Interview Episode 17 – Ryan Dancey

* (0:36) John’s Bloodmoon Goblins Kickstarter is still up and running.  John has also expressed his willingness to stay up and run games for people in timezones different than our own.

* (1:55) Introducing (or reintroducing) Ryan Dancey.

* (7:16) Ryan has been writing a series of columns for EN World.  The links are provided at the end of the show notes.

* (7:44) Some information on the MMO he’s currently helping develop, including an explanation of what he means by a “sandbox game”, when used in the context of online play.

* (14:57) Chris harkens back to a promo item he received at the D&D Third Edition release party.  This leads into some questions about the overwhelming success of the OGL, even in the face of newer editions of D&D.

* (24:50) Revisiting Ryan’s previous list of predictions.  We also get a list of new predictions.

* (31:14) Some theories about the shifting demographics of gamers and their interests, using Gen Con 2011 as an anecdotal jumping-off point.

* (49:21) The lack of a WotC announcement at Gen Con raises some questions and also serves as a reminder of just how small the industry is.

Hosts: Chris, Dan, John, Pat

Guest: Ryan Dancey

Comments (11)

The DanielAugust 24th, 2011 at 8:34 am

Another angle that goes against younger generations and classic roleplaying games is the amount of prep time that some may take. In some games, a player can create the stats of a PC in 15 minutes or less (we used to time ourselves with old VtM and Starwars). Other games take a lot longer. Another issue lies with the gamemaster’s prep time. Some systems make it very difficult to make things (primarily stats) up on the fly.

With other things such as board games and video games where you just set it up and play, there is less of a barrier to getting a new player into the hobby. What someone must do is lower the barrier to getting new people into their hobby.

GumbyAugust 24th, 2011 at 11:52 am

We have the technology to make things easier–but it’s up to the players to marshal those resources (which only works if you understand what you need).

I could use Neverwinter Nights to create a 3D map of a town and castle, an amateur made grid program to run a combat, my iPod attached to speakers for music, and anything else I can muster to make my job easier. But I don’t want to do that.

I want the next RPG I buy to be IPhone compatible (aps please), and have dedicated software that cuts prep time to nothing. That seems like it is the next step to bring in the new generation, but I guess nobody has the money.

WillieAugust 24th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

It was Ogre Magi, an Opera House and oppression. And I would like to point out that I wove those seemingly random story elements seemlessly into an epic adventure that my players will remember for at least a year. Lol. I know because one of them told me so :D

ChrisAugust 24th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

@Gumby – Is it because no one has the money or no one feels money could be made? I do agree that an app that could just make a character, and then the rules allow you to adjust points here and there (as long as it balances in some formula) would be a great boon. @Daniel – I recently ran an RPG for my son and his friends. They wanted to do 3.5, but because I had to make their characters (it was a one-shot), it was FAR too time consuming. I switched to Savage Worlds, didn’t give him much of a choice, and was able to crank out foundations of all their characters in about 30 min. HUGE difference.

The DanielAugust 24th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

@Chris–It is actually one of the things that I really like about the old d6 Starwars. I’m currently running some 4e D&D, but things are getting so slow when people level up. There are some concepts that 4e brought in that I really enjoy such as the minion that I may take back to previous editions.

@Willie– A DM could really go a few directions with that set of words.

The DanielAugust 24th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

What about going into fields that are simply not covered by mmo’s? That could be the new direction for saving the field of rpg’s.

WillAugust 25th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

It was depressing to hear the demise of tabletop role-playing games declared so succinctly. I guess that I hadn’t thought it through that clearly. I don’t play anymore, because of the time involved. Not many adults seem willing to put in the necessary time to make it work. The younger generation doesn’t have the skills or imagination that we did in the 70’s and 80’s. This isn’t a slight. I don’t have many of the skills my Dad’s generation possessed. In this light, maybe 4e or something similar will be the future if gaming survives. Building on the Jazz analogy, tabletop role-playing needs a Kenny G. I think people will always enjoy the “in-person” social aspect of gaming. Skpe can’t replace that feeling.

ConstableBrewAugust 29th, 2011 at 11:16 am

I am an old D&D 2e player and haven’t played for years until recently a coworker got into RPGs and organized a game with some other PC MMO Gamer friends of ours. They would not play an RPG but were willing to play board games so we played a few sessions of “Wrath of Ashardalon”. The rules were simple enough that everyone was able to get into the game after maybe 15 of prep and a few rounds of actual play.

After we played several sessions of Ashardalon we introduced our reluctant friends to D&D 4e. Having played Ashardalon was a great way to slowly introduce them to the daunting rule set of 4e. Our first two session was a simple one-shot where the GM had created full 4e characters based off of the Ashardalon characters we were playing. Our third session started with everyone rolling their own characters.

This slow buildup and hand-holding made gamers out of two highly reluctant people who both embarrassed by the stigma of RPGs and the desire to not spend time learning all the rules

I believe this avenue is a very positive one. Some refinement needs to be made: The board game rules should easily have additional layers of rules added to them to make a smooth and built-in transition from a fast and loose board game into a full RPG.

AnthroslugAugust 29th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

When I think of trying to introduce new people to the hobby, I think of the old D&D red box. The rule books were small, and could be easily read in short order, and the rules were relatively simple. The presentation was similar enough to a board game that it looked unintimidating to someone who had never played an RPG, and seemed accessible. The current WOTC red box has some similarities, but tends to be stocked in hobby shops rather than in toy stores and non-rpg game shops (although I do occasionally see it in those places). I like the WOTC D&D board games, and as mentioned above they do have the potential to bring in new players, but their high price (my local shop sells them for $60 to $100 depending on the specific game) is prohibitive to those who are not already playing at least the upper-end board games.

I do think that a table-top RPG has elements that will likely never be copied by MMORPGs (though, I will admit, that I never thought that MMORPGs would reach even their current level of sophistication, so perhaps you shouldn’t listen to me). As a result, I think there will likely be a potential market for RPGs well into the future – the question is how large is that market and how can it be reached? Are we actually going to have an ultimate decline of our favored hobby?

AnthroslugAugust 29th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

One thing that stuck out for me in the interview was the comment that many people get from MMORPGs what they used to get from table-top RPGs. A few years ago, I would have scoffed at that. Then I met my current partner, and she played World of Warcraft. While there were definite differences, when we talked about her experiences on WoW, it became apparent that she was having experiences that, while different, were equivalent to those that I had had with table-top games over the years. Many of the social aspects of the table top games she and her friends had achieved by having many players together in the same room (not to mention having international groups via on-line chat), they also got the experience of having alter egos see amazing worlds while on grand adventures, and they would talk of raiding Molten Core int he same way that my friends and I talked about attacking the Temple of Elemental Evil or the Tomb of Horrors.

While, as attested above, I still feel that there are things that a table top game provides that an on-line game doesn’t, I did stop scoffing at the idea that many (perhaps even most) couldn’t get their desires met by the online games.

Dan BoudJanuary 15th, 2023 at 10:25 am

Coming back to this all these years later in light of the looming industry “changes”. Hearing Ryan’s insights and passion in creating an enduring framework for game creators to feed into and build the industry and communities around it is just remarkable. I feel for the man hearing his fine work is in the balance due to some jackasses wanting to turn a quick buck. Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

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