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    Default A model of immersion

    On the subject of immersion:

    I have a model of immersion that I think is pretty accurate - as in, it pretty accurately predicts when people won't be immersed, why it matters to some people more than others (usually people that are long-term players). Even why 4e completely shatters immersion for some people while other people are fine with it. And I can completely explain where I think 4e made some serious, serious missteps in their design (even though I disagree with many about what they are).

    At a high level, I think:

    immersion = Flow State + Focus on the Fiction + Focus on Character

    What's Flow State? Okay, so to explain this I like to start with the four-level model of competence.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence

    Short version:

    Unconscious Incompetence: We don't know that a skill exists, and can't do it. For instance, someone that had played 1e and started playing 3e would have no idea about optimizing builds for hitting certain prestige classes. They're unaware that it's a thing at all.

    Conscious Incompetence: You know that a skill exists, but can't do it. For instance, after seeing a 3e build, the 1e player goes "well, holy shirtballs, I didn't know you could do that. That's cool, but I have no idea how to do that."

    Conscious Competence: You know that a skill exists, and you can do it when you focus on it.

    Unconscious Competence: You know that a skill exists, and you can do it without even thinking about it. In fact, you might have a hard time thinking about it or explaining what you're doing.

    Realistically, Unconscious Competence links back to Unconscious Incompetence, as you aren't thinking about what you're doing, and so don't know of the additional things you could do to get better.

    Okay, so to hit a Flow State you have to have Unconscious Competence in the game you're playing. It's a requirement. You're thinking about the problem space, not the usage of the tools you have. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

    Chess doesn't hit "immersion" because there's no fiction and no character. In an immersive situation, the rules disappear, you're identifying with your character, and you have a connection to the world.

    This leads to a few predictions. Primarily - immersion will be broken when Flow state is broken - essentially when players have to start focusing on the rules and how to apply them. Perhaps even more explicitly, when the general flow and procedures of how things work changes. (Using similar procedures but with different math doesn't seem to impact things as much, observationally).

    Personal story. I'm old-school, and I also got into Fate in a big way. And when I started playing Fate, it wasn't immersive. There were lots of things that weren't what I was used to, and I had to think heavily about how to apply them. I had to ask different questions than I was used to, and think about different things. I remember distinctly thinking that it was kind of neat having my character slightly at arm's length.

    But then the weirdest thing happened. I played Fate a lot and.... it became immersive. Those weird thought patterns became second nature, and I found Fate to be at least as immersive as most games I had played, if not more so. In terms of the four levels of competence, with Fate I was put back down at the 2nd level of competence, and moved up the levels. And when I hit Unconscious Competence? Immersion was restored. And this was made easier because I went into it knowing that I was going to be doing some learning, and the game was obviously different enough that I wasn't trying to use my existing skills.

    So, 4e.

    4e is anti-immersive for many people, and I will never in a million years deny that. It's also not (demonstrably) anti-immersive for many others.

    So..... why?

    Because 4e is a terrible design for players of 3.x. It is the Uncanny Valley of D&D. While Fate was obviously a different game, 4e looks like "standard D&D". Until it doesn't. And that's the problem.

    Remember how I said that Fate made me drop to the 2nd level, but it was obvious that it was doing so? 4e doesn't do that. 4e is a different game, with different expectations, and often different procedures.

    So if you take a 3x player, throw them at 4e, they're thinking "cool, D&D, but with different math." And that's generally doable. But then.... where is the Knock spell? It's not there! Why do Fighters have daily abilities???? That's wizard stuff! Why is this monster doing so much damage at 1st level, that'll kill a new character!

    And so on, and so on. Their expectations are completely violated. Unlike Fate, which said "hey, this is different, you're gonna have to think about it", playing 4e is akin to driving down the freeway and suddenly hitting a brick wall. And then another. And then another. Note that 5e keeps a lot of 4e design, but packages and presents it in a way that is much closer to 3e and prior versions, and has the numbers more "in line" with those versions. And that's enough to prevent that jarring disconnect that happens.

    So, why did 4e not bug me, personally? Because I'm not a heavy D&D player. I barely played 3e. I stopped playing 1/2e in the mid 80s, and migrated to other systems. So when I came to start playing 4e again, I wasn't in that state of deep unconscious competence. And so 4e didn't yank me out of it. I had no expectations to be broken.

    But for someone deeply into 3.x? Yeah, it's going to slam you out of immersion, HARD, every single time.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    On the subject of immersion:

    I have a model of immersion that I think is pretty accurate -
    Good post, well explained. I think your model might reasonably cover most of the ground but I believe you conclusion is flawed.

    My reasoning follows this line: My current group has run D&Ds 3 to 5, Champions, Traveller, Shadowrun, and Paranoia (and a few others but those are the big ones). Only in D&D 4e after 20 to 30 sessions did we still have basically zero immersion. At the end of a year of playing we still joked about the 'firecube' spell, the issues with horse-cubes, that flying creatures pushed us to have a vertical grid where the halfling's daggers had the same vertical reach as the goliaths greatsword, and other things.

