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  #1  
Old 03-23-2001, 10:39 AM
JeffC JeffC is offline
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How to handle the reset dynamic....

Arg. This is going to be a problem in my game, too. Or it was going to be, before I changed it to the post-cataclysm setting. Now it isnt' as big a problem, but it still exists.

How much harder would it be to introduce more random elements into the reset? For example, couldn't you randomize the monster's location, strength, skills, and powers as well as how long between resets and the treasure it is carrying?

What about randomizing the monster itself? You kill an orc by the walnut tree. The next day, you find another orc there. So you decide to hang around, thinking you've found a reset location. The next day, instead of an orc, a dragon appears. Yikes! That would discourage this sort of power gaming a bit, wouldn't it?
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Old 03-23-2001, 10:54 AM
Atama Atama is offline
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Unfortunately not, Jeff. As a reformed EQ maniac, I can tell you that in EQ terms that is a "random spawn". Players will learn exactly what different creatures will show up, and where, and will "camp" them, waiting for the monster to "pop" (short for repopulate). They will even go so far as to time how long it takes between pops, use a stopwatch to determine when it will occur, note which monsters are the most common... If there is ANY pattern to the randomness, it will be noted.

Never underestimate players. They will rip apart all notions of security that you think you have. I know, cause I've been one for a long time. http://www.skotos.net/ubb/wink.gif
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  #3  
Old 03-23-2001, 11:38 AM
SamW SamW is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Atama:
Unfortunately not, Jeff. As a reformed EQ maniac, I can tell you that in EQ terms that is a "random spawn". Players will learn exactly what different creatures will show up, and where, and will "camp" them, waiting for the monster to "pop" (short for repopulate).
Weeeeell, EQ is a bad example because there was no attempt made to introduce ANY randomness in the monster presence. In most cases, one of a very short list of monsters would ALWAYS appear at a given location, and always in the same amount of time. It didn't require any effort to learn the pattern of the monster repops because the game was (unintentionally) designed to drive these patterns deep into your brain.

That said, there are ways to screw up the timing of players, and it is especially easy to do in a room-based environment. By making sure that monsters NEVER spawn in a room in which players are present, you deprive the crafty players of the ability to directly observe the manner in which monsters enter the game world. Couple this with a random spawn timer, and it becomes almost impossible to predict where monsters can be found at any given time.

Now, that said, I have to also say that there is no purpose in having a truly random monster population. The one thing that is done very well in EQ is giving locations identifiable denizens. Players like the sense of 'reality' they get when the population of a given area makes sense.

So, if you have a system whereby monsters never spawn in front of characters, you limit the ability of players to predict the pattern of monster appearance. You can then add in special creatures that appear in the game only after ((X + rand)number) of normal critters are killed, and a third tier of REALLY COOL monsters that only enter the world after ((X + rand)number) of the second-tier critters have been killed.

The three levels of randomness will prevent even the most hardcore of players from really deducing the pattern of monster appearances simply because they won't be able to directly observe the pattern. While gamers could, I suppose, infer the pattern after a while, that can be defeated by simply making extremely long spawn times on the second- and third-tier population. In the end, you'll have an area with a standard population with the occassional appearance by the special uber-monsters that show up every couple of days or so.

Just some thoughts,

Sam
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Old 03-23-2001, 04:06 PM
Atama Atama is offline
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Weeeeell, EQ is a bad example because there was no attempt made to introduce ANY randomness in the monster presence.


Actually, this isn't true at all. Verant made many different attempts at randomness, creating many different spawns. Sometimes, that meant that you had a spawn point that sometimes had one creature, and sometimes another. Another time, it meant that they had what was called "wandering spawns", that means a spawn that might occur at any time or place within an area. Of course, there are also spawns triggered by an event, something mentioned in Shannon's article.

Despite that, there of course were a limited number of creatures that could be spawned. No matter what level of randomness was introduced, players still were able to figure out the stats, or at least stat ranges of creatures, strategies to kill them, and how often such a creature had been encountered.

Quote:
By making sure that monsters NEVER spawn in a room in which players are present, you deprive the crafty players of the ability to directly observe the manner in which monsters enter the game world.


There was a VERY nasty rumor in EQ talking about an anti-camping code that prevented a spawn from occuring if a player was too close to its spawning point. This was a rumor caused by frustrated players who camped a spot but had no luck in finding the creature they sought (due to Verant's randomness factor). What you are suggesting is something along the lines of what those players feared, which indeed would more or less end the camping mentality. And that would certainly help.

