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Are victory conditions manditory?

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In a game with dynamic(non-deterministc/procedual/what ever you want to call it.) content. Is it nessary to have a way to win the game? My current idea has ways you can lose, but essentially the game itself can go on for for as long as the player cares to play. There may or may not be story line I haven''t decieded yet. There is in game development as the player gains access to more resources and options but there is no point at which the game is won. It can be lossed but not won. So I guess my question is that okay? Or would players have problem with the fact that the game never ends? You acchomplish goals throughout the game which adds to your score. But ultimetly the game ends whenever the player has had enough and wants to start over again. ----------------------------------------------------- Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades Current Design project Chaos Factor Design Document

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I don''t remember any victory conditions to Sim City.

I claimed victory when it ran out of resources and all the public services stopped working :o)

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Tetris doesn''t have a win condition (at least, in most versions). Pinball doesn''t have a win condition. Most sim games don''t have win conditions.


"Sneftel is correct, if rather vulgar." --Flarelocke

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In the case of the above post, evidently they are not required if the player themselves sets the victory conditions, The Sims being another example.

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quote:
Original post by ch1pz
In the case of the above post, evidently they are not required if the player themselves sets the victory conditions, The Sims being another example.

The player doesn''t have to set victory conditions. I know when I play tetris, I don''t have "victory conditions" in mind.


"Sneftel is correct, if rather vulgar." --Flarelocke

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Hmm... There are a number of configurations that don''t require concrete "The End" game-winning scenarios. Escape Velocity is a good example. Grand Theft Auto III or Vice City had "victory" conditions, of a sort, but the actual plot''s end was no end to the game. I''ve played GTA3 for hours and hours after the story ended, and found myself entertained by the world and the gameplay.

It should be noted that in the above examples, the story ended, but objectives remained. EV had a number of "missions" that could be encountered in bars or spaceports that allowed you to explore areas, obtain ship upgrades, or modify your reputation. Even after you were just what you wanted to be, there was always profit to be made, planets to conquer, and pirates to fight. GTA had races to retry, money to make, and "easter eggs" to find.

In these ways, these games shifted in focus from "story-based" to "score-based". Once you got all the bonuses, running taxi missions or racking up dough or beating your best time on an obstacle course was much like topping your score at Galaga or optimizing your police coverage in Sim City.

I''m not sure what your idea is, but if you have an open-ended world, then your game is like an RPG with no main story. Only "side-quests" or "mini-games" within an interactive world. Objectives can exist, but won''t be properly termed "victory conditions". Even with a story, like GTA or True Crime, it is possible to play and fully enjoy the game without holding fast to it. It''s not an uncommon phenomenon in games, and you should have little trouble implementing it. Of course, you can always improve upon it, and innovate. I''d like to know more about your idea.

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I played sim city a lot and it was nice but I HATED that it didn't had victory conditions.

However I play tetris and I don't care. Because in tetris you do have a goal, to get the best score. However a round of sim city was too slow and long for me to check if I did better than before.

Besides I play games with no ending, score based, when I'm waiting for a short time, like waiting for someone to reply on msn and things like that. A game with lots of loading wouldn't acomplish the task.

So I want a game that can be as complex and fun as posible, score based, and fast, if it's never ending. I think that in GTA3 you can set yourself goals, but in Sim city the gameplay is too slow to wait for your results and try again if you failed.

EDIT: Also probably is a good idea to make the game multiplayer so you can compete against other human players.

[edited by - Coz on December 14, 2003 11:18:20 AM]

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Sims can''t have victory conditions by design, because they are simulations and not games. Players can create simulated victory conditions like build this city out or whatever, but that is going on inside the player(s) heads, not in the design itself. Sims are sandboxes, for the most part. Games like tetris don''t have a clear victory condition but possibly, possibly an implied one, where the condition of victory is to overcoming increasingly more difficult challenge design and eventually beating all the levels that were designed. I don''t know, because I have never played tetris to the point where the game had nothing more to throw at me challenge wise. Surviving every challenge the game can throw at you might be the implied victory condition.

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I know it''s a sim but it could have things like, building a city with certain amount of money limit total, in a limited time, and with certain amount of buildings, and make crime as low as something and stuff like that. Like an ''story'' mode and a ''free'' that is the sim we know.

And the thing is, here people are considering it like a game even tought it isn''t

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If people are continuing to play the goalless game, they are either setting goals for themselves or just trying to repeat an experience.

Even a game with clear goals as part of the game dynamic can be played without those goals in mind. It depends on the person playing.

