Arcen Games

Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => Topic started by: Misery on January 27, 2013, 09:01:17 AM

Title: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Misery on January 27, 2013, 09:01:17 AM
Mostly a thread about balance this time.   The strategic game is coming along pretty well, but there are some parts that might need a change, as things are rather unbalanced at the moment.


Firstly, the "wound" system.   The idea of having different classes, with different max health levels, makes sense.... except for the bit where the wound system means that those numbers essentially mean nothing, because the instant ANYTHING goes wrong, the survivor in question is instantly rendered completely useless, and in many situations, it takes SO MANY TURNS to heal them that you may as well just leave them and get new ones later;  particularly if you need to build another clinic first, which makes it take even longer.   Perhaps have it so that only specific things can cause a "wound" state?  I'm not sure what to suggest here, but that's the biggest thing I've noticed with the survivors so far, is that currently, the classes only matter based on how far they can move.  A wounded survivor is, for all intents and purposes, already dead, unless I have someone who happens to be already sitting on a clinic, which actually doesnt happen much.

Why doesnt it happen much?  That brings me to my second point: the different area types.  Currently, the "abandoned town" areas are important to the point of being a little absurd, because they're almost the only place where you can get scrap, and they're often the only places that provide much in the way of shelter due to the large housing tiles only really appearing there.   You can build shelters elsewhere, sure, but..... they're expensive to make (even worse though is how LONG it takes to make them), and the only real place to get any scrap is..... yeah, the abandoned towns.    Demonaica reaching any abandoned town area is a massive blow, because chances are, there's nothing else even somewhat nearby where you can go about doing alot of the things you need to do.   Most tiles cant be built upon, and even if they could, you wont have any scrap to build them with.   Getting far into the game seems to REQUIRE quite a bit of luck here;  you *have* to find an abandoned town and have a number of guys able to sit on factories for quite some time to build up much scrap.   Building factories anywhere else is a mistake, because they're crazy expensive, and chances are, you have to be using that scrap to build farms and clinics.


Aside from abandoned towns (because of factories), ice age areas (because you can make farms there), and those wet areas with the name I cant remember (again, because you can make farms there), the majority of the "biomes" seem largely useless, as far as your survivors go;  you simply have no options in most of them, aside from scavenging, which doesnt seem to help much.  And that's IF you can scavenge there..... areas like that, like forests or deserts or whatever, alot of them might have high danger levels.... but no way of mitigating that danger.  You cant make any changes to the area, so there's no strategy to apply to be able to deal with it, aside from going around it.   

....but you cant quite do THAT either.   One other thing I'm noticing:  it doesnt take long at all before Demonaica's destruction rate starts to outdo my slow rate of expansion/building and resource gain.   How fast I expand seems dependant too much on luck.    Luck in finding Amp towers to use for this, and luck in how long it takes Demonaica to decide to stomp it.   Without the amp towers, I cant find important new areas (mostly those towns again) fast enough... or open them up fast enough...  to actually HAVE options for where to send my guys.


Finally, Mana...... it's nigh-impossible to get.   Not sure what I'm supposed to do about that one.   I've found ONE pyramid, and it got stomped almost right away.



So, there's my current views on the balance of the strategic game;  just some basic feedback.   I love the direction the whole thing is going;   the depth is better than ever, and it's so much more INTERESTING than before.   Alot of imbalances though, and alot of the game seems to be very dependant on the RNG placing enough important things in areas where I can find an access them.


And keep in mind while reading this feedback that this is all based on my current playthrough, which is the first full one I've done since the last set of major changes to the strategy bits.    I think I'm nearly 30 turns in in my current game;  no feats found yet, though I know where one of those labs is, but cant really get to it due to crazy high danger levels around it.


That reminds me, one other thing:  It's not too clear at all just how much having multiple survivors near each other changes the "danger" level of areas they're in.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: nas1m on January 27, 2013, 09:22:26 AM
Mostly a thread about balance this time.   The strategic game is coming along pretty well, but there are some parts that might need a change, as things are rather unbalanced at the moment.


Firstly, the "wound" system.   The idea of having different classes, with different max health levels, makes sense.... except for the bit where the wound system means that those numbers essentially mean nothing, because the instant ANYTHING goes wrong, the survivor in question is instantly rendered completely useless, and in many situations, it takes SO MANY TURNS to heal them that you may as well just leave them and get new ones later;  particularly if you need to build another clinic first, which makes it take even longer.   Perhaps have it so that only specific things can cause a "wound" state?  I'm not sure what to suggest here, but that's the biggest thing I've noticed with the survivors so far, is that currently, the classes only matter based on how far they can move.  A wounded survivor is, for all intents and purposes, already dead, unless I have someone who happens to be already sitting on a clinic, which actually doesnt happen much.

