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Affecting the actual player as an alternative to affecting the playable character

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#1 AlanSmithee   Members   -  Reputation: 1692


Posted 26 October 2012 - 07:44 AM


Just some quick things that I'm pondering over that I would be happy to get some feedback / thoughts on.

What do you think about having in-game conditions that directly affect the player rather then the players character to increase the skillcap in a PvP or PvE enviroment? (Im thinking from a MMORPG perspective, but that's just my POI)

For example there would be spells that would cause:
Rearrangment of skills on hotbar for a small period of time,
Inversing controls (move left by pressing right)for a small period of time,
Add a small delay to input ations (user hit key, takes 0.2 sec for action to ocour) for a small period of time,

Instead of spells that would cause:
Slow on character for small period of time,
Blindness for small period of time,

Ofcourse, messing with controls is not something that you would generally want to do as it makes the player feel less in power and 'cheated on' by the system, but with balance, could this be something of use to increase the skillcap and add actual physical (reaction) and mental (observation, tactic) aspects to a challanging enviroment?

Thanks for your input. / AS


#2 Lauris Kaplinski   Members   -  Reputation: 841


Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:19 AM

I think I have seen these in some games (cannot remember exactly which ones) and liked them. Such things only have to be rare enough to not cause much frustration.
Lauris Kaplinski

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#3 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4015


Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:25 AM

Delaying controls sounds ok, but it should only be some limited controls like WASD. But it might be annoying if you already have lag due to high ping...

Inversing controls might feel annoying. But maybe a high accuracy reduction in mouse aim and walk direction (so you dont have to spend 5 seconds realizing controls are inverse) so if you walk forward, the character instead walks somewhere diagonally and then changes direction a bit like he was drunk or something.

The other ones seem to need to be implemented client side and as such will be cheatable...


#4 AlanSmithee   Members   -  Reputation: 1692


Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:41 AM

Hey guys, Thanks for your input.

Lauris - I haven't come across this kind of behaviour in a game yet, except inversed controls caused by a monster in a game called 9dragons.
It was actually not to bad, but it was only one low level mob and I'm more interested in the PvP aspect.

Waterlimon - WASD was exactly what i was thinking too.. Maybe mouse scroll speed for slower panning/turning. I guess balance is the keyword.
Hmm maybe something like that would be exploitable if implemented on the client, but shouldn't it be achivable by just remapping keys to actions on the fly on the server/domain side?

#5 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1058


Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:35 AM

A handful of games have gone further than that.

In some of the Metal Gear Solid series, it would take controls away from the player, play a fake game over screen, or even talk directly at the player, telling them they have played for too long and should just shut it off.

Even some older PC games would do fake "Blue Screen of Death" screens, error windows, or pretend to reset the computer in order to manipulate the player directly.

If done properly (read not too often) then these kinds of 4th wall breaking aspects can really add to a game. It will be frustration though, so game-play needs to be good enough to tough through the abuse.

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#6 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4015


Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:45 AM

Hey guys, Thanks for your input.

Lauris - I haven't come across this kind of behaviour in a game yet, except inversed controls caused by a monster in a game called 9dragons.
It was actually not to bad, but it was only one low level mob and I'm more interested in the PvP aspect.

Waterlimon - WASD was exactly what i was thinking too.. Maybe mouse scroll speed for slower panning/turning. I guess balance is the keyword.
Hmm maybe something like that would be exploitable if implemented on the client, but shouldn't it be achivable by just remapping keys to actions on the fly on the server/domain side?

Yeah, i was thinking that the control remapping/accuracy reduction would be done on the server...

But i guess it doesnt make that much sense to try to prevent cheating that much, you would still want the client to know about the remapping and all to make accurate client side prediction :P


#7 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 30282


Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:24 AM

You mentioned, and dismissed, "Blindness for small period of time."
I think blindness (make the screen go entirely black, just darken, or toss a blob of "tar" up on the screen) is probably the best example of this kind of "real player hinderance", it's just been done alot. Control inverting and slow motion is also commonly done, but still falls into this category properly.

Other possibilities:
  • Delay the player's video feedback by 0.5 seconds, maybe with a slight blur. So the speed runs the same, but it's just 0.5 seconds out of sync (Might make some players dizzy).
  • Vibrate the player's screen (might cause dizziness). Or slowly rotate the screen -15 to 15 degrees, "rocking" the viewpoint back and forth, with a sea-sickness-like effect. It'd definitely decrease my accuracy. Posted Image
  • Make enemy characters more "washed out" and blended with the environment (especially their edges), so it's harder to visually see them. Alternatively, Fade the screen from full-color to greyscale (with slight blur to final greyscale), making it harder to spot enemy characters.
  • If you have a damage indicator (red flashes on edges of the screen), add fake damage indicators (or misdirect the real damage indicators) making the character think they are taking damage from a different direction.
  • Swap enemy and ally appearances, so you shoot your friends and not your enemies. (Old-school RPG "confusion")
  • Make all enemies and allies look alike, so you don't know who to shoot and have to guess.
  • Make all enemies and allies look like monsters, (and add random danger indicators to freak you out thinking you got hurt) so you shoot everything.
  • Make your health bar look extremely low (perhaps after a huge fake danger indicator flash), so you run for cover and get out of danger. ("Flee" magic)
  • Make your health bar appear to be full or near full, so you think you have more health then you really do. (Perhaps might annoy users - "What the?! How did I die?")
  • Swap your health bar with the mana bar, so you think your current mana level is your health, and you think your current health level is your mana.
  • Instead of blackening the entire screen, dim the lighting of the lights in the game (whether the sun or artificial lights), so you can still see the 3D world, but everything is dim.
  • Add swirling colorful lights over your eyes, disorienting you and distracting you from your enemies.
  • Make all non-geometry objects have extreme horizontal motion blur that lasts 1 second and comes and goes every 4 seconds. All your allies, enemies, trees, etc... blur and then snap back into focus, while the rest of the terrain isn't blurred, taking you a few moments to re-adjust.
  • Distort the screen with a different degree of field of vision.

Whatever you do, you'll need to have alot of them (at least 20) with variances in potency and exact effect, otherwise players would rapidly adapt to each one.

When reading the title of this thread, the first tongue-in-cheek thought that came into my mind is: "We could break the leg of the real player instead of the avatar." Posted Image
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#8 NaturalNines   Members   -  Reputation: 335


Posted 26 October 2012 - 02:45 PM

Rearrangment of skills on hotbar for a small period of time

Absolutely not. Nothing worse than disturbing immersion, in my book. Though there may be a way to utilize this without disturbing immersion depending on the specific system, I suppose.

Inversing controls (move left by pressing right)for a small period of time

This one I like a lot. Secret of Mana had confusion spells that would reverse your directional control when hit by them. At first it was crippling, but you could adapt and navigate just fine during that period after you were hit by the spell a few times. I like this idea because it doesn't ruin immersion, but it forces the player to adapt to small shifts in the game. Expands the mind.

Generally I think it's a great idea. If you make it part of the gameplay then the player shouldn't feel cheated; it's just another obstacle/challenge the player must overcome to excell at the game.
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#9 lithos   Members   -  Reputation: 414


Posted 26 October 2012 - 05:54 PM

Iron Realm games have an effect call Aeon which delays actions by .5 seconds. Very useful since it allows for some interesting combinations.

Another effect is swapping the text of one ability with something else.

Giving the player false knowledge. Particularly deadly as you could confuse the AI someone was running to help with the game.

#10 Telcontar   Members   -  Reputation: 1020


Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:05 PM

There was a game called Eternal Darkness that had an element like this. It was a Lovecraft-inspired horror game, and when the character lost too much sanity it would start to do some very creative things, like flashing the "Connection with Controller Lost" screen, or sinking the PC into the floor as if the game was glitched.

These were great moments because they were unexpected. Thus, I think it would be great to include these sort of effects as "randoms" which might take place more rarely than the normal effects.

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#11 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1672


Posted 26 October 2012 - 11:52 PM

DaveTroyer's right Hideo Kojima is the king of blurring the lines between an in game experience and a player's experience.

*Spoilers below* The battle with Pscho Manits in Metal Gear Solid actually read the memory card on the Play Station this boss battle involved Mantis making comments about the games the player had made saves for, required the player use another controller and pretended to change the video input on the tv by momentarily going to a blue screen and displaying a familiar green "Hideo" in the top right corner. These mechanics made for a great boss battle.

