Norwegian Studio Believes DnD Makes us Better Developers

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Can your team benefit from playing Dungeon and Dragons? The Norwegian Trollpants Game Studio definitely thinks so.

I was in the middle of planning our first session with DnD 5e [5th Edition] when it occurred to me that a lot of the same work applies to our development.“, Trollpants Studio Game designer Ole Edvard Berg Leren explains. Having played DnD since his late teenage years, Leren is no stranger to the game, and it is regularly played at Trollpants Game Studio as well.

 

In a recent blog post on the studio’s website, Leren explains that first of all, DnD is a collaborative effort. Teamwork is the essence of roleplaying games and such games can therefore work as a great tool for connecting your team. It’s a social event that nurtures creativity, where everyone work together to reach a common goal while also creating funny tales of adventure in the process. Due to the unexpected nature of games such as DnD where everything can happen, a game session can be a great tool for brainstorming ideas. It encourages people to be creative and stimulates the mind – that’s just the nature of roleplaying.

 

The interesting thing about DnD and similar roleplaying games is that they are controlled by a Game Master (GM). The GM enforces the rules and describes the world to all the participating players. He’s the one keeping track of the rules and making sure that the game is balanced and engaging. This role is very comparable to the work of a game designer.

Leren explains that he often uses challenge ratings in his designs, something he learned from being a DM: “The most concrete example is the whole concept of Challenge Rating, which should be familiar to all DMs. I’ve become so used to it that I naturally included it in our games where appropriate. I’m not suggesting it’s an innovation in the field of game design, but it served as a great baseline for creating a balancing system.

He continues to explain how the studio uses this as a practical tool for identifying the challenges of the game: “When we create enemies and other challenges in our games, I set up a formula for generating a Challenge Rating for our enemies. Any value that affect the challenge must first be identified (harder than it sounds), and then you have to figure out if any values are more important than others. Once you’ve established these values, you add them together and you’ve got your Challenge Rating!

 

Playing DnD is, in many ways, like creating a game. You plan your story, build your universe, and then you release the players into the world. Everything can happen and you will never know how the players will behave. Therefore, it can tell you something about what to expect from your audience while also teaching you and the team to brainstorm solutions for issues. It’s both a team-building exercise and a great way to learn a thing or two about player behavior and balancing.

 

The Trollpants studio was founded back in June this year by an Icelandic and a Norwegian game developer, and is currently based in Oslo, Norway. The studio’s first game, Witch Wing, a side-scrolling game inspired by a mix of Flappy Bird and Hill Climb Racing, was released in August this year for the Amazon App Store, and a second mobile game is already in the works at the now 9-man large mobile games studio.

 

What do you think about using roleplaying elements in team building and game development? Let us know in the comment section below! 

Authors
Johnny Josefsen

A Level/Game designer who previously worked on the puzzle game: The Reaper and the hellish racing game: Hell Driver. Enthusiastic about everything from games to litterature, music and movies.

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