Design Effort Vs Predictable results: One solution

I had this nifty idea. It helps with a certain writers block I get, which is more an effort to reward imbalance block. The block comes from thinking of writing up the code for a combat between a PC and a monster and the imbalance of that effort relative to the reward, as I can see the percentages and know exactly how it’ll turn out, barring exceptionally random results.

But this idea I had is nifty. I actually kind of thought of it a few years ago when I first played WOW. It goes like this:

  1. Monsters have a percentage chance, perhaps around 20%, of being ‘potentially highly dangerous’. They show up with a red aura or whatever.
  2. BUT this doesn’t mean they are, it merely means they have the potential.
  3. Once you go into combat with them, they have a percentage, perhaps around 5%, of being a considerably more dangerous version of the creature. Perhaps what one might call an imbalanced version relative to the PC.
  4. If that roll doesn’t come off, they are just regular! Few! Thank goodness!
  5. So you’ve got it so far? Monsters can sometimes appear as more dangerous, and sometimes they actually would indeed kill you! But, you say, this is just playing an odds game – you could work out the percentage of death and avoid all that coding by just rolling it to begin with!
  6. Okay, here’s the nifty bit. The player can press a key or has an item and it, if they use it prior to starting combat, it turns these guys to regular monsters. No aura. No chance of being lethal.
  7. And the second nifty part is that the game records how often you use this instead of facing off with the monster. If you never use it, you get some sort of award at the end of the game, much the same as in nethack when you fulfil the requirements of a conduct. If you use it a few times/X amount of times, you might get some other award. If you always use it, no award, but you don’t face arbitrary death if your not up to facing that.
  8. That bits important, because just as much as there can be too much work for a predictable win result, there can be too much work for a predictable (eventual, as the odds will come up) lose result. In play it’s not a predictable result, as much as you want that award and current circumstances influence your choice on the matter. 🙂

I’m really quite pleased with it. I feel a lot of weight come off me, in terms of coding stuff. Though I guess I’m not doing it right now – but now it’s a fun thing to do, so it’s quite easy to get the whim to do it. And I can feel that whim building up 🙂

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2 Comments

  1. jatori said,

    26 June, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Pretty neat idea. Have you considered adding a player ability that affects the probability? Cursed players attract more red auras, for example.

  2. Callan said,

    29 June, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Well for me, it was trying to get at a sense of world danger, that when I thought about it, you couldn’t do much about. Shit just happens – but at the same time shit just happening relative to certain odds, means a predictable ending to the game. It depends if you want a curse which works in a ‘shit happens’ sort of way.


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