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Non-combat roguelike ideas

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Sorbus

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Oct 10, 2007, 12:47:27 AM10/10/07
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Hello all. I'm one of the seemingly numerous lurkers who's been
reading this newsgroup for a while but hasn't posted yet... but I've
been thinking about this for a while and thought it would be good to
get some input and other ideas.

After reading about the origins of pen-and-paper RPG gameplay, I
started to think that perhaps the current cRPG genre is limiting
itself by putting too much focus on combat and not enough on other
possible themes. I understand that there's a fundamental reason for
this; that when you're playing alone slaying dragons and saving the
princess is inherently more fun than watering wheat plants and making
bread. I know a few games (Harvest Moon comes to mind) manage to make
this fun, but such games are arguably in a different genre, and have
very different settings and styles than cRPGs.

I can think of a few that might be fun to supplement combat, such as
mining or farming, but as a core game mechanic I'm not sure these
things would stand up on their own; they seem to be more like mini-
games than something a player might devote any large chunk of time to.
Like most people here I'm playing around with making a rougelike-like
game - at the moment I'm just building the engine rather than the
content - and I'm thinking about non-combat styles of play. It's not
that I think fighting is un-fun, but it's been done so often and so
well in other games, I'd like to try making something different.

So my question is, what ideas do people have for cRPG-like systems
that focus on things other than combat, without sacrificing fun or
depth?

Would mining be fun if there were upgradeable tools, ore-detecting
radars, and pre-dug catacombs to further dig into?

erisdiscordia

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Oct 10, 2007, 2:31:08 AM10/10/07
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On Oct 10, 6:47 am, Sorbus <lairdro...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Like most people here I'm playing around with making a rougelike-like

> game...

Timofei will be proud! ;-)

http://common-lisp.net/project/lifp/rouge.htm

e.

Krice

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Oct 10, 2007, 2:39:02 AM10/10/07
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On 10 loka, 07:47, Sorbus <lairdro...@gmail.com> wrote:
> So my question is, what ideas do people have for cRPG-like systems
> that focus on things other than combat

Lots of ideas. I just recently thought this myself and I guess it's
going to delay the release of Kaduria for couple of years more!

Gamer_2k4

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Oct 10, 2007, 10:26:54 AM10/10/07
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> > Like most people here I'm playing around with making a rougelike-like
> > game...

Why do so many people have trouble spelling "rogue"? That word isn't
really that unique or uncommon...

--
Gamer_2k4

Brigand

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Oct 10, 2007, 2:07:54 PM10/10/07
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You should check out Dwarf Fortress. While it has an (odd) roguelike
'mode', the real gem is the simulation mode. Basically, you are
running a dwarven colony from the first pick-axe stroke into the
mountainside. The game focuses on mining, farm, hunting, trading,
training animals, and MANY other things. Hell, you can brew different
types of ale, or teach a dwarf how to properly create lye if that's
your thing.

Trust me, it's quite fun. There is combat, but you don't control it
directly; it's more along the lines of having created the correct
traps, and weapons, and having trained the correct dwarves to fight.
Survivng the elements is a big part of it. A LOT of the fun comes from
the zen of designing your fortress - while you have to do certain
things to make your dwarves happy (like not putting their bedroom next
to the smithy), you have a lot of free reign to make it look however
you want.

The ONLY thing to turn me off are the controls. There are very
inconsistent. Once you learn them, they become second nature, but go
ahead and set yourself up for hours of trying to figure out why + and
- move the list selection up and down on one screen, and why the
cursor keys do on another. I'm sure there is some logic somewhere to
it, but it's hit or miss on some screens. (The first time you try to
create a custom stockpile you WILL bang the keyboard in frustration.)


There are other creative modes as well, like the aforementioned
roguelike mode, where you control the typical @ and explore the world,
and another where you can take a team of dwarves to reclaim a fortress
you lost by force - very cool.


But, I digress, and don't mean to be a shill for the DF team, though
they certainly deserve it for a VERY fun and creative effort.

To answer your question - Yes - playing a non-combat rogue would be a
lot of fun. I think the main thing you need to do in this type of game
is to provide the player with a ton to do - he/she needs to ALWAYS
have too little time to devote to all the things that he needs to do.
If it's a matter of sending youre one little man to plough a field,
and sit there for 100 turns with no interaction while he does it, then
NO, it won't be fun.

