Design post on the blog!

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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby Aequitas on Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:21 am

Lujo wrote:Anyway, if I ever decide to hack this game, I'll hack a button which lockers me an item and freezes my game for half an hour. Anyone in need of proof that this makes sense and moral reassurance that what we were trying to tell the devs - make a black jpeg with the white caption "Scumming..." and sit there looking at it for 10-20-30 minutes, or "Relockering..." and do the same for an hour in case of vicious stuff. Every so often make a break to load up on preps and suicide, to account for the screwup possibility in Naga City. That's what the game is asking us to do to relocker stuff, and it's magnifying allready present problems, etc, etc. Now load up that same jpeg, set an alarm clock to 30 mins, and go about your life, come back after the 30 minutes and take the jpeg away. After you're done think about which half hour had comparatively more sense.


So I'd like to know, in all honesty, if playing a run in DD without the item you *want* isn't fun? (not just from Lujo, but everyone)

Maybe I approach playing things differently, but at the level that you guys are playing, why is a scumming run even a thing anymore? Why not pick a dungeon you find challenging (or the PQI, or the flaming dungeon) and just go play it. Now you're in there, and, win or lose, there's probably a shop item that could make for an interesting run. So buy it before you head out.

Now it's in your backpack, so use if for the next run (yes, we're going to make backpack items carry through). Maybe you'll happen across the item you were looking for in the first place, but instead of "10-20-30 minutes where you can't do anything else" it's "10-20-30 minutes of challenging myself to win with what the RNG spits out". Isn't that fun? Yes, it's just a change in perspective, but really, is that so bad?
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby FDru on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:17 am

Aequitas wrote:So I'd like to know, in all honesty, if playing a run in DD without the item you *want* isn't fun? (not just from Lujo, but everyone)


That depends on the dungeon, really. I prefer to do normal dungeons with minimal/no preps. I don't mind tackling a Hard dungeon with just a god prep or a Magnet: Fireball or something, depending on the class. It's when it comes to more challenging content (the harder PQIs and Vicious dungeons) that specific preps become more desirable. And, honestly, some preps completely change the game and are just really fun to play with (Avatar's Codex).

I actually didn't mind scumming in the Alpha (like to get a Flaming Sword for Boss Hive or whatever), but in comparison there is a large disincentive to do so in the Beta; and that is the cost of preps. Even in some Hard dungeons I can struggle with 250g worth of preps (and I can't imagine beating a Vicious purist without scumming for cheese so those always need preps); and while it might only take 30 minutes to get that much gold, if I fail two or three runs to get it that time tax just piles on...

But thanks in advance for making backpack items carry over. That's a good thing, and makes experimenting with items extensively without lockering them a possibility.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby Lujo on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:57 am

Same as FDru, except it goes a bit further. Essentially, not having an item handy affects the choices of what I'm even considering to take to a run, whether I'm willing to risk time with, say, a dwarf, or go for a more certain experience with something which synergizes with the items I have. It's often impossible to know whether I even want an item lockered before I locker it, while I always know I want the stuff that's already there. The longer a profile goes, the more this affects my temporary playing habits.

Sometimes I'm in the mood to experiment with a specific thing, being forced by the game to do something else is hugely annoying. Failing a vicious 2-3 times and coming up with an item that would help me, breaks the mindset I was in, and if scumming for it takes long enough, it affects my further efforts immensly. Avatar mentioned this with piercing wand and daemonic library recently, and it resonated strongly with my experiences.

Many PQI runs have a non-sinergistic race/class/badge/dungeon setup, which having an item handy would change in an instant, from "would take a major perspective shift" to anything between "skippable" - "interesting and novel". Many races and classes become way more interesting with items that are niche (as in the case with Blue Bead). Scumming for that item with a tinker requires revealing an entire map, scumming with a transmuter has me looking at less shops.

The game offers enough runs to make (over (edited after calculation) 700 (!!!) hundred even if I manage to get "everything" without redundancy), and while I love quests, feeling forced to do a run with all the possible ones looking at me tantalizingly is very offputing. This increases the more time I spend playing in the course of a playthrough - and at the point where I'm "in form" enough to do vicious runs on a regular basis, justifying doing redundant time-consuming runs as a time investment becomes increasingly impossible.

Relockering a vicious reward means that I have to do a specific vicious run - if I want Naga Cauldron I need to do Naga City, even if I'd be more interested in investing my time into investigating, say, Demonic Library. It's why I have only one run of daemonic libaray - I did 3 everywhere else without vicious rewards, to test their challenge level, but I waited with the last dungeon untill I've ground a locker slot, to avoid having to do that dungeon more times than I want. Untill this playthrough, I've played Namtar's Lair about 2-3 times total, to my memory - I'm not at all interested in playing that place other than lockering the ward, and removing it from my locker would mandate doing something I've never felt inclined to do off my own free will for a year.

