Author Topic: Tier Replacement #2: Infinite Progression With Per-Continent Randomization  (Read 7358 times)

Offline x4000

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The discussion in this thread sparked some thoughts for Keith and I on how to tie some of those concepts into a lot of things that we've been planning.  The core tier-less model here is Keith's (with a few changes from me), but then there's a number of other exploration/crafting changes that I'd been planning for weeks and weeks.  I thought I'd write it all up as one cohesive design and see what people think about it.

TIER-LESS SPELLGEMS CHANGES FROM CURRENT SYSTEM
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1. Rare commodities, raw gems, and so forth would not be able to be found out in the wild as they currently are.  However, the non-rare commodities (wood, quartz, etc) probably still would be findable in their current fashion, but we'd have to find something else to do with those resources.  Potentially something to do with some of the missions.

2. A core set of spells (maybe 70% of the current spells in the game) would always be available.  These would never cost any resources to craft, you'd just click them in the crafting interface and there they'd be in your inventory.  Working just like now, except minus the actual materials cost of crafting.  Thematically, the NPCs are giving you the materials I expect.

3. The rest of the spells in the game, including all the more powerful and interesting spells to come, would start out being locked by default on each continent.  A few of them at random would be unlocked from the start on each continent, going along with all those core spells that are always-available.

4. To unlock a spell on a continent, you'll have to spend the resources to do so.  This would work just like crafting does now, except you'd only have to do it once per continent.

5. Raw gems and rare commodities would only be something you could find, and in much smaller quantities, as the result of side missions.  So in other words, this becomes another vector for decisions about the self (or group of players, as the case may be) versus the broader civilization as a whole.

6. Crafting materials are stored globally in the settlement/continent and can't be carried to other continents.  All players have access to spend the crafting materials on the continent if they wish to do so.

7. When you switch continents, any spellgem in your inventory that's not "unlocked" on the new continent is disabled (still there, just not usable until it is unlocked on the new continent).

8. All spellgems act as if the "current" tier does now, and tiers would no longer exist.  There would be no degradation or other penalties.

Benefits:

1. This sidesteps all the cyclical-linear-grinding-whatever necessary to "keep up."

2. It never sticks players with crappy (by tier, anyway) spells in either SP or MP.

3. It encourage (even forces for brief bits of time) variety and using some spells you don't have a lot of experience with as you move around continents.  Sort of like the way that variety between campaigns in AI War happens, except a lot less harshly defined.

4. It allows interesting opportunity costs when picking missions ("do I go for the one that gives me the resources to craft meteor shower, or do I save that npc, or do I take out the overlord's orbital magma cannon?").

5. This will still work just fine with level-gating of spells.

6. It makes continents feel really different, at least when you first get to them.  It's sort of that "new game plus" feel that we're going for with them.

7. There is still an infinite "progression" in that you can't just get one set of gems and progress infinitely, but the "line" you cross that requires "rebuilding" is more obvious and more intuitive, and less punishing because whatever spells you _can_ use on the next continent will be full strength.  And you're still having a huge set of options, it's just not all the really exciting stuff that would let you take on the next overlord.


Negatives:

1. Having an awesome spell in your inventory that is disabled because you moved to a new continent is moderately lame.  If I'm fighting some big boss that I'm wishing I had that spell for, that's a frustrating thing.  However, having a large pool of "core" spells that I can craft at all times, and having a couple of freebie awesome spells that I might not have had on the prior continent, should help to mitigate this at all.  And let's face it, no tier-less model is going to have no negatives, because we're inherently talking about weakening the player character so that they can start again to some extent on a new continent.


Thoughts?
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 10:20:59 AM by x4000 »
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Offline keith.lamothe

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4. Dropping a spellgem destroys it, but you can give it to another player if you wish.
I suggested drop=destroy because I was also suggesting no-cost crafting; just allowing dropping for now would be preferable since there's no way to "give item to another player" without dropping right now.  If your concern is to avoid people dropping stuff on the ground to function as an "infinite inventory" then allowing trading will still give infinite-inventory another way: log on with a bank character, give it to them, log them back out.  A bit more of a hassle (particularly with the license key restriction) but still possible.  Or they could just hang onto a really really really large pile of raw gems and rare commodities (obtained from lower-level regions) and craft whatever whenever they need it.


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6. Your usable items inventory would be capped to four or five rows instead of the current larger number, so that you can't just carry the world around in your pocket.
I don't know that this will actually help fun value any, but that's difficult for me to predict.


