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On "Degenerative Gameplay" - Fixing the Incentives for Healing and Scouting

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The goal may have been clear. An isometric, rtwp, with central hero, world map, exploration, combat, dungeon delving and paying homage to the IE games. That's a goal.

Yup, that.

 

Josh has elaborated on that a lot though, including what he thought didn't work well in the IE games, and how he wants to address that. These are also design goals, and they too have remained remarkably constant through the entire process.


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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It won't be finished until it's released.

 

Design is iterative. You start out with a blank page. You sketch out what you think the central features of the design should be. You make a proof-of-concept implementation of those central features. You iterate on it until you're confident they'll work. Then you add more stuff and iterate on it. You keep doing that, bringing in more people for feedback, adjusting, changing, discarding, adding as you go. Eventually you run out of time and money and release.

 

I.e., the rules won't be finished until release, and very likely not even then, what with patches and all.

 

This is by far the best way of designing anything at all complex. The idea that it has to somehow spring magically fully-formed from the designer's forehead won't work. It's a recipe for fundamentally broken junk. No designer is that good, not even bone-fide geniuses with decades of experience.

 

(In fact that's exactly why most software we have to deal with is so broken. The way the business is structured, the requirements docs tend to get nailed down in excruciating detail before a single line of code has been written, and it's incredibly difficult to get anything changed even if it becomes blindingly obvious that something isn't going to work.)

No, Junta, I don't think we can reduce this discussion to code design.

 

We are discussing philosophies and goals. And those can and DO change on a whim.

 

 

So what you're essentially saying is that you shouldn't try to learn from your mistakes?

I don't see these things as mistakes.

 

But, depending on PoE's reception/sales when the full game is released, Josh might end up learning some lessons. Lessons on the risks of trying to reinvent the wheel, or fixing what ain't broke, or making good players suffer from mechanics designed to police the bad players.

Edited by Stun

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Yup, that.

 

Josh has elaborated on that a lot though, including what he thought didn't work well in the IE games, and how he wants to address that. These are also design goals, and they too have remained remarkably constant through the entire process.

 

 

And as we've seen, some of the things he thinks didn't work in the IE games and promoted degenerative gameplay are not only present in PoE, but has made them worse and also introduced new ways of degenerative gameplay into PoE that weren't present in the IE games.

 

That's a fail in my book.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II
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Shall we go down the list?

 

1) Prebuffing in the IE games caused metagaming tactics, therefore -----> No more prebuffing. Result: Tactics are now 100% reactive, instead of being a function of both planning and reacting, like they were before.

I thought prebuffing was removed primarily because it was rote. I certainly thought it was rote. What's more, the current system certainly doesn't eliminate planning. If you've scouted out the enemy and know what to expect, you know what buffs/debuffs to open up with. You have the initiative. That's not reactive.

 

2) Chance leads to save scumming in the IE games, therefore ------> no more chance. No more save or die spells, no more save or pretrification. No more dire charm. No more confusion/chaos. No more domination. No more random effect items like the deck of many things, or the wand of wonder. etc.

Check out some of the cipher's abilities? Those sure look like dire charm and domination. I think he removed them from the wizard to create more class differentiation with the cipher... and I don't think it would hurt the game to put them back. The wizard is a bit boring as it is. Not every spell has to be unique to a single class.

 

As to save-or-die effects, we've already discussed those, and simply disagree about them. (FWIW I also did not like the Deck of Many Things or the Wand of Wonder... in BG2 that is. I did use both in a PnP game where you couldn't savescum the bejeezus out of them.)

 

3) Invisibility items/spells in the IE games rendered some rogue skills 'redundant', and could be abused, therefore -------> No more Invisibility. aka. No more tyranny of choice!

Uh... where did you get this? Stealth isn't a rogue-only skill, you know.

 

I also would like to see invisibility spells etc. restored. (Also a complete overhaul of stealth which is IMO currently clearly the weakest of the P:E subsystems.)

 

I think he did say that about spells like Knock though. I'm not sure this was entirely necessary though; Knock wasn't a perfect substitute for lockpicking because it had a significant resource cost.

 

4) Mages were overpowered in the IE games, therefore --------> Magic must be nerfed, and rendered 2-dimensional (there's only damage spells and buff spells for mages.)

