A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

General feedback and discussion of the game.

Moderators: Forum Moderators, Developers

Dave
Founding Developer
Posts: 7066
Joined: August 17th, 2003, 5:07 am
Location: Seattle
Contact:

A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Dave » May 10th, 2018, 5:04 pm

Battle for Wesnoth has always been a game about fate and the chaos of war. As such, it relies fairly heavily on an RNG as its central mechanic. We have also always been fairly strict and 'hardcore' about applying that RNG.

In Wesnoth, if you are told you have a 70% chance to hit, we mean we are going to roll a d10 and if it's a 1, a 2, or a 3, you miss. The way that randomness works is unintuitive to people. Even if we think we understand it, we implicitly expect it to be far more 'ordered' than it is. If we miss once we implicitly expect to have a higher chance to hit next time. We also struggle with grappling with chances that are above about 90% or below about 10%. As such we think that something like "Four attacks with 70% chance to hit" should "never" miss all four, while the reality is that if you play Wesnoth for even a moderately long time such an occurrence is so likely you will almost certainly come to witness it.

Much of Wesnoth is about chance, fate, and dealing with it. Playing it is an education in how randomness works, how fickle and cruel it can be.

However, I also understand for many players, wanting to play an enjoyable tactical game where they progress units over time, the RNG mechanics can be excessively infuriating, stressful, and ultimately ruin the game. Different players have different things they look for in a game, and I don't think that it's very fair to ask them to put up with a game mechanic which is highly distasteful to them, and it seems wasteful to simply tell them to "find another game" when clearly many aspects of Wesnoth do appeal to them.

As such, I have added a patch to the 1.14 branch of git. If you pull latest git, build, set use_prng=yes in your preferences file, and check Deterministic mode when starting a campaign you will use my patch. A message saying so will be printed on stderr at the start of each combat.

I understand these instructions are a little much for most players, but if anyone who builds Wesnoth from git and is interested in a 'less fickle rng mechanic' would like to try this and give me feedback on it that would be very helpful. Then hopefully we can roll it out to all players as an option.

I am not going to go into too many details of what this mod does in this post. I would rather people who feel the Wesnoth RNG mechanic "feels unfair" try it and offer feedback unadulterated by biases introduced by trying to understand the underlying mechanic. I will say that one thing the mod does maintain is that when you are told a unit has "70% chance to hit" it will still hit 70% of the time -- but the distribution of those hits will be much less chaotic than produced by randomness. Also, this mod does not "cheat for the player". It is entirely agnostic as to whether it is the AI or the player who is attacking.

Would love to hear any feedback players have.

David
“At Gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck.” -- Ian Fleming

User avatar
MathBrush
Posts: 105
Joined: February 12th, 2018, 10:21 pm

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by MathBrush » May 10th, 2018, 5:52 pm

This sounds really promising. It might be worthwhile to mention on Steam that an RNG mod is being tested and may be pushed out later.

enclave
Posts: 796
Joined: December 15th, 2007, 8:52 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by enclave » May 10th, 2018, 6:49 pm

Hello Dave, it's nice to witness that Founding Developer is interested in alternative RNG options for players... Thank you very much for Wesnoth!!!
I have been with wesnoth for more than 10 years and I have been creating add-ons for 2-3 years on a slightly above the basic level... One of the add-ons I made was about RNG too ("Different luck" add-on). I know some basic programming languages, how to build a computer.. how to configure home network...
But unfortunately the way you suggested to apply your alternative RNG to wesnoth doesn't sound attractive to me at all.. To say more, I will 100% not try to do it, because it looks overcomplicated (by amount of time I will need to spend to learn and investigate how to apply it). Despite I'm quite very curious how it works...
Therefore I can tell that less than 1% of users will probably try it (am I wrong? I might be wrong.. it's ONLY my personal opinion) and these "new" "frustrated" users will prefer to leave before trying it too.. unless they can easily come across your post and be aware of such an opportunity (even the hard way..) and really love wesnoth to stay with it.
So if you would like to increase the percentage of people to at least "try" your alternative RNG system from 0.01-1% to something close to 20-50% then you would either have to make a switch inside wesnoth preferences... Or create a modification the "standard" way.. So it would be compatible with all multiplayer games without any complications, errors, etc...
AND ideally put a message somewhere to make 100% of people aware of such a switch or modification too.
Thank you for reading, and thank you very much for Wesnoth again!!!!

