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rmsgrey

Unloseable games???

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Inspired by the "player failure == bad design?" thread, but far enough off topic: While it's frustrating to get into a situation where you can't win (short of abandoning several hours of play) there are games where it is (almost) impossible to lose - and takes a long time to do so - every once in a while, usually when I'm done playing for a while, I'll save my progress, where applicable dial the game speed up to maximum, and sit back and see what happens if I'm not participating. If the game insists on input, I'll choose the worst available option, etc. In most games, this results in my discovering what the Game Over screen looks like in a reasonably short period. There are some games though, where quite a long time later, I'm still waiting. In some instances, I've been known to retake control and go on to win the level/mission/game. When that happens, I tend to lose interest in the game to a very large extent - if my presence or absence makes no difference to the outcome of the game, then there's no sense of achievement in "winning" - this is different from the situation where I create an impregnable automated defense and can then leave the game running for a while to accumulate points/resources/levels - in that situation, I've managed to "win" by setting up the situation. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else had opinions on how easy or hard it should be to lose if you actively try and help the enemy win.

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Can you give us an expample of a game that you could not lose? Sure there are games where you can hide in a safe spot for a while, but there are not many where you simply cannot lose.

RPG's may be an exception.

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Most of the old-school LucasArts point-and-click adventure games couldn't be lost, including Monkey Island - you may remember there's a bit where you can jump off a cliff, you appear to get a game over screen, but he comes back up and says "Rubber tree." It's quite easy to design those games such that you never lose, you just get stuck.

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Ha! - Welcome to my world.

Someone has stumbled upon the non-loseable game nightmare that I'm all too acustomed to. I work as an artist/animator for a multimedia company and we occasionally create short mini-gamges for tradeshows for various clients. Because the clients don't want their potential customers and business relations to leave their booth with a bad experience they almost always require that we design the game so that the player can't lose.

We created one game for instance where the player has to navigate a nano-ship through a blood stream while collecting epotin molecules and avoiding running into blood cells. Originally, we had the blood cells burst when the ship collided with them to decrease the players score, but the client didn't like the destruction and penalty associated with this effect. So we made it so that colliding with the blood cells caused the ship to veer off course making it more difficult to collect the epotin molecules. This too was vetoed because it was a negative experience from the clients point of view. The client also complained that the acquisition distance to collect the epotin molecules was too small making it difficult to collect them all. Ultimately, the game ended up where colliding with the blood cells has no effect on gameplay or score and the epotin molecule acquisition range is so large that the ship can collect pretty much any molecule on screen. In some cases the player could do just as good or better by not touching the controls and letting the ship autopilot through the vessel. It was nearly impossible to lose. The only constraint was a time limit.

I have other examples as well, but this demonstrates the idea of non-loseable games fairly well. Ugh... At my office we hardly like to call these games, but refer to them as interactive victory videos. Games that are near impossible to lose are just as frustrating as games that are near impossible to win.

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That wouldnt be the hope foundation you did that game for was it? I put work into a similar project. And I think that a no lose mechanic would be good for some audiences, but a no loss mechanic ends up with a loss in tension and usually ends up with a loss in interest.
However, if there were a very compelling story an un-losable mechanic would be interesting, but it might just feel like searching for the next cut-scene.

-aro

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Quote:
Original post by Thermodynamics
Can you give us an expample of a game that you could not lose? Sure there are games where you can hide in a safe spot for a while, but there are not many where you simply cannot lose.

RPG's may be an exception.


It's been a while, and I don't plan on re-playing to find out, but I seem to remember grinding to a halt in Black and White - I think I eventually managed to lose after waiting several hours for Nemesis to come after me on the final level (having established that I couldn't get his last settlement) by ativelythrowing rocks at my own temple for half an hour or so.

I don't remember any specific names, but I'm fairly sure I've played several games where you do lose eventually, but it takes a ridiculously long time to do so - largely because the enemy AI never gets around to killing you off.

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lol @ "interactive victory videos"

while I can see situations where not being able to lose are acceptable. Like getting your opponent down to nothing but 1 farm in warcraftIII (although even then you could stop attacking him and kill off your own buildings). But you should at least have to work hard to get the game into this state, and have plenty of opportunities to lose along the way. Or if the game has no real goals like some Sim games then it is ok to be unloseable although its more an electronic toy than game then. But if it possible to win then it should definitely be possible to lose. Otherwise, whats the point?

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Quote:
Original post by Thermodynamics
Can you give us an expample of a game that you could not lose? Sure there are games where you can hide in a safe spot for a while, but there are not many where you simply cannot lose.


I'm not sure, but I think some sequences in the new Pirates! game are like this. I remember reading about a bar fight where, if you lose, you're simply chased down the stairs and out of the building, but can try again (sketchy here, so this could be wrong).

I think you can lose in other ways, though, such as running out of supplies in open water.


Quote:
Original post by rmsgrey
Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else had opinions on how easy or hard it should be to lose if you actively try and help the enemy win.


This is such a great topic, because like with the "victory video" example, it makes you ask why you're playing the game. I'm struggling with this myself, experimenting with the idea that "game over" is nowhere near as interesting as "you got your teeth kicked in, now claw your way back to the top."

So why are we playing? Some of us just want to follow a story, and so you get games like Shen Mue where it's (to me, anyway) very difficult to fail.

Some games are trying to appeal to a broader audience, and aren't into perfection and mastery as most young males (think platform jumper) are.

Ultimately, it comes down to your gaming style and what you want. Do you want something or someone that you can best? I know when I play shooters and empire games, I want to kick the tar out of virtual entities because it's fun to exercise my strategic impulses without causing real harm. But sometimes I'm in it just for the experience, as when I play Sims or SimCity.

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Here's a question. If you can enter a lose condition within the game, and then load up a saved game from a minute or two ago, is it unlosable?

Does it make a difference whether that reload is disguised as a 'start again,' like Wavinator's Pirates! example?

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