Author Topic: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death  (Read 81995 times)

mushroom patch

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2014, 06:23:01 PM »
Fun is subjective, but if your goal is to make challenging game then you can't let your player save at will.  Checkpoints work, permadeath works better, but both are inherently punishing to some degree.

Fun may be a bit subjective, but there are certain things that most people find fun, and things that most don't.  Accomplishing a challenge can be fun, but so too can immersing oneself in a game's story, or building a character to see how well it performs, or exploring a world, or setting things in motion to see what happens.

I don't know when people started thinking video games are supposed/have to be "fun," but let me just say it: Fun sucks.

Video games should be exciting and maybe present interesting challenges or things to think about. Excitement is not the same as fun.

Feeding ducks at the pond is fun. Playing jacks is fun. Fear of death is not fun, but games where you run around with swords or guns blowing things up are not supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be exciting.

Vanguard

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2014, 09:52:39 PM »
I don't know when people started thinking video games are supposed/have to be "fun," but let me just say it: Fun sucks.

Video games should be exciting and maybe present interesting challenges or things to think about. Excitement is not the same as fun.

Feeding ducks at the pond is fun. Playing jacks is fun. Fear of death is not fun, but games where you run around with swords or guns blowing things up are not supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be exciting.

Most would probably consider that to be a different kind of fun, but yeah, I'm with you.  I'm real tired of timekiller games where none of your actions matter and nothing exciting ever happens because they wanted to prevent people from feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.

Certainly it's worthwhile to at least draw a distinction between the tension and fear a roguelike or shmups creates and the zoned out, relaxed feeling you get from playing Skyrim or whatever.

mushroom patch

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2014, 10:23:42 PM »
I don't know when people started thinking video games are supposed/have to be "fun," but let me just say it: Fun sucks.

Video games should be exciting and maybe present interesting challenges or things to think about. Excitement is not the same as fun.

Feeding ducks at the pond is fun. Playing jacks is fun. Fear of death is not fun, but games where you run around with swords or guns blowing things up are not supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be exciting.

Most would probably consider that to be a different kind of fun, but yeah, I'm with you.  I'm real tired of timekiller games where none of your actions matter and nothing exciting ever happens because they wanted to prevent people from feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.

Certainly it's worthwhile to at least draw a distinction between the tension and fear a roguelike or shmups creates and the zoned out, relaxed feeling you get from playing Skyrim or whatever.

Yeah, I mean, people who have high pitched voices and like to talk about games the way that dork from the video in the other thread does (the guy who thinks the original Castlevania is "punishingly difficult" -- lol) like to talk about "fun" and if you ask them, they'll say, "Oh yeah, excitement is just another part of 'fun.'" But in reality, what they mean by "fun" is the chilled out state of idleness you're talking about with Skyrim.

In particular, fun to this type of gamer is not frustrating or overwhelming. It's not stressful or suspenseful. Fun is like youth soccer. It's not competitive. It's not important whether you play well or win. If it is important to play well or it's hard to win, it's less fun. Finger painting is fun.

As you say, it's a useful distinction, what I'm calling "fun" vs. "excitement." I'm sure there's a more precise word for this notion of "fun," but "fun" is the word they use. Maybe there's a better word than "excitement" for what I'm talking about that sets up the contrast more starkly. I'd be interested in suggestions.

jim

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2014, 10:29:21 PM »
It's funny - you can kind of tell with the recent "procedural death labyrinth" / FTL / Dungeons of Dredmore / Binding if Issac type games making their way more prominently to the scene, people are slowly tracing their way back to the motherland. But they don't like the motherland; they want the motherland to conform to their expectations.

Don't most classic RLs come with a wizard mode anymore? If you don't like permadeath, turn on wizard mode and set your own penalties for dying. Maybe you're a great cook or a great dancer; not grokking permadeath doesn't make you any less of a person and permadeath doesn't need to be removed in order to validate your experience.

I'm reminded of the documentary Rivers and Tides - it follows an artist who builds these elaborate structures out of the natural environment. For instance, a giant, beautiful wreath out of driftwood. It takes him hours and hours to build one, and you know what? Most of the time, they fall apart before he's finished them, and he has to start over. And he groans, and he curses, and he returns to his craft. The delicacy of his work and the constant risk of loss is an integral part of his craft. This is part of why he is a renowned artist. Same thing with them Buddhist fellas who make them sand paintings, I imagine.

Point is: there's no need for this big rhetorical case for removing a feature that many, including me, consider to be integral to the genre. It smacks of sour grapes. Just play on wizard mode and make yourself run a lap every time you die or something.

I dunno, maybe I'm being uncharitable. Maybe I'm repeating myself. It's just surprising that so many (relative) newcomers to RLs find permadeath unpalatable, whereas for me, it opened my eyes to how thrilling and high-stakes a game could feel. For some reason this disparity bums me out.

pat

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2014, 11:35:40 PM »
yeah, the high-stakes game is exactly why I like the genre. I am a grown man who literally experienced an intense raised heart rate and fear of death on my first nethack ascension run and it happened again the first time I beat dungeon crawl. Maybe the games will never have mass appeal but I don't really care, IMO there's no other gaming experience like that and I kinda pity the people who don't get it.

