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Developers => Programming => Topic started by: Pueo on June 02, 2012, 11:12:40 PM

Title: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Pueo on June 02, 2012, 11:12:40 PM
Hi, I another question here.  Do you think that a game with a limited item set can make no-identification work?  For example, if the only items in the dungeon are potions, would it be interesting if the potions were all identified, or if you still had to identify them.  Just brainstorming here, feel free to leave comments/votes/rants/etc.  Is identification integral to a rogue-like?
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Omnomnom on June 02, 2012, 11:32:13 PM
It's not integral. You might want to listen to this roguelike radio episode which is about identification systems and makes a good case against item identification (imo), it convinced me that item identification is not a good feature. I no longer plan to have that feature in my game. If only because it's benefits seem marginal compared to having to implement the feature. Id rather implement a more useful, perhaps more original feature.
http://roguelikeradio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/episode-30-identification-systems.html (http://roguelikeradio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/episode-30-identification-systems.html)


Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: kraflab on June 02, 2012, 11:32:32 PM
Identify systems are one of the major blunders of the roguelike genre.  They introduce tedium and chance at the expense of strategy at the beginning of a game.  At the end of a game they no longer exist.  So what exactly is the benefit?  That is for consumables.  In terms of equipment I am completely on board with needing to wear your armor or use your sword to learn its effect etc, assuming you have identify scrolls or something for important items and they do not have asinine effects.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Pueo on June 03, 2012, 02:52:33 AM
It's not integral. You might want to listen to this roguelike radio episode which is about identification systems and makes a good case against item identification (imo), it convinced me that item identification is not a good feature. I no longer plan to have that feature in my game. If only because it's benefits seem marginal compared to having to implement the feature. Id rather implement a more useful, perhaps more original feature.
http://roguelikeradio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/episode-30-identification-systems.html (http://roguelikeradio.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/episode-30-identification-systems.html)
Thanks for the link.  Sounds cool, though I haven't had a chance to listen to it.

Identify systems are one of the major blunders of the roguelike genre.  They introduce tedium and chance at the expense of strategy at the beginning of a game.  At the end of a game they no longer exist.  So what exactly is the benefit?  That is for consumables.  In terms of equipment I am completely on board with needing to wear your armor or use your sword to learn its effect etc, assuming you have identify scrolls or something for important items and they do not have asinine effects.
Thanks, you gave me some interesting points to think about.

Also, who voted for "Remember to Explain Your Answer"? I thought that it would be obvious that's not a real choice.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: requerent on June 03, 2012, 07:38:36 AM
Identify systems are one of the major blunders of the roguelike genre.  They introduce tedium and chance at the expense of strategy at the beginning of a game.  At the end of a game they no longer exist.  So what exactly is the benefit?  That is for consumables.  In terms of equipment I am completely on board with needing to wear your armor or use your sword to learn its effect etc, assuming you have identify scrolls or something for important items and they do not have asinine effects.

Agreed.

Identification rules only result in meta-strategies for identifying things. These meta-strategies are like mini-games that don't add depth to the strategy of playing the actual game. In many cases, it just feels like a gimmick. In other cases, you can determine the consumable via other forms of metagaming. For example, in Brogue, if there is a key across a chasm and only one potion on the level, it seems to almost always be a Levitation potion. Similar situations exist for other types of key puzzles (Incinerate, Fire Imm, inc darts etc)- the game will utterly gimp you in equipment if the RNG just happens to not let you get those early treasure rooms, so it's necessary to provide the solution to the puzzle on the actual map. Other noticeable meta-identifications are that healing potions and enhancement scrolls seem to appear more often than other consumables.

For other balancing reasons, games with an RNG typically try and honor giving the player some sort of fair chance at finding stuff good enough to progress. This means that there is a sort of Karmic quality to item generation-- the for every good thing there's something bad you can get and a way to solve that bad thing at the expense of a slight advantage to a good thing. This presents another sort of a problem though- if you discover a redundant item and it happens to be cursed, you luck out and don't have to waste potentially important buffs because you'll never have a need to even test it.

On the other hand, if you have great need for an item and it is cursed, you have a little mini-negative feedback cycle that only further handicaps the opponent.

