Fun vs. Engaging

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Before I start, I'd like to direct you to this video. It's about going beyond "fun" (as described in the dictionary).

- - - - -
The more I think about it, the more I end up thinking that maybe people have been confusing the term "fun" with other ideas/emotions for so long that when they say "fun" they actually mean a completely different term, which in turn is actually an explanation as to why they keep coming back to the game.

Let's say Tomb of Horrors.  There's nothing "light-hearted" about a tournament-style competition where the objective is to get as deep into the maze of traps and deadly passageways as possible, yet people who loved (and still love) that adventure would tell you that it's "fun".  Then let's go about Call of Cthulu, which is certainly not about going around with any form of humor.

I think the terminology being used -- fun -- actually refers to another, more accurate term that probably didn't gain traction due to how it doesn't slide off the tongue as the given term: engaging.

People want engaging games, even though these games aren't always "fun" or even "enjoyable".  Think Silent Hill, Spec Ops: The Line, or a TRPG where you subject your avatar (and yourself) to hours and hours of drama, suspense, tension, horror, and suffering.  Is it really "fun" to watch your character suffer negative levels, fall off cliffs, get stuck in death traps or devoured by monsters, or any other stuff in a TRPG?  If you use the term "fun" in the same way as "engaging" perhaps the answer is yes, because even if it's not the same type of "fun" as more casual games -- those that do, in fact, fit the term "fun" as normally defined -- it still keeps you enthralled and wanting to play.

Of course, some people do literally play it up as a light-hearted and "fun" endeavor, treating TRPGs as "just another game", but I think it's that perception that hurts the genre and game industry in general. On a D&D table for example, if you have one player being all serious and engaged even though he's not experiencing the game in a "fun" manner, while another ignoring the seriousness and sometimes even intentionally messes with the campaign for the simple reason that "it's just a game, and it's supposed to be fun!", that by itself can be considered very disruptive.  What more when you have the entire game industry being unable to develop deep, engaging games because the biggest purchasing body and the people in charge of determining what sort of games are being released *all* look for the "fun" in a game?

And I think this is why "old-timer" gamers express lament if not rage over how un-deadly or how un-fun some of the newer games are: that element of danger of being easily killed and having to restart all over again, the fear of potentially having to re-calculate all your stats because of level or ability drain, that factor of uncertainty and powerless-ness... all that was basically what made the game "fun" for them.  It was engaging to them because it actually was not fun, at least not in the normal sense of "fun".

[ I think the thing about the mis-use of the word "fun" explains why, for several years, "normal" folks often looked at gamers in a weird way. ]

A bit more controversial: I think what really made D&D 4E disconnect from previous editions is the fact that it was designed with level 1 PCs less likely to die in one hit, as well as the fact that there's class parity.  Some people were so used to this non-magic caster powerless-ness that when faced with the ability of non-casters to be almost equals (at least in battle), even though they tried to play 4E they ended up not liking it, with most not really being able to explain why beyond presentation issues (classes being same-y, and similar complaints).  Heck, I think that what really started the problem was 3E, where all caster limitations -- the ones that made people consider all 2E (and earlier) classes balanced -- were easily and effectively removed from the game; after all, 4E had to connect with the 3.x player base by giving them access to casters that didn't have limitations, as well as the pre-3E player base by giving them access to casters that HAVE limitations.  Pretty weird that turned out to be, if you ask me.

Back to the discussion: In my (13th Age) campaigns, I have the players themselves determine the tone, flavor and pacing of the campaign using their relationship with the Icons of the world, combined with their unique things and character motivations.  This resulted in my two groups having very different campaigns:


  • One is more drama-centric, with a gradual build-up towards epic greatness and whose stories don't necessarily involve combat (2+ hour sessions have gone without combat).

  • Another is more action-focused, with lots of crazy antics and a bit of backstabbing here and there too, lots of combat involved (usually instigated by the players one way or another).



To help DMs analyze their own campaigns, I'd like to ask a couple of questions:

  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?


Additional questions may come up later on, will add them as either edits to this post, or as follow-up replies to posts here.

EDIT: Since apparently in spite of the video and the above text (which was supposed to give the context of the discussion, some still look at fun = engaging and vice versa, so I would like to ask those people instead: what constitutes the term "fun" for you in your favorite game(s)?  What are the core asthetics that you look for in those games?
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
To help DMs analyze their own campaigns, I'd like to ask a couple of questions:

  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?


Additional questions may come up later on, will add them as either edits to this post, or as follow-up replies to posts here.



Chaosfang, first let me say that this is an excellent post. I don't only want to quote it, I want to staple it to some peoples foreheads so all they can see is this post so it is forced to seep into their eye sockets, travel down their neural pathways and crash into their brains. Very good link, very good analysis. No surprise this post  has gone without a single reply up to this point. SIGH.

Let me answer your excellent questions.

1. Prior to my current campaign, my group unanimously stated (aloud...to everyone they talked to) that my best campaign ever was a Star Wars campaign that revolved around midi-chlorians. Oh yeah...you read that right. MIDI-FREAKING-CHLORIANS. See, I set up a situation where there was an Empire, a Repubic and a Sith Empire. The Empire and Republic had a truce going and the Sith Empire was all about shaking it up and taking over. Well, the players were a group that was a joint-creation between the Empire & Republic...kinda like if Russia & the US made an A-Team to deal with special threats to both their interests.

Well, anyway, they found and helped destroy a massive Sith superweapon called The Hand of the Dark Side...a weapon that used powerful Force users descended from certain family lines (Sunrider, Marek, Skywalker, etc) as conduits to target worlds. Specifically to target the midi-chlorians in people on that world. The midi-chlorians would go beserk, kill whoever they were in and then spread like a disease, killing everyone else on the planet like a super-plague. This all took moments to accomplish...every living thing dead and the planet intact. Pretty nasty. So this involved kidnapping (the force users), cloning and weapons creation. Dark stuff considering one of the kidnapped people was a Jedi's baby.

They destroyed the super weapon and that is where stuff got interesting...because one of their senatorial benefactors and all-around awesome-guy, Senator Haladin, revealed that the Republic had created it's own Hand of the Dark Side...to use to enforce "Law & order" across the galaxy and remove the Sith and lingering Imperial threat. The Jedi master in the group also found out that his long-time friend and council-member was ALSO in on this. Can you say betrayal?

This got them fired up like nothing you could imagine! Holy crap did they respond! And in varied ways! The player of an Imperial special ops officer went rogue, influenced by promises from the spirit of a Sith the team had killed who took up refuge in a Sith holocron. He embraced the Dark side and tempted the Jedi masters apprentice (also a PC) along with him, convincing him that he was being immensely held back. They betrayed the group (BETRAYAL!), re-kidnapped the baby and high-tailed it...intending to bargain with the Sith for assistance against the co-opted Republic and the Empire (poor Empire...they did nothing wrong this time!). The other players over the course of a couple games managed to aggressively track them down (while I handled the split party both doing things) and the Jedi master player HUMBLED the apprentice in a lightsaber duel. The special agent escaped and allied himself with a Darth of the Sith (I had a whole council of them) and the apprentice, coming to his senses, repented. Redemption.

The players tracked down a planet that housed an OLD (this game took place over a thousand years after the original trilogy) storehouse & museum of dark side artifacts and super weapons. In it was a massive cloning facility. They had to fight a clone of a rogue Jedi they knew (discovering it was a clone after the fact. BETRAYAL!) and then found that the cloning facility was devoted to perfecting a process where a clone body could take near limitless levels of dark side energy without deteriorating. This would allow a cloned member of the aforementioned bloodlines to be an infinite battery in a Hand of the Dark Side which had as its only weakness the fact that it would burn through it's force-users with every activation of the weapon...it would just burn them straight out. They also found the place had had its data uploaded and transmitted to at least one other planet recently. They resolved to destroy the planet (which they did using one of the superweapons stored there) and then tracked down the signal.

Haladin, the republic senator, outed himself as a member of the Mandalorian group Death Watch and that this was a master plan to put the galaxy under Death Watch control with himself as a new Emperor. Because of the intense hostilities between the three sides, non-Death Watch Mandalorians had been dying in SCORES because of their usage as mercenary forces. This guy was getting everything he wanted. Naturally, the non-Death Watch Mandalorian mercenary in the group felt...well...BETRAYAL and righteous fury over this.

So they tracked the signal...had a big show-down on a junk planet with the previously mentioned Jedi Council Member hard-liner traitor and former friend of the PC jedi master...who also revealed that he had orchestrated the greatest failing in that Jedi masters life to remove him from the council years before to make a bunch of this plan able to move forward. That failure had involved the Jedi master believing he KILLED another Jedi...but it was his friend that actually made this happen through the use of a little Force manipulation. BETRAYAL! Relief? Anger! Oh yeah. Similarly, this was the second attempt at getting a Force sensitive child into the hands of the little cabal to be used as a double-agent with the Sith...the first attempt had included wiping out a colony of non-Jedi force users except for one child...but that child was deemed too weak in the Force to be of interest to the Sith. Guess who that was? Yup, the remaining PC in the party my wife was playing. BETRAYAL! ANGER!

Well, big fight...nice and cathartic...Jedi council member killed.

The PCs then raced across the galaxy to stop Haladin from firing the Hand on the innocent Imperial capital world in an attempt to obliterate all life on it amid a massive threeway space battle between Sith, Republic and Imperial forces. This took the form of two seperate attacks...one on the power source of the weapon and one against Haladin himself (Jedi took the power source and the Mando and non-Jedi took Haladin). Two big fights ensued...long time enemies were killed on both fronts and the second Hand of the Republic (gotta love renaming things for propoganda purposes!) was disabled and destroyed. RELIEF!

