Author Topic: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives  (Read 83884 times)

guest509

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Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« on: September 28, 2013, 02:34:57 AM »
I'd like to see a mix up of game flow in Rogulikes, nothing drastic.

So this is how they usually go:
-Explore level for power ups (grind xp, find items, etc...)
-Find Stairs - Dive or risk further exploring.
-Meet Monster/Trap - Expend resources to defeat, or flee. With the better games having ways to be smart and use fewer resources to defeat even the toughest baddies.

This is all very fun. Explore. Grow. Slay. Flee. Die. Repeat. :-)

Open world RL's are way different than this but I'm not as familiar with them so I cannot comment.

I would like to toss out an alternate game flow taken from RC PRO AM and Ido's 7DRL Fuel. I may have talked about this before. Each level consists of getting through it alive but also collecting shiny along the way. You expend your shiny in between levels to buff your character. It makes a game more arcade feeling and less simulation but I think this can be cool.

Another more arcade-like approach would be to go the Megaman route, to have 5-6 short dungeons that can be selected from a main menu. Choose your dungeon, dive. Beat enough dungeons and the final boss dungeon is accessed.

There seem to be quite a few open world type roguelikes bucking the linear trend, mixing up the game flow. I like the RC PRO AM and Megaman methods just as much, and they can be easily combined. Power up between dungeon dives.

mrrstark

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 03:28:02 AM »
I'm so sick of dungeons.
Every RL in the last while has followed that same formula of "explore this samey floor, then go down to the next samey floor where the same thing happens"

I believe this happens because of the lack of narrative confidence of RL developers.

Please, let's see some variety. Let's see some story. Let's see some games where you don't just fiddle with the unidentified potions... but you actually fiddle with the goals, the overworld, the story, the win conditions, everything.

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 07:28:04 AM »
Yeah, narrative gamers are not well served by Roguelikes.

The one I can think of that had a very cohesive theme bordering on narrative was Binding of Issac. I only mention it because it was talked about so much, the theme that is. The story. I hated it but not the implementation, just the negativity of it all.

There was no procedural narrative, but rather a procedural path between plot points. Plot points being narrative advancing bosses. Sorta.

I know I know it was weak, but if you want to satisfy the narrative junkies then I think that's a good way to do it. Before each zone give some plot text, or cut scene for the pros, and resolve that plot when defeating a mini boss. All of it driving a greater arc all the way to the end boss.

Example:

President Lex Luthor has outlawed Super Heroes, but you happen to know he's a super villian! Defeat his crime bosses and go after him! Save the day!

Choose your crime boss to fight, like Cat Woman, The Penquin, etc...they each have a procedurally generated and thematic level and their abilities are variable. Maybe Cat Woman can disappear this time, climb walls the next, have claws, call on cat minions, etc...so it's different each time, so you cannot design a 'perfect' super hero to win the game.

After you defeat each miniboss you'll get a plot advancing text. For example, "You've defeated Cat Woman, but General Zod has noticed your activities and has attacked your hide out..." Then you fight Zod.

The next miniboss you fight, maybe it just says, "Millennium City thanks you <Player Name>." Reputation + 10. Or, "Local reporter Lois Lang really wants an interview, you're famous!" Rep + 10.

The general concept is that the levels are not bound to the narrative, but between each section of the game you can advance the plot toward the end goal, whatever that goal is.

You'll never make an RPG style plot, that's really not what Roguelikes are all about, but surely you can do something highly thematic with plot points that do not drive the gameplay so much as add flavor.

I'm sure there are lots of examples I'm just tired.

Holsety

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 03:27:48 PM »
I'm so sick of dungeons.
Every RL in the last while has followed that same formula of "explore this samey floor, then go down to the next samey floor where the same thing happens"

I believe this happens because of the lack of narrative confidence of RL developers.

Please, let's see some variety. Let's see some story. Let's see some games where you don't just fiddle with the unidentified potions... but you actually fiddle with the goals, the overworld, the story, the win conditions, everything.

Whether it's Rogue/Nethack's "go down and bring the Amulet back to the surface" or Larn's "do what you must to reach this set goal in time", the genre has always been story-light. If anything, the story's almost always been something you read through before starting the game, and that's it. To me, the purity that comes from focusing on gameplay has always been one of the strengths of the genre. I like gleaning the lore of the world through item and monster descriptions, and knowing WHAT I'm after (and sometimes WHY), but no more than that. I don't think a genre where you're likely to die within a short time and then have to start all over again is suited at all for storytelling. With so many people out there telling their trashy garbage stories through gaming, I appreciate roguelikes for just sticking to telling me the solid premise.

RE: Jo's opening post though...
In-between level power-buying: It's "fun" (depending on the players purchase options), but it could skew the dive/explore balance heavily towards explore, for fear of missing out on power-purchasing if you choose to dive. I like Forays into Norrendrin's system where you have to choose between exploring for altars (mini-level-ups) or preserving your precious health and items by diving.
Megaman style: Eh. The 7DRL Dream Tyrant did this, I wasn't too charmed. Being taken back to a safe place and healed after killing a boss feels like a bit of a cop-out.