Cursed items should be interesting- or all items should have varying applications or hindrances and benefits. An item of great power that is also cursed, I feel, provides more strategically interesting situations than accidentally cursing yourself. Especially if removing curses is a tedious process-- maybe there are informative signs that something dangerous lies ahead-- Do you make a deal with the devil and use a cursed item? Or do you try and defeat it otherwise? That, imo, is a little more fun.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: mariodonick on June 03, 2012, 08:24:42 AM
For a long time, I thought identification would be essential to roguelikes, because somehow it's of course a way to add excitement to the game: "Well, okay, I'm low on HP ... there's that unidentified blue potion here ... should I drink it?" But in the last update of LambdaRogue I removed the need for id of the most items, because it's tedious and wastes time and inventory space (for the id potions).

Identify makes imo only sense for very very rare or unique items where one could expect that a detailed examination is believable. For example, discovering a weapon that, on the first glance, only looks old and used, but a deep examination (= identify) reveals what true powers are indeed included in the sword.

So finding a unique item in LambdaRogue still requires identification, but standard & rare equipment, potions, food, etc. are free to use.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Skeletor on June 03, 2012, 08:46:58 AM
I personally love the way Adom deals with identification.. rewarding the experienced player by making him wiser with time about how to insta-identify certain items (a mace weighting 57.. an orange potion..), what are the best ways to understand what something do (let's throw this at that.. let's eat this herb while in this condition..), and making it not too hard to remove cursed items (water, ratling fencers.. Knarf Niest haha).
I think that removing the "identification minigame" how you call it, would make Adom lose a bit of flavour, and same with other roguelikes.

Anyway I agree with some of the points emerged in this thread.. first of all, the biggest issue created by this identification thing is that it pushes the game in the wrong direction concerning the luck VS tactic required continuum.

So I'd say that when well elaborated (e.g. Adom) it is a very positive factor in a roguelike, but otherwise likely to create an equal amount of hassles than pleasentness.
Therefore my tip to a roguelike developer would be to don't look at identification as something strictly necessary and instead just focus on other things unless they plan to make it nice like it is in Adom or try new elaborate ways (like making the player autoidentify items based on some attribute like wisdom rather than yes/no conditions such as certain skill, or making unidentified items uncommon).

Another advice would be, again talking about that luck VS tactic required continuum, to give importance in presenting the player a clear game system.. IMO a great example of this is The Slimy Lichmummy, a good example Adom, and a not-so-good-as-it-seems-to-be DCSS (where only code-diving you can figuring out that the best weapon for a troll is.. dual wielding katana). Damage dealt by weapons should be clear, effects of skills and armors as well.. and classes, races.. everything about mechanics should be clear to the player.. it's not just about potions and scrolls! a player willing to better understand games mechanics in order to move his games towards the "tactic required" end should *never* be put in temptation about code-diving or checking the internet for spoilers. (those actions also interrupt the intimacy and immersion factor of the roguelike gaming experience).
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Holsety on June 03, 2012, 10:10:15 AM
Depends highly on how it's implemented.
Sure, having an unidentified items adds some amount of tedium; having to use some means (usually consumables) to identify things, possibly wasting said consumable if the identified thing turns out to be worthless. Sure, it's nice to know that's a potion of poison, but I'd rather I hadn't wasted a scroll on this worthless item... etc etc.

Of course the identify-minigame will be done and obsolete by endgame.

But you lose so much by removing it!

If all potions are identified, you might as well remove all negative potions. Players will probably never pick them up, so what's the point of their existance? Sure, you could throw them at monsters, but how many of you actually do that?
If all scrolls are identified, you'll definitely be deleting scrolls of curse X, amnesia, aggravate monster, summon monster etc etc. Monsters won't ever read them, and the player will never pick them up, so delete them from your game.
If all equipment is identified, there will never be equipment with negative modifiers, or cursed equipment; people just wouldn't pick it up. (you could balance THIS point by making cursed weapons very powerful, or combining strong positive modifiers with strong negative modifiers...) Therefore you'll only have two sorts of weapons in your game; vanilla weapons and a spectrum of positively enchanted weapons. Same applies to armor, rings and the like of course.

Simply to get rid of the tedium/consumable drain of identifying items, you've gone and made your game dull and boring!

