Here are my thoughts:
As for randomized monsters and items, I have definitely experienced how
things can be unbalanced, and I would be OK with completely unrandomizing
things. Or, what about partial randomization? For example, you could only
allow skeletons and zombies on level 1, add in centaurs on level 2, etc. but
let the actual placement of them be randomized. Also, you could disallow
scrolls and weapons if the room contained water. Then you can also make
rooms which need to have something specific for some reason contain that
specific object.
As for puzzles and traps, I 
Would recommend you add in more difficult traps. I am going to illustrate a
point with a puzzle from the last level of technoshock so:
As per your example with the pit in tomb rader, I will take a puzzle from
Technoshock. On level 6, you start out in a room with a switch and no
obvious way out. This is something which is quite similar to the very first
level in which there are two rooms with a switch and an electric force
field. So, you walk up and flip the switch...immediately falling into the
pit which just opened beneath you. You must stand back, shoot the switch,
then quickly turn around and jump the pit which has also opened behind you
before the door closes. Things like this would be very easy to do in MOTA. I
like Dark's idea of using sound for various decorations and floor surfaces
which sometimes do something and sometimes don't. I wouldn't let uncertainty
of how to do something in audio hold you back from trying something. Ask
your beta team and/or the list for ideas on how to do a given trap. You
could also put a trap into a private beta and see how your team handles it.
Two things that the very original Montezuma's Revenge by Alchemy had which I
would like to see in MOTA are vines which you would gradually slide down,
forcing you to keep climbing back up or fall off the bottom, and treasures
which you had to react quickly to catch. I would also like to see the
burning rope concept return to MOTA.
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Thomas Ward
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:13 AM
To: Gamers Discussion list
Subject: [Audyssey] MOTA Last Minute Comments

Hi everyone,

Okay, here is the deal. Beta 17 is almost ready for public release and it
may appear as early as Friday/Saturday barring any unforseen
issues/problems. Which brings me to the point of this e-mail.
Basically, if there is any last minute comments, suggestions, or input you
would like to give before the release goes public. In particular a few
issues I didn't quite get too in my last e-mail on Mysteries of the Ancients
last week.

A few days ago I sent a post regarding new Mysteries of the Ancients levels.
Most of you understood this as a question of keeping old levels or creating
new ones. Unfortunately, I didn't make myself clear in that e-mail but I was
looking more for suggestions and input on various aspects besides that
question. So I'll address each of them hear directly.

Random Items/Monsters --- I know back in the early days of MOTA this was one
of the number one requests for the game. Ever since I added it some time
back it remains one of the top selling points of the game, but what you may
not know or have considered is that like anything else it has pros and cons.
As I sit hear thinking about the future of the project as a whole I can't
help feel like the cons outway the advantages of a more triditional
mainstream side-scroller without random monsters, items, etc.

For one thing I've been playing mainstream games all of my life, and the
majority of games do not have randomly placed monsters and items.
Instead monsters and items are usually placed in the same general location
each and every game with the same general stats. There are a number of
advantages of doing it this way.

For starts balancing game play. When you have a fully random game like we
have now you don't really know what monster you will be facing, or B, what
its stats will be when you do face it. While I don't doubt this adds replay
value for some gamers I also know it makes it impossible to test and balance
correctly because I never know from one moment to the next what to expect
from the game.  Games that have fixed monsters and challenges don't
generally have this problem.

For example, in the original Tomb Raider game there is a Greek temple Lara
Croft has to explore in order to find one of the lost pieces of the scion.
There is a chamber inside the Greek temple with two centaurs that were
transformed into stone centuries ago. When Lara accidently lifts the spell
on the centaurs they come to life, and she has to fight them to get the
missing piece of the scion. Besides being a major element of the plot/story
they just wouldn't fit anywhere else in the game as an enemy. In this case
those enemies generally wouldn't be good to randomly place in the game.

When it comes to mysteries of the Ancients I often find myself in a similar
situation. There are certain rooms or areas were one monster or enemy is
better than another. Rooms were it might be practical not to randomize
anything and just place items there by default.

For example, imagine swimming underwater. Putting treasures like gold coins
and gems in the water is perfectly fine since the water couldn't damage
them. If we were randomly placing items, as we do now,  it would put things
like ammo, swords, scrolls, etc in the water were we wouldn' want those
items randomly placed. by all rights the water should ruin a scroll
rendering it unreadable and worthless so randomizing in this case is not

Diddo for the monsters. it is perfectly fine for a skeleton or maybe a
zombie to be swimming around in the water trying to kill you but it wouldn't
work for a centaur, harpy, or several other enemy monsters I could name.

Plus a lot of games I know have a lot of one kind of enemy on one level, and
a lot of a different kind on another level. For example, level 1 might have
an army of skeletons because they are fairly easy to kill/fight and while
there might be a lot of them around they still aren't a serious threat.
Later levels might feature harpies, and another one centaurs, and another
one zombies.

The reason I point this out is that mainstream games often use miner enemies
in lower levels and progress to more difficult enemies as you progress.In
Tomb Raider Prophecy, for example, it starts you out with fighting gray
wolves and ax wielding skeletons. Later levels introduce you to more
hostile/difficult enemies such as black fire breathing wolves, undead
priests that cast fireballs, and even the skeletons will throw fireballs and
stuff at you. Point being there has to be some sort of natural progression
rather than just randomly mixing it all up the way we are doing.

Bottom line, it is hard to write a plot, balance game play, with too much
random stuff going on. So I really need to know how many really think random
items and monsters is worth it. Is it a deal braker for you personally, or
shall we create a more triditional side-scroller my way.  Before anyone asks
doing both is not an option. It is one way or the other here.

Scoring and Arcade Mode ---- Ever since I have converted MOTA to C++ a
number of you have asked about a standard and arcade mode. While this is
possible and fairly easy to add I'm wondering how many people actually are
interested in this. It isn't that hard to add, but if there aren't many
really interested in this feature I'm not going to take time away from other
things to add this feature. So I'd like to know how high this ranks on your
wish list.

Puzzles and Traps ----- There has been a lot of talk about this issue both
on and off list. So I think we need to open this up and hash it out once and
for all.

A few versions back I remember there were a number of complaints about no
warning step sounds in front of fire pits, spike traps, and other things to
let you know when and where to jump. Unfortunately, I have always maintained
this is sort of like a classic case of x marks the spot, and in my opinion
jumping fire pits, spike traps, chasms, etc is far too easy. Therefore what
I think needs to be done is add some ability to jump higher and further
depending on how long the keys are held down. Perhaps some jump system like
Q9. The reason i say this is you have the mud indicating the edge of the
pits, but i've often screwdd up and fell to my doom too. So that system is
more than fair for jumping traps.

What worries me more is puzzles. I've seen cases where some people have
complained that they couldn't unlock a certain door/statue because they
couldn't find the proper lever to pullin the current MOTA releases. Strictly
speaking that's pretty simple compared to some of the puzzles I could use to
open certain doors.

For example, in a lot of the interactive fiction games I've played they use
passwords, riddles, and other puzzles of that kind to open certain doors. In
the Tomb Raider games puzzles range from using a specific lever/switch to
unlock a door to more advanced puzzles like jumping on certain pressure
switches,hidden in the floor, in a certain order, to unlock a hidden
passage, etc. All pretty cool, but I fear might be too advanced for most Vi
gamers. What do you think?


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