skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Games with combat, inventory, crafting and more beside a story and dating/life sim gameplay
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yayswords
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by yayswords »

Let's not forget why the whole downtime system was added to begin with though: People killing Loren bosses with party levels way higher than they were balanced around. If we take a look at say Diablo 3, you could theoretically clear everything before Leoric (the beta end boss) 150 times before deciding to actually face him, and yes you would very slowly gain an edge, but nobody would do it. The power gains would be extremely small and the time investment huge.

In SotW it isn't even possible to grind. Still, there are a few easy ways to limit the effectiveness of grinding. One is not letting monsters gain levels as we do. The wolves of Ninim will always be level 3 or whatever (I guess it should be chapter dependent). And let's say when you're level 6, you get almost no exp from a level 3 mob. At level 7, you get literally no exp from a level 3 mob (you can scale down quest exp like this too). If we say grinding is possible, you could then ache your way to level 7 if you feel you really need that to beat the Dingirran guard waves or whatever. But you can't get past level 7. As a designer, you can assume we will be level 6-7 starting act 2. Hell you could just hardcap us at level 7 for act 1.

Then comes the problem: But what about gold? Yes indeed, we could always grind for gold. It would be a little weird to decide wolves drop no pelts if slain by a level 7 party. You can always limit the effectiveness: Let's say if you spend 3 hours grinding you could amass 10k gold, which is a fortune for act 1. But then you design it so that getting 10k gold is really easy in act 2. I realize in this particular case we will lose gold between the acts but yeah...

The better solution is limiting the importance of gold though, and that means more equipment being quest rewards and boss drops (and some decent stuff from random mobs). This in turn touches on one of Anima's endeavors - fewer equipment slots. The fewer slots we have to fill, the less daunting of a task it is to ensure we can do so through quests and boss loot. Stores could sell some rudimentary gear but should eventually be phased out altogether. I'm not even sure what they should sell in the endgame. If they have the current plethora of consumables you betcha we'll stock up on those.

Anyway... downtime system, needed at all?
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.
renke_
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by renke_ »

the suggestions above are certainly not bad (fewer slots would be sensible to ensure comparable stats, currently weapons and armour pieces are too uneven), but restraining random elements further would change the whole game. at the moment lucky shop finds change the game play drastically, and personally I like RPGs that way - sometimes the party has to eat shit all the way, sometimes the universe is kind and delievers powerful drops.

the sum of your ideas would eliminate most of the random effects (railroading in regard to items and levels) and the game play would be more similar to a puzzle game with The One Way to solve it. I fear most of the game would be like the necromancer fight in NM: If I understood the balancing correctly the only valid solution is to instakill the archer. I don't mind this as I never play nightmare difficulty myself, but here's a reminder that not everyone prefers puzzle games with a chess-like logical approach, some players are quite happy with Random Number Gods. Puzzle games in itself are not inherently bad, but I often have one problem with them: The One Solution is not working with my playing style, not the best premise for a fun game.

Sure, the above is exaggerated, but as yayswords is one of the more audible and convincing board contributors with the means to change the game play after his fashion (a totally factual description w/o grudge :)) I thought a different view was needed ^^
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yayswords
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by yayswords »

Actually I think the mage is more painful than the archer, but I've beaten the nightmare mode Mormont by taking down his front row too. Admittedly that wasn't an easy victory, and I only did it by necessity. Jack probably broke something so I couldn't nuke hard enough :P

It is an easily described dilemma though. The more variance there can be in levels and equipment, the harder it becomes to balance encounters. Imagine if Jack had to make Fost a challenge for every party level between 18 and 30 without making him scale with party level. We'll have less of those problems I think, because 1) no grinding and 2) we're actually supposed to reach the max level; at some point Jack can simply balance every encounter around a level 30 party.

But how would you design nightmare mode with semi-heavy variance in gear quality? I'd estimate I'd be like 30% weaker if I didn't play the clothing casino and just went with the best of the initial selection. Also with a rather overwhelming amount of ways to build your characters and party, I think there's plenty of variety between playthroughs. I'm sure Jack would have both his hands full just keeping some setups from being overpowered while also trying to make others viable, without having to account for a significantly varying power factor based on our willingness to play reload roulette.