Why doesnt it happen much?  That brings me to my second point: the different area types.  Currently, the "abandoned town" areas are important to the point of being a little absurd, because they're almost the only place where you can get scrap, and they're often the only places that provide much in the way of shelter due to the large housing tiles only really appearing there.   You can build shelters elsewhere, sure, but..... they're expensive to make (even worse though is how LONG it takes to make them), and the only real place to get any scrap is..... yeah, the abandoned towns.    Demonaica reaching any abandoned town area is a massive blow, because chances are, there's nothing else even somewhat nearby where you can go about doing alot of the things you need to do.   Most tiles cant be built upon, and even if they could, you wont have any scrap to build them with.   Getting far into the game seems to REQUIRE quite a bit of luck here;  you *have* to find an abandoned town and have a number of guys able to sit on factories for quite some time to build up much scrap.   Building factories anywhere else is a mistake, because they're crazy expensive, and chances are, you have to be using that scrap to build farms and clinics.


Aside from abandoned towns (because of factories), ice age areas (because you can make farms there), and those wet areas with the name I cant remember (again, because you can make farms there), the majority of the "biomes" seem largely useless, as far as your survivors go;  you simply have no options in most of them, aside from scavenging, which doesnt seem to help much.  And that's IF you can scavenge there..... areas like that, like forests or deserts or whatever, alot of them might have high danger levels.... but no way of mitigating that danger.  You cant make any changes to the area, so there's no strategy to apply to be able to deal with it, aside from going around it.   

....but you cant quite do THAT either.   One other thing I'm noticing:  it doesnt take long at all before Demonaica's destruction rate starts to outdo my slow rate of expansion/building and resource gain.   How fast I expand seems dependant too much on luck.    Luck in finding Amp towers to use for this, and luck in how long it takes Demonaica to decide to stomp it.   Without the amp towers, I cant find important new areas (mostly those towns again) fast enough... or open them up fast enough...  to actually HAVE options for where to send my guys.


Finally, Mana...... it's nigh-impossible to get.   Not sure what I'm supposed to do about that one.   I've found ONE pyramid, and it got stomped almost right away.



So, there's my current views on the balance of the strategic game;  just some basic feedback.   I love the direction the whole thing is going;   the depth is better than ever, and it's so much more INTERESTING than before.   Alot of imbalances though, and alot of the game seems to be very dependant on the RNG placing enough important things in areas where I can find an access them.


And keep in mind while reading this feedback that this is all based on my current playthrough, which is the first full one I've done since the last set of major changes to the strategy bits.    I think I'm nearly 30 turns in in my current game;  no feats found yet, though I know where one of those labs is, but cant really get to it due to crazy high danger levels around it.


That reminds me, one other thing:  It's not too clear at all just how much having multiple survivors near each other changes the "danger" level of areas they're in.

This.
I could not have summed up better all the "challenging" aspects of my current .721 game as far as the strategy side of things is concerned. Cheers for that Misery ; ).

As a sidenote: In my current game I think six survivors got wounded during a single strategic turn even though they were grouped in teams of two and nobody stayed in a "danger zone" either (most threat levels were between 5 and 30 % IIRC). Is this supposed to happen?
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: doubtful on January 28, 2013, 04:39:59 AM
Yeah, I'm with Misery on everything said above. D:

Wounding isn't a bad idea at all, but it happens way too often if it's going to completely incapacitate an NPC like that.

All of my survivors became wounded within a turn or two of leaving their starting Abandoned Town hidey holes that Demonaica destroyed in a couple of turns. I was unable to revive them because, of course, my clinic got instasmashed as soon as he came out, since it's always within farting distance of his Keep, XD. I managed to get a new clinic up, only to have my npc get wounded just sitting there for a turn waiting to use it.

Then to top it off, for the next 3 turns, a wounded NPC recovered (he was able to operate it while wounded, apparently), then immediately died due to...something.

An actually pretty amusing comedy of serial bad luck with the RNG, but also indicative of some balance issues with wounding.

As Misery said, the current way Wounds work basically renders the Power system null and void. Maybe survivors could become "incapacitated" at times when wounded, and clinics could prioritize healing incapped survivors first, then on healing less injured survivors to full power instead? I think the odds should be stacked against the player...but I'd still like to see things just a little bit more...fair. :) Having all my survivors plop down uselessly  while sitting in a "17% danger level" area within a turn or two is sort of disheartening. D: Unless you guys are going for a roguelike/Dwarf Fortress definition of "fun" in which case, bring on the pain! ;D

I'd also like to agree wholeheartedly that the strategic game is /great/. I love the involvement. I love feeling like I'm actually fighting (mismanaging?) a war rather than just a series of skirmishes with nameless baddies!

*edit* Insert my usual disclaimer here that I'm /terrible/ at all of Arcen's games and my ineptitude should not be mistaken for game imbalance in the slightest! Still love 'em though. :D
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: MouldyK on January 28, 2013, 06:27:41 AM
My suggestions:

- Wounded people should be able to move 1 (or 2) tile each turn still, just not be of any more use as they cannot work.

