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Wavinator

Battling Agoraphobia

38 posts in this topic

(not sure how to do proper quotes)
"Hmmm... I've always been an advocate of "bowl shaped difficulty" where you start in the middle and things get progressively difficult as you travel farther out, but it sounds like their shape was much too steep."

It probably was. You got so much more powerful than the 'old lightweights' that entire squadrons of them were incapable of damaging you. The other problem was that once you got used to the really quite fancy graphics and sound, the rest of the game seemed quite thin.

If I did mod the ships to be more similar, then there'd be nothing else to do, because the game solely consists of doing missions to buy weapons and better ships. Maybe mixing the different ships that attack you would work, although they all have the same attack anyway.

What keeps me playing Morrowind is that there's extra stuff that doesnt affect the game, but you can still waste your time and money on - clothes which show up on the character, or the ability to have a hideout you can keep all your spare weapons and stuff in (I pinched someones house who I assasinated on one mission).

I think I'm pretty demanding and critical of games, but at the same time, it seems most games now have pretty much up to date graphics but their gameplay doesnt seem to have advanced much for years.

Regarding agoraphobia, maybe there's just two types of players - ones who want to play through a game systematically and thoroughly completing every objective, finding every secret area and killing every enemy, and players who never want this to be achievable, who just want a world to explore and interact with.
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I think the answer to this is to give the player a guide. Like a little friend that follows or is carried by the player. The little guide will try to point the player in the direction of the main quest, and probably nag the player to death about it too. However, give the player the option of killing or getting rid of the little friend, and to achieve this it would be easier for you if the little guide guy was not incorporated into the story after the initial meeting of the player and the guide.

hope that helps a bit
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Original post by adventuredesign
I have been seeing that there is more of a relationship between focus and scale that I've not completly understood so far. My thought is that if you have a gameworld with huge scale, and a focus that is a task such as, "get to x place and speak to/find/manipulate/interact with y data/object(s)/entity(s)" that the relationship between what you are after and how it is presented as choices and context to complete the interaction is finite in terms of whether acceptance, understanding and cooperatively engaged with.


Well, the larger your world in general and the more minute your actions, the longer its going to take to get anything done. Imagine a world where you left your uber cool Ruby of Slaying somewhere in a box that's in a backpack that's under the bed of some room somewhere within a hundred different buildings of one city which is....

It can get ugly fast and create alot of fatigue.


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This btw, does not extend to Vegas. :(


Right, the more complicated and intricate the world and corresponding interactions, the more we have to keep in mind that the player is only going to allocate so much mental energy and time to getting things done. We'd remember where that damn ruby was if this was real life. As such, we're like beings with episodic memories who experience ritual comas (save, go do real life, reload days later).

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They probably know not everyone is core, and, that core is fast becoming the shriking percentage of the market.


I know Bethesda built a game for the core RPG market, and as such that's why you see some of the conventions you see.

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With respect to agoraphobia, I would have to say the answer lies in design. Along the way, are there not little cubbyholes of foos and resources to ferret out, compensating a gigantic map with touches here and there of confinement? I suggest that this is a mark of balanced level design as well as player experience design.


Possibly. I've been in the scripted mission level straightjacket for so long that it may be tough to see this, but cubbyholes may be a way of balancing some of this out.

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So perceptually, when a high concept goal is mixed with a map that has to contain some visual reference to reality (even if surrealized, fantastic or macabre {insert 'genre'lization here}) in order for the player to have some stable references perceptually, (e.g., a hill is a hill, up is up, gravity is gravity) in order for them to have some stability in perception.


Right, this amounts to a method for interacting with the game. If the game represents a field as a green square, ala Civilization, and you want to build a road through it, it's simply done because the representation is so simple. Now if the world becomes highly realized and the whole game requires you to go through minute motions to get things done (as with RPGs), a "Just Do It" button and effect might look out of place.
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Original post by KrizzleToTheZizzle
(not sure how to do proper quotes)


No worries, take a look at how the quote tags in brackets when you next click to quote a message. You can quote anything by using a bracket, then the word quote and a closing bracket. To close quotes, just do the same thing but put a forward slash before the word quote.

Quote:

If I did mod the ships to be more similar, then there'd be nothing else to do, because the game solely consists of doing missions to buy weapons and better ships. Maybe mixing the different ships that attack you would work, although they all have the same attack anyway.


Let's say that you have an annoying, easily dispatchable enemy that does EMP to drop your shields and some light laser damage. By himself he's no problem. In packs he's more troublesome, but you'll still find ways of positioning and striking to deal with them.

Now let's say that you also, in another area, have an enemy that warps into position quickly and siphons power from you, then uses it to attack. You can block his attack with a shield if done at the right time (assuming shields don't stay up in this example), so dealing with him is a matter of dancing into position, blocking his attacks, then hitting him before he can do his power stealing attack again.

Now mix the two and you get a unique threat. You'll likely have to evade the siphoner while you try to kill off the interrupter, otherwise you may find yourself constantly without shields and power. Now if the interrupter chooses to hide behind the siphoner, you'll have to switch tactics (long range attacks maybe? Missiles rather than power consuming lasers? etc.)

Quote:

What keeps me playing Morrowind is that there's extra stuff that doesnt affect the game, but you can still waste your time and money on - clothes which show up on the character, or the ability to have a hideout you can keep all your spare weapons and stuff in (I pinched someones house who I assasinated on one mission).


Yes, same here. I actually think the secret to doing a good open-ended game is to have lots of this stuff.

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I think I'm pretty demanding and critical of games, but at the same time, it seems most games now have pretty much up to date graphics but their gameplay doesnt seem to have advanced much for years.


Feel like you've played it before, huh? [smile] That's my common complaint.



Quote:

Regarding agoraphobia, maybe there's just two types of players - ones who want to play through a game systematically and thoroughly completing every objective, finding every secret area and killing every enemy, and players who never want this to be achievable, who just want a world to explore and interact with.


You may be right. This is a hard one to judge, as you simply can't survey everyone cheaply and you'll never please them all anyway. (I'm just trying to get as many as possible)
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Original post by Anonymous Poster
I think the answer to this is to give the player a guide. Like a little friend that follows or is carried by the player. The little guide will try to point the player in the direction of the main quest, and probably nag the player to death about it too. However, give the player the option of killing or getting rid of the little friend, and to achieve this it would be easier for you if the little guide guy was not incorporated into the story after the initial meeting of the player and the guide.


Haha, I may consider this. You get an implant when you start out at the Ellis Island style space station at the beginning of the game, so having a little advisor might not be a bad idea. (Like a virtual mister paperclip which you can rip out of your skull [grin])
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A suggestion for the early part of the game, playing off of the "guide that follows you around" idea. Make a mandatory tutorial/learning period for all new players; remember to give them plenty to do and different routes to accomplish their tasks (this is in a controlled environment). Note that the player should be aware of how he/she would go about completing the task in a certain way, i.e., not just being told "Hey, you've got a lot of ways you can do this. Go at it!". If the player doesn't realize that he can bribe the guard to get past the first security checkpoint, he won't try.

Now here's the payoff. Implement a system that monitors the actions of the player throughout this tutorial phase. This creates a few restrictions: the tutorial must be of a sufficient length to provide numerous tasks and even more decisions for the player to make, and the tutorial must be designed in such a way that a good idea of the character's motives, values, and beliefs can be determined through said tasks and decisions. Once this data is compiled, present the player with a scenario like the following:

"Congratulations, you've completed your training, and you should now be able to be a productive member of our society! We've talked about it, and we think you might do very well as a (fighter/technician/scoundrel/prostitute). Here's the local manager/chief/elder of the (fighters/technicians/scoundrels/whores), and if you'd like, he can take you into an apprenticeship program, with great rewards in the future! However, since we are a free society under the Galactic Charter of Rights, you can choose any career or profession you'd like. Here's a map to some of the other local managers/chiefs/elders in case you're interested. So what'll it be - would you like to go with this person in the career we think you'll do very well in, or would you like to go out into the world and find your own way?"

And like other posters have said in much more eloquent and thought-out words, keep it interesting. Make sure that there is always something for the player to do, if he's interested. Boredom is the embodiment of pure evil in a non-linear game.
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Quote:
Original post by Baloogan
sandbox pwns everything


[smile]

Quote:
Original post by andromeda
A suggestion for the early part of the game, playing off of the "guide that follows you around" idea. Make a mandatory tutorial/learning period for all new players


I like this possibility. It dovetails with the idea of designing your character as you play, so that you can jump right in. For return players there could be some sort of "skip the tutorial" option as well.

I would also say that there should be points in the tutorial where you can "go over the wall." Just leave it behind and escape into the game's open world (while making it clear that you're doing so).

You can't please everyone, but this might go a long way to helping both camps.


Quote:

Make sure that there is always something for the player to do, if he's interested. Boredom is the embodiment of pure evil in a non-linear game.


Very much agreed.
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I think a big problem in 'open ended games' is not neccessarily 'too many choices' but 'too many choices back to back'. Every 5 seconds you can go off and do something completely different, so it can be very difficult to stick to one path for a while.

If you changed the idea from 'continually offer a million choices' to 'offer a choice every once in a while and make the player run with it', I think you could still have a very dynamic world without overwhelming players.

Imagine a 'choose your own adventure book' with a choice after every sentence. That would be an 'open ended game'.
Now imagine the same kind of book with a choice every 10 pages. It can still be very dynamic, but you have to stick with your choices for a little while and flesh out the results.
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Original post by Extrarius
I think a big problem in 'open ended games' is not neccessarily 'too many choices' but 'too many choices back to back'. Every 5 seconds you can go off and do something completely different, so it can be very difficult to stick to one path for a while.

If you changed the idea from 'continually offer a million choices' to 'offer a choice every once in a while and make the player run with it', I think you could still have a very dynamic world without overwhelming players.

Imagine a 'choose your own adventure book' with a choice after every sentence. That would be an 'open ended game'.
Now imagine the same kind of book with a choice every 10 pages. It can still be very dynamic, but you have to stick with your choices for a little while and flesh out the results.


Thanks Extrarius. Some of this can be achieved by spacing, say by how closely packed the nodes are that give you different choices. But above all, as others have mentioned, you need to have a hint of what you're getting into when you make those choices.
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Or a side bar to tell you what you should do and then NPCs show you how to do something while yourd actually playing the game. Some parts of this idea seems like a paper and pen situation, some minds may slip with this idea.
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I dunno if agoraphobia is quite the word, rather, I personally hate not being told what I am supposed to be doing, why I am supposed to be doing it, and whether I am doing well. I really like games that are more or less linear and lead me along with tutorials and story until I have experienced all the content in the game. There's another angle - for a completist, it's a nightmare to never be able to say you are finished with an area of a game.
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Holy Thread Necromancy Batman! This thread died seven years ago!

Closing, although if Wavinator feels it might be useful to continue this discussion he is welcome to re-open it.
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