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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    The Castle Doctrine came out today.

    50% off during alpha.

    http://thecastledoctrine.net/buy.php

    Interesting game. A bit nerve wracking once you've set some defenses up. Leaves you wondering what will happen.

    My first character already died by dog. Decided to explore an already-robbed house and found that the dog was still there and alive. >.>

  2. #2
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    Ooh, nifty. I recall the front-page features and interviews about this one - a good mechanical frame, although I have reservations about the setting. I'm also curious to see how/if he responded to any of the critiques he received. Thanks, johnki!

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Well, so far, I have three rather large problems with the game:

    1. You can only put wires in wooden walls which are the cheapest type. This means that later on, even if everything else is made of concrete, if you want to run something through a wall, that segment of your wall has to be weaker than the rest of the wall.

    2. When you go to test out the house to make sure that it's fair, if you die testing your own traps, you die. Your progress is lost. Including the design. So if there's a tiny oversight, you have to start all over to fix it.

    3. You can't set it up so that your family can trigger pressure plates on the way out. They can only walk over open space. If there is ANYTHING that makes it so that there is no clear space (or possibly just wires) to walk over on the way out, then it will NOT let you submit the design. This means that, effectively, unless you're really clever about making one way look more enticing than the other and you can make damned sure that it's timed so that the robber won't see your family leave, that your family, specifically your wife, who has half the money, is absolutely helpless.

    EDIT: It's only in alpha right now, though, so maybe it'll be improved a bit. Also, it's open source so maybe, worse comes to worse, someone might just manage to fix it themselves.
    Last edited by johnki; 13-03-2013 at 05:12 AM.

  4. #4
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    Those three problems sound more like gameplay elements to me, though of course I haven't played it.

  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    Those three problems sound more like gameplay elements to me, though of course I haven't played it.
    Well, #1 and #3 I gather were intentionally done that way to make the game more challenging. I just really don't see the point in #1. Why shouldn't you be able to run wires through the other wall types?

    #2 is really, really annoying. If I'm trying to tweak a setup for my house...and all I'm doing is testing it to make sure it's fair, then why should I be forced to start all over if I accidentally fall victim to one of my traps or if it isn't fair? Why can't I just go back and fix the problem? What if the problem is literally a single tile?

    #3 just makes it feel like, despite your best efforts, your family will never stand a chance because the game doesn't let them. One way or another, there is a hallway that is literally a straight shot with no traps to your family and any indication of traps means that that direction probably doesn't lead to your family. To me, that's a rather large problem. The fact that I'm losing half of the progress I've made because it's literally impossible to aptly defend my family.

  6. #6
    Hey, thought I'd clear some of this up with a few pointers.

    #1 is the way it is because each wall has a trade-off. They're not all the same. Wood walls are cheapest to cut (and can be cut by three different tools, saw, torch, and explosives). However, they are the only ones that can have wires through them. This also means that you can *detect* when a wood wall has been cut and have your house react to it (a circuit that does something when a wire is cut.... like release the hounds). Metal walls can only be cut by the expensive torch, but their tradeoff is that they're conductive (behave just like wires), so they cause short circuits. Concrete can only be destroyed by explosives, cannot be wired, and is not conductive, but is the most expensive.

    #2 is just a misunderstanding. You can always always always back out the front door if things get too hot in any house (including while testing your own). On the Prove screen, backing out the front door takes you right back to where you left off editing. See one tile out of place? Back out of the test, fix it, and hit Done again. This can be done as many times as you want before you finally reach your own vault on the Prove screen and submit your house to the server. If you forge ahead into danger and die in your own house, well, that's your fault. This is a game about being very careful around dangerous stuff. The game is never unfair! Even if there are 100 pitbulls right in front of the door, you have 1 turn to look at them before backing out the front door. You are never forced to die... you always do it to yourself.

    #3 is also a misunderstanding, somewhat. Yes, the family is timid and won't step over any of your security nonsense. However, dogs do not block their path (they can walk into the same spot as a dog). This means that dogs are key to protecting the family (which kinda makes sense). I mean, even if you could have them trigger switches, they'd still eventually reach the front door if the robber waited long enough. Put some dogs in front of them that reach the front door before the family, though, and the pressure is on....

    I'm not expecting you to know this, because it hasn't been explained anywhere. I don't really know how to explain it to people, though. I don't want the game to be cluttered with tutorial text. I've thought about posting an FAQ, but I worry that no one would read that anyway.

    Obviously, the game suffers quite a bit (is much more frustrating) when people don't realize this stuff....

  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    #1 is the way it is because each wall has a trade-off. They're not all the same. Wood walls are cheapest to cut (and can be cut by three different tools, saw, torch, and explosives). However, they are the only ones that can have wires through them. This also means that you can *detect* when a wood wall has been cut and have your house react to it (a circuit that does something when a wire is cut.... like release the hounds). Metal walls can only be cut by the expensive torch, but their tradeoff is that they're conductive (behave just like wires), so they cause short circuits. Concrete can only be destroyed by explosives, cannot be wired, and is not conductive, but is the most expensive.
    Yeah, I didn't know all of this. I assumed that, since wooden walls have their own wired version that the others would have them if they were allowed. It makes more sense now. I suppose the tradeoff of concrete is security at the price of customization.