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7. A certain "core set" of spells would always be available to you on all continents, all the time.  Think of this as being kind of like the scout/fighter/bomber/cruiser in space docks in AI War.  If you don't have at least the core triangle available for all counters, you're pretty hosed in AI War.  Similarly, here, if you don't have at least the basic ranged spells in all elements, plus probably some form of shorter-range spell of each element, there could be times when you're completely ineffective.
Depending on what the basic dps spells were for each color this could be problematic: if those 6 basic damage spells can get you through any fight if you play with the right region-level-differential then you never need to try to unlock other spells (or craft those, after the very first continent).  More generally: if the utility of "triangle" (in the AIW sense) spells is too high and the player does not get significantly additional utility from unlocking additional spells (in AIW a bonus type is a straight-up bonus because you can use them _and_ the triangle ships at the same time; in AVWW it seems inevitable that shared cooldowns and whatnot will cause a _very_ different situation) then the motive to unlock bonus spells is largely not there.

That said, that all depends on what the "triangle" types are.  If they're all in the realm of fire-touch and miasma-whip then there's a pretty good reason to unlock new ones.  Anyone who can take-down a near-level overlord with fire-touch deserves respect.

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2. There could still be situations in MP where all your allies have moved to a new continent, and you can't really go there and be effective because all of your spells would be disabled there.  That would only happen if you were relying SOLELY on power spells that aren't in the basic ranged/melee set, though, so it would always be a good idea to keep at least a few of those basics on your roster since they would work on all continents.
This is one reason I was in favor of no-cost crafting: new MP player can just jump in, pick whatever from the available set, and go.  Of course, the problems involved in keeping the crafting costs may be less bothersome than simply removing the sole current use of raw gems and rare commodities :)

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Offline tigersfan

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It seems to me that with this plan, there would come a point where you wouldn't have to get any new gems ever, as after a few continents, I have pretty much all the spells.

I think I know some of your reasons for not wanting the spell gems to stop working, but what about combining a couple ideas from that thread? Here's how I see it:

1.) Spellgems degrade over time. Basic spells would degrade it very little, while more powerful spells take more out of it. Sort of like how tools in Minecraft work. I can take out rock almost all day with my pickaxe, but if I start mining diamonds or obsidian, the thing dies fast.

2.) BUT, when a spellgem reaches a certain point of degradation, it will keep working, but there is a chance that when you go to cast a spell, it will fizzle out and not cast the spell that time.

This allows you to still get a replacement spellgem if you've completely killed what you've got, but, it also doesn't randomly lock out spells, which can be really annoying if a player can't use a favored spell.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Here's another approach to the actual crafting, sort of between the OP and no-cost:
1) The "triangle" spells are no-cost.
2) The "bonus" spells, once unlocked, need to be crafted for-cost _once_ on that continent, and then can be crafted no-cost for the rest of that continent.  The rarity of and difficulty involved in obtaining gems and commodities could be proportionately (read: massively) increased.

Of course, eventually you'll have enough continents that you could unlock the spell on a new continent and already have the gem on hand from a previous continent, or at least be able to go back there and craft it for free.  The bonus ones could just be destroyed or left-behind when you transition continents but that doesn't sound pleasing (putting in mildly) if you ever wanted to come back, even if they would be free to re-craft (that would take much of the actual pain out, but not the interface pain of reconfiguring).  And I don't think I want to get into per-continent configurations ;)

Anyway, so maybe that wouldn't work, but it seemed close enough to an improvement that I figured I'd post it :)
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Offline x4000

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4. Dropping a spellgem destroys it, but you can give it to another player if you wish.
I suggested drop=destroy because I was also suggesting no-cost crafting; just allowing dropping for now would be preferable since there's no way to "give item to another player" without dropping right now.  If your concern is to avoid people dropping stuff on the ground to function as an "infinite inventory" then allowing trading will still give infinite-inventory another way: log on with a bank character, give it to them, log them back out.  A bit more of a hassle (particularly with the license key restriction) but still possible.  Or they could just hang onto a really really really large pile of raw gems and rare commodities (obtained from lower-level regions) and craft whatever whenever they need it.

If people are creating blank accounts to game the system, that would be extremely difficult to do unless they use a keygen or buy two copies of the game.  I'm not terribly worried about either of those cases to the point of designing the game around that form of exploit.

Regarding being able to give directly to another player, that was something that was brought up in the other thread and that I was thinking would work like had been noted there.  Essentially, drag an item onto another character and get a confirm prompt about giving it to them.  Drag anywhere else and get a confirm prompt about the thing being destroyed. 

