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Seven stage game (Needs general feedback)

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This is a bit each of writing and game design, so I don't really know which to place it under. If the mods move it, that's okay. Basically, I've got the synopsis of a game outlined, and the general design of each stage planned out. So here's what I've got, and I'm hoping just for general feedback.

Setting:
I'm not going too deep into it, so here's a basic summary. Europe has been through a lot. First in 1984 the USSR rolls through the Fulda gap with more tanks than god and takes the whole place over, then they hold Europe for six years, then in spring of 1990 the USA nukes the place to hell and back and invades, then in winter of 1990 the USSR nukes it right back and just leaves it lost. The USSR undergoes a military coup that prevents it from reclaiming Europe, and is now under a new regime, known as the Socialist Republic of Russia. Later, the USA splits apart into the American Republic and the loyalist United States. All three of these parties are involved in a humanitarian operation is Europe, trying to repair the damage they did, for various reasons. The SRR knows it can strengthen its economy and get the faith of the people doing such a "noble" thing, the USA is being forced to do so by the AR and Japan (the latter forcing them to do this being why they split), and the AR is doing it because it is allied with Japan, which wants the damage repaired, and the EU, which is the damaged party. As well as it was going at first it's slowed down massively now and huge sections of Europe are still unlivable (but no so bad as to be impassible), and that looks like it's going to be the state of things forever.

It is now 2015. The SRR has decided since it didn't do most of the damage, did do most of the clean up work, and has had a stronger presence in central Europe for a while now, it's just going to take Germany from the EU. The EU isn't so fond of that idea, and between them, their Japanese and American Republic allies (the loyalist US stayed out of it and just took it as their cue to duck out of the cleaning) they have decided to show Ivan the door. Most of Germany is now a war zone, on top of being a heavily irradiated pseudo post-apocalyptic wasteland with horrible monsters and extreme weather conditions. And guess where you live.

Player Character:
The player character is a custom character, so here's the only consistent things:
1. They are a child. Their exact age, sex and appearance are all up to the player, but they're a child.
2. They live completely alone, in an old house. It seems likely this was always their home, but what happened to any other inhabitants the house may have had is left to the player's imagination or lack thereof.
3. Their resources are quite substantial, and they have the means to collect more. The food in the house alone would last the itty bitty player months (of course, at their size they don't eat much), and the presence of fresh meat and loaded firearms implies they can hunt. Which is totally a mechanic in the game, by the way.

Your home:
Your house is located in the Black Forest, Germany. The map around your house is one kilometre by one kilometre and is one of very few hand crafted areas in the game. There's a toolshed, a garage with your little dirtbike, a treehouse, slide, swings, monkey bars... If all this is for just one kid you are spoiled rotten, but that may be the case. There's woods out back, and a house a little ways off full of zombies that are likely the source of the meat in your fridge. Don't think too hard on that. Normally, there'd be more outside of this area, but all directions are blocked by snow drifts and it's still snowing.

You can get clothes from your dresser, or if you'd prefer armour there's a tiny motocross outfit in your closet. There's backpacks, coats, weapons of various forms, and of course there's toys. Most notably, a little dirtbike out back just the perfect fit for you.

The Child:
Sometimes, you may spot a child that looks just like you, staring directly at you and non-verbally expressing an emotion associated with the act, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. Their appearance means you completed the hidden objective for that act.

Azrael:
Sometimes, you may spot a figure in the distance. He wears a thick black cloak, has large white angelic wings, gripping a sword, with gall dripping from its tip. He can be seen, staring directly at you, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. His appearance means you failed to complete the hidden objective for that act.

Prologue:
The player wakes up in their bed at 9:00 AM. When you first start off, you have no clothes and no items, so you'll have to collect them from the house as you go. As the loading screen text said, something is different today. It feels... Wrong. Ominous, even. Something bad is going to happen. And indeed, something bad happens. Five times, with increasing severity.
1. First, your player wakes up hungry and thirsty. Easy to take care of, teaches you to handle that part of the game. This actually teaches you that you have needs to manage, how to get food/water, and even shows that crafting (in this case, cooking) is possible.
2. Second, right from the start, a pack of stray dogs comes into their yard and stalk around, attacking the little one if they see them. But hey, more meat for the fridge. Wouldn't want the little one running out would we?
3. Ten minutes after the dogs come through, a stranger, a looter, approaches the house and starts trying to steal the truck. Get them to stop, or let them take the truck. Or just talk to them. They'll reveal they're a father themselves, and while they can't take you in themselves they offer to come back and pick you up later if they can take the truck, and they'll take you to the looter compound where you can get a place to say and don't have to live alone anymore. Sadly, that will never happen.
4. Twenty minutes after the looter comes to steal the truck (thirty minutes from the start of the game), the snow picks up massively and starts snowing you in.
5. Thirty minutes after the snow picks up (an hour from the start of the game) a group of German soldiers come bursting into the house, being chased by Russian soldiers. The gunfight between the two parties becomes really intense really fast, and after a while once all the Russians are dead a roaring noise can be heard coming from the east and getting closer, then passing overhead to the west. The German soldiers panic, running for shelter and scrambling at the snow banks, but never make it over them. A blinding flash erupts over the map and the prologue ends.

EDIT:
While I've changed it so you don't have to make a new file due to any number of deaths later, if you die in the prologue you will still have to completely restart. If you haven't figured out why by the end of this thread, you aren't good at reading subtext.

Act 1:
You wake up in your bed at 10:00 AM, everything looking exactly like the previous day, only the snow drifts to the west are clear. This is the start of the real game. You retain everything you had on you, even though you're in bed. Everything from the previous day is exactly the way it was just before the soldiers arrived, except the western snow drifts are gone and you can now walk west. Heading westward (and up to 45 degrees north or south, from the edges of your square) you pass through procedurally generated areas with randomized events and encounters, as the rest of the game (save act 5's area) will be. In this case, it's all nice, semi-rural areas like your home.

This area represents denial. It's peaceful and all. Enemy encounter rate is pretty low at this point in the game, though it rises the farther out you get. There isn't much of an environmental hazard, you don't get snowed in like yesterday. There's no real danger in this area and nothing special about it. You start this actin perfect health, but every time you die you go back to the last time you rested and start again in worse condition. After five deaths, it's game over and you must completely restart the act, but that's unlikely to actually happen.

This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead west from you, which is pre-built. This square looks exactly like your own home, but everything is destroyed, levelled. Your house, the neighbour's house, the shed and garage, the treehouse, all destroyed and on fire. There is a corpse, a small, burnt corpse, in the middle of it. Approach it, and the act ends. This act's hidden objective is to live out a full day without dying.

You are treated to a cutscene, with the perspective of an unknown object. This object is stored in a dark place, with a loud roaring noise on either side of it. A light suddenly comes from below, and it's falling from a great height, through the clouds. You can now see its target, a house with a garage, a shed, a treehouse, another smaller house a little ways off, a slide and a swing set in the back yard. As it gets close enough for the player to realize that's their house, the scene ends in a bright flash.

