Author Topic: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes  (Read 28738 times)

Darren Grey

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #45 on: December 31, 2011, 07:16:58 AM »
Are there any roguelikes other than the Nethack line where a significant number of items have more than one default use? ADOM only has 3 examples I know of (dipping potions instead of drinking, rubbing one herb type instead of eating, rubbing a djinni ring instead of wearing it). In general I'd say the wealth of interactions in Nethack, whilst "cool", is terrible design in terms of making a game requiring extensive spoilers to even know how to use items properly. Any action in a game must be intuitive to do through both mechanics and interface. Thinking of both together can lead to a far better game.

Bear

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #46 on: December 31, 2011, 10:35:31 AM »

I'm not missing the point at all, the point is an intuitive and expressive vocabulary of game actions.....
Just like in real life objects in games can be context sensitive, and if the designer is cautious, then the relationships between objects are pretty intuitive.

Well, I think you're wrong about not missing the point. 

The point is that you have a standard set of commands, which you can do with any object or any set of objects.  And in a well-designed (IMO) game you KNOW what the commands are; you don't have to guess what special cases and combinations the designers called out on which objects.

The context-sensitive interface you describe, to me, invokes the very worst trope of late-period adventure games; where you have no bloody idea what the designer intended you to do (and yes, there was usually one specific thing that was the intended only way forward) and you sit there attempting to "apply" every last thing in your inventory to every last other thing in your inventory, waiting for some combination that doesn't make sense to anybody but the designer to "click."  Good game design does not leave players following the designer around picking up special cases and context-sensitive exceptions.

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #47 on: December 31, 2011, 12:58:36 PM »
It is a mystery by design, but I'd venture a guess that Diggr also has some multi-purposed stuff afoot considering what game it is paying homage to.
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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #48 on: December 31, 2011, 02:40:41 PM »
  For me the interface goes hand in hand with the learning curve. An easy to play but hard to master system starts here.
  Secondarily the interface should allow me to do what I want with frustration. See MOO3 for how NOT to do this.

Ancient

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #49 on: December 31, 2011, 03:26:11 PM »
Try to design good mouse based interface for using Nethack towel or Zap'M roll of duct tape *and* make it more friendly and faster than keyboard commands at the same time. You'll see what Bear means.
So if I want to burn meat, first I'll cook it and then I'll cook it again. Done. Slower, yes, easy, yes. If burning meat is really important to the plot, then a good designer can streamline the process. Perhaps troll meat is extra sensitive to fire and burns right away, skipping the cooking stage.
Fine. It is both easy and intuitive. But to accomplish it you sacrificed an action of burning raw meat which may be needed. Again game loses depth in order to offer a simple interface. You could of course rectify this with a paper doll of sorts like you explain below. Pop up a window with drawn campfire. If you click above fire you cook meat. If you click fire directly it burns. This however, is no longer intuitive. Players are likely to burn it unintentionally. Keyboard stuff is easier and more intuitive to have it because you just specify burn or cook respectively.

In Ultima there is no reason to burn the meat which is why a sufficient point and click interface is doable.

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If I want to blindfold myself with a towel, use it on my characters paperdoll head. If I want to wipe my hands, use it on the paperdolls hands. Fast, yes, easy, yes.
Unintuitive, yes. A masqueraded menu, yes. Slow, yes. Who knows, maybe I can click on my feet to wrap it up so I can kick cockatrice corpse with impunity despite I haven't found boots yet? Wait, it does not work. Maybe I need to click the other feet! No ... between them?

The paper doll in question acts like a menu. Head specifies one action and hands specify second. Unfortunately it is less intuitive than a menu because set of commands is not clearly specified. It would be better if after a double click on the towel a classic menu with options popped up. That way you would not need to hover you mouse from inventory box to paper doll (which is not fast), and wonder about what actions are applicable to this item.

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Just like in real life objects in games can be context sensitive, and if the designer is cautious, then the relationships between objects are pretty intuitive. This requires hard work on the part of the designer, but it can certainly be expressive enough to achieve a huge variety of actions, and in a way that can be divined without a FAQ or manual.
Context sensitivity is really overpraised. It works well for simple games but for a complex game where a set of interaction is presented it usually does harm. I haven't seen it implemented well in any game with broad array of possible actions available for every item.

To sum up: Can mouse based interface be well done? Yes, and you proved it nicely. Can it be fine as only control medium for a complex game? Never seen it work in a satisfying manner.
Michał Bieliński, reviewer for Temple of the Roguelike

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #50 on: January 01, 2012, 02:45:50 AM »
Quote from: Bear
Now, I have two questions; first, can this really express everything you need done?  Second, if it can, is it still actually simpler than a command interface where you tell the guy what to do?

