The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

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The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by CaptainPatch » September 26th, 2018, 6:28 pm

I've stated elsewhere why I hate the combat system. Here's another reason.

I was just in Iwon Rheg. There were no Luck totems = no way to Save. Step out of the central chamber, having gotten what I came for.... Only to be confronted by a VERY powerful group of enemies who pretty much have a sure thing of Spotting me = they get First Strike.

Hack hack, whack whack x LOTS I get down to one Fighter with ONE hit point, versus one Cultist with _158_ hit points. I figure I'm a goner.... but I'm not. The Cultist's spells, skills and weaponry couldn't penetrate my armor. Nor could I penetrate his. For @ an hour, we kept bashing at each other without any damage being inflicted.

IF I had been able to change weapons, I might have been, possibly, able to start whittling him down. IF I was able to change assigned Skills, something might have given me enough of an edge to start inflicting damage. IF I was able to utilize some other Trinket, it might have started to wear him out. Or conversely, the Cultist may have been able to finish off my last hit point. Either way, the battle marathon would have ended.

Technically, that battle was a draw... but in a system that doesn't allow draws or retreating. One side MUST lose while the other side wins. But because of the existing system, the two combatants could have been there FOREVER. To add insult to injury, the ONLY way to end the combat was for _me_ to surrender -- why couldn't it have been the opponent? -- which = EVERYONE DIES = go back to the very last opportunity to Save = go all the way back to when I first entered Iwon Rheg = I am now required to redo several hours of Iwon Rheg crawling to get to where I was when I was REQUIRED to surrender.

I really, really, really, really hate this combat system. A Random Number Generator would at least be able to avoid endless draws.
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by satoru » September 26th, 2018, 8:07 pm

That's really not a problem with using a forumula. Its an issue with scaling and encounter balancing

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Depili » September 26th, 2018, 10:49 pm

Yeah, the encounters are too easy and even the ones given red rating by the game tend to be over in one turn. The combat is all about finding and exploiting combos with the skills and equipment you have.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Nyast » September 27th, 2018, 3:59 am

For info, there are 2 save totems in Iwon Rheg; one at the entrance, and the other one in the mirror room. I missed that second one the first time I completed that dungeon too, and like you got stuck at the end fight. But once you know the location of that totem ( you can access it by a staircase from the first floor ) you can save right before the final fight.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by thebruce » September 27th, 2018, 6:46 am

That kind of misses the point of the problem with the fight mechanic; it's not just a balance issue - there's no "Run", and there's no ability either to switch to different tools/abilities or have access to a wider selection (both raised in beta and pre-beta feedback). Two very fundamentally different mechanics from the originals and, as demonstrated in this case, both unreasonable and game breaking... =/

Some things to consider for a future game update.
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by rmcoen » September 27th, 2018, 8:00 am

I agree, there should be a "Run" mechanic somehow. However, given that (a) there are no random encounters, and (b) you can heal completely at no cost at a save totem, you get (c) No (current) consequence for running away. You could back out, heal, and try again. Unless the bad guys get the same "wake up at the end of the fight" option, and therefore (eat hidden stores of food) are completely healed. Which is still better than "Surrender and Die". Why would anyone ever choose "surrender and die"? (except to get out of an infinite loop issue)

So - add a Run mechanic with some kind of consequence (could be as simple as "fail chance" and "failure gives opponents a bonus"), and add the option to use items from inventory that aren't ready - even with a +1 or +2 Opportunity cost. Heck, even with a *+3* cost, the loop situation of the OP could have been broken... one action, tossing a dragon bile bomb each turn or something.... (Then you can also add, ala Fallout series, a "quick hands" skill for rogue and maybe bard, to reduce this Opp Cost From Inventory penalty.)

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by thebruce » September 27th, 2018, 9:18 am

Yep, merely adding Run wouldn't suffice given the greater combat and dungeon mechanics
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Gizmo » September 27th, 2018, 10:43 am

The game Disciples 2 (possibly the others as well), handles retreat in a sensible fashion—that has teeth. Any encounter can be fled from, and if successful, the enemy combatants get full XP for any defeated opponents. The enemies (just like the PCs) can all level up with experience, so leaving them this way makes them stronger each time, and still has them blocking the path, and with them free to pursue the PC party—should they choose. It is very possible that they can level up after several combats (either hit & runs, by the player, or by encounters with other NPC groups that they defeat). Leveling up can enable new combat abilities for them, as well as providing full healing, and even modified appearance.

