Interactivity and Computers


4th Edition


One of the things I like about D&D in its previous iterations is that it is pen and paper and the play requires friends to sit around the table and talk.

I like the hand drawn maps, and the fact that my descriptions flow from my imagination and I can incorporate anything I have experienced or can imagine effectively into the detail.

I like sitting around a table with a map, and pizza, and dice, and being able to have side conversations (to me that seems more like an adventure anyway - at least the ones I have had, many of my real world travels have featured pizza, maps, and conversation prominently).

I also like creating my own art and the art of others - and the ability to add flavor outside of the game mechanics.

It seems from the videos on u-tube that computers are becoming a more integral part of the game, that playing by remote and building your dungeons/encounters/characters on computer is a big selling point.

To me its a huge detractor - if that was what I wanted I could play a computer game.

But maybe thats just me and maybe I am misinterpreting the changes and relevance of computers to 4e.

I was curious as to the take of others on the board to this aspect of 4e?

Is the digital focus a pro or con for you?
Do you think (as of right now) that you will game other than around a table?
Will you incorporate gamers from far away and add them to your group?
Will dungeons (as illustrated in the video clips) work for you?

Spoiler:
For myself, the set up while it looked like it might be slightly helpful mechanically - looked horribly campy and really diminish the atmosphere I was trying maintain - and work against the verisimilitude and richness of detail I like in my games.

I would much prefer a crappy hand drawn map on piece of note book paper and then fill in the details through conversation and imagination rather than have crappy stock details provided to replace the conversation and imagination aspect of the game - which is one of the core reasons I game in the first place.

Look forward to hearing what you all have to say.


Kyr wrote:
It seems from the videos on u-tube that computers are becoming a more integral part of the game, that playing by remote and building your dungeons/encounters/characters on computer is a big selling point.

Apparently this is thing about the announcement that WotC messed up the most. It was apparently quite confusing at the GenCon announcement.

What WotC is really doing is creating two things; 4th edition and the D&D Insider. However, they are launching them at the same time, so they are inter-related. You don't need D&D Insider to play 4th edition, any more than you needed eTools, and the magazines for 3.5.

There won't be a 3.5 D&D Insider (beyond a few issues of Dragon & Dungeon), but there could have been if they decided to do it earlier. They just felt, probably correctly, that launching 4E and D&D Insider at the same time made sense rather than developing the online tools that would soon be obsolete by the new edition.


The digital focus is a pro, although, a very slight one. It is likely I will not use it. There is nothing stopping me from scribbling maps on notebook paper.

I occasionally game via chat and IRC now. I imagine I will continue to do so in the future. I believe the Digital Initiative is too young to realize its full potential here. Maybe the next generation will really bring gamers together from around the world. Right now it is just another chat tool dressed up in fancy clothes.

I am not generally a big fan of dungeon crawls, so the illustrated dungeons will be of limited use to me.

The Exchange

The use of computers is merely a reflection of the technological changes since the 1970s. Personally, I am a diehard pencil-and-paper man, but the generation coming up are much more tech-savvy. I don't see it as intended to replace the face-to-face bit, more to upgrade the "interface" between the player and his PC. As someone points out, it is entirely optional. For me, the key element will be how good the rulebooks are - the electronic stuff will be nice if that works OK, but will not sway my judgement about 4e.

Sovereign Court Contributor

I suspect that some of the DI stuff is intended to drive customer loyalty; particularly that the Character Generatoe software etc. will work with products you buy and activate. Even for tabletop play, character gen programs are useful, and if you become dependant on one, you'll buy prducts that are compatable rather than OGL products that are not. "That book has some cool feats, but they don't work with my program, so I'd have to do the character by hand..."

I'm pretty sure that some people were buying more OGL products because programs like PCGen supported them, and avoided WotC material because the programs didn't.

That said, if the tabletop support software is good, that will be a bonus.

I would rather play tabletop, but I do like the option of being able to play online with my friends who live out of town, so we can play more than 3 times a year. That said, I think Fantasy Grounds better replicates the tabletop experience than the DI program, judging only by the demos I've seen.

I have no interest in turning my weekly game into online play, and particularly, having everyone bring laptops to the table and PM instead of really talking sounds like a bad idea. Might be fun once for a pick-up game of Paranoia, but not for a real D&D campaign.


It's a pen and paper game to me, and I'm sure the the tabletop won't give me anything I really want or need... EXCEPT... I really like using a computer to do my math while building characters and working out templates and monster levels.

So hopefully RPG Explorer will be able to provide this service for me in 4th, because I don't plan on buying into D&D insider.

Also, as an aside, I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to map.


Kyr wrote:
Is the digital focus a pro or con for you?

