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[PATV] Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 19: Depth vs. Complexity

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    PackbatPackbat Registered User new member
    Just signed up to say one thing right off the bat: *great* episode. My only wish is that there was a transcript available as well, so I could share this with people too impatient to wait through the whole video.

    JackKieser is totally right, though: pretty much the entire genre of fighting games *needs* to be discussed in the context of this episode. Depth-vs-complexity, irreducible complexity, tutorials, first-order optimal strategies ... a fighting-game noob like me *wishes* he had a chance to play a game which tackled these issues well enough to give him an in on all that depth.

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    grigjd3grigjd3 Registered User regular
    I think this is something that many designers of strategy games tend to forget. I've been a long time fan of the Civ series and particularly this makes me think of Civ V (likely just the most recent example). They had a terrific game in Civ V whose rules bought a great deal of depth. The problem that I saw was with the Gods and Kings expansion. With that expansion they added in two new systems of rules on top of what was already in the game: religion and espionage. Neither set of additional rules conflated with the existing rules to provide more depth, rather, they just led to more things to keep track of. The worst was the espionage rules. I literally turn that off every time I play a game of Civ V now. The problem with the espionage system is that it only seems to allow for some theft of technology and some minor effects on influence with city-states. Further, by keeping the espionage system completely removed from the game-map, it completely ignored the game map - the most fundamental part of any Civ type game. The addition of religion wasn't as bad as you can use religion early on to make up for some lacking part of your nation-state (particularly in the higher difficulty levels) and the interaction between religion, culture and great people mechanics added new ways the accomplish things. Perhaps most importantly, religion in Gods and Kings included an interaction with the game map, thus making it interact with the core game mechanics.

    Great episode. This was a really good topic to comment on.

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    SonzaisuruSonzaisuru Vancouver, BC, CanadaRegistered User regular
    I agree that his statements are relevant to modern game design, but I believe that it is possible to skew the ratio too far the other way as well. That is I believe there is an optimal ratio of depth and complexity. When it comes to game design the goal is a game that many people will buy and enjoy. As the ratio of depth to complexity becomes larger than optimal it changes things. Go is a perfect example, I love the game but it is not easy to pass that love on to others. It has a handful of simple rules, and even though they are irreducible they are so simple and so few that they can be taught in a couple minutes. But the depth arising from those rules is absurd and a huge barrier of entry for most people. At the same time it is the reason that it has had such a devoted if small following for thousands of years. Now I don't think it likely that anyone will be playing modern computer games a thousand years from now, no matter how much we enjoy them. And so designers should not aim for that high a ratio but for one that allows the most people to play it now.

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    WUAWUA Registered User regular
    I can't listen to his twee little computer-altered voice anymore without wanting to punch him.

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    Kered13Kered13 Registered User regular
    @ArtyBrutix: All those numbers are complexity, not depth. The result is usually a bunch of guns that feel more or less the same, with only a small handful that are just better than the rest (usually by standing out in one particular area, instead of trying to be a jack of all trades). The real depth is limited to that small select of useful guns, and that's it.

    @Titanium Dragon: This is because you're only considering bad modern shooters. If you want to see an FPS with real depth to the weapons, look at Quake or TF2 (though TF2 has some minor stat variations too, but just ignore those). Some key properties that make each weapon different in qualitative ways: Does it have splash? Does it have knockback? Is it a projectile or hitscan? Does it fire fast or slow (this determines how you aim the weapon in a qualitative way, the exact numbers are much less important)? By combining these elements in unique ways, each weapon fills a unique role that the others cannot. Above your opponent? Use the rocket launcher, the splash and detonation on impact make it a near guaranteed hit from above. In open combat? Use the lightning gun, without cover the hitscan makes it undodgeable and the continuous fire can be used to full effect. Ducking in and out of cover? Use the railgun, the high burst damage deals the most damage while minimizing exposure.

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    hastheragehastherage Col. Mustard The Library w/ the candlestickRegistered User regular
    yes i DID enjoy this episode :D

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    KayzorKayzor Registered User regular
    I very much enjoyed your presentation EC team.

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    ReaverKingReaverKing Registered User regular
    And this is why Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour failed and why I hate the Armored Core series..

    Look up the phrase "helmet fire" some time. Flying a modern jet fighter aircraft is such a complex task that pilots have died because they were so overloaded with simultaneous tasks that the demands on the pilot exceeded their brain's ability to multitask and aircraft went out of control.

    Artificially increasing the complexity of a game is a NEVER A GOOD THING!

    Even if you want to create that feeling of piloting an incredibly complex machine through a difficult UI, demanding multiple simultaneous tasks, or a large foundation of irreducable complexity, just DON'T. The increase in player frustration will drive away all but a small subset of players who might otherwise enjoy the game.

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    ran88dom99ran88dom99 Registered User regular
    Thanks for defining depth so well. Is 'emergent gameplay' different? The defining of complexity on the other hand is really bad. Complexity is "number of rules" and mental burden is just mental burden. Now silly people will complain in posts about 'complexity' and sound like proponents of streamlining. This is already happening in the comments.
    MENTAL BURDEN IS NOT COMPLEXITY
    A Turn Based Tactics game made non-turn based is a Real Time Tactics game. Though i must admit real time strategy and tactics games are simpler and usually less deep than turn based counterparts.

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    Titanium DragonTitanium Dragon Registered User regular
    @Randomloki if you want an example of what you're talking about with the "How does your target audience affect the complexity you want," look at Dungeons and Dragons. Specifically, look at how many DnD 3.5 fans flipped tables over 4e for being so much more trimmed down.

    4e is not a bad system in and of itself, and it can arguably be just as deep as 3.5 depending on the situation, but simplifications to systems like classes, skills, even the much loathed and debated alignment system, the fact that these were simplified at all created outrage.

    Even years after 4e launched, a majority of tabletop gaming fans prefer to play 3.5 (or the 3.75 known as Pathfinder), and while I'm having trouble finding solid information on sales of the system, I'm unconvinced that their attempt to market to a more general audience has made up for that.

    You have to realize that this actually happened with every edition change; the reason this transition was different was because Wizards had (foolishly) thought it was a good idea to make their third edition rules open source and free to use by everyone ever. The net result was that other companies could continue to put out products for the old system. That's why there was resistance. Plus with the advent of the internet, and its massive popularity, it was a lot easier for people to find like-minded people.

    The reality is that 4th edition is actually a considerably deeper system than 3.x is; it is actually a good example of increasing the depth:complexity ratio, and it actually massively improved the actual depth of the system. 3.x is actually a very shallow system despite its extreme complexity; in the end, while there are a great deal of possible cosmetic changes, all optimal characters are of exactly one sort: the sort that incapacitates enemies without using the hit point system. All good characters in 3.x use Save or Die or Save or Suck effects that just incapacitate or kill enemies with a single action - hold person, color spray, glitterdust, forcecage, wall of force, finger of death, rock to mud (used on the cieling), charm person, dominate monster, the list goes on. More or less, the entire actual game revolves around this mechanic, turning the game into rocket tag, and as a result of this (plus their ability to be much, much more flexible than anyone else) casters are gods. Even tier 3 characters like Warblades are full of instant death abilities, as well as nonsense that gives them extra turns. As one guide points out, "Warblades are not tier 3 characters because they can be beaten by anything in the rulebooks. Warblades are tier 3 characters because they are not gods."

    4th edition, conversely, has much more depth, but what it means is that rather than having complexity, it has strategic depth, and many players are really not very good on the strategy front - indeed, most players of 3.x never even understood 3.x at all on any real deep level. 4th edition assumed that people had understood 3.x, and made it so that the game actually worked more or less like someone would expect it to - your fighter punishes enemies for ignoring them and going for the squishies, the rogue deals more damage than a wizard does, wizards are meant to actually control the battlefield rather than just instantly kill things, and clerics are actually there to heal people rather than being combat gods who can cast spells. The game is less complex than 3.x, but considerably more difficult to play well, and it is obvious that it is more difficult to play well as you have actual, meaningful tactical options, and therefore can very easily make wrong ones. The fact that the grid was all but necessary for 4th edition only added to the mayhem, even though every previous edition had pretty much assumed its use save 2nd edition AD&D.

    The net result was that a lot of players felt alienated. Many people who play 3.75 don't actually understand the system at all on any sort of deep level, and therefore don't get why the more skilled players dislike the system - its really just not fun for them because there is really nothing you can challenge them with which is even remotely reasonable, and anything you DO challenge them with will be completely beyond the realm of the guy playing a rogue or a fighter - there's nothing they can even do to contribute outside of extremely specialized skills, which let them do ONE thing almost as well as the caster does everything.

    3.x is actually a really terrible game when you get right down to it, but a lot of players aren't skilled enough to recognize it as such.

    Of course, the irony is that 4th edition, while simpler than 3.x, is STILL too complicated. It has depth, to be sure, and is much, much more balanced, but mid to high level characters are difficult for most normal people to play.
    JackKieser wrote:
    Um, you guys missed the BIGGEST, most GLARING example of depth / complexity: fighting games (specifically, their controls). Seriously, more threads and discussions on Smashboards have resulted from arguments about the series depth / complexity ratio than from almost any other topic. You completely missed how complexity of controls limits the depth of the game (and no, I don't think it should just be rolled into UI). When I read the topic for the week, I was *begging* for a section about complexity of controls, and you guys completely neglected it.

    Controls are part of the UI, inherently so. Most fighting games have horribly complicated controls relative to what is necessary. SSB is a series that shows that very simple controls can allow for a lot of emergent complexity; you have five aerials, three tilts, one quick attack, three smashes, four specials, block, dodge, roll, air dodge, arguably four seperate specials in the air (though a good number of them aren't very different in the air, some are), short jumps, long jumps, and grabs. That's a lot of options at any given time, and probably about as many as most characters need. Adding more adds a lot of complexity but also often a lot of redundancy, with only minor variations which are sometimes vitally important but make learning the game way, way harder for no good reason.
    ArtyBrutix wrote:
    Long list of things that have to be taken into account in an FPS

    Yes, but you can boil a lot of those down to a few essential concepts:

    1) Accuracy
    2) Speed
    3) Longevity

    Recoil, sway, deviation, range, and aim speed are all accuracy functions.

    Stance is a tradeoff between accuracy and speed - crouching increases accuracy and decreases speed, running increases speed but reduces accuracy. Crouching also makes you a more difficult to hit target.

    The weapon weight affects speed.

    Magazine capacity, DPS, and reload speed influence longevity.

    This is why it very often "boils down" a great deal; you can make there be minor differences between the weapons, but typically each sort of weapon has its own role, and thus whichever weapon is best at that role is THE weapon and the rest are a bit of a trap.
    On the contrary games like Go, Chess, Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are incredibly simple games with a great deal of depth, but their rules are still irreducible.

    Eventually you reach an irreducible level of all rules; the issue is more or less that the lowest level of irreducibility basically limits how many people can/will play the game. Go has a very low level of irreducible complexity, below pretty much everything else; its pretty difficult to devise a game much simpler than Go that has any sort of depth at all. It is ridiculously, ridiculously complicated from a depth standpoint, though, and a lot of the emergent complexity is, well, complex - there are very complicated positions which can exist in the game which have a great effect on how it is played.

    Settlers of Catan is in between chess and go, but is still considerably lower than most video games. The hard part about Catan is not learning the rules, but learning the rules well. Your first game is likely to be terrible, but its pretty easy to pick up the basic tactics. It isn't as deep as a lot of people give it credit for, though - it is fun to play, but I wouldn't say it is actually particularly strategically deep. Its mostly a statistics problem, and optimal play can still lose you the game due to the random factor.

    Chess is above either of the others, and has a ton of emergent complexity; it also has a lot of positive feedback in it, so getting ahead a little helps you get ahead by more and more. While this is an issue with Settlers, chess can be particularly intimidating as someone who is somewhat better than you are will beat you and you likely won't even recognize where it all went wrong - while sometimes it will be a blunder for starting players, as you move on up a lot of mistakes are subtle wasted moves early on.
    Kered13 wrote:
    This is because you're only considering bad modern shooters. If you want to see an FPS with real depth to the weapons, look at Quake or TF2 (though TF2 has some minor stat variations too, but just ignore those).

    I wouldn't call them BAD, I just would say that citing them as an example of depth is silly; FPSs are not a particularly DEEP genre. There is a lot of potential for competitive play, don't get me wrong, but like most sports, they aren't really very deep. FPSs are hugely defined by the maps because the maps give pretty much all of the tactical gameplay; they influence which weapon roles are best and worst, as well as the relative efficacy of each role. Bad maps are very bad for the game, whereas good maps can make them a lot better and more varied experiences.

    Being a good FPS player is mostly a matter of memorizing the maps and where you are vulnerable and from what directions, as well as the fastest/safest ways to traverse the map to various objectives and the spawn points and what weapons are effective in which parts of the map (and which are best overall; it depends on the sort of game, be it deathmatch or team, with objectives or not, that alters various other factors). Beyond that, it is all twitch execution, the ability to rapidly focus on a target and neutralize it. The limited information you have more or less limits your ability to fight and be tactical beyond a certain level; things like spacing and the like don't really exist.

    Depth is your ability to respond to what the opponents do, and while strategic depth IS a thing, and can be very important, in most FPSs the strategy is more or less determined by the map, not by the opposing players, so it is purely a matter of tactical gameplay as the strategic depth is determinant, and even there a lot of it is just twitch.

    I greatly enjoy FPSs, but I don't feel that they have a huge amount of depth. You are right that the games which kind of ditch reality do have an edge, though, precisely because they aren't limited to "real" things and can vary more gameplay parameters to greater extremes, though this does not necessarily add depth.
    ReaverKing wrote:
    And this is why Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour failed and why I hate the Armored Core series..

    Heavy Armor failed because it tried to use the Kinect and the Kinect, like the Wiimote, is very limited. The older games were horribly complex, but were only produced in limited quantities because they were really expensive. They were a cool idea, but it is true that they were horribly complex - more like operating an actual mech would be like, which is to say, terrible.

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    Twenty SidedTwenty Sided Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    ArtyBrutix wrote: »
    @Titanium Dragon

    even with "realistic" shooters there is tons of depth and complexities in shooting mechanics.

    In a decent shooter there are tons of stats to consider how you use a weapon.

    just with the three basic autos ARs, SMGs, LMGs in an ADS shooter these are generally things that have to be taken in consideration.

    stance
    ` effects cone of fire/deviation
    ` effects sway
    ` effects recoil

    movement
    ` effects cone of fire/deviation
    ` sometimes effects sway

    recoil
    ` consistency
    ` direction
    ` amplitude

    sway
    ` consistency
    ` direction
    ` amplitude

    deviation
    ` minimum/maximum
    ` inflation by shot
    ` deflation by second
    ` unaimed/aimed deviation

    speed
    ` aim speed
    ` reload speed
    ` switch speed
    ` movement speed when aimed/unaimed

    magazine/belt capacity

    range
    ` muzzle velocity
    ` damage fall off
    ` recoil/sway pattern
    ` deviation
    ` player's marksmanship

    TTK (time to kill)
    ` damage per shot
    ` rate of fire
    ` overall weapon accuracy
    ` overall player accuracy

    granted there has been many cases of FPS game not taking advantage of all of these, that and a lot of inexcusably dumb design decisions such as BF3s AUG which has the highest muzzle velocity of all the ARs, little deviation, and lower than average fire rate however it kicks randomly to each side making it impossible to anticipate it's recoil. making it a sub par CQC gun with an inexplicable marksmanship characteristics.

    you say SMGs generally overlap in range too much with shotguns and ARs. This is true however the advantages SMGs generally bring to the table is the highest movement speed, aim speed, reload speed, great unaimed accuracy, and accuracy while moving. and you say revolvers (assuming that's what you mean by hand cannon) are generally better than autos, well autos have high mag caps, faster reloads, are easier to use because of their fire rates, deep mags, and none existent recoil.

    Eh, a some of that may just be complexity which does not add depth. I understand that complexity for complexity's sake can sometimes be a thing with your playerbase, but there's a point where customization adds nothing to the game but detract from it. (I'm thinking of the almost relentless item releases in TF2. Valve preferred to release more weapons, rather than address core issues in gameplay, classes and maps).

    As an expanded note on bullet velocity:
    The nature of the game changes a lot when bullets aren't hit-scan.
    You said "muzzle velocity" which implies that bullet velocity falls off in more realistic physics, so I don't know if are including this claim under that umbrella.
    Personally, I don't think that extra bit of realism at the end of a bullet's trajectory actually tests player skill all that much, particularly if damage fall-off and cone deviation mechanics are already in place.

    Anyway, games like Tribes derive a lot of their depth from players making those internal calculations about trajectory, player motivations and bullet speed. Less "realistic" shooters like TF2 still utilizes this to some extent in classes like the Soldier or Demoman (i.e. both classes fire slow-moving explosives).

    Personally, I find Tribes too much like trying to hit a bullet with another bullet while you're on the back of a galloping horse. Trying to get to a point where you're competitive can be pretty intimidating when there's a playerbase that had time to become Zen masters of Leaf-on-the-Wind acrobatics.

    Twenty Sided on
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    MirichanMirichan Registered User regular
    Thank you for stopping to talk about things you don't know a thing about, and going back to things you do have a clue about.

    I like this episode, it's a good analysis, and you have a point on depth > complexity. I don't think you can even debate that in most cases if you target a broad audience.

    If your audience is smaller, like in Wargames like dominions, then it may be counterproductive to reduce complexity for accessability. You'd lose the target audience. But those games are exceptions.

    In most cases, throwing 3542525 choices that mean nothing at the player is just silly.

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    enistojaenistoja Registered User new member
    This is a really good point. It reminded me of Knights in the Nightmare. It has a very hard to follow tutorial and ruleset, making it hard to get into.

    It has an incredible amount of choices, giving it lots of depth, but when it goes down to its complexity, it throws too many things into the player's face at once.

    Great topic, and looking forwards to next week!

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    rainbowhyphenrainbowhyphen Registered User regular
    We crossed into the river
    And though it wasn't wide
    So taken were we with its course
    We never saw the other side.

    raise-this-arm-to-initiate-revolution.png
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    WulframWulfram Registered User new member
    A few quibbles I'd have

    Firstly, the definition of complexity is somewhat questionable, or at least not exactly how it's commonly used in every day parlance. It seems like it's more or less bad because it's defined as the bad stuff.

    Secondly, I think some times complexity can be good because it is in itself the challenge. Games challenge skills, and the ability to handle a whole bunch of data is a skill, in much the same way hand eye coordination or reflexes.

    Finally, the complexity of Paradox games is reducible by choosing the right starting position, and picking the right strategy. Pick a country in a safe position and be polite to your neighbours and you can learn the economic side of things - probably starting out with trade and infrastructure, with colonisation coming in later. Pick a different country and you can conquer stuff, learning war without having to worry so much about trade.

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    mowdownjoemowdownjoe New JerseyRegistered User regular
    Surprised no one here has brought up the new XCOM. XCOM:EU is easily less complex than its predecessors, but I'd argue that it's deeper. Like when the abductions start and you have to choose balancing panic levels for each country in the Council vs what rewards you get in a mission. The class system makes it so you need to bring in a balanced squad, since you'll likely be outnumbered in any given mission. I'm sure they're more examples.

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    AetrionAetrion Registered User regular
    @TitaniumDragon

    The reason why 4th Edition is looked at as less deep is because it's simplified in so many aspects that finding the clear best for all your choices becomes a little too easy. Half the time what abilities you should pick pretty much comes down entirely to your party. Some choices will lead to insanely deadly combos, while others are just unsatisfying.

    That's not saying that there isn't a clear best possible pick at every junction in 3.5 as well, but 3.5 is so full of stuff that it's practically impossible to tell which is which without having spent a lot of time researching your character - and that time investment again gives people a certain attachment to the rules.

    Apparently the next D&D that's coming out will take a lot of influence from Pathfinder, which is 3.5 sans most of the bullcrap.

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    fwlzdxilfwlzdxil Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    So, anyone heard of this game called Divekick? It's a fighting game with two buttons: jump straight up and (while in midair) divekick, and no directional controller. How 'bout that complexity?
    Some gameplay:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18HXIp6XVlk
    This is not a joke. The game has a publisher.

    fwlzdxil on
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    KalnaurKalnaur I See Rain . . . Centralia, WARegistered User regular
    ,splendid analysis written about 4th vs 3rd ed>
    Aetrion wrote: »
    @TitaniumDragon

    The reason why 4th Edition is looked at as less deep is because it's simplified in so many aspects that finding the clear best for all your choices becomes a little too easy. Half the time what abilities you should pick pretty much comes down entirely to your party. Some choices will lead to insanely deadly combos, while others are just unsatisfying.

    That's not saying that there isn't a clear best possible pick at every junction in 3.5 as well, but 3.5 is so full of stuff that it's practically impossible to tell which is which without having spent a lot of time researching your character - and that time investment again gives people a certain attachment to the rules.

    As I remember, the intent of those simple choices is so there was no rewards for intense system mastery and, conversely, no punishments for those not interested in system mastery. Which is itself a really good example of complexity without depth.

    Also that those simple combo team choices seemed intent on creating team dynamic where everyone could follow up with more important choices than attack or full attack; Then again, the depth of strategy within 4th edition could also be seen as complexity for some. ;)

    I make art things! deviantART: Kalnaur ::: Origin: Kalnaur ::: UPlay: Kalnaur
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    VerentiVerenti Registered User new member
    Sorry, but this whole bit comes off as populistic. I want complexity in games, because I want my games to keep up with me mentally. I want my mental faculties to be put to the test. I want games that engage me as an intelligent person, that are replayable. Paradox games aren't widely accessible, but they aren't meant to be mass market games. They're meant to be complicated games for intelligent people. I think that's why they are successful, because they don't judge us by our lowest common denominator. Nothing is more frustrating for me than games that are dumb. You assert a tutorial that fails to teach is bad, but a tutorial forced upon me, that I can grasp intuitively is worse. It's like 10-30 minutes of my life of someone talking down to me, which has no right to do so. I'd rather be thrust into a game like Dwarf Fortress, or a geo-political simulator, and have to deal with something over my head, that I can learn and improve at, then something that I immediately get a grasp on the game. It doesn't matter if everyone can have this experience, because they world isn't so egalitarian, and that's a good thing. It's pluralistic, we can enjoy different things and the world won't end. Flight sims don't need to be arcade shooters, strategy games don't need to be DOTA clones. We can have games that are only really enjoyable to intelligent people, because there are certainly games that are enjoyable to the opposite demographic.

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    twilightdusktwilightdusk Registered User regular
    @Titanium Dragon In terms of the combat rules, I agree with you. 4e is a lot more balanced when it comes to character classes, and has a lot more focus put onto the combat itself, thus making 4e as deep or even deeper when it comes to combat.

    However, outside of combat, the 4e system falls flat. 3.x's skill system, both in having "useless" skills and in having the ability to invest various levels in them instead of just "trained or untrained," allowed for the mechanics to support roleplaying a lot more. In 4e, the rules don't really touch on roleplay at all.

    A 4e game is freeform roleplay in between focused combat encounters, if it's not just a straight roll-play dungeon crawl. It has a deeper combat system sure, but it trims away everything that's not directly relevant to that combat.

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    ArtyBrutixArtyBrutix Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    oops

    ArtyBrutix on
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    ArtyBrutixArtyBrutix Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    oops

    ArtyBrutix on
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    ArtyBrutixArtyBrutix Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    @Titanium Dragon
    Okay in any given shooter how would you say one weapons is more accurate than another?

    would a weapon that has 0.0 deviation on the first shot however has 0.25 added deviation per shot be considered more accurate than a weapon that has 1.0 maximum deviation 0.1 and 0.1 added per shot however 0.2 deviation on the fist shot? depends on how you're going to use the weapon. additionally what if the first one had 15.0 reset verse a 10.0 on the other. which would you call more accurate.

    would a weapon that has no deviation at all with wicked kick and or sway be considered more accurate than a weapon with no kick and a lot of spread? depends on how skilled you are.

    with sway and recoil is consistency better than amplitude? additionally is more vertical better than less lateral?

    would a weapon that is unaffected by movement with a higher base spread be considered more accurate than a weapon with a lower base spread however a huge movement penalty.

    and with damage, would you favor a high rate of fire over a high damage per shot both have draw backs and advantages.

    would you rather high damage with extreme drop off or low damage with no drop off.

    would you favor accuracy over damage or vice verse, or would you favor a weapon that is accuracy = damage. so an auto shotgun vs a sniper would be the extremity in this example. another way to look at it is MP412 rex vs M93r in BC2, the M93r spews out much more DPS however the rex could potentially one shot a player with a head shot.

    and all this is just the shooting mechanics, none of this accounts for map design, objectives, vehicles, classes, team play, and armor.

    @Twenty Sided

    I some what agree, I would rather have a few refined weapons than millions of hap hazardly built weapons. Like I said with the AUG in BF3 the thing would have been the go to gun for long range however because it kick randomly to both sides for some ungodly reason you're forced to either fire one shot at a time or spray and prey, which in both cases an M16 will wreck you. it's the same story with the L85A2, KH2002, SCAR, and AK74M

    Unless in the context of a space game because there is no significant grave well or any atmosphere <3 shattered horizon, BSG Diaspora, Evochron, X series, and on and on.

    anyway I don't mean to imply the ballistic mechanics are realistic in any way when I say muzzle velocity its just what I'm used to saying. it would be interesting no matter how realistic it was represented to see ballistic coefficient to show up in a shooter but it will probably never happen for the sake of cost to benefit.

    I personally love tribes, the projectile velocity mechanics add quite a bit of depth, for example a dueling spinfusor deals more direct damage and travels faster at the cost to blast damage making murderous to heavy classes and in skilled hands, where as the thumperDX deals much more blast damage at the cost of direct damage and projectile velocity.

    as for TF2 I love that game with a passion, it is by all accounts brilliant. however the shooting mechanics with things like pistols and SMGs are beyond bad. there is absolutely no good reason to have deviation in a twitch shooter especially when there are head shot damage bonuses. if the devs wanted to reduce the effective range of these weapons they should have used damage drop off.

    ArtyBrutix on
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    Kered13Kered13 Registered User regular
    @ArtyBrutix: Again, you're talking about minor stat variations that add complexity, but fairly little depth. How you use the weapons, and how you react to the weapon your opponent is using, doesn't change much between different weapons within the same class, and might not even change between assault rifles and SMGs, or SMGs and shotguns. This does not add depth. You can get four, maybe five, unique weapon types out of a modern FPS. Everything beyond that is just fluff. There is no real difference between 4 rounds per second and 400. Accuracy boils down to simple a cone of fire and whether you should fire singly, in short bursts, or in full auto.

    In Tribes, the difference between the dueling spinfuser and the crossbow or thumper is purely in how much you lead your target, it is quantitative and doesn't change HOW you play. The important weapon types in Tribes, that change HOW you play, are contact explosives (like the spinfusor), rapid fire projectiles (SMGs and Assault rifles), single shot projectiles (throwing knives and blasters), and hitscan projectiles (sniper rifles and pistols), and some other minor types like shotgun, timed explosives, etc. Each of these weapon types leads to a different approach to fighting. For example, it's best to stay in the air against explosives, but against non-explosives you want to stay on the ground and strafe randomly.

    As for TF2, you seem to be grossly lacking knowledge of the game. I question if you've actually played it for more than a few minutes. There are no headshot bonuses except for sniper rifles and the Ambassador, none of which have deviation. And the vast majority of weapons do have very significant damage dropoff. Random bullet spread just further adds to the dropoff, and exists for the same reason shotgun spread exists (both shoot bullets randomly, the only difference is that one shoots many at once, and one shoots them in a continuous stream).

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    JaybonautJaybonaut Registered User regular
    I can't believe he didn't mention the fighting game genre with this topic.

    My Youtube Gaming Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/Energyone
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    oxybeoxybe Entei is appaled and disappointed in you Registered User regular
    @twilightdusk

    any potential depth of the 3.5 skill system is lost in how it's simply unuseable. note that 8 of 11 classes in 3.5 only get at best 4 skill points per level if they happen to have an average intelligence score (average being 10-11).

    note that there are 45 individual noted skills in the game (by this i also include the various knowledges like relgion, nature, aracana, etc... since they have more specific uses then profession or craft, which i treat as one skill alone).

    note that of those 8 classes i mentionned, only one of them uses intelligence to power class-abilities: the wizard. who, laughably, needs skills the less of all the classes, since they get access to the best utility in the game and can easily replicate and surpass many skills.

    why jump when you can fly or swim when you can turn into a merman?

    the skill system also fails at depth since a few tend to need to be paired to be useful, like how move silently + hide are often bought together since lacking one or the other makes you bad at concealing your presence.

    it also tends to lose depth since some skills tend to come up rather less often then others. the few times i've seen a swim check being required was when the PCs were purposefully thrown on a boat for plot-reasons. outside of that, it's a waste of skill points. jump also tends to see far less use then climb, since you can quite often climb down then up or find a way to bridge the gap.

    stuff like the various knowledge checks or perception-based ones (spot/search/listen) generally get far more mileage.

    other skills like the CraPPer ones (craft, profession, perform) are entirely a waste of points beyond anything that's "i have 4 ranks in roleplaying". craft is rarely used since the rules surrounding it make it generally unuseable. for the higher end mundane gear, like plate armor, it can take months to make. months that you've put aside not adventuring.

    note that if you go adventuring, beyond the first few levels you'll probably end up making yourself enough money to buy the plate armor from a vendor or find one.. and have cash left over.

    profession and perform are basically the same skill but used to make very little money over a certain period of time. a period of time that, again, if you were to go adventuring, you'd probably come out ahead when you come back.

    lastly what you save or make from the use of these skills are of little benefit to your character post the first two or three levels. beyond the lowest level potions or scrolls, a simple +1 sword will cost about 50% more then that brand new full plate, all things considered. the most expensive magic weapons are 200k gp to guy... quite a bit more then the full plate or spyglass (some of the costliest PHB items). at best you're going to make with those skills is some downtime spending money... at best.

    the 3.5 skill system and it's implementation are badly enough designed that any possible depth is killed off when you start looking and studying the system.

    you can read my collected ravings at oxybesothertumbr.tumblr.com
    -Weather Badge
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    teknoarcanistteknoarcanist Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    I don't think complexity eliminates depth per se. I don't think they have that kind of mutually exclusive relationship, as though they were two cars speeding headlong at one another. I see it more like two cars driving down a narrow road side-by-side, being careful not to edge one another off the shoulder.

    The term to whip out here is "elegance." A very complex game can make its depth nonetheless straightforward and approachable, when its elements are handled elegantly -- that is, when each element serves multiple overlapping purposes, thereby increasing emergent gameplay possibilities.

    In fact, some of the best games get into a kind of positive feedback loop with this. They introduce complexity and integrate it elegantly, which then produces greater depth, which then necessitates more complexity, which requires even greater elegance, and on and on and on. The best games seem to have been designed by inhabiting this kind of loop until they're so stuffed with THINGS, which are so elegantly jig-saw-puzzled together, that it feels impossible to add or remove anything.

    Think about Roller Coaster Tycoon. Think about how complex that game actually is and how much depth it brings to bear, and yet how elegant its systems are, and how simple it is to pick up and start playing at maximum enjoyment.

    teknoarcanist on
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    oxybeoxybe Entei is appaled and disappointed in you Registered User regular
    @teknoarcanist

    they (extra credits) did bring the topic of elegance out though, however i would say that is a topic in and of itself: namely the presentation and accessibility of various game elements.

    let's look at minecraft. like the also mentionned dwarffortress, the game has lots of potential for depth. people have built "little" computers inside the computer game.

    however it lacks much elegance in presentation of many elements. specifically that even after playing the game since it's alpha build, i still need to either have a wiki on my 2nd monitor up or an ingame crafting guide mod. it also lacks clear goals so many players tend to just build a dirt house and leave. like dwarffortress, it's depth is lost on people who aren't immediately hooked or are willing to muscle through it and read up on a wiki.

    i love this gem of a game, but intuitive it's not.

    now complexity can hinder elegance in design as elegance doesn't often happen by chance. the game needs to have elegance as a design goal and be building towards it. if you're simply throwing in various elements in the game pot without much consideration, you can make a game out of it, but don't expect the presentation to be anything but a haphazard mess. just like a chef, a designer needs to choose elements based on the experience they want to give and how it interacts.

    i haven't played RCT in a long time and i remember it fondly, but i doubt it just ended up like the final product.

    you can read my collected ravings at oxybesothertumbr.tumblr.com
    -Weather Badge
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    kpercivalkpercival Registered User new member
    When are they going to do an episode on guns?

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    brandonkeykongbrandonkeykong Registered User regular
    implied message of these navy ads: being in the military is just like video games. is that okay?

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    ichifishichifish Registered User regular
    re depth and complexity in 3.5 / 4 / pathfinder:
    EC did an excellent show way back in the first season about choice and conflict (http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/choice-and-conflict) in which they compared "choice" and "calculation," essentially coming to a similar conclusion as this episode: choices create depth, calculations create complexity.

    AT the time I watched the episode my friends and I had just given up Pathfinder for a less calculation/complexity-oriented roleplaying experience because we felt like the time we spent calculating the best skill combinations/combat techniques (and then wanting scenarios to use them in) was detracting from the role playing. I felt like that EC episode nailed the problem on the head: complexity can kill depth.

    Where 4e failed was in replacing the overly-complex and broken 3.5 rules with a set that broke the "fictional dream" that many of us old-schoolers were accustomed to. Power ups? Pathfinder succeeded in fixing the broken 3.5 system, but in the end were left unsatisfied because the plethora of choices discouraged the depth of roleplaying we were looking for.

    Then three of us had kids.

    btw, how do you quote on here?

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    Titanium DragonTitanium Dragon Registered User regular
    Aetrion wrote:
    The reason why 4th Edition is looked at as less deep is because it's simplified in so many aspects that finding the clear best for all your choices becomes a little too easy. Half the time what abilities you should pick pretty much comes down entirely to your party. Some choices will lead to insanely deadly combos, while others are just unsatisfying.

    This is actually a good thing. The value of things should be as obvious as possible to players - hiding which options are best is always bad. It is called a "trap" and is something that is always to be avoided in game design - every option that is presented as valid needs to BE valid. 4th edition is not perfect in this regard, but it is much better that third edition.
    That's not saying that there isn't a clear best possible pick at every junction in 3.5 as well, but 3.5 is so full of stuff that it's practically impossible to tell which is which without having spent a lot of time researching your character - and that time investment again gives people a certain attachment to the rules.

    The problem is that this is complexity, which, as this video points out, is -bad-. I will also note that almost no players who play 3.x games (including Pathfinder) have any clue what they're doing.

    I'm a CO (you might recognize my name from the WotC forums). I know what is optimal. The optional choices in 3.x are actually really obvious once you actually look at the game objectively, something most people don't do.

    That optimal choice is invariably "the spell that disables my opponent in one roll or, better still, in zero." Healing spells are all useless (other than Heal); if you need to carry around healing, carry wands of CLW. All spells should be spent on either offense or utility - teleportation, scrying, preemtive long-lived defensive magic and the like, plus rarely other situationally specific spells. Divination should be used as much as possible to aid you in spell preparation. If you're casting a spell in combat, it should be costing many enemy actions, and hopefully taking them out entirely.

    Its really not very difficult to build a godly charater in 3.x. The strategy is called "be a full caster and don't take spells that deal direct damage". Its very simple. The absolute optimum character is mostly a matter of just tweaking this into greater power.
    Apparently the next D&D that's coming out will take a lot of influence from Pathfinder, which is 3.5 sans most of the bullcrap.

    Pathfinder is 3.x with house rules added to it, more or less. It suffers from all the flaws of 3.x and fixed none of them, because the ultimate problem with the system was the lack of any sort of mathematical basis underlying the game, extreme complexity, and extreme imbalance. Combat is just a game of rocket tag if you know what you're doing.

    Its a terrible, unsalvagable system. There's a reason they made such radical changes to arrive at 4th edition - building on the old D&D base just wasn't working anymore. The game had actually been broken for decades, but the older editions were so unforgivingly fatal that unless you started out at the higher levels, chances were you didn't really end up dealing with it much. The slower levelling also helped. With 3.x, everyone became exposed to it, and it all went to hell.

    You can more or less tell a good player from a bad one by asking them what the best first level spell is. If they don't give you a save or suck spell, they're not a good player. This doesn't mean that they're not a good roleplayer, it means that they're really bad at the underlying game.
    However, outside of combat, the 4e system falls flat. 3.x's skill system, both in having "useless" skills and in having the ability to invest various levels in them instead of just "trained or untrained," allowed for the mechanics to support roleplaying a lot more. In 4e, the rules don't really touch on roleplay at all.

    3.x skills system was actually completely awful, and is actually much worse than nothing. 4th edition took a better approach to it - almost all the skills are useful in and out of combat. 3.x's system actually punished you for taking "roleplaying" skills (skills that were useless in combat) because it decreased your combat power while (theoretically) giving you better non-combat abilities. Likewise, the non-combat spells had similar effects - because they weren't useful in combat, they directly decreased your power in combat, which needed to be balanced.

    It didn't help at all that skills were actually mostly terrible in 3.x because there were spells that supersceded most of them, and the ones that weren't just massively supersceded by spells were skills that full casters tended to be good at in the first place. You NEVER want to punish people for taking skills for the purpose of better representing the character they have in their head; that just discourages roleplaying, and makes the whole experience worse because you have to balance your system for the average player - the more variation there is between the worst and the best, the more likely you are to either overwhelm or bore players.

    The game system I am presently working on solves this situation much more simply - it allows you to reflavor characters freely, and as such as decoupled the combat and noncombat systems. You have skills (which are useful both in and out of combat), and then you've got non-combat "powers" type things that represent social status, non-combat spells (like divinations and the like), and all the other things that aren't part of combat but which are useful for people who want a system underlying their roleplaying, making it into a roleplaying game rather than mostly freeform roleplaying. While there are default flavors for things, it gives guidelines on how to transform a class into something with very different flavor while keeping the same combat abilities, because ultimately all rules are meant to be representational, and often can represent more than one thing. For instance, making a weak but skilled flavored fighter is very possible in my system, whereas it doesn't really work in D&D because of the various statistical requirements and the linear advantages you get for bolstering your ability scores. It restricts player creativity and makes characters more samey, something I dislike.

    @ArtyBrutix

    The problem is that you're looking at a lot of very specific micro things which, while important, shape up into an overall macro picture. It is absolutely true that the specific statistics changes which situations a weapon is best in, but the problem is that in reality the number of situations is actually limited, and each situation comes up with different frequencies and your chosen "role" will need to deal with them to varying extents. The number of roles is actually much smaller than the number of weapons available in most games, because a weapon with slightly better range (which is more or less what slightly better accuracy equates to) may or may not be actually worth using, but the problem is that it is going to be one or the other - weapons which are close together very often might as well simply be one weapon because one of them will be better than the other, the other being a trap - it may be situationally better, but in a game where you are restricted to two weapons (rather than one where you tote around EVERY weapon) you're much better off sticking with the better weapon and never using the trap one, because its situationality just rules out using it as a general weapon. Of course it depends - if your role is close quarters shock trooper, then the more broadly valuable one may be worse because your specific role is one thing, and doing that role as well as possible is more important than flexibility. While it depends on the game on which will be better, its nearly inevitable that one or the other IS better. Now, if you are trying to present false choices and just make them slightly different, that's okay - but you have to understand that they're false choices. If you spend a lot of time on them, though, it is time wasted - it is better to make a few very good options than a lot of bad ones.

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    Titanium DragonTitanium Dragon Registered User regular
    When I say "have no clue what they're doing", I mean "they don't really understand the underlying game on a deep level", not that they're stupid. The underlying game obfuscates what is important, making it seem like hit points are what really matter, when in actuality hit points are something of a distraction from the actual rocket tag that comprises optimal play.

    This is why complexity is bad - you want players to understand what the game is really about and to be able to play the "real game", so that when they encounter someone who actually does understand the underlying game that they feel like they're really playing the same game, and not that the better player is just worlds beyond where they are. Its okay for skill to play a role in games (though interestingly, its actually bad to make skill too important in tabletop games - their purpose is not really to be skill testing but to be about storytelling and problem solving, which are a different sort of skill than rules skill) but it shouldn't be overwhelming, especially in a cooperative game which is likely to have players of all skill levels, but the DM still has to put forth encounters that challenge the whole group, not just the best player, and not let the best player just run everything themselves because their knowledge of the game makes them gods compared to the other players.

    3.x's complexity also discourages people from playing table top roleplaying games at all - there would be a much bigger audience for them if there were more simple roleplaying games which were actually popular.

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    monswinemonswine Registered User new member
    What about the games we grew up with from the 8-bit and 16-bit era? Are these games deeper than modern games or is just decades of experience allowing us to see the depth in those games and relative lack of experience blinding us to the depth in more modern gaming? Does it just go back to the relationship between depth and complexity? Implying that our older gaming experiences were simpler than the ones available today?

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    TheBlueMonkeyTheBlueMonkey Registered User new member
    I've been watching Extra Credits for ages but never commented on any of your vids.
    Mainly because you always form well structure arguments for the topics you're discussing and I totally lack the finesse to word what I'm trying to say properly.

    But in this instance I kinda have to comment, even if it is somewhat hamfisted.

    I couldn't disagree more, Complexity (real complexity that is, not artificial complexity created by a broken UI with overly deep menus etc) is awesome.
    I want games to push my mental ability, I want them to expand my minds processing ability.
    I want to have to think about multiple things incredibly quickly.

    I'm one of those weirdos who loves dwarf fortress, yes the interface is clunky and it does need fixing but the other complexity in the game is awesome, nothing comes near it.

    Nothing bores me more than simple games where I can switch off or watch a movie while playing them.

    Maybe I'm confusing complexity and difficulty.

    Ultimately, a game should be as complex as it needs to be to be entertaining in the way the designer intends.

    I just worry that with people saying things like "complexity is bad" we'll end up going the same way as when people pick up on

    "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

    and take it as "MAKE ALL THE THINGS CHEAP!!!"

    Or the belief that making a game "accessible to all" will some how make them billions of monies.

    Niche's are good

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    TheBlueMonkeyTheBlueMonkey Registered User new member
    I've been watching Extra Credits for ages but never commented on any of your vids.
    Mainly because you always form well structure arguments for the topics you're discussing and I totally lack the finesse to word what I'm trying to say properly.

    But in this instance I kinda have to comment, even if it is somewhat hamfisted.

    I couldn't disagree more, Complexity (real complexity that is, not artificial complexity created by a broken UI with overly deep menus etc) is awesome.
    I want games to push my mental ability, I want them to expand my minds processing ability.
    I want to have to think about multiple things incredibly quickly.

    I'm one of those weirdos who loves dwarf fortress, yes the interface is clunky and it does need fixing but the other complexity in the game is awesome, nothing comes near it.

    Nothing bores me more than simple games where I can switch off or watch a movie while playing them.

    Maybe I'm confusing complexity and difficulty.

    Ultimately, a game should be as complex as it needs to be to be entertaining in the way the designer intends.

    I just worry that with people saying things like "complexity is bad" we'll end up going the same way as when people pick up on

    "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

    and take it as "MAKE ALL THE THINGS CHEAP!!!"

    Or the belief that making a game "accessible to all" will some how make them billions of monies.

    Niche's are good

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    101101 Registered User regular
    I think you are confusing complexity and difficulty, though really I'd say a game doesn't need either to be good.
    The Walking Dead for example isn't difficult, really, and I would argue not overly complex. However it is an amazing game.

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    101101 Registered User regular
    fwlzdxil wrote: »
    So, anyone heard of this game called Divekick? It's a fighting game with two buttons: jump straight up and (while in midair) divekick, and no directional controller. How 'bout that complexity?
    Some gameplay:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18HXIp6XVlk
    This is not a joke. The game has a publisher.

    The issue here is that they've gone for no complexity, rather than maximizing depth for a given amount of complexity in the fighting system.

    as a result it's an incredibly shallow game.

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    sgfreak37sgfreak37 Registered User new member
    I actually enjoyed this very much. I personally like games that have a good combination of complexity and depth. If I am going to play an "overly complex" game I want to feel as if I did accomplish something. That is the whole point. But I also be rewarded for said accomplishment.

    This whole video, to me, is about the fact that having a game that is really complex without much depth, isn't all that great, but you can have an extremely deep game and it still be enjoyable if it isn't as complex as some think it should.

    To me it is should be like this

    Complexity = / < depth

    not

    Complexity > depth

    There is no point in having an overly complex game, that makes you think to the point of insanity, if there isn't something to show for it in the end.

    For example. Take Puzzle boxes. You have two different boxes, each with a prize inside. You grab the easier puzzle box first, it takes you a bit to open it, and you find that there is a $20 bill in it. You get excited, there was 20 bucks in the easy box, there has to be even more in the more difficult one. So you take it, start to do the puzzle to open the box. After you don't know how many tries, you just can't seem to open it. But you sit there and finally after all that time of frustration and wanting to give up or through the box across the room, you get it open. You get even more excited, all your hard work is about to pay off. You slowly pull it open, mouth watering and you see, WHAT IS IT, a stick of gum. :|

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