Of course these are generalisations. I like FayAngband's system where equipment is identified automatically, and you receive a free identify via (p)roficiencies every time you change floors (there's also a system where your minimum floor depth goes up every time you change floors so you can't abuse this). Sure, nobody would every pick up a sword with -X modifiers, but who doesn't hate equipping something and feeling that deathly chill? But you still have the excitement of identifying all the other things.
These mushrooms, what could they be? Do I waste my once-floorly id on them, or do I just eat one?
What will I id this floor? That scroll I found last floor, or hang on to it in case I find something potentially more interesting?
What could this Staff be for? (Like unwrapping a christmas gift, finding out what magical tools do  ;D)

Another example of a game doing things interestingly is Incursion. Identifying items was done simply by reading scrolls of identify, but the player also had the chance to spend several hours (a couple of hundred turns ingame, if I remember correctly) and some fatigue points (regained almost only by sleeping, quite dangerous to do since it refills the monster pool on the floor) in a skill check to try and identify something.
Of course there was the chance to fail, in which case you could not use the same skill on that item ever again.
That's nice, but the real fun part was cursed items. On the second floor (and with a small chance of spawning on other floors) there was a library filled with spellbooks. Being inside of the library room allowed you to do a skill check on researching the curse on an item, to try and lift it.
And that could be an interesting way of handling identifying items. (Of course, it does add the tedium of having to lug all your gear to the library so you can start identifying all of it and deciding what to keep/squelch)

In closing, there's plenty of things that can be CHANGED about identifying things. Some things could stand with being auto-id'd from the start of the game, and possibly the way in which the player is able to id things (whether we're talking scrolls, id-by-use, once-floorly proficiencies, divine intervention, doing research in randomly spawning libraries etc) can be changed in favor of fresh gameplay.
But to outright remove the need to identify things completely would make a game lose far more in the fun-n-flavor department than it loses in the tedium department.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: kraflab on June 03, 2012, 04:49:55 PM
Of course the identify-minigame will be done and obsolete by endgame.

But you lose so much by removing it!

If all potions are identified, you might as well remove all negative potions. Players will probably never pick them up, so what's the point of their existance? Sure, you could throw them at monsters, but how many of you actually do that?
If all scrolls are identified, you'll definitely be deleting scrolls of curse X, amnesia, aggravate monster, summon monster etc etc.

The point is that when you remove identify systems you have to actually make all your items meaningful.  Obviously you wouldn't remove the system and leave the same items that you had before.  I can't speak for every game, but offensive items to throw at enemies are important and often fundamental to succeeding in epilogue.  Similarly in brogue it's nice to find potions to throw at enemies and the like.  Actually...what games are you playing where offensive potions are useless?  Items should always have a good use, otherwise they are as you say, completely deserving of removal.

In terms of bad scrolls, they may have no use now, since they are intended just to inhibit the player, but imagine this: maybe an area of effect spell grows proportionally to the number of enemies, so you use a summon monster scroll.  Maybe an event has spooked you (take infra arcana for example) so you use an amnesia scroll to forget it.  Maybe aggravating monsters causes them to only attack rather than cast spells.  Perhaps you can curse enemy equipment so that it causes a negative effect on them.  I could go on...

There are no bad items, only lazy designers.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Pueo on June 03, 2012, 09:16:35 PM
Of course the identify-minigame will be done and obsolete by endgame.

But you lose so much by removing it!
Honestly, I don't think you lose anything. Take Brogue, for example.  I pick up a spear.  But, being the cautious guy I am, I don't equip it.  I then find out its cursed, and throw it in the nearest lava pit. I might as well never had it, since I didn't use it anyway.  Or a cursed ring. I don't put things on unless I know that they aren't cursed, but when I find out that ring is useless to me, i trash it. There's no point to keeping it, unless I want to waste enchantments bringing it up to +-something.

Also, I don't agree with your point about offensive (or negative, as you put it) potions.  I can kill a bloat in Brogue (they release combustible poison gas), then throw an Potion of Incineration in the mix.  Boom.  Instant wildfire.  Or, I can throw some Deadly Spore Potions to take out a pack of jackals, then Incinerate the poison fungus when it's done its work. 
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: AgingMinotaur on June 03, 2012, 09:22:53 PM
Also, who voted for "Remember to Explain Your Answer"? I thought that it would be obvious that's not a real choice.

That would be me. I just couldn't resist when I saw it listed as one of the alternatives :P

Regarding the actual topic, I would say a RL can be good and proper even without the identification subgame. A lot of good points have come up in the discussion. That said, Rogue would be a much poorer game without id-ing. But some longer RLs could probably benefit from skipping id-ing, as well as some shorter/experimental games (eg. 7DRLs, where there's often a main twist/idea which usually is not tied up to id-ing).

I would love to see a game that takes id-ing to "a new level", somehow – really refines and changes how it's done – and I'm sure some games have already tried. OTOH, if you elect to leave out id-ing, you need to consider what to put into the void this mechanic leaves. In Rogue and many RLs, the id game is instrumental to making "every new game surprising" by way of randomized content. So I think id-ing is such an interesting concept that you can't just cut it out and never think about it again. You need something else to add tension and surprise to the exploration done in each single playthrough.

