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Weapon upgrades

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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