RPG Roundtable #4, Part Three

The third installment of RPGVault’s fourth RPG Roundtable feature is now available, which includes comments from three developers – Irrational Games’ Ken Levine, Mad Doc Software’s Matthew Nordhaus, and inXile’s Brian Fargo. A snippet from Matthew Nordhaus:

Magic in RPGs is never subtle enough. Like many others here, I play RPGs to enliven or recreate experiences from great fantasy stories, the archetype being Lord of the Rings. A friend pointed out to me that there is nearly no overt visual display of magic in the trilogy. Much of the magic is couched in omens, visions, feelings of danger, second sight, and – most importantly – slow and subtle changes to the characters; Bilbo’s and Frodo’s changes as they bear the ring comprise a good example. Few games have attempted, and none have successfully accomplished, a slow, linear change in behavior over the course of the game, as opposed to quantum increases in stats or spells. Why? Is it really so hard to design? Is it a balance problem? A new spell or 10% more lockpicking ability or 2 more intelligence just isn’t the same thing. I want subtlety. I want storytelling like a book.

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