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TechnoGoth

Challenge != Fun?

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TechnoGoth    2937
I've noticed that of the years that while I want more challenging games with less repetition and more complexity the games themselves have remained relatively the same. So I began to wonder about the nature of challenging game play in games and found and how it seem that games have grown simpler over the years and so I wonder is a more challenging game less fun? Or is it case that games themselves have become so simplistic that only ways to increase the challenge in a game is by making the levels larger, more enemies, stronger enemies, and greater advantages to the enemies. If that’s the case then it’s no wonder people see challenging games as less fun since the designers have replaced challenge with repetition. Now I know I have said challenge a lot in the last paragraph but what is challenge? And what makes a game challenging? I’ve composed a short list of different ways challenges that could be added in a game but feel free to add or comment on the list. 1) Performing a task with less resources 2) Performing a task in a larger domain 3) Performing a task against a stronger opponent 4) Performing a task against more opponents 5) Performing a task against an opponent with more resources 6) Performing new tasks 7) Performing a task by combing separate tasks. 8) Increased changes to game state by AI. 9) Increased domain. 10) AI keeping pace with the player. 11) Lower margin for error. Now admittedly those are all pretty abstract but none the less they are what I believe are some methods of making a game more challenging. The game I’m currently working on is a strategy game like no other. I don’t mean to make it sound better or worse they other strategy game just simply that I don’t know of any strategy games that it’s similar to. Essentially you’re a ruthless executive in bio weapons division of a Multi National Corporation, who uses, commando teams, agents, R&D, genetically engineered monsters, and finical might, to improve your own standing within the company, gain wealth, and you can even purse dreams world domination. The game is played from the point of view with you controlling from the shadows and commanding things from your computer. In regards to my list of ways of adding challenge to games with my current game I want to get a sense whether people feel it would make the game more or less fun, from the following examples. 1) Raiding an enemy facility without gathering intel in advance - This means that you won’t know what to expect in the facility and you may lack equipment crucial to then missions success, which could lead to the raid failing and the loss of members of your commando team. 2) As time goes on new facility countermeasures are developed which you and other organizations may or may not have access to and you must learn to cope with them. 3) The more technology a rival organization has access to the better equipped their security forces will be and they may even have access to biomutants, and facility fail safes. 4) The more publicity surrounding your actives is generated the more potentially organizations will take an interest in your organization. 5) As your powerbase expands you must deal with organizations with larger powerbases to continue to expand. 6) At the start your options are limited by as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings. 7) Many tasks are interconnected and require you to perform several different tasks to complete a single objective. Such as you want access to a substance developed another organization. You must use agents to locate either a quantity of the substance to steal, or the research data on the substance. Then if you decided to send commando to raid the facility containing the needed substance you should send in agents into the facility in advance to gather as much information on the facility as possible, before you can safely send in a commando team. 8) Computer controlled organizations are constantly pursuing their organizations goals, which leads to the development of new technologies which could render your most power weapon useless. 9) As the game progress and your powerbase expands you must learn to cope with events are much wider scale from a single facility to dealing with activities on a global scale. 10) The computer controlled organizations will continue to grow and be created at rate achievable by the player. If the player doesn’t keep up they could find themselves left behind. 11) This one I’m still unsure on. How many mistakes and irrelevant actions should the player be allowed? Should too many bad decisions mean that the player finds themselves falling behind the computer? Or should the game always be winable regardless of how badly the player plays? Bare in mind that this a strategy game, as such I want it to be as replayable as possible so if you find yourself in a no win situation you can always start again,. [Edited by - TechnoGoth on February 14, 2005 11:03:58 AM]

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Sandman    2210
I think many games fall foul of pitting the gamer against the designer. This is a dangerous route, as it makes the challenges inflexible. Different people enjoy different challenges, and hate others. Force the player to meet challenges that he dislikes and he'll quickly become annoyed.

For this reason, I personally prefer games where I compete against either other people - the challenge comes largely from beating their skills - or against myself. The nature of those challenges might be completely arbitrary, and not necessarily something programmed into the game, although it is possible to encourage it in the game design.

So, as examples of challenges that I might set myself in your game:

Reaching a certain tech level in a certain amount of time
Creating the most powerful/most amusing/most annoying biomutant possible
Seeing how many missions I can complete with only one man armed with a pistol
Kitting out/training up the best agent I can
Trying to completing missions with minimum/maximum enemy casualties/collateral damage
Completing missions in the shortest time possible

And so on. The important thing is not necessarily the nature of the challenge - it's the fact that I'm taking it on because I want to, rather than because I have to to complete the game. Self-set challenges are far more powerful than designer-set ones, because you can't cheat to succeed at them - doing so is a self admission of failure at the challenge.

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ZedFx    176
Challenges can be fun, but you also need to consider if the game itself is fun. For example, if you make the game too hard, then the player will just get bored of failing, if it is too easy, then they will get bored of succeding. Its a bit of a double edged sword.

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Taolung    139
Good question, but I'm not certain what you mean by saying that games have become more and more simplistic with more and more repitition. I'm curious how you've come to this conclusion? Pong, Tetris, and other early games are nothing but repetition. How are these more complex than games like Civilization? Did I read you wrong?

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
I think many games fall foul of pitting the gamer against the designer. This is a dangerous route, as it makes the challenges inflexible. Different people enjoy different challenges, and hate others. Force the player to meet challenges that he dislikes and he'll quickly become annoyed.

For this reason, I personally prefer games where I compete against either other people - the challenge comes largely from beating their skills - or against myself. The nature of those challenges might be completely arbitrary, and not necessarily something programmed into the game, although it is possible to encourage it in the game design.

So, as examples of challenges that I might set myself in your game:

Reaching a certain tech level in a certain amount of time
Creating the most powerful/most amusing/most annoying biomutant possible
Seeing how many missions I can complete with only one man armed with a pistol
Kitting out/training up the best agent I can
Trying to completing missions with minimum/maximum enemy casualties/collateral damage
Completing missions in the shortest time possible

And so on. The important thing is not necessarily the nature of the challenge - it's the fact that I'm taking it on because I want to, rather than because I have to to complete the game. Self-set challenges are far more powerful than designer-set ones, because you can't cheat to succeed at them - doing so is a self admission of failure at the challenge.


