Topic: I have lost faith

This topic contains 19 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Darker 1 year, 4 months ago.

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  • #88706
    BoxMonkey
    BoxMonkey
    Participant

    Darkest Dungeon keeps drawing me back, but not because it is an enjoyable game, and not because it has deep systems, memorable moments or even fun gameplay. Instead because, every now and then, I remember my original hopes for this game. It has a wonderful premise, excellent visual and audio design and just seems to promise so damn much, I mean, Lovecraftian XCOM?-It’s incredibly compelling. Then I play it for an hour or two. After watching cookie-cutter characters I don’t care about die identical deaths, and grinding through the same barely fleshed out quests and dungeons in order to earn money to spend on making other characters I don’t care about incrementally, minutely more powerful so I can grind some more I am done.

    I feel betrayed by this game. I understand that the development team is small, maybe they were always aiming on making a game that felt small, but I don’t have to like it. This art and setting is crying out for a game to match. Yeah it’s still EA, and I hope I am just jumping the gun, but it’s less than a month until release and in my opinion this game has not meaningfully progressed since the beginning of this year. To be fair this is just complaining at this point but i’m going to get stuck in and outline what some of my problems are. Just for the stress relief

    1. I don’t care about my characters at all – quirks are assigned seemingly at random and can be swapped out. Who cares if my crusader has a drinking problem? I can just get the fucker reprogrammed. If what personality there is can be wiped and rewritten, who cares?

    2. Quantitative modifiers. Related to the quirk point, but it seems that all the additional “systems” just boil down to probability modifiers on a fairly simple turn based combat system with very few qualitatively diverse mechanics.

    3. Dungeons are the same, exploration makes no sense and nothing ever happens. Why is scouting the way it is? Why can I see all the rooms from the start? Why do I run in the the same 6-8 curios every god damn time? Why are all the quests either kill or explore? Are there going to be any events in which I have to make some sort of narrative decision? What is the deal with hunger? Why can I always retreat? Oh, my party got wiped. I guess I should have been better at rolling virtual dice. I suppose that’s just the kind of visceral experience I wanted, and that I can’t complain.

    4. Stress system is functionally indistinguishable from health – enough said. So much was promised. Instead it’s just a mechanical copy-paste. Maybe I should be impressed by afflictions, but they just end up piling on more stress or damage.

    5. Torchlight. Everything about the light system and why it is the way it is, is completely baffling to me. All the modifiers seem to be the opposite of what you would expect. If you want to have a difficulty bar, then why not have a difficulty bar? Instead low light apparently makes me better at getting critical hits. Y’know, at this point, why not?

    6. This covers the previous two but I don’t care. There are so many design decisions that make no sense that I cannot list them all and they just appear to be the result of trying to wallpaper over problems that should have been tackled holistically. Meanwhile we get regular UI updates just to drive home the message that this will eventually be coming out on a touchscreen console.

    There. If I sound bitter it’s only because of what I perceive as the lost potential of this game. At the moment I’m just holding out hope that modders can give me the game I want, but if the framework isn’t there it will only ever be half formed. Abortive

    #88803
    Alerand3
    Alerand3
    Participant

    I agree with points 3, 4 and 5.
    The stress system needs MUCH more work. Not just two thresholds for ‘Resolve Test’ and Hearth Attack, but rather multiple thresholds as your hero’s stress grows, so you FEEL your hero getting gradually overstressed and ultimately breaking down. Now it’s like “The hero acts completely normal even at 99 stress, then a brigand whips him and he suddenly starts swearing at everyone or saying insane things and skipping turns”

    The torch seems very broken. I can get surprised by enemies at RADIANT LIGHT and surprise enemies and PITCH BLACK. That’s just plainly stupid. At maximum light there should be 0% chance to get surprised and at pitch black 0% chance to surprise (NO MATTER WHAT KIND OF CAMP BUFFS YOU HAVE). So instead of being kind of a difficulty meter, it instead is… I don’t know. Also you should remove the increased hero crit chance.

    I completely agree with all you said about dungeons. Also, they should have implemented the map system in the trailer, right now the map is just… boring. I mean I don’t want a lot of twists or any secrets, just y’know… more complexity.

