my Outpost hurts Hard

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by beetlenaut » August 8th, 2019, 10:02 pm

I should point something out. I just watched 15 total beginners learn to play Wesnoth. Many of them lost the tutorial, and had to start over. It's not because they didn't have foreknowledge (because it tells you what's going to happen, and I told them as well), but because they weren't paying enough attention to defense, or retaliation or something like that. We should emphasize those things in the help, and not suggest that we intended them to have to start over multiple times.
Soliton wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 6:14 pm
The point is that if it's not one try then the answer to octalot's question is "No" and not "Yes".
Many of those students lost TSG several times on "beginner" too, so they had to start over. Does that mean that "beginner" was meant to be played with foreknowledge? Of course not. None of the difficulties is meant to be played that way, but if you start over, you are clearly going to know what happened before.
Soliton wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 6:14 pm
I'm getting mixed signals if you're saying foreknowledge is obviously necessary because you have to replay scenarios or it makes no difference.
I was saying that those are both reasons for not putting it in the help. It's an obvious side effect of starting over, not a mechanic of the game in any way. It also makes no difference because by the time a player is playing harder scenarios that we really do expect most people will replay, they are not reading the help file, and have probably forgotten most of what it said.
octalot wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 8:27 pm
Hmm, maybe the help should say "...."
That makes sense to mention, and I guess it could go in help, but it sounds more like a tip the day. Maybe we need a new help section for this kind of strategy tip that is more important than most of the tips of the day, but doesn't relate to the mechanics of how to play. (With a tip of the day suggesting that you read it!)
Soliton wrote:
August 7th, 2019, 6:14 pm
Are you saying that as how it should be or how it currently is?
SotBE and NR (for example) have difficulties of Challenging, Difficult, and Nightmare. I think that lets you know that you should not attempt those until you have some more skill at the game, or are willing to restart lots and lots of times. You might say that beginners are barred from winning those campaigns, but there are plenty of campaigns with Beginner and Easy difficulty levels already. We don't need every campaign to have those. Balancing takes a long time, and can be tedious, so balancing those expert-level campaigns for beginners as well would be a huge task.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton » August 9th, 2019, 7:57 pm

I guess we're talking past each other. I'll restate my opinion hopefully more clearly.

I think it would be useful to have some notes in-game about campaign difficulty and save-loading.

First thing that I think is worth following for mainline (and which we have tried to in the past afaik) is that the easiest difficulty should be beatable with minimum gold and no recalls. I don't really see the point of excluding expert campaigns from that. The beauty is that this does not make balancing more difficult. Infact it makes it easier. If someone complains about the balance you can skip to that scenario and immediately play it and check for yourself. If it's not beatable there is clearly something wrong. If it is beatable you can judge based on your own skill if you think it should still be a bit easier. If the complainer provides a save you can show them first hand how it can be done in their situation.

As has been brought up in this thread the highest difficulty of campaigns can be tough to beat on the first try. Additionally there is the issue that it is often not clear when you lost a campaign since you can get through a scenario and still be doomed. This is fairly frustrating. This is why we changed the carryover system which made the above rule feasable and avoids the issue completely for the easiest difficulty. (This does not mean that you can beat this difficulty with no skill or that it is the same difficulty level for every campaign but someone needs to be able to beat the scenario. Then anyone can continue the campaign if they improve enough.)

Also there is the thing with save-loading excessively that occasionally leads people to believe that this is the only way to beat some campaign difficulties. To make it clear to players that save-loading is not necessary and certainly not the intended way to play I think it would be good to add a note that says that all difficulties are beatable without save-loading but maybe not on the first try. (I don't care much how that is phrased. Using the word foreknowledge or not. It should be clear though that it's not just the current scenario that may have to be re-played.) IMO this would help people realise that perhaps they shouldn't just start with the highest difficulty and then get frustrated and complain about their luck etc. and maybe they shouldn't even play the middle difficulty if they do want to avoid having to replay multiple scenarios.

