[UMC] Allow recalling dead L3 units

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Zarel
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[UMC] Allow recalling dead L3 units

Post by Zarel »

You know.

I've thought of a pretty simple solution:

Allow recalls of units that have died in previous scenarios, for the recall price plus the standard recruit price of the unit.
The resurrected unit would come with no experience, and so any unit type that can be recruited would not be able to be recalled, since it'd [usually] be a waste of the additional recall price.

== Rationale ==

Playing multiplayer/early-campaigns with L1's is just like playing later campaigns with L3's, with one exception: You can't buy back L3's at cost if you lose them. Which, in turn, means that losing them is a bigger deal in late campaigns than in early ones and multiplayer. And that screws with strategy for what an acceptable sacrifice is. It turns a death from "some money" to "some money, and a lot of effort leveling up the L3, and lose access to the L3 for several scenarios while you make a new one". So playing with L3's adds frustration, and nothing else.

In a standard strategy game, any individual unit should be expendable. Leveling plus permadeath screws with that too much - there should really be either one or the other. Most other games deal with that one of three ways:
1. No leveling system, or level cap easy to reach - i.e. you can get many units to max level in a single scenario (most RTSes and TBSes - e.g. Advance Wars, StarCraft "no leveling", C&C Red Alert "easy level cap").
2. No permadeath (some RPGs - e.g. Pokemon).
3. Unit death is easily avoidable, and/or loading from earlier savepoints is encouraged (most RPGs - e.g. TES Morrowind).

Now, I believe it is a flaw of Wesnoth's design choices that Wesnoth does not implement one of these three solutions. That's why I'm proposing the second solution, since it's the one that would require the fewest changes to Wesnoth gameplay, and fortunately doesn't screw with game balance, and is easily avoidable for players who don't like it. The first solution is such a drastic change that few would agree to it. The third solution merits a bit of discussion, though:

"Unit death is easily avoidable" does not make for a good strategy game - there's simply little strategy in a game where none of your units die. So the current solution is to mix units that don't permadie (L1s) to be used as sacrificial fodder, with units whose deaths are easily avoidable (L3s, when protected by aforementioned L1s). This is the emergent strategy that comes from the current game design, and it really illustrates why: The fun of playing a game with a leveling system is to be able to use powerful high-level units. But in this emergent "best" strategy, the "powerful" high-level units do nothing but hide behind weak L1s, and in fact are completely superfluous - the L1s by themselves can and do win games.

This kind of emergent strategy attracts the type of player of the "I'm so hardcore, I don't need the high-level units offered by the game to win" type. Which is fine, but many game players are not like that, and I think we should try to attract some of those players as well. We can keep all our previous players by having them not use the new feature, so there's no problem there. So this is really about broadening Wesnoth's appeal.

Note that at least some of the staff also agree with the viewpoint that something should be changed:
Jetrel: "At this point, I'm completely convinced that the perma-loss of L3 units is a broken design"

== Possible objections ==

- "It makes the game easier!"

Testing has revealed that for the recruit price, lower level units are more powerful than higher level units. So a player wanting the most powerful units would spend less money recruiting three Horsemen than resurrecting a Grand Knight, and the three Horsemen would be more powerful, too! Not to mention they'd have the same upkeep. So such a change would not change game balance at all, and it would not make difficult scenarios easier.

The change is more for players who wish to play a certain way. Players who wish to continue playing the old way can simply elect not to use this feature.

- "It makes campaigns even more different from multiplayer!"

Since multiplayer doesn't have multiple scenarios, the change won't affect multiplayer balance at all. In terms of gameplay, campaigns already require a completely different play style than multiplayer - it would be more fruitful to make them more fun than to make them resemble each other more in some slight way.

Plus, in multiplayer, losing a unit is an acceptable sacrifice, since there's no "next scenario". In a campaign, even if losing a unit is acceptable for a single scenario, you lose the unit for all future scenarios as well, requiring far more cautious play in campaigns than in multiplayer. This change would actually make campaigns feel slightly more like multiplayer, in addition to making them more fun.

- "A resurrection mechanic would invalidate much of Wesnoth lore! 'Dead' units should be dead!"

There's nothing that suggests that a defeat in Wesnoth is death. For instance, while fighting against L'isar in HttT, each time you "kill" her, she still comes back.

If it would help, we can change all references to "kill" into "defeat", and emphasize that such a unit is "not really dead".

As Dave pointed out once, only about 20-30% of the fighters in any given battle really "die" (those would be the L1's), others are simply "defeated". You don't fight until you die, you fight until you're so injured you can't fight anymore, or until you get captured, or something like that. We simply rephrase "kill" to "defeat" and all these 'thematic' reasons go away.

- "No one would ever die! That would mess with the mood of the battle!"