- Make more tiles do things. I mean, the fact little of them did anything in the first few Alphas/Betas was fine, but now the Towns are like God-Weapons while the rest are just useless.

- Downplay the Mana ss much if the pyramids are so vital. Like make it only cost 10 Mana to respawn Late-Game.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 28, 2013, 10:47:52 AM
On the wounding thing I'm not understanding how y'all's experience is so different from mine.  In my playtests I'm almost always able to avoid situations where more than one person is wounded at once (playing on default strategic difficulty), even when I've got 7+ NPCs.  If anything, the game felt too easy.

One trick is to use the soldier-class NPCs for any "dangerous" work if you can help it: they can take 1-damage hits without being wounded.  The cover-rolls are capable of doing 2 damage and thus wounding them, but that's only if they fail two rolls.

When we were thinking about adding the power system I just figured we'd remove the wound system altogether, but we couldn't think of a way that would retain any real purpose for the clinic then (since power auto-regenerates, and it'd be a royal pain if it didn't).  And taking out clinics doesn't sound like a positive step, considering there's few enough tiles that really do anything specific for the player as it is.

That said, is there some reason an abandoned town shouldn't be massively more useful to the resistance than, say, forests or swamps?  I do want to make the latter less useless, but I don't see a problem with the town areas being the most important pieces of the map strategically.  FWIW, the grasslands (preexisting farmland), ocean shallows (buildable farms), and deserts (buildable factories, albeit too expensive) are all pretty important in their own way.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 28, 2013, 02:46:36 PM
Well, we could take out the wound system, but make it so that if you park an NPC on a clinic they will grant 1 extra power to a random NPC with the lowest power currently on the board who is also not at max power.  So for instance if there was one NPC with 1 health, you know it would heal him.  If there were two with 1 health, it would heal one of them.  If there was 1 NPC a 4/9 health and another with 4/4 health, and everyone else was higher-health, then you know that the 4/9 health one would get the extra health.

Something like that could work out as a very big purpose for the clinics, while never making NPCs temporarily disabled.  Something like that would potentially make that aspect of the game a lot easier for people to understand, and if this makes it too easy then we just increase the power of the monsters.  I think that not having NPCs completely unable to act periodically might remove some frustration points, as well as making this easier to understand, which both seem like positive things to me.

Keith, based on my notes for the military industrial complex, that could just give an extra 2 power to any NPC that parks on that.  So that would be a more powerful effect than the clinics, but distinct because it can't help anyone except the person who directly went and parked there.  Whereas clinics can't help anyone but the lowest-health NPCs who are around.

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: nas1m on January 28, 2013, 03:06:44 PM
Sounds feasible - and it would reduce the frustrations caused by (seemingly) randomly disabled survivors as well...
Nice shot!
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Misery on January 28, 2013, 07:35:53 PM
On the wounding thing I'm not understanding how y'all's experience is so different from mine.  In my playtests I'm almost always able to avoid situations where more than one person is wounded at once (playing on default strategic difficulty), even when I've got 7+ NPCs.  If anything, the game felt too easy.

One trick is to use the soldier-class NPCs for any "dangerous" work if you can help it: they can take 1-damage hits without being wounded.  The cover-rolls are capable of doing 2 damage and thus wounding them, but that's only if they fail two rolls.

When we were thinking about adding the power system I just figured we'd remove the wound system altogether, but we couldn't think of a way that would retain any real purpose for the clinic then (since power auto-regenerates, and it'd be a royal pain if it didn't).  And taking out clinics doesn't sound like a positive step, considering there's few enough tiles that really do anything specific for the player as it is.

That said, is there some reason an abandoned town shouldn't be massively more useful to the resistance than, say, forests or swamps?  I do want to make the latter less useless, but I don't see a problem with the town areas being the most important pieces of the map strategically.  FWIW, the grasslands (preexisting farmland), ocean shallows (buildable farms), and deserts (buildable factories, albeit too expensive) are all pretty important in their own way.

To clarify a bit about the abandoned towns:

I agree, it makes sense for them to be super useful to the resistance..... buildings fulla stuff are always going to be more helpful than a swamp full of sludge, heh.    The problem is that it's currently super-dependant on the RNG, and Demonaica's semi-random whims.   Like my current game, I've found a couple of those towns, and managed to get some decent scrap and clinic use out of them...... but Demonaica's now pretty much finished them off, and.... I just dont HAVE another one, as I have not found another yet.   Scrap is hard to get so I only have so much, and worse, I cant make any clinics at all until I get lucky about finding another one of those towns.  So that's 2 resources right there where I cant really use any sort of strategy to find them, I just have to choose a direction to go in, and purify in that general direction and just sort of HOPE that there is another town there.    So it's like, yeah, it makes the most sense for them to be very useful, but when you dont have one, it can smash you pretty hard.... and there might not be anything you can do about it.

