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skell
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icon What would you change in DROD rules? (+2)  
In 20XX a tragedy came upon all of humanity - all computer games have been destroyed permanently. All CDs, cartridges, hard disks, pen-drives, flash cards, even tapes; none of them hold any of the games they used to.

After the first wave of antigamers, who decided that games are passť and should never come back again came neo-antigamers whose actively hostile attitude towards games made a great impact on the masses. World Council Against Computer Games has been created, which blocked any and all attempts at creating games.

But now, many years after The Purge things are slowly beginning to change. WCACG decided to allow a single game to be recreated, a great title they've found in old books called Drod (because the real name has been lost to history). They've asked YOU, the Caravelgames Community, who spend their time remembering the good old days.

But do you want to play the same game, or do you want to, most likely unsuccessfully, make it better?

----

There are many rules/behaviors/gameplay elements in DROD that people don't like, from the top of my head: serpents movement, Stalwarts AI or movement order.

What I want to ask you is - what would you like to change in DROD rules and how would you like it changed? I am not just asking for issues, I am requesting full or partial solutions :). And I am totally inspire by Erik mentioning somewhere that if he was redoing the game today, he'd totally make the movement order work differently.

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11-24-2014 at 10:18 PM
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Pinnacle
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+2)  
A general guideline for what I would consider an ideal ruleset: it should be possible to write a human-readable Comprehensive (And Deadly) Rules of Death document. This document would be complete enough to be able to act as a full specification, and even recreate and simulate a room on a tabletop (as time-consuming and error-prone as that would be). Then, when looking at this document, it should be relatively clear whether a rule is too convoluted.

As a bonus, it would be possible to refer to this document to determine whether something is a bug or not.

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[Last edited by Pinnacle at 11-24-2014 10:31 PM]
11-24-2014 at 10:27 PM
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kieranmillar
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I would make snakes work as follows:

1) If you are in the same row or column as a snake it turns to face you (same as it is now).
2) A snake otherwise continues to head in the direction it is facing unless it can't in which case it tries turn clockwise, and failing that anti-clockwise.
3) Brained serpents work as they do now, heading straight for you via the shortest path.

Simple rules with lots of puzzle potential I think, and none of this priority order and vertical/horizontal preference stuff.

Come to think of it, I bet this enemy is scriptable...

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11-24-2014 at 10:32 PM
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ErikH2000
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+1)  
If I redid DROD, I would change the order mo--
quote:
skell wrote:
if he was redoing the game today, he'd totally make the movement order work differently.

Oh, you already said that. Dang.

I might alienate a lot of people here, but...
* Build the pretty stuff in from the beginning. Make everything look really good.
* Move the sprites between squares with a "lunge" style of animation. First frame shows the sprite nearly all the way in the destination square, followed by a half second of settling.
* Make the maps large scrolling 3D things with fixed overhead view and nifty camera tricks. The concept of a room (limited area of activity) can still be enforced or designed. Same with foreground objects obscuring.
* Differently-sized rooms. Camera zooms in closer if the room is smaller.
* Things that move between rooms. Like the 'Neather, but real.

Grease

There is an element I played a lot with on a chessboard in the 90s that I call "grease". It's a little like the ice in Chip's Challenge. When Beethro steps onto the grease, the grease from this entry square is removed, and he slides in the direction he moved until reaching the first non-grease square or hitting an obstacle. When Beethro stops at a non-grease square, grease is added to this square. This movement including sliding takes one turn, and all consequences of his sword moving along the path are realized in one turn.

Cosmetically, the grease tiles show the nap of the last direction travelled over a square. I think there is fun in how messy it looks--like fingerpainting.

Puzzles involve manipulating the grease into different shapes. E.g. there is a passage you want to enter, but the grease makes you slide past it. Or arranging things to hit multiple monsters at once.


And I started typing other stuff and then thought.... no, that's enough.


-Erik


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11-25-2014 at 03:19 AM
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ErikH2000
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quote:
kieranmillar wrote:
I would make snakes work as follows:

Yeah, something simple like that. The 5 horizontal, 5 vertical thing... I don't even know why I picked it. Maybe because it made the snake's movement towards a diagonal destination look more interesting. One lazy design day followed by years of people being frustrated with the snake.

