Page 6 of 8 FirstFirst 12345678 LastLast
Results 151 to 180 of 238
  1. - Top - End - #151
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Right behind you!
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    All penguins are black and white.
    All old movies are black and white.
    Therefore, all old movies are penguins.

    Or if you prefer:

    All of John Lennon is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are John Lennon.
    The first one is an entirely different fallacy - and the second is arbitrarily confusingly written.

    I prefer -

    "All dogs are poodles, but not all poodles are dogs."

  2. - Top - End - #152
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WarKitty's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Insofar as there are optimization strategies that don't reduce to min-maxing on some level, not all optimizers are min-maxers.

    Can you think of a single optimization strategy which doesn't involve min-maxing?
    First one that comes to mind is optimizing for a concept. E.g. "I want to be the best sling-focused thief I can be!" You're optimizing, but at least in 3.5, you're optimizing something that's never going to be a superpowered character.
    Hail to the Lord of Death and Destruction!
    CATNIP FOR THE CAT GOD! YARN FOR THE YARN THRONE! MILK FOR THE MILK BOWL!

  3. - Top - End - #153
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Lots, yes, starting with spotlight, teamwork, storytelling and development, the list goes on.
    So are you talking about the Classic Optimizer problem of players that can't Role Play unless their character has a huge overwhelming mechanical roll play advantage advantage? The poor optimizer that can not Role Play lying in character, unless their character has like a +20 in the Bluff Skill.

    Or just the Optimizer that can't Role Play at all, unless there character can hit and do massive amounts of damage. You know, because they ''can't'' role play something like ''being a greedy dwarf'' unless they can do 101 points of damage in a single attack....

  4. - Top - End - #154
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    Optimization wasn't a thing when VtM arrived on the RPG scene. Optimization is a fairly recent development, with the birth of the internet and forums such as this one.
    Don't confuse the internet phenomenon of "forum builds" with players being able to read the rules, and do the math. Optimization, including MinMaxing (as discussed below), is almost as old as RPGs.


    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Lolwut.

    1st ed AD&D Dungeon Master's guide, with the voice of Gary Gygax, all but calls out all players as inherently powerhungry min-maxers who GM must take effort to keep in control. I have RPG magazines from mid 80s and early 90s where people curse the tendencies of AD&D players to game the system.

    You seem to forget that RPGs themselves are pretty recent, got popular with math and history nerds, and were computerized practically instantly. (First computer version of D&D, imaginatively named dnd, was made at 1975, a year after D&D was published.) I could go so far as claim that internet forums were invented by obsessive D&D min-maxers, and wouldn't even be horribly wrong, because of the overlap between early D&D players and early computer software and hardware developers.
    Gygax was also the original adversarial TPK-eager GM. For all he contributed to the birth of RPGs, he's also the seed of some very toxic intragroup attitudes.

    I'd be looking for every advantage possible if I were sitting across the table from him, just to keep my character alive.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    So you are saying that everybody who optimizes their characters are nothing but a bunch of min-maxers with a new name? I tend to agree.
    Does that really advance the discussion?


    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Well duh. Min-maxing is a specific optimization strategy. Hence all people who min-max are optimizers. Has there ever been significant confusion about this?
    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    I think the question is whether the reverse is true. All A are B does not imply all B are A, after all.

    If nothing else, with 3.5 it's possible to optimize character concepts that aren't a great mechanical concept. I have a few - my latest is a sling-based rogue, and I have a fun one with a "werebeast" (no actual were levels involved because they're essentially unplayable, mind).
    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    First one that comes to mind is optimizing for a concept. E.g. "I want to be the best sling-focused thief I can be!" You're optimizing, but at least in 3.5, you're optimizing something that's never going to be a superpowered character.
    Just because some players abuse optimization to make game-breaking characters, doesn't mean that all optimization is badwrongfun.

    If I'm trying to make a character concept fit into the available character creation resources, that's optimization, but it might well not end up with the most powerful character possible.

    If I'm trying to tweak a character to fit into the general level of power of the rest of the PCs, that's optimization, but it might well not be targeting FULL POWER BUILD.

    Somehow, along the way "knowing the rules" and "understanding the math" became verboten, filthy, dirty things in the minds of some players.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-11-29 at 08:58 AM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  5. - Top - End - #155
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    The Frozen North
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    First one that comes to mind is optimizing for a concept. E.g. "I want to be the best sling-focused thief I can be!" You're optimizing, but at least in 3.5, you're optimizing something that's never going to be a superpowered character.
    I agree, when you take a sub optimal concept and try to make it work you often have to optimize to make the character viable...but then it isn't really optimizing because you started with a SUB optimal choice to start with.

    I optimized my martial artist that I brought into a Lovecraftian game but most people would just tell me from the start that my character had a deathwish where the antagonists are either toting guns or monster that you'd rather shoot at with a rocket launcher. Was the character optimized then, no because by just bying up a gun skill would have required less stats, less point investures, done more damage and been safer to the characters health.


