Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

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Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by taptap » August 18th, 2016, 12:55 pm

I like to make a thread to discuss the proposed Wesnoth2 ruleset (https://github.com/anura-engine/wesnoth ... n-Document). It may be fun to code, but will it be fun to play?

1. (Re)Introduction of spells

Afaik, removing spells was a major point in making Wesnoth. Dave liked a game, but removing (ranged effect) spells made it a viable strategy game, I read. I know roleplayers love to have them, wml wizards love to implement them... but what will it do with gameplay? What can they achieve that is not possible more conveniently with passive abilties or weapon specials? Is a healing spell accessible via menu or shortcut when unit is selected really an improvement over the passive ability? Just watch a replay of a medium length sp scenario, count healing actions, imagine it replaced by healing spells. Count mouse movements and key strokes required to achieve what Wesnoth could do passively. Yes, I would have liked my druid to focus healing on a certain unit occasionally, but would I sacrifice the simplicity of Wesnoth implementation for active healing? No.

2. Alternating turns (with individual units) within rounds

I.e. turning a 20 turn Wesnoth match into a 400 turn(let) Wesnoth match. Vast benefit for larger numbers. (Recruit ten zombies so you can schedule your attacks properly at the end of the round will be a strategy in Wesnoth2.) This is so obviously bad an idea, I can't fathom how anyone playing or liking strategy games can ever devise it. [Later after some more reading: So apparently rules systems like this exist, although consecutive moves are certainly an issue and high level play seems to revolve around getting and maintaining this advantage.]

3. Guard mode

This takes the simple reciprocity of Wesnoth fighting away in one sweep. How will the AI fare?

4. Mana

Obviously needed, when you go the spell casting route, but honestly very half-hearted proposal. In practice you pay gold to do magic and get a base income per turn. Instead of gold and different spellbooks you could go into different mana types and spells available for mana type (vaguely Magic, the Gathering inspired). Why even have factions, when you do not play leaders recruiting their people, but wizards conjuring stuff from thin air? Why not make map forming -> mana changing -> army / spell composition changing an equal part when you go all wizard?

5. Abandoning randomness, but not daring to be deterministic

I would recommend reading through the "bah, rng broken" threads once more, it wasn't missing on 50% that pissed people off as much as missing on 70% magical attacks. Now, the new system with bonus damage/damage/low chance of no damage will wreck the differences between unit types (elusive are gone), removing depth from the game. At the same time people who dislike missing won't be appeased, because every miss will be a miss despite a 70-80-90% hit chance now. (This would limit differences between units acc. to attack numbers or to-hit-specials.)

It really is the worst kind of compromise, trying to cater to anti-RNG sentiment but not delivering. Neither side of the argument will be happy about it.

6. Buildings in villages

I see base building in the near future. Not that it can't be fun, but why not build buildings on the map itself instead of having an overview menu in each village looking at the village setup? (And why has it to be magic, a mason can build structures just as fine.) And if you do magic, why limit yourself to buildings, see above.

7. Absolute armor instead of relative armor

This is worth discussing, definitely easier to parse than the current ruleset, but it won't be terribly interesting when limited to 0-2 right away. (With the low limit it would btw. wreck high-hp vs. resistent unit difference, are there still different unit styles remaining?) In other games, randomness is used together with absolute armor (e.g. my favourite game Sil), but I don't dare proposing randomness here.

8. No ranged retaliation

Why? Another break of symmetry for no visible benefit. And how many games already feat. move cheap unit into "overwatch" range, move better unit second. Hell, will ranged units have no melee retaliation anymore?

Summary:

A lot of catering to the anti-RNG crowd without even coming close to making them happy. For me it would ruin Wesnoth and its mostly clean and elegant ruleset, but at the same time it does not look like a bold new game, but Wesnoth w/ assorted rules from other games.

[Written under the impression the game is intended as successor of Wesnoth.]
Last edited by taptap on August 19th, 2016, 10:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by ForestDragon » August 18th, 2016, 1:34 pm

6. Buildings in villages

I see base building in the near future. Not that it can't be fun, but why not build buildings on the map itself instead of having an overview menu in each village looking at the village setup? (And why has it to be magic, a mason can build structures just as fine.) And if you do magic, why limit yourself to buildings, see above.
also, such a function can easily be done in UMC using WML, and i seen such a thing sometimes. you got a point here taptap, wesnoth2's rules aren't worthy of a 'successor' of bfw, but rather ''total-ripoff-that-is-good-for-almost-nothing-failure-parody' of bfw

i know i shouldn't really put so much hate into a single post, but that's what i think of this so called 'Wesnoth2' (i can only call it 'so called Wesnoth2')
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Dugi » August 18th, 2016, 1:47 pm

I mostly agree with you. The concept has no interesting ideas, just some stuff from other games that is present in various add-ons already (although often without proper UI support).

Real ranged attacks were removed from wesnoth because it was impossible to protect wounded units from them, which was nasty with permadeath. If there was some way around, it would be cool, but this wesnoth2 does not appear to offer some alternative.

As I wrote before, the idea to remove hit randomness in exchange for criticals seems really bad to me. Criticals are unexpected increases in damage, leading to lethal cases that could not be anticipated. If you can't get a decent 30% chance of a critical, critical is useless to you, only as a positive surprise. On the other hand, criticals from the opponent will mess up your plans badly when you least expect it. It could make sense if wesnoth's chance to hit was replaced by wesnoth2's chance to crit, with similar percentages and depending on terrain (why to ditch it, anyway?).

Absolute armour is downright bad, it leads to massive differences in damage output of units with low damage and many attacks against unarmoured and armoured units. Many games use a hybrid between the two, like damage_taken = (damage * damage)/(armour + damage). This is often paired with an advantage coming from hitting more often.

Buildings are annoying, it forces you to have an economy and worry about it and also worry about the battles. It was quite fine in RTS games where battles are about sending a bigger army against the opponent and having the units choose for themselves what to do, but it definitely isn't what wesnoth was about. Having some sort of upgrading garrison to get better recruits isn't bad (the challenge of finding a proper time to pause recruitment to achieve long term goals), but a whole microeconomy in a tactical game...

I don't think that spells and mana are such a bad idea, they could give you a few tricks with large effect that would be rarely pulled out.

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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Velensk » August 18th, 2016, 1:53 pm

Would any of you mind as much if it just didn't use the same name?

I actually pretty much agree on all things mentioned in terms of personal preference (though I could elaborate on building things on the map and why I think they might prefer a Heroes of Might and Magic type set-up over building on the map) but to me it ultimately just feels like they're trying to build a different game that isn't actually very related to the game I like at all. It's possible if they do a good job I could like that game as well but it still doesn't really sound like Wesnoth.

The only thing that actually sounds egregious to me in terms of mechanics is the idea of deterministic attacks with critical hits. That simply sounds infuriating specifically because they don't happen often enough to be relied on in any way and creates an even more randomly binary effect than having the effect spread out over several rolls.

I'm actually a big fan of alternating turn TBS in general, it also makes true range easier to balance.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by ForestDragon » August 18th, 2016, 1:59 pm

Velensk wrote:Would any of you mind as much if it just didn't use the same name?
that would be enough. the thing that is infuriating the community (i think) is the fact that the developers call this different game a 'successor' of bfw. and thus, i causes minor paranoia about how they will treat bfw after release of this new game. the only thing most of us need is just not calling the new game a successor, but rather a spinoff (since it's barely even similiar to bfw at this point anyway).

btw, i agree with Velensk
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Bitron » August 18th, 2016, 2:37 pm

It does sound like a different game with some includes from the good old wesnoth.
Personally I think, it should be the other way around. What is a true sequel about? One possibility is to take the core mechanics, add or renew some of them and pack it all together into a new garb. (like e.g Civilization or anno *randomnumber*). Or it's a pre-/sequell of the story, most likely also with a few more mechanics and polished graphics. (like e.g assassins creed)

This whole Wizardry-think about summoning whole armies .. -might- be a cool idea... but it seems nothing like wesnoth to me (well maybe except of a few necromancers out there).