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11-25-2014 at 03:24 AM
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enzi666
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Grease sounds really fun!

And yeah, only thing I'd change too is the movement order. It's a little too meta.

And Erik, don't feel too bad about the snakes. Honestly, I'd dislike them if they work as kieranmillar explained. Part of what makes them great is that they are weird in their behaviour but still deterministic. That's what makes great puzzle mechanics. Complicated, but not too much.

Different sized rooms. Mmhh, also sounds great, but I feel architects are working pretty good around this limitation.

Persistance of enemies also would make some great puzzle designs.

Ah, this thread makes me excited. I need a new bar I can watch progress! :w00t

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11-25-2014 at 01:23 PM
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Insoluble
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quote:
enzi666 wrote:
And Erik, don't feel too bad about the snakes. Honestly, I'd dislike them if they work as kieranmillar explained. Part of what makes them great is that they are weird in their behaviour but still deterministic. That's what makes great puzzle mechanics. Complicated, but not too much.



Yeah, this. Serpents are still one of my favorite puzzle elements because there are so many interesting ways you can manipulate them. The rules are more complex than those for, say, roaches, but once you understand them they actually pretty fun. I'm starting to feel similarly about brained roach queens (though I'm not quite there yet.)

Now builders on the other hand...

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11-25-2014 at 01:46 PM
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Someone Else
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Yeah, builders. I think I'd avoid both them and engineers, though I do like the way serpents are now. If I could think of a way to simplify Wraithwings, I think I would. In my mind, they fail Pinnacle's test.

Movement order... Maybe. Maybe it's just that I love playing board games, and a set order makes sense to me.

Stalwarts I'd have always target the monster they could stab in the fewest number of moves. If that is how they work, someone please tell me so that I can actually figure them out.
11-25-2014 at 02:27 PM
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blorx1
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I'd have to vote to keep move order the same only because if you remove it, it becomes just as arbitrary which of two roaches will enter a square if both want to.

As for stalwarts, the biggest issue is the priority thing for their pathing, otherwise they'd be quite predictable.
The one thing about stalwarts for monster targetting is that they do target the monster that is closest along their path, but since their pathmap is generated without them turning their sword, they might get confused by bombs and other stalwarts.

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11-25-2014 at 02:43 PM
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Nuntar
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I agree -- movement order can be annoying if used badly, but it's necessary for the game to have a system for resolving "clashes", and honestly movement order is probably the best way to do it. As for builders and engineers, they are likewise easy to use badly, but they bring so much new puzzle potential to the game.

My biggest dislike about DROD rules is the arbitrary exceptions that have to be remembered -- e.g. brained goblins ignore decoys when all other brained monsters are fooled by them. Rules like this were added when there were far fewer elements, and so specific combinations like this could be expected to appear together more often. (Also, this particular one doesn't seem to make much sense -- brains are meant to work by telling other monsters how to move, so they should either not be fooled by decoys at all, or tell all monsters to attack the decoy closest to the brain. But then multiple brains would lead to weirdness. Nah, best to just have them not fooled at all.)

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11-25-2014 at 04:14 PM
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Blondbeard
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Well... You could have some kind of simple, geometric movementorder. Like the northernmost row moves first, then the second row, and so on. Just like reading :) That way the player would always know what would happen.

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11-25-2014 at 04:59 PM
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Something that would help clarify what is happening in "unusual" situations, but probably too hard to add to the game as it is...
Some key you could press to view the last turn in "slow motion", so instead of the whole turn happening at once, everything happens in the sequence it happens. Maybe even with a visible way of seeing various "invisible" things, like roaches sliding along a wall due to it being in their preferred square, wraithwings detecting others, and so on... Because a lot of uninteresting things may be happening in a single move, and it could take a long time to watch it all, you could maybe select an individual creature (or the player) to see only those things that relate to that.
11-25-2014 at 06:53 PM
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Jutt
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What I would change? I can't speak for TSS yet, but I would consider the following modifications:

