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Wavinator

Plans, danger rooms, simulations...

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Map generator meets preconfigured level... Often in fiction heros and villains automatically know important limits of their world. Villains might know the response time of the cops; or have plans into the catacombs beneath the castle. Heros can guess how their allies will respond; or determine where an outcome is heading and what it means if the villain's plans go through. The problem.... In games we only know this stuff if the game tells us or we save, experiment, observe the results, and restore. For those interested in improving gameplay and (even) removing save & restore behavior, this is a real problem. The solution...? You already have the enemies, the obstacles, and the levels made up, most likely. If you dont (as in my case), then you're somehow creating stuff dynamically. So the solution is right in front of you. Imagine a game where the player could play against any challenge in the game at any point in the game. Any time they felt like it. The game would go into a special "doesn't count" mode. The results of actions wouldn't count, and players could test and experiment. A step further? They could "cheat" on the fly, killing off enemies, adding to their capabilities, and even (if the game allowed) change the map. Do the players not know that a dozen rocket launcher weilding bots will leave them and their cerametal armor a smoking ruin? Let 'em test! Do the players need an explosive talisman to get past the enchanted gates? Don't make them walk all the way up there and have to walk back; let them test. "No! That'd Ruin the Surprise!" You don't have to give away every challenge. But what you're doing is representing knowledge, common wisdom, and common sense in the game world. For instance, we all somehow know that there are probably tons of guards in Fort Knox; we also know that we can't quite make a leap between rooftops that are widely spaced apart. But this info is hard to represent in a game. Sure, NPCs and books and game world encyclopedias can help, but sometimes you don't know the results of an action until you try. Which is better against a Deathclaw, phase shots or bullets? How long will it take to sneak past that checkpoint? You're essentially imbedding a save & restore in the game, but still keeping the player in the game. You're also short circuiting the traditional level-learn loop, which holds that a player should learn one major skill per area / level which then (predictably) gets used later (like the Long Jumps in Half-Life). Further, you could combine something like this into a plan that AI can key off of. You're essentially setting up scripting. If it's represented as context appropriate things like "a map of the castle with guard stations" or a "daydreaming mode" or even just an indicated range of outcomes one move ahead, I think it'd be a great alternative to experiment and restore gameplay. -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership... Edited by - Wavinator on April 22, 2001 4:42:10 AM

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Not bad, but really breaks the immersion.

I like your idea of not-dying better. Loss, yes. Penalty, sure. End of game, no.

If the world is different enough that the player wouldn''t know or expect some features then you should tell him about it. In the manual, in NPC conversation, etc.

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This was done in VGA Planets. I only had a couple of actual ship to ship combat in the real game (cos I was a thieving Privateer ), but I spent hours in the combat simulator trying to see which ships/ray weapons/torpedoes was better. And it was a very good feature.
Think xwing or tie fighter also had a simulator.

There should be a clear distinction whats simulated (doesnt count mode) and whats real. If you really die in Fort Knox, the game could go like "hey, you just waked up from a bad dream after you went to sleep just outside of fort knox", but then the game becomes somewhat unreal..

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I see that it would not be beneficial to say ''you woke up from a dream... yadda yadda yadda'' but consider that before you try breaking into fort knox to steal the magic foo, you meet with the witch (who is most reputable on the topic of the aforementioned foo) who has a crystal ball, this shows the ins and outs of the castle... Amazing that she seems to seek out the player as they approach fort knox.... and also strange that she should hold the secrets of being able to learn the long-jump skill if the player did not already know it...

Funny that when the player gets into difficulty in the castle that the witch suddenly appears with a back door and a quick means of escape.... and all she asks for is the magic foo and rewards you with the almighty wand of NULL!

Anyway... I think you get the picture

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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A few games have a small playable intro that sets up the story and familiarizes the player with the controls ect. It''s possible that in an intro like this the player could (in god mode) play through some of the characters past adventures... swiftly and unheaded, learning all of the common sense aspects of the world.


Somehow, the player would have to be weened into the "real" game, and know that now he/she can die.


It might be hard to impliment well (in a fun way)... letting the character run wild and then placing the restrictions on them, but the brief episode would give the player some needed common sense knowledge.


-Jason

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I was reading this, and there IS a potential for limited-save management here. In futuristic (or modern-day) games, there''s the "combat simulator" as mentioned. That doesn''t require any special manipulation of the world.
But it''s possible in a fantasy game as well.

Think of the following magical item: The potion of Dream. It allows you to go to sleep, dream up the current situation, and try out a single path through that situation. It suspends time, so you can try it whenever you like, but it''s limited to 5-minute time intervals. The number of potions you acquire is the number of "tries" you have before attempting the real thing. Limited saves! Now if you make them really expensive, you have a nice "money drain" as well


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

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quote:
Original post by MadKeithV
But it''s possible in a fantasy game as well.



What about dummy training, target practice, wooden swords, etc, etc. If you have a good combat system, you could, say, set your character in training/sparring mode, where the hitting is done for real, but the strokes are not really done...

I really like your Dream potion idea, actually.
You could also use that for a See the future, or Deja Vu skill ?! MMmmh, I think I''ll have to think about that one, but there is something there...

youpla :-P

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The potion idea is a brilliant one, but, I would suggest that the potion world was significantly less difficult than the real one. Have the physical structure of the world there, of course, but maybe miss out a guard here and there, or don''t include an alluring (but difficult to reach) sideway into a treasure room, or sage''s library (stocked with books containing exciting player-quest hints of course).

Just so that, when the player does actually attempt the task for real, they don''t slip into the "tap this key after five seconds, duck when you see that beam, sidestep at that corner"rota-learnt routine.



Virtual Worldlets, the home of online worlds

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There should perhaps be a few limitations to the dream potion yes.
Here are a few I can think of:
1. You can only dream of what you can see, or of what is within a certain limited radius.
2. The dream is time-limited (I already mentioned that )
3. The dream may be inaccurate in predicting the outcome of certain actions (or in other words, some of the stuff you do may be slightly randomized, such as combat )


The dummy training is also a good idea, a "sparring" mode between friendly characters or something. It allows you to try out the effectiveness of weapons and tactics in a combat situation without actually hurting someone (badly). This would be excellent in combination with a good punishment system for hurting people when you''re not supposed to


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

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Well... I have designed in a soothsayer that basically runs your character through a future event. You get to see what it looks like and then you have some idea of what you are up against. You can actually choose not to even follow what there is said to be in the future because it is not fixed (the way I believe in the future)

This way, you can give the player an idea of what is to come and they can judge for themselves whether they can take the heat yet or not

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