As always,
Minotauros
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: NON on June 03, 2012, 10:01:28 PM
Maybe an event has spooked you (take infra arcana for example) so you use an amnesia scroll to forget it.
Hey, that's not a bad idea.

Quote
In Rogue and many RLs, the id game is instrumental to making "every new game surprising" by way of randomized content.
This is how I feel too. I think hiding the true properties adds to the mysterious and "evil" feeling of roguelikes. Removing this element sounds like blasphemy to me. I don't want my roguelikes more friendly, I like them sadistic ;D
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: requerent on June 03, 2012, 10:24:19 PM
Quote from: AgingMinotaur
That said, Rogue would be a much poorer game without id-ing. But some longer RLs could probably benefit from skipping id-ing, as well as some shorter/experimental games (eg. 7DRLs, where there's often a main twist/idea which usually is not tied up to id-ing).


Have you ever played IVAN? It doesn't require identification and is VERY exciting. It also sticks to roguelike mechanics pretty faithfully.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Skeletor on June 04, 2012, 12:13:20 AM
Of course the identify-minigame will be done and obsolete by endgame.

But you lose so much by removing it!

If all potions are identified, you might as well remove all negative potions. Players will probably never pick them up, so what's the point of their existance? Sure, you could throw them at monsters, but how many of you actually do that?
If all scrolls are identified, you'll definitely be deleting scrolls of curse X, amnesia, aggravate monster, summon monster etc etc. Monsters won't ever read them, and the player will never pick them up, so delete them from your game.
If all equipment is identified, there will never be equipment with negative modifiers, or cursed equipment; people just wouldn't pick it up. (you could balance THIS point by making cursed weapons very powerful, or combining strong positive modifiers with strong negative modifiers...) Therefore you'll only have two sorts of weapons in your game; vanilla weapons and a spectrum of positively enchanted weapons. Same applies to armor, rings and the like of course.

100% agree on this.

The point is that when you remove identify systems you have to actually make all your items meaningful.  Obviously you wouldn't remove the system and leave the same items that you had before.  I can't speak for every game, but offensive items to throw at enemies are important and often fundamental to succeeding in epilogue.  Similarly in brogue it's nice to find potions to throw at enemies and the like.  Actually...what games are you playing where offensive potions are useless?  Items should always have a good use, otherwise they are as you say, completely deserving of removal.

In terms of bad scrolls, they may have no use now, since they are intended just to inhibit the player, but imagine this: maybe an area of effect spell grows proportionally to the number of enemies, so you use a summon monster scroll.  Maybe an event has spooked you (take infra arcana for example) so you use an amnesia scroll to forget it.  Maybe aggravating monsters causes them to only attack rather than cast spells.  Perhaps you can curse enemy equipment so that it causes a negative effect on them.  I could go on...

I disagree here. It'd not be the same thing.
The fun factor about using at your advantage a scroll of summon monster / amnesia is that with your creativity and tactical ability you manage to find a good use for something supposed to be useless/dangerous; you "Mac Gyver your way out" of a problem in a way the game appears to haven't think about, and that's a big part of the roguelike experience (and also another aspect making those games so different). Luring that minotaur onto that fireball plate.. farming spears out of another trap.. putting a ring of weakness and eating ogre meat like a motherfucker (moreover, with a disgusting stomacemptia salad as a side dish!).. etc.
Holsety is right saying that the game would lose something. The problem about identification is that as it is usually implemented (okay, every single item you will find - armors, weapons, scrolls, potions - is unidentified and you have no glimpse at all about what it could or couldn't be and of course if shit happens you're doomed forever to wear a 2/-11 rusted chainmail while dying of an unknown uncurable illness; have fun collecting all that junk and stopping every now and then to decide what to carry and what not!) it creates more tedium and luck-basedness than fun.. but if well managed it is definitely a positive thing in a roguelike, adding surprise, curiosity and the Mac Gyver thing I was talking above.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: kraflab on June 04, 2012, 01:12:39 AM
The fun factor about using at your advantage a scroll of summon monster / amnesia is that with your creativity and tactical ability you manage to find a good use for something supposed to be useless/dangerous; you "Mac Gyver your way out" of a problem in a way the game appears to haven't think about, and that's a big part of the roguelike experience (and also another aspect making those games so different). Luring that minotaur onto that fireball plate.. farming spears out of another trap.. putting a ring of weakness and eating ogre meat like a motherfucker (moreover, with a disgusting stomacemptia salad as a side dish!).. etc.
Holsety is right saying that the game would lose something. The problem about identification is that as it is usually implemented (okay, every single item you will find - armors, weapons, scrolls, potions - is unidentified and you have no glimpse at all about what it could or couldn't be and of course if shit happens you're doomed forever to wear a 2/-11 rusted chainmail while dying of an unknown uncurable illness; have fun collecting all that junk and stopping every now and then to decide what to carry and what not!) it creates more tedium and luck-basedness than fun.. but if well managed it is definitely a positive thing in a roguelike, adding surprise, curiosity and the Mac Gyver thing I was talking above.