If you want to find out if victory conditions are necessary, make a game without them and see how well it sells. Well, wait a minute, that might not be a good measure of it either. So what is?

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If you want to have victory conditions, be sure to implement them properly. I play this strategy game called "Europa Universalis 2", and even in multiplayer nobody ever cares about victory points there. The reason is the victory points gained are not relative to country sizes, and since that game simulates the world during the 15th to 19th centuries there are obviously a huge difference in the ability to score a VP. France will have a much easier time than some minor country in Africa etc.

Even though properly implemented victory conditions don''t have to be even, it is of uttermost importance victory represents skill and not how good starting position a player got. This is clearly not the case in EU2, where victory points distribution is absolute.

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It''s been a (long) while since I''ve played Sim City, but I think it worked in a similar way to most other "sims" in that the victory condition was attained by having a positive bank balance at the end of a specified time period (such as 100 years).

I don''t know if Tetris has a set number of levels, but if it does, I would think that works in a similar way.

In other words, the victory condition is having survived for a set period of time/until the end of the game.

I''m not sure I''d like the idea of this being applied to a CRPG though, even if it is more realistic. (C)RPGs are generally thought of as an interactive story, and stories generally have a "happy" or "sad" ending.

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TechnoGoth-
Try this thread out:
Victory Conditions and Game Balance

Actually I went a step further and posited why we even need to have "balanced" games. I've always been fascinated by the concept of a "Kobayshi Maru" scenario in which it was impossible to win. After watching the movie "The Last Samurai" and being reacquainted with the idea that we are all doomed to lose eventually anyways, this idea has been resurfaced to the forefront of my consciousness.

I had a rather long going on with Innocuos Fox about the term "balance", since he believed that even if one stacks the odds against the player's favor, that's still "balancing". But to me, that's just a different set of victory conditions. I'm considering the idea that either A) Balancing (and as a consequence victory conditions) should not be done beforehand in the game design process, since a part of playing the game is the balancing act itself or B) that victory, must be defined subjectively by those that experience it.

How so? Well in the first scenario, if the game is already balanced then players will quickly discover the correct way to defeat units and static strategies to take advantage of strengths and weaknesses. However, when the capabilities of units, leaders, and even countries themselves are unknown, then strategies must be dynamic and fluid. Moreover it puts to the forefront the need for good intelligence gathering as well as making keener choices on the player's part. So if we have dynamic content then I think it's almost impossible to have balancing, which in turn means that it's very difficult to have victory conditions (at least in multiplayer games, in single player campaigns, this can still be accomplished by having certain goals).

In the latter scenario we have to ask a more philosophical question. Why do we feel the compulsory need to "win" in games? Is our sense of worth and enjoyment only obtained when we can slap ourselves on the back for defeating something or obtaining a goal? Why do games never tackle the concept of learning to deal with defeat?

Perhaps more importantly I've been impressed with what "The Last Samurai" reminded me of....that we are all doomed to defeat and death. That only by understanding this do you realize that the true victory lies over ones self, not against anything else. The samurai were in essence fighting against themselves and it wasn't so how they died as to how they lived that was important. I wonder if in some ways the character of Komatsu was based off of Yamaoka Tesshu, the real life Bushido advisor of Emperor Meiji. I bring this up because he said something that had a very profound effect on me. When asked by a Captain in the new army why he still trained in the old ways he replied:

quote:
Original quote by Yamaoka Tesshu
"I understand that the style of war is now different, but still I continue to train with the sword. The result of my training is not to fight and defeat the enemy. I'm training myself, my spirit, training my ego. The rifle and the cannon are only tools. People must use the tools. Human quality is most important. You are using a new weapon, but your blood is still samurai. It is necessary to train and discover sincerity , loyality, and honor to lose attachment to life and death. The new weapons cannot discipline and develop the spirit, for they are not an extension of yourself. By training in bujutsu you will discover your own strength of character and will, and will develop spiritual confidence."


I think this concept of "winning spiritually" is an important one, all the more so with the seemingly morally and ethically bankrupt nature of our modern society. And a part of me almost wonders if it's even good to foster competitiveness in such a manner. Perhaps by not having victory conditions in a game, it will allow the players themselves to judge their own attainment of whatever they define as victory.

So to answer your question, I'll answer it with another. Why should players have to be told when they have won? I believe that in the end we have to assess in our own minds our priorities and what we have managed to achieve and base our sense of accomplishment by our own internal standards rather than what I as game designer have dictated as the victory conditions.