If they do complain anyway then we do at least have something official in the game to point them to.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by beetlenaut » August 10th, 2019, 6:45 am

Soliton wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 7:57 pm
I think it would be useful to have some notes in-game about campaign difficulty and save-loading....
To make it clear to players that save-loading is not necessary and certainly not the intended way to play I think it would be good to add a note that says that all difficulties are beatable without save-loading but maybe not on the first try.
I guess this is the main point, and that is already phrased well. Even better, it's short, so people might actually read it.
Soliton wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 7:57 pm
that the easiest difficulty should be beatable with minimum gold and no recalls.
I would strenuously object to lowering the easiest difficulty of expert-level campaigns to be Easy, but if we're talking about adding an Easy option to each of them, that would be fine with me (as long as I don't have to do it).
Soliton wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 7:57 pm
I don't really see the point of excluding expert campaigns from that.
As a content author, the reason I have not worried about this in the past is the fact that a player is skilled for far longer than they are a beginner. (Assuming they keep playing of course.) Having a few beginner campaigns and a bunch of intermediate-to-hard campaigns seems like the logical way to go. In fact, we might consider adding a difficult or nightmare level to more of the campaigns we currently have. That would increase the replay value and keep people interested longer. And that is a project I might be interested in helping with.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton » August 12th, 2019, 11:31 am

So I guess the disagreement is that currently the easiest difficulty of expert campaigns is not beatable with no recalls and minimum gold. It's been a while since I played most of the campaigns so I'll take your word for it. I'll report back when I get around to trying it myself.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by josteph » August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm

I created https://github.com/wesnoth/wesnoth/pull/4217 with some help text related to this discussion. Please review, I hope I managed to do an impartial summary there.

As to foreknowledge, generally I don't take advantage of foreknowledge even if I restart a scenario or do a second playthrough of a campaign. I don't go "Lessee, there's a surprise undead ambush coming up on the other side of the river, so I'd better level that Mage to White, rather than Red". I'd choose between Red and White based on the information I would have if this were my first playthrough. Of course, in my actual first playthrough I may have neglected to account for the fact that the antagonist is a lich, which is a mistake I certainly won't repeat in the second playthrough... :whistle:

In general, as a player I assume every scenario should be winnable without foreknowledge and without needing favorable dice, provided that I don't make strategic mistakes. I don't mind having scenarios where that isn't the case, provided they say so up front, so I know what to expect.

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton » August 12th, 2019, 7:54 pm

josteph wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm
As to foreknowledge, generally I don't take advantage of foreknowledge even if I restart a scenario or do a second playthrough of a campaign. I don't go "Lessee, there's a surprise undead ambush coming up on the other side of the river, so I'd better level that Mage to White, rather than Red". I'd choose between Red and White based on the information I would have if this were my first playthrough. Of course, in my actual first playthrough I may have neglected to account for the fact that the antagonist is a lich, which is a mistake I certainly won't repeat in the second playthrough... :whistle:
Perhaps there are different assumptions on what foreknowledge means. To me pretending to replay a scenario and not using foreknowledge seems fairly impossible. You're really just fixing mistakes the second time you play? You're going to explore the map again like the first time? You're not using the info gained about the enemies army composition and what units it sends where and when/where your armies meet? Or you're saying if you really wanted to you could have predicted that based on the scenario info about how much gold the enemy has etc?

To me everyone has exactly one chance to prove a scenario is beatable without foreknowledge. That is why it seems questionable to me you even have the chance to balance a scenario for someone without foreknowledge. Sure in lower difficulties you just leave enough of a margin for error that it should be beatable. On higher difficulties it is going to be increasingly difficult to be sure the decreasing margin is really enough.
josteph wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm
In general, as a player I assume every scenario should be winnable without foreknowledge and without needing favorable dice, provided that I don't make strategic mistakes. I don't mind having scenarios where that isn't the case, provided they say so up front, so I know what to expect.
Based on the need for a certain number of recalls and/or enough carryover gold this is not a given, nor is it possible for the campaign author to tell you up front unless they analyze your recall list + gold amount and make an estimate.

Of course it's a reasonable assumption to make and hopefully works out most of the time in mainline.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by otzenpunk » August 12th, 2019, 10:04 pm

Soliton wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 7:54 pm
To me everyone has exactly one chance to prove a scenario is beatable without foreknowledge.
josteph wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm
In general, as a player I assume every scenario should be winnable without foreknowledge
I don't think it's possible or even desirable to make this a strict rule, even if it would be possible to playtest this anyhow. If you insist, that every scenario should be beatable without foreknowledge, even on highest difficulty, I see logically just two ways to accomplish this:

1. No surprises! No shroud, no fog of war and no sudden appearances of additional enemies, allies, gold boosts for your opponents, etc. Every aspect of the scenario is transparent at the beginning. Just a couple of leaders and predetermined gold stacks on an open map.