Enemies in the Disciples series are persistent, until slain.

__________

There really should be a Run option, and a Party Attack option—with reasons to use both.

Disciples also includes a very handy option to let the computer AI deal with trash mobs, and/or finishing off any fight after the player is assured to win. The AI is a crude player, and will take more damage than most players would, playing the battle themselves. In this case, it could literally BE a semi-joking AAADD option to poke fun with. ;)

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Jamey » September 27th, 2018, 12:45 pm

CaptainPatch wrote:
September 26th, 2018, 6:28 pm
I've stated elsewhere why I hate the combat system. Here's another reason.

I was just in Iwon Rheg. There were no Luck totems = no way to Save. Step out of the central chamber, having gotten what I came for.... Only to be confronted by a VERY powerful group of enemies who pretty much have a sure thing of Spotting me = they get First Strike.

Hack hack, whack whack x LOTS I get down to one Fighter with ONE hit point, versus one Cultist with _158_ hit points. I figure I'm a goner.... but I'm not. The Cultist's spells, skills and weaponry couldn't penetrate my armor. Nor could I penetrate his. For @ an hour, we kept bashing at each other without any damage being inflicted.

IF I had been able to change weapons, I might have been, possibly, able to start whittling him down. IF I was able to change assigned Skills, something might have given me enough of an edge to start inflicting damage. IF I was able to utilize some other Trinket, it might have started to wear him out. Or conversely, the Cultist may have been able to finish off my last hit point. Either way, the battle marathon would have ended.

Technically, that battle was a draw... but in a system that doesn't allow draws or retreating. One side MUST lose while the other side wins. But because of the existing system, the two combatants could have been there FOREVER. To add insult to injury, the ONLY way to end the combat was for _me_ to surrender -- why couldn't it have been the opponent? -- which = EVERYONE DIES = go back to the very last opportunity to Save = go all the way back to when I first entered Iwon Rheg = I am now required to redo several hours of Iwon Rheg crawling to get to where I was when I was REQUIRED to surrender.

I really, really, really, really hate this combat system. A Random Number Generator would at least be able to avoid endless draws.
I really feel like the problem here is the save system, not the lack of RNG.

I personally like the combat system. It does away with to-hit rolls and damage rolls in favor of crit chances and proc chances.

To me, this feels better as I expect the baseline and am pleased when I get a crit. I compare it favorably to playing a game like XCOM (which I like overall), where you'll get those fun streaks of missing at a 95% chance to hit 4 times in a row and swearing that the RNG is out to get you.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Gizmo » September 27th, 2018, 1:01 pm

Jamey wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 12:45 pm
... It does away with to-hit rolls and damage rolls in favor of crit chances and proc chances.
Why is this a good thing? (I am not criticizing, I just want the reasoning). RNG to-hit rolls and damage are just about the most impartial method of presenting a dynamically generated event fairly; critical hits are usually part of that... and I am not sure how one could implement them [fairly] without it.
To me, this feels better as I expect the baseline and am pleased when I get a crit. I compare it favorably to playing a game like XCOM (which I like overall), where you'll get those fun streaks of missing at a 95% chance to hit 4 times in a row and swearing that the RNG is out to get you.
That's how percentages work... Yes, you can miss five (or more) times in a row @95%... it's just not very likely. :?

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by CaptainPatch » September 27th, 2018, 4:29 pm

Gizmo wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 1:01 pm
To me, this feels better as I expect the baseline and am pleased when I get a crit. I compare it favorably to playing a game like XCOM (which I like overall), where you'll get those fun streaks of missing at a 95% chance to hit 4 times in a row and swearing that the RNG is out to get you.
[That's how percentages work... Yes, you can miss five (or more) times in a row @95%... it's just not very likely. :?
Good point.
For the sake of those that haven't taken any Statistics classes yet, here is what you are looking at:
Flipping a coin and getting heads is one chance in two (heads or tails; odds equally balanced) = 1/2. But flipping twice and getting heads twice in a roll has a probability of 1/2 x 1/2 = one chance in four, BUT VIEWED FROM BEFORE THE COIN IS FLIPPED THE FIRST TIME. The odds of getting a longer streak is continuously multiplying by 1/2 for each additional flip. For example three times in a row is 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = one time in eight. Four times in a row is 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = one time in sixteen. Etc. HOWEVER, no matter how long the streak is, the odds of getting heads on the very next flip remains 1/2 (because you are back to predicting the outcome of ONE flip).

