"A Dumbening Shall Come"

Discussion about the upcoming Wasteland 3!

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Zombra » January 19th, 2017, 10:49 am

Brother None wrote:That is correct, it is too early to talk specifics. But we are reading and taking this feedback on board!
Thanks BN, it's nice to see you and sea acknowledging some of these concerns. I hope enough of this is getting passed along to Brian and Chris that they stop saying stuff in interviews about how they want to burn down the old school and make their games palatable for half-asleep button mashers playing from their couches :)

And remember, real feedback is a two-way street. It's easy to say "we're listening", but that's not a conversation. I feel a little like inXile is staying up with us until ten minutes past four in the morning. "We can't talk about it, we can't talk about it." OK, but find something you can talk about, so Brian is telling the truth when he says inXile is in conversation with the backers.

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Returning to the thread subject, here's another gem from Zombra's House of Ideas: if Chris is really worried that some players are scared of managing all those scary stats, you still don't have to cut anything from the game. Instead, provide premade characters and put in an "Auto Level Up" button like KOTOR and other RPGs have. That way those players don't have to think or understand anything; they can let the game build their characters for them and go back to clicking on enemies until they die. Meanwhile the people who actually like RPGs can explore the complexity of the stats, fine tuning their character and party builds like always.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Woolfe » January 19th, 2017, 3:23 pm

Zombra wrote:Returning to the thread subject, here's another gem from Zombra's House of Ideas: if Chris is really worried that some players are scared of managing all those scary stats, you still don't have to cut anything from the game. Instead, provide premade characters and put in an "Auto Level Up" button like KOTOR and other RPGs have. That way those players don't have to think or understand anything; they can let the game build their characters for them and go back to clicking on enemies until they die. Meanwhile the people who actually like RPGs can explore the complexity of the stats, fine tuning their character and party builds like always.
It would be nice to see a little bit more interaction... if only to stop the shouts of "their not listening"... sigh...

Auto level up and premade characters are all well and good.

But stop screwing with the stats. We like stats, we back your games because you have stats. We don't want another "more of the same" type thing, or another "We are changing the paradigm".

If you want to do that, then BUILD A NEW GAME. Don't mess with a game that already exists. If you want to do a Wasteland game that is all about a single player and no stats for example, then call it "Wasteland: Sole Protagonist" or something. Don't call it Wasteland 3.

My expectation of Wasteland 3 is that it will ultimately be a very similar format to 2, but with some tweaking here and there where you have time to rebuild systems that didn't work well in 2.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Grohal » January 20th, 2017, 12:09 am

Like Woolfe said - nothing to add there.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by sear » January 21st, 2017, 10:31 am

This kind of brings to mind interesting higher-level topics about RPGs and character systems in general.

Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other? Or do you like it when games have perhaps a smaller set of those, but those stats, skills and so on are more unique and more consistently useful?

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by kilobug » January 21st, 2017, 11:04 am

sear wrote:Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other? Or do you like it when games have perhaps a smaller set of those, but those stats, skills and so on are more unique and more consistently useful?
To me it's more a general way, being able to define characters with strong and weak points, have different build that are viable, have a team where the skills of one complete the skills of the others. It's not so much the number of stats and skills, rather than the richness of builds that can be done.

Things like traits and perks added in the DC for example added a lot to the character building system.

And the weakest point in my view in the WL2 system is the very low level of interaction between skills and stats, like you can have STR1 and yet be very good at bruteforcing a door, while you can have STR10 and fail to do so.

Another point to consider is number of skills vs party size. If we have a party size of 3 like in some games, and you can consider a single character can master 3-4 skills, you can have 10-12 skills in total. But if we have a party size of 6 or 7 like in WL2 (and I hope it'll be similar in WL3), we both can afford and should have more skills, so you avoid having too many duplicates in the party. Some weapon skills can of course be duplicate, but it doesn't make much sense to have more than 1 safecracker, lockpicker or weaponsmith, or more than 2 field medics. So bigger party size should mean more available skills.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by marceror » January 21st, 2017, 1:11 pm

For me variety gives an added sense of depth, though variety for variety sake isn't the answer. I think Wasteland 2 had a nice balance in this regard. Safecracking requires different knowledge than picking a lock on a door, so it's reasonable that there would be a separate skill for each task. Similarly, being a good diplomat is a different skill than outsmarting a person (i.e. kiss ass vs. smart ass).

