Poll

Is identification integral to a roguelike?

Yes
8 (30.8%)
No
15 (57.7%)
Remember to Explain Your Answer!
3 (11.5%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Author Topic: Identify? (y/n)  (Read 7923 times)

Pueo

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Identify? (y/n)
« 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?
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Omnomnom

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #1 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



kraflab

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #2 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.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 11:34:40 PM by kraflab »

Pueo

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #3 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
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.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 02:55:37 AM by Pueo »
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requerent

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #4 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.

mariodonick

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #5 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.
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Skeletor

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #6 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).
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 09:16:50 AM by Skeletor »
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Holsety

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #7 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.
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kraflab

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #8 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.

Pueo

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #9 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. 
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AgingMinotaur

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #10 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.

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NON

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #11 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.

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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
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 10:18:23 PM by NON »
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requerent

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #12 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.

Skeletor

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #13 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.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 12:40:55 AM by Skeletor »
What I enjoy the most in roguelikes: Anti-Farming and Mac Givering my way out. Kind of what I also enjoy in real life.

kraflab

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Re: Identify? (y/n)
« Reply #14 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.