Sunday, April 19, 2015

Including game mechanics you hate.

Some thoughts, while thinking about how certain game mechanics are going to work in Noaika,

One thing I often think about when it comes to game design, is to what degree you should base things around what you like yourself. In terms of H-content, I try to balance what fetishes I include despite being indifferent about some of them, but I never include anything that I hate. So what about game mechanics/elements I don't like?

For example,

1. Stealth sections with instant fail-states. (control is taken away via cutscene)
2. Games that force you to switch away from the main protagonist, or the one that you chose. (when the game follows someone else for a while)
3. Long games with alternate choices or routes, but not way to access them without replaying everything from the beginning.
4. Escort missions.
5. On-rail shooter sections.
6. Long stretches of walking from place to place in environments that used to contain something, but don't anymore.
7. Set pieces that are just time consuming. (giant ladders, long hallways)
8. Animations for mundane or repetitive tasks, that are long and drawn out. (Opening doors)


With some of these, not only do they annoy me, but in many cases they make the experience far worse. But the question is, as a developer, should I ever avoid certain game mechanics not because I think the concept is flawed, but because I don't like them?


In the case of Noaika, the game mechanic in question is whether or not I should include branching content. That is, stuff that you can only experience if you play the game more than once. Personally, I like being able to do everything in a single playthrough, and so it always annoys me when I play a game with decisions that will effect the game on a gameplay level later.

For example, say you're introduced to two characters, and you have to choose one to come with you. You choose the one you like, only to realize later that if you had chosen the other one, a character you like way more would have joined you, and you would have to play the game over again if you want to see it.

With Noaika, many times it's crossed my mind "I could make it so if you don't do this, or don't kill this monster by this time, it turns into this, or does that", simply because it would be interesting, and make the game a bit more dynamic. But at the same time I know that as a player I hate the constant feeling that I'm going to regret all of my actions later. Hell, with some games I end up checking a guide simply because I want to make sure that I'm not going to miss out on certain content by making a certain choice, since I only play through most games once.

I suppose the answer is to consider what I like about a mechanic and what I hate about it at the same time, and try to come up with an alternative (For example, the way visual novels let you skip ahead to choices). But I still find it interesting that you end up considering mechanics that sound good to you as a developer but not as a player -__-

77 comments:

  1. Hrm. I'd argue it's not about the mechanic per se, it's about making it work.
    Why is it that branching content sucks in many games?
    - It forces you to replay 90% the same content to discover the 10% new branch, which gets you all the frustration of a game element that rubbed you the wrong way, with none of the gratification of finally clearing it.
    - You're constantly afraid you miss options, and lose out on half the game out of ignorance
    - It can make the story feel more railroaded than an unbranched story, because decisions are telegraphed far in advance, and writing gets very A-vs-B cliched

    In this example, I figure dynamic bosses seems reasonable, though IMHO it should be based on gameplay, not time, so players have some more control.
    Things I'd argue for to make it work, obviously not all together:
    - Provide historic savefiles at major points, so players can rewind to before some monster gets some to-that-player annoying mechanic they don't want to deal with
    - Have an achievement-type system that lists "beat monster X in final evolution stage" or so, to give players a checklist of which major arcs they haven't seen yet
    - Offer a newgame+ that puts you after a selectable major boss, so you can replay the portions you want to
    - Offer a newgame+ that allows you to unlock abilities ahead of time, so you can avoid low-geared interactions that frustrated you the first time around
    - Allow players to control evolutions more directly in newgame+

    Those are just my thoughts, of course, I figure you're probably better at this than I am, but figured I'd offer an opinion anyway.

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    1. These are good points!

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    2. Well, I'll put it this way, If I include branching paths, I'll also include some way of "moving between" it in a way that makes sense. Even more-so than in things like visual novels were you can skip to choices. (which is fine, for visual novels)

      One of the ways I thought of doing it, would be give different parts of the map different "states", and make it so you can switch it to any state you've gone through. For example there would be a line with points that say things like "wall destroyed", "enemy escaped", etc. However that sounds like something that would be better to focus on as a main mechanic, rather than something this late into a project.

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    3. Also, I'm no better at anything than you until I've done it and executed it well lol. Until then, we're in the same boat of "thinking about what works". Putting it all together is the hard part.

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    4. The state graphs work, and I've seen them executed well - mostly in animation-heavy visual novels with branching paths, where you can use them to create joins and loops and all sorts of crazyness.
      That said, I agree that adding that in this late is overkill / detracts focus from what the game is trying to be.

      The simpler variant would be a "Begin at chapter X"-style continue option, perhaps. Could work out of the box if all toggles are of the "X destroyed" kind, since you could start with everything still intact. Doesn't work if toggles are unskippable "Did you destroy the prison wall in the boss map before killing the boss?" kind.
      There's also the concern that if there's a lot of optional collectibles, a followup playthrough might feel like it needs to go through all the bonus rooms again.
      But I figure this should be doable without too much influence on the game with a screen

      Start after [temple boss]
      Keep collectibles [Y/N]
      Prisoner has escaped [Y/N]

      or something along those lines - as long as it's 5 prompts or less it should be simple enough to grasp.
      It would also mean that once you've cleared the game, you can replay your favorite area/bosses without going through the rest or mucking with savefiles, too -
      which makes me think, there should probably be a hidden way to put the game into NG+ mode from scratch, for players who can't clear part of it, or cleared it months ago and deleted game+save in the meantime.

