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Are we getting the PE we were led to believe was on the horizon during the KS?

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I think it's important that everything has value and is compelling, but if all things are equal, then we may not have a compelling game (if all options are equal, in theory, there is no good or bad option, hence the game "wins itself" though, in practice, this may not really be the case). We shouldn't outright destroy min/maxing, as many people enjoy it, and video games are about gaming a system, finding an optimal solution. The point though, is to make optimal solutions difficult to find (or close to impossible to achieve).

True. But that's one of the reasons we use "balancing" to describe what we're going for. When a scale is balanced, both sides of it are equal in weight. They aren't simply equal. You could have 5 lbs of gold on one side, and 5 lbs of wood on the other. If you want to make arrows, the gold isn't very useful, but the wood is. If you want to trade for money/items, the gold is probably much more useful. They'll even be different shapes and sizes, densities, colors, etc. The important aspect is that they share a certain equality.

 

That the factor you're equalizing is weight, with a scale, is unimportant. It's just an example. The point is, if you give someone the choice between two things, then those two things need to be equal in some wy. You're suggesting they are, even with all their differences. Ranged combatant, or melee specialist? Those should both be equal, if you're offering them as mutually exclusive choices. If the cost of specializing in ranged weaponry is relatively sucking with melee weaponry, and vice versa, then you offer 70 instances throughout the game where melee weaponry works best against your opponents, and 3 in which ranged works best, then you've lied. Even if it's just an imbalance in your encounter population, it translates into "ranged weaponry is absolutely, quantifiably less useful, no matter what, than melee weaponry."

 

None of it is about making sure an arrow does the same damage as a sword, blow for blow, or that a ranged specialist can do all the same things as a melee one. That's why the word "viable" gets tossed around so much. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what kind of equality you're looking for between any two choices in a game, because it's so specific-dependent. So, it's very easy to use "viable."


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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For INT, look at Marvin Hagler v. Sugar Ray Leonard. Hagler was the very high STR/CON fighter who lost to the very high INT/DEX fighter (probably no real dump stats on either guy).

Yes. in a nutshell.

 

Although to be fair, if we were to map out D&D-like stats to Hagler and Leonard, neither one of them had low intelligence. I'd place Hagler's pretty high --above average-- (15 or 16) But lower than Leonard's, who was a pure ring genius (18 INT for him).

 

 

 

Agreed. That's what I was trying to say with my no dump stats comment.

 

 

 

Minor note: If anyone associated with that fight had 3 intelligence, it was probably the Judges. lol
 

 

 Heh. I know a few Hagler fans who would say exactly that.

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I think it's important that everything has value and is compelling, but if all things are equal, then we may not have a compelling game (if all options are equal, in theory, there is no good or bad option, hence the game "wins itself" though, in practice, this may not really be the case). We shouldn't outright destroy min/maxing, as many people enjoy it, and video games are about gaming a system, finding an optimal solution. The point though, is to make optimal solutions difficult to find (or close to impossible to achieve).

True. But that's one of the reasons we use "balancing" to describe what we're going for. When a scale is balanced, both sides of it are equal in weight. They aren't simply equal. 

 

 

 Yes. To expand on this with an example: If, in the D&D world, CHR was useful for a mage, maybe it would allow, say, elemental summoning without a chance of your summon turning hostile whereas a high INT mage with CHR of 3 would almost always have summons turn hostile. Maybe CHR would cause domination or charm types of spells to work better. That would mean that you can roll a higher CHR lower INT mage and play in a different style than a very high INT mage with CHR of 3 (e.g. maybe the lower INT mage isn't as good with chain contingency spells or whatever).

 

You would have to play differently to use each build. I think this makes the game more compelling and gives you more replay value. The game certainly doesn't ever 'win itself' in this scenario - quite the reverse.

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Your stat-talk got me thinking: Regardless of whether or not non-typical stat values had a direct effect on combat capabilities (damage, attack speed, etc.), what if stats like INT and CHA served as prerequisites for different sets of talents (feats of old)? I mean, you already have that with DEX and STR in D&D feats. If you have 18 DEX, you get access to pretty different feats than if you have 12 DEX, and the same goes for Strength. I mean, just as an example, what if Strength supports more aggressive/offensive capabilities, and INT supports more defensive/strategic capabilities?*shrug*. I just hadn't thought about the potential for the feat system before, related to the whole "what if all stats do nice things for classes" notion.