As for the wound system, I havent had any points of having lots of guys wounded at once myself yet, but.... I can see where it could get that way, once again dependant on the RNG.   Again with my current game, I need to get those feats, right?   Well, the first of those facilities that I've uncovered is in a super dangerous area; a desert corridor with big walls of evil buildings on each side, and the facility inside of one of those walls.   I would *have* to break down some of those evil walls to get to the facility, but the problem is that the areas surrounding it are super dangerous;  like, anywhere from 30% to 80% chance of injury for survivors.   That's a situation right there that could, and probably would, lead to a big heap of injuries all at once, and with little way of doing otherwise.... I cant build shelters anywhere around there, because there's nowhere to put them, and even if I could.... I'm pretty low on scrap.    But I dont know that I could even put shelters far enough in there as it is, just because the area is so incredibly nasty. 

Not to mention, even a 5% chance of injury on a tile CAN still happen.... it just will be rare.   But I imagine it's probably fairly frustrating to have a survivor suddenly become unusable because the rare chance DID happen;  that's the other problem I see with the way wounds are implemented.   You cant be on perfect 0% danger tiles all the time.

I think having dangerous areas like that makes perfect sense though;  it's just a bit unbalanced currently.    Which is pretty much my thoughts on everything so far.... I dont think there are any truly broken mechanics here.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Nanashi on January 29, 2013, 02:55:11 AM
That might work - at least unless you get unlucky and Daemonica stomps your clinic.

It might sound like a step back - but with all these new systems, maybe re-enabling rebuilding wouldn't be such a bad idea? It's not like you can simply kite Daemonica around the map by rebuilding structures anymore, or you could just make building take several turns. An example would be having to use a special Purifier job or whatever to revert the stomped building to its base (but destroyed) state, enabling building on the next turn.

The current "scorched earth" strategy is a bit frustrating since there's very little you can actually do to reverse the consequences of one bad turn.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Misery on January 29, 2013, 07:53:19 AM
That might work - at least unless you get unlucky and Daemonica stomps your clinic.

It might sound like a step back - but with all these new systems, maybe re-enabling rebuilding wouldn't be such a bad idea? It's not like you can simply kite Daemonica around the map by rebuilding structures anymore, or you could just make building take several turns. An example would be having to use a special Purifier job or whatever to revert the stomped building to its base (but destroyed) state, enabling building on the next turn.

The current "scorched earth" strategy is a bit frustrating since there's very little you can actually do to reverse the consequences of one bad turn.


Aye, this.   Though, the rebuilding before really did lead to Demonaica just bouncing back and forth;  there'd have to be a pretty big limitation on it to keep that from happening, but make it TOO big and it becomes pointless.


I have a quick screenshot here that illustrates some of my points:

(http://i.imgur.com/dzPtpwY.png)


That there, is the sort of situation I'm thinking about.  I need to get at that facility.... but trying to do so is likely to be quite futile.   Most of those tiles that I'd need to be working with are 80% danger for survivors, with a couple of them being 60-ish.   This includes the only 3 tiles there that I can build those shelters on.   Those 3 tiles are literally the only option here.... notice, northwest of there, there's a forest.... and that close to the wall, it's going to be just as dangerous (and the wall is thicker there, which makes it a terrible spot to attack).   And no useable tiles are going to be up there, so approaching from that direction is futile.   Same when looking northeast, I have zero options up THERE either (and am unlikely to even get my guys IN there safely).

Now, lets say that I did manage to get a couple of shelters up, right?  Maybe I do that, and then after that.... the guys there get wounded, because of the still high danger level.   Demonaica stomps his way over there during the time when I'm trying to fix this, and either kills the guys there, or arrives after they die on their own, but the important thing is that he would then stomp those shelters.... and that's it, the only options I had are gone, because I cant rebuild on those tiles once he punts them into oblivion.    Again though, it's much more likely that I'd never get the shelters up in the first place;  the wound chance is far too high for that.    I COULD of course just keep throwing guys at the two tiles that are blocking me there, waiting for the 80% chance to let them live long enough to attack the wall, but that sort of thing is a REALLY terrible strategy, and if the game is forcing me to use such a strategy at all, then something is definitely wrong.

