Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - idea

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Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - idea

Postby Lujo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:13 pm

So from the balance suggestion thread, and several other threads and statements, I've finally put togather something that seems to me like a great idea that might, if not too difficult to code, make the game a much more enjoyable expirience for all sorts of players.

One of the things that always bothered me about the Beta is that the Gods came into play late and erraticaly, but are at the same time most important and a key to beating sucesfull dungeons. God's coming into the beta slowly, I coldn't really complain, but now they're all here, I can be constructive about my observations. My current greivances with god's related to gameplay and story progression as well as the learning curve are the following:

1) There is no tutorial on gods, and the way the story is sturctured there can't be one.

2) They are unlocked by subdungeons, with the effects of running into one often causing you to abandon a run. The most egregious examples are probably EM, and especially Pactmaker, who gets to screw 3 of your runs while denying you a subdungeon. Dracul would also be a probelm if he wasn't bugged. Yes, you can avoid some of this by checking out the subdungeon the last thing you do, but it's counter-intuitive and really, really annoying.

2.1) Some of their subdungeons give out more resources than most other subdungeons, main offenders here being TT and Mysteria - if you choose not to unlock TT every time you run into his subdungeon you get a whole map worth of extra regen. If he was a low power god, it would make more sense NOT to unlock him then.

2.2) If you miss out on a subdungeon, or don't unlock the god the first time you enter it, it takes scumming to find that god again, and with gods that are deffinite "start the run over" types, this is more than annoying.

2.3) Some of the Dungeons, like Binlor's one, are easy to completely missunderstand. Ive herd people who've ran into it posting on the forums asking for how to unlock Binlor.

3) With gods baing random, the only way to get really proficcent (or at all profficent) is to either scum for certain gods repeatedly or unlock only the ones you want to test. Since some gods have harsh penalties and steep boon costs, figuring out how to get mileage out of them can sometimes take ages, the way I only recently "discoverd" GG, or how people are only recently discovering TT's potions.

3.1) With so little reliable practice time with gods, the ones that lash out with bad punishments screw players over in runs that would've otherwise be fine (for example taking Lifesteal from Drac and switching to GG thinking you can still fight undead because you don't have poison). If such things happen often, and with some gods they do, the "difficult" gods start being avoided.

3.2) What also happens is that players can't gauge the difficulty of certain quests or merits of certain strategies because they aren't aware of resources at their disposal, the way TT's potions are unbelievably good but haven't been discovered for ages. The only reason god manipulation is at the top of the learning curve is because of "fake difficulty" caused by the way gods are introduced into the game.

3.3) This is further excerbated by the use of Agnostic Collar to desecrate the altars you don't like in favour of the ones you've managed to learn to use.

3.4) What also happens is that the whole community seems to "discover" boons or deities that have been ridiculous all along "all of a sudden" - with such a small window of opportunity to experiment, powerfull stuff keeps lying around unused, and once some madperson goes out and uses it, everybody can if the guy wrote down the algorithm. Once the game goes live, such stuff will be all over the wiki's, and we'll be in a paradoxical situation that beta testers had a harder time helping balance the game than regular players have exploiting overpowered features they can read up about on a wiki. A good examle would be the way I "found" just how stupid is the amonut of piety you can reap from GG by regen fighting a poisoner - and that was easily fixed in a matter of days. But the method was there for months.

3.5) The previos point is also the reason we, as a beta testing community, can't properly gauge optimal power levels for stuff - someone who got to learn how to use abuse TT and someone who got to learn how to abuse GG aren't playing the same game, and again, once it's all in a wiki we'll all look like a bunch of dopes.


Suggestion:
------------------------

My very timid and actually in no way "high and mighty" or arrogant suggestion.

Remove the "god" subdungeons from the game, and have a series of "idols" or "scriptures" or whatever planted around regular dungeons in all 4 directions of the map. Make them always there unless found. Have one for each god.

You can make quests to get them from the exlorers guild, as the explorers guild has a big part to play in all this.

Then, when the player brings the idol back, say that the priests have managed to construct an Idol of whatever deity that the playe can practice "harnessing it's powers" or whatever from.

And then give the player a god themed puzzle pack for each idol, that would allow newbies to get to know a god before they let him start spawning in their dungeons.

You can also help veterans and dedicated testers reduce their scumming time while testing out complex strats by allowing the final puzzle be a simple "unlocking" - completing it brings a gold or some other reward to goad newbies into bringing the god in, and not completing it keeps the god locked to reduce god scumming. The unlocking ceremony can be some version of the original "god subdungeon".

You can also work in the cusader unlock require you to unlock 4 gods and then go find his subdungeon, and you can make sure everyone unlocks all of them by informing them that it makes the vicious Gaan'Telet a lot easier.

