Question: What bothers you the most?
Combat difficulty
Few choices within a path
Min-maxing (uneven skills/stats)
Metagaming required to pass quests

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Author Topic: Which areas should be improved?  (Read 16970 times)

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« on: March 27, 2012, 02:45:09 pm »

So, we've finally released the demo and there was much, um, rejoicing. It looks like there are 5 main complaints (listed above).

Now, we're already tweaking and adding some things (more on that later), but we'd like to know what you think and, most importantly, what should be done to improve the design in these areas.

So, first, vote for what bothers you the most (even if you like everything about the game, there should be something you like the least). Second, post your thoughts on each area that you feel should be improved (you can add more) and list suggested improvements or ways to fix it.

It goes without saying that we won't be able to fix everything and that some suggestions may go against the existing design and personal preferences, but let's give it a try and see what happens.

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2012, 03:00:43 pm »

Improvements to the teleportation mechanic.

I think the game's great but this aspect really bothers me. I get that you don't want to let people simply use fast travel via the map, but at the very least only teleport the people to the right district or the fringe of a new map (like in the raiders case) instead of directly into dialogue.
The increase in downtime by letting the player move those few last meters himself is more than made up by having more control over your actions.

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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 03:01:38 pm »

Combat is just perfect, oldschool difficulty.

Exploration    is also oldschool, although perhaps some messages in NPC phrases/dialogues could hint you where to find the encounters.

Few choices within a path - not really, it's okay, it's diverse enough. Only it would be awesome to have more situations of semi-fail semi-success.

Min-maxing    - well, I just want there to be no dump-stats/skills (e.g., Con, Dodge) and no god-stats/skills (e.g. Int, Block)

Metagaming - I think that the values of skills check in TAs could be more diversified, and the dialogues could hint you on what level is required, once you have ~75% of the required value, e.g. [skill failure:Trading28/Persuasion28], so the 'puzzle' would be not to pinpoint the required check value, but to find the missing SPs to allocate for these skills, sacrificing something else. Something like that.

Also, making SP and some resources, e.g. gold, bronze or iron, scarcer. I liked the beginning of the Drifter's vignette in RC4, when you had to choose whether to pick a mysterious artifact of unknown use or a ton of bronze armor/weapons and gold, although this situation was caused by a bug, it made me invent new strategies in this situation of scarcity of resources. Sacrificing darlings for other darlings, something like that.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 04:41:28 pm by Vahhabyte » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 03:09:05 pm »

I'm happy with everything except the exploration of the 3D world.  You guys have done a very nice job of building a city.  There does not seem to be much motivation to enjoy the scenery.
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 03:16:14 pm »

I voted for metagaming. Specifically the way it's hard to gauge how much skill you'll need to pass a check until you actually try to do it. I already posted my suggestion in regard to that in that other thread, but here it is again:

I think a few things would be beneficial in regard to skillchecks. One is to establish clear benchmarks by which people can orientate themselves. For example 25 is average untrained person, 30 is a beginner, 40 is trained (someone who can do this for a living), 50 is experienced, 60 is a hardened veteran, 80 is equivalent to Olympic athletes, and 100 is legendary (the best in the world and future generations will sing songs of your amazing feats). Then base the difficulty of the actual checks based on these benchmarks. If that makes the early checks too hard, you can give players some extra skill points to spend in character creation.

The second is to round the skillchecks to multiples of 5. Or at least avoid having checks that are 1 or 2 point higher than a multiple of 5 (like 27, 36, or 41). If the average player is anything like me, they'll naturally gravitate towards making their skills multiples of 10, or at leat multiples of 5. Punishing this by making a skillcheck just 1 point harder is harsh. I'd also prefer it if the checks were always fixed values.

My final suggestion is something I've also suggested before: create more threshold values at which skill cost increases. Instead of increasing cost at 50 and 75, increase it at 40, 60, and 80. That would increase the cost of improving a skill from 30 to 100 by about 30% and the cost from improving it from 30 to 75 by about 15%. Then give us 10-15% more skill points. The change would simulatenously punish people who dump everything into one skill and make it easier for people who prefer to diversify their skillset.

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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 03:20:54 pm »

I don't think combat needs to be tweaked *too much* overall. I think just look at feedback and see what individual fights people are having problems with, and them tweak them if it makes sense somehow.