I agree that setting your own goals can be one of best ways to increase a game's replayabilty and longevity. But at the same time the game has to have enough flexibility allow you to do that. Out of curiosity do you have any ideas on how to reward the player for completing their self set goals? This would of course mean devising a system to recognize those goals, assuming that such a system could be designed would it be worth the effort?

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Telastyn    3777
Unfortunately, most players tend to stop playing the game once they hit really challenging parts. Either they quit, or they stop playing the game and start playing the AI/flaws. You know what I'm talking about... constant reloads until they roll a critical, throwing a grenade around the corner without looking, getting enemies stuck behind an object... Fun for some, but.

The "best" games in this regard are as others said, multiplayer games where enemy intelligence adapts much better, or 'sandbox' games like sim city or rollercoaster tycoon.

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stimarco    1071

Read this book. Seriously. I know my review reads like it was written by Koster's mother on his birthday, but I stand by every word I said: that book _defines_ fun. And I, for one, believe his theory is the closest anyone has come to an accurate definition of "fun" yet. I've been working in the games industry since the 1980s and this book still felt like it was opening my eyes for the first time, it really _is_ that damned important.

If you haven't read it, do so now. It's not even expensive and it's a quick read too.

*

In a nutshell, his theory is that "fun" is directly connected to the process of discovery. (In retrospect, I think "discovery" is probably a slightly better term thatn "learning".)

Now, discovery isn't inherently fun. The final element is motivation: the player must be making discoveries he _wants_ to make. Discovering that driving your brand new car into a brick wall at speed hurts like hell isn't "fun", but discovering how thrilling it is to belt down a German autobahn at speed _is_ (allegedly) fun.

It's no good throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the player unless you're absolutely certain he wants to accept that challenge. If he's not motivated to take it on, he won't have any fun if you force him to do so.

The reason why so many RTS games eventually get put back on the shelf is because the fun comes at the start: you're learning new things about the game world, about the various resources, structures you have to build and so on. But after a while, you've learned everything the game has to teach you and that means you have to move on. With FPS titles, the discovery is mainly about tactics and strategy, as well as finding out new ways of using the landscape, the props and NPCs. But even so, the game will be mastered after a while and nothing really new will leap out at you. Boredom will rear its lazy head and start to kick you in the teeth.

Ultimately, every martial arts student will either reach Black Belt Umpteenth Dan (or whatever), or drop out. There comes a point when their sensei simply hasn't got anything more to teach them. Their mentor's pool of wisdom has been used up and it's time for them to move on. This is a fact of life.

Koster actually makes the point that all games reach this point eventually and he's right: there's no point trying to design an "endless" game, because computers are finite and there's only so much content you can create within a sensible development cycle. (This theory also goes a long way towards supporting the "games are toys" theory often espoused by Gary Penn.)

Another issue is that you need to maintain the player's motivation to discover more about the game. This gets harder and harder if all they seem to be discovering is variations on an obvious theme. RPGs often fall foul of this, with clichéd quests often built using an increasingly visible cookie-cutter formula. But the same criticism also applies to the many "me-too" FPS titles that rely on gimmicky cosmetic effects to differentiate their weapons, but otherwise lack any real quality 'wisdom' for the player to learn.

One really important point about Koster's theory is that it lends the lie to the commercial reliance on recycling old game ideas. It's pretty much axiomatic in the industry that the way to pitch a new game design is to define it in terms of existing games: "My new game, X is just like last year's Game Y, but with dragons!"

Now, that might work up to a point, but the fallacy kicks in when the only 'new' discovery to be made is less than compelling: "My new game W is just like Game X, but with _blue_ dragons!" Players won't really feel much motivation to play a game like this.

This is easily the best excuse a publisher needs to can any "me-too" clones it has in development and save itself some money. Unless "Game W" actually offers genuinely new, compelling discoveries for the player to make, there's really no point in making it at all. Remember, the only people likely to buy "Game W" will be the same people who already played "Game X" last year. That instantly reduces the 'new compelling discoveries' factor, since "Game W" _is_ "Game X", but (in this, admittedly contrived, example), with some minor cosmetic changes.

The line where that compelling discovery factor becomes substantial enough to justify investment in development is obviously not going to be very clear cut, but it is still a useful metric by which new projects can be measured for risk.

And I think I'll stop now as my brain just switched itself off.

Good night.

--
Sean Timarco Baggaley

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Estok    104
Direct Response: (rating from 1 to 5, where 1 means you ruined it, 5 means you enhanced it. The ratings are based on personal perferences.)
Quote:
1) Raiding an enemy facility without gathering intel in advance - This means that you won’t know what to expect in the facility and you may lack equipment crucial to then missions success, which could lead to the raid failing and the loss of members of your commando team.
1. Among the last things to do for a strategy game is to turn it non-strategy. It is not fun if the only thing you can do is to guess. It is not fun to overstock.

2) As time goes on new facility countermeasures are developed which you and other organizations may or may not have access to and you must learn to cope with them.
3. In the long run, these 'new facilities' are no more different from those you have to learn since day 1. The newness of these discoveries also decreases for each addition.

3) The more technology a rival organization has access to, the better equipped their security forces will be and they may even have access to biomutants, and facility fail safes.
3. This seems to be just a normal growth pattern of strategy game.

4) The more publicity surrounding your activities is generated, the more potential organizations will take an interest in your organization.
3. This also seem to be at par to any other strategy game.

5) As your powerbase expands you must deal with organizations with larger powerbases to continue to expand.
3. This property is also common in strategy games.

6) At the start your options are limited, but as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings.
2. The expansion part is at par as other strategy games. The betrayal part is redundant, or at most a nuisance in my opinion. In a nutshell it is just extra attention to keep the facilities healthy. If you put it back in the context of a medieval strategy game, it is the same kind of thing if the buildings you buildings rot once you finished it, or your farms can catch on fire by themselves. This is from a strategy game point of view, not a simulation point of view (i.e. I am not playing a sims game).

7) Many tasks are interconnected and require you to perform several different tasks to complete a single objective. Such as you want access to a substance developed another organization. You must use agents to locate either a quantity of the substance to steal, or the research data on the substance. Then if you decided to send commando to raid the facility containing the needed substance you should send in agents into the facility in advance to gather as much information on the facility as possible, before you can safely send in a commando team.
3. This is at par to other strategy games. Not much different from securing resources and raiding enemy expansions.