Dave
Founding Developer
Posts: 7066
Joined: August 17th, 2003, 5:07 am
Location: Seattle
Contact:

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Dave » May 10th, 2018, 7:19 pm

@enclave: To be clear, I understand that right now the steps to enable this are quite complicated. It's a feature in development that I'm asking for help with by more tech-savvy users who would love to help out and provide feedback.

I hope to eventually make it an easy option that any user can select. But getting feedback on it as early as possible seems like it would be useful.
“At Gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck.” -- Ian Fleming

enclave
Posts: 796
Joined: December 15th, 2007, 8:52 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by enclave » May 10th, 2018, 7:36 pm

Dave wrote:
May 10th, 2018, 7:19 pm
@enclave: To be clear, I understand that right now the steps to enable this are quite complicated. It's a feature in development that I'm asking for help with by more tech-savvy users who would love to help out and provide feedback.

I hope to eventually make it an easy option that any user can select. But getting feedback on it as early as possible seems like it would be useful.
The way you stated it now makes even me want to try it ;) Good luck!

User avatar
Eagle_11
Posts: 724
Joined: November 20th, 2013, 12:20 pm

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Eagle_11 » May 10th, 2018, 10:56 pm

I have found that 'Better Odds' on the addons server, does an good job of 'softening' the rng aspect without entirely removing or altering it completely. (thats provided you tick off the 'luck stacking' option of it)

User avatar
Crow_T
Posts: 850
Joined: February 24th, 2011, 4:20 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Crow_T » May 10th, 2018, 11:42 pm

Is this April First? I've reported this thread so it should be locked posthaste ;)

All kidding aside, it's great to see a bit of softening on the RNG front. One thing I've found from previous prng mods is that since units get hit more frequently battles tend to end faster (they may have been more heavy handed about it though). The system I came up with in my sig tries to address this but seems to do the opposite, it takes a bit longer to finish (it is adjustable however).

By the way, any info on how to apply the patch if I have the 1.14.1 source already, or is that not possible? As one of the serial RNG gripers I'd love to give this a shot. ** nevermind I may have figured out the git thing a little**

Edit: I looked through a lot of preference files after compiling the 1.14 branch on Linux and didn't see a prng entry, so I added "use_prng=yes" to .config/wesnoth/preferences, will this work? That seems to be the right pref file, I deleted it and starting Wesnoth created a new one.

User avatar
taptap
Forum Regular
Posts: 980
Joined: October 6th, 2011, 5:42 pm

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by taptap » May 12th, 2018, 4:02 pm

Wesnoth could have been a learning opportunity for its younger players. Instead of learning about randomness, randomness will work just as various confused people always thought it did. It will be even harder to argue with them afterwards. We used to try in the past: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=44656. After all, petitioning the RNG did already work once. Yet, I fear, the targetted demographic won't be all that happy about the changes, as they will continue to feel entitled to better results than they receive.
I am a Saurian Skirmisher: I'm a real pest, especially at night.

User avatar
Crow_T
Posts: 850
Joined: February 24th, 2011, 4:20 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Crow_T » May 12th, 2018, 7:47 pm

taptap wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 4:02 pm
Wesnoth could have been a learning opportunity for its younger players. Instead of learning about randomness, randomness will work just as various confused people always thought it did. It will be even harder to argue with them afterwards. We used to try in the past: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=44656. After all, petitioning the RNG did already work once. Yet, I fear, the targetted demographic won't be all that happy about the changes, as they will continue to feel entitled to better results than they receive.
This is a bit all or nothing, there is no reason why Wesnoth can't have a new mode coexisting alongside the original. Also, it's a game not a tool for teaching - being fun should be a real concern. If the number one complaint from players is the current RNG it makes sense to offer an alternative if you want to grow the community.

Story time: Back in the old days Blender (the 3d animation program) could only use triangles and quads for modeling. For years people wanted Ngons, saying the lack of Ngons kept them away from Blender, Blender sucked because it didn't support Ngons, etc. Of course there were the purists (me included!) who felt that Ngons were sloppy modeling and pointless and that the Ngon whiners were just making noise and didn't know what they were doing haha. Eventually, Ngons were implemented- and everybody was happy (well, except that the next big feature was now crucially needed :D ), including the luddite purists like myself. The point is, addressing the big issue that people have with a project, and they all have a big issue, helps to grow that project. This story happens all the time in the software world, and I think it's great to see Dave experimenting a bit on improving the gaming experience.