It is important to note here that, throughout these events in the game, they were dealing with an agent of Sith intelligence (basically their secret police) that they thought could use the Force to teleport. In reality, the guy could simply use the Force to conceal himself from sight, smell, and hearing while making himself basically invisible to the Force itself. They had always been aware this guy was around and he had made himself known a couple times especially when a Jedi betrayed them and when the special ops PC and apprentice PC were making deals and dabbling in the Dark Side as well. He was fairly inscrutable, masked and typically quiet. He unnerved them since they thought he could just pop in whenever. Nice bit of mental games he could play with his Force ability. Oh yeah...forgot to mention...PARANOIA! Anyway, he was part of the big fight in the power core...when they unmasked him they found out he was a clone of the first young Jedi that he betrayed them. Well, at the end of the game, they mentioned this to one of the captured enemies they had not-killed in the big battles...and he simply replied "What? No. I've seen him without his mask. He wasn't a clone of that man"...that left them scratching their heads. CONFUSION!

The game wrapped up around there with one more session to get everyone to really just unwind and decide what their PCs would do from there on out. At the end, I did a wrap up...then narrated a scene in which the non-clone Sith agent spoke to his 'boss'. It went something like this... "No, sir, no unforseen eventualities. I was able to retrieve the data without incident even though the facility was lost. ... Yes, you were right. The Empire's fleet has been decimated...the Republic's leadership is in a shambles...the Jedi are reeling...and the so-called Darth's have had their number halved and their influence undermined. ... No, no one is aware of your involvement. Everyone involved only saw the cloning production as a means to produce endless ammunition for their weapon. They never suspected the research was used to create your new body. ... Yes, master ... I never doubted you, master. Everything proceeded as you had foreseen, Lord Palpatine"

And that's where the game ended. On the massive MIND-SCREW that pretty much everything that happened had been part of an insidious, long-term contingency plan involving the Emperor being revived in a stronger body. Since then my players have alternately argued between returning to the game to see what happens and leaving it to their imaginations. The latter has won out.

So no, not a classically 'fun' game...it was pretty dark...even the ending was bittersweet AT BEST considering the loss of life and the return of a great evil. Nothing light-hearted about it...I even had PCs trying to KILL one another in character. Betrayals abounded...but they felt organic...they were believable and, worst, they actually trusted a number of the characters that betrayed them, making it all the worse. High tension game. Very high tension. They AGONIZED over decisions and the stress level was high. I loved it. They loved it. The overwhelming tone of the game was definitely a feeling of betrayal and deceit without a doubt...a feeling of being unsure what or who to believe.

So I think that answers 1 and 2.

3? I have had too many campaigns I was not a fan of to count. Invariably one of the biggest problems with all of them was that there was too little choice for the PCs...there were stories, sure, but the players were just sorta going along, getting in fights and having story revealed to them. They didnt' feel invested. They didn't feel like they mattered enough. I wanted to tell a cool story and the stories WERE cool...they liked the stories quite a bit...but it didn't make for a fun game. Hell, I've even run some games where the players LIKED it and the story and whatnot...but behind the shield I felt unfulfilled...I felt like I was watching things I already knew...like seeing a re-run on television. There was no magic to it. No real unexpected. How to fix it? Ditch the story. Ditch the expectations. Let actions, just like in real life, dictate the story that happens. Make story the awesome by-product not the fixed destination. I had to let go of the reins and simply act as a judge...i should have been doing that all along.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Yokel, you just LOVE causing strife don't you?  Did you even watch the video?

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Yes, I watch the video. English is not my first language and even I can notice it is argument about semantics.

At least it have a funny voice narrating and some pictures flashing. That is fun. Or was it engaging?
BRILLIANT POST! +5 HOLY VORPAL!



  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?
     - anticipation, disgust, urgency, heroism

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?
    - the halfling bard fighting off a devil-possessed bridge while Paladin 1 makes a an absolutely EPIC horse ride for his life AWAY from the battle.
    - Paladin 2 INTIMIDATING the fiendish terrasque (as if terrasque weren't terrible enough) back through the gates of hell
    - the very lawful priest taking the effort to man-handle a glabrezu through another such gate rather than destroy it, because the devil hadn't 'served his time'
    - the mech battle on the blood plane (why not?)
    - the jousting match with meteors to protect the sailing ship on the sea of falling stars (astral plane)
    -

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?
    - I don't remember, lol. But the last campaign to fall apart was because I just totally ran out of ideas. I might have perservered with the campaign but the nature of the campaign lent itself to a lot of mass battles (roman-style army attempting to take over the world) which wore me out.

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Yes, I watch the video. English is not my first language and even I can notice it is argument about semantics.

At least it have a funny voice narrating and some pictures flashing. That is fun. Or was it engaging?


Engaging (adj.) : charming, attractive
Fun (noun) : enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure: "anyone who turns up can join in the fun".
Fun (adj.) : amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable: "it was a fun evening".
Fun (verb) : joke or tease: "no need to get sore—I was only funning"; "they are just funning you".

Fun is an easy way to make games engaging, but it's not the only way.  Ever tried Dear Esther, or Loneliness?
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
To help DMs analyze their own campaigns, I'd like to ask a couple of questions:

  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?


Additional questions may come up later on, will add them as either edits to this post, or as follow-up replies to posts here.



Chaosfang, first let me say that this is an excellent post. I don't only want to quote it, I want to staple it to some peoples foreheads so all they can see is this post so it is forced to seep into their eye sockets, travel down their neural pathways and crash into their brains. Very good link, very good analysis. No surprise this post  has gone without a single reply up to this point. SIGH.




I was actually considering posting this on your own The Fallacy of "Fun" thread due to relevance, but then again I think it deserved its own thread, since it's much less a discussion of why "to have fun" as a system design objective -- rather than a campaign design objective -- is an erroneous assumption, and more of a discussion that helps DMs analyze for themselves the reasons their best and worst campaigns actually became fun or not fun.  Unless of course, their campaigns really did revolve around silliness and shallow, light-hearted gameplay, in which case their campaigns were designed with fun for fun.

And yeah, 200 reads as of post time, only 5 replies (apparently 6 counting a missing [deleted?] post), even though this thread was designed to encourage an actual forum of intellectual capability.  *sigh*

WallOfText

Let me answer your excellent questions.

1. Prior to my current campaign, my group unanimously stated (aloud...to everyone they talked to) that my best campaign ever was a Star Wars campaign that revolved around midi-chlorians. Oh yeah...you read that right. MIDI-FREAKING-CHLORIANS. See, I set up a situation where there was an Empire, a Repubic and a Sith Empire. The Empire and Republic had a truce going and the Sith Empire was all about shaking it up and taking over. Well, the players were a group that was a joint-creation between the Empire & Republic...kinda like if Russia & the US made an A-Team to deal with special threats to both their interests.

Well, anyway, they found and helped destroy a massive Sith superweapon called The Hand of the Dark Side...a weapon that used powerful Force users descended from certain family lines (Sunrider, Marek, Skywalker, etc) as conduits to target worlds. Specifically to target the midi-chlorians in people on that world. The midi-chlorians would go beserk, kill whoever they were in and then spread like a disease, killing everyone else on the planet like a super-plague. This all took moments to accomplish...every living thing dead and the planet intact. Pretty nasty. So this involved kidnapping (the force users), cloning and weapons creation. Dark stuff considering one of the kidnapped people was a Jedi's baby.

They destroyed the super weapon and that is where stuff got interesting...because one of their senatorial benefactors and all-around awesome-guy, Senator Haladin, revealed that the Republic had created it's own Hand of the Dark Side...to use to enforce "Law & order" across the galaxy and remove the Sith and lingering Imperial threat. The Jedi master in the group also found out that his long-time friend and council-member was ALSO in on this. Can you say betrayal?

This got them fired up like nothing you could imagine! Holy crap did they respond! And in varied ways! The player of an Imperial special ops officer went rogue, influenced by promises from the spirit of a Sith the team had killed who took up refuge in a Sith holocron. He embraced the Dark side and tempted the Jedi masters apprentice (also a PC) along with him, convincing him that he was being immensely held back. They betrayed the group (BETRAYAL!), re-kidnapped the baby and high-tailed it...intending to bargain with the Sith for assistance against the co-opted Republic and the Empire (poor Empire...they did nothing wrong this time!). The other players over the course of a couple games managed to aggressively track them down (while I handled the split party both doing things) and the Jedi master player HUMBLED the apprentice in a lightsaber duel. The special agent escaped and allied himself with a Darth of the Sith (I had a whole council of them) and the apprentice, coming to his senses, repented. Redemption.

The players tracked down a planet that housed an OLD (this game took place over a thousand years after the original trilogy) storehouse & museum of dark side artifacts and super weapons. In it was a massive cloning facility. They had to fight a clone of a rogue Jedi they knew (discovering it was a clone after the fact. BETRAYAL!) and then found that the cloning facility was devoted to perfecting a process where a clone body could take near limitless levels of dark side energy without deteriorating. This would allow a cloned member of the aforementioned bloodlines to be an infinite battery in a Hand of the Dark Side which had as its only weakness the fact that it would burn through it's force-users with every activation of the weapon...it would just burn them straight out. They also found the place had had its data uploaded and transmitted to at least one other planet recently. They resolved to destroy the planet (which they did using one of the superweapons stored there) and then tracked down the signal.

Haladin, the republic senator, outed himself as a member of the Mandalorian group Death Watch and that this was a master plan to put the galaxy under Death Watch control with himself as a new Emperor. Because of the intense hostilities between the three sides, non-Death Watch Mandalorians had been dying in SCORES because of their usage as mercenary forces. This guy was getting everything he wanted. Naturally, the non-Death Watch Mandalorian mercenary in the group felt...well...BETRAYAL and righteous fury over this.

So they tracked the signal...had a big show-down on a junk planet with the previously mentioned Jedi Council Member hard-liner traitor and former friend of the PC jedi master...who also revealed that he had orchestrated the greatest failing in that Jedi masters life to remove him from the council years before to make a bunch of this plan able to move forward. That failure had involved the Jedi master believing he KILLED another Jedi...but it was his friend that actually made this happen through the use of a little Force manipulation. BETRAYAL! Relief? Anger! Oh yeah. Similarly, this was the second attempt at getting a Force sensitive child into the hands of the little cabal to be used as a double-agent with the Sith...the first attempt had included wiping out a colony of non-Jedi force users except for one child...but that child was deemed too weak in the Force to be of interest to the Sith. Guess who that was? Yup, the remaining PC in the party my wife was playing. BETRAYAL! ANGER!