The nerfing was a good idea. The 2-dimensionality is not. I too would like domination/charm/fear type stuff brought back, as well as conjurations and stuff. Only blasting things is a bit boring.

 

I know you like underpowered classes because of the extra challenge, but I disagree with that. Primarily because if you want to gimp yourself, you can always find ways to do it. Demanding that the designers serve you with classes gimped by design is unreasonable IMO. Just crank the difficulty to max and decide to, say, never use any consumables, or never use a magic weapon, or whatever other limitation you want to impose on yourself.

 

5) Resting freedom in the IE games leads to rest spamming, therefore --------> No more rest spamming. But how do we eliminate rest spamming? Wait, I know! We must create a system where health equals health and stamina equals health, and stamina regenerates, and you can't rest in a dungeon unless you have camping supplies, and camping supplies are limited, and some abilities and spells are per encounter so you don't need to rest that often anyway....(phew! That should teach those degenerates to play the game MY way from now on!!!)

Breathe, Stun. You're hyperventilating again.

 

'Cuz that system does take the edge off rest spamming. You can still do it, if you're willing to trudge back to the village, and it can be tuned to be more or less lenient by adjusting the availability of camping supplies, but on the whole it does work, no?

 

6) Min-maxing/ dump-statting was rampant in the IE games, therefore ---------> No more of that sh*t! Min-maxing is now practically pointless, as the stats themselves are merely bonuses.

According to Sensuki, the stats are about to receive a major boost in significance.

 

As to the "merely bonuses" thing, that's only cosmetic. A baseline of 0 with -1 per point below and +1 per point above is exactly the same as a baseline of 0 with +1 per point. I honestly have no idea why you're so stuck on it; it's just accounting.

 

Small list. Not the least bit complete, but I'm pretty sure there's enough here to demonstrate the friggin point. And if not, we can always discuss the reasons why Kill XP was removed.

Sorry, Stun, I'm not going there again. I've said everything I have to say on that topic, and it's not going to be changed anyway, so there's really no point.

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And as we've seen, some of the things he thinks didn't work in the IE games and promoted degenerative gameplay are not only present in PoE, but has made them worse and also introduced new ways of degenerative gameplay into PoE that weren't present in the IE games.

 

That's a fail in my book.

Yup, failures in execution. Not in intent though. Also failures that can yet be corrected. Beta, you know?

Edited by PrimeJunta

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No, Junta, I don't think we can reduce this discussion to code design.

 

We are discussing philosophies and goals. And those can and DO change on a whim.

Designing one thing is much like designing any other thing.

 

Can you give an example of a philosophy or goal of Josh's that has changed on a whim?

 

I don't see these things as mistakes.

And there, Stun, lies the irreducible, irreconcilable core of our disagreement.

 

Edit: I still like you though, and especially your fervor about the IE games. It takes courage to love something so unconditionally.

Edited by PrimeJunta

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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Yup, failures in execution. Not in intent though. Also failures that can yet be corrected. Beta, you know?

 

Well I would say Josh's intent is flawed. Stop trying to stamp our degenerative gameplay because he saw some let's play youtuber doing something he didn't like and concentrate on making a fun crpg. We would all be better for it.

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Yup, failures in execution. Not in intent though. Also failures that can yet be corrected. Beta, you know?

 

Well I would say Josh's intent is flawed. Stop trying to stamp our degenerative gameplay because he saw some let's play youtuber doing something he didn't like and concentrate on making a fun crpg. We would all be better for it.

 

 

I find a lot of assumptions about JSawyer silly, feels like few people want to try giving an informed opinion without actually information.


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I find a lot of assumptions about JSawyer silly, feels like few people want to try giving an informed opinion without actually information.

 

They're not assumptions when we have actual quotes from Josh himself.

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But but... I'm pretty sure Josh is basing his views on a lot more than YouTube. He has been making games for all of his professional life, which must necessarily include a lot of playtesting.

 

Another thing I'm 100% certain about is that Josh is concentrating on making a fun cRPG. He is clearly passionate about this project, and is doing his level best at it. He also knows the fallout [sic] will be massive if he fails. I know I wouldn't have the bronze balls to do what he's doing where he's doing it, I'd collapse into a quivering pool of jelly halfway through.