Though I guess as a first-pass way of doing this, we could just leave it working as it currently does with drops, and see how exploit-y it seems.  It might not actually be an issue in practice.

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6. Your usable items inventory would be capped to four or five rows instead of the current larger number, so that you can't just carry the world around in your pocket.
I don't know that this will actually help fun value any, but that's difficult for me to predict.

We've had a number of requests for a smaller inventory to make the decisions more meaningful, and I think that fits perfectly with the ideas that were being posited here in general.  But either way, certainly that number isn't nailed down or completely core to the idea.

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7. A certain "core set" of spells would always be available to you on all continents, all the time.  Think of this as being kind of like the scout/fighter/bomber/cruiser in space docks in AI War.  If you don't have at least the core triangle available for all counters, you're pretty hosed in AI War.  Similarly, here, if you don't have at least the basic ranged spells in all elements, plus probably some form of shorter-range spell of each element, there could be times when you're completely ineffective.

Depending on what the basic dps spells were for each color this could be problematic: if those 6 basic damage spells can get you through any fight if you play with the right region-level-differential then you never need to try to unlock other spells (or craft those, after the very first continent).  More generally: if the utility of "triangle" (in the AIW sense) spells is too high and the player does not get significantly additional utility from unlocking additional spells (in AIW a bonus type is a straight-up bonus because you can use them _and_ the triangle ships at the same time; in AVWW it seems inevitable that shared cooldowns and whatnot will cause a _very_ different situation) then the motive to unlock bonus spells is largely not there.

That said, that all depends on what the "triangle" types are.  If they're all in the realm of fire-touch and miasma-whip then there's a pretty good reason to unlock new ones.  Anyone who can take-down a near-level overlord with fire-touch deserves respect.

I'm thinking most of the spells we have now -- not all, but most -- fall under this sort of category.  Fireball, fire touch, ice cross, all that good stuff.  All that stuff has a pretty similar dps, just different usage characteristics.  When you get into things like meteor shower and rockslide and such, those get into very different dps realms.  Even death touch or similar.  My plan has always been for there to be a growth curve of general enemy/boss toughness, abilities, and health, as well as a growth curve of player abilities, quite aside from the tiering system or the civ level stuff. Just not much has been done with that yet because the framework for some of those things frankly wasn't in place.

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2. There could still be situations in MP where all your allies have moved to a new continent, and you can't really go there and be effective because all of your spells would be disabled there.  That would only happen if you were relying SOLELY on power spells that aren't in the basic ranged/melee set, though, so it would always be a good idea to keep at least a few of those basics on your roster since they would work on all continents.

This is one reason I was in favor of no-cost crafting: new MP player can just jump in, pick whatever from the available set, and go.  Of course, the problems involved in keeping the crafting costs may be less bothersome than simply removing the sole current use of raw gems and rare commodities :)

Well, there's either a progression to the game or there isn't.  If someone leaves from a game for a week and expects to be exactly the same as the people who played feverishly all week, despite them having new equipment and him not having new equipment, I think we have a problem. ;)  The civ level and so on are global, and if we wanted to have some sort of global "crafting points" that could be collected and which all players would be able to pull from regardless of whether they were active at the time or not, that would also serve as a similar "everyone together" sort of mechanic.  But right now inventory is separate, and if I've been adding to my inventory for a week while you have not, I'd darn well better have a better inventory than you or else this really is just a very small and un-fun treadmill.

The idea of free crafting really just takes all purposes of the crafting out.  With a big inventory that's a hugely bad thing, I think.  One alternative would be to have no inventory at all, just one ability bar of 10 abilities and that's it, and then free crafting.  So really crafting in that situation is "choosing your loadout."  The non-combat-ability-related stuff like suits, potions, ride the lightning, and such could be in a different inventory.  But things like wood platforms would still take up a slot on your ability bar, and I think in a lot of respects that would be a much more limited game.

I'm all for:
1. Heavy opportunity costs when players choose their loadouts, and making it easy for players to change their loadouts between missions but not during.
2. Having "we all win together" type rewards that players can make use of whether they missed a week or did not.
3. Things that reduce the treadmill-type stuff and let players focus on missions (core and side) instead.
4. Even things that simplified the crafting system so that it was just a simpler cost structure would be fine with me. 