Rickton

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2014, 12:18:54 AM »
I hate to be that guy, but there's already a thread on the exact same page as this one all about calling people wrong and dumb for liking/disliking permadeath.
I like the tension of permadeath. I think it really is a strong factor that contributes to what's enjoyable about roguelikes. And I think it would be interesting to talk about other ways to carry similar tension into a game without having the start the game over entirely. Come up with new ways to do things. Maybe none of them will be work as well as plain old permadeath, but it'd at least be interesting to think about, and maybe someone'll come up with a cool idea that'll make a cool game.

I mean, I know you can't dictate how a thread you start is gonna go, and things always derail, but it is just ridiculous how almost every thread on this damn forum eventually devolves into one of a small selection of stupid arguments that never get anywhere because people can't accept that other people like different things. There's room in this world for Angband, Skyrim, Candy Crush, Halo, Mario, Street Fighter and Madden. There's sure as hell room for games with permadeath and games without, doesn't mean everyone has to like both or either, doesn't mean people who don't like what you like are to be "pitied," who gives a shit. Care about something that matters.

Anyway, back on topic:
1) The simplest way to avoid death is to not create a game where you can die.  If player death is not a feature of the game, then every action in the game can be permanent, and the player can continue to play until the game is finished.  Vanguard suggested something along these lines when he said, "your character survives but the town he was supposed to defend gets destroyed."  That comment might mean that the game plays like any other roguelike, except when you "die" you get a red mark on your final grade.  Or it could describe a gameplay mechanic in which controlling or preserving towns progresses the player toward success in some way.
Interesting. This made me think of Crawl's rune system. You only need a few to win, but getting more is seen as a "better" victory (I've never actually gotten even one, so I have no idea if it increases your "score"). Maybe if you die in an area leading to one of the runes, you could be permanently locked out. You don't lose the game, but you lose the ability to "win" that area and get a "perfect" win.

2) There is a children's game called Telephone.  In this game the first player whispers a phrase into the ear of the second, who whispers the phrase into the ear of the third, and so on.  The last player hears the whisper and announces the phrase.  Invariably people will mishear the phrase and whisper something wrong to the next person, and by the end, the phrase is completely different.  What makes this game interesting is that failure creates fun.  If everyone always succeeded, and the last player always repeated the phrase exactly as it started, then the game would be terrible.  Instead of punishing those who fail, the game's enjoyment comes from seeing how the players' actions caused the outcome.

This principle might lead us down countless paths of roguelike design.  How can player failures create fun in the game?  Many existing roguelikes allow the death of a player to affect the player's next playthrough.  But what more can we do?  What if failing resulted in your character's items being randomly switched around?  Or what if failing altered the player's path through the world itself?  We might imagine a game whose path to victory appears straightforward, but upon failure that path is closed, and the player is redirected through corridors that they never knew existed.

I've occasionally thought about a game which uses some of these ideas.  In this game, the player would control a diety-like character who moves throughout a randomly-generated world, attempting to accomplish a randomly-generated goal.  The player would have no fear of death, but their actions would affect the various NPCs throughout the world.  When the player's goal is finally accomplished or failed, the final state of the various NPCs could be inspected to see how your actions have affected the populace.  I don't know whether this vague idea could become a fun game, but I will like give it a shot at some point.
That would be pretty interesting. But it'd probably be a pretty huge project, either to make all the different outcomes by hand, or to make a random generator good enough to make the outcomes interesting. It definitely sounds like it'd be a good game if done right, though.
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mushroom patch

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #36 on: April 10, 2014, 01:21:31 AM »
I hate to be that guy, but there's already a thread on the exact same page as this one all about calling people wrong and dumb for liking/disliking permadeath.
I like the tension of permadeath. I think it really is a strong factor that contributes to what's enjoyable about roguelikes. And I think it would be interesting to talk about other ways to carry similar tension into a game without having the start the game over entirely. Come up with new ways to do things. Maybe none of them will be work as well as plain old permadeath, but it'd at least be interesting to think about, and maybe someone'll come up with a cool idea that'll make a cool game.

The thing is, you're talking about this in a forum that is at least nominally about developing roguelike games, so you better expect some push back on the idea of finding replacements. I'm first to say there should be more freedom of interpretation re: permadeath and its role in the genre, but even I don't say there shouldn't be absolute lose conditions, as seems to be the notion here. It's a bridge too far.

(Also, that other thread was derailed by complete nonsense, but people still want to talk about it.)

Quote
I mean, I know you can't dictate how a thread you start is gonna go, and things always derail, but it is just ridiculous how almost every thread on this damn forum eventually devolves into one of a small selection of stupid arguments that never get anywhere because people can't accept that other people like different things. There's room in this world for Angband, Skyrim, Candy Crush, Halo, Mario, Street Fighter and Madden. There's sure as hell room for games with permadeath and games without, doesn't mean everyone has to like both or either, doesn't mean people who don't like what you like are to be "pitied," who gives a shit. Care about something that matters.