    In all the different games there was a period of adjustment, and all of the combat brought the rule structures to the forefront. But only in D&D 4e did we treat all rules interactions like chess rules, excluding the fiction for the sake of following the rules. Champions & Shadowrun arguably have even crunchier combat & some non-combat than 4e, but people were still playing in character when we were using the rules to resolve things. Champions has the PCs relying heavily on prebuilt powers, D&D 3e ToB ran on 'fighter powers', D&D 5e has 'fighter dailies'. But only in 4e did we consider the game rules to actively oppose roleplay.

    I think, for us, it was the strict adherence to "square everything" and an implicit "only use rules backed powers/abilities" that 4e pushed* that stopped us. Our characters still felt like a collection of power cards attached to a chess piece even after we had the rules memorized and mastered. So the conclusion that its basically a learning curve plus expectations held over from a specific previous D&D edition doesn't match my experiences, because my group passed the learning curve and at least a couple of us did approach 4e as an entirely new game instead of as a version of 3e.

    *re: "only use rules backed powers/abilities"
    Our DMs didn't overrule, rewrite, or ditch the DMG. They pretty much followed it to the letter for any rules they knew/remembered. This lead to, as far as I recall, every combat action that wasn't a AEDU power to be a strength check or a dexterity skill check, and nearly every significant non-combat activity to be a skill challenge involving all party members who were present on scene. As we did not always have someone playing a str-fighter or dex-rogue/ranger, and in fact several of us never played any str/dex classes at all, this meant that in-combat level-appropriate DCs were mostly failures and basic opportunity attacks were completely ineffective. This, combined with the final (3rd or 4th version? don't recall) decent skill challenge rules/numbers rewrite coming out 6 months to a year after we stopped playing, meant that any natural choice of activity that wasn't backed up by an AEDU power or "my class is good at this" skill became to be assumed to fail. And I need to stress that we didn't start with that assumption, we ended a year long campaign with it.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    So, why did 4e not bug me, personally? Because I'm not a heavy D&D player. I barely played 3e. I stopped playing 1/2e in the mid 80s, and migrated to other systems. So when I came to start playing 4e again, I wasn't in that state of deep unconscious competence. And so 4e didn't yank me out of it. I had no expectations to be broken.

    But for someone deeply into 3.x? Yeah, it's going to slam you out of immersion, HARD, every single time.
    That's a very interesting post. Most of my systems mastery was AD&D 1e and BECMI ish, with a bit of 2e and small bits of 3e. I then didn't play D&D for over a decade.

    Playing 5e was at first a case of many expectations broken, and it really bugged me. And then I just embraced it as being "a new game" thanks to some advice from other players and worked my way back to comfort. That's when I began to enjoy it. I think your immersion/competence points touch on why I began to enjoy it.
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    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    This is interesting.

    Back when 4e came out, I was heavily into 3.5. I still have a mountain of 3.5 books on my shelves. I also have quite a bit of 2e stuff and my ever-evolving 2e home doc is sitting at a comfortable 22 pages, with more being added in the future because that's how the 2e doc that started it's life ages ago goes: it's a living and evolving document.

    4e however, for me, clicked when it released. I haven't really had any immersion problem with the game.

    I don't know if it's because for me, I remember the 2e > 3e edition shift, and boy was it a shift. If the internet was as widespread back then as it was when 4e came out, i'm pretty sure we would've been talking about how 4e was in actuality the second great edition war. Not that there was no gnashing of teeth during the 2e>3e shift. out of morbid curiosity i googled to see if one of the old sites was still around decrying 3e and lo and behold, it still exists as a husk, no articles written in the past 3 years, no forum posts in the past year and yet still shambling along on the internet like a directionless zombie.

    And it still has a collection of the hottest of takes, fresh from the year 2000.

    But going back to 4e, for me it clicked because it offered a different experience then 2e and 3e. I came into the game open and ready and willing to get something new and let myself get absorbed into it. I've already bought into the ideas 4e offered so my mind is more then willing to ignore issues. Dr Who fans may better relate if I call it a Perception Filter of sorts. My mental state had already primed me to ignore the inconsistencies, even if i was subconsciously aware of them.

    Looking at D&D, my top 3 choices in no particular order
    2e is my quick and dirty, lethal D&D where backups characters are plentiful and your life expectancy is low
    3e is a game where i can fine tune a character to run like a precision sports car and if there's something i want to do, there's probably a rule or sourcebook out there, it's both fiddly and oddly freeing
    4e gave me BIG DANG HEROES D&D right out of the starting gate and mixed it with tactical combat i found missing from the previous 2 editions

    This is probably why 5e has yet to really grab me.

    I wasn't sold on it when it first came out. The system read as not doing anything particularly better then a version of D&D I didn't already own, so I didn't feel compelled to look too deeply into it. Note that we can't say it wasn't due to not having the opportunity to play the game cooling my feelings on it: during 4e's launch I was in the middle of an ongoing 3.5 campaign with my main group and we simply transitioned to pathfinder after that campaign was over. I don't think we ever played ANY 4e in my main group outside of a couple one-shots at most, but I was still hyped for the game and bough it's products out of actual interest in what it offered.