Actually, all your L1's and all your enemy units of any level that are defeated would be permanently dead. That's a majority of the units in your average game, so it doesn't change that at all.

- "This is too much of a change! Let's have more restrictions, like 'this only works if the killed unit is adjacent to another one of your units'."

Such additional restrictions would serve only to frustrate a player, and run counter to the objective that allows a player to worry less when one of their units is defeated. In addition, further complexity without good reason will only make the game less fun. See also KISS.

As demonstrated in "It makes the game easier!", these restrictions are also unnecessary, since, even without the restrictions, the change would not be overpowered.

- "Wesnoth is not Fire Emblem or an RPG! It shouldn't be about keeping a small group of high-level units!"

L3's are not that powerful, as demonstrated in "It makes the game easier!". A player would still have to gather many of them to be able to reliably win campaigns. The aim of the change is simply to make that process less frustrating. If you truly believe the game should not be played this way, there's always the option of simply not using the feature.

-----

This topic has come up many times, and I believe my proposal has addressed every objection in every thread on the subject. If I missed any, feel free to [re]post them.
Last edited by Zarel on March 26th, 2010, 5:51 am, edited 8 times in total.
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ParadiseCity
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Re: Such a shame

Post by ParadiseCity »

Zarel wrote:...
This topic has come up many times, and I believe my proposal has addressed every objection in every thread on the subject. If I missed any, feel free to [re]post them.
You really did nail it there. I've been really on the fence about the proposal but now I support it :wink: .
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HomerJ
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Re: Such a shame

Post by HomerJ »

If Zarels proposal CABD with wml, and someone does it, I would be happy two playtest a tweaked HttT.


Edit: Oh wait, one minor point, how is plague affected, if at all considering a unit can symbolize a whole battalion, which would leave room for both zombies and survivers.

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Rya
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Rya »

If the price of revival would be 20 gold + unit price, then that feature is completely useless, because one level 2 unit certainly isn't as good as 3 level 1 units.
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Split from Such a shame

Post by Zarel »

HomerJ wrote:Oh wait, one minor point, how is plague affected, if at all considering a unit can symbolize a whole battalion, which would leave room for both zombies and survivers.
Well, you can't resurrect until the next scenario, so it shouldn't be an immediate conflict. They really wouldn't be treated in any particularly special way.
Rya wrote:If the price of revival would be 20 gold + unit price, then that feature is completely useless, because one level 2 unit certainly isn't as good as 3 level 1 units.
You mean "completely not overpowered". If you think the feature is useless, then the feature isn't for you - it's for people who have a bunch of extra gold and would rather play with their higher level units than more lower level units.

Maybe reduce it to just unit price, then? Would make it slightly more useful, but still not overpowered.
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Velensk
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Velensk »

HomerJ wrote:
Oh wait, one minor point, how is plague affected, if at all considering a unit can symbolize a whole battalion, which would leave room for both zombies and survivers.

Well, you can't resurrect until the next scenario, so it shouldn't be an immediate conflict. They really wouldn't be treated in any particularly special way.
He's talking thematically. If your unit gets turned into a zombie and you then have your archmage vaporize him then you would kind of have to wonder how you are resurrecting him.

As it is I am against this idea for thematic reasons. A soldier who dies on the battlefield is dead and should not be coming back in any way other than unnatural slavery.
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Zarel
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Zarel »

Velensk wrote:He's talking thematically. If your unit gets turned into a zombie and you then have your archmage vaporize him then you would kind of have to wonder how you are resurrecting him.

As it is I am against this idea for thematic reasons. A soldier who dies on the battlefield is dead and should not be coming back in any way other than unnatural slavery.
The thing is that the soldier isn't "dead". As Dave pointed out once, only about 20-30% of the fighters in any given battle really "die" (those would be the L1's), others are simply "defeated". You don't fight until you die, you fight until you're so injured you can't fight anymore, or until you get captured, or something like that. We simply rephrase "kill" to "defeat" and all these 'thematic' reasons go away.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Blarumyrran »

This idea is certainly wrong!
Zarel wrote:The thing is that the soldier isn't "dead". As Dave pointed out once, only about 20-30% of the fighters in any given battle really "die" (those would be the L1's), others are simply "defeated". We simply rephrase "kill" to "defeat" and all these 'thematic' reasons go away.
Their pixels vanish; for me they are all dead. I know that way of thinking is all over the place in Wesnoth (eg hidden female units); but when I see a valley of hills and woods empty of units, I like to think that it is empty of living beings, rather than that it's full of females or wounded units or the like, who are just not visible. That kind of simplicity has a very strong charm to it. And forcibly only "defeating" a unit isn't as satisfactory as killing one - it's like, no matter how much you hit your mortal enemy with a sword, you can never be sure that he's not just wounded now.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Velensk »

