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#1 2013-04-09 20:06:56

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

Dealing with too-hard houses

Problem:

It's not hard to build a house with 9-thick walls and a must-solve 16-bit (or even 24-bit) combination lock.  Such houses are theoretically solvable (and solvable in practice by the owner with no tools), but unsolvable in practice by everyone else (except for cheaters).  A 24-bit lock requires 16 million guesses, for example.

Solutions:

--My original solution for this problem was buyable maps.  Make them expensive enough, and they won't ruin the other aspects of the game that are interesting (like sneaking though a house and trying to figure it out on your feet).  But still, they represent a major change in the game... a change for the worst in many ways (as pointed out in another thread).

--Someone also suggested larger backpacks that open up when a house becomes hard enough.  Yeah, when you can carry 32 items, you can cut all the way across the house map.  But that isn't interesting either (you can just use trial and error, cutting 32-long paths in different directions and dying, until you finally find the vault).  Backpacks are limited for a reason.

Rethink the Design Goal:

What we really want is not to solve this particular problem specifically, but make it so that all hard houses present real puzzles that are interesting to think about and solve.  Creatively-designed places that are dramatic to sneak through.

So, rolling back a bit and thinking about the core issue here, I realize that:

--A simple maze, made up of walls only, is more interesting than a combo lock.

--A room with only dogs and walls, where you have to figure out where to walk, in what order (DROD-style), is more interesting than a combo lock.


Thus, it seems clear that the solution to this problem might not involve adding anything at all.  Particularly, if we can remove the keystone of "logic hidden deep behind thick walls."  Logic itself isn't the problem.  Inaccessible logic is the problem.

The keystone seems to be "wires passing through walls".  Metal walls (that conduct) also play an important role here.  So, what if there's no way to pass current through walls, at all?  Suddenly, that hallway with 9-thick doors down it needs all the door opening logic on the OUTSIDE of the hallway.  The robber can get to it, study it, and mess with it (clip wires, etc).

With this change, you could still have timing traps and all the rest.... BUT, all the logic for those timing traps would have to be reachable by the robber.  Even if they fail the timing trap this time, they could still look at how it works, by walking around the logic, for next time.

There's still the possibility of thick fort in the center with timing logic inside it by the vault (where you have to walk around the fort in a certain pattern to open it).

Maybe there can be only one power supply in the house, in a fixed location (south east corner), and all wires need to come off of that (that makes more sense anyway, because that's the way real houses are).

Then there's the problem that players would guard their logic with long corridors containing 9+ pitbulls.  You could never get down there to examine the logic.

Anyway, there clearly is a lot more thinking to do here.

Pitbulls could kill each other if they get too close to each other...

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#2 2013-04-09 20:22:34

Dinnanid
Member
Registered: 2013-04-07
Posts: 43

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

The keystone seems to be "wires passing through walls".  Metal walls (that conduct) also play an important role here.  So, what if there's no way to pass current through walls, at all?  Suddenly, that hallway with 9-thick doors down it needs all the door opening logic on the OUTSIDE of the hallway.  The robber can get to it, study it, and mess with it (clip wires, etc).

With this change, you could still have timing traps and all the rest.... BUT, all the logic for those timing traps would have to be reachable by the robber.  Even if they fail the timing trap this time, they could still look at how it works, by walking around the logic, for next time.

There's still the possibility of thick fort in the center with timing logic inside it by the vault (where you have to walk around the fort in a certain pattern to open it).

Maybe there can be only one power supply in the house, in a fixed location (south east corner), and all wires need to come off of that (that makes more sense anyway, because that's the way real houses are).

Then there's the problem that players would guard their logic with long corridors containing 9+ pitbulls.  You could never get down there to examine the logic.

Pitbulls could kill each other if they get too close to each other...

I think all these ideas together would be a good temporary if not permanent fix.


Dinnanid

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#3 2013-04-09 21:23:20

zz
Guest

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

jasonrohrer wrote:

The keystone seems to be "wires passing through walls".  Metal walls (that conduct) also play an important role here.  So, what if there's no way to pass current through walls, at all?  Suddenly, that hallway with 9-thick doors down it needs all the door opening logic on the OUTSIDE of the hallway.  The robber can get to it, study it, and mess with it (clip wires, etc).

