- May 1, 2013
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First and foremost, I think I understand now how important to you the element of Surprise, and of having your player recognize that kind of "Gotcha!" moment that shakes them from what had been an easy pattern, is to you. I'd underestimated that in your design goals, and it seems like it's at least as important to you as the strategic variation and risk/reward mechanics that you believe your system will bring.
So with a very high importance on the "Gotcha!" moment in your game, it's unfair of me to argue that my ideas on how to get those other dynamics across better would trump your priorities as the designer. I can see how my suggestion could miss the dynamic you're going for, and how your original Revenge plans could fulfill it better. I pushed a little too hard in trying to get you to see my perspective; sorry about that.
The only thing I can ask as an outside guy who hasn't done an iota of work to develop your game, is that as you test this self-admitted "experiment" of a Revenge dynamic, that you keep a close eye and an open mind toward your beta testers. At the end of the day, everything you do, and everything you require of your players, is so that they will have a good time, right? If you get a lot of input that players aren't appreciating your Revenge system, and any tweaks you make don't completely solve the problem, consider giving some more information to the player - not just in bits and pieces like the NPC "tells", but in a systemic sense.
I think the problem mostly stems from not being able to explain that exact moment I'm talking about. It's sort of a nebulous emotion. A state of mind. It's the moment between when you think, "I'm so screwed" and "I got this" before you power through. I don't know what that moment is called. I can only talk about it as if it were a "jolt". As if it were "gotcha!". A miniature moment of terror or horror, and then that surge of confidence and intelligence to overcome it. Even if it's only as minor as fixing a two turn mistake and coming up with a new plan in the space of 20 seconds.
Hesitant to even clarify my idea per the above, but real quickly: what I envision with a KTUE setup is that the Revenges would generally be powerful enough to make hitting the weakness or taking the action "not worth it overall", but not so powerful that a smart player would always avoid them. Rather, a trigger such as "Heal your party 3 times" might trigger a Revenge that silences the party or a normal-strength attack that also makes it impossible to Heal further for a while. If you decide that you need to heal right now, or if you haven't used any heals yet, it's worth incurring the Revenge at 3. A trigger like "Hit my Fire Weakness" might bring on the Steam attack, but if the whole party is hale and hearty, the player might decide it's worth it to risk the Revenge right now to get the DPS out, whereas they'll make a different decision if a few members are lower in health. I personally think these are interesting, situational decisions that will only go through the player's head if they know what the trigger is.
I agree. Your system, that works like that, would be quite interesting. My problem is that it simply isn't compatible with my goal. It takes the same system, but accomplishes something quite different. It promotes tactics in a different flavor.
Basically, it promotes "preparation and planning" instead of "thinking on your feet". I want to promote the "thinking on your feet" aspect. Your system works, and would likely work well. I'd implement it probably the same way, with a few tweaks for my own personal design philosophy and to eliminate things I might perceive the player could become frustrated with... or might cause the player to ignore the system altogether.
A difference in end goals for the system.
This is so unfair of you, Tai - all of those things are just completely false constructions (1, 4), or gross exaggerations (2, 3), of what I suggested. You and I both know that I never said any of those things, and that I carefully weighed the benefits and drawbacks to the surprise elements of your Revenge system. To infer that I spouted those ridiculous absolutes is unfair, and I don't feel the need to spend time arguing them.
1. Players must always exploit a weakness to win combat. If they don't, they will lose. Thus, they will always be seeking the enemy's weakness in combat.
2. Players must memorize every single weakness of every single enemy in combat in order to secure victory.
I'm sorry you're feel they're unfair, but it's what I was forced to conclude based upon your arguments and examples. You were treating Elements as if they were the only way to win combat. That a player would have to memorize weaknesses and would have to play guessing games on which weaknesses worked and which didn't. Your arguments treated Elemental Weakness as the only way a player would ever win combat... or, indeed... the only way they'd ever try to win combat. They are very much steeped in this philosophy, whether intentional on your part or not.
