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

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

Post by Drool » November 21st, 2016, 1:33 pm

Stuurminator wrote: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.
Indeed. I can only imagine trying to make a good Amber CRPG...
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 21st, 2016, 6:47 pm

Drool wrote:
retroquark wrote:Note as always: a very, very, very, very, very - very - small amount of the people who helped kickstart this game post here, or on internet in general. And you taking on board certain "feedback" on their behalf is unfair to the massive majority - usually more than 99.9% of the backers don't post on forums like this - of the actual backers.
Mhmm. Convenient that this massive, overwhelming majority that never comments on anything happens to agree entirely with your opinion.
It's a lot less contrived than the idea that 5 people on a forum will know what 70.000 other kickstarters want. Specifically when it was about changing very small and specific pieces of a design with no concern for how it makes the rest of the system pretty much cosmetic.

It also doesn't help when the only changes that were made come from removing specific elements that someone didn't immediately figure out how worked. How this affects the design elsewhere, or remove narrative drivers that no doubt will be present in the game's writing and lore - apparently that's a secondary concern to kneefalling for these 5 forum-posters, who somehow speak for all the kickstarters. More tutorials, or just having someone try again. Not good enough - because something has to change when the community team does their job, right?

By the same logic that you guys are pulling here, I would be representing 14000 people all by myself. I have two other agree-posts, and so I guess we represent.. 42000 people. And we then have a large scale battle between truth and lies every time any two of these five.. I mean 14000 people representatives are slightly disagreeing. But in the end, the victor will decide - however bad the decision was - what should apparently be done, because now it is decided what everyone(tm) wants, including the ones who disagreed. By counting which 14000 representative party spammed the forum the most with speeches about how the game should be more like whatever else is popular now.

I suppose it really shouldn't be necessary to explain to anyone that this is not how things work. But here we are - inXile and Obsidian have done each of their roundabout turns on each of their impossibly successful kickstarters. You know what the sell was during the kickstarter, and you know what the product is now. You have made sacrifices to supposedly make "more people" like the game. And in the process, you have changed the product significantly. After that there has been more questions about why that happened than there ever were requests to change for example the hp and sprayflesh inclusion initially.

But now you don't care to crawl for internet noise - because you did something, and now I suppose it must be justified as necessary.

To the point you're telling me that I'm an idiot for presuming to speak for 70k people when I suggest we might not want backseat developers deciding for us. While also saying: but /we/ know what these 70k people want, because we listened to 5 people on a forum, and then extrapolated what everyone wanted from that. In the middle between launch and the end of the kickstarter, when no one was around. It's a completely sound way to find out what the majority opinion is, and makes your opinion insignificant!

Do you think that is a good argument for design-changes half-way, based on insta-opinion after the beta? "We didn't sign up in great enough numbers to specifically and angrily insist that you should avoid catering too much to someone who screwed up and then complained the game was too hard"? Is that a good argument for design-changes that no one seems to want?

In the meantime, "my opinion" simply was: let the developers who know what they're doing make a system that is consistent and fits with the design. And merely avoid trumping design-decisions with some internet-commenter's bright idea to solve everything, that they invariably have because they do not see the rest of the design. I'm not saying that you should never listen to feedback, because an external perspective can be quite good sometimes. But you have to be at least a little bit critical when someone tells you to upend something important because they had a bright idea to remove one little piece, that then they feel would fix all issues.

So tell me - do you truly find that opinion to be a marginal idea? That it's a good idea to avoid irreversibly cutting pieces off the design based on internet gamer insta-impressions on a forum?

I know an internet forum where a majority finds that trigonometry doesn't exist, for example. It's a silly idea because it disproves something apparently a majority likes to think is true. So I guess the internet must be right, and trigonometry is fiction, right?

And you guys know that the feedback you got was representative for everyone, because the internet is the perfect place to get mixed opinions. And if they happen to align with some presumption you've already made, then that's perfect! Focus group confirms the bias, and everyone is happy.

You also of course know that with the whole hp and sprayflesh business - you haven't explained why that was done. What we have is Sear stating that the decision has been made, and that it is fine, and final. We have no idea why, although it's easy to guess, of course.

So the arrogance involved here on the part of the community team, the weakness of the design-folks, and the lack of respect for the people who funded your project - is absolutely amazing. So good luck at launch.

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

Post by Woolfe » November 21st, 2016, 7:04 pm

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.

retroquark wrote:<Snip>

You also of course know that with the whole hp and sprayflesh business - you haven't explained why that was done. What we have is Sear stating that the decision has been made, and that it is fine, and final. We have no idea why, although it's easy to guess, of course.

