Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Powerups, map progression..

Right now I'm in the process of adding the tiles to all the rooms, and choosing the locations of certain powerups.

It a little hard to decide where to put certain powerups, because of how much of a difference it makes to the game's flow and length. There are more or less two different ways of placing them,

The first extreme, is that only certain powerups are essential to the game's progression, and everything else is just optional.

This kind of progression would more or less be based around the idea that there isn't really a "wrong" way to go. Every optional path rewards the player's exploration. 

The other extreme is to make it so that most of the powerups are essential, meaning the player can't really go off the beaten path. Instead, powerups would have to be acquired in a certain order, and there would be frequent backtracking

In this case, rather than backtracking being a possibility, it becomes a necessity, since the player must obtain the right powerups in order to progress, some of which might be far back, and yet inaccessible in the beginning.

So the question much do you want the player to backtrack? Is there a satisfaction in seeing a blocked path, and then finding the solution? That image of something unobtainable in the back of your mind until finally you have the means to acquire it? Or is it better to give the player the freedom to explore? Does the player lose the satisfaction of finding the right way if there are too many "right" ways?

*head explodes*

Obviously, the answer is probably somewhere in-between. For instance, every powerup may not be essential to "progress", but you could make them essential to "explore", that is, finding certain non-essential powerups. Or, powerups that are essential to progress could also be used to find certain optional powerups.


With the current game, I went a bit too far towards the first extreme. Since I focused so much on alternate paths that can all lead you towards progression, there aren't many blocked paths that you see in passing. There are very few "Ah-ha!" moments wherein you obtain the means to enter a blocked area that had been constantly tantalizing you to that point.

Oh well, I guess. There's always next time -___-

Also, I'll probably be doing a stream somtime soon. Dunno what I'll be doing during it. I'll probably be tiling rooms, I could work on some sound, or some other stuff. (I still need to do music, but music would probably be really frustrating to watch..)


  1. I honestly like the concept of backtracking, maybe not pushed to the extreme, but (for example) it worked really well for me the way it was in Kurovadis.

    On the other hand, I don't really like the idea of "full freedom" and optional powerups everywhere around - this always leaves an impression that I've definitely missed something and - since I initially don't know which way is the "progressive" one, I end up backtracking after each and every screen, anxiously checking every alternative path, fearing that I may accidentally go too far and miss something useful...

    1. I agree and know what you mean. Whenever I play a game that gives even just a little bit of freedom to explore the areas around me I have a very bad tendency to look in every corner, literally. It could look like nothing is there from a little ways away and I will still run up to that wall or ledge or whatever it is until I confirm there is nothing there.

  2. This is completely off topic but I'm curious. Have you learned anything new from the development of this game? Besides the "Dont-take-this-long-to-finish-a-game" thing you've been mentioning of course.

    1. Hmm...not too much. I've learned a bunch of programming oriented stuff, and some other minor skills. In terms of game design, I think I've also become much more familiar with designing metroidvanias, and I'll be much better off the next time I make one.

      I'm sure there's a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting though -__-

      A lot of it is just very contextual design mistakes I made, such as adding moves that contradict the design of existing enemies or gameplay elements. I need to learn to stick to the core design of the game more.

  3. Hopefully I'll catch this one. Hold off for 2 or 3 more hours :P, I'll surely be home by then!

  4. Streaming music creation isn't all that bad from what I've seen.

    1. I dunno...there's a lot of playing the same 5 second part like 30 times until it sounds right.

    2. I could write now a long Text but let's make it short:

      Why don't you make it like the second extreme but put a hidden optional powerup next to the essential ones? But more like an easteregg than a powerup. If you ever played Oddworld: Abe's Exodus you know that you could see some bottles on a mapscreen where a hidden door was which led to another "minigame" map.

  5. I must say, you have quite eloquent writing. Just really noticed that on your sixth onwards' paragraph.

    Also, is that the final map layout (with optional paths), or just an example? That would be too short :(

    1. This is just an example. The full map is like 7-8 times this size.

    2. Ah, that's great then. Good luck with finishing it!

  6. "Or, powerups that are essential to progress could also be used to find certain optional powerups."

    A grest example of this is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night! With the essential chain of powerups, you can beat the game...seeing about 25% of the whole game itself. But you can also find optional powerups, which enable you to progressively unlock the rest 75%. =)

    If you can make the next SotN, you'll probably become a bajillionare.

  7. The problem I have with extreme backtracking comes from Metroid - most of the time I couldn't remember exactly where I needed to use the new power I obtained so I spent hours aimlessly wandering the map, which just got boring and aggravating.

    However, optional power ups with a more linear progression allows for you to enjoy the game for the first playthrough, then start again and play again in an effort to find everything.

    I really enjoyed Nightmare Sphere's system.

  8. Personally, I find that Castlevania's Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow seem to have gone a bit far to the second extreme. If you could tone that down a little, I feel that it would be just enough

  9. I didn´t read all post an some possible came up already, here some systems i can think of

    - already shown, pathfinding restriction, means you need items to get further ahead (Power Ups/Keys...)
    (but please not in restricted order, cause i hate to run aimless around just to get the right order, too confusing)
    - gaining Power Ups/Keys from Mini Bosses
    - get Power Ups/Skills trough Lvl Up systems (get Skillspoints or Skills at lvl x,y,z)
    (i like to grind a little, triggers grappels ^^, as long as the health regain system is good balanced)
    - getting Power Ups via Dropchances is also working, but this need to be declared
    (this has a lot of room to play with, temp Power Ups or Usable Ups, limited gain (like after boss you max power ups raise (2/2 Str Up to 2/4 Str Up))

  10. As for the Pathfinding you could add a helper, like a fairy which is around or follows you and says stuff like:
    - hey did you see that small path over there?
    - the path is blocked you need something to break the blocks
    - was that cave other there already there?

  11. This is going to be a sex game, isn't it? Good gameplay on an h-game does make it fun, but its still an h-game. You're playing with a whole new type of content that follows different rules. H-content has a remarkably strong player pull - to the point of cheating and savegame hacking if the player just doesn't have the skills to play the game properly. And of course, "losing" is frequently more fun than "winning" unless winning unlocks the gallery or something.

    In a regular game with unessential upgrades, one can walk into the room, see it, see the puzzle, and go "ehhhh.... no."
    In an h-game however, one can walk into the room, see the upgrade, see the puzzle, and also see a whole new type of obvious h-content and go "Hm... maybe its worth exploring even if I don't figure out how to get the upgrade..."

    Therefore, I think it would be less about placing power-ups and whether or not they are essential versus the non-linear placement of h-content.

    Could also play with the endings some. A low completion % ending gives a generic ending. A high completion % ending could be significantly more naughty, including a possible playable gallery like Eroico's.

    1. H-content doesn't really diminish the importance of powerup placement, though, even if it can be utilized in it's own ways. Not to mention, H-content being utilized as a motivator isn't really any different from extra content in normal games. For example, if the player see's a cat that runs from the player when it see's them, the player may be driven to catch it simply because they want to "see what happens".

      That aside, the distribution of enemies with H-content was considered from the beginning, when creating the enemies and the initial level design. They were distributed in such a way that you encounter a new enemy with H-content every couple of screens. Other than the enemies, there is no H content that doesn't involve enemies, though I will be adding some after the game is completed.

      Also, defeating enemies unlocks them in a lab room, which acts as a gallery. (And has other purposes, if I have time for it.)

  12. "Obviously, the answer is probably somewhere in-between."

    How about a 30:70 ratio for forced:optional ? Easier said than done, I guess...