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RPGWatch Forums » Games » Indie RPG » Tactica: Maiden of Faith » Can it get too complicated?

Default Can it get too complicated?

July 15th, 2010, 11:00
I know that for many modern players it is too complicated if you have to calculate 1 + 1 yourself.

But for the more old school players, can it get too complicated?

I scrapped the idea of using decimal numbers…. it didn't really make sense anyway you have 14.6 action points…..

But how about formulas for damage calculation or hitting, or using skills etc. I guess most of these are hidden to the player so they could be rather complex?

We are acctually considering such a things as weight of your boots for moving or your weapons weight for hitting.

Where does the limit go to complexity or is it the more complex the better?
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July 15th, 2010, 13:03
I think its the advantage of computer games that you can use quite complex calculations internally. I guess what is important is that the end result is intuitive to the player, and that you take care to inform the player. So if the weights of my boots is important to movement, the effect should be small for normal boots but noticable for steel mail boots, and the game should let me know that - ideally in game, through a tooltip, and not on page 103 of the manual.

The other question is how serviceable such complicated mechanics are for you as a designer. If you consider weight for weapons in combat damage, maybe also for attack speed (AP cost) but also as a burden for your carrying capacity, are you happy with the tradeoffs that creates, or does it lock you in too much and balancing gets too difficult? If it feels constricting I'd ditch "numerical realism" for gameplay balance anytime.
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July 15th, 2010, 13:18
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
We are acctually considering such a things as weight of your boots for moving or your weapons weight for hitting.
I once had a similar idea with the Star Wars game called "X-Wing".

Meanwhile Proton-Torpedoes are carried, the amount of consumed fuel should be more then after when they have been fired - and their weight is gone.

This is - by the way - a serious way to save money for fuel : Don't carry heavy things in your car - not more than necessary. Each little bit of weight consumes more fuel = more money.


Plus, without the weight of the Torpedoes, these X-Wings sjhould be a tiny bit faster after the torpedoes are gone, too.


The thing is - regarding the RPG - that not everything needs to be displayed to the player, actually. Imho. Some calculations might simple not be shown, although they are there. or example in how far you stand infavour of a God - like in the NLT (Realms Of Arcania games).

Me, I'm always for something called an expert mode vs. a beginner's mode. In a beginner's mode, verything - or at least most of the things - can be calculated and handled automatically, let's say for example who does the hunting, the search for herbs, or simply the night watch. Experts could chose the members of the night watch manually, thus sparing injured or ill party members.

Purely personally, I found the way it was done perfect in Startrail : It offered both ways.
One could manually elect night watch members, and make this choice to become "automatic".

However, if you decide to put complexity intoit, communication is essential ! The player must - imho - get to know why these values matter ! And that they are actually there, at all !


Edit : Plus, calculations of combat might be displayed both as a summary or as a complete report. The choice lies with the player, imho.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 15th, 2010, 16:10
I think so, yes. I like games where everything is presented to me. When I grab a new sword, I want to know everything involved, to make an informed decision if it's better or not than my current weapon, or if it's better against skeletons or against vampires. But if there are too many variables, then it just becomes cumbersome.
I think there should be enough variables to make the system interesting, but not so many as to make it impossible for someone to keep track of it all:
- Weight for weapons? Good.
- Total weight of inventory affecting speed? Good.
- Specific weight of a weapon affecting attack speed but only when slashing? Bad.

When a weapon is as simple as "1-8 damage" it's easy to compare against a "2-7" damage weapon. But when you add more variables… is a "1-8 damage, 3 pound, slashing, 1.7 attacks/second, .8 rate of decay, silver, short" weapon better than a "2-10 damage, 3.8 pound, crushing, 1.6 attacks/second, 1.2 rate of decay, adamantium, medium" weapon? At some point there are just too many variables and the whole thing crumbles and players just decide to always use the biggest damage weapon and ignore everything else, and all the extra developing work on programming all those factors is wasted.
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July 15th, 2010, 16:50
Yes. It's this way. Has anyone played Beyond Divinity ? It weas a different plane or domension, threfore there were damage values like "magic", "bone", "shadow" etc. … All that apart from the usual damage types …

And now Divinity 2 has a few more values (but not anymore things like the above mentioned), things like +1 point in special abilities, life drain, reflecting damage, and so on …

Deciding is difficult, then …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 15th, 2010, 18:19
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
and all the extra developing work on programming all those factors is wasted.
I agree with wolfing's post from top to bottom, but I think the little bit I quoted needs some extra emphasis because it really does matter.