‒ Kick out builders. Also what kind of newfangled nonsense are these engineers you speak of...
‒ Maybe make serpents just a tad less complex. I do like their alternating movement preference, but it is more out of habit and not necessarily because it is good design.
‒ Try to make multiple wraithwings behave in a similar but more predictable way. I have abused their esoteric movement formula at least once already in a puzzle.
‒ Stalwarts and soldiers could be merged into one entity, clean up their AI.
‒ Perhaps try and design a truly unkillable Slayer in unaided, one-to-one combat, but only if he was provably invincible.
‒ I always had the feeling that speed potions would be a pain for a developer, because they broke the long standing paradigm of who moves when and genearally just complicate things. Might not include them if I had to code my own Drod, I hardly use them anyway.
‒ Movent order would definitely stay. There are too many good puzzles relying on it, and I don't see any practical and more intuitive alternative.
‒ No more hiding stuff, for example activate the effect of a vision token at any time. Maybe this is a TSS feature already?

Nuntar makes a good point about exceptions, but I can't remember any specific ones. The goblin-brain-decoy interaction doesn't even sound familiar, though I agree it makes little sense. There are probably more cases that could be fixed.


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11-25-2014 at 07:20 PM
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Moo
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quote:
Jutt wrote: The goblin-brain-decoy interaction doesn't even sound familiar, though I agree it makes little sense. There are probably more cases that could be fixed.
The brain/SCROLL one...
11-25-2014 at 07:32 PM
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Ethereal
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quote:
Blondbeard wrote:
Well... You could have some kind of simple, geometric movementorder. Like the northernmost row moves first, then the second row, and so on. Just like reading :) That way the player would always know what would happen.

Nah, macroscopic anisotropy like this (simplified snakes, too) should be avoided. Generally, it makes the game far less intuitive and associated. Imagine the difference in behavior of a vertical line of progressive-scanning roaches moving either up or down: it's twice as sparse moving down. It can work in a game which is asymmetric by design, where killing and cleaning up and maneuvering around monsters should get more difficult the farther north you are. (Perhaps the enemy base is there?) But it won't be a top-down game about a guy fighting monsters, because there's no compelling reason why the southern part of a room should be twice as safe.

I'd say where the basic monster movement is concerned (I'm unqualified to speak about weird edge cases), DROD as it is now strikes the right balance between isotropy and predictability.
11-25-2014 at 07:42 PM
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disoriented
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Of course, when fighting serpents the southwest of the room is twice as safe ;)

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11-25-2014 at 08:11 PM
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Give mud babies the obstacle dodge movement that aumtlich have.

If there are multiple conquer tokens in the room, you have to step on them all to beat the room. Movecount triggers on the final token.

Movement order: I'm not sure if sworded monsters still have to move before everyone else? I'd remove that restriction. Ditto for scripted chars moving after all monsters.
ditto on Moo's suggestion for slow-motion replay of a single move.

Builders: Only have the behaviour with the token in the room - ie get rid of the behaviour where they change target because a monster is in the way for a random number of turns.
Stick a number on each workstation so that the order can be assigned by the architect, and is clear to the player.
Maybe put a limit on builders per colour?

11-26-2014 at 12:50 AM
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Ethereal
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quote:
disoriented wrote:
Of course, when fighting serpents the southwest of the room is twice as safe ;)

It isn't really that noticeable, though. An open field with (brainless) serpents in it is already safe because they are 30% slower than Beethro, what with not moving diagonally. I didn't see serpent movement peculiarities come up until Master Locks : Lock 3 : 1 East, 1 North and roach movement until King Dugan's Dungeon 2.0 : Seventh Level : 2 South -- both are rooms designed to highlight these peculiarities. If serpents were instead wheeling around like a spirograph high on maltodextrin, it'd matter way more.
11-26-2014 at 09:15 AM
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Zaratustra00
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Completely remove editor-mediated monster movement order.
Have monsters prioritize themselves by type, then distance to target, then orthogonal over diagonal, then monster on the right has right of way.

If possible, remove directional bias: a monster below the player moving up and a monster above the player moving down should behave in the same manner.

[Last edited by Zaratustra00 at 11-27-2014 11:01 AM]
11-26-2014 at 09:38 PM
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Banjooie
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I'm just gonna post in this thread.

