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Member Since 19 Apr 2013
Offline Last Active Jul 24 2015 12:32 AM

#5193481 Seven stage game (Needs general feedback)

Posted by JustinS on 18 November 2014 - 12:30 PM

This is a bit each of writing and game design, so I don't really know which to place it under. If the mods move it, that's okay. Basically, I've got the synopsis of a game outlined, and the general design of each stage planned out. So here's what I've got, and I'm hoping just for general feedback.

I'm not going too deep into it, so here's a basic summary. Europe has been through a lot. First in 1984 the USSR rolls through the Fulda gap with more tanks than god and takes the whole place over, then they hold Europe for six years, then in spring of 1990 the USA nukes the place to hell and back and invades, then in winter of 1990 the USSR nukes it right back and just leaves it lost. The USSR undergoes a military coup that prevents it from reclaiming Europe, and is now under a new regime, known as the Socialist Republic of Russia. Later, the USA splits apart into the American Republic and the loyalist United States. All three of these parties are involved in a humanitarian operation is Europe, trying to repair the damage they did, for various reasons. The SRR knows it can strengthen its economy and get the faith of the people doing such a "noble" thing, the USA is being forced to do so by the AR and Japan (the latter forcing them to do this being why they split), and the AR is doing it because it is allied with Japan, which wants the damage repaired, and the EU, which is the damaged party. As well as it was going at first it's slowed down massively now and huge sections of Europe are still unlivable (but no so bad as to be impassible), and that looks like it's going to be the state of things forever.

It is now 2015. The SRR has decided since it didn't do most of the damage, did do most of the clean up work, and has had a stronger presence in central Europe for a while now, it's just going to take Germany from the EU. The EU isn't so fond of that idea, and between them, their Japanese and American Republic allies (the loyalist US stayed out of it and just took it as their cue to duck out of the cleaning) they have decided to show Ivan the door. Most of Germany is now a war zone, on top of being a heavily irradiated pseudo post-apocalyptic wasteland with horrible monsters and extreme weather conditions. And guess where you live.

Player Character:
The player character is a custom character, so here's the only consistent things:
1. They are a child. Their exact age, sex and appearance are all up to the player, but they're a child.
2. They live completely alone, in an old house. It seems likely this was always their home, but what happened to any other inhabitants the house may have had is left to the player's imagination or lack thereof.
3. Their resources are quite substantial, and they have the means to collect more. The food in the house alone would last the itty bitty player months (of course, at their size they don't eat much), and the presence of fresh meat and loaded firearms implies they can hunt. Which is totally a mechanic in the game, by the way.

Your home:
Your house is located in the Black Forest, Germany. The map around your house is one kilometre by one kilometre and is one of very few hand crafted areas in the game. There's a toolshed, a garage with your little dirtbike, a treehouse, slide, swings, monkey bars... If all this is for just one kid you are spoiled rotten, but that may be the case. There's woods out back, and a house a little ways off full of zombies that are likely the source of the meat in your fridge. Don't think too hard on that. Normally, there'd be more outside of this area, but all directions are blocked by snow drifts and it's still snowing.

You can get clothes from your dresser, or if you'd prefer armour there's a tiny motocross outfit in your closet. There's backpacks, coats, weapons of various forms, and of course there's toys. Most notably, a little dirtbike out back just the perfect fit for you.

The Child:
Sometimes, you may spot a child that looks just like you, staring directly at you and non-verbally expressing an emotion associated with the act, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. Their appearance means you completed the hidden objective for that act.

Sometimes, you may spot a figure in the distance. He wears a thick black cloak, has large white angelic wings, gripping a sword, with gall dripping from its tip. He can be seen, staring directly at you, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. His appearance means you failed to complete the hidden objective for that act.

The player wakes up in their bed at 9:00 AM. When you first start off, you have no clothes and no items, so you'll have to collect them from the house as you go. As the loading screen text said, something is different today. It feels... Wrong. Ominous, even. Something bad is going to happen. And indeed, something bad happens. Five times, with increasing severity.
1. First, your player wakes up hungry and thirsty. Easy to take care of, teaches you to handle that part of the game. This actually teaches you that you have needs to manage, how to get food/water, and even shows that crafting (in this case, cooking) is possible.
2. Second, right from the start, a pack of stray dogs comes into their yard and stalk around, attacking the little one if they see them. But hey, more meat for the fridge. Wouldn't want the little one running out would we?
3. Ten minutes after the dogs come through, a stranger, a looter, approaches the house and starts trying to steal the truck. Get them to stop, or let them take the truck. Or just talk to them. They'll reveal they're a father themselves, and while they can't take you in themselves they offer to come back and pick you up later if they can take the truck, and they'll take you to the looter compound where you can get a place to say and don't have to live alone anymore. Sadly, that will never happen.
4. Twenty minutes after the looter comes to steal the truck (thirty minutes from the start of the game), the snow picks up massively and starts snowing you in.
5. Thirty minutes after the snow picks up (an hour from the start of the game) a group of German soldiers come bursting into the house, being chased by Russian soldiers. The gunfight between the two parties becomes really intense really fast, and after a while once all the Russians are dead a roaring noise can be heard coming from the east and getting closer, then passing overhead to the west. The German soldiers panic, running for shelter and scrambling at the snow banks, but never make it over them. A blinding flash erupts over the map and the prologue ends.

While I've changed it so you don't have to make a new file due to any number of deaths later, if you die in the prologue you will still have to completely restart. If you haven't figured out why by the end of this thread, you aren't good at reading subtext.

Act 1:
You wake up in your bed at 10:00 AM, everything looking exactly like the previous day, only the snow drifts to the west are clear. This is the start of the real game. You retain everything you had on you, even though you're in bed. Everything from the previous day is exactly the way it was just before the soldiers arrived, except the western snow drifts are gone and you can now walk west. Heading westward (and up to 45 degrees north or south, from the edges of your square) you pass through procedurally generated areas with randomized events and encounters, as the rest of the game (save act 5's area) will be. In this case, it's all nice, semi-rural areas like your home.

This area represents denial. It's peaceful and all. Enemy encounter rate is pretty low at this point in the game, though it rises the farther out you get. There isn't much of an environmental hazard, you don't get snowed in like yesterday. There's no real danger in this area and nothing special about it. You start this actin perfect health, but every time you die you go back to the last time you rested and start again in worse condition. After five deaths, it's game over and you must completely restart the act, but that's unlikely to actually happen.

This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead west from you, which is pre-built. This square looks exactly like your own home, but everything is destroyed, levelled. Your house, the neighbour's house, the shed and garage, the treehouse, all destroyed and on fire. There is a corpse, a small, burnt corpse, in the middle of it. Approach it, and the act ends. This act's hidden objective is to live out a full day without dying.

You are treated to a cutscene, with the perspective of an unknown object. This object is stored in a dark place, with a loud roaring noise on either side of it. A light suddenly comes from below, and it's falling from a great height, through the clouds. You can now see its target, a house with a garage, a shed, a treehouse, another smaller house a little ways off, a slide and a swing set in the back yard. As it gets close enough for the player to realize that's their house, the scene ends in a bright flash.

Act 2:
You wake up in your bed again at noon, in a cold sweat. You're not feeling so well. They get up, still with anything they had on when they went to bed and everything else (within your kilometre) is where you left it. This time, the eastern snow drifts are the only ones gone. Your only option is, obviously, to head east into more procedurally generated terrain. This time, it's trenches, battlements and military outposts, all destroyed and covered in danger and death.

This act represents anger. It is the most combat-oriented chapter. The environment isn't especially damaging and there's few NPCs to talk to, just the most enemies of any act. There's many more spawn points (but the same spawn chance per point) on each square of the map. If you failed to complete the hidden objective of the previous act, you'll start off just as damaged as if you had died once in the previous chapter and thus only have four lives in this one and an overall harder time. Otherwise, you'll be perfectly fresh.

This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead east of you, also hand-crafted. Here, you'll find a mansion made of bones and a very bizarre man. A very tall, fat man. He wears a suit woven from the flags of the major world powers, wears a monocle with a watermark of the UN emblem, smokes a cigar rolled out of money, and after each puff blows a smoke ring shaped like a mushroom cloud. He drinks blood out of a wine glass, served to him out of a wine bottle by a blind Russian soldier with a bloody rag covering his eyes. Soldiers from China, Korea, the EU, the AR and Japan tend to his mansion. He sits on a "throne" made of similar soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Third World Union and the X Empire, on their hands and knees to support his immense weight. The fat man has his soldiers' eyes decorating his rings. At each side of him sits a vicious attack dog. He introduces himself as "War", and orders his minions to kill you. No matter how the fight goes the chapter ends when either you or he is dead. This act's hidden objective is really straightforward. Win the boss fight with War.

You are treated to another cutscene, the previous one, ending with a jump cut after the flash to before the fight, to your character's perspective on the ground, sitting in the truck with the looter as he drives off south, well away from the house.

