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Wavinator

General questions about needs driven gameplay

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Wavinator    2017
Just looking for general advice / thoughts on what you guys think makes or breaks needs driven gameplay. I really like the idea of needs, from a design POV. Falling resources like starship fuel or ammo, or rising needs like sleep or nourishment seem to have the main effect of making a game world much more concrete and engaging. They create constant pressure, which may mean that the player always has something to deal with. (This is hopefully good so long as the needs are cool and interesting.) So I''m wondering about a couple of things: Penalty or reward? Normally I think you should reward players. But if players fail to meet the game'' needs, there should be some consequence (otherwise why have them?). OTOH, this could be reversed: Players could be rewarded (say, with enhanced play abilities) by meeting needs, and the penalty would be just average play. Light or harsh? If there''s a penalty for not meeting a need, should it ever stop gameplay? Running out of fuel for a starship, for example, could result in death. Or it could mean being stranded. Or the crew could just be put in stasis and automatically warped home. On the one hand, if the penalty are light then the need doesn''t really put any pressure on the player and might be viewed as superficial. But if the penalty is harsh, the player may be annoyed if he is unable to meet the need. Comments appreciated! -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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dwarfsoft    1229
I think that you need to give the player a little bit of punishment (remembering all those topics about player death) but they should not be punished overly bad to an extent that they can''t get out of it... If the player is not punished then they will never learn not to do stupid things... IMO

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs Thanks to all the goblins in the GDCorner niche

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bishop_pass    109
Punishment should be entertaining. Punishment should have a sometime major impact on the player''s plans, but not on the player''s entertainment. Punishment should take the player to a different situation, but one no less interesting.

A player commits a crime: throw him in a jail cell, but let interesting game play continue there.

A player runs out of fuel in his ship: strand him and let him be the victim of marauders, but make it interesting.

A player gets heavily wounded: decrease his abilities but let this open the door to pursuing other avenues of exploration.


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dwarfsoft    1229
Yes, that is exactly what I was refering to but didn''t explicitly mention. There should always be a consequence, but the bad decisions (the punishments) should probably add more to the game than just the general story... So although the player knows they will get kidnapped, they don''t care, because it will be an adventure finding out WHY :p

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs Thanks to all the goblins in the GDCorner niche

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Nazrix    307
Bishop, yes I totally agree. Especially in a story-based/plot-based game. In an action-based game like Diablo and Quake punishment usually involves dying and trying again which I would call interesting or taking you to a new situation but I guess it does work in those games.

Also, reward could be sort of indirect too. As in Thief, you were not exactly directly rewarded for not killing people, but it indirectly benefits you because the people will not make noise and get you into trouble. And it''s obvious that Thief is rewarding you indirectly and want you to refrain from killing a lot.

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BobyDimitrov    122
Maybe I miss something, but if the punishment is fun and entertaining, then what kind of punishment is that?! It''s more of a reward, I think. If your fuel is over in the middle of intergallactic flight, you''re in deep chit. If you kill a person in the middle of the village''s square, you''re out too.

If you want player to learn not to do this or that, you should really punish him. Otherwise you gonna end up with fan sites pumping help articles like: "DON''T load enough fuel!" or "Start killing by the time of your arrival in that village!".

If the story splits at some point depending if you took or not full load of fuel - it''s ok, but providing the player a safe exit of the problems is not a way to punish them.

My 2 cents

Boby Dimitrov
boby@shararagames.com
Sharara Games Team

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Sandman    2210
BobyDimitrov: I think the idea here is to keep the game fun. If you kill the player and force him to start over then you he is very quickly going to get fed up with the game and stop playing it. If you allow him to reload the game wherever he is then there is no point in punishing him, and game choices become meaningless because a bad choice can be reversed just be reloading the game.

I think that failure should be just as rewarding as success. This might sound crazy but it actually makes sense. Consider the fuel example....

1. You load enough fuel. You get to your destination in time, and make loads of money. Overall outcome - Good.

2. You dont load enough fuel. Your ship conks out half way to your destination, where it is captured by pirates. The pirates take you prisoner for ransom.

2.1 You escape from the pirates. You manage to steal enough fuel to get to your original destination. You are late (Bad) but you report the location of the pirates to the authorities, recieve a reward (Good) and get a reputation boost with the authorities (Good) Overall outcome - Good

2.2 You try to escape, but fail. The authorities pay your ransom, but demand repayment at some time in the future, or perhaps they conscript you into their own military forces. Outcome - Depends (but it should be good in the end)

2.3 You convince the pirates to let you join them. Now you have allies (Good) although your afiliation with them may get you in trouble with the authorities (Bad) However, there is a lot of money in piracy... (Good) Overall outcome - Good.

3. You reload the game... (Arrrggh)

I dont think anyone will go posting "Dont load enough fuel, it is great fun" - more likely they will post an account of what happened to them when they ran out of fuel. Everyone who plays the game will have a different tale to tell.

To answer the original question, I think it depends on the need in question. Something fundamental, like food for example, could well have a negative effect on your chances of succeeding a task. Just as long as that failure leads to more gameplay, and not a stab of the quick reload key....

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bishop_pass    109
quote:
Original post by BobyDimitrov
Maybe I miss something, but if the punishment is fun and entertaining, then what kind of punishment is that?! It's more of a reward, I think. If your fuel is over in the middle of intergallactic flight, you're in deep chit. If you kill a person in the middle of the village's square, you're out too.

If you want player to learn not to do this or that, you should really punish him. Otherwise you gonna end up with fan sites pumping help articles like: "DON'T load enough fuel!" or "Start killing by the time of your arrival in that village!".

If the story splits at some point depending if you took or not full load of fuel - it's ok, but providing the player a safe exit of the problems is not a way to punish them.


Yeah, you're absolutely right. However, it boils down to winning vs. escapism. The punishment as described above is punishing and entertaining. It punishes because it drastically changes what the player has worked for, and places the player in a new situation in which his hard won resources are no longer available, where he must think differently with different resources or no resources.






Edited by - bishop_pass on June 27, 2001 12:02:19 PM

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BobyDimitrov    122
Hi Bishop_pass, and thanks for the explanation!
Yet there is one thing that bothers me...
quote:
It punishes because it drastically changes what the player has worked for, and places the player in a new situation in which his hard won resources are no longer available, where he must think differently with different resources or no resources.

If I may, I''d like to make a Diablo 2 example of the above situation. Say you start playing as a barbarian and somewhere between 22 and 23 level you make a mistake and you are punushed by draining all your precious Strength and Life points. However, you receive a "boost" of 5 points Mana. So, you have to become a wizard now, with your power low and mana higher... If that is the punishment, I''d like to start the game over. Don''t know about you guys, but if I play warrior, I''m not switching to wizard at no cost.

Using the example Sandman gave: if you''re out of fuel, you''re late, don''t make the delivery, don''t meet the person, etc. You missed the quest. I''m not saying that should make you reload game. You still could meet the person at That planet at This time, but that''ll mean you''d miss more quests. And if you had a story that''s developing w/o waiting for the player to interact, then you''ve missed a part of the show. You could still finish the game and reach the happy end, but it would take efforts and missing other tasks. The player must know, that his mistake could lead to unwanted outcome of the game.

Here''s another example. A game where the Good and Evil fight. Depending on player''s actions, you could have different outcomes. If a player wants the Evil to prevail, then he would take quests he considers evil and completes them. There would be NPCs (or other players) that would fight on the Good side, so the player is aware, that if he doesn''t interact the outcome would be random. The player takes a evil quest and misses it. Now that was an important quest, that gave many Evil Points. In the mean time the forces of Good are not sleeping - they gain Good Points in good measure. If you want to keep up and compensate for your mistake, you should complete numerous small quests. Of course if you missed a small and unimportant quest, it won''t matter that much.

That way, the bigger mistake, the more efforts needed to correct it.

Boby Dimitrov
boby@shararagames.com
Sharara Games Team

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benfinkel    136
Like everyone has been saying, the only REAL punihsment in a game should be forcing them to start over.

Everything else should just lead to a different aspect of the game from the track the player is currently on.

Take Morrowind for example. There is NO punishment except death. You can play the main quest of the game as a good, neutral, or evil character. You can kill everyone to win the main quest, or you can play through as it was intended, or you can make your own hybrid somewhere in between those two extremes.

In a simpler game design, you may want "running out of fuel" to be a fatal mistake for the player and have that action force them to restart. It works, I remember the Kings Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest games were particularly bad at that, yet the games were still insane amounts of fun to play.

You need to define losing and winning in a game before you can decide how a punishment should and will affect the player. In the artillery game I brought up in another thread, someone suggested that if your tank were blown up, you could leave the tank and run for a bunker or something. I disagree, since the rules of an artillery game focus strictly on blowing up your opponent before they blow you up. Getting blown up should not be an avenue opening punishment, that is a game ending one as defined by the rules of the game.

In a (imaginary) Freespace-like game of space combat, running out of fuel or ammo should NOT be a game ending punishment, and so should not be considered a punishment at all. It simply poses a new challenge to the player to find a way to fix the situation.

Whether you call that a punishment (someone said something about forcing the player into a different course than they intended) or not is really up to you, but the onyl real punishment in a game should be death.

That being said developing a game design which is completely open-ended like that and can handle all of the different scenarios that a player might get into is difficult. That is why game developers and designers put limits on their game and define rules. Eventually some things that should not be punishments turn out to be simply due to the sheer logistics of making the game perform otherwise.

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