    I as a GM have never had any problems with optimizers, min-maxers or munchkins as I have all the tools to deal with their shenanigans, problem only arises when their minmaxing is to the detriment of the other players fun

    If everybody is minmaxing then there is no problem. If you have roleplayers that want to roleplay and not game some numbers then a minmaxer can ruin the fun.

    If my players treat roleplaying as a game then I'll do the same. If the players minmax their characters then I'll do the same with the npcs. If the players insist on using stupid rules to break immersion and metagame then I'll do the same.

    The king will have a dungeon under his palace to train his forces, where they'll have to get past other guards and grab some treasure. As GP=XP then the king will level up his forces who will pay his trainers the gold to gain levels. Then the king will take the gold from his trainers and place the treasure again in the dungeon so others can get it and level up. I mean everybody knows that just training and studying has never amounted to anything.

    The villain can never be killed as he saw the potential of true resurrection and owns an insurance company that specializes in resurrections and just uses wish to gain 25.000 GP of gems everyday, in fact every time his henchmen get killed they get resurrected.

  6. - Top - End - #156
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    The king will have a dungeon under his palace to train his forces, where they'll have to get past other guards and grab some treasure. As GP=XP then the king will level up his forces who will pay his trainers the gold to gain levels. Then the king will take the gold from his trainers and place the treasure again in the dungeon so others can get it and level up. I mean everybody knows that just training and studying has never amounted to anything.
    Which also happens to be a classic example of the rules telling us something about the world that's very different from what the fiction/fluff is telling us about the world.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  7. - Top - End - #157
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Nifft's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    NYC
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Don't confuse the internet phenomenon of "forum builds" with players being able to read the rules, and do the math. Optimization, including MinMaxing (as discussed below), is almost as old as RPGs.
    Older, I'd argue.

    Wargamers optimized before RPGs existed.

  8. - Top - End - #158
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Older, I'd argue.

    Wargamers optimized before RPGs existed.
    Good point.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  9. - Top - End - #159
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Frozen_Feet's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Over here
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Lots, yes, starting with spotlight, teamwork, storytelling and development, the list goes on.
    Out of those teamwork is the only optimization strategy, and empathetically does involve min-maxing in the form of division of labour.

    What optimization strategies, as pertains to spotlight, storytelling and development, are you talking about, that do not involve it?

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    First one that comes to mind is optimizing for a concept. E.g. "I want to be the best sling-focused thief I can be!" You're optimizing, but at least in 3.5, you're optimizing something that's never going to be a superpowered character.
    ... and? You're talking of what, you're optimizing, not how. I'd bet money that any mechanical optimization of a sling-focused thief in 3.x. D&D trivially counts as an example of min-maxing.

    ---

    @Max_Killjoy: I'm not really arguing that optimization is bad, here. Just trying to prove the trivial fact that it's been present in the hobby since the start.

    The question of whether every optimizer is also a min-maxer is just an amusing tangent.
    "It's the fate of all things under the sky,
    to grow old and wither and die."


    Come and join Bleach: Turn Back the Pendulum freeform game!

    Thanks to Kasanip for my Nasumi avatar.

  10. - Top - End - #160
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    @Max_Killjoy: I'm not really arguing that optimization is bad, here. Just trying to prove the trivial fact that it's been present in the hobby since the start.

    The question of whether every optimizer is also a min-maxer is just an amusing tangent.
    Right, sorry if that came across as pointing a finger at you, it wasn't meant that way.

    But I have seen, here and elsewhere, those who consider any concern at all for "the math" to be anathema to "good roleplaying" and/or to having fun -- the Stormwind Fallacy being just one form this attitude takes.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  11. - Top - End - #161
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WarKitty's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    ... and? You're talking of what, you're optimizing, not how. I'd bet money that any mechanical optimization of a sling-focused thief in 3.x. D&D trivially counts as an example of min-maxing.
    I'm not sure words can be entirely encompassed by short dictionary definitions in that sense in a way that really captures what the terms actually mean in a natural language setting. Min-maxing generally implies making a character who's very good at a powerful option, at the expense of not being much else. That's a narrower term than optimization.

    (As a side note, that's exactly what's often recommended for those of us who really like the optimization game in games like 3.5. Pick a concept that's got really terrible support, optimize as best you can, and you'll come up with something halfway decent.)
    Hail to the Lord of Death and Destruction!
    CATNIP FOR THE CAT GOD! YARN FOR THE YARN THRONE! MILK FOR THE MILK BOWL!

  12. - Top - End - #162
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Planetar

    Join Date
    Jun 2016

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    I'm not sure words can be entirely encompassed by short dictionary definitions in that sense in a way that really captures what the terms actually mean in a natural language setting. Min-maxing generally implies making a character who's very good at a powerful option, at the expense of not being much else. That's a narrower term than optimization.
    Yeah min-max is the classical "Is amazing at what they do but lousy at everything else", where as optimization is creating the most effective character. In some systems these things overlap, in others they don't.

    Note: My descriptions for the above terms come mainly from about twenty years ago.

