Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

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retroquark
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 24th, 2016, 2:56 am

Zombra wrote:It's not intended as an argument, or to shut down the conversation. It's a reminder that the forum has rules you should keep in mind. Calling a moderator names to his face is not going to end well. Take a few deep breaths and think it over.
No, you should think about why what you just did was childish. You are obviously aware of that you have power, and that you can force me to shut up if you want to. So when you choose an approach to debating someone that solely consists of "my opinion is better than your opinion", and add your moderator credentials on top as extra leverage - then you don't get to say "I don't want to stop people from discussing this" afterwards.

What you get then is the right to keep quiet and change your approach.
Zombra wrote: You seem to think that the context was a handful of forum posts. I am inclined to believe that the context was months of internal and external testing and full time development work. I guess we'll never know unless they decide to spend the man-hours to research, format, and publicly post full details of their development process in deference to one complainer's sense of entitlement. Hold your breath.
You know I'm not asking for that, and the HP bar has been questioned regularly since it was mentioned on the forum. And what I want to hear is that the crisis encounter design wasn't separated out of the rulesystem with it's own buffer for balancing purposes. I want to hear that inXile doesn't think that is a satisfying way to design a game.
Zombra wrote: Still waiting for those citations.
I don't go around compiling sourced lists of internet comments, but it is from the same thread on this forum. Other than that, I chatted with someone here when the beta first came out, they felt the first encounter may have been a bit difficult. They went on to do the encounter again, cleared it, thought it was fine. My interpretation of the chatter elsewhere, and some people I spoke with privately, was that the presentation of the system seemed a bit weird, that the AI was a bit too good at seeing your weaknesses. But that it fundamentally made sense.

Later, my impression was that the testers who still post here, as well as inxile "balancing" folks have decided that the crisis system is fundamentally broken, cannot be balanced, and needed a new variable so they could be scaled properly in a linear fashion.

That surprised me, because this is the identical approach Obsidian chose when they scrapped Josh Sawyer's absolutely brilliant rule-system fro PoE, and spent 6 months at replacing it with a linear and incredibly boring system.

And the reason I thought of that was because they also cited "balancing issues". So, just so it's been said - I've been beta-testing "professionally", I've been handling focus-groups for an IT project in person. I know what "balancing" really means. So when I say I suspect that InXile is dumbing down the rule-system and replacing it with something that can be incrementally completed and documented easily as having been "objectively" balanced to perfection, with math, etc. Then the reason for that is that I recognise the approach from projects I've been part of, where instead of choosing the clever option, we end up deliberately choosing the dumb option - because both users and managers are able to see the progress and milestones specifically as we work.

It is of course still the dumb option, and it's never going to be anything else than that. And we would never have went that route in our project if we didn't have to answer to people who don't understand programming, logic, or anything but a bright folder with snappy slides in it.

So consider that there may be more people than me who will be surprised to learn that inXile - without being pressured by a large an evil corporation or publisher, or something like that - still chose the dumb option here. This reflects incredibly badly on you.
Zombra wrote: The impression I get is that they are not in the habit of exhaustively explaining, or groveling for approval for, every decision they make - nor should they be.
Really. So why has inXile become more and more skittish about saying they want an intelligent game for clever players. Where is the emphasis on long dialogues, deep character development, slow and thoughtful puzzle-like combat, and huge discussions on the way the tides interfere in different parts of the game's design?

You can't have it both ways, Zombra. Either they emphasize and drive the sell of the game on being complex underneath, but satisfying and narratively unexhausting on top. Or else they keep their mouths shut and suddenly go mum about the decisions that go completely against that design-philosophy - that we were sold on the kickstarter with.

