Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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No xp for killing things - but xp rewards for quests?

Discussion in 'What Remains' started by Surf Solar, Oct 28, 2011.

?

No xp for killing people/mobs etc - but xp rewards for quests?

  1. Yes! No xp for killing at all to remove the grinding!

    18 vote(s)
    38.3%
  2. Yes, but give the monsters some base value of xp.

    8 vote(s)
    17.0%
  3. No, I prefered the old Fallout way.

    12 vote(s)
    25.5%
  4. I don't really care...

    4 vote(s)
    8.5%
  5. I've some other idea (elaborate in the thread)

    5 vote(s)
    10.6%
  1. Vault Dwellergender: ⚧ Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Because you said so?

    I'll give you two examples:

    1) The ambush in ToEE. I went there fairly early and with a relatively weak, low-level party (i.e. before you get the fireball, which can reduce the difficulty dramatically). You're outnumbered, there are crossbowmen on the second floor shooting down, witches, fighters, etc. I failed twice before I came up with a strategy that worked.

    2) The fire elementals in ToEE. It was the toughest fight of the entire game for me, tougher than the elemental nodes' demons. It took me 3 or 4 attempts to beat them without losing any characters. I don't recall the details, but I do remember trying different wizard and cleric spells. Now, maybe you beat both fights on the first try, in which case I bow to you, but then do tell how you managed to do so, using the information available to the player.

    In both examples, I wasn't fishing for favorable rolls or some hidden knowledge, but used the attempts to estimate my opponents' power and capabilities, and try different approaches.

    Funny you should mention it. When I was writing my previous post, I did wonder if I should explain the difference between game battles and real life ones, but I didn't think that anyone would require such clarification.

    First, most of fights in RPGs are nothing but brawls, which in real-time are chaotic and devoid of any tactics. Watch Gang of New York's opening sequence.

    Second, in most cases you always know what to expect in real life. You don't have to wonder about your opponent's level, his immunities or resistances, his spell repertoire, his hit points, etc. Abstract mechanics of RPG can't be easily translated into real life (where a single stab or bullet can take a man out of commission) for accurate comparisons.

    Third, strategies and tactics are usually reserved for battlefields. Unlike brawls, battles usually unfold slowly and take hours, if not days, which gives those in command, from generals to lieutenants, enough time to react and try different strategies and tactics.

    The Waterloo campaign, for example, lasted 3 days, and the famous battle of Waterloo lasted more than 10 hours. The battle of Thermopylae (300) lasted 3 days. The battle of Agincourt, which was very fast, lasted 3 hours. Etc.
     
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  2. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    No, because you did.

    So in other words you were fishing for hidden knowledge regarding enemy power and capabilities as well as potentially exploitable weak spots.

    Which sums up neatly why your typical RPG mechanics, like levels and HP attrition suck and why excess abstraction sucks.

    Regarding others, resistances and immunities can be logical, inferred from various clues, or learned from in-world sources. They can also be found by experimentation or observation, but that doesn't automatically mean die&reload route.

    As for spell repertoire, it's a subset of repertoire of all available means, which has RL analogue. For example attacking a small band of towelhead combatants can be very different depending on if they have RPGs and with how many shots. Voila, an RL analogue.
    Recon is as important IRL as it is in good fiction, which extends to fantasy as well.

    So you say that nothing a six men squad ever attempts will require tactics or careful planning?
    Tsk, tsk.
    :roll:
     
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  3. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Because turning this into a quote-sprawl ends up both of us fighting over fragmented sentences and minutiae, I'm going to address what I understand as the main thrust of DraQ's argument.

