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 kilobug » August 10th, 2016, 12:18 am

anonymous6059 wrote:What other change to the Cypher system could they of made that would of been a more significant change to the rules? I can't think of a bigger way for them to stray from the Cypher System rules then adding a health bar can you? If you can I'd love for you to list a few.
Remove Effort ? Remove the "I'm an <adjective> <noun> who <verbs>" part ? Remove GM intrusions (which, actually, is almost impossible to implement in a computer game so, well) ? Make a D&D-kind armor (that changes probability to hit, not damages when hit) ? Make cyphers mostly irrelevant/rare to find/easy to stack ? Change the "magic system" from estories you gain when "leveling" to spells you learn from books ?

All those would be much bigger changes than adding an health bar. And the changes done in PST compared to AD&D2 (free class-switching, gaining attribute points on level up, ...) are more like those I listed above, than like adding an health bar.

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

Post by kilobug » August 10th, 2016, 12:31 am

anonymous6059 wrote:1. The most fundamental of the cypher system rules has been abolished.
Never occurred to me that "no health bar" would be considered the "most fundamental rule" of the cypher system. In fact the word "cyper" is actually in the name. The most fundamental rule of the cypher system, if I were to chose one, is cyphers - one use, varied in effect objects, that you encounter regularly but can't stockpile. Things like Effort or GM intrusions, or in general the fact it's a streamlined, very low-weight systems, would also be much more "fundamental" than a relatively minor detail like an health bar.
anonymous6059 wrote:2. Almost none of the creatures are from the bestiary.
How is that a problem ? The "core" bestiary is only a tiny sample of all the creatures and weird entities that roams the Ninth World, and pretty much Steadfast-centered. PST also had only few of creatures from the core AD&D2 bestiary (didn't even a dragon !) and that's all fine - it's Planescape and got its creatures from Planescape bestiary. TTON is _voluntarily_ set in a different part of the world than the Steadfast, and has creatures from that part of the world, which (for some) will be in the TTON Explorer's Guide.

The same way that an "Into the Deep" or "Into the Night" game would have few creatures from the core bestiary - but more from those supplements.
anonymous6059 wrote:3. None of the companions are visitants or other optional races.
That is indeed regrettable IMHO, but it's not like it's something fundamental to Numénera - Numénera is pretty much written with humans PCs in mind, visitants being an added optional feature, and while they are cool, a group of only humans PCs would still make a great Numénera campaign.
anonymous6059 wrote:The cypher system was supposedly the easiest system to translate into a video game. So I am surprised they had to make such a drastic change.
What ? The cypher system is _very hard_ to translate into a video game. Being a very light-weight system, it heavily depends on a human GM to do all the adjudication. Stuff like "GM intrusions" are hellish to implement in a video game, Effort means massive headaches for UI designers, ... The more mechanical a system is, the easiest it is to translate into computer program. The more "open" a system is, the more it relies on the GM and player's creativity and imagination (which the Cypher system heavily does) the harder it is.
anonymous6059 wrote:Well, I was surprised until I found out this was going straight to console. Now its just another Journal update.
What does the health bar have to do with consoles at all ?

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 10th, 2016, 6:50 am

kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:1. The most fundamental of the cypher system rules has been abolished.
Never occurred to me that "no health bar" would be considered the "most fundamental rule" of the cypher system. In fact the word "cyper" is actually in the name. The most fundamental rule of the cypher system, if I were to chose one, is cyphers - one use, varied in effect objects, that you encounter regularly but can't stockpile. Things like Effort or GM intrusions, or in general the fact it's a streamlined, very low-weight systems, would also be much more "fundamental" than a relatively minor detail like an health bar.
While I don't agree that altering cyphers would make any difference (you'd just call them artifacts then) I will agree that Removing effort would obviously be a fundamental change. My point is that Numenera only has a hand full of real "rules" so I don't see how you can not consider adding a Health bar to be a major change. Just about any change to the rules would be a major one since so few exist.
kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:2. Almost none of the creatures are from the bestiary.
How is that a problem ? The "core" bestiary is only a tiny sample of all the creatures and weird entities that roams the Ninth World, and pretty much Steadfast-centered. PST also had only few of creatures from the core AD&D2 bestiary (didn't even a dragon !) and that's all fine - it's Planescape and got its creatures from Planescape bestiary. TTON is _voluntarily_ set in a different part of the world than the Steadfast, and has creatures from that part of the world, which (for some) will be in the TTON Explorer's Guide.