So the arrogance involved here on the part of the community team, the weakness of the design-folks, and the lack of respect for the people who funded your project - is absolutely amazing. So good luck at launch.
The problem with your argument. Is that when you backed these games, you put your faith and money in a group of developers. If you don't like how they do it, then by all means state your issues. But as you point out, you aren't the only one with an opinion. These guys are walking a line. Trying to please the fans so that they come back, and trying to create the game they set out to. Sometimes that means nothing changes, sometimes it means major changes, sometimes it is a compromise.

Either way at some point you need to let it go and let them do their job. By all means hang around and raise your issue, to make sure you and others are aware and agree. But ranting and raving won't help, if anything it will turn people against you, especially in a forum like this.
In the end the only thing you can really do is to make the choice of whether you will back them in the future.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Zombra » November 21st, 2016, 8:55 pm

retroquark wrote:It's a lot less contrived than the idea that 5 people on a forum will know what 70.000 other kickstarters want.
No changes were ever made to this or any other inXile game entirely because a couple doods on a forum volunteered a terrible idea.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 22nd, 2016, 3:37 am

Zombra wrote:
retroquark wrote:It's a lot less contrived than the idea that 5 people on a forum will know what 70.000 other kickstarters want.
No changes were ever made to this or any other inXile game entirely because a couple doods on a forum volunteered a terrible idea.
:roll: Oh, here we go. How large of a proportion of the decision-making would you attribute to the "couple of doods" on the internet, then? Would inxile only ever pick up ideas from the internet if these ideas were "good"? If so, what criteria do you use here to judge what is good or beneficial to the title? Is the sales-perspective the major one? The sales-pitch that you insisted, on the kickstarter, that was not why you started on the project in the first place?

Like I said, I don't mind if you say: "we are going to appeal to as many people as possible, and so we're actively simplifying the system based on user-feedback" and replacing it with endless clicking sprees and repetitiveness in a misguided attempt to avoid criticism at launch from the ever insightful folks at Ziff-Davis and Gawker. But you're going to have to explain that to us who backed you, expecting that you would shrug off these concerns and focus on a good game, with a solid system and ruleset. That for example would bear some reasonable resemblance to the one in the rulebook.

I'll be completely specific here. In the game, you are effectively an immortal being. You cannot simply disappear, unless your existence disperses, and all the aspects of your consciousness and will disappears. All the characters you meet have exactly this setup, with each of their domains, so to speak representing what ties their existence to reality. So it's a very obvious narrative driver that the unchanging god will focus on some or all of the domains based on how they want to develop over time. Just as the weaknesses are going to be where the unchanging god has a bad grip on reality. From what I saw in the beta, several individually distinct writers were all trying to gear the writing into this in some fashion or other, although I was missing some clear events (like the ghost in the sanctuary tavern) that actually exposed it specifically.

So if that was an attempt at something and you couldn't pull it off - fine. But if you were angling for this, working hard on creating this framework, had already written in any number of dialogues (that I'm going to assume is mostly done by now) to that effect. And then threw it off the bridge - and deliberately made the three disciplines into a stamina-bar for skill-use, while letting HP grow linearly so you can basically ignore the entire ruleset when "balancing" the game - because someone min-maxed their character in the beta and lost the first fight (and then came crying to you). Then that's a genuinely bad idea. And it's also going to be bad for business for you.

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

Post by Zombra » November 22nd, 2016, 10:57 am

That decision was not made because one tester lost one fight. You seem to think it was completely arbitrary. It wasn't.

Obviously, you are unhappy with this decision ... it's OK for you to just move on. Your predictions of economic disaster for inXile have no doubt been heard and given their, uh, due consideration. It seems this change is not going to be rolled back. It's time for acceptance.

In my opinion, this one change doesn't ruin the "reasonable resemblance" of the game to the one in the rulebook. It does make it different, but not horribly unplayable or unrecognizable. I would rather they left the health bar out too to be honest, but this really isn't as drastic and destructive as you make it out.

Also, I don't work for inXile, so it's weird to address me as if I do.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Drool » November 22nd, 2016, 12:09 pm

retroquark wrote:So tell me - do you truly find that opinion to be a marginal idea? That it's a good idea to avoid irreversibly cutting pieces off the design based on internet gamer insta-impressions on a forum?
Who, me? I don't give a good God damn. I'm not designing this game. I just kicked in $20 as an early bird backer. Hell, I think PT is somewhat overrated, so I really don't care if they add a health bar or remove a health bar or give you a magical pony to ride around on; I don't have a skin in this game. Which, incidentally, is why I've never posted about systems or design. I'm just commenting on the commentary.

