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Stuck with my idea.


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#1 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 08:30 PM

Hi guys,

II thought about this idea a while ago, about a multiple character platformer game where the player controls a few characters.

The (current) game idea is as follow :

1) The player starts with a character and he can save more character as he progress.
2) Each character get a timer, which will deplete when the player use that character.
3) When all the character finish their timer, the turn ends. Each turn will cost the player resource(Battery) and it is important to gather those battery.
4) The game is room based and to exit the room, The player must turn on certain switches and get all his/her characters to the end point.
5) Each room will provide the player with opportunity to get items/power-up/equipment but will cost the player extra time from their characters.

I toyed around with the multiple character ideas but it seems like something is missing from the game that makes it interesting and fun. I am too close to the game to see the bigger picture so maybe someone can point out the real problems, but first let me state some of the problems I had with the game.

1) The game is too slow paced. Having to switch character every 20 secs or so kind of break the momentum of platforming game. To counter this, I tried another mechanic. In the new mechanic, the battery will run down as the character deplete its timer. This means that each battery provide one character with one recharge instead of recharging the entire team. This makes the game more fast paced but reduce the need for having more than one character, which bring us to the next point.
2) There isn't a need for more than one character. I can't seems to make this part work without make it into a puzzle game.
3) Problem with having enemies. If the game have enemy, then it might attack the player's non-active characters. I am not really sure how to go about dealing with this or is this the "player's problem" like how RTS don't care if your units are being attack while you are building your base. Having no enemy makes the game too static.
4) Repeating task. If I put my end point away from my start point, then the player need to perform the same actions, walk the same paths for every character to reach the end point. I kind of find this frustrating. If I put the start point near the end point, then the challenges of having multiple character is totally removed. I could start all the characters at random positions but I am not quite sure if that should be the way to go.

I know that this post is too long so for those people with not much time
tl;dr : My platformer game with multiple controllable characters is having some fundamental design problems.

Maybe the idea can't be saved so just go on and flame me for that =P, but if you have any good idea or tried this before, please point out some of the major issue with this.

Edited by ZwodahS, 07 October 2012 - 08:31 PM.

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


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#2 slicksk8te   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 09:46 PM

1) The game is too slow paced. Having to switch character every 20 secs or so kind of break the momentum of platforming game. To counter this, I tried another mechanic. In the new mechanic, the battery will run down as the character deplete its timer. This means that each battery provide one character with one recharge instead of recharging the entire team. This makes the game more fast paced but reduce the need for having more than one character, which bring us to the next point.


You could enforce a time limit that is not related to the battery. That is switch characters every 5 seconds or so This causes the player to act quickly as a character. This could then allow the battery to be drained when the player moves the character.

2) There isn't a need for more than one character. I can't seems to make this part work without make it into a puzzle game.


You could have each character be unique. That is, one may be able to go through a certain type of wall, where another may be really fast, etc.

3) Problem with having enemies. If the game have enemy, then it might attack the player's non-active characters. I am not really sure how to go about dealing with this or is this the "player's problem" like how RTS don't care if your units are being attack while you are building your base. Having no enemy makes the game too static.


The enemies should be passive like in portal ("Are you still there?") because it would allow the players to approach the game as a puzzler rather than an action platformer.


4) Repeating task. If I put my end point away from my start point, then the player need to perform the same actions, walk the same paths for every character to reach the end point. I kind of find this frustrating. If I put the start point near the end point, then the challenges of having multiple character is totally removed. I could start all the characters at random positions but I am not quite sure if that should be the way to go.


This could be solved by adding small aspects that make a simple task difficult. A good example of this is Braid. It uses the idea of time manipulation to make the game harder. On possible idea for this game is to have a sticky surface or a slippery surface.

Overall it sounds like it could be pretty fun.

#3 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3190

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 01:52 AM

Main problem it's that you're thinking this as a platform with strategic elements.
You already noticed you have strong puzzle elements (or perhaps you're supposed to). I think you should switch to a puzzle game with platforming elements. It's a mind-set change.

I toyed around with the multiple character ideas but it seems like something is missing from the game that makes it interesting and fun. I am too close to the game to see the bigger picture so maybe someone can point out the real problems, but first let me state some of the problems I had with the game.