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    5. Completely inappropriate for Noaika, but for a future game with branching elements, you could include a time travel mechanic to go back and make different choices, allowing you access to all of the content on a single playthrough. There are several different ways of implementing this:

      An item that's usable at almost any time to rewind a set amount or back to the most recent checkpoint
      A temporal Mark and Recall/Farore's Wind where you set the point in time you want to return to
      Certain enemies/bosses tearing open a wormhole which you can jump through to return to set points in time (which would allow for re-fighting bosses to return to different points in time and could be a whole game in itself)
      An ability of the character which allows you to travel freely through time, altering things in the past to affect the future (think Ocarina of Time)

      I personally dislike the idea of menu options/prompts to move through the game and replay content and feel that incorporating such a feature into the core gameplay and game's lore would produce a more cohesive and satisfying experience.

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  2. One* thing I often..

    Long hallways or giant ladders can help build tension, like the one in Snake Eater.

    Branching content adds replay value and gives the player choice, it allows them to feel like they are in the world and making decisions themselves, rather than simply being pulled along by the current to suit the game designer's story, but it's just a facade, they don't have any control over the story, they can only choose one of the premade paths to follow.

    If a player dislikes their options it can be even worse than not having options at all (I know this from experience from when I played Dragon Age) at which point you could have a "Canon Story" option that would skip any decision making and instead follow the route you intended.

    Unforeseeable consequences are just bad game design imo.

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    1. With the whole ladder thing, that's part of my point. I understand why the developer did it. and why other people would enjoy it, but I didn't enjoy it (some situations like that, I mean). And the question is, should I include mechanics that I don't like simply because most of my audience "would" enjoy it, or should I exclude them and follow the principle of "make what you like", knowing that there will also be people who have the same sensibilities as myself.

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    2. I think the question shouldn't be "Do I enjoy it", it should be "Do I understand why I [do/don't] enjoy it?" - making something you don't like or understand for the purpose of a token is recipe for disaster. The nice thing about game mechanics is that you can adapt them to suit needs and preferences, you don't need to go straight by the book on them.

      By contrast, "Why do I don't like large boobs, and how do I compensate for that to make big boobs I'd also enjoy?" doesn't really work ;)

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    3. Well, like I said, I do know why I don't enjoy it, and why other people do. Which is exactly why I consider using or adapting them, despite not liking them in the forms in which I've encountered them.

      On the other hand, there are some mechanics that I just flat-out don't like regardless of their execution, and how much I understand them, such as forcing the player to control another character mid-story. However, that's not to say that I'll never make a game where including such a thing would make the game better for the majority of players, thus the dilemma.

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    4. I think you would learn a great deal probably from utilizing mechanics you don't personally enjoy. Delivering something to a target audience isn't particularly relevant to your personal tastes (with some limits, obviously; an author won't create good work if he's creating something he hates).

      Regarding space (e.g. snake eater's ladder), I think atmospherics benefit greatly from sequences like this, or sequences where you're simply 'walking a long way' accompanied by either narrative, very atmospheric music/feedback (this makes me think of SuperGiant's Bastion/Transistor) or the like. I think the mixture of 'doing something simple and long' like running down a flickering hallway or traversing the cityscape while being atmospherically immersed in one way another is a very powerful and immersive dynamic in game design.

      My two cents
      -Toodles

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    5. Do it the way you like it, don't homogenize your game.

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  3. looks like somebody has been metal gear solid 3 recently

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    1. Nah. The only Metal Gear game I've played was the demo of Reverence, which...doesn't really count. But it was a lot of older games that got me thinking about this sort of thing.

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  4. Some of those points aren't all that bad (Except Escort Missions, F**K THOSE!) me personally I love a game with a stealth quality to it. I find it to add a certain challenge and force you to use your brain. Like someone listed above its not about the special game mechanic its about how you tie it into your game. How well is it integrated in. Is it just a side mission that you can skip, or is it a requirement to move forward through the plot? Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I just finished Dying Light today and encase you haven't played it, its a solid game, but it has a high replay value due to the fact that its RPG based and has a number of side missions that you can skip over. Which is good and bad. Good because I finished the main story and there are no options in the game so its not like I have to play the story all over again. Bad because at some points its a bitch to play due to the fact it can be very difficult to get through one mission. But its a game once you fully finish you never have to pick it up again.

    SO, the question is do you want to make a game that you have to play 10 times to see the full content, a game that you only have to play once or somewhere in the middle where you can play it again at a higher difficulty or something. But careful, a game is suppose to be fun, don't piss people off by implementing so much or so little that they can't fully enjoy the game the way it was intended to be played.