Anyway, back to topics.
taptap wrote:Now, the new system with bonus damage/damage/low chance of no damage will wreck the differences between unit types (elusive are gone), removing depth from the game.
We are talking about a game in a very early stage of developement, so I think we can feel free to suggest new variants of variation. In Wesnoth1, the magical attacks are powerful because they are more likely to hit. It may be not possible that way in the 'so called Wesnoth2', but they could. e.g. ignore the (new) Armor of the enemies units. Well, maybe it could even be about more range, or simply stronger than usual melee attacks.
There are other ways to serve variation between units, we should think about that, instead of complaining what the changes could do to the Wesnoth1 gameplay, because it is not about Wesnoth1.
Dugi wrote:As I wrote before, the idea to remove hit randomness in exchange for criticals seems really bad to me. Criticals are unexpected increases in damage, leading to lethal cases that could not be anticipated. If you can't get a decent 30% chance of a critical, critical is useless to you, only as a positive surprise. On the other hand, criticals from the opponent will mess up your plans badly when you least expect it.
That might be, but it's still fair play, because the same two points apply to the opponents player. In wesnoth1. It is still about luck, just in a different way. I think double damage als critical hit is still much over the top though.
Dugi wrote:Buildings are annoying, it forces you to have an economy and worry about it and also worry about the battles. It was quite fine in RTS games where battles are about sending a bigger army against the opponent and having the units choose for themselves what to do, but it definitely isn't what wesnoth was about. Having some sort of upgrading garrison to get better recruits isn't bad (the challenge of finding a proper time to pause recruitment to achieve long term goals), but a whole microeconomy in a tactical game...

I don't think that spells and mana are such a bad idea, they could give you a few tricks with large effect that would be rarely pulled out.
Definitely support this.

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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by taptap » August 18th, 2016, 3:24 pm

Well, I pretty much wrote whatever came to my mind already. Yes, I think the document reads like they are too timid to make a new game and clinging to Wesnoth adding assorted "features", even though the result would hardly resemble Wesnoth. (Reading Wesnoth history by shadowm I gathered Wesnoth gameplay hardly changed from very early on, so I believe core game mechanics are fair game early in development.)

@alternating turns:
I do like alternating turns in Chess and Go, but you never ever get consecutive turns there. I like alternating turns like in Wesnoth, where you can move all your units in a chunk and this is the only type of consecutive moves I ever encountered in strategy games (be it board or computer games). I can't imagine it working out as described in the document, i.e. alternating turns per unit and consecutive turns for surplus units. (If there are examples for this type of gameplay, I would like to know.) There is plenty of gameplay in Wesnoth that you can call "within-turn-scheduling". This is completely removed for one side, but the other side will still be able to do it by getting consecutive turns for surplus units. This leads to various surprising effects. Recruiting a throw-away unit gives consecutive turns, losing a unit on one side, will directly affect events elsewhere by the amount of consecutive turns people will get. Or you get weirdness like pass fights, i.e. one side passing early, to deny consecutive turns later in the round and the option to end the round early. Apart from all that, what will exploding turn numbers (a turn per unit per round) do to multiplayer gameplay, where you have issues with turn length / waiting for opponent / mate to move even now.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Flameslash » August 18th, 2016, 4:09 pm

I think with Wesnoth2 there's an opportunity to introduce new ideas. Things like terrain height, true ranged, and so on could definitely inject fresh life. But I feel like with the amount of changes listed in the ruleset, the game would be so different that it would be Wesnoth in name only.

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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Velensk » August 18th, 2016, 5:46 pm

