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Lynck

Secret Levels and Characters

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One element of games is the secret level, characters, weapons, vehicles, etc that a player can unlock as they go through the game. For example, Mario Golf uses points and competitions to unlock characters and courses. Some games use cheats to unlock characters, while others use objectives that are hidden to unlock these secrets. What do you all think about secrets? How should the character be allowed to unlock these secrets? Perhaps get all the gold coins or maybe you have to fall in that secret well nobody knows about in the cave?

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Secrets for single-player games are welcome. However, secrets (unlockables, specifically) should be implemented with caution in multiplayer games. Nine times out of ten, secrets are unlocked by completing objectives and/or performing feats of skill that push the player''s grasp of the gameplay to new levels (no pun). The problem this presents, is that in multiplayer games, by the time one person is done unlocking more stages or characters for his/her friends, the person is usually a few skill levels ahead of the others playing. The others become quickly frustrated that they can''t best their friend that went through all the trouble of unlocking the extra characters and stages, and you risk harming the longevity of the multiplayer modes when the multiplayer group gives up in hopelessness. The only way I can think to deride such an outcome, is to give the game a low learning curve - which you can''t depend on, because even Mario Golf is too complicated for some folks.

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One possible solution for allowing unlockables in multiplayer games is to make them relatively harmless. New costumes, new maps and the like that don''t really have an effect on gameplay, but would at least have some coolness factor.

Or balance it out. Give an unlockable (but fairly useless) character as a joke. Remember the (literally) spineless doctor from Tekken 3(or was it 2? It''s been a while). Things like that (but probably to a lesser degree) would probably increase the longevity of the multiplayer mode, if the advanced player uses more difficult choices against novice players as a handicap.

As far as how to give them out, that really depends on the style of game. I kind of like the idea of allowing the player a choice in secrets that they unlock. Something along the lines of a point system, which you can trade in to unlock certain features. These could be gained by completing levels under a certain par time, without taking any damage, exploring hidden areas, or collecting those gold coins, if you must. Combine several, and let them stack (completing the level under par AND not taking damage would be worth more, for example).

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Heh. I told my friends a while back that I''d model them and include them as secret characters in a game at some point...

I dunno. You can state than characters will be unlocked by good players. So, why not balance the character against the player a little? Make the unlockable characters still very rewarding, but a little tougher - so that the expert gamers, playing with unlocked characters, can still play against the beginner/intermediate characters.

Of course, the only problem you face then is making it so that the players want to use the secret characters. Special moves, or something, maybe.

And yes, I remember that doctor in Tekken... *crack* hehe...

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates
- sleeps in a ham-mock at www.thebinaryrefinery.cjb.net

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