The same way that an "Into the Deep" or "Into the Night" game would have few creatures from the core bestiary - but more from those supplements.
I'm not saying that its a problem by itself. I don't mind seeing new creatures and discovering new areas of the Ninth world at all. I'm just saying that when looked at along side all the other changes it starts to feel like a totally unrelated game. Your comparison to Planescape doesn't make any sense to me. PS:T had creatures from the planescape bestiary. TToN has creatures from.... its own *new* bestiary. PS:T didn't create its own creatures specifically for its videogame. It took them from the bestiary that Planescape made.

The point is clear. Inxile made what they wanted to make. They were given the reigns and they decided to make everything from scratch. That in itself isn't a bad thing. It could turn out to be an amazing and wonderful thing for them to of done. I'm simply pointing out that they obviously took a lot of liberties. Some good and maybe some bad.
kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:The cypher system was supposedly the easiest system to translate into a video game. So I am surprised they had to make such a drastic change.
What ? The cypher system is _very hard_ to translate into a video game. Being a very light-weight system, it heavily depends on a human GM to do all the adjudication. Stuff like "GM intrusions" are hellish to implement in a video game, Effort means massive headaches for UI designers, ... The more mechanical a system is, the easiest it is to translate into computer program. The more "open" a system is, the more it relies on the GM and player's creativity and imagination (which the Cypher system heavily does) the harder it is.
The Cypher System only has a handful of rules. The simplicity of the system should make it easier to translate to tabletop. Sure, somethings like GM Intrusions can't easily be transferred, but that's really about it.
"In the videogame, it (effort) should mean that Torment allows you to make extreme character builds, without the devs needing to fear that players will block too much of the game off for themselves or end up crippled." https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/12/20/numenera/

However, reading further into the article it does describe many of the hardships that you mention, but I don't think Effort is one of them. I also do not think that more rules makes it easier for translation. However, I will concede that perhaps the fact that you can't spend XP to reroll would create the kind of situation that might require a health bar, maybe.


kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:Well, I was surprised until I found out this was going straight to console. Now its just another Journal update.
What does the health bar have to do with consoles at all ?
If you don't believe that a correlation exist between the two that's fine. I however do think that its not just a coincidence. Everything from inventory management to controls are simplified for console. I'm not saying that its the only factor of course, but from what I've seen games always get abridged for console. Perhaps several other factors would of also tipped the scale regardless. Either way, both do have something in common: They both guarantee that the game is getting "dumbed down".

"Now one could argue that these were simply design choices, made to simplify controls and improve gameplay… and that’s where you’d walk in to the trap. Simplify is surely another way of saying “dumbed down”. Dumbed down for what specifically? Consoles."
https://levelskip.com/misc/Video-Games-Console

Lastly, I'm not saying that any of this is going to ruin the game. I still think that the game can and very well might be amazing, but I still think that its true. Adding a health bar to the mechanics is a major change to the Cypher System rules. Its one of the rules that players have the hardest time getting used to as well. It's one of the more unique rules in the Cypher System. So getting rid of it isn't trivial. With that said it may still of been the best choice. I'm not questioning Inxile's decision and I really believe they know what they are doing. I just don't think the change is negligible.

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

Post by Brother None » August 10th, 2016, 2:15 pm

anonymous6059 wrote:1. The most fundamental of the cypher system rules has been abolished.
2. Almost none of the creatures are from the bestiary.
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.

As for the bestiary creatures - when we started designing this game, the corebook was still in stages of being finalized, and the bestiary didn't exist, so many areas were designed before a lot of MCG's expansions to the setting, which is part of the reason they gave us our own corner of the setting. That said, there are certainly a lot of creatures from the books (primarily corebook) dotted throughout (and we additionally try to reference some of the bestiary creatures in item descriptions or dialog where we could)
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by anonymous6059 » August 11th, 2016, 3:42 am

Brother None wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:1. The most fundamental of the cypher system rules has been abolished.
2. Almost none of the creatures are from the bestiary.
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.