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    1. Most of my examples were things that are commonly done poorly. For example, escort missions usually suck, but Ico is technically one giant escort mission, and I enjoyed that game. With stealth, like I said, I mean specifically ones with instant fail states, as opposed to games like Tenchu.

      If I have branching paths of any kind, I'll almost certainly have some way of going back and experiencing the rest easily, and in a way that feels natural..

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    2. Resurrection shrines where you can return a large/roaming monster to life in trade for some temporary buff/currency, perhaps, or to point out a random not-yet-collected item in the area...

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    3. My personal favorite when it comes to branching paths is a system that handles branches in the form of a NG+ (or modified NG+). Let's say you clear the game, picking along the way a few choices or branched paths, events, etc. I much prefer a 'continued narrative' (even if it's done through the already existing content) with slightly amped enemies, or something to that effect, to give you incentive (gameplay-wise) to 'see it all'. Obviously, NG+'s are the blatant example of this.

      Consider a game like Nier; love or hate it, its' multiple endings and the way the game changed narratively through progressive replays was enough for me to really be curious enough to sit down and replay it a few times over the years. The fact that you get more insights, even though they're nearly cosmetic and tiny content-wise compared to the vanilla playthrough, and slightly more/different content to see, is a huuuuuuge plus in my eyes.

      In terms of handling 'branched' content this might be slightly difficult to implement, but I think it's a really smart approach. If you choose path A, perhaps on NG+ (or something like it), you'd get a chance to see path B, but it wouldn't just be a cakewalk/'let's redo the same area to see a new enemy/animation/etc').

      Some thoughts.
      -Toodles

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  5. I guess it comes down to how much value you think the feature holds for others. If you could exclude something you don't like and nobody would notice, and if by including it people would only slightly notice, it's probably not worth putting in.

    For example, a long hallway might add a little bit of tension, but unless you, the person who hates long hallways, can coincidentally craft a masterful hallway scene, the trade-off between your personal enjoyment and audience enjoyment is so minimal that it would be pointless to try. However, if every one of your rabid fans is screaming for a long hallway, denying them that based on personal preference might be a big mistake.

    I'd say, generally, go with what you want first. Your preferences for games is ultimately what shapes what kind of games you make, anyway, right down to the genre. Liking metroidvanias is the main reason you decided to make them, right?


    On the topic of branching content, I generally like to play games more than once anyway, so branching content is like a bonus for me. Branching content is a mild reward for doing something that I wanted to do anyway, whereas for you it's more like a mild reward for doing something that you didn't want to do to begin with. I think you can sort of compromise by making the branches not that big of a deal, so people who don't want to play again won't feel like they're missing out too much, and people who do want to play again get a little extra. If there's a huge branch, there should probably be some kind of skip.

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  6. Kyrieru, are you me?

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  7. i think branching content is fine, as long as each branch is significant in leading up to a significant difference later on, e.g. visual novel "routes."

    As with all gameplay elements, these decisions need to be weighed carefully:
    -does the addition of a branch help the story that is being told, or hinder it?
    -does the branch add enough content that it merits a branch at all?
    -is each branch of the story unique enough so it doesn't suffer from replay-itis?
    -how much development time needs to be devoted to implementing a branch vs how long can you realistically afford to spend on it and make it up to the rest of the game's quality?
    -if you need to re-use assets and areas, how can this branch give significance to those areas?
    -will the branch be grafted back into a main arc, or does it lead to another ending?
    -are there enough benefits and drawbacks in each branch that you don't feel like you got gypped by picking one over another?

    unfortunately i think this fails in non-VN games because these questions are not sufficiently answered.

    Example:
    Heroine comes across an NPC, trapped by a monster, who offers to accompany and support her in return for being saved.
    Route 1: Heroine accepts, NPC supports heroine through the story. some added h-content, possible different ending.
    Route 2: Heroine leaves NPC and proceeds without her. She comes back as the penultimate boss looking for revenge on the heroine who abandoned her to her fate. Different h-content and possible ending.

    This is a good base scenario, but there are pitfalls which need to be avoided.
    -Does the presence of the supporter make the gameplay different should you need to traverse the same areas and meet the same objectives? If it only makes the game easier and shorter, this is bad.
    -Does there really need to be a choice? What if the story was that you saved her, and she was later abducted anyway?
    -Has the player had enough time to become acclimated to the supporting character before the choice? It's highly annoying in games when you meet a character and then lose them later in the game. These choices need to be made early on.

    something that would be a cool example of different gameplay is if there were an area with some sort of flower monster that attacked the player and raped them if they got close, but were only vulnerable to a weapon that the player doesn't have access to until later. If the player has the support, the support will get trapped and raped, while the flower exposes its vulnerable stalk (which is in fact vulnerable to the weapons the player currently has). Without the follower, the player needs to perform a jumping puzzle with vanishing platforms above the plants. However, with the follower, the platforms can't support the weight of both and instantly disappear.

