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WoAIII: The Dilemma

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Thaumaturge

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Two points do not a pattern make, but both this theme and last year's have proven difficult for me!

For the past few hours I've been struggling to find an idea that satisfied me. I've had ideas--I posted some of them in my previous journal, I believe--but I've found problems with all: some didn't seem to use the theme well enough, others seemed to require grinding, a few just seemed insipid, and so on.

However, I think that I now have two concepts that might work, and have only to decide between them before I start developing a prototype:

First is a design mentioned in my previous post: the player controls a set of cultists attempting to perform a ritual sacrifice at several particular locations, while avoiding heroes intent on stopping them. At its heart this would be a stealth game: the player attempts to reach the ritual site without being spotted by either civilians (who might raise a "suspicion" meter) or guards and heroes (who would kill the character, and who are alerted once the suspicion meter becomes full). Death would be useful in two manners: first, performing the sacrifices advances the game, and second, being killed by a hero "outs" that hero, making them visible from the outset of subsequent attempts.

I really like this idea, but I'll confess that I have qualms about making a game in which one plays a set of villain-protagonists of this sort. To some degree this might be ameliorated by making the sacrifices be ritual suicide, removing the element of murdering others, and by the fact that I would intend to portray the outcome of completing the game as something very unpleasant: "winning" would produce a screen that depicts the horrible arrival of the being summoned by the ritual, while losing would announce that the world is safe from the player.

My second idea is something new. The theme is that "death is useful"--but it doesn't say to whom death is useful; in this concept, player-deaths are useful to the enemy. Specifically, this game would be a procedural shooter with perma-death. When the player dies, their most-successful (or most-used, perhaps) weapons are distributed amongst the enemies, and a boss based on the player. (This is likely to be somewhat weighted according to the player's success in the run: a player that did poorly might end up "donating" only one or two weapons, and might not be made a boss.) Furthermore, enemies that performed poorly against the player receive a lower weight during the generation of the next run.

Again, I rather like this idea. On the other hand, my submission last year was a procedurally-generated game, and that took long enough, and was judged poorly enough, that I'm hesitant to follow so similar a route this year. On top of that, there's a danger in using an idea that just recently came to me: I've found in the past (including last year's submission) that it can take time for me to spot the problems with a concept; I recall that this was, after all, part of the reason that I wanted to dedicate a day to concept-work.
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My second idea is something new. The theme is that "death is useful"--but it doesn't say to whom death is useful; in this concept, player-deaths are useful to the enemy. Specifically, this game would be a procedural shooter with perma-death. When the player dies, their most-successful (or most-used, perhaps) weapons are distributed amongst the enemies, and a boss based on the player. (This is likely to be somewhat weighted according to the player's success in the run: a player that did poorly might end up "donating" only one or two weapons, and might not be made a boss.) Furthermore, enemies that performed poorly against the player receive a lower weight during the generation of the next run.

I made a game once where enemy deaths were still useful to the enemy, but only in the sense that they fell out the sky but continued to absorb your shots! The idea you talk about here seems more like an evolutionary process, where death is indeed useful, natural selection and all that.

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I made a game once where enemy deaths were still useful to the enemy, but only in the sense that they fell out the sky but continued to absorb your shots! The idea you talk about here seems more like an evolutionary process, where death is indeed useful, natural selection and all that.

 

Heh, the rain of former enemies sounds both amusing and annoying! laugh.png

 

As to my idea, I don't think that it quite has the depth of a proper evolutionary process, but it might be thought of as a shallow reflection of such.

 

 

THis is like that Lord of the Rings game, Mordor.

Somewhat, I suppose. Shadow of Mordor had a rather more complex system than I have in mind, naturally, and the type of advantage distributed to the enemies differs between the two games, but in both cases the enemies change according the the player's successes and failures.

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I'm curious about idea #2, I think, from what I've read this far, that it's possibly the most unique concept so far. Sure, you've twisted the theme a bit, but I don't think the judges will hate you for it :P

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I like your ideas, especially the first one. Civilians and guards does sound a bit heavy though, or do you have a Unity asset pack lying around? (Assuming you are using Unity)

 

Also I hope you don't get stuck on your dilemma. Analysis paralysis can be a very annoying thing, especially when you are in the middle of a competition.  

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I disagree it is a twist. Honestly, the theme is generic enough that you could possibly apply EVERYTHING to it. I like idea 2 since it isnt generic as some of the other ideas. That said, I wish they would define what "following the theme" means. Right now its left up to each judge so this could be radically different depending on the person.

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I like idea 2 since it isnt generic as some of the other ideas.

 

I'm curious about idea #2, I think, from what I've read this far, that it's possibly the most unique concept so far.

 

Also I hope you don't get stuck on your dilemma. Analysis paralysis can be a very annoying thing, especially when you are in the middle of a competition.

Thank you all. ^_^

 

After deliberation, I have in fact settled on--and started implementing--the second idea above (the procedural shooter in which the player's deaths are useful to the enemy). I'm planning on keeping it fairly simple, and am hoping to have a gameplay prototype (likely without the "death" element at this point) completed before I head to bed (in a few hours' time). When the prototype is ready I intend to post another blog entry, which should elaborate more on my plans for this game.
 

I like your ideas, especially the first one. Civilians and guards does sound a bit heavy though, or do you have a Unity asset pack lying around? (Assuming you are using Unity)

I'm not using Unity, actually--I use Panda3D, and generally do my own modelling.

 

I'm glad that you like the concept, even if it isn't the one that I chose--I am still rather fond of it. ^_^
 

Sure, you've twisted the theme a bit, but I don't think the judges will hate you for it tongue.png

I'm inclined to agree with Riuthamus: the text that accompanied the theme seemed to very much encourage creative interpretations. To quote the post itself:

"This is all i will say about the theme, I will leave it upto you to creatively incorporate it into your game."

(Not that I'm not biased towards the idea that this is a valid interpretation--I should hope that it is! ^^; )

 

Hmm... The question does raise one potential worry, however: the mechanic might not be obvious to the player. I should perhaps give some thought (at a later stage, I think) to making it clear that the enemy gains from the player's deaths; I do already have it in mind to have the final boss appear to gloat over gaining power from it (with some disdain if the player died early in the game tongue.png), but I should take a moment to consider whether more should be done.

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Hmm... The question does raise one potential worry, however: the mechanic might not be obvious to the player. I should perhaps give some thought (at a later stage, I think) to making it clear that the enemy gains from the player's deaths; I do already have it in mind to have the final boss appear to gloat over gaining power from it (with some disdain if the player died early in the game tongue.png), but I should take a moment to consider whether more should be done.


Absolutely, I understand it can be difficult to be as creative as possible, and that interpretation left to the judges can mean a bit of a wild card in how your game is received. but i like your overall concept, however you will need to find some way to communicate to the player that death is beneficially to your enemys and not to you, otherwise i fear you'll run into an issue where judges don't recognize what your intentions were. remember that i am likely one of the few judges that will be reading each and every contestants blogs, so your characterization of the theme will have to be done in the game, and not outside it.

I wish you luck in this endeavor though!

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but i like your overall concept, however you will need to find some way to communicate to the player that death is beneficially to your enemys and not to you, otherwise i fear you'll run into an issue where judges don't recognize what your intentions were. remember that i am likely one of the few judges that will be reading each and every contestants blogs, so your characterization of the theme will have to be done in the game, and not outside it.

Don't worry, I don't intend to rely on my blog posts to inform either potential players or judges! Thinking about it a bit more, I might be able to simply exposit a little bit in a static "cutscene" when the player starts the game--as long as I keep it brief, it should, hopefully, at least suggest the presence of the mechanic.
 

I wish you luck in this endeavor though!

Thank you. happy.png

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