The game design post for Ragnarok was quite extensive.
We learned a lot from this 4000 word document, but still many questions are left unanswered.
I invite everyone to listen to the most recent Community Token Talk
Why? Because they name drop me like half a dozen times and it feeds my ego something fierce! Erm, I mean because they talk about important things including Ragnarok!
What did we learn from CTT?
I think the biggest piece of information was that Ragnarok will be in a centralized testnet for the first year. After that, it will be "released into the wild" after there is consensus that the protocol is worthy to stand alone.
The subtext here is astounding... because it sounds like it will become fully decentralized, and changes to the protocol (along with mitigating hackers) will become much more difficult once this happens. This brings me to my first question:
How does RNG/consensus work?
For anyone who isn't a coder (most of you) you probably don't even think about how difficult it is to create 'random' numbers. Not only must competitive games like Texas Holdem and Ragnarok create these random numbers in a fair way, but also that information has to be securely hidden from opponents.
If Dan is implying that he has somehow not only solved this problem, but also decentralized it... that's a big deal. That's the kind of technology that would get forked a thousand times to create a thousand different games on Hive. Removing the centralized trusted gatekeeper is no easy feat. I hope he's created an airtight solution in this regard; that would be amazing.
I'll be the first one to admit that I have not been paying keen attention to 3SPEAK technology or what is going on there, so perhaps the problem of RNG is somehow solved by this up and coming protocol. I'll obviously have to do quite a bit of research when these networks go live.
Does Ragnarok development make P2P Texas Holdem implementation Trivial?
The obvious follow-up question is also exciting. If Ragnarok is a game that combines deckbuilding, chess, and poker, then doesn't it become trivial to also implement fully decentralized peer-to-peer poker on Hive? I've been waiting years for devs to figure out how to do this, and they have all seemingly failed... even when it seemed like the answer was created years ago.
The fundamental gain of being able to play P2P rake-free poker directly on Hive can not be overstated. That alone is enough to x10 the price of Hive, because Hive itself is still undervalued and a usecase like uncensorable p2p gambling is quite an achievement, especially considering Hive's built-in community that will basically support anything of value quite zealously. Guess I'll just have to wait and find out.
Summer 2018: Private RNG Is The Key To Blockchain Gaming.
Onto the Ragnarok-specific questions.
Is the chess board 5x5?
If every "deck" is 10 cards and every player starts the game with 5 "pawns" and 1 "King/Queen/Rook/Bishop/Knight"... then what does the board look like? Surely it can't be 8x8... that's just too large for the number of pieces given. 5x5 makes sense, but it was also not explicitly stated... so I'm curious.
Also, if a 5x5 board was the playing space, it would be pretty cramped. Instead of 4 empty rows between player pieces at the beginning of the game... there'd only be 1 row of empty squares separating them. Also special moves like castling and en-passant don't make as much sense in the context of a smaller environment.
I get the feeling that the board will not be a square one and we'll have to opt for a rectangle like 5x6 or 5x8. Still unclear as to what the starting positions would be. Do we have to put the queen in the corner and remove 2 blank rows?
Castling still possible within this setup, But the queen's mobility is diminished from corner placement. There's also a fun variant of chess called chess 960, where all the non-pawn pieces are placed randomly and castling is still allowed. I'm all for adding more RNG to the game so the meta doesn't get stale.
Do pawns get promoted?
Speaking of chess, if pawns can only move forward, what happens when they get to the end of the board? Do they get promoted to Queens like in real chess? That sounds like it would be a pretty epic game mechanic. On the one hand you are trying to ignore your opponent's pawns and defeat the king, but on the other hand if they get to the end of the board they go full on Godmode and might flip the outcome of the entire war with one pro move.
What's up with mana?
In Hearthstone you start with one mana and gain access to another mana crystal every turn. This is also how Ragnarok works, but I'm starting to realize that the definition of a "turn" is unclear. Is one turn when each player moves on the chessboard one time? This is clearly wrong when imagining a game playing out. Does a turn happen only during combat? This makes way more sense. Every round that players cast spells/pets and then melee attack a new round starts and that particular character gets access to another mana crystal.
But what about the surviving god?
If my pawn kills another pawn, and then that low-HP pawn does battle with another unit... does my low-HP pawn lose access to the large mana pool and have to start over at one along with the other piece? If not, would the strategy become letting my weak pawn die as quickly as possible so the other superior piece doesn't get a huge mana pool? But then the other piece would just let my pawn live and farm mana for the next battle.
It becomes somewhat obvious that mana must get reset after each battle otherwise too many ridiculous strategies will pop up. Considering a pawn gets 22 spells and also has a high chance of dying, it must be pretty useful to have a lot of low cost spells that one can spam before the pawn dies and becomes completely unusable. Will be interesting to see how the strategy plays out. With a one year testnet I'm sure we'll see a lot of changes. I get the feeling that 22-35 spells per piece might be a bit much, but again this is just gross speculation on my part.
Speaking of a bit much:
Couldn't resist... apparently. I'm an adult.
Will it be hard for bots to farm XP?
Does beating a higher ranked opponent produce more XP? I have to assume that this is the case. This creates an interesting dynamic where bots or even human XP farmers aren't going to want to use the XP to level up, opting to sell it instead for profit.
But if they sell their XP and lose a lot of games... they will be a low rank... and if they are a low rank they aren't going to be able to farm a lot of XP. Very cool self-correcting system, especially given the fact that the game is deflationary on top of charging players to heal after every war has concluded.
That means that players/bots that are low rank will lose money trying to game the economy. The actual market value of XP will determine the cutoff point. A high value of XP will have a higher cutoff point, making XP farming and botting more profitable. However, if XP floods the network it suddenly becomes unprofitable and any bots and farmers are now losing money while the people actually playing the game for real are still potentially making money or leveling up for the future.
I find XP to be a particularly interesting resource because it is clearly highly inflationary due to being minted every game, but also highly deflationary as it becomes constantly consumed to level up. XP can also be thought of as a proof of burn token. It costs HBD to heal after a game... thus the only way to get XP is to 'destroy' HBD. Even better, that HBD gets sucked into a blackhole yieldfarm and pays players until the end of time. These tokenomics are solid.
I think a lot of players are going to opt to sell their XP at first, not realizing how valuable it is. At the same time players are going to be aggressively buying it to get that extra edge, so I'm very interested to see how the free-market values such an important but also hyperinflationary/hyperdeflationary fungible asset. I'm guessing speculation is going to get quite out of hand at some point.
In the CTT it was stated that the game is around "70% completed" and that it's been in development for six months. Extrapolating that data implies that we have to wait another three months for this thing to come out, which is mildly deflating but then again I waited 3 years for WOW to come out so whatever. Also we'll have to wait a full year for the testnet phase to end, but that's not as big a deal because actions performed during the testnet are going to carry on to subsequent seasons (I assume based on the information presented).
Of course I've never seen any development team correctly estimate how long it's going to take to launch the final product, so take that 3 month wait and double it. Too bad, so sad, fam.
That being said I think having both Ragnarok and Splinterlands vying for control of the #1 blockchain game in the world is going to turn some heads. That kind of "competition" can do nothing but benefit everyone on the network. This is quite exciting indeed, especially considering that both 3SPEAK and Ragnarok are going to be open source.
The chance that these protocols get forked and cloned multiple times is guaranteed, which means that more and more Hive/HBD is going to get pulled into these blackhole SIPs forever. Taking into account all the other stuff Hive devs are doing it becomes clear that we are really just getting started. Hive is an infant, but it is growing quickly.
Ragnarok is going to be very hard and frustrating for a lot of players. Many will ragequit, and yet they will still make money, because just hodling the NFTs and allowing their value to spike, as hardcore gamers enter the space, will generate quite a bit of value.
This is also another thing we need to consider. Ragnarok will definitely be one of those games that gets professional gamers, big time crypto enthusiasts, and intellectuals all looking at Hive. This is a great example of a product that can attract quality users and great value across the board.
The combination of Splinterlands and Ragnarok on Hive will be quite the spectacle to behold. While many will project competition onto the space and try to make the claim that one project is leeching users from the other, I see the opposite. Both of these games will be attracting new users from the outside and everyone will share in the victory. Welcome to the cooperative attention economy: where Synergy rules supreme.
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