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Member Since 01 Jul 2012
Offline Last Active Jul 09 2012 04:56 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Feedback needed about game prototype

06 July 2012 - 05:39 PM

Could you change the sheep rules so that they move 2 squares?

The only thing I found was that the game was a little slow and a little easy. Even at levels 3 and 4 I felt like I could achieve it just through being slow and cautious. I never felt like any of the sheep were really getting away from me. When you watch them do it in reality the thing I find impressive is not just how they manage to keep them mostly bunched up but how if one escapes they can quickly get it back in the flock. I ended up only moving every other go and found the game to be more interesting.

Maybe consider some other special rules, such as if a sheep is adjacent to another sheep it is predictable, but if it gets separated (maybe 2 squares) it panics and runs?

Overall I find the core gameplay to be good and interesting :)

In Topic: Do you remember gamebooks (books where you are the hero and jump from page to...

06 July 2012 - 05:07 PM

Video based versions of these games were made, both on PC and later on DVD where the story rather than being text was a short video clip followed by your options. With the speed of the internet now it would be entirely possible to make a video based version of this - if you can convince enough of your friends to star in it ;)

Of the list my favourites were:
Deathtrap dungeon, and it's successor trial of champions (I actually coded trial of champions into an MSX on BASIC when I was 10)
House of Hell (as stated above the fear factor was very cool, and surely ripped by Call of Cthulu?)
Freeway Fighter (although was annoying that you had to stop everywhere or you'd run out of stuff)
Rings of Kether (amazing space adventure, still to this day not a clue what was going on)

Also special mention to City of Thieves, the basis for the advanced fighting fantasy games of dungeoneer and blacksand - a novel way of creating tabletop roleplaying through the concept of a movie script.

In Topic: My Dream Game

06 July 2012 - 04:57 PM

Sounds a lot like the approach Master of Orion 3 took. Nearly everything runs on its own, and the player merely guides the civilization. Most people hated it.

This is the game I was thinking of when I was reading the brief. Actuall MOO3 was a pretty good game, but it really siffered because the fanbase was used to MOO and MOO2 which were very much about micromanagement. When MOO3 came along it was so different to the expectations that it got a large negative reception. One criticism I did have of the game was that it was never really clear on whether what you were doing was really having the impact you were intending.

My suggestion would be to give clear feedback to the player on what impact their change is having, or they will be unsure as to what is going on and what impact they are having on the game.

In Topic: [Weekly Discussion: Week 2] RPG Genre's flaws - "Grinding"

06 July 2012 - 04:46 PM

Are you sure you are quoting the right place there? This portion of the discussion specifically discusses how games are no longer like D&D in that regard.
In earlier days of D&D, enemies didn't scale up with you. You could end up facing ogres that you were underleveled to beat up, or weaklings you could squash like flies. That gave sense to player improvement as your decisions (thus the amount of XP you'd get) mattered. If you carefully delved in each room of a dungeon, creatively solving everything, you would end up facing enemies that would be much less of a threat, but this was a reward in and of itself. If you went stright for the objective, then, you might be facing challenges.
As new games emerge, the idea of monsters scaling along with you (Oblivion, to name one) seem to defeat this curve, and I'm left to wonder what this logic really adds.

Individual monsters in D&D did not improve, but the challenge as a whole did. But you shouldn't focus on the individual agents, because ultimately they are mostly just skins. There is little difference between a goblin, an orc and an ogre relative to a level 1 goblin a level 2 goblin and a level 3 goblin other than cosmetics. Whether familiar skins level or the agents is just switched out for something effectively identical in all but total difficulty is differentially spurious. The game either has static agents (and thus a preset difficulty curve), or dynamic agents in which case there is no difficulty curve. The former has your position relative to the curve whilst the latter has nothing.

It may be temporarily satisfying to squish an agent that previously caused you difficulty but this will be fleeting and thus unsustainable as an entertainment medium.

And what does the training action consist it. Selecting training and logging off? Pressing trainaing and waiting in front of the character? Performing actions that are unrelated?

All of the above ;)

Once training is selected it just runs in the background. Some things do have an effect, such as installing implants to raise your stats and reduce training (or other enhancements) for the cost of wealth. If you die then your implants are lost, so effectively it is just a wealth->xp transfer. But you rarely die (which involves losing your ship and then losing your escape pod) except in deep lawless space. Most mission running players do so exclusively in high security space, for example, so will never lose their pods, in which case there is little in the way of wealth risk.

