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Member Since 26 Jun 2000
Offline Last Active Apr 21 2017 11:00 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Games: Wheres the fun in that?

08 April 2017 - 01:58 AM

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.

In Topic: Cargo / goods in 17th century pirate game?

08 April 2017 - 01:20 AM

This is an open question I know but I ask for some feedback anyway! I think 15 goodstypes is enough, but there could be less as well (old Pirates! only had five, similar in assassins creed black flag. But those games had little focus on trade/economy).


When considering trade items I think the criteria should be the same as any other choice, namely what the extra choices bring beyond flavor. Just as we'd have to ask in a fighting game that had punches, kicks and jabs, the question would be what's the point if they all function the same way.


Does food spoil and thus require the fastest route possible? Do certain ports have to be avoided because of their problems with rats infesting some cargoes but not others? Are some ports experiencing heavy settlement and thus a potential spike in lumber demand? Is the rumor that lords and ladies are flocking to one port so that luxuries might trade better there? Are pirates on the prowl near one port, making trade in silver more likely to attract attack than trade in lower value iron?


If none of that is possible, you could easily get away with having 3 items and focus the gameplay elsewhere (the Xbox indie game Ancient Trader does this to nice effect, with trade being secondary to battling sea monsters).

In Topic: Cargo / goods in 17th century pirate game?

08 April 2017 - 01:10 AM

If your economy adapts to seasons and trade then you would have to remember: 15* 4 * amount of conditions* trade points, to understand what can trade where.


I can't help but wonder if the core problem here isn't the number of trade items but a poor user interface that expects you to remember what trades for what at these points. If mapping and writing down dialog clues is out of fashion in modern games, why should the player be expected to memorize trading good locations and differentials across an entire map? 


I'm actually surprised at the number of trading games that do this as it creates a somewhat negative experience of having to know the game environment before you play. At the very least the UI should highlight what you've traded where as ports are visited, and for a less hardcore / micromanagement game I don't see a problem of just showing differentials everywhere (Endless Sky, a sci-fi trading game, does once you've visited or bought maps and it makes trade a fun diversion even if it does oversimplify the gameplay bit).

In Topic: Cargo / goods in 17th century pirate game?

08 April 2017 - 12:30 AM

I think the goods types will be largely irrelevant. You could just as well put daffodils and sand as goods and if the gameplay is... Good, it will be just fine.

I might be alone on this but nothing takes me out of a trading game's world like goofy trade goods. My fav is space trading games and the idea of carting around beanie babies and rubber duckies across the heavens kills it. I just skipped a game on Steam that had this but was a perfect minimalist trading game in every other way.


By comparison, this is like playing a hardcore shooter like Rainbow Six armed with whoopee cushions and rubber chickens, nothing else changed. Sure it could work, but I'd think it would lose something.

In Topic: Spaceship weapon ideas?

28 March 2017 - 11:58 PM

Some random thoughts:

I'm a fan of micro-singularity weapons that theoretically bore through targets. Launched in a cluster they could orbit one another in a deadly swarm.


Cryolasers could be reasoned to seize up turrets and even ship movement if you're going more science fantasy. 


More interesting weapons might come from combined systems or tactics, such as pushing an asteroid at an enemy and having more fragile but destructive weapons fly behind it.


Nanotech makes for many indirect possibilities as well. Imagine seeding an asteroid field with a cloud that causes turrets to grow on them? Or what about infecting an enemy's hull with systems that attack their allies, forcing the enemy to evaluate whether to attack their own ships or break formation?

I think once you outline stats weapon creation becomes easier. If, for instance, you know there will be heat management as a factor you potentially get cost / benefit trade-offs to weapons & systems that do or don't generate heat and weapons that CAUSE heat to accumulate in a target.