I can see this game having as its character a superhero zombie! I can definitely see limbs being used as levers. Maybe if you fill your stomach with gas it could float, and you could attach an eye and intestines to make a gruesome sort of spy kite or really gross bomb. Or maybe you could jump on it and have it cushion a fall or bounce you up to another level.
WavinatorMember Since 26 Jun 2000
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Posted by Wavinator on 31 July 2013 - 05:16 PM
Assuming a game has a large number of objects and actions an avatar can perform, which do you think is clearer to the player, a design built around choosing objects and performing actions granted by them or choosing actions and selecting objects to realize the action?
For example, consider planting a listening device: If there were a range of devices to choose from, it might make more sense to have a "Bug" or "Surveillance" action with the ability to choose the right bug to plant. But if there was only one type of bug but several ways to plant it, it might make more sense to select the listening device and then choose which action you wanted to perform. But if there is both?
Another (more out there) example: Let's say you have a city and can do things at an abstract level in different locations within the city. Maybe you can burgle or vandalize, or help the needy or guard locations. Which makes more sense, to have a range of actions you choose and then locations to perform them (with each block sort of acting like an object), or to maybe make each location context sensitive, showing the available actions maybe when you click on it?
Posted by Wavinator on 01 July 2013 - 08:37 PM
Off the top of my head...
Navigator - Independent tasks could be cooking up maneuvers, which allow the player to execute moves that exceed the normal capabilities of the ship (turning faster or combo moves). Away team roles would be getting the team down in one piece in hostile conditions / weather, driving any vehicles, terrain mapping (it's navigation), aerial support and recon (who says the shuttle just has to land and isn't like a combat helo), flyer of man sized and microscopic drones... should I keep going?
Tactician - Independent tasks would be coming up with combo attacks which are better than normal attacks. If he stays in the ship he can coordinate orbital barrages, if he comes with the team he gives a bonus to security.
Scientist - In flight, optimizes other equipment to neutralize status effects (radiation, sensor interference). Just like away team role, can tell you WHAT things are, in terms of other ship defenses, signals or damage effects, etc. (for example, not just that you're hit with a laser effect, but one that's slowly siphoning ship energy because it's causing the shields to resonate... and he can tell you what frequency to shift the shields so it stops happening).
Security - Independent tasks = train for specific operations and environments in advance. Rescue? Against terrorists? In arctic climate? Train and get a bonus before you get to the planet.
Comms - I think the diplomat idea works even on the ground. And languages could play a big role. Comms would be critical for positive first contact.
Posted by Wavinator on 28 May 2013 - 12:43 AM
The biggest weakness with this idea would be the simglish approach. It seems to me that there is a rich landscape of ideas that are begging to be communicated by different characters with different perspectives. It would be a waste to offload that into a tutorial or other documentation, and unless you're preaching to the converted a missed opportunity for those who might not know much about the idea but be attracted to the concept or gameplay.
If I were tackling your concept I might try to represent personalities and leaders of groups who represent all the interests with which the game is dealing. Most importantly it would be crucial to represent opposed sides as closely to their perspective as you can get, much in the same way a good writer gives insight about their antagonist by revealing why they are the way they are.
As you're challenging a fundamental system I'm wondering if part of the game would benefit from a more nuts and bolts life sim angle, as well. Maybe show how heating, transportation, food, medicine and other basic needs would be met by people in the new system, including the player.
I'd be interested in hearing more about how you could convey the ethos of the idea itself through the gameplay. One thing I don't care for with games of this type are the typically polemical approach I've seen. It would be nice to see a game that conveys an unusual set of ideas while still remaining a game rather than becoming an authoritative soapbox.
Posted by Wavinator on 28 May 2013 - 12:12 AM
I like game ideas with the potential for intrigue. An emperor who's having to deal with a potentially scheming mate, siblings or offspring is interesting in a kind of MacBeth sort of way.
You can add a lot of things with a hard SF route. Maybe the future emperor is post-human or the society is heavily into VR, in which case maybe endless amounts of time are spent in simulated realities hunting, adventuring or competing. Maybe the emperor is creating elaborate programmatic constructs, birthing artificial life or creating a legacy for his entire species in the form of a great work like a Dyson Sphere. Or maybe he's engineering his species or himself in order to take the next step in evolution.
I think the space emperor gets interesting when you tweak him enough so that his routines are unexpected. I mean, after all, if he's just like some historical Earth emperor why not set him in the past? But to make his world interesting I think you have to do more world building concerning what kind of society he rules.
