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Game design problems: from story to algorithms..

30 posts in this topic

(His head in hands as he climbs back on the attrition soapbox once more...)

Niphty, I hate to say it, but what you said is not true. There is no ceiling to ability a human being can develope in a particular skill, except for the amount of time and energy they invest in it. If you build a ceiling into a game, everyone will hit that ceiling after a while, and then the game will be no fun, becausse equality squelches conflict.

If you have a system where improvement is statistically possible, you must accomidate for the craziest levelers out there. otherwise, it takes only one to ruin everyone's time.

(Here we go again, blah, blah, blah) Attrition (sick of it yet?) Attrophy leads to an EFFECTIVE improvement ceiling, but only due to the formulas involved. Theoretically, you could be the best ever by investing 24 hours a day and never screwing up once. But the issue is, like leveling, you get out what you put into it.

I know, I'm pushing it, but give it a thought. At least tell me i'm not "wrong."

Edited by - Landfish on May 8, 2000 5:28:42 PM

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Hey niphty, you made two pages! Congrats!

Where does the Landfish live? Everywhere. Is not the Landfish the Buddha?

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LOL.. sorry, i didn''t mean to tell you you were "wrong" in a sense It''s just that, from experience, the best social game had a ceiling. It wasn''t about who had the most of what skill, but who knew how to play the best, and it took a lot of random elements.. cause.. well.. it was a D&D game NeverWinter Nights.. once more. It has to have been my favorite game because it was simply enjoyable. It had great social element to it, learning the game was fun and not too difficult, and At high levels, there was still a LOT to do. And a lot of the fights required parties, which made the game even more enjoyable. The other game, Yserbius, had a limit of a ''signed long int'' in levels.. which in DOS translated into a word in bytes, or 32,767 levels. If you went above that, you actually went to -32768. hehe the highest real level was -1.. comparable to 64k. Once you got above level 150, though, not much changed. I had a powermaxxed character that had 32k levels and one normal at 164, and they were about the same. This game, too, was really really fun. You never hit a cieling, but the gains per level were so low, it no longer made much difference. The only real difference was in the final boss, or when playing PvP. More on that game some other time.. Feel free to ask me about these when I come visit up that way.. or at least remind me to tell you
Anyways.. I agree attrition would settle the problem, and that humans should have no limits.. but, the way i see it.. you can break things down far enough to put a limit on things. You can know everything there is to know about some things in certain aspects. Like all wood.. you know the properties of wood down to a T, but there''s other aspects to it.. molecular, sub-molecular, etc. It''s possible to know all about a certain aspect, yet the number of aspects are infinate. So it would be a system in which the skills have a cap, but the number of skills and the ways in which you could combine those skills.. is infinate. The system would only work with a true AI computer, that could.. well.. make up what happened when you tried to combine things Like if i combined my knowledge of math, wood, stones, and rope.. i could build a catapult.. or a way to transport large rocks with minimal force. This is how human knowledge is unlimited, but that''s only because it''s impossible to combine all aspects. if a computer at top speed, comparable to IBM''s Deep Blue, which could try something like 2 billion keys per second in a minimax game tree.. it would still take it forever to work out the secrets of all knowledge! By combining things not before combined, you come up with a new thing, which can be combined with other things.. making the tree infinate and three-dimensional, if not more! Well, it''s just a theory.. but it explains how you can know all of something yet still not know everything there is to know about it But i will conceede.. there''s no computer which could even begin to run that skill system.. hehe i''m a dreamer

Well, we''re gone now.. it''s be fun discussing. Landfish, feel free to write, we''ll check before we head up that way. Once in Conn, we will prolly be wireless, though. Oh.. and thanks.. my very first topic and it''s my first to go double-page hehe. I''m cool! ;p (sporting his 2600 t-shirt now.. hehe!)


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Here´s my bit - it may be a bit off topic

I personally am against levelling because it gets you defeatable monsters every time (or at least at every random encounter). I think that this takes the fun out of chance encounters. Of course, if you make them fixed skill they are impossible at first and ridiculously easy later on.
What to do?

RPG - role playing or methodical monster hacking
One of the factors that draws people towards rpgs it the experience bit, but on a lot of occasions this overpowers the gamepart (If i kill 283 more of them ugly bastards i´ll get the next level).
One possible way is to take the character devellopment part out of the users hands, which stabilizes the course of the game but takes much fun out of it. Some other ways have been mentioned above so i´ll try to get to the point.


If you check your kill list at the end of any given RPG you will probably find something like this:
Goblins, small - 1786
Goblins, large - 2499
Trolls, ugly - 814
and so on...

Honestly, even Conan did not slaughter so many enemies. And besides, the battles become repetetive and boring, especially as you advance in level.

This is another problem - the increasing stats. A typical high-level character outranks a startin char by a factor of at least 3.
In "real life" (i´ll call it that for lack of better explanation) your stats advancements would be much smaller and over a much longer period of time (i´d guess for a typical rpg about 25-50% max).

Realism II:
Reality kills. In your "real world" everything can kill you. Even the lowliest of goblins should have a chance. (I remeber my heroes standing amidst the orc siege camp in DSA2 and killing wave after wave of baddies)
Maybe a special factor for strength in numbers should be included. If your hero wants to wade through the orc horde battling while surrounded on all sides - what chance would you give him? The weakest goblins can take down your hero if he has 20 friends who help him.

combat system
The usual combat system maxxes out at higher exp levels, you get almost certain hits and the enemy never gets you, or does little to no damage. This is not fun!
Heroes should grow tired, one little mistake can make all the difference.