    EDIT: Note that when you start talking about optimizing a character within a specific field you start moving more and more into min-max territory as you start drawing resources from elsewhere.
    Last edited by Tinkerer; 2017-11-29 at 11:43 AM.
    Firm opponent of the one true path

  13. - Top - End - #163
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    So are you talking about the Classic Optimizer problem of players that can't Role Play unless their character has a huge overwhelming mechanical roll play advantage advantage? The poor optimizer that can not Role Play lying in character, unless their character has like a +20 in the Bluff Skill.

    Or just the Optimizer that can't Role Play at all, unless there character can hit and do massive amounts of damage. You know, because they ''can't'' role play something like ''being a greedy dwarf'' unless they can do 101 points of damage in a single attack....
    Actually no, I just mean to say that "optimization" does not necessary mean mechanics (aka min-maxing), depending on what parts of a game system (and group) trigger reward mechanics, which is actually what most people optimize for.

  14. - Top - End - #164
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    The New Mexico Wastelands
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    Yeah min-max is the classical "Is amazing at what they do but lousy at everything else", where as optimization is creating the most effective character. In some systems these things overlap, in others they don't.
    I have heard two very different definitions of min-max.

    The one I normally use is as above, someone who is amazing at one thing but lousy at everything else.

    But some people use it to mean maximizing strengths while minimizing weaknesses, in short making an all around OP character.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, an old school RPG of Gothic Fantasy. Download full rules at heartofdarknessrpg.com

  15. - Top - End - #165
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Max_Killjoy's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    The Lakes

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I have heard two very different definitions of min-max.

    The one I normally use is as above, someone who is amazing at one thing but lousy at everything else.

    But some people use it to mean maximizing strengths while minimizing weaknesses, in short making an all around OP character.
    To me, it's clearly the former, with the infamous "dump stat" discussion involved.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  16. - Top - End - #166
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2015

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Except the problem in 3.5 isn't that one character is doing more damage than another, it's that one character has so many options than another. So the problem you hit is that the barbarian can do one thing - do lots of damage in melee. The wizard, if played with even half a brain, can do damage, summon other things to do damage, cast spells that essentially render an enemy helpless, ability drain enemies to death, stop time, fly, turn invisible...you get the point. It's not that the barbarian is bad at what he does, it's that if what he does isn't the best way to solve something he's pretty much twiddling his thumbs.

    Basically, the problem is one guy's role is "do lots of melee damage" and the other one's is "rewrite reality." The latter role will naturally obviate the first, without any special effort to break the game.
    Sorry, I should have clarified. I don't mean just a weapon with big bonuses, I mean one with random powers like "is possessed by spirits that cast divination spells" or "makes fire constructs" or whatever.

  17. - Top - End - #167
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Frozen_Feet's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Over here
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I have heard two very different definitions of min-max.

    The one I normally use is as above, someone who is amazing at one thing but lousy at everything else.

    But some people use it to mean maximizing strengths while minimizing weaknesses, in short making an all around OP character.
    In practice, these have heavy overlap.

    Most generally, min-maxing means minimizing resource expenditure on things outside your specialty in order to maximize your specialty. Quite often, the specialty is chosen based on what would be most dominant strategy in the game, but this is not necessary to count as examplr of min-maxing.

    For example, a slinger rogue is not the most powerfull choice in D&D 3.x. but pretty much every step on the way of making it optimal involves min-maxing: placing your highest ability scores into abilities which best support slinging while dumping the rest, picking your feats and flaws based on which would support slinging best while passing on other options, spending most of your money on your sling and supporting equipment etc.

    An extreme min-maxed build would be something like a MAD Wizard build which gets Int to everything several times over and uses spellcasting ability based on Int to bypass the need for any other ability score. Such a build would qualify under both definitions.

    As noted, min-maxing can exist on levels other than what's on individual character's sheet. Division of labour in teamwork is one example: a group of synergistic specialists is often more effective than a group of generalists.

    An optimization strategy which often looks similar to min-maxing but may have a different outcome is aiming for Pareto optimality - that is, trying to find a state where reallocation of resources can not improve a preferred trait without some other preferred trait suffering. This state might bear resemblance to both, one, or none of the min-maxed states, depending on system. Distinct from min-maxing because a min-maxer will ignore the second preferred trait if the returns of the first trait are big enough.

    ---

    @Florian: you too are talking of what people optimize, not how. Min-maxing can be applied to rewards and social relations just as well as character abilities.
    "It's the fate of all things under the sky,
    to grow old and wither and die."


    Come and join Bleach: Turn Back the Pendulum freeform game!

    Thanks to Kasanip for my Nasumi avatar.

  18. - Top - End - #168
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    @Florian: you too are talking of what people optimize, not how. Min-maxing can be applied to rewards and social relations just as well as character abilities.
    Depends on the system we actually talk about, something I right now don´t have the nerve to do more in-depth, as typing with one hand in a cast is simply a chore.

  19. - Top - End - #169
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    The Frozen North
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Right, sorry if that came across as pointing a finger at you, it wasn't meant that way.

    But I have seen, here and elsewhere, those who consider any concern at all for "the math" to be anathema to "good roleplaying" and/or to having fun -- the Stormwind Fallacy being just one form this attitude takes.
    Of course they aren't mutually exclusive but after playing with bunch of different people over 30 years I've found out that people want different thing from RPGs. This shouldn't come as suprise to anyone.


