Author Topic: A couple of questions that might help here  (Read 6466 times)

Offline Castruccio

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2015, 10:51:15 AM »
I know you've played Nuclear Throne Misery, but Chris should maybe take a look at it if he hasn't.  I don't think it was mentioned in your OP.

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2015, 11:10:12 AM »
I know you've played Nuclear Throne Misery, but Chris should maybe take a look at it if he hasn't.  I don't think it was mentioned in your OP.

I agree with that one, sort of.

It's a pretty good buy, but has issues.  Kinda big issues.  Still good, but...

Not to mention that as I experiment with Starward Rogue's current version, I'm thinking there's a decent number of concepts that (in some screwball way) can be helpful if understood, that are used by Nuclear Throne.

Despite that Nuclear Throne is really the "mindless" type, all about JUST dodging and shooting, and of course Arcen's games are never even close to that simple.  But there's still some helpful info to be gleaned out of that.

....also it's hilarious fun.  Well, sort of.

As an example, there's the third boss, you see.  He's a walking (flying, screaming) balance and design disaster.  If you want an example of how NOT to design a boss, that guy is the example.  He's also basically a complaint generator.  There have been so very many topics, posts, and rants (only some of which are from me...) about this guy and how much of a mess he is.  Vlambeer has refused to change him, and he's SUCH a mess that some players left entirely.   He's THAT bad.  Even I have barely touched the game since the change that ruined him (which was also a change that was utterly unnecessary).  I went back to just playing Isaac instead at that point.

And it's not a matter of him being hard.  Not at all.  He can be the easiest boss in the game, dying *instantly* depending on what you're holding.  And that's not like, a hard technique to do, it's just dependant on what you have.  No, the problem is... absolutely everything else.  It's just.... so ridiculously tedious.... IF the RNG doesnt kill you.  He's the only thing in the game that can cause your death via pure RNG (well, other than a bad Palace spawn involving Dog Guardians).  Yet despite this (and also like the Palace spawns) he just doesnt get fixed. 

Which is part of the problem to me and part of why my interest is so low.... For all of Vlambeer's skill, they outright IGNORE certain loooooooooong-running issues.  I mean, Palace spawns have been broken for HOW long now?   A freaking year?  But it's been utterly ignored that entire time, no matter how many people bring it up.  And since "pure RNG" deaths are basically the biggest sin in this genre, that's.... really bad.  Like, if you spawn in the palace, in a corner, with three Dogs RIGHT NEXT TO YOU and some other things beyond them?  It doesnt matter what you have, mostly.  You are dead.  It's over.  You cant drill through them with ANYTHING.  They just have WAY too much health, are too big, and one quick leap from them (which wont miss) will end you... and those exploding things are probably firing at you the whole time.   You can escape IF you have the Hammerhead mutation.  It's literally the only way out.

THOSE sorts of issues are something I really want to see this game avoid as much as possible.  For the most part, Arcen's games do avoid this, but still, it can be difficult to completely manage.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2015, 11:23:30 AM by Misery »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2015, 02:00:33 PM »
You're already testing the game AND you're involved in the development? Ok, I'm officially jealous.
Hem, I mean, cool. Thanks for sharing this.

I'm afraid I won't be very useful here because the action part of this kind of game isn't what I prefer. However, I can share my thoughts on the rest of the gameplay.

1) Choice.
I love Isaac, but I hate it at the same time. I love it because it's a great game and stuff. But I have it because there is so few choice in it. IMO, The D6 and There's Options must be part of the core of the gameplay for it to be a truly good game.

2) Progression
I hated Rogue Legacy (mostly because I hoped it to be "the legacy of Rogue", but it was "a legacy that is a rogue one", but this has nothing to do with the game itself, just my personal disappointment). First there is too many grinding for me. I don't mind if there is some persistence between runs, but... ugh. Not that much, please. And the second problem, which is tied to this first: there is no in-run progression. Each run feels so bland... I feel a roguelike/PDL must do things the other way around: each start is fresh (It's ok if there is a meta-goal and content-unlocking) and each death is bad (well, maybe !!fun!!, but bad).

Which leads me to my last point:
3) Death & Tension
I discovered Teleglitch recently. I was blissful to play a game that call itself roguelike and make me hold my breath each time I open a door. The acoustic ambiance is awesome (no music, only steps, machines' noises, monsters growling and weapon sound) and ammo are scarce. Something I only feel in old ASCII roguelikes (Nethack, Crawl). Dying in Isaac is sometimes plain bad luck, and a full run is rather short; I rarely truly care for my character. Dying in Rogue Legacy is just a joke: you "earn money" by dying. Well, not actually. I'll be bashed that. ^^ I mean, there is really nothing bad about dying in Rogue Legacy, because all your progression is outside of the run. At least, with Isaac, you always have a fresh start (minus the massive unlocking system... but it's okay, it's mainly diversity unlock). That what I love Isaac, despite it's "choice problem". But there is no redeem chance for Rogue Legacy. >D

Sorry again for not talking about the action part.
I trust you for that.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2015, 04:51:53 PM »
I'll drop a mention for Sublevel Zero in here, as I watched TotalBiscuit's WTF on it last night and I feel that it's got some similar aspects along with some frank criticisms about how Sublevel Zero approached things.

Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2015, 05:44:22 PM »
i'm looking forward to testing this not necessarily because i'm into the genre(only roguelike/lite game i think I've played is ftl and MAYBE invisible ink although i'm saying that one because i heard some call it a roguelike like game i'm probably talking out my ass there though i wanted to like ftl but i could never really get into it) but just because i enjoy testing.
c.r

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2015, 01:13:19 AM »
You're already testing the game AND you're involved in the development? Ok, I'm officially jealous.
Hem, I mean, cool. Thanks for sharing this.

I'm afraid I won't be very useful here because the action part of this kind of game isn't what I prefer. However, I can share my thoughts on the rest of the gameplay.

1) Choice.
I love Isaac, but I hate it at the same time. I love it because it's a great game and stuff. But I have it because there is so few choice in it. IMO, The D6 and There's Options must be part of the core of the gameplay for it to be a truly good game.

2) Progression
I hated Rogue Legacy (mostly because I hoped it to be "the legacy of Rogue", but it was "a legacy that is a rogue one", but this has nothing to do with the game itself, just my personal disappointment). First there is too many grinding for me. I don't mind if there is some persistence between runs, but... ugh. Not that much, please. And the second problem, which is tied to this first: there is no in-run progression. Each run feels so bland... I feel a roguelike/PDL must do things the other way around: each start is fresh (It's ok if there is a meta-goal and content-unlocking) and each death is bad (well, maybe !!fun!!, but bad).

Which leads me to my last point:
3) Death & Tension
I discovered Teleglitch recently. I was blissful to play a game that call itself roguelike and make me hold my breath each time I open a door. The acoustic ambiance is awesome (no music, only steps, machines' noises, monsters growling and weapon sound) and ammo are scarce. Something I only feel in old ASCII roguelikes (Nethack, Crawl). Dying in Isaac is sometimes plain bad luck, and a full run is rather short; I rarely truly care for my character. Dying in Rogue Legacy is just a joke: you "earn money" by dying. Well, not actually. I'll be bashed that. ^^ I mean, there is really nothing bad about dying in Rogue Legacy, because all your progression is outside of the run. At least, with Isaac, you always have a fresh start (minus the massive unlocking system... but it's okay, it's mainly diversity unlock). That what I love Isaac, despite it's "choice problem". But there is no redeem chance for Rogue Legacy. >D

Sorry again for not talking about the action part.
I trust you for that.

Hah, dont be too jealous... something like this always comes with downsides.  For my part, that means BUGS.  Particularly my own.  I dont deal with them well, not at all, so like with TLF's expansion, I'm going to have LOTS of moments of great frustration that I really just dont get with normal testing.  And I dont exactly have a particularly big role here, yet will still get that.  Though yeah, it's still pretty nice to be involved with this, particularly as it's THE game from them I've been most excited about since Bionic Dues.  I've very high hopes for this one, very high indeed.

But anyway....

You bring up a few very good points that do relate to all of this, so I'll touch upon them a bit:


1.  Isaac's "choice".  Now, this is an interesting thing about the game, and I think it really needs to be considered with THIS game. See, the thing about Isaac is that it actually DOES have alot of choice.  As I'd rambled about in that thread about the game in off-topic recently, a HUGE part of the game is making choices, and then dealing with the results of the choices you made.  The game does not and cannot create genuinely unwinnable situations where the RNG alone can kill you.  What it does is give you alot of decisions to make, which will then make you stronger, or weaker, depending on what you do.  Hell, half of my playstyle is based entirely around this concept.  And looking at some of the "pros" with that game, well.... you cant get a winstreak of 125+ if the game has too much RNG in it.  You just cant.

The problem though?  The game does NOT make this very obvious.  Particularly to new players, it seems extremely random, and it seems that you have little control over anything at all.  It can be hard to spot the choices that are available to you and the things that you can do, because of the way the game works.  And that is kinda a problem for this sort of game.  Plenty of roguelikes have this issue, actually.  To some degree, it depends on the player though... hell, I've heard this very thing about Bionic Dues, that it's "totally RNG, strategy doesnt matter!" and I know full well that THAT sure as heck isnt true.  But it can be hard to really show that in a game like this, and Isaac has that problem pretty bad.   This game, I think, needs to work to avoid that.  Fortunately, Arcen has been VERY good at avoiding this one.  You cant really avoid it COMPLETELY, but if you constantly give the player as much info about things as possible... you dramatically reduce the chances of this happening.  Isaac.... does not do this.  At all.  It seems to thrive on NOT telling you stuff.  And that's a definite problem.  And a very good point to consider.


2. Rogue Legacy.  Yeah, I agree completely.  I like it decently enough... but it'd be soooooooooooo much better without the grind.  And I'm indeed not too fond of persistence between runs in most cases.  I want each run to feel like a new experience, a new challenge from the ground up.  But in that, my character keeps getting stronger, and eventually, the old areas pose no threat anymore, unless I start a new game totally from scratch.  I dont like that bit at all.  It's kinda subjective though... some players really like that sort of thing and will complain if it isnt there.


3.  Yeah, I agree with this too.  Anything the game can do to get the player invested in their character as they are in that run is a very good thing indeed.  From what I know of THIS game, I think it has the potential to pull that off.  In RL, it really did feel like I was just losing another Stormtrooper or Goomba or something, another faceless jerk, every time I died.    It just didn't matter much.  As opposed to something like BD: that game doesnt have true permadeath normally, this is true.  But still.... in a mission, I really, REALLY dont want to lose my Science Exo, for instance.  If I do, it hurts.  IT HURTS.  It's a "GODDAMN IT WHY DID I LET THAT HAPPEN, ARGH" sort of moment, since the game has gotten me to actually CARE (as opposed to a death in RL, where it's like "well, that was annoying, but oh well").  And same with the other Exos since they all have an important role to perform.  I know I'll get them back in the next mission, but for THAT mission... that "run"... they're gone, and I have to pay the price for it.  It works out very well.


I'll drop a mention for Sublevel Zero in here, as I watched TotalBiscuit's WTF on it last night and I feel that it's got some similar aspects along with some frank criticisms about how Sublevel Zero approached things.

I did buy this recently, actually.  So far, pretty nice, but it has it's problems.  For me, namely the "loot is kinda uninteresting" problem.  I mean, really... I'm not going to be very interested if this new gun has a whole 2 points of damage more than the OLD gun.  It's like, what's the point?  Why should I care?

I'll have a look at TB's video of it though and see what he thinks, I havent watched that yet.

Offline Bluddy

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2015, 02:13:16 AM »
This has quickly become my favorite genre. Here's what I think are the main ingredients for an action rogue-lite:

1. Challenge: Since these games are almost entirely mechanics based (since narrative doesn't build up procedurally very well), they must challenge you heavily. It's best if the challenge starts right away. For example, the very first minute of Spelunky can easily kill you. This genre demands skill from the player, much like the old games from the 80s and 90s, except that I can never play those games for long because they're too repetitive. This is where variety comes in.

A game that did this badly is Legend of Dungeon. The first couple of levels were filled with creatures that could only hurt you slightly (you have 100 hit points). It takes getting to the 4th or 5th level to get the point, that you have very little healing ability, and that any damage you took in the early floors (and any consumables you used up) is now a mistake you can't undo. But those first few floors are such a bore.

Another way of messing this up is with the metagame. Rogue Legacy starts out great, but you quickly realize that the grind can make the castle far too easy. The same applies in my opinion to the Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I much preferred the original, where you barely got to beat mom, and then discovered there was a whole game behind that. In Rebirth, passing level 3 or so pretty much makes you unbeatable, since so many incredibly powerful abitlities were added to this version of the game.

You really want to keep the challenge going, and increase it as the player gets new tools to play with.

2. Variety: This is the other major leg of this genre. I really feel it's like playing Contra or TMNT or Mario, except without the boredom of those games from repeating everything. Rather than training your memory, you're learning skills and making quick decisions, reacting to situations as you go. The best levels of variety are such that you really form unique narratives once in a while, when the randomness meets in unique ways.

Spelunky was able to build quite a bit of variety out of its level design and item spread. The linear path, however, means that it really is quite lacking as far as variety is concerned. Isaac, however, while suffering from repetitive rooms, uses your unique combination of upgrades to create unique situations. Rogue Legacy failed here again -- the enemy designs are very repetitive, and most character traits ended up being too similar or too silly to care about. Nuclear throne also suffers here, even though arguably its map generation is more 'random'.

The interesting thing about procedural generation is how it interacts with the human mind. If you add lots of landmarks and details to your rooms/generation units, you'll have people remembering the patterns better and getting bored by repetitiveness. If you make the units too bland (as in just 'space' -- see Drox Operative), there won't be any differentiation. The key is to make the units of procedural generation interesting enough to feel different, but also bland enough to not remember every distinct combination. Both Spelunky and Isaac win out here IMO.

3. Feel: Since these games take the rogue-like genre but apply it to a classic game formula, they need to execute that formula well. The graphics can be simple, but the feel of moving, the reaction time, the animation -- all should feel good, which is to say, they should be comparable to the best examples of the sub-genre. Our Darker Purpose appears to really miss on this count, and the same applies to a Wizard's Lizard. Isaac, Spelunky, Nuclear Throne, and Necrodancer, however, all get the feel really right. Controls don't feel floaty, the interface is fairly clear, and bad guys die with a satisfying crunch. There's a lot of subtlety with this stuff - a lot of tweaking frames and input latencies to get them just right. This is one of the things I feel both Valleys didn't get right (though they're obviously in a different genre).

(Interestingly, for a strategic rogue-lite like FTL, I would replace this point with 'satisfying model'. Does the game model the experience it tries to convey well? Is the model complex and interesting enough to require skill? In FTL's case, I would say the answer is yes.)

4. Significant but limited loss: the whole rogue-lite formula takes you back to the days of games that weren't afraid to make you lose. Unlike the trend on the PC in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s, saving isn't there, which means you experience actual tension. Given the fact that every experience is unique, you also learn to appreciate death, as having at least taught you something, if not given you some reward in the metagame. However, balancing the amount of loss the player should experience is tough. Without any loss, the player loses involvement. This is probably Rogue Legacy's biggest issue. The whole game boils down to getting gold, and the run itself has no significance without gold. In Spelunky, you lose everything - it's one of the purest representations of the genre in that sense. But the run is fairly short, so your less is limited in terms of time invested. FTL, though I would place it under 'strategic rogue-lites', tends to have overly long runs, making the loss perhaps too great.

5. Consistency - This is something that not every member of this genre has, but I've found it to be a big plus. Inconsistency happens when a rule of the game is not followed under certain circumstances, either because the designers didn't think to program it in, or they felt allowing it was not good design. In general, because they are random and lack fleshed out narratives, rogue-lites benefit from rules that interact with each other in open ways. In Seplunky, anything can trigger an arrow trap, throwing an enemy on spikes will kill it, and dead shopkeepers will yield a shotgun because they have one. There are consistent rules, and they're almost always followed.

Platformers tend to have more consistency because the rule of gravity is already one rule that must act on all entities. Top-down games don't have to have as much consistency, but it's a really nice touch when they do. Nuclear Throne allows enemies to blow up cars, just as you can, and almost any explosion acts both on you and on enemies. This makes the game much more interesting, as good player skill (and luck) can combine rules in interesting, if unexpected ways. Isaac is perhaps the king of this aspect of design, as the game contains hundreds of upgrades, each of which has its own interaction rules.

6. Discovery: Rogue-lites tend to share little information with the player to begin with. The expectation is that as the player grows in skill, so too will he learn the intricacies of the game. A tutorial may show the basics, but that is generally only the beginning. In Isaac, items are mysterious and must be figured out by the player over time. In Nuclear Throne, a lot of hidden unlocks exist, and can only be discovered by the player. In Risk of Rain, both items and general player strategy is left a mystery. In Spelunky, the main game path is really the inferior path, and the proper path involves a secret (there's a problem with relying so much on secrets that are eventually spoiled and known to everyone, but that's a different issue).

This lends an air of mystery to the game. It expands it from being a game with many permutations to being an infinite game in the player's mind -- one of never-ending possibilities. Many players will spoil themselves with looking stuff up in a wiki, but the real experience perhaps is stumbling in the dark, being guided only by the occasional 'ah-ha' moment.

Note that some games, like Necrodancer, use such unusual mechanics, that they can't afford to leave things as mysteries, since the player is already adjusting to a completely different way of playing a game.

7. Narrative Coherence: This may seem irrelevant to rogue-lites, where the narrative is usually very basic, but in fact, this is a very big deal. Breaking the 4th wall is a very bad idea in rogue-lites, as it is in most games. Information should be provided without alerting the player to the fact that a game designer exists and is running the show. Spelunky's tutorial, for example, is provided by a fellow survivor of the cave. The bestiary, which provides small tidbits of info about enemies and locations, is in the form of a journal. Even the concept of procedural generation and the cave itself is given a magical explanation. The same is true for Rogue Legacy, where the castle magically re-designs itself after every run, and one can even re-use particular layouts using the in-game architect character.

In all of the top examples of the genre, careful attention has been paid to craft the experience in such a way that tutorials belong in the narrative (in Isaac, a basic tutorial is scrawled on the first floor of the dungeon), player notifications from outside the game are minimal, and no message breaks the 4th wall.

More importantly, though, levels are logically consistent, as are the creatures within them. Spelunky presents 4 versions of what you might expect a magical cavern to contain, each in its own level. While the aliens really stretch the narrative, the rest of the critters all fit the location and setting. You don't suddenly fight a clown or a dog in the first cave world. Nuclear Throne taps into our notions of what a wasteland would look like, with appropriate mutated monsters. Rogue Legacy contains the kinds of ghostly apparitions you'd expect in a haunted castle, and Isaac, after an odd intro mixing themes of horror, childhood, and Christianity, presents us with grotesque enemies fitting all of those themes.

The aliens in Spelunky present a good example of the problem one has when straying from this rule. Why are the aliens there? What do they have to do with the rest of the cave world and its Mayan/Egyptian mythology? Suddenly we need a narrative to explain things, because we can't just tap in to pre-existing assumptions about narratives that we know. Every time we introduce something that counters the player's expectations, we get another narrative problem. We need to explain to the player why this thing is there, but most players don't even pay attention to the narrative -- they'll just be taken out of the game's world. This is one of the big things I felt Valley 2, and to a lesser extent Valley 1 did wrong (aside from weak mechanic 'feel'). The collections of enemies made no sense, and making sense of them would require heavy narrative, which the player didn't want to be burdened by. Making enemies that tap into the player's pre-existing knowledge and expectations, and that make sense to him is *so* valuable.

A great example is the game Jamestown. It's a terrific shmup, set in a weird world where the American colonies and native Indians are being invaded by aliens, or it happens in space or something. To be honest, I don't remember the details. It reminded me a lot of the weird Inca games by Coktelvision, where the Conquistadors invaded Inca civilization, which lived in space. Anyway, the games starts with you flying over colonial American imagery, which all makes sense, and then aliens arrive and f*** s*** up. It's really weird, but the game gives you a lot of narrative sections to adjust you to that reality. Once you've switched to that mindset, though, it all makes sense -- you see a whole bunch of alien spaceships, and some more American colonial imagery, and it all makes sense and is very consistent. It's a very risky strategy, however -- I'm sure many people were turned off by the very weird juxtaposition of concepts and never allowed it to 'click' for them.

A rogue-lite that get this aspect wrong IMO is A Wizard's Lizard. I never got the feeling that the enemies were anything more than attempts to create different attack patterns, without regard for any consistent world. I don't even know what the consistent world was supposed to look like. Also, in Legend of Dungeon, some of the zombies had traffic cones on their heads, and they had the plant shooters straight from Plants vs Zombies. This is because Popcap contributed significant money to the kickstarter. While the game establishes that its world is tongue-in-cheek, this intrusion from another game's world is very jarring.

Anyway, those are my 7 cents on this matter.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 12:01:51 PM by Bluddy »

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2015, 06:28:44 AM »
You're already testing the game AND you're involved in the development? Ok, I'm officially jealous.
Hem, I mean, cool. Thanks for sharing this.
Hah, dont be too jealous... something like this always comes with downsides.  For my part, that means BUGS.  Particularly my own.  I dont deal with them well, not at all, so like with TLF's expansion, I'm going to have LOTS of moments of great frustration that I really just dont get with normal testing.  And I dont exactly have a particularly big role here, yet will still get that.  Though yeah, it's still pretty nice to be involved with this, particularly as it's THE game from them I've been most excited about since Bionic Dues.  I've very high hopes for this one, very high indeed.
Yeah, that's a price I would totally afford. Being an aspirant game designer, I know how the path is long and harsh.

But anyway....
Sure. Back to business.

I won't come back to 2) and 3): we agree on that.
However, I'm willing to dig a bit deeper in 1). You say Isaac has more choice than it seems. I'm very interesting in this, because I don't think I'm such a newb at Isaac (Steam says 87 hours and 74% achievement on Rebirth), and if you say I missed something in the design, what a poor GD I am...

1.  Isaac's "choice".  Now, this is an interesting thing about the game, and I think it really needs to be considered with THIS game. See, the thing about Isaac is that it actually DOES have alot of choice.  As I'd rambled about in that thread about the game in off-topic recently, a HUGE part of the game is making choices, and then dealing with the results of the choices you made.  The game does not and cannot create genuinely unwinnable situations where the RNG alone can kill you.  What it does is give you alot of decisions to make, which will then make you stronger, or weaker, depending on what you do.  Hell, half of my playstyle is based entirely around this concept.  And looking at some of the "pros" with that game, well.... you cant get a winstreak of 125+ if the game has too much RNG in it.  You just cant.

The problem though?  The game does NOT make this very obvious.  Particularly to new players, it seems extremely random, and it seems that you have little control over anything at all.  It can be hard to spot the choices that are available to you and the things that you can do, because of the way the game works.  And that is kinda a problem for this sort of game.  Plenty of roguelikes have this issue, actually.  To some degree, it depends on the player though... hell, I've heard this very thing about Bionic Dues, that it's "totally RNG, strategy doesnt matter!" and I know full well that THAT sure as heck isnt true.  But it can be hard to really show that in a game like this, and Isaac has that problem pretty bad.   This game, I think, needs to work to avoid that.  Fortunately, Arcen has been VERY good at avoiding this one.  You cant really avoid it COMPLETELY, but if you constantly give the player as much info about things as possible... you dramatically reduce the chances of this happening.  Isaac.... does not do this.  At all.  It seems to thrive on NOT telling you stuff.  And that's a definite problem.  And a very good point to consider.

So where's the choice, according to you? Taking or not taking an item? It's rare. One with high health must avoid the Dead Cat; I always avoid Bob's Brain and sometimes Dr. Fetus because they can hurt myself, etc. So let say this "choice" is pretty poor.
So what? Grinding? Is grinding or rushing a choice? IMO, no. If you're skillful enough to survive the grinding and take a bit more power from it, there is no way to not grind. Avoiding a Challenge Room is rarely a wise choice.
So, really, tell me. Where is the choice? I see only skill in fighting RNG. I'm only seeing RNG as a question to the player: "which bad luck level are you able to survive?" Because there is always a very-very-bad-luck run that nobody can win, and a very-very-lucky run that can allow a low-skill player to oneshot the last boss. And this is good. But there is no choice there.

I'm not mocking. I'm sincere: I don't understand your reply to my 1). Would you develop more, please?

* * *

(...)
:o
Whoa. Excellent post. Clear, precise and wise. Nothing to add. GG WP
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 06:31:12 AM by Pumpkin »
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Tridus

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2015, 08:02:20 AM »
I don't really have anything to add here that hasn't already been said from asides from(and I seriously doubt this would happen any way) I really hope that the weapons you use don't have percentage chances of missing I find that utterly infuriating for no dam good reason and is part of the reason I was never able to get into ftl.

I'm pretty darn sure that's not going to happen, indeed.

I will agree though, that just bugs me sometimes.  Though, FTL was a game that had alot of "RPG" mechanics to it... you couldnt take your ship and like, actually MOVE it and dodge stuff and neither could the enemy, so it's all calculations and RNG.... so at least it made sense.  But it was indeed kinda annoying.

It's funny how different people react to different things, because I thought that was just fine. It made things so that nothing was a sure thing in FTL, which is part of what I liked about it so much. There were multiple totally viable ways to beat most of the encounters, and none of them were guaranteed.

A miss chain can be pretty annoying, but when everything just always works there isn't the same kind of risk vs reward. It also removed having to physically move your ship around, which let you focus just on the other tactical parts.

Offline madcow

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2015, 09:45:12 AM »
I want to echo one of Bluddy's points in that discovery is extremely important. I'll go a step further and say secrets in general just really make the game.

One of the reasons I like to keep playing Isaac (and Spelunky) is that feeling of maybe I'll see something new!  Isaac occasionally has bosses replaced with other variants. That feeling the first time you accidently discover secret rooms (although it could be argued they're too important a mechanic to hide). Or when you stumble across the glitched out bonus "I am error" room.

Using Spelunky as an example, there is the whole chain of bringing the key to unlock the chest across levels, and the whole chain of items that can result from that.

All those little things can keep you playing because it feels like even after putting in lots of time into the game, you'll discover something new and cool that it feels like most people haven't seen!

Hiding base mechanics isn't particularly fair, but it's fun for the game to feel like there's stuff out there you haven't seen. Or that you might find something new even after a good amount of playtime. Unfortunately this is probably the hardest type of content to add because it's not part of the procedural code (I would assume).

Offline Bluddy

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2015, 11:53:43 AM »
I want to add to my 7th point.

Having thought about it some more, it's not just a matter of Narrative Coherence. It's Narrative Coherence and Buildup, and it's an art in and of itself. Essentially, it's the art of staying consistent to the narrative framework in the mind of the player, and expanding it gradually to tell your story.

Consider Spelunky. Spelunky works very hard to keep you in the world of the magical random cave. The menu is part of it. There's a very simple intro clip of the hero riding across a desert into the cave, with a single line (chosen randomly out of about 5) out of the hero's diary displayed on the screen. He throws a torch into the cave and descends down the rope. This already gives you so much knowledge about what to expect from the game: a cave, light and dark, mystery, treasure... The first world affirms that with creatures you'd expect: snakes, bats and scorpions, rock traps out of Indiana Jones. In fact, the game pretty much relies on the player's knowledge of Indiana Jones at this point, and fills in some blanks.

If you die in the level right before the second world, the hero's journal states that he was 'so close', and he could hear some rushing water. That's a slight buildup of expectations. When you finally make it into the second world (after much trial and error), you find that it's a jungle, populated by man-eating plants, jumping frogs, some of which are explosive, and giant bees. The narrative has been built up in your mind, and while some of these creatures are 'out there', they also fit into different conceptions you may have. Master the second world and die right before the exit, and you will be informed that you felt a 'cold breeze'. It's preparing you for the fact that the next world is cold, which it is. It's an ice cave, with yeti and... aliens. As I mentioned, this is the one thing I felt was out of place. Nevertheless, there's an alien ship if you want to explore one, and on and on it goes... the narrative doesn't hit you with the weirdest stuff right away -- it builds up with a cutscene, a menu that integrates into the environment, and then little clues throughout. It's a masterful narrative with almost no words, and no huge text blobs to read.

The next example is Nuclear Throne. The game opens with wild music, and you immediately get associations of wasteland and Mad Max. Now the game does something brilliant. It introduces your to the weirdness of the world through the characters you can choose to play as. Some of them are weirder than all the enemies you'll face. The Player Select screen is an establishing shot of the strange player-controlled creatures sitting in a circle and singing a campfire song. Immediately we get the idea that these guys are loners, out in the wasteland, and that they banded together for some reason. All this without a single word!

The first world is a simple sandy wasteland. The enemies are some human-ish nomads and giant scorpions shooting rays of... something. We're not hit with anything too weird yet -- we're using player expectations to build the narrative scope. We see that radiation is a big motif, with rads allowing us to mutate (the game mechanic thus introducing a theme) and little pools of radiation strewn about the landscape.

The next level is in the sewers. Again, nothing is too weird, but we get introduced to mutant rats or mice. We're familiar with this concept, and it makes sense in the sewers, but it introduces the theme that animals have mutated in this world and can do things we wouldn't expect. In the next level, mutant crows fly around and shoot machineguns, and the big boss is a massive dog shooting out missiles and laser shots. The game has taken its time building up weird elements, and everything comes together to create the expectation in the player's mind that this is a seriously messed up world, and things have been changed and mutated. Additionally, every time the player dies, if he plays a random character (which is common), he'll come back as another very unique looking creature, such as a walking, eating plant out of Little Shop of Horror.

All of the above is done with virtually no text and minimal cutscenes. It's all about how you layer your narrative, or whatever exists of it, into the game, and gradually open up the player's expectations to handle the more creative things in your game world.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 11:59:18 AM by Bluddy »

Offline Castruccio

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2015, 02:32:05 PM »
Bluddy, you should submit your rouge-lite essay for peer-reviewed publication!  I vote yes.

Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2015, 03:44:54 PM »
I don't really have anything to add here that hasn't already been said from asides from(and I seriously doubt this would happen any way) I really hope that the weapons you use don't have percentage chances of missing I find that utterly infuriating for no dam good reason and is part of the reason I was never able to get into ftl.

I'm pretty darn sure that's not going to happen, indeed.

