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Encouraging players not to use an item

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Since this is my first thread ever, I'll make it clear that I am not presently working as a game designer. I'm not even a student yet, I start school in a couple weeks and even then it will just be art classes for the first few months. I've been told over and over again to start working on design documents right away as to develop and work out ideas early on. I have an idea for an adventure game bouncing around in my head. That's the problem though, an adventure game. I want to include some scattered combat involving a single firearm, probably a revolver. Ammo would be extremely limited, like 6 or 8 bullets for the entire game to use at key moments. How can a player resist shooting off a gun without being forced? I was thinking maybe making it easier to use the gun for some situations but never completely requiring it. By the way, when I say adventure game I mean almost Myst-esque but with first person shooter controls (so you can actually walk around in the environments, not just point where you go). I was thinking this would be fairly simple to accomplish in a school setting, especially since I'd most likely be working with the Unreal engine. I was at a showcase for graduating students last night and everyone had these amibitious huge games that they didn't even nearly finish or even get properly playable. Every guy I talked to said something about how they had to cut corners and scrap ideas just to get done in time. [Edited by - balohna on September 20, 2006 10:03:10 PM]

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I think the best way would be to simply tell them. Use plot devices to continously remind them of how important the ammo is. That's about the best you can do without restricting them from using it.

Personally, in most environments, I wouldn't consider the weapon worth carrying around. I would much sooner settle for a sword or club. But it would depend heavily on the environment and situation.

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or maybe only have it work if it's actually the place where you're supposed to use it. Maybe it jams all the time except for when you really actually need it

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Yeah I was thinking about that. Or maybe have it only be selectable when encountering difficult enemies. My idea is that you're a scientist quarantined in a laboratory with some genetic experiments gone wrong and your goal is to get out alive. Most of the time you would be alone, but what do you have to fear if you never get attacked?

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I want to include some scattered combat involving a single firearm, probably a revolver. Ammo would be extremely limited, like 6 or 8 bullets for the entire game to use at key moments. How can a player resist shooting off a gun without being forced?


A number of factors can influence whether a player will fire off rounds or not, and ultimately it depends on their reactions to the situations presented to them. Generally in games like Resident Evil where i know ammo's scarce and i'm obviously outnumbered, i'll try and conserve ammunition where i can incase i end up in a messy situation.

If you make it clear in the beginning the players got 6-8 bullets and there's no boxes of ammo lying around inside waiting for him, he'll likely be conservative. The problem with that though is that player may end up being too conservative, and not use the gun at all for fear of wasting ammo.

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I was thinking maybe making it easier to use the gun for some situations but never completely requiring it.


This would be a good idea, since a player may not know the right or wrong time to use a bullet. This way the player can decide for himself when is most appropriate and feel less concerned about wasting ammunition.

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One game I played (can't remember which) had a good solution to this: when you're pointing your gun at someone the game designers don't want you to shoot, your character lowers the gun and won't fire. I imagine you could do the same thing for your game, but have the character do the same thing in all cases except where you want him to be able to fire.

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better than jamming or not firing (forcing the player) is having your player run an internal thought dialog (guiding the player).

So for instance, if you want the player to realize that ammo is really really scarce, have the character say something to himself like "a 15 shot clip with only 6 lousy bullets, if only there was a pawn shop around here". Or when he points the weapon at something the designer doesn't intend to be shot he could mumble to himself "now that would be fun, if I could afford to waste the bullets" / "he isn't even worth the price of a bullet, maybe I should just do this the old fasioned way" ... or if the player shots quickly, before the audio clip plays ... "what a waste of a bullet" or "that was too easy, I shoulda just given him an old fasioned beat down" - obviously depending on the tone of your game.

So the idea is, the game lets players make decisions, but helps them realize what might have been wrong ones, so when they have to play it again - they might play better. And if they absolutely must use bullets for one part, you can cheat- if they get there with enough bullets, let them finish, if not, tell them something like "Damn, I should have saved those bullets. I found the gun in the McAlister house, I bet there had to be more bullets somewhere, question is, is old man McAlister the kind to store his ammo in a dresser, or a toolshed? Or maybe in his safe? I guess I'll find out" And make the character go back and search for them, finding maybe one more clip, or a few stray bullets on the ground.

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Guest Anonymous Poster


You could start with the gun being empty (or one bullet) and have the playr face several opponents (NPC) before finding any additional bullets (there by forcing the player to fight using other methods -- and seeing that those other methods do work effectively).

Now that one bullet should be shown to be very effective (ie- alot of damage/one hot kill) to show that its worth saving for nasties (more difficult enemies) who deliver eniugh damage themselves that the player would wish to dispatch them quickly (and/or from a distance).

Most players would realize from such clues that the bullets/gun are a resource worth reserving and not worth wasting on lesser opponents.

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its a adventure game right?

How about completely dropping the gun entirely, and haveing players use the enviroment (I.E. actualy use those classic adventure game puzzle solveing skills) to deal with the nasties?

Spray a critter with compressed nitrogen, then wack off its frozen body parts, has the same net effect...I mean, being shot full of lead isn't the only way one can die...instead of haveing players do the common thing by going postal, have them go McGivver on them critters arse!

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Quote:
Original post by Flarelocke
One game I played (can't remember which) had a good solution to this: when you're pointing your gun at someone the game designers don't want you to shoot, your character lowers the gun and won't fire.


HL2

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If I'm going to need those bullets at some point in the game, you must ensure I still have them at that point. Encouraging me not to waste them earlier isn't enough; if I have to replay your entire game due to not being able to pass a certain point because I wasted the bullets you have a serious design flaw (sadly one that came up in a lot of adventure games).

Similarly, you can't let me use those bullets to kill off a character that needs to be around later on. At the least you'd need to make killing someone and instant loss so as not to waste any more time but preferably the action should be prevented entirely, otherwise we have much the same flaw where the entire game must be played again due to an incorrect decision.


If the bullets aren't required and I'm not going to be able to screw things up (or if you've gone the instant game-over route for killing the wrong character (could be annoying and/or seem quite illogical depending on the situation)) then let me use them whenever I like, and perhaps just provide the occasional gentle reminder that I shouldn't waste them.

If the bullets are required or I can screw up my entire game by killing the wrong person then I'd suggest not giving me any opportunity to use the gun before it's required, and further that you somehow ensure I can't use it later on.



Regarding having the gun jam it probably isn't a particularly good idea; if my gun jams every time I try to use it why would I assume it will work when I get to the situation that requires it? Furthermore, how are you going to explain it in a logical fashion? A more rational alternative to this particular option would be to only provide the ammunition when it's actually required and to then ensure that ammunition is removed from the player by the end of the situation.

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Originally posted by Flarelocke
One game I played (can't remember which) had a good solution to this: when you're pointing your gun at someone the game designers don't want you to shoot, your character lowers the gun and won't fire.
That one only works well if I have my gun out all the time. If I do then that's fine, but being an adventure game I suspect it may not be the case. Essentially we have the same problem as the mysterious jamming; if I've always lowered my gun before then eventually I'll stop pulling it out at all and therefore won't realise when I'm actually able to use it.

A modification to this one that could make it work would be to have the character draw the weapon automatically when it should be used and holster it again after. This would wreck any suspense or element of surprise however and from the sounds of the OP these are desirable elements.



I'd say the option of making the gun an easier way out but never an actual requirement is probably a good one, and then just make the player aware that ammunition is scarce.


Hope my thoughts are of some help. [smile]

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Lots of great suggestions. Since I would want this to be more of an adventure game than a shooter and I wouldn't want the player to use violent means to solve problems. I agree that it would be cruel to the player and stupid from a design perspective to require anything that you can use up. This is a game where encounters would be few and far between and somewhat scripted. A bullet to the head might provide an instant win, but that wouldn't always be an option. I would also like to make the gun impractical unless you really need the range. Since you would be playing as a scientist, your aim could be shaky and movement could be slowed.

I was thinking about adding a ranged item/weapon without ammo or anything later on just to put players at ease and maybe get more creative with puzzles. I was thinking about a ranged key/stun weapon. It could shoot small balls of light that stun enemies, disrupt machinery, open doors, etc. This wouldn't need ammo and could spawn some fun Metroid-esque puzzles.

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Original post by Kazgoroth


I'd say the option of making the gun an easier way out but never an actual requirement is probably a good one, and then just make the player aware that ammunition is scarce.


Hope my thoughts are of some help. [smile]


Yeah, that would probably be it's function. Sort of a way to bail out of difficult fights or maybe a way to access something hidden in the game (like an optional bonus).

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Original post by Funkymunky
Quote:
Original post by Flarelocke
One game I played (can't remember which) had a good solution to this: when you're pointing your gun at someone the game designers don't want you to shoot, your character lowers the gun and won't fire.


HL2

Doom 3 as well.

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Similarly, you can't let me use those bullets to kill off a character that needs to be around later on.


hehe, was just thinking of the old Sierra type games, and I guess it would defeat the purpose bringing up a message saying "I'm sorry, but you have killed a key character and wasted a bullet you needed to use later on. New Game, Reload Game or Quit to Windows?" [lol]

Sorry if someone has mentioned this before, but if it's going to be an adventure game, maybe you could structure your environment/stages such that you only encounter one bullet at a time along the way, and the person/thing you need to use the bullet against is in that area (prior to finding the bullet). But I guess it would be too obvious. This is definitely a tricky problem. Do you need to have a gun in the game? Is it a necessity?

Maybe you could have it that you can use a gun against anyone (but if it's against a character that shouldn't be killed or harmed by a bullet, have a scripted event or something that prevents this from happening). But make it so you can find another bullet later on, so when one is wasted you are able to complete the game.

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Original post by Sandbar
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Similarly, you can't let me use those bullets to kill off a character that needs to be around later on.
hehe, was just thinking of the old Sierra type games
Indeed, so many of them unfortunately suffered from this problem, and it's a massive design flaw.

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