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Member Since 26 Jun 2000
Offline Last Active Oct 20 2016 09:20 PM

#5309352 Slavery, Include Or Not?

Posted by on 03 September 2016 - 10:38 PM

I think it is a deep mistake for players and designers to expect a 1:1 correspondence between gameplay mechanics and real life. In all our time gaming (tabletop / board game or electronic) how many innocent lives have we players all taken collectively? How much have we stolen? How many have we wronged?


If we are talking about fictional entities the answer can only be zero. These things do not exist. They are not real. Therefore no living thing can be harmed, and what kind of creatures are we if we are obsessed with the morality of deeds against non-living, non-existent things? At best we can be accused only of committing crimes of the imagination.


I agree with the point others have made that some will see your work as taking a position, and I feel we currently live in a time where being seen to be moral is perhaps more important than actually BEING moral. If position is a concern, I'd simply make it clear in the manual that this was historical fact and its inclusion is neither meant to condone nor glorify and leave it at that. Some people will nonetheless be deeply offended. It is their right to be so, and it is your right to ignore them. Let them create works that promote their own values. Maybe your work can serve as a springboard for a game about abolition or a deeper simulator whose mechanics plumb the depths of the psychology of objectification.


As an aside let me also note that a rising interest in injecting modern morality into gaming isn't in and of itself a bad thing. There are wide open frontiers to explore in that direction. But a game is not somehow immoral because it incorporates distasteful and even downright evil subject matter. With gaming we must resist the mechanism in our brain that correlates thinking about something as doing it. Thinking is thinking. Doing is doing.

#5192881 Taking A Group of AI Followers Indoors

Posted by on 14 November 2014 - 01:43 PM

What are some good ways to deal with a group of AI followers when moving into confined spaces like corridors or sewers in a game with a 3rd or 1st person perspective? I'm looking for gameplay examples / conventions I might check out or design suggestions. Hopefully it might scale so that the followers could be very large (3 or 4 dozen), and it doesn't have to be realistic.


Some ideas:


1) Pick N - When transitioning into interiors you must select N followers. Everybody else waits outside.


2) Pick X which represent Y - Same as Pick N, but each follower abstractly represents the powers of a group of followers. Everybody outside disappears as if they're riding in the pockets of the Y followers.


3) Blobber - Game mode changes indoors to FPS and followers are abstracted to completely abilities, like an old-school blobber, perhaps even appearing as selectable portraits


4) Level Design - Game only has interior spaces that fit maximum number of followers


5) Claustraphobia - Tragically, all followers suffer from a severe fear of closed spaces, and just can't enter confined areas


6) Fading Followers - Followers fade in and out of areas, like in Destiny Warriors games of old.


7) Teleporting Followers - Same as Pick N, but followers can teleport to player. May require a resource to use.


Issues the design is meant to address would be

  • Followers causing player to get stuck (especially if player needs to turn around in tight spaces)
  • Follower pathing killing CPU resources
  • Needing a specific follower in a specific place (thief needs to pick lock)
  • Followers in combat
  • Followers without ability to navigate path same as player (e.g., player has jet pack, follower doesn't)

I'm sure there's more. Thanks for any thoughts!

#5191751 Complexity of Modular defense systems in my game(Modulus)

Posted by on 07 November 2014 - 09:48 PM

Had you been doing a turn-based game I would have suggested to go hard at it with full out distinctions between gear and heavy specialization. I'm not so sure that's appropriate for a real-time game, even with pausing.


The most critical thing during a battle seems to be knowing why things are going right or wrong. If you have lots of individual specializations I wonder if there will be difficulty accounting for why things are going wrong. Mileage may vary, though, on the pace of the battle, of course. Slow and stately capital ship battles I think can stand lots of specialization because there's more time to react when things start going south. Another big factor might be in interface tells: Does a specific effect, such as obscuring snow or interface flickers, happen when a specific component gets damaged? That might help a lot even if things are fast paced.


