In a previous thread I attempted to hijack, Frank was going on about the new online Blood Bowl. Instead of being a buzzkill there, I decided to address something more generally here.
When I ran my Blood Bowl seasons, I actually had entire rule sets for how much money each game brought in, and salaries for characters, etc, etc, etc. (some may recognize some of this in what I attempted later with the Gladiator supplement for TROS with Lance). I did all those numbers myself, in an attempt to make the leagues more interesting. Couldn't solve the fact that the players couldn't get themselves to even play the games. I mean, I'd play my skaven team, so carefully selected and crafted, and in the middle of the match be thinking to myself, "Man, I'd rather be pouring lemon juice on a paper cut right now."
Funny, but I think I recall at the time saying something like, "What this game needs is to be far more complicated, but the complications be taken care of by computer." Now that I think about it, I think that a friend of mine and I might even have started to program it out on his Mac using some visual C thing. Heck, I'm getting deja vu here...didn't somebody already do this previously? I could be flashing on the Space Hulk computer game or something...
I recall a couple of years ago talking to the Federation & Empire guys, who were saying that they were looking into a computerized verson of F&E. My comment to them was the same. Sure, it might speed the game up a lot to have the machine simply do the calculations, and this alone might make the game something that more than two dozen people in the whole world play regularly.
But doing so verbatim would be missing an opportunity to get rid of all of the kludges that exist in F&E, due to "playability" factors. And to introduce all sorts of new elements that would make the game far more interesting. Like having the battles play out ala Star Fleet Battles or something like that (on which F&E is theoretically based) in real time. So that, for instance, players could decide their starting fleet placement, and losses would be randomized. That's more interesting and less work than the defender selecting their losses (the tactics remain, but move to the battle prep phase). I'm sure we could brainstorm up about a dozen improvements to the game in very short order.
But I see this all the time, games moved over to computer verbatim. Starting in the wayback with games like Wizardry emulating D&D. Why in god's name would you create a wargame (c'mon, it's what it is, especially on a computer) where you used an abstraction like hit points - which exist primarily because in a TT miniatures game keeping track of wounds in any more detailed a fashion would be a nightmare - would you use that same abstraction on a computer, which could add complexity to the modeling while still keeping the effort level precisely the same. Wargames are always seeking simulation accuracy, and just have to limit themselves so that a game doesn't become unplayably long. A computer can handle all of this in the flash of an eye for you.
OTOH, with games like Final Fantasy, it's hard to argue that it's not been successful to make such conversions. And, yeah, I've seen more realistic models come and go with little fanfare. But I think that this is, like the D&D phenomenon itself, a matter of what people are used to. CRPGs do take a lot of time and effort to program, so I suppose you don't want to rock the boat. If you have a RPG or boardgame you know works at some level, why change it and have to do the playtesting and such all over again?
But that's not the same thing as saying that it's good design. It's simply the economically sound thing to do. Which I care zero about.
So, am I off my rocker? Or is this just lazy design?