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  8. Quote

    For example,

    1. Stealth sections with instant fail-states. (control is taken away via cutscene)
    2. Games that force you to switch away from the main protagonist, or the one that you chose. (when the game follows someone else for a while)
    3. Long games with alternate choices or routes, but not way to access them without replaying everything from the beginning.
    4. Escort missions.
    5. On-rail shooter sections.
    6. Long stretches of walking from place to place in environments that used to contain something, but don't anymore.
    7. Set pieces that are just time consuming. (giant ladders, long hallways)
    8. Animations for mundane or repetitive tasks, that are long and drawn out. (Opening doors)

    Unquote

    Ok, i know how annoying i may be sometimes, but i'll still do it.

    1 Completely no objections, seriously, the hell? Especially in games where you CAN and DID already deal with the "Consequences" that "Caught you"

    2 It is often hand-waved, yes, but it can be done in a really good way. It is often bad in major games (like the aforementioned MGS), but simply because the whole system is balanced from the PoV that you play the main character, and the devs didn't bother going deeper into, what they thought, a simple and minor part of the game. But in smaller games, like Noaika, you can, rather easily, do it without disturbing the main content. So, remember those awfully cute little drones that you collect? It is possible to make a stealth-esque small part of the gameplay where you have to control the drone to free the protagonist, that got trapped in a slug/demon breeder/experiment tube. Depending on the type of the monster you could make the level a stealth, evading monsters and tentacles, a puzzle, hacking doors and systems to crush the scientists with their own machines or simply a shoot-em-up in ye'olde' 2d spacebattles style.

    3 I'll reply to myself to fill this one in.

    4 Same as 2, it is usually simply not done right. What do we usually have: A Retarded Kid who stands around while being poked (Fable), A Retarded NPC who attacks on sight in an area with infinite enemy respawns (LoZ) and, my favourite, A BIG ASS TRUCK\ROBOT\WHATEVER that tumbles around and is impossible to miss, while all enemies prioritize it before you, even while being shot (Every shooter ever). This one above? This is bullshit. But it can be done right. You have an NPC that you need to take for point A to point B. You follow this NPC, then SUDDENLY you are under attack. What the NPC does? Hides it's ass in the shadows of the background while you deal with the threat. Why not help you? Well, if it could fight it wouldn't need an escort, yes? When the combat is over go further. If you lose while fighting then NPC goes fuck logic and tries to protect you and somehow breaks the usual Teleport-To-Respawn mechanic, so, yes, two character CG and bad end. Not perfect, but if you want to give some more story and add an escort mission may work just nice.

    5 I'm with you on this one, fuck this.

    6 In your previous games you avoided it just fine. There was just not enough space in Eroico for this to happen and in Kuro simply going both ways was a challenge in itself. I trust your golden hands on this one. Same really goes with 7 and 8, you have avoided it master, and my hopes and dreams are with you.

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    1. Now, as promised, replying to myself on branching story.

      As had already been noted by many anons above it can be done right. It only should be done if you are ready for the ton of added work it gives and are at peace with the fact that half the players won't care and will miss at least a third of your work (which, i repeat, is glorious).

      I should note that you are demeaning of yourself, your games are extremely good and i, and i believe a lot of other people, play then for the sake of playing. Really, i have completed Kuro more that 20 times and i would do the same to Eroico, if i could figure out how to deal with that cute Queen.

      Back to the point.
      Completing YOUR game multiple times is not a problem, it is fun. So, this problem does not apply to you. Still going through the same levels and the same leveling again and again can be frustrating. How to deal with this? NG+! Slightly alter the monster locations and, maybe add a new one or two that are obviously out-of-place (Time travellers? Dimension hoppers?). This will give a reason to go through the game again and open more endings\plotpoints. You have already included the multiple-slot save system and it will help a lot for all of us who like to open up all the fine points and secrets of the game.

      Sidenote.
      2d Crash-Bandicoot-style doppelgänger fight. Just think about it.

      Sidenote 2.
      I Missed the preorder for Noaika. How do it give you money?

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    2. Some interesting points, thanks for the input. I actually considered some multi dimensional style mechanics, although without a lot of mechanics tied to it it might seem underdeveloped. If I did something like that, I'd have to develop it with that in mind from the beginning, I think.

      As for Noaika, there's no real reason to pre-order it, at this point. Once it comes out, everyone will get it at the same time anyway, so you can just buy it when the time comes. And thank you, if you do ^_^

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    3. Same person (can switch to google account for you convenience, if you wish).

      As of what I have seen from the Demo:
      The protagonist (Noaika) is a semi-energy being and/or is capable of creating arms, armor and items from pure energy/pull them out of pan-dimensional storage is she has the blueprint/energy signature/access code. She also is capable of using said energy to project blasts of power (read - shoot plasma) and strengthen her hand-to-hand attacks.

      At the moment what I understand from mechanics is this: you need to maintain concentration to use these abilities (A glorious turn and a step above the usual "Rape power" games, we have an explanation), so after taking a beating (takedown) concentration breaks and you have to regain it (mash buttons) to avoid getting grappled and raped, whereupon you have to regain (mash) concentration (buttons) to produce a blast and know enemy out of range.

