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(playing) Rift Wizard

Started by droqen, December 29, 2021, 07:04:07 AM

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The spells and skills are all parameterized. This means... they can be modified. Spatial mechanics are also a sort of 'parameter' (this is not quite right) which increase the interaction- and modification-space. The mathematical complexity. What is the pleasure of interacting with a system like this? I think Jack called it a certain type of play, that of predicting/calculating the outcome.


The systems in Rift Wizard are complicated and lush, enough that I need to rely on heuristics in order to hold the system comfortably in mind. The problem is that these heuristics aren't interesting to me... I think this is helping me come to a very interesting conclusion. This is a mindset I've sought out before, but the larger patterns in games like this are just too abstract and not narratively/thematically interesting anymore.

"Lightning chains between enemies"

Also, just on the systems side, the thing that frustrated progress enough that I think I might be done with the game is the SHIELD mechanic... maybe there's a way through it, but it feels like it's just there to counteract certain strategies. With a game that's 24 floors deep, I'm not particularly interested in running into 'just another counter to my current strategy' ten more times, each one taking me twice as long (or longer!) than the last to resolve.

Hmm. So there's a couple patterns here but I guess I'd call them antipatterns so I don't actually want to write them down. what can i learn from this?



PROBLEM: When a system is too open and simple, it can be 'solved' by examining its state and mentally calculating all possible outcomes.

- Make sure that there are too many outcomes to calculate (see SPATIAL COMPLEXITY, COMBINATORICS, and UNKNOWN OUTCOMES, as-yet undefined patterns)


PROBLEM: When a player deals with an INCALCULABLE SYSTEM, they will inevitably rely on heuristics, or 'rules of thumb', in order to navigate the system. These heuristics are emergent and may be derivative, distasteful, or simply boring.


(...I need a way to deal with these 'unfinished patterns', but I think this is a great and important one.)


But maybe the problem I'm having is not with the game design so much as it is with the thematic design(?). The narrative of Rift Wizard is not interesting to me. Full stop. It's unfortunate but true. Beyond the confines of the game design itself, I don't care about a story about a wizard going 24 floors down with a book full of spells etc etc blah blah blah. I don't care about it. I don't care about the character, or the setting, or any of it. Why should I care how it's communicated to me, then? (i.e. via a game)


I've played some more Rift Wizard.

Theme aside, the system is compelling... but it doesn't cash out as easily as I wish it did; maybe what I want is a power fantasy, and it's putting up too much resistance! The many little pieces allow me to form combos, they're very tantalizing that way, but then the enemies are designed to throw wrenches into not only my ability to win, but my ability to use my abilities! It feels bad, and requires me to take the time to run through the details every time I step through a rift, every time I take a move...

I think that there's only so much time I'm willing to dedicate to each move, and it starts to feel bad that my own impatience* is a major factor in why I can't make progress.

*but it's not so much impatience as it is the feeling that I'm wasting my time, that if every turn is going to be significantly longer I'd rather waste my time doing something else. I'm losing patience.

Raw search and heuristics.

I'm hitting my raw search limit, and so I need better heuristics. How do I develop better heuristics? The game (Rift Wizard) allows me to develop new heuristics through... ha ha, more raw search! Now that's interesting. A game may be deep, but since depth is raw search + heuristics, is the sub-game of developing heuristics ... deep, too?

How deep does learning go?


I don't get the joy of Millstone out of testing my heuristics in Rift Wizard.

Rift Wizard has shit gamefeel.