Zarel wrote: The thing is that the soldier isn't "dead". As Dave pointed out once, only about 20-30% of the fighters in any given battle really "die" (those would be the L1's), others are simply "defeated". You don't fight until you die, you fight until you're so injured you can't fight anymore, or until you get captured, or something like that. We simply rephrase "kill" to "defeat" and all these 'thematic' reasons go away.
Yeah, and my horde of bloodthirsty orcs or ruthless undead are just going to leave a bunch of wounded or prisoners laying around. Sorry but I don't really care to imagine that there are lots of 'defeated' troops laying around on the battlefield. Units that have broken and fled fine, units with so few survivors that they can't effectively fight fine, but in any event the unit isn't going to just return because you pay lots of money.
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Zarel
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Zarel »

Blarumyrran wrote:Their pixels vanish; for me they are all dead. I know that way of thinking is all over the place in Wesnoth (eg hidden female units); but when I see a valley of hills and woods empty of units, I like to think that it is empty of living beings, rather than that it's full of females or wounded units or the like, who are just not visible. That kind of simplicity has a very strong charm to it. And forcibly only "defeating" a unit isn't as satisfactory as killing one - it's like, no matter how much you hit your mortal enemy with a sword, you can never be sure that he's not just wounded now.
Well, I suppose you should go ahead and rewrite HttT so that L'isar doesn't exist after the first scenario you meet her?

There are many other Wesnoth campaigns in which defeating a unit doesn't kill it. Regardless, this change doesn't change the fact that any enemy that used to go away forever when defeated will continue to do so, so you can still have that satisfaction.
Velensk wrote:Yeah, and my horde of bloodthirsty orcs or ruthless undead are just going to leave a bunch of wounded or prisoners laying around. Sorry but I don't really care to imagine that there are lots of 'defeated' troops laying around on the battlefield. Units that have broken and fled fine, units with so few survivors that they can't effectively fight fine, but in any event the unit isn't going to just return because you pay lots of money.
No one's bloodthirsty/ruthless enough to try to kill someone already incapacitated when there are live people running at you with swords and arrows. That's just bad form, man. We're talking about the winning side recovering their defeated, after all, not the losing side.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Blarumyrran »

Zarel wrote:Well, I suppose you should go ahead and rewrite HttT so that L'isar doesn't exist after the first scenario you meet her?

There are many other Wesnoth campaigns in which defeating a unit doesn't kill it.
Because it has explicit messages saying that happens; you could consider those "Oh no don't slay me please" messages as an interruption to dying, preventing it. I'm speaking of the default, uninterrupted dying.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Zarel »

Blarumyrran wrote:Because it has explicit messages saying that happens; you could consider those "Oh no don't slay me please" messages as an interruption to dying, preventing it. I'm speaking of the default, uninterrupted dying.
Well, some of them are like that; L'isar's were more along the lines of "Drat! I died! Now I'm leaving!" Regardless, this change doesn't change the fact that any enemy that used to go away forever when defeated will continue to do so, so you can still have that satisfaction.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Blarumyrran »

Zarel wrote:Regardless, this change doesn't change the fact that any enemy that used to go away forever when defeated will continue to do so, so you can still have that satisfaction.
No, I can't, since they'll linger about invisibly!

Quoting your quote, I too think losing L3 permanently is broken design, but I would solve it by not having L3s. I think Wesnoth would be more fun with only two levels (and not too xp-demanding upgrade between them), but very many options for the second level.
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Zarel
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Zarel »

Blarumyrran wrote:No, I can't, since they'll linger about invisibly!
Okay, now, this is just turning absurdist. :P

I really would like to hear any other legitimate criticisms of my proposal.
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Re: Such a shame

Post by Velensk »

Zarel wrote:No one's bloodthirsty/ruthless enough to try to kill someone already incapacitated when there are live people running at you with swords and arrows. That's just bad form, man. We're talking about the winning side recovering their defeated, after all, not the losing side.
Do you have any idea how many scenarios there are where that is just not plausible? Examples would be 'Home of the North Elves' from HttT. Then there's scenarios like the one in UtBS where the player spends the entire scenario outrunning a wall of death. There are plenty of these scenarios throughout the various campaigns.

Aside from that, if by defeated you mean incapacitated then considering how long wesnoth battles last it dose not seem plausible that anyone critically wounded would survive till they can be recovered after the battle. There are also plenty of situations where simply being incapacitated is not plausible (a lone unit sent off to hold off a few units for a short while, while other units retreat or attack can be recovered just as easily as if he had died while holding a front alongside other units.

On top of that, doing it this way means that effectively nobody dies. Everyone is merely 'defeated', as though the entire battle were some big tourney. Everyone that you ever hired to fight for you is waiting there to be put back together once you decide the price is worth it (even if it will never be). To me that would remove any sort of seriousness to the engagement.

It is simpler and more intuitive that all destroyed units be dead and be done with it.
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