Yeah, but there isn't room for roguelike games without permadeath or something a lot like it (and the proposals I'm seeing here are not a lot like it). There's a lot of justice in the view that agitation against permadeath threatens to infect roguelike development with the same upworthy, mass market, lowest common denominator perspective you see in the "difficult vs. punishing" video in the other thread. (Although, really, there are worse things that already have their claws sunk pretty deep and the fear may be overblown...)

I can't speak for the guy who made the "I pity the fool" remark, but I think what he's talking about is not "I like this, but you like that, and what you like sucks and you suck too." He's saying that there's value in working at a game, being able to delay gratification and face repeated, abject failure. The suspense and thrill of having fragile, glorious victory in your grasp at last is unlike anything in the more trick-turning commercial offerings of today. There's something to be said for that and there's also something to be said for thinking it's "tedious" or too much of a waste of time to be worth anything.

Vanguard

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #37 on: April 10, 2014, 01:40:08 AM »
yeah, the high-stakes game is exactly why I like the genre. I am a grown man who literally experienced an intense raised heart rate and fear of death on my first nethack ascension run and it happened again the first time I beat dungeon crawl. Maybe the games will never have mass appeal but I don't really care, IMO there's no other gaming experience like that and I kinda pity the people who don't get it.

no joke, one of my favorite things is when i have to catch my breath after sitting in a chair playing video games for several hours

LazyCat

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #38 on: April 10, 2014, 02:49:15 AM »
Point is: there's no need for this big rhetorical case for removing a feature that many, including me, consider to be integral to the genre. It smacks of sour grapes. Just play on wizard mode and make yourself run a lap every time you die or something.

No one wants to exclude permadeath, only include the option to save. You could always not save and not continue, it does not concern you. You would not refuse to play a game just because it has check points, would you?

LazyCat

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2014, 03:05:33 AM »
Video games should be exciting and maybe present interesting challenges or things to think about. Excitement is not the same as fun.

Yes, as exciting as board games, almost as exciting as chess. It's all in your head. In reality turn-based gameplay by itself makes it all pretty casual.

LazyCat

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #40 on: April 10, 2014, 03:22:41 AM »
Maybe the games will never have mass appeal but I don't really care, IMO there's no other gaming experience like that and I kinda pity the people who don't get it.

A guy who plays action games to perfection and then makes speed runs with only one life would call us all sissies and pity us for never experiencing such joy after tensely torturous training and preparation. If he insisted then all action games should have only hard difficulty and only one life you would tell him he's intolerant masochistic lunatic with too much free time and that is none of his business how will you enjoy your games. But aren't you doing the same thing?

rust

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #41 on: April 10, 2014, 05:02:24 AM »
Oh look, it's the thread derailer again.

pat

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #42 on: April 10, 2014, 05:29:15 AM »
A guy who plays action games to perfection and then makes speed runs with only one life would call us all sissies and pity us for never experiencing such joy after tensely torturous training and preparation. If he insisted then all action games should have only hard difficulty and only one life you would tell him he's intolerant masochistic lunatic with too much free time and that is none of his business how will you enjoy your games. But aren't you doing the same thing?
yeah but I'm not posting on a speed run forum, I'm posting on a forum to do with exactly the thing I was talking about. Literally one of the few places on the internet where that specific topic is discussed exclusively. I think you just need to accept that you don't like roguelikes and that's fine and all, but arguing incessantly about their definition isn't going to make that square peg fit into the round hole any easier.

Endorya

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #43 on: April 10, 2014, 08:04:19 AM »
No one wants to exclude permadeath, only include the option to save. You could always not save and not continue, it does not concern you. You would not refuse to play a game just because it has check points, would you?

Exactly my point.
"You are never alone. Death is always near watching you."

mushroom patch

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Re: Permanent consequences for failure that aren't death
« Reply #44 on: April 10, 2014, 11:33:36 AM »
No one wants to exclude permadeath, only include the option to save. You could always not save and not continue, it does not concern you. You would not refuse to play a game just because it has check points, would you?

Exactly my point.

Actually, yes, I do refuse to play such games. I have plenty of opportunity to play them, I just don't. If I want to have "fun," "exploring" or whatever it is you think would be better/easier in a pseudo-roguelike with save file reloading (wow), I do things in real life. Fun is easy to find.

Thrill and to a much lesser extent challenge are not as easy to find, which is why I value them more highly in video games. It's why I like playing PvP in first person shooters, but not the stupid-ass story modes they sometimes come with. It's why I got tired of the Final Fantasy series in my teens but kept playing roguelikes now and then.

I understand that some people find roguelikes too hard or frustrating to be "fun." I think that's too bad and that it's probably possible to nibble around the edges (e.g. what I suggested upthread: allowing players to replay deadly encounters just for practice/to see what they did wrong, but leaving them dead when they're satisfied with the replays) to make things more "discoverable" and less "punishing." But if anything, suggestions of unrestricted save file reloading are getting more of a hearing here than they warrant, not less.