I will agree though, that just bugs me sometimes.  Though, FTL was a game that had alot of "RPG" mechanics to it... you couldnt take your ship and like, actually MOVE it and dodge stuff and neither could the enemy, so it's all calculations and RNG.... so at least it made sense.  But it was indeed kinda annoying.

It's funny how different people react to different things, because I thought that was just fine. It made things so that nothing was a sure thing in FTL, which is part of what I liked about it so much. There were multiple totally viable ways to beat most of the encounters, and none of them were guaranteed.

A miss chain can be pretty annoying, but when everything just always works there isn't the same kind of risk vs reward. It also removed having to physically move your ship around, which let you focus just on the other tactical parts.
like I said I don't think its really a bad thing exactly its just something I find irritating losing after doing all the best choices I could at those points in time because I kept arbitrarily missing did my head in makes me glad invisible doesn't do that.(not that I think its really labelled as a froglike I'm just using it as a comparison since I started playing it recently)
c.r

Offline Rythe

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2015, 09:21:41 PM »
I replayed Isaac after my Ultratron run to remember that one too, and even with what little I saw, it was enough that I'm going to underline Misery's observations about choice and the Isaac game.

There is choice everywhere, but you have no idea how these choices are going to play out most of the time. Do you take some damage going into this room at the risk of it not being worth it? Do you use your bombs/keys on this mystery grabbag or this one or this one or save them for later? Do you pick up this unexplained ability or this unexplained ability and not really have the ability energy to play with them to figure it out? (Which may just be an aspect of me not trying hard enough due to not really caring at that point).

That's a lot of where my 'random' complaint about Isaac stems from, because to me, these choices are RNG equivalents due to me not knowing enough about the outcomes to make an educated choice.  They might be good stuff to the dedicated at some eventual point, but that's like Yahtzee's take on FFXIII - "Saying it gets good twenty hours in is not exactly a point in its favor."  If I have to know all the things before I can enjoy/appreciate something, then I'm really better off playing something I'll enjoy/appreciate right off the bat.

And then there's the straight RNG of upgrade drops, at least in my limited experience of it.

Also, Isaac's twin-stickiness felt...rudimentary to me, and not in a good way. Partly for how basic Isaac's attack starts as, partly because I couldn't consistently do angle/bendy shots with the keyboard.

So yeah, still cold on that game.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2015, 03:53:16 AM »
I want to echo one of Bluddy's points in that discovery is extremely important. I'll go a step further and say secrets in general just really make the game.

One of the reasons I like to keep playing Isaac (and Spelunky) is that feeling of maybe I'll see something new!  Isaac occasionally has bosses replaced with other variants. That feeling the first time you accidently discover secret rooms (although it could be argued they're too important a mechanic to hide). Or when you stumble across the glitched out bonus "I am error" room.

Using Spelunky as an example, there is the whole chain of bringing the key to unlock the chest across levels, and the whole chain of items that can result from that.

All those little things can keep you playing because it feels like even after putting in lots of time into the game, you'll discover something new and cool that it feels like most people haven't seen!

Hiding base mechanics isn't particularly fair, but it's fun for the game to feel like there's stuff out there you haven't seen. Or that you might find something new even after a good amount of playtime. Unfortunately this is probably the hardest type of content to add because it's not part of the procedural code (I would assume).

I agree on the "discovery is good" stance. However I think discovery should be more about mechanism discovery rather than content discovery. (I said more, I don't mean "no content".) What I want to say is that I feel that it is utterly important for a roguelike to have its mechanisms to unfold. This mechanism unfolding is what an idle game is (or should be) all about. If you don't know Candy Box, at least read about it on Internet: it's something to know about. And to get back to Starward Rogue, I think that more important than plain content discovery (like the items in Isaac or the biomes in Spelunky), discovering mechanisms and getting better at the game by this knowledge is very important for the game's feeling.

As the player can't build on the knowledge of a static map (Risk of Rain does things a bit differently here; not uninteresting), its skill must be built on the knowledge of something else: content and mechanisms. Shall I talk about Nethack? Shall I mention engraving Elbereth, eating floating eyes or mixing potions? Well, this is a bit extreme, and moreover Nethack contains very few clues about its own mechanisms. I can't find a game right now that has a good mechanisms' unfolding. Oh yeah: Portal. And puzzle games in general. Tidalis does that well too, but I can't tell where is the mechanism and where is the content.

TL;DR: mastering a roguelike/PDL should require the knowledge of its mechanisms.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.