taptap wrote:@alternating turns:
I do like alternating turns in Chess and Go, but you never ever get consecutive turns there. I like alternating turns like in Wesnoth, where you can move all your units in a chunk and this is the only type of consecutive moves I ever encountered in strategy games (be it board or computer games). I can't imagine it working out as described in the document, i.e. alternating turns per unit and consecutive turns for surplus units. (If there are examples for this type of gameplay, I would like to know.) There is plenty of gameplay in Wesnoth that you can call "within-turn-scheduling". This is completely removed for one side, but the other side will still be able to do it by getting consecutive turns for surplus units. This leads to various surprising effects. Recruiting a throw-away unit gives consecutive turns, losing a unit on one side, will directly affect events elsewhere by the amount of consecutive turns people will get. Or you get weirdness like pass fights, i.e. one side passing early, to deny consecutive turns later in the round and the option to end the round early. Apart from all that, what will exploding turn numbers (a turn per unit per round) do to multiplayer gameplay, where you have issues with turn length / waiting for opponent / mate to move even now.
There are actually many different ways of handling this issue that all lead to a variety of different dynamics but it is definitely many ways to make this work. You mostly see this in board games and there are far too many examples for me to even create a half decent list. Now admittedly some of the most common designs have their problems (the one you seem to be concerned about where a player with more pieces to move has free reign after their opponent has exhausted all their units is typically called activation advantage) but on the flip side for any particular issue there has been a system designed that mitigates that issue.

Most systems are based around the idea that you break play into both rounds and turns, each unit only moves once a round but you alternate taking turns moving your units (or squads of units depending on the system). Various systems are employed to balance out activation advantage. In Imperial Assault (skirmish mode) by Fantasy Flight, if you have fewer activations than your opponent you are allowed to pass without activating anything until your opponent has the same number of activations left. Other systems adjust the number of activations you take per turn in various ways that can make it so that both sides get roughly the same number of turns per round despite unequal force sizes. Other systems limit your total number of activations in some way (divided up by some other subsystem) which either makes it infeasible or costly to deploy more groups purely for activation advantage.

Alternatively, many systems operate on the principle that you don't have complete control over which units activate and let the system that determines which units activate also determine how many activate. This is frequently done to simulate C&C problems and almost completely nullifies activation advantage effects- at the cost of limiting player control in a frustrating way and making it hard to bring a large force to bear even if you have one.

Another system's use a variety of initiative and/or impulse mechanics whereby each unit will act at a certain time or times during the round and you use alternating turns to resolve ties between pieces that should be moving at the same time. Alternatively, most simultaneous resolution/programing systems are actually some modification on this principle and frequently become a lot like an alternating turn game.

There's probably a couple more I've run into that I can't remember but these are the ones that spring immediately to mind.

There's a great deal of potential in all these systems for interest and balanced tactics and a lot of my favorite tactical games use one of these. I'm not sure what I'd do for a Wesnoth alike game but since this game wasn't sounding like Wesnoth to begin with I'm not inclined to object to anyone exploring these options.

EDIT: Hit me as I was submitting so I figured I might as well mention it, another system (used in the Banner Saga) just has the players alternate turns 1 piece at a time regardless of the number of pieces (in the banner saga this ends once one side is down to a single piece). This works out ok for it, though it can cause some extremely gamey effects (especially as a key point of banner saga tactics is that units get weaker as they get hurt). It's probably not a good option for a wesnoth alike game but for a deterministic (or mostly deterministic) system with a set number of pieces per side it could be an option.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by taptap » August 18th, 2016, 9:09 pm

Thanks. (I really seem to play / have played completely different games.) Having just read through the Imperial Assault rules, it doesn't strike me as a particularly simple system and the whole gameplay seems to cater to low unit count and dungeon crawling (sf dungeons). Yet, it is remarkably similar to the design document. ... How such a game is supposed to "grow to subsume" Wesnoth is beyond me and yes, it is the lack of an independent name, the succession and subsume talk that makes we wonder what will happen with Wesnoth, not the ruleset belonging to a seemingly very different game. One piece moving per turn is of course what Chess etc. do.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Dave » August 18th, 2016, 10:11 pm

Hey guys,

Just to clarify, the ruleset we are currently implementing in Wesnoth2 is simply an experimental ruleset we want to try out.

Wesnoth2 is intended to be a platform more than any specific ruleset. We want to support a bunch of things and so trying something kind of different to start with seemed to be an interesting thing to do. Rest assured that we want to support a broad scope of hex-based pixel war games. And the engine will definitely be powerful enough to support classic Wesnoth rules as well.