2. There are surprise events like those mentioned above, but a sufficiently skilled player should be able to beat the scenario on the first try anyway, without relying on luck in any way, even in his assumptions about possible opponents. Of course, those scenarios often tend to be much easier if you're able to rely on foreknowledge. As a consequence, even the highest difficulties shouldn't be able to provide any challenges for very experienced players, except on the very first run.

Of course, there are extreme cases, where foreknowledge leads you to do things, that storywise can't be explained in any way. Most notable in my opinion in HttT, where everyone agrees to give the Sceptre of Fire to Li'sar, which just doesn't make any sense without foreknowledge, because at this point she still seems to be one of your main antagonists, with whom you just agreed upon a shaky ceasefire.

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Tad_Carlucci » August 12th, 2019, 11:28 pm

What's the problem with the Sceptre going to Konrad? I did it on my first run-through and won. In fact, I didn't give her the Sceptre on any re-plays until I was updating the campaign and wanted to try alternatives.

I also disagree that surprise events are a problem. They do need to allow enough time/space/resources for a good player to adjust to the change. Sure, knowing a unit will leave or arrive on a given turn, or some other event will occur can certainly make it easier. But you need time to adjust to these changes.

If it's important to know that a secret passage will open at some point, and that you cannot win unless you use it, then the scenario should make that clear. Perhaps have an NPC know of the secret, tell the player, then leave to open it. Now, the player is aware there is a secret, and prepare to take advantage of it when the time comes (keep your main character central to the map, perhaps? So he's in range and not trapped far off in a corner with no time to make it. The NPC probably should even suggest jsut that.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by otzenpunk » August 13th, 2019, 12:23 am

Tad_Carlucci wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 11:28 pm
What's the problem with the Sceptre going to Konrad? I did it on my first run-through and won.
There's not exactly a problem with it. According to the story it's of course the natural choice, and you can safely win the campaign with Konrad wielding the sceptre. But for example the walkthrough in the wiki recommends giving it to Li'sar, because Konrad already has a ranged attack, while Li'sar hasn't, and Konrad often has to stay back to recruit and joins the battle later, so you can't get the maximum use out of the sceptre with him.
I also disagree that surprise events are a problem. They do need to allow enough time/space/resources for a good player to adjust to the change.
But this means by logic, when you're not surprised by these events, because you already know of them, these time/space/resources planned by the authors as a reserve to adapt your plans to unforeseen events is available to you for other purposes, mainly to compensate for poor play. So if you don't ever play poor, because you're just incredibly good, you're going to amass lots of resources and the campaign is becoming easier and easier for you, scenario after scenario. For this reason, I wouldn't have a problem with scenarios, that aren't supposed to be solved without foreknowledge on the highest difficulty levels, to keep them challenging even for the best players. (Although I freely admit, that I myself am far away from this skill level, nowadays actually performing round about "challenging" level, even with foreknowledge. ;) )
If it's important to know that a secret passage will open at some point, and that you cannot win unless you use it, then the scenario should make that clear.
I agree. Such things should of course be revealed in time. Probably nothing sucks more than defeating every opponent, just to lose on timeout or at least lose lots of early finishing money, because you suddenly have to move your hero to the other end of the map.

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Tad_Carlucci » August 13th, 2019, 4:23 am

That's not an example of a walk-through giving fore-knowledge. The rationale for giving her the weapon has nothing to do with anything other than the information available at the point of decision. It recommends one course of action based upon the probable way the player treats the characters.

---

Designing a scene which requires you to fail and re-try seems like a good way to suggest players try another game. If you want that, be honest and say it up front, "This scene was intended to be unwinnable. If that bothers you, go play FreeCiv. If you still want to try, read all the hints and walk-throughs on my web site, then start the campaign over, and replay the previous 28 scenes, with this scene in mind."
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton » August 13th, 2019, 12:12 pm

Tad_Carlucci wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 4:23 am
Designing a scene which requires you to fail and re-try seems like a good way to suggest players try another game. If you want that, be honest and say it up front, "This scene was intended to be unwinnable. If that bothers you, go play FreeCiv. If you still want to try, read all the hints and walk-throughs on my web site, then start the campaign over, and replay the previous 28 scenes, with this scene in mind."
How do you avoid this? I'm not sure why you think this can only happen intentionally.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by otzenpunk » August 13th, 2019, 2:16 pm

Tad_Carlucci wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 4:23 am
That's not an example of a walk-through giving fore-knowledge. The rationale for giving her the weapon has nothing to do with anything other than the information available at the point of decision. It recommends one course of action based upon the probable way the player treats the characters.
No. The whole story is, that you as Konrad have to overthrow the evil queen and become king yourself, and that you have to support your royal claims by presenting this mythical sceptre. Li'sar is the daughter and miltary leader of your very enemy Queen Asheviere, and although you just agreed upon a temporary ceasefire—because you encountered a powerful common enemy—there's no sign whatsoever at this point, that Li'sar won't use this sceptre against you at the first given opportunity, and will instead turn against her mother and join your fight.