And frankly this kind of pointless and public deference to inxile is beneath you. Really, "they probably have control". "I believe this out of being a community moderator on their public forums, where they do not post any more, because they are so confident in all their decisions now". It's pathetic.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by kilobug » November 24th, 2016, 3:11 am

retroquark wrote:And what I want to hear is that the crisis encounter design wasn't separated out of the rulesystem with it's own buffer for balancing purposes. I want to hear that inXile doesn't think that is a satisfying way to design a game.
You are aware that health bar in particular, and more generally having some different resources (health bar, mana pool, health potions, arrows, ...) within the combat parts and within the exploration/dialogue part is the case in _every_ CRPG (including PST), right ? So no CRPG ever was designed in a "satisfying way", until _tabletop_ Numénera came out, and the only "satisfying" CRPG ever would be to blindly apply tabletop Numénera rules ?

Honestly... I can understand you liked the Numénera Pool system and common resource between combat and Effort usage outside of combat. It's a neat idea that can be nice if done well (even if I do understand it makes balancing much harder in a computer game, so probably not worth the huge trouble). But come on. Your superlative and ridiculous claims, your accusations against inXile's intent not backed by any evidence, your over-inflating of a relatively minor issue... that just discredits your initial, understandable, point. You're not helping your own cause that way, quite the opposite.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by anonymous6059 » November 24th, 2016, 4:33 am

Woolfe wrote:
Stuurminator wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:The Cypher system is pretty simple and it should of been pretty easy for them to of kept the core aspects of the system intact.
I see this argument a lot, and I think it behooves me to say something: a (tabletop roleplaying) system being simple does not make it easier to convert to video game format. Quite the opposite, in fact; simple systems are designed as such to offload some arbitration to the GM's human mind.

Mechanically complex systems are easily to convert to CRPGs because computers don't mind working with a lot of rules and minutiae. Streamlined systems are much harder because they generally are built with the assumption that the rules will take a backseat to a human's subjective judgment, something computers don't do well at all.
This this this.

I agree that computers can take on and do a lot of the processing, so they should make use of this to make determination of mechanical events much more complex. Ie instead of just an RNG, you have an RNG that is modified by skill, stat, difficulty of test, light levels, weather, pressure, morale, some small annoying child standing nearby wailing in your ear etc etc. That is the easy stuff though.

The hard stuff is replacing the GM with "algorithms". You have to try and cover as many options as possible, where a gm would just work with whatever the player tries to do, the computer to do that must know all the options in advance.

It is never as easy as it seems. You will go one way, thinking "easy as bro", then some annoying player says, I want to do it that way instead. At which point all your careful designs and plans start to unravel because that way just happens to not be easy, and it causes all the easy stuff you have done to unravel, and become not easy.
I don't know. Let say that you wanted to make a CRPG based off a tabletop game that has over 50 specific rules for combat. This game is strictly all about miniature combat for instance and has tons of rules for lots of situations. When you go to convert those rules into a video game some of them won't work. You've got to add a few sometimes, change a few of them, or remove some all together. The fact that so many rules exist increases the likelihood that some will need to be adjusted to work in a video game.

I don't know if you've actually ever used the Cypher system rules or not, but they are very easy to transition into a videogame. I think that it is pretty obvious that it was possible for Inxile to have kept the core rules. They did in fact build the game for, what, 3-4 years using just the core rules! The alpha and beta functioned using the core rules. Did inxile add a lot of additional rules to those core rules, I'm pretty sure they did. However, they managed to build the game using those handful of core rules that make up the Cypher System. Having to follow 50 rules is much more difficult than having to follow 5. The Cypher System is more of a drama system than a combat simulator.

All you've pointed out as far as I see is the fact that a videogame has lots of additional mechanics that are necessary, not that it must use a health bar. The proof already exist that Inxile could of made the game without having to alter the handful of rules that exist in the Cypher system. It may have been a pretty terrible game without the addition of a health bar, I'm not saying otherwise. I personally think Inxile is doing what they can to make this game as good as possible and i believe that their reasons are well founded. However, I don't believe that less rules makes it somehow more likely that they will need to be broken. In fact I think it obvious that it is the exact opposite case.