Act 3:
You wake up in your bed once more, now at 3:00 PM. You get the drill by now. If you succeeded both of the optional objectives from the last two chapters, you'll be in perfect condition all around. Failed one, you start damaged and effectively have four lives. Fail two, damaged more and effectively have three lives. Easy enough. This time, the south snow drifts are the only ones open. And there's, you guessed it, more procedurally generated terrain. This time, semi-abandoned suburbs.

This act represents bargaining. This is a social act, with lots of NPCs to interact with. Normal enemy rates, normal environmental conditions. Your actions in the prologue have a huge effect on this. If you accepted the looter's offer, he'll show up in the truck and offer you a ride, making it easy to get to the act's destination area. If you talked to him but didn't accept, you'll at least have a note that allows you free, unrestricted entry with no hassle. If you attacked him, you'll have nothing but shame. There are a lot of merchants in this act, especially at the looter compound.

The main objective of this act is to reach the looter compound and get a permanent place to stay there, where it's safer and you aren't alone anymore. This is a breather act, it's really just meant to help you replenish after the previous act. Once that's done, all you have to do is leave the compound and the act ends. When you do, you'll find yourself inexplicably back home, right at the south edge of the home square, staring right at your house. When you turn around, the snow banks are back and you can't return to the looter compound even if you were willing to trek 10km back there. Go to bed, and the act ends. The hidden objective is to meet the family of the looter from earlier.

You are treated to another cutscene, it plays the bit from the previous cutscene where you get a perspective from inside the truck as the looter drives south, but then it jump cuts to your character's perspective as they watch him drive off, alone, leaving them behind.

Act 4:
You wake up in your bed at 7:00 PM and... You get the drill. And you can go north this time. The procedurally generated terrain this time is all barren wasteland, where the occasional bit of shelter is ruined and everything around is dead. Radiation everywhere, driving snow, terrible visibility and cold as a witch's tit in a brass bra in the dead of winter in the Antarctic.

This act represents depression. There's really nothing you can do but go north, and you'll find nothing there. Normal resources, normal enemy count, normal NPC count, but the environment is by far more dangerous than normal. It deals much more cold damage than usual, it even deals a little bit of kinetic damage, it restricts your vision and slows your movement, and it's all slightly radioactive to boot. There's also radioactive patches as you travel that should be avoided lest you irradiate yourself and get sick, and the snow is so thick your dirtbike is basically unusable.

Your main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres north, where once again you find your house destroyed. And this time, the fires are all out, it's irradiated, and all covered in snow. Find the little corpse again, and the act will end when you leave the square. The hidden objective is to die in that square, instead of leaving.

This time, the cutscene shows the bit where you watch the looter drive away, and then you go into the back yard, listen to the roar and stare up at the sky until the flash ends the cutscene.

Act 5:
You already know how this act starts, same as all the others, just at midnight. Only now, there's no open snow drifts. This means you're stuck in your starting area, and nothing is procedurally generated. This act, of course, represents acceptance. This one has a series of objectives, instead of a single one.

1. As soon as you stand, an invisible creature starts moving around downstairs. It's blind, but its other senses are strong and it's of decent strength. It mostly sticks to the kitchen, where it is presently looting your fridge. You will have to sneak past it or fight it in order to exit the house. Once you do exit the house, a number of extremely fast skeletal canines arrive and start searching the premises for you. Fight them or avoid them.
2&3. These two can be done in either order.
Check the front, and you'll see the truck drive off without you again, this time without a driver.
Check the balcony upstairs, find the telescope. Peeking through it will show a figure, distant on the horizon. Azrael. Once you see him, he vanishes if you look away. Turning around will reveal he is right behind you, but when you look he vanishes again. Up in the clouds, there is a disturbance, the clouds vanish and the moon is visible, and he can be seen up there. He doesn't leave this spot, but the light of the moon reflects off of him into a beam revealing all in his gaze, which will summon any enemies in the level to you should you enter it.
4. Check the garage to find your dirtbike gone. At this point, several blind, skeletal soldiers rush into the room. They are all blind and cannot see the player, but will open fire on the player if they do spot them. In the mean time, they're distracted by gunfire from another group of blind, skeletal soldiers in the distance.
5. A child looking just like you is now standing at the top of the ladder to your treehouse. Climb up into the treehouse, and they're gone. But your treehouse now has a door it didn't have before, which swings open as you enter and reveals stairs upwards. Behind you, a winged monster comes flying over the horizon. You don't have long to get through the door, because it's moving very, very fast and ends the act with a flash, killing you and forcing you to restart, if you fail to get through the door in time.
6. Once through the door, it vanishes. You go up, to find yourself in the treehouse again. The room is empty, unguarded. Taking a look outside, you find yourself high in the sky as a small mushroom cloud rises below you. The child waves to you, and walks up the stairs.
7. You exit to find your house on fire. This is the same square as the end of Act 1. Except now, with enemies, all the enemies from earlier in this act, except all revived, on fire and radioactive, with even weaker senses than before. Follow the child into the cellar of your destroyed home, either fighting or avoiding the enemies. Collect the attic key, and come back above. The house is now intact again.
8. The child points behind you, down the stairwell to the basement. Azrael is right there. You have to fight him at this point. The child has vanished, and stays gone until Azrael is defeated or trapped. On defeat or entrapment, he'll explode in a bright flash. When you finally defeat him, the child reappears and shuts the door, just as Azrael has manifested again outside and is about to come back in. Follow the child to your bedroom, where they lay down in your bed. The door closes behind you. Azrael is right outside, but all you can do is lay down.

There is no hidden objective in this act.

After step eleven, the final cutscene plays. The last four end of act cutscene segments play, leading right up to the player staring at the sky and into the flash. A child of about your age and sex narrates each, starting just before the first. "I know you'd like to pretend it never happened. I know what happend to you wasn't fair. I know, you feel like you could have gotten out of it. But you didn't, so if you could doesn't matter now." After the final cutscene ends in a flash, in the smoke that follows, death appears. "I understand why you're afraid." Azrael begins advancing towards the player. "But it's going to happen to everyone." Azrael stops advancing, finding itself outside a window. "It happened to you sooner than it should have, but everybody feels that way. I know it feels like you don't have enough time." Azrael begins prying at the window, sliding it open. "But even if you only have a moment, it's yours and you need to make what you can of it." Azrael freezes in place. "And in the end, maybe you don't have to go with him after all." The screen fades to black. "Not yet, anyway." And on that note, the scene ends.

The player awakens, to find themselves back at home in their bed. All the snow drifts are gone. Otherwise, everything is as it was the first day. You can now head in any direction, go through any procedurally generated sections. The ones previously generated will still be present as they were before, and you can no go as far as you want in any direction. The only thing you can't do is revisit any end of act zones. Neither Azrael nor the child ever appear again. Dying now just brings you back here to wake up again, although as usual you lose any items that were on your person when you die and have to re-acquire them when they respawn in their starting locations. Your condition when you awaken after each death is determined by the number of hidden objectives you completed. You do not start in worse health each time you die during the epilogue. It's a bit more difficult than the main game to keep it interesting, but not too difficult. The whole point is to let the player play around on the map, and make the ending ambiguous.

So, that's it. Feedback?

#5191434 Distinguishing monsters in a psychological landscape.

Posted by JustinS on 05 November 2014 - 05:43 PM

For this post I'll refer to the psychological enemies as "fake enemies". I think that the fake enemies would certainly stand out as different types of enemies at some point. I have two questions which depend on your goals:

  • Should the player be able to tell the difference immediately, e.g. if a real and fake enemy stand next to each other?
  • Is it important that the player figures out quickly that the fake enemies are psychological as opposed to literal monsters/supernatural beings? I know that's not your goal, but some players may initially think this because so many games have such things.

1. No, there should be ambiguity. Ideally, they should figure it out only after the fact, when they're done freaking out about the enemy acting nothing like what they're used to. (They'll likely have played at least an hour before running into one.)

2. Nope. As long as they realize they're not the same, that's enough.

You could also use behavioural differences such as:

  • Limited emotional/behavioural range.
  • Failing to avoid environmental hazards.
  • Lack of pain response.
  • Real enemies don't see fake enemies, and may even walk through them.
  • Fake enemies may appear in areas they couldn't possibly be, e.g. from a previously viewed dead-end.
You could also do visual stuff such as lacking a shadow, bleeding too much/too little, etc.