I guess I would place my vote in metagaming and/or min-maxing. Mainly I think it'd be fun (and of course, a ton of work for you guys) to have more ways to fail quests without necessarily running into a dead-stop in your character's progress. I think dieing to difficult battles is one thing, and for many people sort of "inspiring" to try that motherfucker again. But it's not so fun if you feel like you run into a "failed game" outside that. Like, you find that you just don't have the right skill investments to pursue a particular quest/faction, and the only other option may be a fight that you just know is going to run you into the ground. It's not really fun gameplay to re-load an older save and just try to tweak those skill-points so that you cross a threshold, whereas retrying a fight, while frustrating, is also gameplay on another level.


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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2012, 03:24:14 pm »

Can you explain the difference between min-maxing and metagaming? What would be looked at? It's a complex issue. The difficulty leads you to min-max and you do so by metagaming. I'm not sure which one's the "root of all evil".

I believe that I explained my opinion in another topic, though so I shall not repeat it. Waste of good fingers  smug
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 03:33:36 pm »

I voted exploration, or specifically the lack of it:
I really miss any sandboxy opportunities for actions like sneaking around, breaking into random buildings, picking pockets and stealing from the poor and rich alike as well as any kind of thing allowing me to interact with environment. For example, I'd like to be able to ask for directions from a random city dweller, or pick fights with a bar patron or hire some muscle just so it feels a bit safer as a puny merchant to walk the streets (let's admit it: it's fucking dangerous out there!). The text adventures are great, but sometimes it feels like I'm being driven forward too roughly. While the choices and consequences work really well, the complete lack of any sandboxiness is a bit of a turn-off.

Next in line would be metagaming, agreeing with what Dragatus said just above. I don't think combat difficulty is a problem for me personally, but I can see it can be frustrating for some others, so I still think some sort of mechanically easified easy-mode wouldn't hurt the game.

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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 03:39:29 pm »

voted for exploration, i hope the following counts to this:
Improvements to the teleportation mechanic.

I think the game's great but this aspect really bothers me. I get that you don't want to let people simply use fast travel via the map, but at the very least only teleport the people to the right district or the fringe of a new map (like in the raiders case) instead of directly into dialogue.
The increase in downtime by letting the player move those few last meters himself is more than made up by having more control over your actions.

i agree, for instance, in the merc-vignette i wanna walk to the room in the inn for myself where i have to guard this person, this takes not much time but give me a feel for the location/ is important for immersion

-is nearly perfect, it´s a bit hard sometimes with bad luck/dicerolls but i didn´t see how to improve this
-one thing, i nearly never used nets, it takes too long to take net out and after using take weapon/shield back, a net on an opponent lasts only 2 rounds but you loose 1 round to interact with inventory, maybe make beltbags accessible for 2AP and then simply reequipping the weapon you had to put away for the net also for 2AP (you put this weapon not in the inventory to use the net for instance you put a 1Hsword in a scabbard)

Few choices within a path
not really, it's diverse enough. - but i would apprechiate to show the player hidden dialogoptions, like that: "-....", so you know there ARE other choices, you only didn´t know which cause you lack the needed skills

you always do something with STR and as i mentioned in the other thread: if you also address the CON-problem than a fighter couldn´t just ignore CON/STR and choose high INT instead

I think the skill check in TAs could be more diversified, and the dialogues could hint you, e.g. [skill failure:Trading28/Persuasion28], so the 'puzzle' would be not to pinpoint the required check value, but to find the missing SPs to allocate for these skills, sacrificing something else. Something like that.
maybe this or you get a hint if you failed and are really close


Stop this nonsense now! Let´s get back onto the trees!
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 03:40:36 pm »

Have you considered adopting the Drama Points system from Frayed Knights as solution to the metagaming/reloading issue?
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2012, 03:41:22 pm »

Metagaming. Vaha's idea of giving feedback regarding tests and Dragatus' idea are both pretty good, and perhaps could even be combined. You could have a little descriptor next to the check in question showing how hard the test is, and also have skill levels match these difficulties more or less.
For example... A streetwise check could be:
[streetwise - simple] for a test with difficulty between 25 and 40
[streetwise - challenging] for a test with difficulty between 45 and 60
[streetwise - hard] for a test with difficulty between 65 and 80
[streetwise - very hard] for a test with difficulty between 85 and 100

