Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

All things Desktop Dungeons

Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby Lujo on Thu May 09, 2013 3:58 pm

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.

That's death.

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.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby Lujo on Thu May 09, 2013 4:48 pm

Oh, and I'll doublepost because I really needed to write all the intro to come up with the whole token idea which I'd now give my right arm to be implemented as it looks like an awesome compromise solution. Just the constructive bit, in short:

So basicaly, add 2 more tokens to the game:

1) Saving grace token - Get it right at the start, has 3 charges which let you "backtrack" one move exactly but only in case you die. Everything else stays the same, only thing it lets you do is cheat death 3 times. It also locks your dodge chance where it was for the next attack uness you do somethign to reset the counter which would reset the counter anyway (increase your dodge, use getindare). Purpose - give death meaning, and at the same time give a safety net against accidental deaths. If you still manage to die to a missclick - you reckless bastard. :)

2) Bet on boss token - Works exactly like bet on boss, except it doesn't interfear with purist and is exclusive with the other tokens. Purpose - give players an incentive to play without the grace token as an warmup for the extra hardcore VT runs. You take it and die to missclick - you greedy bastard :).

3) VT token means no grace token. Roguelike like they used to make them :)

Add the chest prep back to the guild in some incarnation in place of the bet on boss prep, I miss those :)
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby berpdreyfuss on Thu May 09, 2013 7:12 pm

Just a quick pro death that was mentioned in the other thread is the suspense you get by knowing death is only one click away. Any safety net would take that away.
berpdreyfuss
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:48 am

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby Lujo on Thu May 09, 2013 7:54 pm

berpdreyfuss wrote:Just a quick pro death that was mentioned in the other thread is the suspense you get by knowing death is only one click away. Any safety net would take that away.


Well, that's certanly intended - and taken into account in the token plan. The worst curse in the balkans, the most mean spirited one is "May you have, and then have not". Not for any bad reason.

There never is a real danger of dying - there is only the danger of misclicking or being rash. If anything, having a limited number of saves (say 2) would make you play way more paranoid than without them. Imagine the suspense of starting out with 2 and then losing them in the middle of a run?
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby dislekcia on Fri May 10, 2013 10:23 am

Why would people use a token that takes up inventory space for difficult runs, when all they need to do to get the same effect is play more carefully?

The eventual usage pattern for a death-cheating token is that it'll get used on non-stressful runs where death is pretty unlikely anyway, while getting skipped over for more game-affecting inventory items in meaningful hard runs. Cheapens death immediately after it becomes available (so would have to be available late in Kingdom progression, otherwise death-based learning is weakened) but doesn't actually solve the frustration problem - only has a slight placebo "Well, I could have prepped that, I guess" feeling. Everyone would be asking for it not to take up any inventory space at all.
User avatar
dislekcia
 
Posts: 1762
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:58 pm
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby Lujo on Fri May 10, 2013 11:44 am

dislekcia wrote:Why would people use a token that takes up inventory space for difficult runs, when all they need to do to get the same effect is play more carefully?


Who said it takes inventory space? I immagined working exactly the same as the currently existing vicious token. You take the vicious token somewhere instead of it - better play realy carefully.

dislekcia wrote:The eventual usage pattern for a death-cheating token is that it'll get used on non-stressful runs where death is pretty unlikely anyway,


Since death is so avoidable anyway, it's 4 purposes are to eliminate the chance of an unintentional mishap or two, let you reflect upon a misassumption and figure out what got you killed (learining mechanics), teach you to play better in order to be able to avoid mishaps (any charge you blow foolishly means that looming misclick is looking nastier) and act as a warning system that you might want to stop spamming hotkeys/rushing.

It gives you time to get invested in a run, and if you start losing charges you get even more paranoid and careful than you would if you had none at all from the start.

dislekcia wrote:while getting skipped over for more game-affecting inventory items in meaningful hard runs.


Only things it would be exclusive with are the "bet on boss" token, which means you have to play carefully because you want more gold. If you die, you still feel like it resulted from a choice you've made (being greedy), and the vicious token which you have to be pretty confident about prepping anyway and is again a matter of cohice. If there is an option, and you chose another option and die because of it it doesn't look like a design flaw which would point frustration at the game / devs, but at himself for playing too rashly.

dislekcia wrote:Cheapens death immediately after it becomes available (so would have to be available late in Kingdom progression, otherwise death-based learning is weakened) but doesn't actually solve the frustration problem - only has a slight placebo "Well, I could have prepped that, I guess" feeling. Everyone would be asking for it not to take up any inventory space at all.


Doesn't really cheapen death as much as one might think - because there is always a chance to f**k up unintentionaly, and there is nothing to gain from blowing charges. Running out means being exposed to the most frustrating (and pretty much only) way to die - unintentionaly. And noone wants that happening, while even if you do you absolute best as programers it can still happen as long as death is in the game (and I'm fine with that). Whoever blows them by being reckless and then trips over a gorgon will learn very soon that those charges are precious - and since death is pretty much completely avoidable if you play carefully the impulse to save them will lead to better gameplay.

It's all about presentation - if there is this kink in the design, and there is, how about you turn it into a feature? Has this ever been tested in this way?
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby JayPlaysIndieGames on Tue May 14, 2013 1:36 am

wow you put quite a bit of thought into this. Here is my opinion on it in shorter form:

This is a game in which you are an adventurer doing something very dangerous for profit. Slaying monsters that are both dangerous and deadly. If death was taken off the table it may make sense on the player learning or the strategy side or it may not. However without the possibility of real (and at least somewhat punished) death immersion and all sense of danger is broken.

Sure as is you can only die from carelessness, but the point is that you are in a dangerous situation and you can die. I feel that is necessary.
http://www.youtube.com/JayPlaysIndieGames
Check out the Desktop Dungeons Review, let's play, and tutorials :)
User avatar
JayPlaysIndieGames
 
Posts: 250
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 10:13 pm

Re: Constructive contemplation regarding death in DD

Postby Lujo on Tue May 14, 2013 8:27 am

Noone's disputing that, and yeah that's exactly what death is for - you'd do anything and everything to avoid it, even "in advance". And you do - but since it's so avoidable, pretty much the only way to die is in effect completely involuntary. And because so much hinges on the fear of death, dying anyway is impossibly infuriating. It hits you in two places simultaneously - it kills your time/effort/energy investment (worth of which is the only thing at stake, really), and it makes all your pedantic/confident play up to then irrelevant.

I mean it's quite a pickle. Just to be clear, my whining about the topic and design decisions related to it are mostly about firm stances on stuff, not death as such. What I suggested here might not be the best, I liked the "click silently fails" suggestion from the other thread, this was an attempt to co-opt the inherent kink and make it part of the learning/player development process.

Because as it is now, it only punishes people for getting better. Sounds strange, I know, but the better you get, the further you can go on any particular run. This allows you to get more invested in any run, and then the random misclick ends up being more and more "unfair".
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am


Return to Desktop Dungeons

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: dislekcia, Google [Bot] and 6 guests