Monday, 4 June 2012

What should Jon play?

The topic of roguelikes comes up towards the end of the latest Three Moves Ahead podcast. I remain convinced that the topic of roguelikes would make for a great Three Move Ahead episode. I remain unconvinced that Diablo III on hard core mode would make a great roguelike (unless you could skip the first 30 levels).

Related: David Sirlin on what is great about the Diablo III skill system.

[Edit: Also why Diablo III isn't addictive enough. And game design analysis.]


Scott said...

You are correct about Diablo on hardcore mode being a bad roguelike. Permadeath should feel like a teaching tool, not not an extremely harsh punishment. A game that you can spend hundreds of hours on is unsuited to have permanent death. Especially in a real-time game where a bad bit of lag or an unlucky sneeze can kill your character.

Its not a bad mode exactly, but it hardly follows any of the design decisions a roguelike would. Permanent death doesn't much help D3 towards being more like a roguelike.

Joseph said...

Agreed. I have no idea what Permadeath could possibly add to the Diablo experience. The game is about building a character over many hours, grinding for awesome shiny and maybe running around with your friends. Permadeath destroys that totally.

As far as being a roguelike, Diablo's roguelike elements do nothing to enhance the game. Looks to me like the permadeath option is there just for legacy reasons.

The game is just not random enough to replay over and over and keep it fun. Characters are NOT fungible or easy to let go.

Joseph said...

Hey that was a solid podcast.

The topic of 'what does fun mean' and the conclusion being that fun is different per individual is something I think of quite a bit.

A game being 'fun' has to be put in context. When I review games, movies, books, tv shows or whatever else I always try to put it in context. Aliens is the greatest movie of all time, if you are into Action Scifi. Event Horizon is the best movie of all time, if you are into Scifi Horror and for some stupid reason didn't like Alien.

You see? Best depends on the values of the audience. I've not done a review in awhile but I review with an eye toward the demographic that media is geared toward. If you watch Avengers looking for the next Citizen Kane, Psycho or Porky's you are going to hate it. If you watch it looking for a good super hero romp comparable to X-Men, Spiderman and Batman then you are going to be "SUPER PUMPED DUDE!!!"

Yes Diablo is fun for an action RPG. If you like ARPG you'll dig it. As a gamer you'd have to be an idiot not to see the appeal.

However, the developers have breached their ethical duty to mankind by purposefully trying for the most additive game play possible while also including a real world money component. If it's not regulated already it will be at some point. I think it already is in Korea.

There's an element of gambling there. The game plays off of the same psychological flaw that addicts people to gambling, TV and other such things. The same bull crap that makes me turn the light off 3 times before I'm satisfied. The same thing that makes me turn on multiple alarm clocks, check my phone every 5 minutes and sometimes stare at a forum post for 15 minutes hoping for a response.

It may even be the same brain space related to drug addiction. I dunno. But I suspect.

And now I've rambled enough. Thank you very much for the website. Ranting is good for the soul. :-)

Darren Grey said...

Hmm, an insightful and interesting episode. Not sure there was any definite conclusion, but a lot to reflect on.

For a new person's roguelike I think ToME4, Brogue or Dungeons of Dredmor are the only ones that are approachable enough interface-wise to not turn people off, whilst still having an engaging depth of play. ToME4 in particular has that element of always thinking 3 moves ahead like in strategy games. It makes the most of being a turn-based game with many tactical options to think through.

Rodneylives said...

When I hear about people saying Diablo III doesn't get started until Nightmare or Hell mode, I am reminded of how much I hated the early dungeons of Pokemon Rescue Team, Chocobo's Dungeon and Shiren Wii. I shouldn't have to pay dues to the game in order to enjoy it, not to grind out experience, and not to work through the stupid easy content to get to the good stuff.

Joseph said...

@Darren - I do think Cardinal Quest should be on that list.

Andrew Doull said...

I've updated the original post to include a couple of additional articles discussing Diablo III if you want to have a read.

Darren Grey said...

Joseph: It's a great game, but for me it doesn't represent the whole roguelike scene very well. It's very light in comparison, and doesn't have the complex decision making of meatier titles like Brogue and ToME. Which is fine for it as a game (to its advantage, even), but though I'd hold it up as an example of a great roguelike for people to try I wouldn't hold it up as an example to represent the genre.

Trying my best not to insult Ido here :/ Though knowing Ido I'm guessing he'd be pleased that CQ doesn't represent the genre well :)

Joseph said...

Yeah. Seriously since he is trying to make money and most roguelikes have no real commercial appeal.

Calling it a representative example of a roguelike would be like saying, "You failed to make a commercial game."