Now, again, I dont think having the danger level in such an area be very high is a bad idea at all;  it makes perfect sense.   That SHOULD be difficult to get at and require some thinking, when the game generates a setup like that.    It's a GOOD thing, and the way that the game generates the danger levels honestly seems fine to me.   The bad part is the way the current system handles the danger, and the effects that the danger has, AKA, the wound system.    Wouldnt it make more sense to have it so that failing the danger roll or whatever you call it, instead of outright wounding the survivor, just hurts them a bit, knocking their HP or whatever those points are called down a bit.   You could even have it so that when they do get injured, the HP regen effect on them stops for a couple of turns, which could maybe be lessened by having friends around, or whatever.   Have them get wounded when their HP actually hits bottom, and have them be at 1HP when recovered.   You could have a higher chance of death during the actual wound status to balance this out.   This would also have the effect of enforcing the "roles" of each class there;  the scouts, I would never send into such an area because they havent the health to survive, I'd pretty much HAVE to be making good use of the really heavy guys here to handle such a risky mission.   This alone would start to create more options for the player.


Though I do think that more options on more tiles are needed.    Dont de-emphasize the importance of the towns.... as was said up above, having those be very important/useful compared to other area types really does make sense.  More areas along the lines of the Ocean Shallows areas are what I'm thinking of here;  you have options there, but it's DEFINITELY not as good as an abandoned town, which has the very big advantage of starting with tons of useful structures already built, wheras in the Shallows and similar areas like Ice Age towns, NONE of the tiles are built up, and instead you have to do it yourself.  Maybe have some areas that are kind of in between, where you have alot of "can build here" tiles, with maybe a couple of already done structures here and there, but nowhere near as many as an abandoned town. 

And heck, more building TYPES might not be a bad idea either;  considering the way the gameplay works, there's all sorts of interesting ideas that might work for those, and this might help alot if the player cannot rebuild "special" buildings.


EDIT:   Perhaps make it so that you CAN build on wrecked tiles..... but at an inflated cost.  This would mean that having the tiles in an area like that stomped would not be an instant game breaker.... but it'd still hurt quite a bit, so you'd have lots of incentive to do everything you could to get it right the first time.   It would also mean that while you COULD re-use already wrecked towns and such, it would be very hard to do, and you'd indeed have great difficulty surviving that way.... finding new areas would be still necessary to really move forward, yet you'd have SOME options there if you needed them.   I think one of the reasons why the rubberbanding worked in earlier versions was because the cost of rebuilding really wasnt all that bad, compared to normal building.  If you had alot of factories, it was easy to just keep rebuilding special tiles and keep Demonaica focused on certain areas.    Not sure wether or not allowing the rebuilding of special tiles again should be done.... I'm mostly meaning normal tiles here, with all of this.    But if rebuilding special ones like the amp towers was allowed, but Nanashi's idea of making building them take multiple turns (in addition to being more costly), as opposed to normal buildings which always take exactly one, might help here.    If the rebuilding CAN be balanced out right so it doesnt make things super easy like before, it'd probably be a great thing to put back in.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: madcow on January 29, 2013, 08:36:38 AM
I was going to post suggestions about being able to protect buildings by making defenses (like forts) that wouldn't necessarily prevent but would impede progress towards bigger buildings, however I guess the changes can somewhat let you use survivors like that against overlord summons.  I do think if the overlord reaches a survivor that should end his movement though. That way you can have your guys make a sacrifice to slow him more and keep him from reaching important stuff. Of course you wouldn't be able to do it indefinitely.

I was also going to suggest the overlord having buildings to make him stronger on the strategic side - his version of pyramids or learning spells.  Essentially making him claim those buildings to cast spells, providing an organic show of his growing power.  But after second thoughts it would likely be too distracting from the main focus of things.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 08:52:00 AM
Cheers folks; we have a number of changes coming that I think you'll like.  I don't think that moving away from the scorched earth strategy is a good thing to do; the game is simply not balanced around your being able to have effectively an infinite supply of buildings, nor is it really all that thematically fitting, either.  But based on a lot of the commentary here and elsewhere, there are a number of ideas that Keith came up with yesterday regarding mana and some of the other structures, and that I came up with regarding rebuildable minor fortifications in the wilderness and woundings.  You've heard the woundings suggestion but not any of the rest of it.

One of the reasons that the scorched earth approach is so fitting here is that this really isn't an open-ended strategy game that can just go on however long.  Chess is, for instance -- a game of Chess can be over in as little as 4 or 5 turns with the Fool's Mate or Scholar's Mate, or can last hundreds of turns if there's a really complicated middle and endgame.  Obviously there's a middle ground that is way more common in the realm of dozens there, but still.  With Valley 2, if you got into hundreds of turns not only would that take forever and suck a lot of the fun out of the game, but also it would be something that would really skew the late game balance.  Instead, there is more of a march toward oblivion here, which feels thematically fitting as well as mechanically appropriate.