I'm not sure how the macgyver thing would disappear.  Using items to your advantage has nothing to do with the identification that stands in your way.  You can still have all thoses weird/random items without an identify system.  Is your complaint that you need those items to appear useless by virtue of an identify system?  I don't really see the logic there, or I am misreading your post...

I really find this whole thing comical because the arguments for identify systems seem to be based on adding surprise and silliness into roguelikes, in addition to the fact that most identification systems are essentially puzzles or metagame puzzles.  To me, these things seem contrary to what I want out of my roguelikes.  Certainly there is nothing fundamentally bad about it, but to me it makes your game less of a roguelike and more of a gambling/puzzle game depending on which direction the identify system goes.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Darren Grey on June 04, 2012, 01:27:58 AM
It depends on context and implementation.  To take an existing roguelike and remove identifying would require some important changes (as ToME4 did when it removed the id system - something approved of by all players).  To build a new roguelike with an id system you must put time and effort to ensure that it's a fun feature and not an annoyance.

An important thing is not to just copy what other games have done.  There are always new ways of doing things.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Skeletor on June 04, 2012, 01:38:30 AM
I'm not sure how the macgyver thing would disappear.  Using items to your advantage has nothing to do with the identification that stands in your way.  You can still have all thoses weird/random items without an identify system.  Is your complaint that you need those items to appear useless by virtue of an identify system?  I don't really see the logic there, or I am misreading your post...

It's about the sake of "beating the game".
In the non-id scenario, useless scroll are there already identified so the player knows that they're there for a positive purpose and the devs thinked about a good use even for them. So no Mac Gyver effect!

Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Pueo on June 04, 2012, 02:37:46 AM
Also, who voted for "Remember to Explain Your Answer"? I thought that it would be obvious that's not a real choice.

That would be me. I just couldn't resist when I saw it listed as one of the alternatives :P
Well, thanks for that, you made my day when I saw that  ;D

It's about the sake of "beating the game".
In the non-id scenario, useless scroll are there already identified so the player knows that they're there for a positive purpose and the devs thinked about a good use even for them. So no Mac Gyver effect!
What if all scrolls (for example) had a "bad" and "good" side effect (this is a no-id game I'm talking about)?  The player would assume that the "bad" side effect is for balancing (maybe because there is no id). However, the "Mac Gyver Effect" (nice term, by the way) comes in when they realize the "bad" side effect may be just as useful as the "good" side effect, just not as obvious.

An important thing is not to just copy what other games have done.  There are always new ways of doing things.
There's something I wholeheartedly agree with.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Skeletor on June 04, 2012, 05:23:56 AM
It's about the sake of "beating the game".
In the non-id scenario, useless scroll are there already identified so the player knows that they're there for a positive purpose and the devs thinked about a good use even for them. So no Mac Gyver effect!
What if all scrolls (for example) had a "bad" and "good" side effect (this is a no-id game I'm talking about)?  The player would assume that the "bad" side effect is for balancing (maybe because there is no id). However, the "Mac Gyver Effect" (nice term, by the way) comes in when they realize the "bad" side effect may be just as useful as the "good" side effect, just not as obvious.
Never seen something like that, would be interesting and original for sure.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Krenium on June 04, 2012, 06:01:46 AM
I like identification. Even in Diablo, where it's essentially free. It milks your anticipation from the time that you find a shiny yellow item until the time it is identified (and you find out it's crap). It has an addictive, lulling effect, much like pulling the lever on a slot machine. I agree that the identify sub-game doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with the game per se, but that doesn't mean it can't.

