Author Topic: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives  (Read 86587 times)

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #105 on: November 16, 2013, 03:39:27 PM »
And only a handful of players would appreciate it. Most are ok with brownian motion AI like in Adom :).

This is quite interesting notion, and goes along with my old theory that we, as gamers, are often responsible for stagnation in videogaming genres/trends because of acceptance of some standards that are "okay".

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #106 on: November 16, 2013, 06:09:59 PM »
This is quite interesting notion, and goes along with my old theory that we, as gamers, are often responsible for stagnation in videogaming genres/trends because of acceptance of some standards that are "okay".

It's really strange that gamers are hostile to the idea of games becoming better than they currently are.  For some reason it's "entitled" to prefer great things over good things.

zasvid

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #107 on: November 16, 2013, 08:08:09 PM »
This is quite interesting notion, and goes along with my old theory that we, as gamers, are often responsible for stagnation in videogaming genres/trends because of acceptance of some standards that are "okay".

It's really strange that gamers are hostile to the idea of games becoming better than they currently are.  For some reason it's "entitled" to prefer great things over good things.

Is it really that strange? There are a lot of people who value traditional way of doing things over change, even if that change is for the better. It's not just limited to game design.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #108 on: November 16, 2013, 10:58:47 PM »
Because you need huge abstractions in the game engine for something like that, and extremely good NPC AI, too. You can find some clues on how to do it in the interviews with Tarn Adams. It's just difficult stuff. And only a handful of players would appreciate it. Most are ok with brownian motion AI like in Adom :).

I think I gave you the wrong impression before.  I was just talking more about randomizing locations than randomizing the plot.  Take ADOM, for example I was just saying that sometimes there could be a "goblin village" instead of the dwarf town.  Would that be really hard to implement?

I guess what I'm really thinking of is a randomly generated overworld like in DDA.  Why don't more games that have overworlds use that approach? 

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #109 on: November 17, 2013, 04:22:42 AM »
It's a good question. There are many aspects of the old formulas that could be fiddled with.

Surely there are procedural overworlds though, right? I can't think of any actually. Which is odd. There might be a design reason, I'm not sure it's just that we are slaves to conformity. Players do not direct this genre as much as other genres, developers are more free to be experimental here.

It's one of the reasons I like to design roguelikes, even though I don't play them as much anymore.

miki151

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #110 on: November 17, 2013, 07:52:40 AM »
This is quite interesting notion, and goes along with my old theory that we, as gamers, are often responsible for stagnation in videogaming genres/trends because of acceptance of some standards that are "okay".
Many gamers expect every game to play the same as the previous one. This causes them to have certain habits and expectations. It's interesting to watch such a person play your roguelike. You can both learn a lot :)

I guess what I'm really thinking of is a randomly generated overworld like in DDA.  Why don't more games that have overworlds use that approach? 
I don't know, in my case I found it easier to write a generator than to fill the world manually. In the case of ADOM there are some additional constraints because of the extended plot. There it's important that certain locations are blocked off by the mountains, etc. That makes it harder to procedurally generate.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 08:00:06 AM by miki151 »
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akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #111 on: November 17, 2013, 11:34:50 AM »
It's really strange that gamers are hostile to the idea of games becoming better than they currently are.  For some reason it's "entitled" to prefer great things over good things.

"Entitlement" has become one of these internet sabres that people love to rattle at a wildly broad spectrum of topics (other is the infamous "strawman", but this at least sometimes does make sense). It makes me cringe, any time I encounter it.

Perhaps it`s the age thing, dunno. Roguelike world aside,  I happened to start in the 8 bit era and see simple concepts evolve into mindboggling possibilities later on. During the late Eigthies and onto the late Nineties we had the likes of Microprose, Looking Glass Studios, Shiny, DMA Design and others rewritting the rules, inventing, experimenting and innovating with every other release. They were only limited by hardware, and so I thought, boy they`re gonna really go for the jugular with the next gen. Only, it all fizzled out, mainly due to biz suits taking over and stifling any creativity and risk taking, but also, yes, the gamers complacency and meek acceptance. And maybe the "new audiences" joining in, kids who don`t care much for what games could be as long as they have enough bubblegum and (eye)candy.