Therefore, from the point of foreknowledge, no sane person would give the sceptre to Li'sar at this point, whatever small tactical advantage stat-wise that might give to you, because this small advantage is supposed to turn into a massive disadvantage somewhere in the probably not so distant future. That it actually doesn't, is clearly foreknowledge.
Designing a scene which requires you to fail and re-try seems like a good way to suggest players try another game. If you want that, be honest and say it up front, "This scene was intended to be unwinnable. If that bothers you, go play FreeCiv. If you still want to try, read all the hints and walk-throughs on my web site, then start the campaign over, and replay the previous 28 scenes, with this scene in mind."
I think, the opposite is true. When I run through a campaign without ever having to restart and rethink any scenario, it feels more like a cake walk, and it is probably a sign, that I'd better chosen a higher difficulty level, or that the campaign is generally too easy for me. I could have watched a movie instead and saved me clicking through.

Failing and trying better is part of any game.

And, we are talking about the highest difficulty levels here. Of course, on 'easy' or 'normal' or even 'challenging' it's pretty clear, that it's entirely possible to run through a campaign in a single run, assuming a certain skill level on the player's side. I just don't follow the logic, that there should be a general difficulty cap somewhere clearly below the point, where it's virtually impossible to finish the campaign without massive RNG luck (read: save-reloading), even if you've played it a couple of times before.

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by josteph » August 13th, 2019, 6:39 pm

Soliton wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 7:54 pm
josteph wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm
As to foreknowledge, generally I don't take advantage of foreknowledge even if I restart a scenario or do a second playthrough of a campaign. I don't go "Lessee, there's a surprise undead ambush coming up on the other side of the river, so I'd better level that Mage to White, rather than Red". I'd choose between Red and White based on the information I would have if this were my first playthrough. Of course, in my actual first playthrough I may have neglected to account for the fact that the antagonist is a lich, which is a mistake I certainly won't repeat in the second playthrough... :whistle:
Perhaps there are different assumptions on what foreknowledge means. To me pretending to replay a scenario and not using foreknowledge seems fairly impossible. You're really just fixing mistakes the second time you play? You're going to explore the map again like the first time? You're not using the info gained about the enemies army composition and what units it sends where and when/where your armies meet?
Yes, I'll explore the map again, and no, I won't use knowledge of what the enemy's recruit list and strategy is. I'll only use knowledge that the character I'm playing has at that point. If there's something I know from trying the scenario previously and dying, I won't use it (unless the scenario specifically tells me it's not meant to be winnable on the first attempt).

For example, imagine a scenario where the player controls dwarves, the enemy is Horseman line units, and, unknown to the player, on side 2 turn 1 a Draug will spawn by the player's keep. When I play such a scenario for the first time, I would naturally recruit Guardsmen and Thunderers. When I re-play the scenario, I would still recruit Guardsmen and Thunderers, even though I know what's coming up. The character I'm playing doesn't know that.
Tad_Carlucci wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 4:23 am
That's not an example of a walk-through giving fore-knowledge.
Speaking of walkthroughs, I'd like to have a set of walkthroughs that don't give out foreknowledge. For example, the wiki walkthrough for EI says:
Spoiler:
The walkthrough instructs the player to prepare for events before those events happen, as octalot put it. I'd like a set of walkthroughs that instruct the player what to do based on the information the player has available. For example, if I wrote a walkthrough for the dwarves/Horsemen/Draug scenario I outlined, I would write "On turn 1, recruit Thunderers and Guardsmen" and then have a spoiler tag and under the spoiler describe how to defeat the Draug with Thunderers and Guardsmen.
Soliton wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 7:54 pm
Or you're saying if you really wanted to you could have predicted that based on the scenario info about how much gold the enemy has etc?

