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#1 2013-04-16 14:10:33

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

More thoughts on too-hard houses

Wow, we've really come full-circle here.

Yes, in my own thinking about this, I've come to the same conclusion as many of you on here:  no reasonable change to the game tiles will rule out inscrutable X-bit combination locks or other brute-force-only security (like magic dance). 

Going down the no-wires-through-walls path lead me to only one power source (to thwart inscrutable magic dances).  After realizing that one power source in the corner could be at the center of a magic-dance corner fort, I then thought about one power source right by the front door.  So then at least you could walk down the wires to see the logic.  But of course, people wouldn't use wires.  They'd use electric floors.  And if you poured water on them, that would short the whole house, opening some 9-thick powered trapdoors somewhere.  Some have suggested limited conductivity, but that makes house design that much more finicky and hard to understand.

It seems that, as soon as you lop off one "problem tile" another pops up.  And even if we roll back to a simple maze with only one wall type, there are 916 possible locations for the vault.  A dense maze could effectively make you visit every one of those.  Add in deadly stuff in the maze, and you could build a maze that requires 100s of visits to figure out.  That's really a combo lock.  Maybe even more annoying than a combo lock.

So, that brings me, like many of you, back to the idea of maps.

Thinking about it more deeply, that is really the puzzle core of this game.  Not "trying to figure out how a house works blindly," but trying to figure out how it works given knowledge about it.  A puzzle without full information is a just a guessing game.... not really a puzzle at all.  I believe that hard (and I mean really hard, like NP-hard) puzzles are still possible even when you can see the whole map.  You have to figure out how to walk your guy through this thing unscathed, for real, step-by-step.  You have to figure out the right choice of steps from trillions and trillions (way more than that, actually) of possible paths. 

That's part of the reason that the server doesn't just auto-check the houses for solvability.  It literally can't do that in polynomial time.  It forces YOU to provide a solution to your own house.

Now, there are obviously AESTHETIC reasons that the game doesn't just show you the whole map.  Sneaking around a darkened house with limited visibility creates a lot of nice tension.

What I would REALLY like is to have you sneaking around the house as a MEANS of obtaining full information about it.  That's where the "no wires through walls" idea came from. 

In v5, there's a great feeling to cutting through walls and ending up "behind the scenes" in someone's house.  Aha, here's where it all happens!  I bet they didn't want me to get back here and see these circuits.  Like breaking through the walls in Portal.

It's almost like I'd want to give you a backpack with 32 slots in it, just to allow you to get anywhere in the house and look around.  The problem is that you'd just use those slots to cut your way to the vault, trial-and-error style.  Not interesting.

Maybe a choice between two packs... one with 32 slots for scouting, but you can't carry a loot sack to take anything (reaching the vault gives you nothing, you can't even open it), and another pack with 8 slots plus a loot sack.  Maybe as simple as a "Scout House" button that's different from the "Rob House" button, because of what pack you take and whether you're allowed to open the vault.

This obviously adds extra complication to the design (and I'd also need to figure out how dead family members work with 32-deep cuts happening), and messiness to the interface (32 items is a lot to squeeze onto a sidebar).

Other ideas (both mine and other people's):

--Cutting a hole through the roof of a house to allow you to "jump in" to any walkable spot and have a look around (though you can't take tools with you)

--Various sonar-type tools used during robbery to examine a spot that is currently out of view.

--Limited maps that don't show you everything (just wiring, for example, or just electronics).


But all of these ideas are just round-about ways of getting to the inevitable conclusion:  getting the whole house map, piece by piece if necessary, so that you can get on with actually solving the puzzle!


Also, the idea of buyable maps isn't so sensible.... it's possible to make pretty extreme combo-lock/magic-dance hybrid setups with just the starting budget.  Those houses can't be solved without maps, and charging $10K for a map to a $200 house will mean that house remains unbeaten.  Granted, those cheap combo designs rely on electric floors around the front door, and adding wire-cutters to disable off electric floors will return combo locks to the domain of the wealthy.  But even with that change, I worry that there will be some other way to make a brute-force-only house for cheap.  I guess if everything has a counter-measure (off electric floors are currently the only unbypassable thing), and 9-thick versions of everything are expensive, then maybe it will remain balanced.



Given all these thoughts, the idea of "free maps" is tempting.  There's also the possibility of making maps visually distinct (blue print look and feel, flat 2D, symbols) to preserve the aesthetic experience of sneaking through the actual house.

("Brute force" here means 1000+ required guesses, and not "cutting through walls with saws".... funny.)

