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What does game "depth" really mean?
09-10-2010, 08:33 AM
Post: #1
What does game "depth" really mean?
In my opinion, I believe that game "DEPTH" means that your body's ability to move can outpace your mind's ability move, thus forcing you to be a better thinker to be a better player.

Put another way, if a game has depth, its NOT because of obscure game knowledge, secret tricks, it because the overall speed and action of the game pushes the mind into places it couldn't reach before. This is what keeps me addicted to Nexuiz.

If player A beats player B, it needs to be because of a superior mind. IMHO, the only way to achieve this is to have speed and capability of the player limited only by their mind, and not by the physics. Best minds = best players.

The net effect of this is two things:
1) I don't care if the physics in Xonotic is "different" from Nexuiz, it just needs to "get out of the way" as it were...and let the action be fast....extremely fast

2) Seasoned players with their expanded minds are dramatically superior to newbies.

The expert vs newbie problem should be addressed through basic player education, not nerfing the weapons or movement which reduces game depth. Perhaps, we need a list of "Top 10 Things" you need to know to be a good player...and have it appear everywhere.

For example, with Nexuiz, I had to learn from others about rocket jumping. If it's possible to do that, we should tell new players straight out, rather than let them suffer and ultimately quit the game.

My 2 cents.
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09-10-2010, 08:44 AM
Post: #2
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
Hey Duke! Glad to see you made it (I play as 'Earthling').

Anyway, back to topic, I think you're basically right. People who are willing to try new stuff should be rewarded in general.

My 2 £ Wink

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09-10-2010, 09:08 AM
Post: #3
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
(09-10-2010 08:33 AM)Duke Wrote:  In my opinion, I believe that game "DEPTH" means that your body's ability to move can outpace your mind's ability move, thus forcing you to be a better thinker to be a better player.

Interesting and quite original approach.
I think there is something essentially right in this definition.

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09-10-2010, 09:38 AM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2010 09:43 AM by divVerent.)
Post: #4
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
(09-10-2010 08:33 AM)Duke Wrote:  The net effect of this is two things:
1) I don't care if the physics in Xonotic is "different" from Nexuiz, it just needs to "get out of the way" as it were...and let the action be fast....extremely fast

That's exactly what the current physics do for me. Nexuiz physics feel limiting to me, like with a handbrake. They have their good points though - they are a bit more intuitive at the start (the current CPMA-like strafe-to-turn-quickly is unintuitive, but also doesn't get in my way as I only use it for running, not during combat - during combat, I move exactly like in Nexuiz, even with the same keys pressed in the same way at the same time).

And generally I agree to your point. Depth means that you improve not by knowledge, but by "experience" - by getting used to faster and even faster action. Just, it is a lie that the current physics are way slower. In fact, with the current physics, I'd outrun you on any race (not CTS-only) map anytime, even while fighting. On racetrack I am twice as fast with current physics without even using the weird strafe-turning. On subseatrack I would estimate +50% to +100%, somewhere in that range.

One thing I am scared of with the new physics, is, how fast a jlue or a Red Dragon could potentially become in them. Especially if he also has a laser/mortar/whatever, he then can keep his speed much more than he could in Nexuiz, and be easily twice as fast as me with them.

BTW, by your definition, Nexuiz physics quite lack a lot in depth. They are mostly based on knowledge - you have to KNOW how to exactly turn your mouse at what angle to get optimum acceleration. Where this goes wrong, is when the "knowledge" gets transferred into software - namely strafebot, and then outperforms the best minds. What I want instead, is physics that are as fast as possible while an average player can still control it, and then let the good movers be even faster.

Other typical examples of what defines game depth, by your explanation:
  • weapon combos - things you must experience in combat and cannot just learn in theory
  • trick jumps where you have to plan ahead

However, none of this should be "enforced" by artificially restricting the game! Additional lag in the game sure increases depth, as your mind suddenly has to work much harder. However, it sure is nothing we should strive for. Depth is something that should not be enforced by weird restrictions, but by "extensible" game design, by making MORE possible!

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09-10-2010, 10:47 AM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2010 11:15 AM by Bundy.)
Post: #5
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
(09-10-2010 08:33 AM)Duke Wrote:  The expert vs newbie problem should be addressed through basic player education, not nerfing the weapons or movement which reduces game depth. Perhaps, we need a list of "Top 10 Things" you need to know to be a good player...and have it appear everywhere.

The parts which you can learn relativly fast to be a good player only by practicing:
- Aiming
- Timing
- Movement
- Positioning / Map knowledge

Things which come from experience:
- Decisions: I think this is one of the hardest parts. At the beginning of the map you allready have to make a decision how to get the most of your startspawn while keeping in mind where your oppenent could be and what he should do. Time to make a decision, while you have a lot options. There are always decisions to make withing seconds. Is it better now to have a better position on the map or to hide now? Should you defend your own flag now or attack the enemy flag? Is it good to fight head to head for the powerup or should I stay back and spam the spot to do at least damage to the enemy. Is it OK to take these armor shards (+5armor) to boost your own stack while giving away your position to the enemy (the sounds). A good player will always choose one of the better decisions he could make and rarely a bad one. Everthing below are part of decision making.

- Be one step ahead of your enemy (i.e.: if he knows that you go always that route to get the next powerup, but you also know that he knows it, you take this time another route to surprise him)

- Knowing your enemy Health/Armor pool. (especially for 1on1 and 2on2) Is it worth fighting or better to camp a bit in the current situation.

- When to attack: Is it a good spot to chase him? This also comes to the position, as he might do on average 200dmg to you while you only make 130dmg to him to get the frag. The decision now to make is if it is worth the frag in exchange for the damage you get. Sometimes it is also OK to suicide when you do a lot more damage to your opponent and therefor get the opportunity to fight for the next big powerup which will spawn in the next seconds (so called timing attacks).

- What is the weapon of choice at the current spot. You will always be in situations where you have some weapons. As an extreme example, it is of course not the best idea to use the rocketlauncher on a very open part of the map where your oppenent is far away, even worse would be to try it with the shotgun secondary Big Grin. But there are a lot of spots on maps where you can put out a bit more dmg on average with one weapon over others. Here is the next decision to make. Always use the best or second best weapon at that position. The choice of weapon will definitve get better with experience and mapknowledge. It also depends on your aiming. When you just cant hit with the nexgun, then it would be better to use the MG(secondary) or Rifle for that fight, because it is the best weapon for you in that situation.

- Knowing your enemy weapon pool. When you know what weapons your opponent got, you can also chose the perfect spots to fight him.

- Know about your enemys weakness. Are you better on longrange fights (Nexgun/Rifle) or in head to head fights with projectile weapons against this opponent.

And about "in-game depth". I think that it is always limited by the gameengine (weapons, physics, movement, trick/laserjumps) and maps (rooms, corridoors, edges, chokes, entrances etc.). The word limited is not bad in any means, otherwise there wouldnt be any tactical advantages. But there are also maps with to much limitation, i.e. eggandbacon. There isnt to much depth in it.

I think I missed a lot of other things which are very important. But thats something to start with.
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09-10-2010, 11:20 AM
Post: #6
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
"- Be one step ahead of your enemy (i.e.: if he knows that you go always that route to get the next powerup, but you also know that he knows it, you take this time another route to surprise him)"

This is an important thought process, I think in xonotic if I play actively as I did back in 2005-2007/08 in nexuiz, I can think like this but it takes a LOT of time and practice..this is like REALLY deep thought-processing though and only something I learnt in the past few years I don't expect any intermediate player to think like this long-term. In poker they call it 'Meta-game' I believe, atleast in headsup poker, basically you know your opponent is competent, he knows you are, it's all about not just watching his play but remembering what your opponent thought or did when you did decision A, and then changing that perception for the next time so like bundy said you know your opponent knows you normally go one way, so you go another way..this gives you a edge even if it's just slight..I think I started talking about stuff like this with PCLizard.

I guess I really should take some time to write a guide, however I don't really want to do it until Xonotic is released otherwise it'll be based off nexuiz.

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09-10-2010, 12:56 PM
Post: #7
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
(09-10-2010 08:33 AM)Duke Wrote:  Put another way, if a game has depth, its NOT because of obscure game knowledge, secret tricks, it because the overall speed and action of the game pushes the mind into places it couldn't reach before. This is what keeps me addicted to Nexuiz.

Trouble is, there isn't diverse enough action in Nexuiz/Xonotic so they compensate with more and more speed to keep the competition from falling into tic-tac-toe (stalemate).

This is typical of legacy games- super simple and super fast. Probably because the much older hardware of days past couldn't handle complex simulations, so they cranked up the challenge levels by making the few things that could happen, happen much faster.

Also people probably did a lot more cocaine. Now we use coffee, which burns up only enough neurons to play sanely paced tactical shooters.

Unfortunately tactical shooters are so dominated by hitscan pseudo-realistic simulations of ballistics that most of the gameplay revolves around hiding and chatting.

Quote:If player A beats player B, it needs to be because of a superior mind. IMHO, the only way to achieve this is to have speed and capability of the player limited only by their mind, and not by the physics. Best minds = best players.

Well that's insane. The human mind is adapted to deal with external limitations in your environment, and to innovate ways of dealing with them.

You take those away and you'll be so far outside the realm of human reflexes that simple chance will take over. And meanwhile the vast majority of your brain that isn't responsible for pure reflexes and hand-eye coordination will be idling and getting bored.

Then you have something no better than the far opposite extreme of hyper-micromanagement strategy games, with you having only speed and them only complexity.

(04-01-2010 11:21 AM)Roanoke Wrote:  Yes, beveled edges are more futuristic. Like BSG and their beveled paper.
But only on one edge.
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09-10-2010, 02:59 PM
Post: #8
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
(09-10-2010 08:33 AM)Duke Wrote:  If player A beats player B, it needs to be because of a superior mind. IMHO, the only way to achieve this is to have speed and capability of the player limited only by their mind, and not by the physics. Best minds = best players.

This is completely wrong. There needs to be an aspect of execution for the game to be any fun. In other words, you need to be able to practice different skills to get better at the game, not just think really really hard. Sure it'd be nice if you could go in being really smart and beating anyone without having played the game before, but for anyone that isn't smart, that just isn't fun. There isn't too much depth in something that you win just by being smarter.

Depth appears in games in the ability to practice certain things. These could be basic things such as movement or aiming, or more advanced things such as strategies and timings.

If you practice a bunch and get really good at movement, you can start coming up with strategies that help you beat someone who might be smarter than you, or aim better than you. If you practice a certain jump on a map and get really good at it then you can work out ways to use that to gain an advantage over a player that can't do that jump as well as you. That's depth, at least in terms of decision making. If everyone were absolutely equal in the basic mechanics of playing the game all the time, there would be no depth, no matter how fast it goes. Being able to walk into a game and just win because you're smarter is boring and shallow.
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09-10-2010, 06:36 PM (This post was last modified: 09-10-2010 06:37 PM by clanclanclan.)
Post: #9
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
Duke Wrote:In my opinion, I believe that game "DEPTH" means that your body's ability to move can outpace your mind's ability move, thus forcing you to be a better thinker to be a better player
Duke Wrote:If player A beats player B, it needs to be because of a superior mind. IMHO, the only way to achieve this is to have speed and capability of the player limited only by their mind, and not by the physics. Best minds = best players.

Hmm, that's interesting, and I kind of agree with it. Generally games like Chess are thought of as requiring a higher than average cognitive ability, but the difference is in Chess you have 60 seconds to make a move, but in Nexuiz otoh, you have 60 milliseconds. Despite this, imo playing Nexuiz has nothing to do with your cognitive ability, but rather how well you know the map, the physics and the weapons. It's kind of like running (and a lot of other sports, for that matter): if you consciously paced out each footstep before you made it, you would end up flat on your face.

Which can pretty much be summed up as
vbraun Wrote:Depth appears in games in the ability to practice certain things. These could be basic things such as movement or aiming, or more advanced things such as strategies and timings.

divVerent Wrote:And generally I agree to your point. Depth means that you improve not by knowledge, but by "experience" - by getting used to faster and even faster action. Just, it is a lie that the current physics are way slower. In fact, with the current physics, I'd outrun you on any race (not CTS-only) map anytime, even while fighting. On racetrack I am twice as fast with current physics without even using the weird strafe-turning. On subseatrack I would estimate +50% to +100%, somewhere in that range.

And this is the thing, speed increases, but the skill:speed ratio decreases dramatically.

divVerent Wrote:However, none of this should be "enforced" by artificially restricting the game! Additional lag in the game sure increases depth, as your mind suddenly has to work much harder. However, it sure is nothing we should strive for. Depth is something that should not be enforced by weird restrictions, but by "extensible" game design, by making MORE possible!

But there is a very fine line between making MORE possible and making ANYTHING possible. Iirc strafejumping originated as an engine bug, so it was a way of EXPLOITING the game, rather than a change introduced to make it faster. What if every piece in Chess had the movement capabilities of a Queen? Then it would just suck. It's fine to make it faster, but just saying 'Okay, now everyone can just turn as fast and hard as they want' doesn't keep with current gameplay. This is the issue I saw with Nexuiz, where all balance changes would be quantitative (ie. we need the mg to work twice as well, so let's double the fire rate) rather than qualitative (ie. the mg doesn't work very well at the moment, so let's make it do a bit more damage, keep the fire rate as is, and add a spool up time of 0.3s). For every change made, there should be an equal or roughly equal change in the opposite direction (ie. let's make the threshold for the point at which strafing is required for more efficient turning a bit higher, but make low range non-strafe turning a bit less efficient).

Edit: Realism isn't really the focus of Xonotic, but remember to 'keep it logical' Wink

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09-14-2010, 09:01 AM (This post was last modified: 09-14-2010 09:10 AM by Ihsan.)
Post: #10
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
I'm sorry but i disagree with Duke's theory of depth. I always understood depth in games to be the depth of thought expected to play the game at an intermediate level. The important word is INTERMEDIATE. Let me defend my position:

Firstly, to be GOOD ant ANY game requires the player to exploit all possible advantages simultaneously. This always results in deep, complex, decision making. So being good at any competitive game requires depth.
Good Nexuiz, Xonotic, Hopscotch players are all deep. I agree on that point. Where i disagree is in the depth of the game itself. Different games reward different skills. To use the example above the average runner is not EXPECTED to be strategic and the average chess player is not EXPECTED to be athletic. (By the way clanclanclan, playing chess on a clock isn't playing real chess.) The reason chess is considered a "deeper" game than running is simply because the AVERAGE chess player makes very complex decisions in every match while the AVERAGE runner doesn't.

With first person shooters specifically the player makes decisions about weapon selection, which powerups to go for and has to practice movement and aiming. I am a below average Nexuiz player (always 3/4 way down the rankings) because my simple pattern of going for nex+machinegun isn't deep at all but I really don't think the AVERAGE nexuiz player is doing anything much deeper.
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09-15-2010, 01:58 AM (This post was last modified: 09-15-2010 07:05 AM by Rage_ATWM.)
Post: #11
RE: What does game "depth" really mean?
hm dudes... comparing depth in chess and depth in running is likely to go nowhere... it's like wondering whether tennis players are better than football players...

I give my definition of depth, which somewhat unifies all what you all say in different ways:
A game has certain depth when its skill progess curve does not become flat too quickly over the time.

corollary 1: tic tac toe has zero depth. Pacman has pretty small depth. Chess and running have both huge depth. If you doubt about it, let's try to read an handy chess book or let's try to run a marathon...
corollary 2: in a game with depth, a beginner should be pulverized by an experienced player.
corollary 3: a game with depth should not be too easy to play because difficulties break the flatness of the skill progess curve.
In particular, in Xonotic, make movements easier probably does not increase the depth of the game. But, this doesn't neither imply that this will decrease its depth.

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