defense of hidden numbers


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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 04:50

defense of hidden numbers

There is this idea that giving players access to information obliges them to use it.
You don't want people agonizing over numbers.
What is disconcerting is that everybody accepts this argument at face value, admit that it's a con, and play the pro vs con game.
What should be established is that this bizarre claim is baseless to its core in the first place.
It is definitely untrue in this context, and I don't think it's true for any game, fiction, or literature ever.
I think the nurturing element of the sentiment can be so seductive - you're taking away people's agony! - that you forget to ask if it's even true.
I've never seen it, the so-called "paralysis by analysis", in action.
On the other hand, I have been and seen people struggling to make decisions because of the game giving no way to evaluate your options.
That's true paralysis - you have nothing to go on.

People are very good at filtering out information they don't want or can't handle, and at making decisions based on a combination of rough estimation and intuition.

Lots of games give you a bunch of info - and they are not worse for it, even if you're not interested in it. If something is not helping you, you scroll past it when you find it. It is, at worst, a minor and non-intrusive distraction. We observe people play without figuring out e.g. what AC actually means, even though it's pretty simple.

The goal when you start your first game of Crawl is to figure out how to move around and hit monsters. The functional approach to this problem is to ignore stats and the right-hand panel. You may even starve to death. It is only when you get a grasp on basic gameplay, and wish to get better, do you pay closer attention to details. This goes on, slowly, to the point where players want to make informed decisions, and start caring about their odds.

Suppose we showed HD in the xv screen, passing it off as "monster level". Is anyone convinced that when people find their first rat, they will think "oh my god it's level 1, I need to do some serious analysis on this to inform my tactics with this rat"? Of course not, they will just see that it's a very low-level enemy and hit it. But, people could accrue some impression of what HD entails, and it could be used in place of dangerousness indicators. You could mention that polymorph attempts to transform monsters into something of similar level, and suddenly it would be clear rather than spoilery why you wouldn't want to polymorph Gastronok.

We also see pro-obfuscation people get a pass when they move goalposts when talking about numbers versus #s and !s: if you count #s or !s, you're misusing what they are there for, but if numbers are available, then you're expected to draw some kind of perfect information by using those exact values, and those numbers must allow you to predict outcomes with absolute precision.

If I were to see "EV: 38" I would think "whoa that's a lot of EV", not "OK so by exactly how much is this stronger than 37 and weaker than 39" because that would be absurd. Following the pro-obfuscation argument further, if that number was given 10 times more precisely (e.g. by including decimals, like "EV: 38.2") then people would be forced to be that much more exacting with their number crunching. It doesn't work that way! It's evident from how you see taverners analyze numbers.
Indeed, now that hex success rates are shown, you can't say people are suddenly making optimal decisions when wanding monsters, just better-informed ones.
I think abstractly, in ranges, like others. But I do this much better if I see precise numbers, and form my own abstractions independently, than if I am handed down some guy's preconceptions of what ranges I should consider.
As for those souls that do analyze everything with spreadsheets and simulations, one thing you can't call them is 'paralyzed'.

Hiding numbers blocks an opportunity to play the game on a deeper, more direct and sophisticated level.
Showing numbers does not obligate the player to any kind of play.
If you showed e.g. monster damage numbers, number-averse players would look right past them - godspeed to them (and me as I would often do it too) because that works too.

Paralysis by analysis is a myth. Paralysis by impossibility of analysis is common. Like sasquatch and mice, respectively.

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 12:40

Re: defense of hidden numbers

I suspect some may reference ToME4 and say that there is paralysis by analysis in that game and they don't want the same to happen to crawl. Yet in ToME4 you need to combine different items and it takes much time if you are trying to optimize your multiple resistances and other properties. That does not apply to crawl of course, you cannot change monster AC/EV or their damage. And if you want to optimize your own gear set, you are already in position to do so since you can clearly see your AC/EV/resists/base weapon damage/weapon enchantment.
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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 15:50

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Crawl's math should be transparent enough for players to (a) make intelligent skilling decisions, and (b) know whether a given item or spell is strictly better than another along some given dimension (e.g. raw damage output), without diving into the code or consulting a wiki (or much less using a calculator that someone else has laboriously coded after doing one of these things). Right now, it's not.

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 17:31

Re: defense of hidden numbers

VeryAngryFelid wrote:I suspect some may reference ToME4 and say that there is paralysis by analysis in that game and they don't want the same to happen to crawl.


tome4 is a explosive shit mess of a game and in no way comparable to crawl. i am still getting flashbacks from constant auto explore deaths in that game

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 17:40

Re: defense of hidden numbers

1.
So the question is not "should we not show any numbers or all numbers" it's "Which numbers are significant to show the player so they can make informed decisions"

There are literally about 50 numbers involved in a "simple" melee combat, some of them are transient (rolls) some of them are player based (Stats, weapon base damage) some of them are monster based (the monster's exact hps, the monster's racila min/max hps, the monster's Ev etc.)

Spitting all those numbers out doesn't let one see *which* numbers are important, if I *only* showed you the results of the rolls, without anything else, that wouldn't be useful, if I only show you the amount of damage you did, without letting you see which numbers let you get there, and don't show you anything else, that's not useful.

Showing you *every* possible number on the other hand leaves you without any context for deciding what's important, how do you decide given a screenfull of 50 numbers how to achieve your results without knowing how the numbers fit together, so it's not just the *numbers* it's also the way the numbers go together.

So then you need to communicate a whole screenful of information just to give the player context to decide which ones are the important numbers, and no matter how well you write it, this is going to be misinterpreted and people are going to lend credence to the wrong things.

When people say "show me the numbers" you really really don't want all the numbers, because the amount of crap that goes with seeing all the numbers is horrible, makes for an un-fun game, that no one would want to learn, much less play, and if anything makes the game make less sense, not more.

What you really mean is "show me the numbers I think are important" and that is a completely legitimate argument to have, *per number* because every thing that you could or could not show has different merits and drawbacks.

For example "Show me the monster's AC" is a useful discussion, because we need to decide: 1. If "AC" is a meaningful value to display, or if there's other pre-requisites to making it a meaningful number (For example, showing AC without showing damage is pointless, if you have no context for what AC means, then why is it useful to show?) and 2. If, once it actually provided information, is the information it provided was such that it could let the player make better decisions. (How much difference in AC does it take to effect your tactics, the difference between a 37 and 38 AC critter is obviously meaningless) and 3. If the information is meaningful for the player, what's the best way to display it (If AC is only meaningful in larger blocks, does it make sense to display it as a descriptor "heavily armored" or as a series of pips "###..." or what not. What is the best and most meaningful way to actually convey meaningful information to the player? Is a number with no context useful?)

