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  #11  
Old 08-26-2013, 12:36 AM
norari1977 norari1977 is offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrax Lightning View Post
Destroy 5 Bosses is typically ludicrously easy. The rest of them... do ya think we're all Sun Tzu!? O_0 We aren't all tactical gods... I'll never stand a chance at this game with those kinda objectives being in the game & being game over to fail...
i can't be Sun Tzu unfortunately :P but i think it will be much interesting if player could see more expressions(emotion) of highcommand and those random goal will make a tension and replayability on this game. we'll lose or win it's also a part of history
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  #12  
Old 08-27-2013, 03:17 AM
Laivasse Laivasse is offline
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I disagree that the game as it stands is a 'sandbox' any more than, say, a game of Civilisation is a sandbox. There are win conditions and lose conditions, and typically everything I do in the game is calculated to bring about the former and avoid the latter. Personally, I already encounter a lot of the kind of dilemmas and desperate situations described in the OP: for instance, if the race I've picked as my military ally suffers a turnaround in fortunes and I have to desperately protect their remaining planets, or if I want to maximise the benefits of a diplomatic win by keeping a couple of very weak races alive and colonising for them. These things already have strong payoffs and incentives in my eyes.

The Drox sub-objectives likewise also already work for me in the way described. In larger sectors it can be very awkward to eg. locate and protect certain races before they're destroyed. A greater variety of objectives from Drox High Command would be very nice, but I don't think they should represent anything other than an opportunity for extra rewards, as they do currently. If they can represent potential failure states, then that will give rise to situations where an otherwise successful sector suddenly becomes ruined by impossible goals, due to the inherent randomness of the sectors and the objectives.

What I would like to see is a rebalancing of the win conditions, so that it's easier OR more rewarding to get Economic or Legend wins. Most of the time, it seems that the easiest and most desirable goal by far is just to aim for a diplomatic win with as many races surviving as possible. Failing that, I go for a Military Win and sometimes win by Fear along the way. When I try to amass Legend points or money, most of the races invariably die or run out of quests long before I can get anywhere close to the required totals (unless I pick a very small sector so the totals stay low).
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  #13  
Old 08-27-2013, 08:50 AM
Bluddy Bluddy is offline
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I basically agree with one point you made implicitly: it's not necessarily a good idea to change the default win conditions of a game after it's been released and fans of the game have already signed on to a specific way of playing the game. Given the fact that, according to Shadow, Drox has sold quite well already, it may not be possible to make this change in anything other than an alternative game mode as was mentioned above, in which case the change may not be worth it since most players may not even try this alternative game mode.

Regarding the claim that the open-ended goals are similar to the goals of a game like Civilization, while this may seem to be the case superficially, my claim is that this is not really true. During the beta, I struggled with trying to explain why this is so, but I think I have a way to illustrate this difference.

Think of a simple strategy game like tic-tac-toe. You can construct a game tree of each move that can be taken by each side, starting at the root (which is at the top -- theoretical trees are the upside down version of real-life trees), first by player one, then by player two, then by player one again, all the way down until someone wins. At the bottom of the tree you have the possible end states of the game: sometimes player one wins, and other times player two wins. This tree represents all the possible states of the game. Even for a relatively simple game like checkers, this tree blows up exponentially -- I mean it's really, really huge. So for a complex game like Civilization, it gets massive. But that's ok -- we don't need to visualize the tree, we just need to know that it's there in theory.

Now imagine a game like Civilization, except that the only victory condition is destroying the other nations (even the first Civ game had alternate goals). Imagine constructing a very complex tree representing every possible state in the game. The tree branches out ridiculously at each node. The tree starts out with the starting position. Every move an enemy makes affects your survival and your chance of victory. The actions of your nearest neighbors will affect you immediately, while the actions of far away nations will only affect you many years down the line (way down in the tree). But all of the players in this proto-Civ game are trying to do one thing: grow as much as possible and annihilate the other nations. At the very bottom of this massive tree are the end-game states. In some states, the human player wins, and in others, he loses. The player's goal is to navigate the tree to reach a win state, which involves many decisions along the way including reacting to the moves of other players.