Well, big fight...nice and cathartic...Jedi council member killed.

The PCs then raced across the galaxy to stop Haladin from firing the Hand on the innocent Imperial capital world in an attempt to obliterate all life on it amid a massive threeway space battle between Sith, Republic and Imperial forces. This took the form of two seperate attacks...one on the power source of the weapon and one against Haladin himself (Jedi took the power source and the Mando and non-Jedi took Haladin). Two big fights ensued...long time enemies were killed on both fronts and the second Hand of the Republic (gotta love renaming things for propoganda purposes!) was disabled and destroyed. RELIEF!

It is important to note here that, throughout these events in the game, they were dealing with an agent of Sith intelligence (basically their secret police) that they thought could use the Force to teleport. In reality, the guy could simply use the Force to conceal himself from sight, smell, and hearing while making himself basically invisible to the Force itself. They had always been aware this guy was around and he had made himself known a couple times especially when a Jedi betrayed them and when the special ops PC and apprentice PC were making deals and dabbling in the Dark Side as well. He was fairly inscrutable, masked and typically quiet. He unnerved them since they thought he could just pop in whenever. Nice bit of mental games he could play with his Force ability. Oh yeah...forgot to mention...PARANOIA! Anyway, he was part of the big fight in the power core...when they unmasked him they found out he was a clone of the first young Jedi that he betrayed them. Well, at the end of the game, they mentioned this to one of the captured enemies they had not-killed in the big battles...and he simply replied "What? No. I've seen him without his mask. He wasn't a clone of that man"...that left them scratching their heads. CONFUSION!

The game wrapped up around there with one more session to get everyone to really just unwind and decide what their PCs would do from there on out. At the end, I did a wrap up...then narrated a scene in which the non-clone Sith agent spoke to his 'boss'. It went something like this... "No, sir, no unforseen eventualities. I was able to retrieve the data without incident even though the facility was lost. ... Yes, you were right. The Empire's fleet has been decimated...the Republic's leadership is in a shambles...the Jedi are reeling...and the so-called Darth's have had their number halved and their influence undermined. ... No, no one is aware of your involvement. Everyone involved only saw the cloning production as a means to produce endless ammunition for their weapon. They never suspected the research was used to create your new body. ... Yes, master ... I never doubted you, master. Everything proceeded as you had foreseen, Lord Palpatine"

And that's where the game ended. On the massive MIND-SCREW that pretty much everything that happened had been part of an insidious, long-term contingency plan involving the Emperor being revived in a stronger body. Since then my players have alternately argued between returning to the game to see what happens and leaving it to their imaginations. The latter has won out.

So no, not a classically 'fun' game...it was pretty dark...even the ending was bittersweet AT BEST considering the loss of life and the return of a great evil. Nothing light-hearted about it...I even had PCs trying to KILL one another in character. Betrayals abounded...but they felt organic...they were believable and, worst, they actually trusted a number of the characters that betrayed them, making it all the worse. High tension game. Very high tension. They AGONIZED over decisions and the stress level was high. I loved it. They loved it. The overwhelming tone of the game was definitely a feeling of betrayal and deceit without a doubt...a feeling of being unsure what or who to believe.

So I think that answers 1 and 2.

3? I have had too many campaigns I was not a fan of to count. Invariably one of the biggest problems with all of them was that there was too little choice for the PCs...there were stories, sure, but the players were just sorta going along, getting in fights and having story revealed to them. They didnt' feel invested. They didn't feel like they mattered enough. I wanted to tell a cool story and the stories WERE cool...they liked the stories quite a bit...but it didn't make for a fun game. Hell, I've even run some games where the players LIKED it and the story and whatnot...but behind the shield I felt unfulfilled...I felt like I was watching things I already knew...like seeing a re-run on television. There was no magic to it. No real unexpected. How to fix it? Ditch the story. Ditch the expectations. Let actions, just like in real life, dictate the story that happens. Make story the awesome by-product not the fixed destination. I had to let go of the reins and simply act as a judge...i should have been doing that all along.

Nice answers, took me a bit to read but excellent content nevertheless.  I love your answer to #3 accidentally learned that too -- during my second 13th Age campaign, using players' relationship dice, what Icons represent, and a mountainful of improvisation that I never knew I had, I built that entire campaign in real time, as opposed to the more classic method of setting up stuff ahead of time [be it from pre-making a loose framework to creating an entire story or synopsis and working from there**].  Never could look at campaign design the same way again, and I have to thank Rob Heinsoo for that since I based what seems to be 75% - 90% of my campaign design loosely from his 2-hour demo as found here.

** which I think easily becomes railroad-y if the DM slacks off
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging


I was actually considering posting this on your own The Fallacy of "Fun" thread due to relevance, but then again I think it deserved its own thread, since it's much less a discussion of why "to have fun" as a system design objective -- rather than a campaign design objective -- is an erroneous assumption, and more of a discussion that helps DMs analyze for themselves the reasons their best and worst campaigns actually became fun or not fun.  Unless of course, their campaigns really did revolve around silliness and shallow, light-hearted gameplay, in which case their campaigns were designed with fun for fun.



I definitely agree that this deserves it's own thread. Incidentally, I barely want to post in my own threads anymore...stuff like this thread, however, keeps me going.

And yeah, 200 reads as of post time, only 5 replies (apparently 6 counting a missing [deleted?] post), even though this thread was designed to encourage an actual forum of intellectual capability.  *sigh*



The deleted one was an attack on you I asked to be moderated. Also...that bolded part? Probably why you're not getting many hits. If you want, I can make a thread with the same contents and title it "Sage Atop The Mountain: Fun vs Engaging"...that'll be sure to get replies. To be sure many of them will be replies that neither read the OP nor watch the video in it so that those posters can hurry to the task of attacking me and my methodologies, but c'est le vie, no? Beggars can't be choosers. :P

Nice answers, took me a bit to read but excellent content nevertheless.  I love your answer to #3 accidentally learned that too -- during my second 13th Age campaign, using players' relationship dice, what Icons represent, and a mountainful of improvisation that I never knew I had, I built that entire campaign in real time, as opposed to the more classic method of setting up stuff ahead of time [be it from pre-making a loose framework to creating an entire story or synopsis and working from there**].  Never could look at campaign design the same way again, and I have to thank Rob Heinsoo for that since I based what seems to be 75% - 90% of my campaign design loosely from his 2-hour demo as found here.

** which I think easily becomes railroad-y if the DM slacks off



Agree very much with the railroad-y remark. When a DM gives themselves an easy out, all too often they will find themselves resorting to it. This is why I remain very strict with myself. I do not fudge dice because it is never "just this once". I would rather struggle with something than give in to be lazy or dishonest with my players. Hell, I would rather outright tell them "Can you give me a minute to catch up with that decision? Wasn't prepared for it?" than resort to a lazier tactic of magician-switching something, etc.

I find it really interesting though that you also came to the result in a sort of "epiphany" way...because the same happened to me. I had become very disatisfied as a DM...because the game had become boring for me. Leading the PCs around, swapping things, playing the little tricks, fudging the dice, manipulating outcomes...it was, frankly, too easy. I had become too good at it. I was DMing on auto-pilot. I jumped from game to game...from genre to genre...all in an attempt to latch onto something more interesting when really it was the approach that was draining me spiritually. I was looking for something challenging and fun while simultaneously taking the "out" that assured I would be diminishing my ability to learn/improve. It took me sitting down at someone's game as a player again (something I have RARELY been...which is a fact I hate...Cry) to realize what was wrong...because I saw the DM doing what I was doing...and I saw right through it. Every time.

I saw the tricks. I saw the illusion. I saw that I was being robbed of my ability to actually play. I was playing a part in a story...not a character in a world. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't play like that. I knew then that it was a lesser form of what the game could be. Still, even from that point it took me a lot of reading to really crystallize in my mind what I was even feeling and thinking. I read books and books and books...or the equivalent there-of in game theory, blogs and everything else I could find...things written in every era of tabletop gaming. I ended up outright rejecting a lot of things I had felt were inviolable. I ate crow on a lot of things I had previously espoused. And it felt good! I sat down for hour long discussions with a friend I went to college with...and we just hashed out game theory. We hammered at each others ideas and our own. And then I started putting it all into practice because theory was only so good...and the result has been spectacular. Demanding...but spectacular. And more rewarding than any tabletop I've ever done. Good times. Very good times.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I definitely agree that this deserves it's own thread. Incidentally, I barely want to post in my own threads anymore...stuff like this thread, however, keeps me going.

Thanks. Sometimes I think that flammable threads are necessary just to illicit reactions and even half-decent trails of thought (as you mentioned in another thread), but I think that's a style that's more original to you (and it's simply not my style to do so :P ).

And yeah, 200 reads as of post time, only 5 replies (apparently 6 counting a missing [deleted?] post), even though this thread was designed to encourage an actual forum of intellectual capability.  *sigh*



The deleted one was an attack on you I asked to be moderated. Also...that bolded part? Probably why you're not getting many hits. If you want, I can make a thread with the same contents and title it "Sage Atop The Mountain: Fun vs Engaging"...that'll be sure to get replies. To be sure many of them will be replies that neither read the OP nor watch the video in it so that those posters can hurry to the task of attacking me and my methodologies, but c'est le vie, no? Beggars can't be choosers. :P

Thanks on the report, though I would've loved to have exercised the noggin a bit by using facts, intellectual discourse and basically not stooping down to attacks (personal or otherwise) before the post was deleted (hehe).

