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Merging Simulation and 'Social' Gameplay?


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#1 Archbishop   Members   -  Reputation: 255

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 11:05 AM

Hello everyone!

I'm currently in the design phases for a new project of mine and I'm trying to narrow down the design issues of the game before I begin diving in to the specifics of the project. I'm not sure if I have two ideas that simply refuse to mesh with one another, two audiences that refuse to mesh with one another, or I'm just not seeing the ever obvious solution to the problem. I'll begin by describing the game portion of things, and then how I want to present it to the players. The latter part is where I'm having problems making my dream fit in to reality.

I'll mark my questions in bold italics as I type, since I have a lot on my mind in regards to this project.

The Core Gameplay

The game itself is designed to be one of many tycoon games, much like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Zoo Tycoon, where the player's goal is to generally run a successful business under area / time / technology / any number of constraints. Customers come and visit their establishment, and it is the player's job to make sure that their place is well staffed, well equipped for the job, and can keep the customers happy so that they spend money. Lots of money. 

Unlike many other Tycoon games, what I want to focus on though is not only managing the business itself, but having a 'realistic' simulation of the environment as well. To clarify, unlike say, Roller Coaster Tycoon there isn't a whole lot of simulation in regards to the customers. They walk around, they get hungry and find food, they interact with your creepy mascots. In mine, you are running a sports business of sorts. So I can go in to more detail, let's assume my game you are running a Basketball Recreational Center. Your customers have not only the ability to play a realistic game of basketball (Forget the difficulties in coding such a thing, it could be theoretically trivial as a tic-tac-toe game center or something like that), but are all capable of playing the games in different ways. A taller player naturally has some advantage over a short opponent, and vise versa. More importantly though, is a focus I want on persistence in the world. 

Customers exist in the world, and when they leave the center, they do not 'un-exist'. Sure, they may not be there, but it does not mean they won't ever return. Perhaps after a couple of visits (Determined on whether they had a good time or not, which will be determined by things like the quality of the courts / pricing / extra services your center provides ) they will become better at basketball and start stomping the newer players in to the dust. Other customers may arrive already a prodigy, or be a complete klutz and never hope to achieve any sense of skill. Games should be, in some sense, entertaining to watch. Players should have a vested interest in their players, and having dynamic interactions between the customers (and perhaps even employees) is how I hope to achieve this. 

Does this personally sound like something that would be appealing to you? If the game was something you'd want to watch (Let's make it any sport for the sake of argument) and had a generally compelling AI, would you enjoy something like this in its currently described form? Maybe there's only one court that you manage along with the staff who deals with bathrooms and concessions and cleaning up seating and everything of that nature?

 

As customers become more and more vested in your business, they would have obvious desires. Some may want to form teams with one another, and with the right services and budget, you can provide a league for these players. A league that you as the player could then follow yourself and have a vested interest in. You can schedule these games, and then watch them play out, seeing how the competitive players perform on your courts, in your business. This is not only another revenue stream from a business perspective, but makes your business more well known. Say the league is finished and one team ruled them all? Why not sponsor that team, give them a name of your own. (Everyone loves making obscenity filled team names don't they?) Sure, they may transform from paying customers to paid employees, but the potential winnings from events they go to, along with the hype of having 'professionals' rise from your center would more than offset their pay (theoretically. That's assuming you don't sponsor a bunch of terrible players or something').

 

Disregarding the scope of such a thing, this is not personally something I've ever seen bar personal simulation games. Is there anything of this nature out there where the game play does not transition, but simply expands in a logical direction like this as you grow as a player both in, and out of game? I know there are lots, but are there any that do this in this particular fashion and does that concept alone appeal to you?

 

The Proverbial Wrench

Now here is where the problems arise for me in planning this project. If this were an entirely single player endeavor, I would have no issues sitting down and begin properly planning how I want to tackle this project. However, that's not the case. There is a lot to be gained from social aspects, but there is also a lot to lose, and I want to get others feelings for it.

