Author Topic: Corridors considered harmful  (Read 3754 times)

doulos05

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2016, 10:20:18 AM »
I would play a roguelike where you tackled one room and then got whisked off to a new one, no corridors. It's all about what game mechanical action they serve. If the only thing they do is carry the player from one challenge to the next with there only choice being which door you kick open, that can be handled with a dialog box and an ASCII cut scene. What other purpose could they serve though? I'm not asking rhetorically, what are some purposes beyond "transition from room to room that demonstrates that these rooms stand in some relation to each other geographically"?

Aleksanderus

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2016, 12:38:12 PM »
Why the fuck would you remove corridors, it's just stupid.

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2016, 01:15:02 PM »
"Save scumming considered harmful.
Don't allow saving in your roguelikes because this can be abused by save scummers."
That comparison doesn't hold, though. Save scumming is cheating, whilst corridor fighting is a viable (and in fact the optimal) strategy in most RLs. So in a classic rooms+corridors dungeon,  you need to balance the game around the assumption that the player will draw back whenever possible.

Not to say that corridors are bad, or that it's trivial to come up with optional map generation concepts. I still think it's interesting to create a game that focuses more on, say, open spaces with differing sizes and layouts. You can have the occasional classic maze in a game that mainly takes place outdoors or in houses. That might even feel fresh, if fighting is designed around something other than trading melee attacks in a hallway. Then there's the option of wide corridors, which would offset the effect of corridor fighting a bit. One could also put in areas with "soft" walls, eg. that block sight but not movement. Trodden paths lead between points of interest, but the player can still elect to wade through the high grass (or whatever your "walls" represent), and can never be sure that some foe won't just jump out of nowhere (Legerdemain did this with corn fields, and I'm definitely planning something along those lines for Land of Strangers).

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Lord_Mork

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2016, 10:48:01 PM »
I would play a roguelike where you tackled one room and then got whisked off to a new one, no corridors. It's all about what game mechanical action they serve. If the only thing they do is carry the player from one challenge to the next with there only choice being which door you kick open, that can be handled with a dialog box and an ASCII cut scene. What other purpose could they serve though? I'm not asking rhetorically, what are some purposes beyond "transition from room to room that demonstrates that these rooms stand in some relation to each other geographically"?

That interpretation is too simplistic. It might work for Rogue or the first few Nethack levels, but more advanced terrain gen exists, you know.

Rather, the challenges that you are whisked between are the floors, and room/corridor/cave/city/forest structure is just a terrain feature in that challenge.

That said, the main purpose of a corridor is generally a chokepoint area. Complicate gameplay by restricting space.

And mushroom patch's argument is that chokepoints help the player too much and force reliance on their presence in order to adequately deal with enemies.

doulos05

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2016, 11:08:01 PM »

That interpretation is too simplistic. It might work for Rogue or the first few Nethack levels, but more advanced terrain gen exists, you know.
Right, I understand that advanced terrain gen exists. If you'll read what I said again, I didn't say that corridors don't serve a useful purpose, I asked what purposes they serve. Here are two fairly obvious purposes that they serve.
1) They are the route through which players and monsters move from room to room within a dungeon level.
2) They demonstrate the geographic relation of the rooms within a dungeon level.

I can think of at least 2 more:
3) They support/develop the exploration aspect of Roguelikes.
4) They provide safe(ish) places for players to recover health in roguelikes with a resting recovery mechanic.

Quote
Rather, the challenges that you are whisked between are the floors, and room/corridor/cave/city/forest structure is just a terrain feature in that challenge.

Yes, but why? Why couldn't you create largish, complicated rooms and have them move from room to room via a dialogue box? I'm using the term 'room' loosely here. What I really mean is a compact, contiguous segment of dungeon. Compact here means no long corridors.

Quote
That said, the main purpose of a corridor is generally a chokepoint area. Complicate gameplay by restricting space.

And mushroom patch's argument is that chokepoints help the player too much and force reliance on their presence in order to adequately deal with enemies.

That's what I was asking.

5)The provide chokepoints which players can use tactically to control conflicts.

Are there any other things they contribute? Because the only thing listed in this post that looks hard to implement using just rooms is exploration, and that's largely down to room design.

Skullcoder

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2016, 11:31:35 PM »
"Save scumming considered harmful.
Don't allow saving in your roguelikes because this can be abused by save scummers."
That comparison doesn't hold, though. Save scumming is cheating, whilst corridor fighting is a viable (and in fact the optimal) strategy in most RLs. So in a classic rooms+corridors dungeon,  you need to balance the game around the assumption that the player will draw back whenever possible.
So, you agree...  The comparison was not meant to hold. It was an extreme example meant to illuminate the exact conclusion you've drawn.  I felt my point was clear: In a classic roguelike "you need to balance the game" assuming that valid player actions such as "draw back whenever possible" don't break the game, if that means smarter AI, so be it.