    Put simply, I am OK with, or even support, death and reload as one of the mechanisms by which players learn what they need to know to overcome challenges, and to experience the challenge as a fun challenge. You believe that this mechanism should be eradicated, and that alternatives - pretty much, informative text and interactive tutorials - are sufficient. The reason I don't agree with this is because:

    1. Death and reload is not a major, jarring, frustrating interruption as long as it is not excessive, and as long as each death teaches something. Your storyfag example is an extremely partial one. People equally create stories about their experience of playing the game, a 'meta' narrative if you like. Reloading two or three times, learning different things, making hilarious fuckups along the way, and finally overcoming the challenge, is a fun story that becomes memorable, something gamers can share; and for many gamers (though not all), it does not interrupt another narrative they construct, one that is immersed within the story itself. It is only a small minority of extreme storyfags that would try to integrate their actual reloads - for those people I guess if the game crashed they would try to integrate that into the plot, too. It's not a compelling case. In general, I argue death/reload in moderation is positive to the game experience; in excess, it is not.

    2. Text/Interactive Tutorials are good, but it is impractical to argue they should be the sole method of supporting challenges. It's easy to just sit and say "if the game was well designed", but that's because talking in a forum it's hard for us to follow that thought through and think how it would all look in the end. I don't want the game to fucking try and teach me everything with hints and fake challenges - just how many tutorials, how much information, will I need in order that I can meet difficult challenges but rarely need to reload? That every major challenge, I will come out thinking "wow, that was really hard", but I did not die once because... I had to try it twice in a tutorial setting and I was told exactly how to overcome the challenge? Interactive tutorials are always boring. Why? Because there is no threat of death! Because within the gameworld you know it does not contribute to the story or to your character's progress. Good tutorials are informative, but still boring, most of the time. Rarely you might integrate tutorials well enough to make them interesting and part of the story, but to do that all the way through so that you can present difficult challenges but make sure the player rarely reloads? No, I don't think that's practical. We'd be swimming in them.

    3. You might say I'm exaggerating, and we don't need stupid amounts of handholding to make this work. I'll address this here. The problem remains that learning about something is never enough. You could have characters in the world, books, and other sources of in-world lore that tell me how I should defeat this monster. But actually going in their and trying to put those teachings to practice is a different thing altogether. In VD's example, what do you think? If there was an in-world character telling VD about, say, the importance of positioning mages at the back, or targeting ranged enemies first, he would not have needed to reload? No, I don't think so. Here we have an artificial separation of what is a single process: you learn about the challenge, then you go in, and learn by doing the challenge, and understanding why you failed. ANd that process happens BEFORE you die, anyway; you might start the battle poorly and take some hits before you rethink your tactics. But there are so many variables in here, that you can't say "here's an x quantity of info players need, and with x, they will hit that magical spot where they don't need to reload but they'll still have a challenge". In the end the most effective, the least time-consuming, and the most fun, way to learn to overcome challenges is to DO the challenge, not to read about it or do half-arsed versions of it. Now, this doesn't mean tutorials or in-world info is useless. It's important. But they will never replace learning by actually trying the real thing, and they will never eradicate death/reload as part of the challenge. Not unless you make the challenges easy / monotonous enough, or you choke your game with so many detailed step-by-step interactive tutorials that it feels like you're stuck in the opening chapter of a JRPG.

    In short, your major argument is that good lore & tutorials can eliminate the need for death/reload as a learning mechanism, and in turn, enable serious challenges without reloading; my argument is that they can and should be there to help, but it is neither logical nor practical for them to entirely replace death/reload, and that death/reload, in moderation, does not have the negative impact on experience you claim - in fact, it can be a positive part. In addition, I think you are making some major, implicit assumptions about gamers and game design throughout your argument. That's fine, we all must, but I don't think the ones you make are sensible. Essentially, most of your points rest on the assumptions that:

