What Playtesting Is


General Discussion (Prerelease)

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Vic Wertz wrote:

Folks,

In the near future, Jason will be returning from Gen Con UK and the Pathfinder Beta playtest will become his primary focus for next several months. As we prepare for that, I think it's important that everyone have an understanding of what we mean when we talk about "playtest feedback."

It's actually pretty straightforward—"playtest" is a compound verb made up of two smaller verbs, and both of those verbs are equally important to us. We've published a set of rules, and we want you to TEST them by PLAYING with them.

We're really not terribly interested in having people read the rules and then just imagine how things might play out. We already have talented folks on our payroll who are fully capable of doing that. What we need are people to put the rules into play in actual game situations, and tell us—good and bad—what happens.

I can promise you, when Jason's going through the playtest forums, reports of people actually playing sessions using the Pathfinder RPG rules will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game than the people who are merely theorizing about potential rules applications.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's perfectly fine to theorize—that's where the TEST part of playtesting comes in. If you think a particular rule is problematic, set up a scenario to exercises that rule—ideally, a somewhat "realistic" scenario that one might find in a published adventure—and try it out with some friends. But please do it by actually PLAYING—and then, at the appropriate time, tell us about your playing and your testing in the playtest feedback forums.

Thanks!

Thank you for posting this, Vic!

Now I know how to make a difference.

Liberty's Edge

underling wrote:
Gailbraithe wrote:
Psychic_Robot wrote:
Are you honestly saying that the opinions of these people--these people who have playtested 3.5--are worth more than my ability to provide a mathematical analysis conclusively demonstrating that 3.5 clerics, wizards, and druids dominate the game while fighters sit on the bench and cry?
Is this for real? Or is this performance art? I find it hard to believe anyone could state something like this an not be tongue in cheek.
No, I think this is serious. And you know, he may be right, too. If the probabilities seem screwy in a given scenario, we need to examine the assumptions that went into it.

You can't determine player enjoyment from mathematical analysis. I think the number one thing that makes the fighter popular is that the fighter doesn't cast spells, which means less memorizing, less options to sort through, etc. The fighter also has appeal in that the fighter does "action hero" stuff, he runs, jumps and climbs and hits things with a sword. The fighter always has the most hit points, and can thus be the most fearless.

All of these abstractions deal with the non-mechanical culture of the game, and culture the game exists in. They can't be understood through a purely mechanical analysis of the game.

This is I think one the worst things about 4E. It is intent on making everything balanced against everything else at every possible level, and thus becomes unplayable to a good many people. It stops being fun for the mechanics obsessed option-monkeys who love using the whole vast toolbox of all possible spells. It stops being fun for the people who just want a character that is straight-forward, or a generic hero with a sword type.

Mechanical analysis assumes mechanical appreciation, it assumes that abstract mathematically quantifiable probability imbalances translates into actual lack of enjoyment ("fighters cry in the corner.")

It's for reasons like these that I think it's laughable to suggest that mechanical analysis can produce better feedback than actually playing the game with real players out in the wild.

Scarab Sages

houstonderek wrote:


the Dude will abide :)

edit: oh, yeah, greatest...movie...ever (that isn't raging bull...)

Now that sounds very Dude-like.


Sorry, getting into this debate late so I apologize if I cover ground that's been hit upon -

While I see theoretical scenarios having value I also see tremendous value in actual playtest scenarios. How many time have one of us set up a scenario only to have the players go about it in an unexpected way? Or come up with a clever way around a deliberate roadblock? I think by having true playtests we might be able to find roadblocks we didn't think existed. Our feedback should include those things our groups have consistently skirted around. Hence the value of group playtests over individual exercises or groupthink playtests.

My 2 cp.


Patrick Curtin wrote:

Meh. The whole sound and fury can be distilled down:

Some folks like a lot of mechanical rules to prevent abuses by min/maxers. To them the joy of the game is well-written consistent mathematics and statistical analysis. It annoys them to no end when someone discovers a way to 'break' the game. They desire classes, feats, skills and races that are balanced so people will not construct gawdawful abortions like Pun-pun the Kobold. Rules interpreted as a closed system (RAW).

Some folks like to freeform interpret the rules to fit their own game table. They don't get worked up about the math, they feel that 'Rule 0' is the Holy Grail, and the DM can rule any way they damn well please, and to Hades what some book or min/max munchkin says. They dwell on the character, the story, not the math. Rules interpreted as an open system (RAI).

And neither way is wrong. Much like the whole 3E/4E brouhaha we need to find a way to peacefully coexist so as to promote good feeling and serenity amongst our small community.

I'm not so sure that's entirely true. Many of us who want balanced solutions to what we see as problems actually like finding these things. Its fun to see where the limits of a system are. At the same time, once you've found it then it becomes hard to play without acknowledging its existence. So you end up with lengthy and elaborate houserules, and you start to wonder what happens to poor DMs who don't go through the rules with a fine tooth comb. Sure, it won't come up in every game, but some game somewhere discovered gaping hole in the rules #597 by accident, and when there are enough gaping holes, there's a lot of accidents like that.