This should help explain:
If I told you that I needed you to build me a house. I told you that I only had 5 rules for how I wanted it built. You agreed and started building it. Later, I came to you and said "I want this place bigger, taller, with all the bells & whistles!!" and dumped five times the amount of money into your hands that you'd started with. Now, you start building the structure taller and taller. Eventually it gets so tall that you realize that in order to complete it and still achieve your own vision you need to "break" one of the rules that I'd given you. You tell me that the building would just be too unstable if you continued to follow the rules. I agree and allow you to change the rules so that you can achieve what you believe is the best result. You could of finished it without breaking the rules, but you'd convinced me that it was more important to have a safe and beautiful home than to stick to my ideals alone.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by dorkboy » November 24th, 2016, 4:55 am

@anomymous6059
The best example I can think of would be the GM intrusions. Fairly simple for humans to comprehend, but pretty much impossible for a computer.
Really anything that requires human interpretation and on-the-fly judgement calls needs to be nailed down and specified in advance (with all possible outcomes and circumstances) in order for a computer to act on it.
It's not the number of rules, but the amount of human interpretation that the rules require.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by anonymous6059 » November 24th, 2016, 5:31 am

dorkboy wrote:@anomymous6059
The best example I can think of would be the GM intrusions. Fairly simple for humans to comprehend, but pretty much impossible for a computer.
Really anything that requires human interpretation and on-the-fly judgement calls needs to be nailed down and specified in advance (with all possible outcomes and circumstances) in order for a computer to act on it.
It's not the number of rules, but the amount of human interpretation that the rules require.
Okay. I'll agree with that. GM Intrusions are a clear cut example. I still think as a rule of thumb less rules are easier to follow than more rules, but what those rules are is much more important than how many rules exist. So I'll concede for now. Even with only a handful of rules something like GM intrusions do present a serious problem for videogame developers.

I still don't know if it was really necessary that they include a Health bar, but I feel confident that Inxile is doing their best.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Drool » November 25th, 2016, 12:27 pm

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 28th, 2016, 6:10 am

Thank you for your invaluable contribution to the debate, moderator person. You sure set a great example, and you're so respectful to others as well. Good boy!

Now please just go away. Seriously, wtf guy? Can I report you and get your crap off the board? It's a serious question - will you automatically respond and ban yourself if "most people" seem to want it to happen, for example? Or would this be a difficult decision to make that your highness would need to contemplate for a longer period of time?
dorkboy wrote:@anomymous6059
The best example I can think of would be the GM intrusions. Fairly simple for humans to comprehend, but pretty much impossible for a computer.
Really anything that requires human interpretation and on-the-fly judgement calls needs to be nailed down and specified in advance (with all possible outcomes and circumstances) in order for a computer to act on it.
It's not the number of rules, but the amount of human interpretation that the rules require.
Mm. There are a few different approaches to that.
a) make everything ambiguous in the sense that when you use a stat for a check somewhere, it's dynamic enough that it makes narrative sense.
b) map out everything you do in a very detailed and specific way, but only use the ruleset in those specific situations it applies (think type.. world of darkness - very detailed and intricate, but you only pull out very specific stats once in a while for very specific purposes).
c) attempt to tie the actual stats and mechanics into the flow of the game more holistically, so that you always refer to the rules indirectly, and it's easy as gm and as a player to figure out situations to actually use the ruleset.

And.. usually you get some sort of mix between the three, so you end up with creating sort of familiar situations and improvising over how you're going to use the ruleset, etc. Right? That's how your average game goes - you figure something out based on familiar rules, and the GM adjusts a couple of things on the fly based on some criteria in a rule-book. The actual role-playing happens semi-connected to this, usually through a good stab at an indirectly relevant character sheet.

Thing is that there's nothing in that process specifically that a computer can't do. The only failures you get is when you don't structure the event on beforehand properly, so the player won't understand what you're expecting in more weird role-playing type checks. Which is the exact same problem you have with a computer as a human GM. A human gm might recover more gracefully from a problem like that, but it's the same fundamental problem: you want to structure the event, but not so much you don't have any choices.

Anyway. Problem is this: this spehere of the playing session isn't even involved here. What we're really talking about is only the combat, or the crisis. The use of the stat-sheet and so on in the entire rest of the game is tied to the narrative and writing, where the HP bar likely isn't used at all.

