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Author Topic: Opinions Wanted on Metroidvania Gameplay Mechanics  (Read 451 times)
bojjenclon
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« on: August 18, 2016, 11:26:53 AM »

Hey TIGSource!

I'm a programmer currently working on developing a Metroidvania style game. I have the core idea nailed down (which I'll elaborate on in a moment), but I have some questions on how I should implement specific game mechanics and was hoping you guys could help me out! Any/all feedback on any of the areas I'm going to list below is greatly appreciated, and all of it will be taken into account as I work on finalizing my GDD (Game Design Document).



Core Concept

My (yet untitled) game is an Eldritch/Lovecraftian themed Metroidvania heavily inspired by games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Valdis Story: Abyssal City. The core mechanic that I hope to use to separate my game from others is using Sanity as a resource. Instead of a typical magic system with mana and spells, the player will essentially be "loaned" powers from the elder/outer gods. These abilities can be used to great affect, but have a hefty toll on the mental state of the player. As the player uses these powers, their Sanity will deplete. As their Sanity depletes, the world around them will change. These changes can occur in various ways: making existing enemies stronger, completely changing enemies in an area, distorting the game world, and even opening paths to areas that would be inaccessible to a sane person. This makes managing one's Sanity important for staying alive, but also incentivizes intentionally driving oneself insane in some areas to acquire secrets. It may also open the door for fun alternate playthroughs such as Low-Sanity runs or Max-Insanity runs.

The player starts out as little more than a simple human, but by the end of the game is a powerful combatant wielding the powers of the Lovecraftian gods.



Combat

As I see it, I have two main options for combat:

Option 1

Combat inspired by SotN. In this system, combat itself will be fairly simple. It will mostly involve blocking, swinging a weapon, and moving around. Where it gets interesting is the weapon itself. This system would allow for gear to be acquired throughout the game, both as random drops from enemies and as items acquired through story progression. Weapons will have different properties such as swing speed, cooldown between swings, hit box sizes, etc. In addition, weapons may have additional effects such as elemental bonuses or other such spell effects. This adds a layer of complexity to the combat and requires the player to do more than just equip the "strongest" weapon in their inventory.

Option 2

Combat inspired by Valdis Story. In this system, combat is fast paced and based on the player's ability to string together their moves in a fluid and harmonious manner. Evading, guarding, chaining combos, and weaving in spells will all be necessary to stand up to the game's toughest foes. Rather than having a copious amount of random equipment, the player will have access to a small set of items that they slowly unlock throughout the game (likely having weapons obtained through side quests). These weapons will be upgradeable, adding new effects and combos.

My Opinion

I'm currently leaning toward option 1. I definitely think option 2 feels better, but I feel the first option fits the overall theme of my game better. However, I would ultimately have little trouble making system 2 work within the setting I'm crafting, so it's not a big deal either way.



Player Progression

By "player progression," I mean how does the player get stronger? I aim to have experience points and level ups with a stat system at a bare minimum. The real question is how complex should this stat system be, and what about skills?

Option 1

Basic stats and leveling system. I'm talking little more than attack, defense, mental, and luck. Levels will simply increase these on a pre-determined curve. This creates a very linear feeling of "getting stronger," but also simplifies the game play and could work well with option 1 from the combat choices above.

Option 2

Choose a stat to increase and gain a skill tree point on level up. Skill trees will allow for various upgrades, such as improved weapon effectiveness, improved defenses, elemental affinities, and better use of Sanity powers at the cost of other abilities. This system is clearly very similar to Valdis Story's, but I happen to love their system and think it works wonder for player freedom and replayability of the game.

My Opinion

I think realistically a mix of the two options could work well. Stats could go up automatically, but the player could skill have upgradeable skills of some kind to choose between levels.



Other Considerations

Art

I'm no artist. The prototype I'm currently building uses ripped assets from other games as placeholders (Scott Pilgrim vs The World had some gorgeous pixel art). I also don't happen to know many artists personally, at least not any who could do an entire game worth of pixel art. I have no problem using placeholder/"programmer" art during development, but eventually I will have to hire an artist. All of the above options have various art constraints. Having never hired an artist before, I have no idea which set of options would be the most feasible for an artist or what an expected cost would be, but as of right now, I'm not super concerned with this. I figure I'll worry about it when I get there (and perhaps I could try Kickstarter once I have a working prototype to demo).

Player Choice

I'm still tweaking the story and trying to decide if it should be linear or have two branching paths. Believe it or not, deciding on the above options will actually help with this decision as well. Namely, branching paths are much more feasible with a Valdis Story style implementation, but I'm much more likely to keep things linear with a SotN inspired implementation.



Final Words

I know this was a lot to read, and I thank any of you who took the time to read it all. Like I said, I'm open to all feedback. Even if you have a question/comment pertaining to something I didn't list here, feel free to drop it down below. Thanks in advance!
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rj
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 12:52:31 PM »

if combat option two feels better than go with combat option two. feel is the biggest most important thing in games, imho.
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bojjenclon
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2016, 12:58:28 PM »

if combat option two feels better than go with combat option two. feel is the biggest most important thing in games, imho.

Well the big thing here is that it feels better to me, but obviously not everyone is going to agree with that. In fact one of the biggest complaints Valdis Story had in its Steam reviews was that the game's combat was too difficult. Now, that's more of a balancing problem (and one I could hopefully fix should I implement this style of combat), but I do think it's worth mentioning since it would mean I would also have to consider such problems.

That being said, I was hoping there'd be people familiar with the combat systems of both games (or games like them) that could chime in with their opinions. If not, I could always post videos or try to explain them in text, since I think knowledge of the referenced games helps with this sort of decision.
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rj
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2016, 02:27:20 PM »

if it feels better to you then go with that. you should make games for yourself first, otherwise your games will be bad. never forget this One Cool Rule

that sounds like nonsense but it isn't; if you like/dislike how a thing feels and plays it gives you immediate feedback as to how to improve it. obviously you'll need outside opinions too (don't bubble yourself) but your own opinions are the most important when you're making something, because if you try to make something for other people and end up liking it less there's basically almost no chance someone else will like it too. you can't be all things to all people but you CAN be all things to yourself and if you have a specific voice that comes through someone somewhere will respond positively to that.

if you hear during playtesting that the game is super difficult then balance it. but go with what feels best.
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bojjenclon
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2016, 02:36:27 PM »

if it feels better to you then go with that. you should make games for yourself first, otherwise your games will be bad. never forget this One Cool Rule

that sounds like nonsense but it isn't; if you like/dislike how a thing feels and plays it gives you immediate feedback as to how to improve it. obviously you'll need outside opinions too (don't bubble yourself) but your own opinions are the most important when you're making something, because if you try to make something for other people and end up liking it less there's basically almost no chance someone else will like it too. you can't be all things to all people but you CAN be all things to yourself and if you have a specific voice that comes through someone somewhere will respond positively to that.

if you hear during playtesting that the game is super difficult then balance it. but go with what feels best.

That's some really good advice. I want to experiment with both options a bit before I settle on one permanently, but I'll definitely keep that in mind as I move toward a final decision. Thanks for the input, I really appreciate it! ^_^
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