Act 2:
You wake up in your bed again at noon, in a cold sweat. You're not feeling so well. They get up, still with anything they had on when they went to bed and everything else (within your kilometre) is where you left it. This time, the eastern snow drifts are the only ones gone. Your only option is, obviously, to head east into more procedurally generated terrain. This time, it's trenches, battlements and military outposts, all destroyed and covered in danger and death.

This act represents anger. It is the most combat-oriented chapter. The environment isn't especially damaging and there's few NPCs to talk to, just the most enemies of any act. There's many more spawn points (but the same spawn chance per point) on each square of the map. If you failed to complete the hidden objective of the previous act, you'll start off just as damaged as if you had died once in the previous chapter and thus only have four lives in this one and an overall harder time. Otherwise, you'll be perfectly fresh.

This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead east of you, also hand-crafted. Here, you'll find a mansion made of bones and a very bizarre man. A very tall, fat man. He wears a suit woven from the flags of the major world powers, wears a monocle with a watermark of the UN emblem, smokes a cigar rolled out of money, and after each puff blows a smoke ring shaped like a mushroom cloud. He drinks blood out of a wine glass, served to him out of a wine bottle by a blind Russian soldier with a bloody rag covering his eyes. Soldiers from China, Korea, the EU, the AR and Japan tend to his mansion. He sits on a "throne" made of similar soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Third World Union and the X Empire, on their hands and knees to support his immense weight. The fat man has his soldiers' eyes decorating his rings. At each side of him sits a vicious attack dog. He introduces himself as "War", and orders his minions to kill you. No matter how the fight goes the chapter ends when either you or he is dead. This act's hidden objective is really straightforward. Win the boss fight with War.

You are treated to another cutscene, the previous one, ending with a jump cut after the flash to before the fight, to your character's perspective on the ground, sitting in the truck with the looter as he drives off south, well away from the house.

Act 3:
You wake up in your bed once more, now at 3:00 PM. You get the drill by now. If you succeeded both of the optional objectives from the last two chapters, you'll be in perfect condition all around. Failed one, you start damaged and effectively have four lives. Fail two, damaged more and effectively have three lives. Easy enough. This time, the south snow drifts are the only ones open. And there's, you guessed it, more procedurally generated terrain. This time, semi-abandoned suburbs.

This act represents bargaining. This is a social act, with lots of NPCs to interact with. Normal enemy rates, normal environmental conditions. Your actions in the prologue have a huge effect on this. If you accepted the looter's offer, he'll show up in the truck and offer you a ride, making it easy to get to the act's destination area. If you talked to him but didn't accept, you'll at least have a note that allows you free, unrestricted entry with no hassle. If you attacked him, you'll have nothing but shame. There are a lot of merchants in this act, especially at the looter compound.

The main objective of this act is to reach the looter compound and get a permanent place to stay there, where it's safer and you aren't alone anymore. This is a breather act, it's really just meant to help you replenish after the previous act. Once that's done, all you have to do is leave the compound and the act ends. When you do, you'll find yourself inexplicably back home, right at the south edge of the home square, staring right at your house. When you turn around, the snow banks are back and you can't return to the looter compound even if you were willing to trek 10km back there. Go to bed, and the act ends. The hidden objective is to meet the family of the looter from earlier.

You are treated to another cutscene, it plays the bit from the previous cutscene where you get a perspective from inside the truck as the looter drives south, but then it jump cuts to your character's perspective as they watch him drive off, alone, leaving them behind.

Act 4:
You wake up in your bed at 7:00 PM and... You get the drill. And you can go north this time. The procedurally generated terrain this time is all barren wasteland, where the occasional bit of shelter is ruined and everything around is dead. Radiation everywhere, driving snow, terrible visibility and cold as a witch's tit in a brass bra in the dead of winter in the Antarctic.

This act represents depression. There's really nothing you can do but go north, and you'll find nothing there. Normal resources, normal enemy count, normal NPC count, but the environment is by far more dangerous than normal. It deals much more cold damage than usual, it even deals a little bit of kinetic damage, it restricts your vision and slows your movement, and it's all slightly radioactive to boot. There's also radioactive patches as you travel that should be avoided lest you irradiate yourself and get sick, and the snow is so thick your dirtbike is basically unusable.

Your main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres north, where once again you find your house destroyed. And this time, the fires are all out, it's irradiated, and all covered in snow. Find the little corpse again, and the act will end when you leave the square. The hidden objective is to die in that square, instead of leaving.

This time, the cutscene shows the bit where you watch the looter drive away, and then you go into the back yard, listen to the roar and stare up at the sky until the flash ends the cutscene.

Act 5:
You already know how this act starts, same as all the others, just at midnight. Only now, there's no open snow drifts. This means you're stuck in your starting area, and nothing is procedurally generated. This act, of course, represents acceptance. This one has a series of objectives, instead of a single one.

1. As soon as you stand, an invisible creature starts moving around downstairs. It's blind, but its other senses are strong and it's of decent strength. It mostly sticks to the kitchen, where it is presently looting your fridge. You will have to sneak past it or fight it in order to exit the house. Once you do exit the house, a number of extremely fast skeletal canines arrive and start searching the premises for you. Fight them or avoid them.
2&3. These two can be done in either order.
Check the front, and you'll see the truck drive off without you again, this time without a driver.
Check the balcony upstairs, find the telescope. Peeking through it will show a figure, distant on the horizon. Azrael. Once you see him, he vanishes if you look away. Turning around will reveal he is right behind you, but when you look he vanishes again. Up in the clouds, there is a disturbance, the clouds vanish and the moon is visible, and he can be seen up there. He doesn't leave this spot, but the light of the moon reflects off of him into a beam revealing all in his gaze, which will summon any enemies in the level to you should you enter it.
4. Check the garage to find your dirtbike gone. At this point, several blind, skeletal soldiers rush into the room. They are all blind and cannot see the player, but will open fire on the player if they do spot them. In the mean time, they're distracted by gunfire from another group of blind, skeletal soldiers in the distance.
5. A child looking just like you is now standing at the top of the ladder to your treehouse. Climb up into the treehouse, and they're gone. But your treehouse now has a door it didn't have before, which swings open as you enter and reveals stairs upwards. Behind you, a winged monster comes flying over the horizon. You don't have long to get through the door, because it's moving very, very fast and ends the act with a flash, killing you and forcing you to restart, if you fail to get through the door in time.
6. Once through the door, it vanishes. You go up, to find yourself in the treehouse again. The room is empty, unguarded. Taking a look outside, you find yourself high in the sky as a small mushroom cloud rises below you. The child waves to you, and walks up the stairs.
7. You exit to find your house on fire. This is the same square as the end of Act 1. Except now, with enemies, all the enemies from earlier in this act, except all revived, on fire and radioactive, with even weaker senses than before. Follow the child into the cellar of your destroyed home, either fighting or avoiding the enemies. Collect the attic key, and come back above. The house is now intact again.
8. The child points behind you, down the stairwell to the basement. Azrael is right there. You have to fight him at this point. The child has vanished, and stays gone until Azrael is defeated or trapped. On defeat or entrapment, he'll explode in a bright flash. When you finally defeat him, the child reappears and shuts the door, just as Azrael has manifested again outside and is about to come back in. Follow the child to your bedroom, where they lay down in your bed. The door closes behind you. Azrael is right outside, but all you can do is lay down.

