Author Topic: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size  (Read 868 times)

Offline Bluddy

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Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« on: May 02, 2012, 02:47:28 PM »
This is an idea that belongs on Mantis, but at the same time, I'd like to get more people's feedback.

I think one of the issues with the game currently is that the game is ambivalent about how much of an exploration game it is. On the one hand, it's a procedurally generated game, reminding people of Terraria. This suggests you should be able to go off and explore for as long as you want. Long-time players, however, know that going off and wandering is generally a recipe for boredom: there simply isn't enough variation at this point to fill up as big of a world as AVWW generates in an interesting way. So the game gives you ways to stay on target: the dungeon map shows you where to go to get stuff, and the planning menu (and now the amazing shopping list) gives you a gentle reminder to get back to the task at hand. I think this is one of the biggest tests of whether you'll like the game. If you can learn to keep yourself on a target, there's a much better chance that you'll fall in love with the game.

The problem is, you can't prevent people from wanting to explore. It's one of the big draws of the game after all. You can't fault people for doing what the concept of the game implies is possible. I had a feeling that this might be the case, but the beta testers were already used to the way the game worked so it didn't bother them, and it took a whole slew of new people playing the game to get a good feel for whether this would be a problem.

My suggestion is to shrink down the number of rooms, caves and buildings generated by the game. One iteration of this was done in the beta, but I think another iteration is in order. The key point here is that as more variation is put into the random generation of the game (interesting objects, enemies, themes, different-feeling caves per region etc), the parameters can be increased gradually to make these spaces big again. In the meantime, I think it makes sense to reduce the number of chunks per tile to 1-3, and to reduce the number of (big) buildings per chunk to 0-2 as well (it's fine to have single or 2-room buildings). Caves could be reduced as well, but I don't have any idea about the figures off-hand. As a side-effect, resources would become more strategic, since upon encountering a boss protecting a gem vein, you can't just say "let's go to another cave".

In exchange for this reduction, I believe people want to see bigger continent possibilities, and I think that makes sense. This part of the game is completely balanced by the wind effect, so it doesn't matter that a map is bigger -- if anything, it seems like it would make things more interesting. Bigger continents would make it harder to reach a specific type of tile, thus making spell selection somewhat more randomized per continent. And I think a bigger map is both more impressive and strategic: you have to decide in which direction to build the wind shield: should I head towards the overlord or should I head towards a really important resource instead? Together with the idea that you could get free wind shield missions from tier-ups, this could work really well IMO.

Offline Toll

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 03:00:15 PM »
This could easily go very very badly. For instance, I regularly clear out entire regions while hunting for some things; most notably blue shards in the ice age. Shrinking these down would put a serious hurt on the number of blue shards you can get.

Offline Drjones013

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2012, 03:01:44 PM »
Quite frankly I still approach the game from a completionist standpoint... I wander around every room and generally bemoan the fact that I'm lost (again) but I definitely have fun doing it.

If anything, I want it easier to get those level up crystals so I can make up for the atrocious casualties I incur (I lose a character a night, generally).

Offline x4000

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2012, 03:12:42 PM »
I have to say I really don't agree with this idea; for the reasons Toll mentioned, but also for the simple fact that this game IS about exploration and making choices.  We're not out to stop people from exploring if that's what they want to do.  If they want to just wander around for 4 hours, they can -- the writer from Kotaku had a lot of fun doing just that.  The thing is, they're seeing all sorts of things as they explore and they can go back and do more of those sort of things when one kind of exploration becomes too dull.

Or they can read the popup messages that advise them to explore efficiently, and then do so from the start.  Some people do read, though a lot of people don't bother.

Bluddy, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but it really seems like a lot of your big sweeping suggestions lately are being driven out of a sense of fear for us.  That the game won't take off as well as it should, and so forth.  So far, in 1 week, AVWW has grossed 1/9th as much as AI War plus Tidalis plus all of AI War's expansions did in three years.  There's nothing to say that won't drop off, but there's not a reason for panic and flailing, which is what a lot of this feels like.