D&D 3.X and PF already did that with Power Attack and Combat Expertise. PE could and should do something similar, because feats were a huge step forward for D&D.

 

Also, I thought attributes in 3.X/PF were handled much better than in previous editions, because you screwed yourself mechanically if you used any attribute other than CHR as a dump stat, and the DM would likely have almost every NPC be hostile to you if you used CHR as a dump stat.


"Take your child murderin' god and shove his him up his own ass."-Volorun

 

"...the vote of a black redhead disabled homosexual transsexual Jew should probably be worth the same as at least a hundred white heterosexual Christians."-Rostere

 

"i can think of many women i would gladly sleep with, but not a single one that i would want as a girlfriend/wife... neither real nor fictional."-teknoman2

 

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It's hard to remember how Project Eternity was pitched, and I didn't read all of the early updates, either.  But when I threw some money at PE, it was because it was Obsidian - who would have more control/agency via Kickstarter - and it was going back to older RPG's, even just KOTOR (II) older.

That way, it didn't take after more recent developments.   Where the dialogue/writing/story's been narrowed and heavily cut, which includes the universe's level of detail.  Or where action, cinematics, and voice-acting are given so much focus that it sacrifices the quality of writing and gameplay (both in terms of combat and things like choices/freedom in the game).

 

If Obsidian wants to mess with the mechanics, or how RPG's are written/presented, and it's not just to streamline them and make them easy/quick, I fully support it.  Usually, I've seen good logic and intent to their decisions, and even when Obsidian does not do well, they do something interesting.  Which I prefer to blindly sticking to what they think "works."

Edited by Tick

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I think it's important that everything has value and is compelling, but if all things are equal, then we may not have a compelling game (if all options are equal, in theory, there is no good or bad option, hence the game "wins itself" though, in practice, this may not really be the case). We shouldn't outright destroy min/maxing, as many people enjoy it, and video games are about gaming a system, finding an optimal solution. The point though, is to make optimal solutions difficult to find (or close to impossible to achieve).

True. But that's one of the reasons we use "balancing" to describe what we're going for. When a scale is balanced, both sides of it are equal in weight. They aren't simply equal. You could have 5 lbs of gold on one side, and 5 lbs of wood on the other. If you want to make arrows, the gold isn't very useful, but the wood is. If you want to trade for money/items, the gold is probably much more useful. They'll even be different shapes and sizes, densities, colors, etc. The important aspect is that they share a certain equality.

 

That the factor you're equalizing is weight, with a scale, is unimportant. It's just an example. The point is, if you give someone the choice between two things, then those two things need to be equal in some wy. You're suggesting they are, even with all their differences. Ranged combatant, or melee specialist? Those should both be equal, if you're offering them as mutually exclusive choices. If the cost of specializing in ranged weaponry is relatively sucking with melee weaponry, and vice versa, then you offer 70 instances throughout the game where melee weaponry works best against your opponents, and 3 in which ranged works best, then you've lied. Even if it's just an imbalance in your encounter population, it translates into "ranged weaponry is absolutely, quantifiably less useful, no matter what, than melee weaponry."

 

None of it is about making sure an arrow does the same damage as a sword, blow for blow, or that a ranged specialist can do all the same things as a melee one. That's why the word "viable" gets tossed around so much. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what kind of equality you're looking for between any two choices in a game, because it's so specific-dependent. So, it's very easy to use "viable."

 

What you say makes sense, but only to a small degree - I guess I'm looking at this strictly in a mathematical game theory sense.

 

A vague two player game: Sort a stack of pennies in some specific way, where a player loses when he's forced to make a specificly-sized stack of pennies by the other player.

 

In a game like that, where turns alternate between players, there exists an optimal solution that will allow either the player that goes first or last to always win. In a way, you're "beating the game" when you know this optimal solution. In a sense, the game is balanced, because P1 and P2 can make the same moves as one another... but not every action is really viable. Every action is equal, but it's not, because there exists an optimal solution.