Bear, perhaps I did misunderstand, I thought you were talking about an expressive interface, not a universal interface where you can apply standard commands to anything. In that case keys are better, but I've never played a game where you can 'eat' anything, or 'read' anything.

In regards to attempting to apply objects in incompatible contexts. Doesn't the same thing happen in life? You try to wrap your feet in a towel and it just doesn't work? What's wrong with that compared to a key command? As long as there is clear feedback as to what the effect of an action is, I don't see anything wrong with it. It's just akin to pressing a key that has no effect when something is highlighted. And please tell me again how the nethack towel is more intuitive than my paperdoll suggestion.

The paperdoll is not a menu, it is half of an interaction context. Because we're playing games where items have some loose isomorphism with their real world equivalents we're able to make educated guesses about the effects of certain actions. Using a helmet on a head? Using a potion of acid on a head? It's up to the designer to make good decisions and comprehensive interactions. Well designed commands with context are always far more intuitive that contextless commands, and such a mouse UI, while less efficient than keys, can be designed to map to thousands of different game actions.

Perhaps you've developed such a history with roguelikes that a roguelike context automatically triggers recall of any key command you want. This is not the norm for casual players (like myself).

For examples of good context sensitive UI's I suggest taking a serious look at Ultima 7 through Ultima Online. They progressively get better and better, and by the time Ultima Online comes along, the depth of actions is enormous, larger than many roguelikes I've played. This includes extensive harvesting, crafting, enchanting, commerce (including bartering), training. If you like, I'm sure you can pick it apart and explain how one missing feature makes this a poor UI for a 'real roguelike', but the UI is an overwhelming success and can be adapted to suit many actions.

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #51 on: January 01, 2012, 09:35:36 AM »
And please tell me again how the nethack towel is more intuitive than my paperdoll suggestion.
It does only have put on and wear. After trying those out I can be sure I have exhausted equipping possibilities. The challenge in Nethack is applying those uses in game well. No combating the UI to find out possibilities in first place. Not so with paperdoll. You need to click all the different parts you think of. With sufficiently large towel you can wrap your foot for kicking cockatrices so this may have been implemented.

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The paperdoll is not a menu, it is half of an interaction context.
A menu is not an interaction context then? It could have menu items with hands and head. How is that different from an image?

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Well designed commands with context are always far more intuitive that contextless commands, and such a mouse UI, while less efficient than keys, can be designed to map to thousands of different game actions.
While I fully agree with second part of this sentence the first assertion eludes me. In what way is it more intuitive?

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For examples of good context sensitive UI's I suggest taking a serious look at Ultima 7 through Ultima Online.
I did so a few years ago. Played on a private server. I loved how you could double click an empty pitcher and target a cow to get milk. However, players were upset there was no possibility to empty it without drinking the contents. Developers acknowledged it and proposed double clicking on a non-empty pitcher would also ask for a target. Picking ground would pour contents out. Yay, intuitive and simple! But then there were cries drinking does not work intuitively and bug reports one can't target other people to feed them. Players were led thinking if a target is asked for one also can pick other players and NPC.

The gripe I have with Ultima is you never know the boundaries of its UI. A strict set of commands is just easier for me to grasp.
Michał Bieliński, reviewer for Temple of the Roguelike

Z

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #52 on: January 01, 2012, 03:47:30 PM »
OK, time to give my own thoughts about my proposals.

As a general rule, my proposals try to make ADOM more accessible to new players, usually at some cost (which ranges from developer's time to making the gameplay shallower).

1. Add beautiful graphics. Most bigger projects today seem to go this route. I have to say some things are easier to express with graphics than with ASCII. My VoI tries to apply an iconic approach to graphics, which is supposed to avoid drawbacks commonly mentioned by opponents of graphical roguelikes (different monsters looking almost the same). I think there are lots of people who judge games based mostly on graphics, but possibly these people would not play deep tactical games anyway.

7. Single use for each item. Some things are equipment, some things are melee weapons, some things are missile weapons, some are one-use or multiple-use items. Who does wield a non-weapon or throw a non-missile anyway? There are many more multiple use items in ADOM than Darren mentions. Potions of holy water can be dipped into, thrown at undead, spilled on ground, and used for alchemy, and all are useful (well maybe throwing at undead is a waste). Other potions can be quaffed, wielded (useless I think), and given to NPCs. Many weapons can be wielded or thrown (generally everything can be wielded or thrown, I only list cases where this is actually useful). Pick axes, hammers, hatchets, and whips act as both weapons and tools. Black torc can be worn or thrown. Anvil can be used for smithing or thrown. Blanket can be used for protection or trap creation. Magical gems can be used, thrown, or shot from slings.

