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Messages - Robc

Ideas / Recreation adjustment
July 27, 2018, 11:51:18 AM
This suggestion adds flavor and as such probably won't rank high on priority but...

I remember when I first started playing RW... ages ago.  A pawn charged over to my first table and sat there by himself (or herself, don't remember) in an otherwise empty room while scoring "relaxing socially" mood improvement.  Ok, ok,  I thought, I talk to myself sometimes... and I answer too, and its fun.  I'm not sure I'd call it "social" really but I'll go with it.  Then I wondered after building my first chess table... what happens when two players sit down and play together?  I couldn't wait for this to happen... seemed to be forever before it actually did happen.   To my great disappointment, nothing really.  Multiple pawns at the horseshoe pin?   Watching TV, poker?  playing pool/ billiards...  all really nothing.  Each individual gets their individual mood buff as if the interaction did not even happen.  Social interactions (which are varied and fun in game) it seems are completely decoupled from social mood recreation actions.  While being easier to code no doubt this always struck my as both a discontinuity and missed opportunity.

How about instead...

If(pawn is relaxing socially) AND (pawn has neutral/positive social interaction with other pawn) THEN mood buff improves or advances quicker
If(pawn is throwing horseshoes) AND (other pawn is throwing horseshoes at same pin) THEN mood buff improves

Alternatively and more complex...  relaxing socially without a partner only yields meditative class mood buffs since that would match us humans more in the real world (I know that matching reality is not a requirement for the game but it is nice when it can be done).   In which case relaxing socially (for real this time) buffs will happen much less often and the buff needs to be adjusted upwards.  I tend to set all my pawns to recreate at the same time because it looks cool for them all to be hanging out in the rec room together, and yes this fosters other social interactive events (eg fights, romance, etc.).  But I think a little reward on the mood buffs as well would be a nice touch.

Now the loner trait could be made more interesting too... invert or otherwise adjust the buffs so that meditative recreation is much much more important and the real social buffs do very little to support their mood level.  You could go so far with this as having any social interaction at all give a small mood debuff (or does vanilla already do this?  I don't know).  This would encourage us to put our loners in isolated jobs away from the rest of the crew perhaps with their own isolated rooms, etc.  Quite different from the ascetic but unique.

Add a "competitive" trait, now playing against others in any of the games should really improve their mood.  You could also add "competitive arrogant winner" and "competitive sore loser" for even more interest.

Anyway, just flavor.. thought I'd share.  Cheers.

Quote from: Tynan on July 24, 2018, 11:44:02 AM
Still love to hear more suggestions about how to make tactical pawn vs pawn combat more attractive.

Here is an option worthy of some thought rather than immediate dismissal.  Ideally I would make this an optional combat strategy selectable in the options menu, not required, as it will not be to the liking of a reasonable number of your players.   I think it would please enough players though that it is worth considering.  I would certainly enjoy it better than the current game play if the AI was of at least reasonable quality, it allows me to concentrate on preparing my fighting force rather than micro'ing the combat itself.  I understand that having two different battle modes is not practical from a development resource standpoint but I'll share the idea anyway in the spirit of your request for thoughts.

Take the micromanagement out of the players hands.  When a raid arrives ask the player to create a defensive zone or to use a previously created defensive zone.    Ask the player to select which pawns will participate in the defense and what mortars or other equipment is available to them.    Are you sure?  Start.  Let the AI play both sides until the battle is resolved.  The player would be free to manipulate pawns not chosen for combat for collecting wounded, evacuating from combat areas, or normal colony duties, etc. but not to attack with those pawns. 

If the player is defeated and non-combatant pawns remain alive the play through should stop and the player can designate a new defensive team with the remaining pawns until the colony is lost or the raid is repelled. 

Multiple raids?  Allow multiple defense instances to run simultaneously on the map. 

It would also be nice for players on a fixed interval only to be able to withdraw or add pawns to a particular combat instance and/or change the defensive zone.   Take out the severely wounded and add reinforcements if the initial force is proving inadequate.

This approach guides the player more toward strategic decision making and reduces tactical decision making, the object is to optimize AI defense tactics instead.  With this approach door behaviors cease to be a problem, kill boxes only work if the AI sees value in using them, open field combat will become the norm rather than an exception.  I don't think it will work for mad animals though and I'm not sure about manhunter packs... testing would be required.