I understand if the ruleset we're working on doesn't sound very appealing as the kind of game you would want to play. It is after all an early prototype with some brainstormed rules. In any game development process it's important to try out some different things, some of which might be fairly off the wall sometimes. Just so you know, I personally value rule brainstorming quite highly, but only weight hard feedback on rules and game mechanics highly once a player has had the opportunity to play a prototype which implements the mechanics well for a while. I think it's good, if possible, to try to avoid making a decision as to whether you like a mechanic or not before you have actually tried it since this can limit your ability to provide effective feedback.

@Velensk: Thank you for your fairly comprehensive list of ways in which we can handle round-turn mechanics. Among other things we'd definitely want to make sure we can happily handle all of those mechanics as well as traditional Wesnoth1-style turns.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Dugi » August 18th, 2016, 10:17 pm

@Dave
So in short, you guys are planning to make a game without a clear idea what the game is to be about, besides being hex-based TBS with 2D and pixel art? That's not much to begin with. I thought that when making a game, one must have a clear idea what is he going to make, otherwise the developers will rip each other apart when deciding about the thousands specifics, as everyone had a different idea about it in his mind. A new engine and a different license has nearly no effect on players.

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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Velensk » August 18th, 2016, 10:24 pm

@taptap: I use Imperial Assault only as an example, there are other systems that do somewhat similar things which can handle lots of units more gracefully. However it may play out exactly as you seem to be thinking. Most systems that handle lots of units generally have more than one piece or squad move per players turn even though you go back and forth with turns in a round. This is as much for pacing reasons as anything else. I mentioned Banner Saga before where it's always one piece, in the multiplayer version of that game, a game where you're playing 6 vs 6 pieces, it takes awhile to cycle through all your pieces in play whereas in a game with a similar level of consideration per piece where you moved 6 pieces in the same action would be much faster. If you really went back and forth with for a battle with 20 pieces, even if it took very little consideration per piece it'd still be much slower than for two wesnoth players with 20 pieces each.

--In any systems where you get multiple activations per turn, it shouldn't be too difficult to arrange for the larger side to simply get more activations per turn or on specific turns (the ones neither at the start or end of a round would make it easier to balance) such that both sides get the same number of turns.

--Alternatively the new game could simply be based around small squads and simply scale poorly to fights with 12+ units per side. This isn't as big a problem as it sounds as Wesnoth already has this limitation. Have you ever had to play a campaign where the map is huge and you have dozens of units? The difference is that the current Wesnoth takes longer to bog down that it would given an IA like system which can help the feeling of a battle being large but wesnoth manages this anyway through abstract scale as a 40 vs 40 unit battle is pretty immense.

--Another trick that I've seen games use is to make your single activations per turn exhaust multiple of your pieces generally as some part of a leadership system. I don't really see this for a Wesnoth type game (I mostly associate it with WWII squad games) but again- this game didn't seem very Wesnoth to me to begin with so perhaps a system like this is within what they'd consider.

As a side note about IA: It's actually a lot simpler than it looks, especially if you are just taking the rules for skirmish and ignoring all the campaign play/dungeon crawling with heroes and stuff. You are right though that even when not doing dungeon crawling it's focused around a relatively small number of activations (generally 6-8 per side in skimish) though this may be quite a few figure as IA lumps squads of figures into a single activations.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by Dave » August 18th, 2016, 10:26 pm

Dugi wrote:I thought that when making a game, one must have a clear idea what is he going to make
Not at all. It's really common to start off by brainstorming ideas and trying different things out, getting feedback after trying out ideas, and so forth. It does require some open-mindedness on the part of those participating in the process but it's certainly possible and is a common way for games to start.
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Re: Wesnoth2 ruleset (or undoing Wesnoth)

Post by kurt751 » August 19th, 2016, 12:21 am

Just a suggestion - Before newbies arriving here start getting terminally confused, would it be possible to make a specific forum (in "Development" for instance?) about W2?
I fear those who (due to forum sedimentation) miss the original announce ("Wesnoth2, Wesnoth, Inc, and other things") will think those discussions are about the original Battle for Wesnoth, a situation which won't help either game, polluting W2 and confusing W1.
Just my 2 cents worth.

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