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November 26, 2014, 10:29:45 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignLoneliness in a 2d platformer?
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Author Topic: Loneliness in a 2d platformer?  (Read 2066 times)
locknic
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« on: February 04, 2013, 04:28:00 PM »

I am currently making a short 2d platformer for practice, and I want to experiment with creating a theme of loneliness throughout. What are some ways of doing this? Here are some of my ideas so far...

Mechanics:
  • Simple controls to not distract the player. Left/right, jump and interact.
  • Slower paced gameplay?
  • I'm having trouble deciding between save points, frequent checkpoints, or falling back to a point you have to climb up from.
  • All environmental hazards? (No living enemies?)

Atmosphere:
  • Ambient music
  • Most sounds come from player
  • Darker colours?
  • Silent protagonist? Or a few words here and there as he won't have anyone to talk to anyway.

Any feedback or new ideas would be greatly appreciated! (Also I am new to the forum so if this post is out of place or anything, do let me know. :D)
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Pineapple
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2013, 04:38:42 PM »

I came up with a game idea that I've yet to fully implement. The first two portions of the game were meant to culminate in the final act, which would leave the game world feeling desolate and (ideally) the player feeling shame. Maybe those ideas can help?

http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=12520.msg377273#msg377273
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locknic
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Dominic Mortlock


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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 04:58:32 PM »

I came up with a game idea that I've yet to fully implement. The first two portions of the game were meant to culminate in the final act, which would leave the game world feeling desolate and (ideally) the player feeling shame. Maybe those ideas can help?

http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=12520.msg377273#msg377273

Thanks for your reply. It definitely sounds like a very cool but difficult to implement idea for a game. I look forward to seeing it come together. At the moment I am looking for specific ideas and details on how to make the player feel lonely as they progress through the game.
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Alchiggins
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 05:37:10 PM »

You don't necessarily have to have no other living things besides the player to produce loneliness - as long as there are no other humans, or even no other humans that the player can relate to. Being the lone survivor in a horde of zombies, or a lone human in the wilderness, or the only sane person in an insane world, can be pretty lonely.

Additionally, the loneliness might be more exaggerated if the player begins the game with, or has occasional moments of, connection. A contrast between connection and loneliness would probably make the sense of loneliness stronger.
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BLAMBO
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2013, 05:54:25 PM »

This is like, the most Limbo thing I've ever heard of.

Limbo used platform puzzles so that the player's primary actions are stopping, thinking, and trying new things while attempting to preserve his life. It felt lonely because you weren't defeating enemies or performing quests, you were using your brain to solve a problem without anyone's help, alone in an unfamiliar setting for an unfamiliar purpose. It also slowed the gameplay down to a crawl. Even with the frequent checkpoints, you felt endangered and nervous because oftentimes the puzzles and hazards were creative and unexpected, sometimes very difficult to figure out and overcome.

Along with the presentation aspect of thematic weight, such as aesthetics or sound, Limbo used the actual gameplay to convey the sense of loneliness. I feel like any game that challenges the player without giving it instruction  feels lonely, which is why puzzles are very good for this kind of feeling.

Braid felt lonely because everything was vague and unanswered, and the monsters and environment devolved into abstract mechanics with little personality beyond their function. Portal felt lonely because of the lack of tutorialization and frequent solitary frustration. These games show that even games without the Limbo-esque aesthetic design can convey a sense of loneliness through their design.

Overall, I feel like if you have this core mechanic in the game, you can do whatever you want with the aesthetics or minor design choices (within certain bounds, and satisfying the basic responses that you aim to achieve) and there still will be a certain tone that permeates the whole game. The tricky part is balancing everything.

I'm not sure about how loneliness can be achieved with any other mechanic other than this. I'm interested in seeing examples of non-puzzle games that achieve this.

I dunno if this contributes to the discussion, but it's just my two cents.
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MapiMopi
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 07:33:00 PM »

Knytt was pretty lonely, even though there was some npcs. If you can't interact with them (like a ghost) or all they can say is something that makes no sense and player won't understand it, that contribute to lonely feel.
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vinheim3
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 12:28:31 AM »

Nifflas' games have atmospheres, worlds and even characters that left you feeling lonely. You could look there for inspiration
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koiwai
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 12:40:50 AM »

1. A game, where you are doing something difficult and important, while you are not alone in the screen, there are many people around you in the background, but nobody cares about you and your task...

2. To make things worse, make those other people talk to each other an have fun.. Then, make them lough at you.

3. To make it even worse, put several cut scenes with a person whom you loved and lost.


Oh, it would be an awful game, though
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 10:08:28 AM »

i'd suggest that if you want to portray loneliness you'd need to contrast it with *not* being alone -- e.g. have the player play with a secondary helper character for the first part of the game, and then have that character get killed or leave or something so that the player is now alone for the second part
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JasonPickering
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 12:09:02 PM »

I agree with paul, you need to do something to remind the player they are alone. That can be taking away their only means of companionship, or you could constantly remind them they are alone. A player walking down a destroyed city street, that at one time would ahve been packed, can give that feeling of lonliness, because the player will connect stuff like that with people.
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rosholger
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 02:47:53 PM »

Super metroid is very good at portraying loneliness and some things to learn from it are that you should minimize the amount of help you give the player, you wont feel lonely if there are mission control or similar things.
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Wilson Saunders
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 02:59:35 PM »

Ludum Dare 22's theme was Alone. You can check out the top entrants for ideas on how they implemented this idea:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/
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RinkuHero
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 12:05:22 AM »

more thoughts for things that might work here:

- flashbacks of not being alone which take place before the game started, contrasting the current situation with that situation

- dreams / fantasies / hallucinations of not being alone, of being with friends and family, of being at social events, of getting married and having children, only to 'wake up' and have the it all vanish and then the player realizes they're alone

- perhaps the player can visit the graves of their dead previous family/friends (perhaps related to the above, the player has the flashbacks while at the graves)
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locknic
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Dominic Mortlock


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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2013, 07:06:38 AM »

Given me quite a bit to think about guys, thanks for the input. I am considering having some npcs, but the moment you interact with them they disappear into mist or something. The only thing I am worried about is how I make it clear that they are figments of the character's imagination and not actual ghosts (though perhaps it still evokes similar emotions either way?).

God damn, while playing some of the Ludum Dare 22 games, I came across Enola. Thanks. I didn't wanna sleep this week anyway.

I am currently learning how utilize Slick2d (though it lacks in good tutorials), so this week I am going to spend just working with the library and seeing what benefits it gives me. I think I may try to do this small game between next monday and friday, so if I do end up doing that, I will document my progress and let you guys know. Thanks for all the help, keep it coming if you get any new ideas!
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baconman
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2013, 11:08:39 AM »

I'd say focus a lot on the environment/backgrounds. If you want to "feel alone," nothing will cause that effect more than having it feel like you're swallowed by a living environment, rather than being surrounded in critters or objects/obstacles. Not saying you can't have plenty of them, but it's the comparative amount of attention you're drawing from the player.

Avoid dialogue/guidance. Even a tutorial. Give the occasional, visual clue where you need to draw attention to something, but leave the player to figure stuff out for themselves as much as possible. They should be the only thing they can truly rely on. Don't even bother with currency either, outside of maybe a scoring mechanic.

Also, play Aquaria. The first half of that game hits it perfectly.
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Panurge
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2013, 11:13:39 AM »

From a visual point of view, sparse and simplistic levels might do the trick, with large areas of empty space. A small character sprite would enhance the effect.
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locknic
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« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2013, 11:25:05 AM »

Also, play Aquaria. The first half of that game hits it perfectly.

I have this lying in my steam library along with a hundred other games I haven't played. I've installed it, and will give it a go right now.
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theSchap
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2013, 12:15:02 PM »

I find just about any established MMO lonely. Players are off doing other things in higher zones. You hear about cool stuff that you won't see until you grind yourself there all alone. NPCs often have a disconnected and uninspired need. Making their reaction to completed said need would create an even stronger feeling.

In this example it seems hard to ride the line between loneliness and boredom. Might be something to look out for.
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koiwai
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2013, 01:13:35 PM »

I find just about any established MMO lonely. Players are off doing other things in higher zones. You hear about cool stuff that you won't see until you grind yourself there all alone. NPCs often have a disconnected and uninspired need. Making their reaction to completed said need would create an even stronger feeling.

I this example it seems hard to ride the line between loneliness and boredom. Might be something to look out for.

This is a nice thought.. I felt kinda the same, when I tried to play MMOs. Maybe, this is similar to the Uncanny valley effect. People and NPCs look and move quite like normal people, but you don't interact with them notmally - you don't interact with them at all, basically. You feel disconnected.
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rivon
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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2013, 02:15:01 PM »

That's why you have to play MMOs right from the start when there are lots of players everywhere Wink
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