And what inXile tells you here is that their combat/crisis "balancers" are not clever enough to balance the combat into the same ruleset that the rest of the world is governed by. So instead they needed a second "HP bar" element, so they could tweak the crisis encounters to a ruleset that has very little to do with numenera, or how the stat-sheet is used in the entire rest of the game.

So congratulations, inXile. Mission accomplished, and all that. But it doesn't make me want to buy your next games, regardless of what you're trying to convince me you want to make. Because this shows me that you're just taking the easy route if you can, and that your sell is just utter claptrap. Not because you don't have the talent to make something better - after all, I have played the first iteration of the system, so I know you can do it if you wanted. But because inXile demonstrates it will choose the easy route, given any excuse; you just don't believe that your audience can deal with anything more thoughtful than button-mashing and potion spam. As simple as possible! But also should be tedious and complex from a user-perspective. Etc.

And then you have the rest of the game and the story on the back that doesn't fit with this approach at all. Until you get something that is worse than an improvised GM-session with an entirely new and made-up ruleset you invented 10 minutes before the game starts. If you want me to pay you to make stuff like that, you're going to be disappointed.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by kilobug » November 28th, 2016, 7:17 am

retroquark wrote:And what inXile tells you here is that their combat/crisis "balancers" are not clever enough to balance the combat into the same ruleset that the rest of the world is governed by. So instead they needed a second "HP bar" element, so they could tweak the crisis encounters to a ruleset that has very little to do with numenera, or how the stat-sheet is used in the entire rest of the game.
I always love seeing outsiders giving lessons to professionals not being "smart", it usually just speaks about their own ignorance of what they're speaking about.

But that aside, what you are saying is factually wrong. Crisis encounters _still_ have lots of to do with Numénera and with the stat sheet of the rest of the game. You _still_ spend points from your Pools, helped by your Edge, limited by your Effort to apply Effort during combat, be it to increase your chance of hitting, increasing damage, avoid blows, ... Or to "power" esoteries, moves and tricks of the trade. The rules are still the same, with difficulty level, assets, skills, Effort and a d20 roll. You still rely on limited carry, one-use Cyphers for varied effects.

The only difference, relative minor one, is that damages are taken from an additional pool. Not the end of the world. It makes balancing easier since it adds a buffer that is mostly used only during Crisis, but while leaving lots of ties between Crisis and exploration mode. Partially decoupling problems, enough to make them tractable, not enough so it feels like two different games in one, that's a _smart_ way to solve problems, from an engineering pov. As from a gameplay pov, none of us can tell until the game is released.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by dorkboy » November 28th, 2016, 8:50 am

retroquark wrote:Thing is that there's nothing in that process specifically that a computer can't do.
But it can only do them specifically, which is to say; it can't improvise - neither the content nor the context. Hence all the writers and programmers. :)
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Woolfe » November 28th, 2016, 4:10 pm

dorkboy wrote:
retroquark wrote:Thing is that there's nothing in that process specifically that a computer can't do.
But it can only do them specifically, which is to say; it can't improvise - neither the content nor the context. Hence all the writers and programmers. :)
This.

To build in even a portion of what a GM can do, even the basic rule following stuff, is massively complex. It is as simple as 1s and 0s, but several hundred million 1s and 0s, that all work in conjunction with each other, and changing one my have an effect on others, and you need to know what effect it is going to have, in order to account for the next change as well.

Programming is not simple(though some make it look so), and whilst technically there is nothing in the process that a computer can't do. To make if be able to do everything would mean you would never move on to the next decision, and development time would be .. well.. forever.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by anonymous6059 » November 29th, 2016, 3:58 am

Woolfe wrote:
dorkboy wrote:
retroquark wrote:Thing is that there's nothing in that process specifically that a computer can't do.
But it can only do them specifically, which is to say; it can't improvise - neither the content nor the context. Hence all the writers and programmers. :)
This.

To build in even a portion of what a GM can do, even the basic rule following stuff, is massively complex. It is as simple as 1s and 0s, but several hundred million 1s and 0s, that all work in conjunction with each other, and changing one my have an effect on others, and you need to know what effect it is going to have, in order to account for the next change as well.