 

We want to avoid solutions which ask players to make shallow, optimal, always-right choices, because we want our players always engaged in the game, levying their options, thinking ahead a couple of steps, to determine if their choice brings them closer to victory. If there exists an optimal solution, then no thinking is required once you have found it. The game no longer engages you, because you can win automatically. The game has been simplified into an algorithm, a narrow series of steps to win. The optimal solution might contain some amount of flexibility on the part of the user, there might be two or three choies that are equivalent in terms of bringing the player closer to victory, but it doesn't truly mean the game is "open" - the optimal solution is there and the player isn't having fun, because he is basically forced to take it. There is never an instance where a human wants to take an inoptimal solution to a game where an optimal solution exists (in Chess, which may or may not have an optimal solution, players may feint/fake each other out by making poor immediate decisions, for instance). Chess is considered a "balanced" game, though the side that goes first has a +2% win rate, I believe, over the side that goes second.

 

So... looking strictly at Chess, I can see there is a compelling argument to have a "fully balanced game" - because people enjoy Chess. I'm not a Chess player, so I don't really know what's alluring about it. I don't know if there are particular strategies that simply aren't effective/viable - but that's sort of what I want to say... If we tell everyone who plays Project Eternity that any decision, any idea they come up with, is balanced, and viable, and equal - then we have a rather easy game on our hands. Saying that "wood isn't gold" is all wel and good, but how does that translate into balancing a game? If a team of mages is just as effective as a full team of warriors, then our choices don't matter. I think we want choices that do matter.

 

Paradoxically, if we make it so that only certain parties and builds are viable, we have also removed player agency - because we have decided that only certain things are effective. This is what I'm trying to say I guess, that you need to stride the line between "everything is equally effective in some capacity" and "only these builds are acceptable to playing the game effectively". Nobody really likes to play "gimped" unless the game isn't providing enough challenge for them, and we want the game to be naturally challenging, so players should always want to find an optimal solution for our game, hence, effective strategies should exist, strategies that are more effective than others, but we should not go out of our way to make other strategies pointless.

 

What does all this babble translate into? Um...

 

If we make Project Eternity and a bunch of players discover a build which is effective, that utilizes heavy min/maxing, we should allow it. As designers, we shouldn't go out of our way to penalize players who want to game the system. But, at the same time, while designing the game, we need to try as hard as we can to provide hard choices, especially at character creation, that make abuse a challenge. I guess my babbling could be simplified as: abuse should be hard, but not impossible. If abuse is impossible, I think we've taken the fun out of the game. If abuse is easy, then we've also taken the fun out of the system. Arriving at that particular balance does not necessarily mean all choices have equal weight - because a game where every "path" has equal weight has as many solutions as there are paths, meaning, a player can never do wrong. So, we should make sure there are weak skills and abilities and such, but that, they have the potential to be abused by players to actually be good.

 

Yikes, I'm still babbling. I haven't simplified anything at all. Maybe this is why most game devs put their fingers in their ears when it comes to reading forums regarding their games.

 

I think Pokemon is the best game to think about when contemplating some kind of turn-based ideal (notably, because Pokemon is a simple game): move1, move2, move3, move4, item, run, pokemon1, pokemon2, pokemon3, pokemon4, pokemon5 are the only options you can make in a single turn (where pokemonN represents switching to a pokemon in your team): You can clearly chart out every single possible player choice and analyze what is the most optimal choice. It's why in theory, an AI for a pokemon game could always win and it's probably why Nintendo has so much bull**** RNG in the game's mechanics - to prevent situations where there exists an "I win" pokemon team. Each pokemon in the game can be used effectively and they all have roles to play, certainly some are horrible at what they do and could use fixing, but the game has some semblance of balance. It's one of those games where all of our choices (at least as far as we can tell) are not equal, but there still exists no apparent optimal solution (ignoring legendary pokemon I guess, they sort of kill my argument), and also yet, there are clearly bad choices to make all the time, in regards to building teams and in regards to actually battling. The optimal solution to a 2v2 singles pokemon fight might be Rolling Kick, Psychic - but if I switch to Gengar in the first turn, you just lost. Pokemon is about prediction and mind games, as a result, even against the AI.