    1. You assume that as long as gamers are informed they will all handle challenges with similar efficacy. As I discussed above, this is not true. Gamers will always interpret your instructions differently and approach the challenge differently; in addition, gamers will be bringing different skills to bear on each challenge, both player skills and character skills - it is impossible to balance all this so that no matter what kind of person the gamer is and what kind of character he/she has, you will be able to provide enough information beforehand so they "know everything". This assumption leads to your lore and tutorials becoming more and more exhaustive, in an effort to make sure people know what you think they should know. This has several consequences. Firstly, they become frustrating and time-consuming in their own right; secondly, they stilld don't overcome the problem I mentioned earlier, that this never guarantees they'll know 'everything they need to know'. In VD's example of TOEE examples, just how much should the tutorials have told him? How much tutorials and lore do we need before the challenge, for most gamers to have enough information? How about the advice that they should be using ranged weapons to pick out crossbowmen first? They should send mages to the back of the party? They should cast protective spells on those mages? Do you think knowing all that will mean players won't need to die and reload as they figure out the best way of implementing those advice? Or perhaps they need more, more, more advice?

    2. You assume that a game with constant and exhaustive tutorials will be better off than a game with death/reload; that it is preferable for players to wade through all that than spend the same time trying it themselves and dying/reloading. I don't think there's a one way answer here - it depends on the gamer, the game, etc. But I don't think it's an assumption that can be made. I think you only make this assumption because you have too much confidence in the efficacy and plausibility of text/tutorials telling player "everything they need to know". Also:

    3. You assume that death/reload is always a disruptive and negative experience. As I showed above, I don't think that is the case. And therefore, it is not a cost effective design decision to overload text/tutorial just to get rid of death/reload; what we need is a good balance appropriate for the game and target audience where we have a moderate amount of death/reload. After all, reloading 20 times takes all the excitement out, and does disrupt my narrative of playing; but so would 20 minutes of tutorials.


    Definitely - that is another dimension. That ties into another question - do you restrict save/loading in such a sequence. e.g. JRPGs might have long boss fights broken up into phases without the option of saving or replenishing in between; I actually think that worked well sometimes, because if you could save inbetween, you'd just work out the optimal way to get past one part then save, or even, get lucky then save. But then you risk players who have worked out their optimal way for most of the challenges, but just keep getting stuck on one. So that difference in playstyle would determine whether it's interesting or frustrating.
     
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  4. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Not eradicated, because players are fallible and will make mistakes. I do think that it should be penalized to the point where dying and reloading to learn new information would not be a viable tactics.

    The problem is that from in-universe PoV, reloading can be detected as cheating the laws of the universe in one way or another, it's therefore a meta-mechanics intruding upon non-meta mechanics.

    More detailed explanation can be found here.

    Disruptive or not, the death and reload is always an exploitable experience.



    You missed the whole point.
    The information shouldn't be spoon-fed to the player. It should merely be obtainable.
    If you can know everything you need to know and can realistically win the encounter without relying on roll result, then the reload is not needed as part of the encounter design. That you're not as smart or dexterous as you need to be is not game's fault, but yours.

    The rest of your post is therefore pointless and won't be adressed.
     
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  5. Make America Great Again Jasedegender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I liked the DSA/ROA way-

    Give a lot of experience for the first time you win a unique encounter and tiny to none if you fight the same one again.
     
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  6. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    That formulation itself is problematic, and unrealistic. That's the basic point; the bit you quoted only makes sense on top of this.
     
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  7. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    No, the difference is that expecting player to learn by dying and reloading leads to shit design where player is suddenly hit by instakills, unhindered reloading becomes a required mechanics and anything depending on probability or information goes to shit.

    If you build your encounters around an assumption that reloading isn't necessary, then penalize reloads as detailed in linked thread, probabilistic and knowledge based mechanics remain balanced and player will be extra careful to avoid as many reloads as possible, improving his overall experience in a way ironman does, but without adverse effects.
     
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  8. Vault Dwellergender: ⚧ Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Not the same.

    Here is an example. You see a fighter, a thief, and a mage. Can you tell before the fight which of the three is more dangerous? You can't. It depends on a number of factors like the level, the AI, special abilities and equipment. Some mages in BG2 were pushovers, some could wipe out your party. A standard thief can be ignored, a rune assassin you literally have to keep an eye on. Etc

    Is that what we're discussing here?