Maybe it's a bit specific, but arguably the best way to create
multiple simultaneous tasks is to have the player control multiple
characters. And, in which case, we are starting to stretch the
'roguelike' concept. But this is a GOOD thing.


Give it a shot. I will be more than happy to playtest it to death. I
love these kind of games, and seeing the creativity that individuals
have. To be honest, I am quite burnt out on MMO's, and RTS's, and
FPS's....Yet 20 years on from my first game of Hack, I still come back
to these things again and again.


Billy Bissette

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Oct 10, 2007, 8:06:35 PM10/10/07
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Sorbus <laird...@gmail.com> wrote in news:1191991647.597487.170800
@o3g2000hsb.googlegroups.com:

> So my question is, what ideas do people have for cRPG-like systems
> that focus on things other than combat, without sacrificing fun or
> depth?
>
> Would mining be fun if there were upgradeable tools, ore-detecting
> radars, and pre-dug catacombs to further dig into?

Since you mentioned Harvest Moon, you might want to look at other
console games to see both what works and what doesn't.

There is a recent DS game that tried to mix Harvest Moon with monster
combat, but it apparently failed. (Work your farm to go into the
dungeon to get monsters to work your farm so that you had more energy
to spend in the dungeon, or something like that.) The two systems just
were merged poorly.

The PSP has a game where you create your own dungeon, then journey
into it to get money to improve your dungeon. It again apparently
failed in execution, with heavily repetative play as you keep
traversing the same old ground with only minor additions in each
play. (Apparently part of the idea of having to play through your
own creation was that it forced you to play-test your dungeon and
create something that could be completed, as you could then share your
dungeon with friends.)

Some of the Megaten games put a decent emphasis on conversation.
This was mainly because you could recruit enemies into your party
through conversation, but it could have other effects like causing
an enemy to leave, giving you an item, getting the first attack (out
of anger), or receiving status ailments (like being too happy to fight
well.) Persona 1 gave each party member four "tones" of speech (some
unique to certain characters) to choose between, and different
creatures preferred different tones (and moon phase had an impact
as well,) so one creature might react positively to being threatened
but negative to kindness, one might like being praised, another begged,
yet another seduced, etc.

Summon Knight (Gameboy Advance) had you gathering elements to forge
more powerful weapons. Some elements found in chests, and others by
beating certain monsters. You got the plans for weapons from either
leveling up with your master or from beating bosses in certain ways.
(You had to break their weapon, then win the battle, which was more
annoying than it was a challenge.)

Namco's Tales of X franchise has had food play a part from the start,
to varying degrees. Tales of Phantasia simply gave you a "food bag."
Putting food into your food bag converted it into points. For every
step you took, each injured character converted one food point into a
point of healing. Later games went further, going as far as to
implement a food creation system where different characters had
different cooking skills, and where you found different recipes, and
you needed the various ingrediants to make different foods that healed
different amounts or caused other effects (like restoring magic.)
This succeeded and failed to various degrees as well. (I'd say Tales
of Symphonia for the Gamecube failed pretty badly in its cooking
system, as it was convoluted with large overlaps on ingrediants and
no choice to not include "optional" ingrediants if you had them on
hand.)

Azure Dreams and some others have had basic town building segments
between dungeon adventures. These often were only arbitrarily adding
new locations, but some games actually gave the player some real
choice in the matter, shaping the growth of the town. (For the average
Roguelike with freely visitable towns, the amount of money warriors
pull from the local dungeons really should have some impact. Same goes
for monster extermination. Or on the flipside, monster agitation.)

You can also look to MMORPGs and the likes of crafting systems. For
some it is a diversion, while for others it can become the game.

Gamer_2k4

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Oct 11, 2007, 3:46:18 AM10/11/07
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On Oct 10, 7:06 pm, Billy Bissette <bai...@coastalnet.com> wrote:
> You can also look to MMORPGs and the likes of crafting systems. For
> some it is a diversion, while for others it can become the game.

One thing to watch out for is grinding. If a quest requires you to
have level 70 Alchemy, you're not going to want to spend hours making
potions of cure poison just to start the quest. There should be
something to do for almost every level. It can either be necessary
(level 5 mining to get past a stone blocking the stairs) or desirable
(level 20 forging to make long swords that the weapon store will buy);
which one it is doesn't matter so much.