Also do you have any examples of other RNG-heavy games that you like? With swords! Metal swords.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.
renke_
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by renke_ »

yayswords wrote:But how would you design nightmare mode with semi-heavy variance in gear quality? I'd estimate I'd be like 30% weaker if I didn't play the clothing casino and just went with the best of the initial selection.
at this point we can only agree that we disagree - I like the variance :)
Also do you have any examples of other RNG-heavy games that you like? With swords! Metal swords.
to name a few:
* Morrorwind (item generation is similar to sotw - most drops except some fixed special items are randomized according to the player's level. I logged 100s of hours in the game without winning it once because I got side-tracked with bringing havoc to the sandbox ^^ [but I don't expect a sandbox game - Jacks's games are story-driven and this is fine with me])
* nethack (an extreme example, one has to restart when the "adventurer set" is not complete within the first 3 dungeons or so)
* The first two parts of the Realms of Arkania series (shit, I'm old...)
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yayswords
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by yayswords »

I know you do :) I also know though that nightmare mode is supposed to be the answer to people who found Loren hard too easy. I think it is a very tall order for the minuscule dev team to design it so that let's say 5-10 different party concepts, complete with character builds and equipment choices, are viable. Not more or less than viable, ideally nightmare mode should push our minmaxing and creativity to their limits. That's already an overwhelming task I think, but if the capriciousness of Lady Luck is supposed to allow for 30% variance in power between two parties built exactly the same way, I don't know what adjective to use anymore. So yeah, I totally get you like the randomness, but how do you think we should keep nightmare mode worthy of its name under these circumstances?
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jack1974
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by jack1974 »

Just want to say that my goal is not to make "the perfect Nightmare mode" at all. Like it or not, my kind of players are more interested in the story and not if the "Nightmare mode is worth it". Also because I've come to the conclusion that is IMPOSSIBLE for me to do that: if I wanted to have the slightest hope to do this I should design a game from scratch like Skulls Of The Shogun, with 3-4 stat variables each char/unit, fixed battles (with NOTHING random, no inventory, etc) and a few simple rules.
Indeed for example Planet Stronghold had just 3 inventory slot (and only 1 weapon + 1 armor) and fewer skills, and everyone agrees that is harder and more balanced than Loren (and probably than SOTW too).
When I read the forums of some popular MMORPGs and see people complaining that one class is overpowered, I realize that if a game with a budget 100 times mine, and a team 30-40 times bigger still have balancing issues, how can I hope to manage it instead ? :wink:

So I'll see for the next RPGs but in summary I think it's just one of the two:
1) fewer inventory/skills/etc, smaller variance = more chances to fine-tune balance everything. But it would be as much fun? not sure
2) classic system like Loren/SOTW = impossible to balance it, the best I can do is provide some limited grinding and use boss/key plot points as sort of "checkpoint" to see if the game is too easy / hard (because in Loren many people even complained that some battles were too hard to win in Hard mode! So you get complaints on both sides :mrgreen:).
renke_
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by renke_ »

fewer equipment slots would be a good start, I don't think anyone will miss them or believe the game is less fun.

say a list like:
helmet
armour
shoes
melee weapon
shield
missile weapon
generic accessory (gloves, belt)
generic jewellery (ring, necklace)

still enough flexibility, but 4 less balancing issues to worry about ;)
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yayswords
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by yayswords »

1) fewer inventory/skills/etc, smaller variance = more chances to fine-tune balance everything. But it would be as much fun? not sure
For the people who only play for plot it's not gonna make anything worse. They might not care at all; I believe easy difficulty is completable by pretty much just doubleclicking everything you encounter. Obviously it's not as binary as having Camp Plot and Camp Play though.

Also, don't take forum whine as a definite sign that something is imbalanced. We all know that everything short of literally chess will be imbalanced to some degree... and maybe with computer brains, white or black might be at an advantage even there. If nobody at all complains about balance on the forums it doesn't mean your game is balanced, it means no one cares about your game's balance, and that should worry you a hundred times more than the prospect that you can't achieve something as subjective as perfect balance. Perfection isn't something you can reach, but you can always get closer to it.

You know what I thought about the Loren story. I haven't been facepalming over the SotW plot thus far but I haven't really been captivated by it either. I play these games for the combat, and it's already a bit annoying that I didn't have/take the chance to influence SotW class designs before you moved on from them; I think we could have made much larger improvements from Loren than this, even without the global timer. I would not tolerate this combat quality if these weren't indie games. I'm here for the potential. If yours was a large industrial company there's no way one single tester like myself could have this influence like renke mentioned, and I would be long gone with the parting thought that yep, this game sucks and it will stay that way.