One thing to me is certain, high end raids now are of immense power because you are trying to overcome the profound advantage that humans (especially humans with time manipulation, ie a pause button) will always have over any AI algorithm.  If you switch to AI vs AI for the actual combat then high end raid power will have to be brought to a much lower level to balance.

This method will undoubtedly frustrate players especially in the initial development and AI shortcomings during defense will be amazingly clear... but exploitation becomes much harder.  Many problems are resolved and new ones will surface that need to be considered.  It might be worth a trial if for no other reason to just see how it plays out.  That's what testing is for.
General Discussion / Re: To RNG or not to RNG
July 23, 2018, 03:51:55 PM
RE: Lost hand discussion.

Quote from: Tynan on July 21, 2018, 08:26:10 AM
Quote from: Koek on July 21, 2018, 05:10:11 AM
So I start a new tribe, roll for a decent starting crew and a day 1 social fight has 1 pawn bite off the hand of another.

It's an interesting isolated case, because here you reject the "lost your hand on day 1" situation as simply bullshit. Which is reasonable from the "skill test" game frame. After all, if you lose because of random events, it's a pretty shitty skill test.

But in a story, losing your hand day 1 is actually a really common sort of thing to happen.
Juxtaposition of a negative event to the game timeline is really important.  Early - player has little time or emotion investment, decision = restart.  Later - figure out a way to manage without that hand -or- reload.  The player restart decision does not mean that you have a faulty game design for story telling, it is a natural consequence of the time (economic investment) it takes for human connection to the unfolding story.  Real life story telling does not allow for the economic analysis of whether a restart is a good idea, its not possible.  We cannot achieve true story telling because we cannot prevent the player from periodically calculating his or her investment in each story.

The reroll decision is an identical economic analysis.  Game story telling has to cope with the player doing economic analysis on events that they perceive to be significant.  Players do these calculations all the time (early, mid, late) without realizing it and occasionally they decide to restart or reload.  Every player is going to calculate their cost/benefit differently and make their own decision depending on their own perception of individual events.  Players in 'Flow' or deeply immersed will not stop to do the analysis very often and this is the holy grail, some players will almost continuously analyze the economics of events because they are significantly driven by the achievement motive. 

We can achieve something like conditional storytelling.  The player continues to invest in the story and does not reload or restart as long as no event triggers the economic analysis to be done and/or doesn't trigger the analysis to 'fail'  ie "That shouldn't have happened, it shouldn't have been part of the story, I want to start again."

An option to mitigate restarts is to tilt events toward the positive early, or to limit perceived 'catastrophic' events early and tilt toward more balanced or negative events later.  RNG is replaced with a progression influenced RNG, I expect many will hate this approach... it smacks of the skill based progression you were describing and that is done well by other games, so don't copy them.

Option B, which I like better.  Continue the education process that describes RW as a world in which you will occasionally be punished by ill timed RNG events.  Establish a player culture (which you have largely already done) of rewarding stories of overcoming unbelievable odds.  The hero's journey is alive and well in RW precisely because of the event dynamic that causes pawns to lose hands etc., but not all prospective heroes get to tell their story, some die.  Reroll, rinse, repeat.  Players will by all means take their frustrations to the forums and point vehemently to their own economic analysis of the situation... many will holler but then they will reroll, rinse, repeat.  And that's ok, no actually its really good.

I think that you have invested insufficient time in your "you lost" screen and it contributes to the problem, I think that few of us read it anymore.  Collect a few specific sentences about the unfolding drama that has been played and share them with the player on the you lost screen... help the player to celebrate the tragic loss.  Finish the story as an amazing tragedy!!  It's really really ok to lose especially at the higher difficulties.  This screen in particular is your opportunity to help remind the player that they really prevailed against some amazing odds, help the player to remember all the events that they overcame along the way... don't just drop them with a message that essentially says, well you sure sucked there didn't you... you lose.  Specifics about this particular player's story and this particular ending are important in your losing screen, yes this is an investment of limited coding time and few if any other games do it.  RW is different, this would be a really good investment imo.

By the way, while I am ranting, I think advising players to adjust their difficulty level when bad things happen and it frustrates them is not a good option.  You are inadvertently challenging their past decision making and their economic analysis.  As you well know, people tend to go way out of their way to defend their past actions and current beliefs.  Many, in fact most veteran players, already understand the consequences of their past decision and don't want to be reminded of it, especially when they are fuming about that very thing. 

