Author Topic: A couple of questions that might help here  (Read 7572 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #45 on: October 20, 2015, 04:38:35 AM »
Sorry to interrupt.
I would like to return on and develop further the question of mechanism/content discovery.
But first some quotes.

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.

Discovery of mechanics rather than content is a bit iffy in my opinion. On one hand, it is a very measurable way of improving and it's cool to discover new mechanics. On the otherhand, if it's powerful mechanics that are hidden in a way that's really obtuse, it can lead to feeling less like discovery and more like the mechanics aren't being accurately presented and can lead to "playing by the wiki" syndrome.

The most obvious example I can think of is crafting systems in some games. I've played games with crafting where you make new items by combining raw ingredients (or combinations of ingredients) without actually having a recipe list. You need to combine items and hope it's a correct combo.  This is one of the worst most frustrating systems in games that seems like s growing trend these days. Sure there's the discovery of making a board with nails by combining a branch with nails, but it also just leads to play-by-wiki syndrome.

(...)

I guess I would say when it comes to base mechanics, don't hide too much of it just feels like new players are being gimped or that there aren't enough tutorials, but there should be some room for discovery at the same time.

I consider each recipe as a content, and the whole crafting system as a mechanism. So in my explanation of how I consider mechanisms should be first hidden then progressively presented, it's the whole system/mechanism that should be properly introduced, not each recipe. And I agree, a crafting system without ingame help is like running in the dark: a bad idea.

My point on mechanism discovery can only make sense if the limit between what is a mechanism and what is content is fully understood. A very basic example is the hidden rooms in Isaac: once the player encounter the first hidden room (by accidentally blowing a wall, or by an explosive monster doing it), he discovers this mechanism and can start (making the decision of) trading bombs for chances to find items. With more understanding of this mechanism, he can use fewer bombs by targeting only walls that may lead to hidden rooms.

I think "mechanism" in this genre can be defined by "what gives the player the opportunity to make a choice", and it often involves resource trading/conversion. By correctly hiding mechanisms from a beginner player, the game designer can make the first runs more "simple", less cumbersome, and more harder. This difficulty is naturally reduced when the player discovers mechanisms; this increases the complexity of his vision of the game (the game remains the same), and reveals his choices. This is what I mean by "skill by mechanism knowledge". Of course, there is also the "skill by content knowledge", which is the knowledge of the items in Isaac etc. And there is a need for ingame hints. For instance, I hate the fact that, in Isaac, the list of "items you found at least once" doesn't show a description of the effects of the item (or at least some hints. Heck, it doesn't even give the name of the items!) As an opposite example, the guide in Terraria is great: the game contains its own wiki. I think they could have added a sort of "hunter" NPC that knows about the loots and drop-rates of each creature (maybe linked with the banner system), because looting is a big part of Terraria gameplay (that one may love or hate). See? Looting is a mechanism, and what each creature drops is content.

A last example before I go on.
In Nethack, the player can eat corpses. This is a mechanism, and knowing that can opens choices and increase "skill". But there is good corpses and bad corpses; this is a better knowledge of the mechanism, and increase the skill about the eat/don't-eat choice. Then, there is content knowledge involved, because some corpses have special rules: floating eyes grant telepathy, lichen corpses never rot, elemental creature's corpse give protection against this element, killer bees are poisonous, etc. And this mechanism mix with other mechanisms, like the race choice: orcs are immune to most poisons and can eat corpses that other can"t.

I won't detail further this mechanism/content distinction, and which one should be properly introduced (I dislike using "hidden" here) or ingame-wiki'ed.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #46 on: October 20, 2015, 06:11:46 AM »
As far as mechanisms and the idea of discovery goes, I cant really speak much for THIS game.  Not because of things I cant reveal or something like that, but because I"m not really going to be in a position of having to discover anything at all.   It's going to be interesting to see how you guys go about figuring things out, once the game is in your hands. 

Not to mention it's not exactly my realm of design here; my job is just to make things that kill the heck out of yo- er, I mean, provide you with a balanced challenge.

But I can say, that I often think that this mechanic isnt very well handled in alot of Roguelikes.  For example, consider those that simply dont really know about or have access to the wiki for Isaac, for whatever reasons.  Players on the Wii U or 3DS, that maybe arent much for internet browsing, or often dont even have reliable internet access to begin with.  People seem to find the very concept silly these days, but it does still happen.

And Isaac hides ALOT of things from you.  So many.  And for quite a bunch of them, I look at them and I wonder, how the heck is anyone supposed to be able to even come close to figuring that bit out on their own?  I've had this thought in relation to many games in this genre.  Even I often have no choice but to look stuff up, due to the often very cryptic nature of things like this in the roguelike genre.  And honestly, that always just seems kinda bad to me.   I know I'd be frustrated as heck if I was playing one of these, but couldnt get online to look for/at the wiki for the game.

I'm kinda hoping to see THIS game avoid that as much as possible, and give the player as much information as it can.  I mean, alot of people tend to find Arcen's games intimidating and a bit confusing at first as it is... they're always such complicated things, after all!  So my own thoughts on it are that the game might be best if it can avoid that as much as possible.

I'd be real interested to hear Chris's thoughts on this though, if he should have a chance to read any of this. 

Offline Bluddy

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2015, 10:22:51 AM »
You make good points, Pumpkin. Personally, though, I don't see a strong distinction between content and mechanic secrets. I think I have 2 notions about secrets (aka the elements of discovery).

1. The more difficult it is for the player to pick up on a secret naturally, the less effect it should have on the gameplay.

Basically, every time you have a secret, you're creating alternate 'timelines' for the player base: some players will know the secret and their game must be balanced. Other players won't know it, and their game must also be balanced. This can obviously multiply quadratically, which is what makes it so difficult. Note that not all pathways need to have the same balance -- it's ok to make the game a little easier if you know some secret. But the more impact on balance, the more obvious the secret should be.

2. Making use of the secret must mesh with the balance and mechanics of the game.

Number 1 is quite easy to demonstrate on Isaac's design. The secret rooms contribute a fair amount of resources to the game, and Isaac is very much a game about maximizing resources. Before you know about their existence, the game will be a little harder. After accidentally finding them once in a while, you'll eventually pick up on their pattern -- where they tend to spawn. Even if you won't consciously know where they are, you'll get a feel for it. The game will become a little bit easier then.

Isaac also has super secret rooms, which were added in one of the expansions. These rooms spawned in locations that were also had a set pattern, but were almost impossible to pick up on without learning the pattern from a wiki. Without knowing the pattern, you'd either stumble on them by accident, or find them using one of the items that lets you find secret rooms. Given the fact that super-secret rooms are often more valuable than secret rooms, the knowledge of their seeding is secret knowledge that makes a large difference to the balance of the game, but is almost impossible to pick up on without consulting a wiki. Rebirth tried to correct this issue by making their spawn pattern more predictable and easy to learn, which was correct (the alternative would have been to make it completely random, in which case there's no knowledge to learn). Unfortunately, super secret rooms are now so predictable, that they're easier to find than regular secret rooms, which I don't believe was the intent. This is a violation of the second principle, since it goes against the general balance of (at least the first) game.

Another example from Isaac is the Guppy items. Guppy items appear in Isaac in specific chests which are mostly found in the Curse room. The Curse room hurts you when you walk into it. The secret is, if you get 3 Guppy items, you achieve Guppy form, which is extremely powerful. You can fly, and you spawn tiny flies that automatically seek your enemies and for some godforsaken reason do 2x the damage of your regular tears. If you have this knowledge, you know how to achieve easy dominance of the game. But if you don't have this knowledge, you'll avoid the Curse rooms, since they hurt you and often don't give you anything good. Knowledge of this secret fundamentally changes the way you play the game from playing it *wrong* to playing it the *right* way (statistically). Not only that, without knowing this secret, you're unlikely to learn it, since you're not exposed to many Guppy items since you don't see a purpose to go into secret rooms. Serious violations of both principles here.

Here's another one from the Speluky school of bad design. (Spelunky is one of my favorite games of all time, but damn did Derek Yu try to ruin it). In Spelunky, there's a secret that allows you to make much more money on each level. Money is used both for your high score, and for buying items (assuming you haven't angered the shopkeepers, in which case you just kill them and take their loot for free). Normally, you go through each level as fast as possible, trying to gather what you can before the big bad ghost comes and kills you. This is the entire spirit of the game. However, if you're a risk taker, you can stay until the ghost arrives, and if you make the ghost pass over gems (which you deliberately left out), the ghost turns any gem it touch into a diamond, worth much more money. This is the only way to get a high score nowadays since everyone knows the secret at this point.

The problem is that in order to engage in this high risk - high reward behavior, you have to wait out the level until the ghost comes and avoid collecting gems. You basically turn the game into a waiting room, waiting for the timer to expire. This completely kills the flow of the game, and is the reason I never even try to do this, high score be damned. Worse is the fact that Spelunky HD made the original Spelunky's ghost even *slower* just to allow people to do this even more without getting hurt. This is an example of a secret encouraging the exact opposite behavior to what the game generally encourages, and hurting the game hugely in the process. Many suggestions were made to fix this issue. For example, the ghost could become faster throughout the game as it chased you, making 'ghosting' a progressively more risky endeavor. But unfortunately, Spelunky HD was released on the Xbox, where the dev got virtually no feedback, and was only ported to PC a year later, by which time Derek was not interested in changing anything in the core design.

An example of good secrets from Isaac are the effects of each item. It's fun to discover the effects over time and guess what they are rather than just be told directly. This makes the secrets part of the advanced strategy of the game. Where this doesn't work too well is with trinkets, which are passive items you can swap in and out. Once you're supposed to both figure out the effect of items and trinkets together, it becomes too complicated to know if any particular effect happens because of an item you took somewhere along the line or because of a trinket. Before I read the wiki, I couldn't figure out almost any of the trinket effects. It doesn't help that most of them are quite subtle, or only occur rarely.

Finally, an example of a great little secret from Spelunky. Long after its original release, someone found an image in the data files of the end boss looking very purple. Nobody had ever encountered this version of the boss before, so they thought it may be an unused image. At the same time, people had accidentally found that sacrificing a particular item at an altar produces an eggplant, which seemingly had no effect in the game. The idea came up that perhaps the eggplant should interact with the final boss in some way. The problem was that Spelunky has you manage the objects you carry, in the sense that you can only carry one at a time (plus specific items that go on your back). Getting to the end boss requires activating other secrets, which in turn require carrying specific items, precluding the ability to get the eggplant to the end boss. Eventually, some very resourceful gamers found the specific recipe that would allow bringing the eggplant to the final boss. Throwing the eggplant on him caused him to turn into a giant eggplant boss.

This is a great example of a minor secret with very little effect that is nevertheless almost impossible to discover. As such, it passes my first principle of secrets, and trivially passes the second one. This secret could have sat in the game for years and years before being discovered.

Inspired by this secret, Edmund tried a similar idea for the Lost in Rebirth. Finding the Lost required piecing together images from the deaths of many player characters. The whole community would need to work together to find it. Unfortunately, the whole thing got messed up when Steam achievements revealed the existence of the Lost, and data miners easily found the recipe in the data files. I personally find the Lost to be so annoying an experience, that I don't consider it a part of the real design of the game. Afterbirth is supposed to make it somewhat better but I'm still not interested in it.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 11:46:18 AM by Bluddy »

Offline dfinlay

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #48 on: October 20, 2015, 07:02:51 PM »
As for the feeling of "cant afford to take hits", well, this is an Arcen game.  Alot of that will actually depend, at it's base, on what difficulty level you select.  Just like in TLF (and a bunch of the others) if the difficulty is really high, you'll die VERY fast if you take too many hits, but on low difficulties, you can tank a ton of stuff and not have your face melted.  That's the most likely case, though of course it may change, but you know, that's usually how they do it, since it works well.

To clarify, what I meant when I said "can't afford to take single hits" has very little to do with how many hits you can take from maximum health (if there is such a thing) and everything to do with how easy it is to heal. Take Spelunky. Because there is no maximum health and gaining health is comparatively rare, getting hit is effectively a permanent reduction of health for the rest of the run (and thus it really matters). If Spelunky instead had every enemy drop health (as many similar games do) or over time (really bad idea, but also common), getting hit would only matter until you healed back up. In order to maintain difficulty, health needs to be dropped such that the player now needs to be able to have his/her run end from one mistake or burst of mistakes, and if the mistake wasn't quite bad enough, there are no consequences. Both of these are in my opinion very bad and I would much prefer the game works like Spelunky in this regard.

I also wanted to talk about metaprogression. As I see it, there are two types of metaprogression. The first kind is where you get more power the more runs you play. This can be seen in, for example, Rogue Legacy. It's purpose is to allow players to keep getting further and further even without improving much in skill and to feel like they're earning more and more badassery. The other is where you get more options and/or more mechanics the more you play, but these are not inherently better than what they replace. This type can be seen in TOME(where new classes, races and build options are unlocked) or in TF2 (where new weapons can be unlocked). One of the cooler examples of this was the prerelease version of Desktop Dungeons, which had classes, races and more challenging dungeons unlock (unfortunately they switched to the first style with full release). It allows for a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players with options and keeps the game feeling fresh as the player keeps getting to experience new things. Additionally, this form of metaprogression  forces the player to improve to get further in the game. Some games, such as Isaac have elements of both, where you unlock new options and mechanics, but some are clearly better than the old ones (Isaac with D6 vs Isaac without, for example).

Another axis of choice in setting up metaprogression is how it is gained. There seems to be two main systems: points or achievements (though, again, combinations exist). A point-based system has some currency that can be spent to obtain unlockables (gold in Rogue Legacy or diamonds in Necrodancer, for example) and these can be gained in runs and then spent. Some games allow you to accumulate this over multiple runs and some force you to spend it all or lose it. This form tends to ensure people are making constant progress but not too quickly, to always give people something to plod along at and to encourage grinding. The second is to tie metaprogrssion to accomplishments (Complete any level with the Wizard to unlock the Necromancer. Beat the Valley of Light quest to Unlock the Caves of Darkness. Kill 100 enemies in 10 seconds to unlock the Painbringer, etc). Isaac and TOME are examples of games that do this. This tends to keep people experimenting and having cool goals, but can stagnate progress or frusterate people if they want to try X, but can't manage to pull off the requirement. If going this way, another choice is whether to keep the requirements secret. Doing so preserves mystery while leading to wiki-syndrome and making some people miss out on content they may have enjoyed. Not making it secret leads to a lack of mystery and a checkbox syndrome, but if the goals are built well, gives people cool things and builds to try they might not have otherwise.

My preference for this sort of game is usually for Non-power-increasing metaprogression unlocked by achievements that are publically visible in game. That said, any of these choices can work well and there are good arguments for each of them, so long as they are carefully thought about.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 07:05:28 PM by dfinlay »

Offline Bluddy

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #49 on: October 21, 2015, 10:32:03 AM »
Some great analysis dfinlay!

To clarify, what I meant when I said "can't afford to take single hits" has very little to do with how many hits you can take from maximum health (if there is such a thing) and everything to do with how easy it is to heal. Take Spelunky. Because there is no maximum health and gaining health is comparatively rare, getting hit is effectively a permanent reduction of health for the rest of the run (and thus it really matters). If Spelunky instead had every enemy drop health (as many similar games do) or over time (really bad idea, but also common), getting hit would only matter until you healed back up. In order to maintain difficulty, health needs to be dropped such that the player now needs to be able to have his/her run end from one mistake or burst of mistakes, and if the mistake wasn't quite bad enough, there are no consequences. Both of these are in my opinion very bad and I would much prefer the game works like Spelunky in this regard.

Absolutely. Minimizing healing is generally a good way to make the game challenging from the very beginning. It means that you have to live (and die) with your mistakes instead of just wiping them out. Spelunky does this (as you mention), and so does Necrodancer, and to a certain extend, Binding of Isaac. Vertical Drop Heroes HD is one game that messes this aspect up. There are health potions all over the screen and you also heal fully when you level up, which can happen right after killing critters. The result is that you never feel the cost of bad strategies: you'll just keep having full health, until you suddenly take more hits than you should and die. There's no time to process the feedback of the game, because you're constantly in a heal-get hit-heal loop.

I also wanted to talk about metaprogression. As I see it, there are two types of metaprogression. The first kind is where you get more power the more runs you play. This can be seen in, for example, Rogue Legacy. It's purpose is to allow players to keep getting further and further even without improving much in skill and to feel like they're earning more and more badassery. The other is where you get more options and/or more mechanics the more you play, but these are not inherently better than what they replace. This type can be seen in TOME(where new classes, races and build options are unlocked) or in TF2 (where new weapons can be unlocked). One of the cooler examples of this was the prerelease version of Desktop Dungeons, which had classes, races and more challenging dungeons unlock (unfortunately they switched to the first style with full release). It allows for a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players with options and keeps the game feeling fresh as the player keeps getting to experience new things. Additionally, this form of metaprogression  forces the player to improve to get further in the game. Some games, such as Isaac have elements of both, where you unlock new options and mechanics, but some are clearly better than the old ones (Isaac with D6 vs Isaac without, for example).

Another axis of choice in setting up metaprogression is how it is gained. There seems to be two main systems: points or achievements (though, again, combinations exist). A point-based system has some currency that can be spent to obtain unlockables (gold in Rogue Legacy or diamonds in Necrodancer, for example) and these can be gained in runs and then spent. Some games allow you to accumulate this over multiple runs and some force you to spend it all or lose it. This form tends to ensure people are making constant progress but not too quickly, to always give people something to plod along at and to encourage grinding. The second is to tie metaprogrssion to accomplishments (Complete any level with the Wizard to unlock the Necromancer. Beat the Valley of Light quest to Unlock the Caves of Darkness. Kill 100 enemies in 10 seconds to unlock the Painbringer, etc). Isaac and TOME are examples of games that do this. This tends to keep people experimenting and having cool goals, but can stagnate progress or frusterate people if they want to try X, but can't manage to pull off the requirement. If going this way, another choice is whether to keep the requirements secret. Doing so preserves mystery while leading to wiki-syndrome and making some people miss out on content they may have enjoyed. Not making it secret leads to a lack of mystery and a checkbox syndrome, but if the goals are built well, gives people cool things and builds to try they might not have otherwise.

My preference for this sort of game is usually for Non-power-increasing metaprogression unlocked by achievements that are publically visible in game. That said, any of these choices can work well and there are good arguments for each of them, so long as they are carefully thought about.

Great summary of the options. Personally, I don't like the feeling of metaprogression, even though it hooks me in. It feels empty, like going for Steam Achievements or mobile game unlocks. The focus shifts from the actual gameplay to 'playing enough to get X'. I feel like this is a big mistake committed by Rebirth and the Isaac design in general. It gets people used to unlocking things so often, that when they finish unlocking things, there's no motivation to keep playing. The basic gameplay loop IMO has to be the draw, not the unlocking mechanics. This is why I like Nuclear Throne's unlocks. They're there, but they don't dominate the gameplay. Necrodancer's metagame is also ok, since it gives you new items, but is clearly not the draw of the game.

I actually think that Bionic Dues, inasmuch as it supported rogue-like gameplay (ie. permadeath), was quite revolutionary in the way that it structured an interesting strategic metagame around the runs. I think there's still room for a game that does that really well -- one that allows you to die often, as you do in rogue-lites, but also provides some more strategic metagame than just unlocking stuff. A very forgiving version of Valley2's strategic layer could be the metagame, and the goals (or side-goals) of the main gameplay loop could change based on where you are in the strategic map, for example, or what you need to accomplish.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 10:33:34 AM by Bluddy »

Offline crazyroosterman

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #50 on: October 21, 2015, 02:30:37 PM »
Some great analysis dfinlay!

I also wanted to talk about metaprogression. As I see it, there are two types of metaprogression. The first kind is where you get more power the more runs you play. This can be seen in, for example, Rogue Legacy. It's purpose is to allow players to keep getting further and further even without improving much in skill and to feel like they're earning more and more badassery. The other is where you get more options and/or more mechanics the more you play, but these are not inherently better than what they replace. This type can be seen in TOME(where new classes, races and build options are unlocked) or in TF2 (where new weapons can be unlocked). One of the cooler examples of this was the prerelease version of Desktop Dungeons, which had classes, races and more challenging dungeons unlock (unfortunately they switched to the first style with full release). It allows for a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players with options and keeps the game feeling fresh as the player keeps getting to experience new things. Additionally, this form of metaprogression  forces the player to improve to get further in the game. Some games, such as Isaac have elements of both, where you unlock new options and mechanics, but some are clearly better than the old ones (Isaac with D6 vs Isaac without, for example).

Another axis of choice in setting up metaprogression is how it is gained. There seems to be two main systems: points or achievements (though, again, combinations exist). A point-based system has some currency that can be spent to obtain unlockables (gold in Rogue Legacy or diamonds in Necrodancer, for example) and these can be gained in runs and then spent. Some games allow you to accumulate this over multiple runs and some force you to spend it all or lose it. This form tends to ensure people are making constant progress but not too quickly, to always give people something to plod along at and to encourage grinding. The second is to tie metaprogrssion to accomplishments (Complete any level with the Wizard to unlock the Necromancer. Beat the Valley of Light quest to Unlock the Caves of Darkness. Kill 100 enemies in 10 seconds to unlock the Painbringer, etc). Isaac and TOME are examples of games that do this. This tends to keep people experimenting and having cool goals, but can stagnate progress or frusterate people if they want to try X, but can't manage to pull off the requirement. If going this way, another choice is whether to keep the requirements secret. Doing so preserves mystery while leading to wiki-syndrome and making some people miss out on content they may have enjoyed. Not making it secret leads to a lack of mystery and a checkbox syndrome, but if the goals are built well, gives people cool things and builds to try they might not have otherwise.

My preference for this sort of game is usually for Non-power-increasing metaprogression unlocked by achievements that are publically visible in game. That said, any of these choices can work well and there are good arguments for each of them, so long as they are carefully thought about.

Great summary of the options. Personally, I don't like the feeling of metaprogression, even though it hooks me in. It feels empty, like going for Steam Achievements or mobile game unlocks. The focus shifts from the actual gameplay to 'playing enough to get X'. I feel like this is a big mistake committed by Rebirth and the Isaac design in general. It gets people used to unlocking things so often, that when they finish unlocking things, there's no motivation to keep playing. The basic gameplay loop IMO has to be the draw, not the unlocking mechanics. This is why I like Nuclear Throne's unlocks. They're there, but they don't dominate the gameplay. Necrodancer's metagame is also ok, since it gives you new items, but is clearly not the draw of the game.

I actually think that Bionic Dues, inasmuch as it supported rogue-like gameplay (ie. permadeath), was quite revolutionary in the way that it structured an interesting strategic metagame around the runs. I think there's still room for a game that does that really well -- one that allows you to die often, as you do in rogue-lites, but also provides some more strategic metagame than just unlocking stuff. A very forgiving version of Valley2's strategic layer could be the metagame, and the goals (or side-goals) of the main gameplay loop could change based on where you are in the strategic map, for example, or what you need to accomplish.

 personally I feel like the second type of metaprogression(I haven't really got an opinion on the first asides from I think its alright) is something of a double edged sword on the one hand you have the excitement of unlocking awesome new things but the risk is that once you've unlocked all the things and have got nothing left (I'm speaking from my own personal experience) it make you feel a bit empty and not really wanting to keep on going of course if yours game core mechanics are engaging that isn't really a thing just my 2 cents really.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2015, 11:52:58 AM by crazyroosterman »
c.r

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #51 on: October 22, 2015, 10:12:47 AM »
(...) It allows for a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players with options and keeps the game feeling fresh as the player keeps getting to experience new things. Additionally, this form of metaprogression  forces the player to improve to get further in the game.

(...)

My preference for this sort of game is usually for Non-power-increasing metaprogression unlocked by achievements that are publically visible in game. (...)

I fully agree with this. It's directly linked to what I meant about discovery mechanism: "a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players". It's also related to skill, as you said: "[it] forces the player to improve to get further".

(I realize this is exactly why I hate Rogue Legacy: my game/lineage gets better by farming, and my own skill is only related to how fast I'll grind, not how "deep" I'll get in the game.)

I wish Starward Rogue would go for this kind of mechanism(-ish) discovery and "skill up to get deeper".
Misery? What are you allowed to tell us about that?
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #52 on: October 22, 2015, 10:26:47 AM »
(...) It allows for a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players with options and keeps the game feeling fresh as the player keeps getting to experience new things. Additionally, this form of metaprogression  forces the player to improve to get further in the game.

(...)

My preference for this sort of game is usually for Non-power-increasing metaprogression unlocked by achievements that are publically visible in game. (...)

I fully agree with this. It's directly linked to what I meant about discovery mechanism: "a complex game that doesn't overwhelm players". It's also related to skill, as you said: "[it] forces the player to improve to get further".

(I realize this is exactly why I hate Rogue Legacy: my game/lineage gets better by farming, and my own skill is only related to how fast I'll grind, not how "deep" I'll get in the game.)

I wish Starward Rogue would go for this kind of mechanism(-ish) discovery and "skill up to get deeper".
Misery? What are you allowed to tell us about that?

As far as I know, the game will be going mostly with the "You need actual skill to get further in" sort of thing.  I think Chris has spoken about this a few times here on the forums, particularly in relation to Rogue Legacy, which was a good game, but.... yeah, that bit kinda hurt it, I think.   Along with the grinding, which usually goes hand-in-hand with that idea.  You can probably glean some more info by going back and re-reading some of his earlier posts about the game in general.

I know there's SOMETHING outside of the individual runs, but from what I know, it's not anything like what that game does and doesnt go against the idea of needing skill to continue.  It'd really fit their style, too; even when their games DO have you get stronger between areas/levels/whatever, the enemies continue to power up as well.  Both BD and the Valley games do this, and do it quite nicely.  You dont get forced to go through trivial areas, and you're not forced to grind.  It's worked consistently well with their games, I think.

That's about all I have to say about it... Of course, there's only so much to say about it right now anyway.   Very, very early version of the game right now.  Like, *really* early.   I've never once seen one of these games in such an early state; it's pretty fascinating.  As you'd expect, the devs move rapidly with this one (as always) though so it's progressing nicely, I'm enjoying it so far. It's really looking good.  Aside from the parts where something I do glitches out and I spend the next 20 damn minutes finding a single typo because the whole universe is made of stupid.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #53 on: November 12, 2015, 12:39:11 AM »
Hey, What's up?

This was a very interesting thread, and it just stopped. And I'm very frustrated, y'know? :D
Yeah, sure, I'll go play TLF and stuff, but...
When?!? When does the damn Arcen's roguelike... thing... game... When does it come out?!?

Hey, I was just kidding; I don't want a date. I just wanted to let you know that I'm still eager to see this game. And wanted to know how are things going. I'm sure you all are super busy. Just don't forget your (awesome 8)) community! ;D

(Maybe this deserves a new thread, but my post feels so pointless that I preferred to not do a new thread with just me being mad. :D)
Anyway, keep it up!
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #54 on: November 12, 2015, 03:54:01 AM »
Hey, What's up?

This was a very interesting thread, and it just stopped. And I'm very frustrated, y'know? :D
Yeah, sure, I'll go play TLF and stuff, but...
When?!? When does the damn Arcen's roguelike... thing... game... When does it come out?!?

Hey, I was just kidding; I don't want a date. I just wanted to let you know that I'm still eager to see this game. And wanted to know how are things going. I'm sure you all are super busy. Just don't forget your (awesome 8)) community! ;D

(Maybe this deserves a new thread, but my post feels so pointless that I preferred to not do a new thread with just me being mad. :D)
Anyway, keep it up!

Things so far are going just fine, far as I can tell.  Alot of conceptualizing and long talks/emails right now with everyone coming up with different ideas and discussing them.... there's some interesting stuff being thrown around.  Needless to say I cant give specifics here, but.... some of the usual ideas from the genre will be showing up of course, though, some of them are getting some very interesting little twists thrown in.  Which, of course, is to be expected from Arcen, yeah?  Arcen's games have always done this very well and this is looking to be the case here too.

It's hard to say what the gameplay/combat is quite like just yet though.  One thing that is going to be interesting is the enemy variety in the game; I'm not the only one that'll be making the things, and the others will all have drastically different styles from me.   Needless to say my designs are definitely bullet-hell in nature; I'm the only one that can do that design style, so Chris told me to stick to making the crazy stuff.  But right now, where we're at, my enemies/bosses are the only things currently active.  The others are busy with various other important things, and with only my horrible monstrosities roaming around, it's hard to say just what it's quite like overall.  I can say though that it wont ALWAYS be super crazy even with my own bosses, there'll be lowered intensity versions of them (probably) to appear on lower difficulties, which is to be expected with bullet-hell anything.  So they wont ALWAYS be a screaming ball of murder-death.  I cant wait to see what kinds of designs the others come up with though, I'm very curious about that.  But the various other things they've been working on have been very interesting so far. Lots of interesting elements being added at a continuous rate. I'm definitely liking what I'm seeing, and Chris seems pretty pleased with how things are shaping up.   So that's all good.  The engine is much improved already from what it had been before, too.  Takes me like 1/4th the time to create a full new enemy/boss/thing than it did in TLF.  Soooooooo much easier to do. 

I can say that the game controls very well.  Definitely no issues on that front.

Definitely no dates yet for it as far as I know, for either the final release or the beta.  Right now though, my impression is that both are a long way off yet.

But it's already pretty fun even in it's current state!

And alot of the different ideas and thoughts people have had in this thread are being considered when making decisions.  Needless to say, Chris doesnt want the game ending up with any mechanics that are un-fun or anything like that.  So if anyone has any further input on things like this.... by all means, post it here!  I've certainly found it helpful.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #55 on: November 12, 2015, 10:49:10 AM »
Yay! Thanks a lot for the update!

And alot of the different ideas and thoughts people have had in this thread are being considered when making decisions.  Needless to say, Chris doesnt want the game ending up with any mechanics that are un-fun or anything like that.  So if anyone has any further input on things like this.... by all means, post it here!  I've certainly found it helpful.

While I'm here, I want to share my opinion on "Teleglitch" and why I loved its hardcore permadeath with few (very very few) inter-run progression.

Teleglitch has a tone, an atmosphere that I absolutely love. First, there is no music: only noises. Then, there is large rooms that cannot be seen in one screen, and many of them have no monsters. Then, there is monsters, but ammo are scarce, and so are healing items. And then, there is permadeath.

There is no other game that make me hold my breath like this one. Very often, I find myself in need of air and realize I'm holding my breath for more than one room. So many roguelike/lite/whatever... so many games with some sort of permadeath are not only missing the point, but also not even trying to make it. Teleglitch is the only game with permadeath that reminds me Nethack and the elder Berlin's roguelikes. Don't Starve achieve it too (at least for me), and the Burton-like universe has something to do with it. And these games (Nethack, Teleglitch, Don't Starve) make me realize why I don't truly love Isaac or the like (and why I hate Rogue Legacy, but that's yet another story): in these games, I don't care about my character. It can die and I just think "oh, well, let's try again", or "let's do something else", or worse: blaming RNG.

Red Rogue is also a dark-themed permadeath-game. If like me you crave this kind of anxious-permadeath games, try one of them:
- Teleglitch (survival/action),
- Don't Starve (resource management -- if you don't already know this one, try it!!!),
- Nethack (old-school and RPG),
- Red Rogue (... it looks like a platformer, but something is off. Also, this one is free!)

Note: I don't say roguelike, because barely only the permadeath element is important for what I'm talking about: you can argue Don't Starve isn't a roguelike (and I would rather agree it's not), but it's for sure a permadeath game.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 10:52:27 AM by Pumpkin »
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Misery

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #56 on: November 12, 2015, 12:02:38 PM »
Yay! Thanks a lot for the update!

And alot of the different ideas and thoughts people have had in this thread are being considered when making decisions.  Needless to say, Chris doesnt want the game ending up with any mechanics that are un-fun or anything like that.  So if anyone has any further input on things like this.... by all means, post it here!  I've certainly found it helpful.

While I'm here, I want to share my opinion on "Teleglitch" and why I loved its hardcore permadeath with few (very very few) inter-run progression.

Teleglitch has a tone, an atmosphere that I absolutely love. First, there is no music: only noises. Then, there is large rooms that cannot be seen in one screen, and many of them have no monsters. Then, there is monsters, but ammo are scarce, and so are healing items. And then, there is permadeath.

There is no other game that make me hold my breath like this one. Very often, I find myself in need of air and realize I'm holding my breath for more than one room. So many roguelike/lite/whatever... so many games with some sort of permadeath are not only missing the point, but also not even trying to make it. Teleglitch is the only game with permadeath that reminds me Nethack and the elder Berlin's roguelikes. Don't Starve achieve it too (at least for me), and the Burton-like universe has something to do with it. And these games (Nethack, Teleglitch, Don't Starve) make me realize why I don't truly love Isaac or the like (and why I hate Rogue Legacy, but that's yet another story): in these games, I don't care about my character. It can die and I just think "oh, well, let's try again", or "let's do something else", or worse: blaming RNG.

Red Rogue is also a dark-themed permadeath-game. If like me you crave this kind of anxious-permadeath games, try one of them:
- Teleglitch (survival/action),
- Don't Starve (resource management -- if you don't already know this one, try it!!!),
- Nethack (old-school and RPG),
- Red Rogue (... it looks like a platformer, but something is off. Also, this one is free!)

Note: I don't say roguelike, because barely only the permadeath element is important for what I'm talking about: you can argue Don't Starve isn't a roguelike (and I would rather agree it's not), but it's for sure a permadeath game.

Hmm... I cant really speak for the "care about my character" bit.  That aspect of design is a bit beyond me; I only focus on gameplay and nothing else, and I dont think I even NOTICE if a game has that particular aspect or doesnt have it.  I've played Teleglitch, but my usual response to death is "Bah, stupid thing!  Start over...".  Dont Starve I have but havent fully dove into, I'll get to it at some point, Nethack.... well, I'll just say, my opinions differ from the popular norm on THAT one.  That game heavily influences my design style and suggestions I make, but not in the way you might want it to.  Er... probably.    Red Rogue I'm familiar with, though I havent played it in awhile.  Maybe about time I have another go at it.  It is good.  I actually re-downloaded that one very recently, but havent really sat down with it, because it's another one of those games that either doesnt support or just refuses to acknowledge the controller, and setting up control profiles to FORCE it is tedious and annoying, so I havent felt like doing it.  Maybe I'll give it a go later tonight though.

Offline x4000

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Re: A couple of questions that might help here
« Reply #57 on: November 17, 2015, 12:03:05 PM »
Just a heads up that folks might be interesting in a redshirts phase of the alpha, which is around now: https://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,18148.0.html
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