I think it's completely legitimate, for example, to have a discussion on whether the monster's "max damage" is a good thing to be able to display (But if we're going to display max damage, do we also need to show how we might get there, what are the odds, just how long *is* that long tail? etc.) do we also need to display average damage? etc. It's a large discussion in and of itself, but trying to lump it in with a discussion of "all numbers should be shown" just prevents anyone from seeing the actual benefits/drawbacks/practicality/impracticality of doing so. (Please don't have that discussion in this thread, if you wan't to have that discussion, make a new thread for it :)

2.
Making the math "easy enough for anyone to understand" is a false goal. The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us, being able to represent the math in a simple way is *not* an advantage, it forces the game to be artifically flat, and uninteresting. Even modeling the math of pen-and-paper RPG's as a "something simple that anyone can understand" dumbs them down considerably. For example, "Roll damage, then roll ac and subtract it" is above the pay grade of your average player if you want to express it as a formula, and then you are only allowed to have two statistics. If you want to add things like accuracy and evasion, and shields, and weapons etc. etc. the math naturally gets more and more complicated, particularly if you want different things to have different kinds of effects.

If you want to have a game where you can have variations on the type of character to build, then you need to add variables to the combat, which increases it's complexity commensurately, If you want a game where you have a "character" and you can "increase damage" and that's it, then you shouldn't be surprised that a roguelike isn't your cup of tea.
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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 18:50

Re: defense of hidden numbers

I think that any number that the player can determine through "external" means (online databases, pen-and-paper) should be provided to them.

Consider, for example, a new player facing their first ogre mage. They're immediately assaulted by the cognitive load of 5 "spellbooks", each of which contains 6 spells that they may or may not be familiar with. If anyone's going to experience analysis paralysis, it's this guy, right? But not giving them the possible spells is even worse, because he can consult an online resource to know what they are beforehand - under optimal play, the information they need to consider doesn't change, just the ease at which they can find it. As they fight the mage, these books are also eliminated depending on what they've seen it cast, which is also good behavior because you can get the same information by checking your logs and manually eliminating unfitting spellsets.

Now consider a new player facing their first ettin. They're immediately assaulted by the cognitive load of... a bunch of pluses that force them to consult an online resource to see what they mean. It is optimal for them to ignore that screen entirely, check the ettin's stats on a bot, adjust them further with the weapons that it is wielding, and then decide on fight or flight. Again, the information that is provided to the player doesn't change, and if the player encounters a new, dangerous monster, their course of action ("look at its exact damage/AC/EV values") is the same no matter where these values are stored. But the player currently needs to jump through additional hoops to get to them, and this is utterly awful.

There are of course numbers that the player doesn't see, but can get a rough feel of (how well a monster rolled during combat, for example). I'm neutral on giving information about these (as damage ranges etc.), but the player should definitely be able to access in-game any number that they can access out of it.

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 19:09

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt: Many heartfelt thanks for that posting! I felt like I should give an in-depth reply, but couldn't muster the energy anymore. And then you did :)

Croases: That ("any number...should be provided") is your opinion, and that's fine. It will not happen.

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 19:12

Re: defense of hidden numbers

And your justification for that decision would be?

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 19:16

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Croases: I wrote very long treatises on the forum recently, my stamina is depleted. The "display AC as a range" thread contains a lot of it. Since these discussions tend to run in circles, I'll restrain myself to "won't happen", until I get too lazy to do even that. And even then, of course, it won't happen.

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Post Monday, 10th October 2016, 20:30

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Croases
I think your post would be better if you didn't mention "all numbers". Do you really need all the numbers? I think you need monster damage, average monster HP, approximate AC and approximate EV, in this order. And crawl already gives all that except the first one. Really, even approximate monster damage would be an almost perfect solution. People are not expected to fight monsters which can one-shot them, no matter what HP/AC/EV the monsters have.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 03:12

Re: defense of hidden numbers

VeryAngryFelid wrote:Do you really need all the numbers?

No, but I already have them, so they may as well be made more convenient to see.

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 03:14

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Croases wrote:
VeryAngryFelid wrote:Do you really need all the numbers?

No, but I already have them, so they may as well be made more convenient to see.

By the same argument, you already have access to all of the source, so Crawl should show you a screenshot of all the source code that it uses to execute every command....
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 03:58

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:Spitting all those numbers out doesn't let one see *which* numbers are important, if I *only* showed you the results of the rolls, without anything else, that wouldn't be useful


I agreed with most of what you wrote except this. Knowing the 50 numbers that went into a roll would indeed be cognitive overload, but that is no argument against providing the one number that ultimately mattered: the result. Why is a rough indicator (health bars) of how much damage the player did any better than simply providing the number? The player already can calculate how much damage monsters do to them by tracking their own HP.

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 04:39

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:By the same argument, you already have access to all of the source, so Crawl should show you a screenshot of all the source code that it uses to execute every command....

Yes, an option for this would be really good. Call it debug mode or something.

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 06:40

Re: defense of hidden numbers

lethediver wrote:
Siegurt wrote:Spitting all those numbers out doesn't let one see *which* numbers are important, if I *only* showed you the results of the rolls, without anything else, that wouldn't be useful


I agreed with most of what you wrote except this. Knowing the 50 numbers that went into a roll would indeed be cognitive overload, but that is no argument against providing the one number that ultimately mattered: the result. Why is a rough indicator (health bars) of how much damage the player did any better than simply providing the number? The player already can calculate how much damage monsters do to them by tracking their own HP.


I didn't say it was or wasn't better, not do i think the snippet you quoted contradicts that.

All i was saying is that numbers without any understanding of what they represent aren't useful, and that showing every number that could even tangentially relate to attacks obfuscates the ones that do matter.

I don't think that i implied that any specific number was above or below that threshold, only that we should explore the merits of showing or hiding each one on their own, rather than trying to apply some sort of blanket philosophy.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 12:07

Re: defense of hidden numbers

While I broadly agree that simply dumping every number available in front of the player wouldn't be a good thing...

Siegurt wrote:2.
Making the math "easy enough for anyone to understand" is a false goal. The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us, being able to represent the math in a simple way is *not* an advantage, it forces the game to be artifically flat, and uninteresting. Even modeling the math of pen-and-paper RPG's as a "something simple that anyone can understand" dumbs them down considerably. For example, "Roll damage, then roll ac and subtract it" is above the pay grade of your average player if you want to express it as a formula, and then you are only allowed to have two statistics. If you want to add things like accuracy and evasion, and shields, and weapons etc. etc. the math naturally gets more and more complicated, particularly if you want different things to have different kinds of effects.

