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Old September 11, 2018, 20:52   #31
wobbly
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I'm pretty much going to agree wit the above.

As an aside interesting rooms change the balance for phase. Not sure it's good or bad, just different? Probably better as you have more variation. Blockier dungeons tend to have the corridors closer to the rooms. It's quite noticable in any variants that still have the older style levels. Long LOSs are also rarer.
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Old September 12, 2018, 07:10   #32
Carnivean
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I agree with most of this. I do think there's a fundamental problem with Angband though, that its early game encourages bad habits. This is something Eddie used to complain about a lot and I would probably still have many of those bad habits if I hadn't found his rgra posts. That can make the game quite frustrating. One way around that is to tweak the game so that you can still win with bad habits, but a better way is to make it easier to understand why you just died. By that I don't mean proximate causes like 'killed by an orc' but deeper reasons like 'stayed too long on a level with a low stealth character'. I don't really know how to do that, which is one of many reasons I'm not a developer.
Part of the meta-narrative is that you have to evolve the way you think about the game and how you play it. If you responded to the initial set of conditions in a way that you perceived to be optimal, but actually only worked for the limited conditions that you encountered, and then stubbornly followed that same way throughout the rest of the game with disastrous results, then you will get frustrated and quit. However if you followed the scientific method (get data -> hypothesis -> test -> update hypothesis -> repeat) you'd evolve the way that you played the game. This is part of the fun of the meta-narrative.

The problem, therefore, with Eddie's suggestion is that you reduce the options in the meta-narrative and only deal with the options within the game. Eddie's meta-narrative wasn't trying to beat the game but beat the game faster than anyone else. If you were to simplify the options presented to the player then you are locking them into an easier version of Phillip's meta-narrative.

My contention then is that presenting the player with a bewildering selection of methods and having them learn which is better overall by progressively attempting and discarding theories as more data becomes available.

If you limit the options to a handful of pre-selected optimal choices then you're changing the fundamental nature of the game to something different. It's no longer about learning the game but rather about mechanically progressing through each game.
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Old September 12, 2018, 07:15   #33
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Philip and Nick => I don't want to be insulting, but i consider practically all you wrote as total nonsense.
In any community there are standards that the members of that community are expected to uphold to be allowed to continue to be allowed into that community. In the real world you can't murder or steal. In the forum for a game you can't go around insulting volunteer maintainers.

The rules are simple. Show respect, especially to the person who is putting their valuable time and effort into maintaining and developing the game for that community. If you don't like the direction of the game, grab yourself a copy of the code and go make your own game.

You show yourself unable to follow the rules of this community and you should leave until such time as you are able to.
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Old September 12, 2018, 08:51   #34
Quirk
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My contention then is that presenting the player with a bewildering selection of methods and having them learn which is better overall by progressively attempting and discarding theories as more data becomes available.

If you limit the options to a handful of pre-selected optimal choices then you're changing the fundamental nature of the game to something different. It's no longer about learning the game but rather about mechanically progressing through each game.
I have a small issue here. What you are describing is what we would conventionally call "a poorly balanced game", and the bad methods are what are often called "newbie traps". I am not sure if this description of yours is fair to Angband or not, but it is not a flattering description. Practically any game of sufficient complexity bewilders the player at first. A well designed game is one in which parts that initially seemed meaningless turn out to be practically useful in the right circumstances after all and the player advances gradually to a rich and complex algorithm for gameplay. A poorly designed game presents many apparent options for tackling problems, but in practice few are meaningful and the player falls back on repeating the same few exploitative tactics over and over. Perhaps the canonical example is the old Command and Conquer/Red Alert "tank rush": old RTS games offered many apparent options but the best strategy was, disappointingly, just to build a load of heavy tanks. The shift made by Starcraft was to have everything be useful in the right context, and consequently Starcraft endured and stayed popular as old breeds of RTS died out.

I am also more broadly concerned about the "meta-narrative" description; I don't think it is altogether wrong, but I do think it is a strong argument against games that take a long time to finish, and I feel people who gain pleasure from the meta narrative would be better served by a game in which the challenge is much tougher but the game is sooner over.

For me there are a couple of additional things to throw into the mix: the fun of survival in increasingly challenging circumstances, and the old gambling lootbox. My suspicion is that one of the things that puts many people off Sil is the perception that the loot isn't very exciting, and that Angband and its more faithful derivatives provide more enticing discoveries.