Edited by anubite
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I made a 2 hour rant video about dragon age 2. It's not the greatest... but if you want to watch it, here ya go:

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*snip*

 

P:E is NOT being designed with the idea that all choices are viable, insofar as I can tell.  It is being designed so that a character concept based on a combination of a couple of attributes and a class should work, more or less no matter what those components are.  That doesn't mean that someone can't screw it up, or that there will be no poor choices.  It means that if you roll a wizard, and don't immediately pump INT, you haven't made a poor choice.  Poor choices seem to me to be further down the line--you could pick talents and abilities that work abysmally with your attributes and class of choice, and then you'd still be screwed.  But since they're further down the line, players have more freedom to explore different character concepts without being penalized for those broad choices they make throughout the rest of the game.  Moreover, Josh said only that a wide variety of builds will be "viable," not that they will be equally viable.  Maybe the high-STR wizard has a harder time than the high-INT wizard, but you can still take that high-STR wizard through the game without overmuch raging and cursing.  That's what it sounds to me like they're shooting for, anyway.

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Yes. To expand on this with an example: If, in the D&D world, CHR was useful for a mage, maybe it would allow, say, elemental summoning without a chance of your summon turning hostile whereas a high INT mage with CHR of 3 would almost always have summons turn hostile. Maybe CHR would cause domination or charm types of spells to work better. That would mean that you can roll a higher CHR lower INT mage and play in a different style than a very high INT mage with CHR of 3 (e.g. maybe the lower INT mage isn't as good with chain contingency spells or whatever).

 

You would have to play differently to use each build. I think this makes the game more compelling and gives you more replay value. The game certainly doesn't ever 'win itself' in this scenario - quite the reverse.

I thought of adding a house rule that would tie different spell schools to different attributes. Enchantment and Conjuration to CHA, Illusion to DEX, Alteration and Evocation to INT, Necromancy to CON, Abjuration to WIS, that sort of thing. It would make a kind of sense and yield a much wider variety of relatively balanced mages. Didn't bet as far as working out the details, and eventually gave up on the idea because I didn't want to add even more complexity to the system.


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@anubite, Monte Cook just blogged about pre-play-centric vs play-centric RPG's. I thought it was an interesting way to look at things. In a nutshell, a game where the challenge is to build a character in order to overcome a set of pre-defined challenges as efficiently as possible is a pre-play-centric game; OTOH, a game where the challenge is to find varied and creative solutions to challenges as they come up is a play-centric game. He said they designed AD&D to be play-centric, but somewhere around D&D 3.5 the focus shifted to pre-play-centric.

A lot of the discussion here seems to relate to that. It looks like there's one group of people who are worried about character building mechanics losing their challenge "if every build is viable," and another group who's thrilled at the prospect of playing the game with wild and wacky character concepts "because it allows many different playstyles." Pre-players versus players. Am I onto something here?

The blog post is here.

(Full disclosure: for PnP I far and away prefer play-centric gaming. For cRPG's I've enjoyed the pre-play aspects of the IE and NWN games immensely; in fact character-building is the only reason I've replayed NWN2 several times. So you could say I'm sympathetic to both sides of the argument. Which means I'll probably enjoy it whichever way it goes.)


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Yes. To expand on this with an example: If, in the D&D world, CHR was useful for a mage, maybe it would allow, say, elemental summoning without a chance of your summon turning hostile whereas a high INT mage with CHR of 3 would almost always have summons turn hostile. Maybe CHR would cause domination or charm types of spells to work better. That would mean that you can roll a higher CHR lower INT mage and play in a different style than a very high INT mage with CHR of 3 (e.g. maybe the lower INT mage isn't as good with chain contingency spells or whatever).

 

You would have to play differently to use each build. I think this makes the game more compelling and gives you more replay value. The game certainly doesn't ever 'win itself' in this scenario - quite the reverse.

I thought of adding a house rule that would tie different spell schools to different attributes. Enchantment and Conjuration to CHA, Illusion to DEX, Alteration and Evocation to INT, Necromancy to CON, Abjuration to WIS, that sort of thing. It would make a kind of sense and yield a much wider variety of relatively balanced mages. Didn't bet as far as working out the details, and eventually gave up on the idea because I didn't want to add even more complexity to the system.

 

 

 Yeah, it would probably require figuring out how the chosen attribute works with each spell and then working the bugs out ... 

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