Author Topic: Infinite lives are too lame?  (Read 3646 times)

Taxxi

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Infinite lives are too lame?
« on: August 29, 2014, 10:13:22 AM »
Wanted to hear what others think about the 'infinite lives system' of AA :)

I think what makes AA so an amazing game is that when I play the game, I really feel like a person on a real adventure. I've played quite many games but I've never felt this strong adventurous mood in any other games: I almost always enjoyed the fighting or gaining levels rather than exploring things.

But I think it's not that much challenging compared to the whole exciting experience it gives. The problem is that when you die, you only lose some coins, that's all. I guess in the old DOS version your items get spread all over the place but now you can handle that in the option menu.

Today I went through the original Jugurtha quest with a rogue and I killed Jugurtha without a problem! I just simply rushed and rushed again. One might say it's lame but it's not me but the game is lame and I'm just using it. This implies that no matter how one makes a difficult and challenging map, you can just simply keep trying without that much thinking and still win the game. I think it's not good. This sends a signal to the players that they don't need to use potions or be nervous when the danger is near. You might say players can ignore it, but when you die for some reason you will realize either the fact that you didn't prepare that much since dying is nothing, or that you still feel relieved since dying is nothing.

So then making a death a real punishment would be OK? Here is another problem. I'm quite afraid that if we make being killed too harsh, then players would be more focused on gaining levels and becoming too much cautious, ultimately losing the adventurous mood of this game. That would be fatal, no kidding. Actually I think the reason this game feels so adventurous is that you have infinite lives with little disadvantage of being killed compared to any other rpg games. So you can behave more boldy and try to search every possible spots you can.

My little thinking is that still a bit more punishment is needed. I mean, at least death should be more frightening than being hit by an acid ball, you know! The punishment should not hinder the crave for adventure but also be effective in not making players lame anymore. I think this is why the makers of this game let all of your items get spread around when you die but gave you infinite lives and a choice to do the level again. Quite clever, should I have to say.

My experience of this game is way too short so I just want to hear others :D


peewee_RotA

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 12:11:09 PM »
Those are some great insights. Hopefully Lysle can shed some light on the decisions when it was being developed.

This is a really big gameplay issue that I've been trying to think of a fix for in my own mod. I've thought about punishing experience (but never dropping level). This seems to be a a great idea because as the system works now, you always keep your old xp when gaining levels. So if you need 100,000xp for a level, you could be punished 50,000xp. Your level becomes harder to reach and the xp that you gained up until that point in that level gets removed. Making XP in a quest a bit more finite.

I imagine it working like this. If I die on 2-1 and lose a bunch of xp. I can finish the level but not get to the next one fast enough (hurting my chances of finishing the quest) or I can replay the level and try not to die. If I do beat level 1 after dying, I still have the option of playing quest 1 again to recoup the XP. So players are both punished with level grinding if they die... and players who want to level grind have a reason to.

It does change the charm of the game. Dropping items (and doing the item pickup) has been awesome motivation since the game came out. Players learn real quick not to die near water or lava or pit traps.

LysleShields

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 04:04:12 PM »
Here is another concept:  Death penalty.  Each time you die, you suffer a bigger and bigger death penalty.  I'll talk in percentages, but it can be another way.  When you start, you have no death penalty.  But when you die, you get a -10% death penalty (we could put an icon on the screen with a 1x on it).  Die again, it's now -20% (2x on icon), up to 10x.  The penalty is this:  All XP you earn after dying is penalized at that percentage.  So, if you died 10 times to win against Jugurtha, you get no xp.

Obviously, there can be other variations, but the player who died the least gets the highest return.

We could also apply this to any reward treasure at the end, but I think that's harder.

The "skulls" would be removed when you go to the Inn.  : )

Taxxi

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 07:31:41 PM »
Happy to see both of you have your own great thoughts about this problem ;D

I myself do not have a clear idea about it yet. Maybe I have to think about it more: I also agree that this is quite an important and complex issue that requires considering a lot of different things. But what I'm currently thinking is that maybe in the end we can adopt several 'standard penalties' for death and let map makers to choose one of them as they please.

