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Ashaman73

Generic or unique recruits ?

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Ashaman73    13715
Think about a team based game where you control a team with up to 10 members. Each one has more or less special skills you need to progress in the game. The basic idea is, that you have a pool of available entities where you have to choose your team from. When a team member dies, you can pick an other one from the pool.

The question is, should the pool consists of unique characters (like jagged alliances) or should it contain generic characters (i.e. Jon X, weapon specialist).

At first glance the choice would be unique characters, but it makes one gameplay features really difficult: perma-death of a teammember. I want to deliver a game experience where you don't [u]want [/u]to reload. In my opinion a game which delivers perma-death to unique characters will lead to frustration resulting in reloading of an older game state. On the other handwhen you have the option to get an other generic character with similar starting skills and you need to equip and train him again, it would be much easier to accept the perma-death of your previous teammember.

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GesterX    104
I would go with "generic" characters but provide the player opportunities to make them unique.

So maybe when I recruit a new team mate I can set him a nickname and give him certain goals/training focus (if that's how your game works). Perhaps each team member will have a combination of personality traits (aggressive, brave, sensible, rookie, etc) that determines how they act in battle. All these things are small things that makes each recruit unique and might cause me to get attached to them. However, you would then have to balance this so that they don't become TOO important to me so I don't reload when they die :rolleyes:

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lithos    414
I think that pretty much no matter what you do people are going to reload.

If you want to make it so people don't reload as much you need other mechanics. Off hand the first things I can think of would be stored experience, where you store experience and then can apply to any character new/old. A very short leveling curve, or "power tier" that is closer to customization rather than leveling. Maybe getting unique resources when a character dies(souls/similar).

Story wise you're also going to want units to be a lot less human. Mechs/demons/whatever.

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Bigdeadbug    173
Reloading tends to be down to the way the save system works. If it's easy, say a click or two, to reload the game then people will start to do it often, if its hard then like having to exit the game and start it up again people generally not bother. When you including perma death in a game (outside of the player character) i think it's just something you will have to live with.

I would personally go for unique characters and put other systems in place, like Iithos said, to discourage reloading. If your wanting people to not [u]want[/u] to reload then i think it comes down to how well the death of a character is handled. If you incorporate a death into the story well and make it somehow meaningful then the player will still want to continue. That way the player doesn't just loose something from a characters death but gains a lot as well.

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LorenzoGatti    4450
[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1302552953' post='4797248']
I would personally go for unique characters and put other systems in place, like Iithos said, to discourage reloading. If your wanting people to not [u]want[/u] to reload then i think it comes down to how well the death of a character is handled. If you incorporate a death into the story well and make it somehow meaningful then the player will still want to continue. That way the player doesn't just loose something from a characters death but gains a lot as well.
[/quote]
The balance of the combat system might make some casualties almost inevitable in most scenarios, and permadeath of unique characters is a matter of who the player prefers to put in danger, not a major failure. If enemies have sufficient firepower and properly concentrate attacks on a single unit, in many cases one or more leading units in an assault will be shot down before enemies are thinned.

If reloading means that with serious tactical effort you might have character B killed instead of character A, with a significant risk of making new mistakes and suffering extra casualties, few players will bother interrupting a battle that's going relatively well only because someone died or to retry a finished scenario that ended with acceptable losses.

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Sandman    2210
I think that so long as the player has any kind of emotional or mechanical investment in a character, he will likely want to reload an older save to prevent him from dying. The implication of this is that to avoid save-reload, you need to design your characters so that they are uninteresting and/or unlikable, and ensure that the player does not get to invest any game time in developing them - no levelling, equipping, customising etc. Another approach is to ensure that reloading and playing from an older save is such a huge chore that few players can be bothered.

However, this probably is not the game experience you want your players to have.

It may instead be better to have another look at character death, player failure and how you want to incorporate them into your game.
One thought that occurred to me - what if perma-death was a conscious choice rather than a direct result of player failure?
Under normal circumstances, if a character is 'killed', he is not killed, but simply wounded sufficiently badly to be taken out of the fight, and perhaps is rendered crippled or even unusable for a period of time afterwards.
However, each character has a 'heroic last stand' ability which can be activated at any time, even if he is already out of the action. Once activated, he becomes effectively unkillable for a period of time, fighting on even after reaching zero hitpoints, generating massive aggro, and getting significant bonuses to combat which will enable him to at least injure even the toughest monsters. Once the ability wears off though, he will die - heroically, but permanently.