 

The crux of it is that what he thinks is fun will not always agree with what you or I think is fun. If enough people agree that it's not fun and are able to explain to him why that is so, then there is a good chance that he will change it. Sensuki can already point to multiple instances in which this has happened.

 

Finally -- I don't think it's productive to harp on the things that really have been nailed down ("bring back combat XP! bring back the DnD attributes!"). There's plenty of stuff there that's not, and changes there will have a huge impact on how it ends up playing.

 

I.e., I would suggest that rather than rant about how Josh has ruined the game by how he's changed the wizard, it would be more helpful to, say, calmly explain why you feel that it would be improved by giving him invisibility, charm, and conjuration spells and an extra slot in the grimoire, even if this risks overlapping somewhat with Stealth, the cipher, and the chanter. It's by no means a shoo-in, but I believe it has a realistic chance of producing a positive change.

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So what you're essentially saying is that you shouldn't try to learn from your mistakes?

I don't see these things as mistakes.

 

But I really don't think it matters if you don't see them as mistakes if person that made or was part of making said things thinks/feels that they are mistakes. Especially I don't think that it helps that people keep attacking said person on their view that said things that they made or were part of making are mistakes.

 

fixing what ain't broke

Issues under discussion are things that at least some people feel to be broken at least some level, meaning that they aren't universally seen working as they are originally meant to work or that their existence makes things better, even if they aren't game ruining things.
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Can you give an example of a philosophy or goal of Josh's that has changed on a whim?

The crafting skill.

 

 

Edit: I still like you though, and especially your fervor about the IE games. It takes courage to love something so unconditionally.

And I still like you. I respect your passive-aggressive barbs.

 

But my love of the IE games is not unconditional. I will only defend what the IE games do *well*. For example, You'll never see me praising BG1's companions. Or BG2's romances. Or PS:T's combat. Or Icewind Dale 2's loot itemization. Or Icewind Dale 1's linearity.

 

 

 

But I really don't think it matters if you don't see them as mistakes if person that made or was part of making said things thinks/feels that they are mistakes.

Wait, is he designing this game for himself? Of course our opinions are what matter... not his. Edited by Stun

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Stun, I am very, very sorry if you took that as a passive-aggressive barb. I meant it entirely in good faith, cross my heart.

 

As to the crafting skill, I thought he changed that because is proposal was received really poorly by his public, not on a whim.


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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I.e., I would suggest that rather than rant about how Josh has ruined the game by how he's changed the wizard, it would be more helpful to, say, calmly explain why you feel that it would be improved by giving him invisibility, charm, and conjuration spells and an extra slot in the grimoire, even if this risks overlapping somewhat with Stealth, the cipher, and the chanter. It's by no means a shoo-in, but I believe it has a realistic chance of producing a positive change.

 

I never ranted about how Josh ruined the game by changing the wizard. But nice try to portray me as such.

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So what you're essentially saying is that you shouldn't try to learn from your mistakes?

I don't see these things as mistakes.

 

But, depending on PoE's reception/sales when the full game is released, Josh might end up learning some lessons. Lessons on the risks of trying to reinvent the wheel, or fixing what ain't broke, or making good players suffer from mechanics designed to police the bad players.

 

I know you don't, but Josh does, and for better or for worse, Josh is in charge. What's worse than some design philosophies you disagree with, is design philosophies the head dev disagrees with, for when someone is designing a game which systems they don't feel passionate about, and they're stuck dreaming of the innovative (and possibly disastrous) ideas they have, for the lack of passion will spill over to other portions of the game, the few design decisions that don't just fully go along with what the designer is expected to make will also then either be totally out of place, or so insignificant they only add confusion. I get that you don't feel this game is what you backed, but the worst thing that could happen is a dry, stale, game without passion, which is what you'd get if Josh didn't follow his heart. I'm not saying you should embrace his decisions, or even embrace him, I'm merely saying that I strongly prefer devs going out making something that follows their heart, for while that leads to some horrible disasters, it also leads to some of the greatest games ever made.

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I never ranted about how Josh ruined the game by changing the wizard. But nice try to portray me as such.

Damn, this is a minefield. Sorry, I should watch what I'm saying better. It wasn't even directed at you specifically, but rather at the general contingent of people expressing a lot of animus against Josh and his decisions in general.