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July 15th, 2010, 22:20
I actually agree with DTE and Wolfing on these points. For a game to be interesting to me, the rules have to be deep enough to make the gameplay interesting, they need to be clear, meaning not too complicated, and situational info shouldn't be hidden, so one know's how to apply the rules. Otherwise, it is just a shallow simulation.
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July 15th, 2010, 23:13
You might find this very hard to believe, but to me a good example of a game with mechanics that are overcomplicated is World of Warcraft.

Now, many might say that the game has been oversimplified and that's true for many things in that game, but not for it's actual class mechanics. They require you to take a lot of differant things in account. Many abilities have unique rules and many talents modify those unique rules again. To make things even worse, the amount of statpoints per piece of gear has been inflated to the point where it is nigh impossible to determine what gear really is an upgrade without the use of 3rd party tools. And I'm not talking about quickly whipping up a quick excell sheet, but a very, very extensive excell sheet that requires heavy programming. That, or other 3rd party programs like Rawr. The whole system feels very uninvolving, unrewarding and distant.

D&D 3 and 3.5 edition do this a lot better if you ask me. As you start off with it, its not entirely clear what's going on. You might need to draw a few things out (e.g. to see what str or cha does for your pala in 3.5) but after a while, you can eyeball most things with some certainty.

Atleast, that's what I think about it. If you know the system and can't eyeball it to a certain extent, it's too complex.

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Last edited by Davion; July 15th, 2010 at 23:25.
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July 18th, 2010, 06:11
Yes it can; the more complicated you make things, the more likely you'll introduce a bug, which is ever more likely to be difficult to find and eliminate. While computers can handle incredibly complex calculations faster than a human can even read the first value or variable, humans still have to program the computers! A computer is only as good as the human using it; a program only as good as the programmer.

I personally went through and simplified much of my own mechanics, because I decided that the key focus should not be complexity, but making the mechanic support a fun, easy to extend game. The result killed a lot of things, notably my magic system (which was complex enough that I got a headache thinking about it), but in the end, I don't think players will notice; nearly everything is done in such a manner that it is indistinguishable from the prior designs.

In your example of weapons; you can imitate the greater damage properties of heavier-type weapons (such as a maul or war axe) by giving a higher critical hit multiplier. In effect, what D20/3.5e does. Axes have a crit on 20, times 3 critical hit damage. Bigger axes get bigger damage die; a small Handaxe got 1d6 IIRC, 1d8 for a Battle Axe, 1d10 for the Dwarven War Axe, and 1d12 for the Great Axe. All were crit on 20/x3 weapons.

At a glance, it tells you that a Battle axe does 1-8 points damage per hit, 3-24 on a critical hit. You can tell at a glance which base axe is stronger, damage-wise. You still use the weight of the weapon for encumbrance rules.

Of course, in the hypothetical situation posted earlier by wolfing, the 1d8 slashing vs 2d5 bludgeoning weapon, the 2d5 weapon would have a higher base damage, greater range, and wouldn't suffer near enough of a drawback from the attack speed difference to really matter. Depending on damage reduction, I'd likely stick to the crushing weapon. The added bonus of reduced repair costs and delayed replacement is a minor bonus.

Damage reduction that makes crushing damage less viable would mean I'd carry the shorter, slashing weapon as a backup. In the way presented, it's pretty clear what the drawbacks of each are, and there are not enough drawbacks to balance the two weapons. Increasing the attacks/round gap to 2.0 vs 1.6 would push it more towards the short slasher, trading damage per attack and range vs more attacks per round. With a quick glance, I'd say the slasher would do more damage, but the user take more as well all things else being equal, in any given combat round. The crusher would allow the user to stay out of the range of some shorter weapons, reducing damage taken.