So you can see there is a benefit vs systems like Darkfall where a player doesn;t have to decide between a grinding xp and a having fun path, but it suffers from the simultaneous failings of being a very bland system and also separating new characters from experienced characters.

Are you referring to Deus Ex Human Revolution here? I can distinctly remember doing that in one of the rooms that was filled with computers, along with every office area with any comp I could see. It was indeed a bit of a grind.

Yes Human Revolution - apologies for not specifying.

So, actual exploration then? For example, long interconnected landscape with no actual fighting? I think you'd need some form of action to pace this, like a jumping ability or something. Mystic Quest had some of those, but they weren't the best...

I was thinking of having fighting along the way, because otherwise there is no sense of accomplishment. Anyone can just walk somewhere. It wouldn't even necessarily need to be dangerous as long as it has the impression of being so. I think large open world exploration would only really work in an MMO environment. For something like I think you are designing I think I would personally find it more fun to be doing something regularly. So if I really needed to get somewhere (like Deus Ex HR, I would see fighting in the way as a distraction and nuisance, slowing down my progress. If I didn't need to get somewhere specific but was wandering around (like Fallout 1 or 2) then regular encounters would make things more interesting than an empty world.

Redguard: The Elder Sea Scrolls I think had a really nice balance of this.

I agree that putting 'treasure rooms' dissociates the reward from the actual combat. The drawback to this is that it makes combat less rewarding, more of an obstacle, and players may be tempted to run away more, leading to under-leveled characters. That means before long, players will be having a hard time fighting monsters, and their easiest solution will be to grind up a few levels. Would there be a way to avoid this loophole?

Yes that's definitely a possibility. It's a hard one to dissociate I think. On the one hand these treasure points are a nice way to give a passive wealth value to the intervening monsters, but on the other hand it might make players focus on the treasure as the objective which would make the monsters an annoyance. If you didn't mind it being a bit arcadey you could openly express that the amount of treasure in the room depends upon how many things you have killed on the way. Not very realistic, but could work in some settings.

Other than that I'm not sure. I'd personally avoid the mixed stealth/combat flavour many modern titles aim for. Thief and Commandos behind enemy lines have a lot to answer for in that regard - both worked because of their complete consistency, but were so effective that many other games tried to borrow from their ideas. Not sure - what ideas do you have?

I like this idea as its not exactly scaling monster level based on player level. There could be some form of range. For example, monsters here are level 5 +/- 3 depending how well/bad you're doing, and it scales back up as you seem to be getting the hang of it. Slowly shifting up and down would require to define powerful metrics though. Player level alone wouldn't be enough as you point out. I can see how one player character dying means the player is in trouble, but how do you determine the player is blasting through 'too easily'?
Also, how do you determine that 'score'? a measure of the level of monsters you fight compared to the max level they could be?

Exactly! You'd want to have some range because otherwise everything could be forced to be easy just by being rubbish at the start. I think it is the unknowingness that creates the interest. And even if you could calibrate a dungeon to the skill of the player you could still set the monsters to be "difficulty + 2" or something to keep things at the upper edge.

I think one way to define the challenge that a mob could cause is the length of time it takes to kill all monsters in that mob. One difficulty is in correctly assigning the difficulty rating of the monsters - especially when used in combination. For ease of example I'll use one type of enemy - an orc grunt. We'll give this mob an arbitrary score of 10. We also know that difficulty tends to grow exponentially rather than linearly, but again for ease let's assume it is linear. We can work out the complicated stuff later.

So we enter an area and there are 5 Orcs, so 50 points of difficulty. The player starts fighting and after 30 seconds all the enemy are dead. It took 30 seconds to kill 50 points, so the score is 50/30 = 1.67 pps. This dungeon may be set to 60 seconds per zone, so we'd take 60s * score of 1.67 = 100pts which would be placed in the next zone. If the player managed to do it in 60 seconds then the difficulty is judged to be correct. If they did it in 67 seconds then we'd have 100/67 = 1.5, a slightly lower score and thus the next room would be a bit easier. You could base the reward on the total score, but the next room difficulty on the score run rate (so say average of last 5 rooms) so if the player started to sharpen up or tire then the game would adjust.

In Topic: [Weekly Discussion: Week 2] RPG Genre's flaws - "Grinding"

03 July 2012 - 02:13 PM

If however the game has scalable enemies then character advancement of levels makes no difference at all, with the exception of possibly having a more customised character.

I agree with that part, and that's one of my worries. Obviously, a lot of skilled designers have chosen that path, and I'd like to know what I'm missing.