There is no hidden objective in this act.

After step eleven, the final cutscene plays. The last four end of act cutscene segments play, leading right up to the player staring at the sky and into the flash. A child of about your age and sex narrates each, starting just before the first. "I know you'd like to pretend it never happened. I know what happend to you wasn't fair. I know, you feel like you could have gotten out of it. But you didn't, so if you could doesn't matter now." After the final cutscene ends in a flash, in the smoke that follows, death appears. "I understand why you're afraid." Azrael begins advancing towards the player. "But it's going to happen to everyone." Azrael stops advancing, finding itself outside a window. "It happened to you sooner than it should have, but everybody feels that way. I know it feels like you don't have enough time." Azrael begins prying at the window, sliding it open. "But even if you only have a moment, it's yours and you need to make what you can of it." Azrael freezes in place. "And in the end, maybe you don't have to go with him after all." The screen fades to black. "Not yet, anyway." And on that note, the scene ends.

Epilogue:
The player awakens, to find themselves back at home in their bed. All the snow drifts are gone. Otherwise, everything is as it was the first day. You can now head in any direction, go through any procedurally generated sections. The ones previously generated will still be present as they were before, and you can no go as far as you want in any direction. The only thing you can't do is revisit any end of act zones. Neither Azrael nor the child ever appear again. Dying now just brings you back here to wake up again, although as usual you lose any items that were on your person when you die and have to re-acquire them when they respawn in their starting locations. Your condition when you awaken after each death is determined by the number of hidden objectives you completed. You do not start in worse health each time you die during the epilogue. It's a bit more difficult than the main game to keep it interesting, but not too difficult. The whole point is to let the player play around on the map, and make the ending ambiguous.

So, that's it. Feedback?

Edited by JustinS

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Long post to digest.

 

You mentioned that the player would have a limited amount of lives, which, if used up, would cause the player to start the game from the start? This seems like a very strong penalty for failure, seeing this game has a story to tell. What makes you think players would be willing to play the same parts of the beggining of the game over and over again if they fail somewhere in act 3 or 4, or worse, act 5, which by your description, is pretty hard sounding? I suggest you think about that penalty.

 

Think about if you want to allow the player to freely choose the age of the child. I doubt it's realistic for a 2 year old child to be wielding any kinds of weapons, or even talking to NPCs. Maybe restrict the age within a predefined age range, like 12-18 or something, or simply preset the age and don't allow the player to change it. A wierd choice of age might break immersiveness.

 

I have a small issue with your hidden objectives, in the sense that they aren't following any logical train of thought. In one act you have to survive without dying, in another you have to die? If you instill the sense of survival in your players throught the entire game, what makes you think they will, through any kind of logical thinking, arrive to the idea that they have to die in order to get the hidden objective? Now, it might make sense, seeing as the objective is hidden (and i assume never shown), but in order to get it you're forcing the player to go against what they know about the game. If that's ok with you, then i guess it's just my issue. :) Also, be prepared for the fact that nobody will ever get the hidden objectives if they are too hard to pull off, and the players don't even know they exist (which i assume is the point of them being hidden).

 

Also, you didn't mention nothing about the actual gameplay (except some passing mention of being able to hunt, which isn't much to go on). As it stands, this is a nice idea, and would make a nice novel or cinematic, but i don't see any details of the mechanics the player would be doing for the most of the game (and that part is kinda important, seeing games are more about the interactivity than listening/watching the story).

 

I had a meeting in between writing this, so some thoughts i had might have gotten lost in the meantime. Hope you find this feedback somewhat useful. :)

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Long post to digest.


Full-game synopsis do tend to be that way.
 

You mentioned that the player would have a limited amount of lives, which, if used up, would cause the player to start the game from the start? This seems like a very strong penalty for failure, seeing this game has a story to tell. What makes you think players would be willing to play the same parts of the beggining of the game over and over again if they fail somewhere in act 3 or 4, or worse, act 5, which by your description, is pretty hard sounding? I suggest you think about that penalty.


Yeah, I know it's a bit much. On the bright side, their lives are effectively replenished each act. I think I can just have them completely restart the act if they run out of lives and have regular deaths just go back to the last time they rested, but it's supposed to be a really harsh penalty. Either way, I have to make sure some semblance of the previous deaths remains, such as the resources you used not coming back, to make that work. And... Well, I just got two delightful ideas, a new unique encounter at the place of your death and an upgrade for whatever killed you, to keep you invested in not being killed. (Blimey that's a weird sentence.) This is a game you're supposed to be slow and methodical with, and since so much of it is procedurally generated you have to figure things out frequently as you go and you need to use caution. The strong death penalty enforces that.
 

Think about if you want to allow the player to freely choose the age of the child. I doubt it's realistic for a 2 year old child to be wielding any kinds of weapons, or even talking to NPCs. Maybe restrict the age within a predefined age range, like 12-18 or something, or simply preset the age and don't allow the player to change it. A wierd choice of age might break immersiveness.


There already IS a range, as implied by the word "child". The age groups you have access to are nondescript and there's only two of them, and it's up to you to decide exactly how old you think the character is in either of them. But I doubt anybody is going to think the younger age group is any younger than four, maybe three if you're pushing it, or that the older age group is any older than 10, maybe 12 if they have a terrible case of delayed-onset puberty. So I guess we can call that our range here.

Also, "12-18" doesn't fit anywhere in the word "child". The word for that would be "adolescent".
 

I have a small issue with your hidden objectives, in the sense that they aren't following any logical train of thought. In one act you have to survive without dying, in another you have to die? If you instill the sense of survival in your players throught the entire game, what makes you think they will, through any kind of logical thinking, arrive to the idea that they have to die in order to get the hidden objective? Now, it might make sense, seeing as the objective is hidden (and i assume never shown), but in order to get it you're forcing the player to go against what they know about the game. If that's ok with you, then i guess it's just my issue. smile.png Also, be prepared for the fact that nobody will ever get the hidden objectives if they are too hard to pull off, and the players don't even know they exist (which i assume is the point of them being hidden).


They don't tell you, no, but each of them fits the the stage's emotion. If the player doesn't understand what's happened to their character in the denial act, living out a full day there isn't too unlikely, especially since they might not notice or think about the pillar of smoke in the distance that's supposed to lead them to the end area of that act. If the player is sufficiently depressed in stage 4 when they find out there's nothing there at the place they had to go to in this act, they might just decide to lay down and die there, or look around the end area, trying to find the point of going there, long enough it kills them.
 

Also, you didn't mention nothing about the actual gameplay (except some passing mention of being able to hunt, which isn't much to go on). As it stands, this is a nice idea, and would make a nice novel or cinematic, but i don't see any details of the mechanics the player would be doing for the most of the game (and that part is kinda important, seeing games are more about the interactivity than listening/watching the story).


Double negative. See me after class.

Seriously, though, no I didn't. A lot of that got trimmed out when I was making the post shorter. I'll go into more detail about that at the bottom of this post.
 