We also think the game should be playable as written. In its entirety. We also think worlds published for it should plausibly exist given the rules. Yeah, FR just shouldn't exist when you've got magical factories possible under the core spell list. These are balance problems, but often they are also simulation problems, because they ruin world believability. (Ie, the players probably aren't the first to do this - so why does the world operate in a way that the existence of a number of spells would actively change?)

Scarab Sages

Gailbraithe wrote:

Mechanical analysis assumes mechanical appreciation, it assumes that abstract mathematically quantifiable probability imbalances translates into actual lack of enjoyment ("fighters cry in the corner.")

It's for reasons like these that I think it's laughable to suggest that mechanical analysis can produce better feedback than actually playing the game with real players out in the wild.

I don't think P_Robot is advocating replacing play testing with mechanical analysis. If he is , i wouldn't back him on that. But it is a very useful complementary tool that should be used appropriately. At the very least it can point us towards issues to keep an eye on while play testing. I'll admit I do this regularly when i add homebrew races, classes, and monsters. It helps a lot.

Sovereign Court

houstonderek wrote:

*drinking a white russian*

Wow, its been about 12 years since I drank the mixed drink, White Russian.

*places drinking a white russian on his to-do list for labor day*


Squirrelloid wrote:


Ie, any high level playtests I try to run will assume casters chain-binding efreets, using infinite wealth exploits via Wall of Iron and similar, and so forth - because the rules actually allow that. Until the rules don't allow that, it would be negligent of me to arbitrarily decide it isn't allowed. Of course it is. The rules say so in black and white. That's where the edge of the system is, and that's where it needs to be playtested.

I respectfully disagree with this. Working around known bugs seems pretty reasonable.

Why not just preface your report with, "We elected not to use PLanar Binding, on account of established brokenness. If we had, the following encoutners would have been triviially easy: (here's why)"

Papa-DRB wrote:

The first night, we would run into ** spoiler omitted ** and I would make the determination that they had a 63% chance of winning using the brilliant reasoning that Phsychic_Robot provided, so I would just tell them what the treasure was. Oh, *rats*, I forgot that player Z was playing the wizard and he statistically rolls very low damage. Back to the analysis. Oops, sorry guys you only have a 36% chance, so you all die. Roll up new characters and make sure the Z doesn't play the wizard or you will never get past this encounter.

Weeks later, after they have rolled up new characters many times, we all decide to play chess instead.

-- david
Papa.DRB

Because clearly it would be preferably to spend an entire session on the party's horrible, but entirely predictable death...

orcface999 wrote:
I tire of hearing about the value of a certain feat, or that this class is inferior. This is a roleplaying game, quit assessing the absolute value of every aspect to determine what the "best" character is.

Orcface, why are you even participating in this enterprise if you aren't interested in the substance of design. I'm not saying perfect balance is everything (there are games that are balanced but not fun and vice versa), but... why participate in the desing process if you don't care about it?

Yes, when *playing* a game, one does what appeals to them; when *playtesting* a game, one explores the possibilities of the system. Two different things.

Scarab Sages

Pax Veritas wrote:
houstonderek wrote:

*drinking a white russian*

Wow, its been about 12 years since I drank the mixed drink, White Russian.

*places drinking a white russian on his to-do list for labor day*

Word to the wise: make your own. From my experience, some bars make horrible white russians. It's one of those drinks that is easily messed up using cookie-cutter mixing. Nowadays all the kids want shooters anyway, which is kills the art of mixing drinks.


Patrick Curtin wrote:


Some folks like a lot of mechanical rules to prevent abuses by min/maxers. To them the joy of the game is well-written consistent mathematics and statistical analysis. It annoys them to no end when someone discovers a way to 'break' the game. They desire classes, feats, skills and races that are balanced so people will not construct gawdawful abortions like Pun-pun the Kobold. Rules interpreted as a closed system (RAW).

Note that neither I, nor Psychic or Squirreloid actually *play* by the rules as written. I publish extensive house rules before each campaign, and make some up as I go. I don't have players binding pit fiends or extracting wishes (my player's aren't generally rules-savvy/power-hungry enough that it would even come up).

The point is that this is how I operate as a player; it is not how game designers operate. Their job, by definition, is to worry about the rules as written, since they are the ones who write them. Similarly, if you or I are going to have a meaningful convrsation about Pathfinder, we need to discuss it as it is actually written.

Quote:


Some folks like to freeform interpret the rules to fit their own game table. They don't get worked up about the math, they feel that 'Rule 0' is the Holy Grail, and the DM can rule any way they damn well please, and to Hades what some book or min/max munchkin says. They dwell on the character, the story, not the math. Rules interpreted as an open system (RAI).

I don't understand why these people would object to reformulating the rules to satisfy the "RAW crowd." How does it impinge on thier interests?

Liberty's Edge

Jal Dorak wrote:
Pax Veritas wrote:
houstonderek wrote:

*drinking a white russian*

Wow, its been about 12 years since I drank the mixed drink, White Russian.

