Strategy

AuthorTopic: Strategy
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Do you use strategy in Spiderweb Software games?

Poll Information
This poll contains 1 question(s). 19 user(s) have voted.
You may not view the results of this poll without voting.

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Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Off With Their Heads
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What on earth do you mean? Define "strategy."

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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It has to do with thinking about your next move, thinking of something after you die from a boss, thinking of who to heal or haste, etc.

Those were just examples. If you just bash through everything/cheat and bash through, you arn't really using strategy.

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I can transform into almost anything, though not sanity.

My brother tried to type something here. I just erased it.
Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Agent
Member # 4574
Profile #3
Someone already said elsewhere that strategy could include anything from: kill mage first, to luring enemies into traps. In other words, it's practically impossible to not use strategy.

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Pass the sauerkraut and chips please.
Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
Guardian
Member # 2238
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Why isn't cheating a strategy?

This is pointless. Kill.

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DEMON PLAY,
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Posts: 1582 | Registered: Wednesday, November 13 2002 08:00
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Every time I find a poll, someone searches for a flaw, and usually finds one.

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Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
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If the flaw is that the answer really can't be anything except "Yes," the flaw is pretty fundamental. :P

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Guardian
Member # 2080
Profile #7
Strategy depends on group strength vs opponents' strength. Weak guys you just charge wildly, without any concern for injury, into them, killing them one by one. Strong opponents... not so much.

Essentially, strategy is decision making as per the definition given for this poll. So thus the answer is definitively 'yes' for basically everyone.

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Posts: 1918 | Registered: Sunday, October 13 2002 07:00
Agent
Member # 4574
Profile #8
quote:
Originally written by Infernal Flamming Muffin:

Every time I find a poll, someone searches for a flaw, and usually finds one.
If anyone has a poll, and there is a flaw in it, Spiderwebbers will find it. It's like a forum passtime. That's why polls amongst people who have been here longer are more rare then amongst the newer people.

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Pass the sauerkraut and chips please.
Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
Guardian
Member # 2238
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The point is, everything you do is a strategy. Equipping a weapon is a strategy. Not equipping a weapon is a strategy. Looking at the screen is a strategy.

Get it yet?

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DEMON PLAY,
DEMON OUT!
Posts: 1582 | Registered: Wednesday, November 13 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #10
I'm willing to concede that very few battles require specific strategy. You can figure out what works well in general and stick with it pretty much through the whole game. Or through the whole series, really.

—Alorael, who also thinks Geneforge requires much more strategy than Avernums. A4 required some thinking, but A1-3 and the Exiles work quite well if you just act the same for every single battle.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #11
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

What on earth do you mean? Define "strategy."
Well, I need no definition. I most certainly do not use stratagy. I suppose my imagination is strong enough for me to think about how each battle would have played out. Either way, the outcome should be the same: me winning. Thus, I simply cheat.

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 8596
Profile #12
I play all games using a randomized script that chooses everything for me, no strategy here!

(Just kidding.)

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ni~pah
Posts: 28 | Registered: Friday, April 27 2007 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
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I buff before I enter the dungeon, I stay in combat mode while exploring, and I go for the spellcaster.

If you call that strategy, then I'm Sun-Tzu.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Electric Sheep One
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Suppose we distinguish between strategy and tactics. I don't really know any distinction except for scale: tactics is about individual battles, strategy is bigger and longer term. People also distinguish grand strategy from plain strategy, as being larger scale still.

Tactics in Spiderweb games are not extremely complex, but they do make a difference. Everybody has tried a tough fight a few times, trying to find the best way to do it. If there is a best way, it's probably obvious in hindsight, so then afterwards we don't think there was any serious tactics involved. But the fact that we regularly take several stabs at Spiderweb battles seems to say that in fact the games have non-trivial tactics.

Strategy is always limited in CRPGs, since at best they have only tactical AIs. At the strategic level they are all purely passive. In a sense they even have negative strategy, since the games are rigged to be beaten, instead of being designed to thwart the player. On the other hand passivity also eliminates most of the value of strategy on the part of the player. You can't cut an enemy's communications and supply lines, or take out its command center, because none of these really exists. Usually the only way your actions in any one area affect anything in another area is that your characters take stuff (like new equipment or spells) from the first area and bring it to the second.

