[0.8] Loyalty spell bugs/issues

arisian

Supporter
I've been playing with the new version (0.8) for a few days now, and I've been having a lot of fun with the new thaumaturgy system, but I've run into a few issues I figured were worth reporting.

The 'Loyalty' spell in particular is a game-changer, but I've encountered several places where it behaves oddly. First off, there seems to be a bug involving the armored skeleton with the 2-handed sword in the catacombs (the one in the "graveyard" area): if you cast 'loyalty' on it, instead of starting to follow the player, it ignores the player and wanders off on its own. This looks like maybe some kind of 'patrol' behavior? In any case, re-loading (by exiting and then continuing) seems to re-set its AI, and after that it behaves the same way as any other enemy that's been hit with the 'loyalty' spell.

Second, there seems to be some issues with the way that different followers interact. In particular, multiple targets of the 'loyalty' spell will be non-hostile to each other, but they won't necessarily be non-hostile to Derrin. If you've got Derrin with you, the basic undead in the first few levels will generally be peaceful toward him, though if one clips the other with a stray swing, they'll immediately start fighting with one another. That's annoying, but it can be worked around (e.g. by giving everyone short and well-balanced weapons). However, the later enemies (e.g. skeletons in the catacombs, the Proctor, etc.) all seem to go hostile toward Derrin just by getting too close (which is inevitable if they're both following the player). Note that both Derrin and the loyal-skeleton will remain non-hostile towards the *player*, but they will attack *each other* until one or the other is killed.

This effectively means that past level 3, you have to choose between keeping Derrin, or using the Loyalty spell; you can't do both (the few 'inept' undead you might find are no longer effective against the more advanced enemies). My expectation based on the text of the description for the 'loyalty' spell is that a loyal minion should not attack another minion, regardless of how they got to be minions (i.e. of their own volition or via magical mind-control).

I'll note that it did occur to me that perhaps the 'trust other' spell is intended to fix this issue, but since that's not a 'continuous' spell I'm not really sure how it would help (and it's marked 'UNAVAILABLE' in the current build anyway, so my feedback for this build can't really include it).

[Update:]
I've played a bit more, and just run into another similar problem; I was in the sewers with the three dual-wielding ancient undead (the blue-armored ones from level 5) as my minions (cast 'loyalty' on each of them, didn't have Derrin around). At some point, one of them randomly became un-loyal (looks like the spell was canceled somehow? The ongoing cost went away, but I didn't even open the spellcasting interface, and I've got no idea what caused it) and started attacking me, and shortly after that the two remaining ones started attacking each other. I killed one, then raised it again using 'Command Dead', and that one and the remaining 'loyal' one immediately started attacking each other again. I'm not really sure of what's going on, but I stand by my original statement that my minions should not attack me or each other, period, regardless of how they were obtained ('loyalty' vs 'command dead' vs voluntary) or what's going on (e.g. one of them accidentally hits another when an enemy dodges should not cause my party to immediately turn into a circular firing squad). The only exception I can imagine would be if I backstabbed a 'voluntary' henchman, that might make them go hostile, but even there I'd want to make sure the code didn't trigger too much due to accidents. Particularly given the fact that we can't save/load freely, these issues are a pretty major drawback of the spells/systems currently in the game.
 
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Jimmini

Member
The main reason mind thaumaturgy was so much work to implement is because it ties in with the highly simulated nature of the AI system. NPC behaviour is not a collection of simple black and white scripts like in most games. They're not just either companions or enemies. They all have a distinct personality, react differently and have their own story. Additionally, thaumaturgy was always meant to produce certain effects, not pre-determined outcomes with specific purposes.
Having said all that, not everyone getting along with everyone else is definitely intended. Loyalty will not turn them into mindless drones, they can break free of your influence if you go too far (how much that is again depends on many factors) and they still have opinions about others (they are loyal to you, not necessarily to everyone who happens to be with you at the moment). You'll have to pay close attention to the game world, circumstances, etc. to make effective use of your powers and achieve what you intend to.
It might not be what you expected or wished for, but these things are part of the core philosophy the game is being designed around, which aims to offer a more meaningful and interesting experience than what the average RPG provides, and will be expanded upon a lot still (the release notes for 0.7.0 go a bit more into the details about AI).
 

Mostarda

Member
@Jimmini Hello!
I always get very excited when I read about it, about each zombie having a personality and a story, having different reactions and so on. But that was always said even before the addition of Thaumaturgia. But what I wanted to know more and even changing the topic a little, is that it does not seem to influence in practice.

Zombies for example, will either attack you, or they will look at you and do nothing, there are practically only these two options. It could have an extra kind of variation, for example I resurrected the skeleton that died writing a letter in the sewer, it would be so cool if he said something even for a brief moment, they could have more content about the zombie lore. The prosector we face who carries a stamp, there is only one letter talking about her, we don't know why she became a zombie or whatever.

Sometimes I wonder if artificial intelligence is all that they sell to us.
 

arisian

Supporter
Alright, that's fair, though at the moment the systems involved are somewhat opaque to the player. Having to be extremely careful about fighting with allies (so as not to piss them off) makes sense, even if it sometimes feels like success is more a matter of luck than skill (e.g. sometimes a weapon gets stuck on geometry and then behaves unpredictably when it snaps back). This would probably also feel more natural with "live" characters; there's just something a bit odd about a construct made from nothing but magic and bones having a "distinct personality". Most media present things like skeletons and zombies as "mindless enemies," so it's hard not to have that expectation here. Given the lack of in-game lore that would suggest or explain otherwise, and the fact that the behavior of the zombies is not what I would assume the behavior of the people they were before death would be, I'm honestly a bit confused about the source of the "mind" controlling the undead if it's not just a "simple command" (i.e. scripted behavior) given by whoever raised them in the first place.

All that said, I understand why "loyalty to you doesn't mean loyalty to your allies" makes sense as a design choice, though I think it's a bit unfortunate that it reduces the set of approaches the player can take (e.g. forcing the player to choose between having Derrin as a companion or having "loyal" undead as companions). I also understand (and appreciate!) the overall design philosophy of the game that rewards careful observation of the environment and logical reasoning about expected behaviors (movement, fighting, physics based puzzles, etc.). However, the success of this design requires: A) that relevant things be observable, and B) that the player has a sufficiently accurate mental model to do the reasoning. In the particular instance of the effects of "casting a magical loyalty spell on an animated skeleton," this is problematic, because we cannot apply our "real world" experience to do reasoning the way we can for the physics system. Additionally, unlike the physics based weapons, the spells mostly don't give visual feedback, making it that much harder to learn by experimentation (not impossible, mind you, but considerably more difficult, particularly given the lack of Thaumaturgy in the practice arena, and the lack of ability to freely save/load in the campaign).
 

Jimmini

Member
Player expectations have indeed always been a major hurdle for the game to overcome, be it controlling your character, not fighting everything on sight, layering apparel and armor, and so on. There used to be a message when you started the game the first time, addressing some of that, but which has been removed at some point. There is lore in the game addressing several aspects about the inhabitants, experimentations, necromancy, etc., which is also the main theme of the game (hence the name "Exanima"). Exploration and piecing together the fragments of information is indeed one of the main objectives in the game. Hopefully, with the addition of the remaining content, more game mechanics and improved replayability, players will have more opportunity and incentive to dig a bit deeper in all that. We also have to keep in mind that the game is a prelude to a much bigger game, where these AI-related mechanics will also be of greater importance and be able to be appreciated more by players, especially because of the living population on the world's surface.

While it does make it more involved having a group of followers, it's still possible to so and also makes it more interesting, in my opinion. It encourages players to make use of thaumaturgy, learning about its possiblities and effective usage in the process, adds a whole new layer of gameplay and replayability, and generally allows the AI system to show more of its complexity. For example, someone on the Steam forum posted about an intricate way to have undead get along with Derrin: https://steamcommunity.com/app/362490/discussions/0/2143092623640717462/#c3241971691949737321. While probably not something a regular player would be willing to do, I think it's very fascinating to have such a high degree of simulation in a game, especially in a time where games become more and more streamlined and simplistic. This all is also still in a somewhat early state, and will be expanded upon a lot. The possiblities of such systems are quite endless, and brought us a lot closer to the project the developers envisioned, which you can read about here, for example: http://baremettle.com/forums/index.php?threads/development-update-2.909/.
 

Grayzag

Member
I've successfully gotten a third party member, its a Skeleton that gets angry in fights. I have to balance when to calm him because he'll start getting fear if its too early.

The only issue with magic I've had so far is if I Raise an undead and then control his mind; When he dies it doesn't unfocus one of the spells and my focus is limited by one continuous spell
 

Brokendrum

Member
Not had any Loyal or Command npc 'path' away on me yet. Lost them a few times when they ran off to attack something and disappeared until I switched zones, or had to backtrack and found them glued onto some infrastructure that they have to be herded off of.
I have wasted a lot of energy trying to calm things down. If you can target them fast enough you can remove their weapons which gives you some time. But it is time wasted, since once angry with each other then that is that, and seems to be their motivation going forward.

It might not be a final answer, but raising the dead requires you pay attention to whether or not they have fought before. I have 3 Blademaster that are friendly to each other by waiting until all 3 were killed before dropping the lessor minions and going back and doing a necro on them. Makes for a pretty awesome team once they are geared out.
For safety, I target them one at a time periodically and spam them with a Calm until it registers.
Also learned to not gear up the one's under Loyalty. Makes them too hard to kill if the Loyalty wears off. At least with Command Dead they just corpse out instead of actively looking for revenge if you get knocked out.

Seems like no hope for getting them passive to Derrin though. At least not yet. I have seen where the Mass Calm and Mass Trust finally was allowed to be learned, but see no way as yet to focus the Blademasters on Derrin for a Mass Trust that works, so sooner or later they bump going past a door and the blades get red (so I keep him hidden on level 4).

TL-DR Expect Loyalty to wear off sooner or later and focus Command Dead on npc which have never fought each other.
 
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