Last edited by Quirk; September 12, 2018 at 09:02.
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Old September 12, 2018, 14:17   #35
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What you are describing is what we would conventionally call "a poorly balanced game", and the bad methods are what are often called "newbie traps".
I don't, overall, disagree with what you are saying but I don't think your label is correct. Is clearing levels a newbie trap? It's certainly sub-optimal but it is still a winning strategy (if just).
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Old September 12, 2018, 14:47   #36
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Originally Posted by Carnivean View Post
I don't, overall, disagree with what you are saying but I don't think your label is correct. Is clearing levels a newbie trap? It's certainly sub-optimal but it is still a winning strategy (if just).
From an evolutionary standpoint, clearing levels is a weaker strategy than others assuming the goal is to survive to [s]breed[/s]win. It's not as strongly selected-against as is, say, hoarding all your consumables in the home and therefore never using them. Or insisting on killing literally everything with spells, when playing as a mage. It's not even clear to me that the level-clearing strategy would necessarily die out without running a lot of generations.

Newbie traps are things that look useful but aren't, or which require a long-term commitment from the player but don't pay off over that long term. I think Angband is actually relatively low on newbie traps. It has ineffective items, sure, but once you learn they're ineffective you stop using them. Angband doesn't have the problem that, say, Diablo II had, where you'd spend skill points (a strictly finite resource) on crap skills and, much later, find your character too weak to proceed.

About the worst we can do is trick players into using equipment that isn't as good as it seems to be because the game mechanics are opaque. E.g. Rings of Protection are routinely over-valued by newbies because it's not clear how useful AC is.
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Old September 12, 2018, 15:02   #37
the Invisible Stalker
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Originally Posted by Carnivean View Post
Part of the meta-narrative is that you have to evolve the way you think about the game and how you play it. If you responded to the initial set of conditions in a way that you perceived to be optimal, but actually only worked for the limited conditions that you encountered, and then stubbornly followed that same way throughout the rest of the game with disastrous results, then you will get frustrated and quit. However if you followed the scientific method (get data -> hypothesis -> test -> update hypothesis -> repeat) you'd evolve the way that you played the game. This is part of the fun of the meta-narrative.

The problem, therefore, with Eddie's suggestion is that you reduce the options in the meta-narrative and only deal with the options within the game. Eddie's meta-narrative wasn't trying to beat the game but beat the game faster than anyone else. If you were to simplify the options presented to the player then you are locking them into an easier version of Phillip's meta-narrative.

My contention then is that presenting the player with a bewildering selection of methods and having them learn which is better overall by progressively attempting and discarding theories as more data becomes available.

If you limit the options to a handful of pre-selected optimal choices then you're changing the fundamental nature of the game to something different. It's no longer about learning the game but rather about mechanically progressing through each game.
It seems I wasn't clear enough in what I wrote. I'm not trying to limit options. For the record, I don't think Eddie was either. The problem is that Angband has never been very good at providing the feedback needed for the 'test hypothesis' stage in your cycle. To update properly you need to be able to figure out which of two failures was closer to being a success. Score is useless. Character level is a tempting proxy, but leads to very bad habits. You achieve that by killing lots of things, and killing things mostly a waste of time. Maximum dungeon level is probably the best of the simple ways to judge which of two failed attempts was more successful. That certainly wasn't obvious to me when I was a new player though.
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Old September 12, 2018, 15:20   #38
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About the worst we can do is trick players into using equipment that isn't as good as it seems to be because the game mechanics are opaque. E.g. Rings of Protection are routinely over-valued by newbies because it's not clear how useful AC is.
This I think is broadly because Angband does not give an outlet to make enduring choices about your character other than your equipment (well, apart from learning spells, but in the long run all spells are accessible anyway). In the context of what Angband does allow you to decide, there are certainly plenty of ineffective items.

More deeply unintuitive however is an endgame that is based strongly round detection and Teleport Other, a mechanic with no basis in the purported source material and little connection to the RPG tropes people are otherwise familiar with. I'm short on time to expand on this, but I think it would be very difficult to start designing a new game today and intend to end up with Angband. And yet, Angband has elements that work; I just don't think they're the bits most game designers would throw away, I think these bits are thrown away for good reasons.
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Old September 12, 2018, 15:53   #39
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I'm short on time to expand on this, but I think it would be very difficult to start designing a new game today and intend to end up with Angband. And yet, Angband has elements that work; I just don't think they're the bits most game designers would throw away, I think these bits are thrown away for good reasons.
Indeed much of crawl's design philosophy is based around designs flaws or perceived design flaws in angband. It even contains a bunch of items and spells which are rebalanced versions of angband mechanics.
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Old September 12, 2018, 16:36   #40
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Yes, TO and detection are why I say it is a game of economics, more than one of tactical play. As it happens, I kind of like having a game of economics available as an alternative.
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