As Slick (above poster noticed), there must be a differentiation between character.
Also yes, you miss the whole picture. You cannot think at the characters without thinking at the levels and challanges they will have to face.
Here's my proposal. Hopefully it will get the gears running.
Instead of the battery and time, we work on "stamina"
  • John, the hacker. Will force doors open by hacking terminals. Can also control elevators.
  • Redhead, the athletic spy. High stamina, basic combat abilities. Main reason to use: can crawl behind doors or in ventilation tunnels.
  • Forged, a robot. Reduced movement speed, can partially force-open doors, enough to let Redhead in. Immune to poison.
  • Kobayashi, a ninja. Super jump, fast, can move on walls. Effective against non-robots enemies.
And here's a level for them.
level.png
But perhaps this is not your design.

1) The game is too slow paced. Having to switch character every 20 secs or so kind of break the momentum of platforming game. To counter this, I tried another mechanic. In the new mechanic, the battery will run down as the character deplete its timer. This means that each battery provide one character with one recharge instead of recharging the entire team. This makes the game more fast paced but reduce the need for having more than one character, which bring us to the next point.

It also makes in my opinion, quite difficult to work on character abilities. Personally I think that this can work fast paced only if we stick to a very basic set of rules such as.
Can jump. Can jump higher. Can jump even higher.
Can fight. Can fight better. Can fight even better.
Can run. Can run faster. Can run even faster.
Personally I think this has reduced potential. Note most platforming games on web are in fact puzzle games disguised as a platform. If you want to have strong strategic elements, you'll have to give up the fast pacing most of the time.

3) Problem with having enemies. If the game have enemy, then it might attack the player's non-active characters. I am not really sure how to go about dealing with this or is this the "player's problem" like how RTS don't care if your units are being attack while you are building your base. Having no enemy makes the game too static.

No, if you make this "turn-based".
Game structure.
  • Player turn
  • Enemy turn
Player turn and Enemy turn are similar.
  • Character 0 gets stamina charge.
  • Player set character 0 actions.
  • Character 0 execute.
  • Repeat for character N
Combat is just a turn action. If player leaves its characters vulnerable, they will have to face consequences.

#4 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 04:10 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I like most of the idea that you guys proposed.

No, if you make this "turn-based".
Game structure.
Player turn
Enemy turn
Player turn and Enemy turn are similar.
Character 0 gets stamina charge.
Player set character 0 actions.
Character 0 execute.
Repeat for character N
Combat is just a turn action. If player leaves its characters vulnerable, they will have to face consequences.

I thought through this idea as well but it fits into the puzzle platformer more than a face paced one.

As i make the game, I also feel that i miss the whole point of the game. Having multiple characters introduce a heavy puzzle aspect that I really cannot ignore. As I started out wanting to make a strategic face-paced platformer than a puzzle platformer, I am quite reluctant to make it a puzzle game.

Is there any way to make a platformer like that with a idea like this ? or is this idea doomed as a puzzle game?

It is not that I do not want to make a puzzle platformer but I don't think I am that good of a puzzle designer :X but maybe it is time for me to move out of my comfort zone.

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


#5 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3190

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:23 AM

As i make the game, I also feel that i miss the whole point of the game. Having multiple characters introduce a heavy puzzle aspect that I really cannot ignore. As I started out wanting to make a strategic face-paced platformer than a puzzle platformer, I am quite reluctant to make it a puzzle game.

Ok. Then maybe you can use a set of "shallow" fast choices but in a different way.
For example if a set of characters can jump and a set of characters can run, having 2 characters of the 1st set implies we have to do 2 jumps.
And, if the two jumps are separated by a long corridor, this might require to separate the two jumps by a run.
Maybe the player could have say, 10 seconds to build a sequence of characters at beginning of the level then make them "run". At this point it's pure platforming, with all the choices removed and the level is a single "run". Characters ~ actions.

Do you think this is a better fit for your idea? It still breaks the pace on level change but hopefully this is not much worse than the level change itself.
So we get two real phases, the initial "think" phase, followed by a second "button push" phase.