Now let's consider why multiple goals are useful in strategy games. The fictional proto-Civ game we made up only had one way of winning. This means that if a player gets to a point where a computer opponent is much bigger and stronger than he is, the player knows that he can't possibly win -- he might as well forfeit the game at that point. Additionally, there's only one main strategy for victory: destroying your enemies, and growing your civilization. In other words, only specific paths through the game tree lead to victory for any side -- ones where a player obliterates his enemies. By adding in other goals, you create other viable paths through the game tree. This means that even when a player is behind his opponents in one goal, he may still be able to salvage the game and defeat his opponents (through reaching Alpha Centauri in Civ, for example). It also means that a player must think in many different dimensions, since his opponents can also beat the game in many ways. It may look like you're winning since you're the biggest nation, but your opponent might just use another victory dimension to beat you. This is a common ingredient in many strategy games, including Settlers of Catan.

Multiple victory conditions are therefore one major way to increase complexity in a strategy game, as one needs to consider more win and lose states. Psychologically, it also has the benefit of allowing one to win even after it appears that one has lost the most obvious goal, which allows for more interesting stories to form.

Interestingly enough, we can sort of map out Din's Curse and Depths of Peril using a game tree. In DC, your opponent is the dungeon, and its goal is to kill off your main quest-givers, while your goal is to keep them alive and solve all major quests. The dungeon's moves consist of generating new quests, and your moves consist of solving them. The key strategy in DC is to prevent an avalanche of quests, which would eventually cause the death of the quest-givers. In DoP, your enemies are the other covenants, and their goal is to destroy your covenant. Your goal is symmetrical -- to wipe them out, or optionally to ally with them. Your moves consist of solving quests and attacking enemy covenants, and the other covenants' moves are pretty much the same. Note that I'm ignoring the ARPG layers of both games -- that is another layer that's there, making the games more interesting, but it's not relevant to this discussion.

What is the game tree of Drox like? Well, you don't really have an opponent in the game in the strategic sense. You're given several win states, and a few lose states, but no opponent is trying to beat you. This is why in most games of Drox you can just ignore the macro game until you feel like getting out of the sector. You can assign yourself goals, such as: let's try to make the Brunt win, but that's a self-assigned goal, and nobody's going to hold you to it. Sure, you could get yourself in a mess if you completely cozy up to the wrong side (ie. bet on the wrong horse), and that can indeed lead to a fail state. But that's a rare fail-state, and the solution to this fail state is gaining favor with any one race, which usually involves either giving them a whole bunch of money or grinding quests until they like you. I'm not saying that there is no instance of tension in the game, but it's rare and most of the time the macro game is irrelevant.

You can now see why multiple win conditions in Drox and game like Civ are not equivalent: in Civ, they add complexity by making you have to consider different paths through the game tree, for both you and your opponents. In Drox, they have no such significance other than allowing you to leave a sector by accomplishing the goal you happen to be closest to, or giving you more options for self-assigned goals. This isn't a bad thing per se -- it just means that the macro game is usually not that relevant to the player, and the game is a lot more about player-crafted goals (ie. a sandbox). When the macro game is not strongly relevant, the other game mechanics have to work overtime to compensate: quests start feeling grindy, and the ARPG is scrutinized more closely.

The multiple win conditions *could* become analogous to Civ if they applied to the races. Suppose you had the mission to make sure the Humans won in any way the game allowed, and that the races had multiple paths to victory: economic, scientific, and military. You'd then need to watch out for what the other races did in multiple planes, and you'd have the option to help the humans in whichever way you thought best.