Regarding #4, for one example, if we just had enemies drop gems of the six colors at random, and each spell cost X numbers of the various gem colors, we could instead order the crafting screen by type of spell within each element, as opposed to having to navigate by crafting material.  And any player that picked up a gem could make it so that all players got a copy of that gem, so that each player has their own "cash" but all players gain the same amount of cash as they go, regardless of what else happens.  That would be a win for usability particularly when there are 100+ spells to try to remember where they are, and it would be MP-friendly.

I'm not even sure how I feel about making the unlocks per-continent the more I think about it.  It does add some interesting side-quest twists, but it seems like if I had some awesome spell in my inventory and it was disabled due to my being in a new place that would feel really frustrating -- particularly if I was facing some enemy that I could easily beat if I just had this spell that's in my inventory enabled.  That's a negative scenario that AI War doesn't have, because it's standard for unlocks for a strategy game to be mutually exclusive, and you're planning in advance.  And 90% or more of your firepower is unlockable at your own discretion rather than what you get from the ARSes.  So the more I think about that part, the less that analogy holds up.

I still like this general line of thinking better than a degradation model on spellgems, because the degradation feels more punitive, but I still like the degradation-per-spellgem model a lot better than the current degradation-by-tier model.  I'm not really sure that any of these is quite the perfect model yet, though, honestly.  There's a lot of great aspects in all of them, but there's just something I can't put my finger on that doesn't feel really right about any of them (including the current model actually in the game).
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Offline x4000

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It seems to me that with this plan, there would come a point where you wouldn't have to get any new gems ever, as after a few continents, I have pretty much all the spells.

Well, that was the nature of some of my changes to Keith's original notes.  When you drop a spellgem it's gone forever.  And you inventory is too small to hold all spellgems.  And some spellgems don't work on some continents.  Ergo you wind up having to drop them, and then later you need them again and so you have to go through the hassle of crafting them again.  It would work such that you don't reach a point like you describe above, but in other ways... bleh.

I think I know some of your reasons for not wanting the spell gems to stop working, but what about combining a couple ideas from that thread? Here's how I see it:

1.) Spellgems degrade over time. Basic spells would degrade it very little, while more powerful spells take more out of it. Sort of like how tools in Minecraft work. I can take out rock almost all day with my pickaxe, but if I start mining diamonds or obsidian, the thing dies fast.

2.) BUT, when a spellgem reaches a certain point of degradation, it will keep working, but there is a chance that when you go to cast a spell, it will fizzle out and not cast the spell that time.

This allows you to still get a replacement spellgem if you've completely killed what you've got, but, it also doesn't randomly lock out spells, which can be really annoying if a player can't use a favored spell.

Right, I think I also suggested that sort of model at one point in that thread in terms of your #2 there. ;)  But yeah, I'd been thinking that there's essentially no reason to have basic spellgems die very fast, since replacing them is incredibly un-fun as an activity.

Here's another approach to the actual crafting, sort of between the OP and no-cost:
1) The "triangle" spells are no-cost.
2) The "bonus" spells, once unlocked, need to be crafted for-cost _once_ on that continent, and then can be crafted no-cost for the rest of that continent.  The rarity of and difficulty involved in obtaining gems and commodities could be proportionately (read: massively) increased.

Of course, eventually you'll have enough continents that you could unlock the spell on a new continent and already have the gem on hand from a previous continent, or at least be able to go back there and craft it for free.  The bonus ones could just be destroyed or left-behind when you transition continents but that doesn't sound pleasing (putting in mildly) if you ever wanted to come back, even if they would be free to re-craft (that would take much of the actual pain out, but not the interface pain of reconfiguring).  And I don't think I want to get into per-continent configurations ;)

Anyway, so maybe that wouldn't work, but it seemed close enough to an improvement that I figured I'd post it :)

Yeah... I think that still has the same main issues as the core design, except that it reduces annoyance on the one continent and adds an exploit when you have many continents.  Anyway, I think this thread (or the degradation thread) could still spawn a solution I'd want to implement, but I'm not quite feeling it yet, the more I think about it.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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If people are creating blank accounts to game the system, that would be extremely difficult to do unless they use a keygen or buy two copies of the game.  I'm not terribly worried about either of those cases to the point of designing the game around that form of exploit.
Fair enough, just pointing it out.

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That said, that all depends on what the "triangle" types are.  If they're all in the realm of fire-touch and miasma-whip then there's a pretty good reason to unlock new ones.  Anyone who can take-down a near-level overlord with fire-touch deserves respect.

