A problem of metagame

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A problem of metagame

Postby Bloggorus on Sun May 06, 2012 11:34 pm

Based on a discussion with a friend of mine, I'd like to raise the use of economics.

One of the biggest additions of the beta has been the meta game and the economy that goes with it.

But the addition of the inflating economy has had a few side affects; namely imbalancing the game, and making balance harder to achieve. 

Basically, the two economies are getting mixed up with one another. 

The pure dungeon, composed of monster type, layout, explorable  tiles and other random factors, is a closed system and an economy all of its own. Each dungeon is unique and each class is suited of unsuited for completing it.

The meta game economy is not a closed system, and is theoretically infinite. The only variables are expenditure, player skill and player capacity for grinding. It is possible, and many players have, to generate enough gold to never worry about the cost of use, ever. 

The problem is when the two cross over. For a large number of preps, the only cost of use is meta-game gold and inventory space. For this negligible opportunity cost players gain a massive starting game advantage and radically more resources through efficiency and conversion points. Even a basic blacksmith sword or shield can mean the difference between a tough starting game and an easy level catapult. 

Even worse, it allows exploits. For gold only, it is possible to take in three potions for immediate consumption in synergy with the trisword and the scroll. I don't see this as a problem of the balancing of those items, but the implementation of preps in general. 

Take the swap glyphs, god preps and things like patches, the smugglers den. All of these preps can have significant effects on the game, at the cost of something in game. The reasons for taking these preps, which remain very popular, are in no way associated to their gold cost.  

I would argue that attaching a gold cost to any prep is not as has never been a real or effective deterrent or incentive. It creates preps that inject enourmous amounts of potential resources into what is a carefully cultivated balance of randomness and difficulty.

This is especially true of veteran players with the skill and hoard to ignore the meta-economy, however it applies to noobs too. It teaches new players to grind for gold for preps, rather than learning to play. Once they learn that elite items exist, for instance, with only a gold cost attached, why would they ever go back to properly balanced preps? Taking a dragon sheild into battle gives them an advantage that would otherwise take a huge amount of piety, exploration and combat to accumulate. And they get the advantage for free, completely screwing the balance and difficulty o the dungeon.

My solutions are: 

1 . Balance every prep type with an ingame cost. This may be a lack of conversion points or locked in use for locker items, bank money reduction for bezaar items, or stat penalties for scroll use.

  Locker items are the worst offender in my opinion, with many players, including myself, basing whole strategies around a synergy with certain items. Anyone who doubts this can find hundreds of references to strats involving a (race)(class) wielding an (item probably trisword). 

2. Flesh out the meta-economy to make the opportunity cost for gold real and significant, especially on the endame. This could be as simple as penalizing players for pulling too much money from the toy coffers, or as complex as removing gold and creating a kingdom wide 'ledger' instead, where prep choice has cumulative effects on economic variables. 

Many players have requested a gold sink of some kind, which indicates two things- they has too much gold to worry about spending too much, and that they want gold to have significance once more. 

I feel a combination of the two would be most effective. It would significantly reduce the ramp up of player power, allow reduced difficulty in exchange for diversity in goals, and encourage the replay and exploration of early game material. 

Thoughts?
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Darvin on Mon May 07, 2012 12:50 am

Anyone who doubts this can find hundreds of references to strats involving a (race)(class) wielding an (item probably trisword).

Trisword, Alchemist Scroll, and Crystal Ball are the three items that fall into that category. With the castration of orcs, the sensation stone has fallen off that list so it's really just the three of them. Interestingly enough, they're all now double-edged with activation costs.

The dragonshield, while still widely lockered and used, is really a second-tier fallback item these days. The problem is that any player skilled enough to get it can absolutely dominate any hard-difficulty scenario, while just about every vicious-difficulty scenario features significant resist-down effects that limit this item's usefulness.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby TigerKnee on Mon May 07, 2012 3:28 am

Back when the game was first announced, I was really hoping for an X-Comish base building and economy to go on top of the already strong main gameplay, but as it turns out the current implementation of the economy is really disappointing to me.

I honestly have no idea what to change about it though, an economy where currency is created from nothingness is just really hard to balance.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby The Avatar on Mon May 07, 2012 3:48 am

From nothing? What do you mean?
JakshdfFiha$#jaigb532i97fbnPKASN*@)sdjbau9a0)f+,Ahghs*hr)sk_sabdh^ujsbUA3{mvio/~dgffdsT^klndf,#ikon%(d

I speak chaos.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Darvin on Mon May 07, 2012 5:46 am

The gold that you "earn" in-game comes from a bottomless well. There is no limit to the amount of gold that will be paid for your loot at the end of the dungeon run, nor a limit to the amount that can be found lying on the ground. In that sense, the gold comes from nothing and is only limited by how much time you wish to spend acquiring it.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Bloggorus on Mon May 07, 2012 7:34 am

Correct. People only pay for work that needs doing.

At the moment the market crash is hard coded, but I think we need a more permanent solution.

Edit: also, on the topic of the items that cost gold, although I don't think it was the most elegant solution, it was a step in the right direction.

Those items were nerfed because they were extremely effective- but they were used almost exclusively as a locker prep from the start of the game. There was no cost for this in game.

At least if you are lucky to find in a shop with something good early in the game, you can buy it if you have enough money.

Now, those items cost so much in the long run that you would almost never buy them in game, and go for gold related preps to offset them if you use the lockered version. The nerfs for those items missed the point.

One solution might be to turn back those nerfs, add an opposite effect:
ie. you gain corrosion with every trisword offering, and gain poison for alchemists scroll use

then tone down the potion overdose- eight possible potions in game is too many, not counting gnomes, halflings and tikki tooli
Last edited by Bloggorus on Mon May 07, 2012 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Blovski on Mon May 07, 2012 9:50 am

As things go

I don't really mind that there isn't a fully functioning kingdom economy - I kind of feel that keeps the focus on what you're doing in and how you're preparing for the dungeons. I agree that prepped and purist runs are hugely different but I think this makes purist special rather than prepped invaluable. I think the trend towards a more double-edged kind of items with a gold cost is working pretty well. I have unlockered the crystal ball for the moment... while the gold costs are a nice cap on that kind of incremental item, and also make you think more about prepping them, they do also make the item more valuable prepped than found because buying them doesn't cut into the resource you use for them.

Some of the double-edged preps are good (and popular), others aren't - I *love* Dracul but I've never prepped his altar.

Locker items are the worst offender in my opinion, with many players, including myself, basing whole strategies around a synergy with certain items.


This I don't mind, what I mind is how few items are used in this way because of the locker-space constraints.

Anyone who doubts this can find hundreds of references to strats involving a (race)(class) wielding an (item probably trisword).


But the only occasions on which that synergy is essential rather than just icing is when the difficulty is scaled for vicious. I think some of the problem is that the way vicious dungeons are balanced, some items which are good but not excessively so on regular difficulty games become essential for dealing with vicious dungeons. For instance, for Dragon Isles you *need* to buff your health for the Matron as just about anyone except priest or berserker, so for that level, having the alchemists scroll lockered is a big deal. I don't think that anyone suggests that a class needs a combo item to work out well in hard dungeons.

I'd also point out that the trisword and the alch. scroll are two of the the most double-edged items in the game, in that they both heavily skew your potion-use to times when you normally wouldn't want to *and* they more or less kill any attempt to buy other items *yet* they remain hugely popular simply because they're so useful as to be essential for so many classes on the vicious dungeons.

I.e. the combination of really tightly limited locker items and the fact that vicious difficulty tends to neccessitate keeping some specific locker items prevents experimentation and exacerbates reliance on a group of 6 or less items. Strategies that can beat vicious relying on items with a more specific synergy are probably being overlooked because they involve throwing out a trisword or a dragon shield or something like that before you can play around with them.

(I am very surprised that noone has called the translocation seal overpowered yet. That prep is a *monster*, especially for happy trisworders who throw elite items into the mix. I'd maybe make it halve the item cost instead.)
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Joist on Mon May 07, 2012 10:04 am

I used Compression and Conversion just as much as I use Translocation. If I don't know which seal to prep though Translocation is my "go to".
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Bloggorus on Mon May 07, 2012 10:07 am

I agree that the limit on items in the locker is fairly arbitrary.

they do also make the item more valuable prepped than found because buying them doesn't cut into the resource you use for them


I think items from the locker shouldn't be more valuable than items found in shops, and that they should be balanced for being found in a dungeon, not from a locker. A lockered item costs nothing and is better because you get it at the start of the game. Before the nerf, the items worked fine if they were found and bought in a shop. Now they dont; thus the locker itself is OP.

As it is now, i would probably NEVER buy a trisword or alch scroll from a shop, even if i found it at the start of a game, because it represents massive amounts of cash.

Those items got nerfed for the wrong reasons, in the wrong way.
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Re: A problem of metagame

Postby Blovski on Mon May 07, 2012 11:59 am

I used Compression and Conversion just as much as I use Translocation. If I don't know which seal to prep though Translocation is my "go to".


mm, I think the reason noone's brought it up yet (to my knowledge) is that the others are also pretty neat in different ways (is anyone using the transmutation scroll at the moment? seems a bit meh). But I think getting something like the Orb Of Zot or Amulet of Yendar for essentially nothing straight-off kills any challenge at the hard level. It also maybe helps too much with the various gold-sink items that are balanced partly by stopping you getting other good items (and with elite items prep you can guarantee that *something* useful will come up, and at the very least it's probably worth 60-70 cp).
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