If noone has time or energy to come up with these puzzles, I volunteer, as I think all this would be a great, great thing for the game, and save everyone a lot of time and grief. And I seem to be good with puzzles :)

DISCLAIMER:

Before all this is done gods need balancing and reshuffling of abilities to "fix" them in place as features that puzzles can be made around. But the sooner done the better, as I think all of what I've said here is reasonable, possibly very beneficial to the game in many ways, possibly even necessary. The only thig I'm not certain of is the amount of coding needed, but I offer to help in any possible way to get this idea implemented.

I've been working on it for a while, and gave it a lot of consideration.
Last edited by Lujo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby Gorgon on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:55 pm

I like this idea. I've always liked puzzles and would like to see the puzzle part of the game getting more value.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby xspeedballx on Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:01 pm

So I have been reading a lot on these forums lately(mostly because of the huge amount of posts comparatively lately). Lots of talk about balance which is a great conversation to be had. I want to try and offer a perspective to all of you much smarter theory crafters about learning curves, "broken" and game progress.

Playing the alpha was the first defined "rogue-like" that I played. I had realized at the time that I had played and enjoyed systems or games that had similarities to a rogue-like game before(loved the 99 floor dungeon in lufia 2). I LOVE random, or more to the point I love developing strategies in an ever shifting landscape that random can bring.

I say all this because it is what caused me to stay up way too late on work nights playing the alpha. When I had completed a lot of the alpha content, I thought "what other rogue-like's are out there?" So I tried a few.. and was completely turned off. Too arcane. Too much to know too quickly. No immediate fun.

Then the beta for this came out and I have gotten to experience this game in a different light. Both because of the conversations on this forum and seeing how interactions are built. What I realized though, is I never would have gotten into this game, alpha or beta, if it wasn't for the simpler spells or items that have limited or no use in complex strategies. Bysseps got me through many a normal mode until I learned and then practiced, and then refined more advanced strategies. Getindare the same way. I have almost always auto-converted lemmisee unless I had bludtopowa until recently when have discovered more uses and strength for it late game.

When I discovered TT paladin a month or two ago after the monotheism change I thought it was awesome and helped me through a difficult dungeon(kill everything shifting sands). However, even knowing it's power I didn't really apply that strength everywhere. Partially because of what you stated about it hard to test gods because of the diversity especially after unlocking them. But also because I was still not and advanced enough player to really understand applying concepts to diverse dungeons and really metagaming like rogue-like games benefit from.

With all of that said, I can say the following things really pleased me about the alpha and the beta and really drew me in: There were enough simple mechanics to allow me to squeek through normal dungeons before learning advanced strategies. There were enough moderate mechanics to allow me to build off of simple ones to simplify normal dungeons and allow attempting harder combo's for greater rewards. There were huge diversity in advanced items, gods, classes, and conversion to allow for specialized and wholly unique strategies. Not always the best, but unique and fun. The game actually HAS a learning curve, and one of the best I have ever seen. The gods are a moderate and advanced technique. Even potions start off as a crutch to get me past bosses in normal mode while I am learning, to conversion fodder for some extra points with GG. To yet another resource to be used by a variety of techniques throughout a dungeon.

So my concern as a once beginner to a now very very low advanced player is that, while I understand a lot of the changes proposed, especially to "under performers" I think it loses sight of the players this game needs to appeal to at first. I am not saying things are perfectly balanced and I can really understand the desire for balance for the most advanced level of play, but that cannot and should not be at the detriment to the beginner. Just making Bysseps better may make it harder to see the value of burndayraz(strange but possible), adding more prediction logic to wonafyt makes it HARDER to understand and almost mandates a wiki entry to get really use out of it.

What I think is more necessary than some of the balance changes to items is possibly more tutorials(puzzles) involving strategies with specific monsters, resource management, level catapulting, god swapping, etc. Things that allow you to learn to use things in an actual environment that is suited for it.

Last thing I want to mention for now(btw this may be slightly disjointed this was written over several hours at work). Gods, items, sub dungeons and whatever messing up your run because of being inopportune(whether on initial or later appearances) seems to me to be part of the game. Without it I find things a lot less interesting(I have been trying one of these low unlock runs and finding familiarity dull).
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby Sidestepper on Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:54 pm

I hear you about the learning curve, and the value of having simple, easily understood effects. I still think some pruning/upgraded is called for. My own thoughts are that WONAFYT should be removed entirely. Even with the new slowing effect, it results in a long term loss for the player (http://www.qcfdesign.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1805&start=10)and trains the player to play the game poorly. I think that GETINDARE should be removed also, because it's effects can be entirely reproduced with WEYTWUT, and WEYTWUT is fairly easy to understand (but difficult to master).
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby xspeedballx on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:17 pm

But see here is where I disagree. Weytwut has 4 effects and a greater cost.
1) It moves the monster, this is not always immediately seen as useful to a beginner especially when not understanding resource management yet.
2) It slows the monster, this allows for first strike on a monster.
3) It slows a monster, this acts as a SUPER first strike on a first strike monster, we supercede there effect.
4) It slows the monster, this gives bonus experience.