I think one could do much more with multiple use items. But even with just a few uses, this is "cool" (as Darren says), and this "coolness" is important for me.

2. Combine Eat, Drink, Zap, Read, Use, etc. as a single "use" command. Strongly linked with the last point, and again, this is simply cool for me, even though I do not know any roguelike which really uses this coolness (like, having items such as rune-covered wands made of chocolate, which actually can be zapped, read or eaten), somebody should write one. Another good thing about having "drink" and "read" as separate commands is that you only pick from a list of potions, not a list of potions and scrolls (irrelevant for games with tame inventories, such as Doom RL, Brogue or Hydra Slayer, and they all have this combined).

12. Tooltips. Moving mouse over anything should tell you what it is. I think the only potential problem with that is portability. And if you click something...

3. Point-and-click interface. Like Dredmor. You see your inventory as a window, left click to use, drag to pick up/throw/drop/equip. Similar windows for "main menu", "skills", "quests", and so on. I am trying something similar in VoI 0.44 (although this is not complete and not everything is intuitive yet), I think we can cover most common uses easily, and the more exotic ones can be found or performed with keyboard and menus.

4. Mechanics should be clear. I want to be able to tell whether +2 St or +2 Dx is better.

5. Permadeath should be only an option. People want to win!! Commercial roguelikes seem to follow this route (Valhalla/Ragnarok, JauntTrooper, Diablo, Dredmor). I think optional permadeath could work well in ADOM, since even if it lost its roguelikeness, it would still remain a reasonably good RPG. But it should make it clear that permadeath is the correct way, and non-permadeath is cheating, and recommended only for exploration and noobs and people who would not play otherwise.

6. Rules should be clear. I want to make informed decisions, not die because I did not know something. I think that's personal taste. IMO non-obvious interactions make the game richer, but there should be in-game hints about them, like ADOM's fortune cookies (but more specific than "They say that it might come in handy to discover a use for useless potions", which hints about a rather nice reward, but is too obscure).

8. Make the process of character creation easier. One screen when you can choose all of the options. Well I think character creation process is boring in ADOM.

9. Unlockable characters. New players can only play Human Wizards, Archers, or Fighters. Other 197 race/class combinations need unlocking. The amount of decisions you need to make is too intimidating for a new player. Well, it's surely not intimidating for me, and I actually like reading about all the possible races and classes, it's like reading a fantasy book. It's a good way of rewarding players for their progress, but on the other hand, it is bad when you move to a new computer or install a new version and have to unlock everything again.

10. Equipment choices are bad. Make it obvious which armor or weapon is better. And if it is, equip it automatically. I think this is a very bad idea for a game like ADOM, but I have seen this mentioned as an example of how great is the UI design of Cardinal Quest. I can tell that it works very well in Vicious Orcs, I have not played CQ so I cannot tell about it. Besides, mostly any more sophisticated RPG has equipment management anyway, so I don't see why there should be any problem with grasping a well designed interface for equipment.

11. Remove the horoscope. Who has time to read 148 lines of manual. The effects of Silvernight/Darknight are negligible, and other sign effects are too random. Making the game simpler at a cost of losing theme and a bit of depth. No.

13. Ability to record macros. I think a well designed UI should not require recording macros. OTOH you get a plus from more hardcore users.

14. There should be no "clean ears" or "wipe face" command, this is clearly a bad design. Two extra keys to remember for almost no reason. But this is so cool when I read about this commands and wonder when I will use them!

15. There are three "pick up" commands, three "drop" commands, two "pay" and two "pray" commands. *ONE* SHALL BE ENOUGH! TB surely had his reasons for such a design, but I think there is a better solution.

16. Too many "display foo" commands! There should be one command (say, @ - display character information), which shows a menu with all the options, if they are really necessary. I agree with that.

17. Make movement four directional. People play on laptops nowadays, how are they to move in 8 directions? I think that 4-directional, 8-directional and hex are all valid solutions with different tactical challenges. Hex is the coolest IMO but maybe harder to work with and play in ASCII, 8-directional is more cool than 4-directional, but its awkwardness on laptops is a big drawback, a pity how computers have evolved in a way which makes playing classical roguelikes less pleasant (lack of fullscreen console on Vista is another thing).  I must try this shift/ctrl thing though, good idea for a NotEye feature BTW. Also maybe a good topic for a Roguelike Radio episode.

