Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by kaiman » August 12th, 2016, 9:09 am

kilobug wrote:But a game also has to contain some challenges that are neither impossible nor too easy, or it takes out some of the "fun" - even pen&paper RPGs aren't _just_ about telling stories [...]. And some outcomes must be "better" than others (even if that can be subjective, moral dilemma that don't have any clear solution, for example), to give the player some feeling of accomplishment.
Absolutely agree. My worry was more that adding health makes it easier to succeed in more challenges, i.e. almost always get the "better" outcome. With just the pools, you'd have to pick your fight, and not find the single best way through the game ... but you would at least make it to the end.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by -Archangel- » August 19th, 2016, 2:11 am

kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:Anyway, my point is that no matter how lofty the dreams inxile may of had their biggest enemy is us gamers. Most gamers simply become frustrated if they lose a fight, can't get the "best" benefits, or have the cake and eat it too. So they are forced to "dumb down" the game enough so that players can enjoy most of what it has to offer. This domino effect eventually lead to alterations like the insertion of the Health bar.
There might be a bit of truth in that, but I think you're forgetting the key point that explains in a much "nicer" way that "their enemy is us gamers" : the lack of a human GM. The human GM is the one responsible of handling all that in a pen&paper game. He's the one adapting the pacing of the game to play-style of the players. He's the one who will give gentle reminders and advises to players who keep using Effort again and again. He's the one who will ask a candid "are you sure ?" when the players are about to do something silly. He's the one who will decide to make a GM intrusion if the encounter is going too easily, and none (or a much gentler one) if it's going too hard.

A video game doesn't have all that - it has much less flexibility, much less capacity to adapt to the players and much less capacity to gently nudge them. That makes it much harder, especially in a game with high reactivity, and especially with a system like Effort in play, to balance the game for different kind of players - different character builds, but also different "styles" of playing.

And that's where the health pool comes from, IMHO, not so much that we gamers are enemies, but that we gamers are very different from each other, and that without a human GM to adapt to that, there needs more in-system tools for balancing - like an health bar.
I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.

There is no need to simplify games for human monkey when those can just load a save. I managed to die multiple times in PST or I didn't like some outcome and I would load a save. I didn't need a human GM there and I didn't need a game to hold my hand. What I need is a game that will fuck me up when I mess up exactly because I can load a game. Save game + simple easy game = boredom.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by kilobug » August 19th, 2016, 2:54 am

-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.

There is no need to simplify games for human monkey when those can just load a save. I managed to die multiple times in PST or I didn't like some outcome and I would load a save. I didn't need a human GM there and I didn't need a game to hold my hand. What I need is a game that will fuck me up when I mess up exactly because I can load a game. Save game + simple easy game = boredom.
But adding health doesn't mean the game is simpler or easier. It could make easier or harder, depending how it's done, but it's not the main purpose. The main purpose (as far as I understand it) is to lower variability, that two different players don't reach the same crisis with so different pools that it would be impossible for one, and a piece of cake for the other. And reloading save games won't change that, unless you reload a very old save game, which is very frustrating.

Adding health allows (from what inXile said at least, I'm not a game designer) better balancing, which will actually _prevent_ the game from being too easy for some players (and too hard for others), but to be an interesting challenge for all (or at least, more) of them.

Edit : in term of stats, it's not about lowering the average (or the median) but about lowering the standard deviation, so fewer players have _both_ a too hard or a too easy time.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by sear » August 19th, 2016, 7:25 am

-Archangel- wrote: I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.

There is no need to simplify games for human monkey when those can just load a save. I managed to die multiple times in PST or I didn't like some outcome and I would load a save. I didn't need a human GM there and I didn't need a game to hold my hand. What I need is a game that will fuck me up when I mess up exactly because I can load a game. Save game + simple easy game = boredom.
{Disclaimer: I don't do combat balance or systems design on Torment)

It's a Torment game. Dying is not just expected, but often encouraged and used to solve certain quests and scenarios. In fact, the entire game has basically been designed from the ground up to facilitate interesting failure states. Save/load is there, but we don't want to use it as a way of removing the need to design fun and balanced gameplay.

I'll also just add that you probably shouldn't judge the effectiveness of health based on the current beta that is available. We had only recently added health and the companion assist feature for difficult tasks, and hadn't yet got a proper balance pass or two in. We've done a lot of tuning since then and the game most definitely does have stat pool management as a critical part of gameplay - you just won't find yourself stuck in a death spiral anymore.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Drool » August 19th, 2016, 12:11 pm

-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.
Wait, what? What does a save game function have to do with anything? The point of the human GM is that a human can think and adjust countless variables well beyond simple combat difficulty. Save functionality has nothing to do with that.