As for the bestiary creatures - when we started designing this game, the corebook was still in stages of being finalized, and the bestiary didn't exist, so many areas were designed before a lot of MCG's expansions to the setting, which is part of the reason they gave us our own corner of the setting. That said, there are certainly a lot of creatures from the books (primarily corebook) dotted throughout (and we additionally try to reference some of the bestiary creatures in item descriptions or dialog where we could)
I know you must have received the blessing of Monte Cook Games before you made such a radical alteration, but I still feel that it is a major change to the rules. One of the more defining aspects of the Cypher System is the lack of a standard Health bar. Having your health and stats mixed together is something that I honestly haven't seen done in any other system. That said, it's also one of the most confusing transitions for D&D players to make when they come to the Cypher System.

My intent isn't to criticize your action negatively. I was simply trying to point out that it isn't a trivial alteration. It changes one of the fundamental aspects of the mechanics of the game (even if some do use health bars as a house rule). I honestly have no clue if Inxile really had to make this change or not. They hadn't made it all the way up to the Beta release so I find it hard to believe that it was absolutely necessary. The end result could still be a very useful addition that makes the game more enjoyable.

As for the Bestiary, I don't feel that is necessarily a bad decision by Inxile.
My point is that Inxile's game could be called Torment: Tides of ____ and it would stand on its own merits.
Sure, TToN is laced with lots of Numenera lore, but visually it's a completely different world. You do not actually see much of the creatures from the Ninth world in the game or at least far less then you do Inxile's own creations. A world full of its own creatures, its own heroes, and its own rules. You could remove the word Numenera from the title, and at face value most people wouldn't know it's a Numenera game. That is what I'm assuming Inxile wanted to make. They want a game that is going to stand by itself. The only downside to that is it doesn't have as many crutches to rely on.

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

Post by kaiman » August 11th, 2016, 7:07 am

anonymous6059 wrote:My intent isn't to criticize your action negatively. I was simply trying to point out that it isn't a trivial alteration. It changes one of the fundamental aspects of the mechanics of the game (even if some do use health bars as a house rule). I honestly have no clue if Inxile really had to make this change or not. They hadn't made it all the way up to the Beta release so I find it hard to believe that it was absolutely necessary. The end result could still be a very useful addition that makes the game more enjoyable.
I'm with you, in that I find the concept of combined health and stat pools new and refreshing, and somehow fitting to a unconventional game such as TToN. Having not played the beta (or the P&P), it's hard to judge how well the old, more faithful system worked compared to the new one, what pros and cons each of them have.

I'm definitely nobody that would care much about slavishly following the Numenera ruleset, though I would be displeased if the change was mostly based on input from the early beta players. I believe one of the reasons given by inXile were "balancing issues", but the question remains whether those were found through internal testing, or whether they were mostly user feedback. Feedback of users that were possibly not yet accustomed to the radical changes over more traditional RPG systems.

I can definitely see how it might be hard to properly balance the pools throughout the game when people might deplete them just before combat or an important task looms ahead. But then I thought that failure was to be considered as a legitimate outcome of an action, and lead to new and interesting game states, not to game over. In that case, wouldn't the stat pools be largely irrelevant, other than to also achieve critical successes at a few occassions, which then lead to new and interesting game states? So I am really wondering if the introduction of health is an indication that failure is not an option, despite design goals stating the contrary? Now that has me worried ...

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

Post by Zombra » August 11th, 2016, 9:05 am

anonymous6059 wrote:Sure, TToN is laced with lots of Numenera lore, but visually it's a completely different world. You do not actually see much of the creatures from the Ninth world in the game or at least far less then you do Inxile's own creations. A world full of its own creatures, its own heroes, and its own rules. You could remove the word Numenera from the title, and at face value most people wouldn't know it's a Numenera game.
The P&P bestiary isn't ALL the creatures of the 9th World, silly. And it's no more a departure from the rules than a lot of official D&D games depart from the P&P books. COULD they remove all references to Numenera, throw out the rest of the rules and make all new ones, and have it stand as its own IP? Of course they could.

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 11th, 2016, 12:04 pm

Zombra wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:Sure, TToN is laced with lots of Numenera lore, but visually it's a completely different world. You do not actually see much of the creatures from the Ninth world in the game or at least far less then you do Inxile's own creations. A world full of its own creatures, its own heroes, and its own rules. You could remove the word Numenera from the title, and at face value most people wouldn't know it's a Numenera game.
The P&P bestiary isn't ALL the creatures of the 9th World, silly. And it's no more a departure from the rules than a lot of official D&D games depart from the P&P books. COULD they remove all references to Numenera, throw out the rest of the rules and make all new ones, and have it stand as its own IP? Of course they could.