    No, it can't. Not the way things work in most RPGs. You enter a room and combat starts. In RoA2 I followed a guy to his house, enter and ...

    [​IMG]

    ... good fucking luck beating this fight on the first try. More recent example? IWD2. How many times you trigger a cutscene, which forces you to walk closer to a bunch of bad guys whom you know absolutely nothing about? If they are weak, you can roll over them. If they are tough, you'd have to reload a few times until you figure out what you're dealing with and what the best strategies are. The battle for holy avenger was very difficult and took me 5-6 reloads.

    Um, no. The number of radically different options in an average firefight can't be compared to what a DnD mage can do. That's why it's called fantasy.

    Not sure if you noticed but an RPG party fights like an army not like a squad. What squad fights like "put your tanks at the front, ranged attack units behind, send you stealthy units around and strike from behind, and have your mage call an air strike"?

    Btw, I've noticed that you didn't say anything about my ToEE examples. Because that's what the entire argument boils down to. I said "if I can beat most fights without reloading, the combat is shit", which is based on my and probably every player's, including you, experience. What you're talking about is pure fantasy.

    Thus, ToEE is a good example. Overall, the game is weak because I can beat most fights without reloading, which doesn't make me feel good and fuzzy inside. However, there are two decent fights, like the ambush (but only if you don't waste any time in Hommlet, earning a free level, and go there early) and the fire elementals. The challenge, i.e. having to reload a few times, is what makes them good and memorable.
     
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  9. Vault Dwellergender: ⚧ Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Precisely.
     
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  10. Make America Great Again Jasedegender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    If I am playing an action game and a shoot 'em up, you can tell they are designed well if you can answer this question with yes: "Would a player with superhuman reflexes, perfect reaction time and incredible intelligence be able to win them on their first try without ever getting hit?"

    If the answer is yes, it's a good action game or shoot 'em up. They are all about honing your skills to perfection, getting a little bit better each try in face of overwhelming, but always fair and beatable odds. The fun comes from practicing, getting better a little bit each attempt and ultimately figuring out the "best" path (often there are multiple) of playing and winning that works for you.

    All the information you need can be figured out in one attempt: what size are the hitboxes? What are the enemy patterns? What attacks do they use, and when?

    But just having this information only guarantees success if your execution and planning are magnificent and perfect, something impossible for a human being. Making the system 100% not opaque and allowing you to get every bit of information makes it only slightly easier because the true difficulty is execution just as much as you imply it to be planning.

    That encounter in DSA 2 that the screenshot is from is a good example, actually. If you had superhuman intelligence and a strong, ideally built party then you should be able to win this in the first attempt- except that you don't have that. You are human, which means you can't figure out how to "win" in your first try unless you are a genius- you need time to see how all the factors of the battle interact. What spells do the enemy mages know? What do they cast and when? Who do they prioritize? How do the enemies move? How long are they willing to fight until they flee? How do they resist various spells?

    The fun in a difficult combat RPG is to figure out these things through trial and error or tactical acumen and then refining your strategy to meet the challenge, sometimes even finding an entirely new one you hadn't tried before.

    I don't know, I guess I am just regurgitating what others already said. Tell me to stop posting in this thread and I will. Otherwise I probably have some more thoughts on this.

    I'd like to end with this:

    I appreciate it when games allow you to gather extra information. A high medical skill could give you an idea about an enemy's hitpoints, at a glance. A high lore skill could give you information such as an idea of their magical resistance. But I prefer systems that don't show you everything. It doesn't make the game much harder, because for me the fun comes from the trial and error in combat and gradual improvement in any given encounter.

    If I can beat it in the first attempt with my current level of skill, it wasn't challenging enough.

    Edit:

    Imagine playing P&P, or a dungeon crawler, and you are facing a boss. Would you rather figure out his armor class by hitting and missing him a bunch of times, or be handed a sheet of paper that just spells it out? For me, it's the former. This approach builds tension and gives me a feeling of reward: I am in control, I am figuring out how this works, I am the one facing the challenge with the tools I have, instead of number-crunching my way through his stat sheet and seeing, at once, that his Will Save is low and reaching for my trusty Hold Monster spell.
     