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    If you forge ahead into danger and die in your own house, well, that's your fault.
    I was aware of the back out option. As a whole, it's counter-productive though. If I want to know if a very specific trap works, and I die testing it because it doesn't, then I have to start a very specific configuration all over again. That's just annoying, especially since you also can't save configurations to be loaded later.

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    #3 is also a misunderstanding, somewhat. Yes, the family is timid and won't step over any of your security nonsense. However, dogs do not block their path (they can walk into the same spot as a dog). This means that dogs are key to protecting the family (which kinda makes sense). I mean, even if you could have them trigger switches, they'd still eventually reach the front door if the robber waited long enough. Put some dogs in front of them that reach the front door before the family, though, and the pressure is on....
    This makes more sense. For some reason, I'd been under the assumption that the dogs would kill the family. Probably because the emphasis on requiring no traps to be in the way made it seem as if traps = dead family and the dogs are technically a trap.

    I still wish I could do a bit more with the way things are set up but at least I now know they aren't entirely helpless.

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    I'm not expecting you to know this, because it hasn't been explained anywhere. I don't really know how to explain it to people, though. I don't want the game to be cluttered with tutorial text. I've thought about posting an FAQ, but I worry that no one would read that anyway.

    Obviously, the game suffers quite a bit (is much more frustrating) when people don't realize this stuff....
    Oh it is quite a bit more frustrating. That's quite a bit of a conundrum. I know a lot of games in the past have done a help menu or just a help screen. Maybe link something like that from the house setup screen with a nice "Help" button.

  8. #8
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    Hi, again, Jason! Glad to hear the game is coming along. May I recommend YouTube tutorials, made by either you or the community, as a way to introduce new players? There are some great ones out there for electronic and board games that help illustrate complex stuff (e.g., Fantasy Flight games, Dwarf Fortress). Then again, written manuals are very old-school, which would keep with the 90s-era theme.

  9. #9
    Yeah, video tutorials will come at some point. Right now, I'm swamped gearing up for GDC.

    Responding to johnki about how to test new traps:

    Just like you'd test something dangerous in real life: by including temporary safety features (like kill switches, back doors, etc) that you can use to get out safely while testing. Once you see that it works, you can remove the safety features for your final run. I often use chihuahuas as placeholders for pitbulls while testing, then replace them right at the end before my final test run.

    This is an important part of what the game is about---the aesthetic of being careful. Most games allow you to be pretty careless most of the time, trying whatever you want to try without thinking. We're really used to playing games that way. Roguelikes don't allow that, but there's always randomness to blame (and "just one more time" is tempting because randomness may be kinder next time). In this game, everything is under your complete control, and there is no randomness. You can be as safe as you want to be.

    Which means, when you die, you feel REALLY stupid! This leads to rage quitting, not because you're mad at the game, but because you're mad at yourself. This is okay, I think. I tend to leave the game in a huff and come back tomorrow. I don't play "just one more time" on into the night. I'll come back tomorrow with a better plan.

    Though I think people feel better, and like a game better, when they can blame the game... "Oh, rotten luck! Not my fault!"

    As for your design being lost when this happens.... I've given this a lot of thought. I can't see how death would be tragic and meaningful without that. When you take a risk in someone's house and then find yourself trapped, you get this terrible sinking feeling.... that house that you worked so hard on.... no way out....

    That's a great feeling (from my point of view as a designer).... and if you could just "load" the design from some kind of design blueprint, there would be no consequence to taking that risk. You know, what's permadeath if you don't start over?

    It's even worse when you've made a bunch of money and built a house that costs more than $2000.... all that loot, gone! In that case, having the blueprint to load in the next life wouldn't help (because you couldn't afford it anyway).

    I actually scream out loud when this happens to me. I think that's good.

  10. #10
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    Responding to johnki about how to test new traps:

    -snip-
    Fair enough. I'm starting to notice that even the most clever of designs don't last long unless you have the capital to back them and the capital doesn't last long because you're consistently losing money from being robbed. In that sense, it's almost like a certain design is only meant to last one or two sessions to begin with.

    To be completely fair, for now, the thrill of trying to keep my income rising as others are taking it currently has me hooked beyond the frustration caused by losing a design I thought was clever. I haven't killed anyone yet either and I'm trying to keep it that way.

  11. #11
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    Ah, glad I logged in here to check it out. I was having these same issues with it, and I guess I just wasn't experimenting enough or something. Now to try and make some better defenses for my house.

    Even having a bit more in the readme would have been nice, but I guess that is something that can be added before the real launch.

  12. #12
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    I'm surprised I've played it that much actually. When I first started I was "Mhh, ok, I see what this game is about and how to play it, I'll be bored in 20 minutes"
    I think I've spent 4-5 hours on it these last 24 hours and I'm still not convinced, but I can't seem to let it go. I'm not having tons of fun, but it's addictive. It's kinda weird.