I have no intentions of massively reinventing the game in general anytime soon, and by that I mean in the next 1-2 years.  It's all about smaller incremental changes, and of course in a few months that probably means that the game will be unrecognizable compared to now anyhow.  In a good way.  But putting in region tiers, or adding or removing massive subsystems, or majorly changing the scale of things up or down... a lot of those suggestions seem borne out of fear of the complaints of a vocal minority who don't like the game.

Changing those few things is highly unlikely to make them like the game.  Meanwhile we have a legion of people who DO like the game, and what we need to be focusing on is how to make the entire experience better for them.  The windstorm missions being problematic, or the supply depot missions being un-fun, or the reflection of damage not being a great mechanic for anachronism missions are all things I'm interested in revamping for sure.  Even players who like the game don't like how those are working out, and I'm inclined to agree with them.

Beyond that, let's focus on new stuff rather than just reiterating what is already here.  I very much appreciate what you're doing, and I understand that the rash of these suggestions is borne out of legitimate concern for us and the game, Bluddy.  But it also really seems like some of the suggestions of late -- and not just from you, but from others as well -- have been coming from a place of fear.  I've been guilty of that from time to time as well, goodness knows.  It's never a good place to be designing from, though, because it tends to wind up making almost no players happy and ultimately trends toward the lowest common denominator.

Again, no offense intended with any of that, and I don't mean to single you out.  I would have sent it in a PM, but I feel like there are a number of other people who are also making suggestions from the same place.  I'm all for suggestions, and for looking at anything and everything with a critical eye.  However, most of the things I'm not thrilled about revisiting at the moment are things that we've all collectively looked at with an enormously critical eye from November through March, and those issues are in my mind pretty settled.  The game needs to exist in something of a stable state, it's a good game, and the biggest need is for more stuff not a constant rolling reinvention of what we already have.
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Offline twiggy550

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2012, 04:16:41 PM »
Nothing's ever good when it comes from a place of fear. Ever.

Offline Bluddy

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2012, 04:22:40 PM »
OK I really don't think my suggestion is coming from a place of fear, nor do I think this suggestion is extremely radical. It's just a realistic assessment of the weakness of the current model and a method to improve the experience for those who expect to explore in the game (in addition to improving a couple of strategic things). The idea is that you adjust the size of the world to the amount of cool stuff that can be expected in the game, which will gradually increase. Right now, for example, caves have a lot of filler content (ie. empty rooms) that are same-y. The main attraction is gem veins, boss rooms and missions. So you can cut out a lot of the filler, and gradually reintroduce it as more and more random variety is added to the caves. The cool thing is that this adjustment is easy to make since it's just a bunch of parameters to the random generator.

Offline x4000

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2012, 04:29:02 PM »
I wasn't really meaning this particular suggestion, but just the rash of what feels like a lot of sweeping suggestions all of a sudden since 1.0.  But either way, it's neither here nor there and I could be completely misreading things.

Anyhow, in terms of filler -- it's kind of a matter of navigation through larger areas.  There are big sections of empty woods in most large 3D RPGs, or even big empty plains.  In Ocarina of Time there's basically nothing in that whole big Hyrule Field that you keep walking through.  They could have shrunk that by a factor of 2 and made it so that everything was on top of everything else.  In a lot of respects the Majora's Mask world was a lot denser with stuff, but it didn't have as good a feel to me, personally.

My goal has really been to have something that feels realistic in scale without really being realistic in scale, and I'm pretty happy with how it is now.  I could see shifting it a little bit this way or that, potentially, but I'm not really convinced of the need for that.  I'd rather just focus on more awesome stuff to put everywhere, and then this problem goes away anyhow.
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Offline omegajasam

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Re: Shrinking the empty space, increasing continent size
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 08:32:09 AM »
Aye, seems to me the 'problem' could be much more enjoyably solved by /filling it with more cool stuff/ then spending time to shrink the space to the stuff.