If you want to have a game where you can have variations on the type of character to build, then you need to add variables to the combat, which increases it's complexity commensurately, If you want a game where you have a "character" and you can "increase damage" and that's it, then you shouldn't be surprised that a roguelike isn't your cup of tea.

I think there is a huge difference between a game that has rules that a) are easily understood by the player b) can be implemented/maintained by a programmer c) have obvious optimal play. If you excuse the obvious example, Go is a game that is a) and b) but isn't (yet) c). You don't need to ask the player to understand fancy maths to have a game that's deep or challenging. Simple components can come together to make an intricate system that is fun/interesting to explore. Not saying that's easy to do, but I do think that's actually a good goal to have.

Also, you kinda need b) if you want someone to be able to actually work on the game in a meaningful way. So a simpler rule set could also benefit crawl development as a whole (wherever that's tangential or core, is up to you).

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 12:44

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:
lethediver wrote:
Siegurt wrote:Spitting all those numbers out doesn't let one see *which* numbers are important, if I *only* showed you the results of the rolls, without anything else, that wouldn't be useful


I agreed with most of what you wrote except this. Knowing the 50 numbers that went into a roll would indeed be cognitive overload, but that is no argument against providing the one number that ultimately mattered: the result. Why is a rough indicator (health bars) of how much damage the player did any better than simply providing the number? The player already can calculate how much damage monsters do to them by tracking their own HP.


I didn't say it was or wasn't better, not do i think the snippet you quoted contradicts that.


Actually I played in my mod with what you describe. For two consecutive melee attacks with giant spiked club I saw something like "you hit orc warlord with giant spiked club. rolled 15 out of 1d84, orc warlord decreased damage by 7 and lost 8 HP" and "you hit orc warlord with giant spiked club. rolled 52 out of 1d59, orc warlord decreased damage by 2 and lost 50 HP", for two consecutive magic attacks I saw something like "firestorm hits orb of fire. rolled 106 out of 8d19, orb of fire decreased damage by 69 and lost 37 HP" and "firestorm hits orb of fire. rolled 51 out of 8d18, orb of fire decreased damage by 33 and lost 18 HP". It was useful to learn that magic attacks can have slightly different rolls (8d19 and 8d18) while melee attacks can vary wildly even before final rolls (1d84 and 1d59). I could easily compare effectiveness of different spells and for different melee weapons I could easily compare those Ns from 1dN.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 13:12

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us

Then let the f*** computer calculate my damage range w' a given weapon, weapon skill, fighting skill and strength for me.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 13:41

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:1.
So the question is not "should we not show any numbers or all numbers" it's "Which numbers are significant to show the player so they can make informed decisions"

There are literally about 50 numbers involved in a "simple" melee combat, some of them are transient (rolls) some of them are player based (Stats, weapon base damage) some of them are monster based (the monster's exact hps, the monster's racila min/max hps, the monster's Ev etc.)

Spitting all those numbers out doesn't let one see *which* numbers are important, if I *only* showed you the results of the rolls, without anything else, that wouldn't be useful, if I only show you the amount of damage you did, without letting you see which numbers let you get there, and don't show you anything else, that's not useful.

Showing you *every* possible number on the other hand leaves you without any context for deciding what's important, how do you decide given a screenfull of 50 numbers how to achieve your results without knowing how the numbers fit together, so it's not just the *numbers* it's also the way the numbers go together.

So then you need to communicate a whole screenful of information just to give the player context to decide which ones are the important numbers, and no matter how well you write it, this is going to be misinterpreted and people are going to lend credence to the wrong things.

When people say "show me the numbers" you really really don't want all the numbers, because the amount of crap that goes with seeing all the numbers is horrible, makes for an un-fun game, that no one would want to learn, much less play, and if anything makes the game make less sense, not more.

What you really mean is "show me the numbers I think are important" and that is a completely legitimate argument to have, *per number* because every thing that you could or could not show has different merits and drawbacks.

For example "Show me the monster's AC" is a useful discussion, because we need to decide: 1. If "AC" is a meaningful value to display, or if there's other pre-requisites to making it a meaningful number (For example, showing AC without showing damage is pointless, if you have no context for what AC means, then why is it useful to show?) and 2. If, once it actually provided information, is the information it provided was such that it could let the player make better decisions. (How much difference in AC does it take to effect your tactics, the difference between a 37 and 38 AC critter is obviously meaningless) and 3. If the information is meaningful for the player, what's the best way to display it (If AC is only meaningful in larger blocks, does it make sense to display it as a descriptor "heavily armored" or as a series of pips "###..." or what not. What is the best and most meaningful way to actually convey meaningful information to the player? Is a number with no context useful?)

I think it's completely legitimate, for example, to have a discussion on whether the monster's "max damage" is a good thing to be able to display (But if we're going to display max damage, do we also need to show how we might get there, what are the odds, just how long *is* that long tail? etc.) do we also need to display average damage? etc. It's a large discussion in and of itself, but trying to lump it in with a discussion of "all numbers should be shown" just prevents anyone from seeing the actual benefits/drawbacks/practicality/impracticality of doing so. (Please don't have that discussion in this thread, if you wan't to have that discussion, make a new thread for it :)

2.
Making the math "easy enough for anyone to understand" is a false goal. The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us, being able to represent the math in a simple way is *not* an advantage, it forces the game to be artifically flat, and uninteresting. Even modeling the math of pen-and-paper RPG's as a "something simple that anyone can understand" dumbs them down considerably. For example, "Roll damage, then roll ac and subtract it" is above the pay grade of your average player if you want to express it as a formula, and then you are only allowed to have two statistics. If you want to add things like accuracy and evasion, and shields, and weapons etc. etc. the math naturally gets more and more complicated, particularly if you want different things to have different kinds of effects.

If you want to have a game where you can have variations on the type of character to build, then you need to add variables to the combat, which increases it's complexity commensurately, If you want a game where you have a "character" and you can "increase damage" and that's it, then you shouldn't be surprised that a roguelike isn't your cup of tea.


You don't need a screen full of numbers. You only need 2 numbers: Monster damage and monster speed. AC, EV, MR are nice to know but not crucial. Even player damage isn't really that important to know.

Displaying the odds of an edge-case is pointless, I can tell you the probability of it happening: very low. Nonetheless edge cases drive interesting situations in Crawl combat through sheer sample size. You only need an edge-case event to happen once per game at the wrong time to die, so it's in your interest to play as if an outlier event is going to happen next turn, or at least be aware of the possibility of it. As I posted in the other thread about numbers, I don't buy the paralysis by analysis argument. How will not knowing about possible outlier events, in a game driven by outlier events, let you make informed decisions? It leaves you just hoping for the best every fight until you randomly take a 100+.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 15:48

Re: defense of hidden numbers

tabstorm wrote:As I posted in the other thread about numbers, I don't buy the paralysis by analysis argument. How will not knowing about possible outlier events, in a game driven by outlier events, let you make informed decisions? It leaves you just hoping for the best every fight until you randomly take a 100+.