Having a 95% probability of success is the same as saying 19 chances in 20 of success. That means the probability of failure ONE TIME is 1/20. Twice in a row would be 1/20 x 1/20 = one time in FOUR HUNDRED. If that happens, the gods hate you; no doubt about it. Three times in a row, they really hate you because the odds of that happening is one in _8,000_. If it happens a fourth, get your money back because the company obviously sold you a game with a flawed RNG algorithm that introduces some serious biases. [I tend to believe in a such a case that the developers were out to sabotage the players often, just to make sure the players usually failed. Like a cheating DM lying to the players about what he rolled because he doesn't want them to get too cocky. (Or he just doesn't like the players and he enjoys seeing them suffer.)]

[Not long ago Kalypso produced game titled Omerta, wherein the game displayed the To-Hit percentages on screen. I noticed early on that I was having streaks of 95% failures 2,3 in a row. On occasion, as many as four in a row. When I pointed that out, they immediately denied there was any bias in the programming. But Statistics really don't lie, not in the case of recurring patterns. They never fixed the problem and I stopped playing the game. But from their viewpoint, that win for them because they already got my money. But what it cost them is a reluctance to buy anymore of their games.]
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Jamey » September 27th, 2018, 5:02 pm

Gizmo wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 1:01 pm
Jamey wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 12:45 pm
... It does away with to-hit rolls and damage rolls in favor of crit chances and proc chances.
Why is this a good thing? (I am not criticizing, I just want the reasoning). RNG to-hit rolls and damage are just about the most impartial method of presenting a dynamically generated event fairly; critical hits are usually part of that... and I am not sure how one could implement them [fairly] without it.
There is a whole body of research around making video games unfair in the form of breaking streaks in random number generators because users feel like streaks are unfair, even when they are completely fair.

I am finding that always hitting with a chance of getting a better result feels better than having a chance to miss, even if the two systems could be built to average out to a similar result.
CaptainPatch wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 4:29 pm
Having a 95% probability of success is the same as saying 19 chances in 20 of success. That means the probability of failure ONE TIME is 1/20. Twice in a row would be 1/20 x 1/20 = one time in FOUR HUNDRED. If that happens, the gods hate you; no doubt about it. Three times in a row, they really hate you because the odds of that happening is one in _8,000_. If it happens a fourth, get your money back because the company obviously sold you a game with a flawed RNG algorithm that introduces some serious biases. [I tend to believe in a such a case that the developers were out to sabotage the players often, just to make sure the players usually failed. Like a cheating DM lying to the players about what he rolled because he doesn't want them to get too cocky. (Or he just doesn't like the players and he enjoys seeing them suffer.)]

[Not long ago Kalypso produced game titled Omerta, wherein the game displayed the To-Hit percentages on screen. I noticed early on that I was having streaks of 95% failures 2,3 in a row. On occasion, as many as four in a row. When I pointed that out, they immediately denied there was any bias in the programming. But Statistics really don't lie, not in the case of recurring patterns. They never fixed the problem and I stopped playing the game. But from their viewpoint, that win for them because they already got my money. But what it cost them is a reluctance to buy anymore of their games.]
...and this completely misses the mark. If there are 8000 people playing XCOM right now, on average one of them will miss their next three shots in a row. If there are 24000 shots in a typical game, you will expect to, on average, miss three shots in a row in every single game. That is how probability works.

The point is that such unlucky streaks will happen and that they will feel unfair to players when they happen. This is why game designers need to carefully design the places that they put RNG into games. It is also why game developers will often build streak breaking into games which feature RNG in their core game mechanics.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by eisberg » September 27th, 2018, 5:37 pm

The other problem is, truly random number generation is an impossibility on computers.
There was an algorithm manual that I read and it had an interesting quote that I saved.

"Unfortunately, generating random numbers looks a lot easier than it really is. Indeed, it is fundamentally impossible to produce truly random numbers on any deterministic device. Von Neumann said it best, “Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.” The best we can hope for are pseudo-random numbers, a stream of numbers that appear as if they were generated randomly."

