Sign in to follow this  
TechnoGoth

Player failure == Design flaw?

Recommended Posts

TechnoGoth    2937
I often read how people feel that if the player loses, dies, or can no longer win, that that is a game design fault. But why? If the player looses that doesn't mean the designers are punishing them, it just means the game played better then the player. If you consider sports or any non computer game there is always a winner and loser, there can be times when one person can no longer win. That isn't seen as design flaw. But it in computer games a lot of people seem to treat the whole idea that they can reach a point where they can no longer win as an infirmata. So what are people thoughts? Is there something wrong with a game when you can always overcome an obstacle you encounter everytime? If you fail at a task and have to repeat is that the games fault for being to challenging? What about reaching a point when you can no longer win? Should you always be able to win no matter what?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rmsgrey    153
My view is simple: the more time I lose to an unwinnable situation (before realising it's unwinnable) the less likely I am to continue playing the game.

If I lose less than 5 minutes of my time, I'll carry on quite cheerfully. If I lose half an hour or so, I'll probably stop playing for a while andcome back later. If I lose more than a couple of hours, I'll probably abandon the game entirely - unless I regard it as my fault it happened - if I don't save for several hours then die, I'll come back to the game. If I can't save for several hours then die, I won't.

In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, there is one section which, when you get the opportunity to revisit it later in the game, gives you the chance to claim a power-up you may have missed earlier, and several save-points - all of which in an area from which it is impossible to escape. I regard this as an unforgiveable error since it has the potential to force you to restart the game even with a moderately paranoid saving strategy. To be fair, it's probably a very minor bug in terms of wrong code, is fairly restricted in terms of scope, and requires a little effort to uncover, so it's an understandable bug for a game with minimal playtesting. In the same game, if the prince dies, it's a loss of maybe 30 seconds of my time to continue most times, and occasionally requires reverting to my last save (5-10 minutes).

The original Grand Theft Auto has another example of bad design - by not allowing you to save mid-level, while having a final level that I've yet to complete in less than 6 hours, it effectively requires you to either devote a long session to it, leave the game paused overnight (possibly several nights), or be unable to finish the game.


Were I to devote the typical 40-50 hours seemingly required to complete a Final Fantasy game on the first run-through, only to discover that I needed to have done something non-obvious in the first half-hour in order to be able to complete the game, I'd consider never playing the game again and certainly complain loudly about it to anyone who'd listen.

Particularly unforgiveable are games where it's possible to lose through overperforming at the apparent goals: in Lemmings 2: The Tribes (ST version) I managed to save an extra Lemming on one of the Classic levels. Come the end of the game, I got told "You need to save at least 30 Lemmings per tribe. Keep trying." I did replay the game through from scratch and deliberately failed to save the extra Lemming (identified by studying walkthroughs) and got the victory messages. Or in XCOM: Interceptor, I managed to wipe out the aliens repeatedly (they get a "free" base every time you wipe them out) and, after 5-10 hours with all available research completed, concluded I wasn't going to unlock the required events to complete the game this way, and then spent a similar amount of time not wiping the aliens out, still failing to trigger any new events, before abandoning the game. I don't know whether it was my overperforming or some random glitch - I played through the game about6 months later, never exterminated the last aliens, and managed to win the game easily.



There's also a big difference between games where you can reach an unwinnable situation through your own mistakes and games where you can reach an unwinnable situation through sheer random chance. A simple example would be a game where you have an early choice between two chests. In one scenario, there are obvious clues as to which chest you're supposed to open; in the other there's no information to enable you to distinguish between them. In both scenarios, 20 hours later, you get told whether you chose the wrong chest and can't win the game. The former scenario is more palatable than the latter, though both leave a bad taste in the mouth. On the other hand, in a strategy game where a bad start can doom you to defeat many hours of game-play later, that defeat is acceptable because it's your fault rather than the game designers' or random chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There are conventions of game design that players learn, at least subconsciously, and come to expect. Just as opera lovers would be put out if halfway through an opera the actors all switched language and started singing R&B classics while riding mopeds, gamers know something about developers, or think they do.