Being as it is entirely optional and not required to play the game, there is no way for it to be a con for me. The only con I see for anyone is fear of the unknown due to misinformation or misunderstanding.

Kyr wrote:
Do you think (as of right now) that you will game other than around a table?

Being as I'm always the DM then no. However, just like in Full Frontal Nerdity, there's a chance that perhaps I'd have a physically absent player "telecommute".

Kyr wrote:
Will you incorporate gamers from far away and add them to your group?

Would I go out and seek players who live far away to run games for? No, not very likely. I enjoy the face-to-face interaction too much for that. However, if a player from the regular group moved away I might use such tools to allow them to still play with the rest of us.

Kyr wrote:
Will dungeons (as illustrated in the video clips) work for you?

They might. A more likely scenario would be that I'd buy a digital projector, mount it to the ceiling above the table and project maps onto it from my tablet pc. (That would be a huge boon since I would have to get up to draw more stuff on the flip mats every time the party enters a new room or when a monster changes position on the combat grid.)


its a decent idea, ive played online before. The issues I see are as follows:
1. okay it's great for dungeons, but what about open air environments or "weird" dungeons
2. The DI content, will you be able to print out stuff you need or are you stuck having to look it up every time you need to look at it.
3. Let's say you cant afford to use the insider for a month or two, will you loose access to content you had access to before, and just no new content? or is it all gone until you pony up the cash again. Like say I buy book A, get the super online extras for it to look at, but i drop my subscription for a month. Is that gone to me as long as I'm unsubscribed?


just a little side note, i was searching through old dragon magazines for boot hill material, and came accross an article in dragon @26 (june 1979)titled "d&d meets the electronic age," written by rick krebs. he tells of a situation where he has access to a microcomputer with 4k (4000) memory and basic. so, he tells of his using the computer to keep track of mechanics, and not really much else. even back then, there were those who thought ill of mixing dungeons and dragons and computers.

i just thought its funny that after all this time, we are still having the same argument.


It's a big negative for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm much more computer-savvy and forward-looking than most people because I work in IT and I love me my gadgets (bought the 1st-gen ipod), but D&D is not about computers or digital anything. It's about a bunch of friends sitting around using their imaginations.

Substituting a wargaming approach and using online tools and crude 3D simulators with miniatures, even if it's optional, detracts from the core element of the game: using your own imagination and adventuring in the mind's eye.

You should be able to play D&D with just a few dice, some paper and pencils.

Scarab Sages

The whole DI is a con for me.

D&D under the aegis of TSR used to be "Products of your imagination". I find a lot of what the DI has to offer, especially in terms of the virtual tabletop, is a product of someone else's imagination.

D&D is a social game. Online chat rooms, for example, are notorious for people "mis-reading" each other. Even with voice chat (I play MMORPGS with Ventrilo) there can be something lost in the translation. The mischievous twinkle in the DMs eye, the wide-eyed stare of horror in a players eye as the DM describes the Demon. These are lost when people aren't face-to-face.

I remember good times sitting around the table for HOURS as a DM while player 1 described the magic item he was making "The Staff of Momar", another player was refurbishing a haunted mansion they just cleared and turning it into a fortress, while the third player was rallying his barbarian people to come "settle" near the manor where "herds of giant Rothe roam". I spent about 30 min in turn with each player dealing with their issues and setting up a new challenge: After research, the pc learns the staff should be made of a perfectly crystalline Sapphire, the Manor is made of wood and is susceptible to fire, the barbarians want to know if there are nearby civilizations they could plunder. Each player was given time to think about how to adress each concern, then they would give me their 'solution', we'd rol some dice, and I'd throw another 'obstacle'.

Point: We had a hell of a lot of fun, and when discussing 4E my players still bring up that campaign. We sat on the couch in the living room, drank beer, and barbecued. We had no miniatures, nothing like that was neeeded. Where does DI address this? Sitting in front of my computer with a headset and some digital character sheet would get awfully dull with that game.

Phooey on that.


Heaven forbid that there should be any tools that come with the game that allow buddies from college or high school to still play a game now and then even though they live across the county. Also FIE and SHAME on Rich Burlew for having participated in D&D games played over IRC and posting the logs on Giant in the Playground. Such blatant disregard for the fun that they are preventing You from having.
</sarcasm>

Liberty's Edge

Do What Thou Wilt Ain Ye Harme None.

In other words, I'm just gonna do my own thing.


Laithoron wrote:

Heaven forbid that there should be any tools that come with the game that allow buddies from college or high school to still play a game now and then even though they live across the county. Also FIE and SHAME on Rich Burlew for having participated in D&D games played over IRC and posting the logs on Giant in the Playground. Such blatant disregard for the fun that they are preventing You from having.