I'm meta, yo.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by Firkraag » November 22nd, 2016, 2:25 pm

Meh. I given up on expectations right after paying moneys. I had me hopes, still do, even, but I don't see, how kickstarter/preorder isn't a lottery or a startup or magical beens from a dude on street. Kickstarter sells you dreams and instant gratification during an absolute HypeFest. Everything else is a just a cherry on top. Though I do hope to get my Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary edition for 165$ bucks somewhere in the third quarter of 2017. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I do hope!.. (You got my point ;) )

Also.
retroquark wrote:I frequently play as GM for assholes like that
You're not the first GM I hear that from and I bet you wouldn't be the last. So, I must ask. Again. Why?.. Why do you that frequently, even if you know they're assholes? Is that a thing? You're questioning intelligence of lots of people, so I think it would be only fair for you to question your ability to make rational decisions. Do you think, that playing with these self-centered people, whose gaming styles doesn't mash well with your is a smart move? Or there are some underlying reasons behind your behavior, I can't fathom? Some dunno complications, that force you to sit behind a table with bunch of people, that manage to ruin your gaming experience every time? Or you haven't managed to properly vet your co-players before starting a game?
Drool wrote:Hell, I think PT is somewhat overrated
P.S. BURN THE HERETIC! :twisted: :D
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by anonymous6059 » November 22nd, 2016, 8:11 pm

Its that time of the year again guys. The time when we all give thanks to our favorite developers for being awesome. A time when we all tell Inxile how thankful we are for their hard work by listing one thing that we love about TToN. I love the weird fish fountain that is made of dead languages.

Thank you Inxile for working on this game and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

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

Post by retroquark » November 23rd, 2016, 2:20 am

Zombra wrote:That decision was not made because one tester lost one fight. You seem to think it was completely arbitrary. It wasn't.
Well, I think it was. Because the only feedback I have seen on this has been from people who min-maxed their character and failed horribly at playing the Hulk. Or from some half-weird comment from "devs" (which I guess is really people in the testing department?) effectively saying that if they can add HP, then they can make all the difficult bosses follow one after the other on a linear setup, always strip your defenses, and leave you with a bunch of sprayflesh spam.

It's lazy design.
Zombra wrote:Obviously, you are unhappy with this decision ... it's OK for you to just move on. Your predictions of economic disaster for inXile have no doubt been heard and given their, uh, due consideration. It seems this change is not going to be rolled back. It's time for acceptance.
That I've wasted my money and inXile used my money to make a console-game? Sure.
Zombra wrote:In my opinion, this one change doesn't ruin the "reasonable resemblance" of the game to the one in the rulebook. It does make it different, but not horribly unplayable or unrecognizable. I would rather they left the health bar out too to be honest, but this really isn't as drastic and destructive as you make it out.

Also, I don't work for inXile, so it's weird to address me as if I do.
I was hoping that was the case, but you speak as if you do.

And your opinion is a statement only. You're saying: I think this so this cancels out your opinion. It's idiotic, it's childish, and it's inXile's acceptance of this crap having design-influence why any of this is here in the first place.

Again - the pitch for the kickstarter is now something dictated by apparently anonymous fans who Inxile doesn't even think exist any more. No one knows who they are, or what they have argued. You would know, as anyone else who can play the beta, that with the HP in, it allowed the designers to drop a conscious approach to how the monsters cause damage, and how they receive it.

But "everyone" agree that the change was necessary. Because everyone knows that everyone else are stupid. Or at least the majority. And certainly everyone who pledged for the Tton kickstarter!

This is ridiculous. And frankly, every time I see some fan defending this by saying "but you all knew you were purchasing fluffy dreams and unfulfilled promises! You have nothing to complain about" - then you're really missing the point here. InXile chose to listen to the first and best batch of internet complainers to change a working design, arguing that certain players are so braindead that they will never understand something with three different strengths, and five other layers of type-protection.

But they won't listen to you if you're not a rabit idiot who - just drawing the example from Pillars of Eternity here - threaten to sick 100 forumers and youtube subscribers on the developer if they don't appease them. NI! NI! Etc. And there has been no discussion from InXile about how complex game-design with exposed rules in the beta might in fact result in simple player perspective control.

It's as if they've given up on it, or some genius in the team trumped through their linear solution. When the ruleset, and what the Tton kickstarter was sold on, specifically highlight the opposite. As did the original game.

But no - you guys have the correct interpretation here, and there's nothing to see here, move along. How childish is it possible to get? Answer me that? Can you possibly get worse?

Firkraag wrote: Also.
retroquark wrote:I frequently play as GM for assholes like that
You're not the first GM I hear that from and I bet you wouldn't be the last. So, I must ask. Again. Why?.. Why do you that frequently, even if you know they're assholes? Is that a thing? You're questioning intelligence of lots of people, so I think it would be only fair for you to question your ability to make rational decisions.
Fuck off.