It is one of the reasons why I prefer to have the least amount of random in games as possible.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 27th, 2018, 6:23 pm

eisberg wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 5:37 pm
The other problem is, truly random number generation is an impossibility on computers.
There was an algorithm manual that I read and it had an interesting quote that I saved.

"Unfortunately, generating random numbers looks a lot easier than it really is. Indeed, it is fundamentally impossible to produce truly random numbers on any deterministic device. Von Neumann said it best, “Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin.” The best we can hope for are pseudo-random numbers, a stream of numbers that appear as if they were generated randomly."
When people talk about RNGs in games or scientific simulations, they are, of course, talking about pseudo random number generators. However, even your LCRNGs of yore generally have good distributions over some large cycle length. And, more modern ones, like the Mersenne Twister, have ungodly low correlation. MT is, for nearly all intents and purposes, random.
eisberg wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 5:37 pm
It is one of the reasons why I prefer to have the least amount of random in games as possible.
Really? How do you make this leap?
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 27th, 2018, 6:27 pm

Jamey wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 5:02 pm
The point is that such unlucky streaks will happen and that they will feel unfair to players when they happen. This is why game designers need to carefully design the places that they put RNG into games. It is also why game developers will often build streak breaking into games which feature RNG in their core game mechanics.
Funny that folks at casinos talk about silly stuff like "this machine is due to payout any moment now" and things like that. From what I've seen, most people are willing to ride out the "unlucky streaks" to get the "lucky streaks". Does the streak breaking also break "lucky streaks"?
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by Gizmo » September 27th, 2018, 6:45 pm

Jamey wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 5:02 pm
I am finding that always hitting with a chance of getting a better result feels better than having a chance to miss, even if the two systems could be built to average out to a similar result.
This makes the person infallible. It creates the baseball player who never fails to hit (or catch) the ball... and just does it better sometimes. :(

Unless the PC is some sort of demi-god, then they will naturally make mistakes (or suffer from bad circumstance) and fail at least some of the time. When one never fails, then the value of one's successes are diminished, and they lose the delight of unexpected good fortune... like when your character is steadily losing hitpoints, and barely scratching their opponents—and in the last seconds (instead of dying ) scores a critical killing hit—that almost never happens; and changes the way you thought the encounter would play out.

Until games can numericaly and visually account for a truly accurate simulation of —life, the percentages seem to do a plausibly decent job of it for game purposes. Even the best sword fighter alive can trip on a pebble and miss; or twist their ankle [critically miss]. A professional locksmith [95% ;) ] can fail to open his own front door—even twice in a row... it's called dropping one's keys.
There is a whole body of research around making video games unfair in the form of breaking streaks in random number generators because users feel like streaks are unfair, even when they are completely fair.
I've seen it in action; I had a conversation about it with one of the Vaporium devs, when he posted about the game on Grimrock.net.
The point is that such unlucky streaks will happen and that they will feel unfair to players when they happen.
Life feels unfair (at times), or it doesn't feel 'right'; that was even part of the plot for the Matrix films; they had at first made the matrix a paradise; and couldn't understand why the humans kept trying to wake up from it. :D (They added failure and hardship, and it became more believable.)

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by eisberg » September 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm

Gizmo wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 6:45 pm
Jamey wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 5:02 pm
I am finding that always hitting with a chance of getting a better result feels better than having a chance to miss, even if the two systems could be built to average out to a similar result.
This makes the person infallible. It creates the baseball player who never fails to hit (or catch) the ball... and just does it better sometimes. :(

Unless the PC is some sort of demi-god, then they will naturally make mistakes (or suffer from bad circumstance) and fail at least some of the time. When one never fails, then the value of one's successes are diminished, and they lose the delight of unexpected good fortune... like when your character is steadily losing hitpoints, and barely scratching their opponents—and in the last seconds scores a critical killing hit—that almost never happens; and changes the way you thought the encounter would play out.

