I’m afraid not much has changed since the last update. We’re still all doing our best to support Crimson, who to their credit remains resolute in completing their work. But as we know, this means all we can do is wait, unless some bit of luck befalls us, since to remain fed and housed Crimson needs to perform other work as well. The whole team, myself included, seem to be going through it at the moment, but Carnal Souls remains our goal. I cannot express my thanks and gratitude for the support and well-wishes you’ve all provided here. Trust me when I say it really keeps us going. I couldn’t be more grateful for the supportive and friendly community we have. <3
Last week we talked about rolls and skill checks, and there was a lot of interesting feedback and presented ideas. For clarity, if there is to be any actual dice-rolling (a la Roll20’s 3D dice feature) this will absolutely have the option to be disabled. At heart the question was more central around whether any random chance should be included at all.
Largely the response has been positive, and most of you seem to like the idea. I do too. I think these events will be largely flavour, at most dealing/receiving extra damage or receiving some kind of buff/debuff. Obviously we don’t want there to ever be the temptation of save-scumming for a particular critical success that lands you with a cool item or something. Personally, I’m not a fan of critical failures in combat, not even when any enemy performs one, but they can be fun and interesting for skill checks. So, at least combat-wise, expect there to be the potential for critical-hits, but not critical-misses.
As for rolls themselves, I think it’s important to show the numbers somewhere in order to establish some faith. I might ramble a bit here about game design stuff. Extra Credits has some interesting videos on these topics. But what I mean by faith is that, with random chance, there’s usually a probability that at some point the player will hit a run of bad or good luck and begin to believe that the RNG is biased in some way. And, in some cases, it actually is. In pokemon, your chance to escape increases with each attempt to flee. The probability an attack will miss is drastically lower if you missed last turn, just as it’s almost impossible to critically hit twice in a row. When walking in tall grass, the probability a wild pokemon appears is 0% for a short time after a battle with one ended, so the player has a chance to move and progress before being jumped again.
I think, for CS, I would like skill checks to be truly random (or at least as truly random as we can manage programmatically, but unbiased is the important part). They’ll not appear often enough to require fudging one way or the other, and I believe the results of the roll are what will determine how it feels over the roll itself. The previously-linked video on the delta of randomness is a good example of what I mean. For instance, I don’t think I’m alone in hating forced failures in games, where you’re pitted against an unbeatable opponent just because it’s a plot point that you should lose. This can be incredibly frustrating if it’s presented as a fight you can win. Having a skill check that always happens to fail because failing it progresses the story is some bad design in my opinion (just as it is for 100% success, but that feels less terrible, admittedly). Things like that remove agency and railroad the player into a certain path regardless of their actions. I’m a firm believer that the game should never take the controller out of the player’s hands, for any purpose.
Instead, I want skill checks to be representitive of opportunities the player character has to make some action or decision not otherwise afforded by the standard game mechanics. Perhaps a sneaky type will see an opportunity while speaking to an official to pick his pocket, gaining a key which will speed up their progress later, or potentially getting caught and risking a fight or flee situation. Or, perhaps on the run from some terrible beastie, there are skill checks that play to the character’s strengths and weaknesses. With high strength, there’s a check to see if you can bulldoze your way through a fence to try and lose the pursuer, and failing will mean stumbling and it gaining on you. Or if you’re nimble, hopping over said fence instead and taking a tumble if you fail the check. Critical successes and failures could push those results a little further in either direction, but never directly resulting in a major win or loss. At worst, they should provide something to which the player can then adapt.
I haven’t managed a great deal of sleep recently, so I apologise if this post is a bit more rambly and disjointed than usual. I think it’s a cool thing including you all in my design thoughts and processes, and I always enjoy reading your feedback.
Until next time!