I like your thinking. However...

jasonrohrer wrote:

There's still the possibility of thick fort in the center with timing logic inside it by the vault (where you have to walk around the fort in a certain pattern to open it).

...yes, this doesn't prevent this "magic dance" kind of combination lock. But
a logical continuation of this "no hidden logic" reform would be to remove the
spooky action at a distance which pets currently allow, and have them move only
when in vision. (Or perhaps, in the case of the chase AI, have them move
towards the last seen position of the robber.)

This would make timing traps and such harder to pull off - but it seems your
player base is pretty good at making cunning use of whatever it's given!

#4 2013-04-10 00:01:34

bgorven
Member
Registered: 2013-04-05
Posts: 25

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

I think it would be super hard to make a difficult maze without conductive walls - both hard to fit enough excitement in when all wiring has to run along the paths, and tough to dissuade robbers from cutting through the walls.

The premise of my current design is that robbers need to explore the entire maze to find the switch that powers the trapdoors that allow access to the vault, and wherever possible I've run the power lines through the walls so if they try to skip part of the maze they risk locking themselves out of the vault. It was designed to be tough to solve even if you start with a map of it - I don't think I could solve it just by looking at it.

My suggestion: wiring diagrams instead of full maps. I mean, you've got to assume that the type of electrician who's going to be wiring deadly electric floor traps is going to be a bit of a shady character. And gameplay-wise, I think the tradeoff of knowing that for every wire you place, you give away a bit of information about your house might be interesting too.

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#5 2013-04-10 02:42:00

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

The electric grid defences don't really use walls at all, except for keeping the chihuahuas on the buttons. If dogs only follow you if they can see you, those walls can even be replaced by glass and they would still work, since you can't see further than the little screen you're on. I guess to fix that you'd have to remove the visibility-distance limit and allow the user to pan around the visible area. That way, if a dog can see you, you can see the dog (and thus the buttons that the dog walks on)

That would also fix the "nothing but 9 pit-bulls" defence.

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#6 2013-04-10 03:52:06

ukuko
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 333

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

I think removing wired walls entirely would make building many things rather frustrating and convoluted. Perhaps a better solution would be to limit the thickness of wired walls to a single tile. I guess you could still create an 18 tile wire/wall combo that would be unbreakable with tools, but that would seriously limit the space you had left to work with. Removing the conductive property of the steel wall might also help in this scenario.

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#7 2013-04-10 03:59:17

colorfusion
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 537

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

No conducting walls wouldn't solve a lot of magic dance puzzles or timing traps with electric floors, and many actual puzzles (E.G: Aavak's) would be really hard hit. You wouldn't be able to have two buttons connected without the player being able to walk directly through the wire from one to the other which kind of ruins the exploration of finding where it goes by using tools and looking around.

I think something that could work would be limiting how far power can travel through walls, electric floors, doors, trapdoors and any other non-wire. 8 tiles would probably be the best option.

They wouldn't lose power in wires so people can still have complicated fun to solve mechanisms, but people couldn't completely safe-guard their wires from a full inventory of tools.

Last edited by colorfusion (2013-04-10 08:02:58)

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#8 2013-04-10 07:33:52

edwardoka
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 12

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Some ideas off the top of my head

- Make the power emanated from a power cell be finite, with each "powered" tile using some of that power
- Make power sources expensive (or limited to X per map, or, as someone posted above, fixed position)
- Make it so that power sources have +/- ends, and that if you connect a + to a + or a - to a -, you get a short circuit. Would seriously increase the complexity required to build combo locks.
- Make animals respect line of sight

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#9 2013-04-10 09:12:37

Raisane
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 36

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

^ there are some good ideas, but not the last one. make animals respect line of sight will mean that the number of traps available will go down by 80% (just estimation) and thus make this game less enjoyable

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#10 2013-04-10 11:25:47

castor
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 1

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

I agree with the problem but not that much with the solution.

Keeping with the theme you are going for I think its the tools that need refinement. Right now they don't really allow you to be a thief learning the intricacies of the house but rather trial and error to return at a later date.

In the real world if someone executes a robbery they have to:
1. Do preliminary planning
2. Select the best tools for the job (based on that planning)
3. Once in the house improvise on the fly and try to figure out how to solve it.