*places drinking a white russian on his to-do list for labor day*
Word to the wise: make your own. From my experience, some bars make horrible white russians. It's one of those drinks that is easily messed up using cookie-cutter mixing.

true. its kinda like gaming. when you reduce bartending to a "science", the results lose their flavor...

(of course, i was a great bartender back in the day ;) )


Orion Anderson wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:


Ie, any high level playtests I try to run will assume casters chain-binding efreets, using infinite wealth exploits via Wall of Iron and similar, and so forth - because the rules actually allow that. Until the rules don't allow that, it would be negligent of me to arbitrarily decide it isn't allowed. Of course it is. The rules say so in black and white. That's where the edge of the system is, and that's where it needs to be playtested.

I respectfully disagree with this. Working around known bugs seems pretty reasonable.

Why not just preface your report with, "We elected not to use PLanar Binding, on account of established brokenness. If we had, the following encoutners would have been triviially easy: (here's why)"

And why don't i go play an entirely different game while I'm at it? Its all houserule differences, right?

There were three alphas to get it fixed. It hasn't been fixed. And now the technical director comes and tells us that we can't just point out how bad these spells are for the game, because we will not receive attention. He seriously wants me to play games using this. My whole point is that its a waste of time - I don't need to play an encounter to show how overpowering arbitrary wealth or free wishes are.

And as much as people would like jason to be all knowing, I know it isn't true, and I don't expect him to be. I personally pointed out something during alpha 3 that he had never noticed before. I haven't actually checked to see if it was fixed in the beta, but after it was pointed out to him he was definitely interested in fixing it, so I imagine it was. (It was the sleight of hand as free (1 rank investment) quickdraw exploit, for the record.)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Squirrelloid wrote:
And now the technical director comes and tells us that we can't just point out how bad these spells are for the game, because we will not receive attention.

I don't think that was what he said.

Scarab Sages

Zynete wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
And now the technical director comes and tells us that we can't just point out how bad these spells are for the game, because we will not receive attention.
I don't think that was what he said.

It doesn't matter what you think, Squirrelloid will not be proven wrong.


Jal Dorak wrote:
Zynete wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
And now the technical director comes and tells us that we can't just point out how bad these spells are for the game, because we will not receive attention.
I don't think that was what he said.
It doesn't matter what you think, Squirrelloid will not be proven wrong.
Vic wrote:

We're really not terribly interested in having people read the rules and then just imagine how things might play out. We already have talented folks on our payroll who are fully capable of doing that. What we need are people to put the rules into play in actual game situations, and tell us—good and bad—what happens.

I can promise you, when Jason's going through the playtest forums, reports of people actually playing sessions using the Pathfinder RPG rules will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game than the people who are merely theorizing about potential rules applications.

You might read that differently, but I know how *I* read that. "This type of feedback is not welcome here."

Of course, I don't really want to criticize the people they've hired. I'm sure said people Paizo has hired are working on other aspects of the game - its a large spell list after all, and spells are not the only part of the rules.

But its not like there wasn't an experienced community that's been talking about edge of system performance for the last 8 years readily available to get information from or anything. Who would have been happy to help, no less. A post on the pre-4E CO boards at WotC asking about the biggest game problems with core mechanics would have turned up all of these and more in about 10 minutes. In fact, you'd have gotten detailed rules quotations proving why they work and detailed analysis about where, how, and why they break in 2-3 hours. Most of the exploits I point out are *common knowledge* at this point for anyone interested in knowing, and have been demonstrated repeatedly on places like WotC CO, Enworld, and others. Paizo would do better to stop trying to re-invent the wheel.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Squirrelloid wrote:
Vic wrote:

We're really not terribly interested in having people read the rules and then just imagine how things might play out. We already have talented folks on our payroll who are fully capable of doing that. What we need are people to put the rules into play in actual game situations, and tell us—good and bad—what happens.

I can promise you, when Jason's going through the playtest forums, reports of people actually playing sessions using the Pathfinder RPG rules will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game than the people who are merely theorizing about potential rules applications.

You might read that differently, but I know how *I* read that. "This type of feedback is not welcome here."

I read that as they're not terribly interested in one type of feedback and that they prefer another form of feedback which will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game.

I think you are reading too much into the one post he has put this thread.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ok, time for me to ask for forgiveness, i guess.

I originally wanted to just do what the threat asked for - play by the new rules, and point out bugs, odd situations and (by setting up the scenario in different ways) put some weight on the rules that look brittle to me.

I've in part gotten caught up in the theorizing and armchair game designer parts that make discussions about gaming so vicious. While i believe to be the voice of reason, i would bet high sums that most of the other participants think similarly.

I'll go back to my first resolution, and limit myself to the playtest reports from now on.


The golden rules of design:

Provide everyone with equal chance to have fun.
Provide everyone with equal chance to overcome obstacles.
Otherwise, make clear that everyone is on their own.

My general suggestion is to think like this:

Each class should feel and play differently. However, tools at the disposal of each class should not allow for absolute overpowering of another class unless there is a significant difference in strength of involved parties (Wizard vs Fighter of the same level should exhaust resources of both sides equally).

