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Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 1) 200

by mcvos (#47799393) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

This is the difference between the diegenetic and non-diegetic view of character abilities. You want the character's abilities to be determined by the preferred story structure, even if those abilities don't make sense on their own. I prefer the character's abilities to be something real to the character. Something he knows he can do. The wizard knows which spells he can cast, and presumably knows he can only cast each spell once. But for a fighter to know he can't swing his sword like that again for the rest of the day once he's done it, or he can't make that perfect shot again for no clear in-character reason, well, that'd be weird. So unlike the wizard, the fighter character loses knowledge of what he can do. He becomes a puppet of the limitations that the story demands of his abilities.

Mind you, I'm not at all against some form of meta-currency to give you that extra oomph just when you need it. Fate points, plot points, karma, bennies, etc, I do like having that something extra to save for that special moment, and those exist outside the knowledge of the characters (except in Earthdawn obviously, where characters explicitly manage their karma). But that is an extra meta-currency on top of what the character himself is capable of, and what he knows himself to be capable of. But in D&D4, these meta-concerns infringe on the character's own physical abilities. And these abilities even have a special magic-sounding name, making it really more like a spell than a mundane ability. It damages the distinction between what the character can do and what the player wants from the story.

And those special moments in the movies, they could just as well have been a simple critical hit. Doesn't it hurt the suspense of the encounter when you know: I can still use my once-a-day encounter busting ability? One of the cool things about RPGs is their unpredictability. You can have the randomness of the dice create the drama of the story. When I played Earthdawn, the exploding dice meant that sometimes, due to luck, a simple d10 could roll over 20 or even 30. That move, whatever it was, was instantly epic, even if the player didn't plan it.

I grant you that class balance in 3.5 is seriously broken, and I totally believe you that 5 didn't fix it either. And yes, 4 is a lot more balanced, but balance at the cost of flavour isn't very good balance in my opinion. In the end, the core of class balance is this: in every situation, every PC has to be able to contribute something useful, and everybody has to get the chance to truly excel every once in a while. Not everybody has to excel in combat, unless your game is only about combat. Having one PC dominate combat is fine, as long as the others aren't useless, and the others get plenty of other opportunity to shine. Balance is only really broken when, as in 3.5, some classes will eventually be able to do everything better than everybody else, making everybody else obsolete. But forcing everybody to have very similar once-a-day powers is totally unnecessary.

Comment: Re: Her work (Score 1) 1220

Don't put words in my mouth please. Your Spock quote is exactly what I said. That quote shows that it's common for "understand" to be taken as approval, and also that it can mean other things. The word "understand" is used to mean slightly different things in different situations, just like many other words.

Comment: Re: Her work (Score 4, Insightful) 1220

If you mean in the sense that you can understand what makes religious extremists irrationally angry about some perceived slight, or what makes a mass murderer kill so many people, then sure.

Often "understand" is taken to mean that you believe there's a rational line of thought behind it. But I hope you mean you understand that some people do utterly despicable things for irrational reasons, and you have some idea what their triggers are. If so, I can get agree with that, I suppose.

Comment: Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score 1) 200

by mcvos (#47755973) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

In mechanics terms, that is true, but when talking about characters they were referred to by their former careers: "ex marine", "former scout", "retired navy" and so on. And back then, that's what was most important to us nerds.

Sure, but that still doesn't make it a class. It's background. It is in fact more comparable to D&D5's Backgrounds than Classes, because it gives you history, skills and equipment. In GURPS I can also use a template to create a character and identify my character by that template, but that doesn't make GURPS a class-based system. Both GURPS and Traveller are skill-based systems.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 508

by mcvos (#47746033) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

The problem is what's the point of Java?

If speed is absolutely critical, you're going to go with C/C++/ASM/whatever native-compiled-language works well for your problem.

If speed is not absolutely critical, there's plenty of "scripting" languages that get the job done more easily with less code. And if you're talking about something cloud-based, you can probably handle the lower speed of these options by adding another server node.

Java seems to be in the middle ground where it's more cumbersome than the "scripting" options, yet slower than the "native" options

It's a pretty good middle ground, though. Java is almost as fast as C++ (10% slower back in the days of Java 5, I seem to recall). If you want speed in a managed environment, Java is a pretty good choice.

Comment: Re:that depends (Score 1) 508

by mcvos (#47745963) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

In his opinion, Java the programming language was on its way out whereas Java the runtime environment was here to stay.

Absolutely. Java the language is a chore, leading to very verbose code. The JVM however is one of the best things since sliced bread. A managed environment like that is extremely useful.

If you find that you resemble that description, then check out Clojure which is a version of lisp that compiles to Java byte code running in the JVM. It can, but doesn't have to, be pre-compiled and it is dynamically typed. You can provide type hints but you don't have to. For this reason, Clojure programs are much more dense than Java programs. Less typing in order to get the job done.

Another good option is Groovy, which very easy to get into for Java programmers, since 99% of legal Java syntax is also legal Groovy syntax. But for everything, there's also a better, more readable way to do it. Best interaction with Java of any JVM language. It's basically what Java should have been.

Be careful what you ask for. All that typing means that you can find and fix a lot of bugs in the compile step. With dynamically typed languages, you get to find those bugs at runtime. Maybe that is why other posters here believe that Java is for the B programmers.

No, if you're a competent programmer, you don't rely on the compiler to find all your bugs, because it won't. You rely on unit tests, which means your basic bugs will be found at build time. The percentage of bugs that a statically typed compiler will find for you is small. You still need extra tests to find all your other bugs, and those tests will also find your basic type errors.

Comment: Re:I hope not (Score 2) 508

by mcvos (#47745929) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

I wouldn't state that C# is superior to Java from a language perspective, both are essentially derived from Ada and C with influences from C++.

But C# is far quicker to incorporate modern language features (like closures and other dynamic programming features), while Java is constantly dragging its feet.

I'd never lock myself into a Microsoft ecosystem by specializing in C#, but as a language, it's more up to date than Java. There's a good reason for the proliferation of other JVM languages like Groovy, Scala and Clojure.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 2) 200

by mcvos (#47726573) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

But how do you explain that the fighter can do that only once per day? With magic, the "it's magic" explanation always works. With mundane stuff, sure, you might be too tired to try it every round, but surely after some rest, you're ready again?

And don't fighters get plenty of cool with their special dice that get increasingly better and can be used on an increasing number of abilities?

And one of the big complaints about 4e was that by giving every character exactly the same amount of similar abilities, they all start to feel the same. Have magic and non-magic feel different. Give each class different kinds of cool stuff to do.

Mystics always hope that science will some day overtake them. -- Booth Tarkington

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