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GesterX

Ways of implementing "research"

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I have a simple top down shooter I have made in Unity3d. The game is split between actual "missions" and a "hub" area. In the hub area the player can get missions, buy weapons/armour/items etc and do "research projects". Existing examples of this are in games such as SC2 and Mass Effect 2.

What I'd like to hear are suggestions and ideas about are how to implement research. Ideally I would have the following flow:
Unlock Research Project --> Progress Research --> Gain Reward/Item in Shop etc

Now what I'm looking for is ideas for "What Unlocks new Projects", "Research Project Subjects" and how research should be "Progressed" (aka spend points etc).
Some implementations I have thought about:
- Enemy Research - Kill X amount of enemy and gain some sort of bonus against the enemy or the ability to buy it's armour/weapons
- Armour/Weapon Research - Spend points (gained somehow???) and unlock weapons/armour to purchase
-Ability Research - same as above but unlock abilities

I'm open to discuss all ideas (as everyone should be!) as long as they could be implemented within the confines of a top-down shooter (no real theme - slightly arcadey/sci-fi but let's not limit ourselves). The game systems I already have in place are XP with levelling and a basic Money system. However, I would be happy to put in place new variables to support the research feature.

I'll try and give my opinion on any ideas put forward.

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A very simple way would be for the player to earn combat points per kill regarding armor/weapon research and for more peaceful things, earn science points from purchases and talking with other NPCs or similar.

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It will depend on what the purpose of the research is (in terms of game design goals). Usually research is used as a reward and balancing system to both encourage the player to keep playing (reward) as well as giveing the game a balance that prevents them from getting too powerful too quickly.

With both of these the way to impliment research is a cost aath the player must reach to gain the next level of research. The game designer has balanced the rate of gain of the player to meet the cost to meet the difficulty of the enemies.

Another use of research is to increase the options the player has and act as a mediator of the rate of learning of the player. In this case you need a way to measure the skill of athe player and this becomes the income needed to meet the costs of research (eg: unlock new levels, etc).

So, what is the purpose that you are wanting reasearch for (there are others than what I havea described above)?

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Random other game examples of how you could go about this.

Utopia: Creation of a Nation - Throw money at the problem, new research items from a hidden progression list are completed over time. More money, up to a point, yields faster research.

Syndicate - You have research categories like "Automatics" or "Explosives". You put money into the research to determine how long it takes to discover something. Finding new weapons in a mission will advance the associated category towards producing that exact item. Undirected research will however still discover items in a set hidden order based on the category that completed.

Supreme Commander - Buildings give you research points over time. You can then spend those points in a tech tree for any one of several categories of tech (air, ground, sea, commander).

Starcraft 2 (campaign) - Particular missions directly unlock associated tech upon successful completion. Upgrades to that tech can be purchased later. Particular events provide research points that unlock research oportunities 2 at a time, where you then have to choose which of the two you want to use.

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I would warn against giving bonuses to killing something for having killed it.

Giving you the Goblinbane sword for killing 100 Goblins seems useless. On the other hand, if Goblins are good at killing trolls, learning their tactics from fighting them and giving a bonus against trolls is good.

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What about research nodes hidden around the mission map?
Secondary Objectives that grant research.
Cash based research, which creates a trade off between gear and R&D.
Static research, in which you get a set amount of research points each mission based on the number scientists you’ve captured/rescued.

Or you could replaces "research" with deals with other organizations.

For instance Bullet Max might allow you to choose a weapon upgrade for every 100 kills you make with their trade mark room sweeper machine gun.

Enemy specific kill based bonuses can work, but they tend not to as you stop seeing low level enemies as the game goes on as they are replaced with high level enemies.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys!

Quote:
A very simple way would be for the player to earn combat points per kill regarding armor/weapon research and for more peaceful things, earn science points from purchases and talking with other NPCs or similar.


I like the splitting up of combat and non-combat based goals here. This would enable me to expand the "hub" area into an almost city like structure with interesting NPCs and sidequests that would reward the player with appropriate research points. Very cool.

Quote:
It will depend on what the purpose of the research is (in terms of game design goals). Usually research is used as a reward and balancing system to both encourage the player to keep playing (reward) as well as giveing the game a balance that prevents them from getting too powerful too quickly.

With both of these the way to impliment research is a cost aath the player must reach to gain the next level of research. The game designer has balanced the rate of gain of the player to meet the cost to meet the difficulty of the enemies.

Another use of research is to increase the options the player has and act as a mediator of the rate of learning of the player. In this case you need a way to measure the skill of athe player and this becomes the income needed to meet the costs of research (eg: unlock new levels, etc).

So, what is the purpose that you are wanting reasearch for (there are others than what I havea described above)?


You have highlighted a good point for me here and I do need to go back to my initial design and state clearly "Why do I want the player to do research?".
The way I initially thought about it was to give the player a series of trade-offs with the research and to build there own character that would be different from other player's characters (aka choose between Heavy Weapons and Rapid Fire Weapons). I always find the best games are the ones where two people can play the same game and are allowed to completely make the experience their own. This also encourages multiple playthroughs.

I think in the midst of implementation I have forgotten the real reasin for the idea. Thanks for putting me back on track!

Quote:
I would warn against giving bonuses to killing something for having killed it.

Giving you the Goblinbane sword for killing 100 Goblins seems useless. On the other hand, if Goblins are good at killing trolls, learning their tactics from fighting them and giving a bonus against trolls is good.


This is an extremely valid point and an oversight. Your idea of gaining an enemies "strengths" is very intriguing and would not only be a great player reward but also give the player insight into the game's lore.

Quote:
What about research nodes hidden around the mission map?
Secondary Objectives that grant research.
Cash based research, which creates a trade off between gear and R&D.
Static research, in which you get a set amount of research points each mission based on the number scientists you’ve captured/rescued.

Or you could replaces "research" with deals with other organizations.

For instance Bullet Max might allow you to choose a weapon upgrade for every 100 kills you make with their trade mark room sweeper machine gun.

Enemy specific kill based bonuses can work, but they tend not to as you stop seeing low level enemies as the game goes on as they are replaced with high level enemies.


I like this idea of saving scientists with the incentive of greater research potential. The deals with other organisations is a very good idea too and I may look at weaving that in at a later point in the game.

Wow what great feedback!
Thanks to all who contributed. I will of course take any more suggestions that people might have. I'm going to mess around with a few ideas over the next few days and try and get something concrete in place.

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