Gamers know, for instance, that if they can teleport through a wall by running at it really fast and puching (True Crime: Streets of LA) then that's a trick, and the game will never require them to be able to do it. Simultaneously, they know that if they go someplace that locks them in, there will be a way to get out and complete their mission objectives, or else they will be killed/otherwise required to try again.

So, when you're locked in a room, or stuck in the ground, or somehow alive at the bottom of an abyss, you think you're being faced with a challenge that the designer anticipated and even--appropriately--designed. If you can't get out, or call for help, or otherwise move on, then the game is "broken", and it's the fault of the designer.

Also, if a glitch in the controls makes a plot-specific challenge virtually impossible, such that it can't be reasonably completed in five or so tries, then it's a balance problem. That's a design flaw.

Just being bad at a game may prompt players to say, "Man, this game is bullcrap! It's impossible!" as I did the first few times playing Ninja Gaiden or Viewtiful Joe. But those games are based on a certain threshold of ability, and once you attain it, the rest of the experience is pretty smooth.

So player failure != design flaw, but they cause similar results, and can at times be difficult to differentiate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nathan Baum    1027
When I play a game, I don't want to compete with the designer: I want to compete with myself. If the game allows it to become impossible for me to win, and doesn't do anything to warn me, the fault is with the game.

Also remember that people who play sports can generally practice different parts of the game on a regular basis. How many computer games let you spend a few hours practicing the final boss fight, before you've even gotten past the first one?

It's unfair for a game to become unwinnable except due to extreme player stupidity. It's perfectly fair for the player to die, so long as it doesn't take away hours of the player's efforts. You should be able to save just before doing something you're likely to die doing. If your ability to save is restricted, which it never should be, that can kill surprise because you know you're going to face a tough challenge when you come across a save point.

The real important thing to remember is that in a competitive sport between two people, both of them want to have fun. Unless the competitors aren't very competitive, that means they want to win. Very few people would want to play a game when they know the odds are stacked against them. But computers don't want to have fun. It's okay to stack the odds against the computer and make it very difficult for the player to lose because the player is the only one who is out to enjoy himself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
Part of this, I hate to say, is sportsmanship on behalf of the player-- and this heavily depends on the reward timing cycle the player expects as well as their patience and general drive to stick with the game.

When I first got Civilization I probably played about 2 dozen games where knights, ironclads or even aircraft carriers rolled up to my shores while I was still swinging stone axes (er... maybe not that bad, but you get what I mean).

In Chess, there are classic positions where one side can not win, but won't see it for several moves. The same can happen in any strategy game-- but look at the people who play strategy games. Strategy game players, particularly turn-based strategy game players, will likely expect what you're talking about to happen. Even in a multiplayer game like Starcraft, I may find that I'm still building a tank factory just as my enemy rolls up with Siege Tanks.

Generally, I think that sportsmanship is declining in players. It may be nothing more than a side effect of the audience growing, or it may be some underlying culture shift (maybe we're in the "I SHOULD ALWAYS WIN" society, marked among other things by lawsuits against fast food chains for making us fat and the legions of griefers that haunt MMOs [wink])

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
I often read how people feel that if the player loses, dies, or can no longer win, that that is a game design fault. But why? If the player looses that doesn't mean the designers are punishing them, it just means the game played better then the player. If you consider sports or any non computer game there is always a winner and loser, there can be times when one person can no longer win. That isn't seen as design flaw. But it in computer games a lot of people seem to treat the whole idea that they can reach a point where they can no longer win as an infirmata. So what are people thoughts? Is there something wrong with a game when you can always overcome an obstacle you encounter everytime? If you fail at a task and have to repeat is that the games fault for being to challenging? What about reaching a point when you can no longer win? Should you always be able to win no matter what?



Can you say 'roll back to old saved game" ???

Ive seen quite popular games that players die like flies and have 9 lives cubed
restarts when they constantly 'fail'.

It may depend if there is a problem with to steep a learning curve expected (and insufficient 'shallow end' which would allow the player to adapt to the game mechanics and interface).