Examples of games where such ideas were implemented:

Starcraft. Each of the races is different, however during the play each race has a chance to win.
Arcana Evolved. Casters and non-caster may go toe-to-toe or engage in ranged attacks (ah, the beauty of instant save-my-life buffs and lack of FATALITY-type spells).

Regards,
Ruemere


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
David Fryer wrote:
Psychic_Robot wrote:

Are you honestly saying that the opinions of these people--these people who have playtested 3.5--are worth more than my ability to provide a mathematical analysis conclusively demonstrating that 3.5 clerics, wizards, and druids dominate the game while fighters sit on the bench and cry?

I think that is exactly what is being said, because these are rules for a game, not the laws of physics. The only worth that the rules have is how do they work in game play. I could sit down with my uncle, who is a gamer and a theoretical physicist, and we could punch all the numbers into the super computer that he has access to and that could give us some wonderful data. No one disagrees with that. But the most important data will come when we actually sit down and play the game and see how the rules work in the real world.

Yes, in the fighter vs. wizard debate, if all other things are equal the wizard will own the fighter. But in the real world all things aren't going to be equal. While the wizard is focusing his attention on the fighter, he has lost track of the rogue who is setting up for a sneak attack while the fighter does what he does best, which is flank and soak up damage. Meanwhile the wizard is also being peppered with arrows from the party's ranger and spells from the fighter's own wizard companion. And the party's cleric is burning through his allotment of spells to keep the fighter alive until the rest of the group can finsih the wizard off. That is why actual game play experience is more important than mathmatical theory in understanding how and where the rules have problems.

ahh so the fighter should be called 'useless metashield for the casters' not be a fun and entertaining class to play, who has it's own strengths and time to shine?

Sovereign Court

Zynete wrote:


I read that as they're not terribly interested in one type of feedback and that they prefer another form of feedback which will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game.

It does rather look as if they're saying that the reason the one sort of feedback will have a greater effect than the other is because they aren't interested in the other, which is pretty much adjacent to what Squirreloid said, where the 'other' feedback is the theory-based one. And it's pretty obvious that theoreticians could easily cast their objections amidst a faked-up playtest anyhow, so why force them into deceit to make their points?

I would prefer that the playtest was split into two parts, playtest and theory stuff, because both are (as has been pointed out by more than one person in this thread) pretty valuable. And yes, whilst Paizo has a bunch of clever people working for them, when you throw things out to the masses you can get problems and exploits discovered that you just wouldn't have, just sticking with the smaller, clever, more focussed group on-staff.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Bagpuss wrote:
Zynete wrote:


I read that as they're not terribly interested in one type of feedback and that they prefer another form of feedback which will have a far greater chance of making an impact on the finished game.
It does rather look as if they're saying that the reason the one sort of feedback will have a greater effect than the other is because they aren't interested in the other, which is pretty much adjacent to what Squirreloid said, where the 'other' feedback is the theory-based one.

It just looks to me that it is because they less interested in the 'other' feedback. Not that they not interested.

If I say I would prefer one type of food over another, it doesn't automatically mean that I'm not going eat the other type if that is what I am given.

Bagpuss wrote:
And it's pretty obvious that theoreticians could easily cast their objections amidst a faked-up playtest anyhow, so why force them into deceit to make their points?

I'm pretty sure everyone can fake-up playtests while casting objections, are they all being forced into deceit to make their points?

Also I'm not exactly sure which objections that they would need to fake up a playtest to make their points.


Hm, an interesting conundrum. Obviously, both play and theoretical testing are useful.

Still, I can safely say I've never heard of/seen the Planar Binding exploit until I saw it on this board, nor is it something that I would have ever thought of. My husband might have...Therefore I suspect that playtesting by those who would and do use it are as important, if not more so than mine.

Throughout this thread I have been reminded of the report of how the original 4e delve revealed a tactic/exploit of the paladin's marking that, apparently, none of the 4e playtesters had noticed.

So, analyze all you want, but test it with real people as well, and do so repeatedly. Real people really playing WILL find any loopholes.


I'm late to the conversation, but hopefully my contribution is worth-while. Below I've developed a page to assist with post-game play test reporting. Please download it and try it out.

If you can come up with any changes or inclusions please let me know: neceros at gmail dot com

Download wrote:
Neceros' Post-Game Play Test Report

Thanks!


Orion Anderson wrote:


Note that neither I, nor Psychic or Squirreloid actually *play* by the rules as written. I publish extensive house rules before each campaign, and make some up as I go. I don't have players binding pit fiends or extracting wishes (my player's aren't generally rules-savvy/power-hungry enough that it would even come up).

The point is that this is how I operate as a player; it is not how game designers operate. Their job, by definition, is to worry about the rules as written, since they are the ones who write them. Similarly, if you or I are going to have a meaningful convrsation about Pathfinder, we need to discuss it as it is actually written.

