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Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 1) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47798073) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
Sorry for the late reply, I was on vacation for a week and avoided the net.

I think you're require in-game justifications for special character moments, either without thinking about it or on purpose. The wizard can only use teleport once a day because he lacks the mental focus to handle it twice, or expends too much stored mana the first time, or has his Vancian spell erased from memory after casting it. Obviously no similar resource of concentration, memorization, or mana affects the fighter. But in dramatic storytelling it's common for a fighter to do mundane actions for most of a fight and then one or two standout moments. For example:
The hero takes quite a pounding from the villian but a second wind or the sight of a loved one in danger or a lucky event (the enemy slips, the good guy finds a sword in the rubble, the bad guy stops to gloat) allows him to attack with renewed vigor. There are dozens of examples, consider the fight between Bruce Willis and Alexander Gudenov in Die Hard.
The gunfight goes back and forth for a while but when only two people are left the hero and villain have a standoff and then the hero plants a bullet in the other person's eye or heart before they can get off a final shot. Again, there are dozens of examples - Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon isn't that impressive in combat next to his partner but when the enemy leader tries to drive away he pulls off an awesome signature shot that kills the limo driver.
The hand to hand combat goes back and forth for a bit with no clear winner but then the hero pulls off a great hit. For a perfect example, Michael Keaton engages a swordsman in Batman. They exchange blows a few times and Keaton manages to block all sword swings. The adversary backs off for a second to collect himself and comes charging back in, and gets taken out with one kick.

In Dungeons and Dragons 1, 2, 3, and 3.5, those pivotal moments all simply represent an enemy character running out of hit points. Everything else around it is descriptive text. But this is a collaborative storytelling game, and it should be fun. There may be no in-game justification for that renewed energy, that special deadly shot, or that finishing kick, and there may be no in-game reason the character can only use it a limited number of times. But if it makes the game more fun for the person playing the character, why not add it? You can only control enough mana for a single meteor strike, I only have enough adrenaline for one jumping decapitation strike.

To answer your second point - the Fighter has been improved, relative to the 1/2/3/3.5 version. But a high level Fighter is still not in the same league as a high level caster, not by a long shot. It's only a partial fix.

I realize the 4e mechanics for special abilities are mostly uniform across class, role, and power source. That's a fair criticism, it robs flavor. But the alternative is custom options for each class that are still attempted to be more or less equal with each other in terms of in-game utility. That's incredibly difficult to do well. I think uniform mechanics are inevitable.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 1) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47719609) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
I am aware that 5e finally changed spells so that spell level and caster level do not both combined to enhance the effectiveness of a spell, and they also added a bigger selection of special abilities for non-caster types. I do think that's a step forward from 1e through 3.5e. I respectfully disagree that it's a step forward from 4e. A high level 5e spellcaster may only have one use of something like Wish, Meteor Strike, Gate, Teleport, Raise Dead, etc... per day, but the character gets one utterly awesome game moment per day. The non-casters have nothing similar, they don't have their non-magical equivalent spotlight moment.

How about something equivalently awesome for non-casters, like at level 19 Fighters choose one of the following powers, which can be used once per day: 1. Overwhelming Attack: one attack you designate before you roll your attack dice is treated as though you rolled a 20, no enemy power of any kind can negate the attack (magical or otherwise), and the attack does 4 times regular dice damage plus bonuses. 2. Looks Worse Than It Is: wounds that appear serious were in fact only little scratches, at any time, even when it is not your player's turn, as long as your player is still alive you can restore 75% of your hit points up to your normal maximum. 3. Peerless Combat Skill: for the next five rounds you enjoy a +10 to movement, +5 to defense, +5 to attack, and +10 to damage. 4. Prep and Blitz: you spend one round in combat in a total defensive action as you examine the battlefield carefully and plan your next moves. On your next turn, you explode into action. Your movement for the round is doubled and your attacks are tripled.

I realize my ideas here aren't that different from what's in 4e already. But that's my point - giving each class the exact same amount of cool at-will, encounter, daily, and utility powers meant that everyone got similar amounts of awesome stuff to do in combat. The Defenders might clean house more than the Leaders and the Strikers, but they all had nifty stuff. Then out of combat the Strikers and the Leaders might get to do more useful things than the Defenders - but the point is, nobody felt like a third wheel in battle.

