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December 21, 2014, 12:06:17 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignTight gameplay
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Blink
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« on: February 04, 2013, 03:33:48 AM »

Today I was adding Bionic Commando: Rearmed to my Liked pages on Facebook, when I realized just how much the controls, levels, and general gameplay contributed to my liking of the game. It all felt very tight, and that was something missing from its 3d reboot.

In fact, I don't know that I know what makes a 3d game feel "tight", but I know most 3d games don't compare to 2d ones in this aspect. Whether it's level design, controls, or gameplay mechanics, something feels a lot looser or more sloppy in a 3d game than a 2d one, or we haven't perfected things yet with 3d games to the point where we can compare the two. I think.

Maybe not, since Mario 64 had good, strong controls, and Halo feels good with a controller. Anyways, I wanted to ask, what is tight gameplay? People talk about it a lot, and I can tell you when I feel it (Super Hexagon has tight control, fighting games usually feel pretty tight, and Super Mario World is just full of tight gameplay) but what does it really mean? Just, very well polished? Good controls? Good juice, layout, and pacing? And why is it so much easier to find in 2d games?
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2013, 03:52:43 AM »

Tight controls mean the character does exactly what you want, intuitively.  For a side-scroller, that means the character starts and stops on a dime.  Jumps are very predictable.  There is no lag between hitting a button and seeing the action take place.  You never have to guess or time your physical actions so that the respective on-screen action happens at a later time.

Many 2D games have screwed this up by doing things like having the character crouch before a jumping animation, etc. 

The original Bionic Commando was really tight, too.  At the time, I felt it was so tight that it was clunky, but now I realize that the controls were perfect.  They lacked all the 'polish' that actually just hurts the controls, to provide a little visual pleasure.
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 04:03:02 AM »

I think it has to do with an intuitive control scheme (specifically combinations, if any), fast response to the given controls, fun tamable game mechanics and an overall good gameplay filled with stuff to apply your skill, including a good learning curve.

I really like that about Spelunky (except for the learning curve Smiley ). It's pretty hard but if you die it's your mistake, and when you get a grip on the mechanics it's awesome. For instance: timing a frog jump when you enter it's response area while falling from a tall height to just land on his head to bounce and cancel falling damage. That is tight, you feel it.

3D games can have that too. I used to play Quake 3 a lot and it just felt good moving around, rocket jumping, strafe jumping, timing rockets and grendes to hit the target at mid-air...

Depends on a good game designer I guess, and a lot of thorough testing with a healthy feedback line.
Most games get rushed because of deadlines and are not properly tested or fixed.

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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 11:09:34 AM »

This falls under the bigger category of Gamefeel, which I think is a very interesting topic.

A lot of this falls under the subtle numbers at work behind movement.  Acceleration, friction, jump force (or grappling-speed in Bionic Commando), gravity, ect...  I think it's easier to tweak and polish these sort of numbers in 2D games than 3D games, because 3D games have even more variables at play.  But I bet you can still picture in your mind how it feels to control Mario in Mario 64.   What happens when you turn, what happens when you jump right when you land, what happens when you reverse direction suddenly.

There's also an element of presentation that adds to gamefeel.  Screenshake, particle effects, animations and sound effects all add to the feeling of elements in the game having weight and substance.  Game elements feeling weightless is the enemy of tight gamefeel.

Also, big thing for me in "tight" feeling games is level design.  Mario has a lot of acceleration and a fairly floaty jump, but it feels right because of the long horizontal spaces in the levels.  Megaman has almost instant acceleration, but it feels right because of how precise your positioning need to be to take out the enemies and get past the challenges.


This is my favorite exploration of different sorts of Gamefeel:  http://kotaku.com/5558166/in-praise-of-sticky-friction

It can get a little wordy and stream-of-consciousness, but it is dealing with something extremely subjective and experiential.
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2013, 11:22:21 AM »

"Tightness" is the relationship between your expectation of what should happen based on what you did (with the controls) and what does happen.

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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 08:35:59 PM »

You need to hire these guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU4WtOeQyn4
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J-Snake
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2013, 10:32:35 PM »

That topic takes like most of my devlife's dedication. I am going even further by claiming that also most of the 2D games don't have the clockwork-perfection in mechanics. I guess it is because it can demand an extremely detailed and sharp understanding at times.

It may seem surprising at first but what is considered good programming-practice often goes against clockwork-perfection. For example I am pretty sure that every modern programmer who decides to clone TrapThem (the game created under my principles) will build in certain bugs (I exactly can tell which) he will never think of because he has the illusion that his abstracted high level code is always for the better. He has lost the understanding how the mechanical logic on the paper exactly (and I mean exactly) translates in the flow of a digital machine. That is the general problem in this field. People expect the machine adapt to the man. While it eases up a lot of things true control and exact expression can only be achieved when the man adapts to the machine. And that is the way I chose to go early on. The downside is that the road can be extremely hard at times, you have to condition yourself to be harder by principle. But that is the only way how I can achieve the absolute perfection in mechanics. It is like mapping the perfect world of rules in a static board game (you  can see the rules of a real-time game on paper like that when you freeze it in time and watch tick for tick how everything can progress) to the exactly corresponding real-time flow on a digital machine. This quality demand is as hardcore as it can get but I follow it by principle. TrapThem is going to be the exact representation of it.

There is one interesting thing though that will go against your intuition in TrapThem, but there is no other way around. The regular human is used to expect a continuous flow can change ANYTIME its direction/dynamics. But TrapThem combines the discrete grid-based world and the continuous world as good as possible while keeping the perfect puzzle-nature intact. The continuous world are the smooth visuals(and a certain part of mechanics dealing with visibility-detection) you perceive. Now what goes against your expectation is that you cannot change your movement inbetween the grid. But that is a thing where you should adapt to the game, that is not a flaw of the game but a flaw in your expectations, you expect rules that fundamentally cannot work for this type of game.

Here is an example of the finished game in action. Not sure you can tell by the look but it plays as perfectly as it can get. Keep in mind youtube only displays inconsistent choppy 30 fps here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxWiIpk7CsY

« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 10:40:25 PM by J-Snake » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2013, 10:52:53 PM »

Part of the problem with 3d games, especially platformers, is down to technical limitations. Between pressing a button, there can be up to four frames until the game starts rendering that input. At 60 FPS that's 66 milliseconds, which is a huge amount of time when it comes to reactions. The core of this problem is that the game has to wait until the current frame is finished before it reads the input, then it has to process the input, then run the physics to move the character, then render the changed scene, and lastly wait until a vsync before flipping the buffers. Each of these things take time, and it's why 3d platformers feel so floaty.

There are technical applications that can be used to speed up the input->reaction time, unfortunately many of them aren't implemented even in professional level games. Most of them still use the basic input -> process -> render loop thinking it's 'good enough'.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2013, 11:32:53 PM »

Most of them still use the basic input -> process -> render loop thinking it's 'good enough'.
Those 3 parts are sufficient. It is just about how you compose them what makes the significant difference,

and very importantly what you do in the process:
Game elements feeling weightless is the enemy of tight gamefeel.
That or the opposite of it (one can argue, I go with the stance adding weight potentially increases sloppyness) is the answer right there.

Tell me of the better ways you know of in case you do.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 12:08:27 AM by J-Snake » Logged

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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2013, 11:54:20 PM »

The core of this problem is that the game has to wait until the current frame is finished before it reads the input
If the 3d platformer runs at the same fps as the 2D one, how is that a problem for the 3D-one but not for the 2D-one then?
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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

TrapThem: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=222597670
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 12:18:24 AM »

Maybe not, since Mario 64 had good, strong controls, and Halo feels good with a controller. Anyways, I wanted to ask, what is tight gameplay? People talk about it a lot, and I can tell you when I feel it (Super Hexagon has tight control, fighting games usually feel pretty tight, and Super Mario World is just full of tight gameplay) but what does it really mean? Just, very well polished? Good controls? Good juice, layout, and pacing? And why is it so much easier to find in 2d games?
Do you also consider Super Metroid tight? Because I do not. Unreal Tournament 99 is a lot better to me than all of the games you mentioned, you can express the stuff you actually want to do more directly. It is because adding excessive acceleration is one cause of sloppy handling and artificially raising the difficulty of the game. Imagine how easy mario actually is if you would just have the direct control over the jumping you need, no extra layers of acceleration your brain has to take into account. Just think about it.
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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

TrapThem: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=222597670
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 12:32:59 AM »

I think tightness is subjective based on player skill and experience, as well as the control scheme of the game itself.

Many people think controlling characters physics and moves in Fortune Summoner is difficult and not well done, but after having gotten used to it, it works just as expected.

Then there'll be people who think Super Meat Boy isn't tight because of the friction, and other platforming mechanics, but different physics in platformers is always the one thing that's most fun to perfect, and it's not hard getting used to it in this game, it just takes time and experience.

There's probably a number of other factors, but I see these ones as being the biggest ones
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J-Snake
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2013, 12:41:08 AM »

It might be fun for some, but here is how I look at it:

All you do is perfecting a primitive skill at comparingly high brain-activity expense. Your brain is better in more interesting tasks and the primitive tasks can be executed a lot better by a primitive calculator. These are the aesthetical problems I have with these things, that is why I like to keep unnecessary accelerations to a minimum, and give the player all the possible support to control as directly as possible all the stuff he actually wants to do. If the game gets easier by that then the quality of the challenge has to improve, instead of limiting the quality of controls (let me just call it that way).
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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

TrapThem: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=222597670
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2013, 05:56:45 AM »

For example I am pretty sure that every modern programmer who decides to clone TrapThem (the game created under my principles) will build in certain bugs (I exactly can tell which) he will never think of because he has the illusion that his abstracted high level code is always for the better.
Implying that someone will want to clone TrapThem.

If that is indeed final version, then you shouldn't be using music from Jagged Alliance. Also, the interface is completely inconsistent. And the graphics look still the same as year ago or so (I thought that you had an artist who should be doing some proper graphics, no?).
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 07:22:32 AM »

This is my favorite exploration of different sorts of Gamefeel:  http://kotaku.com/5558166/in-praise-of-sticky-friction

ha, this is glorious! I really like his humor; and he doesn't fail to make some really interesting remarks (despite talking about fastfood so much).
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J-Snake
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2013, 08:57:42 AM »

@Rivon

The music is just a put over to give the composer a direction, the only thing that is missing, but the game itself with the visuals is final. The graphics have changed dramatically, it is just that you seem not to make a difference for oldschool-looking games. Also what's inconsistent about the interface? May be you are not used to a game that allows you to set controls to your liking? You do operate all of the menu-screens in the same way.
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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2013, 09:40:15 AM »

There are various different styles of fonts used. The "iPad" and the think-bubble look very out of place. They just don't fit with the rest. And then, everything seems to be just slapped somewhere on the screen without much consideration which is especially visible on the Controls screen. You should visually separate the various options etc.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2013, 09:52:13 AM »

There are two types of fonts. Digitial for Smartphone and enemy-counter, and "moire-bold" for everything you see in menus. The think-bubble is part of the intro-scene, why must it have the exact same font like the menu-screens or what does it have to do with the digital font on the ipad?

Everything is placed at the exactly intended position. It is just that you can set the keyboard-controls and joypad in the same screen, but with no single interference problems, so it makes it even easier for you. You shouldn't just interpret confusion into something whenever you see more than 2 things on the screen. Also the game is entirely controlled on the keyboard (no mouse) so there is no easier way to navigate than simply by pressing buttons. It is as close as it can get. Don't see the problem with all that.

One can argue that the gameplay is pixel-art while the smartphone is not, but I think it is a nice match overall.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 10:03:25 AM by J-Snake » Logged

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Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

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« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 09:54:20 AM »

i think tight controls work better in 2d than 3d because, with 3d, it looks unrealistic to have a character instantly move the same way your controller moves, with 2d, which is inherently already unrealistic, it isn't as jarring visually to watch 'tight controls' animation; you *can* make 3d games with tight controls, but when you do, the animation doesn't look realistic. and usually games opt to make the visuals look realistic over making the controls instantaneously respond to the player
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« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2013, 10:08:50 AM »

I think that is the problem. If you look at Unreal Tournament 99  compared to gears of war, at first you might assume that the ut99 movements are made by bloody amateurs because you can change directions instantly and no realistic animation can keep up with those speeds. But when you look at it from a competitive point of view you will shape a different look for it.
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Independent game developer with an elaborate focus on interesting gameplay, rewarding depth of play and technical quality.

Super Metroid Tournament: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=38039.0

TrapThem: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=222597670
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