Siegurt didn't really talk about "paralysis by analysis" though? I mean, tl;dr for his post: the way forward for everyone is to figure out a smart way to convey all the necessary information to the player. Nobody wants the player to not make informed decisions, there's just a lot of disagreement about what constitutes "informed" in the context of Crawl and what information should be included/hidden to make that decision fun.

People can feel free to correct me here, but I'm right, right? We all want Crawl to make it easy and fun to pick the best weapon, or know how dangerous enemies are, without feeling like you're playing learndbRL or fsim?

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 15:54

Re: defense of hidden numbers

archaeo wrote:We all want Crawl to make it easy and fun to pick the best weapon


I am not sure about this. It looks like picking the best weapon is not a priority (I remember reading something like "try weapons in fights, if you don't notice difference, it does not matter which weapon you choose"), yet for some players like me fun consists exactly in picking the best weapon, I want to be sure I did everything I could to avoid a death.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 16:08

Re: defense of hidden numbers

kuniqs wrote:
Siegurt wrote:The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us

Then let the f*** computer calculate my damage range w' a given weapon, weapon skill, fighting skill and strength for me.

Part of the problem is that "damage range" for weapons is misleading, if you plunk down a upper and lower bounds, the usual expectation is that the average is roughly in the middle, that isn't the case for crawl weapons.

Nevertheless my argument in this case isn't "we shouldn't see those particular numbers" it is "we should talk about the merits and drawbacks of whether any given number should be shown on its own terms, and not try to approach it as an all-or-nothing thing"

If you believe those numbers should be shown to the player, by all means, start a discussion about why you think that is the case.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 16:42

Re: defense of hidden numbers

VeryAngryFelid wrote:I am not sure about this. It looks like picking the best weapon is not a priority (I remember reading something like "try weapons in fights, if you don't notice difference, it does not matter which weapon you choose"), yet for some players like me fun consists exactly in picking the best weapon, I want to be sure I did everything I could to avoid a death.

I also remember reading that, but it's not like the game doesn't give you any information about weapons. There's actually a fair bit there in the description, and I imagine that most of the time, it's enough to make an informed decision about which weapon is best.

Could it do way better? Sure. The game could, for example, do something like most modern games with lots of equipment swapping and directly show you which weapons do the most damage. See for example Diablo 2/3, Fallout, or Borderlands, all of which just tell the player, "this weapon does more/less damage than your current weapon." No numbers, perfect information, and a VeryAngryFelid who gets to sleep at night having done everything to prevent player character death.

That said, I think there's some tension between "fun and usable UI" and "give the player all information necessary to make optimal decisions." At some point, you've got to stop short of the latter goal because it totally screws the former goal. Would you be able to make better decisions if the game ran fsim for every weapon description? Maybe! Would it look like a confusing mess? Most definitely. The only point I'm trying to make is that there's a happy medium there that continues to go completely unexplored because of how stuck the Tavern seems to be in the numbers vs. choko fight.

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 16:53

Re: defense of hidden numbers

archaeo wrote:there's a happy medium there that continues to go completely unexplored because of how stuck the Tavern seems to be in the numbers vs. choko fight.

Agreed it's unexplored and that it should be explored. But I'm not so optimistic there will actually be a 'one size fits all' compromise. Pessimism aside, the only way to find out is by exploring. Not in words (which soon turn to flamewars and repetitive arguments) but in test branches. Preferably branches with just UI experiments (which are easy to keep updated with trunk) but any relatively-modern branch is better than none.

"When all is said and done, much more is said than done". I personally don't care about this topic, hence why I'm not making that branch myself.

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 17:09

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:
kuniqs wrote:
Siegurt wrote:The reason we have computers is so that they can do math for us

Then let the f*** computer calculate my damage range w' a given weapon, weapon skill, fighting skill and strength for me.

Part of the problem is that "damage range" for weapons is misleading, if you plunk down a upper and lower bounds, the usual expectation is that the average is roughly in the middle, that isn't the case for crawl weapons.

If you believe those numbers should be shown to the player, by all means, start a discussion about why you think that is the case.


AC number is misleading. The usual expectation is that average is roughly in the middle, that isn't the case of armour with GDR.

No matter how high your EV, there's still a flat 5% chance a monster will hit you regardles. Thus, EV number is misleading, too. There are already flavor messages appearing when attackers miss you, which are more than enough for players to figure out how high their EV is.

Seriously, I just want to have the upper bound of damage for a given weapon shown to me. Or at least give me the formula here, because AFAIK the damage formula is a simple 1dX matter that grows linearly.
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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 17:37

Re: defense of hidden numbers

kuniqs wrote:Seriously, I just want to have the upper bound of damage for a given weapon shown to me. Or at least give me the formula here, because AFAIK the damage formula is a simple 1dX matter that grows linearly.

It's not! In the simplest case, the damage roll for your weapon is

  Code:
 (1d(X * (1 + (2/39) * 1dY)) - 0.66) * (1dZ + 1) * (1dV + 1) + 1dW - 1


(yes, the size of one of those dice depends on a die roll)

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Post Tuesday, 11th October 2016, 21:53

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Psieye wrote:Agreed it's unexplored and that it should be explored. But I'm not so optimistic there will actually be a 'one size fits all' compromise.

Of course not. This is a discussion about a video game on the Internet. Making everyone happy is impossible.

That said, I'm pretty sure we could make everyone in the present discussion a lot happier. VAF, HBG, and the numbercrawl folks just want to be able to make better decisions in the game about weapons and monsters. Lasty, dpeg, and the chokocrawl folks just want a UI that is intuitive and uncluttered. Neither side is actually represented in the game -- we have a cluttered UI that doesn't give enough information. So, to wit,

Pessimism aside, the only way to find out is by exploring. Not in words (which soon turn to flamewars and repetitive arguments) but in test branches. Preferably branches with just UI experiments (which are easy to keep updated with trunk) but any relatively-modern branch is better than none.

"When all is said and done, much more is said than done". I personally don't care about this topic, hence why I'm not making that branch myself.

Yeah, dude, branches are better than discussion. Ain't nobody going to disagree with that. But as long as we're using words here, we might as well try and have a productive conversation as opposed to one we've already had several times over.

