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Old January 19, 2013, 13:34   #41
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Originally Posted by Derakon View Post
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.
One key similarity is between rare objects/artefacts/monsters in Angband and cards in MtG. If a card isn't in the game you are playing, its complexity is irrelevant (at least to play: drafting or deck building doesn't have this feature). The same is true for artefacts. There isn't much problem having 200 of them behind the scenes if only 1 appears each hour of play.

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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.
I like this idea, and would love to see more things like this in roguelikes. There is a minor aspect of this behind the scenes in morale calculations in Sil: monsters in LOS of other monsters of their type get a morale bonus, and this is quadrupled if the monster they see is a leader of their type. Also, these bonuses are turned to penalties if the monster they see is fleeing. This leads to nice holding, routing and rallying behaviour of monsters. This is fairly complex rules-wise, but is not really a problem as the player doesn't need to know the rule: it gives fairly intuitive and dramatic behaviour -- especially if they kill the captain and see all the little ones fleeing.

We also considered a new monster flag for captains and the like which would be like leadership in Wesnoth: monsters of the same type which are adjacent to the leader get some fairly large bonus to combat (or you could use LOS again). This might even be nicer than the version you mention.

In my view, one of the main advantages of roguelikes over other RPGs is positional tactical combat. Adding to the positional nature like this really plays to their strengths. This is why we have Flanking, Charge, and Zone of Control abilities in Sil. Giving things like this to monsters too would be great. Halls of Mist has a lot of unique features that try to enhance positional play.
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Old January 19, 2013, 13:40   #42
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Originally Posted by Magnate View Post
It's kind of hard to explain why making changes to Angband is such an unpleasant experience - either you live through it, or you read a couple of years-worth of barracking to get the flavour. But if you call it somethingelseband, everybody says how well you've done to fix all those stupid flaws. You really couldn't make it up.
I completely understand, having lurked here for years before Sil was released. It is hard to believe the anger and hate that can be directed against the people who are using their free time to help improve a game. Players can easily be their worst enemy by derailing game development and making the developers feel bad about themselves when they are actually improving the game. I'm thankful that the Sil player community is so nice!
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Old January 19, 2013, 13:50   #43
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Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I think global speed increases, as occurs in V, is absolutely out of the question if simplicity is desired.
In Sil, there are 4 possible speeds: 1, 2, 3, 4. This is a simple linear system with speed 3 being 3 times as fast as speed 1 etc. Standard speed is 2. Speed boosts and penalties are all +1 or -1 to speed. Player speed is capped to [1, 3] and most monsters are speed 2 or 3. Incredibly fast monsters are at 4. Potions of speed 'only' make you 50% faster than normal, which is still an insanely large boost. There is an incredibly small amount of permanent speed boost and most play throughs won't have it. Even if you do have it, it is not as amazing as it first appears, since it doesn't help with the most important battles where you would be at speed 3 due to potions anyway.

I find this works well. It is more fine-grained than early Angband (which I think had speeds 1, 2, 4, 6), and much less fine-grained than modern Angband.
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Old January 19, 2013, 13:55   #44
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Originally Posted by half View Post
One key similarity is between rare objects/artefacts/monsters in Angband and cards in MtG. If a card isn't in the game you are playing, its complexity is irrelevant (at least to play: drafting or deck building doesn't have this feature). The same is true for artefacts. There isn't much problem having 200 of them behind the scenes if only 1 appears each hour of play.
I would love to see a *band that picked randomly 10 player special abilities out of a deck of 100. Those ten would be your character development options. For each ten character levels you'd get to pick one from the list.

The board game Agricola uses a mechanic like this, and it's super fun. I love games where I have to craft a strategy based on a random starting point. (Sil's Christmas presents functioned like this!)

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Old January 19, 2013, 14:01   #45
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Ron Edward's Sorcerer, a roleplaying game, uses opposed pools of d10's. You don't add the rolls together. Instead, you player with the best single die roll wins. If there's a tie, count the second die.
That sounds like a lovely system to play with in person -- I imagine it would be quite exciting to make challenges. It reminds me of the White Wolf system which was also interesting. Each skill level is between 1 and 5 and each stat is too. A skill check involves rolling a d10 for each point of the relevant stat+skill level. For each die showing a number above the difficulty level you have a point of success. Often you only need one success to win. (there are a couple of other details too...)

