The dangers of a too-statistics-driven treasure generator

[ Just an anecdote today, as I’m still working on the Kickstarter preparations. I’ve got Sandra heavily involved now, and she’s helping slog through a bunch of remaining tasks. If the Kickstarter succeeds she’ll be able to allocate a portion of her time each week to the game, too, which will really improve the robustness of the game — a single person’s vision can get myopic on a game this big. Anyway, expect the Kickstarter very soon! ]

I was testing some combat changes, so I grabbed some random equipment and started fighting monsters. After a bit I noticed messages like this one in the chat log:

I vaguely recalled writing that, but… what? Ah, it’s my pants:

Emotional Capacity is an attribute for the Animal Husbandry system that partially determines their mating potential. But unless you were to tame this pig and then immediately try to breed it with another pet  pig in the next 30 seconds, you would never see any effect from this.

When I made the prototype treasure effects, I went down the list of attributes and made modifiers for all of them, whether useful or not. But I only meant to add the useful ones to the treasure table.

But eh, I’ll leave it for now. I’m sure a pig’s emotional state will end up being important for something else down the road… maybe Combat Psychology somehow… or taunting or something. Yeah, probably taunting, I haven’t got that hammered out yet.

On the other hand, these pants will literal reduce the pig’s emotional capacity to zero. Not reducing it by a fixed amount, or by 10%… it reduces it by 100%! So when emotional capacity¬†does have an effect, these pants will almost certainly be overpowered.

Another irritating bug: the pig should have a gender, but the message uses the pronoun “it”, meaning the gender isn’t getting processed correctly. Since Animal Husbandry is the one and only time a pig’s gender matters, that’s almost ironic.

Bonus Tsys Weirdness: I love the name on my random hat.

Also, what is with that crazy dithering on the white background? Gotta look into that.

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18 Responses to The dangers of a too-statistics-driven treasure generator

  1. Azuriel says:

    I imagine death would also render pig unsuitable for (most) romantic partners.

    This game keeps sounding more and more interesting. I have to wonder though: how concerned are you over the tone? There is clearly a lot of depth to the various systems, but the impression I get from reading about it is one of… quirkiness, or slapstick almost. Is that what you are going for?

  2. Eric says:

    On tone, my main goal is consistency: I have certain loose rules and certain general “vibes” that are repeated often. So for instance I avoid references to pop culture. There aren’t any monsters based on movies, or quests that are homages to songs or actors or whatever. It’s not part of the vibe I want. On the other hand, there’s a lot of silly skill mechanics, and the tone is pretty light (e.g. in item descriptions), while staying “in the world”. Hopefully the tone will fit together into something kind of predictable.

    It’s kinda like Minecraft: at first it’s pretty ludicrous that you can punch trees apart, and that a tree stays upright with half the trunk punched out of it. But after a while you don’t think twice about any of this. I think that’s because the game has a reasonably orthogonal overall vibe (along with orthogonal game rules). Sometimes they aren’t quite there — endermen kind of stick out, actually — but the tone is MOSTLY very consistent.

    So, yeah, quirky, but in specific areas, not just a shotgun of whatever I think is humorous. I’m sure the tone won’t be 100% reliable, but it’s what I’m going for.

  3. Sandra says:

    To add a little to Eric’s comment: The tone we’re aiming for really is quirky but not frivolous. The game will address serious subjects – the world of Project: Gorgon is not a happy-go-lucky place and it certainly isn’t a safe place. But it is a rather … different … place. The inhabitants have a rather quirky way of thinking about their rather quirky world. That’s part of what Eric means by consistent. The people in the game can live in that world because it is (mostly) consistent, but it isn’t quite our world.

    All of which means that we can have fun with it – a certain kind of fun – while still building a world that doesn’t feel frivolous. Or at least that’s the goal.

  4. bubble says:

    I think this tone is one of the potential selling points.

    The sword of emotional wounding made me smile and made me instantly think of (i think in classes rather than skill blocks but it’s the same principle) a Bard class with “wounding quips” as a class ability.

  5. Richard Nunes says:

    I love the idea of pants so comfortable they kill the mood. I’m thinking back to “Legend of the Red Dragon” when my brother and I competed to win the affections the the bar maiden. Besides husbandry and animal psychology, the pants make it impossible to hit on the opposite sex at the bar and protect against the hypnotic wiles of sex-crazed elves. Please keep those pants in the game, they have plenty of potential uses as you add skills and features to the game. Can you please add “Loose Linen Blouse of Illumination” that both provides light in dark places and causes dying monsters to quote the life lessons from Aesop’s Fables? Thanks.

  6. Nikolai says:

    Happy see Sanda back in action! You two can make this game shine like diamond :)

    ps. i’m still pretty much intrested helping with UI art, if you recall my forum posts..

  7. The Guilty Party says:

    Why does a Helm, racist or not, require Sword Level 1?

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  10. Eric says:

    The helm requires Sword Level 1 because it’s buffing sword skills — Wind Strike is a sword technique. Actually, all players have at least Sword level 1 because you get it in the tutorial dungeon, so that’s a completely useless requirement. But random treasure doesn’t always make sense! :)

  11. Conor says:

    I once knew a man who was emotionally crippled by a pair of extremely bright white pants. He was also drunk at the time, though.

  12. tad says:

    I would think any pig or other monster afflicted with such emotional distress would turn into a cold ruthless killing machine (Terminator Pig) or alternatively turn suicidal.

  13. Ken says:

    Hehe, once I read ovet this again I realized I like your humour. I’m starting to hope that your kickstarter campaign will work out.

  14. tad says:

    Me too.

  15. Edward v says:

    Hello, I know this may not be the type of comment you are looking for… But.. I am rather disappointed. I was really hoping to see an homage to mmorpgs of old, not an homage to monty python. I liked the look of the video diaries, and the game, but was really hoping it’d be closer to ac..
    Thanks for letting me look though.

  16. Eric says:

    Edward v – I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I posted these examples because I found them humorous, not really because they’re super representative of the game. But okay, fair enough. They seem cheesy to you and you don’t like cheesy. However, they’re not Monty Python references… if they’re cheesy, that’s just me, not some homage.

    But as an aside, do you know the MMO with the most Monty Python references in it? Asheron’s Call. If you hate the humor aspect of classic MMOs, I suspect you’re remembering the past through rose-colored glasses.

  17. Edward V says:

    I know there were monty python references in Ac.. however, there was still a game without the references. That’s the point. A game, with a serious world, with a serious point. The jokes were aside, not the point. I’m not knocking what you’ve built, on the contrary, every thing was exciting up until I read this about the gear. From the looks, it was a step back to a meaningful game (just the video diaries). A step away from the wow Clones..
    Oh, and props on AC2.. was too early though.

  18. dakre says:

    I just wanted to at least point out, how can you not like a game that includes humor in the gameplay? There’s many games that do it, and they are all pretty fun games. Not because of the humor, but the humor exaggerates the gameplay making it more fun. Just like the white rabbit in AC, that’s just amusing as well as challenging. However, you have to remember, screenshots and videos are like an idea, and that idea is meant to be spread to make you interesting in trying the game. If they wanted to show you the game, they would be giving you demos of the game instead, whether you get to play or not.

    I don’t mean to sound like i’m bashing or trolling you, but you have to remember games aren’t always to transparent and you generally have to try it if it strikes some kind of interest. If you fool yourself before trying something out, it’s like telling yourself you’ll never win the lottery and not even try, even when you don’t really know whether you’ll win or not. So i would suggest leaving an open mind about whether it could be fun, and try it out sometime later and see if it really is something you could play.