What you do have should be explained clearly to the player. Remember that while the player is not necessarily familiar with the weapons being used, their character(s) are trained in their use.

As with Davion said, if you can't eyeball the system and tell whats going on, then it's probably too complex. If you get a headache looking at it, then it's definitely too complex. However, if you can make someone you dislike's head explode by making them look at it, it's perfect.

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July 18th, 2010, 13:56
Heck, I find DDO too complex for me. Every time I get a new weapon for one of my characters, I have to ask someone to explain to me why it is better, or worse than my previous weapon. For example; Is a +11, 1d4, +7, +4 dagger better than a +9, 1d6, +6, +2 Quarterstaff??!! I kid you not.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 18th, 2010, 22:14
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Heck, I find DDO too complex for me. Every time I get a new weapon for one of my characters, I have to ask someone to explain to me why it is better, or worse than my previous weapon. For example; Is a +11, 1d4, +7, +4 dagger better than a +9, 1d6, +6, +2 Quarterstaff??!! I kid you not.
The first plus number is your base attack bonus. The second your damage die, third any damage enhancements (STR and enchantment). The final is just the enchantment.

The Dagger would do 8-13 points of damage, the quarterstaff 7-12. Dagger would also hit more often (technically 10% on a D20 roll). But, if you're single-weapon fighting, the THF quarterstaff would swing slightly more often, and have glancing blows which would give it a slight edge over the dagger.

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July 19th, 2010, 01:40
See, now that's complex!! I forgot to add that the staff also gives +50 SP, so it is definitely better which is why I switched weapons once someone explained it to me!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 19th, 2010, 12:11
Corwin, azraelck: This is the perfect example to show my own difficulties I had with my first (A)D&D game named "Baldur's Game".

These values were nowhere sufficiently explained, and despite having read the handbook - which explained skills & spells, but few other things - I had constant troubles understanding the system.

Having "grown up" with TDE, a thing like "a +3 dagger" meant nothing to me. I couldn't understand what this +3 stood for - and even worse, to what it should be added !

That was about 10 years ago or so; now I understand the system much better, but I still have my difficulties with it, since I never really read a kind of player's handbook of the game. All I have are the manuals of the EOB Trilogy, the shortened BG handbooks - and the (A)D&D starter box from 2000.





Perhaps I should add : I have some slight difficulties with numbers, too.

Like people who have dyslexica, there are people out there who have something called dyscalculia. I have a mild form of it, meaning that I have no problems at all with pure logic, but numbers are something I cannot work too good with, because they mean few to nothing to me. I can relativaly easily calculate with relatively small numbers, and especuially with numbers I can imagine something of, but the bigger the numbers, the more "meaningless" they become to me.

Sorry, if I sound harsh, but I despise people who want calculating within rule systems as complex as possible, because they find fun in i. In the Ulisses TDE forums there are definitively people who love doing stochastics with the number values of their heroes, there is even a program for statistical analysis of heroes and their skill values out there, and others openly say they just love "crunching numbers".

Because of my mild inability I'm always for formulating everything in words, too. I recently found a Wikipeia article xplainung a certain set of logics - in mathematical formulae ! This set of logic ctually uses words like AND, OR, NOR, XOR, these things, but *instead* of formulating everything using siomple words like "and", "or", etc. they just use some sort of mathematical symbols !

It was to me as if someone had decided to drain all of the "word"-logic from out of a text and replace it by "maths logic". It was to me as if someone had tried hard to replace in a novel every word with mathematical symbols.

This is the way I'm thinking.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Last edited by Alrik Fassbauer; July 19th, 2010 at 12:22.
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July 19th, 2010, 12:57
Ah, Boolian Algebra, I know it well!! You should consider trying DDO Alrik, you might enjoy it.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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July 19th, 2010, 13:23
I can fully relate to the difficulty of making sense of such number sets, as in Ad&D. The point is, though, that this has more to do with how the results are presented to the player than with the complexity of the rules behind that.
Take Da:O as an example. A health poultice is a health poultice and there are minor and regular ones. It nowhere states how many health points you actually gives to you, but its immediately apparent that a regular one is a lot stronger than a minor one. Spells are similar - a normal player will know that the Magic attribute influences spell damage (because the tooltip tells me so). And thats all he really needs to know! But I have to go here to find out how it is actually calculated. Now - the actual formula used here is very simple, but it could easily be something a lot more complicated (for example, instead of a linear increase, you might prefer something that provides big gains initially and slow gains later, e.g. using sqrt(spellpower) - as long as the actual outcome is intuitive to the player. Thats why I think one should not shy away from more complex calculations.