Now what would my proposal change? The random goals would encourage both variety and the creation of difficult situations. Suppose you got the goal to make the Brunt win. The game tree would then become that of the Brunt and their opponents. There would also be a rare chance that Drox high command would change their mind and suddently the Brunt would need to be eliminated, forcing the game tree to be flipped, or that they would decide to add your sworn enemies to the win list, in which case you'd need to exercise your indirect diplomatic finesse (including protecting diplomat ships).

The goal of exploring the sector would probably need a time limit to be challenging. In this case, your strategic opponents become any obstacles the game can throw in your way, including monsters and enemy races.

Another goal would be to make sure the Brunt 'survive' rather than 'win'. In this case, other win states are opened up for your consideration: you could try to make the Brunt ally with other races, and one of your opponents becomes the warlike nature of the Brunt race itself.

Regarding your point about the random nature of the goals, part of the fun of having individually generated sectors is that some near-impossible situations may be created. However, some parameters could be put in place to limit the randomness of the goals. For example, trying to protect a race that's seconds away from being wiped out would be more an annoyance rather than an exciting opportunity.
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  #14  
Old 08-27-2013, 11:56 PM
Laivasse Laivasse is offline
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I think we just see/play the game in different ways. The macro-game elements you say are under-emphasised in Drox, thereby creating a sandbox environment, I say are present and emphasised well enough, creating the same nodes and choices that are analogous to goal-defined game like Civ, just in a more freeform, non-turn-based fashion.

I do think the game could be enriched by further development of the objectives and sub-objectives. However, I think that in large part your suggestions seem to stem from a problem with the game's level of challenge? That is to say, you want to see the game played in more or less the same way, but you want to see a greater quantity of goals with greater urgency and reward to them (and fail states on non-completion). That's fine, but personally I find the goal-driven part of the gameplay challenging enough already.

Perhaps a kind of 'Chaos Mode' or 'Urgent Directives Mode' could be implemented, in which random critical sub-objectives are generated frequently, for those who want less forgiving goal-based gameplay. My own perspective is that it would take a lot of work to make sure such a mode would not create unrealistic, occasionally impossible objectives, especially given the resources of Soldak, so I would not want the main mode of gameplay to take that form.
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  #15  
Old 08-28-2013, 01:16 PM
Bluddy Bluddy is offline
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Developing the idea further, here are some thoughts:

The current game mode could be called Privateer Mode, while the mode I'm proposing would be Agent Mode. In Privateer mode, you're free to choose your goals and aims as you are now. In Agent Mode, you're a direct agent of the Drox, and you must fulfill their wishes or lose. The Drox don't care what means you use to accomplish your goals, so long as you accomplish them.

As an agent, you would get a temporary credit account with which to fulfill your mission. This would solve the problem of not wanting to waste your own money on things like espionage. This account could only be used for non-ARPG related actions. Once you exhaust your temporary account, any further expenses come out of your bank account.

Additionally, if you accomplish your mission, you'd get a certain amount of credits in reward. This would allow you to spend more than the amount you had in the Drox account, knowing that you'd get compensated up to a certain amount. Of course, if you fail, you don't get those credits.

An additional goal the Drox could assign to you would be to double/triple the account balance they gave you. This would be similar to a forced economic goal, and it would allow you complete freedom to make money in any way you want, except the money cannot come from the ARPG -- it must come from relations and actions with races.

The goal of exploring the sector in X minutes would completely change the way the game works normally -- you'd be much more interested in investigating anomalies, or in buying gates, than in race relations. The game would essentially turn into a race. Of course, this goal might be given in addition to the goal of protecting a specific race (or some other goal), in which case you'd have to balance exploring the sector as fast as possible with protecting said race.

An interesting, if rare, goal could be making a rebellion-related race win before it even exists. In this case, you would not only have to secure the parent race, you'd then have to foment enough discontent so as to cause a rebellion, and then to help the rebellious race.
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  #16  
Old 08-28-2013, 03:00 PM
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Tuidjy Tuidjy is offline
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I just have question. What is preventing you from setting these goals for yourself, and accomplishing them?

