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3dModelMan

Weapon upgrades

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3dModelMan    204
Hi all How do you like your power-up systems?? I'm working on a "maze-based" shooter (basically a 360 shooter limited to the corridors of the maze, similar to AlienBreed) and I don't know which way to handle weapon upgrades. Here's my ideas and I'd love to hear your opinions and suggestions... - Player has a basic standard weapon - Powerups are spawned every 'n' kills - A collected power up gives a new weapon for 'n' shots or 'x' ammount of time (discuss!) - A new power-up isn't automatically collected unless the player is using the basic weapon (but he can return for it later) - Which weapon upgrade is spawned is dependent on a couple of variables.. like level number or number of kills in the level so far. That way the really big guns can be saved for later levels when they are most needed. I'm trying to avoid a few things; - Having to plant weaponry in the levels using the level designer - Making the mid range weaponry too hard to achieve - Making the heavy weapons too easy to abuse - Having more than one fire button (but this is optional, if you think a smart bomb is really necessary). All of this complexity would be invisible to the player, all he'd know is that the big guns come when there's the most action and the further he goes the bigger they get! - Matt

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Kevinator    229
Yes, I like your approach very much. It's always nice to hide all that complexity from the player.

I think your biggest obstacle will be determining a suitable formula for calculating 'n'. Here are some possible variables you should consider using when coming up with this formula:

-time spent playing
-number (and types) of kills
-distance traveled
-accuracy rating
-average velocity
-etc.

You could make the formula work such that more-skilled players get weapon upgrades moderately earlier than unskilled players. And skill would be determined based on the above variables. As far as "making the mid-range weapons too hard to achieve", that's going to require some tweaking of this formula, to ensure that even poor players get mid-level weapons eventually.

As for abusing the good weapons, most games counter this by providing extremely limited ammunition for them.

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Edtharan    607
One thing about powerups in shooter games (especially ones where you are a soldier) is that yuou have ben sent into a dangerous and hostile situation and only given the most basic of weapons.

The question I ask is: Why?

There are some story lines that do suit it (Half Life), but not all (Doom, etc).

I have always felt that powerup should give the player more options that give them more power. What about having wepaons that allow the player to use them in different ways and do differnet things.

Also if you do need to have more powerful weapons, give them some sort of penalty associated with it. So a heavy machine gun, might make the character move slower, or maybe they can't turn as quick.

If each weapon has good points and bad points it will give the player a reason to keep switching weapons and makes them a gameplay choice. ALso this then gives you something to work with. If each weapon is of some use and also has situations wher eit is not very effective, then you could allow players to select weapons at the begining of a level and not need to give new one through the level (just give amunition).

Youo could still give new weapons through out a level and thism woudl give players the option to pick up the weapons if they want them.

For this to be effective I would limit the character to carrying a limited number of weapons (2 or 3) at a time.

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3dModelMan    204
Kevinator; Thanks for your feedback. I think I'm just going to have to code this and play it and tweak it.

That's an interesting point that the weapons would be harder to achieve for the worse players but that's probably not the case, and here's why.. the enemies can enter the map through portals and destroying these portals is one of the level objectives. So the longer it takes for the player to destroy the portal, the more enemies he'll have to kill. Given that the spawned weapon type depends on the number of kills, eventually he'll get bigger and bigger guns to help him. More experienced players can use this as a game tactic but I'm sure they'll want the level over with as soon as possible to move onto the next and they won't hang around just to see what gun they'll get next, but this is also the reason to link the weapon reward to the level number so you can't see all the weapons in the early levels where they're simply not needed or deserved.

Edtharan; I probably didn't make it clear that this game is a simple arcade shooter and keeping it down to one fire button also means no weapon selection system or other complex interactions. I'm not saying that such things don't belong in arcade shooters, it's just that I prefer not to have them in this game.

Quote:
One thing about powerups in shooter games (especially ones where you are a soldier) is that yuou have ben sent into a dangerous and hostile situation and only given the most basic of weapons.

The question I ask is: Why?

There are some story lines that do suit it (Half Life), but not all (Doom, etc).


That's a question asked by a lot of people but this game isn't a domain of deep thinking. So my answer to 'why?' in this case; First it's a challenge! Collecting the enemy fire power and using it on them is a reward, as is finding new weapons you've never seen before.

