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Oramin August 7, 2013 05:04

The Monster Memory
 
David and I have been having a discussion on this subject. Since he decided to be a bit of a douche in his response (after I said I wasn't going to post any more as a courtesy to the other posters), I'm going to reply to him here.

David:

Here's my most recent post in the other thread:

Quote:


Ok, sorry about the delay and sorry about continuing this discussion (for those who don’t want it in this thread). The good news for you is that this will be my final post on the subject.

Anyway, David, let’s discuss the philosophy of game design.

Angband, as you know, is a “hardcore” game. You die, you start a new character. That’s part of the concept of the game. If you activate the in-game setting to have infinite lives (I’m assuming this is still an option - didn’t check), then you’re labeled a cheater by the game.

A game doesn’t have to be designed this way. Diablo II has two separate modes - Hardcore and Softcore. Ultima IV doesn’t even have a hardcore mode; you automatically get resurrected by Lord British if you die. If you have infinite lives in these games, then you aren’t cheating because the designers made the decision that it isn’t cheating.

When I start a character in Diablo II, I make the decision whether to play a Hardcore character or to have the convenience of a Softcore character. When I win the game, Hardcore and Softcore characters get different titles.

Now, suppose for a second that I have selected a Softcore character and manage to finish the game without dying a single time (which I have done several times). I could have won on Hardcore; should I be entitled to the Hardcore title? No, I shouldn’t be because I made the choice to have the convenience of infinite lives.

Now, as I’m sure you’re going to point out, the convenience of infinite lives isn’t the same thing as the convenience of the monster memory. Sure, that’s a valid point - but have you noticed that neither of the other games I mentioned have in-game monster memories? Yep, they have infinite lives but no in-game monster memories.

When Angband was designed, the Implementors (Blessings upon them), made a decision that a lot of information would be hidden in-game. For example, is there any real reason not to have full information in the game about the StandArts before you ever enter the dungeon?

The monster memory is a convenience and reward for playing the game. As players learn about the game, they get rewarded by the program conveniently keeping track of this information for them.

Every one of us who has won the game for the first time had to earn a complete monster memory; I see no legitimate reason to change that now.

Sure, it is denying experienced players like you the convenience of having it available because you don’t want to have the cheater flag enabled on a new character on a new machine. But, frankly, if you’re actually experienced, you should have a pretty good idea of what the monsters do. If you just installed a new copy of Angband on a new computer, is there a reason you can’t look at the online spoilers? For that matter, can’t you just setup a second Angband on the same computer with a different character and have that one with the complete monster memory?

Frankly, I’d prefer the devs to remove the monster memory entirely rather than have the cheater flag removed for unearned knowledge.

If the cheater flag bothers you so much, you know what to do about it. I didn’t deserve the Hardcore titles for my Softcore character even though my character didn’t die because I made the choice to play a Softcore character. People who choose to have the game generate a complete unearned monster memory don’t deserve to avoid the cheater label even if that (extremely) slightly inconveniences experienced players.
Now, here is David's response:

Originally Posted by Oramin
Now, as I’m sure you’re going to point out, the convenience of infinite lives isn’t the same thing as the convenience of the monster memory.

Infinite lives aren't a convenience, they fundamentally change the game. We have ample evidence about this. When you make it easy for people to just keep playing when they die, or revert to a recent save, they play the game very differently. A strategy and style of play that dies dozens of times before reaching the end becomes no big deal. Yet if you played "hardcore" with such a strategy your chance of ever winning would be almost exactly zero.

Monster memory doesn't change the game at all. People who want to know what the monsters can do, just look in the source or in the spoiler file or in their browser. It takes a few extra clicks, so it's an annoyance, but it's like deleting the run command and making everyone move every single step one at a time, or like getting rid of macros. The game isn't any different if you have to move one step at a time and you can't use macros, the things you can do are all exactly the same, the game is just more annoying to play.


Quote:
Every one of us who has won the game for the first time had to earn a complete monster memory; I see no legitimate reason to change that now.

No, we just didn't. I never played Angband without looking up what the monsters can do, from the very beginning, sometime in the early 1990s. I always thought of that as the only way to play the game. My observation is that most Angband players also played in that same way.

If I really had no other way to learn what monsters could do than by encountering them, I never would have played Angband in the first place, because I don't enjoy that, I think it makes the game dumb. I don't have any problem with players who do enjoy playing that way, but the game was always completely public so that everyone could view the source, plus the spoiler files were just as available as the game itself. All of this information was out there so that people who wanted it could use it.

When I happened to think of playing Angband again, some months ago, I discovered that many improvements had been made to the game, and one of the biggest of those was the option to have all of the monster data immediately accessible and automatically displayed through the monster memory! Fabulous improvement!


Quote:
If you just installed a new copy of Angband on a new computer, is there a reason you can’t look at the online spoilers?

Of course. I can and I do. Like so many others. I don't need to do it for monsters, because of complete monster memory, but I do it for other things.


