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Piling stuff, flipping tables, making barricades

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Imagine that you and a team of NPCs or ally players could move, flip and rotate things like furniture, crates and debris. What would you be most interested in creating? Before I go into a bunch of detail on this, what's your gut reaction to this sort of gameplay? (Nevermind the many implementation difficulties for right now.) To frame this, imagine further that you and your allies are on missions centered around buildings or bases (infiltrating, looting, defending, etc.). The environs range from upscale to crime plagued inner city, or monster and bandit infested ruins. The environment would have objects scattered around it that would allow you to reach certain areas or navigate past barriers.*
Some examples of what you might do: - Turn over a table and push it against a door, then stack heavy crates behind and on top of it to create a makeshift barricade to prevent a door from opening. - Push a desk to the center of the room and climb on top of it in order to reach a vent in the ceiling, or a pipe to cross a chasm. - Push vehicles (with your mates) to create a barrier that blocks police RVs during a riot. Thoughts in general? * = And since this question occurs so often, let me stress this is would be for a single and multiplayer RPG-like game, not an impossibly expensive MMORPG

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My reaction is that it would be difficult to balance, or impliment into AI strategy. My second reaction is that such things might lead to map design to use this nifty feature, rather than present the useful feature as something clever players might use.

That said, a good interactive environment [think XCOM] adds a bit of realism and 'fun' to the process of blowing stuff up.

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I like the idea.

Tho there are some things that would just be cool if you added them to this.

Things like explosives with radio/thermal detonators, the ability to string together explosives, destructable/burnable environments (ie. if you have a big enough bomb, you can drop the roof on someone. You can burn a door down, ect.), ect.

From,
Nice coder

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While true dynamic blockades like this seem outside the realm of development for the time being, it's a great idea if heavily scripted or pre-planned. It would be nice to be able to build or take cover behind player-created barriers, or use objects in the game world as stepping stones. Especially in the realm of tactical strategy games, the implications of an advancement like this would be significant - it'd also work well in an RPG, depending on how combat is handled.

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I think it would be great. I love the scripted possibilities in Resident Evil 4, and I think it could be applied in any situation.

As to implementation, I think that it would be easy to have tables with a "barricade" state. The problem is getting them from where they are to where you want them. If I could just click and "beam" a table to the doorway, it would be far easier to code than having a character push or carry it and rotate it to fit. Tricky.

Don't forget just kicking a table over and hiding behind it.

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My first thought was using baricades of random items (tables, filing cabinets, overturned vehicles) to stop an onslaught of zombies...

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So basically after a hard day of exploring ancient ruins I can come home and Feng Shui my apartment?[grin]

To me it sounds like a complex physics and environment simulatuon, it could be used for some interesting levels but unless this was one going to be one the games main feature then its probably more work then its worth.

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I think TechnoGoth hit the nail on the head. The cost/benefit ratio of this feature will probably put it on the chopping block when "drill down" time comes again.

You could wuss out and have level design make it possible. Again, look at Resident Evil 4. Pushable furniture in that game can only be pushed one way, and is always lined up so it will be pushed right in front of a doorway.

To be fair, the telekinetic powers in Psi Ops and Second Sight made it possible to do things like this fairly easily. If you're still using psi powers, it could work.

The "hover-grab" of Half-Life 2 could work, also. But I wouldn't count on AI to do it.

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Just a couple of words of warning, be consistant. Theres nothing more annoying than having something movable in one level and then not in the next. For instance, using the table to climb through a window but not allow a similar table to be used to climb a fence.

Your level design would have to fiendishly clever, so as not piss off the player.

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I like the idea. Ive been wanting to play a survival horror game where you could push furnature in frontof doors and nail table tops acrosss windows.


Heres my input tho (kinda random):

The objects need weight. Almost every game ive played where theres interactive props bound by physics, everything seems to weigh less than 10 pounds. It seems an oak desk weighs the same as a book resting on it. A bookshelf loaded with books should weigh less if you tip it forward and dump out the books.