    The one thing I'm absolutely missing right now is some logic control. Mostly an inverter, to plan sadistic and complex traps. There a few tools available, but they oddly serve some very specific fonctions even though the basic ones don't exist.

    This game is definitely more deep and polished than I first thought. It took me a while to notice you could spot dogs behind closed doors.
    Still don't know what ladders are for or the difference between cats and chihuahuas though.


    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    When you take a risk in someone's house and then find yourself trapped, you get this terrible sinking feeling.... that house that you worked so hard on.... no way out....
    I know that feeling, it happened to me once and I felt absolutely devastated... until I remembered I had bought a crowbar, not knowing what it was used for. Knowing salvation after these absolutely terrible seconds of pure depression was the best fun I've had so far in this game.
    Last edited by AshEnke; 13-03-2013 at 03:25 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AshEnke View Post
    Still don't know what ladders are for or the difference between cats and chihuahuas though.
    I believe ladders let you cross open pits. Chihuahuas chase you and cats run away from you, I think.

  14. #14
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    Enjoying it so far. Just found a quick tutorial on reddit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgQPztel0u8 . Which explains some of the wiring stuff.

    What does the auctions do? Is it possible to sell paintings or only buy them?
    Last edited by Norskov; 16-03-2013 at 10:42 AM.

  15. #15
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    [edited out a remark about a little bug that has been fixed in the mean time]

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post
    You can always always always back out the front door if things get too hot in any house (including while testing your own).
    i died a few times while testing my own house cause i didn't understand how stuff works (e.g. i figured an unpowered trapdoor would be safe to step on).
    so, i think it would be better if dying in a test run wouldn't force players to start over.

    [edited out a suggestion i made out of ignorance]
    Last edited by cptgone; 16-03-2013 at 09:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonrohrer View Post

    I actually scream out loud when this happens to me. I think that's good.
    I do agree that the tension you experience when building your own house is great, you do have to be careful, build in fail-safes for traps, and the feeling of suspense when everything is live and you have to get it right first time is great.

    However, the long term pay off for actually building a good trap house isn't that great. I now have built a sturdy trap, what can I do next? I don't want to go robbing any other house, as the risk of me dying is quite high, so I am effectively blocked from doing anything.

    Ideally, I'd like to watch and laugh at people trying to rob my house, but I can't do that, as the security tape option only seems to record when they actually steal something? So far, I can hardly go back into my house as it is being robbed, but nothings appearing in the security tape window, so in effect I have nothing to do.....


    Possible improvements:-
    • Allow users to have multi-accounts, that way I can create a cool trap house on one, and then adventure out to rob on the other.
    • Let me know what I am called - that way I can publicise on twitter what house to try and rob
    • Give information about how many times people have died robbing my house
    • Implement a queue system so that I can actually return to my house first if someone is robbing it, currently I have to spam the go home button


  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    This look so simple yet so fun,would love to try it out.

  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node johnki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Totality View Post
    -snip-
    Just a few notes: you get security tapes when a player either robs you or fails but I don't think those that back out the front door give you a tape.

    Also by far my worst problem now is the tools. I hate knowing that I will build an awesome, perfectly timed trap just to have someone come in and break it apart. It demotivates me quite a bit. Especially considering I spent a lot of time experimenting with cost effectiveness.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnki View Post
    Also by far my worst problem now is the tools. I hate knowing that I will build an awesome, perfectly timed trap just to have someone come in and break it apart. It demotivates me quite a bit. Especially considering I spent a lot of time experimenting with cost effectiveness.
    Well, I don't mind the tools too much - without them, it be very very hard to complicate some levels.

    I do have two modes of play - in one I'm constantly respawning, ignoring my house, trying to break into high scoring castles. As soon as I get a score, I then try to build up my own defensive trap.

    I managed to topple one of the big scores a few hours ago (mainly by careful clubbing of dogs and dynamite usage), and grabbed a nice cat painting and mountain scene. Unfortunately, my inexperience with building traps showed, and someone quickly nabbed it.....

    ...but then I tracked him down! His castles was defended by 12 dogs, and I have no idea how he managed to actually get through the level safely. As soon as I went east, I encountered a electric floor system that had already gone live, so I had no clue how to get through.

    I persisted though, mainly as I wanted my cat painting back, and then I discovered that if you kill a dog then stand on the corpse, other dogs can't get to you. While hopping between two bulldog husks, who turned up, but the Mrs! Well, a quick shot to the head took her out the equation, and more importantly it meant that I could 'bank' all the dog deaths. This then allowed me to respawn into the level equipped with dynamite, and some torches and cut my way to the safe.

    I then spent a long time building a combination lock level, only to idiotically allow robbers to blow the whole thing up with one saw use..... and for my painting to be lost for all time... :(

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnki View Post
    your wife, who has half the money, is absolutely helpless.
    my wife, who earns twice as much as i do, only gets half the money? how sexist!

    there's something fishy about her though.
    - we've never had sex, yet there are 2 brats in my house.
    - she makes so much money yet i've never seen her leave the house - while, the very minute i go to *cough* work, strangers enter the house, without picking a lock or breaking a window.

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