Anyway :/

I think Alphaman has a procedural overworld. It actually has a quest structure to, but it works differently than in ADOM (you get quests from the tape devices randomly scattered around), so maybe that`s why it can have randomized world map. I suppose it would be bit weird if Terinyo  in ADOM or Joppa in Qud were in different places every time you played. They`re kinda anchored in the games` reality. I think it`s a trade-off of sorts - then you can have randomized dungeons and zoomed in bits of wilderness to keep it RL.


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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #112 on: November 17, 2013, 01:44:39 PM »
I think I gave you the wrong impression before.  I was just talking more about randomizing locations than randomizing the plot.  Take ADOM, for example I was just saying that sometimes there could be a "goblin village" instead of the dwarf town.  Would that be really hard to implement?

It really would be.  Even if there was just one alternate version of each location, that means the developer is making twice as much content.  That means doing more than twice as much work, because they need to both produce that extra content and ensure that every possible combination fits together.

It's a cool idea and I'd love to see someone take a shot at it, but making a one set of content to fill a game is already hard enough.

I guess what I'm really thinking of is a randomly generated overworld like in DDA.  Why don't more games that have overworlds use that approach?

The Dwarf Fortress/Cataclysm method of world generation is nice, but it imposes limitations on what you can do.  A lot of ADOM's appeal comes from its static elements.  Saving Khelevaster, finding the Trident of the Red Rooster, the carpenter/druid quests you mentioned earlier, the cat lord, the banshee, and a ton of other things wouldn't work as well or at all in a Cataclysm-like world.  Randomized procedural content isn't better than static content, it's just a different tool that gets different results.

Oh, and that reminds me, you should check out Ragnarok if you haven't yet.  It takes place in a partially static, partially randomized world full of side quests and hidden content.  It has an ADOM-like feel and I think you'd like it.  You'll need DOSBox to get it running.

Anyway :/

Good post.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #113 on: November 17, 2013, 11:37:39 PM »
Perhaps it`s the age thing, dunno. Roguelike world aside,  I happened to start in the 8 bit era and see simple concepts evolve into mindboggling possibilities later on.


What are the mind boggling possibilities you are thinking about here, Akeley?  Are you saying that evolution did actually happen?  Because in the next part of your post it seems like you are saying it was about to, but never did, due to the desire of game companies to play it safe.

During the late Eigthies and onto the late Nineties we had the likes of Microprose, Looking Glass Studios, Shiny, DMA Design and others rewritting the rules, inventing, experimenting and innovating with every other release. They were only limited by hardware, and so I thought, boy they`re gonna really go for the jugular with the next gen. Only, it all fizzled out, mainly due to biz suits taking over and stifling any creativity and risk taking,

I think it’s hard to say whether the creativity of video games is in decline, as a result of biz suits or otherwise.  For one thing, the video games, as a medium, are extremely diverse.  There are definitely some contemporary games that lack creativity, (just like there always have been and always will be), but I definitely think there are also a lot of contemporary games that are very creative.

Even if there is less creativity now than 10 years ago, I think that would be understandable in a lot of ways.  It is much easier to come up with creative ideas early in the life of a medium than after that medium has been worked with for an extended period of time.  If nothing else, the more ideas have already been implemented, the harder it is to come up with one that has never been used before.

I also think that business suits taking over game development companies may be hard to avoid, because making games with up to date graphics on next generation systems is necessarily an extremely expensive business venture.  How much money and personnel do you think it took to for microprose to develop and publish the first X-COM versus the most recent X-COM games?

It's easy to say that developers should "be more creative" and make something other than the next COD, but there is real risk involved for these companies. And if a company fails to deliver a popular product, the consequences may not just be that the game is panned, but that they will have to close their doors.  So an enormous amount of money and even people's jobs are on the line.

Therefore, it’s not hard to understand why developers consistently make “safe” games, and if I was in charge of a game development company and had to deal with the enormous responsibilities that entails, I would probably do the same thing.  And so would most other people.

As far as the whole entitlement thing, I don’t think that wanting better, more creative games is a form of entitlement in itself. I think entitlement is when people demand those things but disregard the very real limitations placed on people who make games.  As always, we should try to come up with ways to overcome the limitations of this medium, not ignore them.

And I’m certainly not calling anyone here entitled, let me be clear about that.

but also, yes, the gamers complacency and meek acceptance. And maybe the "new audiences" joining in, kids who don`t care much for what games could be as long as they have enough bubblegum and (eye)candy.