I mentioned earlier that customers in your world are persistent and exist. Let's shift focus a bit and say this is a standard restaurant tycoon game for simplicity's sake. We don't eat at the same place every day right? Of course not! We try one place one week, then another later, and eventually settle on a favorite, going there far more often than others. I want this principle to apply to the world as well. I do not want this to be a barring feature for a new player (All customers in the universe love their places, you have no customers, game over before it ever begins!), but rather something to enhance the player experience, especially in regards to players who know one another. Perhaps you and a friend are competing for the most visitors, or to have the best team of players between the two. I'm imagining such a feature being akin to a restaurant having a brochure advertising another 'sister' store up front, or after a customer leaves telling them about it. (Back to basketball, sorry!) John Smith, the best shooter that's ever stepped in to your establishment is told about your friend's place. John then in the near future is introduced to your friend's game, who is stomped by his far superior squad of regulars. What implications this would have I wouldn't be sure. (Would John just stop coming to your rec center because the competition is pathetic? Realistically...maybe. Would that be fun? Probably not. But that's another design decision in and of itself as to how to handle that.)

 

One thing that you might be worrying about is, "Well what happens when you and your buddy Jake get together and your place is way better. No one would go to Jake's place!" This feature would not be designed to 'steal' visitors away from one another,but simply to give them more options, of sorts. If you cater to the exact same audience, then perhaps yes, there will be a little bit of a tug of war between certain guests, but company loyalty would certainly be an aspect of the game. To build on the differences, yes, two basketball courts if they're made of the same material are generally going to be the same, but you're going to want to play in the air conditioning with access to showers and free towels over having none of that, right? Not necessarily! Some customers might like the outdoors, and not care about such extras. Theoretically the outdoor center would be cheaper, and be targeting a different audience. Perhaps you have special short courts that cater to children, or different styles of leagues that players can be a part of. Maybe some of your courts are reserved for 3v3's, while Jake's are 5v5's or whatever else the customers want at any given time. There are, and should be opportunities for two businesses with the same goal to cater to a different audience, something that is simulated by the game.

So tying this all together, would this persistent world of sorts bother you? Let's say it is not forced, and customers can be generated in your own little world, but if you 'connect' you have access to not only viewing other people's creations and work, but being a part of a 'living and breathing' world of customers who simply want to have a good time and have different needs.

 

Real World vs Simulation

My final problem, and this one is a doozy. Tycoon games are typically not run in real time, and I don't plan on having mine function that same way either. However, one thing that I'm not sure how it should be handled is this sense of interactivity between players and the traditional 'sim through everything at 4x speed'. What if a player doesn't care about the games that are being simmed and just wants to make tons of money? Is this not a game for them? Should I try and cater to those players anyways? Is it feasible to please both groups at once?

My true vision for the customer persistence is that everyone's game is in psuedo-real time. Customers are in one person's game at once, and are assigned from a master database. Admittedly, this is not really feasible for a number of reasons. It becomes very hard if a player can simulate at X times speed and pass through days / months / years so much more quickly. Is this actually a problem I should care about in a game like this and a world like this, or am I worried about nothing and the 'player should be able to have fun and do what they want in an interactive environment.' It's no MMO, but I want that Massive, and I want that feeling of 'one world' if I can at all help it. Players can't grind through the quests at 8x speed because they're in a rush and bored.

Is this a problem of perhaps I'm worried players will become bored waiting for games to end? Do you think this can be avoided by giving the players enough to do other than simply working on the courts, then watching players for ever and ever play on them? What if they have a 'perfect' business? Would you simply watch the games and earn money so that you could spend it on, well, nothing besides perhaps some internet fame (or building another 'location') for procuring 10000 professional players in your corporation's life time?

Let's say each Basketball game is 10-20 minutes long, depending on the player's settings, and an in game day is 2 hours long. Few customers arrive early, lots mid day, then a few at night (Depending on lots of stuff of course.) In Roller Coaster Tycoon, you don't have to watch the visitors. You're either thinking about where to put that next coaster, building that next coaster, or watching it a couple of times to make sure it doesn't dump your riders in to the ocean or fall off the tracks. 

 


I apologize by the absolutely massive wall of text there, but I would really really appreciate feedback on some, if not all of the questions I presented there. I might make my own remarks on them over time, but thank you for reading!
 

 



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#2 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6328

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 01:25 PM



So tying this all together, would this persistent world of sorts bother you? Let's say it is not forced, and customers can be generated in your own little world, but if you 'connect' you have access to not only viewing other people's creations and work, but being a part of a 'living and breathing' world of customers who simply want to have a good time and have different needs.

 

Would there be a geographical element to the game? (travelling, etc.)

