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Supernatural Cow

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  1. Supernatural Cow

    My idea to link time to an internal clock and IRL time.

    Okay, I can see how it's confusing. Allow me to explain in other terms.   The game has an in-game clock that moves 60x faster than time in real life. E.g. for every minute the player sits in front of his screen, his character experiences an hour. On top of this, every new day in the player's real life is a new month in the character's.    Haha, you're right. I was getting confused with my own description. He would have to wait an entire day, which is 24 minutes. Perhaps I should implement a way of skipping ahead 12 minutes at a time, similar to the Song of Double Time in Majora's Mask.     Not quite what I meant. For more stock on a specific item, the player character would be required to wait until the next day (in the game) for that shop to receive the new stock. That being said, it would be pretty rare to find a shop that doesn't stock more than 5 potions - the only reason the player character might need to wait for the next day for new stock, is if they are trying to buy up huuge amounts of potions for say, a really hard boss. Obviously, this applies to other small, common items, and would be featured in the shop in a separate window. Perhaps the shop's special exclusive-month items could be displayed in the window.   In talking to the shop owner, the player character can find out about the shop's next shipments of goods. These items will be wholly unique, quite rare, and will generally be mutually exclusive to that month. This should encourage the player to keep coming back to their favourite shops in the game world in order to get the best stuff.   I see what you mean, and I agree. It doesn't appeal to casual gamers very well. What could be a way of avoiding this? Would it be too complicated to allow the player to decide if the next time they log off, the game time will advance a month or not? E.g. if the player sleeps in a bed, the next time he comes back, game time has advanced a month (and a calendar nearby on the wall will highlight this change); but if he just logs out without sleeping, it resumes as normal. The game could educate the player about this feature with an inn NPC who introduces the bed system?   
  2. Supernatural Cow

    How Do Puzzle Games Reward the Player?

      How about implementing a system for storing collectables similar to how it's done in Skyward Sword? Despite the needless and constant repetition, I found the method to be a functional and effective means of keeping track of what the player had collected so far. So instead of just another item in your inventory, each follower could be found on the collectables screen. Would that make it more "attached to the main character"?
  3. I have an idea about how I can link time to both the internal game clock and real life time.   The premise is that seconds, minutes, hours and days are linked the game world. Every minute would be a second IRL, every hour a minute, and every day would be 24 minutes (or whatever, I'd tweak until I found the sweet spot). The months, however, are variable, and are tied to the day IRL. Every time the player comes back to the game the next day, the game world has advanced a month. In practicality, there would have to be a few game rules to make this work:    1. Returning to the game anytime after the next day will only advance the game's calendar by one month. Leaving the game for 12 days and coming back will still only make the game time advance by one month.   2. If the player played past midnight IRL, he would have to reload the game to advance to the next month. The game won't advance a month while loaded.    With this concept, the game rewards players for coming back to it each day, all the while still allowing the player to skip time. For example, if they have a quest where they must meet someone at midnight, instead of having to wait until midnight IRL, or using a wait system like the Elder Scrolls' games, the player would just have to wait a maximum of 11 minutes. That being said, since the months are linked to IRL time, the game could still recognize and reward the player for returning the next day.This idea works very well for the puzzle/action game I am designing. The basic story sees the player enlisting the aid followers in a Dragon Age: Origins kind of way to defeat an evil threat. The game world is largely a sandbox environment, and NPC/player interaction is a big thing. I consider time a very important factor for both the puzzles and the interaction with the environment/NPCs.   Essentially, each month would have a maximum of 60 days, but could be as short as 1 day. The variable size of each month could be explained by a unique way of calendar keeping. Perhaps months could mark the end of a significant event in history.   I feel that this time concept neatly merges the time keeping system in Day Z with the time keeping system in Majora's Mask to create a comparatively unobtrusive solution.   The other reason why I really like this idea is because it makes it much easier to implement a fixed interval reward schedule. Shops could bring in new stock every month, the seasons would change more regularly (every three consecutive days), special events tied to holiday occasions would be more regular, etc. Also, there would be some days where playing the game is a bit harder, such as on the Queen's birthday, where road tolls are doubled. I think this wouldn't discourage the player from playing on that day if it didn't happen very regularly. Perhaps shops could close on Sundays, or certain quests could be exclusive to certain times of the year, such as during the winter solstice? If the game world changes based on how often the player comes back to play, I feel that it's going to encourage them to keep coming back and playing, if they wish to 100% all the content - which tends to be a driving factor for many players.   Anyway, that's it. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it. Specifically, I'm wondering as to the practical feasibility of this design, and whether it's going to be too confusing to the player to be of any good.  
  4. Supernatural Cow

    How Do Puzzle Games Reward the Player?