Absolutely. I totally agree. I just think that the level of acrimony and insults betwen the two groups is rapidly approaching the 3E vs. 4E levels. Both sides bring stuff to the gaming table. I for one am extremely happy there are people out there willing to spend a lot of time playtesting. My post was an appeal for civility in the debate. As I said at the height of the 3E/4E hatefest, we are all tabletop gamers. Taken as a whole we are a small group. We need to build bridges of communication, not throw hate-flame Molotov Cocktail posts at each other.

Orion Anderson wrote:


I don't understand why these people would object to reformulating the rules to satisfy the "RAW crowd." How does it impinge on thier interests?

I personally have no problem with the RAW crowd trying to bring glaring errors to people's attention. The problem I have been having lately is the attitude some have had when presenting their opinions. I think we all need to relax, realize that there is going to be disagreement on how we approach these issues in the game mechanics. Not everyones fix is going to appeal to the larger audience. Not every bug or exploit can be fixed while maintaining backwards-compatibility with 3.5. We just need to recognize that we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve Pathfinder by our input over the next year. Posting angry and discounting the opinions of others gets us nowhere.


Patrick Curtin wrote:
Tons of insightful stuff

/em applauds!

I absolutely agree with every word you said in this thread.

To be totally frank I think the main motivator of some people is to get 'their' rule changes into the final product. I don't think they care much about not antagonizing people in the process because the one with the loudest voice can claim the prize, even if he was just repeating common knowledge... or so they think ...

Now off to that higher ground, there should be enough people for a king of the hill game by now. ;-)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

JoelF847 wrote:

I don't have much to add to the current trend in this thread (in part because it's become the same old, same old), but I do have a question about actual playtest feedback.

What general format is preferred for playtest feedback? Do you want a summary of each session, with details from every combat, how spells, feats, classes, etc. worked out? Would you instead prefer quick thoughts on what stood out, either rules that worked well, or rules that didn't, either by being broken, inferior to other options, or simply too good? So far, I've been leaning towards the latter, but I want my feedback to be as helpful as possible to Paizo, so I'd be happy to tailor it to give the kinds and amounts of detail that they're looking for.

An excellent question! Jason will be leading the playtest topic-by-topic to some extent; the most efficient way to provide useful feedback is to post relevant experiences—including everything you listed under "quick thoughts"—in the appropriate threads. (Detailed summaries of sessions would provide more noise than signal, and the signal they would provide would be all over the place, topically.)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Regarding this whole "theoretical playtesting" discussion: I never said that theorizing is bad—I'm just trying to say that you shouldn't stop there.

Take the scientific method: you come up with a hypothesis, *test it*, draw conclusions, and share your results. What I'm saying is that people who test their hypotheses by creating actual scenarios and playing them out with actual players and PCs will be contributing more to the process than people who skip that step.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Also, I'd like to say something regarding this whole "balance" thing. Before I do, I'd like to point out that in this post I'm speaking for myself; Jason and other Paizo folks may feel differently.

There are certainly games where perfect balance in game design is essential. If players are motivated by the mechanics to do the same few things all the time, that's a problem that needs to be solved.

However, I believe that roleplaying games actually benefit from making suboptimal choices available to players—it's in these non-optimal choices that the start of characterization is often born. Further, I suspect that many people would find that an RPG that's perfectly balanced is also likely to be perfectly boring.

Dark Archive

questing gm wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:


It's actually pretty straightforward—"playtest" is a compound verb made up of two smaller verbs, and both of those verbs are equally important to us. We've published a set of rules, and we want you to TEST them by PLAYING with them.

Thank you for posting this, Vic!

Now I know how to make a difference.

Ditto! I'm a player in a monthly Pathfinder Alpha* CotCT campaign. I recently played a 7th level PC in 7SoS game at Strategicon. Lots of interesting observations on Pathfinder.

Liberty's Edge

Vic Wertz wrote:

Also, I'd like to say something regarding this whole "balance" thing. Before I do, I'd like to point out that in this post I'm speaking for myself; Jason and other Paizo folks may feel differently.

There are certainly games where perfect balance in game design is essential. If players are motivated by the mechanics to do the same few things all the time, that's a problem that needs to be solved.

However, I believe that roleplaying games actually benefit from making suboptimal choices available to players—it's in these non-optimal choices that the start of characterization is often born. Further, I suspect that many people would find that an RPG that's perfectly balanced is also likely to be perfectly boring.

i perfectly agree. i managed to get through 30 years of d&d without perfect "balance", playing and DMing "sub-optimal" characters, and was part of some quite compelling stories.

you know, just for the record...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Skeld wrote:
Squirrelloid wrote:
How is a theoretical scenario different than actually playing?

I could be misunderstanding what Vic is saying, but it sounds to me like a theortical scenario would be one where a group said some like "hey, let's playtest the grapple rules tonight" and then proceeds to set up a series of grapple-heavy fights with opponents that have some proficiency with grappling (as oppoesed just playing module X with the beta rules). The point is that a "theoretical scenario" IS actually playing. At least that's what I've taken away from Vic's post.