So there's a bit of strategy in less linear games, deciding what order to do things in, in order to build up your party most efficiently. Spiderweb games do have that element, or there wouldn't be so much demand for the FAQs.

It would be very interesting, though, to see just how responsive a world could be made, with tons of Stuff-Done-Flags. In principle I think a lot could be done in this direction. The question is whether you really make the game more fun by doing so, given the opportunity costs involved. Time spent working out how the game will react differently to different player decisions is time that can't be spent making a single game track longer or more interesting. Back when I was a DM, I tried to encourage my D&D players to think up creative strategies, and tell me about them before I started work designing stuff. Once I started writing dungeon, though, I used every trick I could to surreptitiously eliminate player strategic options; because every time they had a major meaningful choice, it meant that I had to do twice as much work for the same amount of actual gameplay.

Perhaps in the end RPGs are only games at the tactical level. Strategically, they are stories.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Warrior
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This has got to be considered spam. No thought went into this at all.

How about a new poll-

Idiocy?

Yes
No
Only in the Forums

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You are asleep.

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So it goes.
Posts: 93 | Registered: Tuesday, June 29 2004 07:00
Law Bringer
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The poll may be dumb, but then most polls is a useless weight attached to an otherwise interesting topic. Please don't spam it up.

quote:
But the fact that we regularly take several stabs at Spiderweb battles seems to say that in fact the games have non-trivial tactics.
Or that we sometimes just get rotten luck. Yeah, I did retry many battles (especially in Bahssikava), and I did them differently the next time.

But there was one battle in Exodus where I depended on luck. The ice hydras were badass. I could sometimes get one of them with one shot of Adlerauge and one razordisk, but sometimes they had a few hitpoints left to pwn me in the next turn. Roughly each round that I didn't take out one ice hydra would equate to one dead party member in the end.

I ended up reloading until I got through without casualties. Not much strategy about that...

[ Tuesday, May 29, 2007 04:23: Message edited by: Dr. Johann Georg Faust ]

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
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As I know it, there is a real distinction between strategy and tactics beyond mere scale. Tactics are specific actions you can take whose purpose is defined by strategy. A strategy is a general rule or set of rules that can be used as an algorithm to dictate what tactics should be used in order to achieve a given purpose.

Confusion enters into things because "implementing a strategy" can be considered a tactic, and likewise, you can make a strategic decision about which strategy to implement. So many strategies can also be tactics, depending on the context.

To use Avernum as an example:

Keeping your PCs alive is an extremely general strategy.

Reducing damage taken is a slightly less general strategy. Implementing that strategy is an action you can take as part of keeping your PCs alive, so in that context it's a tactic.

Casting Protection and equipping armor are both specific actions you can take as part of the reducing damage strategy -- they are tactics. They are not strategies in any context.

Naming your PC "Conan" is a specific action you can take, but it isn't a tactic since it has no possible relation to strategy.

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Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

It would be very interesting, though, to see just how responsive a world could be made, with tons of Stuff-Done-Flags. In principle I think a lot could be done in this direction. The question is whether you really make the game more fun by doing so, given the opportunity costs involved. Time spent working out how the game will react differently to different player decisions is time that can't be spent making a single game track longer or more interesting. Back when I was a DM, I tried to encourage my D&D players to think up creative strategies, and tell me about them before I started work designing stuff. Once I started writing dungeon, though, I used every trick I could to surreptitiously eliminate player strategic options; because every time they had a major meaningful choice, it meant that I had to do twice as much work for the same amount of actual gameplay.
You know, you really do need to give BoA a try. This is the sort of setup I aspire to creating in a scenario.

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Dr. Johann Georg Faust:

But there was one battle in Exodus where I depended on luck. The ice hydras were badass.
Ice hydras? Do you mean... um... frost lizards? Longfang hydras?