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 05:04

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt, I believe you thoroughly missed my point. My OP was about the falsehood of this:
Siegurt wrote:All i was saying is that numbers without any understanding of what they represent aren't useful, and that showing every number that could even tangentially relate to attacks obfuscates the ones that do matter.

you don't mean "without any understanding" because of course listing "yabba: 13, dabba: 20" would leave players with no understanding of what it represents. But come on, even "higher EV = better evasion" is context.
BTW I don't know why you started with
Siegurt wrote:So the question is not "should we not show any numbers or all numbers"


You essentially insist that presented numbers must be meaningful in a vaccuum, by themselves. That's not true. For example, consider EV and accuracy. Let's assume the chance to hit is a function of EV and accuracy. Some presumptious thinking around here would claim that it would make no sense to show EV/acc unless the player could, a priori, figure out the chance to hit. But that's an unsupported statement, there is nothing to back it up, and even a lot of Crawl's feedback runs counter to that idea.

Let's say a bee has an accuracy of 30. A player will only see so many bees. However, they will see twenty times as many other monsters that have similar accuracy. They can get used, through experience, to what 30 accuracy means to chars with various amounts of EV, waaaay more easily than they can get a feel for how accurate bees are. Not only because the sample size is much greater, but also because the players have accuracy numbers to prime their expectations.

Another example:
Siegurt wrote:if we're going to display max damage, do we also need to show how we might get there, (No.) what are the odds, (No.) just how long *is* that long tail? (No, you don't *need* to show these things. Funny, chokopips are equally deserving of this line of questioning, as is the complete absense of numbers...)


The game's in-game manual is ostentatiously hand-holdy and reassuring in how the numbers it presents are not necessary for winning the game. In just about any other other game manual, that would be a given. It is addressed to people that don't actually exist in this world. Why doesn't it keep saying that you don't need to stress pips in order to win? If we're so worried about wasting a player's precious attention on contextless numbers, let's cut this fluff out from the very place where a player would most expect to find an explanation.

archaeo, I hope I'm doing something a little different this time in showing that the charges against numbers are fraudulent. I won't agree that branches are better than discussion as some people are unmoved by evidence and there's nothing here that can't be resolved by talking. But since you mention it, what is this intermediary between numbers and chokos? Alphabits?

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 07:07

Re: defense of hidden numbers

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:Siegurt, I believe you thoroughly missed my point. My OP was about the falsehood of this:
Siegurt wrote:All i was saying is that numbers without any understanding of what they represent aren't useful, and that showing every number that could even tangentially relate to attacks obfuscates the ones that do matter.

you don't mean "without any understanding" because of course listing "yabba: 13, dabba: 20" would leave players with no understanding of what it represents. But come on, even "higher EV = better evasion" is context.
BTW I don't know why you started with
Siegurt wrote:So the question is not "should we not show any numbers or all numbers"


You essentially insist that presented numbers must be meaningful in a vaccuum, by themselves. That's not true. For example, consider EV and accuracy. Let's assume the chance to hit is a function of EV and accuracy. Some presumptious thinking around here would claim that it would make no sense to show EV/acc unless the player could, a priori, figure out the chance to hit. But that's an unsupported statement, there is nothing to back it up, and even a lot of Crawl's feedback runs counter to that idea.

Let's say a bee has an accuracy of 30. A player will only see so many bees. However, they will see twenty times as many other monsters that have similar accuracy. They can get used, through experience, to what 30 accuracy means to chars with various amounts of EV, waaaay more easily than they can get a feel for how accurate bees are. Not only because the sample size is much greater, but also because the players have accuracy numbers to prime their expectations.

Another example:
Siegurt wrote:if we're going to display max damage, do we also need to show how we might get there, (No.) what are the odds, (No.) just how long *is* that long tail? (No, you don't *need* to show these things. Funny, chokopips are equally deserving of this line of questioning, as is the complete absense of numbers...)


The game's in-game manual is ostentatiously hand-holdy and reassuring in how the numbers it presents are not necessary for winning the game. In just about any other other game manual, that would be a given. It is addressed to people that don't actually exist in this world. Why doesn't it keep saying that you don't need to stress pips in order to win? If we're so worried about wasting a player's precious attention on contextless numbers, let's cut this fluff out from the very place where a player would most expect to find an explanation.

archaeo, I hope I'm doing something a little different this time in showing that the charges against numbers are fraudulent. I won't agree that branches are better than discussion as some people are unmoved by evidence and there's nothing here that can't be resolved by talking. But since you mention it, what is this intermediary between numbers and chokos? Alphabits?


And you missed my point, which was if the numbers are presented that *are* without any meaninful context in the game, then they are counterproductive, i didn't make any claim that EV (or any other specific metric) fit into that category.

My point was that you can't treat all numbers the same, some are meaningful, some are pointless, some are point full, but very difficult to give in a way that someone could derive any meaning from.

If you think Monster EV should be shown as a number, great, go present your case, but the arguments for showing Monster EV don't apply to "the bonus base damage from strength that you rolled on this melee attack" (for example).

The only reason i brought up max damage (and i meant player max damage, not monster max damage, that was, in retrospect, unclear) was that showing the player's max damage with a weapon is actively misleading if you are trying to estimate "how much damage i do" and someone who doesn't understand how crawl combat works would take take away a completely wrong understanding *if the only player damage number you gave them was the maximum damage*

What i was trying to say there, is that some numbers don't communicate alone, but might as part of a set, and that it might make sense to discuss those sets when arguing for something to be shown. Perhaps the example was poorly chosen or just unclear.

If you interpreted that snippet as being about monster max damage, then obviously a completely different set of reasoning applies (which is really, ultimately, the point)
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 08:15

Re: defense of hidden numbers

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:I hope I'm doing something a little different this time in showing that the charges against numbers are fraudulent. I won't agree that branches are better than discussion as some people are unmoved by evidence and there's nothing here that can't be resolved by talking.

Resolving this just with talk will require, at the very least, a radically different 'ruleset' of negotiation. A paradigm shift in the 'ruleset' is certainly possible. The default 'ruleset' of "pick a position, entrench yourself in it, pick a slightly different position, repeat" does not work. So long as your side and the devs treat each other as 'the enemy who must be defeated', neither side is interested in actually solving the problem.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 08:26

Re: defense of hidden numbers

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:The game's in-game manual is ostentatiously hand-holdy and reassuring in how the numbers it presents are not necessary for winning the game. In just about any other other game manual, that would be a given. It is addressed to people that don't actually exist in this world. Why doesn't it keep saying that you don't need to stress pips in order to win? If we're so worried about wasting a player's precious attention on contextless numbers, let's cut this fluff out from the very place where a player would most expect to find an explanation.

Where do you see the ostentatious hand-holdiness? That bit in the Clarity section is hardly that, anyway. Regardless, I think the manual could stand to have a lot more clarity, or provide more information. That's a project anyone could try to work on!

archaeo, I hope I'm doing something a little different this time in showing that the charges against numbers are fraudulent. I won't agree that branches are better than discussion as some people are unmoved by evidence and there's nothing here that can't be resolved by talking. But since you mention it, what is this intermediary between numbers and chokos? Alphabits?

