Monday, June 27, 2011

Sci fi and shooting each other, toe to toe.

At Tobolds blog
As a final birthday present to Anarchy Online, I'd like to cite some previews of Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which the previewers complain about people standing toe to toe and shooting at each other with laser weapons, which doesn't feel all that realistic. Anarchy Online has this problem since a decade, and it's interesting to see how nobody has come up with a better implementation of Sci-Fi combat yet.
That's an interesting question, isn't it?

One idea is simply having personal shields! But that'd suit Anarchy Online more than star wars.

So, here's a bit of a radical idea - can we just have dynamic cover - you get into combat, your character goes and jumps behind a crate or tree stump. Was that crate or tree stump there a second ago? No, it sort of fades into existance!

I know star wars: the old replublic has some cover mechanisms, but they seem static and only in set places.

Another idea is to simply have alot of shots 'miss', but these still reduced your 'health'. In other words, health is used more to represent the lowering odds of all those shots missing you, rather than your capacity to take hits. Indeed, this would work very nicely for light sabers as well, since no one would be all dark night 'Tis but a flesh wound!' and fighting on after being hit. Instead they'd be dodging all over the place to avoid the saber until KAZROW, off comes the traditional star wars arm!

Well, LOTRO went and decided their 'health' bar was actually a morale bar. It's not like it's sacred to keep it a 'how much can you be hit by a battle axe and still smile' bar!

Driftwurld - Next Stage: Raptor Slayage - Online!

Pepper Box Pistol. Imagine firing that off in a burst.
The next stage of Driftwurld has been completed! I know alot of traditional browser games and mmorpgs have you tip top equiped to fight fiendish monsters right from the start. But it's not exactly hero's journey. It's especially not 'regular guy makes it big', because you start out irregular (or whatever you call 'not regular').

In Driftwurld I think it's really interesting to genuinely have a rags to riches story, where you claw your way up to even having the most basic equipment. And with this stage, you can finally turn all the pieces of equipment you sweated to get - the explosive bullets in the makeshift pepperbox pistols, the frag grenades, the Omega blades, the Omega Polymer armour! Finally, instead of being utterly vulnerable, instead of treating each breath like it may be the last, you can turn on the most lowly monster, who was so powerful over you till now, and fight back!

But it's bigger than that - things bigger than dinosaurs roam out there - Drift Demons! And their evil overlord, the King of the Hell Drift is out there, watching for any upstarts trying to live anything but a life dedicated to eking out a meagre existence until his minions come to take it all!

So what do you do? Well, if you can slay enough raptors, the local peoples will start to flourish, which gains access to weapons like the laser pistol, and following that, the more expensive Heavy Ion Blaster! With these weapons you start to tower over the raptors...and earn a slim chance at surviving the horde of Drift Demons!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two leg junkie bad? Four wheel junkie good?

Time for a bit of a full on philosophy post! I posted this comment over on the three pound brain blog...

In terms of junkies, I went to a lecture by Robert Winston once, where he suggested that petrol isn't too expensive, it's that petrol is too cheap. That we are addicted to petrol.

And people, lots and lots of people, do aspire to be this type of junkie.

Futher on the car, what of the tragic reports of people backing over their children in the driveway? Isn't it psychopathic to crush your children under several tons of weight?

"But it was an accident!"

But it'll always seem like an accident, instead of seeming a madness. That's the creeping normalcy. No one wants to become mad. But what happens when you encounter a new situation no one has ever encountered before? How quickly would you be to say you've entered a state of madness, Vs how quick would you be to say you caused a tragic accident?

Really accidents only happen because someone is ignorant of the future consequences. How quickly can an ignorant person suddenly conclude they know enough to know they haven't entered a madness? Very quickly, sadly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PVE Difficulty

Tippa made an interesting post over on her blog about The Miseducation of MMO Players.

Where have mmorpgs gone, in terms of difficulty? Indeed, where can they go? Back when you bounced mario around, you could lose all your lives and being sent right back to the start of the game worked out. What do you do when you have a hundreds of hours long game 'session'? Add a death jog every time someone stands in the flame?

I made a reply to someone in the comments about guild wars two supposedly not having any death penalty, which I've talked about here before. Here's the reply...

As far as I can tell guild wars 2 hasn’t removed a death penalty – if no one revives you, you have the classic death jog from some waypoint, back to where you were. Which is pretty lame – why bother coding in a time waster for players?

I think these games have trouble determining any fail point, which goes all the way back to gygax’s designs. With your traditional game, like a FPS, you have a level start, middle and end. What does a mmorpg have? middle, middle, middle, middle….
Your classic FPS can send you back to the start of a level and that works out. While mmorpgs are floundering on what the heck to do – can’t send them all the way to level one! But can’t just do nothing every time they are hit ( see my example of this: ).
I think they need to do the reverse of the traditional design and grant people bonuses for doing well – like go for one hour of gameplay without being knocked to 0 hp and you will GAIN 500 gold (can be won once per RL day/X number of times per RL day)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Akimi Village Trailer

Gigantism is a serious desease...

Them ninjabee guys like to make games where your bigger than everyone else. Well, it's certainly a more sustainable fantasy than the usual FPS fantasy is. But what happens when ninjabee makes a game about basketball? You'll be this massive giant just walking around a tiny court, pwning all your opponents and...wait, that'd probabably sell...

Tesh, from the tish tosh tesh blog, was part of construction of the game, for a bit of a blog tie in. You know, sometimes it's nice to see a human face to a developer instead of playing games by anonymous strangers all the time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Driftwurld Raptor Slaying: A nice little fort to call my own...

So, I found this public domain image of a fort - I think it'll be the one used in the next stage of Driftwurld, where your character builds a wooden fort deep in the raptor infested lands (man, I must have a hate on for raptors - but just wait, there's worse around the corner...). Once aquired It'll replace the base shack you start with. From there you can take the war to the monsters, even hiring NPC's to guard you base (which is a reference to the raptor hunting stage of Driftwurld - that's exactly what you did as a player in that stage - guard someone elses fort!)

Found the image at this site:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Did I ever tell you the definition of inainity?

Not sure I like the new gym teacher

Far Cry 3.

I've watched the trailer above and...I don't think it works? The guy in the picture - he's shallow. He seems to exist only to antagonise - I mean, what's his favorite beer? Does he like sport? No, he has nothing except to be eeeeeeevil. Even sociopaths have more personality than that.

But is there anything wrong died in the wool, binarily evil, mustache twirling villains? Not especially.

But then the clip contains about warcrimes (or just plain old murder). Degrading then murdering unarmed people - setting them to drown, tied to concrete blocks.

And the thing is - as soon as your guy (who is obviously the special mesiah who breaks free of the concrete block) gets free, what does he do?

Well, without a word he goes and murders the guys with guns as well.

It's basically sociopaths killing sociopaths.

I mean sure, maybe you like your cartoon villains who must be shot in the head. Okay. But this isn't cartoon villainry - your not going to save the innocents, they have already been murdered. You are not going to be some frackin' hero for making more human meat become room temperature.

Because this is presented as more real world, it doesn't have the D&D like cosmological elements of good and evil. Because it's presented as real world, all you have are principles that you try and stand by. Unless, dear reader you believe that much like in D&D, magical cosmological forces of good and evil are existant things. And heck, maybe your right, but you'll have a damn hard time inventing an empirical test for that. Anyway, back to personal principles and that's all you have.

And from the very damn start, the characters principles are that he is just as fine with murder to get to his own ends, as the guys he murders.

I dunno - far cry 2 seemed to try and make you feel dirty for doing what they coded it to force you to do it. But forcing it doesn't work - in a game like Dues ex, because there is a non lethal alternative (ie, you are not FORCED to only use lethal force), it is a choice. So in Dues ex, yes, you can feel a little dirty for killing someone in the game.

Here in farcry 3, it just seems a sociopath murder sim. The only people left alive are the murderers, and your as cool with murder as they are, so really there is no moral issue going on. The only moral issue is already case closed, floating under the water on a rope tied to a cinderblock. So apart from really, really high graphics ferns, who gives a crap about that?

Well, I guess the teens who's moral part of the brain has not yet turned on (I think I read that that is the case, in an article somewhere).

Ie, it's pretty inane.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Start with the End

Recently I've wondered if I've had a real missconception in my head for years about game design. I was always heavily focused on the act of playing and making that exciting.

Makes sense, right?

But it was like I was trying to make that play interesting in itself, by it's own merit.

Actually that probably still sounds like conventional design wisdom.

