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Old January 16, 2013, 20:44   #11
Derakon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therem Harth View Post
I actually object to the original thesis, on the grounds that I've always had more fun playing ToME and other zany variants than Vanilla Angband.

Don't get me wrong, I think V's simplicity is in some ways a strong point (e.g. no wilderness = more focus on gameplay). But I've felt for a while that V suffers from a serious Lack Of Interesting Stuff. I want a game that's complicated and crazy and self-contradictory. I want to play weird classes with weird capabilities. I want more monsters, more item types, and more spell effects than I can shake a stick at. Simple games can be habit-forming, but it's hard to make them involving.
I think this is sort of orthogonal to the division between depth and complexity. To my mind, you're talking about amount of content, not about the rules for how that content interacts. For example, Magic: the Gathering has oodles of content, but very few cards introduce entirely new rules for how that content works. I wouldn't say that MtG is a simple game, but it has a fairly strong depth-to-complexity ratio, and that's the thing you really want to strive for in designing a game. Frankly Vanilla has a crapton of content too, but it's often not very well-differentiated. I mean, sure there's over 500 monster races in the bestiary, but is fighting a snaga really all that different from fighting a cave orc?

Aside: one of the design goals behind Pyrel's engine is to make it as easy as possible to add well-differentiated new content to the game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick
I think that for some people the opacity and complexity is the attraction. The whole thing is not just a game. It's a puzzle to solve, and an unfolding mystery. And I'm not talking about mystery in the pretend-there's-a-Santa-Claus fake-retention-of-innocence sense; it's more like there's so much complexity you can't get your head around it all. For these people, it's the mastery of all that that is the challenge, not getting individual game wins.

For those of us posting in this thread that mystery is well and truly gone, but should we take it away for new players?
This is a fair point, and I do fondly remember exploring dungeons where I had no idea what the rules of the game were or what I might stumble across at any moment. That kind of mystery has a huge impact on the gameplay...until you master the game, anyway.

Put a different way, novel content is what creates that sense of mystery, and when you run out of novel content, the game becomes just a system to optimize. You can create novel content by fundamentally changing the rules, but that increases rule complexity. Better is to find new ways to use the existing rules.

So for example, if midway through the game, you find a monster that gains power from being surrounded by his minions, say, that's a brand-new interaction that creates a completely different experience of play. The way you approach this fight will be completely different from any other fight you've done up to this point. But the rules for this new content can be simply rendered as "monster's skill += (number of adjacent minions) / 2". The player quickly understands the rules of the game, but where things get difficult is in figuring out how to turn those rules to their advantage.

In other words, a game that has depth has complex play, but needn't necessarily have complex rules. To the extent that rules inhibit accessibility while not improving depth, then, they should be modified or discarded.
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Old January 16, 2013, 20:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
It's hard not to agree with everything everyone's said in this thread. But I'm going to try.

I think that for some people the opacity and complexity is the attraction. The whole thing is not just a game. It's a puzzle to solve, and an unfolding mystery. And I'm not talking about mystery in the pretend-there's-a-Santa-Claus fake-retention-of-innocence sense; it's more like there's so much complexity you can't get your head around it all. For these people, it's the mastery of all that that is the challenge, not getting individual game wins.

For those of us posting in this thread that mystery is well and truly gone, but should we take it away for new players?

(Note: That last is not rhetorical - I am undecided)
Well I'm glad someone posted something sensible.

For me, the magic went out of D&D when all the stats and stat bonuses and skill checks were homogenised in 3E. It certainly made the game less complex but for me and a lot of players I knew it lost a lot of charm too.

I get the same feeling reading most (but not all) of the suggested changes. Linearising stats and re-working elements to be more consistent are both things that have been on the to-do list for a long time, but I don't buy the combat simplification at all unless we're just going to have three weapons: the rapier, the big hammer and the balanced one. If you think that having only three weapons in the entire game loses something in flavour, perhaps it's also possible to see that having loads of weapons which all boil down to the same three dice also loses something.

I actually think symmetry is nice, but I think we could do that without chucking everything out. I see no reason why monsters shouldn't have balance and heft scores for natural weaponry.