I don't know how different this is; you've certainly critiqued the rhetoric used to defend the "pro-obfuscation" status quo, but I'm not sure that it'll persuade that crowd either. Neither will this essay I just wrote, but hey.

I also don't really know what that intermediary would look like. From what I can tell, the numbercrawl people are mainly interested in two broad categories of information: granular data about equipment and character abilities, and more details about monsters' stats. Here are a few middle-ground solutions I can think of off the top of my head:
  1. What you really want from equipment is the ability to quickly compare what you've got with new items. Virtually every modern RPG-like offers a quick method for comparing weapons and armor, and Crawl could have a system like this as well; even something as simple as a column with ^ and v would be better than nothing, though increasing the number of pips/arrows/indicators increases the ease with which you can compare weapons at a glance. This may be unnecessary with armour, but I wouldn't mind seeing another column describing the net AC/EV changes you'd get without having to put it on.
  2. Everything else in the inventory, spell, and ability menus? Dang. Ideally, as with weapons, you could express things in terms of a number of arrows or plus signs. For example, maybe the damage column in the spell menu would show magic missile with a (-) and firestorm with (++++)? Perhaps if you hit I twice or hit some other button in any similar menu, you cycle through to a screen where the entire righthand side of the menu becomes a bar graph that allows you to easily compare power/accuracy levels? How big does the meter need to be for the information to be granular enough to satisfy those who would prefer the actual numbers?
  3. I think most monster issues could be solved by providing one number in the description: "You feel that [enemy] could kill you in n turns if it attacked with its full strength." Everything else you might want seems unnecessary if you know this number, up to and including monster HP, and if the game could calculate that number (lol), it'd be a great substitute for the existing danger levels.
Of course, all of these sound difficult to code and I'm still not sure they'd actually be satisfactory to either side of this argument. My real point, though, is that somewhere between the manual's "qualitative feedback" and full numbercrawl is a measure that is granular enough to make sufficiently optimal decisions but visually and conceptually clear enough to make that decision easily. Figuring out the sweet spot between granularity and clarity is just as hard as the coding problem. But it's worth doing, as another part of the (admittedly aspirational, I think) philosophy section suggests:

Interface
========================================

The interface is radically designed to make gameplay easy - this sounds trivial,
but we mean it. All tedious, but necessary, chores should be automated. Examples
are long-distance travel, exploration and taking notes. Also, we try to cater
for different preferences: both ASCII and tiles are supported; as are vi-keys
and numpad. Documentation is plenty, context-specific and always available
in-game.
Finally, we ease getting started via tutorials.

Emphasis mine.

So, tl;dr: Crawl currently has two interface problems that make gameplay hard/tedious: it's difficult to easily compare the effectiveness of equipment and abilities, and players must use out-of-game resources in order to make accurate predictions about monster toughness and dangerousness. "Automating" these chores in some fashion is a far superior way to go than dumping the numbers on the player and expecting them to figure it all out, or describing everything about the game in dense prose. In this context, my argument is that "automation" looks like creating a visually simple means by which the player can select the most powerful attack and make informed decisions about monsters.

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 08:44

Re: defense of hidden numbers

I suggest that monsters be given a rating backed by rigorous testing. For example, how many yaks does it take to beat one of these things about half the time in the arena? Call it the yak number. The great thing about this measure is that you don't even need to express it as a number, you can just say "This monster is as tough as the following pack of yaks: YYYYYY," for example. Everyone is happy.

For monsters too tough to be killed by simple yaks, you could introduce ratings based on other familiar monsters, for example death yaks.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 12:02

Re: defense of hidden numbers

archaeo wrote:I think most monster issues could be solved by providing one number in the description: "You feel that [enemy] could kill you in n turns if it attacked with its full strength." Everything else you might want seems unnecessary if you know this number, up to and including monster HP, and if the game could calculate that number (lol), it'd be a great substitute for the existing danger levels.
I often think about this. Ignoring the coding difficulty (which isn't a very serious obstacle, I'm sure), if this were to be done, then the resulting number should be displayed in the monster list:
  Code:
rat [100]
death yak [2]
ancient lich [1]

It is not entirely clear to me just how useful this feedback is. Often, there would be a bunch of monsters with various small killturn-numbers attached to them. Opinions are certainly welcome.

I bring this up for the following meta-reasons:
  • We think about numbers.
  • If we decide to give a number, it should be in the best possible way (easy to see). The monster list is very prominent.
  • Follow-up changes necessary (in an ideal world): mouse-over a monster in the monster list explains the meaning of [xxx], and xv on a monster explains it too.

archaeo said more good things, but that's it for now. (But a quick Yes to manual tweaks: everyone can help here. And the philosophy section is not something I brought on a stone table from the hill. It can be changed, too.)

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 12:19

Re: defense of hidden numbers

goodcoolguy wrote:how many yaks does it take to beat one of these things about half the time in the arena? Call it the yak number.

Provided the arena conditions are well documented, this looks like a promising design. That is, make it clear the yaks (or whatever yardstick monster is used) start at range and they mob rush to get a surround. Such 'power level estimates' are a common tool in storytelling.

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 14:04

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:The only reason i brought up max damage (and i meant player max damage, not monster max damage, that was, in retrospect, unclear) was that showing the player's max damage with a weapon is actively misleading if you are trying to estimate "how much damage i do" and someone who doesn't understand how crawl combat works would take take away a completely wrong understanding *if the only player damage number you gave them was the maximum damage*


Max damage is almost useless for player, it's average damage you are interested in.
Similarly average monster damage is almost useless too, it's max damage you are interested in.
You seem to analyze it from position "let's check every number and see which ones we need" while my approach is "let's find what I need to make decisions and see which numbers can help with that".
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 14:14

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Max damage is only useless up until the one moment when it definitely isn't

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 14:34

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Shard1697 wrote:Max damage is only useless up until the one moment when it definitely isn't


Are you talking about player damage here? Does max damage affect your decisions? I was talking about knowledge of max damage, not about max damage itself. Sorry, if it wasn't clear. Of course, killing monster in less turns is not useless.
If you see 2 weapons with different average damage, do you care about max damage?
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 14:47

Re: defense of hidden numbers

I was talking about monsters(agreeing with your second sentence fairly unclearly)

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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 15:23

Re: defense of hidden numbers

VeryAngryFelid wrote:
Siegurt wrote:The only reason i brought up max damage (and i meant player max damage, not monster max damage, that was, in retrospect, unclear) was that showing the player's max damage with a weapon is actively misleading if you are trying to estimate "how much damage i do" and someone who doesn't understand how crawl combat works would take take away a completely wrong understanding *if the only player damage number you gave them was the maximum damage*


Max damage is almost useless for player, it's average damage you are interested in.
Similarly average monster damage is almost useless too, it's max damage you are interested in.
You seem to analyze it from position "let's check every number and see which ones we need" while my approach is "let's find what I need to make decisions and see which numbers can help with that".