Comment: Re:Flaws? (Score 1) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47719499) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
Did you read the 4E Dungeon Master's Guide? It has a great treatment of all of the aspects of roleplaying - character interaction with NPCs, exploring, new environments, new cultures, different game types including intrigue-focused games, etc... And if you're a power gamer / munchkin, skill challenges offer a much faster route for accumulating XP in 4E than combat! Convincing the goblin chief and his horde to go home carries the same XP as wiping them out, and can be done more quickly. Trapping the guard golem in a room carries the same XP as chopping it to bits, and can be done more quickly. Convincing the captain of the local garrison to leave the bar and take a patrol out after the zombies gives as much XP as wiping them out yourself (provided they succeed), etc... There's also good advice for managing gaming groups of different sizes, and a general classification of player (not player character) archtypes and how to work with each one.

So I disagree with the first part of your objection. I partly agree with the second part, though - the environmental hazard, poison, and trap rules are clearly set up with an eye towards not wiping out the entire party with a bad roll of the dice. That's a trade-off, and I understand why they did it because a total party kill may be realistic but it sure is no fun for the players. The down side is that if the PCs hit a group of Hill Giants with a rockslide, or poison a rampaging dinosaur, or ignite a circle of oil around an enemy squad of soldiers it's only going to be a minor inconvenience to the enemy and the rest of the encounter won't be much different than if they'd skipped the careful planning in charged right into battle.

Further down in the thread someone raised what I consider to be a much better criticism of 4E: they ditched the Open Gaming License for third party supplements. I hate that, and even though I like 4E I'm glad their move away from an open ecosystem bit them hard.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 3, Interesting) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47716251) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
I disagree. For a novel, that's fine. For a cooperative game, it sucks - do you really expect to tell players, "Okay, you two are going to play guys that are useful for the next six months. Then they'll suck. On the other hand you two are going to play guys that are going to suck for the next six months. Then they'll kick ass, and they'll kick ass way better than these guys ever did." (Change time periods depending upon how often gaming group meets, rate of experience, etc...)

In RPG discussion forums I've heard this referred to as Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard - with linear and quadratic as the metaphor for the rate of growth of power. Now again, this fits fantasy literature, it makes for great stories, etc... But it fails for a group because it means there's a completely uneven distribution of 'spotlight' time once the game lasts long enough. The people playing non-casters might as well not show up, they can be replaced by hirelings and a few summoning spells.

Comment: Re:It all comes down to the OGL (Score 1) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47714423) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
I think you're right. I like 4E quite a bit, and I think the thing that killed it is two parts. On one side you have the many people who thought it was too different from earlier edition. But on the other side you have the third party support that 4E never got.

Incidentally, I've toyed with dozens of OGL games and my favorite by a wide margin is Radiance, It's a 3E/4E hybrid with a lot of good ideas, and the Player's Handbook is free. (I am not associated with the publisher in any formal way, I just exchanged a few emails with him.) I like it better than DnD 3.5, Pathfinder, Tunnels and Trolls, Castles and Crusades, Arcana Evolved, OGL Conan, World of Warcraft OGL, etc...

Comment: Re:Flaws? (Score 1) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47714311) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
You realize the original Dungeons and Dragons was inspired by miniatures combat, right?

The reason to focus so much on combat and giving every class a useful role in combat is that combat generally takes longer to roleplay than anything else in Dungeons and Dragons. If you're playing Fate, or Risus, or Trollbabe, or Dying Earth RPG, then that wasn't the case and non-combat events and interactions can take as long as combat. But in Dungeons and Dragons combat always got the spotlight, that's why the Player's Handbook in all editions has twenty or thirty or fifty pages for combat rules and much less for other aspects of the game.

So in my view, the 4E focus on useful roles in combat for all classes just made the game more fun for everyone.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 2) 200

by DuckDodgers (#47714033) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released
I played all of the earlier editions and preferred 4th. Yes, it took ideas from MMOs. It took good ideas, like giving more people than the spellcasters a selection of cool powers they could use a few times per day. In older versions of Dungeons and Dragons, at low levels the Fighters and Thieves outshined everyone else because "I whack it with a sword" and "I stole 10 gp." trumped "I can do something that's like shooting a bow accurately, but only once a day!" And "I can be like a super fast first aid kit, but only twice a day!". But ten levels later the spellcasters were shooting gouts of flame and mind-controlling enemies to fight each other and teleporting and bringing back the dead while the Fighter can now say, "I whack it with my sword, only harder!" and the Thief can say "I stole 100gp!"

So fourth edition discarded a lot of what was quintessential to earlier editions, but in my view it was a useful step forward. Fifth edition is a regression. Fifth may well end up better than 1 through 3.5, but it will take work to convince me it's better than Fourth when you exclude nostalgia from the metrics.