    5e cleaned things up for sure. Mechanically I have more issues with the 3 previous versions of D&D then I do with 5e, and while I don't agree with some of the directions the designers chose, like the low bounded accuracy, that's more due to personal taste then me having issues with how it mechanically runs so it gets a pass. But a lot of those issues with older systems, and how I handle them, are part of the game's personality and feel.

    I could rant for ages on my problems with 3e, a personal project and fantasy heartbreaker came out of me wanting to see if i could "fix" 4e as a design exercise, and yes 2e can be janky and scuffed at times, but as an example the 2e Mythos Priests are still the best interpretation of the cleric, IMO, and i will fite u if disagree. But nothing about 5e really managed to grab my attention.

    with 4e it gave me something new to digest and jump headlong into. something new to explore mechanically while still being thematically D&D. I already slew my edition change bugbears ages ago and learning new systems usually gave me something I might be able to back-port or reverse engineer. it felt exciting learning this game and when i did eventually have the opportunity to play it, it was a blast.

    and until a while ago I hadn't really had the opportunity to play 5e proper (my main gaming group is currently playing the 5e derived Adventures in Middle Earth, but that's a different beast of expectations then base 5e). I'll be the first to admit my initial exposure to 5e proper wasn't the best. it was rough.

    but we had a post-campaign meetup the week before to decide on what we would play next, and had our session 0 proper yesterday night to discuss characters and more about the setting of the module, where i'll be starting at 1st level this time, this time having the opportunity to give the system a proper college try.

    But i'm still missing the same excitement I had for 4e, or even the thought of hacking out some mechanics of other games and dropping them into 2e (i have a rough idea for some overland travel mechanics to spice things up I'm stewing on based off of AiME's Journey rules, using weighted hex flowers for weather and random encounter tables).

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I must disagree. I have played a lot of RPGs over the years that aren't D&D but which don't break my immersion the way that 4E does.

    Unless you are somehow saying that Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Rogue Trader, Deadlands, Skies of Glass, Alternity, Star Wars, Fallout, Lord of the Rings, Rollmaster, Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Chronicles of Darkness, Riddle of Steel, Exalted, Hackmaster, GURPS, and many others that I am forgetting at the moment are somehow more "Dungeons and Dragons" than a game which prints Dungeons and Dragons on the cover.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I must disagree. I have played a lot of RPGs over the years that aren't D&D but which don't break my immersion the way that 4E does.
    I think that's the point - because they obviously aren't D&D and you don't expect them to be D&D, you start from the perspective of "known ignorance" and can then learn how to grok them, where-as in 4E it looks familiar enough that your starting point is "X works wrong" rather than "I need to learn how to represent X".

    Now whether that's the case, hard to say. I personally haven't experienced a particular lack of immersion in 4E - I have issues with it, but that isn't one of them. For that matter, IME that kind of "in the moment, forgetting that you're just sitting at a table playing an RPG" immersion is rare in any system. More commonly, I look for "Does the decision process OOC feel like it correlates to the character's decision process IC?"

    Somewhat tangential:
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    There's another factor that I think makes me unsatisfied with 4E and 5E (and a number of other RPGs) - the idea that you can become a Super-Killer and maybe a Super-Spy, but nothing else - not a Super-Teacher or a Super-Leader or a Super-Builder. That great and mighty spells exist to zap someone into dust (or prevent being zapped), but if you want to improve conditions in a city ... eh, idk, that's too complicated.

    And I'm not saying that's anti-immersive, or even unrealistic (given that we're talking about fictional settings here). But I find it depressing.

    And no, 3E doesn't support this as intended mechanics either. It's more like how you can use TAS tricks to program Tetris inside Mario. But at least you can do it.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-11-17 at 05:43 PM.

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    That’s a theory I suppose, but I haven’t had a similar experiance playing other editions of other similar games.

    I feel like 4Es breaks from immersion come from a disconnect between the game’s rules and how scenes play out in real life or in fiction.


    I have never played Fate, but I likewise find immersion in similar games impossible as they constantly demand I switch between author and actor stance and never let me stay in the head of any one character long enough to become immersed in the first place.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    commonly, I look for "Does the decision process OOC feel like it correlates to the character's decision process IC?"
    I think this is the most relevant factor for what I define as "immersion" in an RPG. System mastery, what I feel kyoru is describing, does make a difference, but it isn't the whole of it. Understanding of the setting and general expectations goes into this for players, as well. Your OOC decision process will be skewed if you don't understand some aspects of the world and the genre the characters are in. I think the degree to which the mechanics of the game accurately map to the setting and genre of the fiction have a role to play in immersion experience.

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I think that's the point - because they obviously aren't D&D and you don't expect them to be D&D, you start from the perspective of "known ignorance" and can then learn how to grok them, where-as in 4E it looks familiar enough that your starting point is "X works wrong" rather than "I need to learn how to represent X".

