Yesterday, I had to make a clarification, one that I will remake now. I am firmly against increased and incessant role-playing constraints in role-playing games. That is, the sort of thing where players are compelled by the DM to 'act out' lengthy scenes, often repeatedly, between their characters and the DM's NPCs. I am not a fan of diceless participation events, which I will not call games as nothing game like occurs.
My post yesterday regarding funhouses was written to highlight how greater emphasis on mental participation has derived from the failure of RPGs to maintain their value in a rapidly changing world. It was also written to point out how 'role-playing' has itself been redefined in order to justify the inclusion of insipid bantering as an alternative to making a better playing field for play.
Plainly, I wasn't clear.
The "Funhouse" I addressed is the closed, ordered, simplistic module set piece designed to
surprise, challenge and amuse the player. Specifically in a way that can be controlled, manipulated and most importantly simplified so that the DM is never challenged, never has to step out of his or her comfort zone and is never, ever, compelled to redesign or rethink a prepared, static and stultified landscape where the players have been placed.
We like to call it a railroad, but it is much more. Railroads go somewhere. The Funhouse is a box. It goes nowhere.
Yesterday, I argued that the Funhouse was the logical construct for role-playing, given that it was made in a time of pencil and paper graphics. More wasn't possible . . . except with excessive resources, none of which were available, asked for or expected by a small company fundamentally unable to service the very game they created.
What have we changed since? Not a blasted thing.
Most people express sounds of being stunned, surprised and amazed that I have systematically been making maps that cover a fair part of the world. That's fine, I'm just one person and I don't spend all my time working on maps. But think what could be done with extensive resources!
Steam is all excited that they can offer this interactive system for the official 5th Edition, but how much is it, really? In the demo, the creator/demonstrator literally goes on line and proceeds to steal the work/content of another, random person, then insert it into the game system you're using. In fact, it is a design feature of the system, that it can rip off the internet so you don't have to make your own maps. More importantly, STEAM doesn't have to make them. "Hey, we know you're already ripping off the internet! This will make it easier!"
I don't really care . . . but it shows where the focus is. Steam and the programmers aren't interested in providing you with any sort of consistent, reliable setting for your campaign; they're making it easier for you to insert other people's funhouses for your convenience and their profit.
Fundamentally, since the program does nothing my earlier version of publisher didn't do back in 1998 (except for the auto features, which were technologically possible 17 years ago), the company hasn't done anything. In fact, they've taken a few short cuts, since they're relying on the existing internet to fill in the holes for their product's imagery.
Does the program allow me to build on the program, then extend that build indefinitely into endless space? No. In this age of GoogleEarth, that is not an option.
But that's okay, because I can build my world on a totally different program, then import it into Steam's system, where it is useless because I prefer hexes to squares.
Someone invented Greyhawk more than 30 years ago. Where is the massive Greyhawk virtual surface where players can move their pieces, not just independently but also simultaneously, in real time, in a non-turn based process, like any multiplayer video game right now?
Sorry, that's not available. Not because it couldn't be available, but because, well, that's not our agenda.
I apologize. I'm very biased about this. I never began a campaign with the notion of running a dungeon funhouse.
Anything less than a world bores me.
Gawd, I wish I had better content to write about than this.