Whiskeyjack
Posts: 375
Joined: February 7th, 2015, 1:27 am
Location: Germany

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Whiskeyjack » May 12th, 2018, 8:28 pm

Is there a mod that transfers chance to miss to percentage reduced damage? I'd suggest a distribution (not sure if normal would be the best here) that simply uses damage * hit chance as the average result and then varies the amount of damage.

This was discussed somewhere before as not balance-able for competitive multiplayer (at least without a great amount of work), because this would interact too heavily with damage thresholds, but for a chill campaign session I would by far prefer this as an option over a "faked" RNG. It would also feel way better because it's smoother than all or nothing. To me it would also feel slightly more realistic, though it would of course not strictly comply with KISS. One could even include elements like critical strikes in such a distribution, so that there is a chance to land an especially heavy hit (though this would further screw balance because of the one strong vs. multiple weaker attacks debate).

User avatar
shadowm
Site Administrator
Posts: 6434
Joined: November 14th, 2006, 5:54 pm
Location: Chile
Contact:

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by shadowm » May 12th, 2018, 9:20 pm

Crow_T wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 7:47 pm
This is a bit all or nothing, there is no reason why Wesnoth can't have a new mode coexisting alongside the original.
There is one reason why this can be problematic, actually. Add-on authors are likely to pick only one mode and balance their gameplay for it specifically, while balance for the other gets completely neglected. The consequences of this can range from being a minor inconvenience to a game-breaking issue, depending on the specifics of the design of the add-on’s units/scenarios.
Author of the unofficial UtBS sequels Invasion from the Unknown and After the Storm.
Elsewhere: shadowmBlogFollow me on Twitter

Computer_Player
Posts: 111
Joined: March 16th, 2008, 6:39 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Computer_Player » May 12th, 2018, 10:39 pm

That's the choice of the player and a natural consequences when messing around with something fundamental in the game (same as doubling terrain mp would drastically change balance, for example). The current mods that mess with RNG already destroy balance (since the entire game wasn't balanced for different RNG schemes, save for some rare eras).

Ofcourse those who opt for toggling on diffrent RNG will be playing a different game than those who don't, but that's the same with those who play with any mods on which are not compatible with default (i.e different eras, ranged mods etc.). But the trade off is that they're playing Wesnoth and having fun at all, compared to just leaving the game and being missed opportunities to spread the Wesnoth word.

User avatar
Pentarctagon
Forum Administrator
Posts: 3453
Joined: March 22nd, 2009, 10:50 pm
Location: Earth (occasionally)

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by Pentarctagon » May 12th, 2018, 10:44 pm

I assume a UI checkbox will be added for this at some point? Otherwise there probably aren't many people who will provide feedback.
99 little bugs in the code, 99 little bugs
take one down, patch it around
-2,147,483,648 little bugs in the code

enclave
Posts: 796
Joined: December 15th, 2007, 8:52 am

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by enclave » May 12th, 2018, 11:24 pm

shadowm wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 9:20 pm
There is one reason why this can be problematic, actually. Add-on authors are likely to pick only one mode and balance their gameplay for it specifically, while balance for the other gets completely neglected. The consequences of this can range from being a minor inconvenience to a game-breaking issue, depending on the specifics of the design of the add-on’s units/scenarios.
Those add-on authors can then state the recommended RNG theme to use with their mod. I feel this would be my last concern if a mod is compatible/balanced for specific type of RNG or not.. despite I made an add-on (Q CIV) which would only work allright with default RNG I don't see a problem in it.
Same thing will happen if I use my "different luck" modification with my Q civ add-on... it will be a mess... so why worry... most add-ons and modifications already incompatible with each other, but nobody makes a panic of it..

The only true real problem of making such a change is more work for you guys Developers.

gnombat
Posts: 147
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm
Contact:

Re: A mod to make Wesnoth's RNG a little less frustrating

Post by gnombat » May 12th, 2018, 11:33 pm

Computer_Player wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 10:39 pm
The current mods that mess with RNG already destroy balance (since the entire game wasn't balanced for different RNG schemes, save for some rare eras).
enclave wrote:
May 12th, 2018, 11:24 pm
Same thing will happen if I use my "different luck" modification with my Q civ add-on... it will be a mess... so why worry... most add-ons and modifications already incompatible with each other, but nobody makes a panic of it..
The current mods that modify the RNG are all add-ons, though. I think there's a difference between an add-on that modifies the game and a core preference that changes the game's behavior. In fact, I don't think there have ever been any preferences that actually change the rules of the game (as opposed to merely modifying the user interface) - this would be the first?

Post Reply