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  11. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Does the game provide at least some rough visual cue for judging the strength of a character?

    If I see a guy in armour, is his armour a rusty mail hauberk with several tears and holes, a solid plate, or an ornate plate engraved with what looks like magic symbols?
    If I can see enemy's face, does he look like a grizzled veteran or a fresh faced boy with not even a single scar? Does the character move like a killing machine, or like n00b trying to puff himself up to look more scary? Does the character look scared? Etc.

    If the game throws enemies of vastly different challenge rating at you, that are otherwise indistinguishable, it's simply bad design, because you can't hope to have information necessary for survival at that point. It doesn't matter if those enemies looking the same are high and low level characters or rats and dragons.

    Save systems and their relation to encounter design are not the topic of this thread either. Your point?

    So, most RPGs, even good ones, feature heaps of shit design. Is it better to fix this shit design, or throw more shit design at it in hope the new and existing shit design will cancel each other out?

    I could stop reading here. How is it anything but shit design?
    Confirmed. :smug:

    The number may be different, but the principle is the same - if you fail to assess what the enemy might throw at you, you're likely to end up as dead meat.

    Again:
    So, most RPGs, even good ones, feature heaps of shit design. Is it better to fix this shit design, or throw more shit design at it in hope the new and existing shit design will cancel each other out?

    I think Jasede nailed it:
    :salute:

    If you can, at least in theory obtain all the required information in advance, then yeah, it's good design, because it isn't based around reloads, although I would exclude perfect build from the equation, because perfect build isn't something you can know in advance.


    Why? I, for one, am *very* happy that you're participating in the discussion instead of throwing temper tantrums that there is a DraQ posting on the same board as you.

    Do share them.

    I don't really agree about trial and error, but skill based information is of course an excellent idea. For me the fun comes if I have to put much brainwork into the game to achieve something. Reloads, if they happen, are a necessary evil, being a sign that I'm not good enough.

    Unfortunately most cRPGs (and VD) just settle for "Get TPK'd, throw a hissy fit 'till the GM allows you to replay the encounter from the beginning, repeat".

    Being given some room for trial and error during the battle, rather than in form of die-reload-repeat is good, but it means that with indiscriminate reloading you can exploit this extra room for flawless victory (TM).

    As for being given character and equipment sheets, how about being less explicit about it and giving player an opportunity to, for example, perform some B&E with party's thief and intercept information about the enchantments he ordered to be put on the suit of armour that was built for him? How about figuring out that the enemy or the gear he's using is legendary and was described in an ancient epic that can provide clues regarding specific properties and special abilities? Etc.

    The information doesn't have to be spelled out for you or given on a silver platter, it just has to be obtainable.
     
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  12. mondblutgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    We heard you, man. A thousand times over.
     
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  13. PorkaMorkagender: ⚧ Arcane

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    If someone made a CRPG with a modern engine they wouldn't need to resort to having the AI camp the zone in line to ambush the player. We now have the technology to allow units outside the house to interact with units inside the house. We could even allow the player to destroy parts of the house itself.

    This would allow more creativity and preparation, as well as use of non combat abilities. You could scout ahead with your rogue or with divination spells, then ambush the ambushers, instead of chain reloading.

    Just sayin'.
     
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  14. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Last time I checked adventures were mostly linear, rigid scriptfag games, not freeform ones.

    :salute: :bro:
     
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  15. seagender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman inXile Entertainment Developer

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    This has been really bothering me lately: lack of world interactivity. Expressing that in terms of a ruleset is a relatively easy thing to do; the biggest problem is design, testing, etc. For instance, what happens if the player blows up a wall too early in the game and screws up the story? It's easy to say "make a game where that isn't relevant", but you have to have some way to handle the player's progression through the game and story, and there are always going to be limits on things unless your goal is to make a sandbox world. People want more freedom, but they also want games to reflect their personal experiences. There have to be some compromises to make it work.

