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loot / ammo / currency persistance across game-overs in level based game

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#1 multiplang   Members   -  Reputation: 276


Posted 19 October 2012 - 09:23 PM

I've been pondering this for a while and I can't decide what to do.

I'm building a game with multiple levels that are either passed or failed - a pass being the way to unlock and progress further. Nothing new there, but the thing I'm adding to this game that I haven't in the past, is a virtual currency for upgrading weapons, buying ammo, etc.

The thing I can't decide here is what to do when a level is failed.

During the course of any level - crystals will be collected, and ammo might be spent. When the level is passed, the player gains those crystals to add to their persistant tally (used in the shop), and they have whatever ammo left they have left for any of the finite weapons.

On gameover though.. I guess the base options are:
1. fully reset every value (crystals, ammo) to the state it was at before the level commenced, so that it can be re-tried under precisely the same conditions.
2. make permanent any change to crystals collected and ammo spent. So if you used all your guided rockets weakening the big boss from around the corner, but failed the level anyway, too bad. Rockets gone. Farm crystals and restock.

Then, of course, any permutations of those principals is also possible.

I think back to Mario - any of the versions that let you keep shrooms and flowers in the bank - that's an example of what you spend, you've spent. If you burn all your stuff trying to pass a level and still can't, well, tough. What I can't remember in those games is whether you also get a persistant coin tally counting towards anything "purchasable" (other than 1ups). I don't think they do. There are obviously many other example games too, each a little different, but I'm having trouble trying to decide which system best fits.

In case this needs to be clarified - this will not be a freemium game funded by impatient people circumventing the grind. I don't really want any unnecessary grinding at all for that matter. I'd rather drive replayability through completionist/star-ranking mechanics. So in terms of weapon/ammo prices, my goal will be provide enough "currency" through normal progression to keep a healthy ammo stock and good rate of upgrades.

So I guess my question is - in your valued opinions, what is the most fun and least frustrating option for the player?

Edited by multiplang, 19 October 2012 - 09:28 PM.


#2 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315


Posted 19 October 2012 - 11:03 PM

...too bad. Rockets gone. Farm crystals and restock.

I don't really want any unnecessary grinding at all for that matter.

If you can think over which sentiment you feel more strongly represents the style of play you want, that might lead you to the design choice you're more comfortable with

Personally I'm in favor of resetting everything. Definitely the ammo, because that really could create an unwinnable situation that requires tedious grinding to fix, and that's just not fun. You also might have people responding to narrow wins by deliberately grinding the next level a few times, 'just in case,'which doesn't leave a good impression either. Generally players prefer grinding when they're chasing a carrot, not because someone beat them to death with the stick.

I have no sense of the value of a crystal in your game, or how ammo is spent and replenished, so it's hard to say. Are crystals occasional bonuses, or loot from nearly everything you do? Randomly assigned or static on a run through? You could always penalize the amount earned on that level alone for failing, say 50% of what they picked up. That way, winning is still more efficient than replaying over and over for cash, but people who fall short might still earn that little extra boost to win their second or third time in.

I can't compare it to your game, but it doesn't sound like Mario is a good parallel. (At least the ones I played.) Coins didn't purchase items - in SMB 3, they were generally earned from special events, and the regular powerups within the levels did not go into storage. Usually, you saved your stash for when you needed to start a level with a little extra help, but every level was designed to be beaten with only the resources within it. Farming in New SMB-DS wasn't an issue as it only stored a single item at a time, and in addition to special events, could be easily stocked by picking up spares within a level, including running through an area you'd already beaten.

#3 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344


Posted 19 October 2012 - 11:50 PM

Does it have to be all one way or the other? In Megaman 2, your weapon ammo got reset after every level, but your lives and life tanks were permanently spent if you spent them in that level.

#4 multiplang   Members   -  Reputation: 276


Posted 20 October 2012 - 12:13 AM

Yeah the Mario reference is strange agree - particular if you see the game I'm working on. It's the first that thing came to mind when I thought about having a stash of stuff that gets spent whether you win or lose.

So, as for crystals - they're everywhere. Nearly every enemy killed spawns a random number of them, and they're also placed around levels. You begin the game with a fairly weak weapon (infinite ammo), and the crystals will just be used to increase that weapon's power, and unlock new ones, including some that are not upgradable but have finite ammo instead.

It's a space-shooter. I have a WIP gameplay vid if interested (this recording is pretty old now):

I think I'd rather go for the reset model, although I can't tell whether that'll make it too easy to stockpile.

If I went for a persistent ammo spend I guess I'd put ammo everywhere, make it cheap to buy, and easy to loot.

Edited by multiplang, 20 October 2012 - 12:17 AM.

#5 Lauris Kaplinski   Members   -  Reputation: 841


Posted 20 October 2012 - 03:01 AM

Personally I like third option - make game-world, including enemies, (somewhat) persistent. I.e. if you die, your items will remain at that place and can be picked up in next try. If you use your precious rocket to weaken big boss, his defence will be weaker in next try. And so on...
Of course this approach probably requires very different level design. There will not be much fun if you drop all of your precious loot at big boss den...

But of your two alternatives I will definitely vote for the first. If player fails the first time because the level was too hard for him it is not fun if the next time level is even harder.
Lauris Kaplinski

First technology demo of my game Shinya is out: http://lauris.kaplinski.com/shinya
Khayyam 3D - a freeware poser and scene builder application: http://khayyam.kaplinski.com/

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