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Old August 25, 2012, 11:46   #11
Mikko Lehtinen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
This antiscumming seems to become paranoya. Imho changing monsters into valuable resource is a bad habit, if you have to do this, it means your game have some hidden flaws.
Mist has a very different philosophy from most other variants, and my specific tweaks are probably not at all appropriate for other games. I've received player comments about how farming is clearly against this philosophy, and feels bad. It's not really a problem in Angband, since you can generate infinite levels anyway.

The basic idea in Mist is to clear all levels completely. I like to play this way, and so do many other players.

Actually Halls of Mist philosophy is closer to other classic roguelikes than Angband. Let's pick Larn, my favorite, as an example. It's a simple and enjoyable game with no flaws that I can think of.

My anti-scumming tweaks move Mist further away from Angband and closer to Larn.

If I were to design Mist from the ground up, it would probably not have summoners at all. But they are too fun to get rid off. So I need to use some "ugly" tricks and hacks to make them fit.

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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
It is a common problem in all angband variants, as I think about this, main problem probably is a 'kill big bad boss to win' concept. If player can choose, when to face the big boss, and that boss is by far the strongest monster it makes it natural to prepare for a fight. E.g. if you award a winner for just getting to the bottom of the dungeon, 'scumming' may be reduced, or may be not, it depends on player's habit.
No one has ever even seen the big boss in Fay or Mist.

Usually the point is to just get as deep as you can, and to get to the high score list. You will die a lot. For this reason I'm trying to increase shallow-level replayability and the speed of play in any way I can.

In Mist you need to prepare for every tough monster. You have a very real possibility of meeting too-tough-to-handle monsters at the very next dungeon level, and you'll want to prepare as well as you can. It's not just for the end boss.

For this reason scumming is a much bigger problem in Mist than in Angband.

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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
Btw just one more thing, IMHO it is not good idea to 'force' players to play 'optimally', in some way, that is supposed to, it kills the gameplay.
You are probably right.

Halls of Mist is aimed squarely at the players who like hard games, and who want constant challenge. Most players do not.

After reading these two blog posts I realized than I'm designing a game for a minority.

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.fi/2009/1...it-easier.html
http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.fi/2011/0...y-in-rpgs.html

Fortunately this is not a business and I can just go on and create a game for myself and a few fellow-minded gamers.

An easy fork of Halls of Mist might be a good idea. But I'm perhaps not the right person to design it, at least not without ideas from a bunch of playtesters.

EDIT: I don't think that I'm "forcing players to play optimally". Rather, I'm trying to make the most fun way to play to become the optimal playstyle. For instance, farming summoners used to be the optimal way to play Mist, but is was boring as hell, and so I made farming much more dangerous. Now the optimal play is (I hope) to kill summoners as fast as you can. That's also the most intuitive tactic against them.

EDIT 2: Well, making torchlight a scarcer resource may be just what you mean by "forcing players to play optimally". Taken to extremes, it would kill the gameplay. Players don't want to worry about every single unnecessary move. For that reason, I didn't set the torch clock to be too tight. Only rarely, when you are using a very good ego torch, you need to start thinking about saving fuel. Usually I forget torches entirely and just play how I feel like.

(The torch clock is designed to prevent some unfun behavior, like trying to fight a tough unique for two hundred times, until you finally get lucky enough with critical hits.)

Last edited by Mikko Lehtinen; August 25, 2012 at 12:37.
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Old August 25, 2012, 12:55   #12
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Mist has a very different philosophy from most other variants
Is it not like an angband ironman ? I play only ironmans myself (except for testing stuff), so I allmost forgot how normal angband plays.

Just as an universal suggestion: if you think that killing monsters is too profitable, lower reward (to zero or even negative, if needed), but not monster availability. It is against common logic if player wants more monsters.

Also making optimal way to win equal to most fun way to play, is, at first, very subjective, and, second, IMHO not very good. Choice between doing things right, and doing things easily is a nice strategical choice for the game, it is also probably the only 'game style' choice available in roguelikes.

It is definitely bad if some boring actions are required to win, but if some boring actions can slightly increase winning chance it is good IMHO.
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Old August 25, 2012, 13:44   #13
Mikko Lehtinen
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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
Is it not like an angband ironman ? I play only ironmans myself (except for testing stuff), so I allmost forgot how normal angband plays.
Yes, more or less. You can control how fast you dive: dive fast for bigger danger and profitability. It's more like Sil than Vanilla ironman, maybe?

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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
Just as an universal suggestion: if you think that killing monsters is too profitable, lower reward (to zero or even negative, if needed), but not monster availability. It is against common logic if player wants more monsters.
Isn't this exactly what I'm doing? I didn't remove breeders, I removed the XP you gain from killing them. I didn't remove summoners, I made their summons more dangerous.

