Conflicting Goals to Encourage Depth

>Conflicting goals are frequently helpful for encouraging depth, by giving players the challenge of prioritizing goals situationally.
Now this is interesting. Examples of this?

Okay, my favorite example of this is Touhou. Touhou has a few different systems that create conflicting goals. First is pickups. Pickups require you to move over to them to pick them up, instead of sitting where it’s safe and shooting. Next, you can pick up all the pickups onscreen at once if you move to the top of the screen, which is where enemies come from, which is really dangerous. Next, there’s the graze system, which gives you a score multiplier for grazing projectiles, which means getting close to them, or getting close to the place where they spawn, so you can graze a lot all at once. These give you conflicting goals between gaining score/getting more powerful, and staying alive. So they might make it easier to win, but the process of trying to attain them also makes it easier to lose. Continue reading

Is Innovation Necessary?

Is innovation neccessary in game design? does a game or sequal need to do something new in order to be good? or making a game that is well thought out and well designed is imprtant?

I stand by the statement, “A clone of a good game is still a good game.” Innovation is nice, it’s good for games categorically, but I don’t think any individual game needs to innovate in order to be good, and I don’t think innovation makes a game good by default.

Innovation helps games improve on their forebears and create new possibility spaces, but by default it does not make those possibility spaces deep.

I said this with regards to all the first person melee combat games recently, they’re not great yet, but they show that something is possible with first person melee combat that hasn’t been developed yet. This future development of really good FPS melee might just be a matter of putting together existing pieces correctly, or some future work of innovation, but what exists right now is pretty neat, but not amazing. Continue reading

What’s Jank?

Care to do a writeup on what makes certain enemy encounters janky? (Or what jankyness is in general for those who don’t know about it?)

Okay, I think I’d identify Jank as an event that significantly mis-matches expectations of what will happen that happens in correspondence to actual interactions between actors in a game where the cause of said event can’t be easily identified before or after the event has taken place.

Meaning, Jank is not RNG, but you can’t tell what the fuck caused it, or reasonably predict it will happen before it does. You usually can’t reliably reproduce it. You can at best know it’s there from prior knowledge and avoid it.

When I say the Hydras are janky, I mean, sometimes when they attack, they will just straight up go around your shield. Sometimes they’ll miss you. Sometimes they’ll be rotated a bit differently between attacks so that either of those things will happen when it didn’t last attack. Sometimes they’ll decide to shoot a water bullet when they’re at melee range. Sometimes that water bullet will go over your head, sometimes it’ll hit something behind you and splash on you. Sometimes you’ll block it, sometimes not. It’s not strictly RNG, though RNG may be a factor, but you can’t really tell what the fuck is going to happen.

These two videos showcase a lot of situations where stuff happens that nobody could have predicted.

Another thing that’s janky was that one giant crystal you need to run across in the crystal cave with the giant golem at the end of it. You’ll randomly like, slide off it if you’re not careful for no discernible reason. Having the golem there makes it even harder to deal with, but thankfully it’s gone after it dies once.

The hitboxes in Dark Souls 2 that sometimes randomly hit beyond the range of whatever the attack is (like the ogre grab or a lot of attacks on giant enemies), and you can’t tell if you’re really gonna get hit or not, that’s jank. Or the way that hitboxes for attacks in BOTW will sometimes be larger or smaller for perfect dodges, or how the camera can prevent you from doing the right type of dodge sometimes, or pretty much everything about thunderblight ganon.

Controlling Space with Boss Design

What are some enemies or bosses that control space, mess with the players positioning, or use their movesets more effectively in a way that makes them more challanging to fight than other bosses/enemies that do the same thing? How come some bosses/enemies are considered hard, while others are not?

Lets look at Chaos Witch Quelaag. She has a bunch of different attacks that affect different sweeps of space. For example, she can spew lava in front of her, she can spew multiple bubbles of lava at a distance. She can jump at you while doing that. She can swing a sword at you, she can attack with her legs on the sides. And she can do a large burst that hits the entire area surrounding her. Continue reading

Communicating Through Design

You often complain about enemies not having movesets that really test the player and that don’t interact with the MC own moves, can you elaborate on this with examples of games with good enemy design?

Basically, in well designed games, the enemies are designed around the abilities of the player character, and interact with the specific quirks of how the player character operates. This means that they both have abilities that respond to the player’s capabilities, attempting to limit some common player behavior, but also abilities that highlight skillful use of their abilities.

AM2R is great at this. The common beta metroid minibosses are a great example. They weave around your head in such a way that you need to run under them and jump over them to avoid getting hit, but also to line up shots with its vulnerable underbelly by tilting your arm cannon diagonally or straight up. Every section of the game has new enemies that forbid you from cheesing them with the new powerup you just got, but require you to also use your powerups to defeat them in a skillful reactive way.
Continue reading

Tower Defense & Tactics vs Strategy

What do you think of the tower defense genre? Do you have a favorite game in that genre or do you think its all casul shit?

It’s not my thing, I’m just not a fan of games where I make a bunch of decisions at the beginning and see them play out over time. Having such a long iteration cycle/feedback cycle on my input makes it tricky to see how my decisions were much better or worse than other possible decisions I could have made. Also I just don’t get the positioning and tower type tradeoffs in most TD games.

There’s certainly a depth in picking different towers and positioning them differently. Different towers can have synergy with each other and effective positioning can be a big deal, and there’s a range of expression there depending on how much granularity you’re allowed in tower positioning. It’s just not my type of game because it’s all strategy and no tactics. Continue reading

(Non)Importance of Developer Intentions

How important do you think developer intentions are? Do you think stuff like poor control schemes, are acceptable, just because it’s part of the scheme the developers envisaged? Are horror games “supposed” to have bad controls?

A long time ago, I’d say, “Not at all.” I’ve reached a more mediated stance as of recently.

The role of developer intention is complicated. Primarily, it’s related to defining what the game is in the first place, but the actual game is what the player decides to play. Since games are contracts, developer intention is filtered down through the design of the game, and the textual feedback of the game to communicate to the player what the game is supposed to be, then the player interprets that and creates the contract of play for themselves. The developer intention creates the framework for how the software is to be interpreted as a game, and I think that’s just about it. Continue reading

Designing Open Worlds

What would you consider to be “good” open world game design and “bad” open world game design?

Okay, so what are the benefits of open worlds? The benefits are, you have this huge amount of content available at one time, much like a metroidvania, except instead of the levels being hallways, it’s one big continuous space. This means that players can approach any given area from a variety of angles, and they are capable of engaging with any of the content open to them across the entire world instead of engaging with the content in a set sequence. Progression is defined by event flags instead of through the areas open to the player, or the player’s progress through specific areas.

Drawback: Big continuous spaces are bad level design. There need to be walls, pillars, and other barriers that . And because every point is connected to every other point, you can usually go around any sort of roadblocks in your way. In MGSV this meant you could run around the outskirts of almost every encampment and not engage in the core stealth gameplay. A lot of afghanistan had big pillar cliffs organizing the map into giant “hallways” as a result. Far Cry 3 blood dragon had a fair amount of success enclosing every camp in giant walls, limiting the entry points so the inside could have real level design. Continue reading

Should All Games Allow Pausing?

Do you think pausing in souls games or nioh without having access to items makes the games easier or removes the “tension”. I mean you can’t pause in souls because they were designed around online and not because it was a design decision I assume.

I think that being able to pause in any capacity does give you a release valve for certain situations. I’ve certainly felt a desire to pause to cool off during certain boss battles in Souls and Nioh. Not having the ability to take a breather or reduce the tension of the situation can be a mental factor. It’s not a strong one admittedly, and this is a huge hit in user experience that I can’t deny Continue reading

Balancing Team Games

When it comes to comp FPS multiplayer. How would approach balancing? looking at games like destiny and overwatch balance seems impossible with patches to fix things which may cause other problems and so on.

Okay, balancing a game like Destiny is probably impossible. It has random loot drops if I’m not mistaken, the complexity is way too high.

Overwatch seems more workable. I’m admittedly not an expert on the game, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Basically, Overwatch has a ton of character types that seem fairly useless, like all the snipers, turrets, and Mei. They’ve never been good, they probably never will be good, given the format of the game. They’ve been consistently bottom tier since the game came out. They’re strong at one thing, but have weak versatility, and are generally not objective oriented. Continue reading