The 'rebels' goal is something I am attempting, sector after sector, in a galaxy of mine. I'm trying to extinguish the original races and hoping to see rebels showing up from the get go. (No luck so far, it's the monsters races that take half the starting slots.)

I've had a ship that was getting nothing but economy wins for eight sectors, and then I could not avoid a fear win. I've had ships that would always wipe out everyone in the order they encountered them. Why do you need the game to supply these goals for you? You clearly do not lack the imagination, and no game will match that.

There are two ways in which I want the game improved:

1. Make harder difficulties available. (I'd love to see sectors go to 150 while keeping the current level caps for the player and his items)

2. Invest the player emotionally (Differentiate the races, especially in diplomacy and quests, and have scripted events which paint races as good guys, villains, or magnificent bastards)
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  #17  
Old 08-28-2013, 03:41 PM
Bluddy Bluddy is offline
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That's a great question, an I think it has to do with human psychology, which is what games are really all about. I think the best way to answer it is to think of other games and make the goals and punishments optional. What if in DC you didn't lose when all questgivers died? It was just a goal you could give yourself. What if in Spelunky you didn't die when you landed on spikes or got hit -- you'd just get to continue the game until you won?

Games are primarily about challenge, and there's no challenge if there's no fail state. You can challenge yourself, but an external challenge is far more powerful. One of the problems with many of today's games is that you can quickload/quicksave your way through the entire game. There are no consequences to your actions even if you fail -- it's just a matter of trying again. This reduces the feeling of tension that hard goals are able to provide. Spelunky is tense because you have a lot to lose -- everything you've done so far can be lost with one misstep. The same applies to Din's Curse: you may have worked hard to save the town, but mess up, and it's gone forever. You could play by your own house rules to try and accomplish the same effect, but will you really enforce your rules if you lose the game? Most people won't. Most people will say to themselves 'I've worked too hard to beat this sector without finishing it. Forget my own personal challenge -- let's just go on.' And with those words, the challenge and the tension disappears. House rules work when there are other people to enforce their consequences (and even then many groups of people won't adhere to them). In a computer game, that's rarely going to happen.

It also has to do with the craziness of randomness, and about commitment. You probably won't choose to help the weakest race in a sector. You might do it for a little bit, and then give up on it as a lost cause. But if the game suddenly tells you 'you better save that race or else' suddenly things are very different. You'll commit much larger resources and try desperate measures, and you'll perhaps be forced to come up with very creative means of assuring that race's survival. Even if you fail, you'll feel a sense of pride in what you did accomplish, and you will have learned some strategies for next time.

Again, I'm not saying there's no merit in a sandbox where you create your own goals. Sometimes the lack of tension is relaxing, and there's definitely room for creative play. But unbounded creative play eventually rings hollow. Notice how in GTA and other 3d sandbox games, you alternate between directed missions with specific fail-states, and user-driven sandbox gameplay. There's a good reason for that. When I play the sandbox part of GTA games, I may try a particular jump for a little while, and then get bored with it, and then I might try pushing cars into the river and get bored of that -- there's no strong commitment to get something to happen, nor is there as much of a sense of accomplishment when I achieve a personal goal.

In a game like Drox, the meta-game of the sector and its battles is intertwined with the other layers: the quests, and the ARPG loot chase. They're all active at the same time. When one layer under-performs, the other layers dominate. The quests become more grindy, and the loot chase is just an ARPG loot chase. And the quest-chains (one quest leading to the appearance of another), which are a huge element in DC, don't really matter that much in Drox, because the meta-game doesn't make the survival of any one race particularly important.