I'm thinking most of the spells we have now -- not all, but most -- fall under this sort of category.  Fireball, fire touch, ice cross, all that good stuff.
I don't know how challenging the game is going to wind up being, but my suspicion is that the "triangle" is that expansive then there's not a sufficient advantage in having unlocks at all and we should switch back to the other thread :)


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Well, there's either a progression to the game or there isn't.  If someone leaves from a game for a week and expects to be exactly the same as the people who played feverishly all week, despite them having new equipment and him not having new equipment, I think we have a problem. ;)
Two points:

1) With crests and spellshaping that wouldn't be the case.

2) Even without those, and if someone jumping into the game is as powerful as everyone else, _why_ is that a problem?  This isn't WoW with a "semi-competitive progression" thing.  It's not even WoW-like.  This is a co-op game, and the main point is to "win together".  Being "behind the curve" only increases the time before a new player can actually join the "main gang" doing whatever they're doing.  That said, having both the "everyone has the same basic utilities available" of spellgems and "people who have been actively adventuring have extra customization and power from crests/spellshaping" is preferable.


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The idea of free crafting really just takes all purposes of the crafting out.
Sure, I understand that, it's basically a casualty of a design change if we do what I was saying.  And I'm happy to find a way of mixing it back in to what I was talking about, or whatever, but the tiered system just really didn't seem to be cutting it fun-wise and being able to throw in some really hefty opportunity cost choices being made in the "fun core" of the game (missions and picking them) seems really attractive.


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One alternative would be to have no inventory at all, just one ability bar of 10 abilities and that's it, and then free crafting.  So really crafting in that situation is "choosing your loadout."  The non-combat-ability-related stuff like suits, potions, ride the lightning, and such could be in a different inventory.
Personally I'd be in favor of something like that, with some small reservations about it cutting down on actual variety of spell usage (but that's going to happen anyway past a certain number of spells: just like in Total Annihilation: what percent of the 100s, iirc, of different unit types did the average player even know much about, let alone use?).  I'd be particularly in favor of something like that in the context of eRe4s3r's "infographic" suggestion here: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,9502.msg88155.html#msg88155 .  Basically you'd be "gearing" your character and some of those slots would be for the spells you could have available at a given time.  You probably aren't fond of the idea so I haven't pushed the various systems like that that have occurred to me, but they seem like potentially a major fun increase.

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But things like wood platforms would still take up a slot on your ability bar
There are some ways we could work around that.  Damage-spell-slots and logistics-slots or whatever.  Or you always have a platform slot, it can even be a different key, whatever.  Not saying those are good solutions, just that there almost certainly are good solutions to side-issues like that.

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and I think in a lot of respects that would be a much more limited game.
From the perspective of what's actually available in hand at any given moment, sure, that's objectively true.  Though as you said, a more limited inventory is appealing to some people (of course, it's very much not appealing to others).

But from another perspective: if there are 60 spells in the game (I think you're aiming significantly higher than that), how many are you going to use at a given time?  How many are you going to keep in your "mental hand" (i.e. hand of cards) of things you might go-to?  That's the Total-Annihilation problem I mentioned earlier, and is the problem you ran into in AIW's alpha: with all those bonus types available all the time, most human players either tune some/most of it out or do some other less-than-desirable (from a game-design perspective) things.

So, there's comparing what a potential "can carry limited number of spellgems" system would allow compared to what a player could _theoretically_ do with what we have now or what we'll have at 1.0 if it has the current system, and then there's comparing it to what our players would actually want/need/think to do.


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I'm not even sure how I feel about making the unlocks per-continent the more I think about it.  It does add some interesting side-quest twists, but it seems like if I had some awesome spell in my inventory and it was disabled due to my being in a new place that would feel really frustrating -- particularly if I was facing some enemy that I could easily beat if I just had this spell that's in my inventory enabled.
But right now it just fades away after 10-20 levels.  It doesn't change to some other possibility that might be interesting, it just degrades.  And I think any form of degradation would have a similar (though quite possibly less-bad than our current model) effect.

With infinite progression, the game has to make you leave that particular spell and/or spellgem behind _at some point_, right?  Why not on the continent boundary?  And particularly when that can then be an opportunity for you to become familiar with some other spells you haven't used in a while, or have never used at all.