To me everyone has exactly one chance to prove a scenario is beatable without foreknowledge. That is why it seems questionable to me you even have the chance to balance a scenario for someone without foreknowledge. Sure in lower difficulties you just leave enough of a margin for error that it should be beatable. On higher difficulties it is going to be increasingly difficult to be sure the decreasing margin is really enough.
If I could have predicted something but didn't, then yes, I'll correct that mistake in the second visit. However, if I mispredicted something (for example, if I guessed the enemy won't have units with poison, and then it turned out the enemy had Ghouls), it's not always clear whether I could have guessed that correctly in advance. In that sense, you're right, everyone only has one chance to play a scenario without foreknowledge. Once I've played a scenario once, I can can try not to let that affect my strategizing and risk assessment, I can try not to pick a strategy for the second visit with the benefit of hindsight, but I can't be sure I'd succeed.
Soliton wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 7:54 pm
josteph wrote:
August 12th, 2019, 5:04 pm
In general, as a player I assume every scenario should be winnable without foreknowledge and without needing favorable dice, provided that I don't make strategic mistakes. I don't mind having scenarios where that isn't the case, provided they say so up front, so I know what to expect.
Based on the need for a certain number of recalls and/or enough carryover gold this is not a given, nor is it possible for the campaign author to tell you up front unless they analyze your recall list + gold amount and make an estimate.

Of course it's a reasonable assumption to make and hopefully works out most of the time in mainline.
Yes, difficulty also depends on the carryover and recalls available. A scenario might be unwinnable if there is too little carryover or too few recalls. That makes players' lives more difficult: they have to learn to distinguish between "lost because this really is a difficult scenario", "lost because played badly", and "lost because didn't have enough carryover". It would be good to make it easier for players to tell these cases apart. For example, it would help if scenarios documented, at least in source comments, how much carryover/recalls the author expected when balancing the scenario. (WoV does this.) Or, more difficult, scenarios could set the enemy starting gold higher if the player has a large purse or recall list, so winning one scenario won't make the next one too easy.

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by gnombat » August 14th, 2019, 12:55 am

josteph wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 6:39 pm
Yes, I'll explore the map again, and no, I won't use knowledge of what the enemy's recruit list and strategy is. I'll only use knowledge that the character I'm playing has at that point. If there's something I know from trying the scenario previously and dying, I won't use it (unless the scenario specifically tells me it's not meant to be winnable on the first attempt).

For example, imagine a scenario where the player controls dwarves, the enemy is Horseman line units, and, unknown to the player, on side 2 turn 1 a Draug will spawn by the player's keep. When I play such a scenario for the first time, I would naturally recruit Guardsmen and Thunderers. When I re-play the scenario, I would still recruit Guardsmen and Thunderers, even though I know what's coming up. The character I'm playing doesn't know that.
Of course, you can play the game any way you want, but ... I would be surprised if everyone played the game that way. And even if everyone did play the game that way, I wouldn't expect them to all agree on what actions would require foreknowledge. For example, in the scenario you described, some people would probably argue that a you should recruit a few Dwarvish Fighters in that situation anyway (because good military commanders always make contingency plans for any situation).

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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by josteph » August 14th, 2019, 6:12 pm

gnombat wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 12:55 am
Of course, you can play the game any way you want, but ... I would be surprised if everyone played the game that way. And even if everyone did play the game that way, I wouldn't expect them to all agree on what actions would require foreknowledge.
That's precisely why we should coordinate expectations and agree on whether even difficult scenarios should be winnable on the first attempt or not. I've always been told that SP scenarios are supposed to be winnable on first attempt, so I try to play this way. If I were told that this campaign or that does not attempt to be winnable on the first attempt, or that the hardest difficulty is not meant to be taken on the first playthrough, I'd do that.
gnombat wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 12:55 am
For example, in the scenario you described, some people would probably argue that a you should recruit a few Dwarvish Fighters in that situation anyway (because good military commanders always make contingency plans for any situation).
Well, yes, preparing for the unexpected is a thing... but there's a fine line between a contingency the player should've prepared for and a contingency that's just a tomato surprise. If you say I should have expected undead to join the battle later, that's fair. Undead might have joined later, either as a third party or as allies of my enemy, and I ought to have prepared for that contingency. However, that's not the same as saying I should have prepared for a Draug being spawned out of thin air next to my forces.

By the way, in that example it's important that the Draug appears on turn 1. Even if I did bring some Fighters along, I would probably have brought them in only on turn 2 or later.

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