(I know I usually agree with Derakon and rarely agree with Nick, but this is not a joke post!)
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Old January 16, 2013, 20:51   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
For example, Magic: the Gathering has oodles of content, but very few cards introduce entirely new rules for how that content works. I wouldn't say that MtG is a simple game, but it has a fairly strong depth-to-complexity ratio
I don't agree with this claim. Every single block (trio of sets) of magic cards introduces at least one new mechanic, often three or four. There have now been, what, 15 blocks or so? (I'm about five years out of date but they're still producing a block per year IIRC.) That's at least three dozen extra mechanics on top of the basic rules - that's a crapton of complexity, once you consider the interactions *between* all these different mechanics.

Of course, there are tens of thousands of *cards*, but that's not really the point. If it's not a bog-standard 2/2 beastie for 3 mana then it's got some degree of complexity above the basic rules.

(I'm not disagreeing that it's a fantastically deep game, but it is hugely complex.)
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Last edited by Magnate; January 16, 2013 at 21:02.
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Old January 16, 2013, 21:01   #14
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Honestly this doesn't bother me at all for pyrel. The bigger question is whether the people working on the code can come into agreement and make a finished game together (perhaps very different from V) or whether we'll split off and make our own games individually once the base is complete.
I don't rate its chances if we don't get some sort of consensus!
Quote:
The biggest question I have with combat is how to handle multiple blows for both players and monsters. Right now the player gets X multiple blows for one turn of combat and a monster gets N (possibly) different blows. I don't like this for a lot of reasons. Mainly, I don't like multiple blows and shots because if there's one thing that very quickly becomes complex (and life or death crucial) it's trying to evaluate complicated fractional action speeds. In other words, for simplicity all actions including attacks should take the same amount of time. Later we can talk about increasing only movement speed, but I think global speed increases, as occurs in V, is absolutely out of the question if simplicity is desired.
Ok, my position is:

1. I'm totally in favour of making monster attacks operate on the same rules as player attacks. To-hit, damage, blows, whatever.

2. I don't have any problem with multiple blows. Humanoid monsters can use exactly the same blows calculation as the player, for whatever they're wielding. Non-humanoid monsters can have balance and heft values assigned to their 'weapons'. The current system of monsters having up to four different attacks can easily stand to be replaced by on-hit procs. If we want a carbon copy of V we can use procs in order, otherwise we can choose at random or use any other system.

3. I do understand your concern about global speed increases, though I don't share it. I think the game engine ought to support them, but am not going to die in a ditch over them. If you wand 'speed' rings to separate into rings of movement and rings of extra attacks, that's fine with me.
Quote:
I do think it's worth it to set out some basic guidelines for ranges of hit points and damage amounts. Then we can figure out what we need for granularity. Perhaps the Sil folks can give guidance?
I think we should stick with roughly where we are, normalising player hp to monster hp (not the other way round). This way we limit the amount we need to change - we can leave weapon dice alone for a while, for example. I suspect we'll need to reduce top-end monster hp, as Leon did in O and S (where Morgoth has 10k hp rather than V's 20k).

So we're talking about roughly 10x the current scale of player hp.
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Old January 16, 2013, 21:48   #15
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For reference, I don't plan on Pyrel having any remotely different gameplay mechanics compared to v4 until after 1.0 gets released. Of course things will be different if only because different algorithms are being used (as in fizzix's new dungeon generation system), but certainly I won't be setting out to change the fundamental rules, and I'd ask any developer who wants to do that to please wait until we finish the engine first.

Also and again, I want to draw a line between an intricate game with many interacting entities, and one that has complicated rules. ToME 2, Kamband, ZAngband, and so on all had a heck of a lot going on, but most of the game used basically the same rules as Vanilla did. They're, for the most part, good examples of adding depth (through additional content) without adding complexity (through additional mechanics).

The goal is not to have a sterile game where everything is basically the same. Far from it! The goal is to have a game where the player is constantly encountering new scenarios and has to adjust, adapt, and push their skills. What we don't want is for the player to feel lost and helpless, like they're blindly pushing buttons and pulling levers on a gigantic black box, hoping that a good result comes out the other end. Ideally, each new scenario should follow something like this outline:

* What is that? I've never seen that before.
* Whoa, it does <A new thing>! That means that when I do <X, Y, or Z>, they'll have <different results than usual>!
* Now I have to completely rethink my strategy!