Until games can numericaly and visually account for a truly accurate simulation of —life, the percentages seem to do a plausibly decent job of it for game purposes. Even the best sword fighter alive can trip on a pebble and miss; or twist their ankle [critically miss]. A professional locksmith [95% ;) ] can fail to open his own front door—even twice in a row... it's called dropping one's keys.
There is a whole body of research around making video games unfair in the form of breaking streaks in random number generators because users feel like streaks are unfair, even when they are completely fair.
I've seen it in action; I had a conversation about it with one of the Vaporium devs, when he posted about the game on Grimrock.net.
The point is that such unlucky streaks will happen and that they will feel unfair to players when they happen.
Life feels unfair (at times), or it doesn't feel 'right'; that was even part of the plot for the Matrix films; they had at first made it a paradise; and couldn't understand why the humans kept struggling to wake up from it. :D (They added failure and hardship, and it became more believable.)
I always feel better about winning in combat when it was because I made great tactical decisions, or if I screwed up and able to dig myself out. If it is "random" numbers, then I only feel that I got lucky and the feeling is just "meh" and it was just the roll of the dice that made me win really and it diminishes my own efforts and use of my brain.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » September 27th, 2018, 7:23 pm

eisberg wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm
I always feel better about winning in combat when it was because I made great tactical decisions, or if I screwed up and able to dig myself out. If it is "random" numbers, then I only feel that I got lucky and the feeling is just "meh" and it was just the roll of the dice that made me win really and it diminishes my own efforts and use of my brain.
It's not an either/or proposition. Depending on your random distribution and the magnitude of the bonuses/maluses that can stack on rolls, you can almost always have good outcomes for situations in which you are at advantage and almost always have bad outcomes for situations in which you are at disadvantage, which means the sound application of the human brain to tactics and strategy remains important. The element of randomness allows for the breaking out of deadlock situations, which was a concern of the OP, as illustrated by a real example.
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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by eisberg » September 27th, 2018, 7:36 pm

_noblesse_oblige_ wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 7:23 pm
eisberg wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm
I always feel better about winning in combat when it was because I made great tactical decisions, or if I screwed up and able to dig myself out. If it is "random" numbers, then I only feel that I got lucky and the feeling is just "meh" and it was just the roll of the dice that made me win really and it diminishes my own efforts and use of my brain.
It's not an either/or proposition. Depending on your random distribution and the magnitude of the bonuses/maluses that can stack on rolls, you can almost always have good outcomes for situations in which you are at advantage and almost always have bad outcomes for situations in which you are at disadvantage, which means the sound application of the human brain to tactics and strategy remains important. The element of randomness allows for the breaking out of deadlock situations, which was a concern of the OP, as illustrated by a real example.
You don't need randomness to get out of that situation, it is just a fight that needs to be retuned.

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Re: The problem with using a formula rather than RNG

Post by CaptainPatch » September 27th, 2018, 7:58 pm

eisberg wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 7:06 pm
I always feel better about winning in combat when it was because I made great tactical decisions, or if I screwed up and able to dig myself out. If it is "random" numbers, then I only feel that I got lucky and the feeling is just "meh" and it was just the roll of the dice that made me win really and it diminishes my own efforts and use of my brain.
So, you'd rather stick to Chess rather than play something like Poker or Parcheesi, hmm?

True anecdote: Many years ago I belonged to a gaming club. (Parkside Association of Wargamers, but essentially irrelevant.) LOTS of board games, utilizing lots of dice, usually of the six-sided variety. We had one member in particular, Lance F., who was notorious/infamous for his uncanny ability to roll pretty much whatever number he needed on a six-sided die. So often, many people were certain that he was a "mechanic", and/or was using loaded dice. He, of course, asserted that he was nothing of the sort, and if he was always getting good dice rolls, it was strictly a matter of Luck. As something of an experiment one time, we put a proposition to him: roll ten sixes in a row and he would receive a $5 bill. If he failed, it cost him nothing, so it really wasn't any kind of gambling.

TEN... sixes... in... a... row. Statistical odds of that was 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 = 1 in 60,466,176

We didn't let him use any of his own dice. We swapped out dice after every 3 or 4 rolls. But in the end, he walked away $5 richer.

The best I can figure is that on a subconscious level, Lance could fell the dice in his hand and was subconscious rolling the die at the precise moment to have the six come out on top -- but that doesn't account for the three rolls we made him use a dice jar (no direct tactile control).

Not surprisingly, many club members refused to ever play a game against Lance if there were dice involved. (Having him on your side in a multiplayer team game, different story.)
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