In this vein, I would imagine that two competing similar businesses could exist if only because a portion of the users wouldn't bother going the distance to the "best" of these places and settle for the closest one... this is a decision a lot of us do on a daily basis smile.png

 

 

 


Is this a problem of perhaps I'm worried players will become bored waiting for games to end? Do you think this can be avoided by giving the players enough to do other than simply working on the courts, then watching players for ever and ever play on them? What if they have a 'perfect' business? Would you simply watch the games and earn money so that you could spend it on, well, nothing besides perhaps some internet fame (or building another 'location') for procuring 10000 professional players in your corporation's life time?

We still watch football don't we? Besides, I've seen fully asynchronous games where you get to play "a turn" once per week, and they still do good.

If your concept is sound, and if you have a subset of users in mind, some will survive these limitations for sure...

If you can make the outcome of matches played uncertain, keep a level of competition, and make it very hard to break ahead, games will remain fun to watch, and will provide entertainment while money comes in.

 

For the rest of the post, I'm affraid that you've been very unclear about the exact nature of your concept, perhaps because even some of it remains unclear to you. I don't come out of this lenghty reading with a precise understanding of what you're trying to achieve, which makes it hard for me to comment efficiently on your questions...

 

My appreciation is that you're currently having "coldfeet" and not making the decisions you should be making. Merging two gameplays? sure. Scare of losing playerbase as a result? there's actually no avoiding this, and if you try to please everyone, your game will suck for everyone. Decide on a persona, a subset of users, and stick to that plan, rather than try to pick up on large ensembles such as casual and simulation players.

Pick "Jonnhy", the guy that works at a software company 50h/week, two kids, a wife, has a 10 years old car parked in the garage, and earn approx 40k$/year. This guys doesn't have much time, but he wants to make the most out of it, but he wants to appreciate his time, so he's probably not going to try min/max your game. If you provide him with a clever experience with some self-expression, he might just as well jump in.

Why this persona? (you could definitely build another). Over the last couple of years, we've focused so much on Soccer-mums, that I don't think soccer-mums have anymore time left to play games. They're so busy on Farmville they can't even raise their kids. Might as well focus on somewhat busy adults with limited gaming time and build an experience suited for them. These guys are having a rough time following up with the amount of time it takes to play games like WoW, and always being far behind.


Edited by Orymus3, 05 July 2013 - 01:30 PM.


#3 Archbishop   Members   -  Reputation: 255

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 02:11 PM

Would there be a geographical element to the game? (travelling, etc.)
In this vein, I would imagine that two competing similar businesses could exist if only because a portion of the users wouldn't bother going the distance to the "best" of these places and settle for the closest one... this is a decision a lot of us do on a daily basis

I had the original idea that a player's physical location would determine their 'in world' location, but the more I think about this idea the more limiting and less fun it sounds. Forcing the player to physically move to a new location to progress in a meaningful way is not only irritating, but seems more targeted for a mobile game...

That was something I forgot to mention ( I know, scope, I know. ) in my previous post about tie ins with mobile devices, but I think I'll leave that for another day and another post.

Back to the topic though. I was more focused on the aspect of having multiple locations of business. Since this is a fantasy world, new locations for players to 'settle' can be spawned at will so that players generally have the option to settle in a similar, but unpopulated location. To avoid frustrations, I think modifying the core of those locations would be a bad idea though. (You move in to a little village. It grows in to a gigantic city and your business flops for whatever reason. Don't want that.) I think dynamically allocating space for players is another problem in and of itself again though, but in my head, I like the sound of it personally.

 

 

We still watch football don't we? Besides, I've seen fully asynchronous games where you get to play "a turn" once per week, and they still do good.

If your concept is sound, and if you have a subset of users in mind, some will survive these limitations for sure...
If you can make the outcome of matches played uncertain, keep a level of competition, and make it very hard to break ahead, games will remain fun to watch, and will provide entertainment while money comes in.

I know I haven't said it, but the random nature is almost a function of the sport I plan to model, so as long as my AI and handling of the simulation is at all accurate in any way, the results should not be predetermined. I think I am worrying about nothing in this regard, and you bring up good points with just 'watching' a game. Granted, how many people sit down and let the CPU play out a game of Madden and watch? I think I've heard of some very specialized leagues that do just that, but that's certainly not the norm. Regardless, hopefully it would be entertaining to watch.

 

 

Over the last couple of years, we've focused so much on Soccer-mums, that I don't think soccer-mums have anymore time left to play games. They're so busy on Farmville they can't even raise their kids. Might as well focus on somewhat busy adults with limited gaming time and build an experience suited for them.

