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Messages - VRBones

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AtG - General Discussion / Re: What's up with ATG?
« on: October 05, 2015, 07:16:34 AM »
In fact, we're now working out of the same office as friends and brothers-in-strategy Stardock Baltimore, Oxide Games, and Mohawk Games.
That's awesome! Hopefully a good cross-pollination zone ...

AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2014 June 4 - Alpha II and Beyond
« on: August 06, 2014, 06:51:20 AM »
My plan is to make the AI, UI and Map Generation code available to those in the Test Group later this year. :)

AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2014 June 4 - Alpha II and Beyond
« on: June 05, 2014, 05:15:38 AM »
CK2 is one of the very few games where you actually think about characters more than numbers, and that is a game I'll be thinking about a lot over the next couple months. I don't know if we'll be able to get all the way to CK2's level of engagement, as that game features full life cycles and generation changes, but we can probably get close.
Surprised and happy that giving units a personality is on the cards. CK2 is certainly a great game for that, but there is so much of the game dedicated to breathing life into them it's a somewhat lofty standard to aim for. CK2 is also attempting to model actual people, not a representation of people, so the abstraction currently used for AtG will hurt building affinity. Maybe the labourer establishing a farm initiates a family dynasty of farmers (all represented by the one labourer), but gives personal information of the family leader (even possibly with succession to give a sense of time passing?)

Another game with good character affinity is Dwarf Fortress. Even though you cannot interact with them using any type of communication, the sheer amount of detail and presence they have in the world allows their character to shine though. Also getting to know each of their personality quirks gives in-game rewards when diving deep into the game.
Recently there was a somewhat similar game called "Craft the World" that had some discernible differences in the amount of affinity it generated toward the dwarves.
The takeaway for AtG would be:
1) position is important to establish a relationship between the character and their surrounds (this is probably easy for AtG).
2) specialisation increases the reward for caring about who does what (might be hard with limited resources to play with)

For a more whimsical take on personality, Majesty (& to a lesser extent Majesty II) also breathed life into independently moving characters by giving them enough of a back story and personal journey that you can't help but check up on them and root for your favourites.

AtG - General Discussion / Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« on: May 24, 2014, 05:25:37 PM »
Hmmm... Now if we wanted to be really evil we could detect when someone is save scumming, and alter how the game plays out... 8)

This, in my opinion, is the best way for a game designer to stop people using the product in ways which its not intended.
Everyone should know about the Serious Same 3 DRM invincible killer scorpion or Arma's degradation DRM that makes weapons less accurate and what not.
Football Manager used a similar technique back in the 2000's. You could save scum to to get a better result for one of your games, but it left a big karma footprint that wrecked the rest of your team in short order. It felt dirty to be victim of it, but at least you knew that reloading to outwit the random dice gods was not an option. 

Off-Topic / Offfworld Trading Company
« on: May 21, 2014, 09:25:11 AM »
Soren Johnson's new game now has a name and a website! Looking forward to the development streams and testing it in my local LAN group. 

Off-Topic / The Drop that Contained the Sea
« on: May 08, 2014, 06:20:44 PM »
Been listening to Christopher Tin's new album The Drop that Contained the Sea while playing At the Gates. Works well!  I've been a fan of Christopher's work since Civ4 days when Baba Yetu made the title screen come alive.

AtG - General Discussion / Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« on: May 01, 2014, 11:33:25 PM »
I think the best way to do it would be to prevent the player from being able to save the game, EVER.
The only true way to do this is server side. No matter what type of save game prevention you have client side it can be save scummed if determined enough (Eg: game running inside a virtual machine that can be snapshotted ..)

Does Steam offer any form of save game timestamping & validation?

Some roguelikes are short, but you would be hard pressed finishing the main variants in under 20 hours (I've had some saves with over 200,000 moves). Save scumming is certainly frowned upon, but even in roguelikes it's more about the reward from self-discipline rather than some external force pressuring the player to only play one way (exception is of course playing on a server through a terminal session). Choosing to play ironman and then save scumming to prevent death simply cheapens your own enjoyment.

That said, I usually play games in 2 modes. At the start I want to understand the system and break it (to beat the game). In this mode I'm totally focused on optimising and the enjoyment gained is from mastery. Once mastered, I then sometimes play the same game for the experience / story. In this mode I definitely play using ironman rules even if the game doesn't officially support it because it adds to the experience.

