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khawk

Have you considered a different genre?

21 posts in this topic

Lots of talk about RPG game design on this board, but the only difficult task of designing an RPG is special attention to all of the details that create a believable world. What about a puzzle game? What are the design challenges there? Kevin p.s. This might relate to something coming up in the near future for GDNet.
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Kevin, RPGs are hands down the most flawed designs in all of video-gamedom. Is it any suprise that much of the design forum is dedicated to fixing them? Puzzle games are pretty perfect, by comparison; but since discussion of "what makes a good puzzle game" would be purely simantic, they don''t get much attention. The only *real* way to make a good puzzle game is to make a good puzzle game. There''s no extra layers of crappiness like there are in RPGs.

All in all, I think genres on this board get exactly as much wear as they are worth, with RPGs at the top because they need the most improvement to be great. I appreciate your sentiment, though.
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I agree with the above, although I thought I''d add that there are few threads on other topics, it''s just that RPGs are the majority.

In any case, some challenges for puzzle games (since that''s what you were asking for ):
1) This is somewhat obvious, but it''s difficult to come up with something original for puzzle games. Why the heck do you think there are so many tetris derivatives?
2) Creating something that will sell. Most puzzle games just don''t become all that popular. When was the last time you heard the gaming press rave about a puzzle game?

Anyone care to add to the list?



----------------------------------------
Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant and she fell on me? Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.
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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

Kevin, RPGs are hands down the most flawed designs in all of video-gamedom. Is it any suprise that much of the design forum is dedicated to fixing them?




That is an opinion. The fact that RPGs are the most talked about in design discussions is because they''re the easiest to talk about. There are so many different worlds that can be created and explored through the RPG genre that it just makes sense to talk about them. Place that on top of the fact that many people interested in game design come from an RPG background such as AD&D.


quote:

Puzzle games are pretty perfect, by comparison; but since discussion of "what makes a good puzzle game" would be purely simantic, they don''t get much attention. The only *real* way to make a good puzzle game is to make a good puzzle game. There''s no extra layers of crappiness like there are in RPGs.

All in all, I think genres on this board get exactly as much wear as they are worth, with RPGs at the top because they need the most improvement to be great. I appreciate your sentiment, though.



Well, stop and think for a second about what makes Tetris so great. I guarantee that if you pick it apart like an RPG gets picked apart that you''ll find some greatness in its design.

For example, with falling pieces, you have the element of "swarm", where the player begins to feel as though he had no chance of pulling through with a win. Is this prevalent in most puzzle games? I think in some ways, yes. If a game has a timer, it has "swarm".

Just some things to think about before reaching conclusions. Design often goes much deeper than what characters are placed where. To design a great game, you have to reach into the souls of the players and make them feel what they should be feeling if they truly existed in your world.

Kevin

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quote:

Well, stop and think for a second about what makes Tetris so great. I guarantee that if you pick it apart like an RPG gets picked apart that you'll find some greatness in its design.

For example, with falling pieces, you have the element of "swarm", where the player begins to feel as though he had no chance of pulling through with a win. Is this prevalent in most puzzle games? I think in some ways, yes. If a game has a timer, it has "swarm".

Just some things to think about before reaching conclusions. Design often goes much deeper than what characters are placed where. To design a great game, you have to reach into the souls of the players and make them feel what they should be feeling if they truly existed in your world.



[pathetic sarcasim]

Uhh...What were you saying about RPGs? Tetris isn't an RPG...

[/pathetic sarcasim]




"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." --William Blake

Edited by - Nazrix on July 5, 2000 10:12:15 PM
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quote:

[pathetic sarcasim]

Uhh...What were you saying about RPGs? Tetris isn''t an RPG...

[/pathetic sarcasim]



Yes it is! Huh what? It isn''t?? But, but i thought... ;-
)

I don''t think he meant it that way Nazrix, but rather in a comparitive analysis sort of way.

I don''t think we can pin point a genre as being the worst todate because of reasons like hybrid games, game meduims etc.

quote:


Just some things to think about before reaching conclusions. Design often goes much deeper than what characters are placed where.


That heavily depends on the type/genre of game you''re talking about. Which one exactly?



I love Game Design and it loves me back.
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An awesome puzzle game.. Hm that has to be Bust a Move.
I think it''s the best, and funniest Puzzle game I''ve played.
Then of course we have the good ''ol Game Gear Columns which
is great too. A tetris variant, but much better IMO-
And the Tetris multiplayer idea was great because it''s
fun to face a human opponent.


"garbage in garbagecan? hm.. makes sense"
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I know this is going to sound a bit narrow-minded, but I don't think puzzle-type games such as Tetris could be discussed for very long.

Puzzle games have a very small hand-full of concepts (at the very most) about the game's design which make the puzzle itself.