      The above one is mostly an assumption on my part, based upon you including a (yet unfinished) arousal mechanic. You are too good to simply make it the usual "lose a ton of health" timer and the debuffs to attack and\or movement and\or gear is the only thing i could think of.

      Back to the point. At the beginning of the game we see the girl contained (saved?) in a crystal of obviously "Energy Field" (Dimensional Prison?) nature. As soon as we exit the room we find a machine, that will act as a respawn point (Dimensional Anchor?) for us from now. Jolly good time are had as soon as we exit, rape monsters (Guardians?) are about, coming from the shadows! Why are they here? End of the World Scenario? (Kuro) No, too clean/unmutated (they look like actual soldiers, Extraterrestrial/Dimensional Invasion?). There be Monstergirls? (Eroico) Could be, but not really, we were already here. Prison guardians? Works just fine. They seem to spawn as a reaction to our actions at times, are friends with local turret defence, and seem to know our weakness and how to use it (There are other, more effective, ways to disable concentration/clear mind based powers, but we are talking Erotic game FFS).

      Judging from the above we can say that the protagonist might be: The Last Hope of the Planet/Dimension, the Prisoner, the Experiment/Super Soldier or even the Mind (Materialised will (in form of a red haired cutie) of the Facilities' mainframe or somesuch). Based on this NG+ possibilities are quite wide (even if not implemented from start).
      Last Hope - Rinse-Repeat the invasion (change enemies and/or their locations and/or their powers/abilities). Classical, if a little handwavy. Easy to pull off and gives a feel of slight progression (I am looking at you Samus, stop selling upgrades for hair products)
      The Prisoner - Recaptured, simple as that. The field failed in the first time. Why it can't fail again?
      Experiment/Soldier - This is a tricky one. In this variety we are released from containment/experiment tube during some cataclysm/attack and thus must deal with stuff. The trickiest one on the list for me actually. You could have the last boss (Or one of the minor ones, even better really, we didn't look at the actual threat for the whole time) be a time travelling or dimension hopping bastard who escapes at the last moment to go on a spree, destroying our variants across the multiple dimensions. We get to somehow copycat his power and go to stop him, becoming stronger because law of sympathy (see "The One" with Jet Li), while the BBEG does the same, becoming stronger each time we fight him. This one might as well apply to all others really, except, maybe, the mind.
      The Mind - Easy one too. The last boss could be the Corrupted Mainframe that spawned us (so, we do not know if we will survive killing it) after we fight we see a cutscene (ready Game Over On Win screen) and then see that we DID somehow survive the blast/repercussions and are, once again, alive, in a crystal.

      Ok, i might have taken too much upon myself, sorry if i offended you in any way. I can stop posting if you would like.

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  9. I think you already know enough of what works and what dose not.

    You shouldn't avoid all the things you wrote above because they can be done well as many people have mentioned.

    Just go with the flow. Avoid serving content in ways you know will annoy or exhaust the player and you'll be fine.

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  10. Mr.Kyrieru I respect whatever decision you make when it comes to game Dev. But please for the love god,Satan,cthulhu,gabe newell or what ever diety you worship. Do not I repeat do not go to the free to play route,and the season pass.Yes I know you wrote game mechanics,and yes I read your post. But if you like me brought many games like mortal kombat X then you know what I mean. I don't want to pay $5 for a new level. Please don't try to milk me for extra lives with real money. Alternative ending sound nice,but I don't want to pay $10 for it! Forgive me for my rant,but I had to say it just in case you was thinking about it.

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    1. I will never do DLC, or micro-transactions, for the simple reason that DLC is almost always detrimental to a game's design. I know that certain kinds of DLC can be pro-consumer, but even then I prefer to make a single, cohesive product.

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    2. I know what you mean. I usually fear DLC because it makes me question whether I'm getting the full experience I originally paid for and free games with micro-transactions were never going to be my thing because I love being immersed into a game more than anything so kicking me out of that feeling with real world money doesn't help.

      If the game doesn't really have a story and I already feel like the money was worth it with what I've played then I can welcome DLC pretty fine unless it's day one crap or something.
      Mario Kart 8 is the only DLC I've properly enjoyed as far as I can remember because I know that they still worked hard on the tracks long after release and what you get isn't just a lazy money grab (it's a worked-for money grab, hohoho...)

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    3. Same here. The only other DLC I've bought is for Fire Emblem: Awakening, because I judged the purchases as a fair price for what I was getting from them. Any other times I usually feel like I've been cheated or that the price was not worth the content. Strange than Nintendo of all people seem to get how to do this the best.

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    4. I remember when a paid expansion was INDEED an expansion, instead of a locked character or area. If you made a Noaika gaiden for $3 which had half the content of the original, I wouldn't mind; what would piss me off is paying $1 fpr an extra room.

      I wonder why the only ones still releasing substantial expansions are Blizzard

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    5. At most, I would be fine with doing stand-alone mini-games that use the same engine as the main game, but that have none of the same content. So for example if there was a game like Kurovadis for $5, then I can see the apeal of releasing a stand alone area that uses a different character for $1.