    Now whether that's the case, hard to say.
    I would doubt that. Shadowrun 1e to 3e to 5e made massive changes to the dice rolling and many subsystems changed to be almost completely different. Champions 2e to 5e has several pretty big changes to character builds and several aspects of combat. Several editions of Paranoia are complete mechanics rewrites from others.

    In all those cases I didn't have the ongoing dissonance in the game that kills immersion each time the combat or skills rules are invoked like D&D 4e did to me. The theory of expectation doesn't hold with my experience. The shift from AD&D to 3e was completed in like 4 or 5 sessions before the rules stopped being an issue. When I picked up Pendragon for the first time there was immersion killing, but it ended as soon as I understood which version of the Arthurian myth cycle was being emulated which was half way through the first session.

    My Pendragon experience is close to the theory, but it stopped being an issue during the first session. Differences in Shadowrun rules tripped me up for a good month or two from 1e to 3e, but it never stopped immersion at all. Theres a Champions edition change that requires rebuilding characters using a different point value and calculations, but not-Hulk still plays & rps as not-Hulk even when its combat move rules changed. None of them felt like chess with power cards and none of the issues lasted longer than mastering the rules.

    ...Having thought about this more there is one thing... two things that stand out. In D&D 4e everything was square or cubic, there were no natural distances or forms, and we sometimes forgot what we were fighting because everything was a bag of hit points with some attack powers and thats how you interacted with them. In D&D 4e, because all movement is in squares, as soon as we started moving vertically in combat (which we often did, for tactical high ground reasons if nothing else) it invoked a need to use vertical squares instead of feet/meters and reduced all small & medium creatures to having the same functional height & reach. Then, it also felt that all creatures had been reduced to simplified combat blocks. The differences between a huge ooze, huge snake, and huge elephant were just the move speed and a rider on their attack. That may not have been perfectly true, they probably had stats & skills listed, but from the player's perspective they were basically indistinguishable except by the rider on their attack (moderate almost-an-exception for stuff with ranged/area attacks that distinguished them from melee hit point sacks). Then the only way to interact with creatures in combat was with attack powers and the only way to defeat enemies was through hit point attrition. We didn't have charms, holds, trips, sickening clouds, persuasion, intimidation, or walls of stone to use. We had attack powers that did damage with a rider and sometimes the rider might trip, fear, or stun something.

    Again, this might not all be perfectly true in an idealized game with an idealized DM who used every optional rule in the DMG or something. But it was how we experienced D&D 4e fir a year long campaign, as a set of rules acted out on a grid that was quite rigid and punishing if you didn't have a character power or skill description explicitly allowing you to do something. It was not something natively condusive to immersion.
    "And this, too, shall pass away."

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I'm curious about the Horsecube thing, actually. Because that's also the rule in 3.5 and PF1. Horses are cubes, all creatures are cubes. Fireball might be a (rough) sphere, but a Huge ooze is the same shape on the grid as a Huge snake.

    And when vertical movement comes up in combat, all Small-Medium creatures do occupy a single 5' cube and can attack the 5' cube above them (and not the one above that). Exact height comes up in some situations like "how high a Jump check do you need to grab a 10' ledge", but most of the time people and monsters are cubes.

    3.0 did have non-cubic spaces, but they were still orthogonal boxes in 5' increments.


    Incidentally, I did hate the 1:1 diagonal thing (which is also the underlying rule that creates Firecubes) at first, and thought it would create all kinds of stupid situations.

    In practice, those never occurred, and the time savings is significant. So much so that I use it in 3.x now.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-11-17 at 09:56 PM.

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    3.0 had 10 foot by 5 foot horses, 3.5 had it that a horse that was fighting controlled a 10 foot by 10 foot area, but in neither case did the horses count as being 10 feet tall under any circumstances. Interestingly height was never constrained to battlemat squares, it was always in feet (or meters depending on where and which language your book was in). The squares were used as convinence by people, but they were purely horizontal and all measurements were in real distances.

    But 4e did push you to vertical squares because of the movement and diagonal measurements, and didn't make exceptions for creature height... except I think vertical jumps & grabbing onto terrain to pull yourself up. Thats the only reference to height using feet that I recall. So the creatures did end up turning into cubes with no actual size in feet or anything. And there was some weird jank with mounted combat that I can't recall off the top of my head but we ended up all agreeing to never use mounts in combat. Maybe there was some sentence about it in the DMG or MM, but as players we kept occasionally forgetting what we were fighting because the only differences we saw were the attack riders and sometimes something flew.

    Maybe if we'd spent a few hundred on minis it wouldn't have been such a big deal.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I do think your basic model of immersion, namely that it relies on the degree to which a skill has been internalized, is correct. Whether the details of how you apply it to explaining pitfalls of 4th edition is correct, I'll leave mostly alone. I will note, however, that the effect you describe is known to occur with various physical skills. A good example is driving. For some reason, there's two to three competing standards for manual gear shift in passenger cars. They mostly differ on just one thing: where they put the reverse gear. Which means that a person with great amount of experience driving one type of car can flawlessly drive the other right up to the point where they have to shift to reverse, at which point they'll unconsciously move the stick to exact opposite direction of where they should.