I'm not gonna say anything about the topic, because I don't need to.

I'm just gonna post here.
11-27-2014 at 08:30 AM
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skell
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quote:
A general guideline for what I would consider an ideal ruleset: it should be possible to write a human-readable Comprehensive (And Deadly) Rules of Death document. This document would be complete enough to be able to act as a full specification, and even recreate and simulate a room on a tabletop (as time-consuming and error-prone as that would be). Then, when looking at this document, it should be relatively clear whether a rule is too convoluted.

I think that's a brilliant idea and, inspired, I've started something like this: Deadly Rules of Death. It's editable by anyone, so if anyone feels it's a good idea, feel free to update it.

quote:
would make snakes work as follows:

1) If you are in the same row or column as a snake it turns to face you (same as it is now).
2) A snake otherwise continues to head in the direction it is facing unless it can't in which case it tries turn clockwise, and failing that anti-clockwise.
3) Brained serpents work as they do now, heading straight for you via the shortest path.

Brilliant! I've had an idea of my own about snake movement rules but it wasn't as good. Nevertheless I also have to admit that I share sentiment of enzi666 in that I DO like the current implementation of the snakes which does not change the fact that they could work differently.

It seems the community has pretty strong opinions about movement order, where some want to keep it as is and some would like it changed. For one, I completely disagree with any statement that right off says that it's impossible to find a better solution (not only because we'd have to define what is better first). I, for one, like Zaratustra00's solution, although I wouldn't implement it as that. I have to admit though, that the current system has a pretty big, even if easily abusable and not often obvious, puzzle potential.

So basically, the primary issues you have with the game rules are: movement order, snakes movement rules and... stalwarts?

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11-28-2014 at 08:38 AM
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Dragon Fogel
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I have a pretty comprehensive list of things that confuse me. These basically fall into two categories:
-Things I have trouble predicting when playing the game.
-Things I know and remember the rules for, but I had to actually look them up rather than working them out during gameplay.
What both of these categories amount to is that the rules for them are unintuitive, or at least unintuitive to pick up from actual play.

So I guess I'll look at these one by one. I don't know that I have solutions for all of them, but I can at least try to clarify why I feel they're issues.

I'll use secret text for length.

Movement Order

Click here to view the secret text


Brained Movement

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Serpents

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Goblins

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Wraithwings

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Slayer Movement

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Briar

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Water Skipper Nests

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That's basically all my thoughts. I guess builders are annoying too, but I don't feel I have thoughts on them that haven't already been mentioned.

I think it's worth noting that fewer annoying things have been introduced as the series advanced; nearly all my issues are with creatures from KDD, and I can't think of anything introduced in TSS that I have a major issue with. Waiting for a Puff to kill something a good distance away is somewhat annoying, that's about it.
11-28-2014 at 06:11 PM
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Pearls
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Re: movement order, I think a nice quality of life feature would be an extension of the "puzzle view" mode we received in TSS, particularly if it was easy to implement/access. Toggling it would overlay monster number on top of every monster in the room in some concise, semi-transparent, graphic. Like a white number on a grey mesh dot.

I dunno. It'd be nice to have that as a quick, review-mirror style check, I think, especially for monster-heavy rooms. For small quantities, clicking is fine, obviously, but with n>5, I usually lose track pretty fast, and clicking each one gets rough.

In other news, I'm not the best player so feel free to tell me to git gud.

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12-01-2014 at 01:19 PM
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From a design point of view, the whole story is actually much more interesting than "some mechanics are fiddly" and "I like/don't like this element".

Fundamentally, the whole everlasting conflict from: serpent mechanics to movement order, unlimited undo to room designs, etc... has to do with one particular idea: static versus dynamic nature of the game, puzzles, and puzzle elements. It's hard to give a precise definition of it, but roughly, static puzzles are, well, static, which mostly involves sitting down and thinking through the state of the game, and most importantly, your actions (input) is mostly decoupled with the response of the puzzle; Meanwhile, in dynamic puzzles, the puzzle itself gives complex responses to your actions that the best you can do is to make out a general strategy, and then deal with the details as you go. A classic laser ray game (Chromatron, Aargon, etc) is a definite example of a static puzzle, while Chess and Tabletop RPGs in general are very dynamic there is no way to surely tell what'd happen a few turns ahead (except for chess endgame stuff).

