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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    mod note: The following is an excerpt from the PC Bargains thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    IIRC the WIT claimed that it's not really that XCOM-my right? I was left with the impression that it's a game worth trying, though it has nowhere near the budget and polish of the Fireaxis XCOM games.
    True about the polish, but the 2-actions-per-turn and cover system are practically lifted straight from Firaxis. The luck mechanic is a pretty neat addition, as well as the card boosts. I think the WIT was mostly referring to the game outside of combat not being much like XCOM. Outside of combat the game is almost a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or perhaps something like The Banner Saga.
    Last edited by alms; 21-05-2016 at 02:55 AM.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    The luck mechanic is a pretty neat addition, as well as the card boosts.
    XCom-like games interest me, so I researched this when it came up earlier. The review I read claimed that the luck system ruined the game. Shots at targets that are wide open miss because the target has a lot of luck remaining, and if you've got someone behind cover, they take a steady drain of Luck from attacks. Weapons that would otherwise be interesting are a waste of time because the Luck system emphasizes taking a lot of shots to drain Luck followed by a big, powerful shot when the target is finally out of Luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gus_Smedstad View Post
    XCom-like games interest me, so I researched this when it came up earlier. The review I read claimed that the luck system ruined the game. Shots at targets that are wide open miss because the target has a lot of luck remaining, and if you've got someone behind cover, they take a steady drain of Luck from attacks. Weapons that would otherwise be interesting are a waste of time because the Luck system emphasizes taking a lot of shots to drain Luck followed by a big, powerful shot when the target is finally out of Luck.
    I read about the luck system, too, but I thought it was pretty much the same as in XCOM, just that this game warns you beforehand (plenty of 80%+ shots go amiss in XCOM). That you need to drain them of luck by lots of shots first doesn't sound good though, like a lot of rinse and repeat. But the daily deal is long over, so I'm safe - for now. Thanks. ;)
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMan View Post
    I read about the luck system, too, but I thought it was pretty much the same as in XCOM, just that this game warns you beforehand (plenty of 80%+ shots go amiss in XCOM).
    It's true. A full 20% of shots with 80% to hit miss in XCom.

    The way Luck apparently works in Hard West is hit percentages aren't really hit percentages. They're a number you compare to the target's Luck. If it's lower, you miss, and subtract that amount from the target's Luck. If it's higher, you hit, and the target gains some luck. So if you have a 10% chance to hit and the target is down to 0% Luck, you will hit. Since that "10%" is really 100%, and "chance to hit" is misleading. It's really "luck damage."

    So there's this gimmicky effect on gameplay where you whittle away at targets with "luck damage," and then only pay attention to how much damage a weapon does when you have that guaranteed hit.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Here's the word from the manual:

    As stated before luck is one of the three fundamental attributes of characters in Hard West. Above all it is a layer of protection. In Hard Westís combat there is no randomness, instead, the targetís luck is reduced by the shooterís chance to hit and only if the targetís luck hits zero the character is hit.

    Whenever a character is hit, luck is in turn replenished. How much luck a character can receive for being shot differs from character to character but the resulting luck will never exceed the maximum luck indicated by the luck bar.

    The underlying idea is to prevent a repeated series of hits or misses to give shootouts a more realistic and cinematic feel in the Western sense of the word. The fact that Luck also powers abilities adds another tactical layer to the equation.
    Emphasis mine, and should be considered as well as it can be important. Should you take that trick shot, using up luck and thus making yourself more vulnerable, or play it safe instead?
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gus_Smedstad View Post
    It's true. A full 20% of shots with 80% to hit miss in XCom.

    The way Luck apparently works in Hard West is hit percentages aren't really hit percentages. They're a number you compare to the target's Luck. If it's lower, you miss, and subtract that amount from the target's Luck. If it's higher, you hit, and the target gains some luck. So if you have a 10% chance to hit and the target is down to 0% Luck, you will hit. Since that "10%" is really 100%, and "chance to hit" is misleading. It's really "luck damage."

    So there's this gimmicky effect on gameplay where you whittle away at targets with "luck damage," and then only pay attention to how much damage a weapon does when you have that guaranteed hit.
    This strikes me as a system that's only going to cause the bulk of players, who already seem to have a hard time grasping probability, to have even less realistic expectations the next time they encounter a game with true percentages.

    I mean, seriously, every luck-based game (Blood Bowl, XCOM etc) seems to have a seething forum full of people that think the AI must be cheating because 90% should mean a guaranteed hit. Speaking as an educator it's legitimately horrifying.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    XCOM 2 has magically stabilised percentages. Say you have 5 10% shots lined up, after each miss you get a hidden accumulation of accuracy until you land a shot again.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    XCOM 2 has magically stabilised percentages. Say you have 5 10% shots lined up, after each miss you get a hidden accumulation of accuracy until you land a shot again.
    Yup, which is (again) teaching people the wrong lesson about probability. They're stacking the deck so they won't be accused of stacking the deck - it would be funny if it weren't so sad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    I mean, seriously, every luck-based game (Blood Bowl, XCOM etc) seems to have a seething forum full of people that think the AI must be cheating because 90% should mean a guaranteed hit. Speaking as an educator it's legitimately horrifying.
    Yep. For any game featuring any kind of RNG you have to take a massive pinch of salt when reading user reviews. People go crazy about this kind of thing and throw all logic out the window.