This game is simply about pulling the trigger and watching things go boom :)

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Nepherim    122
This might be a move away from what you were looking for but have you considered have a single weapon that changes dynamically rather than multiple discrete weapons.

Then you could have the weapon change with the pace of the combat, say based on the number of kills per minute. So as there is an increase in the pace of combat or the efficiency with which the player dispatches enemies their weapon becomes more powerful (firing faster or causing a larger area of damage).

This process would be further hidden from the player as the changes would be gradual rather than picking up powerups and would occur only when the action becomes more intense. You could even tailor the upgrade based on player statistics like accuracy and velocity to optimise their killing power, by say giving a player with low accuracy a larger damage radius to compensate.

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ToohrVyk    1595
I often find that a permanent boost is boring. It is, in my opinion, better to give permanent power increases sparingly, but allow large and temporary increases in firepower at many player-triggered events in the game.

Darklaga (see my signature) provides three complementary upgrade slots. Each slot can be overloaded by moving very close to bullets. Once you "graze" 20 bullets, you get an overload for as long as you can keep grazing.

The overload radically increases the power of your weapon. This results in enemies being destroyed, so there are not enough bullets left, so the overload ceases. The higher your difficulty level is, the more bullets there are, and the more often (and longer) you can be in overload mode.

The consequence is that you can get a short power boost whenever you're in a dire situation, but can never keep it for long.

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MikeWulf    100
I like the idea of weapons that have different pros and cons rather than just a steady upgrade in power like others have said. Just make sure that it's not; con- is weak pro- lots of ammo. That is boring and kinda annoying (im looking at you Doom).

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
I probably didn't make it clear that this game is a simple arcade shooter and keeping it down to one fire button also means no weapon selection system or other complex interactions. I'm not saying that such things don't belong in arcade shooters, it's just that I prefer not to have them in this game.

Ahh, ok.

You could simplify the weapon selection system to: The player can only carry 1 weapon. Thye must drop their weapon to pick up another. This way the player has a choice with the weapon and no complex inputs are needed. It gives the best of both worlds (simple, yet allows for tactical choices of the weapons).

If you have weapons able to effect the environment, such as a missile launcher able to destroy walls and doors, then it also becomes a tool as well as a weapon.

In keeping with the style of the game, I would use this kind of aspect spareingly, and never use it for the nessesary completion of a level. I think the best use for it would be to access secret areas or enable the player to complete a level quicker.

Quote:
That's a question asked by a lot of people but this game isn't a domain of deep thinking. So my answer to 'why?' in this case; First it's a challenge! Collecting the enemy fire power and using it on them is a reward, as is finding new weapons you've never seen before.

I would question the fact of a better weapon a areward for the player. Usually (to maintain balance in the game) a player is given a more powerful weapon around the same time the enemies become harder to kill. So the weapon does not act as a reward, it acts to maintain the status quo.

According to psychology, there are 4 aspects to a reward/punishment scheme. These are:
1) Presence of a reward
2) Removal of a reward
3) Presence of a punishment
4) Removal of a punishment

Now 1 and 3 are seen as rewards where as 2 and 4 are seen as punishments.

Lets look at the giveing a player a weapon and increasing the level of difficulty of the enemies to match it.

First the gift of the gun is a reward by its self, but this is counteracted by increasing the difficulty of the enemies. Incresing the difficulty of the enemies puts preasure on the player and counts as a presence of a punishment. Effectively creating a neutral situation.

Now the fact that the player is presented with a new game system (the gun and how it behaves) they will not use it to its best effectiveness, this is a Removal of a reward as the reward (the new gun) is removed by their inability to use it well.

So giving a player a new weapon as a power up is not nessesarily a reward (in the big picture) The only reason that one might eventually see it as a reward is that loosing it presents the player as a further removal of a reward.

Now I know that you didn't want the game to be an intelectual exersise, but that does not mean tha the design will not be one. :D

If we give the weapons more use (as in non combat abilities) as well as tactical advantages and disadvantages, this opens up the posability of the players dicovering a new use for a weapon. This give a reward, and as the weapons have disadvantages too (presence of a penalty) this discovery will become a presence of a reward as well as a lessesing (removel) of a penalty. So this gives a net reward to the player and therefore increases the enjoyment felt by the player (instead of a frustration).

by keeping weapons with distinct tactical advantages and disadvantages, no one weapon is best and this give the player this constant reward as they discover the best way to tackle a particular situation or enemy.

Just shooting things and watching them "Go Boom" will become repetative and boring after a while, If you want players to play the game then you will need to give them some constant reward scheme and offer them consitantly new chalenges.

Making enemyies harder just means that the reward for finding a new weapon will become less and less as the enemies get harder and harder.

As a cost analysis of development time vs player enjoyment (there are other cost analysis you cvan do but I find this the most effective at judging players attraction to a game) then a resource (the weapons) that you can use again and again is more value than one that you use once (or a few times) and then throw away (if you have the ubergun by level 3, why do you need the water pistol from then on?).

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MSW    151
Power-ups are way too overdone. Its the most lazy and lame game design cliche ever invented.

Go look up a game called Mars Matrix to see how things should be done...One single fire button, four distinct and very usefull weapons, no power-ups.


I've been working on a simular game, and here is how I'm doing things:

I have two bars...one named WEAPON, the other named DANGER.

The faster the player hits the fire button, the faster the WEAPON bar fills up. As the WEAPON bar climbs, it changes the type of shots the weapon fires...from single, to spread, to huge beams.

When players are hit or come into contact with enemies while the DANGER bar is empty, they loose a life. If there is anything in the DANGER bar then it automaticly empties out...works kinda like a hitpoint/life meter...but very different.

When players skim or graze enemy fire the DANGER bar fills up a little. When the bar is near empty, the skimming/grazeing range is larger; and this distance gets smaller as the bar starts filling up...also the fuller the DANGER bar, the greater the score multiplier.

So far so good...but now here comes the catch.

Both bars drop to empty automaticly over time. but the rate at which they drop is dependant on how full the other bar is. If the WEAPON bar is near full, then the DANGER bar will drop slowly to zero. If the DANGER bar is full then the WEAPON bar will drop slowly to zero...If the WEAPON bar is full but the DANGER bar empty, then it may only take a second or two for the WEAPON bar to drop to zero if the player stops hitting the fire button. etc...

yes, this is a very twitch driven game. But this opens up a huge amount of stratigy to the player, all of it dependant on thier skill at useing this system rather then the placement and algorithms of generated power-ups.

[Edited by - MSW on August 20, 2006 12:41:36 PM]

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
The question I ask is: Why?


The answer I give is: Because it's fun.

Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
According to psychology, there are 4 aspects to a reward/punishment scheme. These are:
1) Presence of a reward
2) Removal of a reward
3) Presence of a punishment
4) Removal of a punishment

Now 1 and 3 are seen as rewards where as 2 and 4 are seen as punishments.


Only if you're a masochist. "Yes, mistress." [wink]

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3dModelMan    204
Ok...

Neph; Yes I've considered a kind of "energy cell" weapon system, the more collected the more powerful it's effect but I can't help feel that this is far too linear.

Edtharan; More enemies and bigger weapons does not maintain the status quo. To my target audience more enemies and bigger weapons are BOTH rewards for managing to get that far, bolstered by the fact that bigger weapons mean more damage, more explosions and much more eye candy.

ToohrVyk; I like that system of using skill to gain overloads it and looks very nicely done. I also hate permanent boosts with a passion.

Mike; Don't worry the 'Doom' system just doesn't work here.

MSW;
Quote:
Power-ups are way too overdone. Its the most lazy and lame game design cliche ever invented.


Then this game isn't for you :) It's an arcade shooter for a casual audience not a Miyamoto master piece. It's got more cliches than a bad b-movie but some people (including me) just like it that way.

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Captain P    1092
There's a DOS game, something with roads, where you could collect power cells or something similar. Once your upgrade bar was full, your weapon would switch to a better type. By firing, you would deplete the weapon and revert to the previous weapon. The catch was that there was a line of weapons you could get that way, so by saving ammo and collecting more power cells, you could get to the more powerfull weapons. These weapons were significantly more powerfull and effective (spreadshot, burn through multiple enemies, etc.), so it was really rewarding to watch your trigger carefully...

Alternately, you could be going for weapon types. As in, a fire weapon, a cold weapon, a projectile weapon. Every type works well against some enemies and less against others, so besides collecting upgrade pods, you may want to grab a different type when you find yourself surrounded by the wrong type of enemy. I'm not sure if such a pickup system works best for this approach, but it's just an idea... :)

As for avoiding placing weapons by the level-designer, weapons can be used to set traps or guide players... if you're trying to avoid having a weapon always at the same spot, then perhaps a randomized placement within a certain area, or attaching that weapon to a specific enemy, could work?

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by matibee
MSW;
Quote:
Power-ups are way too overdone. Its the most lazy and lame game design cliche ever invented.


Then this game isn't for you :) It's an arcade shooter for a casual audience not a Miyamoto master piece. It's got more cliches than a bad b-movie but some people (including me) just like it that way.


Yes, of course...That is very obvious just by the fact that you requested feedback here, instead of forums that are more focused on gameplay design in the arcade shooter genre...Certainly you have no deep passion for this genre, and its painfully clear you arn't putting all your design skills into the game you are developing...that is disapointing to say the least.



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It's a bit of a coincidence that I've just made a topic that would work rather well with this. Having a living, shapeshifting gun (it could be that you stole it from a lab or something, or that your an alien/mutant and it's a part of you) would work pretty well. Make it so that the gun feeds on killed enemies, growing stronger with every feeding, and some enemies are more nourishing than others depending on their strength and give different effects eg ammo/health refill, increased damage, the ability to turn your gun from a pistol into a rifle etc.

Make it so that you can only change your gun into, for ecxample, a bazooka while it's a pistol and to a pistol from a shotgun. It would make for an interesting system. You want a rifle, but you have to first go through a series of other weapons until you can get access to it.

Kinda like a web, where you have to travel along lots of other strands before you can get to where you want to go. You could, of course, change guns through a menu, but that's innaccesable during combat, adding a sense of vulnerability to the player.

Combining this with a limited number of edible enemies in a given area as well as a 'decomposition' timer on all kills (after the timer runs out they become rotten and inedible) and you would have a highly innovative game.


Should you actively seeking out the most powerful enemy at the start and killing him with a lot of effort, or slowly working your way up to him?

Do you kill that pesky (and potentially lethal) sniper on that high rooftop before he can see you running below him, or do you wait until later in the level until you can reach him, so you can get the massive power upgrade he would give your weapon?

Is that obviously powerful man really worth braving that sea of inedible robots, or could you find some other way to access his body?

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e-u-l-o-g-y    196
I'm a big fan of an "enraged" ability that triggers whenever the player is badly hurt (that is if we're talking arcade games - which we are). Let's for instance go with the living gun theme. When the gun realizes that its host is dying it's going into a frenzy since that means that he's dying too - so he uses his saved up energy (for instance collected when you get hurt) to deal major amounts of damage to the enemies. This might lead to some really cool last stand situations where you're on the edge of dying but barely stays alive... the weapon might even become vampiric when you're in trouble so you're barely hanging in there.

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Only if you're a masochist. "Yes, mistress."

LOL. I meant 1 and 4 as rewards and 2 and 3 as punishments :D .

Quote:
Edtharan; More enemies and bigger weapons does not maintain the status quo. To my target audience more enemies and bigger weapons are BOTH rewards for managing to get that far, bolstered by the fact that bigger weapons mean more damage, more explosions and much more eye candy.

This path means that you will need to constantly (at least 2 to 3 time each level) need new and better explosions or your audience will stary to become board with it. Eye candy as a reward i lasts only for a short time before the player start to dismiss it. Also with replaying they will have seen all these flashy effects and then they wont have the appeal that they had.

If you have played an old game that you thought, at the time, was good because it had the flashy graphics but when you play it years (or even just a few weeks or months) down the track, it seems to loose it's appeal. It is because of the psychology of the reward/punishment. You had that initial reward of the graphics, but afterwards you find that it does not have the appeal that it once had.

A game should be fun to play without flashy graphics. If the game can stand on its own, then adding these eye candies will just make the game more attractive to the first time players (marketing).

Quote:
I'm a big fan of an "enraged" ability that triggers whenever the player is badly hurt (that is if we're talking arcade games - which we are).

In a recent game I worked on, we had a powerup system where the more enemies the player killed and the more damage the player took, the more "Rage" the player generated. The player could then spend this rage (by using an Alt fire button) to trigger a powerful attack. This attack would drain some of the rage the player had accumulated.

This was not just flashy graphics and more damage done. The effect of the rage was dependant on the type of weapon the player had selected (as the player was a dragon, this also fits the category of a living weapon).

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