(Or, in DROD terms, a singleplayer Snakes to the Death is static, while multiplayer is incredibly dynamic.)


Now, why does it matter? You see, back in the days of AE and JtRH, it's pretty obvious that the game's supposed to be incredibly dynamic from ground, and everyone, from players to devs, are expecting the game to be so. For example, let's take a look at the first room of Contest Hold back in 2004: Contest Hold : Contest Level : Entrance. It is a glaring example of a very dynamic puzzle: a hack-and-slash room with a huge brained horde that requires very delicate movements to hold your ground enough before you hit a wall on your back.

KDD and JtRH are literally filled with these kind of puzzles, and the dynamic nature is even present in the meta-game, in the form of undos: still remember this post back in AE era? Undo functionality is greatly frowned upon in dynamic puzzles because the whole point of dynamic puzzles is to be a great tactician and choose the best moves from your great experience of handling similar situations; having undos would undermine this whole premise. It's just like how you don't have undos in chess or tabletop RPGs. I suppose this might be a result of Erik working out the original DROD with a big influence from tabletop RPGs, but instead of relying on RNGs to give the "be the best tactician" kind of difficulty, very simplistic AIs were involved instead, and they move according to an intrinsic order just like how you take turns.

However, during the course of TCB, the overall direction of DROD has clearly drifted: it has become more static (from extremely dynamic to slightly more dynamic than static). The new elements are a mixture between static (e.g arrow rotator tokens) to dynamic (e.g waterskipper nests), but the one most notable example is, of course, pressure plates, which fundamentally changed the notion that only the player can interact with room mechanisms, and it gives sooooooo much more possibility on the static puzzles one can make. It's also reflected in the room designs: there are relatively more lynchpin rooms. Of course, TCB didn't quite get it right, and kind of fell short on the static side of things; GatEB got a much better hang of this, and TSS has a incredible mixture of both sides of the spectrum.

Also, as a result, undos are being less and less frowned upon, and now we have UU(unlimited undos) in TSS. The whole argument of UU is still around the premise of static vs dynamic puzzles, but since the metagame's more inclined to being static now, so is the amount of undos players can legitimately have in game.

(As a side note: TSS elements design is... very interesting. Instead of trying to be either static or dynamic, it instead gives lots of elements that are either suitable for both types, or are more like an extension to the tools available for the player/architect. It makes designing puzzles way more versatile.)


quote:
would make snakes work as follows:

1) If you are in the same row or column as a snake it turns to face you (same as it is now).
2) A snake otherwise continues to head in the direction it is facing unless it can't in which case it tries turn clockwise, and failing that anti-clockwise.
3) Brained serpents work as they do now, heading straight for you via the shortest path.

So, serpents. While many people have argued about the peculiar H/V and NESW preference and/or wished for a type of serpent that works less chaotically, I'd steer away from it, and instead argue that a serpent that doesn't have such preference would have been impossible to have existed back then because back in the days, every element has been designed to be dynamic, and intended to be used in a dynamic way. You're supposed to adapt to the snakes' preferences, and then play with and dance with it. A snake which walks along a perfectly predictable path for dozens of turns before it kills itself at the perfect spot is... unthinkable of back at the era.
Well, until larrymurk appeared and made rooms everyone banging their heads at. larrymurk's architectual design requires lots of pre-thinking and going through possible states of the game, and it's not something the people used to dynamic nature of designs have prepared for. Honestly, it's a truly amazing feat that he made so many such rooms back in JtRH era.
(Also, larrymurk is... kinda well known for making horrendous horde rooms, so there's that.;))

Similarly, goblins, wraithwings and brained roach queens, with their notoriously fiddly AIs, are something which can only happen during AE/JtRH era. Can they be tamed? Mostly: Rheb is famous for lots of goblin manipulation rooms (and precise sequence moves in general), while larrymurk's contribution, Mother of All Roaches in TSS, has rooms that turn brained roach queen movement quirks into lynchpin puzzles. (Meanwhile, wraithwing hordes seem to still resist being tamed into a well under control puzzle.)