18. A way to configure the keyboard layout with an intuitive menu. The only drawback here is that it seems to be extremely boring to implement.

19. A way to configure other options with an intuitive menu. Good idea I think.

19. Sound effects, as an alternative to reading the message log. Yes, good idea. But the dev needs to learn how to do that. Also portability is reduced.

20. You should be able to target your missiles with mouse. A good idea taken from ADOM Sage.

21. Effects of your actions should be visible on the screen so you won't need to read the log (for example, animated drops of blood when you hit or are hit). Hard to do in ASCII.

22. Spell screens should show the numbers (damage etc), instead of requiring us to consult the manual. Another good idea taken from ADOM Sage.

23. Avoid using numbers. Present them using bars, colors, qualitative descriptions, and so on. Qualitative descriptions are IMO very bad (like hunger states in ADOM). Bars are a very good solution, but they take up more room than numbers. Colors are OK if you have no room for a bar or a number. But I think that you should have an access to numerical data.

24. Add an option to use VI key movement. Yes please.
25. No, rather add an option to use something natural for movement. Yes, too.

26. Monsters should be accompanied by UI elements which show important information about them, like health bars. A good idea, although hard to do this in ASCII (Brogue has a nice solution though).

27. Please don't quite the game after losing, maybe I want to start a new one. I don't mind this myself, but I know that some people do.

28. After the PC dies, show a menu, rather than a sequence of questions (do you want to see your inventory? do you want to see high scores? do you want to create a final log? etc) I see nothing good about the traditional sequence of questions. Seems to be an example of a bad interface design which tends to be copied from older to newer roguelikes.

29. Limit the inventory. Strength of Atlas or not, it's simply hard to use the inventory when you are carrying 200 items! I agree with Skeletor that permanent world + weak anti-return mechanics + limited inventory = fail. In Dredmor nothing stops you from stashing everything you find and returning to your stashes when you want to sell or use something, which leads to boring gameplay; also some items tend to be ignored because they are less useful than an empty inventory slot, which is a bad thing. does not it is too cumbersome to carry them in inventory. The effect is weaker, but still bad, in ADOM (Strength of Atlas makes inventory almost unlimited), Crawl and Brogue (tighter time constraints). On the other hand, assigning each item in your inventory to a separate letter is a great interface design in Crawl, Brogue and several other roguelikes, but it can be done only with limited inventory. I think there are better ways to solve the problem (realistic enough, avoid stashing and less-useful-than-nothing problems, easy to handle).

How successful would you expect ADOM to be after your changes? It seems nobody has tried to answer this question. If you think it would become a commercial success, why not try to convince Thomas Biskup and make a deal with him? Why did Dredmor and Diablo achieve a success, while JauntTrooper and Valhalla/Ragnarok failed?

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #53 on: January 02, 2012, 04:16:17 AM »
  I was speaking to a friend of mine yesterday about the topic of what gamers value. He is not a roguelike player or an indie player by any stretch of the imagination. He's into big budget titles he can play online. Starcraft II, Diablo, Modern Warfare 3, etc... I'd say he is your standard computer game player.

He does place to high a value on graphics and ease of control. Non frustrating game play is also huge but he does not mind a hard game at all. But his highest rated requirement to enjoy a game is story. He's a huge fan of the narrative. Does not matter the game genre. It's the story that matters.

Secondarily he enjoys online competition. A competitive player. NOT a social player. He hates MMO's. But he does like to frag his friends and strangers.

It seems to really make a lot of sense and spark very interesting conversations when you mention a 'value' model of classifying players.

I'm glad I thought of it. :-)

eclectocrat

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #54 on: January 02, 2012, 05:12:44 AM »
And please tell me again how the nethack towel is more intuitive than my paperdoll suggestion.
It does only have put on and wear. After trying those out I can be sure I have exhausted equipping possibilities.

Forgive me, I've never played nethack, but how do you know that you only have those two options? Is it intuitive that you can only do those, are they listed as possible actions or is it found by trial and error (serious question).
[/quote]

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The paperdoll is not a menu, it is half of an interaction context.
A menu is not an interaction context then? It could have menu items with hands and head. How is that different from an image?

Interaction: head interact with helmet. hands interact with weapon. The result of these interactions are easy to guess, hence more intuitive.

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Well designed commands with context are always far more intuitive that contextless commands, and such a mouse UI, while less efficient than keys, can be designed to map to thousands of different game actions.
While I fully agree with second part of this sentence the first assertion eludes me. In what way is it more intuitive?

