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Norman Barrows

should epic encounter areas be marked to warn the player?

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should epic encounter areas be marked to warn the player?

 

the game in question: 

 

cavenam 3.0.    a FPSRPG / person sim hybrid. stone age setting. open world, survival, sandbox. emphasis on realism.

 

 

it approaching time to add epic encounter areas IE "valley of the tigers". etc.

 

these will be dangerous places where only the bravest dare tread.

 

should they be marked with obvious warning signs?

 

if a new player stumbles into one it would be instant death.

 

due to the random generated nature of the game world, these will most likely be just some random points in the game world, with any type of terrain possible. should i just surround the area with a bunch of landmarks with skull and cross bones painted on them?

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Yes, there should be some type of warnings.  

 

They don't have to be immediately obvious, like a big "Warning: Difficult Area Ahead". 

 

 

 

It may be a different music, it may be visual cues like different textures. Maybe everything is burnt out around the area of an epic dragon.  Maybe smashed buildings and broken trees around the area of an epic ogre. 

 

It may be that all the monsters are harder, if you have cues like health/difficulty halos on characters, instead of being a green or yellow indicating easy, they're all given the boss marker or hard marker, that should be a warning that something difficult is going on.

 

 

Or you might go with the obvious statement. Provide NPCs fleeing the region and warning the player that a dragon or ogre has moved in.

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For non-linear games, it's usually a good idea to put "gatekeeper" enemies (a decent level of difficulty representing the area) at the border of these regions that the player will be forced to contend with before fully entering the "epic" zone. That way, if the player is unprepared for the area, they will know right away because they won't be able to overcome the initial challenge.

 

Having characters and the scenery also warn the player through the story and environmental design also helps a lot, as frob suggested.

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i wasn't really planning on doing any special modification of the terrain or scenery in these areas, so there wouldn't really be a visible border, except for some sort of warning signs, or a guard of gatekeepers around the perimeter.   not a whole lot of difference between getting killed by a gatekeeper and getting killed by their boss - either way you quickly figure out your outclassed and in over your head.  so why bother with gatekeepers?

 

having NPCs running away would probably look silly after the first few times. why does there always just happen to be an NPC fleeing every time i discover an epic encounter area?

 

landmark warnings seem to make sense.   landmarks would be similar to the hide door seen on the hut in the screenshot below, perhaps with a skull and cross bones  or something like that painted on it.

 

gallery_197293_593_140889.jpg

 

 

place a circle or bbox of landmarks around the area.

 

but then you need to tell the player what that means somehow.  it could be a dialog option, but you only really need it once.  its could be a loading screen hint, but there are no loadscreens!   : )

 

it could be  color dialog you hear when near NPCs, but again, you only need to hear it once, not ad nausium, like "I used to be an adventurer like you...".

 

or you could just let them figure it out:

 

"whats that over there? looks like some sort of landmark. but what are these markings on it? looks nasty - whats going on here?" 

 

the player moves a little further into the region, and gets an epic encounter. and then experience becomes the best teacher:

 

"ok, i encounter really nasty stuff every time i go past one of those weird landmarks. they must mean "bad new ahead!"   <g>.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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You could have a 'meta' level kind of mechanism (hint at a GOOD play strategy)  where the player as a 'newbie' is given general warnings about 'signs' that there might be something of great danger (or of disturbing something IMPORTANT someone else is doing)  ie- an old man who warns that IF you hear a sound you havent heard before then BE CAREFUL   or if everything goes QUIET then you'd best BE ON GUARD

 

That rather than have overt/out of place for the genre indicators (how do they do it ln the later versions of Deerhunter ???)

 

The people living within your game genre have to be attuned to their environment for their very survival (a big aspect of the game), so getting them to understand that early (tutorial lessons) would set them up for the rest of the game.

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Attaching dangerous creatures to unique locations could serve as an indication that danger is around, even if it is procedurally generated, you can add ques to generate dangerous creatures in clusters around signifying terrain.

Things like a grave yard of carcasses and large mammoth skeletons could be dense around the Tigers lair.

You can also warn with sound and internal monologue, like music change or stops near danger, ambiant wildlife noises stop, or your character or company flat out says they sense a threatening creature nearby.

Furthermore, you could deliberately expose them to the threat in a manner they can escape. Showing the creature approaching you from a distance and prompting you to run can establish threat and excitement. The fearsome foe could break away because of a distraction like an easier prey, or because he was already dining on a carcass and only engaged to drive you away.

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so getting them to understand that early (tutorial lessons) would set them up for the rest of the game.

 

hmm...  "lore-friendly" landmarks + add it to the tutorial might work...

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Attaching dangerous creatures to unique locations

 

that's basically what "special encounter areas" will do. the game is mostly driven by random wilderness encounters, both animal and human. special encounter areas will add a number of randomly selected spawn point locations where there can be additional special types of encounters above and beyond the usual random encounters.

 

but it would seem that the dangerous ones should be marked somehow so the player doesn't get in over their head by accident. this thread is about how to do that. i started another thread on how they areas should actually work (basically what types of things you should be able to encounter).

 

lore friendly landmarks + the ability to ask any NPC about nearby dangerous areas is looking like a good option.

 

 

 

Things like a grave yard of carcasses and large mammoth skeletons could be dense around the Tigers lair.

 

Hmm...  carcasses...   now there's an object that could be used as a landmark that already exists in the game.  spawn an animal, and set alive=0. but the game would remove them when the player got beyond visual range. and then you have to spawn them again. and make it look right. could just spawn the same stuff in the same pattern every time. but  it would look a little funny if all the dangerous encounter areas had the same dead critters in the same place every time. or you could make its model part of a terrain chunk, like a tree. but then its would be like those skeletons in skyrim you can't interact with. IE its just a model, not an true object. suppose i could always make / find an animal skeleton model...  ugh! more assets!  by comparison, a skull and crossbones landmark texture made from existing assets is about 5 seconds in a paint program.

 

 

 

You can also warn with sound and internal monologue, like music change or stops near danger

 

i'm specifically trying to prevent the music giving away the badguys (only semi-successfully so far). 

 

 

 

ambiant wildlife noises stop

 

hmm, that's an idea....  the game does have an environmental ambient sound track that runs all the time. but it does have silence  in it, depending on terrain type. deserts and dirt terrain have intermittent wind and silence. so there would't always be ambient wildlife sounds (IE birds) to stop. other than that it would work ok and be very realisitc, but poerhaps too subtle at times. also, do you kill the sound all the time, or only when the nasty critters show up? as a waring, it would need to be / should be all the time, but in reality it should only be when threats are near.

 

 

 

or because he was already dining on a carcass and only engaged to drive you away.

 

predator AI already does that automatically all the time!   ; )

Edited by Norman Barrows

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