On the weapons front, mastering a heavy machine gun should be different than mastering a handgun or a pistol. While there are some common elements in firing any gun, there are large differences as well. Perhaps a general gunnery skill could represent this - i.e. you need a point in general gunnery for every point you want to specialize in a particular weapon type, but the gunnery skill increases your skill with all ballistic weapons. 5 in general gunnery allows you to use any gun with some skill, but another 5 points is required in a particular weapon to truly master it). A similar concept could be used in other categories as well.

But back to your question, to me the bar is does the separation of skill make sense in a real life scenario? A general skill that combines all infiltration type abilities (e.g. locking picking, alarm disarming, safecracking, demolitions) is what starts to feel like an unwelcome streamlining. We are intelligent enough to handle the greater variety, and for many of us, this makes for a more immersive experience, because it's an appropriate real-life division of talents/abilities.

The point made about party size is a good one too. If we're down to 3 or 4 party members it might make sense to look at having less individual skills (though not necessarily), but again, I'm very much hoping that we will see party sizes in line with what we're used to in the Wasteland series.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Zombra » January 21st, 2017, 2:39 pm

sear wrote:Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other? Or do you like it when games have perhaps a smaller set of those, but those stats, skills and so on are more unique and more consistently useful?
Are you asking in an official capacity to gather ideas for inXile about Wasteland 3, or are you just making conversation? ;)
Either way, it's a good question.

My browser ate the long version post, so for now, short version: more numbers on the character sheet is better, even if it means wonky game balance.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Woolfe » January 21st, 2017, 3:35 pm

sear wrote:This kind of brings to mind interesting higher-level topics about RPGs and character systems in general.

Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other? Or do you like it when games have perhaps a smaller set of those, but those stats, skills and so on are more unique and more consistently useful?
Depends on what you are trying to achieve, but in general more is better with a caveat. The stats actually have to mean something.

When you have less it reduces variability. You might think that 6 stats of 1-6 for example offers 46656 combinations. And if you are just working off the stats, then that is true. But In general RPG's use the stats to define thing, like for example a Fighter.
A fighter needs a high strength a good dexterity and a good Constitution. Which means that now your Combinations have been effectively reduced.
So you need the highest strength, so you are only going to accept the best there. Reduces it to 5 dice difference. You need good Dex and Con, So that reduces those choices as well. Form all 6 of a d6 to maybe 4 5 and 6 combinations of those d6.
Now during gameplay, you have multiple characters. 1 Wizard, 1 Priest, and a thief. The Wizard does the thinking, so that makes the INT stat pointless, so who cares what you get. The Priest covers the wisdom. So then those stats can be not important. It doesn't matter what you roll, as you'll likely never be using them. Which leaves Charisma. And everyone treats that as a dump stat, unless this character is the "face".

And that is the combination EVERY fighter will have. So You have reduced the effective combinations massively.

Now in a TT game that was ok, because you had the GM and interactions to create your character etc, using stats in an unusual way to allow you to overcome challenges.

In a PC game however it is not like that. You don't have the GM to help you get a round things in a smart way. You are constrained by the stats. The game is programmed to respond to certain things, and the stats are the pathway to those things.
In a game the potential for those GM thoughts are programmed into the Stats. So more stats essentially means potential for a more nuanced and interesting game, vs something on rails. Because we play RPG's because of the ability to do lots of things as someone else.

The advantage of a PC is that it can perform complex problems quickly. So the stats should be being used in a complex fashion all the time.
Instead of just using a single stat to define whether you manage something or not, you can combine several or all. And you can combine them multiple times, in different ways, and the results can be nuanced.
Forcing a lock. At its simplest it is Yes/no. Do you have the strength?
But you could have it as STR, with an element of WIS as that helps you put pressure on the right part of the lock to break it. CON and WIS combine for the length of time to try before you give up on it as unable to be done. INT, DEX, and maybe WIS, combine to see if each attempt damages the lock. Etc Etc etc.
Picking the lock would be a whole different thing. It would be DEX and INT, with maybe some WIS. etc