Incidentally, there is a similar idea made into a famous custom element, and that is bent-tail lemmings (featured in TSS and Red-XII's hold Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS)). And a vast majority of the rooms are very static, with the exception of a few rooms that involves baby lemmings and/or blue lemmings. Lemmings and bent-tail lemmings are intrinsically very static.



Now, onto tarstuff. Oh man, this is truly a classic ironic example. KDD tarstuff rooms have all been "it's tar all over the place and you have to cut through it so you can do specific things", and sometimes it's worse as there are things hidden under all the tar. JtRH added mud, and tarstuff doors which only toggles with all tarstuff is gone. The usage of tarstuff back at that point is mostly dynamic - tar and mud wrestling is commonplace, and the research of tarstuff theory, and the static aspect of tarstuff, is pretty underutilized: this is pretty much the only key thread talking about it around that time, and the knowledge around tar is mostly "2x2 is unclearable, 4x2 is unclearable too, so is any rectanglar tar with dimensions of even length"... and then gel appears in TCB. Gel is so annoying and hard to deal with, that some theoretical knowledge on what is possible is necessary so as to not end up trying to cut up gel to achieve an actually impossible state. And then we know the rest - lots of and lots of brutal static tarstuff rooms have been made, and the most famous of them being, of course, Zch and Kallor, with Gigantic Jewel Lost. (There are even exploratory secrets with mathematical notes inside GJL!) Tarstuff is a perfect example of a subversion of an element that was intended to be dynamic. And we can all agree that tarstuff is one of the greatest invention ever.

(Incidentally, golems are also among this type of element, which was intended to be dynamic but, in the end, turns out to be suitable for both static and dynamic puzzles.)
(Also incidentally, GJL has some mathematical puzzles using serpents and complex pressure plate/door mechanisms.)



quote:
Well... You could have some kind of simple, geometric movementorder. Like the northernmost row moves first, then the second row, and so on. Just like reading :) That way the player would always know what would happen.

Now, onto movement order. Movement order being intrinsic to the entity itself is a mechanic with an incredibly dynamic nature. If movement order is changed to coordinate-based instead, which is incredibly static in nature, two very obvious things will tend to happen - horde rooms become much less viable (because every pile of horde always behave the same) and would've seen less use as a result, and also that it becomes something that only a few would ever try to utilize as a lynchpin. It's much less versatile too, of course. So...
quote:
Movement order: I'm not sure if sworded monsters still have to move before everyone else? I'd remove that restriction.

...Yeah, there's probably no reasons to keep this either.

Being too dynamic/static has its problems. Being too dynamic makes things incredibly fiddly and resorts to magic sequence rooms, a notorious example being Journey to Rooted Hold : Nineteenth Level : 2 West; Meanwhile, being too static greatly limits the potential of a mechanic or an element (for example, just *ahem* look at 90% of the custom elements). And you can't just "add in" dynamicity by arbitrarily fiddling with the rules, which is about equivalent to doing a random walk, that makes things very messy and decoherent. Good dynamic stuff are predictable, easily under control and mostly coherent, and this can be achieved by, like, architects intentionally making one type of monster move before the other, and informing the player about this.
(Of course, I do agree that there should be a better way of adjusting monster movement order in the editor. Currently you can only change their order by replacing the monsters.)


Pathfinding. Pathfinding is also something that is incredibly dynamic in nature, that could only be conceived back in the early period.

Of course, while dynamic pathfinding is good, obscure or outright unpredictable (read: bugged) pathfinding is not. (Halph, Slayer, citizens, builders and soldiers/stalwarts. Also, arbitrary brain-invisible obstacles.) They are the polar opposite of good dynamic mechanics/elements - for being actually uncontrollable, they become untameable.
(Side note: Gentryii chain straightening is borderline unpredictable)


I can go on and on about this whole idea of static versus dynamic nature, but I guess it's more than enough to illistrate my point.



