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hiesenhuer

Games: Wheres the fun in that?

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This is my first post, not sure if these is the correct place to post it. But since its not technical, then I just hope im on the correct spot. Well, I have always been a gamer ever since I could remember. From Nintendo Family com until now.. PC games.  with that said, I think you would already have an idea of my age, and yes i'm old.

Moving forward, I've played a lot of games from one platform to the other, console, pc, mobile, handheld. In my years of playing, I realized that most games tends to get boring in the long run. Even World of warcraft and other MMo's, FPS, MOBA feel just so outdated. Even with improved graphics, the feeling of excitement and enthusiasm just wore off after a few hours of playing since the mechanics are of the same formula. Its like that games nowadays, are just an improved version of yesterdays hit. No more innovation. Whats worse is that games are more focused on earning money. Its like, the purpose of games from a players point of view is no longer there.

Now back to the game design. I would like to clarify first that by profession Im not a game developer nor a programmer. Im just a lowly mechanical engineer who likes to play. And the design i would like to share is not of a new top secret innovation in gaming. I dont have that, but what I do have is a simple idea that most games took for granted. And that is the formula. Its outdated. then what is the common formula everyone is doing? Its the leveling.

Heck!, even sandbox games even have leveling per se. Not on character level but skills or account or etc. Still everything revolves around the equation, that if you have a higher level or skill or whatever, you are stronger than the other guy or that is your achievement. Even MOBAS, have it as a way of winning a game. Even how skillful you are if you have an edge in level from the other player, then you have better chances winning.

Its quite understandable that the leveling formula is the trend right now because! its quantifiable. Some say that RNG is there in some games, but I doubt it will give a huge impact as to change the trend in gaming right now which revolves around the idea of leveling.

So? whats this idea or formula or design that im talking about?

Well.. you tell me! Everyone of us has been a kid on our lifetime didn't we? In playing our games or toys, we experienced fun all the time!, we experienced excitement, and the next day we do it again because we enjoyed it!. Games where not meant to be a chore, nor to give us a feeling of depression, it was there to give us a feeling of achievement, the feeling of excitement to keep us playing and most importantly having fun doing it.

So the formula im sharing are 3 things.

a. Achievement

b. Excitement

c. Fun 

Its not quantifiable, i know. But in the end, in gaming, these things matter most. Ditch the leveling, ditch the stats and focus on the rewards, let it be unique every time the player gets a reward. No item in game are the same to keep the excitement (life is like a box of chocolate, you'll never know what you'll gonna get). Ditch the stats, all items or rewards don't give any boost, but will only make your character unique and awesome! specially if you find a rare one. As for the achievement aspect, the harder the enemy, the rarer the rewards.

Now, speaking of the rewards it doesn't only mean an item. Rewards can also be a: 

a. random skill, but a more awesome looking one

b. Can be a new character than you can play, not unlockable, but a unique random character with unique looking gear and skills which you can play differently.

c. rewards could be a new random character Job which you can master.

Rewards are always random and unique to keep the game Exciting!, once achieved by one player, will automatically be locked to that players account and cannot be achieved by another player, unless you trade it, more on that later. This will make your character/account more valuable and gives you a sense of achievement and pride due to its uniqueness. In a sense, your characters looks changes, will look better, and play differently as you fight more enemies and get better and different loot or! if you decide to play the new random character you have acquired instead and trade your old one. For the game economy, all items, skills and characters will be trade-able in game without cost! If there are things that you don't like anymore, just post it on the trading house without any currency required or earned and anyone can get it free. To encourage sharing, one character can only have a limited number of items, skills, job, character or etc. in his inventory and DELETE or THROW option will not be available, the only way to dispose is through trading(or SHARING).

The example above are just some ideas that I like to share and hopefully show that gaming mechanics doesn't need to revolve around the common norm we have right now. We just need to have a bit of imagination and innovative spirit for a new direction of gameplay we can share to our audience, or to the players such as me. And lastly, since buying games would always involve money to cover development cost, instead of focusing on earnings, why not making this as an opportunity to have a connection with the clients or buyers or players instead to ensure longevity and a long term relationship.

How?

(this is just an example) When the player purchase your game online or off the shelf, let the player know that if he can achieve a certain trading achievement in game (trading a rare or unique item perhaps?), will get a discount on the next online purchase of the new game season,update or patch. Thats just an example that gaming experience can be a means of way to connect with the player and developer in real life, not just on the digital world, but also assures the gamer that game development is ongoing and the game is worth it for years to come.