      Even then, though, I'd rather just make a better, complete experience, or just do an update half of that size and make it free.

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    6. Thank god for that it seem every game I played so far has marco transactions or upcoming season pass. Anyway since that out the way. Mr.Kyrieru I have another question for you. What do you think of
      Quick time events? Is that something that you would use in one of your games.

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    7. Quick time events for boss battle and cutscenes I mean.

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    8. That's a relief to hear. Neither do I.

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  11. One thought I had that you could maybe use for branching paths is to have the other branches become available later on in the game. Say you have to choose one of two or three characters to bring with you early on to help you advance the story. That character then has a storyline that you cover for awhile. Eventually, the first area opens back up and you can go back and do the other character(s)'s storylines before finishing the game.

    Another way to avoid frustrating the player too much is to clearly telegraph to them what content they're choosing to see before they make their choice. Say by letting the player play with both of the characters for a bit before they make their choice and having those characters tell the player about anyone that might join them after they make their choice. It's not unlike the need to clearly telegraph what sexual content is coming up in adult games.

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    1. Well, I think telegraphing it would ruin magic of it a bit. Even I like being surprised when I play a game.

      I think the reason why I don't tolerate certain things anymore is because I'm an adult, and I've got shit to do. Whereas when I was a kid, it probably would have been easier for me to sink my time into something, and just let it take me along for the ride.At this point, I'm the kind of person who will use cheat engine to speed up a game if it's going to get something tedious over with faster.(Like grinding, or backtracking through an empty area)

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    2. Yeah, when you've got other shit to do your mindset completely shifts, it's quite amazing. I used to love standard JRPGs and stuff, but nowadays when I go back to play them I just can't stand the grinding.

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    3. I guess you could also have the player's choices determine which quests are main quests and which ones are side quests with small variations in them to fit with the new story. I've seen a few games that have done that.

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  12. Some games would have this branching mechanic but make it where you don't waste your time by having a different mode of some sort.

    Say, have a mode where once you beat the game, you unlock speedrun mode or something: you have all the items required in the game already, but you take damage more.
    Or, you could slightly change the layout of enemies or puzzles on the second run.
    Another way, a new playstyle/character is unlocked.
    Or, "replay the game as Kuro!" kind of thing. (Which I think wouldn't be hard to import her playstyle and adapt it to the needs of the game.)

    Just a few brainstorming ideas. Maybe even change the music a bit on the second run.

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  13. just let us save-scum, eZ.

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  14. While I get why you wouldn't like the insta-death stealth, would that really matter in a checkpoint based game like Noaika? I get that repeating an entire segment of a game is absolutely frustrating, but if you just zap back to the beginning of the stealth part it still at least feels like gameplay.

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  15. A way to get the "best of both worlds" is to make the player's action change the game, but still allow to them to see what would've happened if they had not. The monster that the player chose to kill may not evolve into a hideous megabeast, but maybe they get to see that megabeast in action anyway, but instead as a background element, with less of a challenge (i.e. player gains some stat change), or less of them in general.

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  16. The idea of escorting an NPC down a long hallway full of monsters trying to rape said NPC sounds appealing to me.

    Or maybe its just my deviancy peeking out again.

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  17. Ultimately, if you make the game mechanics enjoyable enough, branching content and multiple playthroughs become something of a moot point. I've played though Kurovadis something like five or six times at this point just because it plays like a dream. Everything feels fluid yet so precise. I love jumping in and just playing it. If the game feels good to play, there aren't going to be major concerns about people getting to play it again and trying different options. Contrast this with my impression of Eroico, for instance, where I played the demo and didn't buy the game because I hated playing it. You could make Eroico have sixteen different endings or just the one and it would still be the least important thing about the game to me.

    Also, for what it's worth, I enjoy games that have multiple routes to see the different way that events can turn out. Although, with the added caveat that playing the game can't feel like a chore. If the actual act of playing the game is tedious, then I'll just end up reading a guide.

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    1. sorry for your bad taste

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  18. I hate multiple endings, especially if it's a "bad ending/normal ending/good ending" deal. Yeah you try to make my failures as a player have an adverse effect on the character and overall story but you can make it about the "character fucking up" all you like, you're pissing on the player who still made it all the way through the game. Instead of a satisfying story, I have to see which one is the actual canon ending. You can't rope me along with a storyline and expect me to care, and then hit me with multiple ends to the story and think each one has value when they all contradict each other.

    I also dislike games that have a "percent completed" tease but no big payoff for reaching 100% completed. No secret harem ending, no fancy crown to take into New Game+, nothing.

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  19. Do not think about what people like or hate, but what they EXPECT. It's a platform shooter, so make it a platform shooter!

