Game Philosophy

All things Desktop Dungeons

Game Philosophy

Postby Fran on Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:06 pm

After seeing the recent changes in the game during the last couple weeks, and the way they've been reveived in the forums, I've been thinking about something...
Sometimes, I'm not really sure what to think about the attitude in the forums here.

While I appreciate the concern about the metagame and so on, I'm really asking myself sometimes what is expected out of the game.
I mean, in the end, it's still a game... it is for your entertainment. And whether you find the game entertaining or not depends on your idea of entertainment.
Furthermore, and that is what I find most disturbing, is the way that only the game is held responsible for the amount of fun you can get out of it, as if this was independent of the way you play the game.

On one side, people are trying the best to break the game and on the other side, it's the games fault that it is too easy after it has been broken by certain strategies. Although I see why it's important to point such things out and that those things should be fixed, I'm kind of puzzled about what people expect.
I mean, if I find a way to play the game, and it spoils the fun by making everything too easy, the logical conclusion for me is to stop abusing it. Easy as that. I'd maybe come here and say that I find this too easy so it can be investigated if a change would make the game more fun to play, but I certainly wouldn't consistently whine and demand changes in all possible ways.
If this was a multiplayer game, things certainly would be different, as it should be fair to all players. But it simply isn't a multiplayer game. If some people find delight in having an easy time in vicious dungeons by abusing combinations (where the parts most of the time are in fact not broken taken by themselves), for gods sake, let them do it. If you can't restrain from using them, it's not the games fault in my opinion. (However, it is the games fault when you don't have other options.)

In this context, I can't understand why some people are so dogmatic about what the game should allow and what not. Just because something is strong doesn't mean everybody is abusing it. The monk change is an especially good example in my opinion:
Although as unbalanced as he was in the last update, I still wasn't able to beat dragon isles with him. Believe it or not, there are *real* people that are new to the game / don't care so much about powergaming and just want to have fun trying things out. On the other hand, I was able to beat dragon isle with the berserker class. So if your not that skilled, there are often real alternatives that make your game easier, regardless of how stronger something is potentially.

Now the monk is changed and people (like me) that played the class for its flavour without stacking resistances are hurt even more than the ones abusing it. In some way, I, as a player feel left out now as i don't like the new monk.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a game where you have meaningful decisions and i think the game has greatly improved since i bought it. And although I'm not as good at the game as you guys, i still have fun with it.
But I don't like the trend that balancing the game is only about nerfing what can possibly be abused, while there are fine ways to use the ingame content without abusing it, as with the monk.
I get the feeling that it's all about who consistently whines the most (don't take this personally lujo) gets the game changed in his favour. I'm not sure if i like that.
Last edited by Fran on Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Fran
 
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:06 pm

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby q 3 on Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:25 pm

I somewhat disagree and somewhat agree.

Fran wrote:I mean, if I find a way to play the game, and it spoils the fun by making everything too easy, the logical conclusion for me is to stop abusing it. Easy as that.


The player shouldn't have to self-impose a challenge like that, by arbitrarily saying "I'm not going to use this combination even though it's a logical approach to playing," when the whole point of the game (as I see it) is to find logical combinations of abilities that lead to victory. That would be like telling someone who is very good at playing an FPS that if it's too easy, they should just let their hand fall asleep and then try to aim. If being challenged requires not trying your hardest, much of the enjoyment is lost.

Fran wrote:Although as unbalanced as he was in the last update, I still wasn't able to beat dragon isles with him.


Two points: one, Dragon Isles is a vicious dungeon; it's supposed to be harder than hard. And since there's no taxidermist drop, it will never be necessary to beat Dragon Isles (or any other vicious dungeon) to "win" the game, or at least that's my understanding of where the devs are going.