Thus, if you assume that saving the game is not a legitimate option and design a system that has resuming from save breaking the game then you've badly designed the game.  This doesn't indicate that saving itself is bad as a feature at all, which is what the comparison was for: To have you conclude, "That's preposterous, saving the game is a legit feature; reloading doesn't make a game crappy but other issues might".  And then go on to conclude, "corridors are a legit feature, something else must be the problem rather than simply having corridors themselves".  Broken game designs are not the result of the use of corridors, but the failure to design gameplay which addresses those who would obsessively exploit corridors.  The core point is that features such as saving or having corridors between rooms are not inherently shit, and that there are other factors such as faulty mechanics or exploitive behaviors at play.

Even considering a primarily cave-formed or room adjoined generation system, the exclusion of all corridors would be an oddity.  Corridors can be effective at creating a precise scenario that should be available to the (procedural) level designer, otherwise if one does appear your game might break.  Not focusing on such pinch points doesn't mean they won't exist.   Corridors themselves are not "considered harmful", but games which suck due to poor consideration of gamplay in corridors do exist.  Likewise, saving a game is not considered harmful, and games should not break on save/load (even if via external VM) but rather take consideration that saving and loading behavior does exist (just as corridor use exists).
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 11:38:26 PM by Skullcoder »

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2016, 12:08:19 AM »
Ugh, I'm not going to split any hairs over your roundabout argument. Although I think my point still stands ;) Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree that corridors have their place in the genre as a cool feature, though I wouldn't mind if more games deviated from tried and true hack'n'back tactics.

As always,
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This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Cfyz

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2016, 12:09:55 AM »
I'm in the 'better AI' camp.

Corridors are essential in the generic dungeon theme. Dungeons are literally rooms and corridors in various proportions. If you remove the corridors, it is not dungeon anymore but something else (ruins, garden, town, etc.). Obviously there is nothing wrong with it, you can always have a game without dungeons. But when you do have dungeons, corridors are not at fault, no more than rooms.

Are corridors abused? Do they give the player too big of advantage? Probably you are doing it wrong. Try to imagine yourself in a similar situation. Would you really flee to the fairly narrow passage in case of danger? No, that would be one of the most dangerous places instead, badly illuminated space without freedom of movement. In the best case scenario your foe will walk away and you will waste time and supplies. If they will circle around and surround, you're screwed. If they barricade the exits and throw/breathe something in, you're screwed. If they lay some trap-like mech at the exit, then you're now trapped in and, well, screwed. One of them may go and bring a huge spear you can't do much about. Call the archer or even the caster. From the time you went into the corridor you've given up the initiative. Nope, an open, well-lit place with obstacles is the best from a tactical perspective.

If something is abused, it is because it is not balanced. Add a reliable gun to the primarily sword-fighting game and everyone will use the gun. Same with corridors, players expected to abuse them if there are no disadvantages. You just need to either give dungeons up or fix the source of the problem, depending on your priorities.

Tilded

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2016, 07:15:04 AM »
If any of you are looking for a roguelike with no corridors, Ananias does this, which also fits with it being designed for mobile.

mushroom patch

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2016, 11:52:45 AM »
Are corridors abused? Do they give the player too big of advantage? Probably you are doing it wrong.

Indeed, you are doing it wrong. You're generating corridors.

It is interesting that you bring up the concept of a dungeon as a fixed kind of thing. Of course, the notion of dungeon one sees in most roguelike games comes directly from dungeons and dragons and the dungeon generation algorithms described in their various rule books. I don't think there was any prior conception of a "dungeon" being a thing with characteristics lending themselves to exploration or good turn based combat. Indeed, I doubt the geometric considerations that become important in evaluating roguelike game mechanics were very carefully considered by the designers of the dungeons and dragons algorithms, since the dungeon map is often more of a guideline than a hard fast rule in dungeons and dragons combat tactics -- many players play without a physical board and map, for example.

Turn by turn movement and combat mechanics make the details of the map's geometry far more important than they are in dungeons and dragons. At the same time, the kind of dungeons favored in dungeons and dragons are in no way representative of a real life concept of a dungeon (they are much more like catacombs or underground cities) nor do they offer a particularly compelling model for granular combat and movement. This is just another case where early roguelikes have uncritically imported dungeons and dragons mechanics. This should not bind us to a particular concept of what a dungeon is. Similarly, we should not uncritically accept corridors as a necessity.

As an additional point against corridors, they are a poor use of space. This is related to the issue of being one-dimensional and boring to explore, but also independent of it. What is the best way to use map space in a roguelike game? Corridors as they are usually implemented involve a lot of negative space -- inaccessible wall interiors with few or no interesting features. If you ask what is the appropriate density of map features, I think you'll inevitably conclude that corridors will consistently fail to deliver. Corridors merely inflate your map without providing significant value. To name a specific example, Angband, again, is a serious offender here. Huge maps with long corridors, tons of empty space that is not accessible to the player (outside of the tedious but sometimes necessary business of digging). What's going on here? Well, moria, the predecessor of angband, started with someone's neato dungeon generator that made levels that are big and have complex corridors compared to rogue. This must be good, right? Well, no, but that's the thinking.

reaver

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2016, 12:02:54 PM »
Even though I love corridors, here's a good example of space-efficient, kinda corridor-less dungeons:

http://worldofortix.blogspot.ch/2012/02/mordor-11-maps.html

Cfyz

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2016, 04:18:09 PM »
Quote from: mushroom patch
It is interesting that you bring up the concept of a dungeon as a fixed kind of thing.
More like 'established' kind of thing. Dungeon is rooms plus passages between them. This is close to what dungeons would be IRL (or believably close to that). Without corridors you end up with paper-thin walls like in reaver's example: looks nice but I'll argue it is not a dungeon. Basement of a castle or level of a magically constructed tower maybe?