This way, the player gets a degree of choice. If things are looking bad, he can make a tactical decision to suicide one of his guys in such a way as to tip the balance in his favour - and the player also gets to choose who it is. As it is a conscious choice, the player is more likely to accept the result. You can add other little touches to further sweeten the pill - for example, perhaps the heroic death of the character inspires the survivors to greater things - perhaps they get some experience bonus, or perhaps the dead character's equipment gets some kind of bonus attached to it.

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classeye    100
as long as a character's permanent death bothers the player, either through loss of a friend or loss of a resource, there will always be incentive to reload.

If your goal is to have the player not reload the save after each character death, there are a few simple ideas I can think of:

1. Make each team member expendable and easily replaceable, write up a few character archtypes with differing situation dialogue and then have each character randomly assigned one of the archetypes. (Final Fantasy Tactics)

2. Space out save points and keep the game flexible enough to finish without lost team members. Players will then face the choice to either give up progress to keep their characters or start over from the last save point. (Fire Emblem)

3. Remove permanent death. Defeated companions are knocked out and get replaced by your reserves. No major loss, no need to start over. Works well with both Unique and Generic

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Symphonic    313
So, you created a thread to get feedback on a design issue that pales in comparison to the real issue your project has:

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1302241460' post='4795837']
I want to deliver a game experience where you don't [u]want [/u]to reload.[/quote]

I think this is a ridiculous goal.

If your player doesn't want to reload after losing something, then one of the following is true:

1) It didn't have any real value to them in the first place.
2) It takes less effort to acquire a new one than it does to reload the game.

This creates a very ugly dichotomy, either all the 'units' are intrinsically worthless, or you make reloading painful. Can't we just say no to both?

How about this; have a 'casual' mode where players can save/load as much as they like and their score is worth peanuts. Then have a 'normal' mode where the player can only save between missions or whatever. Then create a 'hardcore' mode that has no reloading, only continuing from where you were when you last left the game or your computer crashed.

The titular question; Generic or Unique recruits? depends more on the aesthetic you are going for than your actual design goals. For example:

In most RTS every unit of a particular kind is the same, and none of them have names.
In Cannon Fodder, every unit is the same (they get XP but we can discount that), and every one of them has a different name.

In Jagged Alliance, every unit has a name and unique characteristics.

Now I think about it, I can't think of a game that has unique characters without unique names...

Whether each unit is mechanically unique is a design issue, and whether each one has a unique name is an artistic issue (ie, the feeling you're going for).

So, I put it to you: what are you going for?

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Ever play any Dwarf Fortress? In the Fortress mode, you get waves of immigrants. Many of them are completely freaking worthless, like a cheesemaker or an apprentice glassblower or a miller or something else that either a) anyone in the fort can do just as well, or b) you don't need in your fort. "You make soap, eh? I've got thirty years' worth of soap in here. Welcome to the militia, Recruit. You don't get any armor." Sometimes you get a really good recruit, like a skilled weaponsmith that saves you a ton of money on training, or a terrific brewer. More often, you train up a dude to fill a critical role. A grandmaster mason that can make ornate doors and tables from raw stone, or a legendary armorsmith that imparts a huge bonus to the defenses of your elite warriors, or the elite warriors themselves, who have been training and battling for years and can crush raiding parties that outnumber them four to one. These guys get nicknames, and fancy bedrooms, and opulent burial chambers.

In this way, each character is both anonymous and unique. Sure, they all have names, but they're also conveniently color-coded by their job classes, so when you need a floor smoothed or a wall built, you send eight random white smileys to get it done. On the other hand, if you need a masterwork platinum sarcophagus that menaces with spikes of ruby and is encircled with bands of brass, you use dedicated workshops that are only used by one bodacious guy, and when the vile force of darkness shows up, you hit the button that sends the faceless punks up to absorb arrows and the important bosses downstairs where the canned goods and hookers are kept.

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zeocyte    100
[quote name='Iron Chef Carnage' timestamp='1302848870' post='4798669']
Ever play any Dwarf Fortress? In the Fortress mode, you get waves of immigrants. Many of them are completely freaking worthless, like a cheesemaker or an apprentice glassblower or a miller or something else that either a) anyone in the fort can do just as well, or b) you don't need in your fort. "You make soap, eh? I've got thirty years' worth of soap in here. Welcome to the militia, Recruit. You don't get any armor." Sometimes you get a really good recruit, like a skilled weaponsmith that saves you a ton of money on training, or a terrific brewer. More often, you train up a dude to fill a critical role. A grandmaster mason that can make ornate doors and tables from raw stone, or a legendary armorsmith that imparts a huge bonus to the defenses of your elite warriors, or the elite warriors themselves, who have been training and battling for years and can crush raiding parties that outnumber them four to one. These guys get nicknames, and fancy bedrooms, and opulent burial chambers.

In this way, each character is both anonymous and unique. Sure, they all have names, but they're also conveniently color-coded by their job classes, so when you need a floor smoothed or a wall built, you send eight random white smileys to get it done. On the other hand, if you need a masterwork platinum sarcophagus that menaces with spikes of ruby and is encircled with bands of brass, you use dedicated workshops that are only used by one bodacious guy, and when the vile force of darkness shows up, you hit the button that sends the faceless punks up to absorb arrows and the important bosses downstairs where the canned goods and hookers are kept.
[/quote]


But specialization in the early part of the game puts a red down arrow blinking on the dwarves. Better make all of them as farmers.

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Ashaman73    13715
[quote name='lithos' timestamp='1302350588' post='4796299']
I think that pretty much no matter what you do people are going to reload.

If you want to make it so people don't reload as much you need other mechanics. Off hand the first things I can think of would be stored experience, where you store experience and then can apply to any character new/old. A very short leveling curve, or "power tier" that is closer to customization rather than leveling. Maybe getting unique resources when a character dies(souls/similar).
[/quote]
In my opinion reloading is bad game design, technically it is sometimes worth to have such a feature, but from a game design view reloading a scene (atleast many times) is just boring. I remember once a scene in max payne where I reloaded a particlar scene for 30 minutes until I beat it. Finally it was boring, frustrating and pure luck to beat this scene, in fact it was really bad design, this is pure grind.

[quote name='Sandman' timestamp='1302597476' post='4797425']
It may instead be better to have another look at character death, player failure and how you want to incorporate them into your game.
One thought that occurred to me - what if perma-death was a conscious choice rather than a direct result of player failure?
Under normal circumstances, if a character is 'killed', he is not killed, but simply wounded sufficiently badly to be taken out of the fight, and perhaps is rendered crippled or even unusable for a period of time afterwards.
However, each character has a 'heroic last stand' ability which can be activated at any time, even if he is already out of the action. Once activated, he becomes effectively unkillable for a period of time, fighting on even after reaching zero hitpoints, generating massive aggro, and getting significant bonuses to combat which will enable him to at least injure even the toughest monsters. Once the ability wears off though, he will die - heroically, but permanently.
[/quote]
This is an interesting thought. The effect of beating a character should atleast scale with the difficulty. At easy mode characters could respawned or be revived after battle. At medium level a character needs to rest or work with reduced efficiency and at highest difficulty level a character dies permantly. The sacrify of a character for the survival of the rest idea could give the whole approach a neat twist.


[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1302706943' post='4797980']

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1302241460' post='4795837']
I want to deliver a game experience where you don't [u]want [/u]to reload.[/quote]

I think this is a ridiculous goal.
[/quote]
I would call it a idealistic goal :lol: Take a look at multiplayer games, either FPS nor MMORPGs have a reload button. Some single player games like torchlight or dwarven fortress got rid of it too.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1302706943' post='4797980']
If your player doesn't want to reload after losing something, then one of the following is true:

1) It didn't have any real value to them in the first place.
2) It takes less effort to acquire a new one than it does to reload the game.
[/quote]
The second option is not a bad one.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1302706943' post='4797980']
How about this; have a 'casual' mode where players can save/load as much as they like and their score is worth peanuts. Then have a 'normal' mode where the player can only save between missions or whatever. Then create a 'hardcore' mode that has no reloading, only continuing from where you were when you last left the game or your computer crashed.
[/quote]
Has this anything to do with game design ? Load/save is a technical feature which could spoil the game, either because you can't reload an older save to overcome an else impossible situation (=>bad gamedesign) or you need to "grind" load/save a certain situation until you beat it (=>bad gamedesign). I never talked about getting rid of load/save I just want to approach the goal, that the player does not see any necessity in reloading the game.

[quote name='Iron Chef Carnage' timestamp='1302848870' post='4798669']
Ever play any Dwarf Fortress? In the Fortress mode, you get waves of immigrants. Many of them are completely freaking worthless, like a cheesemaker or an apprentice glassblower or a miller or something else that either a) anyone in the fort can do just as well, or b) you don't need in your fort. "You make soap, eh? I've got thirty years' worth of soap in here. Welcome to the militia, Recruit. You don't get any armor." Sometimes you get a really good recruit, like a skilled weaponsmith that saves you a ton of money on training, or a terrific brewer. More often, you train up a dude to fill a critical role. A grandmaster mason that can make ornate doors and tables from raw stone, or a legendary armorsmith that imparts a huge bonus to the defenses of your elite warriors, or the elite warriors themselves, who have been training and battling for years and can crush raiding parties that outnumber them four to one. These guys get nicknames, and fancy bedrooms, and opulent burial chambers.

In this way, each character is both anonymous and unique. Sure, they all have names, but they're also conveniently color-coded by their job classes, so when you need a floor smoothed or a wall built, you send eight random white smileys to get it done. On the other hand, if you need a masterwork platinum sarcophagus that menaces with spikes of ruby and is encircled with bands of brass, you use dedicated workshops that are only used by one bodacious guy, and when the vile force of darkness shows up, you hit the button that sends the faceless punks up to absorb arrows and the important bosses downstairs where the canned goods and hookers are kept.
[/quote]
Yes, I played dwarf fortress, but never really long enough. My game will be similar to it.. When dwarf fortress is about managing a large company with many anonymous, but still unique, employees, my game will be about managing a much smaller company where the manager knows each employee by name.

[quote name='Iron Chef Carnage' timestamp='1302848870' post='4798669']
A grandmaster mason that can make ornate doors and tables from raw stone, or a legendary armorsmith that imparts a huge bonus to the defenses of your elite warriors, or the elite warriors themselves, who have been training and battling for years and can crush raiding parties that outnumber them four to one. These guys get nicknames, and fancy bedrooms, and opulent burial chambers.
[/quote]
This one is quite an interesting idea. What if the death of a single character can be either "ignored" or be used to some advantage. A sword master who dies in battle could get some burial chamber and statues. He would get some kind of hero status, new recruits would increase their combat skills by learning from his "combat style" etc.. New recruits like bards could be available once the "community" has some legendary, but dead, heroes. These bards tell stories about the old hero and will allow the game to advance in new directions.

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Symphonic    313
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1303108708' post='4799780']
The second option is not a bad one. [/quote]
Am I missing something? It requires you to either bend the game mechanics around the save/load feature to make it painful to reload, or make acquiring things so easy that the whole notion of losing something becomes meaningless; you just get it back right away anyway... The first is a terrible kludge, and the second really is bad design.

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1303108708' post='4799780']
In my opinion reloading is bad game design, technically it is sometimes worth to have such a feature, but from a game design view reloading a scene (atleast many times) is just boring. I remember once a scene in max payne where [lots of reloading, unpleasant][/quote]
I agree, that's bad level design; retrying is just a convenience to make that issue slightly less painful for the player. But what is the alternative? You could have a 'skip this scene' button I guess. You could patch the game when you realize that players die a lot there. What if there's some trick to beating that scene? like 'you have to burn the rope' or something? Until the player figures it out, they just have to keep trying. That's kinda the point of creating a challenge for the player, you're placing the bar this high, and you say, "you must jump over the bar to continue"

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1303108708' post='4799780']
[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1302706943' post='4797980']Blah 'casual' mode blah save/load blah 'normal' blah 'hardcode' blah[/quote]
Has this anything to do with game design ? Load/save is a technical feature which could spoil the game, either because you can't reload an older save to overcome an else impossible situation (=>bad gamedesign) or you need to "grind" load/save a certain situation until you beat it (=>bad gamedesign). I never talked about getting rid of load/save I just want to approach the goal, that the player does not see any necessity in reloading the game.[/quote]
Fair enough. It's not an intrinsic design solution. It's offering different rankings for players based on whether or not they made use of the save/load feature. BUT save/load is, as you have noticed, a feature extrinsic to the design of the game itself. In essence, you get to relive portions of your avatar's life (or avatars' lives). If that's what you're so uncomfortable with, then getting rid of load/save may actually be the right thing to do to get the aesthetic you want.

I understand your goal to be that your level design is so good that the player is consistently challenged but never actually loses so much that she feels the need to reload. That's a great goal to have :) suppose you actually succeeded in doing so; why would you need a save/load feature then?

So you asked the question: unique or generic recruits? Are you worried that the player might lose a unit she could carry on without, but because she liked his name and anthropomorphized him just a little, she's going to reload just to get him back? The other side of that is equally important; loss is not loss if you don't care about what was lost. Maybe what you really want is to make a game where the player never loses things that are valuable.

Having units with unique names is cool! even more so if every one of them is mechanically unique, when one of them dies, you have both the practical 'value was lost' (like losing an expansion in starcraft) loss, and the emotional loss, which is actually entirely made up by the player if you think about it; she uses her little imagination to instill that individual unit with emotional value.

This is a ridiculously long post, and I think I edited out any redundancy, sorry for rambling.

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Ashaman73    13715
The load/save debate is off topic, but quite interesting...

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
..or make acquiring things so easy that the whole notion of losing something becomes meaningless; you just get it back right away anyway...
[/quote]
The easiest thing you could do in such a situation is to reload the game, you will never feel like loosing anything when you just need to press F5 for quick reloading. Why not getting rid of such a option and integrate it into the gamedesign ?

In my opinion the load/save is not a direct game design feature but a technical tool to take a break from a game session. Take a look at games in general, not only computer games. Where do you have the option to reload, not restart, a game session ? Chess ? Football ? Pen'n'Pater RPG? Neither modern nor ancient games has such a feature, still the games seem to be interesting enough to be played for 100s of years.

Playing a game is a learning experience and loosing is a major part of it. If you, as game designer, want to avoid that the player should not loose a character he has build up over a long period you need some game mechanism to support this, but load/save is just the cheapest choice of all available options.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
I agree, that's bad level design; retrying is just a convenience to make that issue slightly less painful for the player. But what is the alternative? You could have a 'skip this scene' button I guess.
[/quote]
For some genres this would be really helpfully. I hate this single-unit stealth whatever missions in a RTS. I want to play a RTS to build up some army and not to play some kind of boring mini game. Or in the latest resident evil game where you need to press a sequence of buttons to surpass a "cinematic scene", why ? It is boring, not the game I intedent to play and I just want to skip it.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
You could patch the game when you realize that players die a lot there. What if there's some trick to beating that scene? like 'you have to burn the rope' or something?
Until the player figures it out, they just have to keep trying.
[/quote]
Many old games has this kind of puzzles. To solve a puzzle you don't need to reload, in your rope example you could deliver a endless supply of fuel to let the gamer play around with what he can archive with it. Yes, it is easier to just present the player with the option to reload once he has used up the fuel, but this is really bad design.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
That's kinda the point of creating a challenge for the player, you're placing the bar this high, and you say, "you must jump over the bar to continue"
[/quote]
An other example of bad design. The better solution would be "you must jump over one of three bars to continue". Maybe a more challanging bar is more rewarding, but it comes all down to good/bad design.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
why would you need a save/load feature then?
[/quote]
To take a break from a game session. This could be automatically integrated into starting/stopping the game.

[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
... loss is not loss if you don't care about what was lost.
[/quote]
On the other hand, is loss really loss when you just need to press F5 to jump back ? Do you ever played Everquest I. A mmorpg, so without the option to reload, but with "hard" punishment (not permadeath) when dying. The feeling when entering unknown territory was just thrilling because you know what will be the price of loosing. Any reload mechanism would simple kill this game experience.


[quote name='Symphonic' timestamp='1303163838' post='4800075']
Maybe what you really want is to make a game where the player never loses things that are valuable.
[/quote]
Loosing something is really only loosing when it is gone , not when you can reload it. My desire is to integrate loosing to some degree into the game design. I could be hurting, but on the other hand it could reveal new options.

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