Of course there are people who like to understand and min-max the actual values - but I think for these players such details could be safely stored in a manual appendix or a Wiki.

Looking at Corwins weapon damage example: the good thing is that a CRPG could easily calculate and show you the damage range (if you want to go geeky, it could even plot you the statistical damage distribution). I'd suggest to have a nice flavor text description and damage output in the general description, the actual base damage an modifiers in a right-click context menu, and a little in game "compare items" applet that allows you to easily make comparisons (showing all the stats, but also giving hints against which enemies or armor types special damage modifiers are particularly useful against, etc.).
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July 19th, 2010, 16:32
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I can fully relate to the difficulty of making sense of such number sets, as in Ad&D. The point is, though, that this has more to do with how the results are presented to the player than with the complexity of the rules behind that.
Take Da:O as an example. A health poultice is a health poultice and there are minor and regular ones. It nowhere states how many health points you actually gives to you, but its immediately apparent that a regular one is a lot stronger than a minor one. Spells are similar - a normal player will know that the Magic attribute influences spell damage (because the tooltip tells me so). And thats all he really needs to know! But I have to go here to find out how it is actually calculated. Now - the actual formula used here is very simple, but it could easily be something a lot more complicated (for example, instead of a linear increase, you might prefer something that provides big gains initially and slow gains later, e.g. using sqrt(spellpower) - as long as the actual outcome is intuitive to the player. Thats why I think one should not shy away from more complex calculations.

Of course there are people who like to understand and min-max the actual values - but I think for these players such details could be safely stored in a manual appendix or a Wiki.
I disagree with having to go outside the game to see the actual numbers. It's like, for the story focused people, reading a short description and telling them they can watch the actual cutscene if they go to youtube to watch the video.
I want to know how many more mana points will I get from one stat point in INT or WIS. I want to know how much damage a "fireball" spell does so I can compare it against an "Ice Storm" and how much mana they use, so I can properly decide which one to use at any particular moment. In-game.
To me, it's like playing Chess without knowing the rules and how each piece moves.
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July 19th, 2010, 17:05
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
To me, it's like playing Chess without knowing the rules and how each piece moves.
Not very good example.

To make your example more sound , I'd say it was like playing chess with knowing the general rules, but not how many "steps" each figure/element on it is allowed to do, and which other figures it is able to throw out.

It would be to see how much damage a chess figure/piece can do against other chess pieces/figures or/and how much mana each chess piece/figure can have.

The point is, that general rules might not be that difficult.#

Difficulty begins imho at the level of detail.#

For some people, too much detail = too much complexity = or -> too much difficulty. Because there's too much to calculate and to consider, for example.

Lower levels of dicfficulty usually are the solution to that.

For others, this doesn't apply. They have enough "brain power", or are concerned by other aspects of the game, but not the rule set. (Graphical representation, for example.)

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 19th, 2010, 21:39
You know, for all the grief Diablo II gets, this is one of the things it does right (when not bugged). It tells you exactly the numbers in game, no need to refer to ruleset.

That said, I prefer a well defined ruleset that is readable outside of the game while I'm trying to fall asleep.
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July 19th, 2010, 22:41
But I think there's even a P&P rules set for that game out there.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 19th, 2010, 22:56
Obviously, it has to be a balance. They system should add to the enjoyment of the game, not take away from it. And I think that goes for everything from the way you determine things the player never sees to the values that the player sets him/herself.

Ultimately it is probably best determined by what you are trying to do with the game and who you are trying to target. A true tactician might live the weight of the boots idea, but someone like myself, who doesn't really care for tactics and plays RPG's pretty much for the story only, would be highly annoyed by it.

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