Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If You Are A "AAA Pro-Video Game Developer", It Means You Write Code

This is a belated response, of a sorts, to a thread on ENWorld started by a poster named Gorgoroth in which he lambastes the idea of the "damage on a miss" mechanic in D&D Next (and I guess it appeared in 4e, I don't know).

This post is not about the "DOAM" mechanic. Rob Donoghue already did a breakdown that, from my AAA Database Developer eyes, looks good enough.

Instead, I want to highlight Gorgoroth's arguments that he is somehow especially qualified to be put on the pedestal of tabletop gaming design.

In particular, these quotes:

As a pro game developer with over a dozen AAA games to my credit (go ahead and ask me for my CV, and I will share it with you, Mike), I have identified, based on both your own design goals, and my general game design and debugging experience, as well as 25+ years of D&D on top of that (which qualifies me eminently better than 99% of your survey recipients) with GWF:
Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?352516-Open-Letter-to-Mike-Mearls-from-a-pro-game-dev&s=d4a00883a7d16f717f6b2056a55151e3#ixzz2sZBSywga
and

The opinions about game rules by pro game developers should be taken more seriously. That's what expertise means.
When people start paying you six figures for your game dev skills, call me.
and
CRPG devs routinely make six figures, and the work we do is far, FAR more complicated, widely-scrutinized, analyzed, profitable, and generally pertinent to more people than D&D could ever hope to be. Keeping things simple is not merely a worthwhile design goal for us, it's an absolute necessity. Which is why I recognize Mearls as a pro, and see eye to eye with him in most ways.
First off, this guy needs to comprehend that the similarity between the implementation of video games and tabletop rpgs, from a nuts and bolts perspective, starts and ends with the word "game". Conceptually, there might be some cross-talk between the two fields (as evidenced by the folks who migrate to the video game industry to video games), but that doesn't really make his "game design and debugging experience" specifically something that makes him a guru that everyone must follow when it comes to tabletop game design. Again, there's some osmosis between the overall function of a developer of any stripe, but the game part of it isn't nearly as portable as he thinks.

Second, there's the "I makes the big money and my work is important" bit. Does this mean that game developers should listen to me about how wrong their tables are organized because I'm a highly paid database developer? Should I write an open-letter to R.Talsorian Games about how they need to normalize their tables (which, btw, the tables in Mekton Zeta are near impossible to place into a normalized database - I've tried). Because the analogy between database tables and reference tables is about as solid as the one between video game mechanics and tabletop rpg mechanics.

It shouldn't need to be said that, no Gorgoroth, I don't take you seriously.