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#1 2013-05-26 09:58:37

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

Some thoughts on v6

Let me start by saying: huzzah! v6!

This is now much more the game I'd always hoped it would be.

Most importantly, the fact that it's now possible to protect the family means
that you finally have a motivation beyond cruelty or avarice for robbing
others. Just as importantly, it provides motivation for keeping a non-trivial
amount of money in your vault: with the wife alive and with things set up
right, a successful robbery will leave the house unrobbable, and so leave you
with half the money - money which you'll need in order to fix up the house and
make it harder to rob in the future. Without money, successive robberies could
lead to a broken up house with an easily reached vault, meaning there's nothing
to stop a determined murderer using arbitrarily many tools and reaching your
family.

Meanwhile, although it's too early to say how well it will work, I get the
impression that players are starting to learn to produce the interesting
puzzles which maps force them to make. Those of us who were originally
sceptical of maps should prepare their hats for consumption.

The new wiring is also pleasing.

So thanks to Jason for his work on this.

Now, premature though it might be, I'd like to mention a few problems I'd like
to see addressed in v7.

(i) Life is still too cheap. As in v5, we're getting a lot of people leaving
    their house unprotected on startup and going straight out to rob. This
    leads others to (I can only assume judging by the speed with which they
    disappear) sit there obsessively refreshing the house list waiting for
    such a cash-filled unprotected house to pop up. Although I haven't seen it
    yet, I would expect also that some will continue the practice of
    deliberately repeatedly dying in a house they know how to solve so as to
    leave a big stash of guns for them to steal back. All this skews the
    economy. As discussed previously, a timeout before you can respawn would
    help with all this.

(ii) There's something missing in the above outline of player motivation based
    on wanting to protect the family. Why, once there's nothing in the vault,
    would anyone want to go after your family? As in real life, the only
    motivations would be perverse - and this is the internet, so perversion
    shouldn't be too hard to find. But judging from the fact that many of the
    broken $0 houses on the list still have easily reachable alive family in
    them, murder isn't currently providing much of an intrinsic thrill to
    whatever perverts we have in our userbase.

    To "fix" this (perverse though such a suggestion might seem in itself!), I
    suggest one simple change: a tally of the number of family kills made by a
    player should be kept, visible only to the murderer. This should of course
    be done in a neutral way, not making it look like a score. I strongly
    suspect that this would nonetheless be enough to bring out the perversion
    in those prone to it, and meanwhile act as a continuous pique to the
    conscience of those who aren't murderous by nature, but who were lured by
    money into such grisliness.

(iii) Children are still a pure liability, which conflicts with natural
    motivations. This isn't as much of a problem as it was, but it still is
    one. A suggestion for a (rather drastic!) possible fix: force a player who
    has lost *all* their family to suicide.

(iv) As discussed elsewhere, the house list can get cluttered with houses left
    in an unsolvable state. I actually don't think this is so much of a
    problem, and to the extent it is I think a simple interface addition could
    fix it: allow the player to mark a house as 'uninteresting', and have it
    persist in this state until the house is updated; uninteresting houses
    could appear in a different colour in the list, or not at all.

(v) I might be wrong about this, but it looks like the server doesn't get pinged
    while you're exploring a blueprint during a robbery. At least, I found
    that after an extended session thinking through how to handle a house,
    after coming out of the blueprint I found that my character had died due
    to inactivity. This doesn't seem reasonable.

(vi) Another minor complaint: after a robbery, a chihuahua was left, alive, on
    an unladdered trapdoor. In order to move it off, I had to buy a new trapdoor!
    It already seems unfair when it's a ladder rather than a chihuahua, but surely
    this is a bug?

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#2 2013-05-27 09:29:28

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

Having just watched someone come in with 8 guns, exploit an inadequacy in my security to shoot down my wife and daughter, then suicide rather than taking out half of my >12000 savings... and then another come in to kill my son for no reason... perhaps I should retract my suggestion that we don't have enough users self-motivated to commit senseless unmotivated acts of violence.

Jason: you do realise that this game you've written is essentially an engine for destroying whatever faith in humanity its players may have previously clung to?

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#3 2013-05-27 10:45:25

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

Good stuff, here, Zed

(i) I now think that a timeout will be too annoying.  Let's say you've got 1 hour a day to play, and you get timed out for 15 minutes half-way through that.  Ug.  I don't want to make a game that has the "come back later, please" feel of Farmville.  So, what I'm leaning toward is declining starting money if you die over and over too much in one period.  The first death in an hour, you get $6000.  The second that same hour is $4000, third in that same hour is $2000, etc.  So, if you're grinding at a house over and over by dying, that process will peter out for you pretty quickly.  Anyway, whatever I do here, it will be server-side, and won't require a v7 release to change (a timeout would require a client change, so the timer could be displayed).

(iii) Interesting idea about the only option being suicide after all family is dead.... would certainly force you to care about them!  But I do like seeing some people carry on alone in the game, or decide not to protect the family.  You're right that children are a pure liability, and that's not quite right...

(iv) Good point about unsolvable houses only being a pain when they are encountered over and over.  It's okay to see them once, but after you decide that they're skippable, you don't want to forget that and have to view them again to be sure.  I'll have to think about how to store such preferences in the database, though...

(v) is a bug (just posted in the known bug list) and will be fixed.

(vi) Oh, yeah, this is one weird case where you are billed for trying to move an animal off of something.  The trapdoor is "stuck" closed as long as the dog is on it.  Things flagged as "stuck" don't auto-reset for the next robber.  Sawed walls, broken windows, etc., are "stuck".  This is also used by the billing system, where replacing any stuck tile with a tile of the same type (a broken window with a fixed one) results in being billed for a new one.  In this case, the object isn't broken, but it's still tripping the same rebilling mechanism for "stuck" objects.  It would be pretty painful to fix... I think I'll leave it as-is for now.

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#4 2013-05-27 11:58:53

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

(i) Yes, that could work. I'd make it a simple binary - you're incarnated either rich ($6000) or poor ($50), and only your first life per [time period] is rich. That should suffice to encourage people who start rich not to throw their riches to the winds, while having houses buffeted by waves of poorly equipped desperate indigents, which fits the theme well.

(iii) Having recently been forced into the position myself, I can warrent that the role of enbittered hermit whose motivation for keeping money in the vault is simply to lure into his deathtraps those who, like the murderers of his family, would dare invade his home, is a role easily adopted.

(iv) Of course as you noted elsewhere, this leaves the problem of paintings. But returning them to the pool after a few weeks' inactivity seems reasonable.

(v) cool.

(vi) ok, it's only a minor annoyance.

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#5 2013-05-27 12:07:27

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

Interesting that (iv) is only a problem for paintings if someone "tripped" the only-rob-once house by reaching the family (thus saving the house state but not getting the paintings).  If a house becomes unsolvable after a vault run, then the paintings aren't there anymore.

I like the rich/poor binary that you suggest.  Thematically rich.  However, it might be harder for people to get their head around.  A slow decay with each new life would be noticed gradually... like, "Hey, didn't I start with $6000 last time?"

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#6 2013-05-27 12:23:58

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

(iv) Yes, maybe wait to see if there's actually a problem with "trapped" paintings.

(i) Wouldn't it be easier to get your head around if it were clearer that something had changed? You might not notice a $2000 difference, but you'd certainly notice only having $50! The exact length of the timeout, with whatever approach, is not going to be very discoverable, but it could (eventually) be presented in the client.

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#7 2013-05-29 08:26:28

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

Re: Some thoughts on v6

Good points!

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