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#2 2013-04-16 14:55:49

Matrix
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 137

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Yeah this pretty much sums it up.

Like I said in the other thread, preventing players to build such houses would actually require changes to a bunch of things and maybe some of those changes are not even reasonable. The game would be even harder to understand.

So maps it is!

jasonrohrer wrote:

Maybe a choice between two packs... one with 32 slots for scouting, but you can't carry a loot sack to take anything (reaching the vault gives you nothing, you can't even open it), and another pack with 8 slots plus a loot sack.  Maybe as simple as a "Scout House" button that's different from the "Rob House" button, because of what pack you take and whether you're allowed to open the vault.
This obviously adds extra complication to the design (and I'd also need to figure out how dead family members work with 32-deep cuts happening), and messiness to the interface (32 items is a lot to squeeze onto a sidebar).

Well, if you decide to go with this solution, let me share a few things.

I was thinking about having 2 modes as well and I got to the conclusion, that having that many tools, would mean that the GUI would just display one tool icon per tool type with a number next to it (for example "[crowbar icon] x 12"). Clicking on the icon would select that tool type. If used, the number next to it would decrease. On the security tapes a tool being used would be displayed in the same way as it is now, showing the blue border around the icon.

You do have a point about the family and saves states. I didn't think about that. First thing that comes to mind: let the house auto-repair itself, even if a family member is killed during a scout attempt. Any killed members stay dead, maybe. Or maybe, the family is not at home when robbers scout smile

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-16 15:02:04)

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#3 2013-04-16 15:26:00

zed
Member
Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

Maybe a choice between two packs... one with 32 slots for
scouting, but you can't carry a loot sack to take anything

That's actually a really nice idea. Much more interesting than maps. 8 tools
might then be too generous for 'rob' mode - with such extensive scouting
opportunities, you could reasonably force people to actually solve most of the
house's puzzles.

With any of these "cheap vision" solutions, I'd suggest balancing it out by
adding a rule that you can't rob a house in which any of your previous
incarnations died.

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#4 2013-04-16 15:29:26

zed
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Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

...although free maps have one big advantage: they render the main form of cheating, which can't easily be prevented, not cheating at all.

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#5 2013-04-16 15:48:45

zed
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Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

...although thinking about it, there's another essentially undetectable form of cheating, which I won't even describe lest it give people ideas, which maps wouldn't render legal. So perhaps that isn't a strong argument in favour of maps.

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#6 2013-04-16 18:03:14

vraeden
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Registered: 2013-04-05
Posts: 23

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

I'd like to suggest that instead of making all of the focus on figuring out ways to beat very hard houses...let people who manage to amass lots of wealth spend that money on protection.  I, yet again, spent several days building a strong house, got up to 20k, decided to make my house more interesting..., did it...went out to amass a bit more wealth...and then accidentally pressed down when i meant to press left(to exit the house).  Everything lost in a millisecond.  I'm going to go watch Star Trek now.

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#7 2013-04-17 03:03:31

DrNoid
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 56

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Having a scout-mode, with a larger backpack, is almost equal to having to buy an expensive map. The top-houses will be using a lot of concrete and steel, meaning that scouting them fully will be expensive.
The difference between the two is that the map will give you the exact starting status of the house, while scouting will not. As soon as you enter the pets will start moving around, changing things.

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#8 2013-04-17 05:02:50

Matrix
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 137

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

DrNoid wrote:

Having a scout-mode, with a larger backpack, is almost equal to having to buy an expensive map. The top-houses will be using a lot of concrete and steel, meaning that scouting them fully will be expensive.
The difference between the two is that the map will give you the exact starting status of the house, while scouting will not. As soon as you enter the pets will start moving around, changing things.

That's a good point. But that's also why a scout-mode is not even close to being equal to buyable maps.

Buyable maps are definitely a safer bet. Maybe even easier/faster to implement.

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#9 2013-04-17 05:55:33

Seabean
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Registered: 2013-04-17
Posts: 1

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

I'm pretty sure this is how it works in the current game but I just wanted to check. Say you were to introduce 32 slot backpacks but you couldn't steal from the safe, when the robber left the house would all of the fittings in the house revert to how they were before the robber came in? I just wanted to check because I imagine that (like child killers) people would come in just with 32 crowbars and break everything then leave. Or break everything then come back with the smaller backpack. I'm sure it's really obvious but I just wanted to check because it sounds like a good idea if that's the case.

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#10 2013-04-17 07:39:19

bgorven
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Registered: 2013-04-05
Posts: 25

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

There's also the possibility of making maps visually distinct (blue print look and feel, flat 2D, symbols)

One of the main reasons I like the idea of maps is because I look forward to seeing how you're going to design them.