    Aside from the obvious design challenges, I do think that this is something seriously lacking in modern RPGs. I would love to play a modern game where you can use skills outside of menus and dialogue, where actually performing actions in the world was just as important as shooting dudes in order to advance the game. Deus Ex got extremely close to this for me, but it's amazing we haven't seen much progression beyond that.
     
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  16. Make America Great Again DragoFireheartgender: ⚧ all caps, rainbow colors, SOMETHING.

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    Many cRPGs do a very shitty job with rogues: can't scout with them when you would want to (such as past a loading screen door) and they end up turning into leather-armor wearing warriors.
     
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  17. Vault Dwellergender: ⚧ Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Well, it's always better to fix shit design, but I don't think that it's shit (I'm with mondblut & co here 100% - combat is a puzzle and you have to try different things (and fail) to figure it out) and I thought that we were talking about existing games not fantasizing about something that doesn't exist. Because until it does, it's hard to say how what you're proposing on paper will work out when implemented. It could be the next generation or something lame, like shoving airducts everywhere to make games stealthy.

    Again, I'm talking about existing games (BG, IWD, PST, Fallout, KOTOR, Bloodlines, Arcanum, etc). You're talking about something new and exciting.
     
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  18. mondblutgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Um, I was being sarcastic, implying it is DraQ who wants puzzle combat - meaning "combat" that can only be "won" a very specific way and involves first talking to people and solving quests in order to get informed on this way. Like, "hello adventurer, bring me the Rainbow Assplug of the Fairy Queen and I'll tell you the order in which you should shoot at the balls of the Invincible Dragon of Doom so he would perish without harming ye".

    The proper combat is most definitely *not* a puzzle, as it can be resolved via a multitude of ways, preferably up to infinity. Finding one such a way by trial and error is perfectly reasonable and time-honoured gameplay, yes.
     
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  19. hivergender: ⚧ Guest

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    Not that kind of a puzzle no. It is a "puzzle" you solve yourself by simply trying to fight, dying and reloading and trying again with different abilities, spells, weapons and tactics used untill you "solve it".
    Thats what they thought.

    Also, even if it doesnt matter overall, a real squad can fight with tactical behavior and plans, too.
    Many often do.
     
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  20. Vault Dwellergender: ⚧ Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Sorry, misread.

    From my old post:
    "If done right, combat is about presenting the player with a combat puzzle and giving him a wide range of tools to try to come up with solutions that may work".
     
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  21. mondblutgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Ah, I missed that. Well, having a wide range of tools is anything but a "puzzle" in my book :) Semantics.
     
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  22. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Existing games have already been made.
    This is Workshop.

    Hold it right there.

    I have never implied single specific way or even set of specific way predefined by the dev. I implied that any right solution should involve knowing what the fuck are you doing. Getting TPK'd till you blunder into right tactics is definitely not knowing what the fuck are you doing, which means it's not a proper solution.

    Except without this dying and reloading thing.

    WHICH IS MY WHOLE FUCKING POINT!
    :x
     
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  23. hivergender: ⚧ Guest

    hiver
    Yeah, in case of real squads there is only dying. Or if youre really lucky - a retreat with minimal casualties which alows for a second attempt at some later time, with adapted tactics for what you experienced the first time.
    Also, a correction - real squads always use tactics, not just often.

    And since games are not reality and you have a save/load option that allows you to try again.... what was your point again?

    If you simply want an option to find out what your up against before starting the combat - thats simply a problem of a setting youre playing in and mechanics.
    In some, like more modern action games, you can use a scout or something similar and take a look at the enemy and his weapons, positions and fortifications and ways around, under or through them.
    In others, like rpgs just taking a look at those things doesnt tell you enough because mechanically its far more important at what level those enemies are - which you cannot find out just by looking at them.
     
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