Cars vs. Trains


Just got an email from Atari to my spam address (the some one WoW account phishers drill with scams) about Daggerdale and so I watched the trailer.

Interesting. Four player co-op.

One bit struck a chord… not a good chord, but a chord. There is a quote from Gamepro saying, “… the way Dungeons and Dragons was meant to be played”.

They’re doing it wrong.

D&D was meant to be played around a table with friends and one of those friends acts as a judge for results or conflicts often playing the other side of the conflict in the form of a gruff merchant or blood thirsty orc raider.

So they have swords and magic, D&D based rules and some multiplayer aspect, but they’re missing the most critical piece – a DM.

“Dude, I thought this post was about Cars vs. Trains, WTF?!”

Analogies.

Pen and paper D&D is like a car. Computer RPGs based on D&D are trains.

Trains go fast and get you where you want to go, mostly, but they’re very linear and cannot do much more than follow the path laid out for them with some scheduled stops along the way. Much like a computer running a module or game, it’s predefined and hard coded.

With a car you can drive just about anywhere there is a road and even some places where there isn’t a road, but you might get into trouble there depending on the car you’re driving. You can stop where you want, when you want and you can change destination without needing to get out of the car and make other arrangements (like purchasing a ticket to another location). It provides more freedom.

In other words, with a CRPG you’re limited by the fact that you do not have a human being on the other end to handle the odd things players will do or will want to do. In a CRPG you probably cannot attack that Innkeeper that is being a douche because the game needs him alive for some reason or it’s not programmed to handle calling in the local authorities, maybe even setting up a trial with witnesses and a magistrate… it can’t do that stuff on the fly.

A living, breathing DM can so long as they’re willing to do so and capable of thinking on their feet.

So no, “Gamepro”, that isn’t how Dungeons and Dragons is meant to be played.

Nub.

UPDATE: Poked around in the forums a bit, lots of unsatisfied customers. Found this video review: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/review-pod-dungeons/714234

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