(this assuming that test difficulties are in multiples of 5)

This would give an idea more or less of how hard the test is, but not give away the game completely, and would also be easier for players to distribute their points. Combined tests like [streetwise+persuade] are still tricky though.  Neutral

I know this might be controversial, and I will freely admit I might be wrong, but could these combined tests, instead of asking for both skills at a certain level (say... streetwise 30 and persuade 40) they could instead check the combined scores of both skills (so the combined result would have to be 70 or more). That would allow for a player that has one skill very high to pick up the slack for another, lower skill and lessens the frustration a player might have in trying to balance the two scores so they're just right... Putting points in either one works.

That aside, the only other complaint I have is making defensive skills slightly less effective... Or making weapon skills more effective, one of the two.

Oh, and I know I tend to make a lot of suggestions, that's just how I am... Confused And I wouldn't like the developers to get the wrong idea. I love this game. It's really good. I played a lot of it and it's incredible how I haven't grown bored yet. I think the only game that I've replayed as much is civilization. It's a great game, with lots of choices and allowing many different kinds of character.  Approve

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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 03:42:54 pm »

Flesh out the dialogue, both the straight-up talking to people stuff and the "text adventure" inserts.

Add more options and more skillchecks, i.e. more opportunities to benefit from high skill levels. Add more solutions to problems and, if possible, introduce partial successes to skill checks--kind of like it is with some critical strike checks now (i.e., you might not kill the guy outright, but you'll start the combat with him at 50% HP).

I realize this might be a lot of work, but it's necessary to do something. A non-combat oriented player will spend a fuckton of time in dialogue and right now the dialogue feels a little too sparse.


Specific examples:

1. Add a sneak-oriented solution for the bandit camp--something like:

a) an option to go there at night, sneaking around, perhaps releasing the hostage if that's not too unrealistic;

or, at the very least;

b) an ability to use your sneaking skill to check the place out after dark and figure out something that will help the ensuing Daratan raid;

On that note, move the perception check for "checking out the place" upfront--i.e., "[perception] You surreptiously look around the bandit camp and notice that <there are certain vulnerabilities>..."--, so that by the time you go back to Dellar you know you have something to offer to him even if you can't deal with the problem completely by yourself.

2. The assassin quest with the two Aurelian spies:

a) a character with the perception of 10 should be able to notice that something's wrong with the setup; I'm not sure which precise advantage that should bring him, but at the very least he shouldn't let himself get knifed by the old dude; and on that note, I'd add a dexterity check there too; dexterity = 10 --> he's fast enough to prevent himself from being knifed. You know that part during the palace infiltration where you can roll under the falling bars if you're fast enough? Like that.

b) a character with a high enough critical strike should be able to take out one of the spies before the fight starts; yes, they are expecting trouble, so make the check hard, but it's an obvious thing to try and therefore you must let the player try it. Otherwise the sense of acting within a consistent gameworld disappears.

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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 03:47:21 pm »

For me is the exploration - I made a few suggestions here (http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,2503.0.html). Besides that I think :

1) Make toggle-able lock of camera on a player (so that you can just rotate it and zoom in/out but it follows the player)
2) Already mentioned - navigating via keyboard (but if the camera could be locked in on a character, I guess that wouldn't be needed then)
3) Teleporting via dialogue - don't jump directly to the new dialogue unless it is really necessary
4) Not enough to do in a city - there is an illusion of a crowded place but I think about 4-8 extra small side quests and / or conversations about the world could be interesting.

And random floating texts over "silent" NPCs  could add a lot to atmosphere. Especially IF (and that is a big IF) these texts would reflect changes in your gameplay, e.g.
people at merchants plaza talking and saying:

"Did you hear? There was a fight yesterday at the tower! It was a massacre!" or
"I've seen the innkeeper's people carrying out a body in the early morning." or
"I wish blacksmith would have more iron available" Grin or
"I saw a mudcrab yesterday".

We could make a separate topic for small texts like that.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:49:51 pm by avatarrr » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 03:52:21 pm »

I chose exploration because that's the aspect I personally probably miss most. The side quests and touches like the storyteller, and especially discovery based things like Feng's vines have already made Theron infinitely richer, and adding some more of that would definitely be worth it, imho, of course.

