Author Topic: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives  (Read 84220 times)

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2013, 11:50:29 PM »
But as AM says, it`s probably a different angle than using it as a punishment for players actions. And in most RLs tension is omnipresent since one wrong move can mean curtains, so I`m not sure we need additional, more artificial, stress inducers.

I actually feel the same way.  I enjoy being able to explore the world and build a character rather than scurrying around, trying to avoid the threat of imminent death that is constantly looming over me.  But I think the real problem here is that different players respond better to different difficulties.  Most people who play rogue-likes are much, much better at them than I am, so what seems like a game with a fun risk to reward ratio to me would probably be quite boring to most people. 

Vanguard

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2013, 06:16:07 AM »
And this. However, I don't know if I love the idea of using negative emotions to force the player's hand.

Well, in that example, it's not the negative emotions that force the player's hand so much as the genuine threat of danger and death.  The negative emotions just make it more fun.  Not only does it stop herb farming from being the optimal way to play, it also makes it exciting when you do decide to farm.  And now that herb farming is risky, the designer can jack up the rewards and make the decision more interesting.  If you're never sure whether the next herb will be the one to trigger the bad thing happening, then it suddenly becomes a tense games of pushing your luck.  You can't be bored if you're scared!

My post was less clear than I should have been.  I don't advocate the use of punishment and/or negative emotions to force a seemingly open system into a linear, on-rails experience.  What I meant is that part of being a good game designer is selectively limiting and removing your players' options.  That's an unpopular belief among certain circles (understandable in this age of corridor shooters), but it's the truth.

When you've got a problem, it's best to address it directly instead of covering it up with something else.  If you don't want players to engage in an activity, it's better to be direct and discourage that one thing instead of discouraging it indirectly by setting up rewards for other activities instead.

zasvid

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2013, 12:47:51 PM »
These:
To avoid stuff like grinding, I much prefer trying to make a system that doesn't really reward that kind of play.

are much better words of wisdom than these:
I'm a proponent of the idea that if you want the player not to do something, you can give them a better alternative, rather than punishing them for it.  And I realize "punishment" is probably too strong of a word to use to describe your idea, but you get the idea.

because while some players - like akeley - will ignore perverse incentives in the name of their own fun and freedom, many will see the possibility of grinding to win and fall for that trap, boring themselves instead of playing the game. And why would anyone set such traps for their players?
Of course, that only goes for games that aren't geared towards grinding. There's not much point in worrying about grinding in Diablo 2, as the player's behaviour for the most part is indistinguishable from normal play.

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2013, 05:15:49 PM »
because while some players - like akeley - will ignore perverse incentives in the name of their own fun and freedom, many will see the possibility of grinding to win and fall for that trap, boring themselves instead of playing the game. And why would anyone set such traps for their players?

I admit that you probably need some system of diminishing returns to discourage grinding somewhat, but, ultimately, if players want to spend their time grinding instead of building their character using more entertaining means that are available to them, isn't that their loss?  I mean, this doesn't sound like a problem with game design any more, it sounds like a problem with the way that people are choosing to play the game.

I feel like games are always going to require the participation of the player to be good, in some sense.  If the player spends a long time grinding, they kind of know that they are going to reduce the difficulty of the game.  That's why they are doing it.  So, I would say if the game is less fun or too easy because of that, it's the player's own fault.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 05:18:35 PM by Gr3yling »

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2013, 02:27:04 AM »
You know, I've been thinking more about this.  I think that when I have heard the term "grinding" in the past with regards to console RPGs, it has usually been used in a way that reflected negatively on the player, rather than on the game developer.  In those types of games, it is generally accepted that if you spend enough time building your character, pretty much any challenge can become trivial. 

So, what you usually hear is something like this: one person says "X level/boss/whatever was too easy", and then another person says "Well, did you grind a lot?" if "yes" is the response, then whoever originally complained the game was easy is generally dismissed as being unreasonable.

I think it's interesting that in these console RPG's, as opposed to roguelikes, there is that expectation that the player shouldn't try to grind and then complain about difficulty.  I know it seems like a cop out to say that any game can be broken if the player tries hard enough, but, well, that's usually true.  Perhaps a better way of putting it might be that if you make a game which absolutely cannot be exploited by anyone, you are going to make it less fun for a lot of players who are genuinely trying to enjoy it and play it as it was intended.

Vanguard

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #35 on: October 18, 2013, 07:07:54 AM »
Like half of the appeal of roguelikes is that you can play 100% serious, min/max, take every advantage you can get, show no mercy, and still get a good challenge.

It's rare to see that in single player games, and basically doesn't exist at all in non-RL RPGs.

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2013, 07:35:26 AM »
Like half of the appeal of roguelikes is that you can play 100% serious, min/max, take every advantage you can get, show no mercy, and still get a good challenge.

It's rare to see that in single player games, and basically doesn't exist at all in non-RL RPGs.

So, my question is this:  Do you still consider that sort of min/maxing to be "playing" a game?  If your only concern is victory at any cost, hasn't your entire experience become something far less organic (and fun) than game play? 

I realize this will be a highly controversial statement, but maybe you should reconsider the way you approach the games that you play.  If you are min/maxing, are you really role playing at all?  I mean, isn't the whole point to become so engrossed in being someone else in a way that elevates you above your mundane life?