... So what?
I was only pointing this out as part of something else i was discussing. TToN has deviated (with Monte Cook Games consent) in several fundamental ways. The focus of the thread is specifically about the introduction of a Health Bar. My argument is that: Yes it is a major alteration to the rules of the Cypher System. Not that I'm saying its a good or bad change, just that its not trivial or insignificant. The system is light on its rules in the first place so altering the rules in just about any way is a substantial alteration. The whole Bestiary comment was just an example of how Inxile has made several major "contributions", changes, or complete insertions into the world of Numenera to the point where it could almost stand as its own product.

In other words I was simply making an observation. I wasn't saying that it meant anything significant.
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by anonymous6059 » August 11th, 2016, 12:22 pm

kaiman wrote: I can definitely see how it might be hard to properly balance the pools throughout the game when people might deplete them just before combat or an important task looms ahead. But then I thought that failure was to be considered as a legitimate outcome of an action, and lead to new and interesting game states, not to game over. In that case, wouldn't the stat pools be largely irrelevant, other than to also achieve critical successes at a few occassions, which then lead to new and interesting game states? So I am really wondering if the introduction of health is an indication that failure is not an option, despite design goals stating the contrary? Now that has me worried ...
This has to be one of the best objections/thoughts that I've heard concerning the addition. I hadn't really thought it through as far as you had so you really opened my eyes on this problem. You're right. Failure, most of the time, shouldn't force the PC to reload from an earlier save point. That means that if you don't come into a fight "well prepared" the consequences should be just as interesting as if you had.

The problem here I think has to do with us human beings. In theory what you're saying should be the ultimate dream and perhaps it was until the Beta. This is all speculation, The problem is most people sadly have a hard time thinking outside the box, viewing things in a new way. Most people see a NPC with a health bar and instantly feel the need to kill them. Why else would they have a health bar? Its easy to fall into a groove and only see things as right or wrong. One example where this seems to of become a issue is with the Meres. I don't know a great deal about the exact issue, but I think if you know what thread I'm referring to you'll agree.

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.

Obviously I have no clue if that's true or not. I just think its a interesting point and even if it is true I don't think its necessarily all that terrible. They are simply making adjustments to help make the greatest number of players happy. The only downside is that it could lead to a mediocre experience for more serious or thoughtful players.

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 11th, 2016, 1:30 pm

Brother None wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:1. The most fundamental of the cypher system rules has been abolished.
2. Almost none of the creatures are from the bestiary.
I don't want to get into too much of a debate (I'm way too busy :P)
Going to take a wild shot in the dark here and take the absence of my third complaint: "3. None of the companions are visitants or other optional races." to be a potential spoiler (please, please be a hint).

Why else wouldn't he defend this, but then not take time to defend the first two???
because we do in fact have a visitant/optional race companion!!!! ;)

I know its a stretch, but I can dream right? :(
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

Post by Zombra » August 11th, 2016, 11:55 pm

anonymous6059 wrote:I was simply making an observation. I wasn't saying that it meant anything significant.
Fair enough; no argument here. Carry on! :P
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Re: Making Health its own stat is an excellent move.

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

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.

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

Post by kaiman » August 12th, 2016, 2:02 am

kilobug wrote: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.
I think one issue is that the expectations when playing a P&P are different from playing a cRPG. Sure, the GM has the power to ensure a enjoyable experience for every player, but nobody in their right mind would roll back to an earlier state if an outcome is less than the best possible. But when playing on the computer, there is this urge to optimize all actions, to reap the best possible of benefits, as anonymous6059 correctly said, to "eat the cake and keep it too". And it's not as if I weren't guilty of that to some degree.

So it could very well explain why inXile goes to great length to make sure that all player experience is positive, because failing a task, no matter how unimportant, will make people unhappy, even if the game continues. Whether this makes a better game remains to be seen. More palatable perhaps, but I'd rather wish for a more challanging experience that does not allow for the best outcome all the time, but forces one to opt for the middle road and suffer setbacks to make the successes stand out more when they come. Because in the end, isn't it more rewarding when you win where it really counts instead of all the time? And shouldn't it be possible to answer the underlying philosophical question of "What does one life matter?" with "nothing", if players continuosly spend effort with the wrong priorities?