Following that it would be interesting to maybe have a way to know what kind of traps or materials the house is using before hand (so you can figure out what tools to bring for the job) and then being able to actually use those tools to get your way through and learn the map.
Right now the closest I can think of is kind of minesweeper. You have to logically deduce what squares you can eliminate and once you are done with all those deductions you know what the dangers are.

This kind of goes into the fact that the amounts of luck and logic on the current design feel uncontrolled. Maybe you need to add more  types of traps (timers, wire coloring ) that will add new game design elements creating a layering of possibilities that forces more deduction and less mathematical combinations.

This also ties with skill. I imagine that robbing someone requires you to be skilled enough to know if its worth risking your move.
When I first started to rob houses in the game I assumed that when stumbling upon a problem (e.g. a pressure panel) I should have the tools to analyse it like a real robber.
E.g. maybe I could open the pressure panel and see where the wiring goes and try to figure out what it connects to. Then if for example it went into the wall I could use my tools again to analyse where the wiring goes through the wall.

This is just an example to illustrate my thinking behind it. Your tools should be re-usable and its the deductions that you do out of what you read that allow you to advance further.
Introducing timers for example when disassembling an item would create the stress and force you to have skill on your deductions (e.g. hacking in Uplink)

In the end i guess it ties with what you mentioned. We need to be able to have a look at the underlying system designed to protect the house even if we don't know what is exactly doing.

Also you have a big focus on being able to do your own house without any tools to keep the game fair. Why would this be the case?
Going with the theme of your game the burglar should NEED to have the right tools to do the job and there should be skill involved in that selection.

As an example imagine a robber that takes 45 min to reach the vault only to find out he didn't bring the proper tool to open the door without triggering the alarm?

And that just reminded me, why no alarms? Why just death in case of mistake? Why not have lower level penalties for doing errors as a burglar rather than the black and white death system?

Imagine that if the alarm rings and you don't get away in the allowed time then you loose your tools and have to pay a "fine" to the owner of the house?
This maybe would even create 2 kinds of players, the ones that focus on robbing and the ones that focus on protecting their houses. (just like in real life where robbers don't really live in the mansions they steal).

So as a conclusion I would say that as a robber I should always be able to outsmart the home owner if I manage to figure out the way his defense system is created.
The best defense systems would naturally force me to take longer figuring them out (forcing the creation of time limitations for tension) or needing to carry very specific tools or any other design elements that create this kind of balance between how clever the puzzle is and how smart I feel when I figure it out.

PS. Also having a bit of luck involved in the whole process (that just doesn't cause permadeath) could really make things interesting.

Last edited by castor (2013-04-10 11:26:26)

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#11 2013-04-10 16:41:18

bgorven
Member
Registered: 2013-04-05
Posts: 25

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

For the record, I am 100% in favor of buyable maps.
The only reason I suggested wiring diagrams instead is that I was trying to think of a compromise that would still allow me to get out and rob some houses (I am very proud of my current house, and terrified of losing it to uncontrollable circumstances), without making house designers feel completely helpless.

Anyway, another way of looking at this is that combolocks are weak to brute force, so what tools could you give players that would make brute force attacks more practical or fun. My answer here would be scripts. I don't necessarily mean 'scripting' in the computer sense - even just static move lists that can be generated by the player and bound to hotkeys would make the act of enumerating every possible combination of a lock a lot quicker, and have some other uses besides.

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#12 2013-04-10 17:57:24

sergio
Member
Registered: 2013-04-09
Posts: 24

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

What if instead of buyable maps, you could buy SECURITY TAPES? This would make it so that tough houses would get more and more solvable as people try to rob them and it would still require a significant amount of effort (and money) for the robber to put together the house puzzles and make sense of them.

For this to work even better, you should add "versioning" to the house, so every time the house is modified, you would get a new version number for that house. The closer to "current version" the security tape is, the more expensive it is to buy the tape.

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#13 2013-04-10 17:59:50

sergio
Member
Registered: 2013-04-09
Posts: 24

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Maybe a tool (crowbar?) that can reset sticking pressure plates to their initial state? this would make it easier to brute force combinations.

Maybe a tool that can identify voltage switches and inverted voltage switches?

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#14 2013-04-10 21:01:02

zed
Guest

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Raisane wrote:

^ there are some good ideas, but not the last one. make animals respect line of sight will mean that the number of traps available will go down by 80% (just estimation) and thus make this game less enjoyable

As a general principle, I don't think we should worry too much about changes which narrow the possibilities for traps - since it's easy to open them up again by adding new tile types.

