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Member Since 16 Oct 2000
Offline Last Active Apr 15 2016 09:12 AM

#5152049 The acceptance of gold loot in RPGs

Posted by on 07 May 2014 - 08:49 AM

If a drop is ultimately reducible to "gold" (in-game currency) then making it drop as something else is only valuable insofar as it contributes to immersion.


Consider grey drops in World of Warcraft or the Alien Food in XCOM:EU...in both cases, the combat event gives you in-game currency...but also something that's reducible to in-game currency. Certainly it's there to contribute to "realism" and immersion. In XCOM:EU, many of the "drops" - especially when you're tackling an alien asset, like a UFO or their base - are not monetary...but are easily transformable into currency at a button press...whereas in WoW you need to find a vendor to sell your stuff or you need to junk it. There's a lot going on here...also consider that, in WoW, carrying space (bag space) is a resource you need to manage, where in XCOM:EU storage space isn't a consideration at all; it's effectively infinite. "Do I carry these Withered Gizzards back to the vendor to sell? Or do I dump them in favor of these High Quality Withered Gizzards I just found?"


Note that I've omitted the otherwise useful drops in both cases; i.e. drops with functions beyond selling for currency, like crafting assets. UFO Flight Computers sell for big bank but also can be turned into Firestorms (the upgraded Interceptor model). These particular drops didn't seem to be on the table, but I can't really disregard them; they contribute to immersion in both a purely thematic sense ("Look, I found a fancy alien computer instead of a box of dollars") as well as a functional sense ("I can use this fancy alien computer to make cool stuff OR I can sell it for boxes of dollars").

#5150559 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 30 April 2014 - 09:23 AM

The point in doing things is not only because it improves our lot in life. The point of doing things is often that doing the thing is intrinsically fun, valuable, or improves the lot in somebody else's life. Pediatricians, teachers, hospice workers, artists, and others work jobs that pay crap, demands 80+ hours of work per week, and they're not doing it for any reason other than their love for the field and/or love for the people they help.


(Before anybody says "Doctors make bank!" do some legwork on that thought. <3 Doctors make lots of money due to in-office procedures, which pediatricians do very, very few of compared to all other fields. They are some of the worst paid doctors. Really you can expand it [or change if you prefer] to nurses, orderlies, any other hospital support staff you choose.)


Meanwhile, imagine World of Warcraft or Dark Souls or any other multiplayer game, co-op or otherwise, where some people spawned in at level 40 and others at lv1; and maybe the people that start at lv1 can never surpass lv30. Because "life isn't fair" the designers say. The level constraints aren't random, either: they're based on what region on Earth you live in, maybe some non-P.C. demographics, and how much money you elect to pay per month.


How well do you think that would sell? :)

#5150368 Will the library thread.h in C++11 will cause cross-platform problems?

Posted by on 29 April 2014 - 09:57 AM

My understanding is that std::thread is windowthreads in Windows and pthreads in most other places...so you should be alright using it. :) If you were explicitly using one or the other, you'd certainly run into trouble.

#5150366 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 29 April 2014 - 09:54 AM

There's certainly value behind designing a game for a niche market! That's the entire platform behind Chris Avellone and Brian Fargo going indie; Avellone himself has said that, even with the Kickstarter/crowd-sourced funding they've gathered, they still wouldn't be able to convince a large publisher to pick them up; it's just not *enough* money to interest them. BUT the fact that they did crowd-source funding that fast means there's interest out there, and now those people will get to play the game that they really want to play. Also, whether a game sells well isn't the most meaningful metric to gauge it's enjoyment factor by. Some games sell VERY well and turn into flops (consider the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle) while other games sell poorly and are more or less legendary for good game design (Planescape:Torment, Psychonauts).


And, sure, it would be kind of a waste of resources to specifically explore the question "Are Capcom games objectively enjoyed more than Squaresoft games?" but expanding that question to "Are video games more enjoyable than other modes of entertainment?" could be objectively quantified in a well-constructed experiment. I bet it'd involve sticking EEG trodes up to test subject's heads (or using some other biometric measuring wearable) while they engage in various tasks. We actually have seen research very much like this; there was that study at Boston Children's Hospital using pulse rate to shut the controller off when kids got angry, teaching them to keep their anger in check while gaming, for instance; at PAX East this year there was a game called Throw Trucks With Your Mind where you wore a tiny EEG trode and used your brain to do things in-game; Sam Harris (philosopher, neuroscientist) conjectures that we can quantify a lot of mental states (emotions) using brain-scanning techniques, and that we should do so because we learn a lot about ourselves as we do. So, it is explorable; and it's happening. Not a waste of inquiry efforts, in any case. :)


Anyway, I fear I've veered us far afield...but frob has already hit the nail on the head, I think, and addressed my concerns to boot. We could potentially make a limited Utopia-style sandbox game world in which there were still risks to take, still items to collect, still things to explore and do; a game that's strictly PVE with solid rewards for constructive teamwork and solidarity. I'm looking forward to the alpha version. In fact, I'll draft up my resume to work on that project now.

#5150362 Old School Dungeon Crawler

Posted by on 29 April 2014 - 09:27 AM

There are kind of a lot of low rez (but high fidelity) games on there...but not a lot of hi rez (high fidelity) games of this kind.


The only one I've seen recently (which I think I rather like) is Darkest Dungeon which is kind of Eye of the Beholder meets XCOM in a comic book. I recommend checking it out. :) Also, if you have the choice, I'd go for pretty 2D highly stylized art instead of going with "the 8-bit look" which I think would be harder to really make your own.

#5150356 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 29 April 2014 - 09:06 AM

You need money to make a trip to Iceland. And if you are not high class, you have to work generally on menial and exploitative jobs in order to have purchasing power.So one spends 8 months per year, 5 to 6 days out of 7 of unbearable tasks for 1 month of relief.

...in addition, a vacation abroad doesn't provide only a single month of relief. A year later and I still reflect on my time in that country fondly; still look at the pictures and marvel at how they really don't do justice to the scenery there; still remember that moment I looked at basalt columns and learned that they were (and understood why) they were the inspiration for the Dwarves and Moria in Tolkien's work. (He did much of his PhD work in Iceland.) Travel cannot be underestimated; it's a valuable investment, one that's worth the risk and the hard times spent working menial jobs.

I actually listed a number of games that explore this very theme (i.e. finding value in living when much of your efforts are focused on survival) Cart Life and I Get This Call Everyday in particular.


++ EDIT: Clarification t++

#5150352 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 29 April 2014 - 09:03 AM

Boorish was a typo; sorry for that. Grindy means what it sounds like it means: gameplay that is repetitive and lengthy simply to make the game last longer, e.g. early JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, most Themepark MMOs these days, etc.
You are  misusing the relativist fallacy. That fallacy comes up when somebody says "I don't believe the in quantum mechanics, so it's not true for me but it may be true for you." Facts like quantum mechanics are facts because they are discovered and ratified by well-controlled experiments for which the data and methods are made available for peer review and THEN they're peer-reviewed. This model does NOT fit your assertions. Not at all. Capcom games aren't uniformly better than Squaresoft games for all people: the proof lies in the large and fanatical fanbase that the FF series has enjoyed for a very, very long time.
The things that people enjoy are patently subjective. Some people prefer hiking to biking; some people prefer biking to hiking. Both are good for cario; both produce senses of peace and accomplishment in their practitioners; neither accomplishes any intrinsic goals outside of those set by and for the practitioner. You can't make a statement that one is objectively better than the other. Well you can, but you'd only be right *for you* because it's not something that's proven statistically significant in a well-controlled experiment. You're just making it up. <3
Insofar as "Travel is expensive", you should Google that phrase and see just how 1. the only expensive part is the flight and 2. travel's not actually expensive. I actually brought the max allotment of homemade granola (3 KG of dry goods is allowed for personal food usage when entering Iceland, which will vary wherever you go) and it's well worth the price of admission.

That's a false dilemma. It is actually both, most videogames are better(quantifyably) than urban life and there are ways to apply great (game) design techniques for better urban lives.

This is another fallacy that you're misusing. First off, my conjecture there isn't a false dilemma: you posed the question "Were life a game, how would you better design it?" and so far you've only pitched ZERO game design ideas. Second, you're just rehashing what you said before i.e. that "most video games are better than urban life" for which 1. you're assuming is a priori (it's not) and 2. has been dismissed by me.

#5150227 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 28 April 2014 - 07:56 PM

I do not subscribe to the idea that game design quality is relativistic. Metal Gear Solid is better than Final Fantasy VII, objectively. GTA4 is better than GTA3. Any remarkable videogame by Capcom is better than the average urban human life.

By "relativistic" I assume you mean "relative" and not "near the speed of light"? :)


Whether you subscribe to the idea or not, it's a thing; it's real. In general, trying to assert that "Metal Gear Solid is objectively better than FFVII" or any similar claim is 1. purely subjective and 2. apples to oranges. MGS is a not-so-subtle social and political commentary masquerading as a stealth game while FFVII is a grindy sci-fantasy epic...and both games have fan clubs who vehemently make that very claim - X is better than Y - with their game in the X slot.


Admiration (or the opposite) for any entertainment medium is strictly subjective. Some people really, really enjoy clipping coupons, doing lawn work, re-arranging their apartments, re-alphabetizing their record collections, or a great many other menial chores that 1. aren't video games and 2. kind of share some similarities some some beloved video games in that they're maybe repetitive but serve as a bed for socializing and chilling out. I accept that YOU may find Capcom games to be unparalleled. I personally find them trite, borish, and cartoony. I feel that the prototype games that Sid Meier or Chris Avellone spew out over the course of a weekend when they're bored are far and away superior to anything Capcom has financial control over.


In either case, you don't seem to be talking about how to "design the game of life" but more trying to make the case that "video games are better than life." If that's true, I humbly recommend buying a plane ticket and crossing an ocean to see that that's not the case. <3 I recommend Iceland. It's kind of insane how cool that place looks. That's strictly subjective, of course, but...well, Google some pics, you'll see. A real glacier is way better than a 3D rendering. I remember very well the hike up to the glacier's face, wiping away the muck and peering into its icy depths. Video games just don't compare to that. Not at all.

#5150169 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 28 April 2014 - 02:02 PM

By comparison, everyday life is less entertaining than a session of Mario Galaxy.
I think the reasons are obvious.

This certainly isn't a priori. I submit as plain evidence: all people who do NOT enjoy video games and/or prefer other modes of entertainment. If you like, we can constrain my (massive) set of data here to "people who prefer outdoor activities to video games". Each and every one of us can name people in our lives who enjoy going on walks, hiking, biking, or for a run all more than they enjoy video games. By framing "everyday real life" as if it's reducible only to the mundanity of chores and simple resource management is only building a straw man argument, disregarding the very real, very fun experiences of many, many people that don't involve Mario Galaxy.


Perhaps it bears mention that there are video games that present game play based on that very mundanity, or on very, very serious troubles that people experience under the weight of that mundanity. Cart Life, Papers Please, I Get This Call Every Day, Depression Quest, and Actual Sunlight to name a few.

#5150123 Life, the worst game design of all.

Posted by on 28 April 2014 - 09:39 AM

Just to be clear, I assume you mean real life (our semi-mutual experience thereof) and not Conway's Game of Life. Right? smile.png In that case, it's proooooobably best that we stay away from discussions that center upon origins and instead focus on the design as it seems to exist. Just putting that out there. <3


First, there are real world examples of games that both enjoy extreme difficulty and emulating real life.


When considering real life from a game designer's perspective, I can't help but reflect on the success of franchises like Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, or XCOM where the entire appeal of the game is just how vicious the game is; game designers of these titles (and players) really seem to enjoy the fact that their game design is especially punitive. Dark Souls 2's "tutorials" are of the following form: "This is a monster that you repeatedly die on upwards of 15-20 times and THAT is how you figure out what the buttons really do." It turns out that some people really do like very difficult games.


Not to mention the rash of so-called "rogue-likes" now: Rogue Legacy, Spelunky, The Pit, just to name a few...all of which hinge upon severe consequences and sudden absolute fail-states. And there are even games that do what they can to emulate real life struggles in crappy situations (Day Z, Rust, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) so...there are even games that seem to draw on what you're asserting is "bad game design". smile.pngOr even The Sims franchise which is tremendously successful and basically boils down to a game design mapping to real life.


But your question is how would I design it which I honestly have a hard time answering without trespassing on the very thing I cautioned against in my opening statement.  I'll try my best.


First, I need to couch my upcoming assertions with this statement: art is irreducible. (Credit: Mr BTongue on Youtube.) If you attempt to break it down into its constituent parts, part of it's value and affect are lost in the process.


Having said that, I'm going to grossly reduce all gameplay into a smattering of elements: all of which are human experiences in real life.

  • Puzzle and problem solving (i.e. as simplistic as Tetris or as robust as the original XCOM resource management game),
  • exploration (for its own sake OR to find resources),
  • combat (defense/acquisition of resources, or as a gameplay feature in and of itself),
  • learning ("research" systems in games),
  • and ethical conundrums (simplistic ones in Mass Effect, more nuanced ones like the original Fallout or Planescape: Torment).

All of these things are meaningful to our species because of our shared real life experience and understanding. If we change that real life experience in a way that we're all aware of, all gameplay elements that we're familiar with are going to change and may become invalid/uninteresting.


Given that, it makes this question very, very difficult to answer.


(What follows now must necessarily reflect upon my own system of values which, as I cautioned above, isn't really a good discussion vector for this forum. That said, I'm including this anyway in my effort to address the question. Please be quick to disregard.)


I'm not certain I would change the design of life. Consider the following train of thought: maybe my redesign could somehow make life uniformly better for all people: maybe it could create some truly functional form of Marxism (i.e. Star Trek community) that spreads like a cultural victory in Galactic Civ 2 (entirely non-violently and purely because it's so awesome and appealing that everybody wants in on it) and would reward a taste for evidence and skepticism, the likes of which lead to very, very good game design and secure systems (as well as advances in ethical theory and medicine). Now, the perspective there is one from the community OR some sort of Civilization god-like perspective and not an individual perspective. I'd still cast the individual experience in a similar way, but that might make for very boring gameplay! Remember, games are interesting because there are problems to solve, resources to manage, risks to take, and things to discover...and if a "perfect life design" would nullify one or more of these real life needs such that they never existed...well, how can I know whether the gameplay would be interesting or not? We measure game interest and enjoyability based upon our experiences in life, so any thing I pitch that might change that experience necessarily changes the basis I have to judge. I can't make these predictions. smile.png Even The Sims is fun in part because it's a game of resource management (time use, primarily) and organization, all based upon approximations of real life challenges we're all familiar with.


Any change to the system changes the way the system is viewed, because that system is *us*. So, I find this question very, very hard to approach...and I'm not sure that we have any way to judge whether a proposed revision to the system is any good.

#5150114 Magic advancement system

Posted by on 28 April 2014 - 08:51 AM

A lot of good thoughts in  here; I thought I'd briefly weigh in with some games you might have a look at to see what others have done.


Recently (at PAX East) I saw a game demoed called Lichdom: Battlemage which has a crafting system for spells; i.e. you have some number of "talent points" (or components/resources, that actually wasn't clear to me) that you use to craft spells which are then bound to single-press buttons.


My favorite magic system to date is the one in Magicka i.e. you have eight magicka buttons, each one maps to an "element", and you have several "Cast it!" keys, and you get to experiment with element combos and discover spells. Some spells are gated by you getting to a certain point and finding a Book, thereafter you string together an arbitrary ordering of elements then hit Spacebar for a crazy effect (like teleporting or summoning lightning bolts from the sky...or literally crashing the game to desktop is a spell!). BUT you have many spells at your disposal right out of the gate, which you don't know your first time through, but your second time through you are immediately more dangerous. I can't emphasize how well done this system is; I really recommend trying it out. (The game is also hilarious.)


Finally, what magic discussion would be complete without a mention of Arx Fatalis? :) The stand out quality here (for better or worse) are the mouse gestures; i.e. you use the mouse to write (rough approximations of) runes on the screen and that's how you cast your spells. This game is pretty inexpensive and, admittedly, hasn't aged that well, but it's sufferable and you get a feel for the magic early on.


I hope this helps with your research. :)

#5149453 Feedback needed for Rouge-Like 2D Platformer Sci-Fi

Posted by on 25 April 2014 - 01:30 PM

Have you played Rogue Legacy? It's like Spelunky in that it's a 2D-platformer which prices itself in being unforgiving, but also there are four specific bosses you need to beat (functionally equivalent to your high-level design, really) prior to fighting a final boss then "escaping". You might consider giving it a go for your research. :)

#5149173 Do Giant Eyeballs with Tentacles Appear Too Much?

Posted by on 24 April 2014 - 09:22 AM

I admit, I have seen it quite a bit, haha. :) Don't let that stop you: if it thematically makes sense for your end-boss to be a giant tentacle-bearing eyeball, go for it. (I assume the boss has other abilities/events that distinguish it from other eyeball-squid bosses?) The question I have here is "What would make thematic sense for the climax of your game?" Why is the enemy a giant floating eyeball with tentacles? What other enemies/challenges has the player faced up to this point? What's the relationship between the player character and this enemy?


If we're just strictly talking aesthetics (i.e. your boss is that way because you think it's cool) and if you're open to other ideas, perhaps drawing from the source would help? Pick up some Lovecraft or at least read about the other monsters/aliens/things he's come up with, maybe draw inspiration from those? Or from similar sources? Maybe your boss is a giant eyeball with tentacles until the moment [something happens, you think you've won, you actually haven't yet] and it weirdly morphs/sheds its skin/somehow transitions into some other Lovecraftian-style horror...like a bag of writhing mouths or a sinister verison of the PC that has a single eye, many mouths, tentacles, whatever. Or maybe one of these other forms (or something else) is the only form the boss takes? Get crazy!

#5148540 How to stop users from manipulating Game Save Data

Posted by on 21 April 2014 - 09:12 AM

Many smart people here have already addressed the whole "Cheating isn't so bad and isn't worth stopping" thing, so I thought I'd take the other approach: cheating (in single player) can be game play and you should treat it that way. <3


You might consider making it very easy to "cheat". For instance, your save files could be plain text with easy to read values in it (e.g. CurrentGold=[num]) allowing the user to tweak the experience to their liking, either purely as game play mutators (consider XCOM's Second Wave options)...or even make a sort of game out of cheating: for instance, you could hide easter eggs in your game accessible only to users that change certain fields in the save file. This also goes a long way towards mod support, which sets the stage for a potentially long-lived game. Also, sometimes people (like me) will want to cheat to make your game harder because they've played so much of it and want to keep playing, but the computer's no match for them, or whatever. A given player may want to tweak difficulty in a way that suits their game play style in a way the designer didn't anticipate: maybe the difficulty levels in the game change only (just making this up here) levels of aggression and damage mitigation for enemies, but the player finds it more challenging for them when the enemies become smaller (harder to see) or just do a lot more damage (but are still fragile).


Allowing these kinds of modifications shouldn't be blindly frowned upon for these reasons. Instead of viewing hacked saves as a game play hindrance, consider it a game play opportunity. (If, for example, you're making a Hacking game, I'd assert this is almost required...but you'd want to encrypt the save file in that case. smile.png ) Really, when I think about it in this context, the term "cheating" is just pejorative/subjective; it's not objective at all. It's just allowing the player the ability to easily mod their own experience.

#5147716 Component Entity and Data-Orientated Design

Posted by on 17 April 2014 - 01:34 PM

My first Google search on Entity-Component was a while ago, but it still turns up this wiki which, as before, leads me to this chap. (I think that chap is the author of that wiki, but I'm not certain.)

Both of those sources see ECS design that basically boils down to a relational database (and the flyweight pattern) in order to speed things up. It's not just level design: speed is the entire reason ECS exists. It's why it was pitched as "the future of MMOs" by Scott Bilas. It's weird to wrap your brain around (esp. if you're not a db programmer) because it totally discards OOP (throwing the baby out with the bathwater) seeing ECS as an entirely new paradigm for program org.


It's a lot of reading, haha. :) But the gist is: the in-memory org. is going to be a database. The blog there ("this chap" link above) explains it pretty well.