Or, at least, good GMs can.
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Zombra » August 19th, 2016, 12:23 pm

Drool wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.
Wait, what? What does a save game function have to do with anything?
The essence seems to be: it's OK for a computer game to have horrible balance and suck overall if the player can do-over anything he doesn't like. Therefore inXile should not try to make TTON good.
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Lord of Riva » August 19th, 2016, 12:24 pm

Drool wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.
Wait, what? What does a save game function have to do with anything? The point of the human GM is that a human can think and adjust countless variables well beyond simple combat difficulty. Save functionality has nothing to do with that.

Or, at least, good GMs can.
haha agreeing with drool for once, a savegame can also be easily emulated by a Human GM so not even that is an issue

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Azmodiuz » August 23rd, 2016, 5:49 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Our systems guys know they've got some balance to work on. The Health bar was added with the approval of MCG.
to be honest, there is so little combat in the game, who cares about the stat and mechanics so much as just playing the game.

You said there was only 13 Crises in the game or something recently in an interview... so really only 13 real combat situations.

So 13 situations that might be a total or 5-6 hours game play from a 100+ hour game. Could have used whatever system you can dream up, the game was largely going to be the same.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by kilobug » August 24th, 2016, 12:42 am

Azmodiuz wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:Our systems guys know they've got some balance to work on. The Health bar was added with the approval of MCG.
to be honest, there is so little combat in the game, who cares about the stat and mechanics so much as just playing the game.

You said there was only 13 Crises in the game or something recently in an interview... so really only 13 real combat situations.

So 13 situations that might be a total or 5-6 hours game play from a 100+ hour game. Could have used whatever system you can dream up, the game was largely going to be the same.
It's not that caricatural, first there will be optional "mini-crisis" (not sure how many of them) that will give additional opportunity to be have combat for those who want it. And then, the same system (Pools, Effort) is used outside of combats, for exploration and dialogues, which is where the balance problem comes from.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by -Archangel- » August 24th, 2016, 3:19 am

sear wrote:
-Archangel- wrote: I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.

There is no need to simplify games for human monkey when those can just load a save. I managed to die multiple times in PST or I didn't like some outcome and I would load a save. I didn't need a human GM there and I didn't need a game to hold my hand. What I need is a game that will fuck me up when I mess up exactly because I can load a game. Save game + simple easy game = boredom.
{Disclaimer: I don't do combat balance or systems design on Torment)

It's a Torment game. Dying is not just expected, but often encouraged and used to solve certain quests and scenarios. In fact, the entire game has basically been designed from the ground up to facilitate interesting failure states. Save/load is there, but we don't want to use it as a way of removing the need to design fun and balanced gameplay.

I'll also just add that you probably shouldn't judge the effectiveness of health based on the current beta that is available. We had only recently added health and the companion assist feature for difficult tasks, and hadn't yet got a proper balance pass or two in. We've done a lot of tuning since then and the game most definitely does have stat pool management as a critical part of gameplay - you just won't find yourself stuck in a death spiral anymore.
These two underlined parts directly go against each other. How is there going to be a death spiral if players don't really die? You get out from wherever "death" takes you and you go back to where you died with new knowledge and experience and probably rested.

As for balance, using up stats out of combat will make you weaker in combat in offense and but let you stay alive longer due to seperate health stat. It could turn to losing battles just lasting longer and being more irritating, giving players a false sense they should have won or something(also due to lack of stat pools not being able to use their options and thinking it is boring). Better to get them one shot so they can come back with full stats in next try or load a game and know this is tough and they need to prepare better.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by -Archangel- » August 24th, 2016, 3:33 am

kilobug wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.

There is no need to simplify games for human monkey when those can just load a save. I managed to die multiple times in PST or I didn't like some outcome and I would load a save. I didn't need a human GM there and I didn't need a game to hold my hand. What I need is a game that will fuck me up when I mess up exactly because I can load a game. Save game + simple easy game = boredom.
But adding health doesn't mean the game is simpler or easier. It could make easier or harder, depending how it's done, but it's not the main purpose. The main purpose (as far as I understand it) is to lower variability, that two different players don't reach the same crisis with so different pools that it would be impossible for one, and a piece of cake for the other. And reloading save games won't change that, unless you reload a very old save game, which is very frustrating.

Adding health allows (from what inXile said at least, I'm not a game designer) better balancing, which will actually _prevent_ the game from being too easy for some players (and too hard for others), but to be an interesting challenge for all (or at least, more) of them.