By that argument, is there any way that a game could ever be too hard?  It sounds like the idea here is that you should create a game that is impossible to exploit in any way, no matter how much of a slog it was. 

It's relatively easy to make games that make a player feel trapped and restricted.  All you have to do is take away their options.  It's a subtractive approach to design.  And that can be useful for streamlining, but I don't think it is so much a useful tool for generating a sense of awe. 

I think that what's hard, what's the holy grail, even, is to create games that make the player feel so free they become lost in the experience.  And, ironically, I think that rogue like games are excellent for providing this sort of liberating experience despite the demands that they make on a player.  Aspects of roguelikes that seem like they would be limiting, like perma-death, ultimately accentuate and add immediacy to the gameplay experience rather than just constraining players, similar to the way that our own mortality makes our real life experiences more vivid.   

zasvid

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2013, 02:22:19 PM »
I admit that you probably need some system of diminishing returns to discourage grinding somewhat, but, ultimately, if players want to spend their time grinding instead of building their character using more entertaining means that are available to them, isn't that their loss?  I mean, this doesn't sound like a problem with game design any more, it sounds like a problem with the way that people are choosing to play the game.

If people bore themselves with grinding it's their loss and also the game designer's because people getting bored before they go through your game is the failure state for game design. Also, people are not gonna be self-critical forming opinions about your game, so you'll get feedback to the tune of "I stopped playing it, because it was boring and mindless.", which is about as unpleasant as "... it was too buggy", way more than "... it was too hard" and either way you want to hear "... I beat it." or better yet "... I've done everything and the game doesn't have anything more to offer".

I feel like games are always going to require the participation of the player to be good, in some sense.  If the player spends a long time grinding, they kind of know that they are going to reduce the difficulty of the game.  That's why they are doing it.  So, I would say if the game is less fun or too easy because of that, it's the player's own fault.

How will the player know a priori that grinding is a bug instead of a feature? Well, they might read a review or a in-depth guide to the game, but a) a lot of people don't (and rightfully, a game should stand on its own) b) there aren't many guides how to enjoy a game the most. So, for all those people who have to make a decision based on what they see in the game, how do they come to a decision that the game is more fun without grinding? After all, if the grinding is there, it might as well be there for a purpose and without doing it the game will become frustratingly difficult at some point. How do you communicate the fact that it is not, in fact, the case? Flash the player with an attention-catching "DON'T GRIND!" message every minute or so?

You know, I've been thinking more about this.  I think that when I have heard the term "grinding" in the past with regards to console RPGs, it has usually been used in a way that reflected negatively on the player, rather than on the game developer.  In those types of games, it is generally accepted that if you spend enough time building your character, pretty much any challenge can become trivial. 
So, what you usually hear is something like this: one person says "X level/boss/whatever was too easy", and then another person says "Well, did you grind a lot?" if "yes" is the response, then whoever originally complained the game was easy is generally dismissed as being unreasonable.

Well, that's just a wrong approach. It's like complaining about savescummers in a game that lets you load last save after losing - completely misguided.

I think it's interesting that in these console RPG's, as opposed to roguelikes, there is that expectation that the player shouldn't try to grind and then complain about difficulty.  I know it seems like a cop out to say that any game can be broken if the player tries hard enough, but, well, that's usually true.  Perhaps a better way of putting it might be that if you make a game which absolutely cannot be exploited by anyone, you are going to make it less fun for a lot of players who are genuinely trying to enjoy it and play it as it was intended.

How so? Why would one have to follow the other? It's not necessarily true. Of course, you can make mistakes and abolish grinding in a way that hurts the enjoyment of people who naturally do not grind, but it's the same situation as the onee in which you make a mistake and put profitable grinding into a game and hurt the enjoyment of people who are prone to grinding-to-win. However, nothing whatsover prevents a non-exploitable game to be not fun for people who naturally do not grind. If you do it well, they just wouldn't notice after all.

Like half of the appeal of roguelikes is that you can play 100% serious, min/max, take every advantage you can get, show no mercy, and still get a good challenge.

It's rare to see that in single player games, and basically doesn't exist at all in non-RL RPGs.

So, my question is this:  Do you still consider that sort of min/maxing to be "playing" a game?  If your only concern is victory at any cost, hasn't your entire experience become something far less organic (and fun) than game play? 

Well, of course it's still playing the game. Does anyone ever accuse competitive chess players of not really playing chess if they don't roleplay their king and queen's marital problems?

I realize this will be a highly controversial statement, but maybe you should reconsider the way you approach the games that you play.  If you are min/maxing, are you really role playing at all?  I mean, isn't the whole point to become so engrossed in being someone else in a way that elevates you above your mundane life?

Roleplaying and minmaxing aren't exclusive. You can very well do both at once. In fact, one could argue that if you're not minmaxing and grinding, you're not roleplaying well, because that's what a rational person in a world like the game's would do. A statement as controversial and wrong as the quoted, but with obvious ridiculousness added on top.

By that argument, is there any way that a game could ever be too hard?  It sounds like the idea here is that you should create a game that is impossible to exploit in any way, no matter how much of a slog it was. 

It's relatively easy to make games that make a player feel trapped and restricted.  All you have to do is take away their options.  It's a subtractive approach to design.  And that can be useful for streamlining, but I don't think it is so much a useful
tool for generating a sense of awe. 