I don't know that any solution to the dilemma here exists, but one option that comes to me off the top of my head is to describe your game tiers as story genres.  The more difficult tiers are "short story" generators that are very likely or almost certainly going to end in tragedy, that's the point, this is the horror genre, or the tragedy genre, the hero loses.  Ask the players to tell us about their tragedy!  Help them tell the whole story with your closing screen.  And have the player revel in it, make them excited to read the closing screen and what they accomplished.  Man that was fun right up until the end. 

For the easier levels these generate longer stories with many setbacks but the player has at least some hope of rescuing the princess.  This is the adventure genre, the hero might just save the day.  And you have the base building genre which includes many of the other traditional story telling themes.  Use your closing screens to help tell individual stories about the play through, invest that development time.

My suggestions are not design suggestions but player communication suggestions.  I think you are pretty close to an optimal design already.  Spend your design time making sure that individual events don't become 'nonsensical' as one commenter put it... because the nonsensical events immediately break immersion and cause players, even the most story oriented players, to do an economic calculation.  Identifying and eliminating nonsensical individual events is a difficult enough task without questioning your larger objectives (as you seem to be doing with the OP).

Now on to your questions:

Quote from: Tynan on July 21, 2018, 01:01:25 AM
1. Should the game have a such a thing as bad luck outcomes that's not induced by some obvious, non-pressured, voluntary player decision? Or should I make a universal design standard that nothing bad ever happens unless the player actively induces it or makes some clearly-traceable mistake to cause it?
Stories have unexpected events, so should the game.  RNG is another word for 'unexpected.'  Keep them.
2. Should I just ignore some classes of player feedback as simply not linking up with what RW is? Are some players worth leaving alone to try to make a game that's different from the usual assumptions? Even if it leaves them pissed off because they interpreted a story generator as if it were a skill test?
Note the frequency of the feedback, but stick to your knitting.  You have a good design concept that won't please many.
3. Should players be able to consistently avoid losing people/resources even at high difficulty? At any difficulty?
4. Is there a way to set expectations (relative to the whole game, or relative to a given difficulty level) to encourage players to accept some degree of randomness to game outcomes? Or will they always reject this randomness and demand to be rewarded in accurate proportion to their skill/effort?
Expectations are re-calculated by players after each time they do an economic calculation as I describe above.  It is impossible to keep players in immersion all the time, but you should try.  When they do break, and do a calculation, how frequently do they decide that this is an event they have to work through and how frequently is it an event that forces a re-roll or a re-load?  It's hard to collect this data from the forums and it might be hard to design a play test.  Don't try to know the economic value that each player puts on the consequences of an event (should I re-roll, should I reload?) because I think it is hopeless to find a consistent pattern.  Make sure that on whole most players choose to come back and try again so that they keep playing for a long time.  Concentrate all your effort on removing nonsensical events to limit the number of times that players even do an economic calculation at all.  Accept that some players, very vocal ones perhaps, are so achievement oriented that they will do an economic calculation far more often then your average story oriented player, and that's ok, you just can't really design for it imo

Secondly, follow through at the end of each game with a reminder that the player just took part in a story with a __________ ending (tragic? or whatever)  There was story value in the play through however it ended, but you need to help the player to remember they had fun even as they are frustrated/ agitated/ or otherwise put off by that particular ending.  The value of the story just told should not have been lost.  I think you are missing an important opportunity here.


General Discussion / Re: Introduce yourself!
July 19, 2018, 02:14:40 PM
-Basics of me
Civil Engineer, Game Developer (hobbyist for 20? years or so), did previously work full-time on games for 4 years under my own banner, and are my most successful games and still online.   See for more about me.

-What introduced you to RimWorld? Or to this style of game in general?
Can't remember when I first came across RW, seems a long time ago though, love it, was a dwarf fortress player prior, just started reading "Designing Games"  nice work.

-What's your favorite other game?
Decline to state... lol, only because my favorite changes too often and is highly mood dependent.  I am firmly entrenched in strategy and management game genres, need a rare but occasional FPS fix, have similar occasional fix requirements in other genres as well, did many MMOs for awhile but have since lost interest, played many of the earliest games to ever appear on computers and the web...  read "old timer"

-Most embarrassing gaming-related story?
I dunno, wearing a red cloak around for a day at E3 15 years or so ago to try and get a beta slot for one of the "new" superhero MMOs (can't remember which one)?