We should also bear in mind that this is an alpha - it doesn't matter too much if the game gets a bit broken for a while. This is the time to experiment and see what works and what doesn't.

#15 2013-04-13 13:48:33

tons0phun
Member
From: California, USA
Registered: 2013-04-03
Posts: 6

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

I have another way for getting around "Unbeatable" houses:

Don't enter them.

If nobody enters them, they collect no loot, and then their gain of profit is very marginal.

Seriously, if people want to make it so their houses can never be broken into, then let them have their reward.
Never enter their house, never give them the satisfaction of security tapes. Let them just sit alone with their empty house that nobody touches, because they made an entirely unsporting design.
You've gotta go meta and play against their psychology here, and let them stew in their own isolation until they either desire to change their house, or get careless and get themselves killed trying to rob somebody else's place.

The real problem about these houses is that people just keep throwing themselves at it, and doing the owner a favor by increasing its wealth.

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#16 2013-04-14 07:46:23

anangryfix
Member
Registered: 2013-04-14
Posts: 1

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

@tons0phun You make it sound like people should be penalized for achieving the game directed goal. Plus, it's a pretty unsatisfying proposition to design a house that actually works and then have to go and cripple your design in order to give people a chance. Surely, one should strive for a game design that avoids these kind of scenarios, yes?

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#17 2013-04-14 08:06:19

colorfusion
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 537

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

tons0phun wrote:

I have another way for getting around "Unbeatable" houses:

Don't enter them.

If nobody enters them, they collect no loot, and then their gain of profit is very marginal.

Seriously, if people want to make it so their houses can never be broken into, then let them have their reward.
Never enter their house, never give them the satisfaction of security tapes. Let them just sit alone with their empty house that nobody touches, because they made an entirely unsporting design.
You've gotta go meta and play against their psychology here, and let them stew in their own isolation until they either desire to change their house, or get careless and get themselves killed trying to rob somebody else's place.

The real problem about these houses is that people just keep throwing themselves at it, and doing the owner a favor by increasing its wealth.

Many houses are designed to not look impossible until it's too late, and people are attracted by money to try and brute force through the trap.

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#18 2013-04-14 11:27:53

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

tons0phun wrote:

I have another way for getting around "Unbeatable" houses:

Don't enter them.

If nobody enters them, they collect no loot, and then their gain of profit is very marginal.

Seriously, if people want to make it so their houses can never be broken into, then let them have their reward.
Never enter their house, never give them the satisfaction of security tapes. Let them just sit alone with their empty house that nobody touches, because they made an entirely unsporting design.
You've gotta go meta and play against their psychology here, and let them stew in their own isolation until they either desire to change their house, or get careless and get themselves killed trying to rob somebody else's place.

The real problem about these houses is that people just keep throwing themselves at it, and doing the owner a favor by increasing its wealth.

This is already happening. If you look at the visits/deaths numbers, you can see that they stop increasing when people figure out that a house is unbeatable in practice.
People stop actively exploring such houses and the death counter pretty much stops. The visit counter might still occasionally increase due to the fact that it's sometimes hard to remember all the houses you have already scouted in the past (and you accidentally enter the same house again increasing the visits counter).

And let's be honest, in the current metagame it's faster to get money by stealing from others than tricking people to die in your house over an over again. In the current implementation the house is primarily a defense system. You can of course design your defense in such a way that it tries to trick robbers to kill themselves on traps, but that won't be the main source of your income; unless you never rob others, which is a viable playstyle as well — especially now when those server bugs just outright kill you.

In the current implementation it's possible to gain money by stealing from those players who don't make "unbeatable" houses and make it impossible for others to steal it back by making an "unbeatable" house yourself. That's the core of the problem. The fact that the "unbeatable" defender can become rich is not an issue, it's a side effect. This side effect would actually be a positive one if the core problem wouldn't be there in the first place.

So if we ignore the fact that the only 2 ways to deal with the core problem in the current implementation (v5) are
- hoping for a bug to kill them,
- or cheating to steal from them,
then you can clearly see that this has to be addressed.

anangryfix wrote:

@tons0phun You make it sound like people should be penalized for achieving the game directed goal. Plus, it's a pretty unsatisfying proposition to design a house that actually works and then have to go and cripple your design in order to give people a chance. Surely, one should strive for a game design that avoids these kind of scenarios, yes?