DO NO USE IT FOR ENVIRONMENT PUZZLES.
Im dead serious. I feel that nothing ruins the realistic nature of a feature than a purposefully built, obviously artificial environment. For example, in Half Life 2, the ability to pick stuff up would have had way more appeal if there was strategic implications to it, such as blocking doors and creating a blockade. Instead, it was used to do stuff like balance a teetering board so you can reach a high spot. (especially concidering in real life,someone would just jump up and grab the ledge and pull themselves up).

Id like to see alot less environment puzzles. So tired of "The only way through this level is to figure out how to get to this high shelf using the objects in the room."


Quote:
- Push a desk to the center of the room and climb on top of it in order to reach a vent in the ceiling, or a pipe to cross a chasm"


The Pipe to crosss a chasm is a cool idea, but the chasm shoudlnt exsist only to be crossed, and the pipe shouldnt exsist only to be placed across the chasm.

Also, when will people admit that the cliche huge vents in the ceiling are alot more rare in real life than in games and movies. Also, theyre never laid out realistically. conveniently, every ventalation shaft gets the player exactly where they need to be. For one, Ive never seen a ventalation grate large enough for a person to fit in inside a bathroom.

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This may be straying a little from the main idea of the topic, but I was playing with a physics SDK a few weeks ago (Novodex I believe) and was having a ton of fun just setting up blocks to make a wall, then to have them be knocked down by throwing a ball at them. A few ideas were moving through my head, one was a Warcraft-like game, but instead of just building up units, running them over to the enemy and battling, you might be able to send in some covert op teams equipped with a lot of C4 and bazookas to systematically and literally take down your enemies' keep from the inside or out.. the fun lies in actually taking it down. Though, maybe you just need to make a hole in a wall large enough to send in a few of your knights to rush into the Throne Room and take out the king. Or maybe you could be on the opposite side of the mirror, perhaps you're the Lead Anti-Destruction Architect for your local castle, doing what you can to design ways to keep your palace from being torn down by the enemy. Main immediate problem is that CASTLES with "individual building blocks" aren't the easiest things for your C/GPU to handle.. especially when they're being collided with.

I'll show off a picture I grabbed while messing with Novodex for the hell of it:



Had about ten thousand or so blocks with this wall when I blew it up (my explosive technique is a trade secret.) When I grabbed the image the program was drudging along at a whole 2 frames per second (using a GF5900XT, an Athlon 64 3000+, and a Gig of DDR Ram.)

[Edited by - ferr on August 1, 2005 11:45:12 AM]

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Original post by hplus0603
Just don't let the player smash the last crate on the level, if crates are necessary to complete the level...


I disagree. Let them smash that crate, but the alternate exit is much more difficult to find.

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Original post by Run_The_Shadows
Quote:
Original post by hplus0603
Just don't let the player smash the last crate on the level, if crates are necessary to complete the level...


I disagree. Let them smash that crate, but the alternate exit is much more difficult to find.


I double disagree. There shoudlnt be only 2 ways out of a level.

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Original post by Garmichael
DO NO USE IT FOR ENVIRONMENT PUZZLES.
Im dead serious. I feel that nothing ruins the realistic nature of a feature than a purposefully built, obviously artificial environment. For example, in Half Life 2, the ability to pick stuff up would have had way more appeal if there was strategic implications to it, such as blocking doors and creating a blockade. Instead, it was used to do stuff like balance a teetering board so you can reach a high spot. (especially concidering in real life,someone would just jump up and grab the ledge and pull themselves up).

Id like to see alot less environment puzzles. So tired of "The only way through this level is to figure out how to get to this high shelf using the objects in the room."


If the game is open ended, meaning you're on the level because you chose it, does this still apply? For instance, I was thinking of ruined cities: You might have a collapsed building with corridoors, some of which lead to chasms or sheer drops. But if you can push a beam into position, you can cross it. If you don't, then you can't get whatever loot or bonus was on the other side.

Quote:

The Pipe to crosss a chasm is a cool idea, but the chasm shoudlnt exsist only to be crossed, and the pipe shouldnt exsist only to be placed across the chasm.


Not sure I follow you. What else would it exist for?

Quote:

Also, when will people admit that the cliche huge vents in the ceiling are alot more rare in real life than in games and movies. Also, theyre never laid out realistically. conveniently, every ventalation shaft gets the player exactly where they need to be. For one, Ive never seen a ventalation grate large enough for a person to fit in inside a bathroom.


But what matters more, whether or not it's fun or realistic?

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Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
Quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
Quote:
Original post by hplus0603
Just don't let the player smash the last crate on the level, if crates are necessary to complete the level...


I disagree. Let them smash that crate, but the alternate exit is much more difficult to find.


I double disagree. There shoudlnt be only 2 ways out of a level.


You argue for realism above, but in this case you argue against it. The exact same measure is brought up here. On one hand we can attempt to simulate a more freeform gameplay by introducing a multitude of answers to any particular challenge. Is the player's disbelief suspended more effectively when they are put on rails through a level, or when their actions have consequences that they might not even know about yet?

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Original post by Moe
My first thought was using baricades of random items (tables, filing cabinets, overturned vehicles) to stop an onslaught of zombies...


Zombies was my second thought, you plagiarizer!! ;)

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Original post by TechnoGoth
So basically after a hard day of exploring ancient ruins I can come home and Feng Shui my apartment?[grin]


Ha! Well, no luck modifiers for good interior design, but what if your home was in the ruins? What if your survival depended on scavenging for supplies, sneaking past or fighting monsters, and making sure they didn't get to your people?

Quote:

To me it sounds like a complex physics and environment simulatuon, it could be used for some interesting levels but unless this was one going to be one the games main feature then its probably more work then its worth.


It might be too much work to bother with. One thing that troubles me about the idea is not really being able to see a non-combat use for it. I'd like to find a way that a feature like this would help non-combat level improvement, but nothing useful really comes to mind.

The other big worry is whether or not it's too cerebral. How many people, given the opportunity, would drag a beam to cross a chasm vs. just skipping the chasm and whatever loot it contained?

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I can see it being used for stealth and defensive long term mission actions. For instance a room is filled with deadly facehugger eggs and you want to cross without become a host to an alien parasite. So you move a few of the crates that just happen to be lying nearby to climb up to set of ceiling rails and move hand over hand along them across the room. In the case of the other idea you have been traveling through alien infested ruins for hours your exhuasted, bleeding, and hungry. You despertaly need a safe place to hideout for a few hours to patch your wounds and rest so use some debris to block the entrances to a room and get some much needed rest.

Either way you have to get the player using this feature as soon as possible in the game as well as remove the idea of monsters appearing at random. If the player knows that the only way for enemies to reach them is to cross the pipe over the roof then they can move that pipe and be safe. But then what happens if they drop the pipe off the building?

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Original post by Wavinator
Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
DO NO USE IT FOR ENVIRONMENT PUZZLES.
Im dead serious. I feel that nothing ruins the realistic nature of a feature than a purposefully built, obviously artificial environment. For example, in Half Life 2, the ability to pick stuff up would have had way more appeal if there was strategic implications to it, such as blocking doors and creating a blockade. Instead, it was used to do stuff like balance a teetering board so you can reach a high spot. (especially concidering in real life,someone would just jump up and grab the ledge and pull themselves up).

Id like to see alot less environment puzzles. So tired of "The only way through this level is to figure out how to get to this high shelf using the objects in the room."


If the game is open ended, meaning you're on the level because you chose it, does this still apply? For instance, I was thinking of ruined cities: You might have a collapsed building with corridoors, some of which lead to chasms or sheer drops. But if you can push a beam into position, you can cross it. If you don't, then you can't get whatever loot or bonus was on the other side.


I dont think that the only way the player should ever be able to reach the other side is by pushing a beam across it. Ill go into more depth in a minute.

Quote:

Quote:

The Pipe to crosss a chasm is a cool idea, but the chasm shoudlnt exsist only to be crossed, and the pipe shouldnt exsist only to be placed across the chasm.


Not sure I follow you. What else would it exist for?


The chasm should exsist because its part of the envinromnent. It shouldnt be there only because some crazy force of nature decided "Hey, some guy with the ability to push a tree over will need to get somewhere special, so lets put this chasm here and some loot on the other side..".

If youre going to add a realistic feature such as full interactivity with objects, then the environment should be realistic as well. In Half Life 2, it seemed that all moveable objects were either useless fluff, or absolutely nessiccary to finish the level. Theres no grey-area.

The player should be able to impliment some ingenuity. They should see a problem and have to devise a solution naturally. In games, it seems if theres a chasm, its obvious that you have to figure out a way to cross it, and its probably by creating a bridge. Why not allow the player to get a rope and scale down into the chasm, or find the end and just walk around it? Or, I dunno, not make it absolutely imperative to cross it to finish the level or find a bonus. Maybe the player being chased by a huge monster, and with various places to run to or hide in, the player chooses to bridge the chasm, cross it, and then destroy the bridge. Alternatively, If theres a room full of face-huggers (as technogoth described), there should be more than one solution other than doing exactly what the developer intended.

I just dont see the point of having interactive objects if youre forced to use them in a specific way. To me, its an oxy-moron. Its like saying "Look! you've got full freedom in this world.. you can turn over tables, block doorways, pick stuff up, i mean, its great! Oh, but wait, you can only use these objects in this ONE SPECIFIC WAY". Thats why Half Life 2's implimentation of this didnt impress me. The game is little more than eye candy and a gravity gun. In its most basic essense, Half Life 2 is nothing new.

Quote:

Quote:

Also, when will people admit that the cliche huge vents in the ceiling are alot more rare in real life than in games and movies. Also, theyre never laid out realistically. conveniently, every ventalation shaft gets the player exactly where they need to be. For one, Ive never seen a ventalation grate large enough for a person to fit in inside a bathroom.


But what matters more, whether or not it's fun or realistic?


I suppose it depends on the game. Theres plenty of run'n'gun games where realism doesnt matter at all.
It seems the first thing that popped into people's heads when you mentioned the idea was a survival horror game. Zombies! For that, the realism is more important because the fun is derived from that realism.

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Before Half-Life 2 went gold, a video demonstrating the gravity gun was released. In one sequence (in the video), the player ran inside of a house and threw some furniture in front of the door to stop the Combine from getting in. When I played the sequence in-game, I grabbed my shotgun and gunned them all down outside. Staying inside would of got me killed.

In most games, the enemies exist to kill you. Putting a barrier between you and them is like locking yourself in a closet. They know where you are, it's just a matter of time before they "unlock" the door.

The only way a barrier would be beneficial is if the enemy would stop hunting you and go after someone else instead (rarely happens).

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Original post by GroZZleR
The only way a barrier would be beneficial is if the enemy would stop hunting you and go after someone else instead (rarely happens).


Yes, but in most games aren't you supposed to be fighting the enemy 24/7? For a game where there's never a break with enemy contact, barricades make no sense. You should be spending your time reloading, healing, or killing, not getting boxed in.

But take the Aliens movie scenario. Imagine you're in a compound and you have to hold out for a rescue, or until you get defenses online, or whatever.

If the enemies come in waves and aren't too bright (AND you can lock doors and cover corridoors with turrets) do barricades start to make more sense?

Or what about a city that's about to experience a zombie-like plague/riot (ala 28 Days Later). If you saw that, remember the family that boxed the elevator shaft in with carts while they tried to gather supplies?

You highlight a vital point, though-- for this to work, there MUST be let-up and scavenging time, otherwise you'll be so pressed that you can only react.

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