Also, with the multiple players vs. single player thing: wouldn't you agree that multiple players bring multiple points of view on tactics to the table? I mean, one person only brings one set of ideas on how they envision a fight going (my fighter moves here, then my cleric moves there, then my wizard casts this spell). One person knows what each character is "thinking," whereas multiple players playing against each other have a greater chance of the opponent trying some tactic you didn't anticipate.

Just some thoughts.

-Skeld

Well said.


Vic Wertz wrote:

Also, I'd like to say something regarding this whole "balance" thing. Before I do, I'd like to point out that in this post I'm speaking for myself; Jason and other Paizo folks may feel differently.

There are certainly games where perfect balance in game design is essential. If players are motivated by the mechanics to do the same few things all the time, that's a problem that needs to be solved.

However, I believe that roleplaying games actually benefit from making suboptimal choices available to players—it's in these non-optimal choices that the start of characterization is often born. Further, I suspect that many people would find that an RPG that's perfectly balanced is also likely to be perfectly boring.

Thanks for your clarifications Vic.

Can I offer a translation? An RPG that's perfectly balanced has to be so simplistic that it ends up perfectly boring.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Pax Veritas wrote:
In short: yes, important to define for this community what playtesting is. I just find (as you can tell from my posts) the definition to be lacking and antiquated. My two cp.

Perhaps I should have been more clear that most of what I've been talking about in this thread is about mechanical feedback; that's the type of feedback that it seems most people are interested in providing. But please don't take that to mean we're not looking for feedback on everything else. Please feel free to comment on presentation, organization, and any other non-mechanical stuff in the appropriate forum (meaning if it's relevant to a particular chapter, post it when the discussion for that chapter comes up; if it's general, post it in the general forum).

Scarab Sages

Vic Wertz wrote:
Pax Veritas wrote:
In short: yes, important to define for this community what playtesting is. I just find (as you can tell from my posts) the definition to be lacking and antiquated. My two cp.
Perhaps I should have been more clear that most of what I've been talking about in this thread is about mechanical feedback; that's the type of feedback that it seems most people are interested in providing. But please don't take that to mean we're not looking for feedback on everything else. Please feel free to comment on presentation, organization, and any other non-mechanical stuff in the appropriate forum (meaning if it's relevant to a particular chapter, post it when the discussion for that chapter comes up; if it's general, post it in the general forum).

Much appreciated, Vic. I've agreed with Pax that making PRPG more readable, useable, and nice to look at is also an important thing for Paizo to get feedback on.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Nevynxxx wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
<cool, if somewhat obvious stuff>

Vic, I have a question that may already have been asked in this thread, but that's been bugging m from the beginning.

Will Josh be keeping track of the pbps that are using the beta rules, such as my CotCT?

I am guessing no, as it will be huge amount of work, but it would probably be more insightful even than posted playtests, as there is no one person from the game evaluating what happened, just the actual experience in full....

We just don't have the time to sort through things like that. It would be best if you get get one person to volunteer to sort out the bits that would be useful for the designers, and post them to the appropriate forums at the appropriate time.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Stuff
Well said.

Thanks.

The more I thought about this over the weekend, the less I understand what exactly this debate is over.

Paizo is tinkering with the 3.5e OGL to their own purpose and has invited us to participate in the open playtest of their tweaks. Numerous Paizo personnel have explained what their definition of playtesting is (and, just as importantly, what it isn't).

So, is the point to tell Paizo that you disagree with their own definition of what they want (translation, "you don't want what you think you want"), or is the point to tell Paizo that you'll only participate on your terms, not theirs? Or is their some other motivation to the bickering altogether?

-Skeld

PS: The term "you" is used in the general, not the specific and does not refer to any particular poster on these boards.

Sovereign Court

Vic Wertz wrote:

Pax Veritas wrote:

In short: yes, important to define for this community what playtesting is. I just find (as you can tell from my posts) the definition to be lacking and antiquated. My two cp.

Perhaps I should have been more clear that most of what I've been talking about in this thread is about mechanical feedback; that's the type of feedback that it seems most people are interested in providing. But please don't take that to mean we're not looking for feedback on everything else. Please feel free to comment on presentation, organization, and any other non-mechanical stuff in the appropriate forum (meaning if it's relevant to a particular chapter, post it when the discussion for that chapter comes up; if it's general, post it in the general forum).

Actually, this is an uber-excellent follow up. Thank you for the clarification. And kudos for standing up for the sub-optimal choices lead to characterization point - very nice. Thanks Vic.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

orcface999 wrote:
Vic, I think you need to make "assignments" for focusing on certain aspects of the game. A free-form testing will leave areas untouched, and personal agendas followed, which ultimately is to no one's advantage (even if they don't realize it).

I do believe that's in Jason's plan.


orcface999 wrote:

I tire of hearing about the value of a certain feat, or that this class is inferior. This is a roleplaying game, quit assessing the absolute value of every aspect to determine what the "best" character is. IMAGINE a character and build it, not to be the best, but to be true to itself. Then play the game using him, even if he has inconsistencies, hang-ups, or passions that get in the way of him being the maximum value. ROLE-PLAYING.

This is what mathematical analysis will get you--the only weapon the country has is a nuke--the only character in the movie "Spider Man" is Spider-Man--you messed up your life by not buying a Honda in 1987--your employer just replaced you....
There are places where math is appropriate--damage value comparison of weapons to make adjustments in the rules, not for selection-- and so forth.

Vic, I think you need to make "assignments" for focusing on certain aspects of the game. A free-form testing will leave areas untouched, and personal agendas followed, which ultimately is to no one's advantage (even if they don't realize it).

Amen Brotha!!!!

Damn, sometimes I wonder if people even play RPing games anymore in order to role play. Numbers this, builds that, corner case #33486 must be recomputed, blah, f'n bah, blah.

Fix the glaring problems first, then go to the smaller issues realizing that at the end of the day some portion of the rules will have to rely on....gasp....DM judgment.

It is obvious that play testing means play testing. The amount of outrage over Vic daring to suggest that play is more important than theory is directly proportional to the number of arm-chair critics out there vs. the number of actual players. And if there is some arcane mathematical formula to determine this...I don't want to see it.

Sovereign Court

Once more follow up, in support this time, to Vic's recent comment about "balance" and "boring..."

I ran 53 sessions in my last campaign from March '06 through Oct '07. I call this my "great experiment" with adhering to the 3.5 ruleset as written for every aspect of the game. In summary I found the rules to be very robust, well designed (except for noted PRPG improvements which came later), generally well balanced and incredibly sophisticated (insomuchas the detail, depth, and complexity of the rules). All good stuff, right?

Well the incredible story I executed (and it was very awesome) unfortunately never truly experienced the high-highs and low-lows that I enjoy in my rpgs. Why? Because for every great moment, there were some rules that pushed the encounter toward average. Game balance is quite over-rated when it comes to the storytelling aspect (or roleplay if you prefer) of the game. When mechanics take over the great scenes - you get something (although well intentioned) that is incredibly average... And, last I checked, great epic stories aren't oft remembered for being well balanced at every turn, or incredibly "average." Without a longer explanation.... I wholeheartedly agree with Vic. For some games - game balance is at the foreground, in rpgs - the best stuff, I mean really the best stuff comes after you climb that mountain, learn the rules intimately, so you can execute them in the perifery or even break them. Just ask any great photographer, or jazz musician. The "art" of our game happens above the rules.

Just my two cp.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

tergiver wrote:
...if there are plans to address other issues, is there a way to get an errata sheet in 6-8 months? Enough time to test the release candidate, as it were?

I believe Jason is planning to make updates available a couple of times between now and the end of the playtest.


Back from the holiday, time to answer a question. First though, to neceros: nice resource, thanks for sharing.

To Orion, the reason I participate is because I do care. My point was that to value Deceptive against Extra Rage is of little value. Once you have determined that the "best" character (what criteria do you use--melee damage, highest skill check percentage, or something else?) is that what you play every time, with the same skills and the same feats? That kind of...abuse is not the goal here.

Frankly, a lot of the changes that have been made cannot be accurately assessed by any particular play group as there are too many permutations to play through. As a whole we can identify faster, smoother, simpler. Obviously, as a group we are the kind of people that will push this game to the edge of the envelope and beyond. Hopefully we will all remember that we do this to make a better game overall for everyone, not to pander to our own specific wants.

Does this sound a little preachy or what?:)


Vic Wertz wrote:
I believe Jason is planning to make updates available a couple of times between now and the end of the playtest.

Sweet! Glad - but not surprised - to hear it.


Just a quick thought about the "balance" idea. 4th Edition is "balanced" and all the classes are the same--it's like a batch of cookies that all taste the same but the frosting and sprinkles are different colors.

No flaming of WotC, they just put together a game that doesn't make it to my table.


Vic, does Jason have a preference between core-only testing or inclusion of 3.5 stuff? Our group should be starting in about a month and I was thinking of using core-only but hadn't really decided.


Wyrmshadows wrote:
Damn, sometimes I wonder if people even play RPing games anymore in order to role play. Numbers this, builds that, corner case #33486 must be recomputed, blah, f'n bah, blah.

Now, before we go saying things like this I'd like you to realize that you are insulting people that actually like to do this very thing.

I love to roleplay, socialize, and have fun, but the greatest part for me is in building options and making characters. Granted, it's not the most time I spend in an RPG, but I greatly look forward to it.

Building and rebuilding is what makes 3.5 fun; if I wanted all my options to be in the game and not worry about character build-up I'd play 4e.

Wyrmshadows wrote:

Fix the glaring problems first, then go to the smaller issues realizing that at the end of the day some portion of the rules will have to rely on....gasp....DM judgment.

Said elsewhere, but bears repeating: Yes, a DM has the call to make any judgment within reason to further the game. However, that does not insinuate that all DMs must make the same call in order for the game to work mechanically. Those are bad rules.
Wyrmshadows wrote:

It is obvious that play testing means play testing. The amount of outrage over Vic daring to suggest that play is more important than theory is directly proportional to the number of arm-chair critics out there vs. the number of actual players. And if there is some arcane mathematical formula to determine this...I don't want to see it.