#6 slicksk8te   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:02 AM

If your thinking strategy, you should take a few tips from games like chess and go. The reason these games are so strategic is that they are turn based and every move is important to the entire game as a whole. However, for this game, if you want it fast paced, you have to use tactics instead (there is a difference). This means that there is no overarching strategy like in an RTS but instead it is more like a fast paced battle where you don't necessarily have a 'master plan'.

Then maybe you can use a set of "shallow" fast choices but in a different way.

This would be Tactics.

No, if you make this "turn-based".
Game structure.
Player turn
Enemy turn
Player turn and Enemy turn are similar.
Character 0 gets stamina charge.
Player set character 0 actions.
Character 0 execute.
Repeat for character N


This would be Strategy.

You as the designer need to make a choice on whether the speed of your game can accommodate strategy or not. This will depend on the gameplay and the main goal of the game.

In most cases, to speed up any type of game, you just need to speed objects up or speed up how fast the user has to react. For instance chess can be fast if you enforce a time limit on each player. This however needs to be balanced correctly or users will get frustrated because they cannot react very fast.
.

#7 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:17 AM

I have been thinking about these feedback for the past few hours, and I have a new idea.

What if i say, make the game extremely fast paced , like RTS. So instead of enforcing a time limit, there is almost no time limit on the game.
However, the players need to control all characters and make sure they are safe. At the same time, each area will have enemies that need to be taken out and perhaps only a few characters can fight.

For example, say we set the game in a setting that you need to infiltrate a building(Think Ocean Eleven). So we might have say , a hacker(for disabling cameras, traps etc), a gunman(with limit bullet), an assassin (closed combat). The enemy will move from places to places such that the characters need to be placed in safe location to ensure their safety. For example, while you are controlling X , perhaps a guard is approaching Y and you need to switch your control to Y to run but maybe at the same time control X to back-stab the guard.

Another way to see this, maybe think of commandos series but instead of a top-down bird eye view, think of it as a side-scroller view.

Maybe this idea might be better off as a bird eye view ? Or maybe action platformer with multiple characters is not viable in the first place ?

Are there any multiple characters platformer that sounds like this ?

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


#8 slicksk8te   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:22 AM

Are there any multiple characters platformer that sounds like this ?

Not that I know of, but your idea seems interesting and commandos is a great game to get inspiration from. I think it would be cool to see what type of game this could be because changing the perspective, birds eye to sidescroller, adds a whole new look and feel to the game. It is like the difference between minecraft and terraria. Changing the perspective has a profound effect on the game and offers new mechanics and styles.

#9 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3190

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:37 AM

Are there any multiple characters platformer that sounds like this ?

Worms, by Team 17, with unlimited character changes. It's still turn based, but it does not change much for the purpose of this discussion.
To be honest, I think allowing unlimited, instant character switch would result in consistent ease of the puzzle elements. I guess that would be what you're looking for!

Not that I know of, but your idea seems interesting and commandos is a great game to get inspiration from

Commandos, by Pyro studios does not have explicit planning phases but the phases naturally emerge. The game is mostly slow-paced, sequences requiring careful timing and fast-paced actions (as far as I remember) can be easily interrupted as most levels offer plenty of safe zones.
It's also worth noticing most levels I recall started from a safe state. This effectively allowed an initial "plan" sequence which is ideally as above described, albeit implicit.
It allows unlimited character switch and still retains a strong strategic/tactical element. Completing even the simplest missions could easily take 10+ minutes.

Slick,
I'm afraid you might be misunderstanding the meaning of the terms I'm using in my previous post.

Edited by Krohm, 08 October 2012 - 11:42 AM.


#10 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:16 AM

So it seems like not many tried this yet =/. I will probably have to prototype this a bit more =).

Will post more if i get something nice up.

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


#11 Cronnix   Members   -  Reputation: 149

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 02:51 AM

I would suggest ditching the timer and instead working on defining the characters. What makes them unique, what utility do they have in the game, why would player want to play them. Only then introduce timer if you feel it is needed to enforce certain aspect of gameplay. Trine (first one) for example found a very nice balance between action and mild puzzles that utilized all of your characters, also there were often several ways to overcome a challenge. Second trine however focused too much on puzzles for me to like it.

If you dont want puzzles, dont make puzzles. But platforming and puzzles go hand in hand with such concept. You could try instead making combat focused turn based game, where each character would have unique attacks that work better on certain enemies than others. This way you could plan your attacks and place your characters at certain future enemy paths. Say you have a melee character and ranged character. Place the melee one around the corner who will assassinate the guard next turn and the ranged character to take out the guard through the window that doesn't let the melee get close.

Games like X-COM: Apocalypse, where you had line of sight and could play versus other player, trying to predict his movements and place your soldiers strategically could be a source of inspiration, despite different genre (iso turnbased instead of platformer).

But start with re-evaluating if you really need the timer, I think it is keeping you in a more closed mindset of developing this design.

Edited by Cronnix, 09 October 2012 - 02:52 AM.

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#12 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3190

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 01:07 AM

Or perhaps just let all the characters work the same way for the first prototype.
Having to deal with their positioning and avoiding getting them hurt seems already enough work, even with no time limit or switch penalty.

#13 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:28 AM

I would suggest ditching the timer and instead working on defining the characters. What makes them unique, what utility do they have in the game, why would player want to play them. Only then introduce timer if you feel it is needed to enforce certain aspect of gameplay.

I agree with this. I will think about how it a bit more.

Or perhaps just let all the characters work the same way for the first prototype.
Having to deal with their positioning and avoiding getting them hurt seems already enough work, even with no time limit or switch penalty.

I already have quite a bit of stuffs done. But when i tried out a few simple level, I really find no reason for controlling more than one character when having no special ability. But when I tried to think about unique ability for them, the game became a puzzle game.

I might just put aside this prototype(until I get new ideas) and move on to the next one since I am still in the prototyping phase.

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


#14 SuperVGA   Members   -  Reputation: 1118

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 04:06 AM

Thats curious. It sounds a bit like Humans! and Lost vikings.
I'm not sure I ever was a multiplayer approach to those. Good concept, man!

#15 ZwodahS   Members   -  Reputation: 483

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:17 AM

Wow Thanks for showing me Humans!. I saw lost vikings (didn't really played it) and i really like the concept. However, most multi characters platformer follows the puzzle style.

That was why I wondered If I could take the heavy puzzle element out and make something action and more fast paced out of it.

Check out my blog at zwodahs.github.io and zwodahs.itch.io/


#16 morningstar2651   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 11:15 AM

Hi guys,

II thought about this idea a while ago, about a multiple character platformer game where the player controls a few characters.

The (current) game idea is as follow :

1) The player starts with a character and he can save more character as he progress.
2) Each character get a timer, which will deplete when the player use that character.
3) When all the character finish their timer, the turn ends. Each turn will cost the player resource(Battery) and it is important to gather those battery.
4) The game is room based and to exit the room, The player must turn on certain switches and get all his/her characters to the end point.
5) Each room will provide the player with opportunity to get items/power-up/equipment but will cost the player extra time from their characters.

I toyed around with the multiple character ideas but it seems like something is missing from the game that makes it interesting and fun. I am too close to the game to see the bigger picture so maybe someone can point out the real problems, but first let me state some of the problems I had with the game.

1) The game is too slow paced. Having to switch character every 20 secs or so kind of break the momentum of platforming game. To counter this, I tried another mechanic. In the new mechanic, the battery will run down as the character deplete its timer. This means that each battery provide one character with one recharge instead of recharging the entire team. This makes the game more fast paced but reduce the need for having more than one character, which bring us to the next point.
2) There isn't a need for more than one character. I can't seems to make this part work without make it into a puzzle game.
3) Problem with having enemies. If the game have enemy, then it might attack the player's non-active characters. I am not really sure how to go about dealing with this or is this the "player's problem" like how RTS don't care if your units are being attack while you are building your base. Having no enemy makes the game too static.
4) Repeating task. If I put my end point away from my start point, then the player need to perform the same actions, walk the same paths for every character to reach the end point. I kind of find this frustrating. If I put the start point near the end point, then the challenges of having multiple character is totally removed. I could start all the characters at random positions but I am not quite sure if that should be the way to go.

I know that this post is too long so for those people with not much time
tl;dr : My platformer game with multiple controllable characters is having some fundamental design problems.

Maybe the idea can't be saved so just go on and flame me for that =P, but if you have any good idea or tried this before, please point out some of the major issue with this.


I've played a multiple character platformer that worked well before.

The Lost Vikings.




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