After playing Knights of Pen and Paper, I remembered the fun of playing tabletop games in real life. From my own experience, translating tabletop games to videogames is no easy feat. The issues people face in this conversion has nothing to do with creating the right environments for fantasy or sci-fi, but they lie in the numerous actions people can make in tabletop games. In this log, I would like to discuss my thoughts on Knights of Pen and Paper and its relationship with tabletop games and videogames.
As I mentioned before, the translation of tabletop games to videogames is quite difficult. This leads to videogames based on Dungeons & Dragons, for example, to fall through in terms of popularity. People want to play table top games because they offer a sense of creative freedom. Videogames, however, face plenty of limitations. It is too difficult for game developers to make a game that allows the player total freedom to do whatever they want since there are only so many programs most computers or consoles can run until the game crashes, especially for role-playing games. And in most RPGs (role-playing games), a narrative must form with cued actions from non-player characters (NPCs) according to the actions of the player.
Then how does Knights of Pen and Paper blend these two elements? First, it pays respect to the gamer stereotype. The room you play in looks like a basement where most people imaging tabletop games to occur. Also, though the player cannot say what they want, the party is created by the different “players” you can choose to fill the available chairs. In a sense, you control the “player characters” while the Game Master controls the monsters… until the game goes rogue!
The plot thickens when the Game Master reveals that he is not controlling the actions of his NPCs which reminded me of our class discussion of the Magic Circle. Knights of Pen and Paper seems to act under the premise, “What if the Magic Circle was a Magic Circle?” The objective to defeat those responsible for breaking the circle that separates reality from imagination is then born for the game’s plot. Using this plot, the player can experience the history of tabletop games (namely Dungeons and Dragons) and the tropes associated with these games, making this mobile game a metagame.