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Upgrading, One Button or Many?

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Hey all,

In a game I am currently working on, the player has four guns, these guns specifically need to be used to kill specific enemies. After each round of shooting the player can opt to upgrade guns, using money they collected throughout the round, and I was wondering what is better:

  1. Having a single button for each gun that you can press which will upgrade parts of the weapon automagically.
  2. Having a button for each stat that the player themselves can pick and choose.

I think 1 allows the designer to design the waves to fit with upgrading the weapons and it fits with the casual game market we are going for (Mobile games). 2 will allow the player to have more control over the game, but may also open avenues for weapons to become overpowered.

I would love to hear your input!

Thanks.

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I believe less is more.
Unless the choice of what to upgrade is an important part of the gameplay (as in, the choices really matter), I'd say go for the "easy-upgrade".
Choices in them self does not make good gameplay, they have to matter, or they will only be a choir.

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I believe less is for the masses. You see way to many games these days where everything is done for you. Take diablo 3, they seriously cut on character customization, or less relative, civilization 4 has way more to offer then it's sequel. Now marketing probably would tell us, make the game easier to understand (read: no buttons for automatic upgrading). But i'm a firm believer in extreme customization, i like to fiddle around with all the options and paths i can take to reach a certain goal.

In your case, if you pick 1 people will be done with it very quickly. If you pick 2, people have different ways to complete levels which adds to replayability. You just need to balance more if you take option 2 but it will end up being a better game since it won't get all to complicated for a casual gamer.

I'm no marketing guy or anything so here is my assumption. Giving the player viewer option will get more players interested in the short run. They will eventually leave and forget the game ever existed. When giving them multiple options, so a steeper learning curve, some people leave while just started playing your game. But if the mechanics are deep and interesting you will create a loyal fan base.

Take a game like dwarf fortress, it exists for many years in a very playable stage and it's fan base is small but very strong. But a game like rayman would have been forgotten completely if there where no sequels since i really can't find a reason to install it again.

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The standard aproach is option 2. this gives the player the ability customize to their play style and compinsate for the aspects they are weak at.

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Cryp, you're facing the classic quandary. You want to add functionality, but doing that is bound to increase the complexity.
In my opinion, always go for the least complicated, to achieve the more user-friendly.

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Cryp, you're facing the classic quandary. You want to add functionality, but doing that is bound to increase the complexity.
In my opinion, always go for the least complicated, to achieve the more user-friendly.


Exactly the reason why i stopped gaming. However, i'm a lot more productive now :D.

But yes, people like user friendly they don't want to get lost in all the options you give them. But i think every gamer can get through picking some stats and it gives a little more immersion and replayability.

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I would prefer upgrading individual parts of the gun. Pherhaps have like 3 modules which can be ugraded individually. Upgrade things like ammo, dmg, or pherhaps new functionality (AoE, etc).
You could have this upgrade screen with all 4 guns displayed (or 1 at a time), and around it there could be 3 boxes. When hovering over 1 box, the related part on the gun should be highlighted. They upgrade components should drastically increase in cost, so that it would clearly be most smart to buy all lvl 2 modules before buying a lvl 3 module (in most cases).
If they don't understand that you shouldn't just focus on one module, then you may have the same problem with them only focusing on one gun.
A great thing is that an upgrade can be very noticeable. If you have an equal amounts of upgrades, then individual atrributes will not increase with as large steps with the simplified model.
I think individually getting +3 ammo, +3 accuracy and +3 dmg is better than 3 upgrades with +1 on all each time. A sudden boost in ammo is noticeable. A very small boost in everything is less noticeable.
Preferably make it as graphical as possible. Increased ammo could for instance give the gun a longer clip.

Note that this is just what I think is better gameplaywise, and not what is easiest to create.

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As a player I would hate upgrading separate stats. When I'm in the mood to think I play strategy games, when I play shooters I want to... shot at things :)

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Things we know about your game:

  1. It's about shooting things.

    • This is the main focus of the game, and it provides the challenge to test your player's skill.
    • More specifically, it's about shooting things with the correct gun -- this provides a decision with a meaningful impact on the game.
  • It's casual.

    • Your players may not be mainstream gamers, and simplicity is usually preferred if possible.
    • A casual audience may not be familiar with upgrade systems from other games, and would have to be taught how such a mechanic works.
    • A casual audience expects a game to be playable in short sessions and to not waste their time on unneeded tasks.



      Given the above, I would personally lean towards the simpler option where players choose which (if any) gun(s) to upgrade but do not have to choose specific components:

      1. Your players already have a meaningful choice during game-play, as they must select the correct weapon when shooting.
      2. Your players already have another meaningful choice in choosing to upgrade a certain weapon rather than another.



      Just quickly on another matter; given the mechanics described, there currently isn't (or at least not that has been posted here) a reason not to upgrade any weapon; I would consider giving the player interest (say 10-20%) on any money they don't spend, so that there is a benefit to choosing not to upgrade anything. This way a player who chooses not to upgrade has to face a more challenging round or two, but can afford more upgrades because of it.


      I definitely see Menyo's point, and personally I love games with more depth and complexity to their mechanics if they're well balanced and I have the time to get in to them -- but I would suggest that gamers such as myself and Menyo simply aren't the casual target market specified in the OP.

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    Why not do both? In my opinion more options = more gameplay = better game with more longevity. Just do it in as transparent a way as possible so as to simultaneously cater to more advanced players and not turn off the casuals.

    So I would default to option #1. It has 1 button per gun.

    Then in the game's Options menu I would have the option to turn on Advanced Upgrading which would allow option #2, buttons for each stat.

    Casuals, who don't typically start a game by going to the Options menu, will be pleased to find that the game automagically upgrades their gun with 1 button press. More advanced (read: anal? heh heh) gamers will be able to find, with little effort, the option to turn on a more advanced upgrade path.

    Everyone's happy!

    Take care.

    p.s. And yeah, I'm the kind of gamer that immediately goes to Options when he starts up a game. :P

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