Programming is not simple(though some make it look so), and whilst technically there is nothing in the process that a computer can't do. To make if be able to do everything would mean you would never move on to the next decision, and development time would be .. well.. forever.
I got to thinking about this some more and I'm going to have to backtrack on my quick verdict. Perhaps something like GM intrusion actually exist in lots of video games, we just call them "lives". Inxile had to change several esoteries in the game in order for them to make sense. Scan is an ability that is supposed to give you some basic info on anything and everything. Obviously inxile couldn't write dialogue for every single asset in the game. Instead they made the esotery into a mind reading ability essentially. Coming back to GM intrusions, you have to wonder if it couldn't of been done the same way. During the game the player accrued XP points. These XP points could be used to revert back to a prior save point. If you didn't spend the XP points you could use them for immediate and short term benefits later in the game. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but i know that a few old arcade games used to exist that had similar features. You could spend lives to make your character stronger temporarily for example. So to be honest I'm really not sure if Inxile couldn't of found a way to take every rule in the Cypher System and make it work. I'm not saying that they should have done it. I'm just saying that it seems possible. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting way of incorporating something like GM intrusions into a video game.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 29th, 2016, 4:14 am

edit:^ ooh, yes, clever! :p
kilobug wrote: But that aside, what you are saying is factually wrong. Crisis encounters _still_ have lots of to do with Numénera and with the stat sheet of the rest of the game. You _still_ spend points from your Pools, helped by your Edge, limited by your Effort to apply Effort during combat, be it to increase your chance of hitting, increasing damage, avoid blows, ... Or to "power" esoteries, moves and tricks of the trade. The rules are still the same, with difficulty level, assets, skills, Effort and a d20 roll. You still rely on limited carry, one-use Cyphers for varied effects.
Thank you, false equivalence man, for pointing out that I should have /further/ specified how I meant the ruleset would not be relevant to the domains and the strength of each in the character building sense. Rather than using the phrase in - what seemed like the obvious reading, of course - in a way where I tried to suggest the ruleset had no narrative connection to the game's context at all. Thank you also, for taking this specification on board for future reference, false equivalence man.

Anyway. people can still look at this in the beta version right now and see for themselves. The point being that adding HP has two very obvious purposes: 1. avoid people from overextending and dying when their defenses are spent. 2. make the character building process about picking the attack spells you want to bash people with.

The game has then been tweaked and "balanced" into that mode, just like Pillars of Eternity. Where the difference between "normal" and "hard" is the amount of flat damage you need to be able to give and take over the first two exchanges, before the fight (or the game) is over.

What this does is to sideline your character's role, purpose of focus on the three domains, and edge in either or all types of skill in any role-playing aspect, strategic aspect, or tactical combat aspect. And instead, like in Pillars of Eternity, makes your character sheet an almost completely cosmetic set of things you are allowed to fidde around with. That has no bearing on specific abilities, strength of any attack against particular defenses, weakness against others, etc. You just have a pool of points to spend before your HP is used up.

Once you level up a bit, you also get the same situation as in Pillars of Eternity. You simply have a truckload of ability points - that you spend for increasingly less signficant upgrades. That in any case never actually save you from the need to have some ultimate attack ability you need to save up to beat the "toughest" bosses.

And all the way through the game, if you read the rules and take the descriptors in the ruleset seriously, you will think that there are other approaches here. And you end up with a "trap build", in the sense that any other build than a min-max build is going to make you weaker against the bosses. Because you have spent points on something else than the one ultimate attack that saves the day.

This the "balance" folks then, going by experience with Obsidian, don't understand until release. Which is the point where they find out that why, not everyone else will purposely create a might-maxed character for a mage, and put them behind a tower-shield because big numbers. And then ends up merely reducing the difficulty (read: magical all-purpose defense that only bosses have) of all the "most difficult" encounters in the game, to account for "sub-optimal" builds.

And the product you get in the end is not merely boring, you've actually just hired a team to balance one variable of the game up and down until no one died in the boss-battles.