The other thing for me. Is whether we are playing ourselves or the character.
Mass effect/Fallout3 were games that you were a "character" but your skill at shooting was actually the players. You pointed your gun and pulled the trigger. Now you character may have affected it, in that you may be a little less accurate, but ultimately it came down to the players skill more than the characters. If you couldn't aim for shit, then your character was never going to hit anything. That is not an RPG, that is a shooter with RPG elements.
In a traditional RPG, your physical abilities do not impact on the characters ability. (Aside from your intellect and experience, but we can't get away from them). So the stats are important.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Drool » January 21st, 2017, 10:30 pm

sear wrote:Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other?
With the choice of original Wasteland with somewhat vague attributes and redundant skills or modern Bethesda with no stats or no skills, I'll take the excessive and vague every time.

The closer to MSPE and learn-by-doing, the better.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by paultakeda » January 21st, 2017, 10:55 pm

Agreed. Having stats that interplay with one another and with one or more skills to perform certain tasks and actions makes min-maxing harder to accomplish. You are instead interested in developing a character more naturally according to their role.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by neophyte » January 22nd, 2017, 10:54 am

My initial reaction to reading that quote was outrage. But I think that the DC version of WL2 already proved to me that inXile can't even handle the complexity of that game (weapon balance especially), let alone adding more complexity. And WL2 wasn't even that complex in the first place, I loathe to think what streamlining it would produce. I can only imagine something akin to the new XCOM games, which feel very shallow to me. But maybe they'll be able to add more tactical depth and balance if they have fewer weapon skills to worry about. Hopefully. I mean, I'm still disappointed. I was expecting that inXile would try to improve the systems they already have in place instead of stripping them down for casual players.
Zombra wrote:The guns in Wasteland 2 all succeeded in fulfilling different roles.
One weapon type is good, one fulfills a niche role, and everything else is a waste of SP.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Grohal » January 23rd, 2017, 2:16 am

sear wrote:This kind of brings to mind interesting higher-level topics about RPGs and character systems in general.

Do you prefer games with more character stats, skills, attributes, etc. even knowing that some of those may be less comparatively valuable, or redundant with each other? Or do you like it when games have perhaps a smaller set of those, but those stats, skills and so on are more unique and more consistently useful?
More stats, skills, attributes are always helpful to flesh out the chars better.
In the spirit of the original Wasteland: not everything must have a practical use.

This is what "old school" is all about for me: that doesn't mean it should not have some "comfort" or "automated" stuff, like the example with the autoreloading of weapons after a battle as long as there is ammunition in this chars backpack (should not take ammo out of a party-backpack - i want to decide who gets how much ammo, thank you), or the char who wants to get his weapon modified running automatically to the best weaponsmith in the group/base and getting the weapon modified - without needing to trade the weapon back and forth.

But stats can't be numerous enough. Interacting of skills and attributes - yes PRETTY PLEASE. Let me make my nerdy, weak char - and give him the kick in doors skill, but break his foot or shoulder every time - and while we are at it: don't make a broken leg a mali that goes away after 300 seconds. Make those bleeding, broken and traumatized stats permanent until sucessful threated by the char with the right skill - and then make him still be a bit slower with a broken leg or stiff with a threated bleeding wound for some days - even IF threaded. Those stats shouldn't happen often unless I do something very stupid (like the strength 1 char trying to kick in doors) or I am very unlucky- but they should REALLY hinder the char IF they tend to happen.
Maybe going to a doc and paying for perfect threatment can half the time it hinders - or even better if seriously wounded: make me bring this char into the sickbay and force me to use another unharmed char for the next one or two missions I want to do, like in X-Com.

And so on... :mrgreen:
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by undecaf » January 23rd, 2017, 11:00 am

More stats and skills indeed. More ways to differentiate our characters, more ways to interact with the world and NPC's (some more mundane ways than others, some more quirky than the others, etc).

