Author Topic: The Drox Operative Problem  (Read 6985 times)

Offline Cinth

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2014, 04:48:46 PM »
But it's possible there's another answer I'm missing.

What's more satisfying? 
Lighting the fireworks or watching them go off after pushing a button?
Spreading rumors about you being the stronger, or slapping the **** out of someone, proving you are?
Or seeing that every possible "auto-resolve" answer says you lose, but you take command and win with skill?

Auto-resolve is a crutch, real player crush the AI with overwhelming force.  (AIW humor)

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Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2014, 04:56:08 PM »
But it's possible there's another answer I'm missing.

What's more satisfying? 
Lighting the fireworks or watching them go off after pushing a button?
Spreading rumors about you being the stronger, or slapping the **** out of someone, proving you are?
Or seeing that every possible "auto-resolve" answer says you lose, but you take command and win with skill?

Auto-resolve is a crutch, real player crush the AI with overwhelming force.  (AIW humor)
Well, certainly the action part of the game is more viscerally fun than the strategy part.  The question is whether and how the game as a whole can appeal to someone who doesn't like the action part.  I went down that road with both Valley games and, while I think we've done better than that here, I'm not optimistic about solutions which revolve around the action game being present but optional.  But I've been wrong before :)
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Offline Professor Paul1290

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2014, 05:07:07 PM »
It's worth mentioning that a lot of people have problems with Drox because it is an ARPG and the combat is required.

Offline Cinth

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2014, 05:11:01 PM »
For some reason the Valley comparisons don't sit well with me.  TLF feels a lot different than both Valley games.  I get more of a 4x feel here.  Yeah, I know none of the "X"s are present here but the feel of shaping the solar system through diplomacy and directed military action are paths you can take in most true 4x games (just on a galactic scale). 

Could just be me though.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2014, 05:25:49 PM »
It's worth mentioning that a lot of people have problems with Drox because it is an ARPG and the combat is required.
Yea, in Drox it's basically all the combat, in that you never leave that sort of direct control of your ship on "the combat screen" (the only screen there is, menus aside).  So it's really just an ARPG set in a unique (and very interesting, to me) context.  If you don't like ARPG combat then Drox is no more for you than Torchlight, nor does it really give any impression that it should be (imho).

Here there's more of a two-different-games thing going on, with the action (not ARPG) parts contained as discreet chunks inside the strategy game.  So there's more to appeal to someone who doesn't like action.  Whether it can, or should, appeal to that part of the audience while also appealing to the rest is an open question, but we'll see.
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Offline Pepisolo

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2014, 05:47:45 PM »
First and foremost I think that the "fun-ness" of the current combat implementation needs to be completely focussed on. I wouldn't want testers to think "meh, the combat is OK, but I can auto-resolve to skip it so whatever". This seems like it would have a hugely detrimental effect on the action part of the game during the testing cycle. The combat really needs to work, and work very well otherwise it should probably be stripped out entirely. So, auto-resolve? As an optional extra, yeah, that might work and is something that could be implemented once the combat part is stable, as long as the reason for implementing it is to allow pure strategy buffs to get to the heart of the gameplay that they enjoy rather than to allow the average player to bypass a part of the game that really doesn't work very well.

Just how good is the combat and how well is it integrated into the whole game? Not being an active tester,  I don't know, but to be honest I'm a bit worried that there seems to be a general feeling that the combat part of the game could just be snipped off without too many problems. To me this suggests that there is a lack of integration between the strategy and action elements.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 05:52:19 PM by Pepisolo »

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2014, 05:54:21 PM »
I don't know, but to be honest I'm a bit worried that there seems to be a consensus that the combat part of the game could just be snipped off without too many problems. To me this suggests that there is a lack of integration between the strategy and action elements.
Just snipping it off wouldn't leave a product, really.  The remaining part would need to be fleshed out substantially to stand by itself (imo).

On the integration, it depends on what you mean.  Without any combat at all you wouldn't have a way of destroying fleets you thought the system was better off without.  Nor could you tear up civilian infrastructure, etc.

But are there any points of integration that couldn't be reasonably well done via an autoresolve-with-choices like Chris was talking about earlier?  Nah, I think that would handle all the integrated aspects of combat.

But is picking choices as much fun as space pew-pew?

On the other hand, is a strategy game where you pick choices for combat better than a strategy game where you have to switch to a different genre to play out the combats?

And, if you can choose between "pick choices" and "play an action game", is it a positive or a negative to have a completely optional action-genre part of the game?
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Offline ElOhTeeBee

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2014, 05:57:06 PM »
I dunno how well this is gonna be received, but I figure I might as well mention it, since it seems at least tangentially related.