Once you have the idea of what the puzzle is, you've got the design practically done.

RPGs, on the other hand, have an infinite number of concepts and design-related topics to discuss.


In Pac-man, for instance, once the idea of a yellow guy that eats dots and gets chased by ghosts and the fact there's power pellets that allow him to kill the ghosts was created...the design is just about finished for the most part.

RPGs (should) have at least one story plus interactivity...and tons of other things we've discussed for the last 2 months

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." --William Blake

Edited by - Nazrix on July 5, 2000 12:20:16 AM
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Well Now,

The list of topics for an RPG is almost
endless. Although I think this Forum has
gone through an awful lot of them. But
still, we all love RPG''s here. Puzzle games
don''t really make it these days. Not for
me anyway. BUt it would still be fun to make
one. And I''m sure if it was made by all of us
then it would be quite good.

STVOY

Mega Moh Mine!!
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Well Now,

The list of topics for an RPG is almost
endless. Although I think this Forum has
gone through an awful lot of them. But
still, we all love RPG''s here. Puzzle games
don''t really make it these days. Not for
me anyway. BUt it would still be fun to make
one. And I''m sure if it was made by all of us
then it would be quite good.

STVOY

Mega Moh Mine!!
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Elements that I think are important in a puzzle game:

1. Simplicity.
A "complex" puzzle game is not appealing to many people. Tetris was simple, Columns was even simpler. You fit the blocks, once it makes a row, they disappear.

2. Difficulty Ramping.
Puzzle games need to start off slow, teaching you the concepts without too much chance of you messing up. By the time it gets to harder levels, you should know enough to at least BELIEVE you can cope with the difficulty.

3. Surprise.
In all its simplicity, some of the best puzzle games introduce the element of surprise ( or variety ). Witness the "magic block" in Columns, that will match to the colour it hits. In other puzzle-style games, like PopCorn, you have special powerups that do different things. ( Though it could be argued that PopCorn is more of an arcade game than a puzzle game )

4. Short average game length.
The time between starting a puzzle game, and finishing it, should not be too long. A few hours can be a long time for someone looking to "play a quick game." It should get difficult enough, fast enough, so that a game doesn''t last too long.


Now of course, I could have the wrong idea entirely about what you mean by a "puzzle game", Kevin . I hope I don''t.


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.
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Fix shmix. If an RPG is fun for me, it's good enough for me. Ditto every game. Whether it be puzzle or flight sim or adventure or strategy or whatever mixed-up innovative genre they create next.

It's the dissection of what makes it enjoyable that is the core of game design (well, I think it is). Everything else is secondary, but some are more secondary than others like the concept of immersion, and yes, immersion applies to puzzle games.

So let's see what I think of puzzle games...

It must be intuitive. Time of entry must be short. The objective must be intuitive. The interface must be intuitive or be simple enough to pick up via a one page "help" screen.

It must challenge the player without them knowing. When the player plays, the player should only come to the realisation that things are getting harder when they are about to lose the game. This way they "learn without learning" the game. By the way, trial and error is NOT a good method of challenging the player. It trivialises the game into simple guess work.

It should give the player at the endgame/stage (good or bad) positive reinforcement. Every game says "Great" if the player does well. But what happens when the player loses?

Hmmm... that's all I can think of now... wait a sec... thinking about it some more, but it appears that these aspects of puzzle games appear to be the raw core components of all games... hmmm... must think some more...

[updated bit]
Oh, thanks Khawk for the topic. I wish the big guys would talk some more, but as they say, "too busy programming to post"...

Edited by - Jeranon on July 6, 2000 8:45:25 AM
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Maybe i''m starting to forget somethings or i realised something that i''ve not thought of before. Would "Blockout" be considered a game or a genre?

I love Game Design and it loves me back.
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To create a new puzzle game, pretty much the entire game has to be original (otherwise nobody will play it, since it''ll be a ''been there done that'' thing).

(whereas rgps can pretty much just be built with all sorts of elements from other games, with only a few ''original'' concepts mixed in to create a ''new'' product)

I''ve always been too much into rpgs to really get to try many puzzle games...so I can''t really give a list of truly original puzzle games...but...

Anyone here played Disc? I think it was made by a French company. VERY original (as far as I know) and still fun to play even after many years. If you''ve never played it, try to get your hands on it. It is in my opinion a mixture between arcade and puzzle and works very well, both in single player and in two player mode. Even the graphics were pretty nice for that time (I think it''s about 10-15 years old)

Silvermyst
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quote:
Original post by STVOY

Well Now,

The list of topics for an RPG is almost
endless. Although I think this Forum has
gone through an awful lot of them. But
still, we all love RPG''s here. Puzzle games
don''t really make it these days. Not for
me anyway. BUt it would still be fun to make
one. And I''m sure if it was made by all of us
then it would be quite good.

STVOY

Mega Moh Mine!!


Off topic slightly, but STVOY, why do you justify all your posts? It makes them really annoying to read. Is your screen permanently stuck in 320x240 mode?

http://www.geocities.com/ben32768
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I disagree. Puzzle Bobble (arcade) was a variation on Breakout, yet is quite different. I think puzzle games get overlooked because they are seen as "lesser" games to many people - what with the more fancy RPGs, shooters and like around.

Think of those budget games developers, folks.
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Is Bomberman considered a puzzle game? I had that for SNES, and that is one of my favorite games of all time.

I think everyone loves to play puzzle games, they just don't realize it. I mean, when you're at the store and you're looking at screenshots of Quake III vs. "Blocks" (or whatever), you pick Quake.

So, to combat this, I think developers should try to incorporate some sort of realism into puzzle games. Bomberman is a good example here: you're actually controlling a little guy and killing other guys, kinda like an action/adventure game. On the other hand, Bomberman was converted to 3D for N64, presumably just because 3D is popular, and as a result it sucked (It had nice screenshots, though )

And kudos to Khawk for fighting the RPG madness in this forum. At this time I would like to make a broad, un-based, unfair remark about why RPG's are discussed so much: Much more so than any other genre, RPG's can be discussed, tweaked, and criticized without anyone ever actually writing a single line of code. So they're a good topic for newbies, lazy programmers, and wanna-be's. Yeah, that's right I said wanna-be's!

Edited by - Eric on July 7, 2000 4:08:31 AM
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I think Bomberman was a variation and yet, not. It had puzzle elements, but wasn''t too far into the puzzle realms to be truly classed as a puzzle game (Bomberman also had the swarm technique). It was an action game as well, but wasn''t pure twitch and reflex action to be a true action game. I guess it''s one of those console titles - of which there are many. It''s funny how gameplay sometimes gets better as the hardware becomes the limitation.

I think that if you want to talk RPG "systems", you don''t need a computer. Go create a pen and paper version to playtest and tweak it out with the knowledge that a computer is for just what it is named for - computation.

But if you want to start making games, the "puzzle" ones are the ones to start with, in my opinion. Heck, go read Geoff Howland''s article on how to make games! Sure, it''s not as glamorous, but everyone knows the classic tetris, but not everyone knows the classic doom.
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quote:
Original post by Eric
At this time I would like to make a broad, un-based, unfair remark about why RPG''s are discussed so much: Much more so than any other genre, RPG''s can be discussed, tweaked, and criticized without anyone ever actually writing a single line of code. So they''re a good topic for newbies, lazy programmers, and wanna-be''s. Yeah, that''s right I said wanna-be''s!



okay okay, I admit it, I''m a wannabee
( Or perhaps that''s because I''m a graphics programmer with a heart for RPGs but no time to actually make one )




Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.
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Well Now,

I don''t get it why would my screen
be stuck in 320x240. It''s 800x600.
I don''t want to upset anyone so I
like to justify my posts. If you are
asking why do I always post the same way
and in a block shape, it''s just style I
guess.

STVOY

Mega Moh Mine!!
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There''s a couple of different paradigms in puzzle games. I think one is clearly better than the other.

1. Examples like, Qix, Adventures of Lolo, Boxxle: Solve the room puzzle games. Often in these games, one mistake and you have to restart the room.
2. Or like Tetris, Tetris Attack, Dr. Mario. These game allow for much more flexibility and creativity by the player.

Of course these are different genres and don''t stand for direct comparison, but I''ll concentrate on type 2 because type 1 leads to player frustration more often.

What I find to be a key "fun" factor in these games is more easily demonstrated not in Tetris, but in Tetris Attack (Snes game, starring Yoshi) and Dr Mario. Notice in these 2 later games, you''ve got some idea of a "combo" and a "chain". Example, a) normal clear = 3 reds, b) combo clear = 3 reds and 3 yellows simultaneously, c) Chain clear = 3 reds clear and as a result then 3 yellows can clear.

I find that these chain and combo elements add a perfect learning curve to game and actually allow for near infinite skills improvement. Eventually you find that you''re limited by how fast you fingers can move the cursor, and not by you knowledge of the game system.

Another brilliant element of game design here is allowing a 2 player mode, where players have to adapt a strategy not only to their pieces, but to accomodate the moves/attacks of the other player.

I think chains, combos, and 2 player vs modes are the high points of puzzle game design thus far.
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STVOY : The way you post is not the most efficient to share your ideas and knowledge.

Never written an Article, or a report ?
If so You mu know that you must read on the whole line, use paragraph and have space in your text for it to be easily readable.

I think that you''ll got more answer if you write your post differently.
It''s not up to us to try to understand you, but up to you to be understable.

All IMHO.

Regards,
Ingenu

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-
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