In short: you haven't gone across the stream for water here. You've made a business out of leading people 10km upstream, across the bridge, down to the point you started again. And then have them pay for your guidance along the way.

Where I come from, that's not a good business-strategy. It just wouldn't work, because no one is going to be impressed by the sparkling spring-water that only materialize on the other side of the stream after a 10km trek.
dorkboy wrote:
retroquark wrote:Thing is that there's nothing in that process specifically that a computer can't do.
But it can only do them specifically, which is to say; it can't improvise - neither the content nor the context. Hence all the writers and programmers. :)
So people say.. :p

No, but seriously, though - like I said, in a structured event, the difference between a GM that follows the rules and a program programmed on beforehand is very small. The only difference is that the GM can break the rules if they want to (and a good GM will maybe do that and call it "improvisation". Not that you can't also cheat when you program in the conditions for the events just fine, and I know I would have a much easier time preparing a good rule-breaking lie to the team if I could do it in advance, and make sure the event is completely mapped out on beforehand, like in a computer program).

In an unstructured event, or when mapping out parts of the story as you run along, then a human GM is crucial to not require too much imagination and work for the players. But you're not going to rely on, in any game governed by rules, a human continously reinterpreting every aspect of the rules.

I'm just saying that any good GM will plan, make cheat-notes, and steer an event into a specific situation they've rehearsed on beforehand. And once you choose that structured approach, and wrest that narrative control from the player, there is no fundamental difference between programming a computer and following your notes and your rules. The only difference is that you could stop following the rules at any time you wish. But very few GMs would be able to actually do that without the players noticing; to break the rules in an event where the rules are apparent is usually what will finally break immersion completely.

So from the point of view of a GM who does write stories on beforehand, who always will have prepared a set of dialogues that branch down, etc. To a GM like that, being able to actually write all this stuff down in a structured event is something that allows you to fish out inconsistencies much better. In a computer-game, in a structured event, you also have the opportunity to subtly take away agency from the players at any point - you just allow people choices inside a set event sphere, and that's all they can do. But the player will still think they are making a choice, and typically will help you as a writer to invent the narrative needed to justify the situation. This always shocks me, how easily people will say: "well, there must have been a reason for this arbitrary obstacle here, and it had to be.." such and such depending on something you didn't even consider.

The point is that when you're already talking about planned events like this, structured events, you can program a computer to make seemingly clever and insightful predictions very easily.

Combat, in the same line of reasoning, is a much less dynamic thing altogether. There's also nothing stopping you from inventing small weaknesses on your bosses that directly depend on the abilities of the party, or depending on a narrative element, or as part of a puzzle, or something like that. But here you know the rules, and the choices you make here are just not that far-reaching. The sphere of influence of player agency in combat is basically not there, compared to everything else leading up into the situation.

So when I see a GM who says: you know what, I don't think I can balance this fight without inventing a new absolute variable that grows linearly with the party's level.

Then I'm not going to be extremely impressed. Like I've said, this is lazy design to the point of being a cop-out. And I think Inxile have only done this in the first place because their balancing/community folks practically live on Neogaf and reddit. And therfore are convinced that every person in the world are so dumb, unengaged and so unintelligent, that they not only don't care about reading anything that's written in the game. They also believe that any ruleset more advanced than "level up, get hit points, bash more monsters before potion drink" is going to confuse people.

Because there reallyl is no other explanation for adding elements to the "cypher" ruleset, that specifically is designed to make everything else in it irrelevant from a game-mechanical perspective.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by dorkboy » November 29th, 2016, 8:29 am

@anonymous6059
So you're saying it could be done if it was strictly limited to a few options that had all been specified in advance? I agree! :lol:

@retroquark
Oh, by all means - the more structured and rigidly defined the events are in the PnP version, the easier the transition to a computer version.
That was pretty much the point I was making. I think you're selling human imagination and interpretative flexibility seriously short, though, which seems a weird thing to do when supposedly defending a system designed for narrative freedom. :?
You also seem to interpret 'improvisation' as 'breaking the rules', rather than creatively applying the rules to adjust the current context and insert ad hoc content based on subjective judgment. You're right that the computer game can't do the former, but it also can't do the latter. ;)
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Woolfe » November 29th, 2016, 9:51 pm

dorkboy wrote:@anonymous6059
So you're saying it could be done if it was strictly limited to a few options that had all been specified in advance? I agree! :lol:

@retroquark
Oh, by all means - the more structured and rigidly defined the events are in the PnP version, the easier the transition to a computer version.
That was pretty much the point I was making. I think you're selling human imagination and interpretative flexibility seriously short, though, which seems a weird thing to do when supposedly defending a system designed for narrative freedom. :?
You also seem to interpret 'improvisation' as 'breaking the rules', rather than creatively applying the rules to adjust the current context and insert ad hoc content based on subjective judgment. You're right that the computer game can't do the former, but it also can't do the latter. ;)
Dorkboy says it best. These things are "easy"tm when you have absolutely structured and and rigidly defined events.

When you have GM interactions in real life, it is in no way simple, and often they need to make things up on the fly. Could that be programmed. Sure. Will it be done with the resources available to a company trying to make a pc game. Not likely.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by kilobug » November 30th, 2016, 12:50 am

Woolfe wrote:When you have GM interactions in real life, it is in no way simple, and often they need to make things up on the fly.
Often, you mean always right ? ;) I've been a D&D/Planescape GM for around 10 years in my youth, and I don't think there has been a single session that went really according to the plans, without the players doing something wholly unexpected forcing me to improvise... not that I complain, that was part of the fun :)

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Woolfe » November 30th, 2016, 3:40 am

kilobug wrote:
Woolfe wrote:When you have GM interactions in real life, it is in no way simple, and often they need to make things up on the fly.
Often, you mean always right ? ;) I've been a D&D/Planescape GM for around 10 years in my youth, and I don't think there has been a single session that went really according to the plans, without the players doing something wholly unexpected forcing me to improvise... not that I complain, that was part of the fun :)
Heh... I used to play Paranoia a bit. Now that was a game where anything could and did happen. It was not unusual for players to die before they left the briefing room. Especially if they were new, and didn't realise that part of the game was that every other player was out to get you as well. I had one game where I was being a little too smooth and sneaky and hadn't lost a single clone, so the GM threw in a raid to find unregistered Psychics. I was registered, however the general theme of the game was shoot now, shoot later, and shoot a bit more just for good measure. So of course everyone including my party members attacked me because I was psychic. When I somehow managed to escape, the GM had an unregistered psychic drop a stone couch that I had been hiding behind on me. He was very impressed that it took almost direct intervention to actually kill me.

I loved that game.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 30th, 2016, 4:10 am

dorkboy wrote:@anonymous6059
So you're saying it could be done if it was strictly limited to a few options that had all been specified in advance? I agree! :lol:
Like in a video-game?
@retroquark
You also seem to interpret 'improvisation' as 'breaking the rules', rather than creatively applying the rules to adjust the current context and insert ad hoc content based on subjective judgment. You're right that the computer game can't do the former, but it also can't do the latter. ;)
It's reasonable to argue that way, but it's not the case. You can create conditions for when the overall ruleset is broken in a game just fine. It won't involve skynet, it will just break the player's expectations. Which is what you need to do extremely creatively if you GM: "divine intervention! Rocks fall!". Stuff like that doesn't impress many people. My usual crutch is meeting seemingly pointless people at crossroads, for example. Who can be just that. But then sometimes mysteriously morph into extremely significant characters later, as the situation demands. It breaks the rules of the world, it cheats with the consistency of the world I've created. Or invents narrative consistency where that wasn't intended. But to the players, it will appear consistent. And I can plan for that in advance just fine, even if I had to put this down in writing, and create simple dialogue conditions, or raise particular types of flags to create the event, etc. Because these events are structured, and they happen inside a known context.

So I was just making the point that when you make a video-game, you already have this special structured context. You need to know how the elements map out or relate to each other on beforehand. And you need to adjust the player path, knowing where they will go in advance.

