View Full Version : Online Games vs RPG Systems

Rob Knotts
2007-04-27, 12:53 AM
I don't really like D&D all that much, so for years I've been worrying about attracting new members to my small gaming group when we're generally playing GURPS or some other point-based system. In the last year, though, World of Warcraft, and to a lesser extent City of Heroes, seem to be at least as popular among gamers as pen&paper RPGs.

Most gaming boards I've been to recently have had one or few very active WoW threads, and everytime I go to my local gaming store somebody's talking about thier WoW or CoH characters (especially the store's owner). Even in my own group, our game nights ground to a halt last year when everybody ended up having to move to different ends of city, so for a quite a while CoH has been our main method of socializing (trying to change that with a new M&M game, but it's been tough).

Nowadays I don't worry about D&D keeping new players away from our group, I worry about WoW. I didn't enjoy WoW when I tried playing it, but I did want to try playing it in the first place because I'm so impressed with the art, setting, and overall style of the game (own two of the artbooks, trying hard not to buy the hardcover game).

As far as pen&paper games go, I realize now that what system I use doesn't really matter nearly as much as being able to offer a different experience than online gaming: much wider character options, a spontaneous story from a live GM, and immediate, face-face socializing at the game table. Given all that, what numbers and dice we use hardly seem as important anymore (even tempted to go for the simplest system possible, like Fudge, Savage Worlds, or BESM).

2007-04-27, 01:03 AM
MMORPGs hurt tabletop RPGs. They're always on, cater to introverted gamers (internet is anonymous, no matter how social), and are really fun.

Run whatever brings them to the table.

2007-04-27, 01:19 AM
I don't think it's quite as much a risk as it could be. Granted, my group's had issues with MMO distractions, but that's mainly a fact about a couple of the players having a preexisting interest and a crowd of friends who also play. But I find there's plenty of things that an MMO just can't offer that a face to face can.

Of course, there's always the intermediate step of play-by-IM. (Yeah, I'm biased. It's my best medium.) Takes care of the distance issue pretty adequately, and I find in games with massive numbers of NPCs it helps by permitting color-coding. That and the fact that in my experience, it encourages the introverted gamers by giving them something between them and the group--and the window makes everyone the same volume. And people can reference logs, which means they're likelier to remember the plot point they were slipped a couple sessions ago. Works better with a system that has less emphasis on precise locations during combat, though.

Rob Knotts
2007-04-27, 01:36 AM
Works better with a system that has less emphasis on precise locations during combat, though.Never been all that comfortable with IM (some technical issues, dice rolling, a LOT of inane chatter and lazy typing) but I'm used to running games without a battle map...

2007-04-27, 01:51 AM
Online RPG games, and even offline RPG have great advantages over pen & paper:

- Even a good DM cannot chalange a computer in speed. The battles are quicker and more efficient, and there is no spent time opening books.
- Unlike human DMs, no one will bother wasting time arguing with a computer. From my experience, arguments betwen players and DMs are one of the more frustrating things in pen & paper.
- The computer DM has no weaknesses of boredom or spite. He will always be fair.

But there is one thing a computer is very limited in, originality and flexibility.
No matter what, if the computer generated adventure is to bring a vase from the 6th floor of the tower, you will have to do that.
No matter how many options are prepared and programed, players will always find a "hole" and think of something the DM didn't consider.
A good DM will be able to handle that, but a computer can't.

So if you want to chalange MMORPGs, the system doesn't matter and even better snacks on the table won't matter, originality is the angle to attack from.

2007-04-27, 03:21 AM
if only there were an RPG that synthesizes a human DM with the computer doing all the calculations. Like NWN with a much more streamlined DM interface and more powerful in-game 'toolkit' functions.

Rob Knotts
2007-04-27, 09:56 AM
That's bound to happen, but I'm afraid we're one or two (videogame) generations removed from it right now.

2007-04-27, 10:54 AM
I used to play computer RPG games, on and off line. But ever since I found a group of friends to play it pen and paper, I completely stopped with the computer games. The lack of options and roleplaying in computer games is a major disadvantage in my opinion, nothing can make up for that. And guards just don't say "it's a nice day, isn't it" to every single question you ask.

I do like pbp games because you do everything at your own pace, have plenty of time to look things up and it's easier to roleplay in any situation. The fact that it goes very slow doesn't bother me that much since my real life group meets less than once a month...

Viscount Einstrauss
2007-04-27, 11:00 AM
It's limited my player group quite a bit, but as horrible as I feel for saying it, it's for the better. Online games have weeded out the socially inept players that tend to drag down campaigns by being too shy to do anything meaningful, as they'd prefer to not be seen by the other players and have trouble speaking in groups.

Oddly enough, I'm the most socially inept of all of us (medical condition, literally can't help it), but that works to my favor since every instance of public speaking for me is basically ham acting. I'd prefer not to see anyone more awkward than myself at the table.

2007-04-27, 11:01 AM
MMORPGs (even on roleplaying servers), offline computer RPGs, and pencil&paper RPGs are completely different games - worrying that MMORPGs drive people away from pnp is like saying that, for example, football drives people away from basketball. People talk a lot about their WoW characters because WoW is a good game.

Rob Knotts
2007-04-27, 12:02 PM
worrying that MMORPGs drive people away from pnp is like saying that, for example, football drives people away from basketball.You're missing the point. MMOs and pen&paper games are seperate forms of entertainment that are both largely drawing from the same type of fanbase. If you want to compare it to sports, it's a lot more like the difference between watching sports on TV and playing sports with friends at the local park/court.

2007-04-27, 12:03 PM
Or you could get the World of Warcraft RPG which is a d20 game (there seems to be this delusion among people that it uses its own system), and use it to lure people who like WoW but wouldn't mind something more interactive (yes, more interactive than an online rpg) into a pen and paper group. I play World of Warcraft, and World of Warcraft D&D. I play "regular" D&D too, but World of Warcraft p&p is more fun for some members of our group because it gives them an automatic reference so they know a little bit about the world. They know that Stormwind, unless the DM says otherwise, is the human capital of the alliance. And they know that, unless the DM says otherwise, Orgrimmar, on the other side of the world, is the horde capital where the Orcs live. Infact, my cousin's girlfriend who plays with us, absolutely hated D&D before because she always felt lost, and confused by some of the rules. Now that she's played WoW p&p she enjoys "regular" D&D games, because she got to learn to like the rules with something more familiar to her.

Storm Bringer
2007-04-27, 12:44 PM
The thing i find with Online games that bugs me is the..............sameness. take a random 10th level WOW fighter, and 90% he's got roughly the same skills, armour and such as thousands of other 10th WOW fighters. CoH and Guild wars don't quite suffer this as much, but it's still thier. the character has a little bit of an identikit feel. You do the same quests for the same peopel for the same rewards.

I've NEVER had this feeling with a pen and paper PC, in any system. A 10th level fighter in DnD could be damm near anything. He'll have different weapons, different armour, different skills and most importantly different history to any other 10th level fighter he'll meet. No other fighter stood on the walls of the Black Keep of Doom and fought off 3 deamons while the rest of the party cilmbed up. No other fighter died saving the wizard form the fire of a red dragon. no other fighter..................

You get the idea.

My pen and paper characters each feel different and fresh. they've all evovled along different lines to fit different needs for different parties.

that's the advantage pen and papers got over online. And it'll last until someone manages to write a program that lets the DM do everything he can in pen and paper, with the ease he can in pen and paper.

2007-04-28, 11:24 PM
CRPGs can be good (Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment), but they are no replacement for Pen and Paper RPGs. Multi Player RPGs can also be good fun (Neverwinter Nights), but they won't replace Pen and Paper either and for the same reasons - the only advantage they have is visual presentation, they lack significant interaction. Massive Online Multi Player Games suffer even worse from 'kill the rat' quests, but they have an entirely separate problem - you can't keep the 'jerks' out of the game. Much like Magic the Gathering once did, these games tend to monopolise the time and money of gamers, but only for a limited period.

2007-04-29, 04:11 AM
So if you want to chalange MMORPGs, the system doesn't matter and even better snacks on the table won't matter, originality is the angle to attack from.

Yeah, pretty much.

A pen and paper RPG run like a CRPG has no advantages over a CRPG.