    I did once miss a 100% shot in Massive Chalice but that game has optimist/pessimist traits for characters which mean that the actual chance to hit can be higher/lower than that on screen. It amuses me to think that someone somewhere probably went absolutely apeshit about that, not realising the character had that trait.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    Yup, which is (again) teaching people the wrong lesson about probability. They're stacking the deck so they won't be accused of stacking the deck - it would be funny if it weren't so sad.
    Firaxis have been doing this for years. Sid Meier once gave a speech about the winner paradox - how most people only complain when they lose, and when they do lose they feel cheated, even if it's actually all fair and above board. I think it was Civ Revolutions in 2008 when they began adjusting the math to lessen the likelihood of repeated failure for the player.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    This strikes me as a system that's only going to cause the bulk of players, who already seem to have a hard time grasping probability, to have even less realistic expectations the next time they encounter a game with true percentages.

    I mean, seriously, every luck-based game (Blood Bowl, XCOM etc) seems to have a seething forum full of people that think the AI must be cheating because 90% should mean a guaranteed hit. Speaking as an educator it's legitimately horrifying.
    When it comes to games is that players already know games already "cheat". Games raise health and damage to create tougher enemies, give the AI side bonus or even infinite resources, read position and/or state data directly to determine AI reactions, etc... With that knowledge, it isn't unbelievable to suspect that the game is also fixing random rolls. Funnily enough, games that actually rig their random rolls are most likely attempting to favor the player.

    There also still seems to be a general distrust of pseudo-random number generation. People are more willing to trust physical dice rolls than they are a game's RNG (and even then people will question whether the dice are fair.) Play a board game where one person makes every roll again and again against overwhelming odds, and people chalk it up to luck (particularly if they keep swapping dice around). Play a computer game where the same thing happens, and people believe the game's RNG is busted or the game is cheating. (Differences are that you can't actually see what the computer is doing the way that you see a physical die being rolled, and that you can't "swap dice" if someone does question fairness.)

    And, to be fair, the RNG in a game at its best isn't going to cover the full range of possibilities. In reality, something that has a 90% chance of working might work 1000 times in a row, but it could potentially be impossible to have such a run. It doesn't help that some games have worse designed RNGs than others, and some have particularly poorly implemented usage of an already iffy RNG design.

    Two other big psychological issues are that success/failure is often binary and games end up in situations where the percentage chance doesn't necessarily match what the player would believe to be realistic. These two can feed off of each other, such as when your trained soldier fails to even scratch the unarmored foe that he is standing right next to. In a real-time game, that kind of shot wouldn't be guaranteed, because the target might through luck or skill dodge the shot. In a turn-based game, the player seems the foe just "standing" there are point-blank range, so you already have the player having a different perception of reality than what the game has. And then the player misses, and ... nothing... The player gains nothing, because either he would hit or miss, with no middle ground. He won't inconvenience the opponent (who realistically would have been spending time moving around while under attack), and he can't scratch the opponent unless he hits (where a hit in turn may trigger a second check of the RNG for how much damage the hit delivers. So even a hit could itself turn into a scratch.)

    And then you top all this off with a system that puts a lot of importance on a limited number of random checks, so things don't get to even out over time. A single check breaking the wrong way, much less a full turn's worth of "bad luck", can wreck a scenario.

  12. #12
    Network Hub gordianblot's Avatar
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    I really just want clarity.

    Like in Final Fantasy Tactics, the game may say an attack has a 60% chance to hit but you can pretty much throw that number out. Shields and who-knows-what-else can change that number so much that the character probably shouldn't even try an attack just from the risk of a counter. But shields really are the worst offender because the characters are all sprites and it's a PS1 era game so it can take a lot of squinting to tell if a shield might come into play.

    Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has REALLY similar combat with the only major difference being that a "60%" will always mean 60%. There will be a bunch of rock/paper/scissors games going into that hit chance, but they all factor into the number that the game presents to the player. I could miss that 60% attack 3 times in a row and still be fine with it (although definitely not feeling like a taking a trip to Vegas) because there were clear terms to the deal I agreed to when I hit the attack input.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus postinternetsyndrome's Avatar
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    Very interesting stuff!

    An alternate track of this discussion is the matter of what kind of impact the randomness has in game terms. It's very unsatisfying to have an effect do nothing as the result of a dice roll, regardless of the medium. A card game, for example, has plenty of randomness, but it's front-loaded in that the game is like "here are your options, they have been randomly determined", but the result of taking a particular action is often quite deterministic. That's why MtG stopped using coin-flip mechanics; adding extra chance to the effect resolution on top of the already random chance of drawing a particular card can be very frustrating.

    Hearthstone does loads of coin-flippy things and the community sure is divided about it. Lately though, they have moved towards less binary randomness, like the mechanic that presents you three random cards and lets you choose one to add to your hand.