Personally I like RLs where you can't level up in the traditional sense and instead have to rely on the dungeon to give you power (FiN's altars) or on your own wit entirely (Slimy Lichmummy/Smart Kobolds). Certainly not the Angband style of extreme level/resource grinding and strong risk evaluation over a very prolonged period of time.
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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 08:30:12 PM »
Personally I like RLs where you can't level up in the traditional sense and instead have to rely on the dungeon to give you power (FiN's altars) or on your own wit entirely (Slimy Lichmummy/Smart Kobolds). Certainly not the Angband style of extreme level/resource grinding and strong risk evaluation over a very prolonged period of time.
If you play Angband like the Borg, then that's your problem.

Human players have been power-diving for years now, and newbies learning that strategy are having a lot more success than in the old days.

wire_hall_medic

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 01:06:07 AM »
Re: Story in Rougelikes.  It's not so much the mechanics of Roguelikes that make it an unfriendly genre for storytelling, it's permadeath.  The story just isn't going to be immersive if you go through the same opening a hundred times before you ever get to act two.  Unless you extend the idea behind Rogue Legacy, and have each story evolve from hero to hero.  Or build a PGC plot engine (that people are willing to pay attention to, rather than just clicking past).

Really, story doesn't feel like story in permadeath games; it feels like the setting, because it stays the same over a thousand different characters.


Re: Alternative Ideas.  How about something like Smash TV?  You choose your path through the level, but no backtracking and no leaving a room until it's clear (or a timer has elapsed, or whatever).  Give the player (limited) information about each room; how dangerous it is, how loot-ridden.  That way their decision of which room to go to is meaningful.  Significantly scale rewards so that it's very tempting for players to attempt the most difficult route they think they can handle.

Variant:  Side scrolling beat-em-up.  Think Final Fight, the TMNT arcade game, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe.  Levels are very limited on the y axis, but have a huge x axis.  The screen scrolls to the right, and does not scroll back.  Add some branching paths (which of course the player cannot go back to and change his mind).  Similar idea with some additional, interesting mechanics: http://www.squidi.net/three/entry.php?id=23.  For any one who's never stumbled upon Squidi.net, it's worth checking out.

JohnK

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 09:10:21 AM »
wrt story, I've always thought story to be bad in perma-death games, but maybe you could have a perma-consequence game without death at all: you can't die but each level has a pass/fail objective and it gets incorporated into the story (scripted or procedurally).

Or you'd have to go full on procedural story, which I don't think anyone has done well so far (but that's no reason not to try).

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 07:47:22 PM »
(I'm going off on a tangent here, just to warn all of y'all right at the outset ;))

Procedural storytelling FTW, I say! To achieve that, I think we'll have to reconsider how exactly we tend to define a "story", though. The RL genre already has something going for it in your typical "a day in the life"-posts, where a player will fill in the blanks to make a pseudo-coherent story out of what happens to a certain character. For instance, if you double cross the assassin prince, only to be put down by an assassin on the very next level you enter, that can be viewed as some twisted sense of irony on the part of the RNG. (Pardon this uninspired example, but I trust you catch my drift). It may be immersion is especially strong in RLs because of permadeath, and they're certainly games where the unexpected can happen around any corner.

Building on this, I think it would be possible to implement some kind of procedural narrative. On the other hand, it seems close to impossible (at least for now) to make random narratives that are presented as coherent prose or (god forbid) cinematic scenes. You probably need the player to fill in the gaps and make sense of the fragments of story that arise. Part of the solution might lay in thinking that drama needn't necessarily be expressed in dialogue – it can also be gleamed from the actions of various personae. Consider a story like the one told in Kurosowa's film Yojimbo (remade, I think, as A Fistful of Dollars, but correct me if I'm wrong), where the rogue protagonist goes back and forth between two rivalling bands of robbers, sabotaging their projects and turning them against each other. A similar narrative would be quite possible within the frames of a RL, given conventions like unimodality, "monsters are similar to the player" (having more or less the same options and anatomy), "many ways to solve a given problem", etc. Your typical computer game can hardly aspire to copy the strengths of any other creative medium (any more than a novel can substitute a rock album), but I'm choosing this example because the story in itself doesn't rely too heavily on dialogue, for instance. A game system where NPCs have reputations and disperse rumors could be built to allow stories in the vicinity of Yojimbo, without too much fixed quests, dialogue trees, etc. I'm not saying it would be easy. Stuff like procedural quests should probably be presented in a very schematic way to the player ("N wants you to blow up M's house."). Even if that leaves us a bit lacking in the flavor text department (as if anyone plays for the flavor text :P), it draws on other strengths, proper to the medium, such as the element of choice: You might do as N says to gain a reward, or promptly kill N in hopes of gaining the favor of M, or (as in Yojimbo) scheme to have them do their own dirty work and see what comes of that, or something completely different. After all, let's all just go fishing.

