I Was Told There Would be Tombs

Did anyone take any good tabletop design lessons away from Tomb Raider?

I was home sick yesterday, and the cold medicine made sure that writing wasn’t much of an option, so I spent some quality time finishing off the latest Tomb Raider. It was pretty good – it largely avoided the worst kind of plot and characterization plot holes and the gameplay was pretty fun, excepting the occasionally randomly emerging quicktime events.

This was actually my first time playing aTomb Raider game. It’s not a genre I’ve delved into too much, and I went into a curiosity to find what lessons I might be able to take from it to translate over to other games (because my instinct is to always strip things for parts). But as I sit here thinking about it, there’s basically nothing I would take from it.

This is not because it was a bad game. Rather, the things it did – platform jumping, clicky puzzles, QTE, arbitrary geographical gating paired with weird travel rules, weapon upgrades and skills that impact all those things – were are quite perfectly tuned to a video game. Translated to tabletop they would either be crazily fiddly and dull (imagine dicing through a jumping puzzle) or capricious (a lot of the event gating or set collection).

This bugs me. Usually I can find something. I could look at the combat a bit, but in that regard it is basically a cover shooter with some stealth components. I guess the rope arrows were sort of fun, but only in a “don’t think about it too much” kind of way. And maybe that’s the rub – the writing pretty much ignores the majority of the game-y-ness of things, effectively pretending it’s not really happening. This works in play, but it hurts analysis since you don’t get any clever excuses.

This is REALLY a stretch, but if I guess it does illustrate the utility of the small dungeon. When you get around to actually raiding a tomb, they tend to be quite small – just 2 or 3 rooms. Practically, they’re just a wrapper around some sort of platform puzzle, but it does keep them small and non-frustrating, so that’s something.

But, man, that’s a stretch. I’m curious if anyone else got more insight out of it.

One thought on “I Was Told There Would be Tombs

  1. +1 Sword

    At the very least, you can make an attempt to emulate the Plot/Mechanics divide. A D&D encounter might take all of 5 rounds/30 seconds but do the players and GM have to treat it like that when Roleplaying? If the party fighter takes a level in rogue, do the other party members necessarily notice anything past him fighting a little dirtier when flanking?

    I’ve been working my way through ‘Standard Action’ on Youtube where they take the opposite approach so it has been on my mind.


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