Monday, January 28, 2013

5E - going for fast combat is admirable, but misses the issue?

I notice 5E is gunning for fast combat.

In itself though, this really isn't enough.

The issue really is the over arching design of play itself - if you have a session which is like starting at location A, then combat, then location B, then combat...combat becomes fairly pointless. You can only go from A to B then to C and so on. Generally GM's who use this sort of format start to choose really weak enemies, have the enemies use dumb tactics, and finally if the group is going to be killed, they simply fudge to preserve their A to B to C adventure notes. The party then fudge escapes, comes back and does the combat, so they can go onto B. Thus the combat is pointless - it's idle number crunching, since once of it's results (TPK) will be ignored, and apart from winning, the option of running away rarely works without fudging or simply generous readings of the rules/slip straight over to supposed drama based resolution (which is really just stating fiction that gets the PC's to escape that no one will balk at as too much of a dues ex).

Making fast combat just doesn't untie this knot in itself! It just reduces the time spent on rolling for a pointless activity. It's like saying to someone roll 15 or higher on a D20 - but if you roll lower, we'll just say you rolled higher. Why. Bother. Rolling? "But we've halved the time it takes to do it!"

The need a system where
A. Combat can be lost without a TPK happening and either without the GM having to fudge/simply narrate the escape, or just be upfront in the rules and say 'To stop a TPK, the GM can narrate most or all of the party escaping (preferably all)" and make it clear that fights really aren't to the death. You can roleplay the characters to think they are facing life and death, but as players lets stop pretending characters really can die. You think that, but when rather than one PC death looms and instead it's a TPK, the GM just folds and narrates your escape. So let's be honest about that. If one of you is likely to die, probably the whole party is about to TPK. Therefore the GM will narate an escape, therefore no ones going to die.

B. Give instructions for building stories where retreat actually makes a difference. Maybe because you were beaten back, the princess gets a curse put on her before you can rescue her. Heck, maybe she even just gets sacrificed? Make combat matter - be honest with yourself and don't really believe that you could die and that's what makes it matter. Your GM will fudge, so no, that doesn't matter.

Of course, in the end as you can tell from most WOTC modules, their own modules are A to B to C affairs.

So it's not going to change. It's going to shorten pointless combats and condition people to think it somehow matters to do these (since such a hullabaloo in the text is made about combat).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dark Souls - Wandering Around, Lost

Kinda just wandering around now - which is an inadvertant grind (though it's also a grind you can lose, if you screw up twice in a row).

Kinda fought some guy who was chopping a piece of meat, who left a kinda bag to wear on my head. Thinking it might be a disguise option, but...not going to experiment.

Did drop down a hidden hole in the wall behind him, shot a giant rat who could not reach me and merely flinched in facing it's arrow filled fate, then slid down a ramp as well to a place where I was freaked out because I had about 10k of souls and no way of getting back and so I'm creeping around, freaked! Oh wait, homeward bone (must buy some more of those!)! NM! Saw some weird rooms first, though, one with a grey mist door, so some kinda boss there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dark Souls : Capra Demon - not that big a deal?

Heard this guy was ultra tough? Did die to him three times, but on the fourth, after working up to just throw a firebomb as soon as I pass through the portal (just bash the button, you don't need to aim/lock on to anything), that kills one dog automatically. Then I do a bit of fencing with him, a few slashes and once I'm hurt, I ran up the stairs and across the arch of a door. A dog followed me but he stayed below. Managed to kill off the dog and switch to my estus flask and drink, then dived off and...missed him! Then ran up the stairs, dived off again with a downward stab attack and...he died to the first one? Heck, I had to down stab the Taurus demon more times than that?

Capra demon - unless I've hit him way latter than I should have - not a biggie.

Game Definitions: Mortgage

An example of game theory blurring into philosophy - a quote from the devils chirp

Mortgage: Breakthrough psychological discovery that slaves will work harder if you let them whip themselves. 

Putting the Mort and gag back into mortgage...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dark Souls - Moonlight Butterfly

Not even sure why I took this on - I guess you peek through the grey mist for curiosity. Then for revenge, after being killed!

Ended up upgrading my crossbow to max, buying 100 heavy crossbow bolts and kindling the nearest bonfire so as to have ten flasks (I had some miracle healing, but it's kind of slow, the flasks are the fastest). If you have a couple of points of humanity, probably better to spend two of them to kindle the bonfire above the blacksmith (the one who just keeps hammering - shuddup!) rather than die to the butterfly, then possibly lose them to a slip up trying to get back to it.

Also I upgraded my shield a bit as well. Though the butterfly will tempt you to fire one to many times (probably because it wobbles up a little bit and your shot sails past it) and your guy seems to think he's in a happier, huggier game and when you hold down the shield button, he should just keep reloading his crossbow and thus take various spike blasts the butterfly pumps out on a regular basis.