Generally speaking when designing something like that, there are tons of variables; and when refining something, you have to choose which of those variables to keep fixed as constants so that you don't have a constantly shifting sea of formulas, heh.  In the case of the no-rebuilding-larger-structures, that's something that feels sound and which we've chosen to keep fixed as a constant while adjusting other things.  That doesn't mean that your complaints aren't valid -- because they are -- but that means that our manner of addressing them is involving other things rather than shifting to rebuilding structures.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Misery on January 29, 2013, 09:35:48 AM
Cheers folks; we have a number of changes coming that I think you'll like.  I don't think that moving away from the scorched earth strategy is a good thing to do; the game is simply not balanced around your being able to have effectively an infinite supply of buildings, nor is it really all that thematically fitting, either.  But based on a lot of the commentary here and elsewhere, there are a number of ideas that Keith came up with yesterday regarding mana and some of the other structures, and that I came up with regarding rebuildable minor fortifications in the wilderness and woundings.  You've heard the woundings suggestion but not any of the rest of it.

One of the reasons that the scorched earth approach is so fitting here is that this really isn't an open-ended strategy game that can just go on however long.  Chess is, for instance -- a game of Chess can be over in as little as 4 or 5 turns with the Fool's Mate or Scholar's Mate, or can last hundreds of turns if there's a really complicated middle and endgame.  Obviously there's a middle ground that is way more common in the realm of dozens there, but still.  With Valley 2, if you got into hundreds of turns not only would that take forever and suck a lot of the fun out of the game, but also it would be something that would really skew the late game balance.  Instead, there is more of a march toward oblivion here, which feels thematically fitting as well as mechanically appropriate.

Generally speaking when designing something like that, there are tons of variables; and when refining something, you have to choose which of those variables to keep fixed as constants so that you don't have a constantly shifting sea of formulas, heh.  In the case of the no-rebuilding-larger-structures, that's something that feels sound and which we've chosen to keep fixed as a constant while adjusting other things.  That doesn't mean that your complaints aren't valid -- because they are -- but that means that our manner of addressing them is involving other things rather than shifting to rebuilding structures.

It all sounds good to me, heh.     My complaints werent really of the super major "omigod I'm so frustrated with this" sort, really.... just meant as feedback in case it helps somehow.   Mostly, I like the direction everything is going, and all of the current ideas are sound, but anything that can be done to prevent the player's defeat being purely due to the RNG is a good thing.... aside from the "wound" bit, it's mainly balance issues to me, not issues with the actual mechanics.  But yeah, I agree that the possibility of total defeat needs to be there regardless.   

Hardly any major games ever do that these days, feh.  Cant have the player actually have a chance to LOSE, now can we?  Good to see it be possible to happen in something like this, I think.


.....and somehow I hadnt actually noticed your earlier comment about the wound bit.   That sounds like a good idea as well.

Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 09:41:35 AM
Oh, I really appreciate the feedback from you on this, as well as everyone else -- letting us know where you get frustrated is super important, and letting us know the degree and type of frustration ("I'm frustrated by balance, not by the core ideas themselves") is also immensely beneficial.  Our own frustration is also something we use as a guide -- as I play any game myself, I'm always trying to monitor even the slightest frustrations that I wind up having, that normally I would just ignore in other games, so that I can consciously register those things as thoughts and do something about them.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: MouldyK on January 29, 2013, 10:46:59 AM
I do like how you listen to people's frustrations and even if you do not want to do what they say, you at least try to change another component to almost make their frustrations go away.


Can't wait for the changes to take place.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 10:53:08 AM
It's truly our pleasure.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Nanashi on January 29, 2013, 03:18:44 PM
At this point, my only major complaints are

1) That Valley 2 is essentially too much Actraiser. Actraiser's problem was that it was essentially two entirely different games in genres that shared little in common and the two game modes didn't really feel connected nor complementary - they're more of a checklist of requirements. If I stretched things a little, I could say that the strategic game buffs the platforming aspect (by covering level up windmills), but the platforming  aspect is completely isolated from the strategic aspect.

2) There's little to no exploration/adventure since levels are essentially linear with a halfhearted pretense of trying to seem nonlinear (the only function buildings serve is to add a change of scenery). It's not so much Metroid as Super Mario Brothers with randomly generated levels, and although random generation can add content when the game is complex, random generation in a simple game adds no depth, eventually it just feels like going through the motions with filler content.

3) Strategic games need to reward people for  making clever decisions. Valley 2 feels more like making the best of a bad situation and doing damage control. Your reward for work should not be "more work". Related:

4) One of the necessities of a good skinner box is a nicely spread out rewards system. There's not much of that here. Rewards in Valley 2 do not excite me, nor stimulate me to play more of the game. I don't feel the want to go "just one more turn", more "ugh, yet another annoying platform segment" to the point where I start questioning whether the goal is actually worth the journey. My feelings in X-COM after it threw crap at me were "Hahaha, I thwarted the computer and now I'm stronger, bring it on!". My feelings in Valley 2 after an annoying platform segment are "God, that was tedious, I hope I don't have to do that again and the game doesn't give me MORE of this".
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 03:47:19 PM
Oh, is that all? ;)

Regarding #1 and #2 off your list above, those are basically exactly the goals we had.  Minus the complaining embedded in there, heh.  YES there's no feedback from the adventure side into the strategic side, because you can't make a strategy game that works that way (I've written on that at length elsewhere).  Regarding the linear levels, it's more Castlevania I or Tyrian or Zelda II than Metroid or Castlevania II.  This isn't an accident.

