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Code workings

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Code workings

Postby Hawkwind » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:28 pm

One thing that I noticed has been quite rampant on other games is the way the code works, what exactly works well with what and what is pointless.

I believe this came from players that became staff or the reverse. Either way this did wonders to shatter immersion and roleplay for a lot of people. Is there any way efforts could be made to prevent such widespread "optimizing"?

Characters, well played and active, popular characters, have retired upon the discovery that they have not picked the most min-maxed build for what they have wanted to do.

Thoughts?
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Re: Code workings

Postby Nimrod » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:55 pm

This has actually been a topic of discussion among a few admins already. I'm all for giving out ZERO information on how code works, even though a lot of it can be doped out by someone with the new or old codebase. I'm of a mind that we shouldn't make it any easier than we have to for min-maxers.

I'll be pointing to this thread on the staff boards and we'll discuss it further.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Emilio » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:18 pm

Keep it hidden. I've never bothered to figure that out before and I don't really care about it now. In my opinion, roleplaying is the most important part after having fun.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Meneldor » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:39 pm

Roleplay IS having fun! :D
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Re: Code workings

Postby Brian » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:07 pm

The thing about not making it public is that someone will find out and then they will have that knowledge and they'll pass it on to someone, and it will disseminate a little, perhaps to their inner circle, and then you'll have a group of higher powered characters at the expense of everyone else.

When it comes to this kind of thing, the only way to stop it is to, as best you can, design it so as to be impossible. Also, to realize that players WILL min/max and that really, is that even a bad thing? It's going to happen, it's one of those things you have to expect, and plan for, like earthquakes if you live in Japan. There's nothing you can do about it, the Earthquakes going to happen and you can't stop it, you can just do everything you can to minimize the damage.

I believe that the Atonement code base does a lot of things better than the SoI code base to help to avoid min/maxing at a systematic level. If there's anything else you can think to build in that will help to avoid it, that will apply evenly across the board without we players having any effect on it, great, but don't expect that you'll be able to stop players from utilizing what limited min/maxing is available to them. Someone will figure it out. When they do, it will spread. This is, in my eyes, a fact. It can't be stopped, so do what you can, and then make peace with that fact :P
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Re: Code workings

Postby Letters » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:13 pm

There's been a gradual pile-up of information over the years. And a problem in that min-maxing is a thing that can indeed be done, if you want your character to do something really well. I don't recall ever seeing anyone quit over it, however. That seems like hyperbole.

The way the ARPI code works actually appears to exacerbate the potential for min-maxing, compared to the older engine, where physical and mental attributes had a subtler impact.

The below is certainly common knowledge for anyone who played Atonement, but I've tried to keep it vague.

If somebody wanted to make a character that is well able to survive combat, they would pick constitution first, for the hit points, the healing speed and the stamina. Next up, some people might put willpower, some people might put strength. The usefulness of willpower is rather diminished with the lack of firearms, I feel, so strength it is, which allows you to carry more and hit harder. The remaining statistics all have different advantages, and from there on, it depends somewhat on individual preference. Some may put intelligence last for a fighting type, since in the long term, faster skill gain may not mean much to them, and they may never hit the cap. Some may put dexterity last, since even having a mere 10 in that is sufficient to allow related skills to reach high adroit, and the cap provided by having 11 is sufficiently high that it is essentially impossible to reach with any skill. Some may mix it up a bit and go for a character that deals out lots of damage, in which case strength and agility are prioritised instead of constitution and strength.

Somebody who plans to play a character that crafts and does nothing but craft has no need for anything but intelligence. Dexterity may perhaps come in for the really high skill levels.

I don't think I've referred to anything that isn't already in a helpfile, besides the numbers, and how dexterity's pretty useless. Min-maxing is really easy, because the code, as is, allows it to be.

All that is rather common knowledge, for anyone familiar with this iteration of the RPI engine. You would need to rebalance things a lot to avoid min-maxing. Or at least make dexterity useful. Willpower probably isn't much good compared to the rest, with firearms absent. Overall skill caps are very generous, even to characters with only middling levels of intelligence, though I suppose it depends on how much you deem it reasonable for a character to be able to do. I would also suggest decreasing the usefulness of constitution by changing hit points from [4 * constitution] to either [18 + (3 * constitution)] for a smaller range of values, or [36 + (2 * constitution)] to tighten it up even further, though I would leave stamina values untouched.

Better a tweaking of values, I think, than trying to obfuscate the code, when, as it is, the code is known quite well by a number of past players. Better to make min-maxing less feasible than hoping that nobody works out how to do it.

On top of that, I'm under the impression that skill increases with the ARPI engine come far more quickly than they did with the old one. The timer between potential increases can't be more than two hours of logged in time, on average. That's crazy. It was fine in a setting where the average character might not live for more than a few weeks, perhaps, which is what it was made for. People chasing rats and tiny lizards around at all hours, or attempting to get as many lizards as possible to attack them all at once, so that they could hope to sustain damage and set off whatever modifiers there are to weapon skill gain. Others crafting something, idling for two hours, then crafting again.

That needs to be changed drastically. Just scaling up the timer won't help, since that sort of thing can continue to happen, and it's already punishing to those who don't spend all day logged in. Personally, I would adjust the timers to account for offline time, too, and then increase them drastically.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Hawkwind » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:32 pm

Letters wrote:The below is certainly common knowledge for anyone who played Atonement, but I've tried to keep it vague.

And a whole other mess


Partly the reason I bring this up is the highlighted above, what people do gain the information share it among their little group. Though again the biggest problem is knowing what Letters has just given us, it is utterly ruining for immersion. At the end of the day, all it reduces the game to is a set of values and numbers. Now I know anything can be reduced to such, but when these take priority the roleplay takes a hit.

It has happened all over and I am desperate for it to change and be about the roleplay. On the other hand, if all knowledge was released publicly and such was easily and simply read for all, that would remove the problem partly. However, that will not change the attitude towards roleplay, though it would remove the advantage of those having worked with the code and refused to share. Good or ill.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Octavius » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:39 pm

The characters most dedicated to min-maxing already have access to, and knowledge of, the code. The only ones disadvantaged are those that are new players, or otherwise not dipping into the circle of the min-maxers.

I would advise:

* Making the game code so that it incentivizes desirable behaviors. Measurement affects activity.

* Informing the playerbase clearly about things that are known to some but not to all.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Letters » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:02 pm

I don't have a group or clique or anything like that. I described the issues with Atonement's code and how you can min-max much too easily, along with my personal thoughts regarding skill increases and how the present system encourages a certain sort of approach from some players.

As is, there are perhaps two 'good' ways to set out a fighter's stats, and two important stats for a crafter, and if a person wants to play a crafter who also fights, and do both really well, they should just take their high constitution and strength then put intelligence after those, in all likelihood.

There are all sorts of funny quirks with the engine, but the present well-known ability to min-max qualifies as a big, glaring problem in my eyes.

Another issue is arguably the sheer brutality of Atonement's combat. Seeing a character with middling constitution lose 40% of their health in one hit was a frighteningly common occurrence. That's why I suggested the change I did to the hit point calculation, while leaving stamina and healing rate untouched if possible.
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Re: Code workings

Postby tehkory » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:34 am

Hawkwind wrote:One thing that I noticed has been quite rampant on other games is the way the code works, what exactly works well with what and what is pointless.

I believe this came from players that became staff or the reverse. Either way this did wonders to shatter immersion and roleplay for a lot of people. Is there any way efforts could be made to prevent such widespread "optimizing"?

Characters, well played and active, popular characters, have retired upon the discovery that they have not picked the most min-maxed build for what they have wanted to do.

Thoughts?


Ignorance. Ignorance leads to stupid choices like retiring a character over "min-maxing" and the "wrong" build. Let's use Hawkwind's examples. I have a PC. It's an active, well-played, popular PC. Except I learn that I have not picked the most min-maxed build for what I wanted; so I retire.

It's obvious that this is a bad choice, roleplay-wise, or at least a suboptimal one. That was also an incorrect choice, code-wise. Longevity matters more than your build, no matter _what_ you're trying to 'build' for. And given the existence of upgrade, you can always slowly shift towards your needs.

Why keep people ignorant? 'Information' will be spread around, true or not; rumors, beliefs, half-correct or almost-correct, information will be spread around. Like in Hawkwind's example people will take this information, or this 'information,' and they'll do as they will; good decisions, bad decisions, 'smart ones,' 'dumb ones.' You can't prevent it by not releasing it; it did on SoI. I'm sure decisions like this happened over on SoI too. Maybe they were more common given how hard it was to learn skills, too.

ETA:
You're way off about combat builds, Letters. Con or str first has its place, but there's also agi/str builds, or high int so you can end up with high skills very swiftly. I've seen all of them work, and work well. It's just about specialization vs. generalization
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Re: Code workings

Postby Tepes » Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:07 am

I'd really like to know what I'm getting myself into, and how to make it suck less. I'm not alone. While I do like RP, and everything it stands for.. I really won't play a PC that is utterly gimped in his chosen line of skill list. It's tiresome and boring. If I have nothing to strive for, then what's the point?
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Re: Code workings

Postby Pehrune » Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:33 am

No matter how hard the code is hidden or guarded by the staff, the players will eventually start getting a decent understanding of it and min maxing will occur. However, I do not see min maxing as big problem when it comes to PvP. Here is why: In the SoI that I knew, (I played on and off starting May of 2006) PvP occurred relatively rarely. And when it did occur, the outcome of the confrontation was decided mainly by the number of combatants on either side and their gear more so than by the stats of the PCs.

So the only occasions when mix/maxing would make a slight difference would be during tournaments and PvE. Even then, the gear would probably be the deciding factor.

My point is, the SoI I knew already did a great job of obscuring the code enough to make Role Play the main point of the game. There are always going to be twinks and grinders in a game that has stats and skills, they come with the territory. If we wanted to play a game without coded attributes we would play a MUSH of some kind.
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Re: Code workings

Postby Throttle » Wed Dec 25, 2013 7:06 am

The game's engine is basically open source, isn't it? I'd say that's as transparent as it gets. You can literally open the hood and have a look at the code. It seems there'll be little to no change to how the code handles the important stuff, i.e. combat, skills and stats, so anyone can poke around in the ARPI engine's code and see for themselves. I think you just have to mail Kithrater for a copy.
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