Also how 'restartable' the scenarios are (how short) so the player can start from scratch and go down another game path/strategy without huge numbers of hours to be spent getting back to an interesting part of the game(ie redo the same stuff all again).

Insufficient 'game difficulty' control (esp lower range)???

Insufficient 'cheats' to get player around a seemingly unsolvable problem??

Lack of multiple possible solutions to chokepoints in the plot ??

Smarter games might adapt to the player and keep the game flowing (throwing in hints after too long a ceasession of progress).

Bad porting from Console to PC where keyboard/mouse not quite the same ease of game required twitch ??


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
I often read how people feel that if the player loses, dies, or can no longer win, that that is a game design fault. But why? If the player looses that doesn't mean the designers are punishing them, it just means the game played better then the player. If you consider sports or any non computer game there is always a winner and loser, there can be times when one person can no longer win. That isn't seen as design flaw. But it in computer games a lot of people seem to treat the whole idea that they can reach a point where they can no longer win as an infirmata. So what are people thoughts? Is there something wrong with a game when you can always overcome an obstacle you encounter everytime? If you fail at a task and have to repeat is that the games fault for being to challenging? What about reaching a point when you can no longer win? Should you always be able to win no matter what?




I just remembered an old syaing I made up when considering design of tabletop D&D games -- "All roads lead to the Tomb'. Games should never be so poorly designed that the player is stuck in a no-win position (either kill the player off and restart (if short scenarios) or get past the blockage (preferably without being too obvious).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
The game isn't 'playing better than the player' - a game is just a program, it can't 'play' because it doesn't enjoy what it's doing, or experiment with new problem solving strategies. Player failure is a design flaw because if the player can't keep playing, the game has ceased to be a 'game'. This is mainly a problem in a story-based game where the goal is to finish the story, and you don't get psychological closure unless you can actually make it to the end of the game. A game like tetris, on the other hand, has no end; the player knows this, and thus doesn't worry about trying to finish it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ketchaval    186
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
This is mainly a problem in a story-based game where the goal is to finish the story, and you don't get psychological closure unless you can actually make it to the end of the game.


This also includes game where the "story" is extremely simple. Since the goal isn't so much to get to the end as to complete all the pre-designed content, ie. to complete and (enjoy?) the levels in Super Mario Bros. Where the number of levels is loosely justified by the idea of rescuing the princess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sandman    2210
This, and the loss of sportsmanship in multiplayer games, strikes me as being largely due to a perception of unfairness in the game, coupled perhaps with an overinflated sense of pride.

In most conventional sports and games, where we can see our opponents eye to eye, we know they are human, and we can tell if they cheat. The playing field is pretty level, so if we're beaten we have to accept that. This is combined with a tradition of sportsmanship which encourages taking loss in good grace.

In computer games, our opponents are either faceless internet people or even more faceless computer AIs. We have no real way of knowing whether the playing field is level. Who knows what map hacks or aimbots or whatever else the opponents are using? It's easier to blame your opponents - be they human or AI - for 'cheating', than it is to accept the possibility that they might be better than you. The anonymity of the internet makes it very easy to throw sportsmanship out of the window.

In the case of single player games, the perception of cheating AI is often rather accurate. Player failure is a design flaw when the developers pit themselves against the player - a fundamentally unfair challenge - rather than trying to develop an environment in which the player can challenge himself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ketchaval    186
Quote:

From
http://www.alwaysblack.com/blackout/zangband.html

But mostly, the risk of life makes the game has worth. Any successes are your successes. Any failures are your failures. This isn’t a game in the modern sense which holds you hand and meekly leads you from cut-scene to cut-scene, trying to bolster your confidence, the equivalent of a doting parent telling their kid that finger-painting of a dog is the best thing they’ve ever seen, ever, and aren’t they a clever little mummy’s boy.


Okay, personally I don't like games like Zangband, but I can see the point it is like games such as Tetris where it relies on your skill. I can imagine a game like Tetris offering the player risk / reward challenges .. ie. get four in a row, and I'll remove 5 more lines. Will the player do so? Or choose to ignore the challenge?