1. Oh, the "fake" enemies are quite single-minded already. Most of them set out specifically to torment the player in a fresh and exciting way, although some have very distinct and bizarre behaviour patterns that don't involve that, where as "real" ones behave realistically and act in their own self-interests instead of persecuting the player.
2. Oh, that's not an issue with most of them. Environmental hazards are pretty low-key in this game, and these creatures should be able to avoid them just fine. And some, they're outright immune to. (Like weather. Most are completely, 100% totally immune to weather. Even if it's a driving blizzard of glowing blue radioactive snow outside, they're immune.)
3. No, that doesn't fit them very well.
4. "Real" enemies and "fake" enemies don't appear simultaneously. "Fake" enemies only spawn when no "real" enemies are present in the area. (The "area" is the 1x1 kilometre square you are presently in.) And remember, I can easily have it manipulated so "fake" enemies flee or disappear when "real" ones are around so as to make sure they don't cross paths.
5. Already part of it.
6. Some of this is done, some isn't. But the "fake" enemies don't bleed. I thought I said that.

#5191214 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 04 November 2014 - 04:30 PM

I find it seriously depressing that you can actually believe that. That's like saying that I should apply elements of MMORPGs into my single-player game because they both have qualities of "interactivity", so they overlap in some aspects.

#5190989 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 03 November 2014 - 02:49 PM

Why, what would he tell me? Having not played the game I read the brief description of the gameplay on wikipedia.

Worst way to learn about a game known to man.

It sounds to me like the primary experience is repeated trial and error to complete a task (which pretty much is the way games used to be before people decided it was necessary to hold the player's hand from beginning to end).

That's the way a complete idiot plays it. Anyone with half a brain can work everything out as they go without having to try the same thing over and over again. The problem is, Wikipedia is written by idiots. And more over, idiots who just repeat other sources that are frequently idiotic. And moreover, if anybody there did do original research their personality would likely be of the type to do everything by trial and error anyway because thinking about things is not in the nature of somebody with the personality required to be into editing Wikipedia.

Don't get me wrong, I use Wikipedia too, but I would never, EVER turn to them for anything related to art. EVER. Now, if I want to know the atomic number of gold, how many people died at Wounded Knee or the year in which the Beer Hall Putsch happened, then I'd go to Wikipedia. But it is flat-out useless when it comes to art.

The one difference being an additive "punishment" for failure. I can see how this might create a sense of apprehension within the player or a desire to stay alive but because trial and error is expected with errors frequently resulting in death, the player accepts death as part of the game and it stops meaning as much, even if the game does get harder.

You're missing the point.

Your stament was basically "Death involved means the player won't care." I presented an example of where death is part of the process and the players still care. A LOT.

The game certainly sounds difficult but does that directly translate into a player being emotionally invested in the player character and the game world in such a way that at the end of the game the player walks away feeling in some way enriched beyond the satisfaction of completing something difficult?

You have to experience it to understand it. That game uses mechanics as metaphor, in addition to a hefty delivery of lore in little bits and pieces for the player to work out, only occasionally using more direct methods of informing the player. Kinda like exactly what this game is setting out to do.

You're right, I did miss that. Working in presenting stuff for the player to read would be more difficult to do but I stand by my statement that having the player read something is a good way to get into their head.

And I came up with that idea before you. And so did somebody else in this thread. That's why I didn't respond to this suggestion. You know, because I already did in post #6 of this thread.

Also, "sandbox" might not be the right term here. But I'm drawing a blank on the proper term for "open-world game in which you are given little or no direction and have to figure out what to do as you go along". Less "GTA" and more "Minecraft", except more serious. (And with less crafting and a LOT more surrealism.)

If you're knee deep in development already I'd say you have an even greater challenge ahead of you. In my experience as a player, I find that it's even harder to develop an emotional connection to the PC or the environment when you can do anything you want.

That is you, specifically. Most players are the opposite. That's why games like Skyrim have such fervant roleplay and theorist communities, and why the main thing (other than gameplay, of course) people talk about in Skyrim is always either their character or the lore.

If you're still in the early planning stages I still suggest sitting down with a good writer, particularly one that has had experience with the sort of psychological drama that you're intending to create. If nothing else maybe you get some inspiration for things to include in your game.

I *am* the writer.

Not to burst your bubble or anything but as soon as the first person completes your game the secret will be out on the internet anyways. You should try to rely on your game's presentation, not the twist.

1. Anybody who gives a damn about the plot (you know, the ones I care about) is also smart enough that they won't want to spoil themselves.
2. There's a good chance that a good number of the smart people (you know, the ones I care about) would be finding out about the game from a thread I make on this site. If somebody reads this thread or another of mine, I don't want to spoil it for them.
3. The first people completing the game with all hidden objectives will be completionists. Those kinds of people can do things like play through every possible pathway of Dark Souls and totally miss the game's deep lore, strong atmosphere AND philosophical undercurrents. (A very impressive level of obliviousness, let me tell you.) They won't understand what's going on well enough to spoil it for anybody else, because they simply don't care about anything other than the trophy enough to think about it. It'll be a while before the game is spoiled, and as an indie game plenty of the people playing it will be doing so totally blind even by that point.

#5190936 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 03 November 2014 - 11:29 AM

I think that when a player finds himself playing a game where PC death is an expected, regular, or normal then the player is likely to detach himself emotionally from the character. With the lack of connection to the PC the player then asks the question, "so what the heck is it that I'm expected to do here?" If the player thinks that the answer is, "you are expected to die," and the player accepts this, I think it's going to be difficult to invoke emotions within the player because he's already seen through what's going on.

This is completely off-base. Ask a fan of Dark Souls about that.

Further, death here is a huge problem for the player. They are expected to (and HAVE to, to accomplish anything) avoid death much longer than in most other games and dying has very harsh penalties associated with it. Every time you die, you lose everything you had on you at the time and start off missing 20% more of your health, making everything by far harder. Then to top it off, there are five hidden goals in the game that must be achieved in sequence, and those are going to get harder to accomplish every time you die. The game is about as forgiving about death as a stand-up gig at the Nuremburg trials. Death is still something to be avoided in-game as long as possible. The goal isn't to die, that's completely backwards. The goal is to live as long as possible. And that is so much not what's going on that it seems insane to suggest it.

In any case I think the single greatest mechanic that you have available to try and achieve what you're aiming for is simply providing text for the player to read. By reading something, a person is pulling another person's ideas and thoughts into their own head. Assuming that the reader feels compelled to follow you all the way through the experience you intend for him, you'll have formed a connection that is different than the one you can get by only exposing him to sights, sounds, and events. Combine all those things in the right way might give you the sort of result that you're looking for. In any case, I think you're going to need a really good writer for this one.

Reading this I rather strongly suspect you missed that this was a sandbox game. With heavy Roguelike elements. Kinda changes the tools I have to work with.

#5190871 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 03 November 2014 - 04:01 AM

I simply wished to comment that you appear to be seeking to impose the stages of grief upon the player.

Bingo. But have you figured out why the player character is grieving? Because I think that part inparticular is interesting.

This is an interesting concept that I've played with before. However, it is important to note that the 'five stages' Kubler-Ross model has drawn some very valid criticism. Most importantly, not all people experience the same stages nor is the order necessarily consistent. Furthermore, it is quite possible to move back and forth between stages, rather than progress in a linear manner.

I am aware. In fact, that's an issue with *ALL* psychology. It's really not a science, much less an exact one.

This doesn't invalidate presenting the stages sequentially, but it does raise some problems for any attempt to impart those same emotional states onto the player, as the player may react differently to the events of the game than would be predicted by the model. As general recommendations, I would recommend attempting to impart the stages vicariously, rather than by, or in concert with, observation of the character's emotions or by emotive techniques such as music.

I'mma go with "in concert with". I've seen that done before, and it was considerably more successful than doing either alone.

For example... Do you remember Majora's Mask? That game presented the five stages of grief, and was fairly successful doing that alone. Now, for a different example, look at Spec Ops: The Line. That game both presented the stages of grief and created circumstances to specifically evoke each stage, and it hit quite a bit harder despite its shorter length and ham-handedness.

People react very differently to the emotional state of others than they do to direct emotional stimula. As noted, we also cannot necessarily predict a player's reactions to direct emotional stimuli, at least with respect to complex reactions such as the 'stages of grief.' So, I propose two possible solutions. Firstly, attempt to engender in the player a direct connection with the character or, secondly, break down the stages of grief into their components.
People react differently to emotional stimuli because they process that stimuli in different ways. They have different thought processes, memories and learned behaviours that they use in processing stimuli and formulating both an emotional and practical response. One way to overcome these differences is to attempt to standardise them by providing the player direct insight into the character's "emotional pipeline." If you can convey to the player the reasoning behind the character's response, and the factors being considered in concert, then the player will have a lens through which they can respond, and very closely empathise with the character. This can be done using a variety of reasonably simple techniques. Cutscenes and flashbacks, for their flaws, allow the player to construct a narrative and emotional context. Techniques can be more subtle, such as flashed imagery, voice over, momentary audio cues or even as simple as demonstrating changes in expression in response to stimuli. Text, diegetic or otherwise, can be quite effective.
The alternate approach is to break down the response you wish to illicit into its components. Bargaining, for example, requires the player to have accepted the fact of an imminent problem. The player must be emotionally motivated to avoid the consequences of that problem. However, the player must maintain a (tenuous) illusion that this fate is avoidable. In short, the three primary requirements are a belief that, in this case, death is imminent; some frustration at the failure of efforts to change the course of the game; and a belief that there remains some option to pursue. This last point might have significant game-play implications. By attempting to construct the response you desire, rather than provoke it, you can once again somewhat bypass the differences between people. I believe that game-play will have a much larger role in this approach, as the stages of grief require a perceived degradation of agency.
Anyway, my apologies for such a long post with only a handful of actual (obvious) techniques. I hope that it might be somewhat helpful.

Okay, I'm going to respond to each technique individually here.

1. Cutscenes don't really work in a game where so much of the gameplay is randomized and the player is given a sandbox and no direction. (The lack of direction is intentional. For starters, feeling lost or confused is a big part of grieving, and for another, it fits the set-up, especially the part I'm not telling you, perfectly.)
2. Flashbacks, on the other hand, can easily be done. Making the game take and use screenshots and (if possible) recordings of previous events on the player could simulate this effect pretty well.
3. Flashed imagery indeed is something I've considered. I've considered simulating the effects of the player being haunted by things they've seen by taking a screenshot of it, and flashing that screenshot in front of them for a single frame, with high transparency, at choice moments. If you've ever had an unwanted image stuck in your head and started seeing it when you closed your eyes, you know what this looks like.
4. Most of the game's text, all of it outside the menu, is diegetic. Many of them, all using the same font, are from the... Nevermind. Spoilers.
5. Bargaining is a good example.
A. In this case, at least from a gameplay perspective, the imminent death of the player is a combination of a dangerous environment, apparent persecution, an inability to escape, and ever-increasing difficulty. The environment is a dangerous wasteland with a war raging in the background, they appear to be persecuted in that the war follows them wherever they go and there's an entity that frequently appears before it does, they can't escape because no matter how far they travel it never gets less dangerous and instead just gets more and more surreal with distance, and the game gets more difficult each day, every life cycle, every kilometre you travel outside of the central area (which you have to eventually) and every kilometre you presently are from it. All the while the more difficult the game gets the more surreal it becomes. And, of course, healing in this game is very slow and limited so getting worn down is quite likely. To top all that off, the game never ends, and if they die they wake up in the snow again, back where and how they started, having lost all their items but otherwise themselves and the world the same as when they died... Mostly. I'll go into differences later in this post.

B. The player, to do anything in this game, has to stay alive. Naturally, this means getting good at the game and its mechanics. But of course, no matter how they try they'll die eventually, the only thing they'll do is make it take longer. Which may well become their goal in the end: Just survive as long as possible. Eventually, that won't be enough, as after enough deaths their character is erased. Their new goal might become to make their limited lives last as long as possible, but that's ultimately just postponing the inevitable as well. In fact, there's no way to stop it, all you're doing is buying time and making the blow softer when it does come.

Be sure to design the mechanics of the game around what you want the player to feel. If you want them to feel a sense of desperation, you should only give them minimal supplies they needs to search. It should feel like they are about to run out of food/health/ammo before finding something that gives them more. By your games description, it doesn't look like you will have ammo but just replace that with something that will be part of your game.

What do you mean it doesn't look like you'll have ammo? There's ammo. Not much of it, but there's ammo. As for the whole thing here overall, yes, the resources are scarce and don't get any less scarce as the game continues. (And they don't respawn, forcing the player to explore new areas or else run out completely.)

As another example, if you want the player to feel powerless, don't give them a weapon.

1. This doesn't fit the game's design or mechanics at all.
2. I don't want them feeling powerless, at least not at first. The inevitable and unavoidable nature of their death will be quite enough to deliver that feeling when it needs to be delivered.

In a game, the mechanics are just as important as art and music in delivering a specific experience.

I am aware. The concept is mechanics as metaphor, I've actually mentioned it on this site before, though not in this thread.

I am trying to think of a mechanic that conveys unexcapable haunting memories. The best I can think of is something similar to a random encounter in an rpg but it takes place in the players imagination. Each encounter leaves you weaker than before, grinding down on the player.

Not quite. There's a couple ways this is done here.
1. The "stuck image" effect I mentioned to Nathan above.
2. A hidden meter measuring the player's trauma that isn't reset on death and steadily makes things worse for them by adding in interface screws such as the above and special encounters such as monsters that look like dead NPCs and increasing the frequency/severity of such things as it increases. Has no cap, and stacks with the other effects to make the game even more surreal as it progresses.

Also, be sure to communicate clearly when they player is making progress.

Except that ambiguity is a big part of the game design, and progress is relative.

If dying in the game is expected and is part of the progression the player should feel like they have made progress when they die.

It's no secret at this point the five stages of grief are the main point of the game. And the funny thing about grief, is that feeling stuck or trapped is part of it. Not feeling like they've made progress (at least, at first) helps enforce the emotional tone of the game. That's why death happens the way it does, and they find themselves waking up again where they started. But that said, things are definitely off from how they were before. Each time they do so, the game subtly changes tone, the figure that proceeds war appears now closer and closer to them when they're laying there (vanishes when they get up), they wake up to find the snow is now stained with more and more blood and they start off with less health until they eventually start off dead and get the game's only cutscene before their character is erased.

In order to guide the player through the different emotional states you could have something different happen everytime they die. This could even be something simple as some dialogue or text that appears after each death. Another idea is to have the world change slightly after each death to try and direct what the player should do.

Totally a part of it.

Again, the important thing is that the player should feel like they are progressing through the game otherwise they will get frustrated and stop playing.

That totally isn't. But there is one thing they'll find that will help. They'll discover things they can do in the game, totally hidden things, that will slow down their progress towards death and change how the final (and only) cutscene plays out. These are each harder to do that the last, they'll always complete at least one (it's just to live out a life cycle) and eventually they'll manage all five and get the game's best ending. Their character is still erased in the end, but it'll be less painful by then. And that's the whole point of the game. (Again, gold star if you can figure out why.)

#5190792 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 02 November 2014 - 04:37 PM

You start out as a child?  Great.
You start out naked?  That's fine.
You start out as a naked child?  Umm... this makes me uncomfortable, and not in a good way.  I may not be alone in this.

There's a big difference between being naked and being nude. You are naked, not nude. You are provided enough coverage that it shouldn't be an issue. Even if you were nude, it would be censored. Of course, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that HUMANS can take such issue with the HUMAN body, so this really shouldn't be an issue anyway. Especially since it's not like it does anybody any harm, and thus nobody has any right to object to it, much less censor it. But whatever. I've already decided to bend to this arbitrary societal bullshit here because my only reason not to is to fight against censorship and in this case I just don't have enough energy. I doubt anybody with an age in the double digits has enough energy. The kid has undergarments, despite that not making any sense for the set-up, for no other reason but to shut people up. Now nothing more about this, please.


Anyway, if there's any music of visual element in this game, you can convey mood with both.  From more traditional music, to more environmental work.  You can also experiment with lighting and colors to convey what they should be feeling.

There will most certainly be music. I'm doing the music, so that was the first thing I thought of, actually. And as for lighting and colours, I can use filters to simulate that but because so much of this game is procedurally generated I can't tailor the environment to fit the mood and lighting is part of the environment.

#5190778 Player character emotion.

Posted by JustinS on 02 November 2014 - 02:35 PM

Basically, I want some ideas on how to do a couple things. I already have some of my own, but I'm just trying to get more. Also, gold star to whoever can figure out what this game is *really* about. (Don't bother checking my previous posts. I've never gone into what's really going on in this game before.) If you happen to figure it out, or think you have, please don't say anything here in the thread. Send it by PM, so you don't spoil it for everyone else.

General notes.
A: The player creates their character, but a few things remain the same. The first of these is that they're a child.
B: The second is that they have no friends or family, at least not that they have any access to. They are completely alone when the game starts. More specifically, they're alone, laying face-down in the snow by a ruined house, and they start with nothing, not even clothing.
C: The third is that as an added bonus, they can't forget, much less ignore, the horrible things happening around them the way a normal person does and all of it comes back to haunt them no matter how hard they try to block it out. And they are going to see some horrible, horrible shit.
D: The fourth is that in this game, death is permanent and unavoidable. You will die eventually. There's no escape and no hope for you. The only goal is to survive as long as you can. And then there's the hidden goal, which is to come to terms with that. Once they come to terms with their demise, they might begin to see what the game is really about, and why things are so surreal. And then the hard part begins.

Now, for what I want to do, I need to convey the emotional state of a semi-silent protagonist to the player. The player character is a semi-silent protagonist in the sense that their lines of dialogue to other characters are chosen by the player and are not voiced. They do vocalize, but the player never hears them speak. Vocalizations are okay, and manipulating their dialogue to other characters is okay, and I've already thought of both so don't suggest them.

I also want to manipulate the player's own emotional state to more closely match that of their character. Making the character's emotion clear is a part of this, but I think more than that is required. Once the player's emotional state is in line with the character's, I need the game to recognize it and guide it to the next stage.

The player will undoubtedly start off ignorant of the game's true meaning. To them, they're just waking up in the snow by a ruined house, and they likely don't understand anything more than this. Then, I want to subtly begin cluing them in to what's really going on. Their first death will likely accomplish this. And I want to doubt it, ignore it and avoid it. Denial. Then, I want them to throw a fit. This is the simplest part of the process. Anger. Then, I want them to try and find a way out of it. Try and escape, find a safe place, hold out, something along those lines. Bargaining. Then, when that fails no matter how they try, I want them to break down. This phase is the most vital to understanding the main point of the game, but also the most likely stumbling block in the way of that understanding. Depression. And lastly, I want them to come to terms with it and move on. Acceptance. They can realize the true meaning of this game at any point in the process and the process should continue on anyway, with only the reasoning behind it changing. The process will also work just fine if they never figure it out, but it WILL NOT if they already know when they enter. Which is why I'm so big on keeping it a secret.

And that's it. That's what I want to do and as little information as I think I can afford to give (don't want to spoil it, after all) and still have enough for others to provide helpful tips. (I could be wrong, but if it isn't enough information I can always give more, and I can't take information back once I've given it out.) Just keep in mind there is a lot to this game I haven't told anybody and a lot I hope I don't have to.

#5183998 Making a shot harder to pull off.

Posted by JustinS on 30 September 2014 - 01:43 AM

You mention stories about amazing feats people accomplish while mortally wounded. There are stories (true or not) of say, mothers lifting cars off of children after accidents... this is the exception, not the normal "Realistic" result.  The same applies to everything else, the stories you mention are so incredible because they are so unusual.

Except they're not. Even being shot in the head, with no adjustment for the number of times, the location, the available medical attention (or lack thereof), 10% of victims survive. And if I have to explain that being shot in the head is considerably deadlier than being shot in the chest, I am going to rip my hair out.

Also, I never said every gun shot was deadly either, I said it makes things much more complicated. Walking/moving on a leg that just got shot is similiar to attempting to walk on a leg that just got broken.

Uh, no it isn't. It does impair you, but not NEARLY as much as a broken bone. When you add on being presently oblivious to pain you might not even notice the injury and indeed many people don't, even after the bullet rips open their femoral artery and mortally wounds them. And you know what? The game already handles that just fine.

Attempting to fire with an arm with a gun shot is definitey going to effect your aim, these disadvantages are what get you killed, I was under the impression that you wanted gun fights to be more survivable, it wasn't particularly clear that you simply wanted to make the player take longer to die. It's possible, but your not going to be doing jumping jacks or sprinting to cover.

Except, once again, it's totally frequent to keep going with a gunshot wound. But, of course, no matter how many examples I give, even if I got a list of a couple dozen and sang them to the tune of Turkey in the Straw, you'd just call them all isolated cases and ignore their very existence as if it doesn't impact your argument.

Getting hit in the chest while wearing a vest will still knock you down,

Physics says you're full of shit. Specifically, Newton's third law of motion. NO firearm can ever have enough force to knock somebody down, or the user would be knocked down when they fired it, even assuming perfect efficiency which is far from being the case.

take your wind and possibly break some ribs.

Nope. Not enough force for that. Unless you're arguing the bullet does MORE while wearing armour, because having taken bullets I can tell you it's not what you think. When I was 12, I was shot in the head once and the back twice. I'm not going into circumstances there, I could have avoided that but the guy is still a complete monster. I made it to school the next day, with those wounds. I didn't even notice the two wounds in my back, just the head wound. And with those injuries, I ran from the scene and arrived at a friend's house, then I don't remember anything until about 8:00 the next day when I woke up to find myself late to school and for some reason that seemed really important to me at the time. On another instance... Well, I don't really know. I came home one day when I was about six thinking I had a nasty leg cramp, then I got home and my grandmother pointed to my leg and I realized I had a bleeding hole in my thigh. A HUGE bleeding hole in my thigh. And to be honest, I don't really know what happened there, but I'm pretty sure it was a gunshot wound. I don't think I was ever shot *at*, I think it was a stray bullet, but it happened.

My best friend was also shot on two occasions... Well, one and an edge case. The edge case he was shot at a whole bunch with a shotgun (while running away) when he was 8, and despite hundreds of tiny birdshot pellets hitting him not one penetrated his coat or jeans. He didn't realize he'd been hit at all until he was at home and realized his clothes were in tatters. The more serious time he was 10, and he was shot twice in the back while sitting in a park flirting with a girl.

Also, if you got hit, you must not have been in good enough cover... who ever is shooting at you now has a much easier target.

Nonsense. Bullets go through objects just fine, you can get hit through a lot of "cover". And potentially from a distance where they have no idea they hit anything, and where you might not have even been the target.

Here, you explicitly state that you think a hit in the heart is the problem EVEN THOUGH it doesn't always kill you instantly... indicating that any other fatal shot that has similiar results (i.e death) would be an issue.  You say in your game it should be "rare for a single gunshot wound to kill you", but without the right kind of attention it is not "rare" for a single round to the chest to kill a person.[/background]
 A statistic from www.trama.org:
"For penetrating thoracic injury the survival rate is fairly uniform at 18-33%, with stab wounds having a far greater chance of survival than gunshot wounds."   http://www.trauma.org/archive/thoracic/EDTrationale.html

1. Quit with the formatting changes, it's really obnoxious when I'm trying to reply to it.
2. "Most people shot" does not mean "most people shot in the chest". Most people shot get hit in the abdomen. I know it's strange, but it's true. Gutshots account for more trauma than chest and head shots combined, and with guns it's more than all other gunshot wounds combined. And gut shots have a low fatality rate since the advent of antibiotics, because the density of blood vessels is fairly low and the organs themselves, while required, can be easily operated upon and their function won't be a pressing issue for quite a while after you're shot.
3. This does not adjust for the number of shots.
4. This also does not adjust for medical attention, patient health, or other factors.

The fact that you would prefer a gun shot wound to take a long time to kill you, would generally lead someone to believe that you would attempt to give the player options they could take to avoid getting killed after being shot...

Which I DO, for most injuries. You have plenty of medical implements and an entire skill devoted to medicine. And if you're any good at it, a single gunshot wound IS unlikely to kill you in most locations. Especially in co-op, as having somebody else use medical implements on you is generally more effective than using them on yourself.

not many game designers look for ways to make more of the time players are playing their game have no "winning moves".

And I'm not. You can usually save your own life with the medicine skill, and having somebody else do it gives you even better chances.

You then say "many enemies in the game also use guns"...enemies that use guns tend to be humanoid... and if guns are common it generally leads one to believe that gun fights will be common.

Not really. Many NPCs in the game are technically "enemies" in the sense that you can kill them for gain and they are dangerous to the player, but fighting them *at all* is generally considered a bad mood and anything you can do to avoid the fight is probably the better option. Three good examples:
1. You might be confronted by a looter yelling at you for getting too close to a ruined house and brandishing a weapon and calling you a "claim jumper". Leave and they won't shoot.
2. A firefight between two of the armies in the area might erupt, posing a massive danger to everyone and everything around them. Get the hell away from that before it kills you.
3. A cult of dumb-all-over religious loonies starts screaming at you over a bullhorn. Run like hell, you've got about ten seconds before they break out the heavy machine guns and "defend the holy land" from a "heathen invader" like you... A little lost refugee picking through the busted car on the exterior for baked beans.

If gun fights are to be common then the player seems to be expected to be able to survive gun fights commonly. In order to answer this game "realistically" as you seem to have wanted we can only fall upon knowledge of other instances where there are many enemies often carrying guns in real life... which oddly enough is a pretty good description of a war.

You are seriously spinning this as hard as you can, aren't you? There's a war in the background the player never fights in. That is not enough to be a war game.

I did actually realize that my first post, while I had hoped to be helpful didn't actually address the issue concerning the difficulties of aiming... which is precisely why I added the second post which dealt exclusively with the many variables that affect accuracy. I do actually have experience with weapons, I was combat ops in Iraq for two separate years. I have been trained on the maintenance and use of an array weapons... granted I was a General Issue Joe and not the super star spec ops... I still feel the super human abilities your ascribing to the spec ops guys sounds more like holly wood fantasy then the "do what works" reality.

You don't know what you're talking about, and military experience doesn't change that. All military experience by itself says is you're a shitty person; the rest of your sentence just confirms it when you brag about being part of the US military screwing the pooch so hard the pooch had to lock itself in the bathroom for an hour with a tube of soothing cream. That says nothing about any knowledge you may have, believe it or not, and if you've never been shot in the line of duty you can't even use that, even assuming that you actually did serve in the military because that's a VERY common lie. And the truth of the matter is that special forces ARE trained to shoot exclusively for the heart. And so were you. When they told you to aim centre mass, what did you think was the intended target? The only difference is between being way better marksmen than you and being much closer to their targets when they fire, special forces actually hit the heart pretty consistently and regular infantry don't.

You should try to control your temper. It's rude to treat people trying to help you the way you do.

And finally, the first thing you've said that is actually true. At least, with people I believe are actually trying to help, regardless of whether they're succeeding or not. I guess I should cut you some slack, you're certainly better than this dumbass:

Give everyone just 1 HP then smile.png

See this asinine statement? See this blissful denial of reality? It's like he's completely insane and proud of it. Either he really thinks getting hit once anywhere with anything is instantly fatal or he's trolling me from behind that smiley face and either way I want to smack him.

Also note that aiming for the heart is an idiocy from the realism point of view as well. If you have a gun you don't try to hit the heart, just the person smile.png Three random bullets in stomach are statisticly equally good as one well aimed bullet in the heart (unless they are a vampire biggrin.png).

And this confirms it. See this? This shows a complete lack of knowledge in the area as people can take gutshots all damned day and only die from it after the fact. Intestinal trauma is one step up from muscle damage, it results in only somewhat more blood loss and doesn't really matter much until it gets infected. (Though when it does, DAMN but it gets nasty.) Most of the time, when somebody lives through multiple gunshot wounds it's because none of the wounds were in the chest or head and it's actually better to get shot multiple times through the stomach or intestines than a single time through a lung. There's a reason why ALL instructors for the military, police AND civilian self-defence courses tell you to aim for the chest and fire until your weapon is empty. But this guy doesn't know and doesn't care. It's like he's proud of his ignorance.

Well Paragon, you're a lot better than he is, at least. But then, I'm not sure that's saying anything.

Also Acharis, please, whatever you do, never breed.

#5183940 Making a shot harder to pull off.

Posted by JustinS on 29 September 2014 - 08:56 PM

Okay, this is try FOUR to respond. This stupid fucking site keeps kicking me back to the previous page and erasing ALL OF MY FUCKING DATA because nobody was smart enough to install an auto-save feature into this fucking thing. I am NOT taking the time to respond to ANYTHING in here at-length, because this PIECE OF SHIT is guaranteed to delete EVERYTHING if I take even half an hour to type this, so I am going to be very, very terse. Especially since Sturgeon's law is proving quite true here with how many times in this people put words in my mouth, or ignore my statements so they can make assumptions I have already refuted.

You can't make your weapons that realistically damaging and expect to have the same exciting, run-and-gun fights you see in a lot of FPS games.

I never said this. This is the exact opposite of my goals for this game, quit putting words into my mouth.

Most gun fights are either extremely one sided (and over in a matter of seconds),

No, Christopher Nolan, they're not. Guns don't make people fall over like ragdolls dead on the spot, they just punch agood old-fashioned hole in them. Gunshot wounds are just regular wounds, they're NOT indowed with the magical killing power people keep injecting them with.

or extremely long and drawn out, with both sides behind cover waiting for the other guys to run out of ammo, or for the artillery to come down, or for reinforcements to flank them... etc.

On a battlefield, sure. In a real civilian gunfight, both parties open fire while taking cover, then have a prolonged standoff periodically exchanging fire between trying to do damage control on their wounds, trying not to get any more, and trying to kill the other guy. All largely incompatible goals, so some are always botched to succeed on the others if any are succeeded on at all. They are equally likely to end either with one party dead and the other wounded, both parties dead or both parties wounded. The only factor that changes that is body armour.

Or at least it did, with how much the police force has been militarized now in my home country, I doubt it'll stay that way.

I'd say that if you want to keep that level of detail in how weapons work, you need to re-evalutate the pace of the game and the quantity of the enemies to a point where getting shot (pretty much at all) is expected to end the game.

Bullshit, no I don't. The game is slow-paced already, because it's a SURVIVAL GAME. And you clearly have NO IDEA HOW GUNS WORK if you think getting shot "pretty much at all" is fatal. MOST PEOPLE WHO GET SHOT SURVIVE.

If you are keeping the DOT that makes you bleed out from getting shot in the heart, are you also making it so that getting shot in the leg makes it so hard to concentrate that you pretty much entirely lose all your accuracy? Getting hit in the body armor your wearing stuns you b/c you've had the wind knocked out of you and without someone to drag you off behind cover makes you easy pickings?

1. You bleed from wounds everywhere, in the heart it just bleeds really fast and never stops.
2. Pain is meaningless in a fight. One of the primary roles of adrenalin is to inhibit nociception. This is supposed to be common knowledge. You DO NOT FEEL PAIN in a fight, and it's incredibly likely to fail to notice serious, even fatal, injuries. Franz Ferdinand, for a good historical example, was shot in the carotid artery and only ever noticed his wife Sophie's heart wound, dying minutes later without ever realising he had been shot. His last words were "It's nothing. It's nothing."
3. A bullet that doesn't penetrate body armour doesn't do much damage at all, and it certainly isn't incapacitating. It would be painful, if you could FEEL pain in combat, but you can't so it isn't. Even a rifle doesn't do much if it can't penetrate armour, and it's only really rifles that are even considerable when they are stopped by armour. You clearly do not understand what a firearm is. It's not the magic death-ray blaster you're imagining. It's a launching device meant to activate tiny deflagrant charges and help them get tiny bits of metal moving really fast to put holes in what you point it at.

Also, it seems that accuracy in your game is not realistic enough if it is that easy to hit the heart every time. A good marksmen might be able to reliably hit a target the size of the heart at a reasonable distance (changes depending on type of gun) from a stable position on a stationary target, but that will only be true for say... the first shot against a sleeping target or something.

I NEVER said it was easy. For a new player, a heart wound might be too hard for them. But with practice a player will be able to hit it, say, maybe 1/3 of the time. That's too good.

And in real life, there are people who are very good at shooting other people through the heart to the point where it's part of what they do for a living. We call them "special forces", and there are so many of them in the world it's impossible to call them "flukes", or "isolated incidences". In particular, the main combat philosophy for the Spetsnaz can be summarized as "If you think you've shot their heart too much, you haven't shot it enough."

So, to it seems to me that this is an issue where one mechanic has a level or realism that is out of place with the rest of the mechanics.

Only if you have some serious misgivings about the meaning of the word "realistic".

This pretty much echos my opinion.  If you're making heart shots death shots, and if they are easy to hit, then you probably have an accuracy issue.  FPS can get away with simplified hitscan weapons that are crazy accurate, I suspect your game would not.

Would be valid, if only I had said it was "easy". All I said was that it was easier than it should be, as in, it should be harder. That in way implies it is actually easy. I also already said the guns don't hold still, aren't perfectly accurate, the bullets take time to travel, slow down and drop. 

But then again, this could be all worrying over nothing, I think this may be a case of premature optimization, at least for enemies being hit by heart shots.

Maybe it is.

For the player, you may end up wanting a completely different damage model, as it's hard to say without knowing your game, but I suspect that being sometimes instantly killed by enemies and sometimes not will probably not end up being very much fun.

It is very much not instant. Even shot through the heart the player has the better part of a minute to watch themselves die. A minute, to stumble on in disbelief, then realize where they're hit as they fire a few furious final shots at the enemy, crashing to their knees as they desperately try to stop the bleeding only to end up slipping into shock and realize there's nothing they can do to stop it and then shake it off, sigh and return to the menu to start a new game when their character finally dies.

Which, on inspection, actually really fits the emotional tone of the game REALLY well. I've seen somebody go through all five stages of grief in minutes playing a game before, I did it myself like four times playing Spec-Ops: The Line, it's a beautiful thing both to see and experience, and I'd love to see it here. So... Maybe it's okay if it happens on occasion when the player screws up. There's a lesson in it, something to learn. Call it a very painful learning experience.

You know, I think I'll just make a few AI changes to make this only happen to the PC on rare occasion as a result of player stupidity. Or even rarer on freak accident, say, a stray bullet from a firefight they're running away from, between two sides they aren't involved in and don't care about, manages to go and catch them right in their little civilian heart, because that too fits the main theme of the game.

(The war in this game looms over the horizon like a great, horrible beast, growling and bearing its teeth at the helpless little civilian it'll one day rip apart, no matter how they run, how they hide or how they fight. It's like the monster in a horror game, except there's no way to escape alive because this game doesn't stop until you're dead, and when you die it's over forever and you lose everything. The game's ending screen even tells them nobody will ever remember they existed, and the savages in uniform had forgotten all about killing them by the next day.)

Likewise, I'm not convinced that it's going to prove as easy to achieve heart-shots as you're evaluating it to be, for most players, at least, and if it does prove that easy, then there may well be a disconnect between the level of realism in your damage simulation and the level of realism in your gunplay simulation.

I never once said it was easy. Not ONCE. I said it was easier than it should be for balance, that's it. That in no way implies it is actually easy. Not addressing this again. 

I have to seriously agree with Paragon123 here. With the level of realism you are attributing to hitting an enemy AT ALL, you can't expect it to be "difficult" to kill a person on the battlefield (because modern guns are quite simply highly effective killing tools).


2. There is an ENORMOUS difference between killing somebody and killing them quickly. A single decent-sized gunshot wound to the chest, or even a small one to the head, should be fatal if given time. Neither of those is quick, however. It can take hours to die from a gunshot wound, if the bleeding isn't enough to kill you directly (as it usually isn't, if you die at all because even THAT is less likely than surviving) you can take hours to die from shock, it's possible to spend days in a hospital on life support dying slowly from shock. The thing about the heart is death from a heartwound is always fairly quick, it's extraordinary for it to take even ten minutes, and there's not a damned thing anybody can do about it, and it's big enough to be possible to precise enough to hit.

One limitation you can put on players spamming shots to the abdomen (which is the origin of your balancing issue) is to drastically limit the ammo available to them in comparison to the quantity of enemy troops.


2. If you get into a firefight in this game, it's probably a totally avoidable fight with a looter trying to scare you away from his claim and thoroughly underestimating the kind of crazy he's dealing with. (Only a PC would look at the pissed-off twenty-something standing in front of a ruined house, firing a shotgun into the air and screaming about how this is "his claim" and how he has "kids to feed" and then decide for themselves "You know, I think I want to pick a fight with that guy. I think he'll be a real push-over.")

3. Where in the Sam hill did you get the idea that spamming shots on the abdomen was the issue, when I have spent the entire time talking about heart shots and the heart is in the CHEST?

If they run out of ammo, they would have to acquire new ammo from a corpse, possibly even an enemy corpse, which means approaching the enemy directly without ammo / an effective defense. This is a risk that players will want to avoid, therefore they will be careful with their aiming in order to conserve ammo.

Does not solve the issue. Especially since this is NOT A WAR GAME.

CoD Tried to make aiming more realistic... and in theory I think the idea is sound... but in their implementation i don't think it really works. When not looking down the scope they have a small circle, and this represents how "off center" your shot ends up.... when you look down the scope the circle gets smaller until it's a pin point. Shooting or moving widens the circle again. The ability to 'no-scope' sniper head shots is pretty decent proof that they must have gotten it very,  very wrong (or the players must be cheating).
 It requires knowing how the circle actually relates to the shot though to determine how well this actually models realistic aiming. In any case, the way i would do it is something like..
 Instead of a circle, it would be more of a cone... of course the cone can be represented by a circle (who knows, perhaps this is what they are doing).
 Choose a distance the circle will represent. When a player fires their weapon, choose a random point on the circle, favoring the out side of the circle the smaller the distance. the vector the round will follow will originate from the end of the weapons barrel and pass through this point. So the random point chosen represents the angle offset of the rounds vector rather than the end point offset of the rounds impact. (I.E if the aiming circle represents a 25' cone and you are firing at something 40' away you likely won't even hit anything within the circle). If they player is not in a stable position (Prone for rifles, firmly planted in place for handguns) the circle will move erratically (even in a stable position the circle will move in predictable patterns due to breathing, muscle control, etc). If the trigger isn't pulled directly back, the circle will move upward slightly before the round can even exit the barrel (this could be represented by a characters familiarity with the weapon... you will only be able to pull the trigger directly back if you know the weapon well enough to know how much pressure it takes to release the hammer) Then, when the hammer hits it will push the circle back down (unless you are familiar enough with the weapon to compensate). Being unfamiliar with the weapon and over compensating either action will cause the circle to move in the opposite direction slightly. Also, right handed shooters tend to pull the barrel to the right and left-handed to the left. 
 In addition, the round will start dropping noticeably even within a weapons "maximum effective range" and you don't need to be firing at a target half a mile away with a sniper rifle for a cross wind to be the difference between a hit and a miss... even an shooter firing an assault rifle at a target 200 meters out may find they need to adjust for wind. For example, if you are trying to pass your marksmen test with an m4 with a wind blowing left to right you want to aim near the left shoulder to make sure you hit somewhere in the torso area. 
If you watch a marksmen competition they will take their own good time to aim... at 15-30 seconds min... and after ever trigger pull you have to start over... if you are just pulling the trigger as fast as you can you might as well be firing from the hip. Plus, the "circle" doesn't gradually decrease in circumfrence... you start aiming, it all snaps together and you pull the trigger... if you miss that window things tend to go blurry and you have to start over, its tough to keep your eye that focused and your muscles that still for much longer than an instant.
All that being said, I've never been a particularly good shot myself... I just know everything people kept telling me every time I missed smile.png
Oh, and I know i can't stop talking... but generally the larger the caliber of round, the less important the accuracy of the sights... rifles being the weapon where the sights are most likely to be accurate, as generally each person zeroes their own sights... and the quality of the weapon/sights determines how much wear a weapon can take before the sights start getting out of whack and need to be zeroed at a range again... and here familiarity with the weapon helps a shooter maintain accuracy as the sights start needing adjusting.

None of this rambling mess applies to my game at all.

Oh.. and also, in line with what facehead1992 said, a hand gun doesn't have "30 rounds" it has two magazines of 15 rounds each.. meaning, shooting three times then reloading leaves you with 15 rounds, not 27.  Stealing ammo only works if they are using a weapon with a compatible magazine.

1. I am totally aware of this AND taking it into account.

2. This has nothing to do with the topic.

That's your core problem smile.png You know, you don't have to implement it if you don't want to (I know, I keep forgeting it myself too). Simply don't simulate heart maybe?

Realism is a priority with me. I want accurate real-world knowledge and player logic to be applicable to the game. So I DO have to include the heart. Especially since it makes players stop idiotically aiming for the head. (Aiming for the head in a real fight is a good way to get yourself killed without hitting your target once.)

I would echo what people have said about expecting realistic results (frequent death) if you do a realistic simulation. Having said that, better body armour would reduce the chances of instant death. Or have the effects of a shot be a bit variable, e.g. the bullet ricocheted off a rib. Or limit the amount of ammo that has that direct punching power, favour ammo that fragments and doesn't penetrate deeply.

Realism!=Instant death bullets.

Realism==Gunshot wounds causing body damage and organ trauma, impairment resulting from such injury, followed by heavy bleeding and possibly death from exsanguination minutes later, death from shock hours later or death from infection days later.

As for the rest of this, there's no ammo you're going to find for a rifle, and very little you're going to find for a pistol, that will fail to penetrate deep enough to reach the heart. At best, I can argue that the sternum might stop a hollow-point pistol round and the spine might stop a regular pistol round and include some kind of DR/DD multiplier for those regions. In fact, I'll totally do that. That and some minor AI changes to make it unlikely to happen unless the player picks a fight with somebody they should be leaving the hell alone or ends up collateral damage in the war.

#5180917 Can you identify the themes of these games?

Posted by JustinS on 17 September 2014 - 12:08 AM

I think I could make a strong argument here that your version of humanity still comes across as having a clear self-destructive instinct. Thanatos would probably be the appropriate Freudian term. But, part of the reason I want to say that is just that it breaks my suspension of disbelief to consider human factions to be as stupid as you are painting them. It would take colossally bad luck to have the decision-making people in all factions be willing to waste resources continuing to attack each other once it's clear that their own survival is a desperate priority (around the quarantine dome stage).

Yes, but that's all war is. War is humanity hurting itself. Every time a war happens, it's bad for humanity. And yet, they still do it. All the time. Why? Because they believe it benefits them, and they care foremost for themselves above all others. The US is particularly guilty, real world and in-universe, and it's just a fact of life. But that doesn't make it a self-destructive impulse. They're not intentionally harming themselves, they likely don't see how their actions harm them (just how others' actions harm them) and they likely believe (accurately) that if they stopped they would be reducing their own odds of survival by letting their enemies survive. They are also likely assuming (also accurately) that their enemies will continue to attack them even if they stop.

Ahh, now I see where a big difference is.  My interpretation was that based on their shown track record humans would inevitably exterminate themselves; I was expecting the fact that a few made it to the new planet would be a pyrrhic victory.  Why?  Because the problem all along has been human nature, and they haven't been transformed into post-humans, they haven't (implausibly) learned some big lesson that changes human culture to be no longer self-destructive.

Except now they've ditched the adults, and with them ditched the warring factions that were the reason for their abhorrent actions. With no warring factions and plenty of distance between eachother they can't fight eachother anymore... Probably. Maybe. Don't quote me on that.

In fact the problem behavior has clearly followed them to their new planet(s) because of the sabotage resulting in the failed ship landing.

Last curse of a dying world, don't give them the satisfaction of being remembered.

And in any situation where there are only children trying to survive in a harsh environment, you're going to have high casualties and basically a Lord of the Flies situation.

Not really. Kids are quite capable, certainly many times more capable than they're given credit for, and these kids are more capable than most. And besides, with how bad of a job the adults were doing, they really can't botch it any worse.

I figured that would be part of the third game, I was imagining it would be something like Warcraft III (or a lower graphics version, as indie projects generally are).

Nope. All these games are controlled from a 1st/3rd person perspective, with standard mouselook controls. (Or gamepad controls, if you really want.) You control individual characters, the rest are AI but you can give them tasks and goals and the AI is going to be quite competent, and you can switch between characters at will. The kids would have been perfectly safe if they had all their resources, but of course the ship lands in the ocean (for safety, normally, that's how spaceships land), the crash breaches a sabotaged door, ship's sinking. Gotta get out, don't have any time. Well, shit, now we don't have any items at all now and have to actually do some wilderness survival in our wilderness survival game. Well, damn.

You do imply that at the ending of the third game there will be basically the absolute minimum situation for human survival.

Let me give you a quick debating tip. See, I see what you're doing here. You want to make the case that the civilization will ultimately fail, and in order for that claim to be valid you've chosen to back it up by saying the minimum would be unlikely to survive, except that only works if it really is the minimum, so you need a way to make that the only possibility. So you put those words in my mouth, pretend I said it. The problem is, I know what I said and I never said that. So here's how that's going to go, the whole counter-argument to "You do imply that at the ending of the third game there will be basically the absolute minimum situation for human survival."

No I don't.

See, simple? And that's why you don't put words in people's mouths, it doesn't work.

Absolute minimum situations like that, IME, are extremely fragile and much more likely to fail in the future than to build back up to a global human civilization.

Yeah, sure, if it wasn't for the win condition not being a bare minimum because I never said anything like that, instead being absolutely overwhelming. It isn't enough to keep the foothold for now, or for a while, it's enough to keep the foothold full stop. That's enough that it is quite unlikely that, barring some massive and unforseen cataclysm like an asteroid impact or the storm of the century, they will be displaced in the forseeable future. If you hit that final goal, you haven't been seriously threatened in the short term for quite a long time. The game makes you get a good enough foothold you can be reasonably sure your little ones will survive.

#5180606 Can you identify the themes of these games?

Posted by JustinS on 15 September 2014 - 08:55 PM



I keep wanting to comment on this thread, cause I'm very interested in themes as related to design.  But... I can't think of a comment on this particular series concept that doesn't start with "wow that's depressing". blink.png

Then make this comment that starts with "wow that's depressing".


Well, I don't want to say anything insulting or impolite, and I don't know exactly where the line would be.  I was speculating to myself about whether depressing concepts are correlated to unhappy team members.  Do grumpy people choose negative concepts to work on or do negative concepts cause people working on them to become depressed or grumpy?  Both, neither?  It's only speculation, because as a person who has always disliked horror and tragedy I've never understood what motivates people to create or admire works of horror or tragedy.  My personal feeling is kind of stuck at "Why on earth would anyone want to write or develop the theme, 'Humanity constantly sabotages itself, which is unforgivable, and in this context even the strong survival and rebirth drive of humanity becomes disgusting, and even children don't deserve any kind of happiness.'?"



Alright, see, this is 10000% your failing. Let me run through why.


1. You can't look deep enough into horror to see what a good horror is really about. Any good horror is there to explore a concept or fear, not just to scare the viewer. When done right, it finds a way to discuss the fear in question indirectly and provoke thought on the topic in the viewer. They allow the artist to express their opinions and talk about the subject indirectly, and THAT is what people value.

2. Nothing here qualifies as a tragedy, but even if it did a tragedy is valued for exploring emotion and exploring the minds of the characters, as these inevitably end up being the primary draw of any good tragedy. They also carry morals, and cautionary tales, just like horror does, and when done right these are abundantly clear.

3. You not only completely misinterpret the story at work here, you do so massively in a way directly contradicting stated facts AFTER I've explained it. Let me elaborate.

A. Not only did I never say humanity's self-sabotaging actions were unforgivable, I said they were quite understandable under the circumstances. And the way the actions of the second game are described strongly supports this, as the positive motivation of the factions are emphasized quite a bit.

B. There is absolutely NO basis, AT ALL, for the entire rest of the sentence. All of this is 100% directly contradictory with the material you are supposedly pulling this garbage from. This interpretation is as insane as if you read a newscast that said it was going to be 120 F outside and reading that as "freezing cold, so much so that even ECW gear won't save you and and the world is an impassible ball of ice".

4. You completely ignored that I went into what the themes and morals of this story were, at length, apparently content to ignore everything right up to the title of the thread you were reading in order to claim horror is without value. But then, with an obvious idealist like yourself, completely ignoring everything about everything that ever was in order to claim your pre-existing conclusions and biases are completely accurate and without flaw isn't that terribly rare.

#5180237 My teams all hate eachother.

Posted by JustinS on 14 September 2014 - 08:12 AM

So... It's my fault then, for being socially inept? Well, I can't say I disagree with you. I'm going to take some time to think about the suggestions given and keep them in mind next time around.


They're semi-unpaid. They're working for a share, which will be nothing if a game isn't made, plus $1000 each guaranteed pay upon completion. But no, they're not getting paid until the game is up on Steam. Of course, they won't let me use their resources now that they've left, not even concept art, so I have to completely restart. And I just figured the pay checks and shares were sufficient motivation, myself. Maybe that's a problem, I don't know.

#5162922 Making a weapon feel powerful.

Posted by JustinS on 25 June 2014 - 10:22 PM


Okay. Now I'm pissed. Why do people assume every game with guns is automatically another fucking CoD clone? I'm really sick of this shit. Just because this game has guns does NOT mean it's another copy+paste ludicrously unrealistic, proudly jingoistic, blatantly racist hallway simulator with NO self-awareness for violent, paranoid, right-wing shut-ins with no capacity for higher reasoning. QUIT making that assumption. This is NOT a "modern shooter". This is a SURVIVAL game. I have SAID THIS already. I will NOT say it again.


I may have misjudged of the technical term for your game's genre, but at no point did I call it a Cod clone. I think its fine to have an opinion of a genre, but honestly you're being rude to other developers (that are here to help you out). I wasn't trying to upset you with this post, I honestly thought with the level of experience you have about weaponry it made sense for you to focus on a game where simulating weaponry is the focus, that's generally a modern shooter, no judgement of the genre either way. 


Given the survival genre of the game, you could explore giving the weapon a less weathered look then the other weapons. Where most the weapons (assuming they're found among the ruin of a post tragic event) would have signs of wear and might not fire as clean or true (bent ironsites, etc), this weapon could be less worn(believably) and fire just the way the player would expect it to. Or to be brief, you could believably gimp other weapons in the interest of this weapons focus. Good luck with the survival game.



Okay, I snapped, and I apologize. I've gotten the "every game with a gun is Call of Duty" thing so many times I'm getting jumpy about it.


As for the focus of the game being on the weapons, that's not entirely true. This thread is about the weapons, but the game's focus is mostly on the characters' bodies, and most of the game rules deal with their status. A living body is a tremendously complicated thing. A lot of things change how it works, usually negatively, a lot of things are required for it to work and a lot of conditions affect how it works. It rarely stops working all at once, tends to go on for quite a while before it stops working, and a lot can be done to keep it working before it stops entirely. It's quite an ordeal to even understand how all of this happens, and to translate most of it into a game with any accuracy takes a lot of effort, so since keeping one working is the main point of the game it has to take most of the attention if it's to be handled with any degree of realism. 


The only issue with gimping other weapons is most people don't really understand it, and the practical effect can be really strong. But making the weapon look to be in better condition in areas that don't really affect its in-game use (like making the wood less rough, and metal less rusty) is a good enough idea. The weapons are already balanced practically, I just need to make them feel balanced.

#5162333 Making a weapon feel powerful.

Posted by JustinS on 23 June 2014 - 08:40 AM

Okay, so it seems like you are making a simulation game (okay, survival game) where you want the guns to be realistic. However you want to distort the actual power of a gun so that it "feels" more powerful than a gun that perhaps is more powerful?

Yet, in real life, each gun is going to feel like it feels. The only option then is to take care to replicate every nuance (or an approximation, as you said) of how each fun differs from any other gun in real life.

Recoil, smoke, etc.

People assumed you wanted to distort the actual abilities of the guns, (since you said "feel") so they suggested non-realistic things you could do.

A sort of exaggeration.

Then again, you could just exaggerate the effects a bit for the guns you want to feel more powerful. It doesn't change the realism. That's what a stage actor has to do when details can't be seen from afar.


More or less. The only thing you're off on is that I'm totally fine with any visual or auditory changes that aren't immersion breaking. It's just gameplay changes that won't fly. Giving the gun an exaggerated muzzle blast, for instance, would be acceptable if it makes the player think it's more powerful. (Though that would actually just make it hard to see where you're shooting.) The whole point is to make players accept a weapon that deals less DPS, but has other advantages that make up for it, without making its other advantages break the game's balance. Like the Lee-Enfield rifle I'm using as an example.