I don't want to interfear in the warning thread, I like that there's dialogue, and all that. Don't want to make dislekcia sorry he's communicating, and i'm prone to, blah, blah, blah. Don't expect to achieve anything either, truly curious about something. (Well, I didn't expect anything initialy, but while writing I came up with an actual suggestion which is in digest form in the doublepost below).
Some things that get thrown around a lot is seemimgly not understood the same way by people on various sides of the fence.
For example: "Death is prefferable to players to long frustrating winddown followed by retreat."
This is either not true, not entirely true, not true all of the time even on an individual basis, or completely meaningless.
Death teaches nothing except that you can die and that you have to pay attention. This, in my own expirience, causes a slowdown of gameplay because you might die due to inattention. Now since there is a big red maker saying death, once you start paying attention to nothing else but not dying, the game turns into a winddown which can result in frustration, but also learning, experimentation and triumph. This "winddown" is what we call "a run".
"Failing" at a run will never result in death - it will always result in running out of options (or thinking you did), even if you suicide on purpose due to being frustrated about not being able to find options, or simply restart like any sane and composed person would.
Dying is in most cases a result of failing not to click on various monster-shaped buttons while they are red. If those buttons caused you to turn blue, the only way to turn blue in the game (short of certain puzzles and Naga City, or gambling with the rogue) would be voluntarily pressing a button which sayes "you turn blue", risking a dodge, and tripping over a goblin.
Now, there is no point to dying, nobody ever wants to do it for reasons much different than they would press the retreat button if it was all over the dungeon. If the option wasn't there, noone would really miss it. Sure, the dodge mechanic wouldn't really work (what happens if you don't dodge?), but all in all, death in DD is an obscure mechanic which is pretty much completely avoidable, prefferably avoidable, teaches nothing except keeping you on your toes all the time, and from the player perspective there is never any reasonable reason to want it.
My speculation about the height of the death count is several mechanics which actually gave you a choice between dying and not (risking dodges, risking JJ's old puinushments), frustrating puzzles/purist challenges/purist runs where it's the same as exiting but the button for dying is all over the screen, Naga City and missatention/missclicks/mouse issues. And the fact that there is only two things you can click on to retreat, and a million you can click on to die.
Now for the "frustrating winddown" - This has nothing to do with death. Because you can't die most of the time. Being able to die at all teaches you to be really careful about avoiding it, there is no point to risking death (nothing to gain from it) a vast majority of the time. Dying is just retreating from a dungeon by pressing a vastly more numerous and acessible exit button (clicking on a monster when it sayes death in big red letters) - after a long winddown of realizing you've ran out of options. Or a short one. Or not being happy with what you're looking at.
The "frustrating winddown" is two different things, one that supports the argument for death (and today is the first time I've seen Dislekcia explain exactly what he means), and one that very much doesn't.
Con-Death one - the "frustrating winddown" is when the learning and pulling-unobvious-victories out of seemingly hopeless situations happens. It's when you try gods/items/moves/throwing the kitchen sink out of sheer desperation. This is the only way to get better at the actual game. This IS the game. After something like this I restart and actually play smarter because I know I ran out of options and not blundered mechanicaly - and an acidental death robs me at a chance for this. It's obvious I'll hit the restart after I die, but I'll hit it out of frustration with that mechanic existing and most likely play the exact same way just slightly pissed off.
Pro-Death one - the "frustrating winddown" that results from a player not having any options left and no way to tell for sure that he has no options left. This is what seems to be worrying the devs, and I can see why. A way to tell you're out of options, especially in the early game is when all the monsters flash red and you're out of resources. Not to mention that the game itself doesn't really know when you're out of options - too many variables, and there could be tons of moves that you can make but would not result in a win. Chance of dying when you click on a monster being displayed (and the real chance of dying) is just a very good (or chosen) indicator that you're options are dwindling or probably gone and that you should restart.
I guess "Death" just has a better ring to it instead of "they beat you up and nick your stuff" but it is the most flavoufully appropriate sign to tell you you're doomed. And you never actually have to press that sign, and most of the time nobody ever would on purpose. But it's the only way for the game to not lie to you about your options - it's not telling you they aren't there, because it doesn't know, it just tells you you better do something dramatic or give up in a clear way.
There's no other way to argue for it - but this is a pretty good one. You cant tell anyone death makes sense mechanicaly - it doesn't. You can't tell anyone that it's worth the chance of accidental deaths (especially as a way to avoid frustration) - it definitely isn't. You can't say it's serves some vague learning function - because it serves 2 concrete ones 1) teaching you how to avoid itself which is makes it pointless by default, and 2) serves as an indicator that you've ran out of options which is pretty fine.
Now for being constructive, in case anyone important actually has time to read through all this.
Question: Assuming the few mechanics that interact with death (or rather the dodge mechanic) can be sorted out - why no "backsies", really?
If we had a "saving grace" token from the get go similar to the vicious token that gave you 3 "backsies" upon death to prevent accidents what would happen exactly? Short of dodge, there's no way to profit from doing stuff that would othewise kill you, nothing to learn that the indicator won't show, and people would easily learn to be even more careful and paranoid about dying wantonly because if they waste the graces and run into a goblin itch or missclick it's their own fault for playing like jackasses.
THEN not dying would mean something - if you don't die, you wont be killed by forces outside your control. If you die nothing happens 3 times, but you never ever gain anything from suiciding anyway, so people would just stop after a while. There's nothing to gain.*
*Added benefit is that if you die you can actually look at what killed you and try to work out why it killed you and maybe even learn something.
If the token is preppable - anyone can choose not to. If it's incompatible with the vicious token - great for hardcore guys. And avoiding death actually means something - life is precious and can, in roguelike fashion, be taken away from you by interfearing cats and twitchy fingers, so count your graces ^^ And you can explain it in no unclear terms - you can't get any more than 3, because you don't need anymore, death has a function within the game and the less you die on purpose, the harder to die by accident.
As for dealing with dodge - not sure, but having dodge disable the token would be fine balancing for the Rogue :_D
EDIT: And while we're talking tokens - I wouldn't mind the "Bet on Boss" prep being a token as well. The way it is now it interfears with purist and probably shouldn't really. That would make it exclusive with the saving grace token (making it a fine risk-reward thingy), and the vicious token. Also, I really wouldn't mind reintroducing the chest prep back into the game but make it 4 of them with 2 trapped ones and 2 containing seals/glyphs/potions or something...
Last edited by Lujo
on Thu May 09, 2013 5:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.