When designing combat in Sil, the logic was like this:

1d20 + melee_score vs evasion_score + 10 (= D&D)
2d10 + melee_score vs evasion_score + 10 (= modified D&D)
1d10 + melee_score vs 1d10 + evasion_score

This last one was equivalent to the middle one, but is *so* much more elegant due to its symmetry. It also led me to make the evasion increase with experience like the melee score, which is much more realistic and much better gameplay than D&D (where low level fighters in a duel miss each other 90% of the time and high level ones hit each other 90% of the time...)

I ended up using this for all skills, making skill checks opposed, symmetrical rolls. However, it turned out that 1d10 v 1d10 made each point of melee and evasion a bit too good (i.e. coarse-grained), so combat was (somewhat inelegantly) changed to 1d20 v 1d20.
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Old January 19, 2013, 14:17   #46
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Thank you - it's a long time since I've read MaRo - I stopped keeping up with MtG about five or six years ago.
Yeah, that was a great article: I should start reading MaRo...

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There is almost no strategic complexity, beyond inventory and home management. (EDIT: **this** is why I like skill variants so much, because skill choices introduce strategic complexity.)
I think this is right if you are distinguishing tactics from strategy. I think MaRo's terms let strategic complexity involve tactics too. He was talking about whether you cast Terror on their Grizzly Bear to avoid about 6 damage or wait until they cast a better creature.

One could certainly see this as corresponding to tactics in a roguelike. For example, do you spend a turn drinking a potion of Quickness and take extra damage now, in exchange for some extra turns later? Or do you heal as you are now down to 30% of your health and could be killed by a lucky blow? Quickness first is the best long run, but maybe you won't get a long run? Of course Vanilla has less of this type of decision too as its escapes are too easy. It more often becomes: play casually without thinking about stuff like this and when it goes pear-shaped, you just scarper (Teleport, Teleport Level, Word of Destruction etc).

In terms of Strategic complexity, Sil gains from having a skill system as you mention, but also from two key inventory things. Not having shops or unlimited scumming for potions means that using consumables is regularly an interesting decision (instead of just for the top-level consumables). I found the lack of trade-off for using potions of CCW / scrolls of phase door in Angband and potions of Health/Mana in Diablo to be a major turn-off in both games. It just looked like broken game design.

Not having a home in Sil leads to a different type of interesting strategic choice about the way you build up your equipment set. Deciding to drop the artefact sword constrains your options in the future. Players would howl in protest about being constrained in such a way if put into Vanilla, but choosing between different long term constraints just *is* strategy. If players won't let the developers get rid of practically unlimited home storage, common consumables, and easy escapes, then they are effectively saying they don't want strategy in their game. I think they often don't realise this though!
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Old January 19, 2013, 14:49   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by half View Post
I think this is right if you are distinguishing tactics from strategy. I think MaRo's terms let strategic complexity involve tactics too. He was talking about whether you cast Terror on their Grizzly Bear to avoid about 6 damage or wait until they cast a better creature.
You're right that MaRo doesn't distinguish in that article between tactical and strategic complexity - in fact most of the actual play of MtG is tactical; the strategy is mostly in the deck design.

I think Angband has a fair bit of tactical complexity, but very few long-term constraints other than those dictated at birth by the race/class choices.
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Not having a home in Sil leads to a different type of interesting strategic choice about the way you build up your equipment set. Deciding to drop the artefact sword constrains your options in the future. Players would howl in protest about being constrained in such a way if put into Vanilla, but choosing between different long term constraints just *is* strategy. If players won't let the developers get rid of practically unlimited home storage, common consumables, and easy escapes, then they are effectively saying they don't want strategy in their game. I think they often don't realise this though!
Indeed. That's a rather brilliant description. I think it's perfectly fair to focus a game on tactics if that's what the designer and the players want, but I'm not sure that most Angband devs or players have really thought about it. I think we all think it's a lot more strategic than it is.

EDIT: ISTR that one of Eddie's best posts being along the lines of how Angband is almost completely tactical, and what the implications of that should be for the player. It was on RGRA around the start of the Tales of the Bold series.
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Old January 20, 2013, 20:43   #48
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I think MaRo meant with Board Complexity cards that are already on the battlefield. In Angband terms: the dungeon map and everything on it.

Strategic Complexity in MaRo's terms is how to best use cards in your hand. In Angband terms: spells and items in your inventory. Let's call this Resource Management Complexity instead, shall we? In Angband it's mostly tactical.