I had a meeting in between writing this, so some thoughts i had might have gotten lost in the meantime. Hope you find this feedback somewhat useful. smile.png


Somewhat, yes. Now, for that detail on gameplay. There is a LOT here, by the way, and this is still just a brief overview, but you asked and now I answer.

This game is a survival RPG, played in real time from either a first or third person perspective. The two are different in more than the camera angle. It has shooter controls in first person, and action controls in third. The same buttons do the same thing, mostly, the difference is the target lock feature. In first person, this just turns on autoaim and tells the game to aim for that target. (This autoaim is very limited, and is based on your stats.) In third person, this removes manual aiming entirely and tracks the target, making all movement relative to them. (IE: Holding down D would result in circling them to your right instead of moving straight right.) The levelling system has attributes and skills (initial values determines by age, sex and player input), that increase with usage. You have two measured levels, "competence" and "ability", the former for skill and latter for attributes. Competence needs thirty skill increases (because there's thirty skills), ability needs 10 (because there's 10 attributes) to level up once. This level-up grants a single perk specific to competence or ability, and a slight boost to the efficacy of all skills or attributes (1% per level). In addition, each attribute or skill is effectively a mini-level, both increasing things relative to it and giving a mini-perk called a feat, which is specific only to the usage of that attribute or skill.

The game isn't combat-oriented, even in the more combat-heavy Act 2 it's still usually better to use stealth (although you can still totally fight if you want to). So the game's stealth mechanics are pretty developed. Basically, every character you see has main detection meter that is filled by being touched or impacted (touch), glimpses of you (vision), hearing you (hearing), smelling you (smell), being too close to you, stared at or threatened, or finding things out of place (intuition). Each time it fills, the character's behaviour changes as their stage of detection gets up. The stages are 0 (normal), 1 (nervous), 2 (alert), 3 (suspicious), 4 (aware), 5 (detected) and 10 (locked, skips straight to this stage, and it's treated as 10 for a reason below). If they feel inclined, in stages 1-5 they will investigate the area around them in a search area determined by your position and their stage of detection. Basically, they know your position within certain margins of error, relative to them. In stage 1, this is a 180 degree margin of error (horizontal and vertical) and a multiplier/devisor of 25, which means if you're 10m away their search area will everything in every direction around them everywhere from 0.4-250m away from them, and (while it's unlikely they'll search at all at this stage) they'll waste their time looking around this huge and overly vague area for you. This gets redefined based on your present position every time they get a detection event from you. In stage 2, the margin of error becomes 135 degrees and 16, so if you're 10m in front of them and on the same level, they'll search everywhere but behind them within 0.625-160m. In stage 3, these are 90 and 9, so with the same example they'd search 1.11-90m everywhere in front of them and up to perpendicular to your actual direction. In stage 4, this is 45 and 4, so they would be searching in front of them (getting uncomfortably close to straight at you, I'd wager) 2.5-40m away. Finally, in stage 5, there is no margin of error, they have your exact position at each detection event and head right to it, and it's too late to distract them with a noise in their search area. That said, you can still lose them at this stage by moving without causing another detection event (IE: Don't be seen or make noise), so by the time they get to the point they knew you were, you're gone. Then they'll stand around the spot they think they need to be until either a new detection event sets them moving again, or their detection level degrades. However, if they get to stage 10, you're boned. They have a bead on you then, and can track your motion normally, so you're not shaking them. Losing them at this point means running away, not sneaking or hiding. As the stages get higher, so does the rate of detection degradation. Target lock is stage 10, so it degrades at 10x normal rate and is easy to break and revert them to stage 5, stage goes away at 5x rate, 4 at 4x, you get the idea. However, this also means that the low stages are extremely difficult to break. They won't just give up in a minute and stop looking in this game for quite some time, they'll just be looking much more poorly and in a broader area.

Each of the five detection methods also has a separate meter that automatically skips to a particular stage of detection (if it's not already past it) if it gets filled. Intuition is the weakest, taking you directly to stage 2, smell to 3, hearing to 4, vision to 5 and touch results in instant lock. This makes sense. If they know you're there because they specifically found something wrong, such as stolen food or a door open that wasn't before, they'll have some inkling where you could have gone. If they smell you, smells do have a direction. Sound, obviously, points them the right way. And if they saw you, then dammit they know where you are even if they can't track it. And did you expect to walk up and touch somebody without them immediately getting a bead on you?

And as this is an RPG, there is a stealth skill. This skill is your best friend. It increases the length of each detection meter and the rate they degrade, making them take longer to fill but the same time to break. (1% per skill point, so 100 skill is double time.) It's not a huge effect, actually being good at stealth is infinitely more useful, but so much of the game is made easier by stealth that this skill is still a godsend. Oh, and don't think throwing things to distract people is a good idea. It'll draw them to it at first, but it'll also build their detection meter. It's an emergency option only.

Outside of stealth, there is still combat. You likely understand the basics already. However, this game is about five steps more realistic (most of the time, anyway, as the imaginary creatures perform however the hell they want) than most others. Let's detail these steps.
1. Physics-based damage. A weapon has a pre-set damage value, sure, and some are really rough and might seem arbitrary. But physics plays a role here. For example, relative velocity determines a LOT of things. If a troglodyte (a common, weak enemy) throws an object at you at 10m/s, running away at 8m/s takes a lot of its damage away. Most kinetic damage types would be reduced 80%, so would its penetration (part of the armour system), and its concussive damage would actually be reduced 96%. The bottle would do very little, likely nothing. But if you run straight at it instead, you'd be increasing the attack's damage. This applies to all attacks, melee and animal attacks, projectile weapons and blasts, everything. Even non-kinetic attacks still lose penetration.
2. Melee combat is extremely defensive, and based around blocking, parrying and dodging. Relative velocity still plays into the effectiveness of blocking and dodging, higher velocity attacks being reduced less, but you can always block, parry and dodge against attacks.
A: Blocking puts a weapon or less vital body part in the way of an attack so it gets hit instead, and your defence skill increases the defensive traits of that part an amount determined by both it and relative velocity, and obviously a lower relative velocity gives you more time to react and make sure it hits the weapon/body part instead of your body.
B: Parrying is much more effective, as it deflects the attack an amount based on its relative velocity and may prevent it from hitting you, and reduces the attack's damage and penetration an amount dependent on relative velocity, while also having the full effect of blocking. But it takes timing, and it's harder to time it against a faster attack.
C: Dodging, which takes the form of a quick step rather than a ludicrous dodge roll, helps avoid attacks and increases your defences an amount determined by your skill and the attack's relative velocity. Making a dive, the more extreme dodge, does more and can help avoid more serious attacks, but obviously you have to get back up after making one or else fight from the ground.
3. Realistic attack options. No weapon has a single attack option, and each attack option has strengths and weaknesses. The six main melee attack options are swipes (fast and light, decent damage but the worst penetration), jabs (fast and light, decent penetration but the worst damage), swings (intermediate, good damage and decent penetration), thrusts (intermediate, good penetration and decent damage), power swings (slow and heavy, best damage and good penetration) and power thrusts (slow and heavy, best penetration and good damage). There's others, though. Bashes that do little damge with little penetration but are better at staggering and knocking back enemies, power bashes which are exactly what they sound like, and of course weapons can be thrown and many have special attacks, such as firearms launching projectiles, which usually replaces options you'd otherwise have. You can also fight unarmed, you can grapple (requires a free hand) and can use any object you equip as a weapon.
4. Realistic injury. Being hit means taking damage on a body part which can lead to impairment, pain and fatigue (the former means nothing in most combat and the latter means little, these are mostly issues for after the fight is over), and bleeding. Bleeding slowly depletes your health over a very long period. As your health falls, you become less and less capable. Shot placement is also really detailed, with different sections of individual parts yielding different results.
5. Realistic-ish healing. Healing is very, very slow in this game. Some items do heal some things directly, but they do so slowly. The slower something recovers naturally, the slower and less effectively healing items contribute. The only exception is health, which blood packs restore a decent amount of in a couple minutes, but they're hard to find and rarely are seen anywhere but at a vendor.

And then, there's the survival mechanics themselves. These are considerable. You need food, water and sleep. There's a number of ways to get about this. Going home you'll find a good supply of food and an infinite supply of water, and a solid bed better than any other (mostly due to comfort and familiarity). But if you're not at home, these can be an issue.

You can hunt, forage and loot for food (and possibly water), and can find plenty of streams and other water sources, and can melt down snow if you have a fire. (Eating raw snow would be pretty stupid.) Some food and water sources are... less than ideal. Getting sick is acceptable if the alternative is dying, but otherwise wait for a good source.

You can sleep anywhere, on anything, but it loses effectiveness pretty quickly if it's in bad conditions, meaning more time. And you can't sleep while threatened. The game does ensure you wake up if you get attacked while sleeping, but they might get a hit in first, and you'll be on the ground still, so it's best to find a safe place.

Thankfully, you're adorable. People charge you less for food, and even less for a place to sleep. In fact, it's not hard to get free stuff from people, if you can find people to get it from. Especially a bed for the night, the easiest thing to get through pure cuteness. But otherwise, without them, you're on your own here. And other than your house, the safest and best stocked place on the whole map, it's going to be an issue. The ten kilometre march each direction could take some time, and the environment is a problem too.

But there is one more survival problem. The environment. It's winter in Germany, and the weather can be pretty nasty. It varies in intensity in different chapters. It's cold, windy and snowy in the prologue, act 1 is overcast, cold and windy with a few irradiated patches but no precipitation, act 2 isn't cold and there's no wind, but it's raining and there's more radiation, act 3 is sunny, but don't let that fool you, because it's still cold as tits out there and the wind is switching between breezing enough to ruffle your hair and gusting hard enough to knock you off balance, and then the big one, act 4, rolls around. In act 4, mother nature is off her meds. It's the coldest it's ever been, the most precipitation there's ever been, alternating occasionally between driving snow, drenching rain and pounding hail, it's the hardest the wind has ever blown (gale-force and southward, so you have to walk straight into it) and with unnaturally strong gusts and sudden direction changes, and even worse it's got irradiated patches strewn throughout, and it gets even more intense, violent and unpredictable as you go north. Act 5 steps it back down to just basically being like the prologue, but no wind and it's at night.

On a last note, some enemies you encounter are not really there. There are some imaginary creatures you encounter throughout, all of which are unique. The mentioned examples are Death, War, Old Man Winter (random, hidden encounter in act 4, has weather control and ice/wind/electric powers), the blind soldiers mostly found in 2 and 5, the skeletal creatures of act 5, the winged beast in act 5 carrying a bomb and the invisible grappling creature in act 5. There are others, though. Three examples are soulless husks (not as tough as blind soldiers but they can see, otherwise similar), vengeful spirits (a manifestation of your own shame, appears if you revisit a place after murdering somebody, extremely durable, only grapples) and Notme (the previous versions of you that haunt the places you died, which don't actually attack you but after you look directly at them, they appear right in front of you, closer each time, whenever you turn around until eventually they're right up in your face and keep getting in your way, and only vanish if you guide them back home). Some are even generic monsters like werewolves, grey aliens and implacable psychotic murderers. Some others are knock offs of not-so-generic beasties, like acid-blooded aliens with armoured exoskeletons, second mouths, a tendency to sneak right up on you and I hope you understand what I'm talking about because I won't use the actual name. These cliché creatures are all just manifestations of the player character's fear, are very strong, and appear if the characters is sufficiently afraid, with ones for all sorts of circumstances.

Each imaginary enemy is unique, but most of them (excluding the boss hallucinations and cliché monsters) are capable of some sort of offscreen teleportation, none of them bleed (just losing health immediately when hit, less than bleeding would do), none react to health loss until they're dead, all of them have supernatural regeneration, and they all have something happen to their body when they die that removes them from the game. (Some of these actually damage you.) Some even have unique death rules, like vengeful spirits regenerating instantly to full health, getting a large power boost, and catching fire to damage you more as they grapple at the expense of taking damage themselves.

Many of them, specifically the cliché monsters, flee from combat when wounded only to return shortly to the place they were driven away from (this does likely mean they lose track of you), allowing them to regenerate some or all of their lost health, making them exceptionally difficult to actually kill and mostly making the goal of attacking them to drive them away for a while and let you run away or hide. All of them are defeated completely only by killing them (difficult), driving them away enough times they give up (3-9), or causing them to completely lose track of you for a while (one minute to one hour) and give up. The more dangerous they are, the easier making them give up is. The most dangerous of these beasties is that acid-blooded monstrosity, anything within reach of it might as well be inside a blender, so it gives up after only being driven off three times, or losing track of you for a minute. The weakest are the implacable killers (though they do have the neat-o special ability of being able to grapple through objects their attacks penetrate, and are the only boss hallucinations capable of offscreen teleportation), but they take nine failures or an hour of not finding you to give up.

And there. That's all I can think of right now to describe the gameplay as of this moment.

Edited by JustinS

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Yeah, I know it's a bit much. On the bright side, their lives are effectively replenished each act. I think I can just have them completely restart the act if they run out of lives and have regular deaths just go back to the last time they rested, but it's supposed to be a really harsh penalty. Either way, I have to make sure some semblance of the previous deaths remains, such as the resources you used not coming back, to make that work. And... Well, I just got two delightful ideas, a new unique encounter at the place of your death and an upgrade for whatever killed you, to keep you invested in not being killed. (Blimey that's a weird sentence.) This is a game you're supposed to be slow and methodical with, and since so much of it is procedurally generated you have to figure things out frequently as you go and you need to use caution. The strong death penalty enforces that.

Don't get me wrong, i support a strong penalty for dying to have the player try hard not to die (although, that's what the players usually aim for anyway), but restarting the entire game after dying too many times is too harsh. Your idea of restarting the act seems much more reasonable. However, keep in mind the type of player that might keep dying a lot because they're just not as good at your game as you expect them to be. This is especially important if the game is focused around telling the story and providing an emotional experience. If the game is focused more around the RPG gameplay and stealth, then it might be fine.

There already IS a range, as implied by the word "child". The age groups you have access to are nondescript and there's only two of them, and it's up to you to decide exactly how old you think the character is in either of them. But I doubt anybody is going to think the younger age group is any younger than four, maybe three if you're pushing it, or that the older age group is any older than 10, maybe 12 if they have a terrible case of delayed-onset puberty. So I guess we can call that our range here.

Also, "12-18" doesn't fit anywhere in the word "child". The word for that would be "adolescent".

You're right about the adolescent thing. It was just a remark for the age range considering the characters skill set, as it seems more realistic for an "older child" to have that skill set, in comparison to a "young child". My remark just boils down to this: are you allowing the player to input a number for the age which is then shown somewhere in the game or used by the game, or are you providing a choice of "older child" and "younger child" (or some such)? If the latter, then no problem.
If the former, then having a 4 y.o. child (or 3 if you allow the extreme) wielding swords and using them like a pro is very unrealistic, especially considering the realistic combat mechanics you described. When i mentioned an age range, i meant it as "what's the integer range of numbers you're allowing the player to input as the child's age". But if it is not input nor shown, then sure, just saying "it's a child" is enough, as it keeps the actual age completely in the players mind.

They don't tell you, no, but each of them fits the the stage's emotion. If the player doesn't understand what's happened to their character in the denial act, living out a full day there isn't too unlikely, especially since they might not notice or think about the pillar of smoke in the distance that's supposed to lead them to the end area of that act. If the player is sufficiently depressed in stage 4 when they find out there's nothing there at the place they had to go to in this act, they might just decide to lay down and die there, or look around the end area, trying to find the point of going there, long enough it kills them.

Fair enough, if you think the player will accidentally bump into the hidden objectives. Do keep in mind what i mentioned about what the focus of the game is on. If you focus the game on the RPG/stealth gameplay, the story might be lost on the player in these lengthy periods between seeing the story progression. If the game should be story focused, then you might find the RPG/stealth parts to be keeping you away from teh story too much. It's really hard to say when it's just on paper, you'd need a prototype game to really assess this.


Now, about the gameplay.

The character development sounds pretty standard, so not much comment there.
The stealth mechanics sound pretty interesting and, as you say, well developed, at least on paper. I'm sure you'll have tweaks when you implement them and see them in action, but the idea seems reasonable.

The combat sounds very complex, to be honest, especially for a game that is more focused on stealth than combat. The injury system sounds like you will want to avoid combat as much as possible too, which raises a question: why is the combat so complex? If you're focusing on stealth and combat avoidance so much, i don't think making the combat so complex is going to be worth the time investment to implement as you envisioned. Of course, nobody is stopping you from doing so, but if you design and implement a really complex feature that every player will want to avoid because it's not fun or rewarding (except for potential loot from the enemy), then it's a waste of time.

The survival mechanics seems interesting on paper, but usually forcing the player to do repetitive character maintenance which doesn't provide a reward is frustrating and time consuming and nobody really likes doing it (unless it's the entire point of the game, like what Don't Starve does). I might be in the wrong here, but i just want to give you something to think about and put on a TODO list of things to playtest and evaluate.

The environment being harsh is another element which makes me a bit concerned about the players survival (and also ties into the death penalty). I'm going to guess it will just require a lot of playtesting to get right, but be cautious with making the environment as deadly an enemy as the rest of the real (or imaginary) monsters.

And the last thing, these imaginary monsters, can they kill the player, or are they as their name implies, just imaginary and not really there and therefore cannot actually harm the player? Because if they can, then is there a point in making the distinction of real and imaginary monsters?


Hope this second round of feedback helps smile.png

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Don't get me wrong, i support a strong penalty for dying to have the player try hard not to die (although, that's what the players usually aim for anyway), but restarting the entire game after dying too many times is too harsh. Your idea of restarting the act seems much more reasonable. However, keep in mind the type of player that might keep dying a lot because they're just not as good at your game as you expect them to be. This is especially important if the game is focused around telling the story and providing an emotional experience. If the game is focused more around the RPG gameplay and stealth, then it might be fine.


I don't think you should ever have to sacrifice gameplay for story or vice versa. But being really desperate to survive helps reinforce the game's narrative, which if you hadn't figured it out suggests this entire thing is the lucid dreaming of a dying/comatose child, and helps the player and their character sync more effectively. Especially if they're not good at it, as their character likely isn't, and that helps them sync up as well.
 

You're right about the adolescent thing. It was just a remark for the age range considering the characters skill set, as it seems more realistic for an "older child" to have that skill set, in comparison to a "young child". My remark just boils down to this: are you allowing the player to input a number for the age which is then shown somewhere in the game or used by the game, or are you providing a choice of "older child" and "younger child" (or some such)? If the latter, then no problem.
If the former, then having a 4 y.o. child (or 3 if you allow the extreme) wielding swords and using them like a pro is very unrealistic, especially considering the realistic combat mechanics you described. When i mentioned an age range, i meant it as "what's the integer range of numbers you're allowing the player to input as the child's age". But if it is not input nor shown, then sure, just saying "it's a child" is enough, as it keeps the actual age completely in the players mind.


1. And if you think they wield their weapon masterfully, you're adding that in entirely on your own. To put it plainly: The skill system runs from 0-100. The typical young adult starts off with a skill of 20 in the "primal" skills, such as melee weapons, mobility and stealth. Depending on age, the typical child in these age groups starts off at either 8 or 12. They are either a little over or a little under half the skill of an untrained layman. It isn't any better for "acquired" skills, like ranged weapon and apparel skills, which the typical young adult would have a 10 in but the typical child has either a 4 or 6 in. (The third group, "artificial" skills like chemistry and repair, always starts at 0 regardless of age. This is because you would never acquire any skill in them through everyday life unless you intentionally sought them out and used them.) The player has an additional +2 or +3 in all skills, depending on age, but that actually makes sense because they take care of themselves.
2. If you believe this, you don't have much experience with children. Some of them are absolutely brilliant, and most of them can be brilliant if they have to be. And this child? They have to be. There's nobody else there, remember? They take care of themselves. Though there's a few things they haven't tried. (The player finds post-its in the house as their tutorial mechanism. Things like "Note to self: Try using the stove today. Don't burn the house down." which hint at the various artificial skills' usage while also suggesting the character has never tried any of them before.)
3. Do remember that many children do these kinds of things as hobbies. Some kids take martial arts, for instance. The presence of dedicated and functional melee weapons in the house can't be a coincidence. The kid also has training swords both western and eastern, a gi and MMA-style boxing gloves. It's likely they've taken some martial arts lessons. Them knowing how to shoot also makes sense because they live in a sparsely populatec post-apocalyptic wasteland. Well, the apocalypse hasn't happened, but there are still sparsely populated wastelands around, like Alaska, and what's the consistent feature? Most children know how to shoot, because their parents taught them, as it's either a fundamental survival skill, because it's part of their culture or both.
4. The number is utterly irrelevant. They're a child, the only difference the age groups makes is determining if they're little or really little.
 

Fair enough, if you think the player will accidentally bump into the hidden objectives.


Act 1: Survive one day without dying before you complete the chapter. Likely to occur simply because the player either A: Is tooling around to get used to the game post-tutorial, B: Doesn't realize they pillar of smoke way off westward in the only direction they can go is their destination or C: Get themselves horribly lost, because some gamers couldn't find their way out of an empty room without an objective marker.
Act 2: Defeat War. Likely to be the player's goal when the fight starts anyway. The fact that if they fail means they progress anyway likely will not deter them from trying.
Act 3: Meet the looter's family. This makes total sense, doesn't it? He's the guy you met at the beginning, who inspired your character to make this trip, why wouldn't you seek him out? The player probably assumes that's the chapter's goal to begin with.
Act 4: Die in the end square. The end square is a kilometre across. It's a considerable area to search. It's likely that the lack of an objective marker will result in them wandering this square, looking for the goal. This square is the most lethal square on the entire map. It's especially cold, the weather is especially violent and the radiation is especially heavy as the entire square is irradiated. They might just die here, searching for what they went there for.
Act 5: No hidden objective.

Yeah. I think they'll stumble into them by accident, or be on them from the start. And should they miss some, no problem. They will probably miss at least one on their first playthrough, and the game is pretty crushing later on if you miss all four, but you'll probably get at least one or two, maybe even three. And they don't need to get them all, in fact they're really not expected to, the first time around.
 

Do keep in mind what i mentioned about what the focus of the game is on. If you focus the game on the RPG/stealth gameplay, the story might be lost on the player in these lengthy periods between seeing the story progression. If the game should be story focused, then you might find the RPG/stealth parts to be keeping you away from teh story too much. It's really hard to say when it's just on paper, you'd need a prototype game to really assess this.


Normally I would agree. Except for a few things:
1. Like, 90% of the gameplay is in the areas between story progression.
2. Like, 90% of the setting information and lore is in the areas between story progression.
3. I intend to use mechanics as metaphor. The circumstances, events and encounters in each act are different, and should help reinforce to the player the emotion of each chapter. The first chapter's ease should help them ignore the plot, as they're supposed to in the denial chapter, and focus on the gameplay and getting good at it, as they need to for the rest of the game. The second chapter (coming right after the end zone of the last act and a cutscene that each basically punches the player in the gut) having such a sudden and harsh difficulty spike, and being loaded with violent imagery should get the player plenty angry, or else plenty afraid, and either is a common second stage of grief. The hope spot that the end of the second act (both zone and cutscene) convey, and the third act starts, should get the player into the bargaining phase pretty easily, as they will likely think they'll be safe in the looter camp, especially once they get a home there, and the sudden shock of losing that home and anything they put there at the end of the chapter should be a surprise. Which, combined with the cutscene that follows, should leave them quite depressed for act 4, where the long trek and oppressive environment constantly whittling away at their character and demanding they seek shelter frequently will help reinforce it, as that act is really, really bleak. Or maybe they'll just give up on it for a while and tool around close to their house, before they get stocked up enough that they decide to just blow through it, that works too. The final act, acceptance, is easy to get into. There's no randomized areas, just a task before them to complete. Reliving what happened that morning in nightmare form and the ending almost saying it should bring them the closure they're looking for, just as their character is now accepting what happened and is enjoying what they have left.
 

Now, about the gameplay.

The character development sounds pretty standard, so not much comment there.
The stealth mechanics sound pretty interesting and, as you say, well developed, at least on paper. I'm sure you'll have tweaks when you implement them and see them in action, but the idea seems reasonable.


Well, good. We all know what it's like to play a bad stealth game. It's an aggravation I hope to avoid, even if this isn't truly a stealth game.
 

The combat sounds very complex, to be honest, especially for a game that is more focused on stealth than combat. The injury system sounds like you will want to avoid combat as much as possible too, which raises a question: why is the combat so complex? If you're focusing on stealth and combat avoidance so much, i don't think making the combat so complex is going to be worth the time investment to implement as you envisioned. Of course, nobody is stopping you from doing so, but if you design and implement a really complex feature that every player will want to avoid because it's not fun or rewarding (except for potential loot from the enemy), then it's a waste of time.


1. Just because there's more stealth than combat, doesn't mean there isn't combat.
2. Games with threats you can't fight bother me.
3. The stealth and combat are not entirely separate. You will frequently use stealth to aid in the combat, and combat to aid in your stealth. For example, the boss fight with War. You can use his entire mansion as your arena, and he mostly just send his minions after you, becoming more active himself as he runs out of them. The best strategy is to just book it out of the throne room and into the side hallways, kill his damned dogs (they're his least deadly servants, but they are a pain to hide from and alert his other, stronger but slower and less aware, minions), and hide somewhere. Then, pick off his servants one by one until he runs out. And then destroy his supply of blood-filled wine bottles so he can't heal and his stash of money cigars so he can't replenish his supply of ranged attacks. Congrats, now all you have is one very slow old fat man who will quickly run out of ranged attacks. And you can easily hide from him and take him off guard repeatedly. And that's just one example.
4. Some players just don't do stealth, or are obsessed with combat. Both groups will be accounted for.
5. The injury system doesn't apply to all attacks, only those from "real" enemies. "Fake" enemies deal "fake" damage, which is still a problem but not nearly as bad of one, and can't actually kill you (though various conditions related to their damage activate the chunky salsa rule where your character simply can't believe they're alive anymore and awakens at last rest, not actually losing a "life" but being set back as if they had, except for a few plot moments).
6. The injury system actually makes the stealth mechanics deeper too, as injury can impede your abilities related to stealth. And also, because it puts a lot of emphasis on player skill if you decide to take somebody down, since you can't just shoot or stab somebody anywhere for an abstract, mystical sneak attack, and instead actually have to aim for vital areas manually. This also makes a sneak attack make more sense, as you have an easier time hitting vital areas on somebody who doesn't see you coming and isn't defending themselves.
7. Most of the injury mechanics make the combat more engaging as well, as they make the penalty of taking damage both harsh and varied, adding an additional organic element to the combat, and the combat mechanics provide a lot of ways to avoid or reduce the damage you do take. Further, enemies also suffer injury like you do (or to a lesser extent and different from you and normal enemies in the case of imaginary ones), which also adds depth to the system.
8. The injury mechanics also add an organic element to the gameplay.
 

The survival mechanics seems interesting on paper, but usually forcing the player to do repetitive character maintenance which doesn't provide a reward is frustrating and time consuming and nobody really likes doing it (unless it's the entire point of the game, like what Don't Starve does). I might be in the wrong here, but i just want to give you something to think about and put on a TODO list of things to playtest and evaluate.


The success of a list of games that incorporate such elements suggests this is just you. Just off the top of my head, Minecraft, Day Z, Rust, Fallout: New Vegas, and of course Don't Starve. There are many others I'm missing, of course, but that's right off the top of my head.

Also, this concern adds to immersion, an important facet of this game. It also provides a reason to explore instead of just going straight to the goal area, increases the value of NPCs that normally players wouldn't even notice, and helps the player build habits that will help them out later. Namely, eating food and drinking water, foraging and looting everywhere they go, and finding good shelter to rest in. All of these, even outside the survival mechanic, contribute to your survival. Oh, and it's actually a challenge sometimes to maintain these things, especially in NG+ and NC+, and challenge is good. And I... Just realised I never mentioned new game plus before. That is shameful. I'll tack it to the bottom of this post.
 

The environment being harsh is another element which makes me a bit concerned about the players survival (and also ties into the death penalty). I'm going to guess it will just require a lot of playtesting to get right, but be cautious with making the environment as deadly an enemy as the rest of the real (or imaginary) monsters.


The environment takes a long time to kill you by itself. In most acts, it's really unlikely you'll be killed by it, and it's only dangerous indirectly by impairing and slowly weakening you. You can also defend against it pretty well. The only issue is act 4, where it's the main enemy and has to be dangerous. You need to be prepared to get through it, and rest frequently, there. That means searching for shelter, then securing that shelter, as a real person would have to do in this circumstance. And, of course, avoiding obstacles like big patches of radiation also adds on to this.
 

And the last thing, these imaginary monsters, can they kill the player, or are they as their name implies, just imaginary and not really there and therefore cannot actually harm the player? Because if they can, then is there a point in making the distinction of real and imaginary monsters?


I actually made a post about them. Let me link to it.

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/662604-distinguishing-monsters-in-a-psychological-landscape/

TL;DR:

They deal "fake" damage, which heals faster and can't actually kill you itself. They can impair you and get you killed by something else, or activate the chunky salsa rule (where you just can't believe you're alive anymore) and have you wake up where you last rested as if you died, but without the actual penalties of dying. They themselves perform radically differently from other enemies and help mix up the combat and reduce receptivity, and they are important to the game world.
 

Hope this second round of feedback helps smile.png


Okay, here's the detail on new game plus.

When you complete the game, you get something called new game plus, and a second option called new character plus.

New game plus allows you to set a character file back to act 1 and let you play the game over again with the same character. I would imagine that, narrative wise, this would be a willing revisiting of the events of the game, though why their character would want to relive these dreams is entirely up to the player. However, you retain your items and level and procedurally generated areas are deleted so the game generates new ones. However, things get a little harder. In NG+, resources become one quarter as abundant, NPC spawns become half as frequent, enemy spawns become twice as frequent, regular imaginary enemy spawns become four times as frequent and imaginary bosses get all their stats doubled. Upon completing this, NG++ becomes unlocked and is basically the same and allows your even higher level, but the new values are 1/9, 1/3, 3x, 9x and 3x. NG+++ has them as 1/16, 1/4, 4x, 16x and 4x. NG++++ (the highest) has them as 1/25, 1/5, 5x, 25x and 5x. I'm just going to say right now that NG++++ is supposed to be completely and totally batshit insane. But it's the extra-super-ultra-hard special mode unlocked by beating all four previous special modes in sequence, it would be a failure on my part for it to not be completely unreasonable.

New character plus allows you to create a new game file with a stronger character and starting items in your home square than you would normally, but NG+ conditions. If you have reached NG++, NG+++ and so on, then NC++, NC+++ and so on are also unlocked. Completing NC+ unlocks NC++ and allows NG++ for that character, and this progression continues. Whether NC+ is harder or easier than NG+ depends on what you collected and how much you levelled before starting NG+. NG+ usually means a lower level character and weaker toys than NC+, but stronger starting items. How much lower level and how much stronger starting items varies. The only consistent thing is the toys, as there's no way to get higher quality toys except for NC+. (At NC++++, your toys are actually +5/+5 quality, when in NG your toys are only +1/+1 quality, and regular wasteland toys are 0/0 quality.)

And that's all there is to NG+ and NC+.

Edited by JustinS

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Well, the design sounds like it might work. I can't think of any more questions about it, if most of my already mentioned concerns are actually there on purpose and planned for.
I guess it would be good to have a prototype and validate if everything you designed works as intended smile.png

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Well, the design sounds like it might work. I can't think of any more questions about it, if most of my already mentioned concerns are actually there on purpose and planned for.
I guess it would be good to have a prototype and validate if everything you designed works as intended smile.png


Well, that's okay. Maybe somebody else does.

Oh, and a rather large stumbling block I just hit, maybe you have any idea on this one, otherwise I'll take it to visual arts:
I decided that, to help illustrate that they aren't real, I was thinking of using an art shift, their model and texture would have traits of a different art style from the rest of the game enough for them to look different, but retaining enough of the main art style for them to still fit and not be jarring. The first one I imagined for this was War, and as you probably guessed I imagined him being drawn somewhat in the style of a political cartoon. But the big issue is... What base art styles could I choose that are distinguishable from other art styles without clashing with them, aren't a pain for the modellers or texture artists to draw and still look good?

(By "look good", here's a few good conditions: The player character and other children should be adorable, the home square should look peaceful and inviting, the sections of each act should evoke the emotions the scenes are meant to create through visual design alone, and the regular enemies should look believable and dangerous.) Edited by JustinS

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Possible ideas for that could be if the enemies in one act that aren't real use the base art style from another act. This would use the existing art from the game, but still make the enemies seem out of place.

Another idea would be if you occasionally flickered these enemies, with enough subtlety so it's not too apparent they're unreal, and just frequent/seldom enough so the player doesn't notice it as soon as they see the enemy.

Another would be if the unreal enemies are very subtly blurred.

Or shifting the colors of the enemies so they look a bit off, but still believable and fitting within the act.

 

These ideas shouldn't be too taxing neither on the art designers, nor the programmers to implement, but it's up to you and your team to decide if any of these would work/fit.

Edited by Strewya

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Possible ideas for that could be if the enemies in one act that aren't real use the base art style from another act. This would use the existing art from the game, but still make the enemies seem out of place.


Except the art styles of all chapters are the same, to save on resources, and the difference in colour and tone is enforced by lighting and screen filters.

Another idea would be if you occasionally flickered these enemies, with enough subtlety so it's not too apparent they're unreal, and just frequent/seldom enough so the player doesn't notice it as soon as they see the enemy.


This isn't something that can't really be done without alerting the player or making them thing the game is bugging out.

Another would be if the unreal enemies are very subtly blurred.


Let me tell you how the player would react to this, with how this game works.

"Ah, shit. What's going on with my perception?" *Opens up the menu, spends the next fifteen minutes trying to figure out which of the listed effects is lowering their perception, eventually decides it's the enemy. "So this enemy type lowers my perception when I look at it? Whatever, it's not a strong effect."

Yeah, I know, I never mentioned the perception attribute (or any of the other nine, for that matter) or how it works, but if the enemy is blurry they'll think it's a perception hit, and their thoughts will go no further.

Or shifting the colors of the enemies so they look a bit off, but still believable and fitting within the act.

 
That may well be part of tweaking their art style.

These ideas shouldn't be too taxing neither on the art designers, nor the programmers to implement, but it's up to you and your team to decide if any of these would work/fit.


But none of them work as well as tweaking their art style. Like drawing war and his blind soldiers like they're in a political cartoon. I'll take this to visual arts.

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