8) Computer controlled organizations are constantly pursuing their organizations goals, which leads to the development of new technologies which could render your most power weapon useless.
2. The AI part is at par to other games, but the 'rendering your most powerful weapon useless' part is damaging. In the way you presented this, the enemy's counter is unforseeable. In most strategy games, at least the player will have a sense when there 'Ace weapons' will expire. There is a sense of a window of opportunity (i.e. I understand that my strategy is only good until you can build flyings, therefore I must destroy you before you are able to build those). What you have described have the same effect as a random thunderstorm strikes down your barracks. There is not much value in strategy because there is too much chance involved in that. And the common counter measure against chance is redundancy (i.e. making the players to more than they need to for the sake of robustness.) Realistic but not elegant.

9) As the game progress and your powerbase expands you must learn to cope with events are much wider scale from a single facility to dealing with activities on a global scale.
3. This seems to be at par to other strategy games. Strategy games have different 'stages' and this is not different from those.

10) The computer controlled organizations will continue to grow and be created at rate achievable by the player. If the player doesn’t keep up they could find themselves left behind.
3. This is at par to other AI designs for strategy games.

11) This one I’m still unsure on. How many mistakes and irrelevant actions should the player be allowed? Should too many bad decisions mean that the player finds themselves falling behind the computer? Or should the game always be winable regardless of how badly the player plays?
Not rated. You can answer this by thinking what happens if you make 'mistakes' in a war strategy games. In general the player should be able to lose if he plays too badly. The effect you would want to avoid is, "wow, i won. I hardly did anything. This game is too easy/long/boring. There are probably something more efficient I could have done but I am glad that it is over." If a player is so 'bad', kill him fast, so that he will know that they aren't thinking right. (I am not speaking for the tutorial parts of your game.)


There were many things that I considered to exist in normal strategy games. That leads to the questions: What strategies and strategic elements exist in the current version? What is your game about if there are none of the above additions?

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Mephs    354
Just a short reply as I have little time to post at the moment, but after having read Sandman's post, I wonder if it would be feasible to allow the player to impose a more formal goal upon themselves. Perhaps the game could be created with it in mind, and allow them to set their own goal that they can't cheat at because they make it a part of the game.

Perhaps you could even go to the extent of allowing a player to script out a victory condition in a tailor made scripting language, and allow players to swap challenge scripts.... actually this could be a really interesting and new idea (don't think I've heard of anything similar before!).

Steve

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Luctus    584
Quote:
Original post by Mephs
Perhaps you could even go to the extent of allowing a player to script out a victory condition in a tailor made scripting language, and allow players to swap challenge scripts.... actually this could be a really interesting and new idea (don't think I've heard of anything similar before!).

I doubt the general player would take the time to first learn a scripting language, then sit down and write a victory condition every time before s/he begins playing. Oth though, if the developer were to supply a whole set of "awards" where the game would inform the player that he just reached some non-vital goal such as fishing a hard level below a certain time constraint, or genociding a whole race in a rpg etc. Then that could serve like some sort of motivation.

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Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
I agree that setting your own goals can be one of best ways to increase a game's replayabilty and longevity. But at the same time the game has to have enough flexibility allow you to do that. Out of curiosity do you have any ideas on how to reward the player for completing their self set goals? This would of course mean devising a system to recognize those goals, assuming that such a system could be designed would it be worth the effort?


I'd say the first step is to identify the interesting challenges a player might want to face, in as general terms as possible. Aim for a reasonably wide selection so that you can cover a decent range of players with different play styles.

Next, think about how you might measure the success of a challenge. Creating the most amusing biomutant is impossible to measure objectively, so this is the sort of challenge that the player will pose himself for no reason other than because he feels like it. Creating the most powerful biomutant on the other hand, might be measureable in terms of kill ratios etc. Likewise, mission completion time, kill ratios, collateral damage etc. are all easily measureable.

Finally, you want a carrot so the player feels like the challenges are worth taking. The carrot doesn't really have to be anything particularly useful, it could just be a meaningless stat or a saved replay of them completing the challenge. You'd be surprised the lengths people will go to to increase an essentially meaningless stat (see: Ratings obsessed GDNet members [smile])
Another good carrot are hidden bonuses. Perhaps completing enough missions under a certain time level opens up some secret technology that gives your agents more effective stim packs, or opens up a bonus mission in which speed is of the essence, and the reward is very high.
And then of course, you can use the game mechanics themselves as a carrot. What if the cost of a mission was proportional to the length of time taken to complete it? (up to a certain maximum) Players don't have to complete the missions quickly, but that cost factor will cause players to strive to do so where possible.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
I've noticed that of the years that while I want more challenging games with less repetition and more complexity the games themselves have remained relatively the same. So I began to wonder about the nature of challenging game play in games and found and how it seem that games have grown simpler over the years and so I wonder is a more challenging game less fun? Or is it case that games themselves have become so simplistic that only ways to increase the challenge in a game is by making the levels larger, more enemies, stronger enemies, and greater advantages to the enemies. If that’s the case then it’s no wonder people see challenging games as less fun since the designers have replaced challenge with repetition.


Of course, this depends on the game, but I think a lot of this has to do with the variety of actions you can perform. There's a balance between making the action palette narrow enough to get comfortable with and wide enough to allow a lot of diverse problem solving (which is what strategy is). In a great game, what compliments a wide action palette (and is a requirement) is a variety of enemies/challenges/situations that require different approaches.

I think many games have gone for broader appeal and reduced costs, and this means narrowing the range of actions you can take.

Quote:

1) Raiding an enemy facility without gathering intel in advance - This means that you won’t know what to expect in the facility and you may lack equipment crucial to then missions success, which could lead to the raid failing and the loss of members of your commando team.


Lot of variables here: How expendible are those commandos? How risky is the blowback potential (or is there even any?) Above all, am I able to reasonably discern payoff vs. risk IN ADVANCE. If you tell me the enemy corporate VP is in a building and is vulnerable, I need to be able gauge whether or not its a trap, hopeless to even try (waste of time, very bad), or worth the guys I may be throwing away.