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That's a negative scenario that AI War doesn't have, because it's standard for unlocks for a strategy game to be mutually exclusive, and you're planning in advance.  And 90% or more of your firepower is unlockable at your own discretion rather than what you get from the ARSes.
Right, but these wouldn't be quite like the ARSes: you would know which spell a mission would unlock ahead of time, and you would see the other missions you could choose and make a decision.  We could even extend the field of choice so that a mission lets you pick between 2+ spells to unlock at the end, though I don't know if that would be a good thing.


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I still like this general line of thinking better than a degradation model on spellgems, because the degradation feels more punitive, but I still like the degradation-per-spellgem model a lot better than the current degradation-by-tier model.
I certainly agree.

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I'm not really sure that any of these is quite the perfect model yet, though, honestly.  There's a lot of great aspects in all of them, but there's just something I can't put my finger on that doesn't feel really right about any of them (including the current model actually in the game).
Also very much agreed :)
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Offline FallingStar

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Does sound interesting, again moving a bit away from the RPG mechanics, but that's fine. 
I like the general benefits of the proposed system, and it certainly would make additional continents feel more exciting in a "new game" sort of way. 

I'd think there would need to be some sort of "raw gem sink"/ upkeep/ something that removed my old raw gems when I go to a new continent.  Otherwise by my third continent I'd likely have a ton of gems to craft anything I wanted, and the gating of the spells would be by mission/continent unlocks, not by gems or other mats.  In turn, that would make me feel like I didn't need to craft at all, its just another busywork interface, and then I'd prefer to just find the find the fully finished spellgems on any given continent.  I do like crafting though, so I'd prefer a sink.

It might work to have the spells more tied to the settlements on a continent rather than the continent itself.  Have that additional tie to the strategic game, and could suggest a building or the like as an upkeep mechanism for a given spell unlock.  It would also create some additional reason to rescue settlements that were in danger of being destroyed.  Likewise, it might provide some ability to retain a spell you really loved form an old continent either via trade systems, or moving the settlement (as per the folder growth/world size trimming thread discussions), but limiting it so that you don't have everything unlocked after X continents, or have the ability to hang onto one spell forever.

Another sidenote,  I might want to "try before I buy" the spell unlock if I'm having to choose a mission based on unlocks and the mission is going to take hour(s) potentially to beat.  Long term not an issue (if you've played 100's of hours you've seen it all), but for casual players, there's nothing worse than unlocking a shiny, then discover you hate the playstyle.  Especially if the tactic you envision can't be done because of the spell mechanic.  That encourages save scum. 

Anyways, throwing it out there, as I read with interest the internal conversation on the system that is passing by faster than I can type out my thoughts.  :P
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 05:56:39 PM by FallingStar »

Offline keith.lamothe

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Another couple ideas came to mind:

1) While I'm shamelessly plundering AIW mechanics, instead of having missions unlock specific spells they could give X "knowledge" that you can then spend to unlock spells on that continent.  That would still let people play with their "favorite set" which is probably fine.  If we wanted to encourage more variety in choices we could have the knowledge costs vary from continent to continent so you could always have meteor shower or whatever if you were willing to sink in a lot of points if the randomization rolled against you, or you could get the hint and try something else.  And if we wanted we could still have some missions give a specific spell that's higher than the average point reward or whatever.

Or:

2) To make the desion-larceny less bald-faced:
- Instead of granting specific spells, or points, the missions could grant a single gem or spell-crafting commodity, and they would be the only way of getting those gems/commodities.
- Once the spell is crafted on that continent it is both unlocked and craftable-at-no-cost on that specific continent (thus bringing in spellgems from another continent provides no advantage or disadvantage, they don't work until it's crafted locally)
- Crafting ingredients would need to be stored "per continent" rather than per player; so probably in the settlement stockpile.
- So you'd still be using the crafting system, and you'd still be gathering and spending those resources, and you'd still have a pretty wide area of choice in how you used your ingredients.
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Offline Dizzard

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2) Even without those, and if someone jumping into the game is as powerful as everyone else, _why_ is that a problem?  This isn't WoW with a "semi-competitive progression" thing.  It's not even WoW-like.  This is a co-op game, and the main point is to "win together".  Being "behind the curve" only increases the time before a new player can actually join the "main gang" doing whatever they're doing.  That said, having both the "everyone has the same basic utilities available" of spellgems and "people who have been actively adventuring have extra customization and power from crests/spellshaping" is preferable.

This is something I'm noticing about AVWW. It is really suited to a multiplayer co-op style with a group of people working together. It's not about who has the best stuff, it's about exploring together, helping each other and furthering our civilization. We're like the task force of the empire.