For the FUN part. I leave it to the developers imagination as to what type of game would fit the criteria. I leave it up to them to design the theme or story or the game itself. and Good luck.

So... that's it. Hope you had fun reading this. And please do comment what you think. Is this doable? or is this impossible. let me know. Thanks!

Edited by hiesenhuer

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That is not generally practical- no game developer for any decent number of player could make something just for each player to have if there a lot of other game material. Maybe a combination matrix might be possible add 1 of 10 feature set A repeat with many sets and the result is "unique". 

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It's a tall order. But while this may seem daunting if not impossible now, if there are going to be computer games in 2027 and 2037 etc. etc. we shouldn't scoff at the idea just because it might appear very difficult to pull off now. I'm an old school gamer myself and if I could have peered from my pc with 384k memory in the 80s playing line art games to what we have now, my mind would have been blown.

 

What you're talking about is potentially doable with a heavy thrust into procedural development and variation. Even now the land we inhabit in games can be wildly varied and tools are getting stronger and more detailed in order to make landscapes unique. Games like Borderland boast literally millions of guns made from combinations of pre-modelled pieces. Games like Spore (and to a lesser extent No Man's Sky) have shown that variation of form is wildly possible using rules that manipulate the 3d geometry and textures of the model.

 

What we don't yet have right now are really tried and true ways of making all that variation high quality. It's very easy to generate a lot of bland, uninspired content and not so easy to capture the spark of creativity that makes content unique. I suspect simulation and pattern matching AI may play a strong role here: For instance, a weapon that drops just for you that's really good at dealing with poison and very bad at fending off fire, created as a table-top game master might because the game knows in advance that the bulk of your quests will lead you into the Toxic Swamp where there's so many venomous monsters but lots of water to douse fire. It can possibly feel as if the item was not just made for you, but that there's somebody out there looking out for you... quite a compelling feeling when you're alone against a world of enemies. The game that manages to deeply embed this experience into the narrative of the game world itself (bestowed to you by a patron god, maybe) will not only make players feel special but possibly bind to the world at a deeply emotional level (which makes for transformational game experiences).

 

Setting aside the big challenge of quality assurance (maybe players QA, maybe some fitness testing is possible to weed bad stuff out) I think there may be challenging currents of basic psychology that could cause problems: It may be true that, psychologically, if everything is effectively unique, everything *MAY* effectively be the same. For this to make sense, we have to consider how we evaluate things as having the quality of good or bad (value-wise). If a sword is good, say, WHY is it good? We can only know based on comparison. If it's so good that it kills every enemy with one hit, how do we know that's not the function of the game (this game is too easy) versus you're holding awesomeness in your hands?

 

I think it's somewhat inescapable that without bad there can be no real measure of good. A rusty crap dagger that works on rats but almost gets you slaughtered by man-eating orcs makes pulling Excalibur out of the lake and lopping off orc heads with one hit a fantastically satisfying hero's arc. If you start out with Excalibur, even if it's unique and the only one... not so much. 

 

I also think balance is important. In a social game, keeping up with the Jones can be a powerful motivator. If everybody rides around on more or less samey horses and suddenly you see someone fly by on a dragon, you'll likely say "how do I get that???" That psychological driver may act to force a need for more uniform, specific achievements/geometry/models/rewards etc, if for no other reason than to make the truly unique stand out.

Edited by Wavinator

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So... that's it. Hope you had fun reading this. And please do comment what you think. Is this doable? or is this impossible. let me know. Thanks!

This isn't a new concept, many developers feel xp systems are redundant. Nothing you posted here is breaking new ground.

First games are goal driven, rewarding the player for achieving a goal is feedback, to acknowledge they did it right. XP bars and levels just happen to be the best approach.

Computers use numbers, increasing numbers is a easy way to indicate progress. XP, levels, loot, weapons, skills and achievement are all the same thing. It's a way for the developer to indicate progress.

 

By attempting to get rid of xp and levels you only shift them. Most racing games you need new cars to win races so that's leveling, back in the Playstation one days finding skills that unlocked locations was common.

Fighting games also has a level system, powerful moves takes time to learn, more time you spend on the game the better your character is. Skill games like these give the player all the moves from the start, then the player decides what to learn first, just the same way as any RPG with a skill system, combos that merge two combos is like a skill tree that allows one skill if you have the one before it.

Strategy games use wealth as progress indicators.

 

The thing about xp systems are that they allow you to visually see the progress in ways other systems don't.

In a racing game, if it rewards the player a new car for every x races however the player is stuck on one level; they will feel hopeless. So every time they lose a race they only know they lost, in truth each lost race adds to the players skill as they learn the track so if they kept at it they would win sooner or later.

However the player quits out of frustration, thinking they will never achieve it. Now if you add a xp bar and the player unlocks a turbo at the new level; now they have hope knowing that even if they lost there is still a way to win; they just have to grind.

Now because losing is a downer we provide them with other types of races to get xp, now they have a other mean of wining a race that was blocking there progress. Now they can make a strategic choice of wining a easy race to unlock the turbo.

 

So what I am saying is that none xp systems exist, they are just not as popular because they don't appeal to as many players. If you played less popular games you will see them.

To find the progress system in a game look at the cheats, cheats are mostly designed for skipping the grind.

 

 

Rewards are always random and unique to keep the game Exciting!, once achieved by one player, will automatically be locked to that players account and cannot be achieved by another player

 Not impossible however improbable. No person EVER made a unique item for every person on earth by hand before, it's too much work.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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Ai reward generator:
The 6 digit Loto principle, yep! The lottery. 6 digits have millions of combinations. Now imagine a single map is the loto ticket. But this maps reward is a guaranteed Pendant. And in the entrance of the map u have 6 enemies. And you killed first the 3rd enemy. Thus your first digit in the ticket is 3. Then you progress to next room in the map and 6 enemies are thier and you killed first the 5th enemy thus your second digit in the ticket is 5... so and so forth until you complete the map with 6 rooms in it and likewise you have a 6 digit entry for that map.

Then lets say each digit or entry has a corresponding elemental stone for your Reward which is the pendant (which is the guranteed reward for that map). If the pendants 5 stones are arranged clockwise and 6th stone is in the middle. Wheren the AI would arrange the stones based on the entries of kills a player did on each room.The combination would be millions before you can have an identical pendant. But yes, still the pendants would look the same, but with different stone arrangements. But NO! not necessarlly, if you program the AI if a correspending 6th stone has a distinct glow and backplate... then you now have 6 different pendants. Add anothe AI entry that if The 1st stone also have a distinct Backplate... so and so forth... then you have a diffrent pendant again... but it all started on how the player progressed in that stage... we did not yet include how fast the player conpleted each room... how many potions the player used to stay alive... or in short the performance. So many combinations can be made with the Guaranteed reward alone. And yes AI is very important.

If this AI is made... then you can do it on another stage for a guaranteed helm or a armor or weapon... so that the player would know and be excited on what kind of item he gets each time he enters the room. Still it would be unique.

Update: the example is only 6 digits... and the result would not be millions... I only said 6 digits to simplify the example... but hey! What kind of game that would only have 6 enemies in one room right? Make that 45 enemies per room... and now where really talking loto. And to add to the complexity of the single stage alone... everytime a player enter this stage, the rooms 1 to 6 randomly changes also...thus would greatly add to the combinations... and the sequence of rooms you entered also has an influence on the look of the pendant itself. Imagine the countless combinations...

Now what if!!! What if!!! Out of the million combinations... 2 identical pendants were really created??? Well, a notification will pop up on both players asking to combine the pendant and a single mythical level pendant will be created... if they agree and as long as they dont fight who will own it. Hehehe

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Coincidentally, I've just been plowing through a bunch of academic papers on both emergence in non-linear game narratives and on controlling emotional perception in games.  This is currently an area of intense academic research, because a lot of people feel the same way about games.

I have nothing else to add, partially because those papers were so over my head (which reveals I have a whole new direction to push my learning in) and partially because, well, we have just begun to find out what it takes to make games 'fun.'

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First games are goal driven, rewarding the player for achieving a goal is feedback, to acknowledge they did it right. XP bars and levels just happen to be the best approach.

 

I think you mean, "an easy to implement and easy to understand" approach. I don't think you should ever think your current approach is "the best" one, there almost certainly is something better out there waiting to be discovered!

That said, I'm not so sure just random arrangements of predefined content would make something fun. Case in point is no man sky. Because that is all that game is, a random arrangement of predefined content, which our pattern recognizing brains quickly discard as uninteresting after the first few non-lasting wow moments. The game will lack depth.

Discoveries not only has to have a unique look, but a unique use, to be really interesting, and here is when it starts becoming really difficult to pull off. How to do that, and still design the game play experience, and make it all balanced? Without it again becoming too formulaic.

An approach that seem to somewhat work is to give the player only a limited but well designed tool set, and then hope to trigger the players creativity, and combine it with content sharing between users. (case: Minecraft)

I'm glad to hear there is lots of research going on in the field :)

Edited by Olof Hedman

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Interesting ground. I think that "to feel unique" value for the players is being mentioned by the devs here and there.

Maybe what is to be discovered is scope and right way to do that.

 

But isn't also a pain element connected with uniqueness? You will never have what the others have and you can be bashed on that. Some kind of uniqueness feeling was implemented even in good old game systems like Diablo II have. Do you remember how we safe skill points in order to excel later? How about surrendering power, leaving the comfort zone of casuals and increase magic find in order to get increased drop and achieve something the others super rarely have.

On a game systems level (rule set)- in martial arts/alchemy system I used to toy with there was allocation of skills into ternary diagram but one axis was voluntary (spiritual). Little simplified- so there could be mundane style with fast progress (western boxing etc.) for casuals and slow but higher targets for hardcore gamers (kung fu, tai chi, karate).

On the items level to make it interesting it must stems out of nucleus what the character is and it will be always to some level what is the environment around. So there are some predefined qualities that matters the others are to be collected from players gameplay. Lots of work but superinteresting. 

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The 6 digit Loto principle, yep!
6th stone has a distinct glow and backplate...
pendant itself. Imagine the countless combinations

Yes mathematical this works, however the human eyes have limits. For example the pendant is very limited.

Because you use a glow you are limited to 24 colors on over exposure 1, 16 colors on over exposure 2 or 6 colors on over exposure 4 or higher.

[spoiler] 7kxWjqd.png [/spoiler]

Your pendant has 2 parts, say you are subtle with the colors and use the 24, that should give you 24*24 = 576 right?

Only if you want ugly unrealistic and noisy results. In truth a bright color doesn't go well with a other bright color. Color schemes to go with bright primary are followed by either black or white(shades not color) and then by subtle colors.

You have only two parts the stone and back plate, so even if you only have 24 colors and shades that work with the color, you should get around 24* 8 = 192 colors. The thing is your black plate is a high metal object so you only have four shades (Iron, bronze, gold, silver = 0, 64, 128, 256) so you have 24*4 = 96 pendants.

This is only true if a artist advise you, chances are that if you haven't studied color theory you will end up with only 6*4 = 24 pendants that look right.

Even your larger objects won't use a color pallet more than 4-5 colors per scheme, https://color.adobe.com/explore/?filter=newest look here to see how many "unique" colors schemes you see.

To take full advantage of color schemes you have to use a simple style, No man's sky used a chalk color style to be able to use more.

Now you will think about the shape and form of the object, here again I will point to No man's sky. A shape with different traits is just a shape with different traits. If a large bird with bat wings has his color changed and wings replaced with normal bird wings, it's the same bird in your mind.

So your pendant is just a pendant with different color rocks on them, even if they are shaped different. For real variance the player would need to be able to compare there pendants to others at a single glance.

 

Your limits isn't the math, it's how you represent the math so a player can understand it. Random generation is just meaningless noise, you have to turn it into something.

well, we have just begun to find out what it takes to make games 'fun.'

A summary of what we know for now is: our brains reward us for achieving goals. If you just saved a puppy from drowning in the real world or defeated a enemy in a game your brain sees both goals as equal and rewards both.

That is why we enjoy horror games and other games that can be considered to be not "fun".

I think you mean, "an easy to implement and easy to understand" approach. I don't think you should ever think your current approach is "the best" one, there almost certainly is something better out there waiting to be discovered!

The best here means that when compared to the games that don't use them xp systems thrive. However your right with people there is almost never a "best one", we are too complex for easy answers like that.

Also now is a good time to try something new, people are tired of xp systems.

I just advice learning how xp systems work, to beat your enemy you must know your enemy.

But isn't also a pain element connected with uniqueness?

This is absolutely true. In a world where everything is bright colored finding a monochrome is rare.

In a game world where every enemy drops a unique item, finding similar items will be considered rare. So players in a world like that would aim to collect items that match the ones they like, because finding a red dragon helm of strength to go with your red dragon plate of strength would be difficult.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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