 This is a terribly amusing point. I certainly wasn't targeting my game at that level of casual, but simply more of people who tolerate social-multiplayer aspects in their game. I wasn't imagining forcing you to advertise your business to your friends to progress, but doing so enhances the experience for both you in a tangible way. More so how games with co-op are generally more enjoyable when played with others.
 

 

For the rest of the post, I'm affraid that you've been very unclear about the exact nature of your concept, perhaps because even some of it remains unclear to you. I don't come out of this lenghty reading with a precise understanding of what you're trying to achieve, which makes it hard for me to comment efficiently on your questions...

This unfortunately does not surprise me. The entire time writing my post I could only think about how muddled I was making it out to be. I have a clear picture of what I want in my mind, and I'm still working on making it sane (In scope). I think if I were to sum it up in a single phrase, it would be something akin to Football Tycoon Manager? Football Manager Tycoon? But, just replace Football with another sport. You run the business, you appease the customers, you give them a place to grow and develop their talents. That is effectively phase one. You then grow as well, making deals with good players to promote your business, acting as a host for events, developing leagues, and expand, each location unique (or the same I suppose) to increase your influence and popularity. It's key though that for a 'connected' user, their accomplishments are known, or felt, even if they are in minor and non-detrimental ways. 

For example, say you have a group of customers who you've officially sponsored and have a manager to help them acquire games. They find a game, and you're the home team! Hurrah! On the bus that shows up days later could be someone else's (Another human player) team, that they have built up and developed over time. That other player will experience the exact opposite situation. If there aren't suitable human teams for yours to be playing against, it's a simulation! Generate more players, a team name, and a silly logo or something and ship them to the player. No big deal. The game would have to be intelligent enough to not pitch max-ish stat players up against rookies, but that's a technical problem, not a design one.

Also, simply typing it all out and re-reading it is a very helpful exercise sometimes.


Edited by Archbishop, 05 July 2013 - 02:12 PM.


#4 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1845

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 12:27 AM

ok, massively multi-player sports _venue_ tycoon game ?

 

where the athletes are your "customers" ?

 

doesn't really make sense, but then again, i can't think of a sport like that offhand.

 

i assume you're reticent to name the actual sport in mind cause you don't want to give away your ideas.

 

without an example sport where the athletes are the customers, its hard to imagine and thus evaluate the potential game play.

 

if the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?

 

the%


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#5 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1845

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 12:28 AM

ok, massively multi-player sports _venue_ tycoon game ?

 

where the athletes are your "customers" ?

 

doesn't really make sense, but then again, i can't think of a sport like that offhand.

 

i assume you're reticent to name the actual sport in mind cause you don't want to give away your ideas.

 

without an example sport where the athletes are the customers, its hard to imagine and thus evaluate the potential game play.

 

if the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?

 

the use of the term "player" to refer to both other human players of the game and to the "customer " characters in the game is a little hard to follow.

 

the overall concept sounds interesting. as long as the "games" played at the venue are entertaining, there will be some human players who watch every game. i can spend hours just watching others play NBA2k, single or multi-player, 3 minute quarters. 

 

there will also be those who couldn't care less about the "games" and just want the "games" to end so they can pickup the box office receipts and go shopping for that next improvement.

 

as you said, trying to sync multiple players online who want to run the simulation at different speeds will be tricky. definitely some clever design work called for there.

 

about the only sport i can think of that might be a good example is "boxing gym tycoon". you try to attract the most talented fighters to your gym, host the big fights as opposed to the competition hosting the big fight at their venue across town, etc. etc.  there i suppose the boxers would be "customers", sort of. but they're not paying customers (unless they have a paid membership or something). revenue streams are from the gate purse, IE the spectators, not the boxers. so  i guess that example is no good either. 

 

social aspects can make the game more fun, but social aspects that affect the player's progress will give an advantage / disadvantage to players who like and use those game features over players who don't care for and don't use the social features.  this may be a potential problem area. adding meaningful social features without turning it into a social based game, which you don't seem to want to do.

 

wish you had a better example of a sport where the athletes are the venue's customers. 


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4579

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 01:58 AM

Hmm.  While there are some games that could possibly describes as "social sims" that I would like, I don't think watching people play a sport sounds fun.  Possibly that's just because I don't like sports.  I can imagine it would be more interesting if players were crazy villains building dungeons, and could then send teams of minions to raid other players' dungeons.  But still, I think I'd get bored if I were only watching the minions, not directing them.  I don't play those games where you get a turn a week or anything like that either; I do not have the patience to play games where I have to wait a week for plants to grow or animals to breed, even if I'm actively doing minigames or real-time sim gameplay for the whole intervening week.  So basically, I'd like to make helpful comments here but I'm not in the target audience at all, even though I play both single-player sims/tycoons and online social games/sites.

 

I've played two games where other players' creations could wander into my game and mine could wander into theirs, but in neither case did this feature really add any fun to the game.  Now, taking my character(s) to other people's created settings can be pretty fun.  But as far as NPCs go, I really don't care if they have had any interaction with other players because I don't see it happening, nor is it an interactive process as far as I'm involved.


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.

#7 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1288

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 11:20 AM


Does this personally sound like something that would be appealing to you? If the game was something you'd want to watch (Let's make it any sport for the sake of argument) and had a generally compelling AI, would you enjoy something like this in its currently described form? Maybe there's only one court that you manage along with the staff who deals with bathrooms and concessions and cleaning up seating and everything of that nature?

First of all i don't watch any sports. Now you did write you would make simplified simulation i think ? This could be something that players enjoy watching when they have a lazy day, while they normally only play a short session in which they handle the more important orders, they can now figure out a few more details about the game and how to game it(for example they 'd get a feeling for how much better a longer person is). this is assuming the max range of the gamespeed is (only) 8

I would suggest making the player's company bigger though, you need content to keep players interested.


Disregarding the scope of such a thing, this is not personally something I've ever seen bar personal simulation games. Is there anything of this nature out there where the game play does not transition, but simply expands in a logical direction like this as you grow as a player both in, and out of game? I know there are lots, but are there any that do this in this particular fashion and does that concept alone appeal to you?

It's a very realistic intake on expanding the options of players, and also able to be influenced before becoming available, aka you're already influencing your team before there are enough sports-players to actually form the team.

Although i do like the option, i would not make it mandatory to play the game well.(I 'm assuming there are different companies you can have? and some in some area(town/customer-potential) would be newbie-friendly, something like that ? if so there could be areas (tiny villages) who are just happy to have a sports-centre where the local skilled player could just do his basic-training and take the bus to a bigger city twice/week to attent his games there)


So tying this all together, would this persistent world of sorts bother you? Let's say it is not forced, and customers can be generated in your own little world, but if you 'connect' you have access to not only viewing other people's creations and work, but being a part of a 'living and breathing' world of customers who simply want to have a good time and have different needs.

 

It wouldnt bother me, i m thinking something about balance, but i suspect the difficulty-rating won't be realy high anyway and this specific feature(sharing customers)  doesn't sound overpowered(off course, if, for example, there are no limits to how many customers you can get from friends, the game would become unbalanced, but that would be a mistake on balancing/fine-tuning the game)

 


What if a player doesn't care about the games that are being simmed and just wants to make tons of money? Is this not a game for them? Should I try and cater to those players anyways? Is it feasible to please both groups at once?

both groups(what is this first group, btw?) are stereotypes, most players will fall into both groups simultaneously, though not all in the same ratio.

So yes, cater them both, make sure the player who makes a lot of money can't buy up the other guy's town or something, and make sure there are much more interested goals in the game then to make a shitload of money.


Is this a problem of perhaps I'm worried players will become bored waiting for games to end? Do you think this can be avoided by giving the players enough to do other than simply working on the courts, then watching players for ever and ever play on them? What if they have a 'perfect' business? Would you simply watch the games and earn money so that you could spend it on, well, nothing besides perhaps some internet fame (or building another 'location') for procuring 10000 professional players in your corporation's life time?

Are there different corporations available ? If so how many may a player control ?(this is also a good tool to allow a player him/herself to dictate how much time he/she wishes to invest in the game.

How skilled must a (game)player be to pick out the correct potential high skilled (sports)player? are there multiple settings for difficulty and other things?

To keep a player interested you need to give him/her enough content, with different settings  you multiply the available content.



#8 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1845

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 12:00 PM


I don't think watching people play a sport sounds fun.

 

yes, this is the riskiest part of the design.

 

games are interactive entertainment, not passive entertainment. 

 

a game where you spend significant time not interacting, just passively watching could get old. but the randomly generated nature of the games may keep it interesting. its not like you're watch the same "mount horse" animation in Oblivion for the thousandth time.

 

if the player can do stuff while a game is being played, that's one thing, but just waiting for the game to end? in that case, the game is basically a cut scene. and like any cut scene you should be able to skip it with any mouse click or keypress or ESC at the very least.