So, is this change of design choice of DROD from dynamic to static good or bad? I won't even try to answer this question (as this would just open the cans of worms everybody's familiar of), and no matter what, the change has been made, and once a change is done, it cannot be undone, which effects will echo through the stream of time to bring an irreversible impact on how everyone think DROD is and treat DROD as. I think it's apparent that DROD players are now at a position more inclined to staticity, in that we prefer banging our head against tough rooms that requires lots of thought rather than tough rooms that requires lots of efficiency and tactical movements. And personally, I'm incredibly static when it comes to conceiving puzzles - I'm literally incapable to come up with any horde rooms at all. My mind is just unsuitable for that.

However, this is also what makes DROD unique and special - it has gone through both phases of being dynamic and static, with elements scattering all over the spectrum of both sides. And TSS provides much more freedom to roam around this spectrum. This is, I think, the biggest reason why DROD is so great. The fact that the conflict exists simply means DROD is capable of achieving two seemingly distinct types of puzzles, and is it not beautiful to witness such a crossbreed which we would all proudly refer to as "the best puzzle game ever in the world"?:)



So, what does all this mean? It means two things:

1. For what it's worth, the evolution of DROD's design choice, while being strange and has caused lots of dividing opinions, is actually what makes DROD truly great as it is right now. Instead of arguing about whether we should retcon earlier elements to the thinking of nowadays, it's perhaps more beneficial to analyze the change of the nature of puzzles DROD has gone through, and design the next batch of elements in the next DROD with this in mind, so as to achieve a even greater DROD.

2. If you're scripting custom elements, instead of relying on intuition and asking "Does this seem interesting?", following by a bunch of trial and error before figuring out the element actually doesn't have much potential, maybe you can think in terms of how static/dynamic it is, and how to twist or subvert it, or mix up other elements with varing degrees of staticity/mobility to make interesting puzzles. It's always better when you have some design vocabulary of puzzle elements, since that's how you communicate with others (and yourself) about your puzzle style!



And I hope that somewhere in the world, a drodfolk would be enlightened by this wall of text I wrote in 3 hours. I hope.

[Last edited by uncopy2002 at 12-19-2016 07:44 PM]
12-19-2016 at 07:13 PM
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xpym
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+1)  
Great post uncopy! I mostly agree with your analysis and conclusions, but would like to add one remark. You didn't touch upon the level of skill that good DROD puzzles demand from the player, and I think that it is the key to DROD evolution. As this post from Mike puts it, at first the tactical stuff presented plenty of challenge in itself. People were mastering it, and it turned out that a good horde room is mostly about general strategy, and overreliance on efficient tactics could only result in tedious trial and error and magic sequences.
12-20-2016 at 07:59 AM
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+1)  
I object to the idea that undo's or unlimited undo's have anything at all to do with static vs. dynamic puzzles. Not being allowed to undo, or not being allowed to undo enough, is a great example of a game being punishing rather than being difficult in any sort of meaningful or fun way. There's an extra credits episode on the subject of games being punishing that I think anyone interested should check out. The argument from tabletop RPGs doesn't really hold up because in tabletop RPGs or even chess because the things involved are not deterministic at all, not only with the randomness from dice rolls but just from the GM and other player characters possibly deciding to do something different. DROD is deterministic, and not understanding that it is deterministic was the reason I didn't "get it" the first time I tried playing it as some flash game Jayisgames suggested to me, and gave up until the whole series was on sale pretty cheap and I bought it on an impulse.

When I was first playing DROD, I had bought it on GOG and wasn't aware of it being a bunch of iterations on the engine, nor the fact that later versions of the engine had unlimited (read: BETTER) undo capabilities. I was just playing them in order like I might try to play any other series of games: 1-2-3-4-5. And I can tell you for sure my most frustrating, upsetting, unfun moments with any part of any DROD game were--well, first of all the dumb movement-order nonsense and construct warehouse--but before that the grand king of making me thoroughly unhappy with this game was screaming "WHY CAN'T I JUST UNDO ONE MORE TURN???". I don't know how anyone even liked this game before a single-undo was possible.

