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memory vs. reaction?

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In my ponderings of old 2d games, and in particular scrolling shooter games such as R-Type. The issue of whether the player is encouraged to remember where the enemies are spawned (for example, because the enemies always start in the same position and follow a similar attack pattern), or whether they instead playing in a more reactive manner >>> where they have to pay attention to the game, watch which creatures are spawned, and decide how best to play in the current circumstances. I think that new ground could be broken in the area of "shooter" games by varying and randomising the initial placements of the opponents. For example, I remember the excitement that the big enemy creatures in Zelda caused, as they often had elements of unpredictability. Ie. When it dissappears and then pops back up out of one of several holes placed around the room. You had to stay focussed on the game. So, the same kind of thing could be done with normal enemy characters. Another thought, would be to have a game where the creatures could attack from any side of the screen, but the player would have a detector which would tell him what kind of creature will attack next (so he can take appropriate defensive action). This idea was inspired by Tetris / Bust-a-move''s indicators which tell you what piece is coming next.

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I think a shooter that plays the same way every time is pretty boring. R-Type is 8 levels of SUPER DIFFUCULT gaming, and if you actually manage to beat it, there is very little chance you''d want to endure that hellish game again.

I always like shooters with variety -- you can play one over and over. My favorite shooter is Einhander for the Playstation. Bosses mix up their attacks randomly, so you aren''t always sure what''s coming next. Also, bosses have more variety of attacks on harder difficulty levels. There is also a lot of stuff to do, like find secret weapons in the levels, and the game also keeps track of all your playing statistics, and ranks your play each game.

Enemy placement during Einhander is always the same (besides a few "branching levels") but it''s usually so fast-paced that it doesn''t matter. There are some challenging parts but overall the difficulty is nowhere near R-Type.

I think randomized enemy placement could be cool, though. Maybe make some "rare" enemies that the player gets cool bonuses for coming across and destroying? That sounds cool to me.

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You mentioned how certain moments involving random enemy placement meant that "you had to stay focussed on the game". You are right that this generated a real tension and excitement, but it needs to be used in moderation. It''s nice to experience a situation where things are becoming tougher and you are pushed to your limit but you don''t wan''t it constantly otherwise you become exhausted and frustrated. The random element needs to be used wisely.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
N2O Nitrous Oxide(PSX) has an option where the enemies are spawned randomly, I always play with that option on.

What I think is even better than randomness would be to pit the ai against the player, and have it try to create patterns that result in the player''s demise. I''m designing the ai now. I hope it will truly bring out a player''s skill and allow for lots of replayability.

I know, whenever I play any game, especially ones like R-Type that really make me follow a pattern, and beat it, the victory is hollow and I do not feel I have earned it since it wasn''t my skill that won the game.

Oddly enough, I feel different when I play the Wipeout series(racing game) because even though some turns can only be navigated by experience, they can only be navigated by experience because the turn''s dimensions and the next section of track are unknown and unseen beforehand(and it usually takes a couple of passes to figure out the structure of it cause you go so fast) and even when you know what the next turn is, how the turn is made is determined by the speed and angle you have going into it, so I must still react even though the track is memorized because I never have the same lap twice, usually due to enemy craft. Also, since the solution of a turn is dependant upon how you enter the turn and how you enter a turn is dependant on what happened at the previous turn, it''s very unlikely to ever have the same lap twice.

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no matter how much randomness is placed into the mix or even how little. skill is required, even if you know the track cold. since you have to figure out the best way to handle the situation. once its figured it out (ie the fun/frusterating part) it requires skill to be able to repeat the pattern. when you race a track, you dont get the same lap times each time because you still dont know the optimium path. even if you do, you mostly likely wont have the skill to repeat it precisly each time which adds up to seconds.

i find it thrilling to be able to run fast laps on a course, even if i played the course many times. just being able to figure the track out, and then being good enough to repeat the pattern is quite fun. its just like any puzzle, some dont care to try and solve the puzzle multiple times to do it more efficent.

heck even when playing a highly random game of quake3 online, much of the playing is remembering where the items are, and using effiecent paths to control those items. while there is randomness of what the other players may do, there is always a basic pattern to be found. good players will use multiple patterns which they switch depending on how other players use their patterns. just like a football or basketball game. you adapt your current knowledge with the events.

in games like r-type, even tiny chnages in how you play yoru pattern will affect the entire chain of enemies dues to chaos. small deviations from the optium pattern will result in a new pattern that is different then the old one. since no one i know can perfectly control their avatar, its safe to say even knowing the optiumun pattern requires great skill to execute, reflex to adjust when error is made.

possible you dont enjoy the finding the pattern part. r-type is a difficult game and requires tons of concentration. it requires the ability to play the game through mere reflex since any thought will ussually result in losing. i am guessing that either you dont find twitch games fun, have very good pattern recognition abilities along with great reflexs, make your wins hollow by helping yoru game a bit by cheating (like infinite lives, continues, etc), or possibly you only care about winning and not how you actually one. personally beating a game and beating a game without losing a life is a very different thing. beating the game with a better score also is somthing i find enjoyable. most new school gamers dont, they are used to newer games which dont use score as a measure of success (if they even have a score). instead they base it merely on beating the game, or finding some secrets (which are ussually hidden to the point where you need a strategy guide to find them all). whether you get eth hi score dont matter. there is no reward for beating it without losing a life. you get nothing for getting a faster time, etc.

so its difficult to "fix" shooters through randomizing the enemies, since you destroy some of the fun (ie the puzzle element). play some of the tougher shooters like bangai-o or gunbird2 for dreamcast. quite good, very difficult, but have patterned enemies (though bangai-o is a free form game in which you go through a 2d enviroment in however you wish).

nearly every single game has non random enemies. why is it that shooters need random enemy placement? why not platformers, first person shooters, etc?

i think its just that many "modern" gamers dont apprciate the simplestic thrill of old school 2d scrolling shooters.

i will reiterate. ALL games have patterns you use to beat them. its just a matter of whether you notice it or not. also a matter of whether you enjoy repeating the pattern or even get sufficent rewards for doing the pattern well. hopefully you see my point. its not a matter of randomness, its more of a matter of making the pattern complex enough so the average player dont easily recognize it.

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swat 3 had ''random'' enemy location, i think it is something like each enemy has about 3 places it could be in, same with civilians, now that made for some good gameing as each room had to be cleared as you never knew where the terrorists were

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