Edit : in term of stats, it's not about lowering the average (or the median) but about lowering the standard deviation, so fewer players have _both_ a too hard or a too easy time.
There is nothing wrong with variability. Variability gives an illusion of freedom of choice for players, the game should give more of it, not less. They said Crisis will have multiple ways to go through it and that those little combats are all optional (so weak pool players can avoid them all). So people with low Might pools can try to talk their way out of it, or use their Speed to get some switch or use Cyphers or Artifacts on hand to solve it. That is how I always imagined Crisis since the first time they introduced them. The excuse for only 13 crisis was that they would all allow multiple ways to solve, now I find out they cannot balance them?! Really? So the PR talk for Crisis before was what? Bullshit?
The health stat addition explanations do not fly with what they said before when examined by anyone with any brains and willing to use them. I don't know what is exactly happening at inXile but we are not told the whole truth.
Drool wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.
Wait, what? What does a save game function have to do with anything? The point of the human GM is that a human can think and adjust countless variables well beyond simple combat difficulty. Save functionality has nothing to do with that.

Or, at least, good GMs can.
GMs are mostly needed to adjust combat on the fly and they need to because most tabletop is played in Ironman mode. Unfair encounters or bad RNG kill players or parties. Players get one try at each combat and usually need to make decisions fast. GM is needed.
In computer RPGs you can do the same battle multiple times due to power of save game. You can pause the game and think through your options, you can go online and read how others did it (and other options).
Combat needs to be tougher to counteract Save/Load game power of players. It needs to sometimes force gamers to Load a game or the game is going to be boring and easy. In tabletop it is never boring and easy because you know due to forced Ironman ever round of combat could be your last.
Zombra wrote:
Drool wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:I hate this human GM argument. It is a non argument because computer games have a thing called Save Game. Human GM is needed because P&P does not have that.
Wait, what? What does a save game function have to do with anything?
The essence seems to be: it's OK for a computer game to have horrible balance and suck overall if the player can do-over anything he doesn't like. Therefore inXile should not try to make TTON good.
Read the above answer, it has nothing to do with horrible balance, but with making a challenge for players. Unless your game has a forced Ironman, Save/Load function needs to be taken into account when designing the game.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by kilobug » August 24th, 2016, 9:00 am

-Archangel- wrote:There is nothing wrong with variability. Variability gives an illusion of freedom of choice for players, the game should give more of it, not less.
I'm sorry, but I strongly disagree. There is a lot of wrong in a game being way too easy, or unbeatable, for a relative innocent and unpredictable mistake made much earlier. That kills a lot of fun of a game for the players affected by it. There should be consequences, that your choice earlier in the game affect later in the game - if you spared a NPC instead of killing you, he could come back to help you or take revenge later on, for example. That's story-wise reactivity, and that's great.

But mechanical variability, that because of some not-forseeable character build, or spending too much of your Pools before entering a building, you would end up being unable to get the outcome you want out of crisis ? Or, because of the same reasons, it would be a piece of cake and you wouldn't have a challenge at all ? That kills the fun of a game.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by -Archangel- » August 25th, 2016, 2:05 am

kilobug wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:There is nothing wrong with variability. Variability gives an illusion of freedom of choice for players, the game should give more of it, not less.
I'm sorry, but I strongly disagree. There is a lot of wrong in a game being way too easy, or unbeatable, for a relative innocent and unpredictable mistake made much earlier. That kills a lot of fun of a game for the players affected by it. There should be consequences, that your choice earlier in the game affect later in the game - if you spared a NPC instead of killing you, he could come back to help you or take revenge later on, for example. That's story-wise reactivity, and that's great.

But mechanical variability, that because of some not-forseeable character build, or spending too much of your Pools before entering a building, you would end up being unable to get the outcome you want out of crisis ? Or, because of the same reasons, it would be a piece of cake and you wouldn't have a challenge at all ? That kills the fun of a game.
Why should you get outcome you want? That is not how real life works and not how games should work. At least not games that boast about choices.
You come in weak and expect to beat people through fighting? No sorry bub, but you can talk your way out of it or die.

The game should teach players this concept early so whenever next Might challenge comes out of combat, players know that they if they want to play a fighter character they need to make sure they can fight in next encounter by not using too much effort early.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by kilobug » August 25th, 2016, 2:59 am

-Archangel- wrote:Why should you get outcome you want?
You should have a reasonable chance to get the outcome you want if you play well - that's what a game is about.
-Archangel- wrote:That is not how real life works and not how games should work.
Real life is not fair, but that doesn't mean games should be. In real life, you can die crossing the street because of a drunk or crazy driver, or in a earthquake during the night. Would you want that in a game, just a random chance of "game over" for no reason ? Of course not. A game shouldn't copy real life in all its unfairness.
-Archangel- wrote:At least not games that boast about choices.
And being so unbalanced that you don't have any chance to succeed (or will succeed with no effort) is antithetic to choice.

Choices are only meaningful when consequences can be expected, and when they are actually possible to make.

Having players completely unable to win a fight due to bad luck of timing, or on the opposite not having in challenge in the fight, does not create choice, it kills the fun and actually lower your ability to make meaningful choices.
-Archangel- wrote:You come in weak and expect to beat people through fighting? No sorry bub, but you can talk your way out of it or die.
If you come to a planned fight weak, sure, it's your choice and you should face the consequences. But you don't know always know when a fight will happen, and if by bad luck (depending on the order on which you explore things), you end up into a fight after having depleting your Pool, you can no longer _chose_ to fight, meaning you have less choice - and game-wise, less fun if you enjoy a challenging but possible to win fight.

A human GM would handle that nicely, make the fight a bit less though, give you a subtle hint you should rest before, postpone the fight a bit, ... a video game can't do that, so to keep the game both challenging (which is part of the fun, having challenges you can overcome but not too easily) and the choices available, you need more "mechanical" balancing.
-Archangel- wrote:The game should teach players this concept early so whenever next Might challenge comes out of combat, players know that they if they want to play a fighter character they need to make sure they can fight in next encounter by not using too much effort early.
So basically, players playing nano won't use Effort on Might challenges because they have a small Might pool (and would rather go to the other options), and players playing glaive (so more likely to chose a fight, because that's where most of glaives skills are) shouldn't either use Effort on Might challenges so they wouldn't get stuck in a fight they can't win ? Doesn't make much sense to me.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by anonymous6059 » August 25th, 2016, 5:35 am

-Archangel- wrote:There is nothing wrong with variability. Variability gives an illusion of freedom of choice for players, the game should give more of it, not less.
Exactly! I completely agree and would even say that variability is far more important to most people than reactive choice. However, superficial choices wasn't something Inxile or their backers had wanted. This game is trying to break the mold by making most choices have repercussions throughout the game. These kind of waves can ripple into some possible complications that may have forced Inxile to introduce the Health bar. Imagine tossing stones into a pond. If you toss the stones far enough apart the ripples won't overlap. If you toss the stones too close they can cause some serious waves due to overlap. You might not know that 7 choices back you set up a set of complications that would ripple through the game in ways you didn't want. You might even be forced to revert back and lose 10 hours of progress for instance or fall into a death loop otherwise. By adding a Health Pool Inxile is able to make sure that all the "combat ripples" are always in one part of the pond. That way they can't overlap with the rest.

Also, I think that the introduction of a Health bar is a strong suggestion that this game will have a stronger focus on non-crisis combat and that's somethin I stand behind. Non-crisis combat would not be easy to implement if they didn't add the health bar mechanic.

"Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences. The game emphasizes replayability and reactivity, and your choices will make a real difference. You can play the game with a different approach and discover entirely new pathways. Most important, we won't tell you how to play. The "best" ending is the one that arises naturally from your actions throughout the game."
kilobug wrote: Choices are only meaningful when consequences can be expected, and when they are actually possible to make.
I just wanted to argue against this one very specific point. Choices are not only meaningful to people when they contain real "consequences" or have tangible results. I think that the illusion of choices is just as important if not more important than "real" choices. Being able to pick between a red, blue, or white shirt isn't really much of a choice. You still "have" to pick a shirt that looks like all the rest. The color isn't going to have any real consequences or tangible results. Its just a color, but those kinds of choices are very important to people. Why? Well, I'll try to explain by talking about shaving cream.

When you go to buy shaving cream you have 20 different choices. Do men and women really need to have their own kinds of shaving cream? No. Its just shaving cream and it doesn't need to be anything else. People choose a specific type of shaving cream because they believe that its meaningful. They see the pink color of the container and think "I'm not a girl. I need blue shaving cream!". People really, really want the illusion of choices. They really desire to feel like they've made a unique choice, that they have done something special, but they don't really want to think about the choice. Superficial choices are far more important than real choices. Real choices are harder to make and involve thinking, weighing possible outcomes, and lots of other skills people just don't really have. ;)

However, I would like to point out that you are right in fighting for "stronger" choices. Not because its what people really want, at least not most people, but because that's what we want. That is what Inxile promised to give us.

Okay. I'm done.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by -Archangel- » August 25th, 2016, 7:47 am

anonymous6059 wrote:
-Archangel- wrote:There is nothing wrong with variability. Variability gives an illusion of freedom of choice for players, the game should give more of it, not less.
Exactly! I completely agree and would even say that variability is far more important to most people than reactive choice. However, superficial choices wasn't something Inxile or their backers had wanted. This game is trying to break the mold by making most choices have repercussions throughout the game. These kind of waves can ripple into some possible complications that may have forced Inxile to introduce the Health bar. Imagine tossing stones into a pond. If you toss the stones far enough apart the ripples won't overlap. If you toss the stones too close they can cause some serious waves due to overlap. You might not know that 7 choices back you set up a set of complications that would ripple through the game in ways you didn't want. You might even be forced to revert back and lose 10 hours of progress for instance or fall into a death loop otherwise. By adding a Health Pool Inxile is able to make sure that all the "combat ripples" are always in one part of the pond. That way they can't overlap with the rest.

Also, I think that the introduction of a Health bar is a strong suggestion that this game will have a stronger focus on non-crisis combat and that's somethin I stand behind. Non-crisis combat would not be easy to implement if they didn't add the health bar mechanic.

"Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences. The game emphasizes replayability and reactivity, and your choices will make a real difference. You can play the game with a different approach and discover entirely new pathways. Most important, we won't tell you how to play. The "best" ending is the one that arises naturally from your actions throughout the game."
Ok, this is funny how you are trying to turn my arguments vs me but sorry you are not doing it well.

Real choice and consequence means that they don't make artificial helpers for players that made "bad" decisions like Health Bars. They kill the player that made a bad choice because that is what real choice and consequence is all about. Hand holding and the rest of that shit is not welcome.
Also since killing should not be the end of the game but just a way to open a new door this should not be a problem. No Crisis should end the game, just open different doors. Maybe dying means you lose some Cyphers or all your Shins but get to experience different content after that.

Health bar will let players go crazy and then still win combat and maybe not even notice that choices have real consequence.

And if dying does bring you to Load Game/Quit Game screen, well that is a problem many games had and not everyone of those decided to hand hold players and make the whole thing simpler. Fighting in Fallout without Stimpacks would often cause death, and it was not the game's fault. Players who died could load a game and go look for some before entering that dangerous area.
Lot of combat encounters in BG were very hard. Can you imagine if Bioware decided to change instant death mechanics so Basilisks no longer instant petrified you but instead did health damage with their Gaze?! The game would not have one of its iconic enemies that anyone that played BG remembered. It also was the player's job to prepare and survive, not the game to hand hold the players in that encounter (and they even did that smartly with that Ghast you meet there; this is the kind of stuff InXile should be putting into their Crisis, not going the easy and stupid route and making the game stupider and easier for stupid console players).

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Azmodiuz » August 26th, 2016, 7:02 pm

one type of balance could be that instead of dying, when the game has predicted your going to die, it can offer you a "surrender" and thus reactivity.

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by retroquark » October 20th, 2016, 8:43 pm

Brother None wrote: I don't want to get into too much of a debate (I'm way too busy :P) so I'm not going to beat-for-beat here, but I will point out that health pool is a common house rule and any change we made to systems was done for computer design considerations and approved by Monte Cook.
It's still the least elegant solution you could possibly have used. To solve a problem that probably didn't exist. To reach an abstract design goal that isn't possible to reach.

But I guess you've debated this internally and made a decision already, so there's no point spending time on this. For me, arguing about it, I mean. You, on the other hand, are going to be spending time "balancing" the game until six months after release, and still have the exact same issues you are having in the beta now. Where the game won't be balanced as long as the game still has two players playing in slightly different ways. And until every scenario is so carefully scripted you could just as well have made the entire game into a cutscene. Or removed the combat altogether.

A lazy, unintelligent, and counterproductive solution. Can I change my order to just include the script of the game, so I don't need to bore myself to tears with actually playing any of it to get at the writing?

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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by EisenKreutzer » October 23rd, 2016, 7:15 pm

At the end of the day, health pools are a staple of computer rpgs, and I totally understand and endorse the change. Having Stat Pools be your health, while excellent in the trpg, could make player leery of spending points, viewing it as taking damage. Also, since pools seem to be generally smaller than in the trpg and opportunities to regain points in Pools are fewer, it's a logical change IMO.
Steel marks flesh, but flesh cannot mark steel.

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