    "Alas, you were unwise this time...
    For that, I will steal 20% of your gold and then revive you at the entrance of the dungeon."
    -Yyven, Goddess of Life

    #88868

    iamthedave
    Participant

    Why should there be 0% chance to surprise when it’s dark? Or 0% to be surprised when it’s light?

    All that it requires is for the enemies to be thinking ‘It’s dark, the humans fear the dark, we can plaaaaaaaaaaOMYGODTHOSESWORDS’

    And pretty much the reverse for humans in the light. I don’t know what the underlying numbers are of course, but it doesn’t seem out of sorts from my playthroughs. Camp buffs excluded, I get surprised more in the dark and I surpise more when it’s light.

    #89073

    LostAlone
    Participant

    Why should there be 0% chance to surprise when it’s dark? Or 0% to be surprised when it’s light?

    All that it requires is for the enemies to be thinking ‘It’s dark, the humans fear the dark, we can plaaaaaaaaaaOMYGODTHOSESWORDS’

    And pretty much the reverse for humans in the light. I don’t know what the underlying numbers are of course, but it doesn’t seem out of sorts from my playthroughs. Camp buffs excluded, I get surprised more in the dark and I surpise more when it’s light.

    The point really is that the torch doesn’t really do anything worthwhile if even at the very extremes of it (one of which is expensive, the other totally free) it’s still pretty much random what happens. What’s the point of paying out for 100% light all the time if it provides you no concrete benefit over 75% or 50% or even 0%. If you could use it totally prevent enemy surprises, for example, then it might be worth something and be part of a strategy. But since it doesn’t do that it’s kinda just busy work. Why even have a torch system if it makes almost no difference what the player does?

    Like so many things in DD it’s a random system that the player has little influence over and no upside. It’s just another chance to roll a 1 and get punished for no reason.

    #89937

    Basically. The game is really intricate but seems shallow in the features that at first looked unique, aren’t in terms of design.

    I feel like the game has suffered greatly from being Indy. Most Indy games are either mini puzzle/adventure, full Rogues or low-graphic horror but this game is trying to be a full on compact dungeon crawler however it’s not succeeding. The result is that you have a lot of mechanics that look intricate and deep but are actually quite shallow and basic on the inside, and unless a massive overhaul is imminent it’ll be over a year, if at all, before this game finds a correct place among genres.

    Game Content Expansion Concepts:
    http://www.darkestdungeon.com/topic/wrath-of-the-heir-expansion/
    http://www.darkestdungeon.com/topic/the-deep-horrors-mini-expansion/
    http://www.darkestdungeon.com/topic/dark-halls-mini-expansion/

    #90169

    LostAlone
    Participant

    Basically. The game is really intricate but seems shallow in the features that at first looked unique, aren’t in terms of design.

    I feel like the game has suffered greatly from being Indy. Most Indy games are either mini puzzle/adventure, full Rogues or low-graphic horror but this game is trying to be a full on compact dungeon crawler however it’s not succeeding. The result is that you have a lot of mechanics that look intricate and deep but are actually quite shallow and basic on the inside, and unless a massive overhaul is imminent it’ll be over a year, if at all, before this game finds a correct place among genres.

    I think that’s a a very succinct description of the problems.

    When you first start playing the game and are learning the mechanics the game often gives you a tantalizing feeling that there’s so much going on and if you can just figure it all out then you can really master the game. This is the period when most players are feeling really excited about the game because the atmosphere is so great and it makes you feel like you need to up your game and learn more to succeed. It sucks you in by presenting itself as a deep game with many different ways to influence the outcomes. At this stage when what you thought was a successful strategy suddenly fails you figure that it MUST be because of something you did; that you overlooked something or this enemy has a special something to combat you.

    And then you find out that this really isn’t the case. There are many stats and even whole mechanics that you have little if any way to influence. A very strong party can get wiped simply by bad luck no matter what you do. What at the start feels like something you need to learn from quickly becomes something you simply cannot learn from.