All of this at the cost of 8 mana. To a beginner with 10-12 mana, that's a lot. Too much to case a burndayraz and it. When we just need burndayraz and a first strike to eek out a kill on a one level higher monster(or maybe an equal level when I am wounded). At that point I likely don't understand the need of all of that, understand the game enough to benefit from all of that, or understand resources enough to weight all of that properly. This is where getindare starts as a nice boost and eventually becomes less useful when cost benefits get understood and we graduate most of the time to weytwut. I mean a simple thing about weytwut that still trips me from time to time, is to remember to explore the squares around a mob that I am trying to kill with the slow effect. Because if I don't the regen kicks in and I might not be able to kill it now with my next hit.

Complex glyphs are good they are conversion fodder for beginners and advanced techniques for veterans. Simple glyphs are good, they are crutches for beginners, and conversion fodder + occasional boosts for veterans(I still use bysseps occasionally once or twice before conversion if a situation allows for it/benefits from it).

Once again I am not saying it is wrong to look at these spells with a critical veteran eye. It just good to remember what it was like using those as a beginner. And if you never really felt like a beginner, well it might be helpful to hear from those who are/were. Though those types may not be as present and posting on these forums sadly.

Edit: as for wonafyt, I have always had and continue to have concerns for it as well. As a beginner I rarely needed/wanted it because of algorithms putting low levels near the entrance and not having thought about wasting resources. As a veteran I rarely care about finding even/lower level targets until after the point where most if not all are visible any way. Some of this might be related though to current GG shenanigans of prep stuff of find GG, kill level 3(or level 2 with a slow), kill a level 4, get a bunch of extra hp, lower your level, kill a few more high levels and convert(if you want). Making lower/even levels superfluous.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby dislekcia on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:40 pm

Well said, xspeedballx.

That's the sort of perspective that we try to keep all the time when making balance decisions, no matter how loudly and angrily the hardcore players are shouting for something: Would the thing they're shouting about have meant they'd have enjoyed the game when they started and didn't know anything about it?

That's why we've been trying to add things to glyphs that are special-case behaviors in addition to what they already do. The obvious stuff is for new players "Hey, I can summon a monster to me!" and the special case elements pop up later as they get better. In some cases the new features actually help players move towards skill, that's the sort of stuff we want more of without chasing new players away from the eventual complexity.

Puzzles that help players learn things like the gods have always been part of this plan. But what if we'd gone ahead and done a ton of Mystera puzzles already? We'd have to redo all of them with the changes we just made to her. That would be a costly waste of time for us. As daft as I'm sure we look sometimes, there is actually a rollout plan in play here.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby Lujo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:47 pm

I did write a disclaimer, did I not? Saying exacly what has been said by speedball, and is true?

What im suggesting here is for when gods are done, in the meantime, could you just make them easier to find, and let us keep our subdungeons while were at it, just so we can test them and GET them there?

I honestly cant believe you guys assumed that I thought it shouldve been allready done. Do you read what I write, or just assume something, scroll down and write something? Shold I bold and enlarge font on that DISCLAIMER. Move it to the top of the post, what?
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby xspeedballx on Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:30 pm

Oh I fully realize tutorials and puzzles are by necessity the last thing you develop. Though I can't help but agree that the process of unlocking not just the gods is a bit painful and not very fun. Given that there is a quest system in the game, I feel like the various races/classes/gods should be tied to quests to unlock them, with specific set of challenges. Though again this runs the problem of a beginner wondering "why the hell am I doing this and what is the benefit, I don't understand." So I guess a balance of the two, maybe introduce a "beginner" god, who is generally simple and produced from the start to introduce basic concepts of gods. The old pactmaker was sort of like that, but obviously too powerful/multi-purpose.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby booooooze on Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:51 pm

Amen to easier to find. I still haven't found JJ or the crusader. And I know what I'm looking for...

..and I haven't seen the pactmaker since I "unlocked" him. Not sure if that's a bug or what.
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Re: Gods, subdungeons, learning curve, game progression - id

Postby Darvin on Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:56 am

Jehora Jeheyu is found in the North only, and you must have already unlocked Mystera. The Pactmaker requires you to find him in three separate subdungeons before he spawns as a normal alter.
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