[edited by - Dauntless on December 18, 2003 5:02:38 AM]

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I don''t think you need one, so long as the world remains interesting.

My fave of all time, Darklands, has no victory conditions. There are several large goals (defeating Baphomet, killing a dragon, etc), but there''s never an end. The world slowly regenerates, big quests move, and there''s an endless supply of smaller, randomly generated quests to entertain. I "won" (finished the three big quests) after five game years, but played on with that party another four, just because it''s such an amazingly immersive game.

Now, there are only nine possible dragon locations, three locations for Baphomet and the Templar castle, and about three hundred quest locations. When you get a "west of Speyer" quest for the third time, you pretty much know where it is. But for a game from 1992, it was pretty darn dynamic...

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No. It''s your game. Unless you''re tied up and being forced to create the game for a bunch of guys in suits with dark glasses... Sorry, couldn''t resist the call of sarcasim.

Okay, now on a more serious vein... Depends on the type of game, I think. In sim type games I think victory conditions generally DETRACT from the fun. I really like playing Civilization II, but I get irritated that I can only play for a certain period of time before I "lose." Why can''t I just play with the game? Do I have play the game? Same thing with Tropico I think. You only have 50 years (of course it DID have a sandbox mode, but all those buildings take SO long to build...). An adventure game should have a conclusion of some sort because like a story it has a plot. Of course no need to wrap up all loose ends--think sequel! Puzzle games can go either way, same with arcade. There is definitely something addictive about a game that you COULD play as long as you wanted.

I think the big question you should ask is, "Are the victory conditions a natural part of the experience, or am I just imposing them because I think I have to?" If it''s the former, add them; if the latter, just tell yourself it''s a software toy, remember how well the Sims has done, and avoid victory conditions altogether. Just don''t let them spoil the fun.

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Dauntless, you describe the abstract ideas of self-improvement and personal virtue and excellence in your post, with the guarantee of defeat and death at the end of the road.

Isn''t that what Galaga is? Max out that score, get those one-ups, and earn a place on the celestial "Top Ten" list, but you know when you drop that first quarter that your ship, its pilot, and the Earth it defends will inevitably fall before the unending, merciless onslaught of the unfathomably massive alien armada.

Just replace the score with a more complex "honor" system, and make your ship a samurai, and turn all those little dive-bombing ships into musket-weilding meiji soldiers, and there you go. Train up your skills, meditate, live with honor and virtue, and then mount up and go to war for the last time. Blaze of glory and gunsmoke, and the game ends. But that isn''t balance. That''s futility. Noble futility perhaps, but at its core it''s no more noble and tragic to be the last samurai than it is to be the guy at the controls of Missile Command.

In order to "balance" a game that is unwinnable, wouldn''t it also have to be unloseable? Wouldn''t balance demand that the struggle be unending? After all, the victory conditions might not exist, but defeat conditions are always there. Perhaps it would be best if you could be a revolutionary guerilla, moving from village to village, fighting troops that outman and outgun you a hundred to one, but in every town the villagers show support, and you recruit a few men. When your player character dies, he is succeeded by a promising lieutenant in the organization, and the battle rages on.

But without death, there is no closure. I think that death is the victory condition of the game you describe, not the defeat condition. Not only can you not survive, but you actually NEED to die. Without an end-point, the futility becomes apparent. The player needs to believe that there is some transcendent objective, some higher goal. So you aim not only to live with honor, but to die fittingly.

How would a samurai feel, having fought for forty years, to be rendered unable to fight. Malaria takes his legs, and he cannot go into battle, but must lay dying in bed for months. Would he not seek an honorable death? Would he not have his closest friends help him to his knees, that he might perform seppuku? All that self-righteous dogma about how it''s not death, but life that defines a samurai is nothing but pretty wrapping. Death is the purest moment of essence, and so it is the goal of life. So, in response to your assertions, I say that your idea has a victory condition--Honorable Death--and so is not a suitable treatment of the problem at hand.

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The following is pretty obvious but i figure its worth mentioning. As previously mentioned there are many examples of game without explict victory conditions, however it seems most if not all games have failure conditions. That being said, at minimum a games victory condition could be avoidance of the failure condition. Also as stated previously victory conditions can vary from person to person in that the person can ignore built-in victory conditons and choose to play for whatever reason or goal they choose.

edit - changed 'alluded' to stated and added the point I somehow forgot to mention.

So my point is simply that in a game with dynamic content as long as the player finds something engaging they will continue to play. The 'engaging something' doesn't necessarily have to do with the dynamic content, it could boildown to the player trying to master one aspect of the game mechanics like a RPG-player who ignores storyline and just tries to level up constantly. Or the player who tries to explore every faucet of a world, just to see what they can do or not do. Essentially you could provide the player with an 'end game' button at which point you could give the player awards like 'most boring', in fact you could have a 'trophy case' in the main-menu and let players look to see what they can win and what they have won, and let them decide on there own (at no particular time explicitly stating) what they would like to win. It might even be possible to allow players to make there own awards that they could add with a scripting language. Or you just provide them with a scrap book or 'this is your life' movie or novel based on the PC's gameplay. This would appeal to those people who like to compare movies to there book counterparts and vica-versa. Give players options as to why to play, of course this will lead to a excessive amount of replayability which would be bad in terms of finance i would think, but thats another topic altogether.

[edited by - infinisearch on December 26, 2003 5:35:37 AM]

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Everyone''s made good points so far, and I agree with the common consensus that there''s absolutely nothing wrong with games that have no "win" condition. Sandbox games, they''re sometimes called, although I feel that term to be far too limiting -- and game design legend Chris Crawford suggests that such games are not games at all but "toys," another idea that I personally believe to be unjustified.

Anyway, depending on the game, it may be helpful to offer optional objectives to be completed, and associated rewards intended to sweeten the experience.

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Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

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quote:
Original post by irbrian
Anyway, depending on the game, it may be helpful to offer optional objectives to be completed, and associated rewards intended to sweeten the experience.



Bolding by me. "Optional" is an important point as, depending on the game, some people may not want to be limited by having to complete objectives. This also depends on what comes after the objective completion. I played Roller Coaster Tycoon, which has many different maps with different objectives, but in order to access the next map you had to complete the previous ones. That''s not too bad, but the thing that happens is that I eventually complete the objectives just so I can start again somewhere else. That wasn''t partiularly fulfilling, and I would''ve preferred it to be some sort of prize I could use in the park I''d just spent ages making.

My 2c worth of incoherent rambling.

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That reminds me of something I didn''t like about GTA. If you went through the missions, you eventually found yourself in a hopeless situation. In GTA3, after "beating" the game, there are parts of the city you just can''t go into anymore, because you die pretty much as soon as you come into sightshot of enemy turf. The Mafia blows up your car with shotguns faster than you can get out of it, and even if you get clear before it blows, you get eight pounds of buckshot through your sternum before you can get out your own smokewagon.

In Escape Velocity, you can get such a low reputation that ships will shoot you on sight. I remember times when I had to jump eight system out of my way to avoid Confederate patrols. Sometimes, just one planet will hate you, and if you try to land there, they''ll refuse you docking privelages. But in EV, you could eventually convice them to forgive you, either permanently via dedicated service (mission completion, pirate extermination, raids against enemies" or temporarily via bribes or threats of violence (it takes a lot to intimidate a planet, but it can be done). I wish I could have just greased the mafia''s palm (or greased their enemies) and gained safe passage through the 23% of the map under their control.

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
That reminds me of something I didn''t like about GTA. If you went through the missions, you eventually found yourself in a hopeless situation. In GTA3, after "beating" the game, there are parts of the city you just can''t go into anymore, because you die pretty much as soon as you come into sightshot of enemy turf. The Mafia blows up your car with shotguns faster than you can get out of it, and even if you get clear before it blows, you get eight pounds of buckshot through your sternum before you can get out your own smokewagon.


I''ve avoided GTA3 on principle, but it sounds like you''re describing a method of "blocking off" previously used areas. While the ability to explore previously visited areas freely is often a nice feature in a game, in some games, it makes more sense for the player to focus on the task at hand. I remember in playing The Longest Journey (which I also quit playing eventually due to the language -- yes, by some definitions, I''m a bit of a prude ) that sometimes I ended up going way back to an earlier area thinking that maybe there was something there I''d missed. I would just as soon have been logically denied access to those areas after I''d progressed a certain amount so that I knew for sure I didn''t miss something much earlier in the game. Since I haven''t played GTA3 I couldn''t comment on whether there was a good enough story-based reason (excuse) for making it difficult to go back to those areas, or even if thats what you''re talking about for sure.

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Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@foreverdreamstudios.com

"I create. Therefore I am."

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Yeah, you actually wind up assassinating the Mafia Don, so they''re up in arms about that, but you absolutely have to in order to progress. That''s what i''m griping about. If there was a little bit of wiggle room in how you go about certain things, you might have been able to continue the story on a parallel path without getting a thousand shotgun-weilding hitmen mad at you.

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