Off-Topic / Empire: the deck building strategy game
« on: November 06, 2013, 11:42:43 PM »
While on a migration kick, I had a look at Empire: the deck building strategy game for its handling of resource depletion. Heard about it on the Gamers with Jobs podcast.  May be worth checking out for those interested.

Not sure I agree with the Roguelike sentiment but here's a TouchArcade review. Reminds me more of an agressive Alpha Centauri mod.

AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2013 September 23 - New Art Style (Sneak Peek)
« on: September 24, 2013, 11:20:46 PM »
Looks nice. Conveys a more wistful, nostalgic look.

Pulling it apart it looks like there's a hex-based patch placed for base terrain in order from back to front, then rivers drawn on, then terrain features (trees etc.).  I like the way the patches bleed out into other regions as this gives a more natural look to the borders between different terrain types. The size of the trees may also help give a 1/2 way point between the scale of the landscape and the scale of the units to be placed on top.

This method might have some limitations though. The trees directly to the left of the mountain range seem to naturally sit on top of the mountain shoulder, but if there were trees placed onto the swamp patch directly above the mountain they may accidentally look like they are growing out of the mountain rather than being behind it (due to the implied viewing angle). This can also be seen with the river tip sneaking over the mountain patch in the bottom right corner.

AtG - General Discussion / Re: Biggest Concerns for AtG?
« on: September 09, 2013, 12:00:42 AM »
1) No matter how good a mechanic, I don't want it to be thematically distasteful. In Civ 4, it is apparently vital to whip for production, rather than use mines and other tiles. First, this is  not intuitive; second, it doesn't allow for variety or thematic connection. I don't want to be forced to play a slave empire - why is it so overpowered? That's lame. I'm not going to just forget about it and pretend it doesn't mean anything.

I think I know what you're talking about, but to clear up something I see slavery being VERY thematic (in the sense that early powerhouse production civilizations almost exclusively relied on human labour), but may not be appropriate outside the game's theme. A strong theme helps set the tone and feel of a game, but also requires some form of suspension of disbelief on the part of the player to "buy in" to the theme completely. "Thematically distatesful" to me would mean that the action is distateful even considering the theme of the game. I agree though that broaching subjects that may be distateful to people (razing & pillaging spring to mind) are a concern no matter what the theme of the game is.

I played Civ 3 and Civ 5 quite a lot
Ever razed a city? Razing was both mechanically efficient in certain situations and quite valid thematically, but would be seen as barbaric in today's day & age.

AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2013 September 4 - The Strategy of Playtesting
« on: September 05, 2013, 11:00:51 PM »
There have been many times in playtesting where the game changed from its original incarnation. Most of the time this doesn't bother me as I'm expecting change (hopefully improvement), but sometimes even a small change can turn the game into something completely different. The issue isn't so much the changes themselves, but my expectations of what the game is to become.

I like the idea of immutable design goals (mentioned on one of the podcasts?) that set the intent of the game. Other areas may chop & change to get the rest of the game to work, but keeping everyone clear of what areas are the backbone of the design can keep player's expectations in line with the eventual vision of the completed game.

Off-Topic / Re: Fairness, Discovery & Spelunky
« on: July 31, 2013, 03:32:17 AM »
This article is interesting in the light of the recent Game Design Round Table on failure and learning.

Learning and experiencing new things is one of the most enjoyable aspects of games. Roguelikes take this concept to the absolute extreme

Amen to that one. Roguelikes are for me "exploration porn": there is always something new to discover to keep the endorphins flowing, but the craving to figure out what is going on underneath all that randomness leads to a far rewarding systems-level understanding of the game and their complex interactions over many playthroughs. Randomness & repitition. Great ways of exposing systems.

I find the same is true for many 4X strategy games. It's the randomness (in maps and strategic / tactical scenarios) that keep me interested to persevere through multiple playthroughs, that then expose the underlying systems to be learned and eventually exploited to really crack the game.

And, as you mentioned, I drop the game like a hot potato once there's no more learning to be had.

AtG - General Discussion / Re: Modable
« on: July 14, 2013, 09:12:44 AM »
Along with XML, we will be opening up the map generation and AI code
Yay and YAY!

Is that a skull cup I see ?

AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2013 June 24 - AI Design Breakdown
« on: June 27, 2013, 09:23:04 AM »
Priority - A scale with 20 values that serves as a general measurement for how important something is. Each label can have a "+" or "-" after it to make its value slightly more or less. So a "Very Good-" Priority would be one level above a "Good+" Priority, which is itself one level above "Good".
Are labels used just for internal consistency, or is this also a stepping stone toward meaningful logging?

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