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

#5338702 Cargo / goods in 17th century pirate game?

Posted by Wavinator on 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).

#5337526 Spaceship weapon ideas?

Posted by Wavinator on 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.

#5325979 Are there many war games like this?

Posted by Wavinator on 03 January 2017 - 10:42 PM

A big challenge I can see to this idea might be how lo-fi or hi-fi to make the depiction. Likely you'd get a map of some sort, which could be very abstract and vector-based. Modern commanders are increasingly getting real-time feeds from helmet and gun cameras though, so if you kept that detail you may face all the downsides of rendering a 3d battlefield and none of the hand-on, visceral benefits (multiplied, I'd imagine, across however many drones, squad leaders, gunships etc. that would be on station).


The next factor would be audio, although you might get away with a library of callouts and background chatter.


Or you could go completely lo-fi and make it text-based, even procedurally generating text to match real-time battle situations. If the pace of movement was broken into real-time phases or the overall pace of real-time action was slow enough, I could see this working with text.


It would be a fascinating experience if you could get the trade-off right of getting players to identify with names units ("ok Patton's over here, Stormin' Norman's over there") they might come to personalize and indirectly care about versus limited resources (not everybody can get the air support they're begging for). 

#5325523 Cold war: US, soviet units/faction

Posted by Wavinator on 31 December 2016 - 05:14 PM

Infantry could be represented by APCs and an icon imposed over buildings if you wanted them in but didn't want to animate them. Taking a page from Red Faction ages ago, guns (or rocket/grenade launchers) could shoot from dark windows, showing only the barrel animated.


As to units, maybe:


Western forces: U2 reconnaissance aircraft (clearing fog of war faster?); attack helicopters; transports delivering units; riverboats that double as transports or gunboats. Unit mix meant to emphasize controlling airfields, roads and rivers.


Eastern forces: Heavy tanks, mobile SAMs, anti-aircraft units; MiG bombers; mine layers, bridge layers to counter Western infrastructure focus


Dictatorship: Pickups with AA guns; kamikaze dump trucks; construction vehicles with launchers; APCs and tanks at half health that drive half speed; some ability to take over crippled enemy vehicles

#5325519 Level Design: Uniform vs Variable sized levels

Posted by Wavinator on 31 December 2016 - 04:48 PM

Not sure of the exact gameplay and I'm not a big puzzle fan, but varying pacing is often a good idea to help prevent player fatigue. It would seem odd that you'd get fatigued doing something you enjoy, but mixing up pace is suggested in media as diverse as writing and film. A small level could be used as a reward for completing harder levels (seen this done in FPS games) or as a challenging break to easier levels.

#5325511 Whats wrong with city-buildings/sims/survival?

Posted by Wavinator on 31 December 2016 - 01:30 PM

It's a tough problem because imposing goals seems to imbue a game with meaning, yet imposing goals runs counter to the very freedom that draws people to sandbox games. Minecraft gets by with a massive amount of complex, emergent gameplay arising from how the blocks interact with the environment and each other, but still faces that "but what now?" sense (of existential angst?) over time. "Where is this all going? What's it all for?" seems difficult to avoid.


Ramping difficulty (ala Dwarf Fortress) could help but might seal late stage gameplay behind a competency wall.


Some ideas:


* Steal minecraft's blocks, but make them people generating effects you have to deal with: Merchants are great for taxes, but merchants selling too much ale convert laborers to drunkards; introducing priests lowers drunkenness by increasing virtue, but causes people to be less happy and productive; troubadours make people happier, but make priests angry; etc. etc.


The game could introduce a wide range of "people blocks" with different interactions, even maybe changing behavior based on time (priests become less effective over time as population grows), population density (troubadours form an art district, creating new trade goods) and proximity (labor district next to docks amplifies productivity, but increases smuggling crime)


* Player defined disruptive randomizers (within a range): Let players specify before game a range of events with percentage chances of happening. Similar in spirit to SimCity & spawning tornadoes or earthquakes, but more integrated into the game along the lines of difficulty. Better if you can throw a bunch in a big list, some delayed by time (so the barbarian invasions never happening in the first 30 min of playing).


* Rulebreakers: You understand the rules and are bored? What happens when someone opens the ancient tomb or pandora's box or invents a new technology which upends them? Houses built from wood from the mystical forest no longer burn, but attract a procedurally defined threat (orcs one game, bandits another, cultists the next); metal mined from a cursed mine procedurally affects gameplay, in one game allowing construction of boats that are twice as swift but mysteriously cause fish to die (disaster for an island nation), in another making it possible to build greater buildings which sometimes attract ghosts! (I'd suggest making several items have multiple, overlapping effects, by the way, so that effects like fish kills can't easily be just the result of cursed metal, but also farming practices or an evil, aquaphobic cult)


Rulebreakers & people blocks actually might work well together: Imagine gems which attract the best artisans, which make nobles happy, which are (initially unknown) from a cursed mine, which then turns nobles quarrellous and greedy. 


A variant of all this could be more of a hybrid game, by the way, like one which funnels gameplay variation and rule changes through a "choose your own adventure" style overlay similar to King of Dragon Pass. The replay value would be phenomenal if the "story" were more loose and procedurally generated, maybe with one game pitting players against a rising threat while another accentuates settling conflict between fractious populations while still a third is more of a murder mystery involving a powerful traitor creating chaotic and disruptive effects. Much tougher to implement and a nightmare for balance, but experimental players would probably love it! 


A big advantage of such a hybrid game would be that it has an ending, which drives that satisfying internal sense of completion and sidesteps "growth as if you're a cancer" ethos I think people find unappealing over time.

#5325502 Multiplayer Auto Battling Game

Posted by Wavinator on 31 December 2016 - 12:25 PM

It's a catch-22: You want players to be able to rely on matching specific strategies to specific threats/situations, but you don't want them to be certain of the outcome. Randomization might help here (50% chance that rock beats scissors) at the risk of frustrating players who fall victim to the RNG. Alternately as Unduli suggests you can deepen the relationships, possibly to the point where without careful mapping and strategy guides a player can't divine a dominant strategy without a lot of play experience (at which point the retire the game). My big fear taking that approach too far would be that you end up needing to do what Wizards of the Coast did in using statistics and lots of repeat play testing to balance unintended, cascading consequences of so much complexity; or constant rebalancing updates, as we sometimes see with CCGs.


I don't see a problem with the core idea itself. I can see it working especially if you break the automatic combat into rounds, which can let players try gambits and advance or recover progressively to the end of the fight.


Consider checking out the Smugglers games for a fun, abstract strategy framework that might be similar to what you're proposing.

#5324903 Armour system (and a slight hangup).

Posted by Wavinator on 26 December 2016 - 09:47 PM

You didn't think much about this, huh?

Be honest with you, a reply like this puts me off from investing much in any kind of reply. I suspect I'm probably not alone. If someone takes the time to try to give feedback, even if it's not useful, what is the value of a rebuke?

#5320596 Tennis RPG

Posted by Wavinator on 23 November 2016 - 12:05 AM

If I were making turn-based tennis, I think I'd do it like this, concentrating on the relationship between court coverage and momentum:


Your side of the court is a grid.  As the ball goes over the net into your side, time freezes (or slows down, this could be a real-time turn-based strategy) and you see possible routes the ball might take (maybe along with probabilities).  These are somewhat inaccurate when your Perception is low.  You choose a kind of return and choose where on the grid you intend to execute it.  Your character runs there.  They only have so many squares they can run, but they can expend Stamina to lunge a bit further.  If you chose well, your return connects and does exactly what you specified.  If you're off by a square or two, you still can return but you don't get exactly what you intended.  If you're well off, you miss.


But you don't get complete freedom to lunge in every direction every turn.  One, you're using up stamina, and there are also consequences to lunging in opposite directions.  (Like if you lunge left, you're not set up to lunge right on the next turn; you may not even be able to run as far right on the next turn.)


I think this gets more interesting in a doubles match than singles, as you have two character's coverage/momentum/skills to take into account.


I really really like this idea. One of the things that's cool about it is that it turns the whole reality of the physical effort into a strategic game, systematizing it. This opens the door to deepening the system by adding more factors which relate, things like confidence / overconfidence or even simulating anger as some variable that has to be kept from boiling over (or like McEnroe you smash your expensive racket?) You might have room for factors like strength vs. grace, which could play into media perception of your performance. Maybe there could be some factor that involved psyching out your opponent?


To give life to the RPG idea it would be nice to be able to climb a professional ladder, starting out relatively low level and making it onto the world stage. I think this idea has lots of potential!

#5309352 Slavery, Include Or Not?

Posted by Wavinator on 03 September 2016 - 10:38 PM

I think it is a deep mistake for players and designers to expect a 1:1 correspondence between gameplay mechanics and real life. In all our time gaming (tabletop / board game or electronic) how many innocent lives have we players all taken collectively? How much have we stolen? How many have we wronged?


If we are talking about fictional entities the answer can only be zero. These things do not exist. They are not real. Therefore no living thing can be harmed, and what kind of creatures are we if we are obsessed with the morality of deeds against non-living, non-existent things? At best we can be accused only of committing crimes of the imagination.


I agree with the point others have made that some will see your work as taking a position, and I feel we currently live in a time where being seen to be moral is perhaps more important than actually BEING moral. If position is a concern, I'd simply make it clear in the manual that this was historical fact and its inclusion is neither meant to condone nor glorify and leave it at that. Some people will nonetheless be deeply offended. It is their right to be so, and it is your right to ignore them. Let them create works that promote their own values. Maybe your work can serve as a springboard for a game about abolition or a deeper simulator whose mechanics plumb the depths of the psychology of objectification.


As an aside let me also note that a rising interest in injecting modern morality into gaming isn't in and of itself a bad thing. There are wide open frontiers to explore in that direction. But a game is not somehow immoral because it incorporates distasteful and even downright evil subject matter. With gaming we must resist the mechanism in our brain that correlates thinking about something as doing it. Thinking is thinking. Doing is doing.

#5192881 Taking A Group of AI Followers Indoors

Posted by Wavinator on 14 November 2014 - 01:43 PM

What are some good ways to deal with a group of AI followers when moving into confined spaces like corridors or sewers in a game with a 3rd or 1st person perspective? I'm looking for gameplay examples / conventions I might check out or design suggestions. Hopefully it might scale so that the followers could be very large (3 or 4 dozen), and it doesn't have to be realistic.


Some ideas:


1) Pick N - When transitioning into interiors you must select N followers. Everybody else waits outside.


2) Pick X which represent Y - Same as Pick N, but each follower abstractly represents the powers of a group of followers. Everybody outside disappears as if they're riding in the pockets of the Y followers.


3) Blobber - Game mode changes indoors to FPS and followers are abstracted to completely abilities, like an old-school blobber, perhaps even appearing as selectable portraits


4) Level Design - Game only has interior spaces that fit maximum number of followers


5) Claustraphobia - Tragically, all followers suffer from a severe fear of closed spaces, and just can't enter confined areas


6) Fading Followers - Followers fade in and out of areas, like in Destiny Warriors games of old.


7) Teleporting Followers - Same as Pick N, but followers can teleport to player. May require a resource to use.


Issues the design is meant to address would be

  • Followers causing player to get stuck (especially if player needs to turn around in tight spaces)
  • Follower pathing killing CPU resources
  • Needing a specific follower in a specific place (thief needs to pick lock)
  • Followers in combat
  • Followers without ability to navigate path same as player (e.g., player has jet pack, follower doesn't)

I'm sure there's more. Thanks for any thoughts!

#5191751 Complexity of Modular defense systems in my game(Modulus)

Posted by Wavinator on 07 November 2014 - 09:48 PM

Had you been doing a turn-based game I would have suggested to go hard at it with full out distinctions between gear and heavy specialization. I'm not so sure that's appropriate for a real-time game, even with pausing.


The most critical thing during a battle seems to be knowing why things are going right or wrong. If you have lots of individual specializations I wonder if there will be difficulty accounting for why things are going wrong. Mileage may vary, though, on the pace of the battle, of course. Slow and stately capital ship battles I think can stand lots of specialization because there's more time to react when things start going south. Another big factor might be in interface tells: Does a specific effect, such as obscuring snow or interface flickers, happen when a specific component gets damaged? That might help a lot even if things are fast paced.


Sweet looking game by the way! Love the explody fx

#5191749 Archelogists examining ruins of alien races

Posted by Wavinator on 07 November 2014 - 09:38 PM

What about blending this with the idea you've talked about in other threads concerning corporations. You could have things like funding, cost overruns, reputation of companies and maybe even some idea of ethical / unethical behavior (Weyland-Yutani in Aliens) that might have cascading consequence (like smuggling a xenomorph through quarantine). Or a simpler method would be building either science ships or funding a research program. You could do both, making research more expensive but more on demand, as well.


Decisions could be generic or custom to the situation. Generic decisions might involve whether to move or hide the artifact, which could be useful if in alien territory and might have consequences (OnMoved = Destabilizes Star, OnMoved = Triggers Unseen Defender). Custom actions might be things like whether or not to wipe out natives defending the artifact, compensate them, try to use psy-ops to get them to flee the area, send anthropologists to gain cultural literacy (and thus find out what influences them).


Adding something like this would be a chance to give your 4X unique flavor. It could also be an interesting mechanic that helps alleviate boredom, especially early game. There is logically no reason why discoveries can't be made continually, even on settled worlds. 


This might take your idea farther afield that desired, but what if you had interest groups that could interact with artifacts? Billionaire collectors could give you money, terrorists could seek to use them as bombs, do-gooder treasure hunters might use them to stop an alien invasion, spies could steal them to start a war. Lots and lots of possibilities, especially if they had a wide range of effects akin to what Avalander described.

#5188348 [4X / TBS] Space Game - No ship Customization?

Posted by Wavinator on 21 October 2014 - 11:51 AM

I'm all for you differentiating your 4X from others. Although you may be torn on the issue of customization, just consider the grand-daddy of strategy games: Chess. No customization, with highly distinct role specializations for each unit. Yes, there are huge distinctions from your typical 4X (perfect information, limited movement constraints, etc), of course, but I think it's relevant to your concern about late game lack of choices. I find that lack of choice in a more strategy focused game can be EXCELLENT for master players because you know the constraints and can project your strategy much, much farther than in cases where there are too many permutations to consider. And it can be really satisfying when you master a strategic projection and follow it through its twists and turns until it finally works.


It's probably worth mentioning, though, that this will place a much greater emphasis on really strong AI or multiplayer support. I think 4X's with lots of variability, be it through unpredictable results that flow from zillions of ship options, or random events or whatever, can get away with less strategic coherence and depth. A game with less customization isn't going to have that benefit.

#5188030 Percentage Health (100%) vs. Numbered Health (100/100)? Which ones better?

Posted by Wavinator on 19 October 2014 - 02:17 PM

I'd recommend showing the x/y value but making it an options toggle for advanced players only because the less hardcore the game, the more numbers appear to be aesthetically off-putting.