Author Topic: randomness as a replacement for identification  (Read 15219 times)

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randomness as a replacement for identification
« on: June 14, 2014, 05:34:32 AM »
As I understand it in Rogue unidentified scrolls and potions are designed to push people out of their comfort zone, and to make items more situation rather than immediately good or bad.

An unidentified potion can be though of as an item that produces a random effect from list of potion types.  A potion that either blinds you or heals you is an not normally an attractive prospect, but when you are low on health it becomes worth the risk.  If scrolls and potions are innately random rather than just being random due to lack of knowledge then it becomes easier for the designer to balance risk vs reward.
The replacement for identification would be an ability to remove an effect of your choice from an item, whittling down the results until it is more predictable.  It is also easier for new players because the range of possible effects can be listed on the item.

tuturto

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2014, 06:50:09 AM »
This is very interesting idea and worth exploring more. Would all potions start the same and have all possible effects in them? Or would there be different kinds of potions that have different starting set of effects?
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mushroom patch

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2014, 06:57:01 AM »
I think you have the notion behind identification in rogue and roguelikes right. There are examples of items like what you're describing in moria and its descendants. They're called "wands of wonder." If you know what you're doing, these items are complete garbage, although I remember a time when I was 8 and liked them a lot.

If I understand your proposal correctly, it sounds like you'd make items effectively unidentifiable and all the same, with the possibility of marginal adjustments (using some kind of item that can be identified, I hope) on an item by item basis. I guess you see from my summary what I think of this idea. In my opinion (and I think it's more widespread than that), the identification aspect of roguelikes is slightly tedious and is usually just another boring part of the early game. What you're suggesting would stretch it out into something that stays with you as long as you have the patience to play.

I think it's possible to make an interesting research/identification component to a roguelike, though few games manage it. In my opinion, identification of mundane items (e.g. anything that you find more than one of in a given dungeon level) should be as painless as possible. Randomized alchemy systems, for instance, could be interesting, but your suggestion here seems to be a step in the wrong direction to me.

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2014, 12:09:52 PM »
It sounds like the side effects label you get on the side of medicine.
Actually that could be a fun idea, add side effects to your potions, so you know the potion will heal you, but it could also make you sick, or give you a tingling feeling in your scalp.

Curitallalis.

Less serious side effects may include:

    tingly feeling in your scalp.
    dizziness, spinning sensation.
    mild nausea, upset stomach.
    tired feeling.
    stuffy nose; or.
    difficulty having an orgasm.

That way you could add a little bit of randomness and fun without being totally annoying.

Though who'd drink the potion of bull's strength which had the legend:
Warning: May cause microphalus and male pattern baldness.
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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2014, 04:20:13 PM »
This is very interesting idea and worth exploring more. Would all potions start the same and have all possible effects in them? Or would there be different kinds of potions that have different starting set of effects?
  I was planning for different potions to have different overlapping sets of effects because it is more interesting.

In my opinion (and I think it's more widespread than that), the identification aspect of roguelikes is slightly tedious and is usually just another boring part of the early game. What you're suggesting would stretch it out into something that stays with you as long as you have the patience to play.

That is interesting, what it is that makes identification tedious and boring?

tuturto

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2014, 05:19:52 PM »
It sounds like the side effects label you get on the side of medicine.
Actually that could be a fun idea, add side effects to your potions, so you know the potion will heal you, but it could also make you sick, or give you a tingling feeling in your scalp.

What about if there were a way of minimizing or completely removing some or all side effects? As the player progresses through the game, he could find items or skills or whatever, that could be used to mitigate the effects. And those would be limited, so it would always be the choice of "do I make all the future healing potions more desirable, or would I rather invest on the potions of bull strength?".
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mushroom patch

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2014, 12:50:05 AM »
This is very interesting idea and worth exploring more. Would all potions start the same and have all possible effects in them? Or would there be different kinds of potions that have different starting set of effects?
  I was planning for different potions to have different overlapping sets of effects because it is more interesting.

In my opinion (and I think it's more widespread than that), the identification aspect of roguelikes is slightly tedious and is usually just another boring part of the early game. What you're suggesting would stretch it out into something that stays with you as long as you have the patience to play.

That is interesting, what it is that makes identification tedious and boring?

Presumably, you're talking about a game in which you collect a large number of items. You mention the example of potions, an item type one usually collects in tens to hundreds (even thousands if you can buy them in stores) in a given play. You suggest a system in which their effects are randomized and you use some other kind of skill or item to cull certain possible effects. This seems to you to be fun, but I would suggest that the right way to think about this culling process is as partial identification -- what you've really said is that in order to be sure what you have, you need to partially identify it several times and this must be done on a case by case basis.

The way this will likely go down is the following: Players will need reliable effects for dangerous combat and random effects will only be used in these situations in desperation or at the beginning of the game (so the system creates a kind of scumming behavior). Outside of combat, there will be a certain amount of tolerance for the randomness you're talking about, but it will depend heavily on implementation (for example, if removing an effect means replacing it with another, maybe some randomness would be tolerated, but if it is just removed from the list and other effects' probabilities are adjusted to compensate, then probably not). This will lead to scumming to get particular effects and waiting out undesired ones (unless you throw in permanent negative effects, which will again reduce tolerance for randomness).

I think this an idea that sounds fun superficially (something I would've liked when I was 8 and couldn't get a character past dungeon level 16 in moria), but when balanced against the player's desire not to lose results in tedium (scumming, constant partial identification) and removal of gameplay through the player's (correct) judgement that potions must be used extremely conservatively because 1) it takes a lot of time/resources to turn them into something useful and 2) the ones that haven't been given adequate love and care are useless.

(Obviously there are ways to fiddle with the idea on the margin, like removing effects from stacks of items, removing effects in bulk, etc. It's still going to be tedious compared to the standard potion identification game. You might say that it adds control to the kind of potions you have at the end of the day, but if you want that, then make an alchemy/crafting system.)

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2014, 04:55:54 AM »
Yes removing randomness is meant to be directly analogous to partial identification.
The intention is to make as small of a change from the current system as possible.
Potions still come in colors so removing an effect from a red potion, removes it from all red potions
This is metered by access to an "identification" consumable.

What I expect to happen is people will shape particular potion kinds until they have things like "escape potion" "out of combat potion" "in combat buff".
Yes there will be potions that never get any love (the rarer colors), but I hope to mitigate that by giving the rare effect like gain strength or less variability.

mushroom patch

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 12:37:10 AM »
So with sufficient identification grinding, you get the reliable potion effects you would have after a single ID scroll in a conventional roguelike. Moreover, it is impossible to ID a potion in the early game by drinking it, making early game characters even gimpier than usual. This in turn increases the pressure to scum for random effects that offer a chance of winning a tough fight on xp level 2.

I don't get it. This seems pretty obviously worse than conventional potion systems. It introduces new kinds of scumming/grinding while increasing existing kinds. The variety this might provide is mostly an illusion because players will not use items that do not have reliable effects. On the other hand, it will be difficult or impossible to balance a situation where a typical potion has a number of interesting effect possibilities (all but one of which will have to be eliminated to make a usable potion) in a way that results in interesting choices. The system makes no sense thematically either.

Pickledtezcat

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 12:40:12 PM »
It sounds like the side effects label you get on the side of medicine.
Actually that could be a fun idea, add side effects to your potions, so you know the potion will heal you, but it could also make you sick, or give you a tingling feeling in your scalp.

What about if there were a way of minimizing or completely removing some or all side effects? As the player progresses through the game, he could find items or skills or whatever, that could be used to mitigate the effects. And those would be limited, so it would always be the choice of "do I make all the future healing potions more desirable, or would I rather invest on the potions of bull strength?".

I like that idea. I'm fiddling with the idea of an alchemist class who will be able to brew potions. In the past I was thinking they could brew more potions with less ingredients as they become more experienced. Now I like the idea of removing unwanted side effects as you gain in brewing skill.

I expect a level 1 alchemist would be something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN9SvxtIieE

Of course, these would be homebrew potions, it's likely you could find masterbrewed potions in a shop or in the dungeon which would work correctly 100% of the time.

Another mechanic I'm toying with is having potions have a number of charges, or sips. So you might find a half full blue potion (12 sips remaining), after sampling it once you find that it heals you a little but makes you sick (temporary penalty to intelligence~ "Your open wounds begin to heal, but you feel dumber already!"). I think if potions lasted more than one use, you could have more meaningful interactions with them. It's also stop you from having to carry around 500 potions of healing.

I think however, these kind of things would only really work with the inclusion of a dedicated alchemy mechanic and potion crafting. Many people like that part of RPGs, seeing which potion ingredients combine in the right way to make a potion. It also helps if there are scrolls which describe the recipes used, to be found laying around in the dungeon. It's a kind of meta puzzle, something that makes people get more involved in the game the more they play (like hidden uses of items) but it has to be optional. Otherwise making a core game mechanic, like using potions for healing and buffs, more random and frustrating would only turn players off from your game.

I've seen studies which suggest that frustrating and annoying game mechanics are more likely to make someone commit violent acts than depictions of graphic violence in video games.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2014, 01:03:10 PM by Pickledtezcat »
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Endorya

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2014, 08:15:46 PM »
So with sufficient identification grinding, you get the reliable potion effects you would have after a single ID scroll in a conventional roguelike. Moreover, it is impossible to ID a potion in the early game by drinking it, making early game characters even gimpier than usual. This in turn increases the pressure to scum for random effects that offer a chance of winning a tough fight on xp level 2.

I don't get it. This seems pretty obviously worse than conventional potion systems. It introduces new kinds of scumming/grinding while increasing existing kinds. The variety this might provide is mostly an illusion because players will not use items that do not have reliable effects. On the other hand, it will be difficult or impossible to balance a situation where a typical potion has a number of interesting effect possibilities (all but one of which will have to be eliminated to make a usable potion) in a way that results in interesting choices. The system makes no sense thematically either.

Totally agreed. Luck already plays a huge chunk in roguelikes, making survival based items' effects also based on luck completely destroys a roguelike to me, how can one build strategies with the unknown? I like the idea though of having side effects for potions and all other quick-healing methods; now that it is something interesting and worthy of exploring IMHO.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 08:19:05 PM by Endorya »
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mushroom patch

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 05:10:38 AM »
So with sufficient identification grinding, you get the reliable potion effects you would have after a single ID scroll in a conventional roguelike. Moreover, it is impossible to ID a potion in the early game by drinking it, making early game characters even gimpier than usual. This in turn increases the pressure to scum for random effects that offer a chance of winning a tough fight on xp level 2.

I don't get it. This seems pretty obviously worse than conventional potion systems. It introduces new kinds of scumming/grinding while increasing existing kinds. The variety this might provide is mostly an illusion because players will not use items that do not have reliable effects. On the other hand, it will be difficult or impossible to balance a situation where a typical potion has a number of interesting effect possibilities (all but one of which will have to be eliminated to make a usable potion) in a way that results in interesting choices. The system makes no sense thematically either.

Totally agreed. Luck already plays a huge chunk in roguelikes, making survival based items' effects also based on luck completely destroys a roguelike to me, how can one build strategies with the unknown? I like the idea though of having side effects for potions and all other quick-healing methods; now that it is something interesting and worthy of exploring IMHO.

DCSS has done a fair amount with the idea of side effects (mainly for magic, not so much potions). I think the key thing is to make side effects manageable so that you don't suddenly go from being in an okay combat position to certain death because of them -- at least, not in a way that could not have been anticipated. Angband potions provide nonzero nutrition which allows the player to become satiated (-10 speed) from overuse.

Certainly there's a lot of room for experimentation with potion side effects (that are really side effects in the sense of not having a constant, nagging gameplay presence), but in my opinion there are other more interesting/pressing directions to adjust in: In particular, roguelike games have far too many/too powerful instant effects. Developers seem to have been aware of this for at least 30 years (see the Word of Recall delay in moria) but it's been carefully addressed in relatively few games (DCSS being a leader in this regard, I think, with regeneration being the main method of fast healing and delayed teleport). It may still make sense to offer more immediate effects with unpleasant side effects though -- this is another topic though, I suppose.

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 12:20:33 PM »
DCSS has done a fair amount with the idea of side effects (mainly for magic, not so much potions). I think the key thing is to make side effects manageable so that you don't suddenly go from being in an okay combat position to certain death because of them -- at least, not in a way that could not have been anticipated. Angband potions provide nonzero nutrition which allows the player to become satiated (-10 speed) from overuse.

Certainly there's a lot of room for experimentation with potion side effects (that are really side effects in the sense of not having a constant, nagging gameplay presence), but in my opinion there are other more interesting/pressing directions to adjust in: In particular, roguelike games have far too many/too powerful instant effects. Developers seem to have been aware of this for at least 30 years (see the Word of Recall delay in moria) but it's been carefully addressed in relatively few games (DCSS being a leader in this regard, I think, with regeneration being the main method of fast healing and delayed teleport). It may still make sense to offer more immediate effects with unpleasant side effects though -- this is another topic though, I suppose.

Yeah I see what you mean. One thing that always bugged me is having games where the character's survival depends on how many healing potions he has in his inventory. Not only this doesn't feel right game play wise but it also compromises justifiable reality in the game. I mean, your char can end up drinking a whole barrel of healing liquid during a combat. Maybe for some people this is fine because it is just a game but for me, I always pay heavy attention to how good can actions be justified within plausibility terms. Some things cannot be brought too close to reality for game play reasons but there is a shit load of stuff that can be done differently and closer to reality without compromising the fun factor; restricting the amount of healing potions that can be consumed in a limited amount of time is one of the things.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2014, 12:33:18 PM by Endorya »
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mushroom patch

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 04:46:48 PM »
Well, I'm definitely one of those people who doesn't care about realism in video games (especially in video game settings), although I think some degree of internal logic is nice. My objection to instant heal and instant teleport is mechanical in nature: These effects are (often) just too powerful. Balancing a game that has them leads to distortions elsewhere, e.g. commensurately ridiculous instant effects used by monsters (e.g. mass summoning, omg/unlimited breath weapons, etc.). When the only way to kill a mentally awake player is to kill him in one turn, your monsters have to be able to kill the player in one turn. This isn't what we should be aiming for.

I guess this is another case of ignoring the topic of the thread to talk about something I think is actually interesting, but whatever... What we should be aiming for is games where you don't die from freak sequences of breath attacks or unanticipated mobs of monsters (e.g. summons) with a lack of get out of jail free cards but from getting cornered and running out of options over a large number of turns.

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Re: randomness as a replacement for identification
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2014, 03:27:22 AM »
Those sound like bad design decisions. It's something that plagues all RPGs as you get higher in levels.

For instance some games will force random encounters where enemies spawn right next to the player. This is because the player has by this time found easy ways of dealing with all the monsters they are likely to encounter, and ambushing them is the only way the game designer has of beating their tactics.

The real problem is that the player often relies not on tactics, but on exploits. That is bits of broken game play which allow you to win with no trouble. An example of this is certain combinations of spells which have powers far in excess of what they should, or certain spells or items where they haven't been tested as well as they should, and the result is completely overpowered.

In Warriors of the eternal sun on the sega genesis entangle (the second level spell) didn't allow any saving throw and always hit its target. That meant it was possible to kill a dragon with low level characters, simply by having a lot of entangle spells and ranged weapons.

In Temple of elemental evil the sleep spell was combined with a coup de grace attack which allowed you to put someone to sleep and then kill them with one attack. A higher level version of the spell kept this exploit viable up until the later stages of the game.

Really the designer should be addressing the broken gameplay, instead of just trying to find counter exploits.

Some ideas would be:
Some spells require multiple turns of casting preparation or require spell components (like you need a human skull for teleport, which is destroyed after use).
Make sure higher level enemies have protection against immobility spells and effects.

Anyway, if you were able to remove a good number of the worst exploits then there wouldn't need to be so many instakill or high damage attacks. The game could be more about a death of a thousand cuts rather than a one-shot kill fest. Nerfing damage per turn would also mean you don't have to have the big gulp potion game mechanic, potions could be toned down and made more interesting without making players really annoyed.
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