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Wavinator

Non-essential gameplay should be made vital or dropped

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Do you agree with this statement? In general, what I mean is that if gameplay isn''t essential to the goal of the game, it should be dropped or the gameworld should be changed in order to make it essential. Otherwise, it would feel tacked on. An example of this is a game which has one level where you can fly an aircraft to get a bonus, but otherwise neither wins the level nor the game. I''m asking this because I''m trying to get a handle on whether or not there''s sufficient justification to add vehicle gameplay to a game that''s mostly about space travel and interpersonal interaction. While I already posted about driving itself in another thread, a totally different problem has cropped up: Where do you drive, and why? If the game only has one location where you can drive, it''s a waste. If you liked that gameplay, you''d have to constantly go back to that one location. Yet if there are places to drive on many different planets and space stations, then the player has to ask, "what''s the point?" Is it there so that they can win money? Prestige? Level up? What does driving have to do with the player''s overall goals? And what does it do that they can''t get done by any other means? Unfortunately, I don''t have good answers to these questions, and "because it''s cool" isn''t good enough, I think. I could invent areas that can only be reached by vehicles: For instance, an "airspace" rule that prevents players from landing in cities, or "harsh weather" that stops them from flying in a region. I could also invent opponents that are best dealt with by fast moving vehicles (outrunning tanks, for instance). But if you''re not going to be doing it most of the time, should it be a feature that''s cut? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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I think that as long as the non-essential gameplay adds value to the game it is nice to have it, unless the game is supposed to be simple and straightforward.

Having just one location to drive isn''t necesarily a waste, if it''s implemented as a time saving feature(what means you can go to the same place with a slower method but that slower method should have some kind of advantage), for when the player is tired and wants to go somewhere quickly.

However if driving breaks the overall gameplay style, that is a reason to stop it from making into the game.

I think if you had the feature idea before it''s reason of existing in the game probably it''s a good idea to keep it from the game. I bring this point because you don''t seem to have a real reason to include driving in the game.

Now I would like to know, do you want to implement driving? If so, are you looking for an excuse to include it into the game?

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quote:
Original post by Coz
I think if you had the feature idea before it''s reason of existing in the game probably it''s a good idea to keep it from the game. I bring this point because you don''t seem to have a real reason to include driving in the game.

Now I would like to know, do you want to implement driving? If so, are you looking for an excuse to include it into the game?


Thanks for the comments. This is more of a "look and feel" issue. Firstly, space games since the dawn of gaming time have claustraphobically locked you in a ship. There may be human settlements, but like a plague victim, you''re barred from them in most cases. Those that let you out do so only either in scripted sequences or only when you''re on foot.

I am actually looking for excuses to implement driving. I am concerned, however, that driving comes with expectations of high speed navigation or Car Wars style combat. This is fine if the player is a lawbreaker or chasing someone, or is in a Mogadishu-style war-torn city. But if there is no combat and no high-speed chases for the majority of civilized cities, then I fear that this part of the game becomes Microsoft Driving Simulator 2004.

The major problem with civilization is that it''s civilized. You don''t expect combat at every turn, or trade or even stealth while driving. Sure, I could go so far as creating race tracks, or cop chases, but the game is about exploring new worlds and managing a crew while doing so. It isn''t GTA.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Could you give some more information on your game? That might help determine if Vehicles should be kept or dropped.

For example, if you are working for a company (and not independantly), your ship could be optimized to land only on a certain type of pad. The company would drop one, and you would have to do explore the planet in vehicles. (And if you care about having combat, that would not be difficult to say some aggresive creatures inhabit the area).

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Build driving into the mission structure and skill tree of the game. When you are making deliveries or establishing mines or transporting colonists on less civilized worlds, you''ll need to land on suitable terrain or shuttle to the surface, and then take the eight-wheeler out to the specific destination site.

You could be dealing with threats, or collecting wreckage, or setting up a satellite uplink array for triangulating GPS information, or whatever. The point is that driving skills could be character traits and driving missions could be the backbone of your operation if you train up for them and are able to make a living wage with it.

In cities, I''d be inclined to stick to mass transit for reasons of cost and speed, but if you have to take the hovertank down and secure a hostile landing zone before inserting the Mobile Infantry, then that''s what you''ll have to do. Put the vehicle down three miles out, cruise in under their radar Star-Fox style, and secure a better LZ. Knock down a few buildings, neutralize some radar, and then start up a good diversion a half-mile away while the Marines drop in and get ready to occupy the place. A little orbital support from the mothership is always welcome, but it''s not always appropriate for a "civilian freighter" to be backing up a mercenary raid with precision tactical weapons.

In conclusion, give players the option of using vehicles as an essential gameplay element, either by making missions with that feature available or offering it as one alternative in a complex situation, but don''t require them to actually drive the company car to the credit union to pick up the payroll.

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quote:
Original post by Dakar
Could you give some more information on your game? That might help determine if Vehicles should be kept or dropped.



Sure! Think of an open-ended RPG with some Sims-type crew management, whose focus is combat, stealth and/or trade. There''s both ground and space action using the same control paradigms, and semi-RTS system (very light) for supervising other agents, be they ships or people (or vehicles, in this case).