Sweet looking game by the way! Love the explody fx

#5191749 Archelogists examining ruins of alien races

Posted by on 07 November 2014 - 09:38 PM

What about blending this with the idea you've talked about in other threads concerning corporations. You could have things like funding, cost overruns, reputation of companies and maybe even some idea of ethical / unethical behavior (Weyland-Yutani in Aliens) that might have cascading consequence (like smuggling a xenomorph through quarantine). Or a simpler method would be building either science ships or funding a research program. You could do both, making research more expensive but more on demand, as well.


Decisions could be generic or custom to the situation. Generic decisions might involve whether to move or hide the artifact, which could be useful if in alien territory and might have consequences (OnMoved = Destabilizes Star, OnMoved = Triggers Unseen Defender). Custom actions might be things like whether or not to wipe out natives defending the artifact, compensate them, try to use psy-ops to get them to flee the area, send anthropologists to gain cultural literacy (and thus find out what influences them).


Adding something like this would be a chance to give your 4X unique flavor. It could also be an interesting mechanic that helps alleviate boredom, especially early game. There is logically no reason why discoveries can't be made continually, even on settled worlds. 


This might take your idea farther afield that desired, but what if you had interest groups that could interact with artifacts? Billionaire collectors could give you money, terrorists could seek to use them as bombs, do-gooder treasure hunters might use them to stop an alien invasion, spies could steal them to start a war. Lots and lots of possibilities, especially if they had a wide range of effects akin to what Avalander described.

#5188348 [4X / TBS] Space Game - No ship Customization?

Posted by on 21 October 2014 - 11:51 AM

I'm all for you differentiating your 4X from others. Although you may be torn on the issue of customization, just consider the grand-daddy of strategy games: Chess. No customization, with highly distinct role specializations for each unit. Yes, there are huge distinctions from your typical 4X (perfect information, limited movement constraints, etc), of course, but I think it's relevant to your concern about late game lack of choices. I find that lack of choice in a more strategy focused game can be EXCELLENT for master players because you know the constraints and can project your strategy much, much farther than in cases where there are too many permutations to consider. And it can be really satisfying when you master a strategic projection and follow it through its twists and turns until it finally works.


It's probably worth mentioning, though, that this will place a much greater emphasis on really strong AI or multiplayer support. I think 4X's with lots of variability, be it through unpredictable results that flow from zillions of ship options, or random events or whatever, can get away with less strategic coherence and depth. A game with less customization isn't going to have that benefit.

#5188030 Percentage Health (100%) vs. Numbered Health (100/100)? Which ones better?

Posted by on 19 October 2014 - 02:17 PM

I'd recommend showing the x/y value but making it an options toggle for advanced players only because the less hardcore the game, the more numbers appear to be aesthetically off-putting.

#5186823 Golden era of the RPG

Posted by on 13 October 2014 - 10:27 PM

There is nothing "cerebral" in grinding until you find the weapon with the highest number.


Certainly, I'd agree with you if grinding until you find the weapon with the highest number was what previous RPGs were all about. 



Dice rolls are the least cerebral thing there is, you depend on the numbers of your sword and pure dumb luck.



In simpler RPGs I can see this, as it would suggest that there would be no parallel strategies with trade-offs. The best you could maybe expect is the thrill of gambling. In more complex RPGs, the cerebral part comes from the typically slower, deliberative consideration of the risks (to assets, resources, or of outright failure) of different approaches.


These same pathways can technically exist in a more actualized RPG, but typically don't because actualizing gameplay is significantly more resource intensive for developers, so you get less choices, and the choices you do get tend not to have much depth.


I'd take muscle memory over those any day


I would too if that were the only choice! :D


What you get is to do what before you just pretended to be doing. 


But can you really ever get away from pretending? If, say, for combat you prefer hit boxes and ray casting timed to your mouse or controller input, you're typically still rolling dice to some degree unless it's a purely deterministic simulation--which most action RPGs aren't. And since no RPG AIs that I know of implement a simulation of human vision, randomization is typically used in everything from aiming to awareness of the player.


Complexity isn't always a good thing. And dice roll mechanics, albeit complex if you want to make them complex, are as shallow as there can be.


I agree complexity isn't always good, and simulation and randomization can always be done poorly. But the actualized approach has delivered a deluge of facile, depthless gameplay dominated by combat and cinematics-- slider puzzles and button mashing interspersed with battles and poorly acted cut-scenes, basically.


The grind so many hate is a logical outgrowth of all of this. An abstract game can afford to depict myriad interactions-- gambling, negotiation, seduction, troubleshooting, hacking, pickpocketing, surgery, etc. An actualized game tends to attract an audience that demands all these things be spelled out, with the result that everything but traditional interactions (mainly combat) simply have to be cut.

#5186784 Neutral planets

Posted by on 13 October 2014 - 05:54 PM

If you don't want the planets taken (or only rarely taken) you could tweak your universe's cannon and have some sort of all powerful protector, ala the Monolith in the 2001 universe, that smites those that harm the protected planets. It might explain why the protected planets have remained unoccupied so long, as well.

#5186781 Golden era of the RPG

Posted by on 13 October 2014 - 05:09 PM

Nowadays, you can spare resources on all sorts of aspects. Lockpicking can be implemented as a minigame instead of a dice roll, hiting an opponent might be determined by simply letting the player use the weapon and try to attack a fast opponent with it. If an opponent is supposed to be hard to pin down, don't just increase its "dexterity" and call it a day, tweak the AI, make it dodge the player's attacks.


I realize that sensibilities have to change with the times but I find the direction you suggest really, really sad-- even as an action gamer. What it embodies is a shift from abstraction to actualization, and with it comes a drastic narrowing of gameplay. Maybe some would argue that this is focus, but as with the shift from written to spoken dialogue, what you actually get is a loss of choices and strategies. The saddest part about this is that RPGs, like strategy games, have been thought as somewhat more cerebral games, but this shift toward actualization drags the genre out of that realm into one where complexity tends to be trumped by repetition, muscle memory and superior reaction time.

#5179752 Designing the Overworld

Posted by on 11 September 2014 - 09:49 PM

For one, do you think that the fade would reduce the break in immersion, given that in either case I'd presumably want to show a UI by which to give the player the option to either travel on or stay in the vicinity?


I had thought that the letterboxing would help with the immersion issue, and imagine actually fading in of the map as the player continued moving forward in order to sort of create consent to travel without having to ask. Another approach would be to have the player automatically take out a map and bring it up to the view as the player moved into the transition boundary.


But I wouldn't overthink immersion. Even minecraft is reported to be immersive. The brain's good at suspending disbelief when it wants to.

#5177591 Mechanics for space game

Posted by on 01 September 2014 - 11:54 PM

Animals are challenging to make gameplay out of in a scifi game if you go the traditional routes. Fantasy has the luxury of magic, making even a rat potentially highly interactive (could talk, could be a charm, could be a pet that can steal keys, etc.). The more advance your game's tech, the more you're dealing with a situation akin to trying to find how to make ants matter to a god. 


When you can't find a  way to add gameplay in situations like this I've learned that it's important to look at what you're giving away for free. For instance, I think the beaming is maybe killing your idea. It cuts out tons of potential gameplay because it gives away the reward for free and makes coming up with interactivity hard because there's no gradation or variance to achieving victory.  It would be like putting autokill and invulnerability in a shooter-- of course there'd be no gameplay! biggrin.png Part of the fun is risking different strategies with different tradeoffs, which a giveaway eliminates.


Unless it's vital for the theme I'd switch to a lower technology that takes more steps to utilize. Can you add collectors (grays or robots or whatever) that can be risked? If players have to land their saucer and send out some kind of gatherer that's more vulnerable, the alien animals stop being ants to a god. This opens strategies like crafting and placing bait, traps that capture without killing, hunting and capturing / netting, stealth and (if you want) even combat.


I see nothing wrong with your original "noah's ark" sort of idea so long as you don't make it too easy to achieve. You could have survival pressures with keeping beasts alive (food, air, disease), capture risks without the automagic beam, and you could build around an entrepreneurial element if players were capturing for a variety of reasons: Zoos, private collectors, shady animal fighting rings, universities, or amoral research labs. 


If you wanted to keep your colony idea, you could build up to this being an ultimate achievement, or you could break it up. What if the galaxy was civilized or you were going into a new galaxy on behalf of benefactors? They might contract you to garden part of a planet, like populating a continent with different beasts for different themes (safari, research, agriculture, etc.) In this context you'd be colonizing multiple worlds, and the worlds could get more and more extreme and challenging as the clients got richer and richer.


If you added NPC competitors (even in abstract) you could open up dirty tricks gameplay. Maybe competitors could introduce anything from pests to xenomorph terrors, or you could do the same, all in a bid to make a world one way or another for some unseen, powerful alien client. You could even make it tougher by adding a kind of Federation / Space UN that forbids you from using the kind of technology that would again make it too easy-- like genetic plagues and the like.


Basically I think it comes down to salvaging your original idea by limiting what the player can do, adding detail and making the universe more alive.



#5177119 map borders in an open world game

Posted by on 30 August 2014 - 03:45 PM


You could also tie some vital resource to a central location and make it diminish the farther the player gets from it: For instance, a mana stone that causes the player's spells to be weaker the farther they are away from it, or a microwave emitter that gives vehicles and gear less and less power beyond some range boundary.


Interesting idea. That'd actually be an effective way of making the game more difficult the farther you travel outward, without unnaturally making monsters more powerful.



I like it because it potentially feels less like the designer is trying to punish you (for instance with a wall of million hit point Titans that you do one HP damage to) and the reason for the difficulty has is explicable and natural. You could extend it in a few different ways. For instance:

- If the recharge time of something is critical, it gets slower and slower the further you go from the central hub

- Same for anything that naturally regenerates, like health or ammunition (or the amount regenerated per cycle drops)

- A side game of risk and bravado could emerge, with players gambling how long they've survived in "the outlands." Could be especially challenging if loss is more permanent the farther you go (gear is harder to retrieve, or there's permadeath beyond a boundary).

#5177117 Little Combat Layout Question

Posted by on 30 August 2014 - 03:30 PM

I honestly don't think it's important so long as you're clear and consistent. I've heard the left/right thing in a number of contexts. For instance, a company logo with a directionality or arrow should never point left or down, as that supposedly symbolizes going backwards. Honestly, I think it's nonsense (you could have a mining company with an arrow pointing down, or a surplus company suggesting lower prices).


Although there are conventions you have to respect with each genre, I don't think this one matters. With the party on the left and the enemies on the right you could just as well make a solid argument that the visual style presents the heroes as progressing forward toward the end goal of the game. For gameplay I think this could be very motivating, just as if the progression were downward and you encountered say bigger and bigger gems or more and more darkness-- both would create a motivating mood (greed or foreboding, for example).

#5174347 map borders in an open world game

Posted by on 17 August 2014 - 08:15 PM

You could also tie some vital resource to a central location and make it diminish the farther the player gets from it: For instance, a mana stone that causes the player's spells to be weaker the farther they are away from it, or a microwave emitter that gives vehicles and gear less and less power beyond some range boundary.


You could also wrap the world if it's magical or supernatural, so that leaving east returns you to the west side of the map ala old 2d games.

#5170255 Survive together but only one can win

Posted by on 30 July 2014 - 02:20 AM

I wish I had something mind blowing to add to this idea other than that I really, really like it. Failing that, a couple of random thoughts:


1) Assassin playing dead: There needs to be some natural way of playing from beyond the grave for this to work, otherwise all players automatically know who the assassin is-- the player who keeps playing after the huge rock falls on them! It might work to have some kind of rule that allows players to reenter the game if they've been killed (as a monster or some other force), which might allow someone playing the assassin to successfully play while "dead."


2) I think the game would be stronger the more you can either have actions or strategies that look similar but are ultimately different. If, for instance, you're the explorer and you're constantly widening the radius of the known map area when nobody else ever seems to have a legitimate reason to do this then it'll be pretty obvious who you are. But if all characters somehow benefit by doing something the explorer does it'll make it harder to peg who the explorer is.


3) One thing that might help secret actions and the idea of players playing cards against each other would be if along with your foraging idea you classified event cards by color. Each player would have a chit denoting their current color. Players could add helpful or harmful cards to the event deck which corresponded to a color (trap against white, sanity affect against blue, etc.). Some events, however, would cause two or more players to swap colors, adding a bit of randomization and possibly throwing a monkey wrench in the plans of players as they try to cooperate with or contend with other opponents.