Author Topic: Non-random content  (Read 13570 times)

Xan

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Non-random content
« on: February 22, 2011, 05:40:33 PM »
Hi all, although I've only recently discovered this place, I've been playing roguelikes for 6-7 years now, and been programming for 8 or so.  It's finally got to the point where I've actually started my own roguelike project.

What I want to know from you guys is whether/how much you like non-random content in roguelike, e.g., ADOM's towns/quests, etc.  I really liked it myself, but I know that some don't like the repetition this causes when starting new games and so forth (although I didn't find this much of a problem).

What are your opinions on the matter?  If static content is really a problem because of the concentration of gameplay in the first portion of a whole game, would having most if not all of the static content only come in later in the game solve the problem, after your character isn't so concerned with just surviving and becoming more stable in terms of survivability?

I'm still working on the framework/interface/core of my roguelike now, so I don't expect to have anything trial-worthy anytime soon, since I'm student and can't devote much time to it, but hopefully this summer I'll be able to spend more time on it.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 12:17:21 AM by Xan »

getter77

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 08:28:37 PM »
A Mixed Bag is often the best as far as I can reckon it   Ideally, you'd have a powerful random overall generator, some excellent handcrafted set pieces and ideas, and some way to apply a bit of elbow grease to randoms in general to make them a bit better than the direct math and such might allow and then thrown them tagged back into the pool with the rest.
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BirdofPrey

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 08:38:08 PM »
I'm one of those people who are really annoyed by static content in ADOM, and this thread compelled me to think about why exactly that is. I decided I'm totally cool with doing one dungeon after another or whatever, as puppy cave -> whatever dungeon isnt functionally any different from doing D1-5 before D6-10. What really pisses me off is GETTING the quests every time, every single game having to search through the entire town full of agonizingly stupid NPC's who just wander randomly, and finding the one who gives the quest who is often in the last place there is to look.

So in conclusion, I think static content is fine, as long as you're aware that any annoyances found in the static areas, even minor annoyances, will become enormous annoyances because you have to do them over and over and over again.

Ancient

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 09:06:47 PM »
Just like previous posters I think static content can be a great boon or negatively impact replayability. Depends where and how it is used.

Generally special static content late in the game can be completely nonrandom. POWDER has a library just before the final confrontation with HWCBSP. Still I have not heard single complaint it is boring. On the other hand DoomRL has predefined entry level to Phobos Base. It is important for atmospheric reasons but even with few variations it has playing it every time is not interesting.

Predefined artifacts or unique items appearing in some but not all runs are very welcome. Crawl's Sword of Power, DoomRL's Railgun or Angband's Ringil change the game in a way not commonly seen.

Quests also may be helpful or feel restricting. ADOM does it wrong. There if you decide not to save the cute dog it will be dead when you come back later. So if you want to keep it alive you will find yourself always going to cave under Drakalor Pass instead visiting somewhere else. This (not forced admittedly) linearity detracts from fun factor greatly. Personally I have not encounter quest system in a roguelike game that would appeal to me.

Towns like Terinyo or the town of NLarn improve aesthetic factor. Just make sure players can make business there without annoyances. The same goes about vaults or other unique locations. These actually should be crafted by hand most of the time.
Michał Bieliński, reviewer for Temple of the Roguelike

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 10:27:08 PM »
I'd say that, in general, static content should be treated either as a reward or challenge rather than as a requisite (or forced visit).

Having multiple versions of static content is cool in my book too.
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pat

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2011, 10:51:07 PM »
BAD: hundreds of runthroughs of adom and the caves of qud where you are forced to do the same menial quest ad nauseum [but coq is still developing, so that's just a friendly constructive criticism]

GOOD: dungeon crawl stone soup vaults which are basically predefined special rooms placed randomly, if at all, and without doubt are great

corremn

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 12:02:06 AM »
.... since I'm student and can't devote much time to it...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Thats they only time you CAN spend time on roguelike development!!!

DCSS does it well. It mixes random and static levels together. Vaults, entrances etc.  Unique NPCs are cool too. As you can feel sympathy for fellow players complaining they got killed by Sigmund. 
Uniques have random gear, which makes them slightly different each time you encounter them.  Unique artifacts are something I have a problem with, compared to crawls randarts. I would perfer set artifacts to have 1 random element to them to make them less predictable.

ADOMs world level is probably more attuned to people who are new to roguelikes. It probably helps them get a grip of whats going on.  ADOM should of come with an option to randomly generate the world level after you are sick of it.  Maybe someone should ask TB to release the code. Ha Ha!  First thing I would to is add random world map and random quests.

Static levels and content can be good as a reward, wading through so much random stuff and finally rewarded with something the player already knows about might release some stress or allow a player to develop specific tactics.  Use with some though and it can be a great feature. It would be quite rewarding for players to discuss together how they approached a certain static level or static NPC.
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Darren Grey

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 01:17:29 PM »
Pre-designed content is often better than randomised content - hence why things like vaults, boss levels and preset artifacts are used in many roguelikes.  The randomised versions of these just aren't as good.  But too much and it becomes repetitive.