This becomes a question of terminology. In the end, there are a whole lot of different map/level designs, with and without corridors. There is nothing wrong with using ones without. But corridors are an element of established design (usually going by the name 'dungeon'). It's just some designs have features you'll have to be careful with. Long and boring paths in a maze. Pillars in an abandoned temple you can dance around. Annoying traps in a tomb. I'm sure there are a lot of things one may fail to balance besides corridors.

Quote from: mushroom patch
As an additional point against corridors, they are a poor use of space.
I'll agree on the point that poorly made corridors (long and featureless) provide a questionable element of design. A lone path going across half of the map is just a failure. It might be a good enough reason to throw that generator away.

mushroom patch

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2016, 04:53:03 PM »
There's no doubt there are other common design flaws in roguelike games. Many established designs consistently produce poor results. This is just the one I am interested in at the moment.

Lord_Mork

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2016, 04:48:53 AM »

That interpretation is too simplistic. It might work for Rogue or the first few Nethack levels, but more advanced terrain gen exists, you know.
If you'll read what I said again, I didn't say that corridors don't serve a useful purpose, I asked what purposes they serve. Here are two fairly obvious purposes that they serve.
1) They are the route through which players and monsters move from room to room within a dungeon level.
2) They demonstrate the geographic relation of the rooms within a dungeon level.

When you said "If the only thing they do is carry the player from one challenge to the next with there only choice being which door you kick open, that can be handled with a dialog box and an ASCII cut scene", I replied with the first sentence in my last post, implying that I believe this is a false sentiment. If that wasn't clear.

"What other purpose could they serve though?" was answered by the third sentence in my last post, which stated that corridors are tactical chokepoints and terrain features.

Here are uses of corridors that can't be replicated with a dialog & cutscene:

Code: [Select]
       + A +
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
++++++++   +++++++++
A                  A
++++++++   +++++++++
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
       +   +
       + A+

You can have two, three, or four intersecting corridors which connect two, three, or four rooms. The effect? The corridor becomes a chokepoint at any of the points labelled 'A', but loses its value as you venture towards the intersection. A player standing at the intersection no longer has the advantage of fighting against a maximum of two enemies, he can now be surrounded and besieged as if the area were a wide open space.

In fact, at the intersection of two corridors, you can be attacked from four sides without the possibility to escape diagonally. This means that the center of this structure is actually more dangerous than an open space; the tight one-square corridors instantly reverse their advantages.

You can line corridors with traps, too. Any intersection can be given a higher percent chance to spawn with a bear trap or monster-spawning trap. Then you could also give the player an alternative route,perhaps an alternative wider corridor, to cause a decision to be made.

How about this:

Code: [Select]
        + A +
        +   +
        +   +
        +   +
        +   +
        +   +         +++++++++++++++++
++++++++   ++++++++++++               +++
A                 A               B      +
++++++++   ++++++++++++                  +
        +   +         +                   +
        +   +          +                   +
        +   +          +                    +
        +   +           +                  +
        +   +           +                 +
     ++++++   ++++++++++                 +
      +                                 +
      +                                +
      +                               +
      + C                            +
      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In this case, the corridor is more of a tactical decision. Say you are at point C, wanting to move towards point B. Do you take the open-space route where you can be attacked by monsters without a chokepoint, or do you drag monsters into the corridor, another potentially risky move? Maybe the monsters can push you back one tile, which in this case would shove you down the corridor into the intersection and possibly into any traps. In an open-space area, the push-back might be less dangerous.

Quote from: doulos05
Are there any other things they contribute? Because the only thing listed in this post that looks hard to implement using just rooms is exploration, and that's largely down to room design.

But the real question is: what is your definition of a corridor? How does one use "just rooms"? If you implement a chokepoint, at what point is it just a narrowing of the area, and at what point is it a separate concept?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 04:57:34 AM by Lord_Mork »

mushroom patch

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Re: Corridors considered harmful
« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2016, 07:45:59 AM »
Without getting into the specifics of your analysis of different spaces and routes, which sounds a little fishy to me, the problem with this kind of analysis is that the player will generally have a lot of power to decide where a fight happens, so the fact that some squares in your system of corridors are marginally worse than others becomes meaningless -- the player just elects not to stand there. It is too obvious to be an interesting decision. You have to look at what the best thing for the player to do is and what follows from that.

Also worth noting that you typically empty a level of its monsters as you explore in a roguelike game, which means that corridors tend to acquire a preferred direction when you first explore them. You tend to meet new threats from one direction only. As for open space, as long as there's a corridor remotely nearby, the possibility of being surrounded does not exist without special mechanics to make it happen (monster summons or traps, for example). If there is more than one monster, you can just take them back to the corridor.