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Member Since 27 Aug 2003
Offline Last Active Today, 02:49 PM

#5315194 What would you say is required for a good survival horror game?

Posted by on 14 October 2016 - 09:02 AM

A requirement for a good survival horror game? 


I think a good spot to start if you want an actual scary horror thing going on would be a taser strapped somewhere sensitive on the devs that goes off anytime a player hits something resembling a jump scare. 


Will make for a strong encouragement to keep quality levels high in the game. 


Please remember that jump scares are NOT scary, they are startling. 



A sense of dread, helplessness and the unknown are key, but balanced with some manner of hope. 

#5315178 Freemium without pay to win

Posted by on 14 October 2016 - 08:14 AM

However an important thing to keep in mind when planning your 'promotional' offers of stuff: Be VERY careful of just what you've promised people who had PAID for something.


Plan things out, and keep extremely careful notes on what is said and under what conditions stuff is sold to players. If you forget that you initially told players that your snazzy "Purple Hat" was limited edition, and only available if you pay X and do Y, and a few months/years later you turn around and say "Free hats for EVERYONE!", then you're setting yourself up for pissing off a VERY vocal member of the community, who you will then have to deal with and put up with a PR nightmare. 



Also remember to design things such that non-paying users get to glimpse what the paying users are getting. Occasional free weekends to let everyone come poke around in the "Premium area" and then slam the gates shut on them and kick them back out with the 'plebs' can convince players that "Yes, I Do want to pay this small and easily affordable price to get this all the time..."




Another big point to remember in freemium design: Don't nag the player, and don't hide ALL the fun behind paywalls. You need to maintain a very careful balance here between showing off why the player should want to pay you more than they currently are and letting them decide for themselves that they actually find the game fun in and of itself. 

I very rarely play freemium games because they're usually horribly boring, and very poorly presented with regards to what you get out of what you pay, and make it hard to predict how much you need to keep paying to actually keep having fun. 


If your game readily becomes boring to the player unless they pay more than they have, then you're setting yourself up for the player to decide to leave and find something better. 



In short: Make the game Fun at each pay level, and make it stay fun for entire play sessions. Make paying more unlock new fun, not more of the same fun you were having till you hit the pay wall. If I am mid way through my play session and I'm hit with a paywall "Give me money, or wait for the timer to go down" kind of thing... Well, personally I'm FAR more likely to just go find something else to do while that timer runs down, and then it becomes a real toss up whether or not I bother coming back. 

#5314979 Freemium without pay to win

Posted by on 13 October 2016 - 08:22 AM

Pay for Cosmetic options do seem to be a pretty decent path to look at. While a lot of players aren't interested in them, many actually are. 



Step back and look at what you want the core gameplay to be, and then look at what kind of optional stuff that doesn't have any direct impact on that core sector could exist.


Also consider looking at it as a totally free to play game, all players are your 'customers', but the paying ones become your patrons. What kind of things can your patrons get that a regular common player might not be entitled to? Well, how about beta access? Test server access? Elite forum access with a more direct interaction with the developers?


Is your game possibly able to run in layers of functionality? All players could be soldiers and fighters, and everyone gets the same kind of access to the core levels that give the same kind of loot and fight the same kind of mobs and bosses as everyone else does, but is a regular player in anyway negatively impacted by the patrons all running off for special side quests or GM led special events? Maybe give the base level free to play types enough content to keep them interested in the game, but offer just enough 'extra stuff' to tempt them into coughing up cash in return for something a little different (and keeping the servers running). It doesn't make them any more powerful when the patrons come back into the 'main game' sections with everyone else, they'll just look a little flashier, and have seen more things than the other players. 


Other options could be, all players get to be soldiers and fighters, but who gets to own shops, or guilds, or maybe even entire towns? A well designed and tiered system could see a fair number of players choosing to fork over a bit of cash, a few forking over a chunk of cash, and a select few players forking over a ton of cash. Things like 'everyone can be part of a faction, but only X can join a guild. Only Y can own a guild, and only Z can sit on a faction "council"' or something along those lines. - Faction council member dies to the big bad boss in a dungeon just as readily as the non-paying faction member. 

