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Point of Life Sim Elements In Action/Adventure Games

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What's the point of life sim elements in action adventure games? Do you think they should be included, and if so, what would you include/exclude and why? Grand Theft Auto III and IV and the two Fables are two game brands that include life simulation elements in otherwise action and/or adventure oriented gameplay. GTA makes you eat periodically, for instance, and Fable has rudimentary relationship choices. But do these elements really enhance the overall game, or do they get in the way?

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I haven't played GTA 4, but in the GTA 3 games I remember eating as being essentially another form of a health pick-up. It wasn't mandatory, and you could ignore eating if you wanted to. That worked for the GTA series, as apart from the missions the game world was just a big sandbox with very little consequences involved.

Fable's family relationships involved more maintenance. If you didn't look after spouses, they'd leave you. Unfortunately the gameplay involved spending large amounts of time in far away places. Combined with some family shattering bugs in both Fable games, and I found the whole thing to be a negative.

Basically, I'd either follow GTA's model and make it optional icing that involves little investment or risk, or follow the Sims and make it a core gameplay dynamic. If you put it somewhere in the middle, it's likely to fall flat.

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Original post by Wavinator
But do these elements really enhance the overall game, or do they get in the way?

That's the question you need to ask before you add each one of them. Eating could add a lot to a survival [horror] game, because food is likely to be an issue in that simulation. It's one of many things you need to keep in the front of your mind as you wander around the barren terrain, trying to stay alive.

Fallout 3 could have benefited from a realistic water/food system. It would have complicated the gameplay, so you'd have to want that in the first place. You wouldn't be able to just pick a direction and start walking. You'd need to know how far you're going, and pack enough supplies to last that long. It would almost work exactly like fuel did in Star Control II. To travel long distances, you might need to stop somewhere along the way.

If your game has several situations, and food is only important to one of them, then the character should auto-simulate eating the rest of the time. Don't weigh 70% of the gameplay down just to put more detail into the 30% where you're traveling.

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I would say its based on what style of game you are creating. If it is an action game, stay away from such things. If it is a strategy based game, it can enhance the game.

In the game I am designing (hopefully I can find time to develop it now that I'm not on OT...) I'm planing on making food important to both the player and the NPCs. I don't think I will make the player actively eat but instead have food automatically removed from inventory. This way the player does have to think "strategically" in having proper supplies for long trips but then can forget about it unless they want to eat less over time (leads to reduced stamina or something similar) or run out of food...

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
Fable's family relationships involved more maintenance. If you didn't look after spouses, they'd leave you. Unfortunately the gameplay involved spending large amounts of time in far away places. Combined with some family shattering bugs in both Fable games, and I found the whole thing to be a negative.


That's a good point. Bugs aside, what do you think would have improved their system?

I generally like maintenance and some sort of resource decay (like a relationship bar) as a game mechanic, but any game with adventure and questing would have this same problem. (It's somewhat similar to the position of military families with long deployments overseas.)

I suppose you could try and take them with you, but that breaks down with the whole family thing. You could try to model some aspects of courtship better, but then you're potentially getting in the way of adventuring. And if you plunk it down in a mission (as GTA 3 did with saving the girl from the house fire) then it's highly specific and not very flexible.

I think the main problem is that the game is mimicking something that's a slow and uncertain, yet for gameplay we want it to be quick and reliable.

Quote:

Basically, I'd either follow GTA's model and make it optional icing that involves little investment or risk, or follow the Sims and make it a core gameplay dynamic. If you put it somewhere in the middle, it's likely to fall flat.


Very good advice!

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Original post by Kest
Fallout 3 could have benefited from a realistic water/food system. It would have complicated the gameplay, so you'd have to want that in the first place. You wouldn't be able to just pick a direction and start walking. You'd need to know how far you're going, and pack enough supplies to last that long. It would almost work exactly like fuel did in Star Control II. To travel long distances, you might need to stop somewhere along the way.


Agreed. I've always wanted to see this sort of thing in an RPG because it would make the land come alive. It's sort of like how Morrowind made so much of the vegetation relevant with Alchemy.

Food in survival/horror would be fascinating. I can imagine it being more stressful than ammo because it wouldn't be something you could immediately use (unless being well fed conferred some bonus).

Quote:

If your game has several situations, and food is only important to one of them, then the character should auto-simulate eating the rest of the time. Don't weigh 70% of the gameplay down just to put more detail into the 30% where you're traveling.


I think this is a very good point. I think the big challenge in determining how relevant it should be is in figuring out the goal of the game. In survival/horror the point is largely to survive (long enough to figure out the story) so something like that follows.

But could you translate having a family into survival/horror? Maybe you could do some sort of trust mechanic, starting off with an already broken relationship (like the family in Stephen King's The Shining). Survival could then depend both on building trust and surviving challenges.

(btw, I'm not thinking about a survival/horror game as you know, but I still find thinking about how and why it works in other genres useful).

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Original post by Drethon
I don't think I will make the player actively eat but instead have food automatically removed from inventory. This way the player does have to think "strategically" in having proper supplies for long trips but then can forget about it unless they want to eat less over time (leads to reduced stamina or something similar) or run out of food...


I think the "feed bag" is probably the best way to go. If you wanted to make it more active, you could also swap food out for the role taken up by potions to cure status effects and up stats. It might be interesting to have to find and mix different combinations, but how distracting it would be I don't know.

One interesting side effect: If the effect of running out of food is dire, you could use food to invisibly bound your world. Places where you want the player to go have food, places that you don't want them to go don't.

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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Prolly has the most indepth health system ever developed for a action game.

You had a status bar that depletes during the game(dependant on your activity, sit and it depletes slow, run around and it depletes faster). In order to maintain the bar you had to forge for food in the jungle around you. Further you could store food in your backpack, however some of it rots faster than others. Eating rotten or otherwise bad food makes you sick and the status bar deplete faster. When the bar drops to a certain point your stomache will start to growl (which can alert near by enemies), drops further and you slow down, have difficulty aiming your weapons, eventualy blured vision, blacking out and even death.

The health system was in a way more complex. A weak cut might just require a spray of anti-infection medicine plus a band-aid. Deeper cuts required sutures. Broken bones required splints. There were about a dozen medical items that you needed just to stay healthy. Wounds left unchecked deplete the status bar faster.

This worked pretty well because its a stealth game. Might even work well for a survival horror game depending on frequency of combat. Because I think its far too complicated for a more action driven game. Wouldn't work for God of War. But prolly work great for a Clocktower(PSX version) type game where scissorman is on the hunt for you.

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The immersion-minded features Fable (at least the original, the sequel I didn't get to play) attempted seemed quite out of place to me. To me it made little sense to invest time and effort in immersion-minded features like persistent life simulation in what is generally a consolesque arcade game that involves things like collecting shiny green balls off of fallen enemies for example.

However, I wouldn't necessarily make a principle out of that. Things that Fable tried to do would be better suited in a game with a more serious tone and setting. I wouldn't mind an action/adventure remake of Oblivion with those elements, for example.

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