Author Topic: Going beyond hack and slash  (Read 33268 times)

chooseusername

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #45 on: February 02, 2015, 09:53:02 PM »
2 is as far as I can tell anecdotal and subjective.  There is after all no evidence that there is no evidence of interest in roguelikes that are not heavily combat oriented. .... and the avoidance of combat cannot exist without a reliance on combat.

This is a question of your standard of evidence. After all, there is no shortage of attempts at games, mostly so-called 7DRLs, that purport ..
I'll interject at this point and note that "attempts at games" is apples and oranges to "actual games".  As you suggest later, a 7DRL can only provide a casual and shallow gameplay experience at best, due to the limited time available.  If they do demonstrate alternatives, it proves nothing other than the existence of a fun casual gameplay well designed.

.. to be roguelikes and try to make things less combat oriented. As far as I can tell, none that fit the bill seem to have gained a nontrivial audience (say, on par with a top five angband variant) or spawned successor projects that have either. Maybe this says more about 7DRLs than anything else, you might argue. But it's also true that, as I mention above, Sil has been praised for its progress in the areas outlined by Omnivore. Yet Sil, as I understand it, cannot be won purely by slinking around avoiding combat and no variant has come along to challenge that situation, again calling the demand for less hack and slash roguelikes into question. The fact of the matter is that there's been plenty of opportunity for such a game to emerge and nothing seems to have happened. This is a reflection of demand.
No, your last sentence is arbitrary and not supported by your preceding argument.  I argue that it is a reflection on availability.

You can look at all the existing RPGs and roguelikes out there and even wider out into FPS and see that for all the worthwhile ones like Oblivion, Dragon Age, Baldur's Gate, etc etc combat is the crux.  It gives the meaning, the focus and is generally a shallow and achievable core mechanic.  And it is doable because it has been seen to be done.  Someone can just clone it and do minor iteration on it, and it is conceivable in their mind how to create it from scratch.  Conversely, there are no equivalent non-combat reliant games to clone and iterate.  Making a game from scratch is a tremendous investment of time and energy, but coming up with a new genre that is a superset rather than a subset of the combat-reliant standard, I argue is inconceivable to most.  If someone made it, and it was done well, it would be a breath of fresh air and in demand.

In order to support an argument of lack of demand, supply of quality goods needs to be disdained by the target market.

re: no avoidance of combat without combat, this seems to be the real issue. If there is no combat, it's not a roguelike anymore. If there is combat, the conventions of the genre lean heavily toward engaging and winning at it, not avoiding it. One radical approach would be to make it impossible to win in combat in the long run so that alternatives would be unavoidable, but the stable of models for this kind of thing is pretty thin. Stealth and pacification (e.g. crawl's Elyvilon) seem to be the only reasonably developed alternatives and from what I've seen only the stealth option seems very compelling.
I agree.  Combat is essential to a roguelike.  Even if one doesn't need to engage in combat, for the standard game world, it's presence lends a feeling of believability.  Stealth and pacification are merely decoration on the combat cake however.  Combat as an option gives value to other non-combat related choices that may rely on the inputs and outputs of others doing combat.

chooseusername

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #46 on: February 02, 2015, 09:56:58 PM »
Good comment, Krice. I'll just stop limiting my thinking and remember that everything is possible. Good point about the Swedish guy. He showed us how to make roguelike games with roleplaying elements. Also that we have to stop limiting our thinking and remember that everything is possible.
Krice, if you named the Swedish guy and provided concrete details of how it was relevant and what he actually did, then it wouldn't be a somewhat random and unhelpfully vague statement which didn't really add anything.

mushroom patch

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #47 on: February 02, 2015, 10:43:26 PM »
Good comment, Krice. I'll just stop limiting my thinking and remember that everything is possible. Good point about the Swedish guy. He showed us how to make roguelike games with roleplaying elements. Also that we have to stop limiting our thinking and remember that everything is possible.
Krice, if you named the Swedish guy and provided concrete details of how it was relevant and what he actually did, then it wouldn't be a somewhat random and unhelpfully vague statement which didn't really add anything.

He's obviously talking about the guy who wrote minecraft. Knowing that doesn't make his comment useful, of course.

2 is as far as I can tell anecdotal and subjective.  There is after all no evidence that there is no evidence of interest in roguelikes that are not heavily combat oriented. .... and the avoidance of combat cannot exist without a reliance on combat.

This is a question of your standard of evidence. After all, there is no shortage of attempts at games, mostly so-called 7DRLs, that purport ..
I'll interject at this point and note that "attempts at games" is apples and oranges to "actual games".  As you suggest later, a 7DRL can only provide a casual and shallow gameplay experience at best, due to the limited time available.  If they do demonstrate alternatives, it proves nothing other than the existence of a fun casual gameplay well designed.

.. to be roguelikes and try to make things less combat oriented. As far as I can tell, none that fit the bill seem to have gained a nontrivial audience (say, on par with a top five angband variant) or spawned successor projects that have either. Maybe this says more about 7DRLs than anything else, you might argue. But it's also true that, as I mention above, Sil has been praised for its progress in the areas outlined by Omnivore. Yet Sil, as I understand it, cannot be won purely by slinking around avoiding combat and no variant has come along to challenge that situation, again calling the demand for less hack and slash roguelikes into question. The fact of the matter is that there's been plenty of opportunity for such a game to emerge and nothing seems to have happened. This is a reflection of demand.
No, your last sentence is arbitrary and not supported by your preceding argument.  I argue that it is a reflection on availability.

[...]

In order to support an argument of lack of demand, supply of quality goods needs to be disdained by the target market.

My point is that availability is there, but left untapped. You have games which could, with incremental changes, fit the noncombat LoveInRL concept, but no one sees fit to pursue that possibility. You don't need to see a completed project fail to attract interest to see a lack of demand. That, for example, Sil with some tweaking could be given a totally noncombat stealth option, yet nothing happens in that direction tells the story. Anyone really interested in producing these options could go and make that happen. Of course, that's not me. It's not anyone. But it's a hobbyist market. If there's interest enough, these things should emerge.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 10:46:32 PM by mushroom patch »

Krice

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #48 on: February 02, 2015, 11:00:52 PM »
Good comment, Krice. I'll just stop limiting my thinking and remember that everything is possible.

Well, it looks like you have a limit in your imagination. But not to worry! We game developers make sure there are other ways to do things, even in such a narrow scene as roguelikes.

Paul Jeffries

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #49 on: February 02, 2015, 11:20:49 PM »
I would put forward The Inquisitor from the recent procjam as a successful (if limited) attempt at a non-combat roguelike.  I don't see any reasons why the systems it uses could not be added to a larger roguelike (either in concert with combat mechanics or not) to make NPC interactions a bit more interesting.

ProfessorOak6

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #50 on: February 03, 2015, 01:22:13 AM »

You can look at all the existing RPGs and roguelikes out there and even wider out into FPS and see that for all the worthwhile ones like Oblivion, Dragon Age, Baldur's Gate, etc etc combat is the crux.  It gives the meaning, the focus and is generally a shallow and achievable core mechanic.  And it is doable because it has been seen to be done.  Someone can just clone it and do minor iteration on it, and it is conceivable in their mind how to create it from scratch.  Conversely, there are no equivalent non-combat reliant games to clone and iterate.  Making a game from scratch is a tremendous investment of time and energy, but coming up with a new genre that is a superset rather than a subset of the combat-reliant standard, I argue is inconceivable to most.  If someone made it, and it was done well, it would be a breath of fresh air and in demand.


I agree.  Combat in video games, in general, is pretty much the status quo.  But, of course, this does not mean that it is unmeaningful or not fun.  As stated above, there are many games, SO many games, that are combat based.  Roguelikes are video games, and fall into the same types of combat schemes as any other video game genre. 

I likewise agree with the fact that making a non-combat game, and a well made one at that, would be hard to do. (Simulations and Sports games don't count here, as I assume we are talking about games where you play the role of a single character.)  It is exactly right that there are no good 'clones' to work from in this department.  Ever thought of what a non-combat game would look like?  It would probably still contain a 'combat' system, just without the bloodshed. 

Games in general are something to do, that is: fun, interactive, and hopefully involving some skill (plus or minus depending).  Try to name something besides combat that fills those three requirements and can easily be relegated to a computer.  And what you might see as fun, certainly some others do not.  Apparently, something that nearly all humans can agree on, that has everything you ever wanted, but you could not ever really do in reality, is COMBAT.

Of course, if there was a non-combat video game, particularly something RPGish, that was indeed well done, I would be VERY interested in playing it.  In the least to just learn the darn mechanics and clone it! :P  To outright say that a roguelike MUST have combat is just not right, but it would indeed be very hard to accomplish. 

Does anyone have any ideas on how to implement a non-combat roguelike?  Perhaps choosing correct rebuttals at an opponent's verbal sword?  I am sure one of you has more creativity in this area than me :)  Don't let anyone try to tear down your ideas.  The only way to see if they would work or not is to just make the game yourself, present it to the community, and see what happens.  I, at least, would be willing to give it a try :)

And overall, let us be supportive of others.  I know some of you might not like this statement, but in all seriousness, we are in the same boat here, and we might as well support one another in our endeavours.  It can only strengthen us as a whole.  Thank you all :) 

Omnivore

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #51 on: February 03, 2015, 01:50:28 AM »
Perhaps choosing correct rebuttals at an opponent's verbal sword?

That game already exists and has many clones, it's called an internet forum.  Not entirely sure what you'd gain by making it into a RL. :)

On a more serious note, while I can see a path to achieving a combat-optional RPG-RL, I don't see how you could get rid of combat entirely without completely abandoning the 'triumph over adversity' goal that seems an inherent part of both RPGs and RLs.  You would need to create a setting where adversity can somehow exist without combat ever being an option, tough problem I think.  Even the verbal combat you describe is still combat, are you actually looking for non-violence rather than non-combat?

I would put forward The Inquisitor from the recent procjam as a successful (if limited) attempt at a non-combat roguelike.  I don't see any reasons why the systems it uses could not be added to a larger roguelike (either in concert with combat mechanics or not) to make NPC interactions a bit more interesting.

Interesting.  Not sure its a scalable idea in and of itself, but as you suggest, adding the mechanics to a larger scoped project seems promising.  Unfortunately I can find neither source nor dev blog so I'm a bit in the dark as to what those mechanics are. 

Off topic: its this kinda thing (The Inquistor) that upsets me a bit.  Let's face it, you're not going to make serious money off a niche of a niche unless it goes viral.   If you neither share the code nor blog the development process, its worthless other than an "it is possible" statement.  I guess the idea of giving back to the community is lost on some.

« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 06:54:44 AM by Omnivore »

akeley

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #52 on: February 03, 2015, 08:13:45 AM »
Seems there are two ways of interpreting the "beyond hack & slash" postulate - one is getting rid of combat altogether, another would be making it more interesting and/or not the main gameplay style.

The first angle is of course possible, but then it seems to lead to the old "but is it a roguelike" conundrum - which doesn`t really matter, as long as the project is interesting enough, it just could generate some interesting oddities. What would perma "death" mean in such a setup? Would it be a perma "failure" or something?

Such games I imagine (as said above already) would tend to be more of a puzzle or adventure sort (or a board game, like the Inquisitor ;). Anamnesis could perhaps be an example...oh no, wait, there is "combat" after all. Which might illustrate the point about how difficult it is to get away from it, since this game is really different.

Others are Desktop Dungeon-likes - I like to think of them as puzzle games more than typical RLs...though of course combat features there too, hmmm...this whole "no fighting lads!" thing really is tricky.

One angle I could think about is what happens in aforementioned classics: Thief & Deus Ex. In first (played on proper, hardest level) killing an opponent is considered a failure. So, yes, it`s about avoiding combat but that`s a moot point since you just do not fight in this game, the whole mechanic with all its trappings is eliminated (okay, you get to knock people out but is it really combat?). It`s similar in Deus Ex, though to lesser extent since you theoretically can build yourself into a fighting machine (but even then combat is rather weak). Therefore the meat of the game is environmental manipulation - an awesome thing, but could be translated to RL format? I think so. 

Maybe a game where it`s you versus the dungeon (but without its usual denizens) could work. Avoiding traps, solving problems to access areas, general navigation and orienteering, stuff like that.

As for "making hack`n slash" more interesting angle (and my personal favourite), there could be quite a few ways, already discussed in other threads on this forum - like improving on monster AI or utilizing the environment interactions to much bigger extent than it is now. Brogue, Norrendin and perhaps others already do it quite well but there`s so much more possible...
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 08:16:00 AM by akeley »

Paul Jeffries

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #53 on: February 04, 2015, 12:34:07 AM »
Interesting.  Not sure its a scalable idea in and of itself, but as you suggest, adding the mechanics to a larger scoped project seems promising.  Unfortunately I can find neither source nor dev blog so I'm a bit in the dark as to what those mechanics are. 

Off topic: its this kinda thing (The Inquistor) that upsets me a bit.  Let's face it, you're not going to make serious money off a niche of a niche unless it goes viral.   If you neither share the code nor blog the development process, its worthless other than an "it is possible" statement.  I guess the idea of giving back to the community is lost on some.

As I understand it, the game generates a murder victim, witnesses, murderer and motive and then simulates the various stages of the crime (i.e. acquiring the murder weapon, finding the victim, the murder, disposing of the evidence, somebody discovering the body) and records who saw what when.  He talked a bit about it on Twitter during procjam but I don't think he actually has a blog anywhere.  I would imagine that since it was made for a jam the source code is probably not really fit for public consumption (my own jam code certainly never is!).

Likewise off-topic: I'm not sure I really agree that making things like The Inquisitor is worthless unless you 'give back to the community' in the way you suggest.  Sure, it's nice when people share their techniques but ultimately unless you want to create exactly the same game again you're going to need to come up with your own way of implementing it anyway.  Simply proving that something new and interesting is achievable is a pretty big contribution to the community by itself, in my eyes.

Vanguard

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2015, 02:32:20 AM »
the worthwhile ones like Oblivion

Let's get something straight: Oblivion is one of the least worthwhile games ever made

stefoid

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Re: Going beyond hack and slash
« Reply #55 on: February 16, 2015, 11:10:17 PM »
I suspect that radical change is required. Moving away from combat by just adding alternatives is going to be difficult.

The goal in playing a roguelike is to come up with tactics and strategies that you can use to solve any randomly generated problems you may encounter. You shouldn't think of hack and slash combat as a means to the goal of winning. Solving the problem of combat is the goal. Character progression, world exploration, and achieving objectives are only there to make combat meaningful and keep it interesting.

To make a non-combat roguelike, you will need to find a different problem which can be randomly generated and which players can solve by discovering tactics and strategies. Make a game about that problem, and get rid of hack and slash.

Yep - but I wonder if by achieving this, you still have a roguelike?   Only in the most abstract sense.   

Im seeing 'office space' the roguelike, where you start out as a lowly mail boy, and must rise through the ranks and levels in the multi-national office tower to become CEO.
My squad-based tactical roguelike for mobiles:
http://www.dungeonbash.com