My experience with posting a map of my house for people to look at is:
Before anyone who had seen the map could figure it out, someone else had solved it in game - without ever seeing a map of the whole house - by coming in 100 times and figuring it out trial-and-error style, one section at a time.
What I would like, assuming we do get maps or something similar to make brutish designs unfeasible, would be some way to keep people from essentially brute-forcing houses that are supposed to be puzzles.
Basically, I just think it's really unfair that when I have 50k in my house I have to scare myself half to death each time I leave the house, but someone else can come in with hundreds of characters whose deaths will be meaningless and explore the place with impunity.
When you can save time by clicking suicide (to get $2000 free) rather than walking back to the exit (to return to your house with $0 in it), I'm pretty sure it means that death is too cheap.

The suggestion I have, then, is to start new characters with no cash, but with $2000 of credit in building supplies, and needing to earn another $2000+ (without anyone stealing it from them) to pay off their debt before they can start buying tools or get access to any maps.

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#11 2013-04-17 09:34:10

jasonrohrer
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Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Great thoughts from everyone here!

Zed:  please share whatever kind of unpreventable cheat you've discovered.  There's no sense in keeping it secret (security by obscurity).  Someone will figure it out eventually, and I'd much rather know about it now.

And yes, that is a nice side-effect of free maps (eliminating the "illegally grab the map from the protocol stream" cheat).

Regarding 32-tool scouting trips, obviously the damage would have to self repair, which really makes the whole thing messy, especially in connection with permanent family deaths.  Say during a 32-tool trip, you cut through a wall to bypass a pit bull and reach the family and kill them.  If house auto-repairs, owner returns home to find dead family behind a wall with no clear way to reach them.  Then the tapes show the wall being cut.  There's a disconnect there.  (Note that the disconnect is already present when a robber dies in the house without doing anything permanent, because the house auto-repairs, but there's still a tape.... still, you don't SEE some weird, impossible state when you return to the house as the owner in that case.)

But yes, family death causes the house state to save in v5.

Also, 32-tool scouting trips are just round-about ways of slowly, eventually finding the whole map.  In the end, I think it will be more tedious than interesting.  There are no decisions to make (assuming that you're willing to die while scouting).  Just keep griding away until you've seen the whole map.  Also, it's STILL off-limits for a rich player with a lot to lose (too risky).  With a map of the house, careful study means that a risk-free robbery is possible, so that will be more tempting for rich players.

Regarding players starting with $0 or borrowed money....  big question:  where would money come from in the game?  Imagine a world-wide restart, where every player starts $2000 in debt and needs to pay it back.  I guess it would slowly trickle in through player salaries.

I think that some players having "nothing to lose" is a nice aspect of the game.  It makes the rich more vulnerable to the masses.  And I don't see any way around it, assuming that dead players do start again with a new life of some kind----unless there was a forced hour "time out" where you couldn't play the game for an hour after dying.... hmm.....  though that's really dangerous from a critical mass point of view.... and it would also make learning the game a huge pain.

vraeden:  going to watch Star Trek is a good thing.  My goal is NOT to make a game that will hook you for hours and days and weeks non-stop, where you can't stop playing and forgo sleep and real life!  The game is always fair, never random, and when you die, it's always your fault (which makes it even more painful and frustrating and rage-quit-inducing).  This is a game that pays you for every solid hour that you stay away from it.  Rage quitting in disgust is part of that equation.

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#12 2013-04-17 11:11:42

zed
Member
Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

Zed:  please share whatever kind of unpreventable cheat you've discovered.

I just had in mind the possibility of hacking your client to allow undo. Can't do much about that without server-side processing (and even that isn't an immediate solution, you also need some fairly harsh time limits on thinking time between turns)

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#13 2013-04-17 11:23:40

zed
Member
Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

A forced delay before you can respawn (I'd suggest 24 hours for experienced players) would go a long way towards dealing with the unfortunate addictiveness of the game, as well as with brute-forcing-across-lives.

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#14 2013-04-17 11:41:10

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Oh, yeah, well, a modded client can confer all sorts of advantages (including undo, or even better, unlimited tries before submitting the "right" try to the server at the very end).  As long as the client keeps pinging the server, saying, "The player is still working on solving this house," all bets are off about what the client is ACTUALLY doing with that time!

Of course, the one thing the client CANNOT do for you is solve a really hard puzzle.

Hmm.... I'm thinking that maybe with each death, the forced timeout gets a little bit longer.  Starts at 1 second, the 2 seconds, then 4 seconds, etc.  Maybe not exponential growth, but creeping up.  So, new players can die a lot while learning (maybe even first 20 deaths have no timeout), but experienced players have to be much more careful.  Maybe it caps out, though.  24 hours sounds pretty extreme.

Combined with maps, that would be a much more interesting and careful game...

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#15 2013-04-17 12:15:07

zed
Member
Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

You could have the client attach already-completed moves to the pings, making the player commit to them. Not a complete solution, but would give data on which to base suspicions.

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#16 2013-04-17 12:46:23

colorfusion
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Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 537

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

I personally dislike the idea of a forced timeout at the current stage; some people having nothing to lose is currently a good way to control too-hard houses. Guessing puzzles are usually easy (albeit time consuming) to brute force and there'd probably be a lot more if there weren't people willing to try again and again. There'd need to be a pretty much complete solution to guessing puzzles before a timeout would be able to be introduced.

Just an idea I had that I'll throw out there is increasing the amount of tools, but then giving the house creator a limited amount (15 or so) of unbreakable walls. They could protect their vault from tools but not their wiring.

Last edited by colorfusion (2013-04-17 12:58:15)

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#17 2013-04-17 14:30:36

sergio
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Registered: 2013-04-09
Posts: 24

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Let's go for maps (stylized, like blueprints)!

Maybe not free, but a % of what is in the house's safe. This way, it can always pay off to buy the map, irrespective of how much money someone has in the safe - and obviously will make the richer houses have more expensive maps.

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#18 2013-04-17 14:58:58

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Oh, yeah colorfusion, the idea about giving dead players a timeout would only work in game with maps.  I'm also thinking of ways to make map usage more tense and interesting.  So you have to study the map to be REALLY sure how it will work before you try the house.  You wouldn't have to do that if you had infinite throw-away lives.

Running through a house over and over, trying all possible paths and dying over and over, is not interesting gameplay.  It's just grinding.

Also, not caring about your life or your current family (a natural consequence of the current design) is dissonant with the themes of the game.  Many people are just running out, leaving the family undefended and $2000 in the vault, to try that hard house again.

The timeout could also shrink the longer you've been alive with this current life.  Example:

You die.  You start again instantly.  A 60 minute timer starts running.  If you die again in 5 minutes, you have to wait 55 minutes to play again.  But if you die again in 70 minutes, you can start again instantly.  This would essentially be doling out the lives at a maximum rate of 1 per hour.

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#19 2013-04-18 00:44:17

DrNoid
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 56

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

Also, not caring about your life or your current family (a natural consequence of the current design) is dissonant with the themes of the game.  Many people are just running out, leaving the family undefended and $2000 in the vault, to try that hard house again.

jasonrohrer wrote:

You die.  You start again instantly.  A 60 minute timer starts running.  If you die again in 5 minutes, you have to wait 55 minutes to play again.  But if you die again in 70 minutes, you can start again instantly.  This would essentially be doling out the lives at a maximum rate of 1 per hour.

We can combine those two: If you die again in 5 minutes, you instantly reincarnate, but you have to wait 55 minutes before you are allowed to leave your hose.
This would give those people some time to build some defences with that $2k they've got.

An hour seems a bit steep. We could start with 20 minutes, and add 10 for every death. Every hour 10 get removed again.

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#20 2013-04-18 02:21:09

Matrix
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 137

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

zed wrote:

You could have the client attach already-completed moves to the pings, making the player commit to them. Not a complete solution, but would give data on which to base suspicions.

That still wouldn't prevent it though. A modded client could just simulate the game rules locally so that the player can test his solution, and upon reaching the vault, it would replay the solution by sending moves to the server in the right sequence with "humanly reasonable" waits between requests.

Yes, you can't really AFK for too long inside another house, but it could be modded in such a way to allow you to play a house offline locally (the server would think you are in your house). The other feature would be to replay your last solution to the server while actually being inside the target house.

In fact, I am pretty sure that someone will create such a mod or make a tool to help you solve houses offline. The tools can help. But you would still have to solve the puzzle.

I think there is no way to prevent players from solving (or brute-forcing) a puzzle offline, but introducing maps at least gives legit players some of those same tools, and at the same time reduces the effectiveness of houses that were based on the fact, that a player has limited knowledge of the map.

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-18 02:48:00)

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#21 2013-04-18 02:22:56

Matrix
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 137

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

DrNoid wrote:
jasonrohrer wrote:

Also, not caring about your life or your current family (a natural consequence of the current design) is dissonant with the themes of the game.  Many people are just running out, leaving the family undefended and $2000 in the vault, to try that hard house again.

jasonrohrer wrote:

You die.  You start again instantly.  A 60 minute timer starts running.  If you die again in 5 minutes, you have to wait 55 minutes to play again.  But if you die again in 70 minutes, you can start again instantly.  This would essentially be doling out the lives at a maximum rate of 1 per hour.