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

Post by kilobug » August 12th, 2016, 2:15 am

kaiman wrote:I think one issue is that the expectations when playing a P&P are different from playing a cRPG. Sure, the GM has the power to ensure a enjoyable experience for every player, but nobody in their right mind would roll back to an earlier state if an outcome is less than the best possible. But when playing on the computer, there is this urge to optimize all actions, to reap the best possible of benefits, as anonymous6059 correctly said, to "eat the cake and keep it too". And it's not as if I weren't guilty of that to some degree.
That's true - and I'm guilty of it myself too - but it's also because, in part at least, of the more-or-less conscious fear that if I don't get the best possible outcome (the highest XP, the best equipment or the money to buy it, the best companions, ...) in the early game, the late game will be too hard - because of the lack of a human GM to adapt the game to how I played. And it's reinforced by the trope (and therefore the expectation) that the "end boss" of the game will be the hardest part of it.
kaiman wrote:More palatable perhaps, but I'd rather wish for a more challanging experience that does not allow for the best outcome all the time, but forces one to opt for the middle road and suffer setbacks to make the successes stand out more when they come. Because in the end, isn't it more rewarding when you win where it really counts instead of all the time?
Well, I don't think that the addition of health bar is to make the game challenges easier. Making them easier just mean lowering difficulty of rolls, no need for any rule change for that. It's more making them more consistent across people playing differently - not having the game too easy for some, too hard for others. Or least not as much of it.

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

Post by kaiman » August 12th, 2016, 4:49 am

kilobug wrote:Well, I don't think that the addition of health bar is to make the game challenges easier. Making them easier just mean lowering difficulty of rolls, no need for any rule change for that. It's more making them more consistent across people playing differently - not having the game too easy for some, too hard for others. Or least not as much of it.
When speaking of challenge, I did not merely mean difficulty, as in "this crisis is now hardly winnable because I used too much might to further other goals a little earlier". If losing is not automatically game over, this would not hinder players from progressing, it would just send them down a different path. And this is what should rightfully happen to people playing differently: that they get different experiences.

What I meant with more challenging was to use the limited stat pool resources in such a way as to select the path that is preferential to a player. Of course, this would come with sacrifices, and perhaps require multiple attempts to come to a completely satisfying ending. The introduction of health inflates the available resources. It makes it easier to pick the desired path. In a way, it no longer matters as much what players do, the outcome will still be the same.

Obviously, there are limits to a cRPG, as to how many different outcomes any event can have, as the combinations quickly snowball and require insane amount of writing (and testing). So perhaps there is no way around this to keep the game managable and in time *cough*. Still, I'd wish it would be the deep, highly personalized experience from the original vision, where I did not have the impression that this was a game to "beat", but rather a unique story that I wrote with my own actions, that allowed many different and equally valid outcomes, losing a fight or two included.

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 12th, 2016, 7:08 am

kaiman wrote: So it could very well explain why inXile goes to great length to make sure that all player experience is positive, because failing a task, no matter how unimportant, will make people unhappy, even if the game continues. Whether this makes a better game remains to be seen. More palatable perhaps, but I'd rather wish for a more challanging experience that does not allow for the best outcome all the time, but forces one to opt for the middle road and suffer setbacks to make the successes stand out more when they come. Because in the end, isn't it more rewarding when you win where it really counts instead of all the time? And shouldn't it be possible to answer the underlying philosophical question of "What does one life matter?" with "nothing", if players continuosly spend effort with the wrong priorities?
This just makes me wonder if removing the save function would be the only real solution. If you couldn't just save right before every meaningful encounter and then reboot if you didn't like the outcome you'd be forced to learn how to play the game as it was intended. Gamers have a hard to seeing more then one possible way to play a game. So maybe if it was forced upon them they would adapt to it.

The game could just have a auto-save function built in to check points that only occur after each tide adjustment. Of course this would be a unforgiving way to play the game, but I'd personally prefer this to watering things down for others. I Wonder if this would of been a better way to solve the problem or not. The only downside is that some players would get frustrated and quit playing the first time something happened that they didn't like. However, I do think that most players would adapt quickly and the end result would lead to a more enjoyable game.

Kind of wish they'd make this a option now.