It doesn't matter if all skills are not equal (assault rifles will almost always be more valuable than alarm disarm for example, it's ok) in worth just as long as (for a general idea)....
- none of them are one-off's
- all of them have enough use to warrant the existence of the whole range (whether it be 1-10 or 1-25 or 1-100; bigger range tends to offer more leeway whilst mitigating the value of a single skillpoint, but that's not necessarily a bad thing)
- the system is loose enough to not intentionally promote one thing over another
- the system is not intentionally built to be powerplayed/min-maxed (e.g. there's enough room in the system to branch out a bit from the archetype without crippling/gimping the character)
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by rjshae » January 23rd, 2017, 2:20 pm

If they are modifying the skills system, then I would like to see some skill synergy benefits. For example, 3 ranks in Mechanical Repair grants you +1 rank in Toaster Repair; 3 ranks in Submachine Guns gets you +1 rank in Heavy Weapons; &c. Tweak the skill costs accordingly.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by paultakeda » January 23rd, 2017, 2:36 pm

rjshae wrote:If they are modifying the skills system, then I would like to see some skill synergy benefits. For example, 3 ranks in Mechanical Repair grants you +1 rank in Toaster Repair; 3 ranks in Submachine Guns gets you +1 rank in Heavy Weapons; &c. Tweak the skill costs accordingly.
I would say that it doesn't grant you this but that your Mechanical Repair (MR) skill can enhance Toaster Repair (TR) when the roll is made. For example, let's say using Toaster Repair 2 gives you a 30% chance of success. Your character has TR 1, which is only 20% success and TR 0 is 10%, but the character has the MR skill. Let's say each tier of MR will stack on TR 1, so TR 1 is 25% but with MR 1 it becomes 30%. If you have no TR skill at all but have MR 3, then you have, say, +15% (if the progression is linear), so TR 0 MR 3 still means 25%, which is actually 5% more than TR 1 alone in this example, but can show that a highly skilled mechanic, while not educated in a particularly specialty, can still beat a specialist novice.

I would also note that other modifiers are in play. Attributes can change just how much a related skill can help, such that Coordination, Awareness, Intelligence and even Luck can move those % points up and down.

There'll be enough vagueness there to make min-maxing pointless (i.e. not needed); you'll instead have very good specialist who would also have the general skillset related to their specialization.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by Woolfe » January 23rd, 2017, 3:01 pm

paultakeda wrote:
rjshae wrote:If they are modifying the skills system, then I would like to see some skill synergy benefits. For example, 3 ranks in Mechanical Repair grants you +1 rank in Toaster Repair; 3 ranks in Submachine Guns gets you +1 rank in Heavy Weapons; &c. Tweak the skill costs accordingly.
I would say that it doesn't grant you this but that your Mechanical Repair (MR) skill can enhance Toaster Repair (TR) when the roll is made. For example, let's say using Toaster Repair 2 gives you a 30% chance of success. Your character has TR 1, which is only 20% success and TR 0 is 10%, but the character has the MR skill. Let's say each tier of MR will stack on TR 1, so TR 1 is 25% but with MR 1 it becomes 30%. If you have no TR skill at all but have MR 3, then you have, say, +15% (if the progression is linear), so TR 0 MR 3 still means 25%, which is actually 5% more than TR 1 alone in this example, but can show that a highly skilled mechanic, while not educated in a particularly specialty, can still beat a specialist novice.

I would also note that other modifiers are in play. Attributes can change just how much a related skill can help, such that Coordination, Awareness, Intelligence and even Luck can move those % points up and down.

There'll be enough vagueness there to make min-maxing pointless (i.e. not needed); you'll instead have very good specialist who would also have the general skillset related to their specialization.
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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by -Archangel- » January 24th, 2017, 7:48 am

So "consolisation" begins. Do whatever you want, I didn't support Fig campaign as it didn't "feel right". I guess I was right.
This time me and my wallet will judge the final product and get it on a deeeeep Steam sale because I am kind of sure it will not be worth a full price.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by neophyte » January 25th, 2017, 5:36 pm