Yes, he should strive for a game design that avoids these kind of scenarios, but it's not easy to achieve that, if you want to have a multiplayer sandbox game with a lot of options and interaction between elements.

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-14 12:52:27)

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#19 2013-04-14 11:29:07

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

A suggestion for a community-driven ingame regulation system to deal with houses that are unbeatable in practice

One thing that the community could do, is to let others know which houses fall into this category and which do not. But for that to be effective, and actually part of the game itself, there would have to be some kind of "house voting system" implemented. And not just the voting part; some kind of threshold filtering would also have to be implemented at the same time. So the house list would still show houses sorted by the amount of money, but would hide all those houses that were voted "unbeatable in practice" by the community.

This wouldn't be a score (or star) based voting system, but only a simple to use upvote/downvote (+/-) system.
The upvote part of the system would be hidden (internal) and upvotes would be automatically cast by the server every time a robber reaches the vault.
So the actual GUI would only have a single button "Report this house as unfair" that would be placed next to the "Rob this house" button.

If a player reports a house that house is grayed out (or marked in a different way) on the house list (for him only) and the "Rob this house" button is disabled. Yes, if you report a house, you can't explore it anymore. The player can still revoke the report by paying a small price, for example $500. This is to discourage false reports, but still give the player an option to revoke it if they misclick or change their mind. If they revoke the report they can enter the house normally again.

Of course all vote manipulation preventing mechanisms would have to be implemented as well, such as:
- one vote per house per account
- no option to change your vote:
    - once you steal from a house's vault you can't report it anymore, unless the house gets edited
    - once you report a house you can only revoke the report by paying a small price, but you get 1 free revoke if the house gets edited or robbed
- editing a house must reset all the positive votes but keep all the negative ones to prevent quick meaningless edits from manipulating the voting process. Players who already reported this house would see it was edited and get a free revoke, which would allow them to recheck the house free of charge if they wanted.

If a house would fall below a set threshold, it would be put at the end of the list. The threshold would be a configurable server-side value, that could be tweaked based on the community size and based on how the game evolves. But all this only solves part of the problem; it gets rid of the "unbeatable" house spam at the top of the house list.

The other part of the problem is that the owner would still be able to rob others and increase his money (even easier now, since he would be "off the radar") so another mechanism would have to be put in place, that would prevent this from happening. At this point I don't really see a way to do it, that would be "fair" for everyone and at the same time prevent the manipulation of the system itself. Instead I will suggest an implementation that cannot be infinitely manipulated but still gives the house owner the chance to get back into the game.

So here is how I imagine it would work.

1. If a house gets reported by many players and at the same time not many players reach its vault, this house would naturally drop below the set threshold value due to the low upvote/downvote ratio.

2. The next time the house owner enters such a house, he sees a message saying, "You broke the eight tools rule of the Thieves' code. The Thieves guild is keeping an eye on you! Be careful!". At this point the owner can edit, test and prove the house as he would do normally, but if he decides to leave the house, a message would pop up saying, "Do you really want to betray the Thieves guild?"
2.A. If he chooses "Yes", he leaves the house but is killed by the members of the Thieves guild. A black screen pops up with a message explaining that he got killed by the members of the Thieves guild, because he betrayed them.
2.B. If he chooses "No", he stays inside the house.

3. If the stays inside he has a few options.
3.A. He can make some edits to the house and then give away all his money, tools (he would keep any tools in the backpack) and paintings (the paintings would go to the auction), by choosing the option "Bribe the Thieves guild by giving them all your belongings."
3.B. He can decide to keep the money, tools and paintings, but lose his house (he would just start in a new empty house), by choosing "Flee the house with your family and all your belongings"; or "Flee the house with all your belongings", if the whole family would be already dead.

4. Choosing either option would allow him to leave the house safely again. At the same time the votes would be reset, and his house would be put back at the proper spot on the house list (based on the amount of his money). So if he gave away the money and kept the house, he would have to start robbing again to get back all the things he lost; if he kept the money, he would have to remake the house from scratch.

5. But there's a catch... these options (3.A. and 3.B.) can only be picked once each (could also be once only) per respawn, which means that if his house keeps getting reported and falls under the threshold again, the only option left is to die and respawn — by leaving the house and getting killed (option 2.A.) or using the already implemented suicide option. After a proper respawn all votes and all options reset. It's a new, clean start.