    There’s nothing wrong as such with games that lean on RNG for their difficulty. But if someone introduced you to roulette by telling you there was a deep and complex strategy to winning and all kinds of subtle ways to influence where the ball goes you’re going to be pretty disappointed when you find out it’s a strictly luck based game and none of the strategies you were trying to figure out had any value. DD isn’t quite that bad but it’s the same basic problem. When a game presents itself as being so deep and interesting, and of course very hard and thus only for the smartest and most committed of strategy players; and then it turns out to be kinda the opposite of that it’s a serious disappointment.

    I remember when DD was really getting lots of buzz on Youtube etc and people raved about how it was so great based on a few hours of play. And then all the people playing it just kinda died off. And no-one even talks about it anymore. All that excitement just died off as people played more.

    Just as DD’s fake difficulty can, in a poor light, make is pass for a well developed game, it’s fake depth makes it seem like a game with a long lifespan when in fact you could master it’s strategies within a few hours.

    #90451
    ZiN
    ZiN
    Participant

    I remember when DD was really getting lots of buzz on Youtube etc and people raved about how it was so great based on a few hours of play. And then all the people playing it just kinda died off. And no-one even talks about it anymore. All that excitement just died off as people played more.

    On the other hand, it gets loads of people every day (due to constant sales) who are very proud for finally being able to play a “true hardcore roguelike dungeon-crawling RPG”, although they have never played any actual ones and have no idea what these terms mean, but still post shit like “11/10, died in tutorial” and “best RPG i’ve ever played”, etc.

    #90679

    LostAlone
    Participant

    I remember when DD was really getting lots of buzz on Youtube etc and people raved about how it was so great based on a few hours of play. And then all the people playing it just kinda died off. And no-one even talks about it anymore. All that excitement just died off as people played more.

    On the other hand, it gets loads of people every day (due to constant sales) who are very proud for finally being able to play a “true hardcore roguelike dungeon-crawling RPG”, although they have never played any actual ones and have no idea what these terms mean, but still post shit like “11/10, died in tutorial” and “best RPG i’ve ever played”, etc.

    Quite.

    I know it sounds super-humourless to say it but… Man all those reviews that say ‘A book gave me siphilis. Best game evar!’ drive me nuts. I mean, yeah, the first time that happens it’s pretty funny and the flavor does a lot to help it feel a bit more organic; but if the book handed you a parking ticket for 1500 gold (the bottom line effect for getting such a bad trait) then it wouldn’t be funny at all. The joke quickly dries up and the whole system that is being used as evidence for why the game is so tough and hard and you have to be super-awesome to play it is actually a HUGE problem for the game and a microcosm for many of it’s flaws. It’s a random result that you have no control over, it doesn’t make intuitive sense that such traits can come from a totally unrelated object, it’s a system that seemingly only exists to punish players and the correct strategy is to always avoid those interactions.

    #90760

    ErekT
    Participant

    1. I don’t care about my characters at all – quirks are assigned seemingly at random and can be swapped out. Who cares if my crusader has a drinking problem? I can just get the fucker reprogrammed. If what personality there is can be wiped and rewritten, who cares?

    Quirks really feel like a missed opportunity for emergent characterization, especially considering the vivid descriptions we got back in the kickstarter days going something like “Your crusader is a drunk, do you leave him in the bar or simply strap more liquor to his pack?”. Too many quirks with no coherence between them make any crusader indistinguishable from any other crusader. I mean who keeps tab on all that stuff? I sure don’t. Also a lot of it is just assigned out of thin air at the end of missions (weald tactician from a ruins run wtf?) so there’s no real sense of consequence, only randomness. Quirks are definitely a case of ‘less is more’ in my mind.

    I’d love to have seen more directed quirk assignment for the heroes, less quirks so they feel significant when you finally get them, and quirks that seriously affect what a hero can and cannot do. Warrens phobe? Okay best not send this guy to the Warrens then, he’ll just get afflicted by the time the party reaches the second room.

    A system where a hero gets a quirk of a specific type for the first time, and then get assigned a quirk category behind the scenes so future quirks make sense as they emerge would be great. A weald phobe might get fear of eldritch, beasts, and the fearful affliction on max stress for instance. Characters exposed to mind-breaking trinkets and phenomena in a dungeon might get confined to erratic behaviour quirks, afflictions etc. Then the heroes would feel like they had personalities beyond class.