I'm actually starting to wonder if I'll even be able to enjoy single player as much when multiplayer has been improved. Working together in multiplayer just feels so rewarding. (even in it's current state)  There's so many possibilities like making it so players can own (govern) continents. (so it would be like having your own mini country inside the server) or even owning (being mayor of) settlements or forts.

That said I do still enjoy having more creative control in single player. (Naming settlements, npcs that sort of thing)

Co-op could be one of AVWW's defining features.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 06:52:13 PM by Dizzard »

Offline zebramatt

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I've been thinking it might be good to pool everyone's stuff for a while now.

Obviously that would need to be tempered with some way of encouraging players to pursue distinct 'classes' - else everyone could just be everything; or the same thing - but that's pretty much the case now anyway.

I say when you find rare commodities, you find a random amount between 1 and x, where x is the number of players, increasing with region difficulty relative to civ level, etc. Same with gems and common resources.

Then add any necessary restrictions at the point of crafting or equipping or something. So everyone always has a chance, as long as the people in the game haven't eaten everything themselves, but have to make limited and interesting choices from what's available. (No idea how to implement the last part - sounds like a lot of the stuff coming up is heading that way anyway. One thing which did occur to me was it might be beneficial to restrict based on some kind of weighting logic - this fire spell will cost you 65% of your remaining capacity to wield fire magic; this entropy spell will cost 30% of your remaining entropy and reduce your light magic capacity by 50%. But that all sounds very messy!)


Offline x4000

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Still mulling, in the main.

Made this other thread to connect our existing two: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,9563.0.html

zebramatt, I thought about a capacity system, too, where you have a certain amount of each color of magic that you can allocate to various purposes, etc.  But then you get into players never using some spells because some spells never get used since some other pair of spells is always more powerful.  Which can then be combated in other ways, but still -- it's part of why I never did global ship caps in AI War.  In most strategy games there are some units that are just not something to ever use.  But in AI War, there's always some use for them, however minor, assuming you have the resources to create them (which tends to happen).

Dizzard, that's really interesting on multiplayer, and it sounds really great. :)  Hopefully solo play also picks up to where you find it really engaging also, but with AI War I know I get at least twice as much enjoyment out of co-op with it.  I imagine the case will be the same here for me, also.

FallingStar, I think you have a really good point with the whole "try before you buy" thing.  That was a major blocker in AI War before players would unlock... anything.  So they would just keep playing with stuff they had unlocked before, even if there was something better that they'd never tried.  The only solution we found to that was giving them the first tier for free, so that they could try that out, and then later the decision was "what do I want more of?"  Which is a lot easier to answer than "which of these things that I've never tried before sounds the best?"

To that end, I'm really not loving the idea of player-directed unlock limitations that have a high ongoing opportunity cost.  Having an interesting limited loadout for a specific mission sounds great -- choosing the best weapons for the job makes a lot of sense -- but I don't want to be stuck with some bad decision for another 20-40 hours if that's how long continents are generally taking to clear.  Similarly, I wouldn't want to have 60% of the game roped off until I hit that second continent.  Long-term play and variety is really important, but right now we need more density of interesting decisions for that first continent's span of stuff, not less.

Keith, you have a lot of very interesting points as usual, and I agree with quite a great many of them, but in the interest of time I won't enumerate which ones; I imagine from the above my current stance is fairly obvious on most of the specific suggestions.  Oddly, despite my initial feelings against "free" crafting, I'm wondering if there shouldn't be some super-easy way of crafting stuff that then lets you customize per expedition.  Low overall opportunity cost, easy to retool if you make a mistake, but lots of interesting decisions for each specific time you go out.  I'll make a new thread for considering things along those lines.
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Offline Bluddy

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I'm going to try for another idea. I can understand the discomfort with the degradation + aging idea, though I do believe it's currently the best model.

How about this: the magic principle that guides power in the game is that for each continent, the more you have of a certain spell, the less powerful that spell becomes. I don't know where I've encountered this system before -- maybe in some book. Anyway, common spells are well known by everybody, and as a result they're pretty weak. Rare spells are 'discovered' by the glyphbearer, and the more rare they are, the more powerful they are.

The thing is, each spell is slowly being copied by other NPCs in the game, so it gets weaker and weaker. And a lot of that weakness comes from you using it -- the more NPCs hear about the effectiveness of a certain spell, the more likely they are to copy it. Leave a spell alone for a while, and it'll get more powerful. The best thing you can do for a weakened spell is to destroy it and move to another spell. That weakened spell will slowly be forgotten and will grow more powerful on that continent. Craft it again when it's more powerful and you have a strong spell again.