You have to consider something. Your arguments were "if the player hits the wrong weakness just once, and gets punished, it's unfair". Imagine how that reads to someone who has at least 8 elements in their game. Not a single time did you consider combat could be won without exploiting an element. All the arguments made were in the assumption that the player would do nothing except exploit weaknesses they knew about... or if they didn't know about them, spend a lot of time trying to find them. As if an enemy being weak was the end-all, be-all, of combat.
Did I read too much into this? I don't feel I did. Not with the arguments you were making and the assumptions you were drawing upon to make those arguments. Consider for a moment, do those arguments still hold up if you consider how many elements might be "neutral" to combat? Did you once, during the discussion, consider that neutral elements could win combat? Your arguments don't read like that. Everything you'd had to say on using elements reads like it is the only way to win combat, and as such, if the player can't exploit the weaknesses, or know what weaknesses will have a reaction dealt back to the player, then combat is unfair. It lacks strategy.
Granted, this is not the first time I've seen you talk about Elements this way. It is a fairly common theme when you talk about them. I don't know if you even know you talk about them like that. Or, if you even consider elements a different way, but choose to only talk about them in this fashion.
But, what I've seen is that when elements are discussed in any fashion, and you weigh in on it, you pretty much always treat Elements and Weaknesses as if it's a lot of "mental bookkeeping". Why would it be? It really only would be, if you had to exploit a weakness in order to win. The vast majority of RPG systems do not work that way. So, why would you ever need to memorize weaknesses? Unless it's an integral part of combat, it's completely unnecessary and the "mental bookkeeping" argument is absolutely moot.
So, every time I've seen you talk about elements and that "mental bookkeeping" players will certainly have to do, and it's annoying, and they shouldn't have to do it, because it's a lot of work, etcetera... I privately wonder why you think exploiting an elemental weakness is the only course of action in RPG combat. Why you think it has to be such a large amount of work. Why you think all players aim to exploit a weakness with every single attack.
What other conclusion can I draw from such arguments and examples?
3. "Revenge" is so onerous and punishing that players will be 100% angry with the game, turn it off, and not play it.
In fairness to your current system, I do think you'll accomplish that. You'll get the one-time jolt of surprise (and perhaps disgust), and perhaps an "oh crap!" if the player was already in a poor position when they hit a Revenge while they're already in a poor position. But consider that you'd also get that same dynamic with completely random "screws" in battle! Meteor comes by and deals damage to your party? Jolt! Random enemy falls from the sky and joins the opposing party? Jolt! Your skill randomly backfires or has no effect? Jolt! Enemy just happens to use its random Steam move instead of its normal action pattern? Oh crap! Like your system, these random screws provide a momentary surprise and setback that the player needs to recover from once, and are likely never seen again (during that battle at least). And because the player has absolutely no way to predict that either one are coming, and no agency to prevent it the first time (which you said would likely be the only time it happens anyway), I feel it's fair to say that completely naive Revenge is similar in dynamics to RNG Screws.
And yes, you did say this about my system. Right here. Equating them, essentially, to boss nukes. Or to just randomly screw over the player. You even suggested distasteful ways to accomplish just that, as if they were equivalent.
In fact, you went as far as to ignore all the safeguards I'd mentioned the post before I had in place to prevent the system from being as distasteful as you were equating it to be. Including my intentions.
In fact, you were outright lampooning my intentions for the system with this paragraph of yours.
As such, I feel #3 here is quite the justified response and reasonable assumption of your own intentions and thoughts.
If it feels unfair, I don't know what to tell you. You threw the first stone. Or, do you not think that reads like a personal attack on my system, especially with the comparisons?
If you don't feel like it reads that way, I'm quite curious to see just how you think it actually reads.
4. Players must be told about any and everything ahead of time in order to make good decisions. It is a requirement for players to always make the best decisions.
And this is based entirely on the assertions that you want the player to know what the weaknesses are at the beginning of combat... which elements/actions will trigger "Revenge", and painting it as "unfair" when these are not advertised. Yes, you use the exact word of "unfair".