Quote:
If the cheater flag bothers you so much, you know what to do about it. I didn’t deserve the Hardcore titles for my Softcore character even though my character didn’t die because I made the choice to play a Softcore character. People who choose to have the game generate a complete unearned monster memory don’t deserve to avoid the cheater label even if that (extremely) slightly inconveniences experienced players.

It doesn't bother me at all. People will make one decision or the other, and the game will go on. Either I'll play the game the way it is or I'll just modify the code. Easy enough either way. But neither alternative will keep me from also making the case for making the game better. You were the one who asked me to make my argument, remember? (Practically demanded it.)

P.S. You also never explained at all what your "public map" analogy has to do with anything. After demanding my response, it seems that you ignored it because it actually undermines your argument.

-----------------------------------------

So, I'm going to address a couple of things.

1. A free Monster Memory provides people with information that makes the game easier to play. The fact that you admitted that you wouldn't have played the game without having access to the spoilers demonstrates the difference between having the information and not having the information.

2. I've been playing this game just as long as you have. As far as I know, you *could* get the information but it certainly wasn't as freely available as you're making it out to be. And, in case you're missing the point, you always had to get it *outside* of the game.

Also, I don't know where you're getting your information from in this quotation:

Quote:

No, we just didn't. I never played Angband without looking up what the monsters can do, from the very beginning, sometime in the early 1990s. I always thought of that as the only way to play the game. My observation is that most Angband players also played in that same way.

Oh, really, what a shock. Based on *your* observations, *most* Angband players played like you. Well, based on *my* more honest observations, nobody I know played like you. They weren't lazy bastards and actually tried taking on the challenge of figuring the game out.

Now, I don't have a problem with you being a lazy bastard, David, just as long as you don't get the same title that the rest of us earned by staying within the parameters of the game.

3. As for this:

Quote:

P.S. You also never explained at all what your "public map" analogy has to do with anything. After demanding my response, it seems that you ignored it because it actually undermines your argument.
This is where you decided to be a bit of a douche and try to take advantage of the fact that not only was I trying to keep that post short but that I also said I would be courteous enough not to respond in that thread. So, fine, I'll get to it.

Here's the original questions I asked you:

Quote:


Ok, let me explain this a different way.

Suppose you are playing a game with a persistent map.

In the beginning, in order to have a copy of the map, you have to engage in copious note taking.

Finally somebody decides that is inconvenient and includes an automapping feature so that a record is kept of the map where your character has explored.

See the difference between the map that you have earned by exploring and having the full map revealed in-game the instant you start playing?

Or how about if you are playing a game where you speak with NPCs and the conversations are the same between games.

In the beginning, in order to have a copy of the conversations, you have to engage in copious note taking.

Finally somebody decides that is inconvenient and includes a log of the in game conversations so that a record is kept of conversations that your character has had.

See the difference between the log of conversations that you have earned by exploring and talking to NPCs and having every conversation in the log before you've ever played the game?


There's a difference between a convenient method of recalling information you have already earned by playing the game and getting free information.

I'd like to point out that it took multiple attempts before you would answer even *one* of those questions, and when you finally did, well, here it is:

Quote:

Some games are designed to be played once only, and some games are designed to be played over and over again.

If you have a game with hidden information that is only supposed to be played once, and there's no point in replaying because once you've played through it you know the hidden information (e.g., the point of the game is to find locations, and once you know where they are then the game is uninteresting), then revealing the hidden information before you play would sap some of the point of the game.

On the other hand, if the game is designed and intended to be played many times, then it's expected that you will may know the map (from previous playings) and the game will still maintain its character. In that case, it would definitely make sense to have an option (or even an automatic choice) to reveal the map from the start, and it doesn't make any sense to call that "cheating". It's just giving you information that everyone can already have from previous playings. Some people might prefer to reveal information as they go, in their first playing, while others might prefer to just see it all from the beginning. Everyone should play as they want and there's no reason to call one approach "cheating".

If knowing the map is a big advantage, but you want to make the game replayable, then the best solution is to make the maps random rather than fixed. That way it can be different every time and hidden from the start.

I used to play multiplayer AOWSM, sometimes on fixed maps and sometimes on random maps. When we played on random maps, we would usually play with the map hidden from the start, and each player would have to explore to discover the map. When we played on fixed maps, we would generally expose the whole map to everyone from the start, so that some players don't get an advantage over others from knowing the map better. Exposing the map there is not "cheating", it's a balancing mechanism. To say that some players have the map exposed from the start, because they have played it before and it stays revealed for them, while others have to explore it from scratch, with no peeking, would seem unfair to me.

This is my best attempt to answer (one of) your hypotheticals. That's about as much effort as I care to invest in this. If you need to refine or elucidate or interpret your examples further, I suggest you at least make a new thread for them.

Note that you started your long-winded answer with this:

Quote:

Some games are designed to be played once only, and some games are designed to be played over and over again.
You decided to base your answer on game design and avoid actually answering the question as it was presented to you.