I think that what's hard, what's the holy grail, even, is to create games that make the player feel so free they become lost in the experience.  And, ironically, I think that rogue like games are excellent for providing this sort of liberating experience despite the demands that they make on a player.  Aspects of roguelikes that seem like they would be limiting, like perma-death, ultimately accentuate and add immediacy to the gameplay experience rather than just constraining players, similar to the way that our own mortality makes our real life experiences more vivid.

Here you're mostly arguing with Vanguard re: limiting options, but I'd like to put a reminder here that it's not an either/or situation.

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2013, 12:07:23 AM »
If people bore themselves with grinding it's their loss and also the game designer's because people getting bored before they go through your game is the failure state for game design. Also, people are not gonna be self-critical forming opinions about your game, so you'll get feedback to the tune of "I stopped playing it, because it was boring and mindless.", which is about as unpleasant as "... it was too buggy", way more than "... it was too hard" and either way you want to hear "... I beat it." or better yet "... I've done everything and the game doesn't have anything more to offer".

I'm not suggesting there should be no attempts made to limit grinding at all.  In fact, I said that I thought there should be limitations in the post you just quoted when you made this statement.  I don't think these limitations should be taken so far that they have a negative impact on players who are not grinding at all.  And I think that there should be positive incentives not to grind, also.  There should be more interesting alternatives that are as beneficial as this modified form of grinding.

Honestly, I'm not sure I get the mindset that you are arguing for here.  I still don't understand why someone would choose the less fun way to achieve the same result.  I guess I know there are people who enjoy exploiting games because they can, but I guess I didn't realize that most people who play roguelikes take that approach.

I really don't think I'll ever be able to make or even imagine a game geared towards those sorts of people.  I just don't think like them at all.  What attracts me to roguelikes (at least some of them) is the realism that they provide, not the difficulty per se.  And I guess I'm pretty much the only person who feels that way.

How will the player know a priori that grinding is a bug instead of a feature? Well, they might read a review or a in-depth guide to the game, but a) a lot of people don't (and rightfully, a game should stand on its own) b) there aren't many guides how to enjoy a game the most. So, for all those people who have to make a decision based on what they see in the game, how do they come to a decision that the game is more fun without grinding? After all, if the grinding is there, it might as well be there for a purpose and without doing it the game will become frustratingly difficult at some point. How do you communicate the fact that it is not, in fact, the case? Flash the player with an attention-catching "DON'T GRIND!" message every minute or so?

I find it very hard to believe that players will not realize they are grinding as they are doing it.  I certainly have never repeated a trivial activity over and over again to make my character stronger without knowing I was grinding.  If you have so little faith in the insight of the player that you don't think they will know they are engaging in activities like that, I would think that you would want to reconsider the presentation of a lot of other core gameplay concepts, as well. 

Well, that's just a wrong approach. It's like complaining about savescummers in a game that lets you load last save after losing - completely misguided.

So I think we agree here?

However, nothing whatsover prevents a non-exploitable game to be not fun for people who naturally do not grind. If you do it well, they just wouldn't notice after all.

I guess I do agree with that in theory.  I mean, I am optimistic that it is possible to make games that are fun to people with a wide variety of play styles.  I guess you are right that most people who play roguelike games do see trying to break them as the main attraction.  I  just can't understand that mindset, though, like I said.

Maybe a better question would be this: what percentage of people do you think should be able to "break" the game.  I'm talking about just using their own resourcefulness, not though online guides, etc.  Because I think that realistically, the smaller that percentage gets, the more players who are not trying to exploit the game are going to feel limited. 

Do you have an example of a roguelike that is equally fun for players who do and don't min max?

Well, of course it's still playing the game. Does anyone ever accuse competitive chess players of not really playing chess if they don't roleplay their king and queen's marital problems?


Chess, of course, is not a roleplaying game.  I think we both realize that.

Roleplaying and minmaxing aren't exclusive. You can very well do both at once. In fact, one could argue that if you're not minmaxing and grinding, you're not roleplaying well, because that's what a rational person in a world like the game's would do. A statement as controversial and wrong as the quoted, but with obvious ridiculousness added on top.

Wait, are you saying that you don't really think true roleplaying involves min-maxing, or that you do?  I'm confused.

Here you're mostly arguing with Vanguard re: limiting options, but I'd like to put a reminder here that it's not an either/or situation.

Maybe.  I'm still not sure about that.

Vanguard

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 1112
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #39 on: October 19, 2013, 03:32:33 AM »
So, my question is this:  Do you still consider that sort of min/maxing to be "playing" a game?

Yes.  Character building decisions are part of the game, and min maxing is nothing more than making good character building decisions, so really min maxing is just playing a game and being good at it.

If your only concern is victory at any cost, hasn't your entire experience become something far less organic (and fun) than game play?

No way, victory at all costs owns.  Do you think people who play, say, tennis or chess ruin their own fun by seeking out viable opponents and playing seriously?  Would it be better if they sought much weaker opponents and made up the difference by deliberately playing badly?  The former is cool imo, and the latter is really lame.  There's no reason why video games should be different.

I don't know what "less organic" means, unless it's doing what you feel like without really thinking about it too much.  Or maybe doing what my level 5 elf wizard would "realistically" do in a roleplaying sense.  I don't care about either of those things.

I realize this will be a highly controversial statement, but maybe you should reconsider the way you approach the games that you play.  If you are min/maxing, are you really role playing at all?  I mean, isn't the whole point to become so engrossed in being someone else in a way that elevates you above your mundane life?

This statement might be controversial here, but it's the norm in most of the modern gaming world.  The roguelike community is the only reliable source of RPGs that emphasize strong mechanics rather than focusing on things like narrative or worldbuilding.

Anyway, if I wanted to be elevated above my mundane life, the last thing I'd choose are the laughably bad stories people put in their video games.

I don't even know how you'd seriously play a role in a video game in the first place.  99% of the time you're committing mass murder for little to no reason.  Do you have limit yourself to roleplaying sociopath characters with no empathy or what?  Do you come up with an excuse for why all of your hundreds of murders were justified?  Even a villainous protagonist shouldn't be as cavalier about murder as video game characters are, or else they become cartoonish stereotypes that can't possibly be taken seriously.

By that argument, is there any way that a game could ever be too hard?  It sounds like the idea here is that you should create a game that is impossible to exploit in any way, no matter how much of a slog it was.

Well in that case the biggest problem is that the game is a slog.  Exploits, severe balance problems, etc. can certainly make bad games more palatable, but that doesn't mean you should throw them in just in case you accidentally make an unfun slog.

There's no such thing as a difficulty level that inherently is too high or too low.  There's value in creating games where only the best players in the world stand a chance and there are legitimate reasons to build a game anyone can beat on their first try.  No matter what you choose, someone won't like your decision, that doesn't mean your choice was wrong.

It's relatively easy to make games that make a player feel trapped and restricted.  All you have to do is take away their options.  It's a subtractive approach to design.  And that can be useful for streamlining, but I don't think it is so much a useful tool for generating a sense of awe.

I think that what's hard, what's the holy grail, even, is to create games that make the player feel so free they become lost in the experience.  And, ironically, I think that rogue like games are excellent for providing this sort of liberating experience despite the demands that they make on a player.  Aspects of roguelikes that seem like they would be limiting, like perma-death, ultimately accentuate and add immediacy to the gameplay experience rather than just constraining players, similar to the way that our own mortality makes our real life experiences more vivid.

Accomplishing your goals isn't interesting if you always have tools that make them trivial.  You need limitations to make things interesting, to force you to take risks and discover non-obvious solutions.  Permadeath is really great for this because it fundamentally changes how you play, and it does so without taking any choices out of your hands.  You still can bum rush that giant monster.  But you won't.  Not unless you're desperate.  Or if the reward is promising enough.  High stakes make for an interesting encounter.  In a game where you can respawn or load your last save or whatever, that won't be the case.  You might as well go fight the giant, what's the worst that can happen, you lose two minutes of your time?

The point here is that the negative emotion of fear and the potential punishment are only limiting and weakening the player, but they are also making the game for more interesting.  Permadeath is inherently limiting compared with manual saves and respawning.  Not only that, it relies on other player-limitations to function.  If the player had options that would enable them to easily destroy the giant, or obtain what they wanted without confronting it, the decision would go back to being uninteresting.

Sure, designers can go overboard, restrict too many options, and ruin their game.  Any tool can be misused, that doesn't make it worthless.  It just means you have to use it intelligently.

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #40 on: October 19, 2013, 03:55:33 PM »
Yes.  Character building decisions are part of the game, and min maxing is nothing more than making good character building decisions, so really min maxing is just playing a game and being good at it.

But doesn't min-maxing involve a pretty in depth knowledge of game mechanics?  Mechanics that a first time player or the PC himself would have no access to?  I mean, would the PC really know that herb farming was as useful as it ends up being?  Maybe you could argue that they would, I don't know.  I had to read about them on the internet before I even realized that herbs were worth fooling with. 

I think that for the most part, I find the idea of an herbalist character boring and incongruent with the personalities of the PC's that I play (I don't see a paladin as having much interest in gardening, basically).  So, wouldn't that form of out of character min-maxing be in conflict with role-playing?  Heck, what if the best min-max approach is to play a race/class that you don't even really like?  That sure seems like it would interfere with roleplaying. 

Although, you are saying nobody plays roguelikes for the purpose of role playing anyway.  Which, I guess is fine, although it is more than a little bit disappointing to hear.

No way, victory at all costs owns.  Do you think people who play, say, tennis or chess ruin their own fun by seeking out viable opponents and playing seriously?  Would it be better if they sought much weaker opponents and made up the difference by deliberately playing badly?  The former is cool imo, and the latter is really lame.  There's no reason why video games should be different.

But roguelikes aren't a competitive sport.  If there was a real opponent, what you are saying would make sense to me.  In fact, this discussion just reminded me of the fact that ADOM players rarely mention high scores at all, even though there is a scoring system in the game.  It seems like scores would be more emphasized if power gaming was really the ultimate goal, at least for them.

I guess to most people, maybe the developer themselves is the opponent, and the game is about outsmarting them?  Again, that's just alien to me.  I look at the developer as having the role of a storyteller, rather than a competitor.  I do get that these games should be hard, and that the threat of death should be real, but, I dunno, it seems like something important is being lost here.

I don't know what "less organic" means, unless it's doing what you feel like without really thinking about it too much.  Or maybe doing what my level 5 elf wizard would "realistically" do in a roleplaying sense.  I don't care about either of those things.

"Less organic" means playing mechanically (as opposed to organically).  Playing like a machine.  It's how I view min-maxing, basically.  Although I realize the term could be viewed as more than a little pejorative when put that way, so I'm sorry.  Like I said before, and example would be choosing a race/class/gameplay approach that you didn't really like from a roleplaying perspective so that you could exploit the game.

Maybe it comes down to this: for every player there might be an exploratory phase and an exploitative phase to gameplay.  When you first start playing a game, the world is new and interesting, and just being in it and exploring is entertaining enough.  During this phase you are playing the game "in character" more or less.

Later, after you have beaten the game, you go back and try to break it just to test the boundaries that the designers have created for you and get more insight into the mechanics.  And maybe min-max players just don't spend long in that first phase (or never go through it at all). 

This statement might be controversial here, but it's the norm in most of the modern gaming world.  The roguelike community is the only reliable source of RPGs that emphasize strong mechanics rather than focusing on things like narrative or worldbuilding.

So, now I would say to you that those things aren't mutually exclusive.  I think there are interesting and non-intrusive ways to add story to roguelike games (and we could talk about them if you like).

I don't even know how you'd seriously play a role in a video game in the first place.  99% of the time you're committing mass murder for little to no reason.  Do you have limit yourself to roleplaying sociopath characters with no empathy or what?  Do you come up with an excuse for why all of your hundreds of murders were justified?  Even a villainous protagonist shouldn't be as cavalier about murder as video game characters are, or else they become cartoonish stereotypes that can't possibly be taken seriously.

 

I agree that the stories for roguelike games could be improved a lot, but I also feel like what you are saying is an oversimplification and unfair.  I think a lot of these stories boil down to archetypes, and stories about archetypes are often going to seem "cartoony" as you say.  Think about the mythological source material for a lot of the stock characters and classes in these games.  Myths, in general, are not known for their well developed, multi-dimensional characters.

And, I think you could make that argument about the plots of a lot of fantasy media.  I feel like what you are saying is "bad plots are bad".  Roguelike plots do need to be better, it's true, but the act of participating in a story, even a mediocre one, combined with grave consequences for your character if you make a bad decision, can still be really engrossing, I think.

There's no such thing as a difficulty level that inherently is too high or too low.  There's value in creating games where only the best players in the world stand a chance and there are legitimate reasons to build a game anyone can beat on their first try.  No matter what you choose, someone won't like your decision, that doesn't mean your choice was wrong.

But I feel like that avoids directly addressing the issue of quantifying difficulty by being vague.  Lets look at it this way:  How many deaths per hour should an “average” player suffer when playing an ideal roguelike game.  Another way of looking at this would be: what is the mean cumulative playtime until death and stardard deviation from that mean.  Assume a roguelike that takes 20 hours to complete, on average.

Another question related to that (that maybe I asked in this thread?) is: what percentage of players do you think should be able to exploit the game to the point that it becomes trivial?  This assumes they are not using the internet to search for exploits, just that they come up with it on their own.  Essentially, I just want you to set a threshold here.

Accomplishing your goals isn't interesting if you always have tools that make them trivial.  You need limitations to make things interesting, to force you to take risks and discover non-obvious solutions.  Permadeath is really great for this because it fundamentally changes how you play, and it does so without taking any choices out of your hands.  You still can bum rush that giant monster.  But you won't.  Not unless you're desperate.  Or if the reward is promising enough.  High stakes make for an interesting encounter.  In a game where you can respawn or load your last save or whatever, that won't be the case.  You might as well go fight the giant, what's the worst that can happen, you lose two minutes of your time?

I don’t want to make accomplishments trivial.  I realize that permadeath is a vital component of the gameplay experience for roguelikes.  What part of my posts makes it seem like I want to trivialize the player’s accomplishments?

Speaking of which, we really need to have a discussion on cost/risk versus benefit as it applies to roguelike game mechanics.  I think it would be very interesting.

The point here is that the negative emotion of fear and the potential punishment are only limiting and weakening the player, but they are also making the game for more interesting.  Permadeath is inherently limiting compared with manual saves and respawning.  Not only that, it relies on other player-limitations to function.  If the player had options that would enable them to easily destroy the giant, or obtain what they wanted without confronting it, the decision would go back to being uninteresting.
 

I don’t understand.  Are you saying that you think I want to remove permadeath from roguelikes?  I’m not making that argument here.

zasvid

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #41 on: October 19, 2013, 05:32:13 PM »
Honestly, I'm not sure I get the mindset that you are arguing for here.  I still don't understand why someone would choose the less fun way to achieve the same result.  I guess I know there are people who enjoy exploiting games because they can, but I guess I didn't realize that most people who play roguelikes take that approach.

I really don't think I'll ever be able to make or even imagine a game geared towards those sorts of people.  I just don't think like them at all.  What attracts me to roguelikes (at least some of them) is the realism that they provide, not the difficulty per se.  And I guess I'm pretty much the only person who feels that way.

No, you aren't the only person who feels that way - you might be even in the majority, though not necessarily of roguelike players - the crux of the issue is in the fact that different people do things differently, even against their best interest (e.g. I bet there totally are people who insist on roleplaying in chess to the detriment of their winning ability, just as there are people who insist on grinding to get more powerful in games that do not require so - they might even be doing that grudgingly, sort of like an addict).

How will the player know a priori that grinding is a bug instead of a feature? Well, they might read a review or a in-depth guide to the game, but a) a lot of people don't (and rightfully, a game should stand on its own) b) there aren't many guides how to enjoy a game the most. So, for all those people who have to make a decision based on what they see in the game, how do they come to a decision that the game is more fun without grinding? After all, if the grinding is there, it might as well be there for a purpose and without doing it the game will become frustratingly difficult at some point. How do you communicate the fact that it is not, in fact, the case? Flash the player with an attention-catching "DON'T GRIND!" message every minute or so?

I find it very hard to believe that players will not realize they are grinding as they are doing it.  I certainly have never repeated a trivial activity over and over again to make my character stronger without knowing I was grinding.  If you have so little faith in the insight of the player that you don't think they will know they are engaging in activities like that, I would think that you would want to reconsider the presentation of a lot of other core gameplay concepts, as well. 

Oh, they might realise, but they might think it's a necessary part of the game or assume that the alternative is worse. In roguelikes especially (at least the long ones) it's pretty sound reasoning - "hey, I've got a pretty good character going, in fact the best I've ever had and I've discovered this opportunity for grinding, I better use it and increase the chance of me finally winning this game".

Well, that's just a wrong approach. It's like complaining about savescummers in a game that lets you load last save after losing - completely misguided.

So I think we agree here?

Let me rephrase that:
If a game lets you load a last save after losing and there's someone saying "well, game's short and rather easy, though I had some frustratingly frequent loading in a few places" being dismissive towards them because of their "savescumming" is wrong and unfounded.
On the other hand, if the game has permadeath and someone is bypassing it to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds.
Same goes for grinding in jRPGs. What's in the game is in the game.

However, nothing whatsover prevents a non-exploitable game to be not fun for people who naturally do not grind. If you do it well, they just wouldn't notice after all.

I guess I do agree with that in theory.  I mean, I am optimistic that it is possible to make games that are fun to people with a wide variety of play styles.  I guess you are right that most people who play roguelike games do see trying to break them as the main attraction.  I  just can't understand that mindset, though, like I said.
Not necessarily break them - roguelikes often are hard enough to make you just want to win.

Maybe a better question would be this: what percentage of people do you think should be able to "break" the game.  I'm talking about just using their own resourcefulness, not though online guides, etc.  Because I think that realistically, the smaller that percentage gets, the more players who are not trying to exploit the game are going to feel limited. 

Do you have an example of a roguelike that is equally fun for players who do and don't min max?

Well, judging by changelogs the new ADOM versions are less and less breakable without really cutting anything outright. Meanwhile, while DCSS is subject to a lot of subtractive design, the releases always contain enough new stuff to at least balance out the cuts. I think it's a fair exchange that should be satisfying enough to all (of course, there are exceptions in execution and acceptable amounts of dissatisfaction that has nothing to do with the gamist/immersionist divide).

Roleplaying and minmaxing aren't exclusive. You can very well do both at once. In fact, one could argue that if you're not minmaxing and grinding, you're not roleplaying well, because that's what a rational person in a world like the game's would do. A statement as controversial and wrong as the quoted, but with obvious ridiculousness added on top.

Wait, are you saying that you don't really think true roleplaying involves min-maxing, or that you do?  I'm confused.

What I'm saying is that true roleplaying is orthogonal (or at least should be in a perfectly-designed game) to min-maxing and therefore both positions that "real roleplayers don't min-max" and "real roleplayers should min-max" are as wrong as they are controversial. I added that the latter one is also more obviously ridiculous, but it's only true here - I've seen places where the opposite is the dominant sentiment.

Quote from: Gr3yling
But roguelikes aren't a competitive sport.  If there was a real opponent, what you are saying would make sense to me.  In fact, this discussion just reminded me of the fact that ADOM players rarely mention high scores at all, even though there is a scoring system in the game.  It seems like scores would be more emphasized if power gaming was really the ultimate goal, at least for them.

I guess to most people, maybe the developer themselves is the opponent, and the game is about outsmarting them?  Again, that's just alien to me.  I look at the developer as having the role of a storyteller, rather than a competitor.  I do get that these games should be hard, and that the threat of death should be real, but, I dunno, it seems like something important is being lost here.

Hey, scores in ADOM were totally something people aimed for and talked about - it's just it was something you could care about once you could beat the game and perhaps reliably so, a pretty high bar to clear. Also, the scoring algorithm wasn't perfect and really high scores could be achieved by some specialised forms of grinding, exploits or really skilled play with a lot of luck - and of course you mix methods. That made scores less worthwhile of attention than they could've been (well, I guess that they might become what they weren't in future versions).

Gr3yling

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 168
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #42 on: October 19, 2013, 08:45:17 PM »
Oh, they might realise, but they might think it's a necessary part of the game or assume that the alternative is worse. In roguelikes especially (at least the long ones) it's pretty sound reasoning - "hey, I've got a pretty good character going, in fact the best I've ever had and I've discovered this opportunity for grinding, I better use it and increase the chance of me finally winning this game".

I just don't know if the average player is that dense.  Even I'm not that dense, and I'm objectively very bad at these types of games.

If you have those kinds of concerns about grinding, it seems like you would be equally worried that any other opportunity for character development might be misinterpreted as being mandatory.  If a magic system is in the game, would the player assume that he had to learn magic in order to succeed, and that melee classes were nonviable?  I certainly didn't assume that herbs were vital to winning the game the first time I ran across them in ADOM.

To provide a counterexample to what you are saying, ADOM includes the opportunity to grind and does just fine.  And even though grinding is definitely there, I'm not aware of any part of the game where it is more beneficial to grind for any significant period of time than it is to advance your character by just completing sidequests. 

So, do you feel like ADOM players usually perceive grinding as being mandatory as they are learning the game, just because it is possible?  Maybe they do, I'm just asking.  Do you think all opportunities to grind should be removed from ADOM?  If so, how would you implement that change?

Even if players did initially think grinding was necessary, I'm just not sure how long they would maintain that misconception.  For a few play throughs, maybe?  I mean, these are games that people play hundreds of times.  I'm not sure it's really that big of a deal whether someone temporarily has the sort of misconception that we are talking about.

You can also tell from the way ADOM is paced (due to the corruption clock) that you aren't really supposed to hang around one place too long without advancing towards your goal.  So, I think that would help prevent most players who understood the corruption system from think that grinding was mandatory.

The bottom line is, I just don't see how, in of ADOM, grinding significantly diminishes the gameplay experience for anyone.  Are you saying that you think it does?

On the other hand, if the game has permadeath and someone is bypassing it to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds.

Okay, that really sounds like we are agreeing.  Are you sure we aren't?  Is what you are saying: 

"On the other hand, if the game has [A feature] and someone is bypassing it to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds."

Because if that is true, then I would insert the feature I am talking about and say this:

"On the other hand, if the game has [methods of character advancement that do not involve grinding] and someone is bypassing [them] to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds."

I'm not trying to put words in you mouth.  Maybe that's not what you were saying at all.  But it really does seem like that is what you were saying, at least.

Again, let me just point out that exchanges where players are admonished for over leveling really are relatively common on JRPG message boards.  I think this is a pretty widely held position by people who take those types of games seriously.  People do understand that if players grind until a game is easy it is their fault that it is too easy. 

You, personally, may feel differently, but the point is that a lot of players do seem to agree with what I'm saying.  And remember, these are JRPGs.  They are supposed to be far less "hardcore" than roguelikes.  If people who play those sorts of games get it, wouldn't most roguelike players get it too?

Well, judging by changelogs the new ADOM versions are less and less breakable without really cutting anything outright. Meanwhile, while DCSS is subject to a lot of subtractive design, the releases always contain enough new stuff to at least balance out the cuts. I think it's a fair exchange that should be satisfying enough to all (of course, there are exceptions in execution and acceptable amounts of dissatisfaction that has nothing to do with the gamist/immersionist divide).

I agree with that.  I guess it is possible to make games that are essentially unbreakable but still fun to relatively casual players.  But!  There is still the issue of grinding to resolve.

What I'm saying is that true roleplaying is orthogonal (or at least should be in a perfectly-designed game) to min-maxing and therefore both positions that "real roleplayers don't min-max" and "real roleplayers should min-max" are as wrong as they are controversial. I added that the latter one is also more obviously ridiculous, but it's only true here - I've seen places where the opposite is the dominant sentiment.

Then I think I feel the opposite way: that in an ideal game, pure roleplaying does result in the best outcomes for the player, and is a form of min-maxing itself.

zasvid

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #43 on: October 20, 2013, 09:40:07 AM »
I just don't know if the average player is that dense.  Even I'm not that dense, and I'm objectively very bad at these types of games.

Calling it "denseness" is just insulting.

If you have those kinds of concerns about grinding, it seems like you would be equally worried that any other opportunity for character development might be misinterpreted as being mandatory.  If a magic system is in the game, would the player assume that he had to learn magic in order to succeed, and that melee classes were nonviable?  I certainly didn't assume that herbs were vital to winning the game the first time I ran across them in ADOM.

Well, of course, if a game lets you learn magic at no cost save time and risk-free effort, you'll learn magic unless you're the kind of player that values playing to a concept purely more than making sure you'll win (this is weakened somewhat in risk-free games like a lot of mainstream titles, because you can put it off until you encounter problems).

To provide a counterexample to what you are saying, ADOM includes the opportunity to grind and does just fine.  And even though grinding is definitely there, I'm not aware of any part of the game where it is more beneficial to grind for any significant period of time than it is to advance your character by just completing sidequests. 

So, do you feel like ADOM players usually perceive grinding as being mandatory as they are learning the game, just because it is possible?  Maybe they do, I'm just asking.  Do you think all opportunities to grind should be removed from ADOM?  If so, how would you implement that change?

Even if players did initially think grinding was necessary, I'm just not sure how long they would maintain that misconception.  For a few play throughs, maybe?  I mean, these are games that people play hundreds of times.  I'm not sure it's really that big of a deal whether someone temporarily has the sort of misconception that we are talking about.

You can also tell from the way ADOM is paced (due to the corruption clock) that you aren't really supposed to hang around one place too long without advancing towards your goal.  So, I think that would help prevent most players who understood the corruption system from think that grinding was mandatory.

The bottom line is, I just don't see how, in of ADOM, grinding significantly diminishes the gameplay experience for anyone.  Are you saying that you think it does?

Why yes, yes it does. You can't tell how, because you're not prone to grinding. However, I have extensive personal experience with the topic at hand, having grinded in every way possible in ADOM (in fact, I quite possibly pioneered one way of grinding) and for nearly every goal I could set for myself there was a way to make it easier by grinding. Herb farming by itself was so insanely profitable that it remained a mainstay since the early days of "I can't win ADOM" to the days of being a successful speedrunner. Perceived necessity of Infinite Dungeon stairscumming to take a crack at spellcaster speedruns was one of the few reasons I've quit ADOM. Another one was "going through early dungeons when they are not longer challenging to have more shots at some good loot is boring but efficient use of time", so in a way also grinding-related. Ultra-endings requiring random drops, which could only be obtained by grinding if not provided by luck earlier were annoying, to say the least.
 
Yet, I have completed a few grind-free playthroughs and the one I remember the fondest was such. A coincidence? I think not.
If ADOM didn't have profitable grinding, I could've skipped straight to the better, grind-free playthroughs instead of relying on grinding crutches (I don't think it would've delayed my 1st victory too much further and frustrated me away from ADOM before it - many times I won quite overprepared). I also played it somewhat competitively at times and my experience was diminished, because some of the records were set using grindy tactics and I've had to either give up my ambition or suffer through the grind to compete.
Hopefully we'll see if it can get better without getting worse for others - ADOM 1.2.0 changelog and todo list looked very promising the last time I've looked and might be much closer to what I wish ADOM always was.

On the other hand, if the game has permadeath and someone is bypassing it to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds.

Okay, that really sounds like we are agreeing.  Are you sure we aren't?  Is what you are saying: 

"On the other hand, if the game has [A feature] and someone is bypassing it to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds."

Because if that is true, then I would insert the feature I am talking about and say this:

"On the other hand, if the game has [methods of character advancement that do not involve grinding] and someone is bypassing [them] to make their experience worse, then pointing out they are being unreasonable has solid grounds."

I'm not trying to put words in you mouth.  Maybe that's not what you were saying at all.  But it really does seem like that is what you were saying, at least.

Well, your generalisation of my statement is a misguided extrapolation, as you could insert [grinding] as feature and declare that people who bypass it are unreasonable and then it would seem that all the playerbase is unreasonable and where's any worth in that analysis?

I meant that it has some merit to say that savescummers who bypass a game's permadeath via means outside the game (like copying savefiles) and then complain about the game being easy are unreasonable. However, if the game lets you load a save after dying, then dismissing the opinion of people who made use of that feature is not reasonable.

Again, let me just point out that exchanges where players are admonished for over leveling really are relatively common on JRPG message boards.  I think this is a pretty widely held position by people who take those types of games seriously.  People do understand that if players grind until a game is easy it is their fault that it is too easy. 

You, personally, may feel differently, but the point is that a lot of players do seem to agree with what I'm saying.  And remember, these are JRPGs.  They are supposed to be far less "hardcore" than roguelikes.  If people who play those sorts of games get it, wouldn't most roguelike players get it too?

Well, a lot of Aztecs agreed that without a regular bloody sacrifice the sun won't rise. Yet, the sun still rises even though there are no more bloody sacrifices for that purpose (or even Aztecs, for that matter).

Bullying people pointing out that a game's too easy into not grinding is a significantly worse solution to the problem of the game being too easy with grinding than asking for a better game.

Well, judging by changelogs the new ADOM versions are less and less breakable without really cutting anything outright. Meanwhile, while DCSS is subject to a lot of subtractive design, the releases always contain enough new stuff to at least balance out the cuts. I think it's a fair exchange that should be satisfying enough to all (of course, there are exceptions in execution and acceptable amounts of dissatisfaction that has nothing to do with the gamist/immersionist divide).

I agree with that.  I guess it is possible to make games that are essentially unbreakable but still fun to relatively casual players.  But!  There is still the issue of grinding to resolve.

I can't think of any way you could grind anything in DCSS anymore. I bet that even if something's still there, it won't last.

As far as I can tell ADOM will do away with all profitable ways of grinding by the end of the current development cycle too.

What I'm saying is that true roleplaying is orthogonal (or at least should be in a perfectly-designed game) to min-maxing and therefore both positions that "real roleplayers don't min-max" and "real roleplayers should min-max" are as wrong as they are controversial. I added that the latter one is also more obviously ridiculous, but it's only true here - I've seen places where the opposite is the dominant sentiment.

Then I think I feel the opposite way: that in an ideal game, pure roleplaying does result in the best outcomes for the player, and is a form of min-maxing itself.

Well, maybe the sentiments aren't that opposite and the relationship between minmaxing and roleplaying is more complex. What about "In a not-so-good (cRPG) game roleplaying and minmaxing conflict, in a good game they don't interfere with each other and in a great game they are one and the same"? Sounds good?

akeley

  • Rogueliker
  • ***
  • Posts: 348
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #44 on: October 20, 2013, 10:37:59 AM »
This thread is getting more and more surreal, but... oh well, :-X

Let me just say that the term "jRPGs" is about as meaningless these days as "grinding" itself  (actually, there are similarities to what has become of the term "roguelike" itself)

I know that it`s all well-meant - we have to rescue those poor, lost  souls -  but in fact using these terms as ignorantly as above can also be considered insulting, or perhaps, "just" condescending.