</sarcasm>

So there aren't any programs that let you play from a far now? You mean I get to pay more for Dungeon and print it out so I get a program I have no intrest in. Yeah sign me up! :)

All kidding aside, maybe Im wrong but will there be a teir sign up for DI? Im not intrested in the virtual tabeltop because I like a real table top. Heck, I even understand if they need 4th edition to make the virtual tabletop work. How else could they give out unlock codes for all the current rule books. Much easier to start the books from scratch. And Im happy for those who play a far and dont have a local group. I just don't see why dungeon or dragon need to be linked to it. (Actually only dungeon for me, dragon for one or two of my players.)

I dont use the faq so this isnt a con for me. However, do you think they will keep posting faqs or just digitally update the DI files and virtual book unlocks?


I kinda hope there would be a tier, though I'd expect/hope that access to the online D&D tools would be in the base level rather than in the premium subscribe-me-to-everything option.

Another reason I hope it's tiered is that I'm not sure it would be "a good thing" if every player who signed up for DI and Dragon also had automatic access to Dungeon. IMO there's a bit more of a temptation to sneak-a-peak at something that's only a click away as opposed to loitering in the aisle of a Barnes and Noble.

As for existing tools that allow remote play. Yeah several companies always release several different variants and most DMs cobble together the tools that they need. But I see it kind of like Microsoft Office. Sometimes it's nice having everything in one package (updated by the main publisher) without having to cobble together disparate products. Here's hoping it's of a higher quality than the computer tools that got released with 3E...


Laithoron wrote:

Heaven forbid that there should be any tools that come with the game that allow buddies from college or high school to still play a game now and then even though they live across the county. Also FIE and SHAME on Rich Burlew for having participated in D&D games played over IRC and posting the logs on Giant in the Playground. Such blatant disregard for the fun that they are preventing You from having.

</sarcasm>

That's neither here nor there, since no-one was demanding a ban on D&D-related computer use nor criticizing Rich Burlew. You're aiming for the wrong straw man. But if you haven't noticed, WotC is preventing me from having fun by cancelling two magazines I enjoyed immensely and trying to ram their DI down my throat.

Also, why don't you try substituting real arguments for snarky sarcasm? You might get better results.


PRO

i like the idea of having access to all the official information on the ol' computer. i may never play the virtual table top, but having the option to make play the worlds greatest roleplaying game with someone in iraq sounds pretty fun.

being able to work up templated monsters sounds pretty good to me.

producing treasure with the press of the button sounds pretty good to me.

having dm tools that i can use anywhere, on any computer with a internet conneciton sounds pretty good to me.

PRO


Stedd Grimwold wrote:
The mischievous twinkle in the DMs eye, the wide-eyed stare of horror in a players eye as the DM describes the Demon. These are lost when people aren't face-to-face.

I completely agree.

Back in 2e, I ran the planescape module Fires of Dis. There is a roleplaying encounter where the party meets a abashi devil guarding his stockpile of maggot-like souls of the damned. I described how this devil grabs one of the "maggots" and swallows it (actually acting it out in character). To this day the players in that game still shutter when I describe the scene.

The same things goes for the action of the players. I have run a great group of roleplayers that have done things "in character" that have left opponents not knowing what to do. An example is the warforged barbarian with an adamantine great axe using rage and power attack to do a "Kool-aid man" to a wall to get behind an opponent. His battle cry of "OH YEAH!" had us in stiches.


Kyr wrote:

Is the digital focus a pro or con for you?
Do you think (as of right now) that you will game other than around a table?

I consider a definite pro. While I much prefer sitting around the gaming table with my friends, rolling dice, and having a great time socializing, after my last cross-country move it took me nearly THREE YEARS to find another group to play with. When I did find other players to game with, lifestyles got in the way of game time - we were all our mid 30's to early 40's with young children. We ended up actually getting together only about three times per year.

So while I don't like the idea of playing D&D on the computer, it beats not playing at all. I'm still very close friends with the guys I started playing with in high school nearly 30 years ago, and would love to get a game going with all of them again, except we are separated by great distances - DI might make that possible.

I've finally gotten a group together that plays every two weeks, but now it looks like another cross-country move might be in my near future. I don't want to go another few years without being able to game, so I will definitely be giving DI a good hard look. (I also like the idea of being able to import maps from adventures in Dungeon magazine onto the game board - that will look much slicker than my crude wet-erase drawings on a battle mat).


donnald johnson wrote:


having dm tools that i can use anywhere, on any computer with a internet conneciton sounds pretty good to me.

PRO

As long as it's not a mac.

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