What particular change are you disagreeing with?

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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
It is definitely bad if some boring actions are required to win, but if some boring actions can slightly increase winning chance it is good IMHO.
I can completely agree with this, since you had the keyword slightly in the sentence.

In many games of Halls of Mist is probably unwinnable unless you get lucky. Random content + limited dungeon levels tends to do this. Killing breeders or summoned monsters, if it was profitable, would make these games winnable. Just like you said: "It is definitely bad if some boring actions are required to win."
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Old August 25, 2012, 13:47   #14
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Originally Posted by LostTemplar View Post
lso making optimal way to win equal to most fun way to play, is, at first, very subjective,
Oh, I think I agree here also. Like I said, I'm designing a game for a minority.

Actually, I'm designing for myself. I don't bother changing the game unless the change makes the game more fun for myself.
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Old August 25, 2012, 14:13   #15
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Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
I'd be really intrigued what would happen in a comp with no limits at all in character creation.
Sounds good, although isn't that what the ladder would do anyway? I guess a competition adds a time limit.

Overall I'm excited to see how Halls of Mist plays, and very pleased that you're making a thread to provide documentation. I tried Fay at one point after reading your comments about design philosophy, but lacking documentation I didn't find the mechanics transparent enough for me to engage with (and I guess I wasn't prepared to put the time in to learn them by trial and error).

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostTemplar
Also making optimal way to win equal to most fun way to play, is, at first, very subjective, and, second, IMHO not very good. Choice between doing things right, and doing things easily is a nice strategical choice for the game, it is also probably the only 'game style' choice available in roguelikes.

It is definitely bad if some boring actions are required to win, but if some boring actions can slightly increase winning chance it is good IMHO.
I'll lend a voice strongly disagreeing with this.

[Disclaimer: the design philosophy that Mikko Lehtinen reports is very close to a part of that of Sil; the only substantive difference mentioned here is that Sil doesn't aim for the "clear each level completely". In the other direction, Sil has a strong bias in favour of simple and transparent mechanics.]

I hate the feeling that I could be increasing my chances of winning if only I did this thing I'm not going to bother with because it's dull. I enjoy working out how to do well at games, and trying to optimise my play, but I play games to have fun. So having optimal play be fun is an obvious requirement for me to want to engage with something as a game (at least in this sense of game; open ended exploration can be fun too, but feels less gamelike). It doesn't need optimal play to be the most fun way, but that's a good thing to aim for.

I think that the strategic choices come from not making it obvious what the optimal play in lots of situations is. Trying to increase the number of circumstances in which there's more than one viable alternative is how this kind of gameplay is improved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen
To make all sorts of boring torch optimizations impossible, you can not extinguish a torch. If you take off a torch, it's gone forever.
I love the sound of your torches and this is a beautiful answer to the possibility of abuse. Exceptionally clean mechanic which is easy to parse flavourwise.

On the other hand I'm not convinced by your anti-(summon-scumming) rule (though of course I agree that you need some rule there). It's complicated in an artificial way -- as opposed to complexity which comes from following flavour, which is easier for players to understand. And it must really be understood for optimal play, which is likely to involve farming the summoners somewhat, but not beyond the bounds of safety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LostTemplar
Just as an universal suggestion: if you think that killing monsters is too profitable, lower reward (to zero or even negative, if needed), but not monster availability. It is against common logic if player wants more monsters.
This I agree with! I don't think it's necessarily bad for players to want more monsters, but it runs against the grain enough that I think it wants to be a central part of the game (preferably with in-game explanation) if it's going to be present.

How about a really simple rule like giving no experience or drops for summoned monsters? Either by setting a flag on the monster, or by duplicating monster entries to things like "illusionary grue", which is identical to a regular grue except that it has no drops, gives no experience, and doesn't regularly appear in the dungeon, but sources of summoning always create only illusionary monsters.

That said, I'm not trying to slow down your release here; just providing feedback and ideas on the off-chance that it's useful at some point ...
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Old August 25, 2012, 14:30   #16
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Hmm, given the timing, I humbly, yet strongly, suggest you strive to release this for ARRP 2012 for even better visibility than usual AND probably a guarantee of some reviews, feedback, and impressions moreso than otherwise due to folks covering the entrants.

http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopme....php/2012_ARRP
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Old August 25, 2012, 14:54   #17
Mikko Lehtinen
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Originally Posted by getter77 View Post
Hmm, given the timing, I humbly, yet strongly, suggest you strive to release this for ARRP 2012 for even better visibility than usual AND probably a guarantee of some reviews, feedback, and impressions moreso than otherwise due to folks covering the entrants.

http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopme....php/2012_ARRP
Wow. The timing is perfect indeed. Thanks!
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Old August 25, 2012, 15:43   #18
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Sounds good, although isn't that what the ladder would do anyway? I guess a competition adds a time limit.
Yes, that's right.