How would this affect the game?
- There would be an option to report houses that are unbeatable in practice.
- The owner would have one or two chances to reset the votes and get back into the game. Failing that, eventually he would have to respawn and lose everything.
- The top of the house list would actually contain houses that the community thinks that are fair and solvable in practice. This should create a better experience overall.
- And hopefully, given some time, even players that now create "unbeatable in practice" houses, will adapt and start making houses that are "solvable in practice".

Since this is a community-driven system it will adapt to changes in the game itself as well as the metagame. This means that the system is not tied with the game mechanics and won't limit the game design possibilities, unlike most other fixes that would actually have to change the core game mechanics just to address this issue. Making fixes directly to the game mechanics has one big drawback; every time you introduce new traps/tools/mechanics you have to take extra care to not reopen the original issue. This additionally limits things that you can actually add to the game and slows the development; either because you take extra steps to make sure you won't break the game again; or you accidentally break the game and you have to come up with new changes to fix it again.

Creating a community-driven regulation system has another interesting advantage. Not many think about this but when an item is added to the game it's usually added with specific use cases in mind. Some of those use cases are interactions with other items. But players always figure out ways that the developers didn't think of, which creates an interesting situation; sometimes these unintended uses enrich the game, sometimes they are overpowered, and sometimes they just plainly break parts of the game. A community-driven regulation system can actually deal with many issues (balance or greifing) that result from the players' abuse of a game mechanic.

Taking into consideration that Castle Doctrine has one developer, I think that investing some time into developing a community-driven regulation system will pay for itself in the long run. I think, that then, the community could actually reduce the burden that all these balance issues bring to a single developer, while he would be able to focus on new features and adding new traps/tools/mechanics into the game.

So is the community fine with a self regulating system or are you concerned about it?  If you are concerned, explain why.

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-14 11:52:16)

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#20 2013-04-15 12:50:09

sergio
Member
Registered: 2013-04-09
Posts: 24

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

I have been observing my behavior, basically I do not invade any house. The only ones I rob are the low $ ones, which usually have no defense. Why do I do it? To build my own house. Once I have built a fortress, I have an extra disincentive to try the high paying and hard houses: if I die, my fortress also dies.

Maybe there should be a disconnect between house and robber, in the sense that if you die robbing, you lose money (maybe you give every penny you have or a % to clone your body or whatever) and not your house. It basically stops me from playing the game, I only watch people die at my security tapes or rob very easy houses to build a better house.

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#21 2013-04-15 14:17:54

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Just tossing another idea out here... after losing the whole family, rich robbers remarry. The new wife already has 2 children from her previous marriage. Hihihi.
(although I am pretty sure that the first lucky robber would just kill the wife for the 50% of the money, but still better than the current meta, and once we will be able to protect the family better, this might actually work).

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-16 00:42:54)

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#22 2013-04-15 16:08:10

Raisane
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 36

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

or simply let the wive be unkillable, and let the children carry the money. like that you will get new children every X amount of time, which will carry money again smile

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#23 2013-04-15 17:25:56

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Matrix wrote:

A suggestion for a community-driven ingame regulation system to deal with houses that are unbeatable in practice

One thing that the community could do, is to let others know which houses fall into this category and which do not. But for that to be effective, and actually part of the game itself, there would have to be some kind of "house voting system" implemented. And not just the voting part; some kind of threshold filtering would also have to be implemented at the same time. So the house list would still show houses sorted by the amount of money, but would hide all those houses that were voted "unbeatable in practice" by the community.

This wouldn't be a score (or star) based voting system, but only a simple to use upvote/downvote (+/-) system.
The upvote part of the system would be hidden (internal) and upvotes would be automatically cast by the server every time a robber reaches the vault.
So the actual GUI would only have a single button "Report this house as unfair" that would be placed next to the "Rob this house" button.

If a player reports a house that house is grayed out (or marked in a different way) on the house list (for him only) and the "Rob this house" button is disabled. Yes, if you report a house, you can't explore it anymore. The player can still revoke the report by paying a small price, for example $500. This is to discourage false reports, but still give the player an option to revoke it if they misclick or change their mind. If they revoke the report they can enter the house normally again.