Also, concerning Estok's comment on overstocking: How flexible / dual use is the equipment? If I bring a machine gun can I at least use it as a club should the facility be filled with bullet-proof zombies? :)

Quote:

2) As time goes on new facility countermeasures are developed which you and other organizations may or may not have access to and you must learn to cope with them.


The key here is pacing and information awareness. In CivIII, I know that if I don't have a certain tech by a certain time, I'm in trouble. But there are various means to getting a sense of this: Trading in technologies, spying, etc.

It's no fun if it just happens. But if it happens and I knew I could have prevented it but didn't, I blame myself-- which as a designer is where you want the fault of failure to always lie, because I'll try again.

Quote:

3) The more technology a rival organization has access to the better equipped their security forces will be and they may even have access to biomutants, and facility fail safes.


Provided this can be countered with strategy, I'm fine. In most strategy games I expect the AI to cheat like hell. Civ again is a great example: But many times, when I'm behind the curve (because enemies are given bonus resources) I use chokepoints or forces in novel and creative ways.

Quote:

4) The more publicity surrounding your actives is generated the more potentially organizations will take an interest in your organization.


Provided I have ways of stealthing, a clear indicator of how my actions will affect my publicity, and tradeoffs to being stealthy vs. being more visible, I think this would be cool. The key to making it a challenge is having those different routes, though, like the difference between diplomacy and all out war in 4x strategy games.

Quote:

5) As your powerbase expands you must deal with organizations with larger powerbases to continue to expand.


The devil's in the details here: If other orgs expand so fast they gobble up resources I need and I DON'T have creative ways of dealing with them, it sucks. But even if they're inert, so long as I have creative ways of fighting them this is a great element.

Quote:

6) At the start your options are limited by as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings.


Nit-pik here, but consider: What's your design philosophy here? Inflicting situations that the player must survive? Providing walls to give them a sense of power when they break through? I think the language is very important because it'll dictate how many sadistic elements you choose to include in the game (hopefully 0).

Again, the devil's in the details so it's hard to comment broadly: If underlings are dynamic entities and I get reports on their activities in a cyberpunk style environment (where I violate everybody's privacy and manipulate their free will) then this is fine, but there has to be some gameplay here. Receiving a notice that "Agent 000 has gone rogue" without any warning is a random event, which I think most 4x gamers feel is crap (or at least demand to be able to turn off).

Quote:

7) Many tasks are interconnected and require you to perform several different tasks to complete a single objective. Such as you want access to a substance developed another organization. You must use agents to locate either a quantity of the substance to steal, or the research data on the substance. Then if you decided to send commando to raid the facility containing the needed substance you should send in agents into the facility in advance to gather as much information on the facility as possible, before you can safely send in a commando team.


Provided this isn't too nested, sounds fun. I want to build an orbital ion cannon. Great. Need uranium, the gravity lense files my rival has, a bunch of duct tape and the rare flibbergibbet. At least I know where this is going, and it can provide a great compliment between the overarching strategic growth goals and short term activities, which is really fun.

Just be sensitive to the time required by the player to put this in place.


Quote:

8) Computer controlled organizations are constantly pursuing their organizations goals, which leads to the development of new technologies which could render your most power weapon useless.


Echoing Estok a bit here, the degree to which this is fun is the amount of warning you have. In Starcraft I know that if by mid game I don't have my opponent on the ropes superweapons (battlecruisers / whatever) are coming, just because of experience and the way the tech tree is laid out.

I would urge you away from this thinking a bit if you don't give ample warning, because then I can only play by personal experience. And isn't this your gripe from above, repeat and die gameplay? We get challenges that we could only have survived if we'd have been the designer or playtester.

Quote:

9) As the game progress and your powerbase expands you must learn to cope with events are much wider scale from a single facility to dealing with activities on a global scale.


I recommend a constant scale of management so that you don't get the Civ 50 cities mania where you drive the player crazy making minute decisions when he's trying to make global ones.

Quote:

10) The computer controlled organizations will continue to grow and be created at rate achievable by the player. If the player doesn’t keep up they could find themselves left behind.


Don't quite follow you here. They respawn?

Quote:

11) This one I’m still unsure on. How many mistakes and irrelevant actions should the player be allowed? Should too many bad decisions mean that the player finds themselves falling behind the computer? Or should the game always be winable regardless of how badly the player plays?


How widely do you want the game to appeal? The more forgiving, the wider the audience I think, but the more the hardcore will turn up their noses.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by Estok
1) Raiding an enemy facility without gathering intel in advance - This means that you won’t know what to expect in the facility and you may lack equipment crucial to then missions success, which could lead to the raid failing and the loss of members of your commando team.
1. Among the last things to do for a strategy game is to turn it non-strategy. It is not fun if the only thing you can do is to guess. It is not fun to overstock.


But it is your choice as the player to weigh the strategic value of gathering intel on a facility. You may have several constraints to deal with, such as the security level of the facility compared to the ability of your agents and the amount of time before you miss your chance at an objective. But these are the considerations you have to make before deciding to send a team into a facility. If for what ever reason you have to send a team into a facility without any knowledge about the facility they you must rely on your past experince and judgement to select and outfit a team to best handle the unkown. Dealing with the unkown is part of any strategy game it should only become guess work if you can't reason out a possible scenario.


Quote:

6) At the start your options are limited, but as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings.
2. The expansion part is at par as other strategy games. The betrayal part is redundant, or at most a nuisance in my opinion. In a nutshell it is just extra attention to keep the facilities healthy. If you put it back in the context of a medieval strategy game, it is the same kind of thing if the buildings you buildings rot once you finished it, or your farms can catch on fire by themselves. This is from a strategy game point of view, not a simulation point of view (i.e. I am not playing a sims game).


Its not really a maintaince issues its more of a loyalty issue. All the npc you hire are characters, which loyalty both public and private to you and the company. Based upon those loyalty values the npc actions change, a npc that is privatly disloyal may betray you in any number of ways they could spy on you to your enemies, report unauthorized activity to the company, sabotage equipment, and if the disloyal npc is the manager you've left in charge of the facility then they can steal funds and even seize control of the facility for themselves and sever ties with you. I don't know if thats considered the same thing as what you where talking about.