    The people I like to play with are after an immersive experience, the rules are there to faciliate that experience. It doesn't matter much how sub optimal character you bring as you won't be chided for not pulling your weight for the team. The goal isn't to win encounters or win anything at all it's about exploring your character, the setting and have interesting stories emerge. People don't go to the internet to look up the strongest build for anything because if you're looking for a build then you probably don't belong to this group. In fact I didn't hear the word build for roleplaying characters until I joined these forums, the people I gamed with always talked about character concept and those concepts were never about numbers. Character builds I'd only heard talked about in computer games.


    Then there are gamers, for them this is a game and in game you'd be stupid not to use any advantage you can get to win or get ahead. Logic should mandate that you should always be making the strongest character possible, just like you should trying to get the most money for your time in RL or finishing your chores in the fastest, easiest way possible. So you dump stats, not because you want to play stupid, uncharismatic fighter but the strongest most powerful fighter...until you find out that Wizards are way better so why play fighters. If you show up with a sub optimal character you will be scoffed at because you aren't pulling your weight for the team, you aren't contributing enough to reach the goal. For someone who is after an immersive experience the goal is the experience itself not killing all the baddies and taking their treasure...that might be their characters goal. Clearly the Adventure modules are designed for the gamer as you can't fail forward, you have to beat part 1 in the adventure to get to part 2 and then proceed to part 3. Scenarios and encounters are the to be beaten whereas for the other group they are to be experienced not beaten.

    Most people of course are somewhere in between, both gaming and immersive experince. Some games though have such a jarring disconnect between setting and mechanic that they encourage gaming to the extreme. But mostly balance problems arise when an extremely competitive gamer uses the system to make the strongest character possible to beat all encounters and proceeds to take a dump over other peoples immersion.

    Balance in games therefore only become a problem when somebody feels it's a problem.
    Last edited by RazorChain; 2017-11-29 at 11:10 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #170
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WarKitty's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    One thing I feel I have to mention is people can be after a tactical challenge without wanting to necessarily have the most powerful character ever. In fact if you want a tactical challenge, once you've mastered the most powerful characters in 3.5 it's kind of boring. You're so powerful that you can do anything unless it gets the drop on you and you can't do anything. The fun is making a character that has the resources to solve a lot of situations, without necessarily having big "I win" buttons for them.
    Hail to the Lord of Death and Destruction!
    CATNIP FOR THE CAT GOD! YARN FOR THE YARN THRONE! MILK FOR THE MILK BOWL!

  21. - Top - End - #171
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    One thing I feel I have to mention is people can be after a tactical challenge without wanting to necessarily have the most powerful character ever. In fact if you want a tactical challenge, once you've mastered the most powerful characters in 3.5 it's kind of boring. You're so powerful that you can do anything unless it gets the drop on you and you can't do anything. The fun is making a character that has the resources to solve a lot of situations, without necessarily having big "I win" buttons for them.
    Edit: If it wasn't clear, I'm agreeing with you and springboarding off of the middle two sentences.

    A common failure state of the "I'm the most powerful" style of play is the "optimization" arms race--one side escalates (often due to competitive feelings between DM and player), the other side counter-escalates to survive, and then the only survival strategy is to optimize. And that has several bad effects--

    * At least in D&D it turns into rocket tag, as you've described. The first one to go wins. When the average combat-focused character can do multiples of the average HP pool in a single round, there's no chance for tactics beyond "kill them first."
    * It exacerbates any underlying balance issues that may exist. If one character has a high optimization floor and a low ceiling (small variance) and another has a low floor and a high ceiling (large variance), it's easy to break past the first character's ceiling, leaving him or her useless (and probably dead or worse, ignored).
    * It rewards lateral meta-game thinking. That is, it rewards the people who use out-of-game knowledge to "break" the in-game situations because that often is allowed to bypass the normal rules. Polymorph Any Object into a piece of the sun (for example).
    * It's horribly un-fun for those who don't find optimization intrinsically rewarding. Some do, and that's fine. Some (like me) don't. And being faced with a choice to either do lots of work or be irrelevant is annoying.
    * It breaks implicit setting restrictions, exacerbating setting/mechanic dissonance. Each setting has an implicit optimization level. If the published NPCs aren't using a certain trick, it's probably a good sign that the designers of that setting never took that trick into consideration and that by doing so you'll end up causing dissonance. Yes, it would be better if these were explicit in the mechanics, but that's really hard once you get beyond a certain level of complexity/certain number of interacting mechanical bits.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2017-11-30 at 07:39 AM.
    The Council Lands: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org

  22. - Top - End - #172
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    30.2672° N, 97.7431° W
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Edit: If it wasn't clear, I'm agreeing with you and springboarding off of the middle two sentences.