Two, I agree with you that the solution to a situation like the Monk's apparent overpowered-ness isn't necessarily an across-the-board nerf that affects all players equally. My personal view is that there should really be across-the-board buffs to most classes and items. The (perhaps unattainable) goal would be that a skilled enough player can realistically (if infrequently) beat any dungeon without preparations or scumming; conversely, any reasonably but not impressively skilled player should be able to eke out a win if they use all their available resources. The game already acknowledges different levels of victory with badges, and preparations seem to me to be the perfect delivery vector for an easier time for players that need an easier time.

That's my philosophy, at least.
q 3
 
Posts: 775
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:36 pm

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby Fran on Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:43 pm

q 3 wrote:I somewhat disagree and somewhat agree.

Fran wrote:I mean, if I find a way to play the game, and it spoils the fun by making everything too easy, the logical conclusion for me is to stop abusing it. Easy as that.


The player shouldn't have to self-impose a challenge like that, by arbitrarily saying "I'm not going to use this combination even though it's a logical approach to playing," when the whole point of the game (as I see it) is to find logical combinations of abilities that lead to victory. That would be like telling someone who is very good at playing an FPS that if it's too easy, they should just let their hand fall asleep and then try to aim. If being challenged requires not trying your hardest, much of the enjoyment is lost.


Ok, I see your point regarding preperations. But besides the preperations I also meant scumming and extra profiles.
If you make a profile where you don't unlock things to have an easier time or if you scum for combinations and don't play the dungeon until you have the exact arbitrary combination of gods and items, you can't argue that it's the games fault when you rock all the time with those setups. If they where random, I think it would be ok to have an easy time with them if they happen to spawn. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against this kind of metagame but the game isn't intially meant that way so if your abusing that you can't argue it's the games fault for being easy.

q 3 wrote:
Fran wrote:Although as unbalanced as he was in the last update, I still wasn't able to beat dragon isles with him.


Two points: one, Dragon Isles is a vicious dungeon; it's supposed to be harder than hard. And since there's no taxidermist drop, it will never be necessary to beat Dragon Isles (or any other vicious dungeon) to "win" the game, or at least that's my understanding of where the devs are going.


You're right; i forgot the important part why i wanted to talk about dragon isle in the first place (i'll edit it):
I was able to complete it with the berserker class, so the point is that although the monk has greater potential, i had an easier time with a straight forward class. I didn't want to claim it should be easier, it's fine as it is.

I have a similar philosophy on the rest, boosting alternative strategies is preferred against toning things down.
User avatar
Fran
 
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:06 pm

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby TigerKnee on Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:21 pm

I never liked the "If it's abusive, don't use it" excuse. By that logic, the game designer need not balance at all. We should all still be living in the world of Unlimited MP works Mystera and infinite combo Fireball Transmuters. The challenge players can play naked purist Fighters.

Nah, I think it's more fun if you're given good tools to solve good puzzles. I relish the challenge of building a bookshelf with a hammer, wood and nails which are provided to me.

I do not enjoy building a bookshelf by intentionally using only paper scissors and a nerf bat when such tools exist.

Fran wrote:If you make a profile where you don't unlock things to have an easier time or if you scum for combinations and don't play the dungeon until you have the exact arbitrary combination of gods and items, you can't argue that it's the games fault when you rock all the time with those setups.


I won't judge unlocks by how easy or hard they make the game, I will judge them by their intent and how they currently fail to live up to that intent.

The unlocks are supposed to make dungeons easier. Some of them certainly do (Viper Ward/Soul Orb), the rest don't, they junk up your pool and make it harder.

This is like in an RPG where you buy a sword to upgrade your dagger in order to get more damage, but then you do the math and calculation shows that the dagger actually provides more DPS than the sword. You can say "Well if you want more damage just use the dagger" but it doesn't feel good to know that your game mechanics are borked, you know?
TigerKnee
 
Posts: 542
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:54 am

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby Lujo on Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:38 pm

I'm not taking it personally Fran (although I'm to blame for making s much of a fuss about a few things). But please, do take time to read this, it might change your point of view.