--
Gamer_2k4

Radomir 'The Sheep' Dopieralski

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Oct 11, 2007, 1:34:55 PM10/11/07
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At Tue, 09 Oct 2007 21:47:27 -0700,
Sorbus wrote:

> I can think of a few that might be fun to supplement combat, such as
> mining or farming, but as a core game mechanic I'm not sure these
> things would stand up on their own;

I think Hajo tried hard to make his game non-combat focussed, and we
had some discussions about non-combat roguelikes back then (check
the group's archive). As far as I remember, we mostly came up with
various "replacements" and "disguises" for combat.

One thing that I enjoy in crpg games the most is exploration. I wonder
if it would be possible to make an exploration-based game with minimal
focus on combat (eg. only occasional bosses) or without combat as we
know it entirely (trading or other kind of management maybe?).

Many console crpg games treat combat marginally -- especially simple
game boy rpg games make combat very repetitive, random and without much
impact on the actual plot, except for bosses -- it's rather something
to keep you busy while traveling and slow you down so that you enjoy the
game longer.

--
Radomir `The Sheep' Dopieralski <http://sheep.art.pl>
() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ <www.asciiribbon.org> - against proprietary attachments

Bongo Bill

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Oct 11, 2007, 5:54:42 PM10/11/07
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Well, if you want to eliminate combat altogether, you're going to have
to deal with a much broader scope than just roguelike design. Let's
start small, and think of a way to make the player nonviolent.

Stealth could be a big one. There's lots of violence, but you want to
avoid it.

Suppose that in the dungeon, there are red monsters and blue monsters,
and they hate each other. You, the player, aren't interested in that
sort of fanaticism, and just want to get out with the Mystic MacGuffin
hidden at the bottom. You're also very tasty, and if there are
monsters nearby, they'll try to eat you. You can't fight back, because
you are a wimp. However, if monsters of opposing factions are within
each other's range, they'll ignore you and go beat the crap out of
each other instead. So you have to lead the monsters toward each other
so that you can slip past them. Perhaps you might get a magic ray gun
that causes monsters to change color, or you can use your command of
language to attempt to persuade them to switch colors.

There's other ways you could take it, too. Just think of it in terms
of mechanics.

Mark

Sorbus

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Oct 12, 2007, 8:33:27 AM10/12/07
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I think most of these are really good ideas, and if I do end up with a
non-alpha roguelike then I'm sure most of them will have influenced it
in at least some small way.
The idea of disguising combat as something else - like in "The
Roguelike" where you insult people instead - is a novel approach, but
something that's difficult to include in a world that isn't totally
abstract. One of the ideas I came up with was a 'realm of depression',
an alternate plane where people drift to when they're bitter with the
world or saddened by events, and the task of the main player is to
cheer them up (reduce their hp) using various emotive or logical
arguments (spells) or just plain and simple compliments (weapons)
until their bad emotions are gone and they return to the normal world
(they die).
I'm not sure if there'd be enough scope in it though to make it really
interesting.

On the other hand, implementing other systems like trading, farming,
crafting weapons, even gathering food could work quite well,
especially in a game where the role of combat was reduced with, for
example, stealth or diplomacy.

My real concern is how to flesh out those other systems to give them
comparable depth. In the 'standard' RL or cRPG, many different factors
go into combat, there is usually both race and class, choice of
weapons, armor and jewelery, mastering magic and different spells, and
selecting which stats to develop - not to mention tactics of when to
attack and how. Some of this translates well in to some systems, but
the depth that so many choices gives to combat doesn't make sense when
applied to other things. There are, after all, only so many ways one
can water a crop for example. Sure, a "fighter"-type farmer has to
walk up to the crop and use their shiny watering can, while the "mage"-
type farmer can stand at a distance and cast a minor spell of rain,
but is the difference as important to the player when it's just
watering a crop?

I think the major element that makes combat so fun is the fact that
the thing you are fighting is fighting back, there is active
resistance against your efforts and you too are actively resisting the
efforts of your attacker. I'm sure this could be done in other
systems, things like trading or social interaction being the easiest
as your fellow trader wants the best deal and your fellow social
butterfly wants to be more popular... It just seems like a much more
difficult and non-intuitive system to develop. A lot of that, I
suspect, can be blamed on the fact that combat has been done so often
and for so long that it's naturally grown as a system over time any
many different games, so perhaps my hopes are too high.