In contrast, the bad version of the above would look something like this:

* What is that? I've never seen that before.
* Whoa, it does <A new thing>! Uh, how does that work? I'll try doing <X>.
* Uh, that might have been less effective than usual, but it's kind of hard to tell. Let's try again a few times.
* Okay, yeah, X isn't working very well. So now what do I do? Try Y?
* Etc...

You can certainly have games where the goal of the game is to understand and characterize a complex system. And those games can be quite fun! But the problem with that kind of game is that once you've finished characterizing it, you're done -- there's no more game, you've found the solution. A game that wants to have replayability will need to find ways to challenge the player that aren't just figuring-out-the-system. Either that, or it needs to procedurally generate new systems, but that level of meta-game-development is a daunting task.
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Old January 17, 2013, 00:26   #16
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I didn't read every post in this thread, but I did read some of them and skimmed most of them. Simplicity is good. That is to say that complexity simply for the sake of complexity is bad. I'd also wager that simplicity for the sake of simplicity is also bad.

As we all know, what makes for a good and interesting Vanilla is going to be different for every player. You can try to appeal to the masses (do the masses even favor simple simplicity?), but then you're trying to hit an ever moving target, and never ever hit it in the center.

My suggestion would be to, rather than trying to simplify things arbitrarily or by consensus, to simplify the things that would bring Vanilla back in line with what it was before. Re-simplify the elements that were at one time simple. Remove complexities that were (nearly) needlessly added. For one who thinks of Vanilla as a constant, I find my own reasoning hard to argue with. Those who feel that Vanilla is really whatever it happens to be today, may genuinely disagree.
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Old January 17, 2013, 01:34   #17
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Buzzkill: you know what also is good? Specific examples. Polemics against the current state of the game are all well and good as long as they properly support their thesis.
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Old January 17, 2013, 01:55   #18
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Buzzkill: you know what also is good? Specific examples. Polemics against the current state of the game are all well and good as long as they properly support their thesis.
Examples would require extra work, and others more familiar with hard-core old-school Angband could make the case better than I, should anyone care to.

The cause of simplicity could, if left to it's own devices, only result in said simplicity rather than actual simplicity. However, if this cause has a definite predetermined bearing, then such tangents are more easily avoided.

Just sayin', feel free to ignore me. I almost deleted that first post just before I posted it.
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Old January 17, 2013, 07:44   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzkill View Post
Simplicity is good. That is to say that complexity simply for the sake of complexity is bad. I'd also wager that simplicity for the sake of simplicity is also bad.
+1. Damn but you're good at that pithy soundbite thing. Ever considered politics?
Quote:
My suggestion would be to, rather than trying to simplify things arbitrarily or by consensus, to simplify the things that would bring Vanilla back in line with what it was before. Re-simplify the elements that were at one time simple. Remove complexities that were (nearly) needlessly added.
Quote:
Examples would require extra work, and others more familiar with hard-core old-school Angband could make the case better than I, should anyone care to.
This is very interesting, as your last point immediately made me think of Timo, and for all Timo's criticisms of modern V I don't think he's ever mentioned needless complexity. I'll be the first to admit that we made some mistakes in the 3.x versions, but it's hard to think of stuff we made more complicated for the player. It would be a fair criticism to say that we didn't do as much simplifying as we could have done, but that doesn't seem to be what you're saying.
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:55   #20
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I'd also wager that simplicity for the sake of simplicity is also bad.
I like simple rules because they allow me to put in more tactically interesting features without confusing the player. As an example, a skill roll in Halls of Mist is always 1d100 under your score. That simplicity allowed me to add lots of content that utilizes that rule: the best example is Mist's terrain features that ask for various skill rolls all the time (Jumping, Spell Save, Perception, Alchemy).

Also, when your core systems are easy to learn, you can add in some new, interesting subsystems to your game! (Mist examples: goddesses, magic circles.)

Perhaps the aim should not be to remove complexity, but to move it to places where it results in fun gameplay. Derakon mentioned Magic the Gathering. This is exactly what has been done in that game.

I do realize that I'm mostly saying what Derakon already said in my own words.
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