I do agree with your second point in particular (the first point may just be a result of needing to balance the expansion). But I think that if you were assigned specific races to help, you'd also notice the differences between them a lot more. Nevertheless, in general, the more differentiation between the races, the better.
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  #18  
Old 08-28-2013, 06:55 PM
CaptainWinky CaptainWinky is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuidjy View Post
The 'rebels' goal is something I am attempting, sector after sector, in a galaxy of mine. I'm trying to extinguish the original races and hoping to see rebels showing up from the get go. (No luck so far, it's the monsters races that take half the starting slots.)
Is it even possible for rebels and resurrected subraces to be the starting races in a sector? I've been making a point of doing race resurrection quests ever since IotA came out because I thought that maybe the guys I brought back from the dead in one part of a galaxy would show up again in another. After a lot of games and a lot of race resurrections and civil wars, I haven't seen any subraces in a new sector other than Talon/Legion/Overlord.

I think it would be pretty cool if this were possible. It would be pretty satisfying if you helped the poor oppressed Utopian Cyborgs gain independence and then discovered them thriving in a future sector. Maybe this IS possible but just really rare--I've been playing fairly regularly since the expansion was available and haven't seen it once.

On a semi-related note, I think it would also be cool to see Ancient races at the start of a sector--sometimes. It would suck if they were the only races you saw, of course, because you would have no way of getting a diplomatic or military victory. Having one of the ancient races at the start for an occasional challenge would be interesting...and since this is the Invasion of the Ancients you'd expect to see more activity from them. There are definitely more Ancient Destroyer quests but the odds of one of those ships taking over a planet are fairly low. I think I've seen about as many Ancients from race resurrections as I have from random Ancient Destroyer victories.

I actually like the current way the end goals work. If the Drox give me a goal I usually try to go for it but if I don't feel like messing with the Scavengers (They are pretty helpful for getting parts, after all) I can do whatever I want. In a recent sector I supported a civil war early on and then got the parent race and subrace into an alliance, just as a little challenge. One of my favorite things about the game is that you are a small part of the battles and diplomatic interactions going on around you but you do make a noticeable difference in whatever you choose to do, as one would expect from a shadowy Drox Operative.

Quote:
2. Invest the player emotionally (Differentiate the races, especially in diplomacy and quests, and have scripted events which paint races as good guys, villains, or magnificent bastards)
You made a post a while back about your preferred races and they're the same races I prefer to help simply because of the services they provide. They became my favorite races from a utilitarian point of view. I help them mainly because I want really good armor, low-power-load weapons, and chips on demand. I help the other races when the Drox want me to (unless it involves screwing over my preferred races) but also do it sometimes as a challenge. So it would be cool if there were more reasons to help guys like the Cortex or Brunt once in a while. I do end up getting a little emotionally invested in a sector just because of how things play out sometimes. When I'm trying to help the Fringe get started and the Humans show up and start a war with them, they become villains to me and it becomes a lot of fun to start actively messing with Humans to turn the tide of the war. When Humans destroy the only Fringe planet in a system so I can't jump to that system any more, I say "oh you little bastards" and make a point of sabotaging or outright destroying any human colonies near that system so the Fringe have a better chance of recovering their planet.

As for events that paint the races as good or bad guys, I think the existing quests that races offer you do a fair job of that. Let's say I'm getting friendly with Lithosoid and then I discover Brunt in the sector. If the Brunt start messing with Lith or trying to get me to unleash a race-wide plague on them, I start to see them as the villains of the sector and begin working on destroying them ASAP. If the Brunt leave Lith alone and maybe start offering diplomatic quests like the "deliver an ancient artifact" quests, then they become good guys to me. They can be the Bad Guys in one sector, the Good Guys in another, and in the third maybe they're allies of convenience who I goad into a war with the real Bad Guys hoping they both just wipe each other out.

Last edited by CaptainWinky : 08-28-2013 at 07:14 PM.
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  #19  
Old 08-28-2013, 09:09 PM
LordGek LordGek is offline
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Please no scripted stuff! I love how Drox currently just creates a random galaxy with parameters and the player's actions, as well as the random races chosen, simply make their own emergent stories.
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  #20  
Old 08-28-2013, 09:16 PM
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I can't say exactly what is coming, but something along the lines of Bluddy's sugestions will be in place. Whether it works will be up to you. Please help by testing 1.021.
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