Regarding #3, I think that's a fairly limited view of strategy games.  Your goal in a strategy game is always to take a certain situation, whatever it is, and use your brain to win.  Rebuild II has just as much of a "bad situation doing damage control" sort of scenario as this, I'd argue.  You could actually say that Chess does as well, really -- you don't get your pieces back when they are lost, and you are constantly sacrificing either position or pieces to achieve longer-term goals.

Regarding #4 I'm sorry to hear that, but to some extent this isn't meant to be a skinner box.  Any more than Castlevania I, Mario games, or something along those lines are.  The rewards in those games tend to be finding and seeing new stuff, which happens quite a bit here.  However if you've been playing it for a couple of months since the start of the beta, then you might be pretty far "over" that side of things.  In that case it all comes down to mechanical fun and wanting to go back through those sorts of things again -- the same reason one might play Age of Empires III again against the computer, or replay Mario 3 even after you've already won it.  That's not going to be for everyone, but it's more intrinsically motivated rather than something that is relying on the influx of new shinies in order to string people along.  In other words, not farmville.

Granted, there are great games with that one-more-turn mentality -- I think AI War is one, personally, and Civilization is widely regarded as one.  XCOM definitely sounds like one.  Rebuild II is one, for me, actually.  But I don't think that's the only way to design games, and it's something that either develops as a game is designed or doesn't.  It's also something that varies by person and their specific tastes, too.  I find that 10000000 gives me that one-more-turn vibe, as do many others, but then there's this whole other camp that "doesn't get it."  I think that's ok.

In short, it sounds like in terms of the major complaints you listed, most of those are working as designed but simply not to your particular tastes as much as you might want. :/
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Teal_Blue on January 29, 2013, 04:08:22 PM
At this point, my only major complaints are ...

1) That Valley 2 is essentially too much Actraiser.

2) There's little to no exploration/adventure since levels are essentially linear with a halfhearted pretense of trying to seem nonlinear (the only function buildings serve is to add a change of scenery).

3) Strategic games need to reward people for  making clever decisions.

4) One of the necessities of a good skinner box is a nicely spread out rewards system.

re: 1.  Actraiser in my opinion, was an interesting play to two styles that up until that point had always been separate. Not that there are some people that don't like it, but on the whole, very innovative and had an interesting mix of playstyles to it. It could be argued in the same way, that Empire Earth, or other types of mixed games that these games opened up games that could be approached in several ways, not just a single way.

re: 2.  Right now, any of the levels, for any of the tile types are interesting in a visual art way, each area looks so different from the others, the mix of enemies is there to slow me, or stop me, as the real battle is less about me and the monsters, or me and the lieutenants, as it is about a contest that is getting inexorably closer and closer and I have to find a way to fend off until i am ready, and then once i am ready to face. If there are other games that have more in the way of interaction, or meaning or time involved with the monsters in the levels, and the lieutenants, then that is fine, but there are games out there that have this single laser focus on the final battle, just as V2 does. Your complaint doesn't show a flaw in V2 as much as it show your player preferences, which is fine, but don't tell us its the games fault you like things a certain way.

re: 3.  Strategic games rewarding players for clever decisions... given the context of what the rng gives me, which is the same as sitting down and playing a card game, then my approach to what is thrown at me, in what order and how i build up to facing Demonica are all fluid and rewarding decisions. Do i spend time building when i can, as much as i can? Or make a run as far as i can from Demonica while leveling up to face him? Do i concentrate on building a large collection of survivors for a protracted battle? Or have a few that support me when i go in for the final battle?
It seems to me, that what is rewarding for one player is different for another? Some want non-stop action all the time, others prefer a thoughtful approach that is more like a puzzle or a game of chess in the strategies, rather than the quick and dirty tactics. Saying there is no reward here, is saying that what is there is not to your liking, which is fine, but again, don't confuse your preferences for everyone elses.

re: 4.  Spreading out the reward system... They are spread out here, in my opinion, i am presented with easier tiles and tasks at first, with a clock ticking in the background that i either get ready for and have a chance at winning, or don't pay much attention to and have the game overwhelm me and i lose. In dwarf fortress, losing isn't the end of the game, it IS the game.  :)  So here with V2, i have randomly generated maps that present me with a path, some easier that others, some more difficult, some impossible to get through. But that is the point and that is the fun, maybe i never get so good that i can always beat the game.  :)  Maybe it is never the same enough that it becomes boring for me. Even if i have faced the same enemies and the same levels 50 times, the map will be different and my chances and what i do with them is what will be different as I come on the final battle. And either find out that i had almost everything perfect this time, or i didn't.
You may be mistaking spreading out rewards for 'loot' that is dropped through out a game in different levels for the strategic difficulty of taking out a knight that was backed up by a bishop when i thought i was had to begin with. :)
That is definitely a reward, and seriously gratifying as well, and has nothing to do with my picking up points or berries or gold or any other 'game' item. With some of the lieutenants and levels, that reward of walking out the other door, is very satisfying.