#5314847 How popular are "economic simulations" in other countries besides DE?

Posted by on 12 October 2016 - 08:01 AM

Coming from my experience with the consumer side of boardgames, the "German Boardgames" thing is kind of weird, and it appears that there is a strong argument that the issue is less that Germans prefer more complex games, but rather there is a stronger boardgame culture in Germany that supports a wider range of more complex games, and thus market production allows these better games to be reliably produced by creators. 



Most of the adult Germans I know enjoy boardgames and will buy and play them. (This is also a biased view, as many of the Germans I know are ones I've met in some relation to boardgames...) where as most Canadians I know will look at boardgames as something they buy and play with their kids, and then prefer simple rules, bright colours, and stuff they're already familiar with. This in turn seems to artificially raise the sales of the 'same old things' that were popular back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. "Why buy something new that I know nothing about, when I can just buy my kid a reprint of the same game I played when I was their age?"



Of the adults here in Canada that I know who enjoy boardgames, there is a strong tendency among them to be pulled into one of two groups: Those who have a tendency to favour German Style games, or at least games of similar complexity and depth, and those who think "boardgame night" means "Cards against humanity FOREVER!!!!". 





With regards to games: Simulators like Transport Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon, and similar games had decent popularity among people I know, but their sales were not nearly as strong as RTS or FPS games. The market is there, but going after it will be taking a slice out of a probably smaller pie than other markets. However, you'll also have less competition over the size of the pie, which can translate to being far easier to stand out from the crowd in with a really solid, well thought out, and highly polished title. 

#5311105 Leveling up through mini-quests?

Posted by on 16 September 2016 - 12:24 PM

How do you feel this is overly different than the 'skill usage' based grinding in things like The Elder Scrolls? Use a specific function/ability till it gets enough 'experience' to tick over to the next level kind of thing.

#5308525 the dreaded "escort" quest

Posted by on 29 August 2016 - 12:51 PM

Strongly suggest flipping the question around before you implement a gameplay feature. Asking "What could make X fun or better" is kind of an awkward way to go about designing a feature. 


"Why would doing this be fun?" If you can't answer this, then maybe the feature doesn't belong in your game?

#5296990 are vidgames disrespectful of player's time vs tabletop RPG's?

Posted by on 17 June 2016 - 12:16 PM

Yes, but if I can turn around and reliably safely run out of your dungeon anyway, then I still have the exact same "Safety eject switch". The only difference is that in one model you just waste more of my time in doing so.


And for what? What exactly does anyone gain from deliberately designing game play elements which are intended to specifically gobble up the user's time? 



Nothing stops you from designing small game play areas that are still challenging or have high risk. Maybe the next one you step into will lock a door behind you till you reach at least the half way point. 



Doing a fighting withdrawal till you can get back to somewhere you can find safety again or regroup in is fun and exciting. Having gotten away from the combat and then holding down the "Run" key for ten minutes while you back track over things you've already seen? Ehh... Not so much fun there. 

#5296879 are vidgames disrespectful of player's time vs tabletop RPG's?

Posted by on 16 June 2016 - 07:19 PM

A wild and crazy idea: Get rid of loot hoarding as a mechanic. 


You are a grand adventurer, not some serf carting around a lord's luggage. When you go through a dungeon and bash open coffins to look for loot, you're not the one who has to take everything yourself. Check that it is safe, pick up anything super nifty that you're going to want to use here and now, and leave the rest for the servants after you finish. 


The real treasure that you're going to be after is probably in the big room at the very end anyway. If you can't use it here and now, then you should have no reason or desire to carry it with you yourself. You'll still get all the profit from it just the same after your servants come in after you. And if one or two get eaten by giant rats you overlooked, well, they're only serfs and there are far more where that came from.


Or maybe  you just have a bag of holding, or what's his name's hardy haversack, or a portable door, or scrolls of town portal.



Design your levels in a way that they're made of smaller subsections, and getting into the next subsection will also present you with a quick way back to the surface. Unlock gates, magic portals, hidden passages, etc. Let your player spend their time and effort advancing deeper into your game, don't expect them to spend just as much time back tracking the way they came because You were too lazy to think of a better way.

#5296695 are vidgames disrespectful of player's time vs tabletop RPG's?

Posted by on 15 June 2016 - 11:46 AM

I really love exploring and poking around in places in games, but that sure doesn't mean I love having to walk for hours to get somewhere. I find that Baluder's Gate feels far larger and more epic in scale than pretty much any of the modern Elder Scroll games do. 


I want to explore, and I want to have things to explore, but please for the love of god don't make levels and designs which are big for no other reason than to make them big. If there is a central city that I will be visiting frequently, then by all means give me a large space that is spread out and has things to explore and interesting stuff to discover, but don't make me wander over the whole bloody thing to buy more arrows, then back to the other side to top up on healing potions, and then a half hour of climbing stairs to buy bottles for my Mana potions which is followed by a twenty minute jumping puzzle to fill them. Let me walk up to the fletcher in the main market square, hit a few buttons to top things off, move for five seconds, and then buy what I need from the armourer, move another five seconds and shop for potions. 


By all means let me go on an adventure deeper into the less traveled parts of a huge city, but please don't expect me to keep making those trips over the same parts over and over and over again throughout the course of your game. Let me go on a quest which takes me on a long winding path throughout the city to get to the "Super Secret and advanced Apothecary of Fun and Adventure", but if it is a place that I'm going to be coming back to again and again and again, then hide a "Back door" to it in the basement of the blacksmith in the main market that I can use once I've put the work into finding it.


If I consistently go diving deep into your dungeons, and then consistently spend twenty minutes walking back out of each one and nothing ever happens, then you have a design bug. 


If I have finished your game and can't tell my friends about more than one or two interesting or cool specific points of the dungeons because they all looked and felt alike, then you have a design bug.



Having a huge grand stairs or mountain to climb that leaves the player in awe is something they should be climbing once. If there aren't more details for me to see, things for me to find or explore, something New, then why are you (as a designer) bringing me (as the player) back to it? Things like that are awesome the first time. Kind of impressive the second time, and frankly just bloody annoying the third time, and the rest of your game had better be amazing for me to put up with going over it a fourth time or more.

#5285026 Races vs. techtree vs. doctrines - choosing from the start or not...

Posted by on 04 April 2016 - 09:20 AM

A big question you have to ask yourself is: How is the game going to play out?


Branching tech trees are an option. Everyone starts with the same things, and then make choices based on the style of play they will attempt. One of the key things when doing this is to ensure your maps and combat can combine to allow situational advantages depending on choices made. (ie, if user A chooses an Infantry focus tech tree, and user B chooses to jump into the Air tech tree, then make sure that User A can still do things like hide infantry in forests or buildings. Users must then try and force battle into an area that matches their advantage while avoiding fighting while their opponent has the advantage.)


Ideally a branching tech tree would allow baiting and feinting, make your opponent think that you are taking one route, allowing them to invest in a direct counter to that expected route, and then you ambush them with a context/location sensitive counter-counter. (A invests in Heavy Armour ground units, B invests in ground attack helicopters, and then A surprises B with a unit of AAA or AA Infantry hidden in a group of woods.)

#5279844 [Spaceship Builder] The complexity of internal logistics

Posted by on 06 March 2016 - 10:49 AM

I also agree with the suggestion of looking at Prison Architect or similar games for how they handle the layered interconnect for resources. For starters it just makes sense to put your power, data, etc on a secondary layer to the function and utility blocks of a design because it is a little cleaner and easier to visualize when switching between different display modes, and it also is kind of what we do in real life. (Imagine building a large ship where all the power cables and such ran at waist height on any deck. Kind of makes getting around the ship difficult.)



As for issues like cargo handling, well, what kind of game do you want? Where do you want the player spending time and how do you want it to work? 


Designing the game to support a more complex system for things like layout affecting cargo handling means you get more options and choices for the player.


Ie, holes in the outer armour shell means those areas are weaker and more vulnerable to damage. Every hole through the armour makes your ship that much weaker, but at the same time the fewer holes you have then the fewer things like weapons firing through the armour or cargo hatches you have.


So do you build your ship to have the one small cargo hatch and one small power/data connection, meaning all your weapons are on the outside where they're more easily damaged and you can only slowly transfer cargo?


Or maybe you stick all the weapons core systems behind armour where they're less likely to be damaged, but the ship itself is a little more vulnerable? After all if all your weapons get blown off in the first few minutes of a battle then you're in for a rough time even if it takes the enemy ages to chip away at your armour before you die. Maybe it is better to be more likely to take heavier damage throughout the whole fight, but you keep more of your weapons firing for longer?


Maybe you want to heavily compartmentalize your ship, with lots of small cargo bays separated by lighter internal airlocks and one main central external cargo hatch. A single external cargo hatch doesn't have a very negative impact on the ship's armour, and if a hole does get blown through the armour in one spot then it can only take out a small fraction of the ship's cargo or systems. But of course all those internal airlocks take up space, and would slow down cargo handling.


What are the costs to cargo handling time? Is there a negative impact to having a ship that might take days to load or unload vs one that is laid out to unload in hours, or minutes? Maybe it might be worth it in some cases and play styles to go with small cargo bays each with their own external hatch to unload and reload quickly? Or maybe a system where you have 'external cargo pod', like shipping containers that the ground crew just plucks off in moments and can slam the next one on and you're ready to go without even having to open a cargo door?



Then there is the game play element of "Cargo Tetris". Do you want to play this? Do you want the player to worry about where something is, and how it gets on and off the ship? Maybe taking on a pile of large containers is not the best of ideas at a given time for your ship because your next stop will mean pulling them all out of the way to unload something you already have? 


What about bulk cargo? Liquid tanks that feed in and out of the ship through pipes, or dry bulk cargo that is carried by conveyor belts? (Which may pose safety risks due to things like providing a route for fire/damage to spread) They could let you store a higher volume/mass per 'square' of ship than general cargo bays, but are far more restricted to what they can carry or maybe what ports they can load and unload from?


Do you want the player to have to choose between being able to access cargo mid-flight? Those external cargo pods sure are fast and easy to handle, but maybe that load of advanced warheads you were shipping somewhere could have been better used if moved to your missile bay rather than stuck somewhere on the outside of the ship where you can access it. (Or back to Cargo Tetris: All those pallets of gold sure are valuable... sitting there in front of all those weapons reloads...)



How about internal handling for those weapons? Do you want the player to worry about it, focusing inside the ship, or do you want their attention to be on the outside, positioning of the ship, priority of attacks and such? Do you want the player to have the tools to design handling systems with complex things like flash-gates, moving ammo for the weapons from the well protected magazines deep inside the ship to the more vulnerable weapons stations on the edge? Or do you want to hand wave and not worry about it? 


Personally I would love to sit there and tinker with systems and interlocks: Flash doors take x time to open/close, conveyor systems take y time to move, so I need z design so that every missile is in its on 'slot' when moving from the bulk magazine near the well protected core to the firing station on the outside. Or maybe I'll build a system that moves a whole pallet of them from the main magazine in protection zone 3 to a staging area in protection zone 2, and from there the missiles will be taken off the pallet one by one and fed to the firing tube in the vulnerable protection zone 1... Because you really don't want the loss of one missile bay to mean all the extra ammo on your ship chain reacts and the whole thing goes up.


Or maybe I'll decide that having a few spots spread around the outside of the ship will each have a bunch of tubes stacked together, and each station will have a good supply of missiles on hand. This means I could have massive rapid volley fire early on. If one of the tubes in a sector gets taken out it means a big chunk of the ship and all the other tubes and ammo in that sector will most likely go up as well, but the main magazine and the other three firing sectors will stay alive to keep going.




Or maybe your game is better off with "I have X cargo bay space, Y cargo handling systems, so it takes Z time to load/unload".

#5277900 Right way to handle people complaining about price?

Posted by on 24 February 2016 - 10:42 AM

The best way to handle this is to do market research BEFORE you show off the price to customers.


Personally I find far too many companies are way over pricing their early access. They put things up which are 'interesting' and I'm tempted to buy, but then they price it at $20-30 before the project is even finished, and I walk right on by.


Some will argue that I'm suggesting a 'race to the bottom' pricing and that I'm only buying under priced games... But honestly I find the market is burning itself with a lack of quality control and gate keeping. I paid $20 for a few early access games in the past, which looked like simple but interesting projects, and the developers seemed to be on the level with content out the door already in a playable fashion, and I expected them to be able to carry on their development...


And then they dropped the project and left me with a horribly buggy only sort of playable and feature complete application that wasn't nearly as great of a deal as it first looked.


So now when i see someone asking for more than a few dollars on a project? ... Meh. I'll spend my money at lower risk points. Far cheaper titles that are relying on bulk sales where I won't feel nearly as burned if it flops, or on mature AAA content well after its release date that still got good reviews. 



At the same time, I avoid "Free to Play" content, and anything with micro transaction or excessive DLC like the plague because of how much of a dice roll it is as to what I'm going to spend to actually enjoy the game. I want my gaming transactions to be fairly simple and straight forward: I give you money, you give me a complete product that in and of itself is fun to play, and includes a similar amount or more content than the last version of it you sold me. I have no problem with Paradox's EU or Crusader Kings series DLC, as I've gotten a solid game from the get go that I enjoyed, and while the initial launch prices of the DLC is higher than I normally like, I've still bought a few on launch if it was interesting new mechanics added, or I pick them up 75% off some time later on a sale. (And honestly I buy that DLC more as a "Thank you for being cool developers doing neat and interesting things without screwing your fans over" than I do for buying new content.)




It is a business and a minefield, and there are no simple easy answers sadly.

#5275626 Multithreading Nowadays

Posted by on 14 February 2016 - 10:09 AM

Hyperthreading can also be a double edged sword at times. It is like a second processor core, but not exactly the same thing. I really haven't done much work with hyperthreaded processors, and all that I honestly remember about the edge cases is that they exist. If you are going to start programming things with an aim at providing strong support for Intel's tech then it is probably a good idea to spend some time digging around with google for the various pitfalls of hyperthreading.

#5274045 Footware at work

Posted by on 03 February 2016 - 09:08 AM

Wearing something more than socks is generally a good idea in an office environment. For one there is the risk of stepping on things to consider. It might not be a construction site that demands steel toed boots, but stepping on a dropped staple or thumb tack, or having someone accidentally roll their chair over your little toe does not make for a great day at work.


Beyond that you also really kind of want to be wearing something that you can comfortably walk outside in, or at the very least have something you can safely slip on in seconds and exit the building, simply for safety reasons for if the fire alarm goes off. (You really don't want to be trying to file down stairs with the rest of your coworkers with untied laces flopping everywhere. You won't be thought of too kindly if you trip and fall on someone or make someone else trip. Having witnessed it in a previous job, I must say that breaking a coworker's wrist during a fire drill because you were too lazy to tie your shoes does not appear to go over all that well with coworkers and management.)

#5272295 When the Player and the CPU attacks at the same time

Posted by on 22 January 2016 - 03:26 PM

In actual combat it is perfectly possible to have both sides attack and hurt/kill each other. 


Depending on the nature of your game, I would say this is acceptable, and even a good mechanic to discourage random button mashing and force the user into more careful thoughts about what they're doing.


Another aspect that ties into this is that just because you've stabbed your opponent isn't always an indicator that they're not going to just stab you right back. Being able to deliver a killing blow without taking one in return is kind of an important factor in real fights.