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Old September 7, 2017, 01:15   #132
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Sufficient for living and internet.
Posts: 69
Nivim is on a distinguished road
Originally Posted by wobbly View Post
Virtue Rant
I've been playing on-line on & talking to people who are new to the game. The most common question I see comes when someone uses an un-ided item & becomes "less knowledgable". You can almost sense the paranoia of a player who is learning the game & "done something wrong" & "lost something" that'll matter latter on but they have no idea what happened & why it matters or where it'll come back to bite them.

Nature Casters. Maintaining true neutral is super annoying. I know enough quirks to game it & it is gaming it. Feels artificial. Get hungry so many times to be good-er. Be a glutton so many times to be evil-er.
The nature virtue itself? Anything with the animal tag is natural. Hounds. Hydras. God-damn Nether hounds are natural.
I was expecting people to take debo's warning to heart and avoid talking about any sharp edges of chris' post, but for this topic at least, I'm willing to add my work to the pile.
On Virtues and Verbosity:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
For example, I think the virtue system *must* be on all the time. It has subtle design effects on the gameplay and a few not so subtle effects that really, really *ought* to be experienced. First-hand ... not source dived and spoiled. Hengband was a game that was still surprising me after 6 years of heavy play. There was still stuff I didn't know. I'm trying for the same sort of experience, the same sort of design.
There's games like The King of Dragon Pass that do this really well, and games like Dwarf Fortress that do it decently well, but the reason the first does it well is because it shows you the results of the subtle things quite obviously (with art!) and is already a reading-comprehension game with writing that implies those subtle things, and then the second does it well because of the spoilers and the community that helps guide people through the subtle details of those spoilers in ways that are entertaining instead of confusing... and that's the key, you see.

New players talking about the virtue system regularly mention how it would be a lot better if it weren't so opaque: "what do virtues even do?", "should I try not to lose nature virtue?", "it should be documented better", "it could be more transparent", "Without the spoilers, it's all esoteric"... They look at the "You brute!" message and they have no idea why its happening, how to stop it, what it does, or even if they care about it. They are confused, and the answers to their questions generally boil down to "don't worry, the virtue system doesn't really matter, you can ignore it, it doesn't make much sense, and trying to control it would be a huge hassle".^

Then, for examples of people enjoying the virtue system, you have stuff like "virtues are funny just for the firs ttime i opened the virtues info page and found out that i was Bitter Enemy of Compassion", "learning stuff, makes you less knowledgable. It's vey Zen", and I remember someone being entertained by 'selling empty bottles gives you nature virtue' once, but I can't find a quote for it.

All in all, virtues are currently one of those things you experiment with a little or read the code, then turn off once their jokes grow old.

Trying to fix that is an entirely different issue; it's already too spammy for most players, kinda ruining the 'subtle' part, and if you were to try and make it more subtle, they wouldn't even be as entertained with it as they are, since they might not ever notice the system or its effects unless they were very thorough, and they might never figure out how it works.

Using it (in a game design sense) successfully probably involves making sure the player can trust that the system will make sense, that it wont screw them over, and that each thing it does is reasonably possible to figure out. Then, you need to show them early on— in their introduction to the game— that they even need to be giving this trust, and that it won't be misplaced. Something like "Each character will have a set of Virtues that interact with the world around them; higher virtue marks that character as an ally of all things that hold the same virtue." Which neatly implies things like how creatures can be friendly based on virtue and how chaos/random items work better with higher chance virtue...

...but runs the problem that it doesn't quite match how spellcasting penalties work right now, or with how compassion = 'heal monster wand is better', and if you wanted to implement it, you would still need to fix things like Nature or Honor virtue, so that player decisions can actually have a proportionate effect on the virtue.

There's also the arguable bonuses; like Chance virtue's effect on Polymorph is good for some purposes but not for others, so a player might feel betrayed that they increased their Chance only to discover it made their odds worse at their goal.

^(Kinda like the "crazy" disconnect, there are players [myself included] that thought some parts of Poschengband were intentionally confusing; pieces not intended to add anything to the gameplay but instead to leave someone playing or reading the code befuddled into speechlessness at least once, or, at the very least, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)

That was longer than expected, and I don't think I managed to say my point explicitly. I hope you can figure it out anyway, chris, but if you don't want to bother, I wouldn't be upset.
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