So, I responded with a discussion of the philosophy of game design since that was the basis of your response.


Let me repeat: There's a difference between a convenient method of recalling information you have already earned by playing the game and getting free information.

Just because you *can* get it outside of the game that doesn't mean the game should provide it for you. And, yes, you've already admitted that it does alter the gameplay because you admitted that you wouldn't have played the game without using the spoilers.

Finally, while you can claim that your suggestion is to improve the game, I think that you're really just trying to improve it for *you*.



If you want to continue this, now that we're in a different thread, I have no problem explaining things to you until even somebody with your intentional (and I believe it is intentional) obtuseness can get the point.

P.S.

I don't feel like going back to edit this point in. Having infinite lives does *not* fundamentally change the approach to the game. I play my Softcore D2 characters *exactly* the same way I play my Hardcore D2 characters. However, if I choose to have the safety net of playing a Softcore character, I don't deserve the Hardcore titles even when I finish the game without dying (which is most of the time).

Derakon August 7, 2013 05:19

I'll note that the only times, so far, that I've seen an argument with DaviddesJ end are when the other party gives up and walks away. As far as I can tell, he is physically incapable of letting anyone else have the last word in any discussion.

Thanks for moving this to a new thread though, so at least we can keep the 3.5 freeze thread clean.

Oramin August 7, 2013 05:43

Derakon:

I figured. I was going to let him have the last word until he decided to imply that I was arguing in bad faith. ;)

Scatha August 7, 2013 11:54

Just to give a data point: while I think there's something cool about the exploration aspect of not knowing what a monster does when you first meet it, I only have a certain amount of time to play games in and I'm much more likely to want to engage with a turn-based game (such as a roguelike) if it's telling me all of the relevant rules (such as what that red 'D' can do).

So something's which changed since Angband was first written is that people have many more games competing for their time. If I knew ahead of time that I'd be sinking 100 hours into the game, I might prefer the exploration aspect of no monster memory. But presenting the information freely allows me to engage with the game more quickly. I think this would actually be a great precedent to set, as it would encourage variants to go the same way by default, which would in turn make them easier to try out.

Nick August 7, 2013 12:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scatha (Post 83309)
Just to give a data point: while I think there's something cool about the exploration aspect of not knowing what a monster does when you first meet it, I only have a certain amount of time to play games in and I'm much more likely to want to engage with a turn-based game (such as a roguelike) if it's telling me all of the relevant rules (such as what that red 'D' can do).

So something's which changed since Angband was first written is that people have many more games competing for their time. If I knew ahead of time that I'd be sinking 100 hours into the game, I might prefer the exploration aspect of no monster memory. But presenting the information freely allows me to engage with the game more quickly. I think this would actually be a great precedent to set, as it would encourage variants to go the same way by default, which would in turn make them easier to try out.

That's a really good point.

takkaria August 7, 2013 13:47

This argument has pretty much convinced me that full monster memory shouldn't be a cheating option. I find the 'monster memory is a reward from the game, something you earn and something you have to deserve in order to have' line to be weirdly moralistic, especially in light of the huge amounts of extra information the game has made available to players in recent years.

If you see monster memory as a reward, then it makes sense that it has to be earned, I guess. I don't see it as a reward; the reward for fighting monsters is the XP they bring. Monster memory is just a convenience. It's an automating of something that you could do manually. Angband in recent years has a history of automating things that you could do manually: the monster list, the object list, the 'I' command, being able to see what's in the stores when you're in the dungeon (using the ~) command and so on. I don't see this as being any different.

Timo Pietilš August 7, 2013 14:00

Quote:

Originally Posted by takkaria (Post 83313)
If you see monster memory as a reward, then it makes sense that it has to be earned, I guess. I don't see it as a reward

As long as you do add it as option I don't care. I like to have something more to find, so I like to have cumulating monster memory. I see it as an reward I guess.

takkaria August 7, 2013 14:43

Quote:

Originally Posted by Timo Pietilš (Post 83315)
As long as you do add it as option I don't care. I like to have something more to find, so I like to have cumulating monster memory. I see it as an reward I guess.

Yeah, it would always be an option, and off by default. I prefer not to have full knowledge straight away myself.

Timo Pietilš August 7, 2013 15:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by takkaria (Post 83316)
Yeah, it would always be an option, and off by default. I prefer not to have full knowledge straight away myself.

Monster descriptions could need some work so that you get a better hint of how dangerous some previously unknown monster really is.

Maybe also some information you get from one monster of some type could give you information of all of it's kind (all dragons and zephyr hounds have breath attacks for example), so when you meet drolem for the first time you see from monster description that it can have breath weapon (drolem is dragon for slay point of view).

Derakon August 7, 2013 16:21

That could actually be an interesting project. You could break monsters down into categories based on their symbol, color, and substrings of their name (e.g. "white", "fire", etc.) and then track what attributes creatures in a given category have in common and use that to insert probabilistic entries into the monster memory.

I'm not gonna do it myself, but it does sound interesting.


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