-What kind of breakfast cereal is the best?
Probably oatmeal, though I am an eggs for breakfast guy at the moment.  One of the first websites I ever created was, An attempt to answer the age old question about what are the best foods to eat while playing video games?  The web page is seriously dated now, and I don't really do anything with it but continue to host it for nostalgia only.  Check it out for a laugh.
Ideas / Alternate approach to chem and pyro traits
July 19, 2018, 01:01:53 PM
Here is an admittedly complex solution to pawn chemical fascination trait problems (and possibly pyro trait problems): 

Treat the condition as a disease that only affects the individual with the trait and shows up randomly.  Notify the player that the pawn's addiction/ urges are starting to flair, they are acting funny and warrent observation.  The fact that they are chemically fascinated is not a secret to anyone after all.  A condition notifier with the usual circle status indicator is posted in their medical tab and the player must counter an increasing "urge" status from 0 to 100% (analogous to disease/ infection).  For chemical addiction allow doctors to administer an addiction replacement therapy (think of methadone for heroin addiction) costing one medicine and some unconscious/anesthesic time in bed.  The effectiveness of the replacement is determined by medicine quality and doctor skill, just like disease/ infection.  Fail to treat sufficiently (urge reaches 100%) and the pawn has an exceptionally high chance (perhaps 100%) of breaking, finding a drug, using it, and becoming addicted (current gameplay behavior).  Succeed in the replacement therapy and the pawn is returned to a normal state until the next RNG event.

Here's a parallel approach for pyro.   Notify the player that the pawn is acting strangely.  Allow the player to confine the pawn in a room with a fire source for a time (campfire, furnace, torch).  The strength of the fire source will determine how long the player must stay for the "immunity" to overcome the "urge" (analogous to disease/ infection again). Fail to provide a sufficient fire source in the pawn's room for sufficient time will result in an exceptionally high chance for a fire start break/event (perhaps 100%).  Succesfully overcome their urge by providing fire to play with and the pawn returns to normal until the next RNG event.  It would be very easy to just keep a fire burning in a pawns room all the time to overcome their urges, this seems entirely appropriate for pyro story telling.   You could add a zzzt like event whenever a campfire and bed are in the same room to add more story telling flavor.  Keeping a constant fire in someones room will become a problem in hot climates, this also seems appropriate for story telling.  Anyway, there are lots of nuances to this approach that need exploring but I thought I'd share the initial idea anyway.

The disease/ infection mechanic is already coded, this is just an extension of the algorithms already in use.  This proposal modifies game mechanics to eliminate events that players are really not enjoying but it doesn't nerf the intent of the negative pawn traits.  The application suggested here is still different enough from disease/ infection though and I think it contributes to storytelling for the two negative traits in a way that enhances the player experience. 
Ideas / Firewood and Boards
July 18, 2018, 06:15:50 PM
Balancing wood seems to be a challenge.  Separating Wood into Firewood and Boards could be beneficial for balancing purposes and allow tree planting to be made quicker again.  Some trees are suitable only for Firewood, some could provide both.  Obtaining any Boards at all for construction could depend on plant cutting skill if desired.
I don't like zzzt events but can tolerate them as part of the game, they are an additional stressor and have a role to play in the game.  A better story telling version would be to have them occur more frequently with damaged walls near conduits or damaged electrical equipment rather than straight RNG.  Everything repaired and maintained in good working order?  Zzzt event probability == 0.  Got some base damage near electrical equipment from multiple raids?  It's one more thing you have to worry about and another reason to keep the repair crews active.
Players at all difficulty levels depend on the availability of easy to convert 'foreign' pawns when starting a new game.  To that end our current AI personalities often send a few single person "raids" early on.  We see the hapless pawn charging forward with their club intent on bringing the whole encampment to its knees.  On the one hand players love these events because its an opportunity to increase pawn population.  On the other we laugh because the story here is untenable.  Lone club or even knife carriers might be able to take out a single unarmed pawn but even a couple months into NB most settlements are not at much risk from this "harrowing" encounter.  Putting infections from knife scratches aside of course. ;)

Alternative:  An aggressive single pawn encounter could be substituted for single pawn raids.  The arriving pawn is a guest without trade options.  The arriving pawn attempts to interact with colony pawns and entice them to leave the colony.  After all the place probably doesn't have too many comforts and amenities early on and the "guest" could spin tales of a wonderful town just over the hill.   As social interactions improve between the guest and a colony member the opportunity to convert the pawn one way or the other should occur leaving the player not really knowing if his pawns are about to add this guest to the colony population or pack their bags and leave the map with the guest.  The RNG chance to convert in either direction should depend on social skill and ideally mood as well.  In this way a player investing in high social skills and properly managing early moods will be rewarded with a faster growing population without the nuisance of imprisoning and converting.  But there remains a risk of loss of key colony personnel too.  Risk too high?  Kill or capture the "aggressive" but not guilty guest with all the normal consequences.