    #90870

    Malifica
    Participant

    I’m inclined to agree with several of your points. I’m starting to see darkest dungeon to be a very sub par game with an absolutely amazing coat of paint.

    1. Quirks are a pointless system in their current iteration, I couldn’t tell you the 10 quirks a single party member I have has, and why should I, they’re all insignificant. I think a major way to help this would simply be that a character can have one positive quirk and one negative quirk. The sanitarium only would exist to cure disease. These quirks would be much more significant than “uh your character takes an insignificant amount more damage”, that way you actually take notice of the things and start to go “oh yea, man that’s Fitzroy, he’s the Man at arms who is terrified of spiders and loves gold”. I don’t think that would be hard to implement. Just put in more dialogues and have him go “ew spiders” and gain a significant amount of stress against the 8 legged horrors, and lose stress and say “neat money” when you pick up cash. Don’t let the player change names or skin, have the other characters call their party members by name. Put a simple variable in that gives each character one of x personalities that give them access to a certain dialogue pool. Characters should have conversations, as far as a I know the only time a character reacts to another is when you try to pep talk a paranoid character or something of that nature. Even just a character at 75% stress saying something like “uh, this is pretty dark guys” followed by your character at 10% stress saying “don’t be a bitch” would be huge. Also gear is a huge issue. All gear is just statistical crap. I want to find a hellion glaive that sets things on fire, I don’t want to find a rock that gives me “+x% y”

    I think all of this is doable within the existing system at least, so even if the devs fail to resolve it the community can.

    3.This is the most fundamental problem. Unfortunately it’s so deeply embedded in the game I don’t think it could be too easily resolved. The game feels like an on rails RNG simulator because of it. Scouting should not exist, missions should not exist in their current state, traps should be more than an occasional “oh you rolled bad, enjoy this nice animation and an insignificant amount of damage and stress. The problem is we have a system where we don’t have 5 awesome dungeons to explore, we have 5 flavors of mini homogeneous dungeon. If it were up to me, each of the 5 dungeons would have a single map. You would explore it and leave it when your party could go no further. What you discover, what you clear, new entrances to the surface would all be persistent. You’d form your own goals. You’d actually feel “I need to map and clear the upper levels of the warrens so I can safely send an expedition to face the swine king without slogging blindly through a bunch of pigs” instead of “okay grind till I get eh boss mission” “alright clearly based on this map’s layout the boss is in that room that’s 4 away from the start.” Food also should be reworked. At the very least just make it regular, and remove the healing aspect of it. I should be able to say “alright it’s this long, I’ll need this much food”.

    Side note, if a character dies inventory should be reduced accordingly.

    4.Stress simply needs to be granular. As you get more stressed negative things occur, not at 100% thing happens at 200% thing happens. As stress goes up your character misses, he might be more likely to be surprised individually, his dialogue will change. Each character would have a predefined “paranoid, selfish” whatever they slowly slide into, a paranoid character progressively becoming distrustful as the darkness closes rather than “lol he paranoid now”. Heart attacks are retarded, but I understand what necessitates them in the current system, I simply believe they are a misguided attempt to mitigate a fundamentally silly system instead of actually solve the issue.

    I think this is also doable.

    5.Light needs to have more notable impacts on the game, that are more intuitive, not just the mild statistical copout that is so unfortunately prevalent in this game. Maybe I shouldn’t be able to see my opponents health when it’s pitch black. Maybe I shouldn’t be able to see the back row. Maybe I miss a door that I would have seen if I didn’t already have omniscient knowledge of the map. AS it is I rarely take much note of the light level, like everythhing it’s just stupid background statistical wankery. The fact that the music scales with is lovely though.

    At least I think the majority of these problems could be solved by some modders. I think it safe to say Red Hooks talents lay in the field of art and sound design, rather than game design or programming, but at the very least they are giving a mod community a beautiful coat of paint to work with, even if the wagon it’s on needs to be pretty much rebuilt. As for combat itself my grievances aren’t too severe. I think it’s a fine system over all with primarily minor foibles.

    #90874
    ZiN
    ZiN
    Participant

    I think it safe to say Red Hooks talents lay in the field of art and sound design, rather than game design or programming, but at the very least they are giving a mod community a beautiful coat of paint to work with, even if the wagon it’s on needs to be pretty much rebuilt.