I think an important thing with the likes of preset quests is to make them optional.  ADOM actually does have this, but too many players get fixated on the idea that you *must* do the starting quest.  You can actually skip all but 2 dungeons in the game.  The quests are generally dull and get very repetitive, and personally I think they're best avoided in roguelikes.

A good thing to have with static content is randomised elements, or make whatever it is be a random selection out of several pre-designed features.  This way there's still some excitement about seeing something slightly new or rare or whatever else.

ido

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 02:05:59 PM »
.... since I'm student and can't devote much time to it...
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Thats they only time you CAN spend time on roguelike development!!!

Actually I found I'm doing a lot more roguelike programming now while having normal full-time jobs as I ever did as a student (even tho I had a ton more free time back then, except for the exams periods).

Krice

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 03:56:02 PM »
If the gameplay is difficult and requires lots of playing then static content can become boring. I think it happens right in the beginning of ADOM. If you don't learn quick then ADOM can become annoying. I think it's possible to use random and non-random at the same time; on the other hand trying to make stuff random but keep the basic idea of the content. That's something I did in Teemu, even it's still somewhat non-random (almost like an adventure game).

Xan

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 06:25:13 PM »
Thanks for all the comments!

Nezur

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 07:05:56 PM »
Pre-designed content is often better than randomised content - hence why things like vaults, boss levels and preset artifacts are used in many roguelikes.  The randomised versions of these just aren't as good.  But too much and it becomes repetitive.

It would be more correct to say that predesigned content is easier to make interesting. I think the replay value of randomized content is more important.

I think an important thing with the likes of preset quests is to make them optional. 

Making features like quests optional is not enough. Completing them also must not be the optimum way to play.

make whatever it is be a random selection out of several pre-designed features. 

Agreed. Perhaps the building blocks could be different each game as well through random selection of flavour-attracted traits. Perhaps even shallowly simulated species evolution.

Legend

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 11:18:26 PM »
Quote
Quote from: Darren Grey on Today at 07:17:29 AM
I think an important thing with the likes of preset quests is to make them optional.

Making features like quests optional is not enough. Completing them also must not be the optimum way to play.

Kinda reminds me of DoomRL. Although there are no quests, the special levels usually have pre-designed non-random layouts and specific items that appear. But some of them are almost necessary to complete like the wall to get the backpack which helps out a lot with inventory management. I don't really like the way it works that much though since you can only beat the Wall if you have some way to break it, so it becomes necessary to complete the Arena level first so you can get a rocket launcher unless you get really lucky and find one in the regular levels.

Ari Rahikkala

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2011, 12:15:34 PM »
Using ADOM as an example, I love parts of the static content in how they lend overall structure for the game. It's fun to reach milestones like Dwarftown and the Cat Lord's level, it's fun to defeat hurdles like Tomb of the High Kings and the Tower of Eternal Flames, it's fun to grab guaranteed useful equipment and buffs like the Ancient Mummy Wrapping or Bart's reward for the Golden Gladius. However...


I think static content is fine, as long as you're aware that any annoyances found in the static areas, even minor annoyances, will become enormous annoyances because you have to do them over and over and over again.

I'd just like to AOL!!! this. ADOM has some annoying static content, such as tracking down quest givers in Terinyo, Thrundarr's first quest (go ye and slay one instance of this randomly chosen monster - a quest that nicely demonstrates ADOM's breadth of monsters, in that it can take very long to find even a single one of any specific type), Gaab'Baay's "fetch this incredibly rare item, and then when you're done fetch me an item that you can only get from a improbable random drop from a single monster type" quests, etc.. But Gaab'Baay's quests are something you only take on in the mid- or late game, and only for a special ending, so taking them on doesn't feel nearly as annoying as finding where the Tiny Girl ran off to yet again.

Overall, though, I don't think ADOM is too far from getting it right. It is a good idea for a roguelike to have a reasonably static overall structure with carefully hand-crafted special challenges sprinkled throughout in predictable places - ADOM has a bunch of places like this, DCSS does just this with its dungeon branches and their endings, etc.. The amount of NPCs that you should expect to talk with before getting into the actual gameplay should be small - in ADOM you can open up all the starting quests by talking to three people, after which you can just head off and do your thing. Design your rarely seen late-game unique areas well, and they might even remain cool for more than one playthrough (I still think that places like the Ancient Stone Circle and the Scintillating Cave are simply neat, if only conceptually - but you wouldn't want major gameplay changes that late and rarely anyway)

Darren Grey

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Re: Non-random content
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 06:50:25 PM »
I suppose one point to take from that is don't overload the player with static content early on.  The early game gets played a *lot* in roguelikes, as you go through the cycle of death and rebirth and oops, death again.  It gets repetitive far more quickly.  Late game static content can be something to look forward, but early stuff can end up feeling like a chore.