By mimicking the way real world objects work, it's more intuitive. Real world objects don't exist in a vacuum, they interact. Hence interaction context. Compare 'use meat on fire', to 'select meat, press c'. At face value it's obvious that I can guess that the first will result in either cooking (or burning :P). The second is only understandable in this discussion because I contrast it with the contextual example. If I just come to any non-RL player on the street and present one of those two 'commands' and ask them to guess what happens, the first would garner far more correct guesses.

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For examples of good context sensitive UI's I suggest taking a serious look at Ultima 7 through Ultima Online.
I did so a few years ago. Played on a private server. I loved how you could double click an empty pitcher and target a cow to get milk. However, players were upset there was no possibility to empty it without drinking the contents. Developers acknowledged it and proposed double clicking on a non-empty pitcher would also ask for a target. Picking ground would pour contents out. Yay, intuitive and simple! But then there were cries drinking does not work intuitively and bug reports one can't target other people to feed them. Players were led thinking if a target is asked for one also can pick other players and NPC.

The gripe I have with Ultima is you never know the boundaries of its UI. A strict set of commands is just easier for me to grasp.
[/quote]

I completely agree with you, but as I stated in my response above, just because you can find some failure in the UI presentation, it doesn't prevent the UI from being an unqualified and enormous success in intuitively presenting complex gameplay. It does take extraordinary effort to design interactions well, but the result is very much worth it.

Anyways, I've hijacked this thread long enough, I'm pretty sure we understand each other, and I respect your opinion, you've made several valid points that have got me thinking. I hope you've learned a little bit from the conversation too.

Sincerely,
Mouse based interface fan :)

Ancient

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #55 on: January 02, 2012, 06:20:49 PM »
Uh oh. Those nested quote boxes got troublesome.

Forgive me, I've never played nethack, but how do you know that you only have those two options? Is it intuitive that you can only do those, are they listed as possible actions or is it found by trial and error (serious question).
The Nethack guide states all possible commands to do with items. Only ones sounding like equipping (I omitted wield there) are those two. You have whole palette of actions to do with items like kicking and reading. You can read armor pieces for example but I believe it is useful only on Hawaiian shirts. Like you said its dev team's responsibility to make it consistent.

There is some trial and error though. Nethack has apply command which is vague enough to be catch-all for interactions not covered by other very specific commands. 'A'plly wands to break them, apply towel to wipe your face, apply bullwhip to disarm opponents etc.

POWDER is curious one as it goes the noun-verb way and always displays all actions. Even nonsensical options.

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Interaction: head interact with helmet. hands interact with weapon. The result of these interactions are easy to guess, hence more intuitive.
Yeah. I thought about the paper doll a bit more. If you highlighted possible locations that invoke interaction my argument would be nullified and then it is as good or better than keyboard commands.

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By mimicking the way real world objects work, it's more intuitive. Real world objects don't exist in a vacuum, they interact. Hence interaction context. Compare 'use meat on fire', to 'select meat, press c'. At face value it's obvious that I can guess that the first will result in either cooking (or burning :P). The second is only understandable in this discussion because I contrast it with the contextual example. If I just come to any non-RL player on the street and present one of those two 'commands' and ask them to guess what happens, the first would garner far more correct guesses.
Now, that is both funny and quite a revelation to me. You know what my pair would be? Compare 'left mouse button double click meat, left mouse button click fire' to 'action: cook; target: meat'. In ADOM terms that would be "action: use cooking set; target: giant rat corpse". :D

This was lively exchange of views. I think PRIME's UI might get several changes in near future thanks to this.
Michał Bieliński, reviewer for Temple of the Roguelike

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #56 on: January 04, 2012, 11:38:57 AM »
2. Classic Diehards - The classic roguelike player. Games like ToME, Nethack, Angband and Crawl appeal to these players. A very common player type but no longer as dominant. These guys (yes mostly all men) have been playing for years, maybe decades. Definitely the dominant player type in this Forum. I'll use Krice as a good example of this player type. Strict adherence to the tried and true Roguelike tropes brightens the day of this player. These players will cross over pretty well to other categories, especially the Quick Fix category when they burn out a bit on their favorite major and need a little experimental distraction. Note this is the oldest and most hardcore of Roguelike player types. Black and white text with hundreds of commands? Not required but also not a problem. These players value complexity.