For example, peewee's suggestion is a bit more aggresive in that you can actually gain a negative reward at the end (in the perspective of experience). Maybe this rule would suit well for a quite challenging quest, though I think the experience loss should not be too harsh to force gamers to grind levels - it might turn AA into a normal hack & slash game, I guess. Lysle's idea is relatively more comfortable since in any case you gain a positive reward at the end. It might not be effective enough though, so increasing the percentage of the experience loss might be needed (notice that maybe even increasing the loss wouldn't be enough in some challenging quests due to positive gains). So one can see that applying this rule as the general default setting and use other (probably more aggressive) rules as options could be a nice and versatile combination.

All of these are just theoretic. Maybe using more than one setting can raise confusions to gamers, and there might be other ways to solve this problem more effectively (granting an invaluable item when you finished the quest without dying, something like that). I really don't know, and that's why I used so many words like 'maybe' and 'could' here. I think giving a real try to some of these options at the next version would be a good idea.


peewee_RotA

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2014, 09:25:58 PM »
I find that interesting. But instead of making the death allowance decrease in later levels, maybe it should increase.

Drawing from tabletop games, most new games include an innovative concept (Which may have first been introduced in warhammer quest and other Games Worshop titles 20-some years ago). This is "Fate points"!

It's a fascinating concept. Many RPG's have stopped including hitpoints. Instead, they have a threshold of winning and losing. Fate, for example, has a simple damage chart that can be subverted by taking disadvantages. But the fatepoints themselves can be used to change the result of the rolls that caused damage. In many games, they are used to alter the plot. Adventure! (and similar white wolf games) allows this. It can be used to erase an event that killed a character. Even though it's slight, I've used it to have the cops show up just in time to prevent a fatal blow.

Increasing XP in these games is never as important as gaining fate points. As players progress, they gain more, or at least have opportunity to gain more.

So, I'm wondering if this could play in somehow. Perhaps simply having "lives" that allow you to continue without the quest being abandoned. Gaining more lives comes at higher levels. Maybe it doesn't abandon the quest, but prevents a similar punishment.


Although there is something to be said about not being afraid of dying in the game. Reaching high levels in D&D is quite a joke. Running into an actual challenge is extremely rare by level 12. Soulsucking (xp drain) becomes one of the very few real threats. Some monsters eat weapons. It gets kind of silly at that point.

So we're faced with the same problem. I'm wondering if destroying items is appropriate instead. Player progression is marked by 3 things in the game. XP, items, and quest position. So there's really only 3 things to punish, and I think we've explored them all pretty thoroughly.

LysleShields

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 01:10:52 PM »
There is one more thing to punish -- stats.  Permanent loss of a stat could be an interesting penalty.  You die, you lose one random stat point.  Evil Lysle is out again.

peewee_RotA

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2014, 06:26:26 AM »
There is one more thing to punish -- stats.  Permanent loss of a stat could be an interesting penalty.  You die, you lose one random stat point.  Evil Lysle is out again.

Mwuhahahahaha!

I wonder if temporary is enough. Every death dropping 15% of all stats. The challenge goes up at that point, but players aren't necessarily afraid to explore because there's no permanent detriment.

I think I'll add this into pwmod so that we can experiment. Trying to take a magician through quest 1 without spending time on the 100inch crawl would give us a significantly weak enough character to test. Or the ninja. Playing him wrong is just death, after death, after death. LOL

Taxxi

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 03:13:30 AM »
There is one more thing to punish -- stats.  Permanent loss of a stat could be an interesting penalty.  You die, you lose one random stat point.  Evil Lysle is out again.

Very sharp observation, but I'm pretty much sure at least MY monitor will be broken within a week if that happens and if there is no way to stop the quest and bring back the stats lol.

I wonder if temporary is enough. Every death dropping 15% of all stats. The challenge goes up at that point, but players aren't necessarily afraid to explore because there's no permanent detriment.

I think I'll add this into pwmod so that we can experiment. Trying to take a magician through quest 1 without spending time on the 100inch crawl would give us a significantly weak enough character to test. Or the ninja. Playing him wrong is just death, after death, after death. LOL

Very interesting. Glad that you decided to try one of all of those possible punishments!

LysleShields

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 09:54:13 AM »
Very sharp observation, but I'm pretty much sure at least MY monitor will be broken within a week if that happens and if there is no way to stop the quest and bring back the stats lol.

Well, we could have potions of fortification or something like that to return the points.

peewee_RotA

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2014, 11:08:14 AM »
Well, we could have potions of fortification or something like that to return the points.