In addition to enjoying video games, I also play tabletop RPGs. One of those RPGs, Exalted, is an interesting one. It casts the players in the roles of the titular Exalted, former humans graced with a spark of divine energy that grants them vast power. There's several different kinds of Exalted, but the ones relevant to this little thought are the Sidereal Exalted, the chosen of the five Maidens of Fate.  The Sidereals are the mysterious witch that gives the hero a clue on his journey, the wizened old martial artist who teaches the young firebrand new tricks, the cunning vizier that pulls the strings behind the throne. They are, in short, professional meddlers, who ceaselessly work to keep Fate on its proper track, and the world as it should be.

But they're very few in number - only 100 at any given time, often less - and a Sidereal who is slain is dead for a very long time. If a Solar is killed in glorious battle with the mad princes of the chaos beyond the world, then the spark of Solar essence that was empowering him will likely find a new host within a year, because Solar Exaltations are drawn to great heroism. Sidereal Exaltations, on the other hand, are woven into someone's fate as they're born... which means waiting for the newborn to grow up, and then spending quite a lot of time training him in all the complexities of Heaven and Creation that he has to know to do his job. It can easily take a century or more before a Sidereal's replacement is ready to do his job.

Given that, most Sidereals take an interesting approach to personal combat... it's something to be avoided if at all possible. A Sidereal cannot afford to die, and so will actively avoid situations where that's a meaningful risk. Furthermore, Sidereals are constantly busy, and so have to be very efficient in their work. If a Sidereal needs someone dead, it's much quicker to hire someone else to do the killing, or to sell them a faked treasure map that will lead them to a tomb full of deadly traps, or talk their best friend into striking them down for the good of all. If a Sidereal needs a kingdom conquered, it's a lot safer to find some lucky chump to serve as a great general and prop him up with supplies and magic than it is to personally take to the field. It's much easier to incite revolution by quietly whispering a few choice words into the right ears than by getting personally involved in the region's politics.

When I first read about The Last Federation, it struck me as being Sidereals In Space, enough so that I used that little tagline when showing the blogs to my Exalted-playing friends. And, to my mind at least, part of that would be that our brave little Hydral should, in fact, be a total coward - he's the last Hydral, and if he dies before the Federation is formed, then there's no one left to pick up the torch. Personal involvement in combat should be a last resort, unless it's such an overwhelming victory that there's really no reason to play the combat out at all, or you're up against people who are actively trying to hunt you down and murder you; subterfuge is much preferred. Don't fight that Thoraxian army yourself, sneak a bomb onto their supply station and bribe a Skylaxian commander to be in the right place at the right time. Stuff like that.

Offline Pepisolo

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2014, 07:00:14 PM »
Quote
But is picking choices as much fun as space pew-pew?

Generally, surely space pew-pew is more fun than picking choices (although I know some would disagree). So, if picking choices happens to end up more fun than space pew-pew, something might be wrong with the this particular instance of pew-pew.

So, given that pew-pew is more fun than picking choices (assuming this is not debatable) then you would imagine more people would prefer the pew-pew to the picking choices, as long as both aspects are equally as well executed..... or something.

Quote
And, if you can choose between "pick choices" and "play an action game", is it a positive or a negative to have a completely optional action-genre part of the game?

I think having it optional suggests a lack of confidence in the quality of the action part of the game. Ideally, the game should be evaluated as a whole. If the integration of both aspects are good enough then it'll work for all gamers. Would Actraiser be better if you could choose either to play the platform parts only or the god-game parts only? I would argue it would be a significantly lesser game if you were to experience only one aspect. On the other hand, if you were to remove the silly overhead sections from Super Contra then that would actually improve the game as a whole. I think it's a matter of how good is the combat part and how well is it integrated into the strategy. If both aspects seem cool and gel then great, no need for auto-resolve except maybe as a afterthought cheat code or new game plus option. If both aspects just aren't gelling then get rid of the action and make it all strategy.

Additionally, these are tough questions which just broke my brain.

Quote
When I first read about The Last Federation, it struck me as being Sidereals In Space, enough so that I used that little tagline when showing the blogs to my Exalted-playing friends. And, to my mind at least, part of that would be that our brave little Hydral should, in fact, be a total coward - he's the last Hydral, and if he dies before the Federation is formed, then there's no one left to pick up the torch. Personal involvement in combat should be a last resort, unless it's such an overwhelming victory that there's really no reason to play the combat out at all, or you're up against people who are actively trying to hunt you down and murder you; subterfuge is much preferred. Don't fight that Thoraxian army yourself, sneak a bomb onto their supply station and bribe a Skylaxian commander to be in the right place at the right time. Stuff like that.

Actually, something like this does sound cool -- although I don't actually know whether the general gameplay is already anything like this or not. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms you could do stuff like bribe enemy officers, hide in certain cities to gather information, sabotage warehouses etc, as well as just being able to march an army into a city and wreck the joint. So, you could do all kinds of shady stuff on the global map without entering combat. Or you could delegate other officers to deal with certain battles rather than oversee it all yourself...also... actually I'm going a bit on a ramble now, but, basically I like the way you're thinking, although I don't know exactly how suitable it is for TLF.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 07:09:11 PM by Pepisolo »

Offline doctorfrog

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2014, 07:57:01 PM »
I'd say the precedent for letting fiddly hands-on combat be optional is pretty well established. See the Master of Orion and Imperialism (feature called "Otto Play") series, for example.