As for why not pick stuff up on regular runs - well, I don't even use the prepped items all that much, I use them to keep my options open. Items I bring back from a run get judged against the items allready in the locker - and if they're more niche or easier to scum for, lockering them would affect me during the prep screen in a more limiting way, or increase the chances I'll have to invest more time into looking for whatever I took out.

Not to mention that many things which I would love to have available are also things which get converted on a regular basis, and I never actually finish a run with them in my inventory. I'm big on troll heart, bloody sigil, mage plate and such. Even if they weren't judged in "effort/need to relocker" against stuff that can't be beat in that category, I rarely ever see them even in the backpack. That's a bit of backpack feedback I was meaning to give but kept forgetting about.
Last edited by Lujo on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby Sidestepper on Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:02 pm

Aequitas wrote:
So I'd like to know, in all honesty, if playing a run in DD without the item you *want* isn't fun? (not just from Lujo, but everyone)


Hi Aequitas. We don't get to hear from you much. Glad to see you around.

I think that much of the frustration comes from the dissonance between what we are saying and what you and the other devs are hearing. There seems to be a fundamental miscommunication here. No one is saying that you have the game can only be enjoyed with specific item x. I think it's driving us all a little bonkers to keep hearing variations of that put into our mouths.

What happens is that sometimes we can taken by a specific idea. Maybe its mana stacking, or resist stacking, or trying to leverage janky things like the bank ledger with an assassin. You get excited and want to try it. Like, right now, I've gotten interested in flat health effects from reading the dwarf thread. I'm think to myself, can I do something weird with a Health Pendant prep? Well, I don't have a Health Pendant in my locker, and I probably never will, because finding it is annoying and replacing when the experiment is over is annoying.

I remember when you first asked "How many lockers would be enough?" I'll give you the same answer that someone (Darvin I think) gave you back then. The answer is "As many slots as there are items."

Wait, stop. Don't leave. Hear me out. I've noticed that you and the other devs see this a "WE want unlimited resources" but what we are really saying is "We want zero grinding." We have functionally unlimited locker space already. It doesn't even cost us resources to use. It actually has a negative cost because of the incidental gold and potions that you pick up. But it's not fun. Sp the question that the players are really asking is "How much non-gameplay make-work do we want in the game?" And the answer is "We don't want any of that."

Now, you can completely avoid such make-work if you always keep the same 6-9 items in your locker, but man that doesn't sound fun either. I know that you and the others have this ideal in your mind that the player will just play naturally and will only try new strategies if the item is already in front of them, but that is not how real people work. We get interested in ideas and want to test them while we are still interested. Maybe you see a movie based on a book and now you're really excited to read the original. You go to the book store and they don't have it. Do you say "ah well I'll just read something random instead"? Of course not! You go to the next store and try again because you don't want to read a random book, even if it is good. You want to read the thing you are excited about right now.

Maybe I approach playing things differently, but at the level that you guys are playing, why is a scumming run even a thing anymore? Why not pick a dungeon you find challenging (or the PQI, or the flaming dungeon) and just go play it. Now you're in there, and, win or lose, there's probably a shop item that could make for an interesting run. So buy it before you head out.


It's not an either-or thing. DTD encourages both specific prepped strategies and random runs. Sometimes I want to try specific ideas, sometimes I want to do random things. It's sort of like how I like both burgers and chicken, but would get sick of either if that's all I had and would be annoyed if there was some rule that said I have to eat a plate of chicken first every time I want to eat a burger.

Everyone is fine with you people having limited development resources and not wanting to spend them on something like this. Everyone is also fine with you just stone-cold not wanting to do it at all. What gives the issue its teeth is that the objections being raised do not reflect what we are trying to say. We aren't saying we don't like random runs (We do!). We are not saying that we want unlimited resources (We don't. In fact, we are specifically suggesting to add a resource cost of some kind to emulate a task that we can already do that current costs negative resources). We are saying that part of the fun in DTD is being able to use the prep system to experiment with specific and consistent strategies and that the current implementation charges a "fun tax" on doing this in new ways.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby Blovski on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:02 pm

So I'd like to know, in all honesty, if playing a run in DD without the item you *want* isn't fun? (not just from Lujo, but everyone)

Maybe I approach playing things differently, but at the level that you guys are playing, why is a scumming run even a thing anymore? Why not pick a dungeon you find challenging (or the PQI, or the flaming dungeon) and just go play it. Now you're in there, and, win or lose, there's probably a shop item that could make for an interesting run. So buy it before you head out.

Now it's in your backpack, so use if for the next run (yes, we're going to make backpack items carry through). Maybe you'll happen across the item you were looking for in the first place, but instead of "10-20-30 minutes where you can't do anything else" it's "10-20-30 minutes of challenging myself to win with what the RNG spits out". Isn't that fun? Yes, it's just a change in perspective, but really, is that so bad?


I almost always play non-vicious dungeons purist or near-purist at the moment, so that's more or less what I do normally. Also, I suppose, if you're not playing tinker with an appropriate bazaar prep then your chances aren't that great for quest/elite items. I mean, it's a bit of a problem if you're looking for a specific item to try something out and that involves getting rid of stuff that are mainstays of various runs you go in for. Take a reasonable-ish case (not mine) if you're sort of starting on vicious-level dungeons, have beaten a few with the easier classes...

You have:
Mainstay items:
Trisword, Dragon Shield, Crystal Ball and Balanced Dagger (for those viciousised dungeons) are more or less always around since each is prerequisite for a different vicious-level strategy you're trying on the prepped stuff that challenges you at the moment.
Specific/novelty items:
Platemail's there for vampire fiddling, Rock Heart for attempting to Pisorf VHOS to death.

Now, if you think you'd like to try the Blue Bead bloodmage now his mana's been slashed or the Martyr Wraps monk or something, you need to either drop one of your current novelty/specific strategies until you run across the item again or commit to re-finding one of your mainstay items when you want to try one of the vicious dungeons with the type of strategy you use it for. At the moment for the vets the need to test things a few times before commenting on them keeps it a bit more blocked than it'd normally be, I guess. I kind of think the current system discourages locker item turnover and playing the prepped game with variety. That'd be a bit better if backpack stuff carried - I wasn't sure if it vanishing was bug or feature.

But yeah, it's fun doing purist runs with the RNG's begrudging cooperation. A lot of the time it's the most fun thing in the game. At the same time, when I needed to get back the Fireheart (which I'd permabuy if I could, since it seems to hover around my locker all the time but only because of one or two types of strategy I like and can't do without it) I filled out most of my tinker hard runs in the process and doing that again to check power balance if the Dwarf or GG get changed again doesn't really appeal, which makes bringing new items home less fun and more argh-do-I-want-to-have-to-go-fish-for-it-again or am-I-bored-enough-of-the-fireheart-yet.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby xspeedballx on Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:39 pm

So I have been reading a lot of these discussions both on this thread and the other and have already butted heads I believe with both sides. However last night while arguing with a friend about Diablo 3, I think I noticed a correlation. Roguelikes and there modern hipster children ARPG's are built on RNG. They function best on RNG. The idea that while there are certainly efficient paths, your best hope is to see ones as they appear and not be able to plan them.

D3 has a massive problem that there is not ENOUGH random(blasphemy I know). It causes people into the same repeated path while hoping the few levers they get to pull produce something nice. There is zero scumming for efficiency because the efficient path is clear(clear these 5 zones in act 3 as fast as possible, exit repeat, pick up only the 5 yellow items).

What I am seeing is that by offering more control with locker slots and preps in general you reduced the random and replaced it with constants. Now players can SEE clear efficient paths but not always reach them(though they are obtainable) which feels painful. Those players this effect are demanding for a solidifying of the constants. When the reality is the removal of them altogether(locker slots not being restorable going in that direction) would have a similar comforting effect by moving towards what the Devs are describing as playing a run for fun, and getting what you can out of it.

I am weird though, I love chaos in my games. I love having no idea what the next moment will be. I love it because I can focus on the game and not on the efficiency. I love playing Dominion with 4 players(BUT IT'S BEST WITH 2!!!!), I loved D2 because I didn't have to worry that better gear was a menu screen away. I could focus on the random of how my build ends up with what the game provides.

Alpha had some gold scumming but the focus was largely on making due with what God's you could find early and items in your pool. Sometimes you were lucky and found powerful objects next to start with pactmaker saying hello. Sometimes you had to get creative. I posted before that this game is at it's best when it makes you feel smart, and when you prep to make the run precisely what you want, it isn't. At least not for me. What I hear Aequitas saying is why not just play the game, if you end the run with an item of interest to experiment with(wow I did some interesting things with the vampiric blade that time, wonder what else I can do), then run off with the item.

Sorry if this was slightly rambling, written over 40 minutes with many distractions.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby dislekcia on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:23 pm

Sidestepper wrote:We are not saying that we want unlimited resources (We don't. In fact, we are specifically suggesting to add a resource cost of some kind to emulate a task that we can already do that current costs negative resources). We are saying that part of the fun in DTD is being able to use the prep system to experiment with specific and consistent strategies and that the current implementation charges a "fun tax" on doing this in new ways.


And we're saying that any resource cost placed on a locker system, be it time, gold, real cash money or sloth pictures, is going to become a "fun tax" for players over time.

The current "fun tax" is a lot less time consuming and taxing than any of the previous "fun taxes".
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby gjaustin on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:34 pm

dislekcia wrote:
gjaustin wrote:I've mentioned this in another thread, but the phrase "hooks that keep people playing" terrifies me.

It makes me think of design decisions that would fit well in Farmville or World of Warcraft in an attempt to artificially inflate playtime, and therefore revenue.

It makes me wonder if the iOS version of Desktop Dungeons will be freemium, where you can buy gold and extra locker slots for real money...


Every game has hooks... If you're playing it repeatedly, then it's hooked you. We're not talking cynical, Skinnerian-style compulsion loops and exploiting those for mega cash monies here (in fact we find that sort of game design an extremely shitty thing to do to other people) but it's definitely a continuum.

We have joked about things like instant win buttons or "buy any item for $1" functionality, but those remain jokes. If we wanted to nickel and dime people to death, we'd be doing it already instead of selling a game with this much play time and content for an up-front fee. Not that there aren't ways to do IAP/freemium that isn't completely predatory, just look at LoL or Leap Day, but that's a completely different conversation ;)


Yeah, I'm not trying to accuse you of anything sketchy, since you've clearly provided a pretty good deal for the game.

I just think that the class unlocks, quests, new item unlocks, etc are the "good" hooks, while scumming for locker items is a "bad" hook.


It's also worth pointing out that I'm fine with the limited locker space. I just think that the cost to unlock additional ones in the end game should be significantly reduced. If they were, say, 10k each with a limit of 15 total, I'd be perfectly happy.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby Lujo on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:41 pm

I think this is the old "is DD a puzzler or a roguelike" thing. It's not mutualy exclusive, but people show natural bias, and some show bafflement about "what the other guys are even doing here"? Thing to note is that puzzle lovers tend to get hooked on DD really hard and think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and something the genre never really had.

Its this game with 5 (number of directions) X 18 (number of classes) X 5 (number of dungeons per direction) + 25 (directions times dungeons) X 11 (number of badges) + 12 (number of classes) X 3 (number of challenges) + ??? (number of things labeled as puzzles) = number of puzzles to solve in a manner vaguely resembling rpg gameplay. Not counting either hard or vicious Gaan'Telet, for when you're 80 years old. Those numbers don't look remotely unappealing to a puzzle player - that there is a whole life of happy puzzle solving! While the market for roguelikes offers an endless supply of stuff to the roguelike fans, the puzzle guys have never ever had something like this.

This is very likely where the misunderstanding is coming from - DD seems to have more (or stronger) appeal to people who don't care too much for roguelikes at all, to whom even the fantasy setting itself is likely an obstacle more than a draw. Yet the mechanic and the vast number of runs (over 800! not counting unsucessful runs) are the holy grail to them. Yet even the most hooked up (like me) are aware of the time investment, and are trying to test something that can last you a lifetime if enjoyed in a sensible and healthy manner in a very short period of time. When roguelike elements cause an inflation of real time investment required - they feel that whoever's pushing for that is out of his mind, and when someone assumes that the type of person who'll attempt full completion by any means necessary is rare - they feel like the demographic which would appreciate the system the most is not even being considered.

It's probably the basis of all the "the devs have less faith in their game than us" sentiment, as well. And also "you belong to a minority of exceptional players" - no, I'm your average dedicated tbs/puzzle guy, except they don't get involved with forums and gaming subcultures as much as other demographics so I look like I fell from Mars (on top of my personal failings). Most of them don't even think of themselves as gamers, to the point that they can seem as incredible munchkins and not even be aware of this...

EDIT: They do buy a ton of crap off steam though, if GOTY for Plants vs Zombies or the whole puzzle quest episode is anything to judge from. If I remember my examples correctly. They're also big on mobile gaming, as well, since it supports their preffered genres much better than most other ones. And when they latch onto a game or franchise they don't let up easily. It's also why I'm convincet DD will do well finanicialy once it hits steam - if it manages to sort out what it wants to be, even if it means coming with two game modes "puzzle" and "roguelike".

EDIT: And this is also why a puzzle fan who got to experience the system and made the connection would fork over hundreds and (if rich enough) thousands of dollars for a version of the game with the scumming and grind removed entirely. You could literaly make two separate versions of the game and sell them to two different demographics who would be practicaly and ideologicaly outraged at the idea of having to deal with what the other finds appealing. Except the roguelike guys can get all the kicks but session lenght elsewhere, puzzle guys not so much.
Last edited by Lujo on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:48 pm, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Design post on the blog!

Postby xspeedballx on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:55 pm

This is going to seem hugely off topic, but I actually think it is relevant and would love to hear opinions and actual facts:
Can every dungeon be completed purist every time?(Let's ignore bugs for now, the screwed thread highlights those nicely). Meaning, if a person played perfectly but without additional knowledge could every dungeon achieve a purist win? Similarly can every badge/class/race have a strategy created that will guarantee a win for a given dungeon?
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