That description fit me so well it was mildly unsettling.
I like it when a game has clear mechanics. Going very close to DnD-like mechanics like Incursion is excellent.
You've got your stats, and you know what they do and how increasing each stat will affect your abilities.
You find an item and the game tells you the numbers. Parry value such and such. Can be used while grappling. Reach of 10m. Damage ranges from this to that, slashing type etc etc. I understand what these mean.

Having easy to understand mechanics like Rogue, Hack and The Slimy Lichmummy is excellent too.
For the first two, you need food. You need to get your armor value up to snuff. Your goal is this and that. Having this or that item will be needed in this or that situation etc etc.

Mostly just the ease of equipping an item and seeing a number go up or down is excellent.

That would be why the Binding of Isaac (which is still not... ah, nevermind) did absolutely nothing for me.
I got the tears of the saint? Great! What do they do? If it was a sword or a lasergun I could work with it, but tears of a saint? That's too abstract for me! Did my crying get better? In what way? How does the saintlyness of my tears benefit me? Copper sword, Iron sword, Steel sword, diamond sword. Clear progression that I can understand. Silver sword against a werewolf, I see! Tears, bloody tears, attack fly, speckled feces... I don't know which of these is stronger or even comparable to the others. I don't know what they're for, and frankly that just infuriates me, hahaha.

It's nice breakdown. I'm doubtful whether the sandbox category is all that big. Goblin camp is very much so in its starting stages still.
And the Story Lovers category comes down to Legerdemain and LambdaRogue, right? With maybe a dash of IVAN. Unless I've missed some roguelike that has more story than Fetch Ye Olde MacGuffin, Brave Adventurer!

I don't like all of your groupings I must say.  There's no such thing as a "Smooth Operator" that plays a game purely for interface.  [...] What you class as "Smooth Operator" is more merged in with "Quick Mixers", since a quick game with a complex interface is pretty much doomed to failure. [...]

Well, the groupings can easily overlap. I feel that there IS a group of players that will or will not play a game purely based on how easy the interface is to grasp for them. Let's say you ask someone (with little or no roguelike experience) to play Rogue and Brogue. Putting aside everything but user interface, Brogue is much more fluid and intuitive. Those that would prefer Brogue over Rogue simply because of the controls and UI of Brogue would be the Smooth Operators, no?

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On roguelike radio we rant on about UI a lot, and sometimes it feels a bit repetitive, but in the world if roguelikes I think it stands to be repeated.  Too many developers are complacent with the idea of sticking to a "traditional" bad UI.  [...] For roguelikes it doesn't have to be pretty graphics, or graphics at all, it just means that if players get frustrated by the controls in the first few minutes they'll move on to another game that won't frustrate them.  In the modern roguelike scene they have plenty more accessible choices.
Mr. Doull started a discussion on this over at the Angband forums (of course you know this, but bear with me) and I see some sense in what the two of you are saying. While Angband/Hack/Rogue/etc do have an interface that can immediately be recognized there is indeed the room for improvement. However, "don't fix what isn't broken". And then there's the chance that what you would consider an improved interface would be considered one or more steps in the wrong direction by someone else.

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I think I said that some of the classics were doomed unless they get with the times.  To those that say the classics won't I die I ask, where are all the Moria players?  Moria is still a good game, but it no longer gets significantly played or discussed.  It is, in essence, a dead game.  Angband and Nethack run risk of following the same route.  New players would rather go to ToME4, DCSS or Brogue, and the existing communities are visibly dwindling.  There will be a few diehards for many years of course, but why should the great classics put up with this when they are open source and ripe for improvement?
And what if they are doomed? I don't care that not many people play (Revived)Hack, I still enjoy it. I don't require it to be continuously developed and updated even today; it's a done game in my eyes. To be a dead game while still in development is sad, but if it's complete... I'd rather someone makes an Angband and a Moria dies than that Moria keeps getting updated and Angband is never born; that way people have the choice of playing both Moria AND Angband rather than Moria changing into something it didn't use to be.

Untrue. The traditional UI is not bad. In fact, it's the opposite of bad

I think a large number of keyboard commands is not bad if they are well designed and don't have any double commands (like Remove/Take off). In good UI there are also modern alternatives like mouse commands, generic (u)se command and stuff like that. Trying to minimize number of keyboard commands is good, but only if it doesn't lead to ultra-modern menu driven UI which is also bad. I'm always surprised how difficult it seems to be to design good UI. I guess one of the reasons is that developers have their own ideas about good UI and sometimes it's traditional and sometimes maybe too modern, and sometimes it's just really weird.