Play testing comes in many forms. One way is not better than any other. Theoretical has it's place just as much as real-time play testing, but neither has better merit than the other.

Yes, Paizo is asking for actual play-testing. I'm assuming they've already gone through the theoretical, or don't need them because their scope is not that great. In either case both are valid cases of testing play.


neceros wrote:
Now, before we go saying things like this I'd like you to realize that you are insulting people that actually like to do this very thing.
neceros wrote:
I love to roleplay, socialize, and have fun, but the greatest part for me is in building options and making characters. Granted, it's not the most time I spend in an RPG, but I greatly look forward to it.

Sorry to insult you, didn't mean to. The fact is that I have played Basic D&D, AD&D, 2e before 3e and I have to say that editions before 3e seemed much more dedicated to actually playing realized characters as opposed to builds. My players never spoke in these terms. First came the character concept then came the class and not primarily for optimization but for enjoyment of playing a certin type of character.

All the 3e era talk of builds has finally gotten to me I guess.

Also, much of what I see as criticism is a mathematical obsession over odd corner cases that simply never happen during an actual campaigns. Such odd situations instead represent things that can theoretically happen in play. Many of these situations are issues of DM arbitration and not issues of hard and fast rules created to prevent the potential of all abuse.

Maybe I'm venting...didn't mean to insult.


I have thick skin. :)

Recent games seem to be infused with more table-top then past games have been. It's more strategy than role, however good or bad that may be. I, too, wish people would just make a character based on a concept, but I can't make them do that no matter how hard I try.

One of my players cannot play anything until he's sure he's read the entire book and knows every single in-and-out so he can make the best character possible. They develope a character around the mechanics (Needless to say that character is just the personality of the player, usually twisted around in some fashion.) But what is a DM to do? Find new players? Meh.

Happy gaming.

Scarab Sages

Jal Dorak wrote:
Russ Taylor wrote:

I don't see much value in fixing edge case exploits that more or less involve being an obnoxious player (i.e. casting wall of iron over and over again). The space in a rulebook is limited. Every line spent closing a hole that can just be closed by DMing is another line that can't be used for something more useful. A big difference between computer games and RPGs is the presence of an arbiter to weed out bad play, and the rules should take advantage of that by focusing on rules that are needed, rather than covering all the possible abuses in the system.

Just my two cents.

Part of me wonders how much of this mentality is a result of 3rd Edition and trying to have a rule for the majority of situations. It`s like the old adage that rules are made to be broken - the more rules you make, the more aggressively some people try to exploit those rules to prove they cannot be constrained by them.

It definitely is a 3rd edition legacy. It existed well before it, but never to that extent. The whole obsession with "game balance" when in fact people only think of "rules balance", discarding the fact that DM and players do play a role in the actual GAME balance, is tied to this topic of over-codification of the game rules.


Part of the problem is that 3.x is a gamist system. There, i've said it. The sheer number of options and player choice available in 3.x means that optimizing characters is more possible now than ever, and some of these combinations are good and some of them are not. Massive numbers of options that are variably good in combination is the very definition of a gamist system.

1st/2nd/basic D+D were pretty straightforward. No one really cared what NWP and WP you took. The only place for optimization was spells, and because 100hp was the *extreme high end* of monster hp, direct damage was actually good. That saves were generally never failed at mid-high levels meant that save or suck was crap (because saving meant nothing happened). This is a very anti-gamist game - there are few good options, and they're obvious, so everyone played them anyway. And there aren't even that many options period. The only place one could be a gamist in 2nd and earlier was as a spellcaster, and it was rather poor pickings for a gamist. Those earlier editions are very much simulationist systems, however. They take time to explain the metaphysics. The rules are written as if they're trying to model what would actually happen in the game physics. Fireball doesn't just create a 20' radius blast, it actually creates 33000 cubic feet of fire, which expands to fill available space. Going to the outer planes? Spells may just behave wonky, or not at all, depending on the spell and how it interacts with the plane.

The shift from 2nd to 3e was a major change in game paradigm, and it would be foolish to ignore it. This isn't to say you can't play 3e like you played earlier editions, but the system isn't designed for it, and a lot of the 'magic' of the system (awesomeness of presentation) was already lost going to 3e. I miss 33000 cu ft fireballs. (We tried to do the fluid dynamics one time when it came up, because we wanted to know if the mage toasted himself, and he was right on the cusp of it - that's one of my cooler memories of 2nd edition spell use).

Edit:
Anyway, an interest in game balance is a gamist priority. Hence the "new" interest in game balance in 3.x. Build a gamist system and people will expect it to behave like a gamist system. ie, they want the game to continue functioning no matter what crazy tricks they pull out, and the crazy tricks are half the fun to them. And they want the 'keep functioning' to be handled by the rules, not the DM who they may well be *competing against* (there are many types of gamism, none are wrong, and all involve competition at some level).

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