Regarding the skill checks, I think Dragatus presents some good ideas. The best would obviously be to also allow more "soft failures" or "degrees of success" as we have discussed elsewhere. I realize how expensive that is in terms of creating additional content (and you have 3/4 of the game yet to polish). So I was thinking what could be done with relatively litte extra effort. This is brainstorming:

- if a skillcheck fails but the player is very close to passing (say missing <= 5 SP), and if the situation allows it, allow players to retreat from the check to try again after gaining some SP:
"You understand the locks mechanism, but you can't quite keep the pick steady enough to lift the final tumbler. With just a little bit of practice you could probably do it",
"You almost convinced Mercato but at the last moment, his suspicion wins out. You quickly distract him into meaningless gossip. Maybe you can try again after he had some wine"
etc. You then allow the player to enter the sequence again one more time, So on next try:
"You have attempted the lock before, it's a difficult one. Maybe this time!"
"Mercato hasn't moved, and doesn't mind you sharing another drink with him (-1 Imperials)"

- Inspired by (or stolen from Wink ) Frayed Knights' drama stars: Introduce a "Fate pool". You accrue fate points by sustaining wounds and failing skill checks. Fate points are basically single use skill points. They represent the "lucky break for the unlucky guy", so to speak.
So for appropriately important skill checks on fail <10SP, you'd get a popup:
"It's not looking good. Do you want to change your Fate?"
Yes -> "Spend how many fate points?" (select 1-10).
Like drama stars you could consider fate points resetting on reloads. Obviously some work to program, but probably relatively little work to implement in many checks once it's there. And another resource to manage is always fun, no?  Wink

(Oy! Pol Vetosh ninja'd me on that idea!)
I also like MMs idea of using the sum of skills in combined skill checks.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:54:44 pm by GhanBuriGhan » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2012, 04:04:47 pm »

Can you explain the difference between min-maxing and metagaming? What would be looked at? It's a complex issue. The difficulty leads you to min-max and you do so by metagaming. I'm not sure which one's the "root of all evil".

I am also a little confused by the differences between the two.

I will save my vote for a bit later.

My only real complaint is that in the end I felt a bit forced into a situation I couldn't actually handle with my character.  I tend to either want to go all combat or no combat.  With my thief I went with all non-combat skills, but the end of the thief play path involved a ton of combat that I couldn't avoid (or perhaps I can but I haven't figured it out yet).

Even if I used the black powder or disguise branches I was still faced with a long combat sequence that I have yet to get through. 

I don't mind running away, and in fact in earlier situations that is exactly what I did... and I was happy about the outcome.  I am a thief and I know I am not a fighter, so running away is a perfectly valid strategy for me.  I know I missed some skill points and loot by running away and I am cool with that.

But there was no out for me at the end.  Perhaps there is and I haven't found it... I wish Cado would have given me more warning about the combat.

One of the problems is that the captain of the guard goes for me no matter what... I tried just kiting him but that didn't work as my buddies can't scratch him.  Even if he is right next to both of them and I am 5 squares away he goes for me.  That I did find annoying.  Why can't he attack the guys right next to him?  I guess he knows that I am the ring leader and they will give up once I am dead?

Also, I wonder if combat builds are actually way more valid due to the skill points rewarded for killing people.  I only killed 1 person, which isn't many bonus points.

I will have to toy around some more, but I actually found the Mercenary to be easier than the Thief due to the fact that the Mercenary could fall back on combat if need be... I will have to try again with a more combat orientated Thief that uses block.

I guess I would just like to see more opportunities to cheat death with the skills that I do have.  I don't care if I fail the quest or miss out on the reward, but it would be nice to squeak by with the skills that I do have... not get rewarded, but just cheat death.

I like the idea of failing to do things, I think that is great.  My thief didn't want to be a fighter and I am not asking to succeed at fights... but I do think there could be more non-combat solutions... perhaps I could have convinced some other brawlers to come along... or just hide in the shadows when it is clear the fight is lost.  I can live with being a coward and will gladly take the reputation as such.

I still need to play a lot more.  I enjoy the game, but I have run into a few road blocks where I couldn't figure out how to advance.

And I have been trying to avoid spoilers in the posts.... which is damn hard.

I need to play more.  I have only tried two paths so far, and I need to try some others to get better scope of what is possible.
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