    - Linear levels without need of returning in search of missed key or doors.
    - Linear cheap story with clear goal and no plot twist.
    - Temporary power-ups.
    - Lot's of weak and dumb enemies.
    - Checkpoints and unlimited lives.
    - Unlimited ammo.
    - Simple controls (arrows + 2 buttons).
    - One or two bonus level (time attack, vertical explosion escape, vehicle assault, shooting range etc.)
    - Badass music and sounds.

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  20. If we're talking about game mechanics - I was thinking that making another "avoid-being-rape" game sounds boring. How about giving our heroine an actual NEED of having some H-content in order to remain sane in the world full of grotesque monsters or simply to regain health. Ignoring the need would lead a character to insanity and eventually death.

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  21. I love branching content but I wouldn't recommend it in a standard platformer. Since this is an H-game though you can use it as a sort of fetish choice. That way people who don't like one can choose to have another instead of having to go through it anyway.

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  22. My dislike "hit the keys".
    "wow! get off me!" TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP...

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    1. Shut up. It is awesome. tap

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    2. It's not great. It's just that I dislike the alternatives even more, in most cases (button prompts). As-is, tapping is little more than asking the player "do you want to get raped y/n?" with the slight difference in context it creates.

      I think what would make it better, is if moving the directional buttons effected the animation in certain ways, and you have to find the weakness in the enemy's defenses to escape. However, something like that would be a lot of work. (It's something that would be way more viable in 3d.)

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    3. I'm tired of left and right mashing as well. Ky brings up a good point, and perhaps a feature like this could not only allow the player to change the animation being displayed, but also add a gameplay element to the rape itself.

      For example, when being grappled, a player has to hold a directional key down and repeatedly hit the attack button. Each directional key will select a different type of resistance attack to the grapple, such as crawling away with the opposite direction arrow+ attack, a punching resistance with up + attack, kicking with down + attack, or a choking/counter-grapple with forward + attack.

      Based on the enemy type, your method of resistance would either force you into a position of a better chance of escape (from pinned to the ground to doggy-style) or a worse chance of escape (from standing titrub to pinned on the ground). The type of resistance would visibly be either effective or ineffective based on the animation itself. If trapped by a slime and you punch its goo and it just jiggles like jelly and nothing else, you know that form of resistance will get you MORE engulfed. But if holding down + attack makes her kick the floating core inside the slime and it flashes red with each kick, or holding a side key + attack makes the slime struggle to pull you back in, you can guess that form of resistance will lead to an escape. Each result would lead to a different type of rape animation, an escape, or a "hopeless" state where you can no longer resist.

      I think if you do something like this, it should be for bosses. I'm tired of making my first battle with a boss a "suicide run" because the boss only rapes you on loss. But mostly it makes the whole thing seem more fun to play, with enemies having different grapples and a tree of different possible actions and outcomes.

      Sorry for the wall, you don't have to read all this, it's more for me to brainstorm about it.

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    4. I think it's a great idea but kind of one of those "Slippery slope" things, as this adds exponentially more work to the animation side of things, doesn't it?

      Enemies go from having 1-2 animations to having like 3-6(?), although I'm sure partial/slightly altered animations don't hurt as much or take as much time. Still though, this sounds to me like a very quick way to massively increase the overhead of a project and the amount of content that'd have to be designed to get it done.

      Great ideas though, it would really be a cool feature :)
      -Toodles

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    5. Not like anything's ever "just a few lines of code and a few more frames", but the animation part could have jts shortcuts. The attacks are small edits of the same frame, a leg kicking and whatnot, and the rapes themselves are usually loops of 4-5 frames that speed up and speed up til one of the frames shoots white pixels. It would really be the coding that would take the most time. I'm not saying Ky should do this for Noaika (really, he shouldn't), but I don't think other devs would treat more ambitious coding as a "slippery slope" quite like he does. He's a glutton for that kinda stuff.

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    6. Editing H-animations is more time consuming than the programming would be. The programming would be easy, because you would only have to program a single system that all the enemies use.

      The reason why editing is time consuming (and why H-animations are time consuming) is because of all the secondary animation. When you put the body in a slightly different position, it means re- animating the hair, skin movement, the breasts, legs, anything that will be swaying, or moving during the animation. Climax animations are also time consuming to edit because sometimes there's a lot of changing expressions, or different timing, which means more secondary animation. I also animate cum by hand, and in a way that interacts with the body, so its not something that;s easy to just change quickly.

      If I did such a system, I would have to make a lot of compromises in the quality of the animations, otherwise it would take forever.


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    7. Well YEAH, I mean if you wanted it to look GOOD. But there's plenty of devs out there who opt for a much more simplistic style.

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    8. Solution of being rape is: to rape! It would be a way more fun.

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  23. ahhhhhhhhhh it's been almost half a year!!!!!!!!!111
    *explodes*

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  24. I'll write it once more: Raping in h-games is too mainstream. Focus on heroine's own desire/need, just as I mentioned few posts ago.

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    Replies
    1. It doesn't really matter to me if it's mainstream or not, it's just the fetish I prefer in the games I play and make. Even then, though, in my games it's more or less a requirement that anyone having sex is enjoying it so there's always an element of the protagonist exploring their own/the player's desires.

