Generalist/Specialist background choice at character creatio


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Halls Hopper

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Joined: Monday, 21st September 2015, 03:35

Post Monday, 21st January 2019, 11:34

Generalist/Specialist background choice at character creatio

The idea is, when choosing a background, the player can choose the generalist or specialist version of the background. The difference between the two is starting stat distribution: generalist gets 4 4 4; specialist gets current background stat values (abyssal knight and wanderer don’t get a choice because AK is already 4 4 4 and Wa is random)

My rationale is as follows. In theory, backgrounds are ‘starting kits’ that don’t determine subsequent character build. In practice, the distribution of starting stats for various backgrounds can severely limit build choices, especially in conjunction with certain species.

The most obvious example is wizard, whose extremely low strength make hybridization difficult. At the same time, though, wizard has the highest Int of any background, and a player who wants to play a pure caster from the beginning might value the three extra starting Int compared to other mage backgrounds. So lopsided background stat distribution can be positive or negative depending on the player’s goals for the character.

By allowing the choice between generalist and specialist, we preserve the best of both worlds: backgrounds really can be starting kits that don’t pigeonhole a character, but players who want to pigeonhole their character statwise can still do so. This is a meaningful choice, with neither being obviously ‘better’ than the other, since it depends on player preference and the kind of character they’re trying to create.

The cost is one extra layer of complexity at character creation.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Monday, 21st January 2019, 16:21

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

I'd interpreted the starting stat point distribution as part of what balances the starting kit,


While it might be true that it's slightly harder to hybridize as a wizard (I actually don't think it is unless it's as a species that has a particularly low starting strength, you don't need a *lot* of strength to make melee fighting worthwhile, and generally speaking species that have low str have higher than average EV) I think that's part of the price you pay for the more 'extreme' backgrounds.

Actually I think the reverse is probably more frequently the case (Where low int makes hybridizing into spells from a melee background harder later, although the background that starts with the lowest int is berserker, so take that as you will)

Aside from the nitpickyness of which backgrounds are harder to generalize with, To me it feels like this *reduces* game variance (the point of having any starting conditions at all is to make games feel different from one another) rather than increases it. I feel like 'generalists' would play more similarly to each-other than the current crop of 'specalists' do, and adding that extra complexity just muddies the already-small differences between starting backgrounds.
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Zot Zealot

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Post Monday, 21st January 2019, 21:49

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

I don't think another mandatory choice before the game starts is a good idea. Pre-game already has species, background and weapon selection which is a lot of choice before the game starts.

Maybe you some/all backgrounds could get more equal stat distribution.

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Halls Hopper

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 10:40

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

Siegurt wrote: Aside from the nitpickyness of which backgrounds are harder to generalize with, To me it feels like this *reduces* game variance (the point of having any starting conditions at all is to make games feel different from one another) rather than increases it. I feel like 'generalists' would play more similarly to each-other than the current crop of 'specalists' do, and adding that extra complexity just muddies the already-small differences between starting backgrounds.

I guess I would say, don’t just look at the differences between the different generalist classes – by definition they’ll be more similar to one another than the specialists! – But rather the difference within one species between specialist and generalist. Generalist gives you the ‘bare species’ with its innate stat tendencies; specialist gives you modifications to that base. The point for me is that, if I want to hybridize a wizard (nitpicking aside), I feel pressured to choose a species like ogre who can balance out the low starting Str. With the generalist option it opens up a lot more species to reasonably try out this build. While, it’s important to note, losing nothing from the current background structure which remains intact as ‘specialist’.

chequers wrote:I don't think another mandatory choice before the game starts is a good idea. Pre-game already has species, background and weapon selection which is a lot of choice before the game starts.

It’s one binary choice from the thousands of decisions that comprise each game. It seems burdensome now because you’re not used to it, but would feel like nothing at all after a few games.

chequers wrote:Maybe you some/all backgrounds could get more equal stat distribution.

This wouldn’t be satisfactory for me because I also like having the option of having a big influence on starting stats. I know duvessa has proposed it before. It’s fun to have these big variances, but for me less fun to always have them.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 16:56

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

monkeytor wrote:
Siegurt wrote: Aside from the nitpickyness of which backgrounds are harder to generalize with, To me it feels like this *reduces* game variance (the point of having any starting conditions at all is to make games feel different from one another) rather than increases it. I feel like 'generalists' would play more similarly to each-other than the current crop of 'specalists' do, and adding that extra complexity just muddies the already-small differences between starting backgrounds.

I guess I would say, don’t just look at the differences between the different generalist classes – by definition they’ll be more similar to one another than the specialists! – But rather the difference within one species between specialist and generalist. Generalist gives you the ‘bare species’ with its innate stat tendencies; specialist gives you modifications to that base. The point for me is that, if I want to hybridize a wizard (nitpicking aside), I feel pressured to choose a species like ogre who can balance out the low starting Str. With the generalist option it opens up a lot more species to reasonably try out this build. While, it’s important to note, losing nothing from the current background structure which remains intact as ‘specialist’.

Maybe you don't have this experience yet. In crawl *all* characters tend towards the "center" as you progress, optimally everyone has some amount of 'hybrid' in them (eschewing all hybrid-like tendancies is always a self-imposed challenge, rather than optimal play), With the exception possibly of berserker (Although trog provides spell-like effects which in large part duplicate much of the spellcaster experience)

Therefore making it "easier to hybridize" just makes the average convergance point of all characters to earlier, making a larger portion of all games seem more "same-y" if half of your played characters are more similar to each other than they were, then you've increased the 'sameness' of the starting kits, overall, by 25%. And yes, you've changed the variance of the same combo slightly, however at the expense of making the *average* new character more similar to each other. Most people don't play the same combo over and over and over again and say to themselves "gee, I am bored with this same combo, I would like to play it again" if you want a different experience, you select a different type of character
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 19:20

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

Siegurt wrote:optimally everyone has some amount of 'hybrid' in them (eschewing all hybrid-like tendancies is always a self-imposed challenge, rather than optimal play)
Strongly disagree with this, but maybe I just don't have this experience yet.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 19:23

Re: Generalist/Specialist background choice at character cre

duvessa wrote:
Siegurt wrote:optimally everyone has some amount of 'hybrid' in them (eschewing all hybrid-like tendancies is always a self-imposed challenge, rather than optimal play)
Strongly disagree with this, but maybe I just don't have this experience yet.

Well, I guess it depends on how you label "hybrid" I am calling "some amount of hybrid" meaning "you attack with a weapon at least occasionally and cast one or more spells"
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