Quote:
Now, that said, I have to also say that there is no purpose in having a truly random monster population. The one thing that is done very well in EQ is giving locations identifiable denizens. Players like the sense of 'reality' they get when the population of a given area makes sense.


This is very true. And there is another reason for this, especially in "achievement-based" games. It's the fact that often-times the monsters in an area are tailored towards the strength of the characters that frequent the area. There are newbie areas, middle-strength areas, and advanced areas. A truly random monster generator means that a newbie risks death any time he leaves a safe area (which means that few newbies will ever advance) and stronger characters might have to wade through endless weak monsters before fighting something challenging. This leads to a type of imbalance, and can be frustrating for players.

Quote:
You can then add in special creatures that appear in the game only after ((X + rand)number) of normal critters are killed, and a third tier of REALLY COOL monsters that only enter the world after ((X + rand)number) of the second-tier critters have been killed.


This is something else that EQ did, one of the triggers I had mentioned. For example, in Rathe Mountains, there was a certain valley where little lizard men spawned. If you ran around killing enough lizard men, Hill Giants would appear, which was the REAL prey for the characters. Groups would bring them down for money and XP.

So, all good ideas. But all done before.

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  #5  
Old 03-24-2001, 12:40 AM
JeffC JeffC is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by SamW:
Weeeeell, EQ is a bad example because there was no attempt made to introduce ANY randomness in the monster presence
I have to agree. I was saying introduce more variety in the randomness, not just the type of monster but also where it spawns and how often. With a room-based environment, any room could spawn a monster, and by randomly setting where that occurs, and I mean truly random, not a bell curve random produced by a sum or multiple, there is no way the players could begin to predict the location of a spawn. And if the monsters spawned are themselves truly random, with a random assortment of strength and power, then the orc you wacked yesterday might not be the same orc you meet today. He might be a big mammajamma of an orc with a wand of lightning bolts, or he might be a frost giant with a bad attitude, or he might be a cute little squirrel with pronounced vorpal tendencies. Then add Sam's thing about never spawning while a character is in a room, and I think you'd have it pretty well covered. Sure, somebody would probably find a way around this, too, but this would go a long way toward solving the problem.
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  #6  
Old 04-06-2001, 05:51 PM
ShannonA ShannonA is offline
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I continued my discussion of spawning, resets, and other issues this week in TT&T at http://www.skotos.net/articles

Next week I'm going to finish up the matter by talking how you actually *can* offer some new creation within a game to deal with the problem of dynamism.

Any discussion on that topic (or the object recreation that I discussed this week) would be quite welcome.

Shannon
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  #7  
Old 04-13-2001, 03:00 PM
murf murf is offline
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Shannon,

I was hoping you were going to discuss putting the ability to "spawn" resources in the hands of players. I love the idea of a player being able to "bribe" a tribe of nasties to harass the good-guys or guard a black tower. A neat variation on this theme is allowing "good" players to repopulate the world with "bad" things.

Ernest Adams wrote an article for Gamasutra a while back entitled "Lets Put the Magic Back in Magic". In it, he discussed making the use of magic a fearsome thing, awful in the old sense of "filling one with awe". One way to do this is to take the numbers out of the cost of casting spells. For instance, in a game based on Lovecraft’s cthulu mythos, like "Lovecraft Country", you could make the use of magic weaken the bonds between this world and the realms of the nasty many-tentacled things that would like to move in. Maybe invoking certain charms causes the Ancient Sleeper himself to stir. In either case, the caster risks loosing more horror upon the world. The magician player, then, will face a dilemma with every spell cast. Does he allow his comrade to die of his wounds, or instead cast a spell that will heal the wounds but could cause a shuggoth to materialize in a nearby basement? (Of course, this only works as a limit to player spell-casting if the player considers rampaging shuggoths to be a bad thing.)

The idea of forcing players to think about their choices appeals to me. Making players consider the ramifications of actions turns the mundane ("I cast a 12 point fireball spell.") into the dramatic ("I could kill it with a fireball, but doing so may unleash the efreeti in my magic ring."). I doubt that by itself such a system would be able to handle a few hundred rampaging players, intent on killing everything that moves. It might, however, add an extra element of randomness that spices up a game.

Brian
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