But now I'm looking at things with the paradigm that the fun of gameplay sits beneath the roof of whether you win or lose. No matter how complicated or nuanced your little controls and mechanics, or pretty your graphics, if you have not yet set up a win/lose condition, like veins drained of blood those things are empty for that reason. Not because there just is some exciting way to write that I've yet to find. It's that without a win/lose condition, there is no blood/no fun in anything made. A bit like a frankenstien monster without any life to it.

"But what about world of warcraft, that's a game and there is no final win condition?"

Well, actually they have advertised it as 'It's not a game - it's a world".

And really I think they are providing something other than a game. Okay, okay, if you wanna call it a game, fine - but when it comes to my definition of game, they want to provide something else. And my major hiccup is that I've been designing in a way that facilitates that for years. Ie, try to make the doing the activity thrilling in and of itself. When that's their design method for their 'game'. For my game, that's just no good - I need to start with the end - start with a win/lose condition, then add more elements AFTER that. Not before, like I kinda learned to do and did for years.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Driftwurld: Gunnage!

Basically, while the first step in Driftwurld raptor slaying is to get a laser pistol, the peak of raptor slaying is acquiring the WG-57 Heavy Ion Blaster Pistol! Then you utterly dominate raptor fights!

The thing about killing raptors is that it makes trading much easier, increasing the money you make from each successful trip.

However, is there a greater threat than raptors that looms? Will you dominate the raptors only just in time to start arming yourself against an even greater threat!?

Anyway, right now I'm working on the code to let your guy atleast take a shot with his pepperbox pistol (loaded with 20 explosive rounds!). Next, initiative - he who goes first has that tiny bit of advantage...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Driftwurld: Raptor Encounters

Basically in Driftwurld, either you find raptors, or they find you!

There will be three basic encounter type. The first is from long distance. Without a laser pistol you can't do much, so there will be a 50/50 chance either the encounter doesn't happen (as it takes more time to try and creep up on the raptor) or the raptor detects you and charges toward you, fangs slavering! Given that gaining a laser pistol isn't easy, this is what a new slayer will experience quite a bit to begin with!

The second is that you find the raptor while it is unaware. Sneak attack! In fact if you have a HE grenade, you can throw it - perhaps killing the raptor in a single attack!

The third is actually, the raptor was hunting YOU! You can perhaps fire off a quick burst with a pepperbox pistol, or a couple of shots with a laser pistol if you have one.

Then it comes down to melee! You have a shield made from hardwood, to hopefully parry one attack (it's destroyed on the first successful parry of the raptors jaws!). Also to protect your very expensive to repair omega hit point armour, you have a layer of normal metal - useful for getting in the way of melee attacks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Driftwurld: Raptor Slayer

I'm figuring out the next stage of my browser game, Driftwurld.

Basically the premise is slaying raptors for power! You attempt to slay raptors to improve the conditions of the local community...which means you can make more money from them! lol! AND better weaponry starts to become available for purchase, if you kill enough raptors. With the eventual aim of aquiring the WG-57 Heavy Ion Blaster Pistol! Because raptors are actually at the bottom of the heap of lethal monsters and you need some severe firepower to break out and actually face the far nastier drift monsters that infest Driftwurld!

Coming soon - an article breaking down the ways you can encounter a raptor - whether that means ambushing, or being ambushed!

Friday, June 3, 2011

50% wins, 50% loses = hamster wheel?

Tobold's been talking about having a 50/50 win/lose ratio in world of tanks, derived from the skill matching system.

He says it means your choices really matter on the field.

But think about it - overall, he's at fifty fifty.

You could flip a coin and get the same set of results!

Indeed a perfectly balanced skill ranking system just makes your skill absolutely moot! Flip a coin - same result in the end!!

However, I don't know if world of tanks has skill tiers like quake live does. Quake live has four tiers, so basically you can move up them if you do happen to make the right moves towards winning consistantly. So in those terms I'd pay that your choices matter.

But by itself - a perfect 50/50 is, just by itself, a complete waste of time in terms of gaming. It's just a hamster wheel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sycophancy/Critique Points

I wonder if there is, on average in a general population, a specific percentage amount where you have to agree with someone before you can apply a critique which does not paint them in the most glamourous of terms?

Kind of like a points system - your sycophantic X times and that earns you 10 points. Say you think they are saying something which just doesn't even mesh with their own apparent value system - but saying so would cost you more than 10 points and that's all you've earned so far? So you can't, without all hell breaking loose and them needing you to be a bad guy in order for them to main the certainty they had before.

Just trying to make sense of years of discussions. I love a points easy to understand...