Part Six: An Open Break-Up Letter to D&D

(This is part of the series ‘D&D: Chasing the Dragon.’ Read more from the home page.)

 

Dear D&D,

It’s been awhile since we’ve been in touch, and I feel bad that I just sort of left our relationship hanging. We’ve had pretty strong feelings over the years, and to simply leave that to peter out with no closure is just wrong. I owe it to you to be honest about where we stand with each other.

Also, I want to assure you that the rumors you’ve been hearing about me bad-mouthing you are untrue. You’re an intense person, and you tend to attract intense friends. Those people are good friends to you, but people with strong feelings often interpret things uncharitably to fit their world-view. I never meant anything I’ve said about you to be a slight on your character, and I wanted to set that record straight as well.

The truth is, we were never meant to be together. And that has more to do with me than with you. I wanted you to be – believed that you were – something that you’re not, something you’ll never be. That’s okay. You don’t need to change to suit me, because a relationship based on a lie just doesn’t work in the long run. But I needed to come to terms with that, and it isn’t until now that I fully understood the divide between us.

And the last reason I wanted to write this is because you have a history of having the sort of relationship that we did. I think a lot of the people you’ve dated in the past have been projecting some kind of perfect image onto you, each different from the last. I know how good it feels in the moment, but it isn’t healthy. You deserve to be loved for who you are, not for who someone wishes you were.

So I’m going to spend some time talking about us. I’m going to talk about our relationship over the years, what went wrong, and what I’ve learned since then. To understand who we are, we need to look at who we were. And hopefully through all this, we can finally move on to healthier relationships.

So. Let’s start at the beginning… Continue reading

A Brief History of Leveling Systems

Level Up

Dungeon Master: “On your way out of town, you catch sight of a strange flying ship, held aloft by propellers, making its way across the sky,”

Frye: “Woah, cool! We totally follow it!”

DM: “It was flying out past the bay inlet, and as you reach the water’s edge, you can only just see the airship as it heads for the horizon.”

Mary: “I wonder what that was all about. Maybe there’s more of them!”

DM: “As you wait on the beach for another ship, you hear a squishing noise behind you. You turn and see three disgusting slime creatures with faces creeping toward you.”

Greg: “Slimes? Whatever, we got this! Everyone roll initiative!”

DM: “Okay, looks like you go first. What do you do?”

Frye: “I roll a critical hit is what I do! Check it! Booyah!”

DM: “You do zero damage to the slime.”

Frye: “…what?” Continue reading

World of Warcraft: A Case Study in Design Focus

WarcraftLogoFinal

With a peak subscriber rate of twelve million players and a rotating, on-and-off player base, it’s hard to imagine that there are many video gamers left who haven’t at least tried Blizzard’s magnum opus, World of Warcraft. After all, it’s got so many games in it, so much content! It’s got something for everyone, so how can you go wrong?

Turns out a lot can go wrong.

Turns out that when you try to make the omni-game, when you try to have “a little of everything,” you end up with a lot half-baked ideas and broken systems; that when you try to please everyone, you don’t really satisfy anyone. Turns out that you can’t just mix everything together at the WoW All-U-Can-Eat buffet and still expect to have something good in the end. Continue reading