A reflection of the player's choices represents that the game designer(you) are interested in the players, this conversation is important in any art, but like so many game design ideas it doesn't mean it will be fun. Build and test! Its the only way to be sure.

#12 AlanSmithee   Members   -  Reputation: 1692


Posted 27 October 2012 - 06:54 AM

Hi again.

Sevant of the Lord - Thanks for that extensive list of ideas!
About the blindlness, I was actually reffering to the World of Warcraft rouge blind spell that would cause a character to randomly walk around for a few seconds rather then the kind of blindness a flash in Counter Strike would cause the player to only see a fading white screen. That kind of blindness fits perfectly to what im looking for.

As a mather of fact, I can see from a lot of answers that I'm not exposed to enough video games. I don't have time between uni, work and dev to actually play and i don't own any console. Maybe I need to re-prioritize :P

NaturalNines - Yeah, I guess I agree with you. The original "ideas" was just a bit of brainstorming. Maybe locking out some abilitys could be done, but that wouldn't really affect the player directly.. Need to think some more on it maybe.
Tight controls and expected results from hitting a certain key are extremely important to the gameplay and the feel of the game.
I do want a challange that is hard because of the game elements and aspects and not one that is hard becaus of the shitty controls (even though QWOP managed to get successfull with it (how people can play that game for more then 2 seconds is beyond me btw))

lithos - So the affect would allow you to stack actions that would then be released after .5 seconds? That sounds more like a buff then a hindrance, but would make for some interesting possibilities.

Telcontar - Right I've actually watched some let's play of that game.
As far as visual affects go that is awesome. What I have in mind though are effects that the player need to react too in some way or another. All though visual affects are one way of doing that. Again back to the Counterstrike flash - if you're flashed you need to hide or you'll prob die.

Mratthew - lol so you actually had to buy a second controller? ;)
I'm just kidding, that sounds really interesting. might be hard to create the same affects in a PvP enviroment since it could unbalance battles depending on what content each of the players involved have played through (and will eb affected by in the battle)

Thanks for all the ideas. I guess some of what I'm thinking of have already been done successfully in some games. I think it would be really interesting to incorporate affects like these in a PvP enviroment to further increase the involvement of the player, diversity of battle and skillrequirements. I get the fealing that battle in arena-like play (MMO's, MOBA's, arena games etc) have become rather stagnant so fresh ideas are needed to keep the genre going. Something like this might be a nice injection.

I'm thinking of maybe doing some prototyping.
If anyone has the time I'd be greatful if you could tell me waht you think would work best as far as affects go.
What im looking for are affects that the player has to react too in a physcial or mental way.
Keywords would be: Reaction, Strategy, Foresight, Confusion, Fun, Challanging.

Thanks again guys! =)

#13 Tobl   Members   -  Reputation: 364


Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:55 AM


actually it's even far more common than this thread suggests, here is a pretty extensive list of examples. (TVtropes disclaimer: do not open this link unless you're willing to lose several days in a single wiki).
Since there's already been so many examples concerning visual feedback and controls, how about a little sound-screw? Of course this requires you to have somewhat meaningful audio to begin with, but then there are quite a few nice possibilities (and they are a little less-known than most of the above). for example:
  • all the wonderful things ServantoftheLord suggested for health-bar and damage indicators can also be done with audible indicators (groaning when you take damage, LoZ's low-health beeping noise)
  • switching stereo-channels.
  • footsteps/breathing/monster-sounds behind the player (extra-evil since it can train players to ignore those, resulting in them being attacked by monsters from behind even after the condition has worn off)
  • The swapping allies-enemies could be split into two: one only swaps the appearances, the other only the sound effects. So even if the player knows he's being affected by a condition, he still doesn't know whether he should trust the visual or the audible indicators.
  • Also, one not-audio suggestion: if the conditions can have different "levels", how about adding not only swapping left-right controls, but also the much harder 90°-turn (WASD -> DWAS)

Hope those where somewhat useful,


Edited by Tobl, 27 October 2012 - 09:18 AM.

