Aug 22 2012


Just a quick update today, since it’s been a while and I FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT

That’s a super early snapshot of CQ2’s “high score” system. You’ll notice the total absence of a score. Right? Truth is, though it’s a system set up to reward skilful play, it’s first and foremost set up to do what I reckon people really want from roguelikes – a permanent record of the awesome or stupid stuff they did. It comes with a loose and vaguely intuitive ranking, but it’s mostly there to provide history. History like “how often you died carrying a healing potion”. 😀

It’s calculating a score behind the scenes for the purposes of ranking, even if it doesn’t show it. The most important thing is how far you got. Secondary to that is how quickly you got there (in game time, not real time; it’s turn based!). Finally, there are small bonuses for gold and kill count. The first thing you want to do to rank well is to clear the game; after that you want to work on clearing it faster and faster… exploring less… running through areas… giving up items and XP just to push through quicker.

But however much you choose to give up for the sake of speed, you still have to kill the end boss. It’s a balancing act.

Anyway, I just wanted to put up this early preview because I haven’t posted in ages. I’ll probably show it off again once it’s pretty. 🙂

5 Comments on “HIGH SCORES

  1. What is the object of the game “Cardinal Quest 2”? Is it “getting as far as you possibly can”? If so, should someone who kills very few monsters but just sort of snakes through to the highest level they can be more rewarded than a person who kills lots of monsters but doesn’t get as far? It seems that your system rewards both killing and moving quickly… but these directly conflict. This is like rewarding both “getting baskets” and also “not making shots” in Basketball.

    I assume that “your scoring method” and “the object of the game” are in sync with each other; i.e., they are both based on the same thing. If not, you are sending two possibly conflicting signals to the player. What is it that the player should be trying to do?

    I’ve just read your description of this scoring system. I assume that the game will not divulge even this much information about how the scoring works to players. Yet, despite having this advantage, I’m still unclear about whether, on a given turn, I would be better off trying to kill a monster, or just rushing for the exit.

  2. To sum up:

    Not only do you have a scoring system that rewards two conflicting things (moving quickly and killing monsters), but there’s also the third matter of getting far. Even if you are certain that this is not a problematic scoring system, it still has the problem of not being clear to players.

    Don’t you think that players should be able to understand their score, understand where their points are coming from?

  3. I should first add that the game now displays your calculated numerical score in this listing. It also tracks how far you explored through the level you died on, and uses this to help measure your progress instead of purely measuring it in full level increments.

    Current screenshot

    It’s otherwise unchanged.

    OK. Objectives.

    The first objective of the game is, naturally, clearing it. It has an end; people will want to get there, and the system recognises progress towards that goal first and foremost. Because the scoring system primarily ranks runs by how far you got, runs that get closer to clearing the game will generally score higher.

    The second objective of the game, once you’ve cleared it, is to clear it faster – taking more chances and relying more on your understanding of the system. Faster runs will score higher than slower runs which got to roughly the same point due to this metric.

    Up until this point, I don’t particularly want the precise mechanics here (beyond those two points above) to be clear to players. I want the overall system to intuitively map to what feels like a skilful, high-risk, successful run and what doesn’t. The weighting of the minor factors like gold and kills comes from experimentation to achieve this; they smooth things out a bit without overwhelming time or progress. The conflict you mention is minor, since one factor is much more significant than the other.

    Beyond this point…

    The third objective of the game, once the player has thoroughly mastered the game and is proficient at speedrunning, is to optimise score with an intuitive and analytical understanding of the scoring system and the tradeoffs involved in exploring an area or engaging any given enemy. This, finally, is where the minor conflicts in the scoring system become significant – and add depth.

    I don’t expect many people to get this far… but I want these subtly conflicting objectives to be there for them when they do, since they’ll have mastered everything else. I’m also comfortable with players who are this invested having to work out the scoring system for themselves or look it up on a wiki.

    Thanks – this system was in part inspired by your writings on score, even if I ended up putting the ridiculously fine-grained numerical score back in 🙂

  4. Cool, well, good luck! Also, random side note, I recommend using a thicker font (something a bit bold) for your in-game text. It will look better and be more readable.

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