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 12th, 2016, 7:12 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.
Sure. I agree with you. I just still wish another way existed. The end result will only be watered down now and this is supposed to be a game for a very select group of players (those that backed it). I'm sure that your right though. Its just that they didn't feel the need to do this until after they saw how poorly the beta players *cough* on steam *cough* handled it.
Last edited by anonymous6059 on August 12th, 2016, 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by anonymous6059 » August 12th, 2016, 7:23 am

kaiman wrote:
kilobug wrote:Well, I don't think that the addition of health bar is to make the game challenges easier. Making them easier just mean lowering difficulty of rolls, no need for any rule change for that. It's more making them more consistent across people playing differently - not having the game too easy for some, too hard for others. Or least not as much of it.
When speaking of challenge, I did not merely mean difficulty, as in "this crisis is now hardly winnable because I used too much might to further other goals a little earlier". If losing is not automatically game over, this would not hinder players from progressing, it would just send them down a different path. And this is what should rightfully happen to people playing differently: that they get different experiences.

What I meant with more challenging was to use the limited stat pool resources in such a way as to select the path that is preferential to a player. Of course, this would come with sacrifices, and perhaps require multiple attempts to come to a completely satisfying ending. The introduction of health inflates the available resources. It makes it easier to pick the desired path. In a way, it no longer matters as much what players do, the outcome will still be the same.

Obviously, there are limits to a cRPG, as to how many different outcomes any event can have, as the combinations quickly snowball and require insane amount of writing (and testing). So perhaps there is no way around this to keep the game managable and in time *cough*. Still, I'd wish it would be the deep, highly personalized experience from the original vision, where I did not have the impression that this was a game to "beat", but rather a unique story that I wrote with my own actions, that allowed many different and equally valid outcomes, losing a fight or two included.
I think Kaiman you've totally nailed down the most interesting argument against the health bar. It does go completely against the sacred pillar "Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences" by watering down the consequences of the player's actions. However, I'd also say that by adding a health bar it reinforces choice perhaps (which I think is Kilobug's stance).

If you look on Torment's facebook right now you'll notice they are constatly looking for feedback about which paths players took at different parts of the beta. I think what happened is 93% of the beta players (those adorable steam kids) never went down certain paths and if the path showed its ugly face they quickly reverted to a past save. That and they would spend every single point possible to always obtain one or two very specific things limiting all the other myriad of possible choices. This lead Inxile to either have to cut content, water the content down, or add a health bar.

So I think that the only way Inxile felt they could truly get its players to experience the game was by the addition of the health bar. The other option would of been a reduction of choices. If that's the case then I stand behind the health bar although not very proudly.

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

Post by kaiman » August 12th, 2016, 7:57 am

anonymous6059 wrote:It does go completely against the sacred pillar "Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences" by watering down the consequences of the player's actions. However, I'd also say that by adding a health bar it reinforces choice perhaps (which I think is Kilobug's stance).
Agreed. That's more or less what I meant with the challenge statement.
anonymous6059 wrote:If you look on Torment's facebook right now you'll notice they are constatly looking for feedback about which paths players took at different parts of the beta. I think what happened is 93% of the beta players [...] never went down certain paths and if the path showed its ugly face they quickly reverted to a past save.
Interesting. I can see how that gets inXile scrambling, as I am certain that wasn't the desired outcome.
anonymous6059 wrote:So I think that the only way Inxile felt they could truly get its players to experience the game was by the addition of the health bar. The other option would of been a reduction of choices. If that's the case then I stand behind the health bar although not very proudly.
As I said, not strictly opposed to the health bar myself, other than that I found the stat pool concept fresh and neat. If it helps in keeping the original goals, then so be it. But if this has turned into a game with but a single best path, requiring success at certain key points to continue (and health as a way to ensure that), I'll blame designers rather than players :-).

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

Post by kilobug » August 12th, 2016, 8:40 am

anonymous6059 wrote:I think Kaiman you've totally nailed down the most interesting argument against the health bar. It does go completely against the sacred pillar "Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences" by watering down the consequences of the player's actions. However, I'd also say that by adding a health bar it reinforces choice perhaps (which I think is Kilobug's stance).
Well, I would say rather than adding an health bar makes it easier for the developer to cope with different play styles, character builds and choices. So it frees some energy from the balancing (made easier) and allows that energy to be moved to "real" reactivity. At least that's what I'm hoping ;)

As for the rest of Kaiman and your points, I do partly agree with them (I would be fine with an optional "ironwill" no-save mode).

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 (apart perhaps for the diceless ones like Amber, but never played it), and it's even less case for CRPGs. 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. I do hope TTON will contain lots of different ways to solve quests, and that "failing" can lead to other interesting things to do - but not to the point where "failing" or "succeeding" no longer matter at all, it's fine balance to achieve there.

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