Author Topic: Rulebooks as living documents (AKA The Case for E-Books)  (Read 9165 times)

Offline Raineh Daze

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Re: Rulebooks as living documents (AKA The Case for E-Books)
« Reply #40 on: November 13, 2013, 09:19:30 AM »
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Rulebooks as living documents (AKA The Case for E-Books)
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2013, 02:03:54 PM »
There's two things here.  One is having nice, easy to use electronic docs.  I view this as to some extent inevitable, and in all ways a good thing.  To the extent that RPGs have moved away from clunkiness and difficulty of play and towards making it easier to get to the good stuff at the gaming table, this is (tautologically) good.

The other thing, which Nytmare seems positively obsessed about is errata.  First off, I don't understand why stealth errata is a good thing.  Errata should be clearly called out.  In fact, it has to be in a tabletop game since there's no computer that's making the adjustments (side note:  every game I've ever played includes patch documentation, it's common practice, I don't even know what those comments were meant to indicate). 

Secondly, errata is bad.  It should be used exceedingly sparingly.  Until game designers figure out how to swoop in and modify all of our games and our builds to take it into account, and scrub our brains of the old rules while they are at it, it should be avoided.  I have played very little 4E, but I found their constant tweaks (seriously, their errata was like 100s of pages long, wasn't it?) enormously frustrating.  There is a hue and cry when these things happen in many video games (viz. Diablo 3), and with good reason.  It is a headache and unsettles the game, forcing potentially important games (e.g., a character build no longer works).  And, that's regardless of the format of the rulebooks. 

Finally, I don't see how "living rulebooks" would solve RAW v. RAI flamewars.  If they have this magical pixiedust quality, then sure, sign me up.  Given that these fractious debates arise about un-errata'ed material all the time, I fail to see how this has been elevated to the status of cure all. 
« Last Edit: November 13, 2013, 02:11:13 PM by Unbeliever »

Offline Nytemare3701

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Re: Rulebooks as living documents (AKA The Case for E-Books)
« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2014, 07:32:40 AM »
The other thing, which Nytmare seems positively obsessed about is errata.  First off, I don't understand why stealth errata is a good thing.  Errata should be clearly called out.  In fact, it has to be in a tabletop game since there's no computer that's making the adjustments (side note:  every game I've ever played includes patch documentation, it's common practice, I don't even know what those comments were meant to indicate).


I agree that Stealth errata is terrible. Patch notes should be clearly stated. My statement about itemizing your failures was in regards to companies NOT fixing them afterwards.

Secondly, errata is bad.  It should be used exceedingly sparingly. 
This is a very dubious statement, one which I take exception to. Errata is nothing more than officially published corrections to erroneous information. See Balance Patching VS Errata below.

Until game designers figure out how to swoop in and modify all of our games and our builds to take it into account, and scrub our brains of the old rules while they are at it, it should be avoided.  I have played very little 4E, but I found their constant tweaks (seriously, their errata was like 100s of pages long, wasn't it?) enormously frustrating.  There is a hue and cry when these things happen in many video games (viz. Diablo 3), and with good reason.  It is a headache and unsettles the game, forcing potentially important games (e.g., a character build no longer works).  And, that's regardless of the format of the rulebooks.
This isn't a problem with errata. This is a problem with balance patches. Yes, those things tend to overlap, and sometimes people use them interchangeably. It doesn't mean that all errata is automatically bad though. If a portion of your customers say "this isn't worded clearly, how does it work?" you figure it out and clarify it in the next round of errata. Doing so creates a unified ruleset for people to play with, with no inconsistencies from table to table. If you want to play it another way, that's what houserules are for.
Finally, I don't see how "living rulebooks" would solve RAW v. RAI flamewars.  If they have this magical pixiedust quality, then sure, sign me up.  Given that these fractious debates arise about un-errata'ed material all the time, I fail to see how this has been elevated to the status of cure all.

See above.

Coming back around to the original point: They are selling a set of game rules, which the consumer expects to work, and a player going from table to table generally expects to function similarly, being the same rules. If one table reads the rules entirely differently than another, you are no longer playing the same game. In that case, what has been sold isn't a book full of rules, it's a book full of fluff disguised as rules, and everyone is (as one of our more vocal once said) playing Magical Tea Party, because the rules aren't actually rules.

I share a Honda (D&D Edition) with a bunch of people. It starts (The rules function for the average uninformed player), but it doesn't run very smoothly unless I drive it just right. (There are inconsistencies in the rules and houserules are common), and if I push it over 60 the suspension gives out entirely (Optimization breaks the game in half). Therefore I not only refuse to perform maintenance on my car (By accepting official clarification on rules that are ambiguous), I will argue that the workarounds I use and special driving techniques I've developed to drive the car (houseruling any and all ambiguous rules and creating builds that rely on said ambiguities to function) should be the standard for all drivers of this Honda.

I think that reinforces that errata like this is unnecessary, since the sample of people that can understand how broken the game is happens to be so damn tiny and will just break the errata anyway. >.>

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Offline Raineh Daze

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Re: Rulebooks as living documents (AKA The Case for E-Books)
« Reply #43 on: January 01, 2014, 08:29:35 AM »
I think that reinforces that errata like this is unnecessary, since the sample of people that can understand how broken the game is happens to be so damn tiny and will just break the errata anyway. >.>

"Science isn't about being right, it's about becoming progressively less wrong."

But it's not less wrong, it's just wrong in a different way with different things. Because the people who're concerned with errata are the ones who're concerned with finding how to break the game, nothing really gets improved, just pointed at someone else.

It's like if I start with a fork and all the complaints are that it's too easy to stab things, so my fork becomes a spoon. And now it's too easy to eat soup.
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