 

sort of reminds me of "interactive movies" and the whole sillywood era. a minute or two of simplistic gameplay, then a ten minute cut scene you can't skip. although in this case, the gameplay between cut scenes will be more like your typical Tycoon game apparently.

 

if the player can skip a game, or do other things (IE <whatever>Tycoon gameplay) while the game is playing, no problem. best of both worlds, games for those who want them, and no games for those who don't. but this again touches on the issue of the game's time scale, accelerated time, and keeping multiple players online in sync.

 

one question:

 

can human players online interact with each other in a manner which requires them to be on the same "timeline" ? IE something like a season of play, where the teams must stay on the same game day so they can play each other without one team "moving ahead " in time because that human player runs the sim at high speed and skips game cut scenes? or one human player's team playing an away game at another human player's venue, where the game is displayed to both human players in real time?


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#9 Archbishop   Members   -  Reputation: 255

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 03:42 PM

if the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?
Sorry, I did not want to go in to detail about what 'sport' I was trying to simulate, and in turn, pretty much made it impossible for others to imagine what I had in mind. This is not exact, but the closest thing I can come up with is the player is running a Speedball Arena. (Paintball if you would.) There can be multiple areas that can hold a game each at a time, each the same, or potentially serving different purposes (Attack & Defend, Deathmatch, whatever)

Players will be paying to use the field, borrow equipment, membership fees for services, things of that nature, while expecting the owners (The player) to cater to their needs, make sure the playing area is fun and interesting, and offer them a pleasant experience for a reasonable price.

If the athletes are the customers, what about the spectators? are they paying customers too?
Unfortunately in the real world, the sport I had in mind is probably not truly a spectator sport at all, but there are lots of simulation games of things that aren't necessarily true. (Space Sims, for example) As long as it's believable, it should be okay. This is something that I haven't pinned down as being concrete, but for a realism factor, should certainly exist in some factor. With almost any sport, kids can play as well, and just because the parents bring them there does not mean that they would want to participate as well. This aspect I envisioned being something the player cares about late game, after their customer base is large and already profitable.

The overall concept sounds interesting. as long as the "games" played at the venue are entertaining, there will be some human players who watch every game. I can spend hours just watching others play NBA2k, single or multi-player, 3 minute quarters. 

 There will also be those who couldn't care less about the "games" and just want the "games" to end so they can pickup the box office receipts and go shopping for that next improvement.

This is probably where I worry most, with some players desiring to speed up the game to skip past the simulation aspects and others wanting to play the game at 1x speed the entire time. Not that I have a problem with allowing for increased simulation speed, but it certainly conflicts with the 'real-world' nature of the project that  had in mind. I'm leaning towards dropping that aspect of the game, but keeping the minor social ties. Perhaps my original idea of having true simulations between players might not be feasible without either removing the option for simulated time (Which simply puts artificial waiting periods on the players), or not having the 'realistic' connectivity between games.

 

...have a sports-centre where the local skilled player could just do his basic-training and take the bus to a bigger city twice/week to attend his games there)
This answers a problem I've been having with "Why should the player care about their 'smaller' locations at all once they've set up shop and have a gigantic place with lots of space and business?" The rest of your comment that preceded that though, yes, I was planning on constraints by the population and the physical space the player has available to them to change what kind of business they run in that location.

 

It wouldnt bother me, i m thinking something about balance, but i suspect the difficulty-rating won't be realy high anyway and this specific feature(sharing customers)  doesn't sound overpowered(off course, if, for example, there are no limits to how many customers you can get from friends, the game would become unbalanced, but that would be a mistake on balancing/fine-tuning the game)
The actual numbers could always be tweaked to not ruin player experience in either direction, but I was imagining more that the actual customers who do show up are less random and are more selected from a pool of those who have been referred. (Instead of choosing 100 people out of 10000 to visit, choose 95 out of 9900 and 5 out of the 100 who were at your friend's place.) I definitely wouldn't want that feature to be a detriment to 'friendless' players by starving them of business, nor would I want to make the game a cakewalk for someone new who has friends who've already established themselves in the game.

Archbishop, on 05 Jul 2013 - 1:05 PM, said:
What if a player doesn't care about the games that are being simmed and just wants to make tons of money? Is this not a game for them? Should I try and cater to those players anyways? Is it feasible to please both groups at once?
both groups(what is this first group, btw?) are stereotypes, most players will fall into both groups simultaneously, though not all in the same ratio.
So yes, cater them both, make sure the player who makes a lot of money can't buy up the other guy's town or something, and make sure there are much more interested goals in the game then to make a shitload of money.
In hindsight, I'm not quite sure I was coherent when writing that bit there, that or I can't even figure out what my concerns were now when writing it. I think the fear was more, "What if players get bored?" Perhaps my real question is, what makes a game like Roller Coaster Tycoon so entertaining? In the newest one, you could ride the coaster. That was kind of cool! But in the older games, ones I certainly loved as well, what was it about building coasters (And I was terrible at that) and watching people ride them that was so exciting? It's essentially the same thing is it not? You watch them ride when you make money, occasionally plop down new attractions (Some which you don't even get to mess with, like merry-go-rounds.) and build some paths, hire nameless people and put them in an open field to mow the lawns. Why was that enjoyable? With me having expanded on the type of things a player could do to the game space (Paintball arenas can be arranged in many ways, landscaped, all kinds of neat stuff, different game types can be played, etc etc), is this akin to how the roller coasters are built? Does that seem like a reasonable connection from. "Hey, this coaster I built is really cool! I would ride this, it's the best!" to "This paintball arena is awesome, I would play here." even if you don't play the game or ride coasters?

A game where you spend significant time not interacting, just passively watching could get old. but the randomly generated nature of the games may keep it interesting. its not like you're watch the same "mount horse" animation in Oblivion for the thousandth time.

 If the player can do stuff while a game is being played, that's one thing, but just waiting for the game to end? in that case, the game is basically a cut scene. and like any cut scene you should be able to skip it with any mouse click or keypress or ESC at the very least.

Not to reference RTC for the thousandth time, but that game did such a thing with no fast forward options and did so quite well I believe. 'Watching' the games would be in the same format, where there are other things to do in the mean time. Upgrade existing services you have, set prices, change options about your business, do silly customization things, design the next area for customers to play in, that sort of thing. I had no such intentions of locking the player's view or 'switching the game mode' so to speak on them and forcing them to watch the game. It simply happens while they continue standard play. Who didn't drop what they were doing to watch the coaster they just built go around the tracks one or two or five times, just to see how it was performing for a new crowd?

 

Can human players online interact with each other in a manner which requires them to be on the same "timeline" ? IE something like a season of play, where the teams must stay on the same game day so they can play each other without one team "moving ahead " in time because that human player runs the sim at high speed and skips game cut scenes? or one human player's team playing an away game at another human player's venue, where the game is displayed to both human players in real time?
I briefly talked about removing such a high level of connectivity between players, and I'm still not dead-set on what the solution would be. On one hand, I don't want to punish players for not attending to the game (ala a lot of social games) where crops rot in farm games, or your city falls in to disrepair or something of that nature. Here the equivalent would be you weren't making tons of money, and something changes in the simulation and your business drops even further,and you as a player can not react and return to game failure because you ran out of funds. That's not the kind of game I would like to create. On the other hand, I think that would be really fantastic. I'm going on a mental tangent here, but perhaps it would be interesting to also pull in the map data from the player's businesses. That way, the simulation aspects of it won't be ruined. 
  • Player A and Player B both have teams. Both games 'know' about the other team and the business map. (Ignore technical issues for the moment, although I don't think they're that numerous besides where the data is stored and how it's transferred. Well, kind of big, but whatever.)
  • Player A schedules a tournament to be hosted at his place. His game searches the customer database for some teams, and finds Player B's.
  • Player B's team arrives in Player's A game. Player B's experience is not effected by this at all, other than perhaps a notification of such? "Hey, your team is being used in a network game!"
  • Player A's games sim normally, and everything plays out as normal.
  • Player B is notified that the game has concluded, and has the option of 'watching' the game if they wish, through the power of seeding random number generators. (I believe this would be possible if all customer variables were stored along with separating any other random game logic from the actual sport simulation logic, along with map data as well).

I imagine it could work in the opposite direction as well, using other player's business maps for when your team travels (and having the option to watch the game if you so choose).

I really appreciate all of the feedback. It's been immensely helpful and productive on my end!



#10 powerneg   Members   -  Reputation: 1288

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 06:57 PM


In hindsight, I'm not quite sure I was coherent when writing that bit there, that or I can't even figure out what my concerns were now when writing it. I think the fear was more, "What if players get bored?" Perhaps my real question is, what makes a game like Roller Coaster Tycoon so entertaining? In the newest one, you could ride the coaster. That was kind of cool! But in the older games, ones I certainly loved as well, what was it about building coasters (And I was terrible at that) and watching people ride them that was so exciting? It's essentially the same thing is it not? You watch them ride when you make money, occasionally plop down new attractions (Some which you don't even get to mess with, like merry-go-rounds.) and build some paths, hire nameless people and put them in an open field to mow the lawns. Why was that enjoyable? With me having expanded on the type of things a player could do to the game space (Paintball arenas can be arranged in many ways, landscaped, all kinds of neat stuff, different game types can be played, etc etc), is this akin to how the roller coasters are built? Does that seem like a reasonable connection from. "Hey, this coaster I built is really cool! I would ride this, it's the best!" to "This paintball arena is awesome, I would play here." even if you don't play the game or ride coasters?



To make something, think of it, design it, gather resources for it, build it, manage it, expand it, and then when you're done sit back and watch it semi-automatically do whatever you intended it to do is one of the greatest contents a human can experience.

aka something about creativity ;)



#11 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3009

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 07:28 PM


player should be able to have fun and do what they want in an interactive environment
As a tycoon lover I disagree. That's not why I play tycoon games. I would prefer such game to be focused on, well, being a tycoon :) Which means making money, running a business, etc. Watching NPCs play some games has nothing to do with being a tycoon :)

 

The whole social thing would make sense only if it was connected somehow to they tycoon part. Like, if they play a lot of games they get hot and want to buy more icecream :D So when I see people going to play I should order more of these or put some icecream stand nearby.


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#12 Archbishop   Members   -  Reputation: 255

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 05:55 PM

As a tycoon lover I disagree. That's not why I play tycoon games.
Exactly. I think I'm narrowing down on a solution that could appease players like yourself (Who do not have a vested interest in the actual activities they are providing), and those who

sit back and watch it semi-automatically do whatever you intended it to do is one of the greatest contents a human can experience.

aka something about creativity ;)

do. As much as I would want to force everyone on a specific time scale and have basically 'always connected' features, I don't think that's a feasible goal not only for creating the kind of environment I want for my players, but also considering the fact that I am a single developer working on this project. If I can stay away from live networking, as much as to dive in to really using it would be fun, this is less of a learning project and more of a doing one.

 

In regards to the tycoon aspect, hopefully I did not imply that I was forcing players to watch the activities. Although, in certain aspects, watching them may prove valuable. I hope to have a rather realistic simulation of the games being played, including trying to simulate whether your customers are having a good time or not. For instance, if you organize a game so that it is 1 vs 19 and the one player's respawn point is out in the open, chances are no one is going to have a good time. That single player dies too much, there is no 'tension' in the game (Close scores at any point), and the 19 players are not getting enough 'kills' for them to enjoy themselves either. Watching the games can help you pinpoint these problems (Assuming for whatever reason the data wasn't supplied to the player. Another design decision, but something to think about) and help fix the issue of, "Why are all my customers leaving unhappy and not spending lots of money?"

 

The whole social thing would make sense only if it was connected somehow to they tycoon part. Like, if they play a lot of games they get hot and want to buy more icecream So when I see people going to play I should order more of these or put some icecream stand nearby.
Could you elaborate on this a bit? I'm not quite sure I follow exactly what you mean here. I think at this point the social aspects are slowly wilting away to more of cameo appearances, rather than fundamental portions of the game play. Customers / Teams / Events from other people's games may appear or have effects on your own, but nothing theoretically impossible to just 'have happened' in the real world so to speak. (Basically, the actual influences between games are light, not forced on the player (No more than random events would be), and non-detrimental if they do not participate.)

#13 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3009

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 01:20 PM


The whole social thing would make sense only if it was connected somehow to they tycoon part. Like, if they play a lot of games they get hot and want to buy more icecream So when I see people going to play I should order more of these or put some icecream stand nearby.
Could you elaborate on this a bit? I'm not quite sure I follow exactly what you mean here. I think at this point the social aspects are slowly wilting away to more of cameo appearances, rather than fundamental portions of the game play. Customers / Teams / Events from other people's games may appear or have effects on your own, but nothing theoretically impossible to just 'have happened' in the real world so to speak. (Basically, the actual influences between games are light, not forced on the player (No more than random events would be), and non-detrimental if they do not participate.)

I meant that everything should be tied to tycoon part somehow. If there are flowers, they are there to attract more consumers. If there are cute rabbits, you can sell them for profit. Everything should (ideally) wrap up nicely.


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