I'd rather that the thread be renamed to "Forum of the Sages: Fun vs. Engaging".  I am asking for interactions between DMs after all [was thinking of editing it myself, seems I can't do so now ]

Show
Nice answers, took me a bit to read but excellent content nevertheless.  I love your answer to #3 accidentally learned that too -- during my second 13th Age campaign, using players' relationship dice, what Icons represent, and a mountainful of improvisation that I never knew I had, I built that entire campaign in real time, as opposed to the more classic method of setting up stuff ahead of time [be it from pre-making a loose framework to creating an entire story or synopsis and working from there**].  Never could look at campaign design the same way again, and I have to thank Rob Heinsoo for that since I based what seems to be 75% - 90% of my campaign design loosely from his 2-hour demo as found here.

** which I think easily becomes railroad-y if the DM slacks off



Agree very much with the railroad-y remark. When a DM gives themselves an easy out, all too often they will find themselves resorting to it. This is why I remain very strict with myself. I do not fudge dice because it is never "just this once". I would rather struggle with something than give in to be lazy or dishonest with my players. Hell, I would rather outright tell them "Can you give me a minute to catch up with that decision? Wasn't prepared for it?" than resort to a lazier tactic of magician-switching something, etc.

I find it really interesting though that you also came to the result in a sort of "epiphany" way...because the same happened to me. I had become very disatisfied as a DM...because the game had become boring for me. Leading the PCs around, swapping things, playing the little tricks, fudging the dice, manipulating outcomes...it was, frankly, too easy. I had become too good at it. I was DMing on auto-pilot. I jumped from game to game...from genre to genre...all in an attempt to latch onto something more interesting when really it was the approach that was draining me spiritually. I was looking for something challenging and fun while simultaneously taking the "out" that assured I would be diminishing my ability to learn/improve. It took me sitting down at someone's game as a player again (something I have RARELY been...which is a fact I hate...) to realize what was wrong...because I saw the DM doing what I was doing...and I saw right through it. Every time.

I saw the tricks. I saw the illusion. I saw that I was being robbed of my ability to actually play. I was playing a part in a story...not a character in a world. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't play like that. I knew then that it was a lesser form of what the game could be. Still, even from that point it took me a lot of reading to really crystallize in my mind what I was even feeling and thinking. I read books and books and books...or the equivalent there-of in game theory, blogs and everything else I could find...things written in every era of tabletop gaming. I ended up outright rejecting a lot of things I had felt were inviolable. I ate crow on a lot of things I had previously espoused. And it felt good! I sat down for hour long discussions with a friend I went to college with...and we just hashed out game theory. We hammered at each others ideas and our own. And then I started putting it all into practice because theory was only so good...and the result has been spectacular. Demanding...but spectacular. And more rewarding than any tabletop I've ever done. Good times. Very good times.

I've actually become disillusioned with one campaign due to how the DM's running it, citing just about everything you mentioned.  Though he doesn't really fudge the dice, and he does still change the story from time to time, the fact remains that I'm still just playing a part in a story, which seems to have been pre-written already.

Again I have to thank Rob Heinsoo and that wonderful system that he co-authored with Jonathan Tweet, because it's been an eye-opening experience as a DM to run a campaign in a totally different light.

- - - - -

  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?



I think my own answers to these questions are long overdue.

1. Unpredictability and chaos, discovery of self, the impact of one's actions on a global scale.  Note that I only look at this in retrospect, because when it comes to the best campaign I've run so far, I still don't know what the ending would actually be (I've been developing a probable ending, but I still leave it up to the players and their actions to determine what their ending(s) would be, even if the end wasn't even close to their initial motivations).
2. SBlocking wall of text...
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Oh my goodness, that's a lot to sift through; and because the campaign is still ongoing I expect whatever I write right now might not be applicable in a few weeks or months.  I suppose the best so far would be everything done by a very disruptive player, since the campaign really began with him being disruptive, and even upon his character's death, undeath and death again, the impact of his actions still ripple throughout the campaign world -- even in places he never set foot on.  Which is prety ironic when you think about it.

First off, I asked at the beginning of the campaign who wanted to be the party's traitor.  He was the first to raise his hand, and I should've smelled trouble from that point on (maybe I did, but I went along with it anyway, regardless of consequence).  Then I began his story being assigned by one of the Icons (the Black, one of the triumvirate of ancient dragons who are collectively known as The Three) to find this ancient dragon locked up in a statue, and he ended up joining the rest of the group in search of said statue (for different reasons [duty to the High Druid, because of a bounty being awarded to whoever found that statue to be specific]).  When he found the statue, I had the statue offer him any wish he desired, and so he asked for the power of The Three.

Alarm bells were ringing in my head at the time, but instead of saying "no", I decided to go for the "yes, but" instead.  I told him that the statue said that he'll be granted that power, but only after he killed the Three, upon which he was thrown into a different plane while the rest of the party fought some pretty bewildered barbarians (who apparently were teleported there by the statue or something connected to the statue (defensive mechanism perhaps?).  His first "death" had the paddings of a tutorial, and I said that he appeared after the fight unconscious.

[ Funny enough, the player whose unique thing was that he could turn into a dragon decided to destroy the statue at the time with his dragon breath, but failed to keep his mental faculties and went berzerk as a result of the transformation, and had to be put down by the other PCs.  Fun times ]

When his character came to (several sessions later), he became hell bent towards destroying the Three, which I conceded to allowing as a result of a variety of dice rolls (relationship dice rolls can get very crazy at times).  I had him involved in a dream sequence where the Blue (who is another dragon of the Three) was abducted by the Lich King and what seemed to be an undead dragon that used to be the White, an ancient dragon that was killed ages ago.  He proceeded to go to Necropolis to free the Blue, and he found her chained and prepared for the ritual that would turn her into a dracolich.  What followed was a fight that was way too epic for his caliber (level 3 vs. level 8 and level 14, when the maximum level of PCs is 10; it's like you threw a level 10 PC against a level 21 and a level 40 opponent in D&D 4E); Her original idea -- even though I was aware that it was bound to fail due to this guy's vendetta against the Three -- was that she would sacrifice her physical shell and transfer her essence to the blade that this PC was carrying at the time, then he was to escape by any means possible for her to be raised again in full glory (since normal raise dead was very iffy for her at this point in time [13th Age is quite brutal on the raise dead bit actually])... but what he did was that he took her essence, fought a 2-on-1 fight, broke the blade carrying the Blue's essence (destroying her completely), and eventually becoming incinerated in burning ice + dark lightning.

That should've been the end, given how it's the second time I actually killed the guy, but why waste a good player?  I decided that, because he amused the Lich King for his bravado (that undead lich could use someone with that sort of guts after all), he raised him as a wraith.  And because he was wielding the blade when it was shattered, the PC also gained a level and a bit of the Blue's essence as well (swapping one of his Fighter class features and a maneuver for a Sorcerer class feature and a spell [totally part of the rules by the way]).  After the Lich King learned of the PC's true intentions, he just laughed and played along with the PC -- apparently the Lich King knows something about the statue -- and sent him off to bait the Red so that the Lich King could weaken him and the PC could deal the final blow (as per the statue's word).

As he went off to search for the Red, the party's wizard (for various reasons) ended up popping up near him, and agreed to help with the defeating of the Red.  Wizard summons a blood relative (a new player who, at the time, was nearly eaten by an Owlbear [completely different story, funny shenanigans all around]), and the trio proceeded to search for the Red.  They find him, wraith PC approaches him, he smells the Blue off the wraith and goes berzerk.  Everything broke down from there, because instead of using the wraith as bait to lure the Red towards Necropolis, the two proceed to cast a ritual to freeze the Red's wing(s) in an attempt to talk to him peacefully.  Red obliterates the wraith because wraith decides to fly around him in circles in spite of the fact that this is the physically most powerful of the Three.

This is where I made a ruling, if only because there was no going back for this PC (who I really had a lot of fun DMing even though he was basically the craziest of the bunch): I ruled that because the wizard beat the game's highest DC (35) even though normally the hardest DC for PCs of their level was 25, because the two players were working on very unusual circumstances, and because the wraith PC did sacrifice his life, the wraith gave the two PCs enough time to cast their ritual successfully.  Funny enough, they forgot to take into account the effects of freezing the equivalent of a flying Empire State Building at over 10 000 feet, and without control of his wings, he couldn't even glide down safely, and thus the Red plummetted to his death.

Not a bad way of ending that PC's story, eh?

Even though his PC is gone though, the fact remains that his killing of two of the triumvirate known as the Three not only weakened the Black's position in the world affairs -- even now the Elf Queen is preparing to invade Drakkenhall and destroy the Black -- but also empowered the Lich King's forces well enough for him to initiate a full-scale invasion of Shadow Port, the premiere smuggling cove of the Dragon Empire and home to the Prince of Shadows (well, two Princes of Shadows apparently).  Story gets really complicated from there, and that's just one PC's story.

3.  Lack of drive and motivation, character-wise, player-wise and yes even DM-wise.  I suppose I simply got tired writing stories and developing "campaigns" (more like strings of encounters) that I know wouldn't really push through the way I wrote them.

Scratch that: I think what really deflated me was the fact that my players generally tend to follow a story (be it a story the DM wrote or the story they themselves fleshed out) rather than let the dice roll and the story flesh itself out in real time.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
As far as I'm concerned, if it's not engaging, it's not fun. If it's not fun, it's not engaging. If it's engaging, then it's fun. If it's fun, it's engaging.

They need to be one and the same. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Yes, I watch the video. English is not my first language and even I can notice it is argument about semantics.

At least it have a funny voice narrating and some pictures flashing. That is fun. Or was it engaging?


Engaging (adj.) : charming, attractive
Fun (noun) : enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure: "anyone who turns up can join in the fun".
Fun (adj.) : amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable: "it was a fun evening".
Fun (verb) : joke or tease: "no need to get sore—I was only funning"; "they are just funning you".

Fun is an easy way to make games engaging, but it's not the only way.  Ever tried Dear Esther, or Loneliness?

Isn't the middle definition of fun the one most people use when they tell they game to have fun? Whatever is entertaining or enjoyable though is highly dependend on the person and activity in question.

Note that engaging is defined as "to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)" (source: dictionary.com) which is actually devoid of any emotional attachment. Something you absolutely hate, can certainly be very engaging ;) Still, I would prefer the hateful-kind of engagement to stay far away from my RPGs ;)

As for the OPs question:

  1. What are the key emotions or ideas evoked by your best campaigns, ignoring for the moment the word "fun"?

  2. What are the best highlights of your most memorable campaign?

  3. What are the pitfalls or shortcomings of your least memorable campaign(s), and what in retrospect could you have done to prevent them, fix them, or at least keep the interest of the campaign(s) going, if it was possible to fix at all?


(1) Light hearted heroics where long term consequences took a backburner to the fun of the moment with obvious villains and some light-hearted intra-party conflict/poking a bit of fun at each others expense but a solid reason for the group to stick together (in this case an all-dwarf party all from the same clan). It should be noted that the most memorable moments were still situations in which a player or the DM made some honest mistake that lead to some direct bad consequences either for team monster or team PC.

(2) Finding two cursed rings that summoned a demon 1/day equal in HD to the HD of its current possessor and then giving it to an elder silver dragon for save keeping (silver dragon HD do not equate demon HD in power; the silver dragon in question would have been unable to destroy a balor). The players did not know the exact nature of the items, but they loved the fact that it forced me as a DM to think on my feet, it caused them to nearly be the cause of a cities destruction and the rediculous challenging fight that followed. Having the wizard negotiate with a group of fire giants, and making a freudian slip that started a challenging fight. A monster casting heat metal on the fighter, only later realizing that the spellcaster's pet had swallow whole, but no fire resistance and hence spitting out the PC.

(3) One campaign failed because the players made PCs that simply were too different from one another in motivation and background. It lead to a kind of intra-party conflict that ruined the campaign. Since that time my group decided they would choose a clear focus for the group and create PCs based on that theme/focus whether an all-dwarven group from the same clan or all part of the same military unit or all demon hunters. There still is party conflict, but there is always an overarching reason for the group to stick together and to work towards the same goal.

I have also been in a campaign as a player in which the players kept loosing all the time. They never achieved their goals, always faced overwhelming threats and victory was in survival. It was fun for a time, but at some point the players politely requested to at least add the occassional victory. Grim survival can be fun, but you do need the occasional change of pace or event that gives you the idea that your characters are achieving something beyond survival. The DM changed the adventures slightly and it went on for some time afterward until it finally failed due to a scheduling conflict.

As far as I'm concerned, if it's not engaging, it's not fun. If it's not fun, it's not engaging. If it's engaging, then it's fun. If it's fun, it's engaging.

They need to be one and the same. 



Except they aren't the same.

Yes, I watch the video. English is not my first language and even I can notice it is argument about semantics.

At least it have a funny voice narrating and some pictures flashing. That is fun. Or was it engaging?

 
Engaging (adj.) : charming, attractive
Fun (noun) : enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure: "anyone who turns up can join in the fun".
Fun (adj.) : amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable: "it was a fun evening".
Fun (verb) : joke or tease: "no need to get sore—I was only funning"; "they are just funning you".

Fun is an easy way to make games engaging, but it's not the only way.  Ever tried Dear Esther, or Loneliness?

Isn't the middle definition of fun the one most people use when they tell they game to have fun? Whatever is entertaining or enjoyable though is highly dependend on the person and activity in question. 

Note that engaging is defined as "to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)" (source: dictionary.com) which is actually devoid of any emotional attachment. Something you absolutely hate, can certainly be very engaging ;) Still, I would prefer the hateful-kind of engagement to stay far away from my RPGs ;)



So... Tomb of Horrors, Call of Cthulu, Don't Rest Your Head, and just about any situation that could cause you to cringe, or even throw the dice or even the table at the DM, would be considered both fun and engaging?  Or would you look at it in retrospect and say, "gee, that DM was sadistic and brutal, but it was fun", even though you could never even smile while on the table (so it was only technically fun even though in truth it was nowhere near fun, yet it was so engaging that you couldn't tear away from the game)?

EDIT: Games can be fun, engaging, or both.  As mentioned in one of Extra Credits' videos (Beyond Fun), by forcing the medium to JUST be about fun, it becomes a very limited genre and doesn't really grow out of the parameters as defined by the community and industry at large.

As mentioned in Beyond Fun, making games fun tremendously helps them become engaging, but like I said before: it [fun] is not the only way to make games engaging. 
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
As far as I'm concerned, if it's not engaging, it's not fun. If it's not fun, it's not engaging. If it's engaging, then it's fun. If it's fun, it's engaging.

They need to be one and the same. 



Except they aren't the same.



As far as I'm concerned, they are. I've never had one without the other.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
As far as I'm concerned, if it's not engaging, it's not fun. If it's not fun, it's not engaging. If it's engaging, then it's fun. If it's fun, it's engaging.

They need to be one and the same. 



Except they aren't the same.



As far as I'm concerned, they are. I've never had one without the other.


Perhaps you need to expand your horizons a bit?  Or am I to assume that you only play games that are fun and engaging?
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
As far as I'm concerned, if it's not engaging, it's not fun. If it's not fun, it's not engaging. If it's engaging, then it's fun. If it's fun, it's engaging.

They need to be one and the same. 



Except they aren't the same.



As far as I'm concerned, they are. I've never had one without the other.


Perhaps you need to expand your horizons a bit?  Or am I to assume that you only play games that are fun and engaging?



You don't understand. If I'm engaged. I'm having fun. And if I'm having fun, I'm engaged. Doesn't matter what I'm doing. As soon as something bores me, I no longer find it engaging. If something stops engaging me, I cease to have fun.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
You don't understand. If I'm engaged. I'm having fun. And if I'm having fun, I'm engaged. Doesn't matter what I'm doing. As soon as something bores me, I no longer find it engaging. If something stops engaging me, I cease to have fun.


No, that makes too much sense.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

One campaign failed because the players made PCs that simply were too different from one another in motivation and background. It lead to a kind of intra-party conflict that ruined the campaign. Since that time my group decided they would choose a clear focus for the group and create PCs based on that theme/focus whether an all-dwarven group from the same clan or all part of the same military unit or all demon hunters. There still is party conflict, but there is always an overarching reason for the group to stick together and to work towards the same goal.

While I do not see a problem with regards to PCs having different motivations and backgrounds, when taken to the extremes I can see your point.

I have also been in a campaign as a player in which the players kept loosing all the time. They never achieved their goals, always faced overwhelming threats and victory was in survival. It was fun for a time, but at some point the players politely requested to at least add the occassional victory. Grim survival can be fun, but you do need the occasional change of pace or event that gives you the idea that your characters are achieving something beyond survival. The DM changed the adventures slightly and it went on for some time afterward until it finally failed due to a scheduling conflict.

I think the issue with "Grim survival" is that people focus so much on both "grim" and "survival" that there's a failure to focus on the most important aspect of a TRPG: the players**.

Why ensure players never achieve their goals and find "victory" only in survival?  I mean even in a hyper-realistic world there will always be that chance that you would find yourself getting closer to your goals, even if it means clawing to it with bleeding fingers, broken bones and mountains of bodies, friends and foes alike.  I agree that allowing players to achieve something in addition to survival would have been a better way to resolve it.

** I consider the DM as "the player with a different set of responsibilities"
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D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
You don't understand. If I'm engaged. I'm having fun. And if I'm having fun, I'm engaged. Doesn't matter what I'm doing. As soon as something bores me, I no longer find it engaging. If something stops engaging me, I cease to have fun.


No, that makes too much sense.


So I guess you guys find work fun, eh?  Given that it's one activity that can certainly be engaging, yet un-fun.

Here's what I understand about your position on the matter: you only find fun games engaging, and you only engage in fun games.  If you aren't enjoying/having fun, you automatically disengage.

My reaction is still going to be the same: why not try expanding your horizons a bit?  Tried the Loneliness link I posted earlier?
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
You don't understand. If I'm engaged. I'm having fun. And if I'm having fun, I'm engaged. Doesn't matter what I'm doing. As soon as something bores me, I no longer find it engaging. If something stops engaging me, I cease to have fun.


No, that makes too much sense.


So I guess you guys find work fun, eh?  Given that it's one activity that can certainly be engaging, yet un-fun.

Here's what I understand about your position on the matter: you only find fun games engaging, and you only engage in fun games.  If you aren't enjoying/having fun, you automatically disengage.

My reaction is still going to be the same: why not try expanding your horizons a bit?  Tried the Loneliness link I posted earlier?



Actually, I disagree. My job bores the ever living piss out of me. Yet, I still do it (DM's gotta eat). But in no way is it engaging. Most of the time, I'm just wanting to get the job done and get the hell out.

And as for expanding horizons, I can't judge whether a game is fun and engaging until I've tried it and I try new things all the time. I've recently switched to being a player in a d20 modern game (a first for me due to lack of people willing to play in the region). I try things all the time. But if one doesn't find them fun and engaging, why continue playing it?
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Actually, I disagree. My job bores the ever living piss out of me. Yet, I still do it (DM's gotta eat). But in no way is it engaging. Most of the time, I'm just wanting to get the job done and get the hell out.

And as for expanding horizons, I can't judge whether a game is fun and engaging until I've tried it and I try new things all the time. I've recently switched to being a player in a d20 modern game (a first for me due to lack of people willing to play in the region). I try things all the time. But if one doesn't find them fun and engaging, why continue playing it?


Bores you? Sure.  But you still want and need that reward (money, which gets you food), which still means you have to engage in it regardless, since (and I quote Madfox11 on this) engage's other definition is "to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)" (source: dictionary.com).  So you don't like it, but it still needs your effort to accomplish.

As to why you should continue playing a game that isn't both fun and engaging, there's


  • Story.  The hero's journey isn't always fun, especially if you're in the hot seat.  But if there's one thing that would make the whole thing "fun" / enjoyable, it'd be because of your character's progression, and not because of the game itself being light-hearted fun.

  • Challenge.  Sometimes it's engaging because it's difficult, because it's something that stirs you mentally.

  • Impact.  Like I said, even if it isn't going to make you smile throughout the game -- see, "Spec Ops: The Line" and how it tackles PTSD -- the way the game affects you can make it engaging even if it isn't an enjoyable, light-hearted or fun experience at the time.


Here's an anecdote on what I'm talking about: one of my players finds the Epic LFR modules to be the most memorable of his entire lifetime as a D&D 4E player, even if it did everything wrong by definition -- railroaded encounters, over-the-EXP-budget as written in the DMG, attack-immune monsters, monsters dealing so much damage you could consider them as "save or die", etc. -- and I personally was running them as written (no handwaiving or what not).  He would be smiling and laughing as he recounts those brutal encounters, and he would always cite them as "nothing less than Epic"... but I still clearly remember when I actually ran those encounters: there was no smiling, or laughing, and swear words were flying all over the place at the time.

It was fun only after the fights -- way, way after the fights -- not before the fights, or between the fights.  And the fights themselves were never fun.  But they were engaging
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Actually, I disagree. My job bores the ever living piss out of me. Yet, I still do it (DM's gotta eat). But in no way is it engaging. Most of the time, I'm just wanting to get the job done and get the hell out.

And as for expanding horizons, I can't judge whether a game is fun and engaging until I've tried it and I try new things all the time. I've recently switched to being a player in a d20 modern game (a first for me due to lack of people willing to play in the region). I try things all the time. But if one doesn't find them fun and engaging, why continue playing it?


Bores you? Sure.  But you still want and need that reward (money, which gets you food), which still means you have to engage in it regardless, since (and I quote Madfox11 on this) engage's other definition is "to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)" (source: dictionary.com).  So you don't like it, but it still needs your effort to accomplish.

As to why you should continue playing a game that isn't both fun and engaging, there's


  • Story.  The hero's journey isn't always fun, especially if you're in the hot seat.  But if there's one thing that would make the whole thing "fun" / enjoyable, it'd be because of your character's progression, and not because of the game itself being light-hearted fun.

  • Challenge.  Sometimes it's engaging because it's difficult, because it's something that stirs you mentally.

  • Impact.  Like I said, even if it isn't going to make you smile throughout the game -- see, "Spec Ops: The Line" and how it tackles PTSD -- the way the game affects you can make it engaging even if it isn't an enjoyable, light-hearted or fun experience at the time.


Here's an anecdote on what I'm talking about: one of my players finds the Epic LFR modules to be the most memorable of his entire lifetime as a D&D 4E player, even if it did everything wrong by definition -- railroaded encounters, over-the-EXP-budget as written in the DMG, attack-immune monsters, monsters dealing so much damage you could consider them as "save or die", etc. -- and I personally was running them as written (no handwaiving or what not).  He would be smiling and laughing as he recounts those brutal encounters, and he would always cite them as "nothing less than Epic"... but I still clearly remember when I actually ran those encounters: there was no smiling, or laughing, and swear words were flying all over the place at the time.

It was fun only after the fights -- way, way after the fights -- not before the fights, or between the fights.  And the fights themselves were never fun.  But they were engaging



Okay, in that definition of engaging, work would align with that. Granted.

But if I'm doing something optional, and it's challenging, impactful, or has a decent story, in what way is that not fun? Just because I'm not smiling or laughing, doesn't mean I'm not having fun.

If it fails to engage me, no fun can be had. If I'm not having fun, I stop engaging, as it's optional and not required for me to continue to be able to live. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Okay, in that definition of engaging, work would align with that. Granted.

But if I'm doing something optional, and it's challenging, impactful, or has a decent story, in what way is that not fun? Just because I'm not smiling or laughing, doesn't mean I'm not having fun.

If it fails to engage me, no fun can be had. If I'm not having fun, I stop engaging, as it's optional and not required for me to continue to be able to live. 

When you're not enjoying or having fun at the time, yet recount it as being fun afterwards, that's you saying it's "fun" because of the aesthetics of the game that made it engaging for you.

See: Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics. To quote:

Aesthetics
What makes a game "fun"? How do we know a specific type of fun when we see it? Talking about games and play is hard because the vocabulary we use is relatively limited. 

In describing the aesthetics of a game, we want to move away from words like "fun" and "gameplay" towards a more directed vocabulary. This includes but is not limited to the taxonomy listed here:


  1. Sensation. Game as sense-pleasure 

  2. Fantasy. Game as make-believe

  3. Narrative. Game as drama

  4. Challenge. Game as obstacle course

  5. Fellowship. Game as social framework

  6. Discovery. Game as uncharted territory 

  7. Expression. Game as self-discovery 

  8. Submission. Game as pastime

For example, consider the games Charades, Quake, The Sims and Final Fantasy. While each are "fun" in their own right, it is much more informative to consider the aesthetic  components that create their respective player experiences:

Charades: Fellowship, Expression, Challenge.
Quake: Challenge, Sensation, Competition, Fantasy. 
The Sims: Discovery, Fantasy, Expression, Narrative. 
Final Fantasy: Fantasy, Narrative, Expression, Discovery, Challenge, Submission. 

Here we see that each game pursues multiple aesthetic goals, in varying degrees. Charades emphasizes Fellowship over Challenge; Quake provides Challenge as a main element of gameplay. And while there is no Grand Unified Theory of games or formula that details the combination and proportion of elements that will result in "fun", this taxonomy helps us describe games, shedding light on how and why different games appeal to different players, or to the same players at different times.



Suggested watch: Aesthetics of Play by Extra Credits.

To summarize: It wasn't fun at the time, but you consider it "fun" because of the aesthetics involved that kept you engaged at the time.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
So in other words, the fun was derived after the fact, in retrospect, yet at the time it would not have been experienced as necessarily enjoyable...or at least not necessarily positive.

This is often the case with stress-inducing situations where tension and pressure continue to mount...only to be relieved at once. Looking back one says "That was fun!" but really it wasn't. During the event being experienced the person was experiencing stress not fun or enjoyment...in having that stress removed/relieved they have been brought back to a median value emotionally and it is experienced as mental relaxation. Again, however, it was not fun while it was occuring. It simply produced an emotional/chemical high because of the stressors involved.

This is what I enjoy about fighting games. Fighting a solid, difficult round (or series) against someone is NOT fun. Believe me...it is NOT fun at all. It is work. It is focus. It is cursing at one's self for mistakes and then cursing out loud when it manifests in-game. It is stressful. Then, when you pull out the W or even just finish up and come back from that stressful state, it is awesome. It all builds up to one moment of release. Not fun at all. Engaging? Hell yes for me at least. Rewarding? Absolutely. Worth doing? Yes yes.

That is the difference being drawn in the definitions in the video and in chaosfangs posts (if I may be so bold as to speak for you).

It is a vital part of games as well...agonizing over choices, worrying about outcomes...fearing actual loss. These are very important things. Diminishing them is dangerous ground to tread but as more and more focus is shifted to "fun" this is precisely what happens.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Hm.. to me Fun requires Engaging.  Don't it?  "Funny" don't require me to be engaged but definitely having "fun" does.  Never thought it had to be Vs.

Interesting video though.  Silent Hill is fun because it is engaging... :p

I sense though, what the video author really means is Instant Gratification of Fun vs Engaging.  Now there I can clearly see a vs.
Hm.. to me Fun requires Engaging.  Don't it?  "Funny" don't require me to be engaged but definitely having "fun" does.  Never thought it had to be Vs.

Interesting video though.  Silent Hill is fun because it is engaging... :p

 

Try Spec Ops: The Line.  It's a very engaging PS3 game that is not fun, especially for those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Actually the two terms are intricately tied because the easiest way to make something engaging is to make it fun.  However, let's take sports for a moment: what makes playing something like Baseball or Football (since it's Super Bowl season and all) so "fun"?  It's certainly nowhere near light-hearted entertainment, and most of the time you'd see people watching the games with held breath (or a bunch of shouting and cussing to make their team win or whatever).  So what makes these sports so "fun", when you remove the term "fun" or equivalent?

Answer:


  • As audience you experience the following core aesthetics: Fantasy, Narrative and Competition

  • As player you experience the following core aesthetics: Challenge, Fellowship, and Competition


In fact, in relation to what YagamiFire posted, one of the most exciting parts about the Super Bowl season is the gambling portion of the event.  And in gambling the main fear is the fear of losing, as well as the anticipation of winning.  Thus, it's a competition to see who wins the bet.

I think that people keep misusing the term "fun" as a way to justify why, in spite of their PCs being chained, flogged, and brought to the brink of worldwide humiliation (or death), they continued to participate in a campaign.  And I think their reason is the same as what Ghost007 and LunarSavage: if you're not having fun, why are you engaging in the game when (at least for you) all engaging games are fun and vice versa?

I guess you could say it's "Fun Now" vs. "Fun In Retrospect".

So, what made your campaign(s) so great, removing the words fun and enjoyable? 

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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
If I'm not having fun at the moment, I won't call it fun later. I'll call it a living Hell. And then regret the fact I ever did it.

I learned that lesson after watching a particular movie when I was younger. A friend convinced me to watch it. I literally, want my 2 hours back. It still pisses me off to this day.

If it's an optional activity designed to bring me enjoyment, I will stop as soon as it's no longer fun. Screw the concept of "fun in retrospect". As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
So... Tomb of Horrors, Call of Cthulu, Don't Rest Your Head, and just about any situation that could cause you to cringe, or even throw the dice or even the table at the DM, would be considered both fun and engaging?  Or would you look at it in retrospect and say, "gee, that DM was sadistic and brutal, but it was fun", even though you could never even smile while on the table (so it was only technically fun even though in truth it was nowhere near fun, yet it was so engaging that you couldn't tear away from the game)?

EDIT: Games can be fun, engaging, or both.  As mentioned in one of Extra Credits' videos (Beyond Fun), by forcing the medium to JUST be about fun, it becomes a very limited genre and doesn't really grow out of the parameters as defined by the community and industry at large.

As mentioned in Beyond Fun, making games fun tremendously helps them become engaging, but like I said before: it [fun] is not the only way to make games engaging. 


Now you are putting words and emotions in my mouth. First of all, you assume I would like a game like the Tomb of Horros or Call of Cthulhu (wich btw are two completely different games and focus on two completely different play styles). I love a good horror game, but in general am not a big fan of the Tomb of Horror games. 

Secondly, those situations did not make me cringe, let alone throw my dice over the table. I was being entertained, which *is* part of the definition of fun. You are the one that somehow seems to equate fun = light hearted and humorous. The only time when I actually gringed and felt like throwing dice over the table was when I was bored, highly frustrated about DM rulings or more likely both. In other words, I agree with LunarSavage, fun = engaging when it comes to a game, because if it is not fun, I am not going to be engaged but leaving the game doing something else. There is a *big* difference between being enganged in a boring/hateful task that is necessary to for example gain a degree or helping out your parents where there are other motives to stay focussed than fun than being engaged in a game where fun (as in the one using enjoyment and entertained as its definition) is very likely the only reason to play the game.
So... Tomb of Horrors, Call of Cthulu, Don't Rest Your Head, and just about any situation that could cause you to cringe, or even throw the dice or even the table at the DM, would be considered both fun and engaging?  Or would you look at it in retrospect and say, "gee, that DM was sadistic and brutal, but it was fun", even though you could never even smile while on the table (so it was only technically fun even though in truth it was nowhere near fun, yet it was so engaging that you couldn't tear away from the game)?

EDIT: Games can be fun, engaging, or both.  As mentioned in one of Extra Credits' videos (Beyond Fun), by forcing the medium to JUST be about fun, it becomes a very limited genre and doesn't really grow out of the parameters as defined by the community and industry at large.

As mentioned in Beyond Fun, making games fun tremendously helps them become engaging, but like I said before: it [fun] is not the only way to make games engaging. 


Now you are putting words and emotions in my mouth. First of all, you assume I would like a game like the Tomb of Horros or Call of Cthulhu (wich btw are two completely different games and focus on two completely different play styles). I love a good horror game, but in general am not a big fan of the Tomb of Horror games.

Maybe my reading comprehension isn't doing your point justice, but I can't see how I was "putting words and emotions in [your] mouth."

I did not assume, neither while I was writing or in my writing, that you like the aforementioned games.

Secondly, those situations did not make me cringe, let alone throw my dice over the table. I was being entertained, which *is* part of the definition of fun. You are the one that somehow seems to equate fun = light hearted and humorous. The only time when I actually gringed and felt like throwing dice over the table was when I was bored, highly frustrated about DM rulings or more likely both. In other words, I agree with LunarSavage, fun = engaging when it comes to a game, because if it is not fun, I am not going to be engaged but leaving the game doing something else. There is a *big* difference between being enganged in a boring/hateful task that is necessary to for example gain a degree or helping out your parents where there are other motives to stay focussed than fun than being engaged in a game where fun (as in the one using enjoyment and entertained as its definition) is very likely the only reason to play the game.

I did request people to watch the video before commenting, because the primary use of the term "fun" in the context of my post was based on that.  Plus, isn't the definition of fun as a noun exactly that (light-hearted pleasure)?

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Plus, isn't the definition of fun as a noun exactly that (light-hearted pleasure)?

No, it is not. You yourself posted the definition, and it also includes words like "enjoyment". Enjoyment is defined as a particular form or source of pleasure, and pleasure is defined as "enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one's liking". Satisfaction is defined as to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of (a person, the mind, etc.). Obviously neither definition tells exactly what enjoyment is, and it is the important word here (since sometimes things can fulfill expectations without being enjoyable). So fun is in no way per definition just for light-hearted pleasure, that is just one use of the word. 

Mind you, this is all a discusion about sementics and not overly important to the question you actually ask. If I read your first post correctly, you state that "fun" is a meaningless statement when discussing what makes a good game for the reader (which is true) and follow up by asking what it is exactly in a game that provides others with enjoyment or satisfaction? A question which you should obviously not answer with "fun", because that is telling the readers nothing. I answered those questions ;) As a non-native English speaker I sometimes just like to double check the exact definitions of words if only to double check my understanding is the same as that of the English speaking people ;)

Anyway, when it comes to CoC I derive satisfaction from solving the mystery, being surprised by the great twist to the original myth, potentially being scared and working hard to survive with my character's body and mind still in one piece. If a game causes my teeth to grind and to throw my dice at a DM I am not deriving any satisfaction and I am most definitely NOT having fun or enjoying the game. If things don't change quickly, I will stop playing with that DM ;)

Note btw that one of my more fun sessions actually ended in a TPK with the PCs still walking away alive through some of the more flawed mechanics of D&D (both the dieing and the raising), but the way how that happened was so rediculously silly and statistically unlikely that there was a lot of laughter and we all just shrugged it off.
So... Tomb of Horrors, Call of Cthulu, Don't Rest Your Head, and just about any situation that could cause you to cringe, or even throw the dice or even the table at the DM, would be considered both fun and engaging?  Or would you look at it in retrospect and say, "gee, that DM was sadistic and brutal, but it was fun", even though you could never even smile while on the table (so it was only technically fun even though in truth it was nowhere near fun, yet it was so engaging that you couldn't tear away from the game)?

EDIT: Games can be fun, engaging, or both.  As mentioned in one of Extra Credits' videos (Beyond Fun), by forcing the medium to JUST be about fun, it becomes a very limited genre and doesn't really grow out of the parameters as defined by the community and industry at large.

As mentioned in Beyond Fun, making games fun tremendously helps them become engaging, but like I said before: it [fun] is not the only way to make games engaging. 


Now you are putting words and emotions in my mouth. First of all, you assume I would like a game like the Tomb of Horros or Call of Cthulhu (wich btw are two completely different games and focus on two completely different play styles). I love a good horror game, but in general am not a big fan of the Tomb of Horror games. 

Secondly, those situations did not make me cringe, let alone throw my dice over the table. I was being entertained, which *is* part of the definition of fun. You are the one that somehow seems to equate fun = light hearted and humorous. The only time when I actually gringed and felt like throwing dice over the table was when I was bored, highly frustrated about DM rulings or more likely both. In other words, I agree with LunarSavage, fun = engaging when it comes to a game, because if it is not fun, I am not going to be engaged but leaving the game doing something else. There is a *big* difference between being enganged in a boring/hateful task that is necessary to for example gain a degree or helping out your parents where there are other motives to stay focussed than fun than being engaged in a game where fun (as in the one using enjoyment and entertained as its definition) is very likely the only reason to play the game.



Good to see someone understands my first post.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.


You already established that, and for you and Madfox11 that is the case.  Thank you for your contribution, in spite of the fact that you did not answer any of the three questions I asked.

EDIT: since you and a couple of others have intertwined the two terms, let me ask instead:

What are the core aesthetics that you often look for in games that make them "fun"? 
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.



I would seriously doubt a cardiologist considers heart surgery either fun OR boring.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

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Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.



I would seriously doubt a cardiologist considers heart surgery either fun OR boring.



If they don't consider that fun, I'd call them crazy. :3

My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.



I would seriously doubt a cardiologist considers heart surgery either fun OR boring.



If they don't consider that fun, I'd call them crazy. :3



So, what constitutes "fun" for you? What sort of things do you want to see in games that are, for you, "fun"?
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging

Like I said earlier, fun is the easiest way to make a game engaging, but it is not the only way to do so.  Not everything that isn't fun is automatically boring, is it?




I would say, yes. Yes, if it's not fun, it's automatically boring.



I would seriously doubt a cardiologist considers heart surgery either fun OR boring.



If they don't consider that fun, I'd call them crazy. :3



So, what constitutes "fun" for you? What sort of things do you want to see in games that are, for you, "fun"?



Fun, for me? Anything that can keep me interested. My job, for example, doesn't. But, whether it's a rip roaring good time with zany antics and laughter or a serious time where there's a lot on the line and I'm being mentally challenged the entire time...both sides of that coin I can consider fun. If it stops intellectually challenging me, there's a good chance I might stop having fun, and thus, disengage myself from the activity. It's why I come to these boards. There's a lot of different view points here, but even when I'm battling it out with some of the other DMs, I'm having fun. Even if it seems like I'm not.

If you mean, in a game specifically, I look for escapism. Because reality sucks. Let me become someone entirely different and I'll have a fun time. For the DM's part, they need to have a good reactive world and a good plot (what constitutes good plot can vary wildly). I enjoy exploration and being able to flesh out a character fully with in-game decisions.

Social aspects can be important too. If someone is being a stick in the mud the game can cease being fun as well, and I will disengage the game and start engaging in an argument with that person (and I'd probably then have fun in that argument).

I don't think I could make a super detailed list of what constitutes fun and not fun for me though. It would be far too long. And then I'd have to rank them in order of importance. It'd get messy. Pretty fast. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Fun, for me? Anything that can keep me interested. My job, for example, doesn't. But, whether it's a rip roaring good time with zany antics and laughter or a serious time where there's a lot on the line and I'm being mentally challenged the entire time...both sides of that coin I can consider fun. If it stops intellectually challenging me, there's a good chance I might stop having fun, and thus, disengage myself from the activity. It's why I come to these boards. There's a lot of different view points here, but even when I'm battling it out with some of the other DMs, I'm having fun. Even if it seems like I'm not.

If you mean, in a game specifically, I look for escapism. Because reality sucks. Let me become someone entirely different and I'll have a fun time. For the DM's part, they need to have a good reactive world and a good plot (what constitutes good plot can vary wildly). I enjoy exploration and being able to flesh out a character fully with in-game decisions.

Social aspects can be important too. If someone is being a stick in the mud the game can cease being fun as well, and I will disengage the game and start engaging in an argument with that person (and I'd probably then have fun in that argument).

I don't think I could make a super detailed list of what constitutes fun and not fun for me though. It would be far too long. And then I'd have to rank them in order of importance. It'd get messy. Pretty fast. 


So I suppose the core aesthetics you seek in a game would be


  • Fantasy. Game as make-believe

  • Narrative. Game as drama

  • Challenge. Game as obstacle course (and applies even outside of a game)

  • Expression. Game as self-discovery


With Fellowship -- game as social framework -- as a close fifth.  Am I right?
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Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Fun, for me? Anything that can keep me interested. My job, for example, doesn't. But, whether it's a rip roaring good time with zany antics and laughter or a serious time where there's a lot on the line and I'm being mentally challenged the entire time...both sides of that coin I can consider fun. If it stops intellectually challenging me, there's a good chance I might stop having fun, and thus, disengage myself from the activity. It's why I come to these boards. There's a lot of different view points here, but even when I'm battling it out with some of the other DMs, I'm having fun. Even if it seems like I'm not.

If you mean, in a game specifically, I look for escapism. Because reality sucks. Let me become someone entirely different and I'll have a fun time. For the DM's part, they need to have a good reactive world and a good plot (what constitutes good plot can vary wildly). I enjoy exploration and being able to flesh out a character fully with in-game decisions.

Social aspects can be important too. If someone is being a stick in the mud the game can cease being fun as well, and I will disengage the game and start engaging in an argument with that person (and I'd probably then have fun in that argument).

I don't think I could make a super detailed list of what constitutes fun and not fun for me though. It would be far too long. And then I'd have to rank them in order of importance. It'd get messy. Pretty fast. 


So I suppose the core aesthetics you seek in a game would be


  • Fantasy. Game as make-believe

  • Narrative. Game as drama

  • Challenge. Game as obstacle course (and applies even outside of a game)

  • Expression. Game as self-discovery


With Fellowship -- game as social framework -- as a close fifth.  Am I right?



I think there's more to it than that. But that's a decent start. 

And if the game has none of that, it could have something else entirely that I might find fun. You're trying to quantify something that is too broad to quantify, IMO.

Needless to say, I think it safer to sum up fun and engaging as one and the same when it comes to optional activities. And fun is a broad spectrum where even a person with a scowl on their face could be having fun. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Fun, for me? Anything that can keep me interested. My job, for example, doesn't. But, whether it's a rip roaring good time with zany antics and laughter or a serious time where there's a lot on the line and I'm being mentally challenged the entire time...both sides of that coin I can consider fun. If it stops intellectually challenging me, there's a good chance I might stop having fun, and thus, disengage myself from the activity. It's why I come to these boards. There's a lot of different view points here, but even when I'm battling it out with some of the other DMs, I'm having fun. Even if it seems like I'm not.

If you mean, in a game specifically, I look for escapism. Because reality sucks. Let me become someone entirely different and I'll have a fun time. For the DM's part, they need to have a good reactive world and a good plot (what constitutes good plot can vary wildly). I enjoy exploration and being able to flesh out a character fully with in-game decisions.

Social aspects can be important too. If someone is being a stick in the mud the game can cease being fun as well, and I will disengage the game and start engaging in an argument with that person (and I'd probably then have fun in that argument).

I don't think I could make a super detailed list of what constitutes fun and not fun for me though. It would be far too long. And then I'd have to rank them in order of importance. It'd get messy. Pretty fast. 


So I suppose the core aesthetics you seek in a game would be


  • Fantasy. Game as make-believe

  • Narrative. Game as drama

  • Challenge. Game as obstacle course (and applies even outside of a game)

  • Expression. Game as self-discovery


With Fellowship -- game as social framework -- as a close fifth.  Am I right?



I think there's more to it than that. But that's a decent start. 

And if the game has none of that, it could have something else entirely that I might find fun. You're trying to quantify something that is too broad to quantify, IMO.

Needless to say, I think it safer to sum up fun and engaging as one and the same when it comes to optional activities. And fun is a broad spectrum where even a person with a scowl on their face could be having fun. 

All games have all the aesthetics as written in the Dynamics, Mechanics, Aesthetics research article I quoted and mentioned earlier and then some**, and all those aesthetics do -- independently or in tandem with other -- make games fun in their own way.  For instance, I at first I found the Flash game Loneliness as something that piqued my curiosity, which changed to intrigue, then frustration (especially near the last part of the game), then it was almost a tearjerking moment at the end.  Core aethetics delivered: narrative, expression, and discovery.  Sometimes I think upon the game with warm thoughts, but was it fun?  I couldn't really say I actually enjoyed the game, but at the very least it did keep me engaged throughout the time I played it.

** the list can go beyond the eight items listed, but most games do fall within those eight items
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You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Fun, for me? Anything that can keep me interested. My job, for example, doesn't. But, whether it's a rip roaring good time with zany antics and laughter or a serious time where there's a lot on the line and I'm being mentally challenged the entire time...both sides of that coin I can consider fun. If it stops intellectually challenging me, there's a good chance I might stop having fun, and thus, disengage myself from the activity. It's why I come to these boards. There's a lot of different view points here, but even when I'm battling it out with some of the other DMs, I'm having fun. Even if it seems like I'm not.

If you mean, in a game specifically, I look for escapism. Because reality sucks. Let me become someone entirely different and I'll have a fun time. For the DM's part, they need to have a good reactive world and a good plot (what constitutes good plot can vary wildly). I enjoy exploration and being able to flesh out a character fully with in-game decisions.

Social aspects can be important too. If someone is being a stick in the mud the game can cease being fun as well, and I will disengage the game and start engaging in an argument with that person (and I'd probably then have fun in that argument).

I don't think I could make a super detailed list of what constitutes fun and not fun for me though. It would be far too long. And then I'd have to rank them in order of importance. It'd get messy. Pretty fast. 


So I suppose the core aesthetics you seek in a game would be


  • Fantasy. Game as make-believe

  • Narrative. Game as drama

  • Challenge. Game as obstacle course (and applies even outside of a game)

  • Expression. Game as self-discovery


With Fellowship -- game as social framework -- as a close fifth.  Am I right?



I think there's more to it than that. But that's a decent start. 

And if the game has none of that, it could have something else entirely that I might find fun. You're trying to quantify something that is too broad to quantify, IMO.

Needless to say, I think it safer to sum up fun and engaging as one and the same when it comes to optional activities. And fun is a broad spectrum where even a person with a scowl on their face could be having fun. 

All games have all the aesthetics as written in the Dynamics, Mechanics, Aesthetics research article I quoted and mentioned earlier and then some**, and all those aesthetics do -- independently or in tandem with other -- make games fun in their own way.  For instance, I at first I found the Flash game Loneliness as something that piqued my curiosity, which changed to intrigue, then frustration (especially near the last part of the game), then it was almost a tearjerking moment at the end.  Core aethetics delivered: narrative, expression, and discovery.  Sometimes I think upon the game with warm thoughts, but was it fun?  I couldn't really say I actually enjoyed the game, but at the very least it did keep me engaged throughout the time I played it.

** the list can go beyond the eight items listed, but most games do fall within those eight items



That's where you and I differ then. If I had not had warm thoughts towards the game, I'd have disengaged.

And you still seem to be ignoring the fact that just because a game has those elements, it still may not be considered fun or engaging by the participant.

For example, I could create an excellent plot about a king who's trying to avoid assassination after having an affair with the princess of another kingdom. And it's up to the PCs to save the king who needs to grant them access to the Unholy Tomb of Writhing Pain. But honestly, this plot and all it's elements of intrigue could be quite boring if it's not up to the tastes of the players. No matter what I do to engage them further or make them have fun, it's going to be a bad time that we should probably stop immediately. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
That's where you and I differ then. If I had not had warm thoughts towards the game, I'd have disengaged.

That's your decision to make.

And you still seem to be ignoring the fact that just because a game has those elements, it still may not be considered fun or engaging by the participant.

For example, I could create an excellent plot about a king who's trying to avoid assassination after having an affair with the princess of another kingdom. And it's up to the PCs to save the king who needs to grant them access to the Unholy Tomb of Writhing Pain. But honestly, this plot and all it's elements of intrigue could be quite boring if it's not up to the tastes of the players. No matter what I do to engage them further or make them have fun, it's going to be a bad time that we should probably stop immediately. 

So, what are the tastes of these hypothetical players mentioned, and how are you delivering on the aesthetics you think you're bringing to the table?

Let me quote myself again:

All games have all the aesthetics as written in the Dynamics, Mechanics, Aesthetics research article I quoted and mentioned earlier and then some**, and all those aesthetics do -- independently or in tandem with other -- make games fun in their own way.



Did I explicitly or implicitly state that the mere existence of those aesthetics in games automatically makes all games fun for everyone?

I mentioned "core aesthetics" and not just aesthetics for a reason: even though all games have all aesthetics, they don't all carry those asthetics in the same way, and the mechanics and dynamics -- the vehicles for delivering those aesthetics -- do affect how those aesthetics are received.  Let's take your example, wherein there's a plot about a king trying to avoid assasination due to political intrigue.  That's basically the story -- that just about works regardless of system -- and might deliver the Narrative aesthetic, depending on what game system you're using (Legend of the Five Rings or D&D might be a better system to use than, let's say, PARANOIA).  But in spite of the element of intrigue, what is your campaign really delivering to the table, and are these aesthetics really what your players want, the core aesthetics that they hold dear?  Because if your campaign attempts to deliver on the Narrative as a core aesthetic, it'll appeal the most to those who seek Narrative first and foremost... but if you're playing with those who want, let's say, Expression and Competition (game as expression of dominance), then even the hint of railroading or coercing them into playing the game they don't want is going to be un-fun for them.
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Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
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You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging