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

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To return the original topic, I have another idea for motivating players to keep their characters conscious.

 

When a character runs out of stamina and falls, have him (very slowly) lose health until he gets revived or the battle ends. (My inspiration for this is Blackguards, where you had a limited number of turns to heal a fallen character before he went off the battlefield permanently).

 

This is a more punitive solution than my previous idea, but it'll prevent those cheesy situations where you keep fallen characters "in reserve" until you're ready to heal them.

Edited by Infinitron
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I actually really like that. It would be super easy to implement, not nearly as punitive as enemies attacking downed characters, and hearkens back to the "incapacitated" and "bleeding out" mechanics of 3e (which I personally really like).

 

Great idea, Infinitron.

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To return the original topic, I have another idea for motivating players to keep their characters conscious.

 

When a character runs out of stamina and falls, have him (very slowly) lose health until he gets revived or the battle ends. (My inspiration for this is Blackguards, where you had a limited number of turns to heal a fallen character before he went off the battlefield permanently).

 

This is a more punitive solution than my previous idea, but it'll prevent those cheesy situations where you keep fallen characters "in reserve" until you're ready to heal them.

That could work.


"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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Someone with a Tumblr account should mention the 2 or 3 best solutions from this thread to Jsaw on Tumblr, see what he says. Sensuki?

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In my opinion, the term degenerative gameplay hasn't become so vilified (spellling?) here because it's a bad term, but because of the way Josh goes around creating convoluted fixes that create different opportunities for degenerative gameplay.

 

So let's take the rest spamming. Obviously the issue was that you could rest after every little fight and constantly be in optimal shape. No resource management in terms of HP or Spells.

 

I personally had an incentive not to rest spam, it was time. In game time passed each time you rest and I didn't find it logical to spend 5 in game days exploring one level of a dungeon. Plus I always liked the challenge of going as long as possible without the rest. But that is purely roleplaying/imaginative incentive

 

 

So how does Josh goes around fixing it? Let's create a complicated health system, one being a long term resource and another an encounter system. He also comes up with an idea that missing is not fun (I have to say that opponents not being able to hit me is fun) and designs the system so that there are a lot of hits. This results in a situation where your fighter/tank is the first guy that needs to rest. Usually after every fight, because he takes so much hits.

 

 

In IE game, from my experience, the state of my frontline fighter most of the time determined if I should rest. If they were close to dead, I would rest, because them going down had serious consequences. Also mages would be out of spells for a long time before that, usually. In general as long as the party had a chance of pushing forward and coming out alive I would push it.

 

 

 

How would I go around fixing it? Well resting is a choice, like every choice there should be a consequence.

 

1. You want to rest in a hostile dungeon. Try it. See what happens. You'll likely get attacked. Okay, you might get decide to reload and rest again, but look at that! You get attacked again (that's because random seed for resting is saved along with game - no save scumming for you).

 

2. You want to go back to the inn and rest. There are two consequences. One, it's a drag. What would happen if you attacked someone then went home to rest before you attack again. They would prepare themselves. They know you are coming (respawning enemies on already cleared levels, or adding extra enemies to uncleared levels).

 

3. Resting takes time. There is not a worse thing in RPG when they tell you to hurry, you need to do this really quickly or someone will day. But you can spend 5 in game days before anything happens, because the whole world is waiting on you.

 

 

Ofcourse, what I say isn't really perfect, because now there is maybe not enough incentive for resting. It seems very punishing. Perhaps there could be some safe locations on maps where you could rest. There would be a higher chance of successfully resting in wilderness areas, as opposed in enemy dungeons/castles. Hell perhaps instead of saving a random seed to see if an encounter is triggered, let's think about it this way.

What would happen if a player decided to rest here.

 

A)It's a forest, so he might get attacked by wolves. Maybe, maybe not.

 

B) It's Lord Badman of Eviland's Castle. Resting here before clearing it out would be bad idea. Lord Badman would try to launch a counter attack with his remaining. Okay, there should be a scripted event that happens in such a case. If a player survives that attack, he killed a lot of the bad guys so the rest of the dungeon should be clearer. Perhaps Lord Badman himself would die. Maybe player finds a safe location to rest, but Lord Badman is prepared and expects him. Maybe, player can trick Lord Badman into thinking the party is gone for good and therefor weakening his defense, before coming back.

 

 

Summary:

My point in short is. I think Josh goes the wrong way about this, bottoms up, rather than top down. He thinks in terms of gameplay mechanics and then designing roleplaying around them. I would prefer if he was thinking of roleplay mechanics and design gameplay around them.

Edited by Hamenaglar

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@Hamenaglar I think you're misreading Josh's intent. I believe the primary reason for the stam/health system is priest gameplay, not rest-spamming.

 

In DnD the priest is the primary strategic health resource, which has a number of consequences: (1) you kind of need one and (2) much or most of his casting capacity will be spent on heals. He wanted to change this dynamic so players would be freer to use the priest's spells more freely for other purposes. His solution is to make the strategic health resource integral to the character mechanics. 

 

You're right about his priorities, I think: he does go mechanics and gameplay first. I think that's the right way to do it, though. Going roleplay-first would lead to similar problems as the IE games had -- cookie-cutter builds, massively exploitable systems, massive imbalances between classes, etc. -- and while some here are totally OK with that or even like it, I don't.

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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.

 

 

Well you can understand why some people including myself are expressing concerns and questioning the design decisions he's taken. And with those design decisions which includes taking into account eliminating degenerate gameplay that he perceives are in the IE games. He seems to be caught up on degenerate gameplay and then trying to implement things to eliminate them.

 

Having a look at a lot of his quotes, he includes things like the Stamina/Health mechanic to mitigate rest spamming. And while the Stamina/Health mechanic may also be for the Priest spells, in a couple of interviews I've seen, he's always brought up the rest spamming degenerate gameplay first. It may come across for some people, design by eliminating degenerate gameplay first and then shoe horning in other things that may benefit from it. eg. How do I eliminate rest spamming? Then coming up with solutions. Whether he's done that, I don't know. But his obsession on trying to eliminate degenerative gameplay is legendary.

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@Hiro Are you sure that's not confirmation bias at work?

 

I've read and watched a quite a bit of stuff by Josh, and degenerate strategies do not seem to figure particularly centrally. He has talked about them on a couple of occasions, including engaging in discussion about it a couple of times, but compared to many of the people on this very thread, for example, his 'obsession' barely even registers.

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@Hiro Are you sure that's not confirmation bias at work?

 

I've read and watched a quite a bit of stuff by Josh, and degenerate strategies do not seem to figure particularly centrally. He has talked about them on a couple of occasions, including engaging in discussion about it a couple of times, but compared to many of the people on this very thread, for example, his 'obsession' barely even registers.

 

No PrimeJunta. No confirmation bias at all and I'm not trying to to confirm my beliefs or hypotheses. Also, are you sure that's not confirmation bias at work where it barely even registers for you? Two can play that game. How about instead of playing games and throwing these 'confirmation bias' accusations at people we actually talk about degenerative gameplay and Josh's decisions? I think that would be better.

 

As I said, Josh's obsession on trying to eliminate degenerative gameplay is legendary. Even back on the BIS boards. And there is a swag of quotes with him bringing up degenerate gameplay and ways to remove the degeneration.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II

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I know he's discussed the topic. I disagree that he's 'obsessed' about it. What I have seen is that a contingent of players for some reason get extremely upset about the term, and amplify what he's said out of all proportion.

 

So, with all due respect Hiro, I do think it's a combination of echo chamber + confirmation bias, rather than any real obsession of Josh's.

 

There's a pretty easy way to settle this, though. Let's look at a random sampling of 10 posts by Josh on these forums. Let's take items 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and 89, counting from the top, in what comes up from his profile. I picked the Fibonacci sequence to prove that I'm not cherry-picking the results.

 

Now, how many of those items do you think refer to degenerate strategies or degenerate gameplay? I'm guessing 0 to 1, probably 0. An 'obsession' ought to count for more than that.

 

If you have an alternative way to settle this by looking at Josh's actual record -- the whole record, mind, not cherry-picking individual items from his whole history -- let's hear it.

 

(The concept itself is game design 101. Literally. You'll find it in introductory textbooks. Every game designer knows about it and watches out for it. The only difference is that Josh has actually brought up the term in public, and engaged in discussion about it. Which, I suspect, he now regrets.)


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Okay, I checked. The term itself was mentioned zero times, and there was one discussion of a particular degenerate strategy (kiting).

 

I stand by my assertion: Josh is not obsessed with degenerate strategies. The contingent claiming he is, however, is.

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I know he's discussed the topic. I disagree that he's 'obsessed' about it. What I have seen is that a contingent of players for some reason get extremely upset about the term, and amplify what he's said out of all proportion.

 

So, with all due respect Hiro, I do think it's a combination of echo chamber + confirmation bias, rather than any real obsession of Josh's.

 

There's a pretty easy way to settle this, though. Let's look at a random sampling of 10 posts by Josh on these forums. Let's take items 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and 89, counting from the top, in what comes up from his profile. I picked the Fibonacci sequence to prove that I'm not cherry-picking the results.

 

Now, how many of those items do you think refer to degenerate strategies or degenerate gameplay? I'm guessing 0 to 1, probably 0. An 'obsession' ought to count for more than that.

 

If you have an alternative way to settle this by looking at Josh's actual record -- the whole record, mind, not cherry-picking individual items from his whole history -- let's hear it.

 

(The concept itself is game design 101. Literally. You'll find it in introductory textbooks. Every game designer knows about it and watches out for it. The only difference is that Josh has actually brought up the term in public, and engaged in discussion about it. Which, I suspect, he now regrets.)

 

Okay, so you still want to play this game of some posters on this forum having confirmation bias? Then don't you have confirmation bias as well? You're even trying to form a hypotheses with his forum posting on this forum.

 

And you completely ignore me with wanting to take this off forum posters and back on the topic of Josh's design decisions and the concept of degenerate gameplay. So who has confirmation bias now?

 

I think you're the one obsessed Hiro, like a lot.

 

No, that would be Josh and with the elimination of degenerate gameplay.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II

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Of course I have confirmation bias. Everybody does. However, I try to actively fight it, e.g. by looking at the actual data whenever possible. Of course I'm blind to it too; that's the nature of it, which is why I invited you to find an alternative way of settling the matter. You're more likely to catch my biases, just as I'm more likely to catch yours. Therefore we can help each other see more clearly.

 

Edit: but I do believe the only reliable way of fighting biases is to look at the facts as far as they are known. In this case it's easy, sine we have Josh's full posting record that we can browse at our leisure. If he really is obsessed about the topic, it ought to show up there pretty damn frequently, don't you think?

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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Josh recently spilled his beans on game design. read for yourselves. If anything, he's extremely ambitious, while, IMO, holding systemic balance in far too high a regard compared to easier and more fun gameplay. He even says, he runs the risk over over-designing and over-complicating stuff. Most of the ideas are very sound on paper, but do they work in-game? Judge for yourselves: 

http://kotaku.com/how-to-balance-an-rpg-1625516832


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

 

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Of course I have confirmation bias. Everybody does. However, I try to actively fight it, e.g. by looking at the actual data whenever possible. Of course I'm blind to it too; that's the nature of it, which is why I invited you to find an alternative way of settling the matter. You're more likely to catch my biases, just as I'm more likely to catch yours. Therefore we can help each other see more clearly.

 

That's not what I asked. And taking forum posts from this forum is but a small segment of where Josh has posted over the last 15 years and it's very disingenuous to say his forum posts on this forum alone reflects his design goals. So you're data is faulty.

 

And as I said, which you continue to ignore. Wouldn't it be better to focus on Josh and degenerative gameplay instead of random posters on the internet and if those random posters have confirmation bias?

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@Indira: Interestingly, he doesn't mention degenerate strategies there even once. Comment, Hiro?

 

That's not what I asked. And taking forum posts from this forum is but a small segment of where Josh has posted over the last 15 years and it's very disingenuous to say his forum posts on this forum alone reflects his design goals. So you're data is faulty.

That's a valid objection. Suggest a broader sample. So far you've been going purely with assertions, backed up by nothing. Let's see your evidence.

 

And as I said, which you continue to ignore. Wouldn't it be better to focus on Josh and degenerative gameplay instead of random posters on the internet and if those random posters have confirmation bias?

I do think it's valuable to correct misconceptions, even, perhaps especially widely-held ones. I believe your assertion that Josh is obsessed with degenerate gameplay is a misconception, and a harmful one at that -- for Josh personally of course, but also for the discussion here.

 

I could point to several examples from this very thread where people assume as a matter of course that Josh decided on some particular feature because of this alleged obsession, for example, although there are other perfectly reasonable reasons he might have made those decisions. The whole discussion gets thrown on an unproductive track because of that.

 

So yeah, I do think it would be valuable to debunk the myth of the degeneracy-obsessed Josh... always assuming that it is a myth, of course.

 

Anyway, it's your turn. Let's see your evidence. Cherry-picking only the posts/articles/whatever over 15 years where he discusses the topic doesn't count; you can make almost anyone look obsessed by almost anything that way. Other than that, I'll be willing to look at any sample of what he's written.

 

In other words, "put up or shut up."

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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I'm not the one who linked the article.

 

And getting back to Josh, his design decisions and degenerate gameplay instead of accusing others of confirmation bias? Comment PrimeJunta?

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II

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I'm not the one who linked the article.

 

And getting back to Josh, his design decisions and degenerate gameplay instead of accusing others of confirmation bias? Comment PrimeJunta?

No point, as long as your discussion is proceeding from a faulty premise.


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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Degenerative gameplay or no, having balance as your flagship runs the risk of ruining the artistic side of the game, as well the fun inconsistencies and surprising contingencies in it. For instance, would MotB and PST have become such masterpieces (games of art) if they had been balanced into bland and washed out equilibrium? Would BG1 turned out so beautiful and exploration-varied, if those making it hadn't been in part amateurs, enthusiasts and new at being game devs? 

 

I love Sensuki's phrase so much, so I'll use it a third time on this forum: balance == banalce.

 

EDIT: I'm not saying: No balance at all, but rather that some rough balance done in the stride is to be preferred, then hammer down the worst bulges as you go along. Spending a huge amount of time on balancing systems is great if you're a clockwork maker. However, in a game, I'd like to see most of that time get invested into areas, enemies, encounters, exploration, class variation, character development, and so on.

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

 

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No point, as long as your discussion is proceeding from a faulty premise.

 

LOL.

 

So you want to accuse posters of confirmation bias INSTEAD of talking about the actual thread topic. LMAO.

 

And no. I'm not going to 'put up or shut up'. tsk tsk. I won't be alone in questioning Josh's design decisions which also include his preoccupation with degenerate gameplay.

Edited by Hiro Protagonist II

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"It would be better if it was worse?"

 

Sorry, Indira, but that argument never made a lick of sense to me.

In fact, it does. Take a deeper look into how the greatest movies and games have been made, the behind the scenes stuff, and you'll be surprised. I mean it! :yes:

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

 

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I think you're all wasting your breath on the nonconstructive arguments in this thread. YMMV.

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