Actually my position is "let people who feel like there are numbers that would help them make better decisions, argue for their inclusion, and explain why they think it would be good", How they arrive at which numbers to argue for was outside of the scope of my post entirely. Again, that particular example was just one thing that I thought might be bad to include, definitely on it's own, perhaps slightly less so in context of showing other numbers.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 15:28

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt wrote:Actually my position is "let people who feel like there are numbers that would help them make better decisions, argue for their inclusion, and explain why they think it would be good", How they arrive at which numbers to argue for was outside of the scope of my post entirely. Again, that particular example was just one thing that I thought might be bad to include, definitely on it's own, perhaps slightly less so in context of showing other numbers.


As far as I remember you were first to mention 50 numbers which affect melee outcome so I got impression that you didn't like the whole idea and you tried to prove why displaying any numbers is bad.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 15:40

Re: defense of hidden numbers

VeryAngryFelid wrote:
Siegurt wrote:Actually my position is "let people who feel like there are numbers that would help them make better decisions, argue for their inclusion, and explain why they think it would be good", How they arrive at which numbers to argue for was outside of the scope of my post entirely. Again, that particular example was just one thing that I thought might be bad to include, definitely on it's own, perhaps slightly less so in context of showing other numbers.


As far as I remember you were first to mention 50 numbers which affect melee outcome so I got impression that you didn't like the whole idea and you tried to prove why displaying any numbers is bad.


Actually I was saying "displaying any and all numbers that crawl can possibly display" or "displaying every number that you could possibly learn from an outside source" is bad. Not that *all* numbers are bad, just that they should be curated, and that we should have a good rationale for showing the ones we choose to show, I don't believe that displaying *any* number is bad, I think that some numbers are good to show, and some are not, and we have not explored every nook and cranny of what would be good and bad.

I also think that the rationale for showing numbers should include things like "Has a meaningful impact", "Can help the player make better decisions" and "Have the context needed to understand the number in a way that would accurately help the player make better decisions present *inside the game*"

I am also saying that the rationale for displaying *one* number doesn't apply to *all* numbers, and you need to evaluate them separately.
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Post Wednesday, 12th October 2016, 15:43

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Great, this is my position also.
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Post Thursday, 13th October 2016, 09:20

Re: defense of hidden numbers

archaeo wrote:The game could, for example, do something like most modern games with lots of equipment swapping and directly show you which weapons do the most damage. See for example Diablo 2/3, Fallout, or Borderlands, all of which just tell the player, "this weapon does more/less damage than your current weapon." No numbers, perfect information,

Diablo 3 compares equiped and selected items, gives their full stats and even shows damage/health/generalised protection difference, which will take place if you swap them.
Borderlands 2 and Fallout 4 give you full stats of viewed weapon and also autocompare it with eqipped one, showing binary (Borderlands) or simplified diffrence (Fallout).

Again, that's not "just tell", its quality-of-life visual bonus for easier comparision of already presented weapon statistics. Your remark proves absolutely opposing point, because we don't just not have any sort of comparision tools, but don't even get access to stuff we compare. Not even weapon damage (which is really simple two number range or just single number (if we are that afraid of spooky digits, which blow our minds)). Only some loosely-related number you need to multiply by function of some presented (at other parts of UI) stats, so it may double or triple or something.

That's, by the way, my biggest issue with showing basic weapon damage. It doesn't tell how much it's superior to enchantment bonus and completely ignores attributes/skills, which change real damage considerably. All that is quite a factor when selecting weapon. Seriously, now when we have skill expcosts which update automatically, why can't we get actual damage (static factors accounted) written on weapons?
What would be fun is a God who uses piety like a fighting game style super meter. Piety decays rapidly outside of combat, builds up during fights, spend it for secret techniques and super moves.

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Post Thursday, 13th October 2016, 09:50

Re: defense of hidden numbers

If you say so, WildSam. Personally, I think that the "quality-of-life" visual bonus is all I ever paid close attention to, leaving the "already presented weapon statistics" alone. Is one item better than another? I'm wearing that one.

Personally, I assumed the indicator would factor in the relevant skill, stat, and enchantment, which really leaves only brands (which could be explained better in-game, sure, but aren't exactly mysterious) and cute randart stuff. It's not that I'm afraid of digits, I just think they're often going to be significantly harder to contextualize than other methods, for reasons Siegurt has covered pretty thoroughly, in my opinion. A more intuitive measure can certainly be found, and I feel confident that it can also be granular enough to satisfy those who are interested in making optimal decisions.

I'm also confident it's not happening, so, you know, don't get too frustrated with my bad idea. :D

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Post Thursday, 13th October 2016, 13:40

Re: defense of hidden numbers

WildSam wrote:That's, by the way, my biggest issue with showing basic weapon damage. It doesn't tell how much it's superior to enchantment bonus and completely ignores attributes/skills, which change real damage considerably. All that is quite a factor when selecting weapon. Seriously, now when we have skill expcosts which update automatically, why can't we get actual damage (static factors accounted) written on weapons?


Yes, we might display max damage per turn (not per attack, per turn) and it would help a lot as there is high correlation between average and max damage, basically weapons with higher average damage have higher max damage also.
Electrocution might look stronger than it is but it's lesser of the two evils I think.
From technical perspective it will be very easy to calculate, just use max roll for everything and max weapon damage does not care about monster AC/EV.
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Post Thursday, 13th October 2016, 14:06

Re: defense of hidden numbers

This brings up the question, why do we show base damage on weapons? It certainly doesn't tell the whole story, and in no way hints that base damage is different from enchantment. To make any real use of it you'd have to do a lot of calculations (or use fsim). I mean, it'd probably be just as useful to say a long sword "Does more damage than a falchion, but less than a scimitar".

Don't even get me started on the accuracy number. I don't have any idea what that even means, let alone if a -1 modifier is at all meaningful. I have never ever made a decision based on that number, and I don't even know if there's a situation where that information could influence a players choice of weapon.

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Post Thursday, 13th October 2016, 14:56

Re: defense of hidden numbers

dowan: Indeed, the numbers that we do hand out are questionable, too (not just the numbers we hide).

edit: fixed another content-mangling typo, sigh

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Post Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 01:08

Re: defense of hidden numbers

Siegurt, I think other people addressed your points. No, there is no need to show everything calculation that goes through the game engine, just as there is no need to show the 3 dice that are cast for MR checks. I don't see why you felt the need to join the conversation and start talking about numbers no one asked for.

