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 Post subject: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:59 pm 
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Related to my idea on crafting, how everyone can basically make everything at the start of the game and making 500 maces makes you really awesome at maces but doesn't directly make you good at making swords -- what if we took that idea and applied it to everything?

For example, you're fighting on the side of the dwarves against the orcs. You become really awesome at healing dwarves and really awesome and killing orcs. You encounter a vampire. To a large extent, it's suddenly like you're a noob again -- you don't know how to kill vampires. Maybe your skill with weapons gives you an advantage over a pure newbie but basically your character isn't good at fighting vampires because vampires are not like orcs. (In fact, even your defensive skills, like armor, may not work as well when faced when something you're not used to fighting -- you simply don't know how to move to most effectively counter a vampire while wearing platemail.)

Other games have sort of tried this idea but they did it more as a very minor bonus if you focused on killing one thing. I would make it a major part of the game. If you only kill orcs, then orcs are the only things you're good at killing. If you face a vampire, it's almost like you're a level 1 newbie again.

Similarly, you come across a wounded lizardman. Your skill at healing dwarves is of almost no use to you because lizardmen are too different. You're basically a noob again when you go to start healing lizardmen.


I was thinking that this could be an interesting way both to create localized communities and to keep the game fresh. You may be awesome at fighting your chosen tribe's traditional local enemies but an incursion by a new group might be like newbies fighting newbies -- neither group is particularly skilled at fighting the other (except maybe for that mercenary who wandered through earlier and happens to be really good at killing them because he used to live there).


I would also apply it to resource collection. Basically you enter the world and you can collect absolutely any resource, just not very well. There's nothing you can't mine, no fish you can't catch and no tree you can't chop down but you're not going to be good at any of it until you've spent a lot of time doing that one thing. That is, you can start collecting adamantine right away but this doesn't mean you're good at collecting iron. "Adamantine collection" and "iron collection" are separate skills.


Although there could be some logical crossovers created by putting things into groups.

For example:

Wood - oak / pine
Metal - iron / copper

When you mine copper, you become better at mining copper. You also become slightly better at mining other metals but you're still basically unfamiliar with techniques for mining iron and it's not teaching you a thing about collecting wood. If you switch to mining iron, it's almost like you're a newbie again starting to pick up a new skill. I'm basically taking the WOW style system and breaking it down even further so that every individual resource is its own skill, with no pre-reqs.


Similarly, NPCs may be grouped. Maybe we could get fancy with biological breakdowns but, for example:

Humanoid - orc, dwarf, elf
Reptilian - lizardmen, frogmen
Angelic - angel, demon
Mythical - vampire, werewolf

Becoming an expert at killing orcs might give you a basic understanding of killing elves, since they're both humanoids, but it might give you little or no knowledge about how to fight angels, lizardmen or werewolves. But if you only ever kill orcs, you will become a master of killing them but you'll only be mediocre at handling the first elf you have to fight.



Basically I was just thinking that in a "living world" game, we want a way to keep things "fresh" while getting away from the traditional level grind. Rather than power to 50 and be good at killing everything in the entire game, you're really only getting good at killing what's around you.

I would also do some kind of skill decay system so that if you go too long without killing orcs, you get "rusty".

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:13 am 
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I think what you gain in keeping things "fresh" you replace with either percieved or real "grind". I'm not sure I'd like the idea of not only do I need to kill 10000000 orcs, I now have to go do that "grind" all over again in order to be good at killing vampires.

Now what might be a similar way would be the skill thing. Perhaps swords just don't do as much damage to vampires as daggers do. Had I been killing orcs all that time with a dagger, then I'd be OK. If I was an expert at a sword, I would still be able to kill them, but not as good as if was an expert with a Dagger and used that, but probably still better than if I was a noob with a dagger.

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Last edited by Arsilon on Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:37 am 
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I'm not sure I like it either. There's only so much diversity in these games as it is and it seems like this would fragment the content available to the player even further. I mean that logging on on a given day and being able to choose between fighting orcs or fighting vampires is what keeps the game from getting dull to some degree. If fighting orcs is not much different than fighting vampires whats the incentive for ever fighting vampires, especially if it means having to start from scratch if you choose to do so? This is not much different in my eyes as forcing people to stick with a set of 'talent' choices in WoW instead of allowing them to spec out to enjoy various aspects of the game.

You might also get in trouble with The One Rule where as you progress through the game and need to make new friends you find that a pretty cool guy you meet is the same level as you, but there's absolutely no overlap in what the two of you are good at killing so it acts as a barrier to your friendship. Again with my WoW talent metaphor, there were plenty of times I would have loved to go do a dungeon with my friends one day as a tank speced warrior but because it would cost me money and it was a pain to respec I passed on many grouping opportunities.

I'm more in favor of developing ever more complex AI so that fighting orcs is actually a much different experience than fighting vampires and the player has to develop skills rather than passing that development on to otherwise arbitrary character statistics that get away with simply stating that your character is good at killing A vs B even though the mechanics of killing A are the exactly the same as killing B. I would love to see the Orc social structure be vastly different than that of Vampires such that not only your tactics would vary but also your overall strategy.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:18 am 
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Arsilon wrote:
I think what you gain in keeping things "fresh" you replace with either percieved or real "grind". I'm not sure I'd like the idea of not only do I need to kill 10000000 orcs, I now have to go do that "grind" all over again in order to be good at killing vampires.

I would actually suggest that if someone is tired of "the grind", then they are really saying that they're tired of MMORPGs in general.

No matter what you do, any action oriented RPG is based around defeating hordes of pretty generic enemies. Even if you're in a regular MMORPG and you've obtained max level, you're still logging in every day and killing 500 more orcs, usually for loot or whatever other objectives the game has.

The problem I'm thinking about is that when you reach max level in a typical game, then the game world holds no real adventure for you anymore. You're already as good as you can be at killing anything, anywhere. If we're inventing a pure wargame (similar to FPS style) then maybe that's fine. If it's going to be an RPG, though, then there should be room for your character to always encounter new things and always require a new degree of skilling up.

This isn't to say that every monster type should be like leveling from 1-50 again. You shouldn't need to kill 10,000 orcs in order to figure out how to kill orcs, but I also don't think the expert orc killer should automatically be an expert at killing, say, pixies, since pixies fight in a completely different way than orcs. There would be a sense of "oh shit, what the hell is this thing" rather than "I'm level 50, I can beat anything in the world (just like everyone else)".


Basically I think the standard leveling system stomps on a good opportunity to put some "RP" back into the "MMORPG". If everyone is equally good at killing everything then I feel like we've really created a flat, potentially bland world, at least in RPG terms.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:41 am 
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The idea has merit as long as you can avoid extremes.

This certainly solves the issue regarding new players joining veteran players. I log in and start killing things and join my guild mates that have been playing a year and gain benefit from doing so.

This may also be a way to eliminate exp and build a game of skills not levels. Instead of killing to gain levels and experience you just kill to gain skills.

For example:

When you kill 100 orcs you get access to the skill Orc Smash. It is a melee attack that does 100 damage to Orcs. It only does 50 damage to human races, 20 to reptillions and 5 to all others.

When you kill 500 orcs you get access to the skill Orc Maul. It is a melee attack that does 150 damage to Orcs however it only does 60 to human races, 30 to reptillions and 10 to all others.

When you kill 2000 orcs you get access to Orc Splatter. It is a magic ranged attack that does 200 damage to Orcs however it only does 70 to human races, 40 to reptillion and 15 to all others.

Now when you achieve 1000 kills of anything you get access to the skill Sword II. It is a melee skill that does 80 damage to all races.

When you achieve 2000 kills of anything you get access to the skill Sword III. It is a melee skill that does 90 damage to all races.

Champions and City of Hero's did this by giving you access to things based upon achievements. The only thing you have to make sure you take care of is can you avoid macro botting. If you can do that then it should keep a game fresh. Most importantly you can log in and start playing with your buddies the moment you start playing.

While an experienced player has access to a more rounded skill set it doesn't mean he may not run up against a lesser experienced player that matches up well against him.

Just limit how many skills can be hot keyed and instead of chosing a build like in WoW you make them chose which skills they have active at any given time. For example anytime you swap a hot key a skill you have an hour cool down on swapping any other skill. If you have multiple empty hot keys you can fill them in with out a timer.

This leads to more tempered builds to be used instead of extreme builds which is good for those that plan well and newbs.


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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:09 pm 
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I differentiate between Grind and "Grind"

"Grind" = pointless act of doing something repeatedly for no purpose other than its what you do when you log in and spend X hours playing

Grind = required activity in order to improve your characters abilities in some way so that you are better prepared to do whatever it is you do next

I think Grind is part and parcel to what MMO's are. I think "Grind" is horrible and should be avoided at all cost.

If all it is Kill 100000 Orcs an thats it. Then start over with Vampires then that would be "Grind"

If in the process of killing those 10000 Orcs, you're better equipped to kill Vampires in some way then its Grind.

And I'm OK with the idea that going from Orcs to Vampires, you'd not be as good at killing Vampires as someone that had already killed 10000 Vampires.

Thus I think its the external skill factor that would allow portability. I think there needs to be another dimension, ie

Skills:
Sword vs Vampire
Sword vs Orc
Dagger vs Vampire
Dagger vs Orc

Where Vampires might have a higher "resist" to Sword and Orcs have a higher "resist" to Daggers.

You then get your relative "noob" experience vis-a-vis one mob type and another. But you haven't just created an artificial wall between one activity and then having to basically do that all over again and again for no reason other than being tired of killing Orcs.

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EQII: Arsilon - Wizard, Thalena - Fury, Ulrok - Berserker, Valience - Dirge, Ashlyn - Ranger
Elder Scrolls Online: Thalena - Templar, Arsilon - Dragonknight
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Aion: Thalena, Arsilon
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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:39 pm 
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That's where I think game design comes in to play: you should never, ever log in and say, "well, time to go kill some ____".

In a dynamic world, you would always log in, examine the map (or find our where your friends are) and go there to fight over stuff -- attacking villages, defending villages, claiming resources, raiding, counter-raiding, etc.

You wouldn't just say, "I need to skill up on orcs", you would say, "I need to protect this lumber camp" and as the lumber camp comes under attack by orcs you will end up getting better at killing them.

But then, next Wednesday, when you log in and say "let me check that lumber camp" and find it under attack by werewolves you can have a legitimate "oh shit" moment because you aren't very good at fighting werewolves. Whereas in a typical MMORPG, whether the camp was under attack by werewolves, vampires, demons, orcs, elves, etc, wouldn't matter because they're really just different skins on the same underlying mechanics.



The hard part would be how to break down the skill tree. If I took Vllad's idea, you'd need to switch hotkeys too much. What if an Orc and a vampire were attacking you together? You'd need to swap between "Orc Smash III" and "Vampire Crush II" or whatever you have.

If the abilities were pretty generic ("Orc Smash II" = "Vampire Smash II") then the game could automatically switch for you. You hit your "Smash" button and it does the best smash you have for the type of creature you're facing, but I'm not sure I like that either -- feels a little bland.


I'm kind of tempted to actually revisit EQ. Like I'd brought up in that other thread, what made EQ combat interesting wasn't the hotkeys and skills (you hardly had any) but the situational awareness. NPCs in EQ were some sons of bitches. EQ designers took particular glee in creating these long patrol routes, NPCs that enjoyed running around and bringing back friends, etc. You weren't focusing on your hotkeys as much as you were focused on watching the situation (at least ideally -- eventually you could "break" a spawn and then it got really boring, but we can fix that...).



I was thinking of having a "Focus" system. You can focus on, say, 3 NPCs. If an NPC is attacking you and you have it selected as a focus, you take greatly reduced damage. If it's attacking you and you're NOT focused on it, you take full damage. It's basically a way to indicate which enemies your character is paying attention to. Rather than spending time clicking hotkey buttons you're busy selecting enemies.

We could spice it up a bit and say that you take even less damage if it's focused and in front of you and then make the NPCs a bit dodgy in the way they try to encircle you and the way they switch focus between players.

The whole combat could be made very dynamic in how you have to select enemies and position yourself.

In that case, your effectiveness at fighting different creatures would largely be built into your "autoattack" damage calculations, as well as perhaps firing off special attacks automatically -- after killing enough orcs your character figures out how to stun them and will periodically do so without any input from you. (Rather than directed CC it would be more like your character "sees an opening" and takes it whenever he can. The more familiar he is with the target, the better he is at making these automatic special attacks.)

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:04 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
That's where I think game design comes in to play: you should never, ever log in and say, "well, time to go kill some ____".


Fair enough, but if you radically change the paradigm of MMOG design it puts any idea back on the table and makes it really hard to evaluate these concepts because they exist outside of the known framework. Maybe we need to clarify, in some fashion, if the new ideas we post are modifications of the known MMOG model or part of an entirely new one. And if they are part of a new one (e.g. Living World) maybe we could set some ground rules for that model so we can better evaluate how they might fit into that world. I think it's time we concretize some of the concepts for the Living World so that instead of pouring new ideas into the mix like ingredients into a stew, we stencil out the pieces and fit them in like a puzzle. Just a suggestion.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:36 pm 
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Vllad wrote:
This certainly solves the issue regarding new players joining veteran players. I log in and start killing things and join my guild mates that have been playing a year and gain benefit from doing so.


Mentor is a way to play with your friends. EQ2 has it. Warhammer just implemented it. You can either go down to your friends level that just started the game or go up to your friends level that has been playing the game for a year.
The system is more elaborate in game of course, but very basic. It gives you bonuses for going up levels and then it takes away some damage while going down.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:45 pm 
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Hoofhurr wrote:
Maybe we need to clarify, in some fashion, if the new ideas we post are modifications of the known MMOG model or part of an entirely new one.

I'm not sure what you mean. You're always going to have some elements from existing models so I'm not sure what an "entirely new" model would be. Is WOW's combat system of tons of skills and clickies an entirely new model over EQ's "autoattack + slam" combat? Or is that just a modification of a known model?


Even this thread is a modification of an existing idea, albeit a really HEAVY modification.


It would still be stat-based combat between entities that comes down to "how good are you at hitting _____". In a traditional system, that blank is the creature's level -- I'm just as good at hitting a level 35 frog as I am at hitting a level 35 troll. Consequently, seeing a troll holds almost no excitement for me. It's basically a frog with a different looking model. Making us generically good at killing everything turns the world into a dull place.

With this system, where you skill up on a per-creature type basis, suddenly encountering a troll in the middle of a camp of frogs would be a big deal -- I might have an easier or harder time with the troll, depending on where my experiences lie. Maybe I've never seen one before. Maybe I've killed a thousand of them. It's a more personal experience than simply creating a "boss mob" which is difficult for everyone. In that party of 6 people wiping out the frogs, there's 5 guys who see the troll and go, "Oh shit! Troll!" and one who goes, "Finally! Something I'm good at killing! Watch this!"


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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:07 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
Making us generically good at killing everything turns the world into a dull place.


Making us generically good at killing only those things that we've been killing since day one doesn't scream excitement to me. The exciting thing in your example is the surprise of the troll showing up unexpectedly, not the fact that its a troll which, upon identifying, you decide to either run from or fight depending on whether or not you've ever fought trolls before. There's not much of a decision process there that I can see. Your character has fought trolls before, your party mates haven't. You stay and fight and they run away; this despite you probably end up fighting the troll exactly the same way as you were fighting the frogs.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:33 pm 
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Hoofhurr wrote:
The exciting thing in your example is the surprise of the troll showing up unexpectedly, not the fact that its a troll which, upon identifying, you decide to either run from or fight depending on whether or not you've ever fought trolls before.

What's exciting about spotting a "troll" if a troll is just a frog with a different 3-D model? It's like saying, "We were fighting a bunch of cubes and we unexpectedly surprised by another cube." I don't think different graphics and imagination can completely replace interesting game mechanics, so the question is how can we make it interesting.

We could make the troll into a boss mob (a cube, but bigger) but I want to get away from these set piece models where the designer plops down an NPC with 5x more hit points than normal and calls it a "boss" and that's meant to be the exciting endgame. I want the troll to be exciting because he's different than your normal gameplay.


"Personal" is a key word here. Maybe trolls aren't even that badass, but he's badass to you. Encountering your first troll is a personal experience not dictated by the designers. No designer sat down and said, "I want this to be a really tough encounter". It's going to be tough or not based on your personal experiences.


I also think this will help when it comes to interaction between players. Since the game is so personal, not everyone is going to be equally good at killing everything in the game.

For example, lets say the heart of this goblin cave is a dragon. Dragons are very rare and very badass and the odds of you and your 20 friends managing to kill it are slim, because you've never fought one before. However, you could put the call out that you want to hire some dragon slayers -- people who have spent a lot of time wandering the world looking for dragons to kill because that's just how they like to play the game. They aren't really interested in the politics or the "intended gameplay" but they like to wander around killing dragons. These aren't really "high level players" -- they actually aren't that good at killing goblins, so you'll have to help them get to the dragon but once there, the 3 of them can kill the dragon. (Of course, you'd help, and thereby become slightly better at killing dragons yourselves, so that next time you encounter one it might not be so hard.)


This would certainly put a new spin on mercenaries and alliances.

Maybe you've been at war with the orcs for a while, attacking camps, taking and losing resources, etc. One day a faction of werewolves starts setting up camp and attacks you. They've been fighting humans for a while so they're much better at killing you than you are at killing them. You're getting better at it but in the short term you're losing ground. Maybe you send word over to the vampires that you'd like to hire some of their players for a few days to attack these werewolf camps to impede their advance. Or maybe you call on your elven allies and say, "Hey, you've fought these guys before, send some dudes out to join our raids so we can bolster our power and we'll pay you back."



Whereas in a generic system, the only reason you have to reach out to other people is if you need more numbers. They don't have any particular skills you need because everyone in the game world has the same "level 50" skills.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:52 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
For example, lets say the heart of this goblin cave is a dragon. Dragons are very rare and very badass and the odds of you and your 20 friends managing to kill it are slim, because you've never fought one before. However, you could put the call out that you want to hire some dragon slayers -- people who have spent a lot of time wandering the world looking for dragons to kill because that's just how they like to play the game. They aren't really interested in the politics or the "intended gameplay" but they like to wander around killing dragons. These aren't really "high level players" -- they actually aren't that good at killing goblins, so you'll have to help them get to the dragon but once there, the 3 of them can kill the dragon. (Of course, you'd help, and thereby become slightly better at killing dragons yourselves, so that next time you encounter one it might not be so hard.)


That right there is a system that would work great for the first little while. What happens when everyone is great at killing goblins?... Is there some sort of diminishing returns towards goblins.

Example you fight Goblins and become their bane. Then for some reason you choose to move to another area and don't see a goblin for a month. Are these goblins going to remember you?I would say yes, are they going to run away? Most likely, Are your skills as equally good at fighting them before that month of not fighting them? No, but you have an advantage. Fear. But on the other hand of things. Because you have been their bane at one point, your skills for fighting goblins will return much faster than the first time you became their bane.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:19 pm 
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this just sounds too grindsy, and reminding of the faction/reputation grinds in the games.

I would prefer some sort of hybrid time + real use skill system. An exponential curve so new comers can catch up to veterans. And to learn you must study/tutor under someone with a degree of higher skills than you. There should be as many non combat skills to train as combat, to give a good variety of play.

So if Vllad always uses anything but battleaxes, I am able to get basic battleaxe skill from him, and when I reach a certain point, have to do something special to advance it to the next rank.

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 Post subject: Re: The Eternal Noob
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:21 pm 
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The way I envision it (particularly when combined with the other thread about Deaths) is that while you are getting better at fighting Goblins, Goblins are also getting better at fighting you.

So in a protracted human vs goblin war, a parity is maintained. You start off being bad at fighting each other but after a while the goblins have gotten good at fighting humans just as you've gotten good at fighting them. In essence, you've been training each other to fight each other. (There will still be "newbie goblins" just as there will be "newbie humans" but each side will have its experienced troops after a while, too.)

The intrusion of an outside faction can create a big stir, though, because it could represent an upset in more ways than simply numbers of entities.


I think this could also do some interesting things in the diplomacy of the broader war.

Say, for example, that goblins have been "winning". They're the most populated faction and they control most of the world. You've been pushing back against them and gaining ground and in doing so, you come across a faction of minotaurs. You *could* fight the Minotaurs, who aren't very numerous, but you're not good at fighting Minotaurs. You're good at fighting goblins because goblins are everywhere. So you and the Minotaurs strike up a peace agreement and keep fighting the things you're good at killing: goblins.

(In fact, you might decide to do a quick "switch off". The minotaurs go protect your villages while you build up in the minotaur area for an attack into new goblin territory. THESE goblins have been fighting minotaurs, not humans, so you quickly push into their area. Meanwhile, the goblin counterattack against your villages gets crushed by the minotaurs, because the goblins down there didn't have any minotaur experience.)


Whereas under a generic system you might simply wipe out the minotaurs and take over their area because it's all generic and minotaurs are no different than goblins in any meaningful sense anyway.

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