I'm not privy to the sort of decisions that these designers are making, so I have no idea why they do this. My gut feeling is that it is just cultural. D&D was the game that defined role playing, and I'm betting that almost every game designer either grew up playing the game, or grew up playing games that were designed by people that grew up playing the game.

How exactly is it applied in Eve? I know a lot of designers are also making that decisions now: to reward time spent playing rather than time spent towards performing "X" action.

Eve has no levels but it has a list of skills within your character sheet. Skills generally do two things - they either unlock the ability to do something, or they provide a bonus to doing it. So a weapon skill will allow you to use a weapon at level 1, and allow you to use a higher tech version of the same weapon at level 5, whilst giving a 2% damage bonus at each level.

In order to get a skill you need to buy a skillbook and then set to train it, which you can only do if the pre-requisites have been met. Each skill can be learned up to level 5, and each level of skill requires a certain number of skillpoints, that increases with each level of the skill. This expansion is pretty rapid, so going from level 4 to level 5 can take about 5 times as long as going from 0 to 4. Once a skill is set to train then skillpoints accumulate on that character. The rate of skillpoint accumulation depends upon your basic stats, any upgrades, and the type of skill you are learning.

Each skill has a primary stat and a secondary stat. The rate of skillpoint accumulation is based upon the character score of the primary stat plus half the character score of the secondary stat. So if you had a skill that used Intelligence as the primary stat and Memory as the secondary stat and your character had 20 Intelligence and 16 Memory then your score would be 20 + (16/2) = 28.

Additionally each skill has a multiplier that determines how long it takes to train. So a skill with a 5x modifier takes 5 times as long to train as a 1x skill, and this is applied by raising the number of skill points to get to the next level by that multiplier. This means that some of the hardest skills can take months to get to level 5.

While most of your post discusses MMOs (and the topic was jRPGs) I find this particular section interesting. I'm having a hard time bringing the player back to having fun fighting rather than expecting the reward in a set environment. My method was for monsters not to drop any loot, merely resources (components and/or gold for example). That way, pretty much any battle is the same from the standpoint of the rewards, hence, players will choose whom they'd like to fight. The caveat is that I feel they'd settle for the easiest fights they can get...
Having a finite amount of monsters per area might overrule that though.

I think that one difficulty you have to overcome is the expectation that players have may come from other games and not your game, so you might even get them thinking you are being a bit stingy. I'm not sure how to beat that expectation right away. To give an example when I was playing Deus Ex I would hack into computers and locks even when I had the password or code because doing so gave me the opportunity to gain items that would help in future hacking attempts that I predicted (falsely as it turns out) would be much harder, and if I didn't 'grind' these items up when it was easy then I'd really struggle later on.

But I think that once this expectation is overcome then players will start to focus on what they see as enjoyable. Some people will just go for easy, just as some players I think will always avoid easy, so you probably have a range. One thing I would say is that the games I have enjoyed the most is when I have had to go through multiple areas to get somewhere, because the sense of accomplishment in travelling, even if it was just to see what was over the next hill, is a great way to remove the grindy feeling. But then I'm an explorer at heart so that might be terrible for most people.

The second important thing is automation of resource gathering. This focuses players on setting up the infrastructure and design of resource gathering rather than the gathering itself. This reduces grind because it is a one off process that then allows for passive collection. After that you just need to refine the design, keep it maintained (minimal effort) and then focus on having fun whilst it does its thing. This removes the repition and allows players to feel like they own the system and not the system owning them.

Could a similar system be imagined for combat actually?

Hmmm... I don't know. One of the things I did like about D&D is how you got treasure at the end. Not so much the drop from the boss but the big pile of treasure afterwards. I liked it in the sense that you didn't have to actively worry about the treasure you just got closer to it the further you got. And although it was never the objective (well not for me personally) it was in a sense a passive accumulation because effectively the item drops was held off until the end and then you picked it up.

Expanding on this I think that you could get cleverer about this. In my above post I talked about having random dungeons that could be trawled, with a floorplan and monster placement algorithm controlling the design to make it unique(ish). Only a few things would need to be set in stone when you first enter. The cosmetics and the monster group for example you wouldn't want changing (unless starting with ratmen, going through orcs and ending up with skeletons is your thing). But the length and difficulty certainly doesn't have to happen until later. So what if your dungeon editor had an AI that could calculate how well you were doing? If you start blitzing through enemies then it could turn the difficulty up a notch, whilst if you start to struggle (or a party member dc's) then it could relax. This would not only provide a consistent challenge but would also provde the player or group with an intrinsic score. This score could feed into the reward - just be prepared to be metagamed by clever players!