paultakeda wrote: I would say that it doesn't grant you this but that your Mechanical Repair (MR) skill can enhance Toaster Repair (TR) when the roll is made.
Why have Toaster Repair as a skill at all? What exactly is it about toasters that Mechanical Repair can't cover? It always bugged me, because Toaster Repair is a joke skill but it somehow gets more mileage than Mechanical Repair in a normal play-through of WL2. With the Director's Cut version, some instances where Mechanical Repair could be useful can be substituted with Brute Force (i.e. steam tunnels in Angel Oracle), which now also can replace Lockpicking 90% of the time. Why is Lockpicking separate from Safecracking instead of being conflated into something like Locksmithing? Why are Surgeon and Field Medic also separate skills? Then you have Alarm Disarming that is practically worthless and there is no reason why Computer Science can't be used whenever you need to disable a security system. I think there's a strong case to be made for superfluous/useless skills to be merged into something that isn't a waste of skill points with very limited use.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by SagaDC » January 25th, 2017, 10:15 pm

neophyte wrote:Why have Toaster Repair as a skill at all? What exactly is it about toasters that Mechanical Repair can't cover? It always bugged me, because Toaster Repair is a joke skill but it somehow gets more mileage than Mechanical Repair in a normal play-through of WL2.
There's no denying that Toaster Repair was tossed in as an in-joke reference to the first game. I don't mind them including it, since it's a nice reference with some fun (but not vital) rewards, but I do think that it might have been better off as a "secret" skill like Combat Shooting or Southwestern Folklore. It does feel a bit odd that it was treated as a conventional skill.

With the addition of the Quirks & Perks system, it might make more sense to make Toaster Repair a perk (based on Mechanical Repair) next time around.

EDIT - And yes, Mechanical Repair was underutilized in the game. Much like Alarm Disarming (which I discuss a bit lower), it seems like it was implemented late in the development process, resulting in it being a fairly shallow skill with very limited use.
neophyte wrote:Why is Lockpicking separate from Safecracking instead of being conflated into something like Locksmithing?
This one makes more sense, as far as skill separations go. Lockpicking generally refers to bypassing conventional key-based locks, while safecracking generally involves bypassing rotary combination locks. The two are completely different.
neophyte wrote:Why are Surgeon and Field Medic also separate skills?
Probably for much the same reason that they're separated in other games, such as the early Fallout titles. Field Medic represents the treatment of superficial or cosmetic wounds, while Surgeon represents the knowledge of and ability to perform more intensive surgical procedures. It essentially represents the difference between a paramedic (or nurse) and an emergency room surgeon.

However, what does make it a bit odd is that Surgeon should certainly be treated as an "advanced" skill that requires preceding ranks of Field Medic. It's definitely a bit silly that a Ranger can become an expert at performing surgical procedures without having even the slightest understanding of how to use bandages and painkillers.
neophyte wrote:Then you have Alarm Disarming that is practically worthless and there is no reason why Computer Science can't be used whenever you need to disable a security system.
This one was debated a bit back when Wasteland 2 was still in beta, and my personal view is that they're two sufficiently different skills to justify their own entries. Alarm Disarming is more akin to a general Electrical Repair skill, since most 20th century alarm systems were bypassed using general knowledge of wiring. Computer Science is more reliant on general knowledge of software architecture and operating systems.

But yes, Alarm Disarming was definitely underutilized in the game, but that's almost certainly because it was implemented very late in the game's development. Unfortunately, that meant that most areas weren't actually designed with Alarm Disarm in mind, and instead it was generally used as a fairly shallow loot-gating mechanic.

As a sidenote, I would have actually preferred if Alarm Disarm had been called something like "Electronic Repair" instead, but I understand that they decided to call it "Alarm Disarm" simply because that was the name of one of the skills in the first game. Unfortunately, the name they chose does rather severely pigeonhole the skill, where an Electronics-related skill could have theoretically seen much broader use throughout the game.

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Re: "A Dumbening Shall Come"

Post by undecaf » January 26th, 2017, 6:13 am

Yeah, let's not get to the merge-merge-merge route, ok. There's no end to it. You could merge all combat skills under "Combat Ability", all speeches under "Social Ability" and lockpicking, hacking, alarm disarm etc under "Security", and demolitions, mech.repari etc under "Utility". 4 skills to rule them all. That's a polarized example, obviously, but the point comes across.

It's fun to have lot of skills, even if there was some overlap between a few (like medic/surgeon or mech.repair/toaster repair). What should be done is to expand on the usability and indiviual worth of the skills and if there's room, add a few more. Not merge them together to "mitigate confusion and party micromanagement".
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