I'm a fan of generic commands. (a)pply to zap wands, read scrolls, quaff potions. (e)quip a whole bunch of different things. These are nice. Seperate commands for Putting something On, Taking something Off, Wearing, Removing (ring ring armor armor) feel redundant. I like all the options Incursion gives me but when I press y and it asks me what I want to do, there's almost no situation where I'd want to Fast Talk, Barter with someone, Force, Greet, Imbue, Jam, Mix, Pour and the list goes on! Some of these are available elsewhere; I can Greet, Barter, Fast Talk after I (t)alk to someone!

You don't have to pare the options down to (k)ill and (o)ther, but some things could stand to be culled.

Edit: I missed Z's original list, so I've taken to replying to it from what I could glean from other posts.

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4. Mechanics should be clear. I want to be able to tell whether +2 St or +2 Dx is better.
Yes please.
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5. Permadeath should be only an option. People want to win!!
I love options. But having or not having permadeath shouldn't be something you get to decide as a player.
If you take out the permadeath or add an option to save and load whenever the player wants, I wouldn't download your game. I finished half life 1 thanks to the quicksave and quickload keys. It wasn't a question of WHETHER I was going to win, but WHEN. And it didn't feel like an accomplishment. Didn't feel exciting. It felt dirty and boring because there is no way I could NOT win. Roguelikes are not about WINNING, they're about TRYING to win. If I'm going to respawn in Crawl, you can be sure I'll claw that Orb of Zot to the entrance, tile by agonizing tile if I must. But then why am I playing Crawl? I KNOW I'm going to win, what's the point of playing? Satisfying my own vanity? It's this same reason I only played Bioshock for half an hour. I die, and I plop right out of the respawn-o-matic stationed 2 feet away with no penalty. Again and again and again and again.

Let's say my enemies had the same advantage. Let's say everyone  (player and enemy) who dies more than 80 feet from a respawn-o-matic dies forever. I'd have to either lure my foes far away and then kill them or destroy the respawn-o-matic. Suddenly the game is exciting and tactical!

But no. I die, I'm reborn, I go right back in there. On to the next area. I can't lose. There's no game over screen. Why keep playing? For the story? No thank you!

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9. Unlockable characters. New players can only play Human Wizards, Archers, or Fighters. Other 197 race/class combinations need unlocking. The amount of decisions you need to make is too intimidating for a new
player.
That's just horrible. I liked it in Rings of Valor since unlocking new races and classes was relatively painless and it's a coffeebreak game, but I absolutely hate it anywhere else. I don't want to go through hoops to unlock races and classes in ToME! Sure, a new player might be intimidated by all the choices, but screwing over people who are not just FOR THAT is not the answer. Character creation in Incursion is a different story! There's something that will scare away a surprising amount of people. I still wouldn't want Journeyman to dumb it down; to do so would be detrimental to Incursion. Compromising is not always the answer.

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17. Make movement four directional. People play on laptops nowadays, how are they to move in 8 directions?[/i]
This kills a game faster than anything in my eyes and I play on a laptop. Use Home, PgUp, PgDown and End for diagonal movement like Crawl. Or use yubn like The Slimy Lichmummy. A diagonal tile is right next to my character, so I should be able to stand on it in 1 action. Halving my movement options just because I don't have an explicit keypad is ridiculous. There's plenty of keys available. You could even make it so the arrow keys get rotated 45 degrees clockwise when the user holds Shift (so Shift+Up arrow makes you go Northeast)! Solutions aplenty!
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 12:03:57 PM by Holsety »
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… and it won't stop until we get to the first, unknown ignorance. And after that – well, who knows?

Skeletor

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #57 on: January 04, 2012, 12:00:24 PM »
I like it when a game has clear mechanics. Going very close to DnD-like mechanics like Incursion is excellent.
You've got your stats, and you know what they do and how increasing each stat will affect your abilities.
You find an item and the game tells you the numbers. Parry value such and such. Can be used while grappling. Reach of 10m. Damage ranges from this to that, slashing type etc etc. I understand what these mean.

Having easy to understand mechanics like Rogue, Hack and The Slimy Lichmummy is excellent too.
For the first two, you need food. You need to get your armor value up to snuff. Your goal is this and that. Having this or that item will be needed in this or that situation etc etc.

Mostly just the ease of equipping an item and seeing a number go up or down is excellent.