    That’s quite inaccurate. Chris Bourassa can draw very good and copy Lovecraft’s writing style nicely, that’s all. Sound design is completely done by Power Up Audio, so that’s nothing to do with Red Hook. Their greatest skill lies in Kickstarter pitching, advertisement, hype generation and general marketing. As for modding we have yet to see, there aren’t any proper modding tools officially announced yet and based on how promising the whole game was and how much it failed to live up to its potential, i wouldn’t expect wonders from said modding tools. Just think about how reluctant they would be to develop the modding tools, which could be used to remove their “vision” from the game and replace it with other peoples’ vision.

    #90876

    ErekT
    Participant

    At least I think the majority of these problems could be solved by some modders. I think it safe to say Red Hooks talents lay in the field of art and sound design, rather than game design or programming, but at the very least they are giving a mod community a beautiful coat of paint to work with, even if the wagon it’s on needs to be pretty much rebuilt. As for combat itself my grievances aren’t too severe. I think it’s a fine system over all with primarily minor foibles.

    That’s quite inaccurate. Chris Bourassa can draw very good and copy Lovecraft’s writing style nicely, that’s all. Sound design is completely done by Power Up Audio, so that’s nothing to do with Red Hook. Their greatest skill lies in Kickstarter pitching, advertisement, hype generation and general marketing.

    Not to antagonize but I think y’all are being way too harsh. And inaccurate 😛

    The game design at its core is sound. The traumatizing dungeon crawling, the town hub with stress relief and questionable mental treatments, the quirks. That’s all part of the core game design and we’re all (I’m assuming) on board with the general idea of it, otherwise people wouldn’t sink hundreds of hours into playing. But I agree the gameplay itself has a few serious shortcomings. And it’s a bit sad that the developers don’t seem willing to acknowledge it.

    Chris Bourassa’s art style is very distinct and the art direction alone drips with atmosphere to an extent I’ve rarely seen matched in any other game.

    Just saying…

    #90883

    Wolfhound
    Participant

    I agree with some of these points, but I don’t think any of the blanket negative statements the OP makes. Still a great game, especially for Early Access.
    Torch is fine, could use a few more mechanics tied to it, perhaps, but it’s good.
    Sanity, same as torch. Should be more in depth, but stands on its own even as is.
    Dungeon maps and the whole map system could use a lot of work. Perhaps a possibility of not seeing the whole dungeon as you enter, perhaps detecting traps being not merely a roll of the dice (disarming traps already is), but some system requiring skill from players, like seeing various environmental clues, perhaps (which would be physically more difficult to see in the dark?)
    Hunger could use a few more revisions, I think the devs have a good idea of what kind. Start with perhaps making it a scale instead of eat-don’t eat, with various benefits and problems arising at various hunger levels.
    Characters, though already very good (keep introducing new ones), could have a few more things to them that make us connect to them better, apart from their name. For instance, take inspiration from XCOM’s automatically assigned nicknames at certain levels, or additional customization options for higher level characters. The more difficult but worthwhile idea would be to have a system of procedurally generated stories or biographies that they reveal as they level up, and the ability to talk to each of them individually (as the player character, who is the new owner of the Darkest Mansion)
    These are all suggestions. I don’t think any of these aspects of the game are unplayable as is.

    Thanks!

    #90903

    Wolfhound
    Participant

    Upon seeing this wonderful bit of fan art, I really hope the devs can come up with a simple way to make higher level chars visually different to make the leveling system more meaningful:

    Upgraded Characters x5

    #90999
    ZiN
    ZiN
    Participant

    Upon seeing this wonderful bit of fan art, I really hope the devs can come up with a simple way to make higher level chars visually different to make the leveling system more meaningful:

    I don’t really see how characters looking visually different would make the leveling system more meaningful. What would really make it more meaningful is reworking the skill and gear upgrade system to be less linear thus giving the player more choices, adding secondary (passive) skills, and indirectly by reworking the quirk system with quirks gaining levels, being less random and interacting better with everything else. Plus high-level content being more different from low-level content.

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