This of course is all my opinion, just as much as you expressed yours. I'm not flaming or ridiculing you for your views and preferences, but i think you should remember that all kinds of people with all sorts of styles and approaches play this game and we all have just as strong opinions about what we get out of it, and what we like as much as you. 

Thanks for listening,

-Teal



Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: keith.lamothe on January 29, 2013, 04:11:10 PM
If a person actively disliked Actraiser, I don't think Valley2 has much chance with them :)  We recognize some flaws in Actraiser and tried to act accordingly with this project, but it remains a substantial portion of the inspiration.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Nanashi on January 29, 2013, 04:17:08 PM
@Chris: You do get your pieces back in Shogi! ( :P Sorry, I get your point. ) Chess is a wonderful game because as long as you have the pieces, you can make up your own rules. Suicide Chess, for example, or capture chess (that uses shogi rules and two boards so you can drop captured queens in front of people) or even make chess puzzles. It's really the pieces that are important to me, not the actual game.

Anywise, don't take that too seriously - it's just personal taste and I can appreciate that Valley 2 is definitely a better game than Valley 1 in many ways.  It's just that talking about what I do like about Valley 2 would be a bit out of place, but randomly:

1) I like the enemy art and Pablo did a good job with the music. Visually, Valley 2 is a lot more cohesive.
2) I think the bullet patterns or attack spells in general are a massive improvement over #1.
3) I think it's good design that Valley 2 has clearer goals.
4) For all its alleged faults, the strategic overview game is a lot more involving than Valley 1's too.
5) I like the effort you've put into rebalancing monsters. It creates for the dodging experience I kind of wanted in Valley 1.

I'm just the kind of "hacker" type personality in games which derives maximum enjoyment from finding out ways of breaking a game and exploiting them to the fullest. I guess in M:TG terms, I'd be a sort of Johnny/Spike thing. Streamlined games can be interesting, but since they give me less wiggle room, they clash with my personality. :P

P.S.: I didn't hate Actraiser, I just liked the strategy segments more than the action ones and found the action ones annoying obstacles in the way of getting to the next strategy segment. Actraiser 2 was punishingly difficult and had no strategy segments whatsoever (probably a bit of a loss), but I actually enjoyed that in its own way. Good design is when both segments are complementary and literally complete each other. Random design (not necessarily bad) would be combining two completely unrelated genres for no good reason - like forcing FPS players to play chess inbetween rounds.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: x4000 on January 29, 2013, 07:16:01 PM
Cheers, it's not a worry, and thanks for the kind words also. :)
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on January 29, 2013, 07:31:41 PM
I actually remember thinking you were going the metroidvania way with this game, but making the actraiser fit in more prominently. That actually sounded really amazing to me, but the castlevania 1 way of doing things is actually so punishingly hard that it's downright inaccessible to me. I mean, thankfully you've got a different sort of combat and air control and stuff so the difficulty doesn't come from stupid, and it comes from more focused and more modern places. I was just hoping for more exploration. I always was. So, that's why I end up sort of going back to wanting to play Valley 1. It has the exploration, it's just completely pointless to do... so then I don't play it.
At the moment for that fix I'm waiting for Starbound, but that game won't have the strategy to it, so... I guess you just can't have it all unless you're a talented indie game development studio.
I need to convince my friend to think that we all should make my dream games. XD

But yeah this is pretty much why I went from extremely excited before beta to totally silent or serious mode after beta. Figured this would be a good place for that.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: Gallant Dragon on January 31, 2013, 12:27:10 PM
Well, the only gripe I have so far is that most regions are basically a corridor with cheese at the end and a pile of mousetraps to be disabled or avoided, but I understand the reasoning behind the design choices made.  Personally, I'm enjoying the variety of enemy types and attacks, as well as the clearer focus and tighter gameplay in general.
Title: Re: Some thoughts on the strategic game
Post by: zespri on January 31, 2013, 02:36:27 PM
@Chris: You do get your pieces back in Shogi! ( :P Sorry, I get your point. ) Chess is a wonderful game because as long as you have the pieces, you can make up your own rules. Suicide Chess, for example, or capture chess (that uses shogi rules and two boards so you can drop captured queens in front of people) or even make chess puzzles. It's really the pieces that are important to me, not the actual game.
Terrible offtopic, but I'll hope that I don't get axed. One of the interesting chess variants that I came across lately was this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arimaa