For example, in my roguelike, I'm planning to implement item identification as fuel for certain types of spells. The item becomes identified and it releases a fireball or whatever else. That way, unidentified junk which is strewn across the dungeon can become a valuable resource.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: kraflab on June 04, 2012, 06:31:22 AM
For example, in my roguelike, I'm planning to implement item identification as fuel for certain types of spells. The item becomes identified and it releases a fireball or whatever else. That way, unidentified junk which is strewn across the dungeon can become a valuable resource.

That's a pretty cool idea.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Holsety on June 04, 2012, 09:48:25 AM
Also, I don't agree with your point about offensive (or negative, as you put it) potions.  I can kill a bloat in Brogue (they release combustible poison gas), then throw an Potion of Incineration in the mix.  Boom.  Instant wildfire.  Or, I can throw some Deadly Spore Potions to take out a pack of jackals, then Incinerate the poison fungus when it's done its work.  

But that’s the lovely Brogue  ;D. Of course it all depends on the game. Not every roguelike has the item use complexity of Nethack.

[...] That said, Rogue would be a much poorer game without id-ing. But some longer RLs could probably benefit from skipping id-ing, as well as some shorter/experimental games (eg. 7DRLs, where there's often a main twist/idea which usually is not tied up to id-ing).

[...]In Rogue and many RLs, the id game is instrumental to making "every new game surprising" by way of randomized content. So I think id-ing is such an interesting concept that you can't just cut it out and never think about it again. You need something else to add tension and surprise to the exploration done in each single playthrough.

As always,
Minotauros

FayAngband and FAangband auto-id equippables. So I agree that the longer RLs benefit from skipping at least some part of the identify process.
Eh. My point is if everything is identified at the start, you take out one of the risk-reward considerations the player has to consider (ie. the risk-reward of using a possibly scarce consumable to identify a commodity which may or may not be an improvement to the current state.).
In Rogue and Nethack the possible scarcity of means to id would give the player some pause about using a scroll, whereas in Angband one can return to town and buy some scrolls of identify. The necessity/enriching effect of unidentified items hinges strongly on the design of the roguelike itself.

I'm not sure how the macgyver thing would disappear.  Using items to your advantage has nothing to do with the identification that stands in your way.  You can still have all thoses weird/random items without an identify system.  Is your complaint that you need those items to appear useless by virtue of an identify system?  I don't really see the logic there, or I am misreading your post...

Eh. It’s more the feeling... Let’s say you identify a ring, hoping it’ll be good. Turns out it’s a ring of ultra-fast metabolism. If you drink out of a pool of water later on, and it causes you to become engorged (or it turns out your character is allergic to slime molds, threatening to swell you to death) and you STILL have that ring, you can equip it to quickly slim back down to satiated, turning a shitty situation and a shitty item into a net profit.

If there was no need to id however, you’d probably see a ring of ultra-fast metabolism and just walk past it or pick it up if you knew there could be a situation where you’d get so fat it’d threaten your life. And that’s the boring alternative, see?

I really find this whole thing comical because the arguments for identify systems seem to be based on adding surprise and silliness into roguelikes, in addition to the fact that most identification systems are essentially puzzles or metagame puzzles.  To me, these things seem contrary to what I want out of my roguelikes.  Certainly there is nothing fundamentally bad about it, but to me it makes your game less of a roguelike and more of a gambling/puzzle game depending on which direction the identify system goes.

Considering it's been around since Rogue itself, it's not so much about adding anything into roguelikes and it certainly can't make a game less of a roguelike.

Of course I'm not saying every roguelike has to copy the classics. It's an incredibly versatile genre that has evolved in such magnificent ways, reinventing itself time and again. I'm just saying to be a bit careful about what you remove, and to think it through before you axe something.

S'easy as pie not to add ingredients to your soup, but I'd compensate for it somehow if I were you  ;D

Addendum;
I like identification. Even in Diablo, where it's essentially free. It milks your anticipation from the time that you find a shiny yellow item until the time it is identified (and you find out it's crap). It has an addictive, lulling effect, much like pulling the lever on a slot machine. I agree that the identify sub-game doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with the game per se, but that doesn't mean it can't.

For example, in my roguelike, I'm planning to implement item identification as fuel for certain types of spells. The item becomes identified and it releases a fireball or whatever else. That way, unidentified junk which is strewn across the dungeon can become a valuable resource.

You could even have items become more powerful when identified. As in a Hazy Sword (unidentified), which is in truth a Sword of Burning (1d6 fire damage), but when identified is a Sword of Burning (4d6 fire damage) for the next 300 turns, losing 1d6 of burning damage every 100 turns untill it's back at 1d6. This due to the identify scroll infusing the item with power upon being used.