In fact, you refused to entertain the notion at all, that it would be valuable to even surprise a player. I believe you stated it has more drawbacks than positives (to paraphrase, I'm rather sick of scrolling back up to quote older posts of yours to point it out. Quoting anything except the last post made is always such a hassle... especially if I have to format it if I have to use multi-quote or something and don't need the whole thing).
Maybe that's not how you intended to portray it. But, that is how it reads. It reads as if players should never be surprised and your opinion that surprising players in such a way as my Revenge System is a bad idea, players will hate it, and it ruins any tactic that could ever exist.
You've stated multiple times how much frustration you think it will cause and is thus not worth implementing... unless it's implemented with the player knowing all the information up front. Turn One, Action One. You've stated multiple times how you think it is unfair.
It really isn't too much to see you writing that and summarize it as what I wrote in #4. Is that your intent? I have no idea. But, what else am I meant to assume your stance is when those are your arguments and you refuse to address it in anything except those terms?
You mentioned several times that I feel like players need to "have their hand held", and I've seen you level that same argument against several other devs in other threads.
Sorry, I tend to level it where it seems like it's correct. A system in which you provide the player 100% of the information necessary to make the best tactical decision possible isn't hand-holding because...? Why, again?
I simply don't believe in that level of hand-holding. It breeds "easy-mode" RPG's. Sometimes, the player needs to make mistakes. They need to see the Game Over screen a few times. I feel it's necessary.
Should the game be fair? Yes. Absolutely. Should a minor mistake result in game over? No. Do I believe I should take absolutely every action possible as a dev to keep the player from making stupid decisions? No. I believe at some point, in treating the player like a thinking human being. Someone capable of gleaning information for themselves. Someone mature enough to handle a little bit of frustration from time to time.
I just want to be very clear about my own philosophy so you don't make this mistake about me again - I do not believe in holding the player's hand the whole way. I believe in creating games that can be Played.
In this instance, it reads like you do want to hold their hand the whole way. Like you don't expect them to figure things out on their own. Or draw their own conclusions. That those very actions (having to figure something out themselves, or draw their own conclusions) are somehow unfair or unreasonable.
I believe in games that remain interesting even after the player knows all the rules. These are the games that hold up over time - chess, poker, 7 Wonders, Civilization, gridiron football - would Chess be more fun if you didn't know what moves each piece could make? Would football be more fun if you didn't know all of the rules going in, and they were sprung upon you as you played and received 15-yard penalties? I think they'd be less fun. The fun is in playing the game, in developing skills and in reacting to your opponent's move with full knowledge of what they are allowed to do. Those are the types of games I like to develop.
It is quite interesting that you're using Symmetrical play games. RPG's are not Symmetrical by their very nature. Not unless you try very hard to make them that way, as a dev. The enemy can do whatever it wants to you. Take whatever action it likes, at any time, for any reason. Unless you decide they must adhere to the exact same rules as the player. In some respects, they do in an RPG. They use the same damage formulas, most of the time, and similar "monster skills" to what you have access to as a player. But, by and large... RPG's are Asymmetrical games.
However, even in some of the games mentioned... there's unfairness there. Put those strategy games on higher difficulties and you'll find that the CPU players have been given significant advantages over you just to provide challenge. More starting resources. Can build faster. Etcetera. Or, even in Gridiron Football... everyone has to pay by the same rules... but if a referee doesn't see something happen, or a bad call is made... then what? The outcome is still the outcome. It is a game played, essentially, on the "honor system". It works only so long as rules are enforced equally on every player. They rarely ever are. What about Poker? You can absolutely win by just bringing the most money to the table and destroying everyone through a bidding war and causing them to fold their ante every single time. Is that fair? Granted, they change the rules for "Tournament Poker", but the vast majority of Poker games aren't done that way. You can continue to buy in, so long as you have money to burn.
But, despite this unfairness, aren't those games still fun to play? Fun to watch?
Absolutely yes. They'd probably have a couple of different elemental weaknesses, but I'd expect the State Weaknesses to be the same, and I'd expect their general patterns to be the same. Otherwise, why have a Fire Wolf and Water Wolf instead of a Fire Wolf and a Water Llama?
I guess that's where we differ. I expect different enemies to have different weaknesses, even if they're the "same kind". I only expect them to share a weakness if it's been told to me that they should. Like say... they share Archetypes. I expect an "Alpha Wolf" to have different weaknesses to a "Wolf". Different immunities. But... I played a lot of RPG's where this was typically the case. So... I'm probably conditioned to that. A personal bias.
The Archetypes sound smart. Do you tell the player what Archetype a creature belongs to? If not, I might have a hard time figuring out, for example, what Archetype a Fighter Jet belongs to - Speed, or Armored? Both would be in my 10-word description of a Fighter Jet, so both would make equal sense (not to mention if "Mechanical" is another Archetype I'd have to compare to them).
I'm not quite sure how to answer that. Yes, and no, I guess? There's nowhere to go and get a rundown of every creature there is and find out all its types that way. There isn't even really a place that communicated what the "archetypes" are labeled as. The label is internal and really only applies to the dev work involved. It's written more like Chrono Trigger, I guess. "Thunder stun all dinosaur. You know?". Something like that. "Hey, you should buy a Mace! They're good for smashing anything with tough armor! Most people go with Swords or Spears, but a Mace really does wonders against armored foes!". Etcetera. "Fur is really flammable, did you know that? Most animals that have fur are pretty easy to start on fire. It's also a good way to cook your meal as you kill it!" Things of that nature. Little hints along the way.
Surely you don't expect players to be able to think exactly (or even mostly) like you about what enemies would be most affected by "localized areas of the body being frozen" and stuff like that!
Nope, not necessarily. But, it's a bonus for paying attention to the Lore of the world. I don't expect players to hit an Insect with Ice and then wonder, "why isn't this super effective on bugs?". But, if they're curious, there's an explanation somewhere in the game. If they wanted to know. Or, they can draw their own conclusions based upon the Lore.
It's not really all that important to consider why an enemy isn't weak to a specific element. You can still hit an Insect with Ice. You can still freeze it solid. It'll do normal damage. It just won't do extra bonus damage that is super life-threatening.
As for the rest... I think I'll skip replying to it. I agree with your system and the way you want to use it. I don't agree with giving the player all the information "up front".
Personally, with your system? I'd design it in such a way that once a player discovered the trigger for an enemy, it remains visible on all of the encounters with that enemy again. I might even have a single trigger be visible at the start of every combat. Maybe an option to have a second if the player uses some kind of Scan spell or something. But, I'd still require the player to "learn" some of these triggers as they go along. Just so the game isn't "too easy" for them. Just to add some extra dimension to combat and extra tactics and strategies. Especially if the trigger could be anything. "Attack Stat of Character 3 is above 200: Revenge Triggered. Use Just Once In Combat.", etcetera. I'd probably even have the effect of those triggers, once learned, always be known, just like the trigger itself. Or, give you an action that would let you "scry" the effect of a Trigger you don't know.
I'd make the player work for that sort of advantage a little bit. I don't like the idea of just giving it to them.
EDIT: Also, I forgot to mention. Yes, I realize that my system may not work entirely as intended. I did express that sentiment. Stating that I'd likely need a larger pool to draw from a few times in order to iron out issues with it. As with any game system, there's always, "the best laid plans". What we intend to do, rarely ever translates to what players will do. I suspect and expect I will need to tweak it quite a bit. Perhaps rework it in some ways. I don't expect the need to scrap the system entirely, but it's sort of "modular" for the reason that if I have to scrap it, the rest of the game remains unaffected. I'd really only need to remove the dialogue from a couple NPC's at this point, and about 2 hours of Database Work that make it run.
It can be removed if I have to. I don't expect I'll need to remove it, however. Tweak and rework? Yes, I expect to need to do that. Battle Plans never survive contact with the enemy.