    A common failure state of the "I'm the most powerful" style of play is the "optimization" arms race--one side escalates (often due to competitive feelings between DM and player), the other side counter-escalates to survive, and then the only survival strategy is to optimize. And that has several bad effects--

    * At least in D&D it turns into rocket tag, as you've described. The first one to go wins. When the average combat-focused character can do multiples of the average HP pool in a single round, there's no chance for tactics beyond "kill them first."
    * It exacerbates any underlying balance issues that may exist. If one character has a high optimization floor and a low ceiling (small variance) and another has a low floor and a high ceiling (large variance), it's easy to break past the first character's ceiling, leaving him or her useless (and probably dead or worse, ignored).
    * It rewards lateral meta-game thinking. That is, it rewards the people who use out-of-game knowledge to "break" the in-game situations because that often is allowed to bypass the normal rules. Polymorph Any Object into a piece of the sun (for example).
    * It's horribly un-fun for those who don't find optimization intrinsically rewarding. Some do, and that's fine. Some (like me) don't. And being faced with a choice to either do lots of work or be irrelevant is annoying.
    * It breaks implicit setting restrictions, exacerbating setting/mechanic dissonance. Each setting has an implicit optimization level. If the published NPCs aren't using a certain trick, it's probably a good sign that the designers of that setting never took that trick into consideration and that by doing so you'll end up causing dissonance. Yes, it would be better if these were explicit in the mechanics, but that's really hard once you get beyond a certain level of complexity/certain number of interacting mechanical bits.
    And when you have a system like 3.X, where there a million splats, each with dozens of new classes, PRC's, feats, etc., that were never really designed to balance with each other, let alone the core stuff....
    "Sleeping late might not be a virtue, but it sure aint no vice. The old saw about the early bird and the worm just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."

    - L. Long

    I think, therefore I get really, really annoyed at people who won't.

  23. - Top - End - #173
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    And when you have a system like 3.X, where there a million splats, each with dozens of new classes, PRC's, feats, etc., that were never really designed to balance with each other, let alone the core stuff....
    Exactly. The default was never intended to be "any splat, anywhere is fair game and you can ignore the fluff." As a trivial example, using a FR sourcebook in Eberron is probably not fair game. Or vice versa. This is worst when it comes to spells--classes like clerics get an inherent power boost when a new book containing spells is published, no matter whether they'd know about those spells or not. Feats aren't nearly so bad because they generally can't be switched out easily like spells, so they're restricted to new characters.

    As a side note, I hate the conceptual model of the optimized level-up process--characters in-universe shouldn't know of the existence of all of these feats/spells/PrCs automatically. It's not as if they get a UI that pops up allowing them to choose between all the options. It's this way for player convenience, but characters should be more guided. Especially NPCs.

    I don't know what could be done about it, but certainly your frost-loving cryomancer in a far-north arctic campaign shouldn't be cherry-picking spells from Sandstorm (as a random example). It's why I like the concept (but not necessarily the implementation) of having a choice of narrow thematic spell lists. Each class would get to pick two or so of a small subset of the many many overlapping lists. Your wizard might be a pyromantic summoner (for example)--if so, he'd miss out on some of the mind-control or cold-based spells. Or something like that.
    The Council Lands: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org

  24. - Top - End - #174
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    The question of whether every optimizer is also a min-maxer is just an amusing tangent.
    I suspect it depends on the definition of "min-maxing". Literally taking every stat/skill/whatever to either the maximum you can get or the minimum (or maximum penalty) would be one possible definition (considering the words used, it is the easiest to argue).

    When you begin to define 'focusing on your strengths' and 'letting other players cover other roles' as min-maxing things get silly. Unless you regularly split the party, the whole idea is to build a player that excels within the party structure. Obviously you need to maintain a functional party even if one (or more) party members are incapacitated, but the primary goal of optimization should be to add skills to the party.

    A reasonable set of characters might want to have the "party face" interact whenever possible, but each member should at least be able to interact with merchants and buy gear (note that in OOTS I'd expect V and Haley to "be on the town together" (especially before Elan), with Haley the haggling. But V could at least expect to buy most of the needed items, if at a higher price.

    The Stormwind fallacy was mentioned and I thought I should at least point out that it may well be system/interpretation dependent. In a system where skills are simply inborn or automatically granted with experience than weird builds may be looked at as "less interesting" characters, but could be also seen as a roleplaying challenge. In systems/interpretations (basically 3.x with in-world level advancement, where weird builds and training mix) it becomes harder and harder to justify a build. Personally, I'd blame the game in this case, especially after dealing with something like the broken character system of Elder Scrolls 4: Oblvion (there is *no* *way* to justify nearly any of what a character has to do to be remotely capable of finishing the main quest).

    I've never understood why Oblivion shipped the way it did, but now that I think of it there might have been a motivation to prove that Stormwind isn't a fallacy at all (given a game where optimization and roleplaying really don't mix) [not serious, especially considering it sold on consoles in unmoddable form].

  25. - Top - End - #175
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Games with bonkers or swingy skill systems really illustrate that maximizing success chance isn't the enemy of roleplaying. It's hard to roleplay a character who's intended to be good at something if they're not, in fact, any good at it consistently. Trying to play a charismatic smooth-talker? Good luck if you can't somewhat-reliably hit the necessary DCs to ever persuade anyone about anything. If you need to crunch some numbers and plan out the feats you need in order to do that, it doesn't mean you're somehow "roll-playing, not roleplaying." The same applies to combat ability. And it isn't a system-specific concept.

