Author Topic: Quack Potions  (Read 34498 times)

luctius

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Quack Potions
« on: February 24, 2015, 04:20:16 PM »
Hey there.

I'm making a roguelike based on the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay systems, a gritty , low-magic setting.

When researching about the identification sub-game, and a lot of people don't really like it or think it is often badly implemented.

Now, one of the things in WFRP2 was that certain potions could have side effects or wouldn't work at all. What if instead of having
to identify potions, the game would assign a random side effect to the potion. This could be a good effect, a bad effect or no effect
at all, maybe even depending on the quality of the potion. In addition, a potion would provide a couple of sips instead of just one.

Thus the first draught of healing would have no additional effect, while the second would drain your stats for a while, while a
potion of poison would have a minor curing effect as side-effect.

Finally, you could have a skill as Apothecary for example which would have a chance of identifying the side-effect of the potion before use.

Do you guys like this idea, and what would some caveats be, and are there examples of rogue-likes where something like this has already been done?
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 05:51:17 PM by luctius »

Aukustus

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2015, 06:33:02 PM »
I like it.

What if done like this:
Clear Potion of Healing: No side effects.
Muddy Potion of Healing: Chance for a side effect.

luctius

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2015, 07:59:04 PM »
I was thinking of having different quality of items. This is easy for weapons and armour, the basic +1 etc.
But for potions this could be the difference. Higher quality items have a smaller chance of side effects.

Off-course, the normal way of stacking items (a simple counter) wouldn't work any more because each
potion is different. Not something the player should notice however.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 08:01:03 PM by luctius »

mushroom patch

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2015, 08:32:20 PM »
I do not like that idea.

There's been a trend against identification subgames in various of the larger projects, notably angband and dcss, and the reductions have resulted in cleaner, better games. The lesson is this: Identification subgames are lame and should be avoided in new games. It's not that you should try to replace it with something else.


Vanguard

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2015, 12:25:59 AM »
The lesson is that crawl and angband had bad ID systems and didn't know how to make them work

chooseusername

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2015, 12:55:33 AM »
Hey there.

I'm making a roguelike based on the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay systems, a gritty , low-magic setting.

When researching about the identification sub-game, and a lot of people don't really like it or think it is often badly implemented.

Now, one of the things in WFRP2 was that certain potions could have side effects or wouldn't work at all. What if instead of having
to identify potions, the game would assign a random side effect to the potion. This could be a good effect, a bad effect or no effect
at all, maybe even depending on the quality of the potion. In addition, a potion would provide a couple of sips instead of just one.

Thus the first draught of healing would have no additional effect, while the second would drain your stats for a while, while a
potion of poison would have a minor curing effect as side-effect.

Finally, you could have a skill as Apothecary for example which would have a chance of identifying the side-effect of the potion before use.

Do you guys like this idea, and what would some caveats be, and are there examples of rogue-likes where something like this has already been done?
Deciding not to do it based off various opinions (especially ones from people who try to portray their preference as the only proven workable solution without much substantiation) here may be a big mistake, or it may not.  You won't know until you try it.

jere

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2015, 01:55:24 AM »
I would like to point out your idea is less about IDing and more about introducing risk/reward. Kind of reminds of decks from DCSS, but the positive effect is a little more straightforward. Unknown risk, known reward? So I kind of like it.

Instead of "I'm in a bad situation, let me chug this on the off chance it helps me somehow" the thought process is more like "I'm low on health. I really need a health potion, but if I use the low quality one I could get get a bad status.... or I could use my high quality health potion but I only have 1 swig of that, maybe I should save it."

[edit: Actually, this is more similar to decks than I thought. You can use scroll of identify to see the next effect. I wouldn't know, since I never really use them.]
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 01:57:39 AM by jere »
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luctius

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2015, 04:37:27 PM »
I do not like that idea.

There's been a trend against identification subgames in various of the larger projects, notably angband and dcss, and the reductions have resulted in cleaner, better games. The lesson is this: Identification subgames are lame and should be avoided in new games. It's not that you should try to replace it with something else.

The lesson is that crawl and angband had bad ID systems and didn't know how to make them work

I think this sums up the general feeling of the identification subgame quite well :).
Personally I like it, but I think it is a shame that it only matter for the first part of many games. After that you can have a good deduction of what unidentified stuff is and if it is worth using it.

That and I think is will be easier to implement ;).

Vanguard, could you explain to me why those games had a bad implementation?


Deciding not to do it based off various opinions (especially ones from people who try to portray their preference as the only proven workable solution without much substantiation) here may be a big mistake, or it may not.  You won't know until you try it.

Oh, for sure.
But there is also a good chance that somebody would come up with a reason why my idea is very bad and I should not even bother, or maybe tweak it so it becomes better. But you are correct that if there is no implementation quite like it we won't know. That and the game itself probably influences a lot of how the subgame works.

I would like to point out your idea is less about IDing and more about introducing risk/reward. Kind of reminds of decks from DCSS, but the positive effect is a little more straightforward. Unknown risk, known reward? So I kind of like it.

Instead of "I'm in a bad situation, let me chug this on the off chance it helps me somehow" the thought process is more like "I'm low on health. I really need a health potion, but if I use the low quality one I could get get a bad status.... or I could use my high quality health potion but I only have 1 swig of that, maybe I should save it."

[edit: Actually, this is more similar to decks than I thought. You can use scroll of identify to see the next effect. I wouldn't know, since I never really use them.]

Exactly.
Instead of the sense of wonder rogue was trying to implement, it is indeed an risk - reward system. One that I hope will
stay relevant until the endgame.

I did not know about those decks, I will look them up. Thanks!

I was first thinking of not having healing items, only providing healing at set points, to invoke the gritty feeling of the setting. But with this I think that providing some healing will still preserve that feel due to the risk of taking them.

mushroom patch

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2015, 05:31:17 PM »
The lesson is that crawl and angband had bad ID systems and didn't know how to make them work

Their ID systems were more or less identical to those in other games.

Generally speaking, when something does not seem to work well in various different permutations and all examples of moves away from it seem to be improvements, the answer is not to find still new permutations. The answer is to abandon the idea entirely.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2015, 05:34:33 PM by mushroom patch »

mushroom patch

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2015, 07:52:25 PM »
re: The DCSS decks comparison, this is on point. If you have any experience with dcss, you probably know that decks are somewhat marginal items and the ones it's generally agreed are worth carrying around are the legendary ones, unless you worship Nemelex. This is because the inconsistency of decks require that the player reliably get a powerful effect on use and the lesser decks don't measure up well without a major skill investment and/or god powers and/or ID scrolls.

You will see a similar situation with variable quality, random effect potions (assuming you can find players for such a game). Lower quality items will be largely ignored because consumables need to have reliable, powerful effects to be worthwhile. Players will wonder why they're in the game at all, outside of being an obnoxious aspect of a resource starved early game.

I don't see that anyone here has offered an alternative perspective that would justify placing a roadblock between picking up an item, of a type you may already have identified before, and using it. The lived experience of recent roguelike development strongly suggests that roadblock does little more than add tedium. Notions like this one have come up before in this forum and were given a similar response, namely that the gee-whiz alternative to a tedious but traditional aspect of the genre is an even more tedious version of it where instead of ID'ing a class of items once and for all, each item has a unique, randomized side effect requiring even more identification.

DCSS at least has a well-thought out idea here. The interaction of decks and identification has a built-in rationale: each deck has a top card and you can only draw from the top (ordinarily). You can identify only the top card (ordinarily). Great. This guy is proposing having a bunch of potions of the same base type all of which have potentially different side effects and each of which you can use at any time. So what I'm hearing here is that it's a great idea to have an inventory full of 10 different kinds of heal potions and speed potions and whatever else. We really can't know how this works until we've seen it implemented!

I can see an idea like this working as a drawback of an alchemy system where you produce batches of defective potions that are at least all the same. I cannot see this working in a setting where you have independently generated items with different random effects of the same base type.

Vanguard

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2015, 01:41:03 AM »
Their ID systems were more or less identical to those in other games.

Angband's system is ridiculously pointless.  You have unlimited time and an unlimited potential ID scrolls.  You can't compare something like that to games like Brogue where you need to squeeze every last ounce of utility from your limited supplies.

Crawl's system is mostly pointless too.  Remove curse and identify scrolls are plentiful so most of the time you're just doing busywork with no real consequence.  It isn't a complete waste like Angband, though.  Sometimes cool things happen.  Like if you wield-ID a weapon and it turns out to be distortion, that's going to have an effect on your playthrough.  If you wanna switch you have to consider the risk of lethal damage or going to the abyss.  Maybe you'll live with it until you can survive the worst it can do, or maybe you'll take a risk to get rid of it right away.  Either way it's a real problem and the way you choose to deal with it has meaningful consequences.

Brogue is a nice counterexample to Angband and Crawl's systems.  In Brogue if you desperately need a specific effect from a potion or scroll, you can probably find it by burning through all of your items, but that will potentially involve a lot of waste.  Or maybe you'll get lucky.  If you wait until you find a detect magic potion, you can make much more informed decisions.  The detect magic effect creates a lot of situations where you can try for a chance at an immediate benefit or hold off until later to get better odds.

Use-IDing scrolls might cost you a scroll of enchantment when you don't have anything good to enchant, and that will weaken your character for the rest of the playthrough, but the longer you go without testing scrolls the longer you'll have to survive without their advantages.

If you take an unknown item from a treasure room and it turns out to be bad, you have to weigh the hunger cost of swapping for a different item.  If you had used an ID scroll or a detect magic potion you might not have had that problem.

Brogue also keeps track of which items you've IDed and tells you how common each item type is, so even when you're using unidentified items you can make educated decisions.  If you already know all of the important positive potions you can feel free to throw your unknown ones at enemies.

There are a lot of cool things that can come from roguelike ID systems.  Don't judge all roguelikes based on Angband, it's a terrible game with almost no redeeming traits.

mushroom patch

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2015, 02:21:04 AM »
Crawl's system is mostly pointless too.  Remove curse and identify scrolls are plentiful so most of the time you're just doing busywork with no real consequence.  It isn't a complete waste like Angband, though.  Sometimes cool things happen.  Like if you wield-ID a weapon and it turns out to be distortion, that's going to have an effect on your playthrough.  If you wanna switch you have to consider the risk of lethal damage or going to the abyss.  Maybe you'll live with it until you can survive the worst it can do, or maybe you'll take a risk to get rid of it right away.  Either way it's a real problem and the way you choose to deal with it has meaningful consequences.

I agree that this the main case where identification is a real issue in crawl outside of the roadblock between picking things up and using them the identification game sticks you with at the beginning, which is the most dangerous part of the game. If you're early enough in the game where there's a resource issue here, you always have the option of unwielding and converting to Lugonu in the abyss if it comes to that after you've stomped enough orcs with your distortion weapon to survive a hundred turns there. Since artifacts don't seem to spawn with distortion, this becomes a non-issue past the mid-game where any non-artifact that would be a potential upgrade is going to be quite rare and recognizable by type.

Quote
Brogue is a nice counterexample to Angband and Crawl's systems.  In Brogue if you desperately need a specific effect from a potion or scroll, you can probably find it by burning through all of your items, but that will potentially involve a lot of waste.  Or maybe you'll get lucky.  If you wait until you find a detect magic potion, you can make much more informed decisions.  The detect magic effect creates a lot of situations where you can try for a chance at an immediate benefit or hold off until later to get better odds.

This gets to the nub of it. Apparently many people in the roguelike world think it's good when a tactical situation with game determining implications ("desperately need") is decided by pure chance. I can't begrudge you your fun trying to puzzle out what you've picked up in brogue, but this is nethackery and frankly not as popular/interesting as you think.


Quote
If you take an unknown item from a treasure room and it turns out to be bad, you have to weigh the hunger cost of swapping for a different item.  If you had used an ID scroll or a detect magic potion you might not have had that problem.

Ah yes, consider the hunger cost.

Quote
[...] There are a lot of cool things that can come from roguelike ID systems. [...]

Sounds like a poor man's sudoku puzzle. I'm sorry, I'm going to need to hear a more convincing argument than this before I believe that being able to pick shit up off the floor and use it is bad and I should have to wait and figure out what it is first.

akeley

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2015, 02:32:04 AM »
One man`s tedium can be another`s tension. Whenever I play a RL without IDing I fell that a large chunk of gameplay - and fun - is missing. 

Like Vanguard says above, when implemented properly these systems are a good thing. Angband`s IDing seems indeed pointless (but is it the same across all the forks?) I disagree about Crawl though. I can`t speak for DCSS but in Linley`s original the amount of  identity/remove scrolls is not "plentiful" but random - in some games you get lots in some you don`t (and even if you do there`s lots of things to ID), mostly it just works about right - keeping you on the edge, ponder these risk/reward choices and also providing touch of realness and "atmosphere" - yeah, these things that the gamists out there really hate ;) While part of what I love about RLs is that dungeons (from good games) are entities that don`t comply to some human wishes for "clean" games or some scholary proper implementation of game theory. When balanced correctly this can produce scintillating results.   

As for abandoning a key element from a game that has been played and enjoyed by many for over a decade, well...I cannot help but think that maybe it`s also a variation of "feature creep" - or corruption, more like - that happens to projects that has been worked on for a very long time. After most of the bugs are squashed and heaps of simpler things like classes/items/monsters have been added, what is there to do but start tinkering with key systems, and maybe deciding that  they`re actually rubbish?

Vanguard

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2015, 03:48:39 AM »
This gets to the nub of it. Apparently many people in the roguelike world think it's good when a tactical situation with game determining implications ("desperately need") is decided by pure chance. I can't begrudge you your fun trying to puzzle out what you've picked up in brogue, but this is nethackery and frankly not as popular/interesting as you think.

If you need a certain effect, and you're in the mid game or later, odds are you already have the item you need.  If you've been experimenting with your items properly, you can minimize the cost.  More importantly, if you find yourself in that kind of situation, it's probably because you've already made some bad decisions.  Like all roguelikes, Brogue is about acting under imperfect information and having a backup plan for when the RNG turns against you.  It isn't pure chance.

You comment about the hunger clock suggests you haven't played Brogue.  Its time limit is strict and a constant factor in any player's decisions.  Most of the time you can't afford to backtrack three floors to switch your +1 ring for something better.  Again, just because the hunger clocks in Angband and DCSS are badly made doesn't mean that's the case for all roguelikes.

Vanguard

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Re: Quack Potions
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2015, 03:49:35 AM »
Angband`s IDing seems indeed pointless (but is it the same across all the forks?)

Sil's ID system is somewhat interesting.  There aren't many ID items and you're expected to do some experimentation.  You get a good amount of experience for IDing items too, so even if you don't plan to use something, it's worthwhile to learn what it is.  There's an ability you can learn that lets you fully ID any item on sight, and the ability to immediately understand and use anything you find gives the late game a different character from the early game.