Quote:

8) Computer controlled organizations are constantly pursuing their organizations goals, which leads to the development of new technologies which could render your most power weapon useless.
2. The AI part is at par to other games, but the 'rendering your most powerful weapon useless' part is damaging. In the way you presented this, the enemy's counter is unforseeable. In most strategy games, at least the player will have a sense when there 'Ace weapons' will expire. There is a sense of a window of opportunity (i.e. I understand that my strategy is only good until you can build flyings, therefore I must destroy you before you are able to build those). What you have described have the same effect as a random thunderstorm strikes down your barracks. There is not much value in strategy because there is too much chance involved in that. And the common counter measure against chance is redundancy (i.e. making the players to more than they need to for the sake of robustness.) Realistic but not elegant.


Its not really random or unforseen it is more of a counter play, You start mass producing a strain of biomutants that can rip through a steal door with its bare hands and then use that strain to attack rival facilities. Is it unforseen that once your opponents discover this threat they begin researching ways to combat it? You may not know when their countermeasure will be completed but its not unrealistic to assume that they will eventually find a way to kill that strain of biomutants with an equal or greater efficenacy then it can kill them. Its hardly the same as a bolt of lightning striking your barracks but the effect can be just as devistating. How the player responds to the opponents countermeasure depends on them. But its simply a case of don't expect to be able to stop R&D simply because you have a creature that can defeat all current opposition. Because if you do you may suddenly find yourself on the losing end of technological battle.

Quote:

There were many things that I considered to exist in normal strategy games. That leads to the questions: What strategies and strategic elements exist in the current version? What is your game about if there are none of the above additions?


I'm not sure I follow you... The list I gave was a list of diffrent type of challenges that can exist in a game followed by a list of examples of how I plan to include them in my current game.

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superpig    1825
Quote:
Original post by Mephs
Just a short reply as I have little time to post at the moment, but after having read Sandman's post, I wonder if it would be feasible to allow the player to impose a more formal goal upon themselves. Perhaps the game could be created with it in mind, and allow them to set their own goal that they can't cheat at because they make it a part of the game.

Perhaps you could even go to the extent of allowing a player to script out a victory condition in a tailor made scripting language, and allow players to swap challenge scripts.... actually this could be a really interesting and new idea (don't think I've heard of anything similar before!).
You definitely don't want to let the player get anywhere near any scripting languages unless it's through some kind of abstract interface that deals with things in the game (visual/auditory) language.

Self-set goals being enforced by the rules of the game is something that seems pretty rare even outside of videogames. I remember being fascinated when I was first introduced to the rule in American snooker where you have to name the hole you're going to pot the black in (and if you don't, you lose). There's also some TV gameshows where you gamble a certain amount of your score on completing a goal (like answering a question correctly), and while that's not explicitly setting the goal yourself it is at least allowing the player to respond to their percieved importance/difficulty of the goal.

I've heard of people who play GTA by trying to drive as carefully as possible, trying to get from one location to another without hitting any other cars, breaking traffic laws, etc. Does it matter that the game doesn't say "Well done, you did it" at the end?

Actually, this is all tied into 'sandbox' modes. One of the decisions Chris Sawyer made with RCT1 - a seriously flawed decision, IMHO - was to work against 'sandboxing' in the game, providing no official sandbox mode and trying to prevent the various trainers and in-memory editors that people made for the game from working. People wanted to set and achieve their own goals - build the park of their dreams - and he wouldn't allow it. I'd be interested to know why he made that decision the way he did.

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Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by superpig
Self-set goals being enforced by the rules of the game is something that seems pretty rare even outside of videogames. I remember being fascinated when I was first introduced to the rule in American snooker where you have to name the hole you're going to pot the black in (and if you don't, you lose). There's also some TV gameshows where you gamble a certain amount of your score on completing a goal (like answering a question correctly), and while that's not explicitly setting the goal yourself it is at least allowing the player to respond to their percieved importance/difficulty of the goal.


That's a good example, but I don't really think it's all that rare. Whenever someone strives to beat a record, or a personal best or score a hat trick or anything like that, you could call that a self set goal. It's not necessarily required to succeed at the actual game, it's not necessarily helpful to succeed at the actual game, but happens anyway. Most often, the only reward is bragging rights, but sometimes it can be something more tangible.

I think that the important thing is that the player feels he is taking on a particular challenge because he wants to, rather than because the game is forcing him to.

Quote:

I've heard of people who play GTA by trying to drive as carefully as possible, trying to get from one location to another without hitting any other cars, breaking traffic laws, etc. Does it matter that the game doesn't say "Well done, you did it" at the end?


Perhaps not for that particular example, but GTA is a pretty good example of a game that encourages self-challenging gameplay. There are lots of challenges which are completely unnecessary for completing the story, but can be fun to aim for. Some of them have tangible, in game rewards: for example, completing level 12 of the ambulance missions give you infinite running ability, making it quite a useful challenge to take up even if it is virtually impossible without cheating. It also gives you a huge range of stats, many of which offer near unlimited potential for beating your own records. You can spend ages in GTA trying to do the craziest stunt possible, checking the height, distance, flips etc. and then trying to beat it. Whereever a stat is logged, there's a record that can be set and beaten.

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Actually, this is all tied into 'sandbox' modes. One of the decisions Chris Sawyer made with RCT1 - a seriously flawed decision, IMHO - was to work against 'sandboxing' in the game, providing no official sandbox mode and trying to prevent the various trainers and in-memory editors that people made for the game from working. People wanted to set and achieve their own goals - build the park of their dreams - and he wouldn't allow it. I'd be interested to know why he made that decision the way he did.


Yeah, that does seem weird, particularly for a game like RCT where sandbox mode seems like probably the most obvious way to play it. However, I don't think you necessarily need sandbox gameplay to do this - I think it is possible with more structured gameplay also - it's just a case of giving the player a reason to take on extra difficulty.

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Mephs    354
Well, yes, when I say to allow the player to set their own victory conditions through scripting, I would assume that they do so through an abstratct gamelike interface, but with a scripting language for flexibility. I always design with ease of use in mind and perhaps that is why I neglected to mention it, as it is something I assume, I wouldn't ever leave the player stuck trying to use something far beyond their level of comprehension.

All I'm implying by this is that players could swap custom victory conditions and compete against one another this way, so you could kind of compete against other players, even without having a permanent internet connection. Just download a few victory conditions and check out some online scoreboards and try and better them. I suppose it is not necessary to have the game tell you that you won, but it might be nice to formalize it... I know sometimes with custom victory conditions it may be nigh on impossible to tell exactly whether you were successful or not as you are the one monitoring the deciding factors, and we are not perfect and may miss a victory or loss. The system would just allow you to customise the game a little more, perhaps even to remove a standard victory condition specifically to allow you to implement your own. What if you don't want the game to finish when you defeat the last boss? Remove the victory condition and assign it to a different objective and the game continues... with the players own interests serving as replay value.

I guess you could do this with a dedicated level editor, but this could make things quicker and easier and could perhaps be a half way form of modding, without having to learn the difficult bits.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by Mephs
Just a short reply as I have little time to post at the moment, but after having read Sandman's post, I wonder if it would be feasible to allow the player to impose a more formal goal upon themselves. Perhaps the game could be created with it in mind, and allow them to set their own goal that they can't cheat at because they make it a part of the game.

Perhaps you could even go to the extent of allowing a player to script out a victory condition in a tailor made scripting language, and allow players to swap challenge scripts.... actually this could be a really interesting and new idea (don't think I've heard of anything similar before!).

Steve


I personally agree with the others that this isn't a good idea. However that said I do plan to add at a later version of the game the ability to create your own main plots and sub plots. In this way the player can choose their favorite story line to play or have the game pick one at random. But this feature won't be initial release and most like not in the first couple of updates which will most likely center around bug fixes.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Of course, this depends on the game, but I think a lot of this has to do with the variety of actions you can perform. There's a balance between making the action palette narrow enough to get comfortable with and wide enough to allow a lot of diverse problem solving (which is what strategy is). In a great game, what compliments a wide action palette (and is a requirement) is a variety of enemies/challenges/situations that require different approaches.

I think many games have gone for broader appeal and reduced costs, and this means narrowing the range of actions you can take.


That’s why I have adopted what I call a modular game design approach. The idea as that complex game play can be created by the interaction of smaller atomic elements or actions. So while your pool of actions is limited the complexity that can be created by their interactions should allow for greater verity in game play then could be achieved by broader array of actions that lack the ability to interact. This should also allow for better dynamically generated content.

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Lot of variables here: How expendable are those commandos?


You can always higher more there is no such think as irreplaceable character in the game. Although the loss of a commando means the loss of equipment, experience, and earned loyalty, which could take time to replace. But ultimately the value of commando is generally equal or greater then the resources you've invested in it.

[qoute]
How risky is the blowback potential (or is there even any?) Above all, am I able to reasonably discern payoff vs. risk IN ADVANCE.
[/quote]

This depends on a couple of things, who really controls the facility, if you know that, and whether they can trace the attack back to you, a good indication of the risk of getting caught is the powerbase rating of that organization. Attacking a facility belonging to a fledgling mining company is a negligible risk; attacking one of your superior’s high security research facilities is extremely risky.

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If you tell me the enemy corporate VP is in a building and is vulnerable, I need to be able gauge whether or not its a trap, hopeless to even try (waste of time, very bad), or worth the guys I may be throwing away.


Hmm… Well it could be a trap but if you don’t know it’s a trap isn’t it still worth the risk?

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Also, concerning Estok's comment on overstocking: How flexible / dual use is the equipment? If I bring a machine gun can I at least use it as a club should the facility be filled with bullet-proof zombies? :)


Most equipment is pretty flexible for instance there are three types of security countermeasures basically disable, bypass, and subvert that work against all types of electronic security, so this isn’t a separate rental scanner bypass, and palm print bypass. I did this to limit the number equipment need since I agree that is would annoying to discover your team is stuck at palm scanner when all you brought where rental bypasses. The difference at present between a palm scanner and rental scanner is its stats; one is harder to breakthrough then the other and thus more expensive.

As a side question should a device like data spike (security disable) be unlimited use, limited use rechargeable, or one time use.

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Provided I have ways of stealthing, a clear indicator of how my actions will affect my publicity, and tradeoffs to being stealthy vs. being more visible, I think this would be cool. The key to making it a challenge is having those different routes, though, like the difference between diplomacy and all out war in 4x strategy games.


I agree that why I have included a great deal of overlap between Agent actions and commando actions. For instance both could destroy a rival’s facility but sending in a commando team or biomutant will have great deal more public scrutiny then if the facility suffers an unfortunate accident.

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6) At the start your options are limited by as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings.


Nit-pik here, but consider: What's your design philosophy here? Inflicting situations that the player must survive? Providing walls to give them a sense of power when they break through? I think the language is very important because it'll dictate how many sadistic elements you choose to include in the game (hopefully 0).

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Again, the devil's in the details so it's hard to comment broadly: If underlings are dynamic entities and I get reports on their activities in a cyberpunk style environment (where I violate everybody's privacy and manipulate their free will) then this is fine, but there has to be some gameplay here. Receiving a notice that "Agent 000 has gone rogue" without any warning is a random event, which I think most 4x gamers feel is crap (or at least demand to be able to turn off).


Well there is branch of research in the game that comes under the heading of “Human Resources”, which covers development of methods to shall we say encourage loyalty in npcs, among other things.


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I recommend a constant scale of management so that you don't get the Civ 50 cities mania where you drive the player crazy making minute decisions when he's trying to make global ones.


I expect the scale will naturally shift as you progress but at the same time I want to allow the player keep to the amount of micromanagement they want. So by the end of the game when engaged in a vast international power struggle the ability to balance the books in each individual facility and modify their layout is still there. But it will be trivial at the time.

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How widely do you want the game to appeal? The more forgiving, the wider the audience I think, but the more the hardcore will turn up their noses.


I want it to appeal to an older audience as opposed to a younger one. While there is no sex, graphic violence or drug use, well unless you consider secretly feeding your employees experimental performance enhancing drugs, or releasing an untested vitamin supplement to the general public drug use. So because of that it will probably end up with 18+ rating but to be honest I don’t think the game would appeal much to a 12 year old, but then I could be wrong. Perhaps there many young people out there who are just waiting to experience a world of cut through and ruthless business tactics couple with pursuit of criminal scientific practices.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Hmm.. our studies around college campuses make it look like event presentation ranks #1 as to a selling point in game. #2 was custimization of your character and his skills/vehicles/clothing etc.

Sorry to be negative on this. But as a developer, I would'nt waste my time going into all this detail about challenging the player and what not. 99% of your audience wont care about it. They have very small attention spans, and most would be put off by your challenges. If your in it to make money, save your time, and make a GTA clone with new twists. If your not in it for the money, be prepared for low sales figures and praise from the developer community only.

Now if you can trick them into enjoying a challenge. Your educated gamers will recognize the efforts, and your mass market will only see the surface. Hence why Halo's audience is so broad. Play both sides.

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superpig    1825
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
That's a good example, but I don't really think it's all that rare. Whenever someone strives to beat a record, or a personal best or score a hat trick or anything like that, you could call that a self set goal.
My bad, I was only thinking of situations in which the game makes the player set their goal. A proper self-set goal is, as you say, much more widespread.

Quote:
It's not necessarily required to succeed at the actual game, it's not necessarily helpful to succeed at the actual game, but happens anyway. Most often, the only reward is bragging rights, but sometimes it can be something more tangible.

I think that the important thing is that the player feels he is taking on a particular challenge because he wants to, rather than because the game is forcing him to.

I think that's 100% correct, because if the game forces a challenge on the player that the player doesn't want to take on, the player will exit the game. Seems logical at least.

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There are lots of challenges which are completely unnecessary for completing the story, but can be fun to aim for.
Yes, but that's a slightly different thing - the player is choosing whether to take on a predesigned challenge, rather than actually designing their own one.

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It also gives you a huge range of stats, many of which offer near unlimited potential for beating your own records. You can spend ages in GTA trying to do the craziest stunt possible, checking the height, distance, flips etc. and then trying to beat it. Whereever a stat is logged, there's a record that can be set and beaten.
That's quite important. Stats are frequently the key to challenges anyway - "Increase kill count by 50 within 30 seconds to complete challenge" - so the more you have knocking around, the greater your opportunities to hang challenges on things.

Something I don't think I've seen before: the player sets a challenge which the game sets the reward for. So the player can say, "OK, I'll kill one person in the next hour." Bang, done. The game thinks, "Challenge completed - how hard was that, exactly? Not very. Here's your reward, mister player: a gold star."

It opens itself up to cheating somewhat - the player could shepherd a load of people into an enclosed area, plant bombs, say "I challenge myself to kill 100 people in five seconds," detonate the bombs, and the game awards him a brand new car!! But the important thing about self-set goals is that it's left in your hands - if you want to do that, you can. If you find that fun, then great, enjoy it. If you don't, then, well, set something a bit more challenging, dumbass.

You mention "giving the player a reason to take on extra difficulty" - perhaps because they're finding the game is too easy/boring and want to make it more interesting? No action needed from the developer except giving them the interface with which to do that.

The risk is that players blame your game instead of themselves, which is why RCT2 managed to rectify the situation somewhat - it gave you the scenario editor. But even then it lacked the flexibility to let players set all the challenges they wanted to set - you couldn't turn on things like "No Money" mode without turning on the "Park rating must stay above 800" goal.

Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Sorry to be negative on this. But as a developer, I would'nt waste my time going into all this detail about challenging the player and what not. 99% of your audience wont care about it. They have very small attention spans, and most would be put off by your challenges. If your in it to make money, save your time, and make a GTA clone with new twists. If your not in it for the money, be prepared for low sales figures and praise from the developer community only.
Hey, hey.. I thought this forum was supposed to be free from publisher influence? [grin]

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Estok    104
Re: Technogoth
Quote:

There were many things that I considered to exist in normal strategy games. That leads to the questions: What strategies and strategic elements exist in the current version? What is your game about if there are none of the above additions?

Your original post stated that the 11 examples are what you plan to implement in your strategy game. It means that those 11 additions do not exist in the current version. I was asking what strategy elements there are in your current version.


Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Quote:
Original post by Estok
1) Raiding an enemy facility without gathering intel in advance - This means that you won’t know what to expect in the facility and you may lack equipment crucial to then missions success, which could lead to the raid failing and the loss of members of your commando team.
1. Among the last things to do for a strategy game is to turn it non-strategy. It is not fun if the only thing you can do is to guess. It is not fun to overstock.

But it is your choice as the player to weigh the strategic value of gathering intel on a facility...

My comment is that your original statement is illphased. Your original statement is not meaningful because the player always have the choice to do something blindly (without gathering intelligence). Your statement is only meaningful if the game design includes situations where intelligence gathering is denied to the player. In other words, your game situation dictates that the player cannot gather intelligence. Otherwise, if it is the player's choice, why talk about it, the player can already choose not to explore in any existing situations.

Quote:
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6) At the start your options are limited, but as your territory increases and you gain more assets you can start building new facilities and then have deal with the difficulties of managing multiple facilities and have to deal with possible betrayals by your underlings.
2. The expansion part is at par as other strategy games. The betrayal part is redundant, or at most a nuisance in my opinion. In a nutshell it is just extra attention to keep the facilities healthy. If you put it back in the context of a medieval strategy game, it is the same kind of thing if the buildings you built rot once you finished it, or your farms can catch on fire by themselves. This is from a strategy game point of view, not a simulation point of view (i.e. I am not playing a sims game).
Its not really a maintaince issues its more of a loyalty issue...I don't know if thats considered the same thing as what you where talking about.
Yes they are considered the same thing. In a nutshell 'loyalty' is just another parameter, another gauge. There is nothing different between it than the hitpoint bar. When you say that the officials can become disloyal and betray, it is the same as saying that your units constantly suffer from damage-over-time effects, (and for this regard a self-renewing damage-ver-time). It is the same kind of question as, "Should the units in a strategy game have limited ammo?" My view is that based on the scope of your strategy, dealing with the morale of your own company is a detail that I would forgo, compared to the other existing domestic and interorganizational strategies.

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Quote:
8) Computer controlled organizations are constantly pursuing their organizations goals, which leads to the development of new technologies which could render your most powerful weapon useless.
2. The AI part is at par to other games, but the 'rendering your most powerful weapon useless' part is damaging. In the way you presented this, the enemy's counter is unforseeable. In most strategy games, at least the player will have a sense when there 'Ace weapons' will expire. There is a sense of a window of opportunity (i.e. I understand that my strategy is only good until you can build flyings, therefore I must destroy you before you are able to build those). What you have described have the same effect as a random thunderstorm strikes down your barracks. There is not much value in strategy because there is too much chance involved in that. And the common counter measure against chance is redundancy (i.e. making the players to more than they need to for the sake of robustness.) Realistic but not elegant.

Its not really random or unforseen it is more of a counter play, You start mass producing a strain of biomutants that can rip through a steal door with its bare hands and then use that strain to attack rival facilities. Is it unforseen that once your opponents discover this threat they begin researching ways to combat it? You may not know when their countermeasure will be completed but its not unrealistic to assume that they will eventually find a way to kill that strain of biomutants with an equal or greater efficenacy then it can kill them. Its hardly the same as a bolt of lightning striking your barracks but the effect can be just as devistating. How the player responds to the opponents countermeasure depends on them. But its simply a case of don't expect to be able to stop R&D simply because you have a creature that can defeat all current opposition. Because if you do you may suddenly find yourself on the losing end of technological battle.
What you have described here is at par to other strategy games where the units can be specialized. In your case, it is expected that there is a much larger variety of units. Given the smaller set of variety of units in normal strategy games, how easy is it for an opponent to detect a threat of a specific type and counter it? It seems that your game is in much slower pace than I imagined. What is the projected overall game time and the percentage of gameplay? Is it real time or turn base?

The way I estimate the gametime:
Quote:
Against 1 computer (the AI):
- To gather each piece of meaningful intelligence it takes 5 minutes
- It takes on average 3 pieces of intelligence to have a meaningful clue to what the enemy is making
- It takes 15mins to design a mutant to counter the enemy mutant
- The AI on average will create 4 mutants
- Each 'assault' lasts 5 minutes, there are approximately 12 assault for the whole game
- It takes 15mins every hour to manage the construction, and issue commands.

Estimated gameplay time = (4(3x5+15)+12x5)x(4/3)= 4 hours
Percentage of gameplay:
25% Intelligence gathering (Stealth missions, collecting data)
25% General management (Locating distributing resources, constructions, internal organization)
25% Mutant design and strategies (Accesing the resource required, desiging within the constraints, devicing the plans associated for these special units)
25% Action (Raids, street fight, assassination, etc...)

Against two companies:
(Ignoring the interaction between the AIs)
- Each AI will create 7 mutants, you will create 9 to counter all those 14.
Estimated gameplay time = (14x3x5 + 9x15 + 24x5)x(4/3) = 10 hrs 20 mins
Percentage of gameplay:
34% Intelligence gathering
25% General management
22% Mutant design and strategies
19% Action

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:

My comment is that your original statement is illphased. Your original statement is not meaningful because the player always have the choice to do something blindly (without gathering intelligence). Your statement is only meaningful if the game design includes situations where intelligence gathering is denied to the player. In other words, your game situation dictates that the player cannot gather intelligence. Otherwise, if it is the player's choice, why talk about it, the player can already choose not to explore in any existing situations.


Because that while it is the players choice, there are people who might get upset and blame the game design if they can fail missions because they lack needed equipment even though they choose not to investigate in advance. There could also be situations when the window of oppertunity to launch a mission is to small that there is not time to gather intel.

Quote:
What you have described here is at par to other strategy games where the units can be specialized. In your case, it is expected that there is a much larger variety of units. Given the smaller set of variety of units in normal strategy games, how easy is it for an opponent to detect a threat of a specific type and counter it? It seems that your game is in much slower pace than I imagined. What is the projected overall game time and the percentage of gameplay? Is it real time or turn base?

The way I estimate the gametime:
Quote:
Against 1 computer (the AI):
- To gather each piece of meaningful intelligence it takes 5 minutes
- It takes on average 3 pieces of intelligence to have a meaningful clue to what the enemy is making
- It takes 15mins to design a mutant to counter the enemy mutant
- The AI on average will create 4 mutants
- Each 'assault' lasts 5 minutes, there are approximately 12 assault for the whole game
- It takes 15mins every hour to manage the construction, and issue commands.

Estimated gameplay time = (4(3x5+15)+12x5)x(4/3)= 4 hours
Percentage of gameplay:
25% Intelligence gathering (Stealth missions, collecting data)
25% General management (Locating distributing resources, constructions, internal organization)
25% Mutant design and strategies (Accesing the resource required, desiging within the constraints, devicing the plans associated for these special units)
25% Action (Raids, street fight, assassination, etc...)

Against two companies:
(Ignoring the interaction between the AIs)
- Each AI will create 7 mutants, you will create 9 to counter all those 14.
Estimated gameplay time = (14x3x5 + 9x15 + 24x5)x(4/3) = 10 hrs 20 mins
Percentage of gameplay:
34% Intelligence gathering
25% General management
22% Mutant design and strategies
19% Action


I haven't decided whether it will be real time or turned based yet. It will either be a variable speed realtime with normal speed at about 20 second = 1 game hour. Or Turn based where each turn equals one game day.

The game pace is probably a lot slower then you think, its not RTS game or a Wargame or, really a tycoon type game. I know it would be easier to answer the questions i've asked if I could say its like game X with elements of Y and Z but to be honest I can't think of any game to compare it with. But if I hand to pick a genre then maybe 4x on earth. But what I will do is write design abstract with detailed explinations of the various aspects of the game. That should give people a better idea of what is about and they might even be able to say you should try game X to see how they did aspect A.

As to how long a play through will take as to that I'm not sure it depends on the end game condition your aiming for, but if I had to estimate I would say under 14 hours to play through. The end game states at present are:

1)operating in the red at the end of a fincial quarter.
2)story specific.
3)Achive the position of CEO within in the company.
4)Achive global dommination.
5)Retire.
6)Be Terminated.
7)A global wild fire incident reaches critical mass.


I can't say how long each indviual activity will take since it depends on what the player focuses on but it would look something like this:
10% mangement.
5% facility design.
5% Analyzing reports.
80% consisting of a combination of R&D,Fincial,Tactical, and Cover Activites.

I should also mention that there are many organizations in the game, and its not a case of playing against 1 to 4 organizations. The diffrent organizations are essentitly game entities there could easily be dozens of active organizations at any one time in the game. Many of which may have nothing to do with biological research.

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