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#14 lithos   Members   -  Reputation: 414


Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:08 PM

To explain how Aeon was used you need to realize that iron realms combat is based on status effect afliction. Essentially your goal is to lock down the abilities of a player, and eventually their ability to heal afflictions. Essentially disabling a left arm would mean you couldn't apply poultices or use your shield, leaving openings in your defense for harder to hit abilities and similar. In most cases you're fighting for the ability to continue action/healing rather than keeping your health up and theirs down.

When you are under the effect of Aeon it meant that any action you took happened .5 seconds later(IE instant abilities took .5 seconds, slow abilities took +.5 seconds but a little different because you didn't actually "cast" until the delay was done). So you could choose to do actions now, that you wouldn't be able to do in the future due to say your left arm being hurt. Essentially the enemy gets his normal intuition along with a pace advantage.

Edited by lithos, 27 October 2012 - 04:10 PM.

#15 Zouflain   Members   -  Reputation: 548


Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:36 AM

The worst design decision a company can make is frustrating players. I say do not make mechanics that are intended to be frustrating, especially if they are able to be exploited by other players. It's one thing to be challenging, it's something else entirely to be frustrating. In the online world, this gets amped up because griefing is such a series issue in games, and you would be amazed at how far people will go to make other player's lives miserable. Don't give them the tools to make it easy.

If you want a high skill cap, include combinatorial and timing based effects, not control interference. Give players situational tools and lots of high reward/consequence choices, but don't interfere with control. In general, a game should do what I tell it to do when I tell it to do it and nothing else. I personally play pvp games almost exclusively and really enjoy games with very high skill caps. One major influence over how I and my friends judge a pvp game's quality is the standard of control (responsive? intuitive? comfortable?). I abhor games that use control interference, however, and have a near zero tolerance policy for them. Removing control from a player isn't encouraging skill, it's just making the game feel like you aren't in control and therefore should be looking for a better game.

#16 Exodus111   Members   -  Reputation: 148


Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:31 PM

There are a lot of lazer beams to avoid here. We want to create a unique and memorable effect with set in-game reprecussions, by affecting the player out of game.

The obvious example is the much used Blind effect from a alot of FPSes, this was also used in the MMO Darkfall, basically painting the screen white for a few seconds.
Another suggestion I like is inverting the keyboard directional keys, I dont know where this is from but I seem to remember another game doing this, forcing me to learn how to move with inverted keys.

In both these examples the effect will apply more to someone not used to the game, as a veteran will find ways around his issues quicker, unlike strict In-game CC effects.

But thats ok, in fact its a positive as it adds more fun to the player in learning how to deal with these unusual effects.

And thats the line, going over it will bother the player and u dont want that. Like rearranging the buttons on his hotbar, that sounds like a terrible idea.


#17 AlanSmithee   Members   -  Reputation: 1692


Posted 05 November 2012 - 12:22 PM

Hi guys.

Thanks for your input guyes and sorry for the late reply, been a busy week.

Defenatley some good advice in here, I will try to keep as much as possible of it in mind when doing this!

/ AS

#18 Burrowing Owl   Members   -  Reputation: 119


Posted 05 November 2012 - 05:30 PM

While I was reading your post I was thinking of Metal Gear Solid and was happy that someone already mentioned it.
The idea, as interesting as it is, is a real nuisance to play through. As much as I would like to state all the fun things about this idea, I will focus on the bad. That's all that matters when giving feedback anyways hahaha!

The first problem that I find with this concept is the all-mighty 4th wall. When I play a game, I want to be submerged into it; especially in MMOs, I want to become my character. However, when hazards affect the player, it's like a slap back to reality.
Second, punishing the player might not be very "fun" for them.

So if you plan on doing this, you really have to make sure that you aren't punishing the players too much.

Edited by Burrowing Owl, 05 November 2012 - 05:31 PM.

#19 dtg108   Members   -  Reputation: 394


Posted 06 November 2012 - 05:45 PM

If you think about it, this could be done realistically in an FPS, especially in multiplayer. Therefore, instead of rewarding your player for dying so many times (COD), you could punish him. For a realistic approach, you could make your gun jam or overheat for the first few seconds of your respawn, or like you said, you could have inverted controls. I think this would work great for a MP FPS.

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