Of course you'd supercharge cursed items in the same manner. Maybe make freshly identified items shimmer with glammer, making monsters covet them and equip them. Hey, you're the one who knows it's a supercharged cursed sword, not yonder orc.  ;D

Gives a whole new raison d'etre to scrolls of amnesia, doesn't it?  ;D

Just another possible use for the identify system...
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Darren Grey on June 04, 2012, 10:52:09 AM
The attitude should never be about removing things, but about adding. You start with an @ on a screen and add from there. If item id is not interesting to add then don't add it. And if you do add it you incorporate it seamlessly into the whole design.

The attitude of "can't remove that" is entirely negative, since it already presupposes you are copying previous games wholesale.

Also I think junk being useful can be bad, since it forces you to hoover up the whole dungeon looking for vaguely useful items, and carrying around a pack of crap "just in case". These both make the core game experience (combat, character building) a lot more boring. The game should focus on what's most fun.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: mariodonick on June 04, 2012, 12:22:46 PM
Damn. I just wrote a long text and accidently closed the browser. -.- So here again in short:

Quote
The attitude should never be about removing things, but about adding. You start with an @ on a screen and add from there. If item id is not interesting to add then don't add it. And if you do add it you incorporate it seamlessly into the whole design.

In the beginning, you often don't know if a given feature will be interesting or not, because most of us are neither professional developers, nor game designers, but simply people who have fun to get that @ walking on the screen.

So many people simply start to program and add things which seem to be cool in the beginning (or not even seem to be cool, but seem to be a must-have or standard in a given genre), but many months or even years later, they recognize that the feature is indeed not interesting in the context of the given game.

So this dev made a mistake, and this mistake can be corrected either be removing it, or by changing the other parts of the game to turn the mistake into something that looks like intended.

But sometimes this can be against the whole spirit of the rest of the game, and in these cases it's totally okay to remove the feature from the game.


For example, in LambdaRogue I removed identifying except for unique items, because the items are not random-generated, and it's very tedious to need to identify "Water" or "Cola" or "Antidot" over and over again. Having standard items unidentified was a feature I added some years ago, but today consider a mistake.

So I either could have changed the whole item system (random-generated items instead of static, manually developed items), or remove the need for identificaiton. I decided for the latter, because I definitely don't want to have random items or random monsters in MY game.


Edit: Another feature in LambdaRogue that MAY be a mistake (but I'm not sure about this yet) are the profession powers: Each has up to 5 powers, but instead of letting the player invoke the powers individually, the powers are cumulated and invoked all at the same time, so I always have to write "Your character has ONE talent which consists of up to 5 powers." That's complicated.

Like identifying, this was a feature I added because it feels somehow cool and is somehow different from how such things are done in most other games. But if the feeling that it's a mistake gets stronger, I will change it to a more standard (WoW/Diablo-like) way.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Krenium on June 04, 2012, 12:41:52 PM
Also I think junk being useful can be bad, since it forces you to hoover up the whole dungeon looking for vaguely useful items, and carrying around a pack of crap "just in case". These both make the core game experience (combat, character building) a lot more boring. The game should focus on what's most fun.

Well, I'm definitely not having encumbrance or a typical inventory that you have to scroll through. I don't find those fun at all. I'm building the game that I want to play. Personally, I think it's as much about the loot as it is combat and character-building.

Besides, giving the player the option to do something doesn't mean they have to do it. Removing a feature to protect players from boring themselves is a bit heavy-handed in my opinion. I subscribe to the NetHack philosophy. There is a built-in drawback to pudding farming: it's called pudding farming.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: mariodonick on June 04, 2012, 12:53:55 PM
I subscribe to the NetHack philosophy.

Again something about personal taste, I think. For me, Nethack is incoherent and bloated, but this is just because I want games with a believable (not realistic) background / theme. The saying "The DevTeam though of everyting" is only true regarding game mechanics and adding stuff, but it unfortunately is not true regarding consistency.

That's why in the past I played Moria a lot. Since I've discovered Sil, I'll switch to that, because this is the most-consistent variant of a classic roguelike I ever encountered.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Pueo on June 04, 2012, 02:03:14 PM
Wow, there's a lot of posts to look at!
Okay, summarizing...

@Mariodonick, I also agree that NetHack is random and bloated and stuff.