Each continent will have different usage statistics, so different spells will be more powerful. The cool thing is, the power of spells is dynamic and is based on their rarity. So the more common a spell is, the less powerful it is -- by definition. On some continents, a normally weak spell can be really really powerful. Some monsters may use some spells, and that could affect the rarity of the spells too.

With MP, this can present a situation where each player wants to use different spells to maximize their effectiveness. Players juggle spells around and constantly look for replacements. With SP, you're looking at a constantly changing, dynamic ecosystem of spells. You constantly have to worry about NPCs on this continent copying your best spells. You want to cast your best spells jealously. Additionally, you're always on the hunt for new spells. And you never ever want to hoard spells! Hoarding spells does the exact opposite of what it's supposed to do.

If it wasn't obvious already, this system also takes care of having too many spells to (normally) care about. You cycle through spells and each spell is potentially precious for a certain period of time.

On the backend, what would be necessary is a dynamic simulation of spell usage and a way to present current spell power (and maybe even a graph over mission time) to the player in some way.

I also think this idea works best when people have limited inventory. You essentially choose to destroy spells in this model, and unlike the continental model where you drop a spell and it's gone just because you ran out of space, here you're destroying a spell for the betterment of that spell.

EDIT: I think it would be pretty cool and frustrating in a good way to enter a settlement and see NPCs practicing your favorite spells. It would be a good illustration of the principle.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 07:51:13 PM by Bluddy »

Offline wyvern83

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It might work to have the spells more tied to the settlements on a continent rather than the continent itself.  Have that additional tie to the strategic game, and could suggest a building or the like as an upkeep mechanism for a given spell unlock.  It would also create some additional reason to rescue settlements that were in danger of being destroyed. 

- Once the spell is crafted on that continent it is both unlocked and craftable-at-no-cost on that specific continent (thus bringing in spellgems from another continent provides no advantage or disadvantage, they don't work until it's crafted locally)
- Crafting ingredients would need to be stored "per continent" rather than per player; so probably in the settlement stockpile.

I've been thinking in this direction for a few days now and coming up with a thematic justification for having spells attached to the continent/settlement is pretty easy and, in a way, is already in the game.

Spell gems are small fragments of the Ilari Stones themselves if I remember AVWW lore correctly, wouldn't the Ilari then also be the source of the mana the spell gems use?

If they were the source of continent local mana, the ratio between the different Ilari/gem veins would result in different mana/spell availability. And because the Ilari/gem veins are bound to one continent, their influence is only over that continent.

Result: Each Continent has a different set of spells that work as the mana aura of each continent is different.

Offline x4000

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Re: Tier Replacement #2: Infinite Progression With Per-Continent Randomization
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 08:18:59 PM »
Part of the problem with making it so that not all spells are available at any given time is that it kind of enforces that they all be a bit generic.  As a simple example, think of the elemental immunities.  If some lieutenant or overlord was only really susceptible to one kind of magic, and the only available uber-spell in that element was either a) not available, or b) currently really weakened for some reason, and not able to be strengthened in any short-term period of time, then you wind up with a situation where that boss might actually be permanently unbeatable.  Or at best really, really, extremely annoying to beat.

To combat that, either bosses would have to not be immune to that many elements, or there would have to be really substantial sources of non-elemental damage (a good idea anyway, but beside the point as this is but one example), or something else.  That's just elemental damage, which is a pretty simple example.  But depending on the attack patterns of a given boss, you might really want to use a spell of some certain sort, but be forbidden from it for some arbitrary reason that is going to be nothing but frustrating.

The whole degradation idea on spellgems has its annoyances, but it's a fairly minor annoyance since you are always capable of just building another one of whatever it was that you just lost (or whatever it was that just got quite ineffective, anyway).  But with this whole per-continent-spells idea, you wind up with large swathes of the game being literally ripped away from the player for 20-40 hour stretches, which is the sort of thing that is going to lead to some ragequits, I can already tell.  If I used to use the perfect spell, but now the game randomly won't let me use that spell and I can't pass a mission any other way... well, I'm not the ragequit sort, but plenty of folks are.  I don't think it would go over well.

Anyway, I just postulated a third alternative to either of these two models, but out of these two models I'm now leaning definitely back into the camp of the degradation, as it's a minor annoyance rather than something that will come across as a major limitation in various circumstances to many players.
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