When someone says "let's stop hiding number so-and-so", responses like "we should really think about the numbers we want to reveal to players" are somehow put forward and treated as counter-argument, when their content doesn't even resemble a counter-argument. It is loose, directionless (a lot of modern discourse is similar, but we don't have to stoop to that level).

Can I get a concession that the things you are saying, Siegurt, are hurdles to (productive discussions about) showing numbers? Paragraph after paragraph of scaremongering, or numerophobiamongering - how are we brought any closer to showing meaningful numbers or whatever?

archaeo wrote:My real point, though, is that somewhere between the manual's "qualitative feedback" and full numbercrawl is a measure that is granular enough to make sufficiently optimal decisions but visually and conceptually clear enough to make that decision easily. Figuring out the sweet spot between granularity and clarity

You're imposing an artificial polarity here, clearly implying that granularity somehow detracts from clarity.
Surely you can't be serious, because you're actually saying that players who see that "AC:##" means more armor than "AC:#" may be dumbstruck when they see "AC:8" and "AC:12".
But you say it without a trace of detectable humor - so what's going on?
This is exactly what I railed against in the first place.
It's like you skimmed OP going "blah blah blah okay this guy wants numbers, so let's whip out the same old".
I really wanted to focus attention on the defense of hidden numbers, hence the title.

Interface
========================================

The interface is radically designed to make gameplay easy - this sounds trivial,
but we mean it. All tedious, but necessary, chores should be automated. Examples
are long-distance travel, exploration and taking notes. Also, we try to cater
for different preferences: both ASCII and tiles are supported; as are vi-keys
and numpad. Documentation is plenty, context-specific and always available
in-game.
Finally, we ease getting started via tutorials.

^ this is nice and everything, but is not related to hiding or revealing numbers (except the "cater for different preferences" and "always available in-game" parts)

Hand-holding comes in places like "The following three tables describe all aptitudes of the various species for the various skills. Knowledge, neither explicit nor implicit, of these are not necessary for winning in Crawl." Like, o rly? I dun thought I has to have the whole manual memorized before I can start playing? These disclaimers are completely unnecessary.

archaeo wrote:dumping the numbers on the player and expecting them to figure it all out

look: "dumping the numbers on the player" does not imply that you "expect them to figure it all out". Reading this makes me think you really skipped OP entirely.
I think your entire perspective is so skewed it seems pointless to nitpick but these are some things I addressed.

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Post Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 02:05

Re: defense of hidden numbers

HardboiledGargoyle wrote:You're imposing an artificial polarity here, clearly implying that granularity somehow detracts from clarity.
Surely you can't be serious, because you're actually saying that players who see that "AC:##" means more armor than "AC:#" may be dumbstruck when they see "AC:8" and "AC:12".
But you say it without a trace of detectable humor - so what's going on?
This is exactly what I railed against in the first place.
It's like you skimmed OP going "blah blah blah okay this guy wants numbers, so let's whip out the same old".
I really wanted to focus attention on the defense of hidden numbers, hence the title.

No, I'm saying that a well-designed meter will be visually easier to survey and understand than the raw numbers, especially given that they can be made to give you a sense of scale that the numbers you've provided do not. For example, AC:##..... vs AC:###.... says much more than AC:8 vs. AC:12; not only can you say one monster has a higher AC than the other, but you get an idea of where that AC lands compared to all other ACs.

I see this sort of issue as exemplifying the tension between granularity and clarity. Naturally, you could come up with a way to do meters that also include numbers, like we do with HP! I think it would clutter up a lot of the meters we're discussing, but since you find my ideas laughable despite the fact that I wasn't trying to be funny, maybe I'm the one who's wrong.

this is nice and everything, but is not related to hiding or revealing numbers (except the "cater for different preferences" and "always available in-game" parts)

Hand-holding comes in places like "The following three tables describe all aptitudes of the various species for the various skills. Knowledge, neither explicit nor implicit, of these are not necessary for winning in Crawl." Like, o rly? I dun thought I has to have the whole manual memorized before I can start playing? These disclaimers are completely unnecessary.

How is it not related? It's about UI and documentation, and I'm agreeing with you; I think the game should do a better job of giving players all the information they need. That's why I called it "admittedly aspirational."

If you find the language in the manual to be frustrating, I highly encourage you to write a patch or bug report and submit it to the devs via mantis. I tend to agree that it could be much clearer in many places and that some of its more, as I said, "aspirational" language could be modified to hold your hand less, since you seem to find the tone unpleasant.

look: "dumping the numbers on the player" does not imply that you "expect them to figure it all out". Reading this makes me think you really skipped OP entirely.
I think your entire perspective is so skewed it seems pointless to nitpick but these are some things I addressed.

I didn't skip the OP, I tried to respond to it. Evidently, I failed. I'm glad you tried to address my skewed perspective, however, as it has considerably clarified yours.

If someone would like to design a UI that provides the player with all of the information they need to play the game, and they do it entirely with "numbers," and make it clear and useful, then that would be great.
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Post Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 04:59

Re: defense of hidden numbers

In anti-number rhetoric, it is the very precision of numbers that gets bashed.
A bar can be perfectly granular (in tiles) and thus unacceptable to the no-numbers policy.

archaeo wrote:For example, AC:##..... vs AC:###.... says much more than AC:8 vs. AC:12; not only can you say one monster has a higher AC than the other, but you get an idea of where that AC lands compared to all other ACs.

whoa, it hadn't occurred to me that people may find it hard to tell how large numbers are relative to each other.

You generally want to use big, visible bars for things that quickly change as you play - HP, MP, % to next level - so that it catches your attention.
Elsewhere, it doesn't matter, because you look there only when you plan to.
You want the quantity of whatever characteristic to POP at you, I suppose? Create a visceral impression?
Just about any place with both numbers and bars, the bars would just be considered a visual supplement.
You could put a bar to the right of the numbers you want to show, sure. Lines like "Monster HP: about 123" usually have plenty of space. I don't think it's a big deal. Other games do it. But, the presence of such bars does not impede the game's transparency, which lies at the heart of these debates.

archaeo wrote:If you find the language in the manual to be frustrating, I highly encourage you to write a patch or bug report and submit it to the devs via mantis. I tend to agree that it could be much clearer in many places and that some of its more, as I said, "aspirational" language could be modified to hold your hand less, since you seem to find the tone unpleasant.

it is not that it is unpleasant, but rather, it is revealing of the lunacies upon which this design goal, and therefore the design itself, hinges.

oh looky, here's what happens when you use fine bars and omit numbers (feat. squinting):
Spoiler: show
Image

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