    Thanks for the reply, Valrus. You had some interesting ideas (#1's great), though I feel you may have missed the true meaning of my question. I'll take the blame for that one - it was pretty vague    I'm not too concerned with the game's intrinsic value. I realize that puzzles feel good when you complete them, and fluid combat with solid mechanics is a reward in and of itself. What I am looking for is not so much a reason for the player to keep playing the game, as a way to make them feel they have earned their place in the game world. I want my players at the end of the game to feel as if they have twenty bad-ass level 80's fully equipped with the best gear, have tonnes of money, are high up in the PvP ladder, etc. I want my players to feel like their time and energy has turned them into something they can be proud of. I want my players to have that "don't make me get my main" feeling, whenever their weakest follower is getting picked on.   I hear what you're saying about character progression being an effective bandaid, and extrinsic rewards having a devaluing effect on intrinsic rewards, but, I don't necessarily agree. Or, at least, I don't agree if the extrinsic rewards are done well.   [Edited] I like to think of the gold and exp as not really the reward itself, but as the gateway to the reward. It's the game's way of enabling the player to progress. If done right, it should open up more of the game to the player, perhaps by unlocking new content, making people like the player more, etc. Instead of giving the player an arbitrary value of gold for completing a puzzle, the game should give them exactly what they need to succeed in the next area - they just don't know it yet. For example, they might complete an optional puzzle on their way to the next town. The reward for that quest might be 50g, and the player might feel "aw wow, that's all I got?". But the next thing that happens as they are travelling, is they are tolled by a huge group of bandits, and the toll is 50g. Instead of instantly getting ambushed by not paying the fee, the player could pay that fee, pass safely, then come back and attack safely on their own terms (perhaps with the town guard at their backs).   However, the problem lies in designing puzzles that have no idea what the player is like, because they have customized themselves to a point that the game isn't going to be able to cater to. I'm not going to design a new puzzle in every circumstance just because they have equipped a dagger instead of the polearm I thought they'd have.   Simply put, I am looking for a way to give the illusion of character customization. Based on your feedback and a little more of my own reading, this is what I have come up with so far:   1) In the story, the player is to rally the support of various other followers and unite them under one banner to prevent a certain evil from overtaking the world. The player is to achieve this by creating a guild, where they can choose it's name, commission artists to draw unique emblems, and can indirectly customize the style of the guild based on the type of followers the player enlists as members. For example, the player might enlist the services of a fence, who will buy stolen goods at 100% of their market value, or they might contact a priest, who blesses the party whenever they leave the campsite, but also insists on holding a worship service every Sunday.   1.5) Emblems can be unlocked by doing quests for artists the player meets throughout their travels. Most have to be inspired first, and might require one of every flower from a nearby forest, or need you to bring them the personal keepsakes of 10 ghosts.   2) Upon completion of a puzzle, the game awards the player with "wisdom points" - a type of resource that allows the player to unlock hints for the next puzzle. Each follower has different stats, and one of those stats determines how many wisdom points they earn for completing a puzzle. The points would cap at an amount that can buy three hints.   3) Almost all enemies drop something. Whether it be gold, or monster remains, these drops always have a use, and the monster remnants always have a unique purpose beyond being sold for more gold. These resources work a little differently to a normal RPG, however. For example, a blacksmith might buy all the player's Viking helmets because they're made of a unique and powerful metal, but upon selling X amount, he decides he's got what he needs and uses the excess to make the player a rare trinket that unlocks a personal story for a follower. A witch could charge 10 personal keepsakes that drop from ghosts as payment for making someone disappear. The tailor could request spider's silk for upgrading the player's bag. 3.5) The player can pay NPCs to do things for them, instead of always being the quest-doer. It might be something small, like bribing a guard to lower a drawbridge in the dead of night; or it might lead to an important plot event, such as hiring a pinder to aggressively impound the animals of a cattle baron's rival.   Again, thanks for bouncing ideas around. It's really helpful just to have a fresh mind on the concept. Oh, and btw, Suikoden looks amazing! I'll have to brush the dust off my old PS and get into it sometime.
  5. How Do Puzzle Games Reward the Player?   Hello all. As you may note, I am a new member, and this is my first foray into the online community of game design - but don't worry, I waited an hour before posting!   TL;DR I know this is a long post, and I apologise for the inconvenience, however, I feel that if I don't go all out and explain the whole idea, people aren't going to be able to provide relevant feedback. However, if you're pretty much a mind reader, the TL;DR of it is:    I'm making a puzzle action game that plays like Gauntlet, but uses a follower system like Dragon Age: Origins. The integral feature of this concept is that each follower is essential to certain puzzle and combat scenarios in the game. My problem, however, lies in player reward and character progression. I am struggling to find a way to significantly reward the player without classic RPG elements such as experience levels, skill upgrades and equipment.   To quote my last paragraph, "How do puzzle games reward the player? Other than items, experience levels or skill upgrades, what can I give to the player to make them better and more bad ass whenever they complete a puzzle, defeat a bunch of baddies, or rescue the princess? "How do other puzzle games achieve constant and significant rewards?"   Quick Description Anyway, let's start at the beginning. My current game-design-love-child is a puzzle action game. It looks like Diablo III, plays like Gauntlet (played the new one yet? So good), but feels like Dragon Age: Origins, and is set in a Majora's Mask-type world (living, breathing world), with puzzles that are mostly optional (think latest Tomb Raider). Try to imagine playing as Link in Diablo III, except with Morrigan, Alistair and Sten available to trade places with you at the push of a button and a quick 2-second channel. As for gameplay, you'll use WASD for movement, LMB, RMB, shift and spacebar for abilities, E for interaction, and tab for bringing up a radial menu of followers in your party.   Each character takes an RPG archetype and attempts to spin it into something new and exotic with potential for fun. While a number of them have been heavily inspired by other games, I feel confident that the inclusion of these concepts in a completely different universe would be refreshing rather than tacky. To describe just a few, the acrobat has the ability to jump on top of people and shoot them full of arrows (Legolas style), the scientist can create portals in the ground to transport people and cause utter destruction for her enemies, and the necromancer has been possessed by a daemon and plays similar to Gnar from League of Legends. Hot tip: don't get her angry. Also, there's the wizard, who uses shift, spacebar and RMB to add a primal element into their spell, providing them a specific spell for a specific combination - think the Wizard from Gauntlet or a wizard from Magicka.   The 'Play as Anyone' Concept But here's the kicker (and the source of all my problems, argh!): The player may start the game as one of three possible characters, each with their own personalities, skill-sets and play-styles. The characters the player doesn't choose for that play-through will show up in the game as followers, and the story will evolve dynamically around how the player interacts with them. There are way more than three followers in the game, but not all followers are available to the player on their first play-through. The others are locked, and must be unlocked within the game by completing their side-story. This varies for the follower, but may involve enlisting them into the party instead of someone else (who may also be a follower), or finishing the game with the outcome in their favour (one follower is particularly nasty, and would be quite happy to see the world destroyed if it meant he was better off for it).   Strengths I am really in love with this concept. It seems to work seamlessly well with a two-player multiplayer feature, as the portion of the game prior to finding another follower would be the tutorial. The player's friend could join their game for some co-op campaign action at any point after the tutorial.   The concept also provides a unique twist on the old key-and-lock puzzle scenario. For example, as much inspiration as I take from the Zelda series, I can't help but twinge at Zelda's current layout for puzzles. Quickly do I tire of the old, Link traversing into a temple, exploring for a while, coming to several dead-ends that require a certain item to get past, eventually finding a mini-boss that drops that item, getting past previously blocked areas with new item, getting to the boss, and finally killing the boss with that item. Instead, imagine how much more immersive the story would be if Link were to find portions of the Fire Temple closed off to the public due to archeological dig sites, and by exploring the rest of the place, he were to bump into an archaeologist who had been kicked out of the operation due to a huge misunderstanding? Link could listen to his story, decide that helping the archaeologist is his best chance to get into the dig site and further into the temple, and help him out. Once his quest is complete, the archaeologist could join Link's side and have a skill-set that contains the necessary tools to get past the barriers and beat the boss. While still adhering to the lock-and-key principle, I feel that this concept gives the game a much better chance at being a medium for storytelling, instead of a medium for repeating the same mundane task several times over.   Even once out of the temple, the archaeologist could contribute to the player's journey in numerous significant ways, such as by expanding dialogue options, offering different styles of gameplay in combat, and providing a deeper understanding into the story. Perhaps this follower knows all about the history of the town that the story takes place in, and by talking to him, the player can find out all about it. I often enjoy transfer of information when it's through characters much more than I do when reading about it on loading screens, listening to it in huge, long, unskippable cinematics, or reading about it in in-game books (The Elderscrolls was great and all, but I didn't play it to read novels).   Look, I've only scratched the surface here, and there are plenty of other ways I can imagine the ability for the player to play as any follower is beneficial for gameplay. It increases replayability, provides a way for the player to pick their preferred play style, enables the game to offer increasing difficulty level through the characters the player picks, enriches the game with better storytelling, etc.  If I were to go into it all, I'd never get around to considering the limitations.   Limitations Unfortunately, there is a facet to game design that I have been stuck with for a long time now, and it's not a small consideration: character progression. Essentially, this is how the player is rewarded for playing the game. In my opinion, a good game that you can keep coming back to, has constant rewards and significant rewards. In Dragon Age: Origins, the player was constantly rewarded for just exploring the levels with blank vellums and random business ledgers they could sell for a tidy profit. They got significant rewards when they killed things, completed quests, etc., because they would level up, and be able to improve their stats (enabling them to wield better weapons), upgrade their skills, and unlock new abilities. In Skyrim, the constant rewards were similar, although somewhat too constant. The game would reward the player for killing things by giving them their entire inventory. You'd get to a point where all the swords and the shields and the 50 helmets and the carrying around 5 hammers just so you can make some cashola became just a bit too... menial. Although they did other constant rewards very well. For example, wandering around Skyrim, you could pick flowers and plants that you could turn into potions or poisons, encouraging the player to really get immersed in the game world. As for the significant rewards, the game awarded levels to the player for doing specific actions repeatedly: this meant that by just playing the game, e.g. attacking, getting attacked, talking to people, the player was rewarded in big ways.   Anyway, I have found an inherent problem with puzzle games, in that significant character progression doesn't seem to fit well with it. Typically, such a reward is done using stat and level progressions, skill upgrades, multiple tiers of items, or any combination of the three. Most RPGs tend to do all three to some extent, featuring an experience system, a skill tree, and a plethora of different items, possibly with item crafters and other assorted artisans. In my game, I have found that in order to keep the game uncomplicated, and allow the player to just focus on the storyline and the gameplay, there can be none of these. This is my reasoning:   1 - Puzzle Design.  Puzzles make a solid third of the game, which means they must feel good. Typically, a puzzle is a puzzle because it has one solution - the correct solution - and the player is tasked with finding it. In order to write a good puzzle, I need to know exactly what tools are at the player's disposal at the time of attempting the puzzle, in order to encourage them to use their tools in abstract ways. To this end, allowing the player to choose what equipment they wear and how it affects their characters puts an unrealistic expectation on them to appropriately equip their characters for the next puzzle. Immediately, equipment loses its appeal as a way to customise characters, and mixing-and-matching becomes standard as they must constantly have the right tool for the puzzle. This significantly limits the scope of the puzzle design.   2 - Character Customisation Not Necessary a Good Thing. As previously mentioned, my game design does not use items for puzzles, combat or any kind of gameplay. Instead, it uses followers with unique abilities - the archaeologist can blow stuff up, the thief can pick pockets and unlock locks, etc. If the game enables the player to equip followers with different items, it's going to subtract from the uniqueness of their skill-set, essentially broadening how they play and making every follower able to play the same way, albeit with varying effectiveness. This, I do not care for in my game. Character customisation is great in most games, but in this, it's just going to deduct from each character's specialties. It's also not very immersive. Let's not go trying to give the little boy prodigy who was casting flames at age 4 a massive two-hander claymore, shall we?   3 - Counter-Productive Rewards.  Which brings me to skills. Considering follower skills are the bread and butter of the player's arsenal, I imagine upgrading those skills would be like having items specific to that player. If they were to be upgraded through repetitive use of that skill, the upgrade should not radically change how the skill works, otherwise all the puzzles involving that follower will be misaligned to the character's capabilities. I fear that if some puzzles need an un-upgraded skill to get through, as soon as the player upgrades that skill, the reward will be counter-productive to its purpose, and make the player regret playing the game in that way.   Basically, all of these limitations boil down to one overarching theme of considerations: how do puzzle games reward the player? Other than items, experience levels or skill upgrades, what can I give to the player to make them better and more bad ass whenever they complete a puzzle, defeat a bunch of baddies, or rescue the princess? Does unlocking new followers act as a significant reward, or should there be more? How do other puzzle games achieve constant and significant rewards?   The End Thank you for tuning in to my wearisome wall of words, and I look forward to your feedback. I'm not necessarily looking for a supreme answer to any of this; you can just give me a nod that you like my idea, or a shake of the head that you don't, and that would be great as well   Also, if this concept has got you as captivated as it has me, I'd appreciate any ideas you may have about it! Even if it's just something you would love to see in a game like this, or something that personally would make you play it a whole lot more, I'm all ears.
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