I, like you, am a casual player at heart. I've been purpusefully avoiding "cheats" for ages myself. I haven't touched cydstep for a good while, and I avoid the triling at all costs, on the very same principle that you state in the opening of your post. I even avoided the Monk and the Thief for a good, long while.

I'm the guy who likes finding ways to beat the game with a fighter. I just like to have them.

What got me so worked up in the first place is the dungeons and content unlocks I felt were forcing me to use these strats. the first time I beat Dragon isles WAS with the Berserker, and it's quite doable not because he's straightforward, he's not, but because his "high above the curve" advantage (50% magic resists) lets him ease through the entire engdame of the dungeon.

However, classes with abilities such as those were enabling people to beat stuff that was made way too hard for anyone but the hardcore crowd, and it was made way to hard because the hardcore crowd were given the busted tools like the Monk, the Triling, The Conversion Stone, The Dragonshield, Cydstep and some others.

So people were posting wins all over the place, and you could get the impression that the game was easy. It wasn't, it was just that a bunch of pro's were given "cheats". While they were rocking the game couldn't be brought (up or down) to a level where a casual player might stand a chance without the "cheats".

In this situation, it's no wonder you liked the Monk - the game overall was unreasonably difficult, and you ran into a godmode cheat masquarading as a second tier class, and possibly felt gratified that you were finally making progress. It's the same as the whoopaz potion - if we need that in the game, why the hell DO we need it in the game?

All of my clamoring and whining and spamming, the discovery of the conversion strategy, and all that, it was all an experiment to prove how there was insanely powerfull stuff lying around if you admit that beating sometihing with a Triling or a Cydstepper doesn't mean anything. I didn't GO for the cheeze or powergaming, I was AVOIDING cheeze and powergaming.

And if I didn't do that, plenty of testers wouldn't be avare of just how much trouble Compilcated tasks quests were. I actually started posting because of the Magma Mines - a lvl a casual player feels like he needs to beat, but can't - because it's been "balanced" around hardcore vets abusing "god mode" mechanics. The Complicated tasks I & II are DEVASTATING to a beginner players game - they destroy his shops and force him into thinking stuff is only doable with a Monk, a Thief, a Paladin, a Cydstepper or a Triling (or classes that in certain situations emulate their defining bustedcharacteristics, like a Berserker that pull's a "better Monk" in a lvl full of magic damage).

Me not unlocking stuff was also based on the correct logic that unlocking most stuff in the game actually makes it harder for the non-hardcore crowd, and that the game is paradoxicaly EASIER if you in fact don't unlock most of the content. It turned out way more powerfull than I expected, sure, but the intention was to show that the whole balancing model (or philosophy) of "if it's beatable with anything its balanced" is braindead and that it causes non-hardcore people no end of frustration and grief.

Yes, with the Monk the way it is now (still horrendusly overpowered unless you have all bosses do magic damage), Demonic Library seems harder than ever, but that's not the correct way of looking at things. Demonic library was ALWAYS stupidly and pointlessly difficult - now it's just obvious. And before this slight nerf to Monk, and a deserving nerf to cydstep, people would just say - "No it's not, I just steamrolled it with X class with Y preps" which basically ment that you turned a Triling into either a Monk, a cydstepper or Bloodmage.

To obtain the Conversion Stone you need to beat a lvl 5 Bridge troll on half a map (undoable for a newbie), and then feel confident enough not to use it on the spot (probably impossible for a newbie), and you needed theat Conversion stone later as it was more powerfull than any vicious reward. And to keep using it you needed 100 gold after any run in which u used it, failed or sucesfull. AND it was making stupidly difficult things doable, which was then the justification for it being in the game. People would seriously say "Don't nerf the stone the X race needs it to be viable." So in order for a race to be viable, you have to be able to jump through a flaming hoop, and then locker a convertible item that also costs gold to use and ties up an alchemy slot, and gives 3-4 other races superpowers?

That was the elitist narow minded philosophy I was going against.

There's tons of content in the game, and once the testers are faced with the true difficulty of the hard and vicious stuff, there will be nerfs, small and big, and then everyone will be able to enjoy lots more flavourfull content without so much frustration and grind. And that can't be done if the overpowered stuff is pushing everything else out. Unlocking goats is no longer a nightmare, now that Bleaty has been nerfed - with cydstep and Monks as no brainer options he was untouched for months and could turn up in newbie dungeons. Was there ever any justification for him being such a nightmare? No.

What just happened is that all the god-mode stuff was brought in line a bit, and what has to follow is the reduction of difficulty in all of the dungeons. They'll still be challenging and fun, but they will have more solutions to them, and few of those will be "Noob! Just take Monk, convert everything and steamroll for gerat lolz!" or "Dragon isles is doable - you just have to scum up JJ for the mana, and then blood tithe all your HP on Drac, oh, and you also need to scum up cydstep... But it's challenging, I wouldn't nerf it, no sir"
Last edited by Lujo on Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2778
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby Fran on Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:07 pm

I don't really want to argue with anything Lujo or TigerKnee said because you're both right and i understand your point of view.
I think we have the same goal in mind, only that you want to achieve it by nerfing broken stuff while I'd powerup the rest so that it's on a similiar level of usefulness.
User avatar
Fran
 
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:06 pm

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby Lujo on Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:24 pm

Oh, i'd be suggesting buffs, and will be, as soon as the silly stuff (like a tier 2 god mode class, or an perma prep item that destroy the point of the guild having 5 more locker slots) is brought in line.

Plenty of stuff that needs them, anyway. ;)

EDIT: And if you think about it, the new Monk has more flavour than the old one. The old one was sort of encroaching on the Berserker flavour, now, at lvl 2 of kingdom advancment, you have access to guys who go bloodcrazy on the spellcasters, and guys who like to beat up physical types. And all lvl2 classes but the Sorcerer (a bit of a flavour offender there), revolve around having distinct pro's and con's.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2778
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby q 3 on Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:07 pm

Sorcerer's main con is mana burn - easy enough to fix with a Soul Orb, of course, but it does interfere with two of his abilities.

Along the lines of what I was saying about preparations - I think it would be good to ditch the Purist medal, actually, and replace it with a tiered approach: bronze, silver, gold, etc. You get the first level award for clearing a dungeon with less than 200 gold worth of preparations, second level for less than 100 gold prep, third level is 50 gold, and then gold/platinum/S-rank is the old Purist. That would make the preparation value more relevant beyond the (quickly irrelevant) financial cost, which makes some of the lesser used preps more appealing (e.g., there's now a reason to take the 25 gold or 35 gold prep instead of 50 gold, if it keeps you under the limit), and provides for more variation in the difficulty of goals, allowing players of all skill levels to seek out suitable challenges. Of course, the preparation costs would need to be tinkered with to actually reflect their use - e.g., Avatar Symbol is not nearly as valuable as even the Trisword, at the moment. But that tinkering should probably be done at some point anyway.
q 3
 
Posts: 775
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:36 pm

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby Lujo on Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:28 am

Fran wrote:I think we have the same goal in mind, only that you want to achieve it by nerfing broken stuff while I'd powerup the rest so that it's on a similiar level of usefulness.


TLDR: Resists were stronger than the old Transmuter, who in effect had infinite mana.

I feel like this merits a little more explaining, I'll be a long read, but an educational one, and I'll be as polite as possible (slow day at work). It's also the explanation for the question "what's balance in a very non-multiplayer game?".

So, the thing is the following: If you have a "degenerate" or "superwpower" strategy at the power level of the old monk, you can't really buff everything else to be on a simmilar level of usefullness. You can't as in - it's not possible, because damage resistance is the most powerfull "stat" ot "variable" in the entire game, in theory or in paractice.

I'll give 2 examples, one for monsters, one for players.

Have you ever tried killing the Goo Boss with a physical character? You've probably seen it's HP bar with all the little yellow lines telling you you have to hit him a bajilion times to kill him? He has only 444 Health. If it wasn't for resist thats 4 hits from a rogue, and around the same for any Triling or Orc. Its only about 111 more HP than the bandit boss, and the bandit boss was considered "popcorn". With his 75% physical resist, the Goo Boss, only slightly tougher in HP than the popcorn bosses, was the prime target for Woopaz. If a popcorn boss was to be buffed to be on the same threat level as the Goo boss (at least towards phys damage), his HP would be well over a thousand.

Now for players it gets way more absurd. The old Gaan'Telet dungeon had 9-10 floors with incresingly more tough enemies, and was long thought to be impossible by anything except the Transmuter, a class everyone started avoiding on account of it being more of an exploit than a proper class. (Incitentaly, "thats not a class, it's a cheatcode" concept was coined by someone else, and it started with the old Transmuter). The Tower was MENT to be impossible, and was only there to keep us busy while devs took a vacation or something (it seems). The dev's even said "noone was ment to get anywhere in that tower" when someone beat it with a Transmuter - they were genuinely shocked.

However, Subanark went in there with a Monk, and beat it. Floor, after floor, after floor of superthough lvl 10 enemies (and small floors mind you, and 160 dmg warlocks on one floor), with a 5000 HP boss at the end. Monk did it. Then Paladin did it just barely, and then we did it with every class, including The Fighter. We're hardcore? Well, a little, but we've concluded during this long time that it wasn't challenging at all - you used the gods and preps to hit the resist cap with any character, and as soon as you did, the 10 story tower of lvl 10 enemies became a cakewalk. It sort of proved that a Fighter, a class with no relevant damage dealing abilities, if given access to enough ways to boost his resists, can beat anything.

Hell, the Monk could do it easier than the Transmuter - a class that took 4 reworks and originated the phrase "It's not a class, it's and exploit". And the fighter could do it by "dressing up" as a monk, and it took him less time (which means less effort) than using Transmuter. It was doable with a "Guard" from the tutorials, as long as you could stack resists.

Nothing else was needed, and noting else was in any way relevant. You barely needed OTHER cheezy stuff, by the end, I was doing it on only one bloodswell, and subanark had destroyed his economy by flooding the market with the boss trophy. You did need to scum for Soul Orb and Halpmeh, and that thought us how badly everything in the game compared with resists, soul orb and HALPMEH. Pretty soon there was no impossible challenge, as every run of everything was doable with anythin as long as you had resists and HALPMEH, and a soul orb to counter mana burn (which was the dev's cructh to "deal" with cydstep and HALPMEH in the first place).

Now, HALPMEH and Soul Orb took scumming. If you took the paladin, you only needed to scum for the Soul Orb, so paladin became a go-to class, just because he reduced scumming. The Monk started with 50% resist all, so he didn't need Dragon Shield or Halpmeh, so he was the go to class, period. If you wanted to unlock the Half-Dragon, or especially the Gorgon monster classes, you HAD to do this, there was no other way (or rather, the other way was cydstep scumming, and that only really worked for rogues and warlords, and was even more tedious). I literally blew more than 10000 gold on trying to complete Dragon Isles, Naga City and Gaan'Telet in any other way than resistances, and JJ gnomes, and I ran out of money.

And with the resist strat it was really, really easy. Only the "strat" was not a strategy at all, the mechanic was visibly a lot more powerfull than anything else in the game, and required no thought except "how to hit my cap", and with Monk, no thought at all. It took all the other classes 3-4 gods, and preps and items, and juggling and skill to hit the cap, and the monk took one prep and practicaly any god and he was over a 10% HIGHER cap. Hitting over 50% or 65% turns your character into something that can beat 10 or so HARD dungeons in a row without stopping. Hitting 75% made beating 10 or so HARD dungeons in a row look like a warmup for serious play.

And the biggest thing here was the damn Soul Orb. If HALPMEH and CYDSTEP weren't so degenerate, bosses wouldn't need to have Mana Burn all the time. If bosses didn't need to have Mana Burn all the time, every run wouldn't need scumming, and plenty other strats besides HALPMEH and CYDSTEP would have a chance. And if the end game content didn't sort of assume you hit the resist cap, then Dragonshield woudln't take up your prep slot all the time, so you could maybe prep the Soul Orb for the bosses that DID have Mana Burn. This is the "balance" I'm tallking about. Allowing the Monk, Paladin and cydsteppers to run wild, and trying to contain them with monster abilities made playing everything else impossible.

The current Gaan'Telet has 0 chance of you getting Mana Burned except by the boss (or your own patches, but hey). But that boss is unbeatable if you DO get Mana Burned, so you need the Soul orb. But you also need to hit your resist cap, and for anyone but the Monk, that means Dragonshield. And that means you have to scum for Soul Orb. If I want to beat it (and I can do it easily if it wasn't for the crashes), I can either scum for Soul Orb on a regular profile (brutaly time and money consuming) or have a profile that will always give me the Soul Orb and thus a chance to beat the damn dungeon.

Hell, the 3rd best class for completing Gaan'Telet after Monk (50% resists), Paladin (HALPMEH), was the Crusader, simply because he could get himself imune to mana burn so he was the only guy who didn't need to scum for Soul Orb, and after that it was done with a Tinker who had 2 more shops to ease the scumming.

For a while, we "discovered" that the "Quest Items" bazar prep was necessary at all times to increse the chances of Getting Soul orb and Agnostics Collar. So it was costing us gold to do what I've done for free by simply not unlocking anything else. I wasn't USING anything else anyway, not because I'm "hardcore" but because a series of bad design decisions and a toxic "game philosohy" caused me to need to have gamebreakers or GTFO in every run.

So I didn't "optimize" my next profile so much as only unlock things I spent 10 000 gold looking for in all the failed scumming runs, as the vicious content was UNPLAYABLE any other way. (Or, rather, the 1-2 other ways required MORE scumming and were less powerfull, while still being braindead). Getting Soul Orb every time only ment ment I had a chance. I didn't make the strat more powerfull, I just made what the game required for unlocking content - less time consuming.

So when asked wether everything else should be buffed to Monk levels, or the Monk be brought down, and then the damn game be made to allow for diverse strats, I have to say - please, for the love of god, remove being superman as the only option, and while you're at it make the vicious content playable without Soul Orb. If you have to give every tough boss mana burn to stop something, change THAT SOMETHING, because you're hosing everything else into the ground.

And If you don't believe me, I've been doing a lot of Gaan'Telet runs lately, even if it crashes every time. you wouldn't believe how frustrating is to have to throw away every run where I don't find a soul orb. Even more frustrating is when I finally DO get a soul orb - that's a run I have to do regardless of what my other items/glyphs are. And 3 out of 4 times everything else is useless and worse than useless for the challenges I know I'm supposed to face, often almost every item and glyph is either conversion fodder or worse than conversion fodder - but I can still only play those runs because Dragonshield > Soul Orb > all glyhps and 5 shops and floor placements combined. In a dungeon where only the boss has manaburn -.-
Last edited by Lujo on Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2778
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Game Philosophy

Postby dislekcia on Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:30 am

Fran wrote:I get the feeling that it's all about who consistently whines the most (don't take this personally lujo) gets the game changed in his favour. I'm not sure if i like that.


We work really hard to make sure this doesn't happen.

We're also fond of the idea of upping other strats to compete, rather than nerfing stuff. Hence Mystera's changes. The goal is always to build a better game for everyone that plays it, not just whiny hardcores ;)
User avatar
dislekcia
 
Posts: 1637
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:58 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Next

Return to Desktop Dungeons

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests