Thursday, July 5, 2012
Design VS Fun.
I was reading a forum topic about an H game the other day. In the topic, some of the players were complaining about the fact that the main character couldn't run.
The first thing that came to mind was that the player's movement was limited in order to complement the design. After all, there's a big difference between something like Castlevania, where you can't jump over most enemies, and Mario, where you have more freedom of movement but cant take as many hits. Hell, if you could just run and jump over everything in Castlevania like you could in Mario, you'd probably finish the game in a flash, and all it's subtle design considerations would be blown out of the water.
Of course, none of that really matters to a player when the first thing they think is "I want to run". Would they enjoy that H-game more if they could run, even though it would kill the design as intended by the developer?
This got me thinking about design in general, and how what I look for in a game has changed over the years. I used to like games where your character could do, for lack of a better word, "cool" things. Freedom of movement, fast paced combat, acrobatic moves, what I was looking for in a game wasn't sleek design or challenge, I just wanted to do things that seemed cool and fun to me. Anything that wasn't just going around and hitting stuff with a single attack, like Casltevania. As a kid, if you asked me if the original Castlevania would be better if you could run around doing flips in the air, attacking in multiple directions and doing multiple hit combos, I would have thought it would be way better.
Now, however, it's the opposite. Anytime I see something with more linear and refined design, it's like a breath of fresh air. I want every hit to count, I want every part of a level to be there for a reason, I want to have to think before I approach any obstacle. I'd play Castlevania Rondo Of Blood over something like Symphony of the night any day.
Yet, as a game developer I need to keep in mind that it's not all about super refined challenge-based design. Sometimes people just want to do fun stuff. Sure, in Mario you don't need to jump on a bunch of koopas in a row to get a 1-up, but you try anyway because it's fun and satisfying in and of itself. You throw a shell up in the air and then catch it again, hitting 3 enemies out of the air, even though they posed no threat, not because you had to in order to proceed, but because it was just fun.
It seems that achieving the perfect balance between what the player wants to do, and what you want them to do is the real challenge. Balancing the challenges players present themselves with and the obstacles you set before them, and making the means to overcome either fun and satisfying. I've yet to do something like that.
*Thinking out loud concluded*
Posted by Kyrieru at 5:45 PM
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More posts of you thinking out loud, please.ReplyDelete
Well there is technically a mario parody H game called kinoko hime or something along those lines. Albeit the controls were rather clunky but a mario parody H game none the less.ReplyDelete
I mean a game that plays like Mario, perhaps looks like mario, etc.Delete
Aside from the fact that the game has mushroom enemies and a world map, that game isn't really very similar.
Its funny you mention Mario because I was actually gonna comment about that, seeing as Kurovadis was basically about speed, skill and platforming (for the most part to me) a Mario based game seems to be right up your alley.ReplyDelete
There's actually a parody flash H-game of mario (by PlayShapes) where you play as Princess Peach, get fucked by goombas and stuff, although it doesn't exactly play as generic mario games.ReplyDelete
yeah but princess peach doesnt shrink only her boobs do and to me i prefer kyrieru than that peach game is getting better but i dont like peachDelete
idea (i forgot to say that after kyrieru names)Delete
As long as it has raping animations in it, I don't think I'll have any problems with a game that plays like Super Mario. Ah Childhood, just don't make it TOO similar if you ARE going with it.ReplyDelete
Well, that's not what I'm doing right now, but I might some other time. Or at least, I want to make something with a similar style of gameplay at some point.Delete
Man I just can't imagine how it is inside your brain, I never thought of it in that perpective, and now, you got me thinking...:PReplyDelete
I will if you help me :3 I'm new to this but I can do the art. firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
i love your random "speaking out loud" thoughts for one and when do you think we will see a demo of the game? i am just asking :3 oh and if you do make a super mario world h-game (awesome idea :D lol) if you have the h-stuff have it when the main girl gets hurt instead of when she is "killed" so we can see busty h-stuff AND loli h-stuff (not much a fan of lolies so the op is good) lol oh and maybe power up covering different things but one game at a time XDReplyDelete
Well it's not an H-game, but Super Marisa World has it so if Marisa picks up the 'invincible' item she turns into a big-breasted version of herself, and when she's at 'mini-Mario', she's a small chibi Marisa and mushrooms make her into a normal sized Marisa.ReplyDelete
Mmm, just looked it up on google. That's essentially what I meant, though I'd want it to be closer to Mario, with friction, the ability to throw items, and probably add a couple kinds of other movements.Delete
Symphony of the Night was a fantastic game - how dare you, sir! How dare you...ReplyDelete
Okay, now that the righteous indignation has passed, we can get on with our lives.
I think that the dissatisfaction that a main character can't run is a talk in a probably lower level.ReplyDelete
The game out of which such dissatisfaction comes is considered that is fundamental movement too slow and will serve as stressful structure.
About the game which you make, I haven't had the dissatisfaction about it.
It will be satisfactory even if it makes as before.
excite transration used XD
As long as there isn't crazy amounts of wall jumping involved I'm good either way. I wouldn't have minded the crazy amounts of wall jumping as much in Kurvadis had the controls for wall jumping been a bit better. Eh, either way, I'll be content as far as fast or slow gameplay goes. I think you could make it a faster game but also make thinking involved as well though.ReplyDelete
The only truly hard wall-jumping I encountered after getting used to the timing and controls was the optional areas for stat boosts.Delete
The Super Marisa Land series had Marisa turning into a huge-breasted version of herself whenever you picked up an invincibility item. She's flat-chested otherwise.ReplyDelete
Yes, Playshapes made exactly what you were tlaking about Kyrieru - a parody of Mario when you're princess Peach and mushrooms get you bigger boobs.ReplyDelete
As for engine and being able to do cool things.. I am not really sure it's about cool things but intuitive and comfortable controls and a choice to do things. In your example, running was requested because it is rather typical feature, a standard feature and also one which the player probably wanted to see there not because it was cool but he found it to be quite useful for the core gameplay.
Other than that, sometimes people want more stuff, even if not really well defined in the story because of possibilities such gives them. It's how it was with different collectibles in Castlevanias and areas of the castles. Players didn't have to but they could some places, do some things - because like you've said, they wanted fun - but it also added to immersion, made player believe that their actions actualyl do matter, that they aren't just automatons playing for the sake of seeing particular animation or other piece of game (which, as compelling to some overachievers as it may be, shouldn't be what the game would be about and that's why many think that nwoadays many achievements in games are an idiotic thing). That's why there's currently a boom for sandbox games - freedom where people are given toys, story etc but their choices are still really, choices. Sure, nicely-fitting, polished game elements are sure better than heaps of haphazardly thrown-in stuff even if they are somewhat linear (and that's why people enjoyed Kurovadis so much) but it doesn't mean that said polished, core gameplay has to be also a restrictive (although such is surely easier to be done).
Well, no, I mean a game with gameplay like Mario, not an actual parody of it's characters. And getting hit would make you shorter, like in mario.Delete
Yeah, exactly - you jump, gather up coins etc. It's just that when you touch the goomba or whatever you don't die or squash the bastard but make it come. It's both gameplay and characters, even if somewhat crude as a whole (especially as far as coding goes) and never really properly polished-finished I believe.Delete
Jumping and gathering coins isn't what makes a mario game. It's everything as a whole.Delete
It's fast paced, there's friction in mario's movement, there are various ways to progress and finish levels, hell, just the way levels are set up, how far you can see on the screen, etc.
The playshapes game is not a mario style game, it's just a generic platformer with instances of Mario lore to make it a parody. I'm not saying that as a bad thing, it just isn't a Mario game.
So are we talking Bros3/World type Mario, or Mario 64 here? Honestly, it'd be interesting to see either type, so long as it had some good enemy variety. No fun if it's only one thing, you know? Getting banged by nothing but goombas gets old after a while, after all.ReplyDelete
World, also, nothing in the game would be from mario, in terms of enemies.Delete
well, the thing I liked about Mario was that there were a lot of secrets and hidden areas, and that some areas needed certain power-ups in order to complete. There were also numerous ways to beat a level, and how you beat a level determines what path is revealed on the map. There was also a high replay value for each stage to find the different map paths.ReplyDelete
enemies can be reused
adding new areas is easy and won't break old areas
no need to code a map (like metroid's map), but you still need an overworld map
Turning smaller (or wearing different outfits from powerups) = a lot of extra time making sprites for every monster encounter
Little npc interaction
You did find a nice medium in your last game in this very issue, by slowly giving the players more and more powers as they progress. They can have more fun as a reward for getting through the other parts of the game. If you do want to go nuts in giving the players powers that let them break the game, unlocks after beating the game would probably be a good place to give players "the power". I generally don't think it is a good idea to just give it to them right away, since games like that sorta run their course with me right away, and I just don't feel a reason to go back to the game as I feel I've already seen what the game has to offer.ReplyDelete
I liked Ninja Gaiden (the modern generation of the games I speak of, though the classics will always hold their wonderful charm) because it combined those two factors you talked about. I could do lots of cool ninja-like things, and the game expected me to do those cool things in order to win.ReplyDelete
Most recently I've been playing Warriors Orochi 3, which is basically Dynasty Warriors 7 mixed with Samurai Warriors 3. The game itself gives you several flashy moves and many 'heavy' attacks with which you can employ to crush your enemies. The game's concept is really simple in that you just need to hit things until they die in order to win. Never mind difficulty (The game isn't that hard unless you tell it to be via Hard Mode or it's ugly cousin), all of the cool things you can do with your flashy moveset is bound to the objective of winning, although all of the characters and different play styles each of them bring to the table pretty much allow you to 'win' however you want so long as you're killing things.
This is just me, but the thing I enjoy most in video games is being presented with a variety of choices with which I can complete the objective. As in Mario World, you can easily just jump over everything and not kill a single enemy, or stomp on everything in your way, so long as you reach the end of the level. The thing I enjoy most about games like Dynasty Warriors/Orochi 3 and mario is that I can play the same level several times and switch my methods and/or play style and get a whole new experience. This adds replay value to any game, even if only in my case.
I guess one other way to strike a balance between the two things is to have a wide variety of levels (ala Mario, sorta). Then make it so that power-ups and such can't be taken between levels. Then make it so that some levels let you do all kinds of weird and fun things in them, others are based more towards the methodical. Then you do satisfy both goals.ReplyDelete
Oh no, please don't. That's the worst way possible of dealing with the issue (in my humble opinion). I really hated that in games when it turned out that whatever I achieved was just temporary toy thrown me and then quickly taken away from me.Delete
I'd rather just have all the 'cool' stuff reasonably balanced with core gameplay so I have diverse choices of playing without one of those choices being better than the other.
What about the Yoshi system? In super mario world, the best power-up in the game was a character you rode called Yoshi. He could eat most enemies, be recovered easily if you took a hit, and made you immune to floor and enemy spikes. The only restriction for him, is that you couldn't use him in dungeon stages. It was the only time that a power-up couldn't be taken into a level.Delete
In such a system, most power-ups can be taken between levels, but the most powerful ones are restricted to either the levels they're in, or have some levels that they can't be used in.
Forgive my ignorance, but what's the name of the game you're referring to in the main post that had the forum topic?ReplyDelete
There is many games like supermario... in fact there is a sexy hot game with princess toad stool. And you play as her... and your goal is to free mario and hump, suck, ride as many goombas as possible. If it were longer... well its only like 5-8 minutes at most. It would sell sell sellReplyDelete
Well, again, I mean with gameplay like Mario, not the theme. The one you're referring to isn't really similar to Mario in terms of gameplay.Delete
Please give us some sort of heroine selection or at least be able to use a loli =^_^= the lil world doesnt have many if at all much loli love for a side scroller with hot actionReplyDelete
super marisa land..that is allReplyDelete
I thought lolis aren't allowed in english dlsite, that's gonna be a problem manReplyDelete
Release that version only on the Japanese DLsite? Kyri did a release there last time. Only problem is making such a game is probably not legal in Canada(Home Country).Delete
A possible solution would be to create an "Unofficial" patch that adds content to the game and previously stating in a legal disclaimer that content is to be judged as-is, and additional modifications and content are not the responsibility of the creator.
It's easy enough to draw a character that rests in that grey area when you don't explicitly give an age, and the art is stylized and out of proportion to begin with. English Dlsite houses beyond questionable content, so I doubt a grown woman getting slightly shorter with smaller boobs is going to set anybody off. In other words, I'll walk the line, but I'm not going to cross it.Delete
While I do understand the point you are making, I can't say I fully agree. Limiting the players options does not necessarily mean that a game is more refined and elegant, nor does giving a player mobility means that you cannot have a challenge-based game.ReplyDelete
Take the 3d Ninja Gaiden games (beside III) as an example: You are crazy mobile, can do flips, dash through enemies and have a truckload of different powerful weapons. Yet, it is mostly still a linear experience, with carefully designed rooms and encounters (Beside some random filler parts which even the old Castlevania have) and challenging battles where you have to think of how to approach them. The games are built taking into account the player's abilities and it does so as "gracefully" as the old castlevania games did in my opinion.
I finished Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia a few months ago. It's generally seen as an halfway point in between the classic and the metroidvania games: It's nearly all linear like the old titles and your mobility is exactly the same (beside an iffy back roll). What you do have more is a large Weapon inventory with different properties. While it can be argued that the game is less well designed due to that weapon inventory ("Oh, enemies overhead, so I'll throw axes at them"), I personally felt that the game was better for it. While it is still a linear game, being able to choose between a ton of weapon types gave some liberty and freedom to the player, and also presented various ways to beat a challenge. Is the game less elegantly designed because there's more than one solution to the challenge?
With that said, I felt that Kurovadis was an excellent compromise. It was a linear game but you still had a bit of exploration involved instead of simply "Go right", you were agile with flips, wall jumps and rolls alongside with quickly executed attacks but those were required to beat the various enemies (unless you level grinded) and manage to pass all the hard platforming sections. If the game had a similar level of challenge but was slow and ponderous, I would definitively have enjoyed it less.
That's why I feel that Nightmare Sphere is one of the greatest platformers ever made. At higher difficulty levels, it's a pure marvel to play. You can quadruple air dash and jump (and more), you can fast fire magic abilities on the move, you have a lot of freedom regarding which zone to tackle next and you have three weapons which handle completely differently. Yet, past some early areas, the enemies are dangerous enough for you to be careful. You have to use those quadrupple air dash to evade some of the later enemy attacks. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Unholy Sanctuary: It's 100% linear, 1 weapon, limited mobility. It's still a fun game, it's obviously well designed and balanced, but it's not as fun to play as Nightmare Sphere: Not only that, but there's no incentive to replay the game, as you have only 1 valid approach. You can't do a new playthrough with a new strategy, since there's only one possible valid strategy that exist by design.
I never said that limiting a player's options makes it more refined. It's just that when the player has less freedom it's easier to "control" their actions, and therefore easier to achieve that refined level of design. The more freedom you give the player, the more variables there are.Delete
Nightmare Sphere and Unholy Sanctuary are a perfect example of the point I was trying to make, actually. With Nightmare Sphere, it was fun, but as a platformer I didn't think it was all that great. I always felt that I had too much freedom in any given situation and enemies just felt like they were thrown all over the place, there was never much of a challenge. Whereas with Unholy Sanctuary, everything feels like it has a lot more thought behind it's design. Unholy sanctuary is more focused on the layout and level design, whereas Nightmare Sphere's design is more focused on the moves, the freedom, exploration and replayability.
Again, it's not impossible to have gameplay like Nightmare Sphere, and yet have more refined level design. And neither game's design is inherently incorrect.
You make a good point. But I think "Design VS Fun" would be the wrong way to look at things, since looking at it like that, the player will almost always pick "Fun." And fun isn't always something you want the player to have since that can destroy certain genres, like survival horror. The way I think it should be looked at is "Using Design to get Players Engaged." I find that as long as players feel that they are making some sort of meaninful progress they'll have "fun" no matter what they are doing, even if they are sitting at the top of a hill in a ghillie suit providing overwatch to allies in an airfield for hours.ReplyDelete
Whatever elements or mechanice a designer puts into a game it has to be made sure that the player can interact with it in meaningful ways. Huge maps might need mechanics that make traversal interesting, otherwise you might end up with an annoyed player who's sick of his objective being so far away. It doesn't need to be fast, just needs to be engaging, it doesn't matter if it takes the player 10 seconds or an hour to get there, just as long as it's an engaging process. If you haven't looked at "Sequilitis" or "Digressing and Sidequesting" (particularly the Megaman X and Super Metroid videos, respectively) I highly recomend it, as they go into much further detail into how games are constructed.
"Using design to get players engaged" is like saying "Use a good recipe to bake a delicious cookie". True, obviously, but it's just the goal. What you need to look closely at is the ingredients, and who you're baking for.Delete
What I should have called it was limitations VS freedom, or desire VS reward, or something, I don't know. My point was that it's important to think about how freedom plays into your game's design, and if giving the player freedom will give them more satisfaction than the reward of overcoming limitations or difficult challanges. We're assuming that in either scenario, the game will be designed well, and with a particular balance in mind, so neither is inherently superior.
The Castlevania Sequelitis episode is actually a good example of my point. Arin talks about how Castlevania 4 isn't as well designed because it abandons the slow and methodical (but immensely rewarding) gameplay of the original, and makes the subweapons redundant. However, for the same reasons that he sees the game as inferior, others see it as a better game. To them, it doesn't matter that the whip "ruins" the game's methodical design or that it makes it easier, because it's fun to use, and they get more satisfaction from the freedom it gives them than the limiting and yet rewarding gameplay.
True, it was a bit vague, like: "Using elctricity to keep things powered without blowing shit up." But "limitations VS freedom" sounds a whole lot more meaningful. Actually, mine should've been more: "Thoughtfully implementing meaningful mechanics." Since it really depends on what kind of game is being built. It just depends on how well the game's mechanics can work together.Delete
In sequelitis, that castlevania 4 vid where he talks about the game's design, What I thought he was saying was that it wasn't as well designed because the game didn't make the most of it's elements and mechanics like the older ones. The example he brings up for this is the whip. Since the whip had so much range of motion it could've had alot more utility, like hook-shotting or reeling in items. They just added something for the sake of it instead of asking what this new mechanic could bring to the game then expanding on it's usage.
So I tend not to think of the limitations too much. Besides limitations are a defining trait of technology, since things only do what they are bilt to do. The feeling of freedom usually comes from the player, since it's up to them how to take advantage of the mechanics available to them. And it's up to the designer to make sure the mechanics compliment each other. My beef with SotN was that it had a huge map, but because of Alucard's slow movement and lack of mechanics that involved general enviromental interaction made exploration a bit tedious.
BTW I think I know what thread you were talking about. Was it on ULMF?
It was just a topic about a fairly terrible H-game. The one with the pink haired warrior, where you just move right.Delete
With Castlevania 4, his problem with the whip was the fact that it made sub weapons redundant, because the whip is almost always the optimal solution. However, having such a flexible and powerful main attack also runs counter to the design of the original, where you had to be more strategic in order to overcome the odds with what you had (which is what Arin likes about it).
A good comparison would be Grand theft auto 4 and Saints Row 3. In Grand theft Auto, stealing a car takes a few seconds, meaning that doing so is an important decision in the midst of a firefight. You might think (as you get killed because you were to slow) "I wish I could just jump in the car really quick", but at the same time, the slowness creates tension and when you actually manage to get in the car and get away another time, it's satisfying.
With Saints Row, on the other hand, you can pretty much just jump into the car instantly. Now, getting into the car isn't as frustrating, and may make the gameplay at that moment more fun for some players. But at the same time, the satisfaction of overcoming the challange may not be as gratifying.
In other words, as a designer sometimes you have to ask yourself, "Will this limitation's payoff be worth the frustration it could cause if the player fails to overcome it, or should the player be given the freedom to do something fun that they want to do, but at the possible cost of future payoff and satisfaction?". Like the rest of design, it's all about balance, and there is no one answer, it all depends on the game.
Wellp, It sounds like an irreconcilable issue since it has more to do with the player's tastes than how well designed a game is, and people can have absurdly specific tastes or incredibly unrealistic expectations. All I can really say on that is: make sure your game is well designed. Everyone will have their little peeves and ideas, but most will get over that if the experiance was engaging. I don't really like how DayZ has no cqc systems or how it's melee weapons are wonky, but I enjoy it. I enjoy it and can see how everything comes together to make an intriguing experiance (not always enjoyable, shit could go bad fast). Didn't like Kurovadis 'til my second playthrough.Delete
I think your concern comes from the fact that you sell this. Which is understandable, starving's not too great. but because of people's preferences, not everyone will ever be pleased. But with thoughtful and consistant design, I can say there will always be people who will appreciate it for what it is, even if it's not really to thier tastes. Some of them even if they don't like it(I could see Kuro's brilliance the first time around, just didn't enjoy it 'til I abandoned a few expectations).