"Raids" are appropriate for a group of assailants who really do have a chance to capture/ kidnap/ or steal colony assets.  Single pawn raids don't enhance the story whereas aggressive encounters as suggested here would do the trick.  Aggressive encounters don't have to be restricted to single pawns but I think it would work best if restricted to one.  The AI could send these encounters more frequently than early single person raids and it would make for an interesting early dynamic imo.  Players would be compelled to do a little microing to keep track of who the guest is talking to which is a downside for QoL but upside for story telling.
Ideas / Cleaning pawns drop dirt...
July 07, 2018, 10:46:26 PM
Pawns with a cleaning assignment should not be dropping dirt/ filth/ etc.   Such a change would be helpful and relieve my paranoia as I micro- clean around my working medics to avoid infection.
Ideas / Haul only flag
July 03, 2018, 11:08:49 PM
The forbid flag on item prevents use or hauling of the item by pawns.  It would be very nice to have a "haul only" flag also.  Allow the item to be hauled to stockpiles according to the normal rules.  Do not allow the pawn to equip or use the item in any other way.
Ideas / new raid AI behavior proposal
July 02, 2018, 11:19:33 AM
Some existing AI raid behaviors:

1) Siege
2) Sapper
3) Raid and attack to death (ours or theirs)
4) Raid and kidnap/ steal then escape
5) Raid and retreat on significant raid party injury

Many of these might include an "attacking immediately" or a "preparing" modifier at the start

I would propose to break #5 into 2 options:

5a) Raid and retreat on significant raid party injury, full retreat
5b) Raid, retreat, and regroup on significant raid party injury

In 5b have the retreating raid party stop at the edge of the map for a suitable period of time, essentially going back to the "preparing" mode.  If the colony does not follow them and ambush/ destroy them...  then let the raid party stabilize wounds, etc. and have new reinforcements arrive equal to some RNG, say up to approximately half the original party strength, join the raid after a suitable waiting time for a second assault on the colony. 

5b offers the reward of potentially more recruits from raiders that would otherwise escape, it also offers the significant risk of "here they come again!"  with a fair bit of apprehension drama and story telling potential.
Ideas / Re: No reputation loss for man-hunter kills
July 02, 2018, 10:47:51 AM
Quote from: 5thHorseman on July 02, 2018, 07:16:22 AM
While I understand your reasoning (both of your reasonings. They could at least TRY TO RUN AWAY) I kind of like the idea that once in your realm their protection is your responsibility.  But it'd be nice to be able to tell them to go inside or something.
I agree that I like the idea that visitors are my responsibility to protect, I think that is the intent of the current game play.  I also think that guests being a pain in the butt is completely normal and something that has to be dealt with (within reason).  Nevertheless, without a trade spot or any means whatsoever of influencing their behavior it really is outside the reach of an early colony's ability to provide reasonable protection to the lot.  Thus events that result in faction loss feel like an unfair hit to a struggling young colony.   

Although a bit complex... to me an ideal system would be that visitors assess their own strength against the colony strength the moment that they arrive.  If the colony is equal or stronger then damage to the guests from third parties should result in faction loss.  If the visitors or guests are stronger then they might feel an obligation to help the colony, at the least any losses due to third party actions would not result in faction damage.  This system would greatly help new colonies and severely struggling colonies and keep the current consequences for strong well established colonies.
Yup, using binary bitwise operators.  Anyway, the additional array/object sort on each delivery (and perhaps each pickup) is the more important resource use, not memory.  But I think that to be minor also.  I'm sure the requested feature list overflows though, so I don't know if this will rise above the "nice to have" but not essential pile, hope so.
Ideas / Fight Fire Area
June 30, 2018, 12:59:31 PM
I suspect this has been requested before but I didn't see it.  I dislike the busy work during every dry thunderstorm and flash storm of setting home area on around each lightning strike, waiting for the pawns to put the fire out, then setting home area off.   A standing "fight fire area" separate from the home area that triggers the pawn fight fire response automatically would be greatly appreciated.  I would normally set it to the entire map... or a very large area around my base at least.  But I really don't want pawns attempting to clean the entire map.