Elder Scrolls series does this in a way. I remember Morrowind in particular. Some monsters could "eat" strength. This would be a bigger punishment than anything else in the game. So carrying restore strength potions (or the ingredients for alchemists) became a MUST. Going to 0 strength would make the player have to drop all items just to get out.

So it's not far off. Creating restore potions I think would be interesting. My personal limitation is new artwork. I know that Lua will fix that quite a bit. (So I definitely should start helping sooner than later ;) )


On another note, my kids have been asking me to play Minecraft with them. This game kind of suffers from the same problem... but for different reasons. First thing, dying is very easy. Spawning next to a creeper is basically a death sentence. In Minecraft you drop all your stuff and lose your XP. Now, XP is basically "magic points" and not actually a progression stat... but it does show that AA was definitely on the right track with risking the item dropping punishment. Losing stuff in water and in lava is also a huge issue in minecraft. Lava destroys it and water makes retrieving it very hard (low light, and some depths are way too deep to safely dive. I died underneath ice once and spent a good 15 minutes trying to get the stuff back.

The main difference is that it's much easier to pick stuff up since you can just walk over it in MC. AA requires user interaction. Using ALT helps, but is not perfect. But in MC you still have to re-equip your shortcut keys. So the time requirement is similar. And inventory management is pretty much 50% of both games. Another priece of inventory management that circumvents death is AA's bank, and MC's chest and nether-chests.

All things considered, maybe the original design is the right design. Removing the option to turn it off... or maybe adding a level based feature to prevent a single death from dropping items sounds like a very time tested idea.

LysleShields

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2014, 12:07:54 PM »
Go another idea -- partial item drop.  A random selection of dropped items.  : )  Yeah, I know, it'll still cause just as much rage.

AntiMatter_16

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 03:18:44 PM »
I'd always felt dropping items was a huge punishment, especially after I spent 5 minutes organizing it all (I'm a pack-rat). When the option to disable dropping items on death was added, the temptation to enable it was too great, and it removed all incentive NOT to die for me. I'd just leave all my money in the bank.

Different difficulty modes could be an option so the player can choose their own punishment.
Easy - Lose a portion of gold
Normal - Drop Items, lose a portion of gold
Hard - Drop items, lose a portion of gold, temporarily lose stats until level completed
Insane - Drop items, lose a portion of gold, temporarily lose stats until level (or quest if you're evil) completed, 5 lives max per level or you fail (or if you're feeling REALLY evil, 5 lives max per QUEST or you fail).

LysleShields

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2014, 03:33:36 PM »
One of the original ideas we had for the game was that instead of dropping all those items individually, we'd drop a bag of all the items.  Then when you picked up the bag, you got it all.  There were several technical problems with this idea in the earlier days, so we didn't implement it (mainly because there are no containers in the game).

If I was a really ambitious person, I would drop the items (possibly in a container), but leave 'grayed out' versions in your inventory.  As you go back to where you died and pick up the items/bag, it'd replace them in your well organized inventory.

peewee_RotA

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2014, 07:35:58 PM »
If I was a really ambitious person, I would drop the items (possibly in a container), but leave 'grayed out' versions in your inventory.  As you go back to where you died and pick up the items/bag, it'd replace them in your well organized inventory.

The inventory system is very advanced. This is true from the standpoint of being feature rich, but also from the standpoint of being pretty complicated. The way the store works, the way pages are pretty much their own inventories, the special cases for ammo, and the special cases for money all come to mind. One of the biggest complications is the mouse interactions with the inventory menu. I kinda cringe just thinking about someone adding more features. hehe.

I'm really hoping to do an overhaul on it at some point. Items should be in a theoretical inventory (that's used for lookup, quantities, and weight) and have secondary properties for location within the inventory. This would decouple the UI portions of it from the lookup for the items themselves. Plus, it would simplify how items with stacks can be placed. (Being that there'd be temporary stack objects to handle it)

Anyway, just hopes and dreams for the future.

Shakkara

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Re: Infinite lives are too lame?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2014, 05:51:13 AM »
Maybe just a death penalty for the level itself.

Every death reduces your stats by 10%. Every kill you make removes 1% of death penalty. Upon successful completion of the level or upon aborting, the remaining death penalty is removed.