Of course when a game involves progress in the likes of Zangband ie. levelling , getting new equipment, getting to the deeper levels of the dungeon I see "loss" of it as annoying. As these are more than the game going faster in Tetris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Funkapotamus    189
People have a tendency to blame their inadequacies on anything but themselves. Nowadays, since games are are part of the mainstream media, we see this happening more and more. This is especially the case in the competative gaming scene, where one inadequate player fights another. There's bound to be a lot of whining going on.

It's a double-edged sword really. Today games are popular, so we get a lot of them. However, this same popularity has created many crappy designs, as companies are trying to make a quick buck. They skimp on everything but graphics, since this will yield a sale. Design and difficulty in games is a joke because of this. For example: In a half assed attempt to make things harder, some games limit your total number of saves. This doesn't make the game more difficult- it only makes it more tedious!

I believe there are two types of difficulty: Artificial and Skill based.
Here are some example games with "artificial" difficulty:
Mario Kart 64's AI - No matter how well you drive, the computer will always be *just* behind you. If you're far ahead, the AI will fudge its speed and, well, cheat.
Metroid Prime 1 & 2 - Both games were mind numbingly easy. In an attempt to make things more difficult, they've spaced out savepoints. This doesn't make things more difficult... it just makes them more tedious.
Zelda: Windwaker - Finding the triforce pieces isn't difficult either. Its tedious and boring to sail all across the map. Its more difficult to stay awake then to actually play the game.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
someboddy    100
Maby someone wrote this before, but I am too lasy to read all the post (sorry. It's not you, it's me).

If the player reach a cretain point he can not pass, all of the game after this point is wasted. Personaly, I love challanging games, but I can understand the disappointment when you pay for 20 levels, but you can only play 10.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TechnoGoth    2937
Ther are instance when bugs in a game can cause problems the prevent the player from winning and those are issues that in perfect world would have been correct long before they reached the consumer. There also times when a poor design can prevent a player from continuing such as in the case of "Mafia" and the car race.

But from reading replies a lot of people feel very strongly that any time they reach a no win situation it is because the game has been badly designed. So what about the following instance of no win situations, is that players fault or poor design?

Survial Horror game:
A player arrives at a tough boss, and doesn't have enough ammo and health packs to win. Does this mean the designer didn't give them enough? Made the boss to hard? or is the player fault for waisting their resources?

RTS game:
Your opponent has destroyed all your resource gathering units, and your ability to make more.

Adventure/RPG

You need to get aboard the alien mothership, but you blew up the transporter bad, don't have the brains or charm to talk your way past the guards at the shuttle pad, you decided to use your favor with the trade guild for 30% discount at all their stores instead of taking the personal shuttle, and you decided to turn in your friend the smuggler captain earlier on for the juice bounty on his head. Is that the desingers fault for allowing you eliminate all possible roads to the shuttle? Or the players fault for closing them all with out realizing it at the time.

Failure case.

There player chooses a team to go on a mission and during the mission loose a critcal team member that they needed to complete the mission. They have failed the mission and lost part of their team. The game isn't over but they've still failed at something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tj963    234
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Also how 'restartable' the scenarios are (how short) so the player can start from scratch and go down another game path/strategy without huge numbers of hours to be spent getting back to an interesting part of the game(ie redo the same stuff all again).


I think this is it right here. Repeating the same thing again, unless there are new things I can find, or the story is really good, or it's short, or something like that, is simply not fun.

[Edit]Some more thoughts, if I failed, but can keep going down a new road, that's different. Also, it depends whether I knew I was making a mistake or not. If it comes down to a situation where the game says, "Sorry, you should have know better." Then I'm like, "How was I supposed to know?" But if I'm careless then I'll think, "Shoot! I knew that was going to happen." Still, see the above point about replaying.

Survival Horror: How do I know this is going to happen? I can't plan for it, so if I've been given plenty of ammo all along, why should I suddenly expect I need to save it? If throughout the gave, conserving ammo was a must, then this would be more acceptable, but see above.

RTS: Fine, I just lost. Most games let you sell buildings or something to try and recover, but as long as having my resource gathering units destroyed is a tactic that is normal and always has been valid (i.e. the computer isn't "cheating"), then it's my fault.