What I said was that when left to stare into their own navel, a surprisingly high amount of intelligent people become extremely boring and predictable. They might not be bad people, they can even be good friends and fun to hang out with. But when given a die and a table, they will get obsessed with the numbers. After about an hour they get angry and leave because the game sucks.

That this type of player, in this grumpy mode, is going to dominate the feedback from the biggest kickstarter to date is disappointing, but not unexpected.

But you're not going to see this happen without comment.

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

Post by Tuth » November 23rd, 2016, 2:47 am

You need a hug.

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

Post by retroquark » November 23rd, 2016, 3:23 am

Thank you so much for your condescending attitude as well. I am so grateful.

This is called sarcasm, by the way. I'm not actually grateful that you're acting like a twat. Which I'm pointing out to you directly, because from focus-group testing I know that condescending people on the internet can't tell what sarcasm is. I am, however, not going to remove it from my posts in an attempt to mass-sell them to a youtube-audience.

No, what I need is that InXile justifies their reasoning to the kickstarters properly. I don't believe they can do that. Instead I think that if they were confident that decisions like this would go over well with their audience, then they would have made a proper announcement and explained their reasoning.

But instead, what InXile wants is this: to placate their special gerbils by changing the game for everyone. While hiding this for the rest of us, because they fear bad press as a result of the actual decisions being made.

So here's the challenge for Inxile: if you're confident about this change, and feel that it really was a necessary change to make to even make it possible to translate a pnp ruleset to a computer game, then make that official. Explain your reasoning fully, how this isn't a lazy decision made to cut down on balancing and testing, while justifying a Pillars of Eternity-esque "linearly increasing boss-size" progression tossed into the game at the last six months of development. How it's not a reaction to the fact that multiple (as in at least 3) super-fans played the beta and found hard mode "impossible", and fundamentally broken, because they couldn't beat it. And how you didn't say: well, we're not going to bother with a complicated balancing process, or improve the AI, so we're just going to restructure the whole game for a linear progression that makes the game look like a moba with some dialogue tossed in it.

Do that, and explain your reasoning fully, and we'll see how confident you should be about decisions like that.

Sit with your cards tight on the table, and we know exactly what's going on: you want the close super-fanbase feeling important, and you don't dare to even say what you're putting into the game to the rest of us - because you know it's an unsellable product. You can say what you want - you're choosing a super-focused user-base pilfered out of a small group on a small forum. And only see this as a reasonable thing to do because your community team insists that they are a balanced sample of your general users.

Show me that is the case. Explain your reasoning fully, publish your approach to how you sell the game and profile the kickstarter. And show me that you're right. That your three super-fans on a forum have concerns with the game that are representative of your user-base.

----

Seriously, though. Like any of you have balls to do that after the youtube-series sell that went specifically on reactivity and narrative consistency. But try to understand that there are many other more pressing issues with the game than the balancing involved with dying repeatedly because you make the same mistake over and over again. That the game's setting and story wraps beautifully, while coaxing you to try something different. But you're blind to this, because your only focus groups are people who say: "yeeaah, mmmhmm, yes, we look at this and see, SEE!!, that if you wish to sell the game to the masses, then you merely need to take care of this specific thing, that happens to be something I liked from Diablo 3 and now thinks should be in every game, and all other issues with the game will be gone! Fire burn and cauldron bubble, poof!".

You're making a mistake. And it's going to be expensive for you. You think that no one notices - but what happens is that most people simply don't sign up and write fifty duplicate reviews at launch saying: "IT SUCCKSKS!!" to get the ratings down. And you can't rely on that sort of mass-sell to sell Tton. You know this - this is why you went to kickstarter.

But as sure as sun comes after rain, once the game is made, and even though there's no publisher involved. Oh, there's going to be some moron who will say: "listen, what if we basically removed all difficulty from the game - wouldn't that make more people have more fun when playing? That's what the marginally reduced player whining says from experience with other projects!".

Grow some damned balls. We bought them for you, we've supported your sell, we've "resurrected" the isometric-ish crpg again with our own money. But you fuck us over because of marketing concerns anyway.

Again - stay silent if you want to, but it's going to be expensive for you at launch. You also know how important this project is for Inxile for the future, in light of how you had the opportunity to show off how creative you can be when unrestrained by deadlines and arbitrary milestones.

And instead you might be known for creating some moba-wank for some super-marginal fanbase that might be so limited as to only exist in between 10 people on a forum on the internet. You can't even spin this to say: we do what the fans want. You know no one wanted a linear game with a linear design - and you've angled for that anyway, because it's safe and easy to complete over time. Lazy and weak.

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

Post by Firkraag » November 23rd, 2016, 3:28 am

So you don't think they're assholes, anymore? You didn't answer my question, though...

Grumpy mode? Me? I simply interested, how "fans" like you always manage to be on high horse, when game developers are "lazy" or "so stupid, that they listen to one 'idiot' on how to make games " or something else.