Really, I'm just talking out loud here, sharing my ideas in the hope
that feedback will help me (and others) to think differently about the
systems. All the things I've described are just small examples from
what I think each system could encompass, just incase you think I'm
limiting an idea just to one interaction.

Oh, and as far as the rogue/rouge problem goes, I blame it on the
language center of my brain - as lnog as the fsirt and lsat lrttrees
are in the rhigt pacle, one can ulsauly mkae snese of it =)

-Sorubs

nerdpride

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Oct 12, 2007, 6:29:03 PM10/12/07
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Another interesting way to do things is to only have traps resisting
the progress of the player. I'm actually developing a RL (being in
college is awfully distracting--won't make progress any time soon--but
necessary I think) where the player is an explorer/archaeologist
somewhat like in the Indiana Jones movies, except no Nazis or similar
people to fight against. I've thought of some pretty good ways that
booby traps not only prevent the player from getting into the big
treasure room, but also some ideas for making unexpected difficulty in
getting out. Light and food will be very important, plus the
character will have to carry around equipment like ropes or explosives
to get through certain areas, but weapons and armor won't be needed in
the traditional sense. Magic also seems a little troublesome, unless
I made magical traps too, which would be somewhat annoying for me.
Maybe still a handful of magical "artifacts" just for fun.

Haven't thought of a name though, plenty of time to do that since its
going to take forever to develop. Dungeon creation is different
because the traps are supposed to work together. I find it better to
make traps as the dungeon is being carved out of a blank slate instead
of after all the tunnels are dug, that way you don't need to fumble
around with room size requirements for my favorite little traps. I
think it is an excellent twist on things, almost making roguelikes
into a puzzle game like the Zelda series with random dungeon
generation. Some other developers should try it, I'm having a lot of
fun.

ifnyou

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Oct 14, 2007, 5:42:01 AM10/14/07
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On Oct 9, 9:47 pm, Sorbus <lairdro...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello all. I'm one of the seemingly numerous lurkers who's been
> reading this newsgroup for a while but hasn't posted yet... but I've
> been thinking about this for a while and thought it would be good to
> get some input and other ideas.
>
> After reading about the origins of pen-and-paper RPG gameplay, I
> started to think that perhaps the current cRPG genre is limiting
> itself by putting too much focus on combat and not enough on other
> possible themes.

One idea I had a while ago was a roguelike soccer game. Obviously it
wouldn't be very much like rogue but it would be turn-based, tile-
based, stat/skill based, and the main component of the idea was that,
unlike in most computer soccer games, you could actually have quite
realistic modelling of ball movement, none of this "dribbling" meaning
that the ball is stuck to a particular player's feet...

Slash

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Oct 18, 2007, 12:18:06 AM10/18/07
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There was also recently quite a thread on the same topic (http://
www.roguetemple.com/forums/index.php?topic=74.0) on the roguetemple
forums. Funny how two communities ask the same question at almost the
same time.

--
Slash
http://slashie.net

Carlos Gómez Rodríguez (Al-Khwarizmi)

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Oct 18, 2007, 10:32:53 AM10/18/07
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A roguelike dating sim would be great.

konijn_

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Oct 18, 2007, 4:47:07 PM10/18/07
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On Oct 10, 12:47 am, Sorbus <lairdro...@gmail.com> wrote:
<SNIP>

Welcome. Hope you brought your cloak of fire protection ;)

<SNIP>

> So my question is, what ideas do people have for cRPG-like systems
> that focus on things other than combat, without sacrificing fun or
> depth?

As a long time lurker you probably read the What is fun in roguelikes
( again ) ? thread, you could read it again and find a lot of answers
to your questions.

'Mine' were:
* Exploration
* Crafting Spells/Equipment
* Plot ( based on user action ? )
* Gambling
* Gotta have them all ( Collecting stuff , not 20 white bunnies, but 1
bunny of each color )

>
> Would mining be fun if there were upgradeable tools, ore-detecting
> radars, and pre-dug catacombs to further dig into?

Well, you could write SimMines ;)

Cheers,
T.

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