Posted by Wavinator on 07 May 2013 - 05:19 PM
Wondering what you guys think about the idea of allowing players to equip procedurally generated gear in an RPG that have "soft" rather than hard level requirements, with the catch being that if you are below the level requirement unpredictable and potentially calamitous things may happen. For example, lets say a strange alien gun that's listed as requiring level 10, but the game rules allow you to use it at up to 50% of the level-- level 5 in this case-- with some kind of warning (maybe the item shows up as red in your equipment slot). So you could use it at the risk of whatever negative side effects it may have, such as misfire, status effects or whatever, maybe with the chance dependent on how far away you are from the level requirement.
Reason for this? To enhance the setting and add intriguing twists on what is typically a boring progression path with procedural games, namely in that things are generated in a sort of goldilocks "just right" pattern that offers no surprises. Gear levels I think are mandatory to help encourage leveling, but the idea of finding the equivalent of "the Ring of Power" even at level 1 and still being able to use it, albeit with potentially disastrous consequences I think fleshes out the idea that the world is filled with old and potentially powerful / ominous things.
Posted by Wavinator on 26 April 2013 - 09:49 PM
I was never a fan of SPAZ the game annoyed me maybe it was having to fight my way halfway across the galaxy all the time to buy the next upgrade I wanted or the fact that the game play lacked variety. If you want to play a fun procedural space game take a look FTL
Haha funny you mention that one. Played FTL a bit but the arbitrary randomness at game end really ticked me off. I never got far in SPAZ either honestly because I think they really botched the whole thing about your rep not transferring to new systems-- it makes everything seem repetitive (Just realized I might be committing to same sin with the regions idea, although maybe not so much as each would have more races and factions).
Still, I really like the little guys running around the ship. I've been experimenting with a split screen view that would be a little Escape Velocity / FTL, by the way, but I don't think I'll go with it. FTL really only works when you have limited crew and more to do than there are guys, and I've had a precious few games that were dull because I was fully staffed (the rng usually takes care of that, tho )
I like the optimizing idea where your engineer can improve a component to some degree. Perhaps the engineer has a tech level with parts and time you can improve any component up to that level. So a level 10 engineer could theoretically upgrade you shields from level 1 to 10 without you needing to buy new shields along the way.
I'll give this some thought. I wonder if being able to improve and make your own gear breaks leveling, though. Let's say the core gameplay is explore / mine planets / pirate / linear missions, with the adventure game main quest for the region the overarching goal. In classic Starflight fashion your ship would be weak, range limited, enemies substantially powerful in progressive rings further out. So the loop would be to gain range and power and get stronger until you can take on the main quest.
If you can sit in a spot and spam improvements I think it breaks the loop UNLESS the only way to improve would be to get stuff that is only available further and further out from the starting point.
How are you thinking of regions working? Because it might be interesting if rather then endless there are fixed regions. Which you can level up or down through your actions.
I'm seeing the regions as these special FTL zones which appear and disappear, storywise say because they're around supermassive spectral class O giants that only last tens of millions of years. Civilizations migrate to them and the wilderness is maybe littered with the ruins of fallen civilizations, "monsters," lost artifacts, etc. I want this to go nuts with random history / alien stats generation but not have to worry about whether or not I'm creating logical errors which you'd get if you had a uniform, homogenous setting (as in, X did Y here, why didn't they do it everywhere).
I've been wondering if I should find a way to regenerate the main quest for a region and even let it grow over time. Growth could make it like Oblivion's crappy level scaling, and might break the loop again (little ship, big universe with challenges in rings). What about some intermission which lets you pause, abstractly do something, then presents you with a changed, somewhat leveled up region? I'm concerned staying in the same region will get old and have no mystery. I'm also trying to stay away from 4X gameplay and gardening / colonizing, which might be suggested by staying for a time in a region (thinking of those games that let you put down roots-- people always want a damn house or stronghold, and then that's another whole chunk of gameplay to add )
Posted by Wavinator on 26 April 2013 - 09:05 PM
would refrain from making procedural quests. They really turn me off. The concept of a player setting him or herself goals/objectives should emanate from good gameplay. If your system works as a whole, players will pursue various opportunities, but quests are really just a guiding hand you do not require unless you intend to implement a storyline (which you wouldn't with a procedural system).
I agree procedural quests can be underwhelming, but as done in games like Drox Operative and Din's Curse I think they work. The low rep would be somewhat mindless like in Escape Velocity, but you'd really only take them to make money or build the rep (especially if they were along your intended path). I've seen procedural quests done ok in Din's Curse, which involves trying to save a town and makes them a bit personal, but Drox gets points for a more epic feel because you're interacting with civilizations. Honestly I'm usually on your side, a strong proponent for intrinsically motivated sandbox play (heh, maybe too strong, as in kitchen sink approach) but Minecraft has really showed me the weakness of not having a strong, overarching goal to give meaning to your actions.
Ideally the procedural quest in each region could be optional if there was enough sandbox gameplay, just as you might play a game like Fallout just to explore and fight for a bit. The wilderness would be ideal for this, as you could just hang out in the wilderness exploring planets, collecting stuff and fighting.
Posted by Wavinator on 26 April 2013 - 08:31 PM
Another option would be that when you start, your travel is relatively limited and you can't really get past your own solar system at first. When you upgrade your systems, your capabilities increase exponentially and so does your possible travel distance.
People who used to be on your level now seem more like ants and ships that were like gods to you before are now your peers. Since the area you can now explore is exponentially larger than it was before, you'll have roughly the same amount of peers within your reach as you did before, you can size up like this an unlimited amount of times if you think up what the universe looks like at larger scales. Though maybe you want an end game at some point, a travel speed that can't be broken. (Above the speed of light I suggest), at that point you would keep upgrading your ship but with diminishing returns.
This sounds really cool but I don't think I can do it like this. The first problem would be that of the map itself. I'm using fairly simple random seed generation to load a 2d map of several dozen stars per sector, 3x3 sectors at a time. Each sector has to process events, move AI entities and abstractly resolve AI-AI interactions. You can see at some point that would become untenable regardless of the system.
I do like the idea of you becoming greater and greater in power but one thing the wilderness/civilization division would hide is the problem I've seen in games like Freelancer where you have to cross through regions filled with unworthy, lower level enemies. I know you need some of this in order to have a point of reference to feel you've improved, but I'm hoping a +5/-5 or so level range in terms of class differentials per region will do this.
Posted by Wavinator on 25 April 2013 - 04:08 AM
I've resurrected an old 2d project that died a couple of years ago, trying to fix what killed it originally. It's a space game in the spirit of Space Pirates and Zombies or the old Escape Velocity-- ship combat, trading and upgrading, basically, except that the map practically has no end. Aside from technical problems, the original game suffered from lack of direction in that you could wander and collect and sell resources and do a tiny bit of fighting but there wasn't much point to it all.
So I'm now trying out procedural leveling and questing to try to give the gameplay more meaning and am looking for feedback on a couple of points:
First, concept overall and any general thoughts/ideas/cautionary tales are welcome.
More specifically, the upgrading: I'm going for simple linear leveling of ship systems in order to allow procedural advancement and let you compare yourself to others. Leveling is a matter of having a system (engine, sensor, shield) of class X. Higher systems cost more, but I can't control grinding so I'm dividing space into settled regions with each having 5 to 10 levels of upgrades. ("Wilderness" bounds these regions and features survival gameplay, equipment degradation, random loot/artifacts and possibly perma-death with the option to "fast travel" between civilized regions as a reward for questing.)
I'm assuming that challenges with this system will be a bit arbitrary. Instead of hit points, damage from things like weapons or anomalies versus defenses is a matter of the difference between class. A ship with class X shields versus class X laser fire can take about 8 to 10 hits, but only 6 to 8 hits from class X + 1 fire and so on. It's balanced now so that something 5 classes above you will one or two shot you while something five classes below can barely touch you.
Procedural questing is sketchy. I see a mix of low reputation earning linear quests (fetch, kill) and high rep earning puzzle solving with story elements similar to the old Starflight or Star Control: Clue hunting, pumping NPCs for info and whatever RPG skills I can squeeze in (hack, steal, bribe, etc.) all culminating in gathering items that will solve the quest. Story is conveyed low-fi via text from messages found / stolen and (hopefully passable) generated dialog. Solving the main quest opens fast travel to safe civilized regions and random special artifacts.
Not yet sure what failure means nor whether to play with regions having timed quests. I'm thinking losing all advancement in the new region or maybe you have to risk the wilderness.
That's the basics. Main worry so far is not making the universe generic, which I think regions & loot will help and whether or not procedural questing will actually work (story who/what/why is dicey, as is decent procedurally generated characterization through dialogue).
Posted by Wavinator on 15 April 2013 - 11:48 PM
I like striking contrasts. Volcanoes and geysers in tundra creating cool rivers flowing through ice, including waterfalls going over cliffs of ice. Caves are also cool for both environments. But even simple terrain shown with an epic sweep, say like a single mountain in the distance with lightning clouds against a setting sun, can serve as a really nice point of interest.
Posted by Wavinator on 15 April 2013 - 11:26 PM
Not sure if it's appropriate for the age group but you might consider Torque 2D MIT, which is completely free to use. There are no editors as of yet but a suite of experimental demo examples that can be easily modified. (It may be more appropriate to a higher age, though).
I'd ask them to think about what they like to play and maybe why, then look at how it works, then maybe break that into categories like movement or collision or special effects. I think it can be useful because it can invite analytical thought without making it work to think about. They can then use that to help plan out the kind of game they want (or start admiring how many steps the games they love take to make).
As for programming I'd invite them to think about what they want to do from easiest to hardest and focus on getting the simplest things going first-- just getting something on the screen, then making it move, then adding in something of an environment, then interaction with the environment. Like your mass example the game comes alive as it grows, but I think it's important to show that you don't have the tackle the whole thing in one fell swoop. (It's kind of like the "how do you eat an elephant?" saying... "One bite at a time")
Posted by Wavinator on 02 April 2013 - 09:37 PM
Yeah the first thing that jumped out at me was moneal's question: Why no ability to make enemy tribes friendly? If you need for there to always be some threat it would seem that animals could fill that role nicely. But if I'm playing a game where I'm encouraged not to kill but there are groups I can't even work to ally with I think I'm going to favor killing them just to get them out of the way.
Have you thought of inter-clan rivalries being moderated by formalized tribal competitions? It might go well with a non-violent (or at least non-murder) angle. The vibe I get is sort of a Clan of the Cave Bear summer or winter Gathering where tribes could trade goods, test their mettle, duel and even settle grudges, steal wives, etc. It would give you a meta-game goal to reach for as you play I imagine (especially if you could lose tribe members peacefully or gain them). Maybe this level of diplomacy could evolve officially and become something like the Icelandic Althing, where the most powerful leaders would meet to officially settle disputes and dispense justice. I can see this having Civilization / Alpha Centauri gameplay where you try to not only thrive but become influential enough to control the caveman equivalent of the United Nations.
Posted by Wavinator on 09 March 2013 - 07:52 PM
Although I don't really play story-based games all that much, I like the idea. You mention unique locations with their own lore: One idea that might work for this would be a unique, strategic progression for these locations, maybe based on certain properties or stats. Maybe one location, which was founded in revolution, is described as having religious strife, with battles in the streets a common occurrence. So that city is set to randomize disruptions or delays in construction until some other situation arises (a messiah unit appears on the map). This way the strategic experience lines up with the story and offers better, more defined (even alive) locations than something like a generic civilization map could offer.
Posted by Wavinator on 24 December 2012 - 12:05 AM
I think the non combat focused thing is desirable (some people like the concept), but when we come to details "the goal is to produce a resource intensive wonder as fast as possible" it is unthrilling... In contrast "lash a mayhem across the galaxy conquering other pathetic races" seems much more interesting and fun
Is it because war is inheritably more fun or because we miss something? Or maybe it is only my impression and you find "building a resource intensive wonder/project" more thrilling than conquest?
I was thinking, what would make me "wow" for a non combat focused gameplay and I found so far only one case. Intrigue. The assassins trying to take my life, usurpers trying to overthrow me from my beloved throne and court intrigues of my courtiers (which rarely benefit the empire or me). I mean, if I were to play as an emperor I still need a thrill of some sort. I like economy, like it a lot, I think most games focus too much on military/combat and I don't like it too much, still... If I were just to build an empire in a SimCity like style... I don't know, I feel something is missing there for me.
I wonder if the lack of wow for non-combat building comes partly from lack of risk and choices. Combat's filled with lots of little, potentially dramatic decisions that move between victory and defeat, which typically are very visceral experiences. But what's the victory and defeat of building? Cost overruns or delays aren't probably very dramatic, but what if we're talking about mega-engineering or terraforming that can have disasterous consequences? Or, at a more granular level, what about forcing tradeoffs in the fashion of moral delimmas that create consequences down the road for the rest of your empire? Imagine, as an example, that you have a colony near failure with rioting population that creates a labor shortage. Maybe you can decide to negotiate, or nerve staple them, or open the door to AI and automation, each of which potentially sets a precedent laden with future risks. Maybe negotiating weakens the economy by setting the expectation from other colonies of greater entitlements, while nerve stapling fuels recruitment for rebels and future acts of terror, while AI control potentially risks transforming the colony into a man/machine hive of "others" right in the midst of your empire.
It's definitely not easy to make non-combat match the spice of combat, but I think part of what needs to happen is that it can't be the stuff of deadly dull accounting. It has to fire the imagination.