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Wavinator

Game adapts to player or player adapts to game?

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Which scenario do you think would ultimately result in a more satisfying, developed gaming experience and present the illusion of a living, breathing world? The scenario: Your country is being invaded by a superpower, and you're part of a Minute Man irregular defense. Your gameplay options are head on running and gunning, sniping, stealth, or vehicle battles. You can wander the countryside at will by rescuing people, aiding in fights, grabbing supplies, and of course taking out the enemy. Variant 1: The war evolves according to realities (rules, IOW) that can be discovered and understood, and possibly changed. But it evolves with or without player participation or success. You may, for instance, find that your favorite gameplay is sniping, but due to fortunes of war, more and more tanks and armored cars are on the field. Variant 2: A game world which senses the player's behavior and adapts the realities to the player's successes and failures. For instance, you are so good at sniping that you've picked off lieutenants and captains, throwing the enemy's thrust into chaos. You've become labeled "The Hunter" and squads of snipers are being sent to take you out. Gameplay increasingly becomes more intensely about sniping and stealth.
I can see tradeoffs to both sides: In #1, it can feel good to master the rules (the game world "realities"), and to know that even if they're not exactly fair, they're reliably consistent. You can test yourself against them, and use your human intellect to beat them. Because they're consistent, you can develop a strategy. But if there are multiple forms of gameplay, it also means that you may end up with a universe of gameplay you're just not interested in. In #2, you get more of the gameplay you want. There's probably nothing more important than that. But OTOH, because the game world adapts to you, it can break immersion. Also, if you like to switch gameplay, the world probably can't adapt quickly without again breaking immersion. You could, in theory, get stuck doing the same thing again and again. Thoughts?

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This is an awful like a game concept that I had a decade or so ago (and I'd still like to make someday), when I was a big fan of the X-Wing pilot games but didn't like the linear mission structure. In that idea, the game would play as a space sim., but there would be an overarching strategy A.I. directing a real war, similar to a 4X game. While the player would only be a pilot, their actions would change the course of the war (depending on how many ships they destroyed, or let get destroyed on their side). Of course, you might have to tweak the rules of strategy to make it more dramatic, as if your side was heavily winning then the other side would be a walkover.

So I guess this would be a blend of the two variants. If the gameworld was controlled by an strategy A.I. making decisions analogous to that of a tactical commander, it would make sense to put the player into missions that they are suited for. However, the rest of the war would still be going on regardless of what the player was doing.

By the way, I'd say variant 2 would be more immersive, as the gameworld is reacting to the player. A big complaint with RPGs that I've seen a lot in this forum is the game world does not take notice of the player's actions, or does so superficially. Variant 2 would make them feel they are "making a difference". So if I had to choose one of the two variants, I'd pick variant 2.

Actually, now I come to think about it, every single one of my game designs basically boils down to various implementations of variant 2...

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My personal "Grand Design Theory" as it were, would be to have a game world that ultimately can be adversely affected by the actions of the player but has no need of the player for input. I.E. the player becomes just that, a player in a larger world, one that will not stop spinning because the player himself decided he didn't feel like taking that last shot.

Simulating reality can be an onerous and daunting task, even in a fantastical reality, but to have a world that lives and breathes and can be watched almost like a movie without ever playing the game allows the player to feel as though they are who they are, a player, playing out their role in the world. This is the most immersive you can make things, if the story is always the same, then it becomes boring quickly and if the rules never change, then one can master the rules and fly through anything like a breeze (I would compare this to "Rushers" in games like Age of Empires and Starcraft).

Either way, both game styles have their benefits, it would really depend on if you're looking for a more long-term gameplay scenario versus a few hours on the weekends when you're done with work/school and have time for video games.

Anyway, those are my thoughts, something to chew on.

Vopisk

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Thoughts?

Include both, but make them distinct - for different purposes. If the player elects to follow a story, then use variant one, the rules-based approach. This ensures a logical variety of situations and situational changes that can be planned by the designer, and caters to a broad audience while propelling a single narrative which can be better invested with emotional impact and relevance.

If, on the other hand, the player simply wants to recreate select experiences, or pursue hypothetical eventualities, then allow a "constrained sandbox world" (in the sense that responsive techniques such as employing armor and vehicles extensively to combat the player's preference for sniping are sparingly introduced) in which the player can explore this fantasy to the fullest. You can even tie the two play variants together, allowing the play to replay set pieces from the game, once completed, with different situational premises.

In essence, you turn your game into an organic sequence of parametric theaters, and then give the player the ability to tweak these individual theaters in order to experience them differently as incremental rewards for advancing along the narrative.

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My vote defitnitly goes to both. The game should account for your skill, but not to the point where the battle lies in the palm of your hand. War and battles never relie on just one person. Frodo would have never destoryed the ring without the fellowship, Neo would never beat Smith without his companions, theres no such thing as a one man army, a game can really screw up by giving you too much power.

An example would be Kill Zone. In killzone the squad would follow you, but you could play as a sniper, the job of a sniper is to stay back, and snipe. The team dynamic fell apart because it relied on you when it shouldn't have.

If you leave a myrid of options avalible to the player on how to help the war effort, the experiance will be much more rewarding.

I.E: (using scenario 1)"I must rescue those people, maybe amongst them there will be those willing to fight" or "Maybe I can sneak all the way to there arms warehouse and blow it up, winning the battle here"

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