I'm not grumpy, just very, very fascinated.

The worst kind of insult you might have been managed to concoct would be three simple words though.

Three simple words, that cause so much hurt to anyone, working in this media industry and all others.

The curse, that rings in the ears of everyone, who tries to create something beautiful, thought-provoking, entertaining or awesome.

Just three words, but the one, you'll have to fight off every time you start to work, unless you want depression to eat you alive.

...

And you are not helping it.

Is it too much to ask, not to pressure devs until the game hits the shelves? Then criticize it all you want every legal way possible.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 23rd, 2016, 3:30 am

Firkraag wrote: The worst kind of insult you might have been managed to concoct would be three simple words though.
You lack imagination?

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

Post by kilobug » November 23rd, 2016, 3:39 am

retroquark wrote:
Zombra wrote:That decision was not made because one tester lost one fight. You seem to think it was completely arbitrary. It wasn't.
Well, I think it was. Because the only feedback I have seen on this has been from people who min-maxed their character and failed horribly at playing the Hulk.
You shouldn't mix your weird imagination and reality. No game company will do such a change because one tester lost one fight. The issue occurred when several of their testers (probably mostly internal testers, but likely some public beta-testers too) discovered a problem in balance, where some fights were way too easy for some and way too hard for others, depending on play style, order in which you enter the areas, ... and the dev felt they couldn't fix that imbalance (making the game unfun, if it's way too easy or way too hard it's not fun) without adding an health bar. So they added an health bar, which isn't such a major change, problem solved, end of the story (except for a few people who like to rage on forums).
retroquark wrote:It's lazy design.
It's always easy to call "lazy" the work of others, especially when you don't realize how hard it is. Adapting a pen&paper rule system to a computer game is _hard_. Making a game with high "content-level" reactivity is _hard_. Balancing a non-linear CRPG so fights are interesting for most players, regardless of their character build, choices, ... is _hard_. Taking a few shortcuts to be able to do all those _hard_ tasks isn't laziness, but being reasonable. And refusing to do so means failure.
retroquark wrote:That I've wasted my money and inXile used my money to make a console-game? Sure.
Hrm, you know that not one cent from the KS went to the console port, right ? And that inXile put a lot of their money in the game, in addition to the KS money, right ?
retroquark wrote:But "everyone" agree that the change was necessary. Because everyone knows that everyone else are stupid. Or at least the majority. And certainly everyone who pledged for the Tton kickstarter!
None of us have hard data to know what "everyone" or "the majority" think, but the core principle of crowdfunding is that you _trust_ the creator to do his job. You can voice your opinion, but at the end the call is _theirs_, to unfold their creative vision freely. So if inXile thinks the health bar is helping making the game better, by default I trust them, until I have a really, really strong reason to say otherwise - which you didn't provide, only wild unfunded accusations.
retroquark wrote:InXile chose to listen to the first and best batch of internet complainers to change a working design
Again, taking your wild imagination for reality. You don't have the slightest amount of evidence to back that claim, as for "a working design", you just can't know. InXile, the one in the best place to know if it was working or not (they have access to much more of the game, to much more report of both internal and external testers, ...) estimated it didn't work.
retroquark wrote:arguing that certain players are so braindead that they will never understand something with three different strengths, and five other layers of type-protection.
No one ever said it was because the 3-pool system was too complicated and players couldn't understand it. Again and again, taking wild imagination of conspiracy for reality.
retroquark wrote:When the ruleset, and what the Tton kickstarter was sold on, specifically highlight the opposite. As did the original game.
When TTON Kickstarter was made, Numenéra ruleset wasn't even finalized. And it was clearly mentioned that they would _adapat_ Numénera ruleset, not blindly implement it. As the original game, it did have a healthbar, and it did _massively_ break AD&D2 rules (much more than TTON breaks Numénera rules, actually).

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

Post by Firkraag » November 23rd, 2016, 3:41 am

I lack better judgement to not spend it on discussions, like this one...

I hope, you'll never have to struggle with those three words yourself.

Farewell.
"I am a warhead of weaponized Truth." The Last Castoff (non-canon).

"Colin's period as Jesus was an interesting time." © Brother_None

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

Post by retroquark » November 23rd, 2016, 7:18 am

kilobug wrote:The issue occurred when several of their testers (probably mostly internal testers, but likely some public beta-testers too) discovered a problem in balance, where some fights were way too easy for some and way too hard for others, depending on play style, order in which you enter the areas, ... and the dev felt they couldn't fix that imbalance (making the game unfun, if it's way too easy or way too hard it's not fun) without adding an health bar. So they added an health bar, which isn't such a major change, problem solved, end of the story (except for a few people who like to rage on forums).
So basically, because people have subjective views on what easy and hard is, they made the whole character building stats largely cosmetic, and dependent on trigger-abilities in battle.

It's not a solution if you wanted to keep the character building aspect a part of the narrative. And it's also not a solution if you accept the premise that people play in different ways and have a subjective experience of difficulty.

That's what annoys me - much more than a developer taking my money and wasting it, or ending up not having the talent to produce the game they advertised. So what I'm asking for is that they're allowed to make an attempt at something not bound by "we think that this may stump some players who expected Mass Effect". But that's not going to happen, because of "feedback".
kilobug wrote:
retroquark wrote:It's lazy design.
It's always easy to call "lazy" the work of others, especially when you don't realize how hard it is. Adapting a pen&paper rule system to a computer game is _hard_. Making a game with high "content-level" reactivity is _hard_.
Absolutely. My problem is that the good attempts at doing this properly, that do work to a surprisingly large extent, are scuttled by some idea that "most people" either won't understand it (it takes too much time investment, people will get bored and quit), won't recognize the system (it will alienate the superfans), or may be difficult mechanically (we'll save time developing and testing will be easier when we do this and that).

Because as we saw in the first iteration of the beta, inXile had taken extreme care to not have the game interrupted narratively even if you died. Avoiding the game-over screen is of course a long discussion, but they seemed to have put some genuine thought into figuring out how to do this, like in PT. So even if you completely bungled everything, you weren't actually punished mechanically for it. So from a certain point of view, you've already removed difficulty from the game completely, and allow the players to make second attempts.

And like I said, since the main character's grip on reality is the only thing keeping them there, it also makes all kinds of sense that if they lose all focus on either these "intellectual", "force" and "finesse" domains, that they would perish in some way, until they could come back to their senses. And therefore exist.

I also don't see why it would be so difficult to add abilities eventually that would transcend these domains, so you might shield yourself from damage by force of will, etc. That in turn would make it possible to balance fights later on in the sense that physical characters would face a completely predictable battle against physical entities, would need some form of immunity or extra shielding, cover from allies, augments, etc., against others. And that for example your less physical characters would end up having to use some form of indirect strategy to target physical characters, find weaknesses, and extend the battles that way. In the same way the physical monsters might not put up a fight if you could overextend them, etc. You would potentially have balancing issues with extremely powerful spells always knocking out physical only beasts, or being very dynamic in the sense that you would have to usually just punch through the weakest defense. But I really don't see why you couldn't have a mix of characters, like was there initially, that would have these different weaknesses.

Strategically taking damage instead of spending it on pre-emptively casting skills is also not an unknown concept in any role-playing game.

The only problem left after that is an AI that is more deft than a player at targeting the weaknesses of the other team. And that's the only problem I saw with the beta at the beginning, which is why I simply expected inXile to sort that out and keep the design.

Instead, it seems we're getting a dimensional overhaul where all the curious shielding and damage types are kept, but where they have basically equal use against the shields or physical barriers of the targets. Except for in boss-fights, I guess, where inXile then somehow have found out it's all right to introduce players to this concept the first time?

On top of that I don't see why adding a HP bar is going to fix any of these issues, if the resistance against damage type suddenly turns up again halfway through the game, and then suddenly adds the same fail condition as before.

Again - my problem isn't with whether or not inXile wants to make a diablo 3-ish fighting part of the game, and make it "fun" with one-shot overpowered abilities reduced by whether or not you use rest-spam, or by a cooldown bar. If that was what they wanted, then go ahead. But I wouldn't help kickstart a game like that. And we wouldn't need to help kickstart a game like that. So my problem is with that they make a decent attempt at a ruleset that actually works, is narratively dynamic, reactive and makes sense in the game-world. And then it's "tweaked" into something completely different mechanically, that then still is as cumbersome as before, if not even worse (the added items, extra abilities that are snuck in on the side for "balance", etc.).

It's impressive how some of you, and inxile, manage to reason yourselves into believing that this is a good idea from either a pure marketing point of view, or a mechanical point of view. But it's still not going to make extra clicking sprees and ability management - that has no point - be any more fun. And you can see it now, with how the strategy involved simply is to manage your skill-pool to not run out. Which, I can't help but notice, ends up meaning you will massively favor physical caracters - which also explains why you suddenly got magic items that shoot projectiles based on your skill. It's lazy, and it's not fun.

And in addition, it just creates a load of work for people creating the gameplay. Worse, inXile ends up in a similar situation as Obsidian, with that their game is only ever balanced if two people play the game all the way through following the exact same route.

It's so bad that when you step off the path, you can basically count the number of hit-points on a monster and know on beforehand what level you're supposed to be when you meet it the first time. After that, of course, the monster then becomes extremely weak, and doesn't offer any challenge at all.

So not only does the game become unbalanced, it also becomes less entertaining mechanically in the first place, as well as boring if you do it well enough. Where then the only way to add difficulty is to overpower the enemies and create bosses.

This is lazy design, and it's not impossible to do it better than this. I have made rulesets that work. And hilariously, so have both Obsidian and inXile - that now both have abandoned the working design in favor of something that is mechanically exhaustive to both the developer as well as the player.

That you then still find out that this is a good decision, as you explain and inXile indirectly suggests, doesn't come from knowing that creating a more interesting system is difficult, and that the original attempt had fundamental weaknesses (that you for example saw out of experience as playing GM or designing games) but from this: you insist that any solution is great as long as "people want it".

That the people in question who want these changes simply want any change, and the experience of having participated in the development process - and apparently, and in this case demonstrably, would be happy with practically any solution as long as they feel their feedback was taken on board - this only makes the bad decision better, it seems the reasoning goes. Since now the superfans are heavily invested in defending the decision that was made as well - and that it was "their" decision. You want to hear that inxile makes adjustments, and you cheer them on no matter what that change is.

It's a bad decision period, and it probably comes from the simple fact that inxile puts too much weight on internet fora feedback - whether it's indirect through internal testers who practically live on reddit and gaf, or just from taking on board feedback that reads like this: "I think that this may be too difficult for the average player".

The process so far fits perfectly with that way of thinking. And it's also why inXile doesn't want to brag about what they've done to the ruleset. They know that if they said honestly what they were doing: "we have simplified the ruleset significantly because we think most of our users are a bit slow, and are looking for payoff in terms of larger numbers popping up rather than figuring out and being rewarded by solving a puzzle" - you'd be axed in any review later, and you'd be universally panned.

Again - this is what I expect from a publisher massively invested in selling a game in terms of player base and consistent logins over time, and are desperate to have players staying with the game. Where then a project manager makes a decision based purely on focus-group tests, completely isolated from the game-design.

And here you have a game that's been sold on beforehand, that doesn't even target that audience, has no microtransactions, and is a single-player game that people can play through on their own time.

And we still get these big business-type decisions, that normally developers blame on PR-folks and marketing getting their way in spite of design. For a kickstarted game this makes no sense.

edit:
kilobug wrote:When TTON Kickstarter was made, Numenéra ruleset wasn't even finalized. And it was clearly mentioned that they would _adapat_ Numénera ruleset, not blindly implement it. As the original game, it did have a healthbar, and it did _massively_ break AD&D2 rules (much more than TTON breaks Numénera rules, actually).
I apologize for being excessively antagonistic about all of this. But I really hope some of the Tton team reads at least these bits - because this is how your feedback folks reason. What convinces you that people who reason in this way wouldn't be happy with anything, as long as you simply stated, with confidence, that the design you chose is fantastic?

In the same way, what convinces you that following feedback like this specifically is going to help you design a consistent game? And what makes you think that feedback like this should decide on how the ruleset functions?

You need to differentiate the sell and present the player perspective better. Or at the very least not let player-perspective influence individual ruleset decisions. I mean, they insist on it themselves: "we don't know all the details of the game's rules and the development". But of course they are absolutely certain that whatever was changed to appease players is wise and logical!

Doesn't make sense, Inxile.

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

Post by Zombra » November 23rd, 2016, 10:25 am

retroquark wrote:
Zombra wrote:That decision was not made because one tester lost one fight. You seem to think it was completely arbitrary. It wasn't.
Well, I think it was.
Nope.
retroquark wrote:And your opinion is a statement only. You're saying: I think this so this cancels out your opinion. It's idiotic, it's childish, and it's inXile's acceptance of this crap having design-influence why any of this is here in the first place.
lol. You gave your opinion, I gave my opinion of your opinion. If that makes you a mature, righteous champion of justice and me a childish idiot, so be it I guess. But you know, you're getting into name calling territory here and I am a moderator, so watch it.
retroquark wrote:InXile chose to listen to the first and best batch of internet complainers to change a working design
Actually - and this is an important point - I think you made this up. Did anyone on the forum really demand a health bar? Did inXile ever say, as you claim, that they made this change because "people want it"? I don't think so. Feel free to provide citations if I'm wrong. You clearly have plenty of energy, so go ahead and dig up some links, I'll wait.

And another thing - according to sea it wasn't a working design; at least, not one that worked well. It was problematic and wonked game balance to hell. That's why they changed it. But you know this of course as you read the same post I did.
retroquark wrote:But no - you guys have the correct interpretation here, and there's nothing to see here, move along.
Who said there's nothing to see? A change was made, some people are fine with it, some people aren't. Should they change it again because of "one guy on the internet" who likes to keep yelling about it? According to you, one guy on the internet should be ignored ... so where does that leave you?

Hey man, if you want to keep typing 4000 words a day complaining about the company and your fellow forumites, be my guest as long as you follow the forum rules. I'm just observing the facts: the game is a couple months from release and they're not going to rebuild the whole game again because they suddenly realized for the first time that you don't like the health bar. There comes a time when facing reality is what smart people do.

Another suggestion - you should really work on your brevity. I can tell you for another fact that inXile is not reading these long rants every day. If you keep it lean and mean you will have a better chance of being heard. Friendly advice.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (59): Polish & Interface Improvements, Looking Forward

Post by retroquark » November 23rd, 2016, 2:54 pm

Zombra wrote:But you know, you're getting into name calling territory here and I am a moderator, so watch it.
What a brilliant argument! Not only do you have an opinion, you're a moderator as well! If that doesn't end the discussion with it's incredible relevance, I don't know what will.
Zombra wrote: And another thing - according to sea it wasn't a working design; at least, not one that worked well. It was problematic and wonked game balance to hell. That's why they changed it. But you know this of course as you read the same post I did.
Yes. And the question is in what context they decided it was "wonky". And what we have had is a few forum-posters who played the beta saying they didn't understand why they got knocked out when their smallest skill-pool drained. And some vague hints from the non-discussion about from staff suggesting, that the problem was unbalanced crisis-encounters.

I played the same beta, and I obviously saw the same potential problems: you run into monsters that none of your surviving party-members can knock out, and the same monster can be extremely easy or extremely difficult in the beginning of the game if you structure your character in a few specific ways.

So why is introducing a health-bar, and making the rest of the system largely cosmetic a good idea to solve this? To create a buffer ahead of the game's rules, so the balancing can be done quicker? That's the question here.

Or why wouldn't it be possible to keep the system intact?

I imagined, for example, that they might have decided to add a permanent 15 hp to the character, to make sure you could take one extra heavy undefended hit early on, for example. Maybe added some form of defense in the mental realm, perhaps. I thought maybe there'd be some modifiers involved on the skills and weaknesses of the creatures to keep the fights in about the same fashion as they were in the first draft.

And what we get instead is a linear system that increasingly makes you more resilient as you level up, where you're free to max out any of your favorite stats. And where the encounters then are tied to level and the amount of upgrades you've managed to install along the way. The bosses then take more hits. Playing on hard is not about having to target cleverly, it's about doing more damage before you get wiped.

I think there's a reason why inXile doesn't want to take this discussion in public. And from the beta, the impression I get is that it's because they know they have made certain sacrifices to the ruleset that makes it flat.
Zombra wrote:Another suggestion - you should really work on your brevity. I can tell you for another fact that inXile is not reading these long rants every day. If you keep it lean and mean you will have a better chance of being heard. Friendly advice.
Of course. "Sell me something in one sentence or shut up". That's basically the kickstarter sell for Tton, wasn't it? "As little dialogue and as little thought as possible! Sponsor us to make a game that is simplistic and short, just like Plansecape Torment was, like no publisher would possibly support - just like we want to make the game".

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

Post by Zombra » November 23rd, 2016, 3:27 pm

retroquark wrote:
Zombra wrote:But you know, you're getting into name calling territory here and I am a moderator, so watch it.
What a brilliant argument! Not only do you have an opinion, you're a moderator as well! If that doesn't end the discussion with it's incredible relevance, I don't know what will.
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.
retroquark wrote:
Zombra wrote:And another thing - according to sea it wasn't a working design. It was problematic and wonked game balance to hell.
Yes. And the question is in what context they decided it was "wonky".
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.
retroquark wrote:And what we have had is a few forum-posters who played the beta saying they didn't understand why they got knocked out when their smallest skill-pool drained. And some vague hints from the non-discussion about from staff suggesting, that the problem was unbalanced crisis-encounters.
Still waiting for those citations.
retroquark wrote:I think there's a reason why inXile doesn't want to take this discussion in public. And from the beta, the impression I get is that it's because they know they have made certain sacrifices to the ruleset that makes it flat.
I'm confused - I thought you were mad because public discussion caused a change in the first place. Make up your mind.

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.
retroquark wrote:
Zombra wrote:Another suggestion - you should really work on your brevity. Friendly advice.
Of course. "Sell me something in one sentence or shut up". That's basically the kickstarter sell for Tton, wasn't it? "As little dialogue and as little thought as possible! Sponsor us to make a game that is simplistic and short, just like Plansecape Torment was, like no publisher would possibly support - just like we want to make the game".
Hmm ... so you're saying a good RPG is like a good forum post? Interesting philosophy, but I don't quite follow.

Anyway, if you want to spit on good advice on how to get heard, no skin off my nose. Rant on! Much good may it do you.
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