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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignPrometheus's Game Design Preferences
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2007, 05:38:32 PM »

Aaah, never really thought about it in general terms. I tend to think of specific things I'd like to see in a game. That said, I happily argue the toss over these sorta' issues in the office most days. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2007, 05:57:20 PM »

yeah.

I'm tired of doing shmups.
I'm tired of reading craps written by Steve Pavlina
I'm tired of see'ing Kenta cho's wannabe


ohh god.
I need inspiration, and some mastrubation...

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Jag ask him about the current state of the art of the game industry if you want a dose of that

So how is the current state of the art of the game industry??
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« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2007, 07:35:16 PM »

These are all great points and non-linearity makes it fun to replay.

I kind of like linearity though, because I get frustrated having gone left for ten minutes only to see I had to go right first to continue left. That would be one of those restricted freeroamers then. I'm just an angry man. Sad

That's why I love Metroid Fusion most of all Metroid games. I'm sure people will think I'm crazy, but it has all I love. Lots of bosses and no confusion about it. Smiley

I play and make games solely for bossies.
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« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2007, 03:04:44 AM »

I kind of like linearity though, because I get frustrated having gone left for ten minutes only to see I had to go right first to continue left. That would be one of those restricted freeroamers then. I'm just an angry man. Sad

I 100% agree, I think it's a design failing when a game does that, though. If somewhere is a cul-de-sac until you have done "THING 1" then it should be clear from the off. Although obviously in Prom's ideal world there would be no cul-de-sacs, merely bits which were harder because you don't have the ideal equipment for them.

Personally, to patch that problem I'd either make it terribly clear with signs (clunky, I know, but I don't care) or I'd have a teleport before the bit you couldn't get past so that it wasn't a wasted trip as you'd be able to skip it when you returned to it (clunkier, I know). Hopefully if I was designing from scratch I'd simply circumvent the problem by having the unpassable obstruction at the start of the offshoot, or doing as Prom'd like and not making it impassable, but there's a danger that could lead to a very flat game design as you strove not to enhance the player's abilities too much throughout the game because it'd make some bits stupidly easy and render them inconsequential.

It's a very interesting design point to ponder.

That's why I love Metroid Fusion most of all Metroid games. I'm sure people will think I'm crazy, but it has all I love. Lots of bosses and no confusion about it. Smiley

I can't believe you cited Fusion in particular! Bah! BAAAAH! Wink

Fusion had some great bits but while it was always obvious where you had to go, I hated that it felt the need to shepard you there by blocking off almost everywhere you *didn't* need to go. Also, I don't like how they set it on a space-station because it completely robbed the game of any sense of wonderment and mystery, which is partially what drove me forward in Super Metroid & Zero Mission.

I play and make games solely for bossies.

You're a bad, bad man. Wink

I like a well-designed boss - and Noitu love had a number of those, as I'm sure I told you the Ghost musician boss is amongst my favourite ever in terms of sheer humour - but I don't like games with a fetishistic love of them like some of Treasure's stuff. I like the mechanics of gameplay to evolve slowly in a game, rather than being a series of set-pieces each of which has a different and simple mechanic which you don't then employ ever again.
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« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2007, 03:59:57 AM »

Thanks for the feedback, I'm never quite sure if I'm alone in my grumpyness!

I guess what a game does is to restrict the player to a specific scenario (a "what-if you played by these rules"). The art is to make the scenario fun and worthy of immersion, and of course taste matters greatly here. I think sometimes game devs are so busy having all the fun coming up with the restrictions fo the scenario (like RPG character classes) that they forget to let the player have a little fun and do the same.


Re. Diablo II
I think random generated content is both good and bad. Some might feel like it's pointless if stuff is 'just random', and it is harder to control flow, balance and story-chara development in a randomized environment. I think random seeds are good, because then people can compare approaches to specific scenarios while still having the replay value.

I suspect Diablo II is also popular because of the item collectability (finding a really good random generated weapon or armour piece) and clicking those level up plus buttons is always satisfying. If I ever make an RPG I'll have to include those two features. Diablo II also nice because you have a limited amount of clicks for that magic/skill tree thing, there's no way to max out everything and become über (no Ultimate-state). This increases replay values aswell, as you can always start a new character to explore another part of the tree.


moi
The Middle pic with the color lines is meant to show the map nodes in order of accessibility, green(easy) first, then yellow then red(hard). And yeah, I quite dislike having to scavenge entire maps, I guess it falls under the "To-Do list" point I made. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when playing, I'm so busy optimizing my path that I can't enjoy the game.


konjak
That grief arises from the fact that you have to go somewhere at all. Like DrDerek said, in my ideal game Route A would be as good as Route B. There would be no "sequence breaking" or "back tracking" because there would be nothing to break and no strict goals.


I forgot Paradroid 90 on the Amiga fav list. I think Paradroid 64 had
some qualities aswell, but I found it too claustrophobic (tight viewport).

Metroid 1 had rather poor boss gameplay :/ Metroid Zero Mission offended me... greatly. Zelda TP too, enough to draw an illustration of my rage.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 04:05:46 AM by Arne » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2007, 04:44:58 AM »

After having watch the Angry Nintendo nerd vids, I decided to make a write up of the worst NES game that could be. I'm thinking it could be a useful checklist of what to avoid.


General concept
A sidescroller-platform game where the player can explore, talk to various characters, find items that will advance his journey. Doesn't sound bad does it? I'm thinking something like Xexyz.

Visual design
Based on a franchise or raping your childhood, possibly by being a bad sequel.
Inconsistant design theme, fails to follow up on anything.
The background is too noisy with too much contrast, making sprites hard to see.
Sprites are recycled with different palettes.
You can't tell what some key items are supposed to be, and their names are confusing.
Sprites may flicker at key moments.
Uses the standard Windows 16 color palette.
Extensive dithering.

Sound
Monotous music with annoying clicks, chirps and tinnitus sounds.
If the character is damaged, there's an obnoxious beeping out of synch with the music.

View
Claustrophobic cropped viewport with unecessary ugly border displaying non-information.
Jerky 8 pixel increment scrolling. (Ghosts'n Goblins)

Overall gameflow
Although advertised as an exploration game, it's actually linear with lots of back-tracking.
Dead ends.
There's no logic in how to proceed, what items to use and when. (Simon's Quest)
Lots of "mystery meat" (items you don't know what they are until you try them out).
Some items simply have no use, although their image and name advertises great potential.
Bosses are too hard or pushovers via cheap exploits.
Anti-climax ending, "Game over! Your quest begins anew". (Ghosts'n Goblins)

Level design
A harch time limit stressing the player. (Ghosts'n Goblins)
Difficult jumps on moving platforms that you need to walk to keep up with.
Diffucult precision jumps on small platforms.
Random invisible holes in the ground.
If you fall down you either die or have to run all the way back up again.
Screens (level sections) are frequently re-used, confusing the player's sense of position.
There's a huge desert level with no landmarks.

Character
Has few animation frames out of synch with the movement speed.
Slides like on ice.
Jumps with a linear vector up and down.
Can't steer in the air. (Castlevania)
Can't take much damage. (Ghosts'n Goblins)
Is a rather big target. (Wario)
Can permanently level down and lose items, or be forced to use lesser weapons. (Kid Icarus Thiefs)
Needs to grind to make up for lost stuff.
Is overall hard to control and at times unresponsive and can get stuck on edges.

NPCs & Story
The dialog text is written out slow and can't be skipped. (Simon's Quest)
Vital information can be skipped and lost by pushing any button. (Simon's Quest)
Irrelevant gossip.
Typos or misuse of words.

Enemies
Have an unfair advantage by how they move and fire.
Respawns as soon as the screen scrolls back to their respawn point.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 04:47:38 AM by Arne » Logged
DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #26 on: February 17, 2007, 04:47:45 AM »

Thanks for the feedback, I'm never quite sure if I'm alone in my grumpyness!

I guess what a game does is to restrict the player to a specific scenario (a "what-if you played by these rules"). The art is to make the scenario fun and worthy of immersion, and of course taste matters greatly here. I think sometimes game devs are so busy having all the fun coming up with the restrictions fo the scenario (like RPG character classes) that they forget to let the player have a little fun and do the same.

Yeah, the trend towards ridiculous amounts of compartmentalising of skills is something which I loathe. "Want to use a sword at all? You'll need to research swords and then spend 5xp on the skill. Oh, wait, you wanted to use a rapier? Well sure, they're *like* swords, but that'll be another 5xp please, bitch."

Re. Diablo II
I think random generated content is both good and bad. Some might feel like it's pointless if stuff is 'just random', and it is harder to control flow, balance and story-chara development in a randomized environment. I think random seeds are good, because then people can compare approaches to specific scenarios while still having the replay value.

I suspect Diablo II is also popular because of the item collectability (finding a really good random generated weapon or armour piece) and clicking those level up plus buttons is always satisfying. If I ever make an RPG I'll have to include those two features. Diablo II also nice because you have a limited amount of clicks for that magic/skill tree thing, there's no way to max out everything and become über (no Ultimate-state). This increases replay values aswell, as you can always start a new character to explore another part of the tree.

I'm not so sold on Diablo. Random level building generally means "lots of stuff which isn't as good as hand-built stuff". Something very evident when you compare Divine Divinity to its sequel. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and I loved X-Com with its random maps but then they weren't really built for exploration.

moi
The Middle pic with the color lines is meant to show the map nodes in order of accessibility, green(easy) first, then yellow then red(hard). And yeah, I quite dislike having to scavenge entire maps, I guess it falls under the "To-Do list" point I made. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when playing, I'm so busy optimizing my path that I can't enjoy the game.

I suppose in some ways game design peaked for you with much of Steve Crow's stuff on the Spectrum, then. Wink I think I'd class map-'em-'ups as just about my favourite type of game, but then that's because I do like the "ultimate state" school of game design. In Castlevania I play until I have every object and have uncovered 100% of the map in a single playthrough.

I suppose one answer to stopping linear progression in explorey games but still allowing plenty of evolution in the core gameplay throughout it is not to give out 1 jetpack, 1 magic key and 1 pair of boots-of-jumping but rather to have LOADS of finite-use resources which accomplish the same effect. Hmm...

I forgot Paradroid 90 on the Amiga fav list. I think Paradroid 64 had
some qualities aswell, but I found it too claustrophobic (tight viewport).

Ooh yes, Paradroid 90 is lovely. Pity that its only vertically scrolling so there's no real exploration in it, but it was one of my fave games on the ST.

Metroid 1 had rather poor boss gameplay :/ Metroid Zero Mission offended me... greatly. Zelda TP too, enough to draw an illustration of my rage.

Haha, that's one of the things I hate in games, those kind of utterly artificial barriers like a fence with a gate in it where you need a key or that particular rock which you can use to climb over it as opposed to all those other rocks strewn around the landscape.

And those chained-shopping-list bits... BRRR!
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« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2007, 05:06:19 AM »

Yeah, randomized stuff tend to be lower quality, but not always. I recently generated a galaxy map, and I found that the random function still generated loads of interesting little nostellations that looked like hand drawn patterns. But maybe that's an exception. Random generated content is generally rather weak, but atleast it doesn't have plans for me.

I don't like how Map-em ups turns into To-Do lists, and thus... mechanical labor in a way. When games start throwing labor at me I tire. Pokémon did it by having random generated monster stats, which meant I have to catch a zillion of them, write down all their values and keep the ones with the highest stats. Bladur's Gate did it with the character creation. I think I spent an hour rolling a near perfect character, then I cloned 5 copies of it...
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« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2007, 06:30:06 AM »

Quote
Enemies
Have an unfair advantage by how they move and fire.
Respawns as soon as the screen scrolls back to their respawn point.

In the megaman series I see this as a advantage.
since I just do it for the power up they drop.

Quote
NPCs & Story
The dialog text is written out slow and can't be skipped. (Simon's Quest)
Vital information can be skipped and lost by pushing any button. (Simon's Quest)
Irrelevant gossip.
Typos or misuse of words.
Zelda II (The black sheep) of the nes?
and also the reason why we have sequels
Castlevania: Circle of the moon and the others

Quote
Character
Slides like on ice.
Robocop II...  remember that crap





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« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2007, 11:22:44 AM »

I like bosses because they feel like the goals in most games, and they put your skills to the test.

But I don't like Treasure games much, and I don't think a boss should be around every corner because it defeats the thrill of them. Other people I've talked to have said "so just make a game with just bosses", but that's really the wrong idea. But the levels were too damn long in Noitu.

Also, I liked Fusion for other reasons too! I thought the concept was intriguing and I love evil clones!  :D
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« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2007, 11:27:52 AM »

I'd like to think that I have a similar design preference to Prometheus, but I think I'd explain it in an entirely different way. Great games have two parts: systems and content.

Yesterday in one of my classes we were introduced to a hierarchy of sciences. Physics encompasses chemistry; chemistry encompasses biology; and so and so forth down the line with psychology, sociology, and economics. The scalability of this reminded me of the powers of 10 video that Will Wright said inspired Spore. I'm sure this hierarchy is old hat by now, but it encompasses a valuable part of game design. There should be layers of game sciences within a game, but each layer is an endeavor to itself.

For instance, look at a game like Starcraft. It is a very macro oriented game. Developing strategy is key to learning and enjoying it. But look on Youtube for an SCV Rush and you see someone skilled enough to micro out the tactics game. The micro elements are actually what compose the macro elements, it's just that we can see and are more accustomed to see the game unfold at the bigger level. There are levels of the game whose rules are easily explained and can be reduced to another level. The depth and complexity doesn't come from strange equations, it comes from moving about through layers of gameplay.

The other half of the equation is the content. I set myself up with Starcraft so I can compare and contrast it to Warcraft. Initially SC was a facelift on top of WCII. But Blizzard knew better. They had a different vision for SC. A half decade later they had another vision for WCIII. Initially WCIII was supposed to be about heroes parading through a world, leveling up, gaining items. It was to be an hero oriented Action RPG RTS hybrid (I'm thinking Baldur's Gate, but I'm not exactly sure about that), but that never panned out. It didn't work out.

What happened was a 3D version of Starcraft with less units, more micro, and very different pacing. Some people thought this was an atrocity. At first I agreed, but looking back I see that the vision for WCIII was indeed very different than SC. The shift of focus onto specific powerful heroes changed the feel of the game. No longer am I commanding troops in space, but now I'm running scared of the Arch Mage/Mountain King combo.

Ok, that is enough rambling. Also, first post Smiley
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DrDerekDoctors
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« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2007, 12:13:26 PM »

Yeah, randomized stuff tend to be lower quality, but not always. I recently generated a galaxy map, and I found that the random function still generated loads of interesting little nostellations that looked like hand drawn patterns. But maybe that's an exception. Random generated content is generally rather weak, but atleast it doesn't have plans for me.

Yuss, although in that case the position of the stars doesn't really affect gameplay. It's not like you'd use the relative locations of them to influence your decisions in a space-fairing game beyond the basic "I need to find somewhere within 6 light years".

I don't like how Map-em ups turns into To-Do lists, and thus... mechanical labor in a way. When games start throwing labor at me I tire. Pokémon did it by having random generated monster stats, which meant I have to catch a zillion of them, write down all their values and keep the ones with the highest stats. Bladur's Gate did it with the character creation. I think I spent an hour rolling a near perfect character, then I cloned 5 copies of it...

Oh yeah, I agree that you shouldn't have to slave for ages to get something only for it to be a crappy example of it. But equally I strangely enjoy item-grinding in Castlevania, murdering hundreds of a particular enemy to get a single item. But equally I can see how that would be a vile thing to force on someone.

I like bosses because they feel like the goals in most games, and they put your skills to the test.

Yeah, I think they make excellent punctuation in games, but I don't like how you often have to learn something new just to beat that boss and then never use the skill again. Equally I hate bosses who just spam bullets at you. Basically, I'm a fussy sod. Wink

But I don't like Treasure games much, and I don't think a boss should be around every corner because it defeats the thrill of them. Other people I've talked to have said "so just make a game with just bosses", but that's really the wrong idea. But the levels were too damn long in Noitu.

I agree a couple of levels were a bit big (the interior of that church went on and on and on) but the number of bosses seemed right in it. I generally really enjoyed it, although craved a bit more variety in the combat.

Also, I liked Fusion for other reasons too! I thought the concept was intriguing and I love evil clones!  :D

Yuss, evil clones are good and while the concept of an artificial environment on a spacestation has a lot of mileage it was just that it was in a Metroid game and robbed it of something I expected in a Metroid game. Again, me being a fussy sod. Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2007, 12:28:38 PM »

The game's engine was made for a short puzzle-like game but then I made the first level and everything went haywire. Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2007, 06:25:31 PM »

I feel like I'm too late to this thread to properly comment, but I love a design sing-song.

I used to write really long wank hat articles on antifactory.org. Maybe they can still be found on waybackmachine or whatever it's called. I hope not. I feel a bit embarassed about them now. How arrogant do you have to be to call your article "The Anatomy of Games", like you're some kinda genius professor?

I unno. Some people liked them. Look for "The Complexity of Emergence", and "The Fiar Play Resource" as well, if you want to laugh in my face proper good.

"The Complexity of Emergence" or T'CoE (as the kids call it) was about how emergence shouldn't be treated like voodoo. I guess I wrote it because I was annoyed at developers talking in wide eye, hushed tones about interesting stuff that happened in their games which they didn't expect, but probably ought to have, since, y'know, it's their job. I felt that although emergence is implicitly unpredictable (you can't integrate emergence... the system has to be iterated through to come to a possible outcome), there are lots of methods you can use to help accurately internalize a possibility space in your mind, and help you foresee useful and abhorrent emergent strategies/possibilities. I think it also talked about how you could "class" an emergent strategy based on how many verbs it required to exist... so, rocket jumping is at an emergent level of 6: You require general collision, gravity, jumping, aiming, shooting rockets, and splash impulse. Obviously, not actually very useful, OR scientific, but a youthful stab at some sort of objectivism in design.

I feel like typically, the people who seem to know the most are rarely the loudest. The more you learn, the more you realize how stamp black-and-white theories into the sand doesn't really help all that much (but it's good brain training, so long as you don't get stuck in any one pattern). Everything's connected. There are no absolutes. Every perspective simultaneously does and doesn't matter.
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2007, 10:48:00 PM »

Heh, I never found those Game-Anatomy articles/books particulary insightful. Will Wright usually has interesting things to say though, but I might just be saying that since I already agree with him on most things so I just sit there grinning and nodding. There's a few talks of his on game design floating around the web. I found a streamed one (.asx) here but I think there are many more.
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« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2007, 05:57:44 AM »

Heh, I never found those Game-Anatomy articles/books particulary insightful. Will Wright usually has interesting things to say though, but I might just be saying that since I already agree with him on most things so I just sit there grinning and nodding. There's a few talks of his on game design floating around the web. I found a streamed one (.asx) here but I think there are many more.

I'm the same way. Sometimes I feel like my tinfoil hat is busted, but it's got a lifetime guarantee, so I guess it's just that we're coming to the same conclusions. It happens with lots of other people, too. I remember Warren Spector wrote an article for The Escapist which had a title almost identical to one a cohort wrote on antifactory.org... something about "Fun is gaming's 'f' word"... the idea that leaning heavily on the importance of games being "fun" is sort of an evasion of deeper issues. As my friend put it "Saying that all game should be 'fun' is like saying all cuisine should be 'tasty'". It actually says very little.
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« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2007, 09:07:54 AM »

Oh yeah, I agree that you shouldn't have to slave for ages to get something only for it to be a crappy example of it. But equally I strangely enjoy item-grinding in Castlevania, murdering hundreds of a particular enemy to get a single item. But equally I can see how that would be a vile thing to force on someone.

Well, I can enjoy that too, but only if it feels like I'm getting ahead where I'm supposed to be (rather than catching up with demands put on me).
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« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2007, 01:00:12 PM »

Nice read!

About exploration, in MetroidRL I experimented with a randomly generated "metroidean" worlds where you had to find randomly positioned suit upgrades to overcome barriers and advance.

It is still unpolished as barriers are obvious and it becomes a kind of backtracking exersize. (small hole in the floor, you cant continue, look for the morph ball, found morph ball, go back to the hole, pass the hole, fight a bit, unpassable barrier, find the power bomb, go back to the barrier, blast it, etc.) but it worked well and the fact that it was different for each game made it a bit interesting. May be I should get back to it Tongue also, I'm open to any comments on this.

And yes, this man drawings are awesome, and MetroidRL hasnt got a gfx interface yet (contrary to Drash and Cv), maybe he would be interested Tongue (It is a small job after all :D)
« Last Edit: February 21, 2007, 02:01:56 PM by Slashie » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2007, 01:55:34 PM »

Yay! A WINNAR IS ME Tongue

Overly cool website! Wink

PS: Small panties rulessesss...
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« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2007, 02:54:09 PM »

That's actually a really good idea, though I wonder how you position the suit upgrades so they're challenging to get at.
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