Of course all vote manipulation preventing mechanisms would have to be implemented as well, such as:
- one vote per house per account
- no option to change your vote:
    - once you steal from a house's vault you can't report it anymore, unless the house gets edited
    - once you report a house you can only revoke the report by paying a small price, but you get 1 free revoke if the house gets edited or robbed
- editing a house must reset all the positive votes but keep all the negative ones to prevent quick meaningless edits from manipulating the voting process. Players who already reported this house would see it was edited and get a free revoke, which would allow them to recheck the house free of charge if they wanted.

If a house would fall below a set threshold, it would be put at the end of the list. The threshold would be a configurable server-side value, that could be tweaked based on the community size and based on how the game evolves. But all this only solves part of the problem; it gets rid of the "unbeatable" house spam at the top of the house list.

The other part of the problem is that the owner would still be able to rob others and increase his money (even easier now, since he would be "off the radar") so another mechanism would have to be put in place, that would prevent this from happening. At this point I don't really see a way to do it, that would be "fair" for everyone and at the same time prevent the manipulation of the system itself. Instead I will suggest an implementation that cannot be infinitely manipulated but still gives the house owner the chance to get back into the game.

So here is how I imagine it would work.

1. If a house gets reported by many players and at the same time not many players reach its vault, this house would naturally drop below the set threshold value due to the low upvote/downvote ratio.

2. The next time the house owner enters such a house, he sees a message saying, "You broke the eight tools rule of the Thieves' code. The Thieves guild is keeping an eye on you! Be careful!". At this point the owner can edit, test and prove the house as he would do normally, but if he decides to leave the house, a message would pop up saying, "Do you really want to betray the Thieves guild?"
2.A. If he chooses "Yes", he leaves the house but is killed by the members of the Thieves guild. A black screen pops up with a message explaining that he got killed by the members of the Thieves guild, because he betrayed them.
2.B. If he chooses "No", he stays inside the house.

3. If the stays inside he has a few options.
3.A. He can make some edits to the house and then give away all his money, tools (he would keep any tools in the backpack) and paintings (the paintings would go to the auction), by choosing the option "Bribe the Thieves guild by giving them all your belongings."
3.B. He can decide to keep the money, tools and paintings, but lose his house (he would just start in a new empty house), by choosing "Flee the house with your family and all your belongings"; or "Flee the house with all your belongings", if the whole family would be already dead.

4. Choosing either option would allow him to leave the house safely again. At the same time the votes would be reset, and his house would be put back at the proper spot on the house list (based on the amount of his money). So if he gave away the money and kept the house, he would have to start robbing again to get back all the things he lost; if he kept the money, he would have to remake the house from scratch.

5. But there's a catch... these options (3.A. and 3.B.) can only be picked once each (could also be once only) per respawn, which means that if his house keeps getting reported and falls under the threshold again, the only option left is to die and respawn — by leaving the house and getting killed (option 2.A.) or using the already implemented suicide option. After a proper respawn all votes and all options reset. It's a new, clean start.

How would this affect the game?
- There would be an option to report houses that are unbeatable in practice.
- The owner would have one or two chances to reset the votes and get back into the game. Failing that, eventually he would have to respawn and lose everything.
- The top of the house list would actually contain houses that the community thinks that are fair and solvable in practice. This should create a better experience overall.
- And hopefully, given some time, even players that now create "unbeatable in practice" houses, will adapt and start making houses that are "solvable in practice".

Since this is a community-driven system it will adapt to changes in the game itself as well as the metagame. This means that the system is not tied with the game mechanics and won't limit the game design possibilities, unlike most other fixes that would actually have to change the core game mechanics just to address this issue. Making fixes directly to the game mechanics has one big drawback; every time you introduce new traps/tools/mechanics you have to take extra care to not reopen the original issue. This additionally limits things that you can actually add to the game and slows the development; either because you take extra steps to make sure you won't break the game again; or you accidentally break the game and you have to come up with new changes to fix it again.

Creating a community-driven regulation system has another interesting advantage. Not many think about this but when an item is added to the game it's usually added with specific use cases in mind. Some of those use cases are interactions with other items. But players always figure out ways that the developers didn't think of, which creates an interesting situation; sometimes these unintended uses enrich the game, sometimes they are overpowered, and sometimes they just plainly break parts of the game. A community-driven regulation system can actually deal with many issues (balance or greifing) that result from the players' abuse of a game mechanic.

Taking into consideration that Castle Doctrine has one developer, I think that investing some time into developing a community-driven regulation system will pay for itself in the long run. I think, that then, the community could actually reduce the burden that all these balance issues bring to a single developer, while he would be able to focus on new features and adding new traps/tools/mechanics into the game.

So is the community fine with a self regulating system or are you concerned about it?  If you are concerned, explain why.

I hate how this idea seeks to punish people for figuring out how to win the game.  It isn't their job to make a fun house for you.  It is fun for them to figure out how to make an unbeatable house.  If we're going to do something, change the game, not punish people for using what is there and is not cheating or an exploit.

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#24 2013-04-16 00:17:59

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

vraeden wrote:

I hate how this idea seeks to punish people for figuring out how to win the game.  It isn't their job to make a fun house for you.  It is fun for them to figure out how to make an unbeatable house.  If we're going to do something, change the game, not punish people for using what is there and is not cheating or an exploit.

Yeah don't worry the game changing is more likely anyways.

I like dynamic things, so social interaction and self regulations systems are more interesting to me than statically defined (sometimes rigid) ingame rules, that's why I throw crazy suggestions out there (the first suggestion was dynamic tool balancing). But people are not ready for these in this game yet. (There are other games that use dynamic self balancing/regulating systems and you can still have a lot of fun playing them, even if you can't just do whatever you would be able to do if they weren't in place).

It's interesting that figuring out how to win this game actually breaks it. It's probably what most of us here did; we learned the game mechanics; we figured out an optimal house layout, maybe failing a few times and were robbed by a player who knew more about the game mechanics; then we fixed the house design; then we wanted to play the "steal from others" game (basically the only gameplay that there is left after you complete your house) and we figured out that most other players use optimal houses too; so we reached a point where we were stuck. At this point some players probably even stopped playing the game.

What's also interesting is that many games suffer from this, including most board games that even you probably played at some point. I won't spoil any board game for you, but if you play board games, there's a high chance that you play some board games where it seems that there are many different strategies, but in fact there is just 1 optimal strategy and if every player goes with that strategy the same player (usually first to start) wins all the time or the game gets stuck at some point.

That's the core of the problem... a game like this shouldn't have an optimal win solution (arguably it shouldn't have a way to win at all). So if this will ever be fixed at its core then you won't be able to figure out how to win the game anymore or have fun making unbeatable houses - so this playstyle would be cut out of the game entirely and you would be punished anyway, just in a different way.

And let's not forget the (probably) most important part that people rarely mention. This is a multiplayer game. Having fun is fine as long as you don't deliberately and constantly do it in such a way that prevents other players from having fun as well.

And don't get me wrong, I also support the idea that the game itself should be changed, but even combining all compatible suggestion within this thread still allows a player to make an unbeatable combo lock house.

no wires through walls + animals only move within 6 spaces
still possible

no wires through walls + a single fixed power source in the near corner (or even next to the entrance for that matter) + animals only move within 6 spaces
still possible

no wires through walls + a single fixed power source in the near corner (or even next to the entrance for that matter) + animals only move if they see the robber
still possible

no wires through walls + a single fixed power source in the near corner (or even next to the entrance for that matter) + animals removed from the game
still possible

still allow conductive walls + power traveling 8 spaces through non-wires (limited power propagation) + (animals removed or severely limited)
still possible

no wires through walls + power traveling 8 spaces through non-wires (limited power propagation) + (animals removed or severely limited)
still possible

etc.

etc.

EDIT:
a single fixed power source at the entrance + power traveling 8 spaces through non-wires (limited power propagation) + pit bulls kill each other if close + animals reaction range severely limited
maybe a possible fix, would limit what's possible to do with animals and/or logic in this game (depends if switches would count into the 8 limit or not) but might prevent inaccessible logic altogether. The power traveling distance might have to be reduced even more, to something like 6. I need to think a lot more about this, but it might work.

Last edited by Matrix (2013-04-16 11:45:20)

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#25 2013-04-16 00:37:43

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

Re: Dealing with too-hard houses

Raisane wrote:

or simply let the wive be unkillable, and let the children carry the money. like that you will get new children every X amount of time, which will carry money again smile

Hmm... but the wife would have to be killable as well or else you wouldn't be able to explore the house deep enough in most optimally designed houses.

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