It's analogous to a special case for a GM where you somehow have been able to predict absolutely everything the party decided to do on beforehand, while having perfect overview of the party's stats, skills, gear and variables. So from a certain point of view, making games like that is a fairly thankful task, where you can get away with much more complicated systems underneath, to create a system that appears very seamless and simple to the player.

Needless to say, that still requires a lot of work. And I'm.. increasingly less and less surprised to learn that developers, even when specifically paid in advance to do that job, don't really care to do it. Presumably because they are told by the ever brimming fount of wisdom that is the internet, that they are impressed as long as there are blinking lights, Stronghold, and romance options.

I'm not saying there isn't a small market that only cares about romancing in rpgs, and bless you for not actually pursuing romance, or potential children, in real life. But I'm suggesting that this market is probably a little bit smaller than the intertron makes it appear to be. When an obscure comic series from China has a bigger following offline than any online promotion material associated with the literally greatest kickstarter for a video-game ever, for example - this should probably tell you something about how marginal the feedback you get here is.

In the same way, to say that it's the safe option to deliberately lower the bar and make something for people with a single-digit IQ, lower than the lowest possible limit, even lower than the actual IQ of the testers you have - this doesn't actually work for anyone. And you really do not get even movies from Hollywood sold in this way: "So simplistic you won't need to think!". Instead it's a popcorn summer-movie with an easy plot and lots of action and huge effects. And then you go and see this for the special effects and huge screen.

But none of the people who go and see a braindead summer-movie are going to buy a game that literally says: "pointless grinding for hours, with lots and lots of micromanagement! Also has reams and reams of intelligent sounding dialogue that will impress your peers!".

It doesn't work. And it only does appear sensible to you because you've taken feedback from a small group - and then tempered that feedback towards what you assume is something closer to a neutral ground. A little bit like this: "most people under torture seem to prefer blunt trauma over needles under the fingers, except in the case of bone fractures. So to improve our brand appeal for "Torture-buddy", I believe we must strike a careful balance between needles and blunt trauma, as per the suggestions offered by our vict... er.. focus-group".

It sounds reasonable and logical. But you're still offering torture as a product. And no amount of minute restructuring of that product on the specific level - no matter how many times you polish the hammer, or file and bend angles to the needles, or put them in lovely suede covers -- is going to change that. The fact remains that the product is unsellable.

(At least in the private home-entertainment business. Though maybe inXile could be saved by a military contractor, who might see entirely new applications for your product).

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by kilobug » November 30th, 2016, 4:52 am

retroquark wrote:
dorkboy wrote:@anonymous6059
So you're saying it could be done if it was strictly limited to a few options that had all been specified in advance? I agree! :lol:
Like in a video-game?
A CRPG usually doesn't offer "a few" options but many of them, and through combinatorial explosion, it quickly leads to an intractable situation.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by anonymous6059 » November 30th, 2016, 5:17 am

kilobug wrote:
retroquark wrote:
dorkboy wrote:@anonymous6059
So you're saying it could be done if it was strictly limited to a few options that had all been specified in advance? I agree! :lol:
Like in a video-game?
A CRPG usually doesn't offer "a few" options but many of them, and through combinatorial explosion, it quickly leads to an intractable situation.
Well, I felt that my example would work because it limits the number of variables by reducing the purpose of GM intrusions. My point was simply that they could find a way to stick to the core rules. Some rules and aspects of the game would need to be simplified of course, but I don't think they have to alter the rules and do things like include a health bar. Doing this could lead to a very tedious and unpleasant game however. The first thing that pops to mind is Temple of Elemental Evil. It is said to be one of the best conversions of table-top to videogame ever made. It is also a poorly rated game because of a number of bugs when the game launched and because of the learning curve required to enjoy the game.

Again, I think its obvious that the health bar could of been left out. They built the game for years and years without including it, all the way to beta in fact. So it is "possible". I just don't think it would of made the game necessarily any better if they did. It would of simply made the developers push out a game with more bugs and a higher learning curve to understand and enjoy.

I'm kind of shocked we are still having this argument. You guys did notice the new update, right? :lol:

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