We can combine those two: If you die again in 5 minutes, you instantly reincarnate, but you have to wait 55 minutes before you are allowed to leave your hose.
This would give those people some time to build some defences with that $2k they've got.

An hour seems a bit steep. We could start with 20 minutes, and add 10 for every death. Every hour 10 get removed again.

Why not make timeouts house specific?

You die.  You start again instantly.  A server timestamp is saved to the database bundled with player + house id.  You can't access houses you have recently died in for some time, but you can work on your house + use menus + rob other houses without restrictions.

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#22 2013-04-18 07:05:05

zed
Member
Registered: 2013-04-16
Posts: 161

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

matrix wrote:

That still wouldn't prevent it though. A modded client could just simulate the
game rules locally so that the player can test his solution, and upon reaching
the vault, it would replay the solution by sending moves to the server in the
right sequence with "humanly reasonable" waits between requests.

Yes, you can't really AFK for too long inside another house, but it could be
modded in such a way to allow you to play a house offline locally (the server
would think you are in your house). The other feature would be to replay your
last solution to the server while actually being inside the target house.

Yes, the only way I've thought of to *really* solve this problem is to
(i) not allow players to try the same puzzle twice
(ii) ensure there's no way to look up a particular puzzle from another account
    (this to frustrate attempts to share observed puzzles with friends / sock-puppets)
(iii) for actual live solutions of the puzzle: put in a strict time limit, and either
    (a) make unlimited undos an accepted feature of the game
    (b) adopt a Fischer-clock style system, such that the player has to keep
        submitting moves to avoid timing out, along with a limit on the total
        number of moves allowed; add to the client a "consider" mode, allowing the
        player to play out possibilities from the current position with full undo
        before actually submitting their next move.

For CD, (i) and (ii) would be plausible, and might be enough to stop most
cheating of this kind. (iii)(a) is inconsistent with the permadeath theme of
the game. (iii)(b) could work, though obviously it would complicate the
interface and would require changes to the networking (a separate http request
each move doesn't sound like a good idea). Hopefully the current trust system
will suffice!

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#23 2013-04-18 16:05:02

pavram
Member
Registered: 2013-04-10
Posts: 8

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

The problem with many of these ideas; is they are home-owner centric.

Lockouts; are no good for the career criminals.  I am a bit of both; but the big robberies are what I remember most, most of which would have been completely impossible without either regularly visiting a house; or res rushing.

Maps; again I still don't like them. 
Just give us tools that can disable any and all active or inactive trap pieces.
Reduce the "follow" distance of dogs to 7 or less.  This ensures that the logic behind a magic dance is accessible to a tool user.

That leaves the straight up bit-locks, and solid houses.  And I haven't said it (deleted it after drafting this once) but, sounds from offscreen could help here.  Though I do keep thinking about how you could just obfuscate the sound being made.

The only thing I can think of; is similar to a wiring plan.  Perhaps make "powered up" wires (and other logic) glow, and also glow through the Fog of war. 
Coupled with some extra camera control (being able to move the camera either direction - obviously keeping the player in sight) you should be able to "see" pretty much every corner of a bit-lock house map. 

Having said that I can actually think of a design that would survive inspection even under those circumstances. (buttons for the bitlock fill the house north-south; all wires extend 24 blocks to the right).

Final solution I could come up with; was your family respawns every 24 hours.  You must always have your family (dead or alive), You can move them (when dead), they must always have an "escape" path.  No  house can survive 8 block paths being cut through it every day.

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#24 2013-04-18 16:59:54

pavram
Member
Registered: 2013-04-10
Posts: 8

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

Perhaps the in-game justification is your family isn't dead; they go to hospital.

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#25 2013-04-18 19:46:38

vraeden
Member
Registered: 2013-04-05
Posts: 23

Re: More thoughts on too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

Great thoughts from everyone here!

vraeden:  going to watch Star Trek is a good thing.  My goal is NOT to make a game that will hook you for hours and days and weeks non-stop, where you can't stop playing and forgo sleep and real life!  The game is always fair, never random, and when you die, it's always your fault (which makes it even more painful and frustrating and rage-quit-inducing).  This is a game that pays you for every solid hour that you stay away from it.  Rage quitting in disgust is part of that equation.

You succeeded.  Email us when v6 comes out.  smile

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