So my response to "what would I change?" would probably be "something we already changed: have unlimited undos"

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 12-20-2016 04:03 PM]
12-20-2016 at 03:41 PM
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+1)  
'Dynamic' is probably the wrong word given that DROD's mechanics are strictly deterministic - it would be more accurate to say that serpents or wraithwing hordes are emergently complex and that beyond a certain point of complexity rooms are intelligently designed with the awareness that players are not practically able to predict more than their next step or two. What makes DROD a great and long-lasting game is that these exact same mechanics when presented in a smaller scope are what creates the cleverest lynchpin puzzles. Many games have both action and puzzle sections to provide variety and pacing to the player, but usually the two are clearly segmented. Whereas DROD can provide multiple types of play and prevent burning out simply by moving along its existing sliding scale of complexity. A good DROD element is one that can function well on both ends of the spectrum.

If DROD appears to have moved towards 'static' puzzles it may simply be that experienced players are familiar enough with the mechanics to naturally intuit further ahead. What once would have felt 'dynamic' is now reasonably predictable and the room designers have to shift their goalposts to accomodate this and remain challenging. AFAIK the only real objection to unlimited undos was that it would allow or encourage other players to 'cheat' through trial and error faster.* As the complexity rises the viability of this is reduced while the benefits (restarting from the exact point you screwed up, analysing multiple outcomes to better learn the mechanics) have only increased.

* I'd argue this was never even a bad thing, but that's another topic.

In any case, that was a very interesting take on DROD's development. Kudos to uncopy.
12-21-2016 at 01:32 AM
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (0)  
Yes, of course DROD is deterministic, but that doesn't have much to do with the whole concept of static/dynamic - once things behave in a way more complex than someone can reasonably track in mind, it becomes more or less the same functionally as being non-deterministic. The fact that DROD is deterministic and at least a particular sequence of moves can solve a room doesn't matter anymore if mere mortals such as us can't see it immediately. Except when an all-knowing god plays DROD, of course, then he'll actually feel the difference (insert DROD solver controversy here).

It also have to do with the concept of information horizon (how much information can you see ahead in a puzzle?), and the thing about it and the difference of a complete information game and an incomplete information game is that unless a game is simple enough (Tic-Tac-Toe in mind), for imperfect players (read: human) you can't actually see through the end of the complete information games anyway, so this distinction becomes kind of irrelevant to such players. Only perfect players would be affected by this distinction. In DROD this is not very noticable but in RPG it's a very big deal if you're into optimization and highscores.



Also, horde rooms can still be incredibly challenging, if you add additional constraints.

[Last edited by uncopy2002 at 12-21-2016 08:30 AM]
12-21-2016 at 08:26 AM
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (+1)  
I really appreciated Uncopy's analysis.

At some point, I became bored of puzzles that were solved by "node searching". This is where you just think about and evaluate the results of all moves available to you in a brute force way.

My favorite kind of room is mostly tactical/dynamic with one good lynchpin. In other words: it has one tough thing to figure out and a lot of easy, but interesting, steps to get there. The larger 38x32 room size in DROD was a nod towards these kinds of easy stepping puzzles.

The undos were controversial early on. If I remember right, I argued against them. My worry was that the more liberal we were with undos, the more puzzles would devolve to node-searching.

Nowadays, I think unlimited undo is fine. It's just that rooms that rely on them to solve are bad according to my tastes. Or alternatively, if you would need to think about single moves for 10+ seconds like a chessplayer in order to avoid using undo--that sucks too. (For me.)

I may have the history of this wrong. Did it go like this?

* Webfoot DROD - start of room save only (Whoa! Way too hard)
* DROD:AE - checkpoints (Still pretty hard)
* DROD:JtRH (?) - one undo (Seems maybe best to me)
* DROD:TCB (?) - unlimited undo (Okay, it's fine, I guess.)

-Erik

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12-23-2016 at 04:39 AM
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disoriented
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icon Re: What would you change in DROD rules? (0)  
TCB and GatEB still only had one undo. I remember the pain of TCB mastery well.

TSS introduced multiple/unlimited undo.*

*although Flash DROD was the first to experiment with it, allowing up to 3 levels of undo.

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12-23-2016 at 06:28 AM
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