@Krenium, I also like that NetHack philosophy, but if you look at it like that, then you'll end up trying to 'think of everything', and to me that's bad.  If you want "The Dev Team Thinks of Everything," go outside and play.  No lag, built-in-ultra-advanced physics, 6 billion players, etc.  Unfortunately, no cheat codes.  Sorry.  The gamer should understand that "The Dev Team Thinks of Everything" only comes around after decades of consistent effort from a team.  For a solo project, that's almost impossible.

@Mariodonick, LambdaRogue sounds cool.

@Darren Grey, I think that philosophy is a pretty good one. And for me, it seems to make things a lot easier.  I have a lot of ideas in my head, but it's really hard to implement them.  If I start with the core ideas, it'll be a lot easier for me.

@Holsety, Yes, Brogue is lovely, isn't it?  It's one of the main inspirations for my project  ;D  Simple interface, complex item interaction, easy to play (but hard to win, of course).  I'm really going for item interaction in my project.  I also like your other points.

@Kraflab, I think it's a pretty cool idea, too.

@Krenium, I like identification too, I just think it's sometimes mis-used.  I don't think identification should be used to add "surprise" or such as some people are saying, play a game long enough and you already have a pretty good idea of what those pink potions are, based on other clues;  when you got it (in some games), how many there are (some games give more "good potions" than "bad"), how many choices are left, etc.
 
@Skeletor, Yeah, I like that idea too, I just thought it up when I was typing that  :P
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: st33d on June 05, 2012, 12:44:13 PM
I find the identification mini-game fun personally.

I don't think it is essential to a game and if you want to be a purist then you probably shouldn't have it.

But not all games should be pure because not all people like pure games. Consider spanish tapas or indian thali; both great meals comprised of lots of different little dishes.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Ancient on June 08, 2012, 09:25:18 PM
Identification system can add much. I find it to be excellent in Rogue, great in NetHack and at most good elsewhere. Some newer roguelikes go without it or add it mindlessly because others have it. The ID system never makes a game less roguelike. However, it has the potential to make it worse if implemented without solid design.

Many of you take curses against the identification system. It is the curse itself that harms the gameplay. Leave ID out of it. The system has been just used to cover it. Gameplay would benefit if that glowing trident you took off a gnoll which is really -2 trident was never cursed. One would discover the malus from observation that less than usual damage is done or pass a skill test and have it revealed. Does not make the item useless (maybe it is still the best what you found) but still can disadvantage the player. Thus you have interesting decisions. Stick to your +1 weapon or try unidentified ones hoping to find +2 or better while risking fighting with +0 or worse which may cost you some resources like healing potions.

DCSS has another tradeoff in its identification metagame. A potion might actually be the very rare and valuable potion of cure mutation. There is the question of trying less common unknown potions by drinking or using scrolls of identify which are uncommon commodity early game. Also, you will most probably not have the benefit of some of the less ubiquitous potions like might, agility or brilliance.

The most fun ID system gave me was while playing Zen characters in NetHack or Xel'Naga in PRIME. Having no sight everything you come across is unknown at first. Your adventure becomes a great journey of mystery and discovery. This only works if you played the game and got semi-good at it first. Then you can try playing such mode/profession to find another completely new dimension to the game.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Krice on June 09, 2012, 06:36:10 AM
Identifying in Nethack is a classic feature and it's quite nicely done, but it's not an essential part of a roguelike I think. It can also be only partial for some item types like potions.
Title: Re: Identify? (y/n)
Post by: Psiweapon on June 13, 2012, 01:03:44 PM
Unsurprisingly, I agree with Ancient wholeheartedly (except on the Zen part... I'm not that hardcore!)

I usually like the ID mechanic, myself. I think it's best when "formal identification" (identify scroll/spell/long use of an item) is coupled with "informal identification": throwing rings down a sink, dipping (such as POWDER's "you dip your hiking boots into the yellow potion. You gain insight on the item's nature: boots of water walking", that's brilliant, you just identified TWO items).

About being called a mioni-game, so far I'd only bestow that title upon DCSS: identification by amount (There's only one stack of potions that amounts to 6, that's potions of healing) and the "tried on a chicken leg" "tried by monster" notes really make it feel like a guessing game.

Still, it's not essential: IVAN is pretty damn nasty fun by itself, no need for ID'ing KTHXBYE. Mague Guild doesn't have regular identify mechanics - you always know what is what, you just don't know what some stuff does (charged bituminous wyrm scale? guess what it does? SPREAD TAR EVERYWHERE)

So far, for PRIME, I think ALL noxious canisters (=potions) have uses, except maybe one. Most of them can be used to recharge rayguns (=wands), and some of them have other uses.