On a side note, I really think procedurally generated settings have been overlooked in the past, and I do believe more work on that front might (more or less unintentionally, even, quite in the spirit of the whole PGC cult) bring about innovations in the field of random story generation in games.

Hm. I've been hoping to make a longer, more coherent text of some of this -- maybe tying it up with Deleuze's and Guattari's idea of rhizomes (more or less: the notion of thought structures (in our case, games) consisting of a multitude of elements that are extremely reactive to one other, and can be combined in endless or unexpected ways)) -- for some edition of XLambda's RL magazine revival, which sadly seems to have petered out. Ah well, maybe some day I'll manage to hack together an article to post somewhere.

As always,
Minotauros
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 08:48:31 AM by AgingMinotaur »
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AgingMinotaur

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2013, 08:03:18 PM »
Example:
<snip>
Choose your crime boss to fight, like Cat Woman, The Penquin [sic], etc...they each have a procedurally generated and thematic level and their abilities are variable. Maybe Cat Woman can disappear this time, climb walls the next, have claws, call on cat minions, etc...so it's different each time, so you cannot design a 'perfect' super hero to win the game.

This I love (and I've been meaning to put a post to cheer your Superhero RL on, just in case you wondered). You know, Joe Hewitt of Gearhead fame wrote a nice piece on random storytelling for a Superhero RL he wanted to write (assuming it's abandoned). The PCG wiki links to it, but that link seems to be dead. It's been ages since I read it, but I'm guessing it's similar or identical to this post.

As always,
Minotauros
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wire_hall_medic

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 06:11:46 PM »
Re: RC ProAm idea in the OP.  For a human-oriented setting, you could have food only be purchasable in town; it is never found on the dungeon floor.  If you combine that with a limited inventory, or a max food carryable, it would help instil that sense of urgency.

Or how about, you can only carry X healing potions, and they can only be acquired in town.  Combat is designed to wear down the PC over time.  Careful/clever play will result in using up your potions less frequently, but most dungeons are much, much longer than the PC is expected to be able to delve (or infinite).

Loot get much better the deeper your are, and you cannot return to a dungeon once you have escaped.  You delve Y dungeons before the main dungeon, which is of a set length.  If you have not been successful enough in the preliminary dungeons, the final dungeon will be extremely difficult.  (IIRC early Mega Man games did this; once you started the Dr. Wiley dungeon you couldn't go back to find energy tanks you missed)

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2013, 09:23:32 AM »
Re: Procedural storytelling - here`s a Gamasutra article that might be of interest (I`m a complete layman so excuse if it`s off-topic)

"Can one procedural system feed into another, and thereby create a game? Michael Cook describes a technique that's being developed to take the output of a story system and build worlds with it."

For me personally, there isn`t really any need for elaborate plots in RLs - the stories are written in gameplay itself, every character tells one. Some basic plot outline is sufficient (get that amulet), plus occasional hint/event/location somewhere along the dungeons - that`ll do me. But I also wouldn`t like it to be totally abstract, with no plot whatsoever - that`d be a bit bland I suppose.

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2013, 01:18:14 PM »
I would like to toss out an alternate game flow taken from RC PRO AM and Ido's 7DRL Fuel. I may have talked about this before. Each level consists of getting through it alive but also collecting shiny along the way. You expend your shiny in between levels to buff your character. It makes a game more arcade feeling and less simulation but I think this can be cool.

That's how Mage Guild works, and it's a great system.

 
In-between level power-buying: It's "fun" (depending on the players purchase options), but it could skew the dive/explore balance heavily towards explore, for fear of missing out on power-purchasing if you choose to dive. I like Forays into Norrendrin's system where you have to choose between exploring for altars (mini-level-ups) or preserving your precious health and items by diving.

You could also get around the "must explore everything" problem by letting the player know how many level up items are on a given floor.  Or you could put a limit on how many shinies on a given floor are useful.  Maybe the game spawns five of them, but you can only level up three times per floor, so after the third one there's no obligation to check every last tile.  There are a lot of possible solutions.

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2013, 01:46:25 PM »
Well Arcade games solve the problem by having enemies continue to spawn or like Gauntlet you have a running life meter. Or like Rogue you have a food clock.

Many games have anti-lingering mechanics. It's not a huge design problem to solve but definitely one to think about.

I think my favorite is the evil Otto of Berzerk, he comes out if you take too long and he'll kill you. The ghost in Spelunky is basically the same concept. Cardinal Quest starts spawning zero XP monsters to wear you down.

wire_hall_medic

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 06:11:12 PM »
The white whale in Bubble Bobble.

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2013, 06:57:20 PM »
Well, arcade designers had one thing in mind with this design - to get rid of you, so the next chummer can stuff some more coins into the slot. Fair play, but I`d say it has no place in "normal" games. I don`t understand why "lingering" is a bad thing...also dread timers in games...brrr :(

Sure, extensive xp/gold farming could be deadly for RL`s balance (it doesn`t bother me in RPGs and I think grinding should be allowed if I fancy doing so) - but it`s easily countered with aforementioned starving mechanic or indeed, just make monsters scarce or yield minimal XP.