Take up fencing
Look at what you really do with a sharp and pointy thing. Armed combat is very fast paced, something to be done more instinctively than with your head. Strength does not count as much as speed. The weight of the weapon is very important. And you are dead tired after five minutes of combat.

How many people to kill?
Would you like to have someone around fetching your lost dog or helping clear out the nasty weeds in your well of whom you know that he/she has killed dozens (or usually rather thousands) of people, even if they all deserved it?

Offer alternatives to killing. The average hero in your fantatsy realm would have to run more often than fight. Give the monsters a reason for attacking, give them a story. Let the hero try to talk to them, intimidate them somehow. And if there is a fight one of them would probably run away as soon as he seems to be losing. Not every battle has to end with someone dead.
Give alternatives. And reward them just as well with experience as fighting.
Make every death special, even tragic (Didn´t you ever ask yourself if the orcs had family?). Then you have to kill less, for more effect.

Maybe this went a bit too far
I´d be happy to read more about RPG.

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Well, that''s along the lines we were talking about Having the whole story line be important.. and killing not so. For instance.. a Paladin. Honorable.. and major warrior. But would a REAL paladin attack and kill a creature mess less his size? I doubt it. The game we''re making is going to deal heavily with the issues of life in the world.. and death. But it''s got to have some element of "fun" and some people derive fun as killing things. That is why alignment in D&D was used.. although my girlfriend doesn''t favor an alignment system. For this game, alignment isn''t really going to fit in, as we''ve built around it.
As for combat, we''ve got several ideas on this. One.. you get tired as you fight more, and if you expect to fight something for long, you''d better have good endurance. And the strength you have determines if you can swing the weapon you hold. Your endurance versus the weapon''s weight determines how many times you can swing it. I think the problem is that so many games start you out like you''re a child, and you begin from there. One major thing we''re doing is to actually assume the person''s done some training before they reached this point in life.. even if the training was simply milking cows, etc. All of those real-world expereinces when you''re younger add up to what you know now. After that, many games simply allow the characters to become too big in terms of stats. If you begin life with a 5 in strength, is it really feasible to make it to 100? that''s assuming you''ve got 5 at 18 or whatever the race''s age is for starting adventurers. And that''s another point, do all races age at the same rate? Some can gain strength better, some can gain smarts better. Humans are always assumed to be the "well-rounded" race. But if you look at us, we aren''t well rounded.. hehe We tend to pick one thing and specialize in it. There''s no one i know that''s an athlete/genius.. they''re either an athlete or a genius. Just another common misconception
I have to agree that RPG''s need some work from their current form.. but, who''s to say what''s right and wrong? We all have our own views and opinions.. so it''s up to us to deisgn them into something and let the people decide if it''s good or bad. Whee!


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Wouldn´t the question rather be if the smaller monster dared to attack the paladin? I mean, in most of the rpgs i´ve played every monster attacks all the time. If they run away they do so because their health level falls beneath a certain point (which is usually just one hit before death).

Why would the goblin do such at thing. maybe if the paladin inadvertantly stepped on the Goblins turf and (in the eye of the goblin) poses a serious threat to his wife and kids then things would be clear. But the typical "You are attacked by 5 goblins, you strike and hit, No3 hit for 56 pts" is just numberjuggling. And quite pointless.

If you are too concerned about that make some of the enemies posessed. Or something to do with magic. You can have soulless demons or zombies crawling out of the earth at any time, in any number. Maybe they are even attracted to heroes experience points .

Is a more complex combat system something to think about? Maybe you could expand the usual options of attack, move and inventory a bit. I think it could be quite interesting (at least for me as I know a little about swords and stuff) to have more options. Parry or dodge, your speed/perception level determines how much information you get on the enemy attack. You then can exploit an enemies miss by selecting from a few other options such as swing or stab, maybe selecting a target are, maybe even trying to disarm the enemy. YOu could allow a great variety of actions (increasing with experience - your level 0 peasant would only know one attack move "hit with stick" and one defensive move "jump back", while your paladin could do all sorts of fancy stuff).
For example if you fight someone with a halberd and have only a sword you are bound to have great difficulties until he misses and you can close the distance, putting him at a disadvantage.
Every action you take in combat is followed by a reaction from your opponent, (this is not like the typical fight of fools where the opponents take turns hitting each other until one drops!).

a problem would be that the battles would take very long, but in most rpgs this is the case anyway and if i am to choose between
1)defeat one orc in combat (..and as he charged, his axe over his head i sidestepped and kicked him in the knee, by the time he was up i had my sword to his throat)
2)killed 36 goblins (goblin 1 - hit, goblin 2 - hit.....)

At least this is the kind of thing i have been looking for.

I know this makes the math extremely complex and nasty to handle but i think it would be worth it.

Another thing about combat: I´d let everyone use every weapon, just put a penalty (speed and fatigue) on them if they don´t have enough strength.
I wouldn´t use attack frequency (average hits per minute are ok if you want it more on the statistical side) but rather speed of attack, as in combat you get action-reaction-type stuff almost always (a second attack could be possible with a fast character against a golem for instance). This would influence the difficulty of parrying or dodging the attack, as well as some strength related factor(and speed) to determine damage.

PS: i´d like to hear more about your project


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