My recent problem with Ironband Mana clearly falls in this category. Resource management can already be quite complex in Angband, and increasing the complexity further might make the game less enjoyable. Of course players have wildly different tastes in this.

The biggest cause for too high resource management complexity is simply that there are too many items and spells you could use in a given situation. Going through all of the options every time you need to make a decision is boring. There are so many options that players don't have the brainpower to keep them all in their mind. They just do the same old things that worked before. Only when death is looming near, the player gains the energy to look through all the inventory items and spells and make the time-consuming tactical analysis.

However, adding a strategic level to resource management (like half described earlier) does not necessarily increase that kind of complexity...? And if it does, we can counter by reducing the number of inventory items and spells. In my opinion, too, it would make the game more enjoyable!

Also, we could increase Board Complexity a lot without taxing the average player's brain too much. All the positioning rules in Mist are pure fun for me, and I've never come even close to analysis paralysis because of them.

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Old January 21, 2013, 20:28   #49
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Originally Posted by Mikko Lehtinen View Post
The biggest cause for too high resource management complexity is simply that there are too many items and spells you could use in a given situation. Going through all of the options every time you need to make a decision is boring. There are so many options that players don't have the brainpower to keep them all in their mind. They just do the same old things that worked before. Only when death is looming near, the player gains the energy to look through all the inventory items and spells and make the time-consuming tactical analysis.

However, adding a strategic level to resource management (like half described earlier) does not necessarily increase that kind of complexity...? And if it does, we can counter by reducing the number of inventory items and spells. In my opinion, too, it would make the game more enjoyable!
I think I agree that too much choice takes fun away, but I don't think Angband has too much. Having said that, a lot of the spells in both realms are pretty 'meh', so they could be pruned without losing a lot.

I was pleased that half and Scatha actively strove to make every weapon different in Sil - Derakon and I did the same in v4. I think *meaningful* choices are more important than more or fewer choices per se.
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Also, we could increase Board Complexity a lot without taxing the average player's brain too much. All the positioning rules in Mist are pure fun for me, and I've never come even close to analysis paralysis because of them.
Yes, I agree with this. More heterogeneous monster placement would be a quick win. Fizzix's dungeon generator for pyrel should lead to quite a lot of really interesting board situations.
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Old January 22, 2013, 19:05   #50
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I was disconnected from the world for pretty much the whole weekend, and I'm only now catching up.

regarding saving rolls: Yeah, this is way back in the thread, I know. I think opposing saving rolls are fine as long as the consequences for failing aren't dire. If the consequences for failing are death, and you expect your game to be long and permadeath, then it's not fair. You can't take 1% chances and expect to live. Sil is both shorter and has less dire situations (i.e. taking damage awakens you from entrancement.) I like the idea of being immune to certain effects because of a high saving throw.

Vanilla currently is not an overly strategic game. It's charm lies in defeating tough enemies, exploring unknown areas, and finding cool loot. The main strategic decisions are based on inventory and when to use consumables. The main difficulty is knowing what monsters do and what you should fight and what you shouldn't. Once you know that, most fights are scripted. This is not a poor game design, but it is very different from most modern roguelikes which place a high priority on interesting combat situations. They are also almost always shorter.

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Yes, I agree with this. More heterogeneous monster placement would be a quick win. Fizzix's dungeon generator for pyrel should lead to quite a lot of really interesting board situations.
I'm skeptical that terrain, no matter how varied, will add more strategic gameplay options. The main strategic difference is open room vs corridor, with the obvious result that in a 1 v many the 1 will always choose a corridor. Different terrains, like forest, ice, tables, etc. might increase strategy, but the effect is not as large as might be thought. My approach to dungeon generation assumes that varying terrain in V is mainly for flavor purposes, and the goal is to keep the dungeons interesting to explore (and maaaaybe internally consistent.) rather than level after level of the same room types.

That being said, I'm hoping to get back to pyrel development this week. I took a little break after January 1 to focus on other things. Now that mystery hunt is over, I should have more free time the next few months. Unfortunately, with mystery hunt 2013 over it means that mystery hunt 2014 just begun, which matters because I'll be on the writing team next year. I'm not expecting that to start eating free time until March-April or so and then eat all of my free time around October-December. So there's no time like the present for pyrel work!
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