The game world is open-ended, so where you go and what you do is up to you and what you can afford. You take missions and/or get into freeform gameplay (piracy, smuggling, bounty hunting) to raise your reputation and cash. The main focus is leveling up your ship and increasing the loyalty, morale and training of your crew.

I see the ground mode taking place either on fractally generated terrain (planets) or inside large canned cities (like Babylon 5). The main activities will be exploring ruins for technology, performing a mission, or grabbing up resources in dangerous zones. The city related activities could involve extensions to missions (like fly here and assassinate this leader), exploring the city for secret facilities, or getting involved in races or chases with enemies or the law.

quote:

For example, if you are working for a company (and not independantly), your ship could be optimized to land only on a certain type of pad. The company would drop one, and you would have to do explore the planet in vehicles. (And if you care about having combat, that would not be difficult to say some aggresive creatures inhabit the area).



This would work especially well if there were scripted missions and a more formal structure. I''m going more for the Star Wars / Galaxy Rangers / Cowboy Bebop feel, though, where smaller ships just touchdown where they please. Your idea would work for large capital ships, though.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
Build driving into the mission structure and skill tree of the game. When you are making deliveries or establishing mines or transporting colonists on less civilized worlds, you''ll need to land on suitable terrain or shuttle to the surface, and then take the eight-wheeler out to the specific destination site.



So "delivery" means complete delivery, huh? I like this. Rather than just tell the player "you mine an asteroid" from inside the safety of their ship, they instead drop down like in Armaggedon and dig into the terrain.

What if you did it this way: You could either have a competent character or drone do it (the automated way), or you could do it yourself.

If you take the automated way, you have no control over what happens and have to rely on the skill level of the agent if they get into a jam, which could be anything from mechanical trouble to an ambush to a space anomaly (whatever). If you do it as a player, it''s cheaper (no hiring a person or buying a bot), you get minute control, and you can respond in real-time, but you also risk your neck.


quote:

You could be dealing with threats, or collecting wreckage, or setting up a satellite uplink array for triangulating GPS information, or whatever. The point is that driving skills could be character traits and driving missions could be the backbone of your operation if you train up for them and are able to make a living wage with it.


This works perfectly for wild frontier locations and ancient ruins, where there could be all manner of dangers ranging from xenomorphs to raiders.

Cities, on the other hand...

quote:

In cities, I''d be inclined to stick to mass transit for reasons of cost and speed,



Yeah, I''m not sure how players will respond to mundane driving over a large environment. My guess is that they''ll rebel by the fifth or tenth time, at the latest, when they see yet another city filled with streets and cars that isn''t a raceway or shooting gallery. And I''m sure the first time they ever get stuck in a traffic jam (due to AI getting bogged down) will be cause for them to surround my home with burning torches.

quote:

but if you have to take the hovertank down and secure a hostile landing zone before inserting the Mobile Infantry, then that''s what you''ll have to do. Put the vehicle down three miles out, cruise in under their radar Star-Fox style, and secure a better LZ. Knock down a few buildings, neutralize some radar, and then start up a good diversion a half-mile away while the Marines drop in and get ready to occupy the place. A little orbital support from the mothership is always welcome, but it''s not always appropriate for a "civilian freighter" to be backing up a mercenary raid with precision tactical weapons.


Yup, as soon as you add a challenge like combat, everything''s fine. A friend suggested that EVERY city in the game be either overrun with monsters/eneimes or that there just be only one city in the entire game that''s overrun if the former doesn''t make sense.

quote:

In conclusion, give players the option of using vehicles as an essential gameplay element, either by making missions with that feature available or offering it as one alternative in a complex situation, but don''t require them to actually drive the company car to the credit union to pick up the payroll.


Agreed. Games have to get rid of the mundane or else make it challenging. Thanks for the good points (as always!)

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Ramius
One word.... Starflight.


I worship the floppies that game is inscribed on. In fact, I still have them and the original box!

However, updating the paradigm of a game where you can fly to 200 stars and 800 planets, land on every one, and collect minerals, artifacts and animals to a fully 3D world is daunting at best. The gameplay challenges are steep. When we roved planets in our terrain vehicles, we did so to make money because mining was the most lucrative activity in the game. But that got old, quickly, unfortunately. After that, most mined OTHER ships and visited planets only for the occassional artifact or hint.

We also did it in a small gamespace: Sure the planets were huge, but you could cover miles in minutes because terrain was just fractal shapes representing land and water (errr.. liquid). In true 3D, it would take forever to get anywhere!

Starflight also didn''t have cities (the 8 Endurium pyramids in a circle don''t cut it ). Cities raise the level of complexity to a very high level, and impose their own gameplay challenges.

But Starflight would have been nothing without its planets and driving mode.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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In life you can do plenty of things that don''t pertain to any specific goal that you have, but you can still do them if you choose, so it''s more realistic.

Also, games are more fun if you have more freedom to explore, and if you do allow the player to do stuff that doesn''t help or hinder them in their quest to reach the goal, don''t be too obvious about it. Players who actually deserve to find secrets are the ones who will take time everywhere they go to observe everything and explore. You want the player to want to spend more time in your game and find out all they can. But make sure the distraction isn''t too great, or they''ll stop playing the game and just screw around doing nothing forever.

It takes more time to make, but it opens up the world more, and makes the game more fun.

-Dave

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