That would be why the Binding of Isaac (which is still not... ah, nevermind) did absolutely nothing for me.
I got the tears of the saint? Great! What do they do? If it was a sword or a lasergun I could work with it, but tears of a saint? That's too abstract for me! Did my crying get better? In what way? How does the saintlyness of my tears benefit me? Copper sword, Iron sword, Steel sword, diamond sword. Clear progression that I can understand. Silver sword against a werewolf, I see! Tears, bloody tears, attack fly, speckled feces... I don't know which of these is stronger or even comparable to the others. I don't know what they're for, and frankly that just infuriates me, hahaha.

Wow, I have to say I couldn't agree more!
What I enjoy the most in roguelikes: Anti-Farming and Mac Givering my way out. Kind of what I also enjoy in life.

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #58 on: January 04, 2012, 01:36:27 PM »
And the Story Lovers category comes down to Legerdemain and LambdaRogue, right? With maybe a dash of IVAN. Unless I've missed some roguelike that has more story than Fetch Ye Olde MacGuffin, Brave Adventurer!

ToME4 has, well, not exactly a story, but a well-developed setting.  There's over half a novel's worth of text in the game, mostly found in random lore pieces and libraries.  The main story itself has its moments, but for the purposes of the player can be treated as a simple "kill the baddies" quest.  This is deliberate - a linear story doesn't suit roguelikes well, and should just be skippable by those who don't care.

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Well, the groupings can easily overlap. I feel that there IS a group of players that will or will not play a game purely based on how easy the interface is to grasp for them. Let's say you ask someone (with little or no roguelike experience) to play Rogue and Brogue. Putting aside everything but user interface, Brogue is much more fluid and intuitive. Those that would prefer Brogue over Rogue simply because of the controls and UI of Brogue would be the Smooth Operators, no?

Perhaps, but that doesn't say anything about what gameplay they want, which is far more important.  Would a smooth operator prefer Brogue or ToME4?

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While Angband/Hack/Rogue/etc do have an interface that can immediately be recognized there is indeed the room for improvement. However, "don't fix what isn't broken". And then there's the chance that what you would consider an improved interface would be considered one or more steps in the wrong direction by someone else.

I don't think that you have to sacrifice capability for interface.  It helps if the game is designed from the ground up with both combined, but any game can simply have extras on top of the existing interface to make it play smoother.  Or alternatives in the options.  The original game can be left untouched but the new interface makes it more accessible for new players to try out.  Even if there are changes to the gameplay the older versions will be available to download.

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That's just horrible. I liked it in Rings of Valor since unlocking new races and classes was relatively painless and it's a coffeebreak game, but I absolutely hate it anywhere else. I don't want to go through hoops to unlock races and classes in ToME! Sure, a new player might be intimidated by all the choices, but screwing over people who are not just FOR THAT is not the answer.

Antoher justification for its use in ToME4 is to give you a sense of achievement when playing a game even if you die.  So your character dies at level 30 after some stupid moves, but at least you can think "Oh well, I unlocked this and that race and class, so it wasn't all for nothing".  I felt that a bit with early characters I admit.  However I also find it irritating for the few ones I've yet to unlock, or the new classes that get added.  I might lobby DarkGod to make all unlocks open for those who donate a specific amount (much like you can turn off permadeath if you donate enough - the justification being he thinks it's bad game design, but is happy for people to pay for the game they want).

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This kills a game faster than anything in my eyes and I play on a laptop. Use Home, PgUp, PgDown and End for diagonal movement like Crawl. Or use yubn like The Slimy Lichmummy. A diagonal tile is right next to my character, so I should be able to stand on it in 1 action. Halving my movement options just because I don't have an explicit keypad is ridiculous. There's plenty of keys available. You could even make it so the arrow keys get rotated 45 degrees clockwise when the user holds Shift (so Shift+Up arrow makes you go Northeast)! Solutions aplenty!

Inelegant solutions though.  The best solution is hex grids, with QWEASD as the input.

4-way movement feels restrictive at first, but after a while you get used to it and it's not so bad.  It's just part of the rules of the game.  You don't feel annoyed that rooks in chess are only 4-way, for instance.  Some of the nerdrage against Dredmor and Cardinal Quest's 4-way movement is just silly.  Interface-wise it makes a huge amount of sense, and the benefits for those games far outweigh the gameplay restrictions.

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Re: A Fan Type Analysis of Roguelikes
« Reply #59 on: January 04, 2012, 04:57:46 PM »
Inelegant solutions though.  The best solution is hex grids, with QWEASD as the input.

Does any game use QWEASD? I think WEADZX is more intuitive since these keys are arranged roughly like a hex grid. But maybe two-row layouts (QWEASD, WASD) are more ergonomic than intuitive ones (ESDX, WEADZX). When playing old 8-bit games my favorite control scheme was QAOP anyway.