Rad look at roguelikes' progression systems

Really, really good look at various Roguelike's progression systems and WHY THEY'RE GOOD :D

Thanked by 3Fengol Jurgen Rihm


  • edited
    It's weird that he likes the progression system in Into The Breach more than FTL. I think it's like night and day between FTL's really great progression and Into The Breach's horrible tacked on progression.

    I think my disagreement here is because he seems to completely ignore a dimension of the progression that I highly value, which is the emergent narrative. I find Into the Breach arbitrary and unappealing because the progression seems contrived. The rules of the progression in Into The Breach may be good, but the fantasy they create is way worse than FTL.

    (In my opinion obviously)
  • That's interesting, I haven't played Into The Breach (Turn based tactical games hurt me deep when I was but a grasshopper) but I understood what he was talking about with FTL (which I did play), the drones and missiles are pretty one-dimensional and don't really interact with much of anything else. In fact they're mostly shoot-and-forget systems. And the other thing he critiqued about FTL was the utterly random outcomes of events, which nullify decision making...

    What else didn't he like about FTL's progression? I thought he said the use of scraps were multi-dimensional and good, and the forced increase in difficulty + upgrade anywhen was a good combo?
  • edited
    I was more pointing out that even the developers of Into The Breach said that the progression in that game was designed less well than the progression in FTL. I wasn't saying his critiques of FTL are wrong, rather that his estimation of Into The Breach was wrong.

    Yeah, so I do agree that most of the points he raised about most of the games were on the money. But being so very wrong about Into The Breach is kind of weird and leads me to think there's something big about progression systems that falls into a blind spot for him.

    Although, another very minor point, I'm not actually convinced that the random outcomes of events in FTL are a strictly bad design like he says. I think it's one of those counter-intuitive aspects of game design where the positives of the design aren't immediate and so are unclear to the player. i.e. Everyone will prefer getting perfect information about the outcome of a choice, just like everyone would prefer to select the bro they play with, but people enjoy improvising more than they enjoy following a plan (and so games that include more randomness might be more fun than games where players are in control). It's counter-intuitive, but not getting what you want can make a more enjoyable experience and possibly make the choice more exciting. At the same time, I don't think giving (mostly) perfect information in Slay The Spire is a bad design, I'm of the opinion that there are pros and cons that are dependent on the rest of the experience, and I think he's missing the nuances of the designs in this case.
  • edited
    Well, again I haven't played Into The Breach so I can't really speak to that.

    Regarding randomness, I always come back to this comparison - random in, and random out. Random in gives you a random thing to deal with, while random out is an outcome that you could do nothing with. In FTL's case the random outcomes give you circumstances you have to deal with later, so I guess it falls somewhere in between, but then contrast that to Slay the Spire, where they give you random in with defined outcomes that you can deal with through your decision making.

    So to compare:
    FTL is randomly gain or lose resources (outcome, I have to get more of that resource)
    Broforce is randomly play with this bro (outcome, I have to learn to play with a new set of stuff)
    Slay the Spire is randomly given a choice (outcome is determined on how much risk of my resources I was willing to take with that choice)

    I do believe in randomness being good for diversity, but random outcomes I dislike.
  • edited
    @Tuism Yeah, everyone dislikes random outcomes. But sometimes they make the game better even when players dislike it (which is weird right?)

    The lead designer on Magic The Gathering is the person who I first encountered talking about "random out" and "random in" where random out was generally bad and random in was generally good. And I believed that to be generally true, especially in a game like Magic The Gathering (i.e. the deck is your big random effect that happens at the start of the game, your opponent's moves when it's not your turn effectively add randomness you need to counter, but all the cards behave reliably during your turn).

    But then Hearthstone came along and made loads of the cards have random effects, and it worked. Which I didn't believe at first, but I was proven wrong.

    One of the more subtle effects of randomness is reducing decision paralysis. In a game like chess where every move is predictable the optimum way to play is to plan really far ahead. But in Hearthstone or XCom what you do is roll the dice a lot of the time and see where you land and then work with that. The latter experience is often more fun SO LONG AS the player doesn't feel like the randomness is so great that they are at the mercy of randomness. i.e. being able to plan is fun, but planning as you go is more fun than coming up with a very complex plan and then executing it.

    I do generally agree with you of course. I would still say that "random in" is *generally* way better than "random out", if we're debating where to place the randomness of a game. I really enjoyed my time in Slay The Spire. and that game goes to great lengths to provide the player with reliable information.

    Question: You say you dislike random outcomes, but do you think you would enjoy XCom more if every bullet predictably hit or missed the enemy? My understanding is that people have made less random XCom-like's and the XCom method seems to have held up as the better design.

  • Great video! Very interesting and helpful, thanks for sharing!
  • edited
    @EvanGreewood I do agree with you mostly, that random in is only *generally* better than random out, and that it's not always necessarily true. Hearthstone's random out is interesting, I think it works because there's so much of it, that the entire game was built around it. It also served as a novelty that moved a MTG-like to something different. As a player, you also had a choice whether you interact with the random systems or not - you didn't *have to* play the cards with random effects, but many of the random effects are generally net good, and that's why players put those cards in their decks. So what I'm trying to say is that they offered players controls to the randomness, as opposed to making them *have to* participate in them.

    Xcom wise, I played it a bit and found it okay. Of course predictable shots would not work at all with Xcom. And so that's a game designed entirely around increasing the chance to hit. Over time I didn't end up enjoying it. The Xcom boardgame relies heavily on dice outcomes and I was hyped about the game when it came out (mostly because it was real time and eliminated analysis paralysis and alpha syndrome with that) but I didn't like it over a couple of plays, a lot of that was due to how you could easily be screwed by bad dice outcomes. In these cases, bad outcomes didn't make more interesting decisions. It just screwed you in a win/loss binary outcome.

    Anyway back to the context within which we were discussing this - To me was that the context of randomness (or specifically, random outs) often made decisions less interesting, whereas I think the video's point was to look at interesting decision making afforded by roguelike systems. Not that randomness = bad, because roguelikes *are* intrinsically random/procedural after all.
Sign In or Register to comment.