    Having a 60% chance do to 100% damage and a 40% chance of doing 0% means failing the roll can be a very dramatic turn of events. (Of course, you might want dramatic events in your game.) I'm a supporter of more granularity in situations like this. You might make it as simple as having three success states instead of two, so that you are very like to deal some damage, even if you still have to manipulate the board situation a bit to get the best result.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    The dice in Blood Bowl are especially evil though ;-)

    A large part of the issue is how games present misses - which often comes down to animation limitations. The character will shoot at the guy who is apparently standing still directly infront of him, but miss. In reality, this is a split second interaction and the guy isn't standing still, might have dodged, etc..
    Better animation might at least alleviate the problem. (Like the way a blood bowl player who fails a sprint roll will just hilariously jump onto the ground with no obvious cause. If the animation incorporated some kind of realistic sprint and trip it'd be much more realistic and acceptable).
    Showing a full-speed replay of the game/turn might be another option.
    Simultaneous turns a-la frozen synapse is another one.

    We've talked about it before on here, but personally I find rolling real dice to be much more accepting than numbers in a PC.
    If I know my target, roll my dice, and I fail then that's dramatic and heartbreaking, but acceptable and not rally annoying.
    But because we know many things in games are decided by random numbers, but most games tend to let us control the outcomes, when we hit a game that takes that control out of our hands then we get frustrated.
    Last edited by BillButNotBen; 21-05-2016 at 09:01 AM.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Puzzle Quest was also frequently accused of this - people were convinced that every time the AI got long combos off some (seemingly) random match, it was cheating, no matter how much the devs claimed otherwise.

    Strangely (given how much I swear at the screen over other things) this stuff very rarely bothers me. I enjoy videogame versions of board games where I'm pretty much fighting the dice, and I don't mind (much) if I can't see what the computer's doing with them. I found Tom Chick's review of Warhammer Quest almost laughable, for example. On the one hand I could totally see his point, it is a vague, needlessly obtuse little game which doesn't fill you in on how everything works and doesn't cover up the lack of data very well (I'm standing right in front of this monster, how exactly did I fluff six rolls of the dice in a row?). Yet on the other hand I just never felt like any of that really mattered, and couldn't sympathise with his frustration at all.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus GameCat's Avatar
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    The character will shoot at the guy who is apparently standing still directly infront of him, but miss. In reality, this is a split second interaction and the guy isn't standing still, might have dodged, etc..
    Better animation might at least alleviate the problem.
    Neverwinter Nights did that years ago. Every time you've missed the attack the enemy was doing some sort of dodge animation.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    Neverwinter Nights did that years ago. Every time you've missed the attack the enemy was doing some sort of dodge animation.
    I think to some extent if I enjoy the game I just do this in my head anyway. Card or dice games encourage it, IMO, given they tend to be pretty minimalist as it is, so filling in the blanks seems like part of the fun.
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  18. #18
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    Randomness in programming isn't actually as easy as it sounds: https://www.random.org/randomness/
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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GameCat View Post
    Neverwinter Nights did that years ago. Every time you've missed the attack the enemy was doing some sort of dodge animation.
    As did KotOR, though that is kinda real time.

    it goes some way towards fixing the issue, but with turn based games you can still end up with seemingly crazy misses due to the way the end positions of the turns play out. You have to have some pretty great dodge animations to make that look convincing.

    Space Hulk is interesting for this, because of the action point system. In some ways you could argue that action points are more detailed / realistic than move-then-shoot systems, but it sometimes looks kinda odd.

    If you start the turn with a genestealer infront of you, you can theoretically fire 6-7 times in a turn, and theoretically end up missing every time. This looks pretty dumb and impossible.
    For one thing, it seems like the Terminator is firing 7 times in the time it takes a stealer to move about 30cm. For another it looks impossible to miss.
    But, if we take turns as an abstraction of the two sides actually acting simultaneously, what is probably really happening is that the stealer is running down the corridor (his previous turn) while the marine fires at him. But in the game he first runs down the corridor, and then the terminator fires at him.
    (Things like overwatch complicate the turn based abstraction even further).

    Of course, that still leads to weird things like:
    - If the stealer has just rounded a corner, how could the marine have gotten off seven shots in 1m of travel?
    - If the stealer manages to get all the way to the marine and kill him, why didn't the marine get off any shots in that whole move?
    - If a stealer passes a melee marine and ends his turn next to him, the marine can get in a hit on his turn. But if he passes without ending his turn near the marine then the marine doesn't get a hit (even though he was passed).

    I think a lot of the issues aren't with percentages exactly, but with the weird artifacts of turn based abstractions.
    (Though of course, some more advanced systems have features to try and deal with those, such as initiative).

    KotOR's approach of breaking combat down into mini turns that could be animated in almost real time has a lot of benefits in terms of looking believable.. although the end result combat was just a clusterfuck of grenade/force spam.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sabrage's Avatar
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    Tribute rolls in Solium are not only worse when you do subsequent rolls in the same turn, but also definitely tuned to not give you whatever resource you need when you really need it.

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