Comment: Re:Confusing the issue (Score 1) 337

by DuckDodgers (#47647517) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?
The problem were not Windows on ARM itself. The problems were:

1. It should not have shared the Surface name with something that ran on x86. Instead of Surface Pro and Surface RT, there should be Surface and something else - Slate, Pad, Shift, Slice, whatever.
2. They should have waited at least an extra year and spent all of the budget from the Surface RT version 1 on a wider selection of better applications.
3. The Surface RT version 1 hurt the product name by being underpowered for a late 2012 tablet running Windows, even a stripped down version of Windows: 1366x768 resolution, Tegra 3 processor. The first Surface RT should have been generation 2 - 1920x1080, Tegra 4. But again, even that got a lot of criticism for a lack of a good application selection.

The fundamental concept was fine, the execution was inadequate. Microsoft is desperate to gain a foothold in mobile, and I think they're right to be desperate to get a foothold in mobile. I'm glad they screwed it up - I don't like Google, but I'd rather see the future of mobile devices be based on operating systems that have open source cores (even if Google adds a big proprietary layer on top) than otherwise.

Comment: Re:Oh right, Java is dying (again) (Score 1) 371

by DuckDodgers (#47637025) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time
I work on Java professionally too and also hate it. I've played with Scala but I've actually come to prefer Clojure (a really cool Lisp dialect on the JVM, for anyone that doesn't already know). I'm hoping to work on Clojure or maybe even plain old Lisp at my next job. There are even a few Clojure shops in my neck of the US.

Comment: Re:Ahhh ... large corporations ... (Score 1) 371

by DuckDodgers (#47637019) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time
In terms of major new whiz-bang features that you can show off to a corporate executive or a customer? You're right, not much new. But in terms of making the language suck less to use, Java 7's try-with-resources, Java 8 lambdas, and Java 8 default implementation of interface methods are all hugely helpful. And Java EE is now possible to use without XML hell, just a few annotations and you're all set. They can't change too much, if Java EE10 completely reinvents Java EE then companies completely lose the value of their previous investment in the technology. Likewise one business advantage of Java is that you can compile Java 1.1 code with the Java 8 compiler, so some of the coolest possible advances to the language would take that away.

But what I really want to see is the language as an open standard, so everyone can get the same benefits we see from the GCC vs LLVM competition. As long as Oracle thinks they can make money by avoiding that, it will never happen.

Well, I have two additional wishlists for Java 9 or 10: default language annotation @g @s and @gs on instance variables for auto-generating a public getter, public setter, or both at compile time without making me (my IDE) clutter up the source file by creating one for me and syntactic support for tuples. I think those two things would go a long way towards simplifying the language without hurting how readable code is.

Comment: Re:Ahhh ... large corporations ... (Score 1) 371

by DuckDodgers (#47636997) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time
Facebook's a large company, and they came out with HipHop->HHVM and Hack, and they use the D programming language on some internal tools and employ some of the D language designers full time to work on the language. Google's a large company, and they invented Go and Dart and are helping actively develop both. Yahoo came out with Hadoop. And there are dozens of major and minor open source tools released by all three companies. And of course Red Hat, which as a company with revenue in the single billion dollar range is much smaller than the others, does everything open source.

And Microsoft, of all companies, realized they were losing relevance and started making IE standards-compliant and releasing languages like Typescript as fully open source and an open standard.

Big corporations are usually evil. I grant that. Verizon and Comcast undoubtedly are big enough to have tens of millions of lines of code in internal tools and as far as I know they don't work with open standards and they definitely don't release code or programming tools as open source. But it's not guaranteed.

Comment: Re:Nobody kills Java (Score 1) 371

by DuckDodgers (#47636973) Attached to: Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time
Oracle was evil to do that, but Google could have prevented it and they didn't. Sun was failing before being bought by Oracle, and they tried to negotiate a licensing agreement with Google for Java but failed. If Google had waved half a billion dollars at Sun and said "Here's a one time fee if you make Java an open standard", the current mess would have never happened. Sun probably still would have folded or been acquired eventually, but Android - and Apache Harmony, and gcj would be legally in the clear and the latter two would be actively developed instead of mostly dead.

Comment: Re:Lose weight (Score 1) 59

As others noted elsewhere, not all sleep apnea sufferers are obese. I found it a lot easier to control my appetite and exercise more often after I got my CPAP machine, and I'm starting to lose a little weight without extraordinary effort - of course the first ten pounds is always the easiest. So it's not clear to me whether sleep apnea is caused by my obesity or vice versa.

Comment: Re:How do I get one? (Score 1) 59

I'm a fat bastard. I have sleep apnea. Maybe it would be fixed if I slimmed down (further). I'm working on it.

My boss has sleep apnea. He's 5'10" and 150 pounds. How slim do you want him to get?

While it's true that most sleep apnea patients are obese and the disease can be caused or made worse by obesity, a significant minority of the sufferers are thin.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries