and Dragons.

WOW (2, Informative)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961048)

The fact that I played pen-and-paper D&D (and Ultima for PC) as a kid explains why I can't get anywhere near a game of World of Warcraft. I actually had a 19-year-old try to explain to me that in WOW, mage armor is weak and thiefs are stealthy. I was like...this is new to you?

Not only is WOW a carbon copy of the "generic D&D-based RPG", but it owes its success, apparently, to the fact that most of its users are unfamiliar with the source material. What WOW adds to D&D, is the group dynamics of a 30-member campaign party, and if you want to see how that works, the South Park WOW episode is pretty accurate. (In short, the illusion of teamwork gradually gives way to a system that is pretty mechanical.)

Imagine all the orcs... (2, Insightful)

Doc Hoss (1062428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17963386)

As a teenager, playing D&D did not help with my social interaction skills, but it DID, however, help me develop creativity (figuring out how to open the chest without the goblins hearing), wittiness (the dark elf waves his sword at you as he taunts you...how do you respond?), and math skills (1d8+1 S, 2d8+3 M-L, you do max damage, how much is that?). There's so much benefit that can come from these tabletop RPG's that many people simply don't "get". I lived in the "Bible Belt" and in a small community as well, so anyone caught playing these games was instinctively branded a devil worshipper. ...which of course is just stupid, because everyone knows you can't worship the devil in D&D. Maybe Ba'al or some other chaotic evil entity, but certainly not the devil. pfft...

Why do we still use classes? (4, Interesting)

ductonius (705942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17967554)

Like others in this thread I wish video games would forget about D&D for a while. Just a little bit. Not permanently, just enough to let other ideas have their time in the light.

There's a reason why I'm hesitant to buy any medieval-looking RPG nowadays. It's because I know, absolutely know that when I start up the game the first thing I'm going to have to do is choose to play a fighter guy, a magic guy, a stealth guy and or a ranged attack guy. Why in God's name, during the age of computers, do we still have to pick classes?. There is no need for this abstraction. Anything you can do with classes you can do with simple attributes or skills. Furthermore, many things that are done with classes make no sense ("I'm sorry, you can't wear that shirt, you're a mage, mages only wear the purest right-spun Italian cotton"). Role playing games work well with out them. Fallout1/2 and Deus Ex. Both great RPGs. A huge variety in play, enabled by simple attributes and skills. No fucking classes. Game designers: Please stop using classes, at least for a bit.

Also, why do most games have ludicrously low numbers of hit points? Most games out there (including Fallout and Deus Ex, I might add) I only allow the player one, maybe two hundred hit points. There is an almost infinite difference between a bullet to the brain and pricking your finger. Again, with computers a character could have 100,000 hit points instead of 100 and it wouldn't cause any disruption in game play. All it would do is allow the game to represent a greater variety in levels of damage. The same attack by an enemy could do a wide variety of damage depending on where it hit. Eg. arrow to the cranium vs. arrow stopped by chain mail (yes, that would hurt). Low hit points work well when they need to be tracked by hand and the calculations that go into them are fairly simple, but when a computer can do them automatically faster than you can blink, low hit points do not make sense.

D&D is fun. That's why it's popular, it's just also possible for things other than D&D to be fun too, and I'd like to see more of that.

Re:Why do we still use classes? (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977306)

Gothic2 solved the whole class problem pretty nicely by moving the choice into the game. After around 1/3 of the game you had to join one of multiple guilds which in turn would fix you to there class, at that point in the game you however already had a pretty good idea of what to expect so the choice wasn't a hard one. The annoying part with many other games is that they force you to pick a class and skillset at the very beginning of the game, at a point where you have absolutly no idea what to expect from the game, since you simply haven't played it.

Another interesting game in terms of those whole skill stuff is Shadow of the Colossus, since it simply doesn't have any, neither does it have any new weapons to collect or anything that you expect from a traditional RPG or Action-Adventure. It doesn't even have enemies, just 16 collossi. What makes SotC interesting is that its a game stripped down to its core, the whole video-gamey stuff was removed and only a quite realistically core was left, just a sword, a bow and a horse, all those however were very well implemented, especially the horse. I would wish more games would focus on having a few well implemented items instead of tons and tons of rather useless ones.

What about a more fundamental influence? (2, Interesting)

ghastlygray (968662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17973938)

It's striking to me that the discussion so far (correct me if I missed something) ignores what I thought was the more important bit of the article. I quote (emphasis mine):

The central idea remains constant: videogames began with two-player games, experienced through the proxy of a machine. Two or more humans matching their abilities, with victory and failure adjudicated by hard rules, has remained true, from chess to Pong to Battlefield.

There's another way of looking at videogames: how the vast majority are able to entertain when there's no other human being there at all, just you and a machine. The machine just exists to interpret your actions and turn them into a world for you to experience. It exists to entertain you, to take you somewhere else, to give you a place to explore. It is a storyteller. This is a different approach to the idea of 'game', and - interestingly - its core emerged at a similar time to MIT's Space War, as if culture was suddenly ready to reconsider what a 'game' could be.
They claim, in essence, (if I understand correctly) that DnD helped change our very concept of the computer game; of how the computer can be utilized for entertainment. It's not about hitpoints (pong could have hitpoints). It's about the concept of the computer "as storyteller" -- a concept which underlies a vast array of genres in gaming. Now, this is a significant historical assertion. Is it indeed true?

Re:What about a more fundamental influence? (1)

Nanookanano (213568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17977572)

I started playing D&D when it came in a white box, and the number one thing I know about role playing games is the quality of the gaming experience does not depend upon the system used. I've had good games using nothing more than Melee rules. The only thing that makes for a good game is the ability of the game master and the players to tell a good interactive story. That's why Gygax introduced the game by relating that the rules were only a guideline, and should be modified as needed to advance the game.

So it is with this "computer as storyteller" that I contend. I'm not saying it could never happen, even well. But I think it unlikely. Good storytelling demands one have imagination, judgement, aestitic sensibility, insight into the charactor of the audience, a wide-ranging foundation in literature, and (believe it or not) a morally sensitive awareness of the underlying import of the story as a whole. All of these thing play to the weakness of computer programming. As yet, I have never seen a computer game I could honestly consider a role playing game in the classic D&D sense.

I'm waiting for the advent of a computer program that assists role playing in the modes in which a computer excels. Crunch the odds, render the characters and monsters into active graphics and sound FX, keep records of character development, draw maps; all these things are great. Good DM's usually find the mechanics of running a campaign a pain the the tush, and taking care of it all will leave the DM to do what DM's do; tell the story.
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