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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Profile #20
On hard enemies, I am usually too impatient to train and come back, so I strategise in order to beat it.
I die, I think better strategy. Sometimes, I am just not powerful enough.

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I can transform into almost anything, though not sanity.

My brother tried to type something here. I just erased it.
Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Law Bringer
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Um... now I feel dumb. Back when I was beta-testing, I'm sure I ran into some blue cold things only a few bends down the underground river from the start. I could've sworn they were hydras.. I guess they were lizards or some other manner of reptiles, and I remember it wrong.

But I remember that they were badass.

Edit: So badass, in fact, that they reminded me of the swamp hydras from Ancient Domains of Mystery. Mystery solved.

[ Tuesday, May 29, 2007 13:50: Message edited by: Dr. Johann Georg Faust ]

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
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I'd like to hear more about what specific strategies and tactics are used.

Potions: I didn't use these for the longest time. I just relied on my mage spells and kind of let them sit around in my pack gathering dust.
Lately I've been drinking haste potions upon sighting powerful mages, sprinting past the meatshield, and killing the casters hand to hand. That or sniping them out from a distance.

I drink strength potions whenever I see a group of big burly guys (like ogres or giants).
Posts: 7 | Registered: Wednesday, February 28 2007 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:


Strategy is always limited in CRPGs, since at best they have only tactical AIs. At the strategic level they are all purely passive. In a sense they even have negative strategy, since the games are rigged to be beaten, instead of being designed to thwart the player. On the other hand passivity also eliminates most of the value of strategy on the part of the player. You can't cut an enemy's communications and supply lines, or take out its command center, because none of these really exists. Usually the only way your actions in any one area affect anything in another area is that your characters take stuff (like new equipment or spells) from the first area and bring it to the second.

I think things could be pushed a bit further in this direction without too much in the way of complicated intercoding. There's a third-person (usually) squad shooter called Freedom Fighters out there. The Red Dawn-style Russian invasion of NY scenario isn't anything in particular to write home about, and the squad-building and shooting aren't anything super special either (though solid), but it does do one thing which I find exceedingly interesting:

It gives you multiple areas to access at a time, which are interlocked in various ways. Generally there's one sensible way to unravel the interlocks to your best advantage, but it does create the illusion of multiple approaches to the scenario. For example, you might have a helipad, a barracks, and a building full of hostages. The barracks provides guards to the helipad (and presumably also the hostage building). The helipad is the fueling base for a nasty attack chopper that patrols the hostage building's area. So you can directly assault the hostage building and be done with that particular section, but you'll have a chopper and swarms of guards to deal with. Blow the barracks, and the other two sections become significantly safer. Blow the helipad next, and your route to the hostages is relatively trivial to clear.

Don't think it'd be especially hard to build a two or three area interlock setup like that in Blades of Avernum or other RPG scenario editor. (I mean, providing comfort with the scripting to begin with. Something I don't have.)

It's not the grand scale strategy that would be most pleasing, but it'd make a definite change from the entirely self-sufficient quests that tend to dominate the genre.
Posts: 26 | Registered: Thursday, May 31 2007 07:00
Electric Sheep One
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Yes, that's a good example of what I think one could do.

The ideal version is to give the enemy an agenda that they pursue aggressively, but which gets modified in response to the player's actions. In the early game you can get away with pretty minimal responses, on the assumption that the player isn't doing anything important yet. And in the end game, there won't be too many options left. But in the middle there is a snarl of branching possibilities. Realistically, you need a chapterized structure to cut down on the possibilities, by forcing the different plot possibilities down to just a few flags, at several points in the game.

But that's not such a bad limitation: the best building blocks for a good story are always good smaller stories.

On the other hand, with only 4 chapters and three conclusions to each, you 81 main storylines to consider, plus any branching you want to do within the chapters. Of course you can force some of these storylines to converge, but you can't do too much of that without eliminating the effect. I wonder, what is the minimal amount of branching you can have that will preserve the impression of a live adversary in a malleable world?

[ Saturday, June 02, 2007 00:49: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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