Adventure/RPG: Same as the Survival Horror.

tj963

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Survial Horror game:
A player arrives at a tough boss, and doesn't have enough ammo and health packs to win. Does this mean the designer didn't give them enough? Made the boss to hard? or is the player fault for waisting their resources?


Designers fault. If it takes X bullets and Y health packs to kill an enemy, you should really take some steps to ensure that the player has access to them. All to often players can get stuck in a situation where even going back to their saved game, they still can't complete the game.

Quote:

RTS game:
Your opponent has destroyed all your resource gathering units, and your ability to make more.


Debateable. It would most likely be the player's fault, although you could make an argument for this being the fault of the standard RTS paradigm. Also there can be examples when this is the developers fault, e.g unfair starting conditions that allow an AI to wipe you out before you even get started.

Quote:

Adventure/RPG:
You need to get aboard the alien mothership, but you blew up the transporter bad, don't have the brains or charm to talk your way past the guards at the shuttle pad, you decided to use your favor with the trade guild for 30% discount at all their stores instead of taking the personal shuttle, and you decided to turn in your friend the smuggler captain earlier on for the juice bounty on his head. Is that the desingers fault for allowing you eliminate all possible roads to the shuttle? Or the players fault for closing them all with out realizing it at the time.


I think it's generally a good idea to make sure that at least one of these roads is always open (i.e unclosable), regardless of the player's actions. How you achieve that without spoiling suspension of disbelief is another matter, but in order to prevent this from happening, rather necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm just going to reiterate a few ideas here.

It comes down to the player's perception. There has to be very identifiable situations in a game that let's the player know whether or not they can still succeed or if they have failed. As a player I don't mind failure as long as the game lets me know right away. I don't want to keep playing in a no-win situation for several hours only to later discover that I made an unrecoverable mistake earlier in the game. Even worse is when a player reaches a check or save point in a no-win situation where there is no way to revert to a previously possible-win situation. In these cases the player quickly realizes that they made an unrecoverable mistake but the consequence is so severe that it can prevent the player from ever wanting to play the game again.

One example comes to mind: Super Metroid for the SNES is one of my all-time favorite games, but it had one serious design flaw that almost prevented me from ever wanting to play it again and finish it. At the end of the game when Samus gains access to the final underground area blocked by the statue, there is a save point shortly before the battle with Mother Brain. Once you enter this underground area there is no way to return to the previous map areas of the game. You can only move onward to Mother Brain. The first time I played the game I arrived at this save point with practically no health, no missiles, no powerbombs, and no super missiles. It wasn't until I discovered that I couldn't possibly get to Mother Brain under these conditions, let alone fight her that I realized I couldn't go back to the rest of the game map to replenish my health and ammo. I had to start my game all over again from the very beginning. Yes, it was my fault for arriving at this point with such limited health and ammo, but the consequence of having to restart the game from the beginning when you're 99% done with the game is far too harsh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Survial Horror game:
A player arrives at a tough boss, and doesn't have enough ammo and health packs to win. Does this mean the designer didn't give them enough? Made the boss to hard? or is the player fault for waisting their resources?


Designers fault. If it takes X bullets and Y health packs to kill an enemy, you should really take some steps to ensure that the player has access to them. All to often players can get stuck in a situation where even going back to their saved game, they still can't complete the game.


But the X and Y there depend on the player's skill and luck. A better approach would be to give players a way to earn health kits. Like, if you are below half health, executing some moderately difficult combo will make a health kit appear as a prize. But then, personally I like Mario Kart 64 type AI an FF8' monster generating system, where the game's difficulty automatically adjusts to the player's stats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
superpig    1825
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Survial Horror game:
A player arrives at a tough boss, and doesn't have enough ammo and health packs to win. Does this mean the designer didn't give them enough? Made the boss to hard? or is the player fault for waisting their resources?


Designers fault. If it takes X bullets and Y health packs to kill an enemy, you should really take some steps to ensure that the player has access to them. All to often players can get stuck in a situation where even going back to their saved game, they still can't complete the game.
Usually I agree with you, but it is possible to have a situation like this arise and it not be the designer's fault. If the player has been told that they will need X bullets and Y health packs to kill the enemy, and that they are not going to be recieving any more bullets and health packs from now until after that enemy, it's up to the player to conserve their ammo. (It might not be much fun, but that's a different question).

Personally, I'd prefer that the situation never arise anyway - not through giving the player infinitely respawning ammo points or anything, but through providing an option that doesn't require those resources - running past / away the enemy (even bosses), or using some environmental resource to take him out (e.g. collapse the roof on him).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Survial Horror game:
A player arrives at a tough boss, and doesn't have enough ammo and health packs to win. Does this mean the designer didn't give them enough? Made the boss to hard? or is the player fault for waisting their resources?

Design flaw.

Firstly, there should be more than one way to kill the boss.

If there is not, you should give the player the ammo he needs. You don't have to do this in an obvious way: ammo crates dotted around the boss's chamber are an obvious SOD-killer. An easy option is make like Doom or Quake and suppose there are other people fighting the same enemies as you. If you enter an area where the player must have a certain weapon or a certain amount of ammo to succeed, put a dead guy with the required equipment near the entrance, but only if the player doesn't have enough ammo.
Quote:

RTS game:
Your opponent has destroyed all your resource gathering units, and your ability to make more.

Depends upon player experience.

At early levels, it should be assumed that the player isn't yet quite skilled enough to manage his units, and in particular won't automatically recognise when he becomes unable to win the game.

There are a number of possible resolutions to this. You could cripple the enemy AI so that it won't destroy all your resource gathering units. You could airlift in new units if you get into a no-win situation. You could make the resource gathering unit constructors invincible.

Of course, later on in the game, it would be expected that the player has come to understand how to manage his resources, by gradually disabling features like those listed above. Then, if the player gets into an unwinnable situation, it is almost certainly the player's fault.

In an RTS game, yet another option is to allow the player to get into an unwinnable situation, but allow the player to lose a battle but win the war. Perhaps you'd suffer a hit to your prestige, which would effect the units you could have and the missions you could take on. If you have a string of failures, which should only be possible if the player is totally useless, then you'll be demoted out of the army/navy/starfleet/whatever.
Quote:

Adventure/RPG

You need to get aboard the alien mothership, but you blew up the transporter bad, don't have the brains or charm to talk your way past the guards at the shuttle pad, you decided to use your favor with the trade guild for 30% discount at all their stores instead of taking the personal shuttle, and you decided to turn in your friend the smuggler captain earlier on for the juice bounty on his head. Is that the desingers fault for allowing you eliminate all possible roads to the shuttle? Or the players fault for closing them all with out realizing it at the time.

If getting aboard the ship is the only way to progress the game, and you can't possibly get aboard the ship, it's a design flaw.

But, suppose you go away and work on some side-quests for a while. When you get back, the transporter pad has been fixed. That would happen, right? Or you could go to your local Intellectician and get smartfaced on intelligence-enhancing drugs, so you could get past the guards. Or you get some sleeping gas to get past the guards. Or you stroll down to the smuggler's bar and recruit another captain. Or you do another favor for the trade guild (or some other guild) and get the shuttle this time.

The keynote here is realism. You don't have to make the Finger Of God reach down and rub out the guards, but there's no reason you can't make it possible to acquire the things you need to best any puzzle.
Quote:

Failure case.

There player chooses a team to go on a mission and during the mission loose a critcal team member that they needed to complete the mission. They have failed the mission and lost part of their team. The game isn't over but they've still failed at something.

If they can still complete the game as a whole, that's fine.

I think something that people forget is that, in the real world, for every hero who defeats an army with brawn, wit and intelligence, there are many thousands who get shot in the head at the first checkpoint.

In a computer game, you want to be playing that hero. And the only reason that hero actually wins is that he has extraordinary luck. No amount of skill, no amount of strength, no amount of wisdom will grant a single man victory over an entire race of brutal killing machines (c.f. Doom or Quake). It's 99.99% luck.

Lots of people complain about games being unrealistic. The chances of there being guns, ammo and medkits in every crate, cabinet and dark corner. But if you're a hero that is realistic. The reason the player finds a rocket launcher just before fighting an enemy that can only be killed with a rocket launcher is that the player is incredibly lucky. After all, I've played through Doom, Quake, Half Life, Max Payne, Soldier of Fortune -- and I was lucky enough never to receive a headshot. In fact, in all but a few games, I was lucky enough that even when I did get shot it wasn't usually in a way that impaired my physical abilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AgentC    2352
To the survival horror problem: IMO, there should always be some low-powered "last resort" weapon with no ammo requirements (fists, screwdriver, whatever) and every situation (at least, when talking of action games) should be theoretically possible to clear without health loss.

You could also do like Riddick or Max Payne: regenerate some health if the player manages to stay alive long enough after a near-fatal hit. Should be more thrilling to keep fighting on the edge rather than to realize you've accumulated too much damage and are doomed no matter what.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
In sports, board games, card games, etc. you're either playing against friends or in some sort of professional arrangement (e.g. high school/college sports). In either case, the game is balanced from years of refinement, which few computer games have had. You also already know generally how good your opponent is. I know which of my friends are better/worse than me at cards, better/worse than me at sports, etc. Computer games generally don't have this. When you're playing someone over the internet, you have, at best, a vague notion of their abilities. Are you going to wipe the floor with them, or will it be the other way around? Or will it be a fair fight? You don't know. There's also a long tradition of cheating in online games. If it got to the point where cheats/lag weren't an issue, you'd see better sportsmanship after some time. When you're playing a single player game, you assume it's balanced, but that's hardly a good assumption. There's also the "I only play on hard" mentality. If you can't beat it on hard, that's why there's a "normal" or even "easy" setting. I usually play on normal because that's the level of difficulty I can reach with the time and skills I have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nathan Baum    1027
Quote:
Original post by AgentC
To the survival horror problem: IMO, there should always be some low-powered "last resort" weapon with no ammo requirements (fists, screwdriver, whatever) and every situation (at least, when talking of action games) should be theoretically possible to clear without health loss.

Hopefully you wouldn't want to limit this to survival horror! One of the things I particularly like about Halo or Republic Commando is that you always have a melee weapon. The chainsaw is also a popular last-resort weapon, but of course it's odd that it never runs out of fuel. [wink]

I'd advocate that every action game should have at least one melee weapon, which must be available at the start of the game. Worst case scenario: it's your elbow. You should also be able to pick up other ammo-less weapons: knifes, crowbars, baseball bats, rocks.

Another point I'd make is that almost any trained soldier can sneak up behind someone and break their neck. It's not a skill that's limited to secret agents.
Quote:

You could also do like Riddick or Max Payne: regenerate some health if the player manages to stay alive long enough after a near-fatal hit. Should be more thrilling to keep fighting on the edge rather than to realize you've accumulated too much damage and are doomed no matter what.

On the one hand, it's obviously unrealistic.

On the other hand, if you're living in a universe where bandages can completely heal wounds that leave you one light finger-poke away from death, it seems obvious that, given a few minutes of peace, you should be able to rip some bandages out of your shirt, or a fallen comrade's shirt. So, in that kind of universe, I think that makes sense.

There might be a limit as to how much self-healing you can get. Perhaps it can only heal up to the nearest 10% of hit points. Then you'd have a design rule that, in general, you shouldn't need more than 10% of your total hit points to get to a healing kit.

If this is used, it might be reasonable to place limits upon saving. Perhaps, at least in the beginning, you would only have one save slot. You could save whenever, but wouldn't be able to have a chain of saves all the way back to the beginning of the game.

I would however relate this to difficulty, in the style of Alien vs. Predator. At "Easiest" you'd have unlimited save slots. At "Hardest" you'd have one save slot and could only save at specified checkpoints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Aiursrage2k    320
Quote:
RTS game:
Your opponent has destroyed all your resource gathering units, and your ability to make more.


You could still win, your army might be large enough to go back smash the attacking army -- saving your base, and/or simply destroy the enemies base before they do yours.


Playing a game where you can save any time, load exactly as you saved, even if you are in the middle of dying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this