Another possibility I thought of would be to limit the number of tries ("lives") to three or so. A generous time limit and only three tries per player would result in a very different kind of competition.

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Originally Posted by Scatha View Post
Overall I'm excited to see how Halls of Mist plays, and very pleased that you're making a thread to provide documentation. I tried Fay at one point after reading your comments about design philosophy, but lacking documentation I didn't find the mechanics transparent enough for me to engage with (and I guess I wasn't prepared to put the time in to learn them by trial and error).
The base mechanics, especially the skills, are more transparent this time around. [I]nspecting items gives a lot of information about new item uses, success chances, etc.

On the other hand, there are some new mechanics that may not be so intuitive (yet).

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I hate the feeling that I could be increasing my chances of winning if only I did this thing I'm not going to bother with because it's dull. I enjoy working out how to do well at games, and trying to optimise my play, but I play games to have fun. So having optimal play be fun is an obvious requirement for me to want to engage with something as a game (at least in this sense of game; open ended exploration can be fun too, but feels less gamelike). It doesn't need optimal play to be the most fun way, but that's a good thing to aim for.
The designers of Magic the Gathering are firm believers in this design theory.

Magic is at most fun when both players have creatures that fight each other. But in the past creature cards weren't very good. Most kitchen table decks were full of creatures, and people were having fun. But the tournament scene used to be dominated by Necropotence decks and combo decks without any creatures. Lots of competitive people left the game at that point.

After that experience, the designers of MtG have spent lots of time trying to align the fun with optimal. They claim that's one of the biggest reasons to why the game is selling so well at the moment.

I guess roguelike players can be similarly divided into "kitchen table players" and "tournament players".

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Originally Posted by Scatha View Post
I think that the strategic choices come from not making it obvious what the optimal play in lots of situations is. Trying to increase the number of circumstances in which there's more than one viable alternative is how this kind of gameplay is improved.
Absolutely. I find Sangband and Oangband to be especially good at this. Leon Marrick succeeded in making lots of different ways to kill monsters viable.

I'm making an effort to offer choices, too. For example, I've tried to make all abilities important for all classes, and invented alternative uses for many items.

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On the other hand I'm not convinced by your anti-(summon-scumming) rule (though of course I agree that you need some rule there). It's complicated in an artificial way -- as opposed to complexity which comes from following flavour, which is easier for players to understand. And it must really be understood for optimal play, which is likely to involve farming the summoners somewhat, but not beyond the bounds of safety.
Thanks for pointing this out. I suspect that LostTemplar found the mechanic unintuitive also, and some of his criticism arose from that.

I love it when people to point out unintuitive mechanics to me. Or strange pieces of flavour, for that matter. When I design games, I always get lots and lots of ideas, and I try many of them in practise. Only after many iterations I'm able to find mechanics or pieces of flavour that I'm comfortable with.

Sometimes after I've been testing a mechanic for months I realize that it's actually too complicated. I'm happy to kill my darlings if it's necessary to make the game more elegant.

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How about a really simple rule like giving no experience or drops for summoned monsters? Either by setting a flag on the monster, or by duplicating monster entries to things like "illusionary grue", which is identical to a regular grue except that it has no drops, gives no experience, and doesn't regularly appear in the dungeon, but sources of summoning always create only illusionary monsters.
Sounds good. I've spent the day picking berries from currant bushes, and I've had lots of time to think. This is one of the alternative mechanics I thought of.
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Old August 25, 2012, 15:57   #19
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Glad to hear you are also pursuing elegance! Good analogy with Magic the Gathering too. As well as making creature-based strategies better because they are fun, they try to make it not obvious which creature-based strategies are the strongest.

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Sounds good. I've spent the day picking berries from currant bushes, and I've had lots of time to think. This is one of the alternative mechanics I thought of.
The fact that we independently arrived at the same mechanic is definitely a sign that it's decently straightforward. I actually just came back to this thread to alter my earlier post to say that of the two slight variations I suggested, having differently named monsters (with "Illusionary" or "Phantasmal" or some such prefix) is almost certainly superior, since it is so much more transparent to the player.

Edit:

Quote:
The base mechanics, especially the skills, are more transparent this time around.
[...]
I'm making an effort to offer choices, too. For example, I've tried to make all abilities important for all classes
Well, you asked for questions, so: what are the skills and how do they work? Are the abilities something else?

(Feel free to ignore if you have more of a planned order of explanation, but that might give you something to run with if you're not sure.)

Last edited by Scatha; August 25, 2012 at 16:05.
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Old August 25, 2012, 16:17   #20
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Not sure if "illusionary" is actually a word, but whether or not it is, for some reason it grates on me a bit and I'd prefer "illusory"!
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