    Trying to play a tough-as-nails gunslinger in Deadlands? Good luck if you need to roll exploding dice to stand a vague chance of actually shooting an opponent and both a) hitting and b) harming them, especially if they're a Wild Card and not an Extra. You've got to optimize your Shooting skill to some extent to make the character actually viable.

    Optimizing isn't necessarily about trying to "win the game" by building Pun-Pun. There's a difference between optimizing and outright munchkinry or TO shenanigans never meant to see actual play. It can be about trying to make a particular concept function well within the system's rules. If your character is meant to be a skilled martial-artist, and one option is nigh-unworkably mechanically weak/weird (3.5 monk) whereas another is fairly competent (3.5 unarmed swordsage), how is it "roll-playing, not roleplaying" to pick the one that actually works?

    Like anything, it can be taken to such extremes that it harms the game or the enjoyment of other players. That's even acknowledged in the original Stormwind post. The fallacy is just the notion that optimizing necessarily precludes roleplaying, and vice-versa. The fact that that is a fallacy doesn't mean that massive imbalance can't be detrimental to the game.
    Spoiler: Playground Quotes
    Show

    Quote Originally Posted by Safety Sword View Post
    JAL_1138: Founding Member of the Paranoid Adventurer's Guild.
    Quote Originally Posted by TeChameleon View Post
    - If it's something mortals were not meant to know, I've already found six different ways to blow myself and/or someone else up with it.
    Gnomish proverb


    I use blue text for silliness and/or sarcasm. Do not take anything I say in blue text seriously, except for this sentence and the one preceding it.

  26. - Top - End - #176
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by JAL_1138 View Post
    Games with bonkers or swingy skill systems really illustrate that maximizing success chance isn't the enemy of roleplaying. It's hard to roleplay a character who's intended to be good at something if they're not, in fact, any good at it consistently. Trying to play a charismatic smooth-talker? Good luck if you can't somewhat-reliably hit the necessary DCs to ever persuade anyone about anything. If you need to crunch some numbers and plan out the feats you need in order to do that, it doesn't mean you're somehow "roll-playing, not roleplaying." The same applies to combat ability. And it isn't a system-specific concept.

    Trying to play a tough-as-nails gunslinger in Deadlands? Good luck if you need to roll exploding dice to stand a vague chance of actually shooting an opponent and both a) hitting and b) harming them, especially if they're a Wild Card and not an Extra. You've got to optimize your Shooting skill to some extent to make the character actually viable.

    Optimizing isn't necessarily about trying to "win the game" by building Pun-Pun. There's a difference between optimizing and outright munchkinry or TO shenanigans never meant to see actual play. It can be about trying to make a particular concept function well within the system's rules. If your character is meant to be a skilled martial-artist, and one option is nigh-unworkably mechanically weak/weird (3.5 monk) whereas another is fairly competent (3.5 unarmed swordsage), how is it "roll-playing, not roleplaying" to pick the one that actually works?

    Like anything, it can be taken to such extremes that it harms the game or the enjoyment of other players. That's even acknowledged in the original Stormwind post. The fallacy is just the notion that optimizing necessarily precludes roleplaying, and vice-versa. The fact that that is a fallacy doesn't mean that massive imbalance can't be detrimental to the game.
    Ideally, a good system should put the floor somewhere around "competent" for the main tool of each archetype. You should have to try to go lower than this (make a gunslinger who's actively bad at shooting). Picking "what looks good/makes sense" for an archetype should result in normal outcomes. Not great, not bad. Tolerable.

    I am of the opinion that it's important to avoid both kinds of accidental broken-ness--it should be hard to make a strongly sub-par character and hard to make one that overshadows others. It certainly shouldn't be doable by accident. To take a 3.5 example, two new players roll up characters. One picks a monk because he wants to do unarmed combat and chooses things that seem to help with that (improved unarmed strike, dodge, etc). Oops, he's made a brokenly-bad character. By doing all the right things. The other picks a druid, because he likes animals and the concept of shape-changing. He picks the things that look good and make him a better angry bear. Uh-oh, he's made a pretty darn good character--broken-good in many games. By accident. Neither intended to do so, but both did. That's a problem in my book.
    The Council Lands: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org

  27. - Top - End - #177
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Ideally, a good system should put the floor somewhere around "competent" for the main tool of each archetype. You should have to try to go lower than this (make a gunslinger who's actively bad at shooting). Picking "what looks good/makes sense" for an archetype should result in normal outcomes. Not great, not bad. Tolerable.

    I am of the opinion that it's important to avoid both kinds of accidental broken-ness--it should be hard to make a strongly sub-par character and hard to make one that overshadows others. It certainly shouldn't be doable by accident. To take a 3.5 example, two new players roll up characters. One picks a monk because he wants to do unarmed combat and chooses things that seem to help with that (improved unarmed strike, dodge, etc). Oops, he's made a brokenly-bad character. By doing all the right things. The other picks a druid, because he likes animals and the concept of shape-changing. He picks the things that look good and make him a better angry bear. Uh-oh, he's made a pretty darn good character--broken-good in many games. By accident. Neither intended to do so, but both did. That's a problem in my book.
    Agreed with the second paragraph, very much. I'm not sure that I'd say just "tolerable" is a point to shoot for for the default, though.

    If the scale is something like "horrible—bad—tolerable—good—great," I'd say that "good" should be what "what looks good/makes sense for an archetype" should end up at, at the least. The straightforward archetype is archetypal for a reason, and the natural, intuitive choices should actually be good. "Tolerable" is more of a floor for somewhat-unorthodox-but-not-ludicrous options or jacks-of-all-trades IMO.

    I'm also generally of the opinion that options amounting to "character so powerful it makes it extremely difficult for the DM to design a reasonably-challenging scenario without resorting to specific countermeasures relying on advanced rules knowledge or outright fiat" and "so incompetent as to be effectively unplayable" should be avoided in design and the default rules even if they pretty much can't be stumbled onto accidentally.
    Spoiler: Playground Quotes
    Show

    Quote Originally Posted by Safety Sword View Post
    JAL_1138: Founding Member of the Paranoid Adventurer's Guild.
    Quote Originally Posted by TeChameleon View Post
    - If it's something mortals were not meant to know, I've already found six different ways to blow myself and/or someone else up with it.
    Gnomish proverb


    I use blue text for silliness and/or sarcasm. Do not take anything I say in blue text seriously, except for this sentence and the one preceding it.

  28. - Top - End - #178
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by JAL_1138 View Post
    Agreed with the second paragraph, very much. I'm not sure that I'd say just "tolerable" is a point to shoot for for the default, though.

    If the scale is something like "horrible—bad—tolerable—good—great," I'd say that "good" should be what "what looks good/makes sense for an archetype" should end up at, at the least. The straightforward archetype is archetypal for a reason, and the natural, intuitive choices should actually be good. "Tolerable" is more of a floor for somewhat-unorthodox-but-not-ludicrous options or jacks-of-all-trades IMO.

    I'm also generally of the opinion that options amounting to "character so powerful it makes it extremely difficult for the DM to design a reasonably-challenging scenario without resorting to specific countermeasures relying on advanced rules knowledge or outright fiat" and "so incompetent as to be effectively unplayable" should be avoided in design and the default rules even if they pretty much can't be stumbled onto accidentally.
    I agree with both points and wasn't as clear as I should have been.

    My default is that "what looks good" should be (on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (great!)) about 5-7 for the main area of the archetype. A weak part of the archetype (ranged on heavy-armor SnB fighter, for example) might be 3-4.

    More spread-out jack-of-all-trades archetypes might have 5s in several categories with no 6-7 ratings. But no class should have less than about a 3 or more than about a 7 without serious work. With optimization you might get to 8 or 9. None of which should require the DM to design scenarios with your special snowflake in mind in either direction--keeping you useful or keeping you from trivializing things.
    The Council Lands: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org

  29. - Top - End - #179
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Senile OP is back, with random comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Yeah, this is why there was some confusion about whther the discussion was about mechanical balance between classes or balanced parties.
    Wheer or not a fighter is balanced against a wizard is a very different conversation than whether a group of four fighters is a viable option.
    ... Both?

    Ostensibly, the topic is, "game balance was a solved problem - WTF happened?" Or, as Captain Reynolds would say, "why are we still discussing this?"

    To my mind, balance both used to be handled and IMO is best handled as a conversation - "dude, somethings not right, and here's my thoughts on the matter".

    Yes, when you're in a big competitive tournament with a million dollars and the fate of the world on the line, you field the most broken OP thing you can ("mewtew uses psychic" or whatever), and that's just expected - good form even. Unlike me, most people are there to win.

    But when you're playing a more casual game - let alone a cooperative one like most RPGs - such behavior is just being a ****, and something you should get called out for. "Dude, stop spawn-killing the noobs".

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I rarely use published modules and when I do I adapt it to what I'm running. So if there are 4 fighters it doesnt matter at all. I think there is no way to use published modules to benchmark game balance
    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Modules could be used as an external metric of party balance against the expectations of the module's designer(s).

    IMHO that metric is far less interesting than the metric of internal party balance, because I'm much more interested in making a fun game for the players at my table than I am interested in the expectations of strangers, but technically the expectations of strangers could be used as some kind of benchmark... it's just one I don't care about.
    Whatever you are running is "the module".

    If your module is "escape the space ship before it crashes", and someone brings "I teleport everyone out. Done." then their character singlehandedly handled and trivialized the module, and is probably not appropriate for the module. If someone brings, "but... I am the ship", they make the module nigh-impossible, and are probably not appropriate to the module (if success is the only acceptable option, that is).

    If everyone brings fast time aliens attempting to escape detection while simultaneously escaping the ship, that's fine. But if one person wants to run a normal time human in that group (you know, the expected crew compliment), that's still fine - unless someone has an issue with the group dynamic. That someone probably has good reason to be upset that the human gets out one syllable in the time that the aliens reinvent 50 different alien devices out of toothpicks and dental floss.

    So, IMO & IME, you balance to the module, and to the group. Why is this not common practice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Yeah, that is certainly a valid way to do it.

    I used to tailor adventures to the party, but a while back we ran into a phenomenon my group dubbed "the cycle of stupidity" where we devolved into an optimization arms race where I would always try and challenge the players so they would in turn power game even harder.

    Now I just make adventures that make sense in the world and let the players play whatever they want (within reason).
    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    A group I was playing with encountered this problem when we were teenagers playing Cyberpunk 2020. Cyberpunk is the poster child of equipment porn with all the splatbooks giving more options of cyberwear, bioware, guns and armor. In the end you can tweak your guns, custom design your armor, get some of that sweet humanity back through therapy so you can stuff your body with more cyberwear. In the end our characters were Terminators with big effing guns and enough armor to withstand a HEAT round from a tank. It was about escalation, the referee had the bad guys show up with bigger guns to counter us, so we countered with bigger guns
    I heard my cue to say, "never get in an arms race with your players, because they cannot win".

    Have a conversation with your players, and ask them to build things at the module's level.

    Mind you, that's a broad range, IMO. So long as everyone gets to contribute to a reasonable extent, and everyone is happy, anywhere between "the party has no chance to succeed" and "the party steamrolls every encounter" can be fine, if everyone is onboard with that. Personally, I prefer just about anywhere in between those two extremes.

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I don't care about external balance either as it's meaningless, especially in point buy games where it has happened that not one character was combat focused. Internal balance doesn't matter that much if everybody is having fun. It only becomes a problem when someone has a problem with the balance. Most people don't care that much if everybody gets some time in the limelight.

    That being said I still believe that game designers should strive for a semblance of balance.
    I was with you until that last sentence.

    Let's say you have the option of a game that allows you to play any 16 chess pieces you want, vs one with a very specific point value of pieces. Why would you want the latter, when it's obviously a subset of the former? That is, you can have any kind of fun with the former, but only a small subset of that with the latter. Why would that ever be a good design goal, to limit the types of fun the players can have?

    Quote Originally Posted by WarKitty View Post
    Then again, I'm more used to nWoD, which is a little less overpowered.
    One of my favorite rotes from oWoD was the semi auto CAD cam, a Matter 4-5 Correspondence 4-5 rote. That meant it took 8*(4+5+4+5+4) = 176 XP, at, what, around 3-4 XP per session? So, a year later, a dedicated character could pull it off. Or it could be a rote a beginning character in nWoD can use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutazoia View Post
    Optimization wasn't a thing when VtM arrived on the RPG scene. Optimization is a fairly recent development, with the birth of the internet and forums such as this one.

    And the whole "how we all fit together" bit...that's party balance.
    Yeah, no. I can't attest for anything else historically, but I can say that Optimization has been a thing since I was sentient, and was applied to RPGs since the moment I first saw them.

    That having been said, I'm a lot better at certain kinds of optimization since playing 3e D&D.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Lots, yes, starting with spotlight, teamwork, storytelling and development, the list goes on.
    I look forward to hearing about these.

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    But mostly balance problems arise when an extremely competitive gamer uses the system to make the strongest character possible to beat all encounters and proceeds to take a dump over other peoples immersion.
    Why should someone being competent make the world less believable?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    A common failure state of the "I'm the most powerful" style of play is the "optimization" arms race--one side escalates (often due to competitive feelings between DM and player), the other side counter-escalates to survive, and then the only survival strategy is to optimize. And that has several bad effects--

    * It exacerbates any underlying balance issues that may exist. If one character has a high optimization floor and a low ceiling (small variance) and another has a low floor and a high ceiling (large variance), it's easy to break past the first character's ceiling, leaving him or her useless (and probably dead or worse, ignored).
    I consider that bit a feature.

    In Star Control, the Hierarchy was Power, and had a high floor, low ceiling. Whereas the Alliance was Finesse, and had a low floor, high ceiling.

    I preferred the Hierarchy, as their ships were cooler. And, eventually, new players would gain skills, and learn how to defeat me.

    I find that so much better than the noob option lording over everyone forever. (Mewtew uses psychic. It's very effective)

  30. - Top - End - #180
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WarKitty's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: What's happened to gaming - balance point

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    But when you're playing a more casual game - let alone a cooperative one like most RPGs - such behavior is just being a ****, and something you should get called out for. "Dude, stop spawn-killing the noobs".

    So, IMO & IME, you balance to the module, and to the group. Why is this not common practice?
    I think a lot of the complaint is that building to this sort of balance is something that itself (depending on the system) takes a lot of skill. It's actually as I've become more adept with 3.5, that I'm actually able to to build a character to fit the power level I want to fit to. My first game, we just kind of built characters that filled classic fantasy niches and all looked roughly even, and the result was wildly imbalanced. That's been my experience - that a lot of balance problems tend to arise unintentionally, when players don't understand the system well enough to fix it.
    Hail to the Lord of Death and Destruction!
    CATNIP FOR THE CAT GOD! YARN FOR THE YARN THRONE! MILK FOR THE MILK BOWL!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •