When RPGs were created there were some assumptions that were made. They’d be played around a table. Players would have paper and writing implements. You’d be playing with people you know.These weren’t outlandish assumptions. They probably weren’t even conscious.
These assumptions led to some very basic game design decisions. Players could roll dice as a randomizer – everyone around the table could see the results. If you needed to, you could record die rolls (or other things) on paper. You could include rules that depend on things like having a clockwise order around the table or knowing who the youngest player is.
Today, some of us play RPGs remotely over the internet, whether that is via Skype, G+ Hangout, or some other system. We’ve adapted around assumptions like the ones mentioned above. For our dice rolls, we might depend on trust and self-reporting – or we might use an online program that shows everyone’s results. Instead of setting up miniatures on a table, we might use a shared online document or a virtual game table. Instead of proceeding in a clockwise order, we might establish an arbitrary order when needed.
We’re playing games designed for a tabletop in another medium. We’re adapting.
…but what if there were RPGs designed specifically for such a medium? RPGs designed to be played by people online who aren’t all in the same location? I’m not talking about MMORPGs. I’m talking about something analogous to a tabletop RPG. Something flexible. What would such an RPG look like?
I think we could fairly safely assume that it wouldn’t have dice. If it has a randomizer at all, there’d be no reason to limit it to the number of choices governed by the size of physical dice.
That’s a fairly trivial difference, though, all things considered. I think an online-play rpg could be a very different sort of game.
What do you think such a game would look like?