Note that I'm not asking for fewer skills or attributes though. I'm out for fewer random factors to balance around, in this endeavor anyway. But you said "my kind of players", not "the players my games currently attract", so I am getting a little concerned about spending time on this. No hard feelings though.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.
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jack1974
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by jack1974 »

Yes I know that not necessarily players whine = problems and nobody whining = all right :)
Loren got very little feedback on combat, but mainly because the "kind of players" that play my games is more focused on the story. However, I've surely gained more popularity after Loren (Steam, etc) so I've now people like you or _renke who play mostly for the combat (or at least pay much more attention to it), and it's good since is something I can improve.

When you say:
yayswords wrote:it's already a bit annoying that I didn't have/take the chance to influence SotW class designs before you moved on from them; I think we could have made much larger improvements from Loren than this, even without the global timer.
What do you mean exactly? because I definitely wouldn't have ahd the time to do something like rewriting large portion of the gameplay/rules for SOTW. If you mean adding more variety on skills, you (and others) actually already made me change A LOT OF STUFF compared to Loren. I think I even wrote a blog post listing the improvements but:
1) fixed skilltree, to pick-skills-in-any-order
2) skills like damage shield, mana steal, reflect damage, skills with a limited amount of uses, bards skills (that you've yet to see)
3) isometric map (not trivial!)
4) randomized items
5) more attributes (Loren had just 3)
6) completely revamped GUI with bigger portraits, etc
7) ETC ETC (I'm sure I forget some other big improvements over Loren)

maybe from the player point of view this is small stuff, but from my point of view I can say that I've never worked so much in a game before. Indeed to be honest I'm quite burned out, and if sometimes I seem irritable or "no don't want to change this now" is because I'm really tired, not because I think an idea is wrong (well sometimes yes, but when is the case I say it).

In the next Friday blog post I talk about the time needed to make the games and the summary is that basically I've coded SOTW + designed first act in about 6 weeks, which is some kind of record when you consider other indies like Spiderweb do ONE game a year, or others take 2-3 years between each game :wink: (this was mainly possible by reusing Loren engine and from the power of Python language).

In summary: I really DON'T think I could have worked harder than this on this game and have it out this year, in any case.
yayswords wrote:Note that I'm not asking for fewer skills or attributes though. I'm out for fewer random factors to balance around, in this endeavor anyway. But you said "my kind of players", not "the players my games currently attract", so I am getting a little concerned about spending time on this. No hard feelings though.
Yes it was clear what you were asking. But the problem as I said is that the only way to do it as small indie is to reduce the amount of factors. Otherwise, how can you do it? I think is just not possible. When you have 3 parameters to balance/tweak/test is one thing, when you have 30 ... :shock:

But is not like I don't appreciate your suggestions, it's only that I am really not sure how to do it, without the need of testing for months (and me tweaking for months :lol:). Unless as I said I have less things to balance, which could still result in a fun game.

Last thing, after some thinking I realized that probably I shouldn't focus only on my current kind of players. I mean, keep them happy with a good story/romance, and Easy play mode, OK. But I guess if I manage to make other kind of players (more interested in battles/gameplay) is not a bad thing at all, since I'd be expanding my business. It's only that I can't promise to make a big jumps of quality - my first games had much lower quality in writing, gameplay, art etc. Is something I want to try to do but step by step :)
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Re: skill ideas (was 'one skill, multiple abilities?')

Post by renke_ »

I think yayswords meant with his comment about walking on that the classes are currently not comparable in attractivness - compare the hunter with the druid: The first has a highly unique combination of skills (balance, the-skill-which-name-I-forgot-but-with-a-0-SP-cost-for-the-next-action), while the druid is more meh.

Another point I communicated not really well is radomizing in combat: I'm all for random droppings, but tactical combat is better without (or minimal) RNG variance. At the moment the effect of an attack is not clear to me, I think I counted 3 or 4 "drop in some entropy" plus multiple "if damage type foo than reduce damage by bar %" while experimenting with modding sotw.

Combat (especially the tactical kind in a turn-based game) should be transparent and understandable evene without code access, if the result of an action isn't foreseeable "players with ambitions" are [understandable] pissed off as they are not able to plan their moves (this worked really fine in Planet Stronghold).

PS I hope that sounded not too harsh - it was meant as constructive input...
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