 

You've mellowed out a lot lately, and I'd hate to harsh that.

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But I really don't think it matters if you don't see them as mistakes if person that made or was part of making said things thinks/feels that they are mistakes.

Wait, is he designing this game for himself? Of course our opinions are what matter... not his.

 

No, he don't design game for himself, but also it don't think it matters what you or anybody else than designer thinks when it comes to things that designer feels to be mistakes done by him, which he don't want to make again, in that it is only his opinion that matters in end of the day (as they are his personal feeling about subject) and only thing that you can do if you disagree is to try to make him see that he didn't make mistake in first place.

 

This of course don't stop you giving favorable opinions or demanding features that designer feels to be mistakes, but if you can't convince him that he didn't made mistake in first place then it is quite likely that he will continue to think that he made mistake in first place, which usually mean that he will not want to do it again. But of course in case of PoE designer under scrutiny don't necessary have final word how things will be and you can try influence other people that has power to overrule his decision, but I don't think that even that will change his view about subject, but you could get what you want.

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PJ: It does arise from systemic features: quest xp. The player that has her/his driud doing that just for completing the quest and getting its xp would be just as involved in "degenerative gameplay" as a player that plays BG1 and follow baddies before the story etc in order to get kill xp, since there's a choice not to take the egg, no?

 

I don't think it's as cut and dried when it comes to RP decisions - the druid may be the protector of nature but that doesn't have to mean that they do not use nature for food, clothing , medicine, etc. we have no knowledge of how rare or prevalent dragons are or whether or not removing a dragon and nest from an area as close to town like this might be considered the proper thing for a druid to participate in. In short when it comes to RP positions really no one but the individual player can really make the case of whether or not certain in game actions by their character is or is not considered an "exploit". 


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Not all those that wander are lost...

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wanderon: Very true, indeed. I just held it up as a more general point, which is: Degenerative gameplay lurk around every corner, and just like you say, the RP of the individual player should be left alone. It's up to the individual playing the game to decide what's fun or reasonable or what not.


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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wanderon: Very true, indeed. I just held it up as a more general point, which is: Degenerative gameplay lurk around every corner, and just like you say, the RP of the individual player should be left alone. It's up to the individual playing the game to decide what's fun or reasonable or what not.

...within the constraints set by the designers, who set the constraints based on their ideas of what's fun or reasonable or what not.

 

This is the part that's confusing me about you humans. Some of you act as if the game was not an artificial construct. I know we've fooled most of you into believing the physical world with its laws isn't, but it ought to be pretty obvious that a game world is. And that the 'laws of nature' in that game world have been created based on the creators' ideas of fun. Meaning that they also consider what's not fun and try to minimize the amount of that in the world.


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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wanderon: Very true, indeed. I just held it up as a more general point, which is: Degenerative gameplay lurk around every corner, and just like you say, the RP of the individual player should be left alone. It's up to the individual playing the game to decide what's fun or reasonable or what not.

...within the constraints set by the designers, who set the constraints based on their ideas of what's fun or reasonable or what not.

 

This is the part that's confusing me about you humans. Some of you act as if the game was not an artificial construct. I know we've fooled most of you into believing the physical world with its laws isn't, but it ought to be pretty obvious that a game world is. And that the 'laws of nature' in that game world have been created based on the creators' ideas of fun. Meaning that they also consider what's not fun and try to minimize the amount of that in the world.

 

 

Wait the world of PoE isn't real?  :o  


Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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This is the part that's confusing me about you humans. 

Are you implying that you aren't human? Are you an ALIEN!? WHY DOES AN ALIEN PLAY VIDEO GAMES!!!!????


"Good thing I don't heal my characters or they'd be really hurt." Is not something I should ever be thinking.

 

I use blue text when I'm being sarcastic.

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My argument has Always been that once a developer sets the rules, his job is finished. He should NOT be coming back later to change those rules for no reason but to check-mate players who dared to 'misbehave' within the game.

Except there is no coming back later going on. This is a BETA. The game is unfinished. The rules are quite literally still being written. Our purpose in being a part of this Beta (other than reporting bugs of course) is to let Josh and others know how best to write those rules, both through our gameplay and our feedback.

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