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Unless you are somehow saying that Shadowrun, World of Darkness, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Rogue Trader, Deadlands, Skies of Glass, Alternity, Star Wars, Fallout, Lord of the Rings, Rollmaster, Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Chronicles of Darkness, Riddle of Steel, Exalted, Hackmaster, GURPS, and many others that I am forgetting at the moment are somehow more "Dungeons and Dragons" than a game which prints Dungeons and Dragons on the cover.
    No. I'm saying that they don't trigger your "this should work this way and not that way reflexes the same way.

    When we know we're doing something different, we can smoothly shift out of unconscious competence. The more something looks like something we're unconsciously competent at, the easier it is to shift into that mode - and the harder it is when you're quickly and abruptly thrown out of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Playing 5e was at first a case of many expectations broken, and it really bugged me. And then I just embraced it as being "a new game" thanks to some advice from other players and worked my way back to comfort. That's when I began to enjoy it. I think your immersion/competence points touch on why I began to enjoy it.
    Right. THat's the key. If you accept "it's a new game", you're consciously putting yourself at stage 2 or 3, and so aren't engaging in the "default" behaviors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    In all the different games there was a period of adjustment, and all of the combat brought the rule structures to the forefront. But only in D&D 4e did we treat all rules interactions like chess rules, excluding the fiction for the sake of following the rules....
    Our DMs didn't overrule, rewrite, or ditch the DMG. They pretty much followed it to the letter for any rules they knew/remembered. This lead to, as far as I recall, every combat action that wasn't a AEDU power to be a strength check or a dexterity skill check, and nearly every significant non-combat activity to be a skill challenge involving all party members who were present on scene.
    Sounds like your GM had a lot to do with, to be honest.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I think that's the point - because they obviously aren't D&D and you don't expect them to be D&D, you start from the perspective of "known ignorance" and can then learn how to grok them, where-as in 4E it looks familiar enough that your starting point is "X works wrong" rather than "I need to learn how to represent X".
    Right, and it looks just enough like D&D that you see X and Y and immediately presume Z should be there, but it's not. But when you see A and B, you don't get that reaction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That’s a theory I suppose, but I haven’t had a similar experiance playing other editions of other similar games.

    I feel like 4Es breaks from immersion come from a disconnect between the game’s rules and how scenes play out in real life or in fiction.
    Sure, but I think that disconnect exists in LOTS AND LOTS of places in LOTS AND LOTS of games. We've just internalized a lot of them. Hit Points for one, the problem of "blocking someone running in a field" is another.

    I had a lot of those issues with D&D, which is why I migrated away from D&D in the '80s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I have never played Fate, but I likewise find immersion in similar games impossible as they constantly demand I switch between author and actor stance and never let me stay in the head of any one character long enough to become immersed in the first place.
    Yeah, for me, I got there in an interesting way. I started playing Fate thinking "this is a different type of game". I was actually surprised when I found it starting to become immersive - and I don't think I could have if I hadn't gone through the "this is different, get rid of my assumptions" stage first.

    That really does seem to be the key - being willing to treat something as a different game, or even a different type of game.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I think kyoryu's hit the nail on the head. The difference between Conscious and Unconscious Competence perfectly encapsulates why I never got quite "immersed" in Exalted--there are so many complicated and interlocking rules elements that even if you're comfortable with the mechanics it's hard not to think in terms of explicit Charms and effects. Mutants and Masterminds, on the other hand, I've always found to be pretty "immersive," less because of simplicity and more because the mechanics generally match up so well with in-game instincts and tropes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    I think, for us, it was the strict adherence to "square everything" and an implicit "only use rules backed powers/abilities" that 4e pushed* that stopped us....Our DMs didn't overrule, rewrite, or ditch the DMG. They pretty much followed it to the letter for any rules they knew/remembered.
    This actually maps pretty well with what kyoryu was describing with their gradual embrace of Fate. Part of the process of learning a new system is mapping out the fuzzier boundaries of the rules-- when you don't really need to bother rolling a die, what sort of things you can actually do with a given skill, how much leeway you should give reasonable-but-not-RAW uses of specific abilities. 4e changed a bunch of those assumptions, didn't (iirc) do a good job explaining the new logic, and thus lost people.

    On a related note, I'm kind of curious how 4e would go over if it was released now. At the time, D&D culture (at least in its online incarnation as I remember it) was very interested in RAW and simulations--the usual practice was to look at the rules and say "okay, this is what X does, how does that change the in-game world?" When it came to the fuzzier areas of the game, the general instinct was to look at the written rules first. Not in a slavishly devoted way or anything, I'm certainly not trying to make 3e players out to be hyperliteral robots, but many players would start with the written rules and build their way outwards from there, instead of the "fiction first, rules second" approach used in most rules-light games these days.

    But you know what else takes a sort of 'fiction first, rules second" approach, and intentionally leaves large fuzzy areas for groups to interpret in ways that work well for them? 5e. There are more non-combat-oriented abilities than I remember in 4e, but they're still a lot rarer and more open-ended than combat ones. And a lot of people still fought back (including myself), for one reason or another... but almost a decade later, we're used to that sort of approach. 4e wouldn't be nearly as much of a conceptual shift nowadays--it would be more like taking the ideas of 5e one step farther than exploring a totally new style of game.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Sure, but I think that disconnect exists in LOTS AND LOTS of places in LOTS AND LOTS of games. We've just internalized a lot of them. Hit Points for one, the problem of "blocking someone running in a field" is another.

    I had a lot of those issues with D&D, which is why I migrated away from D&D in the '80s.

    Curious what you mean by "blocking someone running in a field," could you explain?

    HP is a pretty bad rule, but conceptually it makes sense; if you hit someone they get hurt and if you hurt them enough they die.

    Compare that to the utter confusion of my first few minutes playing 4E where if my paladin attacks someone, and that someone attacks anyone (whom I consider an ally), they take radiant damage because....Pelor's Space Lasers? Unless of course I walk away, or if the ranger or the fighter attack them after I did, which cancels my effect, and of course I get yelled at if I attack something after the ranger or the fighter did because now I am cancelling their effect.

    Yeah... that tracks as a reasonable abstraction for how combat works in real life or fantasy fiction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Sounds like your GM had a lot to do with, to be honest.
    Thing is, I can't believe that. We're talking about a DM who ran great games in 3e, 5e, Starfinder and multiple editions of Shadowrun & Warhammer Fantasy. We played 4e for a full calendar year of (nearly) weekly games. We had the rules down pat. Running and playing a game for that long, mastering the written rules, and somehow still being "novice DM" somehow unable to learn the system or use it? It simply fails to make sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    This actually maps pretty well with what kyoryu was describing with their gradual embrace of Fate. Part of the process of learning a new system is mapping out the fuzzier boundaries of the rules-- when you don't really need to bother rolling a die, what sort of things you can actually do with a given skill, how much leeway you should give reasonable-but-not-RAW uses of specific abilities. 4e changed a bunch of those assumptions, didn't (iirc) do a good job explaining the new logic, and thus lost people.
    True, but a long term group of capable, experienced people who can swap through 10+ game systems* and have immersive games in all of them, failing with 4e (and only 4e) for an entire year? Nothing ever took us more than two months to adapt to, except we were all apparently incapable of getting 4e? You understand my issue here, with years of experience across systems & editions the group just can't immerse & rp in one single edition of one single game because... we all can't understand different expectations or assumptions?

    Now 4e was decent on the mechanics, a few rough spots but we've played worse. But we played for a year before we dropped it, beacuse it didn't rp with us. Why would we have no problems with immersion across years of different system and editions except D&D 4e if the reason is we couldn't adapt or understand? The opening post's theory is good, and I have experienced it. But it basically says you shouldn't have immersion or rp inability problems once you master the mechanics & rules. But for us 4e, alone of all the games we've played, that never happened.

    *yeah, some of us are pushing... no, we are at over 20 years of gaming togather now. Good times, good friends.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Compare that to the utter confusion of my first few minutes playing 4E where if my paladin attacks someone, and that someone attacks anyone (whom I consider an ally), they take radiant damage because....Pelor's Space Lasers?
    Yes, Pelor's Space Lasers. By which I mean "It's divine magic, Paladins are explicitly supernatural, how is this even different from Sanctuary breaking if you attack, or from Mark of Justice smacking people when they break the rule?"

    That said, mark exclusivity is weird IC. I can buy the Paladin's mark breaking when someone else gets involved because gods are fickle and you broke the terms of the challenge, but why the hell does the Fighter's mark, which is just "being in your face focused on you" get broken by a Paladin or Swordmage doing something from a distance?
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Yes, Pelor's Space Lasers. By which I mean "It's divine magic, Paladins are explicitly supernatural, how is this even different from Sanctuary breaking if you attack, or from Mark of Justice smacking people when they break the rule?"

    That said, mark exclusivity is weird IC. I can buy the Paladin's mark breaking when someone else gets involved because gods are fickle and you broke the terms of the challenge, but why the hell does the Fighter's mark, which is just "being in your face focused on you" get broken by a Paladin or Swordmage doing something from a distance?
    Mark of Justice makes sense to me as a spell. But yeah, I agree Sanctuary is pretty terrible and immersion breaking*. It just comes up pretty rarely, its an obscure spell that I can only recall being cast once, whereas 4Es immersion breaking mechanics are all over and many are always on display front and center.


    *Actually, that might be a part of it. Sanctuary is one of the few spells in the game that has no fluff whatsoever, and it is impossible to tell what is actually happening in the fiction when it is cast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    True, but a long term group of capable, experienced people who can swap through 10+ game systems* and have immersive games in all of them, failing with 4e (and only 4e) for an entire year? ... But it basically says you shouldn't have immersion or rp inability problems once you master the mechanics & rules. But for us 4e, alone of all the games we've played, that never happened.
    Yeah, that's very fair-- I was using your experience more as a launching-off point to talk about the greater community. It's also a very useful thing to remember that everyone has systems that never "click" for them no matter what they do. (In my case... probably Fate, to be honest, I've seen plenty of advice and suggestions and it's just never quite worked for me).

    ...one of these days I should probably go back and reread the 4e core books.

    Also, sorry, I missed:
    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
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    There's another factor that I think makes me unsatisfied with 4E and 5E (and a number of other RPGs) - the idea that you can become a Super-Killer and maybe a Super-Spy, but nothing else - not a Super-Teacher or a Super-Leader or a Super-Builder. That great and mighty spells exist to zap someone into dust (or prevent being zapped), but if you want to improve conditions in a city ... eh, idk, that's too complicated.
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    The only rules-heavy game I've seen that does a decent job of this is Exalted, where every skill has its own set of insane superpowers associated with it. Super-Leader? Here, this one lets you get the project done in ten weeks instead of ten months, and that one lets you force your followers to follow moral codes. Super-Teacher? Check out this (explicit) combo that lets you donate xp to your students, then get back more than you spent. Super-Builder?
    How about the ability to make your works flat-out immune to anything short of a dragon, or declare "ha-ha, that was a Doombot you just killed" if you die. The system is a ponderous mess in a lot of ways, but it certainly spends more time on non-combat abilities than anything else I can think of.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I think kyoryu's model makes sense, although I don't know that immersion necessarily means the same thing to everyone or manifests the same way.
    I don't find thinking about and using rules particularly intrusive, rather I enjoy it as part of the game playing experience, and the kind of engagement and full attention I get when things are rolling along is what I'd call being immersed. The unconscious competence and flow helps a lot in making things roll along, but it's not like I'm not aware I'm thinking about it, it's just an aid in not making things stagnate. That's immersion to me, but the entire... feeling like you're really there, thinking like you're someone else? Not really a thing. Sounds pretty weird to me, honestly. I know the milieu and events aren't real, and simulating a full person is quite clearly impossible. I can know them, though, like I can know any other characters, and get flow in playing the character with their personality, priorities, and quirks. I suspect given a long enough, serious enough game I might even know them as well as I know real people, not that I expect that to ever manifest. Of course, it doesn't work out with every character, though. A lot just never click.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Yes, Pelor's Space Lasers. By which I mean "It's divine magic, Paladins are explicitly supernatural, how is this even different from Sanctuary breaking if you attack, or from Mark of Justice smacking people when they break the rule?"

    That said, mark exclusivity is weird IC. I can buy the Paladin's mark breaking when someone else gets involved because gods are fickle and you broke the terms of the challenge, but why the hell does the Fighter's mark, which is just "being in your face focused on you" get broken by a Paladin or Swordmage doing something from a distance?
    Yeah, pretty sure the overwriting clause is just in there because it's the simplest solution to an otherwise degenerate situation, and it seems that 4e largely assumes the simplest patch is the least intrusive. YMMV. That said, Fighters choose if they're marking or not and the Paladin's Divine Challenge is a separate ability used with a different action, so those things won't overwrite unless the player chooses to do so. Rangers don't mark, anyway, so it doesn't interfere or get interfered with regardless, and is pretty much always going to be happy for someone else to be marking the enemy.

    Actually, this might be part of how 4e doesn't break my immersion but can break somebody else's: I'm fine with the coarse approximations and handwaving a lot of things I perceive as minor if it keeps the game running better, and that's generally what 4e does. The difference in whether a few corner squares are in the AoE or not matters a whole lot less to me than the time and effort saved by just doing simple squares on a square grid. Same thing with diagonal movement: when you're moving on the grid, the scale of map is generally so small there's little appreciable difference (and other methods, like every second diagonal square costing double are of course not actually correct, either, just slightly more accurate approximations). Marked is pretty simple condition, but it has some conditionals involved, so keeping the messiness from getting out of hand seems a reasonable priority to me. If that means that sometimes the Fighter just lets their allies take over bullying an enemy from them instead of ganging up, well, I'm okay with that. It'd be nice if it there was some other elegant solution. The Defender Aura ability in Essentials works better in some ways and less in others, but it still gets a bit weird when you have multiple defenders.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddacku View Post
    Rangers don't mark, anyway, so it doesn't interfere or get interfered with regardless, and is pretty much always going to be happy for someone else to be marking the enemy.
    Apparently this was clarified in errata, but when we were playing it certainly seemed like hunter's quarry marked creatures.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Apparently this was clarified in errata, but when we were playing it certainly seemed like hunter's quarry marked creatures.
    I'm pretty sure it always called it designating your quarry. Marked is a specific condition and Hunter's Quarry never referenced it or applied it.
    I think there's a paragon path that does add a mark to it, though.

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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    the stuff about competence can help, but I don't think it's the main factor.

    to me, the most important thing about immersion is to be able to pretend that what's happening is real. and for that, i believe the most important thing is logical consistency.
    i work very well with 3.x, because it has some decent underlying logic for how things are supposed to work. fighters can use abilities in a way that you would expect a fighting guy to. wizardry has some basic premises, and spells work according to them.
    4e? to quote roy, "you have the ability to alter the past by impressing yourself, but you can't swing your sword the same way twice in a row?" How am I supposed to suspend my disbelief for that?
    and i also don't like 5e for some martial abilities that work in a similar way.

    before someone mentions it, no, this is not the "guy at the gym fallacy". It's a matter of consistency. I can perfectly accept a superhuman warrior punching through walls, or blocking a sword with his teeth. I can't accept this superhuman warrior being able to do it once per day - you either can punch through walls, or you can't. i can accept a stamina mechanic like dragonage, where physical abilities have a cooldown of sorts. and of course, vancian magic is perfect for explaining once-per-day abilities.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    I remember the big problem with paladin marking was that I was playing a charisma based character and the only at will attack I had that used charisma marked foes, which always pissed off the fighter and ranger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waddacku View Post
    I'm pretty sure it always called it designating your quarry. Marked is a specific condition and Hunter's Quarry never referenced it or applied it.
    I think there's a paragon path that does add a mark to it, though.
    I no longer have access to our first printing books, but clearly remember us being convinced that hunters quarry marked, and when I google it now I find several people asking the same question and being told it was erratad and fixed in later printings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I remember the big problem with paladin marking was that I was playing a charisma based character and the only at will attack I had that used charisma marked foes, which always pissed off the fighter and ranger.
    I remember a time the fighter tried to pull the cleric out of an aura with "come and get it" to be denied because pvp wasn't allowed, but it worked fine on a mindless & immobile clockwork thing we fought later.
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    Default Re: A model of immersion

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    I remember a time the fighter tried to pull the cleric out of an aura with "come and get it" to be denied because pvp wasn't allowed, but it worked fine on a mindless & immobile clockwork thing we fought later.
    This really does sound like your DM had issues running 4E. Not saying they're a bad GM overall, just that 4E did not gel with their styles at all.

    For me, I play the game (be it D&D any edition, M&M, Traveler, or any other TTRPG) to have fun. Immersion certainly helps-I like being able to get into character. But equally, if we're just having a goofy one-off, I don't need to be immersed, I just want to have fun.

    I enjoyed 4E a lot.
    I enjoy 5E a lot.
    I enjoy character-building for 3E and its derivatives, though the actual gameplay is a little... Iffy.
    I enjoy M&M.
    I enjoy Traveler, and Stars Without Number.

    The most important factor, generally speaking for me, is playing with people I can have fun with. I'd rather play FATAL with friends than D&D with enemies. (But, you know-don't play FATAL. Just don't.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I remember the big problem with paladin marking was that I was playing a charisma based character and the only at will attack I had that used charisma marked foes, which always pissed off the fighter and ranger.
    Yeah, there are powers that apply marks unconditionally, like Ardent Strike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I no longer have access to our first printing books, clearly remember us being convinced that hunters quarry marked, and when I google it mow I find several people asking the same question and being told it was erratad and fixed in later printings.
    Huh, I can believe that, but I've never heard of it before. Would explain some confused terminology use I've seen, though. I think that must have been an error they fixed ASAP, I did play a Ranger very early on but I wasn't using a physical source.

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    This is a very strong post, and I enjoyed it greatly.

    Not much other to say beyond, "Good work!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    I'd rather play FATAL with friends than D&D with enemies. (But, you know-don't play FATAL. Just don't.)
    With FATAL, I'm not sure the distinction really matters. No matter how close you are to your fellow players when you sit down at the table, you'll end the session surrounded by enemies. And most likely projectile weapons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    This really does sound like your DM had issues running 4E. Not saying they're a bad GM overall, just that 4E did not gel with their styles at all.
    Well thats the thing, "no pvp" is a common table rule and do you remember what "come and get it did"? Its an attack that pulls all enemies in 3 squares up to 3 squares to the fighter who then attacks and marks enemies adjacent to them. Theres no exceptions for direction, size, movement ability, perception, terrain, mindlessness, being unconsious, etc. It didn't have any limits like that in the power text, and if you stated the opinion that maybe it shouldn't work sometimes you got a screaming dogpile of people telling you that you were a bad person doing "guy at the gym" or "martials can't have nice things".

    Its weird too that the universal answer to any fault or issue with any edition of D&D that I comment on gets responded to with "your DM is bad or doing it wrong". A DM uses skill checks as written in a 5e module? DM is doing it wrong. Running a weird power by its written rules in 4e? Bad DMing. Issues with a caster PrC in 3e? DM needs to learn how to run the game right. Talk about issues with space combat in Starfinder? Total agreement that the rules are lousy. Ask about a problem with Shadowrun magic? Total agreement its a rules problem. I've had freaking decades of playing lots of great D&D games and some lousy ones. Mention a problem in any game but D&D and it might be the DM, player(s), rules, etc. Mention a problem in a D&D game and I'm told the DM is wrong, bad, or incompetent. Every issue I mention with every edition of D&D cannot be "the DM is wrong" every time for every different DM.
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