Regardless in the end I recommend just shooting early and shooting often (from the far end of the walk way though, to let the spikes dissipate a bit). Some of that insects attacks just seem unavoidable - when I did kill it, it was from shooting it. Shooting it lots and lots. Till it died. Didn't let it get to that stage. Still, seems a chancy way to kill it - there's probably a more elegant method. On the other hand it worked!

Not sure if the thing at the top of the castle further on is always dead, or dead cause I let some guy out of a cage awhile ago. Curious.

* Good luck * * Praise the sun! * * Try rolling! *

Thursday, January 17, 2013

D&D hit point whittling - simulationist mechanic?

You know, go into a dungeon, some goblins scrape a few HP off you, you press on.

It's a stupid move, when you could just go back, rest up, return at full health. Smartest to go back and rest after every fight.

And I know, it jars to think of it!

But it's true.

So here's the proposition - that hit point whittling is essentially a simulationist mechanic - and I mean that in that it will draw you towards simulationism. Because gamism wise you are playing really badly, whilst at the same time you are stubbornly not retreating, fretting about your lowered HP and so playing right into the hands of emulating a certain genre. Simulating it.

Now on the other hand I have played in games where say there's a magical barrier and once you pass through it, you pass back - you have to find some other way to escape. Or you go through a portal and it deposits you somewhere and the portal closes behind you. In these cases (assuming you can't rest in the dungeon), I say and grant it's still gamism - losing a few HP here and there is a big deal. It's a death of a thousand cuts - and here's the thing - not a simulated death of a thousand cuts (as is the above example of pressing on with reduced HP - when you could just go back and rest), it's potentially a real death of a thousand cuts!

It's the thing to ask about your game - as you wander through the halls of a dungeon at less than full health, is is a frightening trek into the unknown, or is it a simulation of a frightening trek into the unknown, supported by a stubborn disinclination to go back to town and rest?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Approaching game coding

Over at indie resource they've a game writing comp going on where people are encouraged to give updates. I've given one which gives a look into getting it done (based mostly around a text based PHP game) which you might find inspirational. Originally posted here.

I've layed back in bed with pencil and paper to figure out some of the programic structure to the game. I used to just try and jump in front of the computer and hash it out as I go, but mostly this just blurs the feeling of having accomplished something, as you might set up an array structure and...that's all you get done, before you tire, but you sat down to write out a whole game - which you didn't accomplish. Also if you sit down to your coding language, you can't just write notes - you write code or write nothing. Well, I guess you could write pseudo code, but that's another subject. When you sit down to pencil and paper, you can write out notes and code snippets and it doesn't matter if you write them sideways, you've still gotten something done in how much you fill up a page with your crazy writings! :)

Anyway, at first I'm going to test the game using session values to store the data, loading values from the session as if from a DB. I just prefer this as you don't have to juggle a database around at the same time and can feel free to add or remove session values without much concern. You just need a reset button somewhere that reinitialises all the session values.

And then I got onto breaking down the subject of the game. This is where you take the fuzzy wuzzy fiction of the to be game you have in your head, and start drawing connections from the fuzzy wuzzy to actual lines of code and memory systems.

Here I had trails. So what does that involve? Well you might have several trails leaving one place - so...probably an array with a start location and an end location. And perhaps when you are at a place, the code can search through to see if you are at that start location. Then it'll list them as selections.

So the first thing I'll code wont have any game like conflict at all - it'll be just the capacity to choose a path, walk along it, arrive at another spot from which you can choose a path again. No conflict, but the capacity to do so is necessary for something to conflict with. Gotta have something you can do before something else can get in the way of it!

Okay, that's enough for now as I feel writing more would get in the way of further development - after all, I've only written this in pencil so far. I haven't actually coded it. Ironically such would involve less description, but probably the greater effort!

See ya!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam

Strange game this - on normal difficulty, the enemies sort of stand around not doing much of much. In their defence, soldiers on your own side don't do much of much either. I think it'd be better if they fired alot of bullets at you which are easy to dodge and which only damage a regenerating bar, so you can shrug them off - then they'd appear to be trying to be threats (but you are just that tough) rather than kinda standing around doing nothing. Perhaps they fixed this in the latter Gundam games?

And then you get to the fourth mission of a character and fail over and over again, after about twenty minutes of play. Eventually I took up the two player option, still failed the once but then beat it! Nice to bring in a ringer!

It does have that 'well, I beat you, but I want to one shot you - and your friend, and your friends friend!' to it, as you can level up pilot and Gundam.

I got it for around $20, so it's engaging for that price.