I don’t understand what you mean by “meek acceptance”.  Are you saying you think people buy large numbers of mainstream games even though they don’t really think they are fun?  Or that they should buy “creative” games whether they are enjoyable or not to encourage creativity?

I think Alphaman has a procedural overworld. It actually has a quest structure to, but it works differently than in ADOM (you get quests from the tape devices randomly scattered around), so maybe that`s why it can have randomized world map. I suppose it would be bit weird if Terinyo  in ADOM or Joppa in Qud were in different places every time you played. They`re kinda anchored in the games` reality. I think it`s a trade-off of sorts - then you can have randomized dungeons and zoomed in bits of wilderness to keep it RL.

Well, that isn’t quite what I was thinking of.  Terinyo would be the same every playthough, and rather than a completely randomly generated overworld, there would be “sockets” on the world map with constant coordinates where one of several possible locations might be generated every playthrough. 

Vanguard, what makes generating towns so difficult?  It doesn’t seem like it would take long to lay out buildings and place vanilla townsfolk.  You would also have to write some unique dialog for important NPC’s, and implement quests.  What else am I leaving out?

And what you said brings up another interesting question, Vanguard.  Is it better to have a game the length of ADOM with static locations, or a shorter game with more variety?  Basically, I am talking about a game with the same number of locations as ADOM, but more sockets than locations (perhaps two times as many) so that there would be a significant difference in the locations you saw each play though.

I would almost tend to say I would take the shorter game.  ADOM is plenty long enough for me as it is. 

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #114 on: November 18, 2013, 02:43:21 AM »
I also think that business suits taking over game development companies may be hard to avoid, because making games with up to date graphics on next generation systems is necessarily an extremely expensive business venture.  How much money and personnel do you think it took to for microprose to develop and publish the first X-COM versus the most recent X-COM games?

If you think about it, this is really stupid.  Better technology is putting more limitations on what we can do?  Everything developers did in the 90s could be done today, more easily and at a lower cost.  They just don't, because modern technology has become a shackle.  I think a big reason for why roguelikes are still diverse and interesting is that RL developers don't feel bound by that particular limitation.

Why is it that modern graphics are mandatory and interesting mechanics are optional?

Vanguard, what makes generating towns so difficult?  It doesn’t seem like it would take long to lay out buildings and place vanilla townsfolk.  You would also have to write some unique dialog for important NPC’s, and implement quests.  What else am I leaving out?

That wouldn't be a huge amount of extra work, but what's the point?  The town would only change superficially.  Everything important would be the same.  That version of ADOM doesn't sound any better than the one we have now.

As for your other question, I wouldn't go so far as to say one approach is better than the other, but I prefer shorter, more dense games.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #115 on: November 18, 2013, 03:59:21 AM »
If you think about it, this is really stupid. 

OH NO, IF ONLY I HAD THOUGHT!!!

I keep meaning to start doing that, one of these days.  Oh well, I guess it’s too late now, I’ll just continue stumbling down this path of ignorance.

Better technology is putting more limitations on what we can do?  Everything developers did in the 90s could be done today, more easily and at a lower cost.

Don’t people still make games that closely resemble those in the time period you are nostalgic for?  Indie games, I mean? 

I don’t understand, do you want people to stop making the kind of games that you don’t like in addition to making kind you do?  As long as great indie games are being made, who cares if major game companies are making more mainstream ones?  Isn’t it like, okay, that different types of games which cater to the tastes of different people are made?

They just don't, because modern technology has become a shackle.  I think a big reason for why roguelikes are still diverse and interesting is that RL developers don't feel bound by that particular limitation. 

Here you complain technology is a shackle, but, again, as you mention in the very next sentence, great roguelikes are being developed all the time.  Technology doesn’t seem to be a shackle to them, I mean.

Why is it that modern graphics are mandatory and interesting mechanics are optional?

Well, if we are talking about games made by small groups of individuals on low budgets, cutting edge graphics aren’t mandatory and interesting mechanics certainly are.

If we are talking here about games produced by huge companies like Square Enix, graphics are important for all the reasons I previously mentioned.  Video games are a business.  Businesses exist to make money.  Video games that used graphics from the 90’s would, for the most part, not sell, and the companies that made them would fold. 

I realize there are some very popular games with a minimal reliance on graphics (like candy crush), but a 16 bit Call of Duty probably would not sell as well as whatever other next gen version they just released.  For instance, I know that there have been some retro final fantasy titles released, like Final Fantasy Dimensions, but I seriously doubt that the income they have brought in is anywhere close to, say, FFXIII (I could be wrong, I'm too lazy to check, but you're welcome to if you'd like).

Also, just because games are pretty doesn’t mean they can’t be innovative, interesting, and have solid mechanics. 
 
Just to be clear, you may really live the design philosophy that you are espousing.  I’m not saying that you don’t.  I completely believe you if you say that you are dedicated to making games whose merit is not based on flashy graphics. 

But it’s easy for you, as an individual on the sidelines, who doesn't run a major game development company, to say that games should focus more on innovation.  It is much harder for a large preexisting company to implement that strategy.

How about this: you’ve just been named the CEO of Square Enix.  How would you implement your plans to make profitable games using technology from the mid 90’s? 

That wouldn't be a huge amount of extra work, but what's the point?  The town would only change superficially.  Everything important would be the same. 

Well, couldn’t you make the same argument about random dungeon levels?  The same dungeon isn’t going to be profoundly different between play throughs, but some novelty does make the gameplay experience more pleasurable.  Often “superficial changes” are all that is needed to make a game seem new and fun. 

In fact, there are many, many games, as well as elements within the same games, that are just minor variations on each other.  But we find them to be a lot of fun regardless.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 04:02:45 AM by Gr3yling »

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #116 on: November 18, 2013, 02:15:10 PM »
I don’t understand, do you want people to stop making the kind of games that you don’t like in addition to making kind you do?  As long as great indie games are being made, who cares if major game companies are making more mainstream ones?  Isn’t it like, okay, that different types of games which cater to the tastes of different people are made?

I want people to make good games.  Most developers make of bad games and then disguise how bad they are with good graphics and a low difficulty.  Video games are defined by their interactivity, but modern games are less interactive than they were ten to twenty years ago.  They're more linear and have less depth.  That shouldn't be the case.  It isn't even about my personal preferences.  If the market were dominated by high quality games that don't happen to appeal to me personally, I'd probably make peace with it.  Instead what we're getting are a bunch of sub-Hollywood movies combined with generic FPS combat.  I just want gamers to apply critical thinking to the media they consume, and ask for something better when they realize how insipid games have become.

This isn't nostalgia talking.  A lot of my favorite games are older titles that I've only discovered recently.  I played X-Com for the first time about two years ago.  I briefly played Doom as a kid, but I've only gained an appreciation for it in the past year.  The first time I DoDonPachi was 9 months ago.  I consider all of these to be among the best games ever made.

Here you complain technology is a shackle, but, again, as you mention in the very next sentence, great roguelikes are being developed all the time.  Technology doesn’t seem to be a shackle to them, I mean.

This is exactly my point.  Technology is only a shackle if you allow it to become one.  It isn't an unavoidable reality of modern game design.  It's just something that happened because because audiences are more easily impressed by spectacle than substance, and because game development studios are run by risk-averse businessmen instead of passionate aficionados.

How about this: you’ve just been named the CEO of Square Enix.  How would you implement your plans to make profitable games using technology from the mid 90’s?

I wouldn't use technology from the 90s.  I'd use modern technology to make graphics that are beneath the standards of my competitors but still well ahead of what we were able to achieve last generation, at a lower cost than what last generation's graphics cost.  I'd direct the company's focus towards medium budget titles with realistic sales expectations.

I hear that the recent Deus Ex and Tomb Raider titles were considered disappointments despite selling millions of copies each.  That business model is suicide.  Square Enix is not going to sell as much as Call of Duty and shouldn't expect to.

Well, couldn’t you make the same argument about random dungeon levels?  The same dungeon isn’t going to be profoundly different between play throughs, but some novelty does make the gameplay experience more pleasurable.  Often “superficial changes” are all that is needed to make a game seem new and fun.

No.  If your random dungeon generator creates only superficially distinct environments, you have failed.  Putting the player in unique situations in every playthrough is absolutely vital for making the roguelike formula work.  I can go into why that is if you want, but this post is already long enough.

miki151

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #117 on: November 18, 2013, 07:44:47 PM »
game development studios are run by risk-averse businessmen instead of passionate aficionados.
So what's stopping all these aficionados from running their own studios and releasing big titles with interesting mechanics?
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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #118 on: November 18, 2013, 09:13:48 PM »
Money?

Some probably do.  It doesn't guarantee a good game or anything, but it certainly helps.

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #119 on: November 18, 2013, 09:27:27 PM »
What are the mind boggling possibilities you are thinking about here, Akeley?  Are you saying that evolution did actually happen?  Because in the next part of your post it seems like you are saying it was about to, but never did, due to the desire of game companies to play it safe.

No, it doesn`t work like that - evolution is a continuous process and I didn`t mean that "it didn`t happen". It fizzled out, slowed down, stopped even - in the Noughties. You mention XCom - let`s take this as an example. It started in the early Eighties with Mr Gollop releasing Rebelstar on ZX Spectrum - groundbreaking tactical marvel, but one-map only. Later on it advanced to a sequel and then Laser Squad was released - true work of genius, with the same idea, only now we had 5 missions, destructible environs and level of detail that let you plant a timed grenade in a piece of furniture. And 6 years after this, he went for the - literal - word domination with XCom. Title that does not need introductions.

And then? There was follow up  in the works, called The Dreamland Chronicles. Imagine UFO in full 3D, with Havok-fueled physics and environ destruction. Only that it was 2001, TB strategy was on the wane, corporate shenanigans ensued and the game ended up in my dreamland.

This is just one example, there are countless others.

Quote
How much money and personnel do you think it took to for microprose to develop and publish the first X-COM versus the most recent X-COM games?

Sorry mate, this is where I have to be a bit brutal and say that this - and subsequent "businesses exist to make money" - kinda quotes are exactly what terrifies me regarding modern gamers` perception of the whole situation. This is when PR people pop the champagne corks and rack another one on the mirror - they don`t even need to do their stuff anymore, gamers do it for them.

Every now and then we hear about how hard done by these big corps are and oh-how-much everything costs. Funny that nobody remembers about it when GTA racks in a cool billion on the opening day. Long story short - sure, AAA games cost more money but they also bring in incredible profits. And it`s not only the biggest hits - Vanguard mentions the TR/Deus Ex report from Square, I read that some time ago and instantly the phrase "Hollywood accounting" flashed in my mind`s eye. There`s no way I`ll lever believe that games which sold several mil copies each didn`t make profit. And if they really didn`t - which ain`t true, but okay, let`s assume so for the moment - then your biz model is s**t and you should go back to the drawing board and maybe stop spending most of the moolah on PR (dat mirror) and dividends.

Stories of this kind are ten-a-penny, only not widely reported. Read about Kingdoms Of Almaur snafu for example.

And the other angle regarding this "so expensive!" line of defence is the fact that game development evolved too, surprise surprise. It`s no longer whiz kids of Carmack`s caliber, who are single handedly conjuring some coding marvels that take years to R&D. This is the middleware era - you just go and buy stuff, be it a whole engine or some assorted bits and pieces. Sure it costs money - but what doesn`t?

Add to this more obvious stuff - that it`s easier to make a sequel because you sort of know what`s up, plus halleluiah! - you can reuse all these old assets (newest COD just got caught red-handed) and I really don`t have much sympathy for those poor billionaires. And the best thing is we didn`t even touch on the real evil - selling digi games at the same price as boxed ones (after countless years of explaining how those bad brick/mortar shops are responsible for pricey games), milking franchises dead through extensive DLC and the newest kid on the block - microtransactions (shudder).

Sure, there`s a risk involved. As in any walk of life. And it was the same back in the day - there were big budgets, projects that flopped and went down in flames or went totally over budget and nearly destroyed the parent companies (read about Strike Commander story, quite fascinating). So? It`s business, right? And oh, the poor dev`s families that will go starving are always wheeled out on this occasion - but somehow in our day and age, wher whole countries get toppled thanks to some elites manipulating, I also have little time for this trope (maybe because they`ll most likely find a job elsewhere).

i could go on on other subjects - how alleged "indie revolution" also leaves me a bit cold (maybe when it matures in a few years, not at the moment, sorry) and ha nothing to do with the nostalgia - totally to the contrary. "Nostalgia" is another of these dreary sticks used when somebody happens to say older games were superior. But I`m very tired and yeah, this ramble post is another one that  is already long enough.