Star Control 2 also had it, which was best used in the mid game when your ship was so powerful it could smash through most ships without breaking a sweat: here, letting the CPU play for you was a wonderful way to demonstrate how much you'd progressed in power, while also letting you take back control if you still found it desirable.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 07:58:42 PM by doctorfrog »

Offline x4000

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2014, 09:07:13 PM »
As a note: in this particular game, Auto Resolve is something I plan to have as a difficulty level with its own branch of stuff, essentially.  Aka, you can't just skip a fight in the middle of a regular game.  Playing auto-resolve means you're forgoing normal combat, but playing the game in a somewhat altered form with this other form of auto-resolution mechanics in place.  That's what I'm going for now -- because honestly, a lot of the things that would matter to someone doing direct combat would not be helpful at all in auto-resolve battles (we've been down this road before), so treating them as kind of wholly separate experiences is important.  I think that both can be really fun, actually, and I find myself actually excited about both, which is really odd for me.  I will almost always want to play with the battles on, but the auto-resolve difficulty level would be interesting for when I just want to speed through the strategy portion without dumbing it down any.
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Offline chemical_art

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #41 on: March 13, 2014, 12:28:36 AM »
I think that moreso for the early part of the game's lifecycle, establishing game-modes (for lack of a better world) to allow either complex grand strategy w/ auto-solving or light grand strategy with heavy combat will help provide an influx of players. It doesn't even have to be heavily developed as the game goes on as it focuses on the "full" experience of both fully used but I think it's ability to allow players to "dip-their-toe in" for their favorite parts will allow them to get immersed for the game.

Example: I never really played BD. I heard cool things about the meta and the loot, etc, but I couldn't get into the combat. Same story for Valley 2. The result? I never got to really experience their meta as I never played more then an hour in a game cycle. If I could have shortened the combat phase I would have seen more out-of combat things, and over time probably would have learned combat via association / length of play.

Another example: For the TW games, my dad hated the meta part, but loved the combat. He used cheats to basically make the campaign a sandbox for he could have played battles. Had this option to ignore the meta not exist, he would never have learned to love the game.

Again, down the road these "lite" modes of the full experience don't have to be fully developed, I think having them at 1.0 will certainly provide them with the most impact in the game's lifecycle.
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Offline Misery

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #42 on: March 13, 2014, 12:45:20 AM »
I think that moreso for the early part of the game's lifecycle, establishing game-modes (for lack of a better world) to allow either complex grand strategy w/ auto-solving or light grand strategy with heavy combat will help provide an influx of players. It doesn't even have to be heavily developed as the game goes on as it focuses on the "full" experience of both fully used but I think it's ability to allow players to "dip-their-toe in" for their favorite parts will allow them to get immersed for the game.

Example: I never really played BD. I heard cool things about the meta and the loot, etc, but I couldn't get into the combat. Same story for Valley 2. The result? I never got to really experience their meta as I never played more then an hour in a game cycle. If I could have shortened the combat phase I would have seen more out-of combat things, and over time probably would have learned combat via association / length of play.

Another example: For the TW games, my dad hated the meta part, but loved the combat. He used cheats to basically make the campaign a sandbox for he could have played battles. Had this option to ignore the meta not exist, he would never have learned to love the game.

Again, down the road these "lite" modes of the full experience don't have to be fully developed, I think having them at 1.0 will certainly provide them with the most impact in the game's lifecycle.


Completely agreed with this.

Offline zharmad

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #43 on: March 13, 2014, 04:18:27 AM »
 In Total War, battles eventually became a bit tedious, but I also knew that the auto-resolve system couldn't handle the odds that I'm comfortably winning with. There's an inherent problem with perfectionists who happen to be significantly above the average performance here.

 The integration of battle skipping as a separate game mode is more interesting. How would you implement a 'you lose the game' outcome that's not a clear suicide button? :P

 In the mean time (earlier in the test cycle), we could actually use an auto-resolving mechanic to get a feel as to how the strategic game unfolds as a mediocre action player, is or that well tested?

Offline khadgar

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Re: The Drox Operative Problem
« Reply #44 on: March 13, 2014, 10:31:31 AM »
How would you implement a 'you lose the game' outcome that's not a clear suicide button? :P

This is my main question!

You have destroyed the WSS Space Crumpet, will you [continue] on attacking the impossibly strong Weasel Corps of Doom, or will you [withdraw]?
continue
It is very unlikely you will be able to take on the whole fleet by yourself. Are you sure?"
yes
The final worlds of the last hydral, to be remembered throughout the solar system, 'I'm not quite sure why I didn't withdraw!'

Game Over.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 10:33:43 AM by khadgar »