      At most, I plan on doing double systems where the character can be developed in either way, but there will always be at least some scenes with some form of coercion, because when playing games I find it more interesting when things happen to you and you have to react (unpredictable), as opposed to causing things to happen yourself ( more predictable). Even in consensual scenes, I prefer scenes where one of the two is more aggressive, and while I find it way more sexy when the female character is sexually aggressive, like I said, I don't really find the idea of playing a aggressive character that interesting, personally.

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    2. Kyrieru gets it. I have nothing to add.

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    3. Well I wasn't thinking about it, as a form of agression. Rather a form of survival. In similar way that Nightmare Creatures' character must kill in order to keep hir/her adrenaline level high, or Amnesia character should keep in lit areas.
      What i'm trying to say is that it might be interesting to add heroine's "unwanted and uncontrolled" NEED, not conscious DESIRE.

      Just imagine how the character's personality could evolve - from extreme feeling of guilt (as she can't control it) through the helplessness up to acceptation and finally total corruption. Or maybe give her a chance to oppose?

      Let say.. A story about a soldier girl, trapped by some evil force and slowly fading out; changing into succubus. Will she win her freedom? Or fall into the warm wet endless darkness...(evil_music_ends_here)

      Think about it.

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    4. Okay, I guess I do have more to add. XD

      I think that's a great idea and would love to see it in an H-game, but Kyrieru's way has one advantage over that: freedom over character personality. It might not be intentional, but having a (sexually) passive protagonist in a silent (little text and/or story) narrative means most of the protagonist's character traits and motivations are left up to the player. They can role-play it however they want and to their own fetishes, and nothing restricts them because, aside from maybe a few gameplay functions, there's very little outright denotation of the protagonist's thoughts or feelings.

      I'm not saying that other ideas can't be explored, or that this is the best was to make an H-game. Rather, it's just a realization I've come to; it's why I don't mind this type of rape in H-games that much, as opposed to in other mediums where it does bother me. It might also be why a lot of people make/play them, but that's just speculation.

      Like Kyrieru said, I tend to enjoy things more when everyone involved is enjoying it too. I guess that's just personal preference though. :D

      But yeah, by no means do H-games have to be limited to this sort of stuff. I've always found erotic video games as an intriguing area, since there's a lot at odds in design, mechanics, and narrative. A lot of undefined stuff and interesting ideas to be had. (Except for eroge, but that's another matter.)
      --Nathaniel

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    5. "raping is to mainstream" Either you never played some h-games or you are shitposting so you can support your fetish which is sad. 95% of h-games have always 1 slut who gets fucked by everything.

      Delete
  25. Look up how tactics ogre: let us cling together handled branching content. I think they did it very well.

    Essentially, there were three endings; lawful, Neutral, amd chaotic. At several plot points in the game your decisions might take you to a different route, and there are several paths through the game, even to the same ending. Each path also contains different (though sometimes shared) recruit able characters.

    So you play the game and miss things. But, once you've won you get a new ability. You can go back to any choice and make the other decision. Your party stays the same, to the point that if a member of your party dies in the story but you recruited them on a path that they didn't die then they remain in your party and usable in battle but are referred to as dead in the story.

    It allows you to play each route with minimal replaying of sections you've completed, and you retain your fI'll party amd gear to boot. This eliminates any need to really train your party or grind for items while you experience the remainder of the game.

    I thought it was a very well thought out system.

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    1. World Tarot! That's what it was called. Sorry for the double. Also in battle you could use the chariot tarot to go back up to 50 turns. Though that's off topic.

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    2. This is a blog, post as many times as you want lol. (Though, maybe blogger might interpret it as spam -___-)

      And yeah, that's the type of thing that I'd do. The ability to jump to different parts of the story.
      In the VN Thief and sword, another way of doing it was to literally allow you to toggle flags, once you acquired them.

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  26. Mamono Assault ForceApril 30, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    It's probably really late, and I don't know what the status is on Noaika, but while playing the demo you posted a while back, I minimized my game, and when I brought it back, my thumbstick on my controller that I used for movement ceased to work. The game only accepted movement via D-Pad.

    Not sure if that's a problem you can fix, of if it's Game Maker's issue. But I thought to report it regardless. I had to stop playing because moving with the d-pad is so awkward for me.

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  27. I'm a bit late to this discussion and there's so many comments to read so I can't be bothered to check if anyone has said what I'm about to say, but here's my two cents anyway:

    First about some of the mechanics from your list. Immersion is pretty important for H-games and some of those mechanics are very good for H-games. A few examples:

    "2. Games that force you to switch away from the main protagonist, or the one that you chose. (when the game follows someone else for a while)"

    Here's a scenario:
    Heroine loses to an enemy. Heroine is caught. Switch to heroines sidekick/whatever. Sidekick has to travel to the heroine and save her. Find heroine in a "sticky" situation.

    "4. Escort missions."

    Escort mission is kinda obvious because it's just hot to "accidentally" do the job poorly resulting in everyone getting caught.

    Last about the mechanic of choices having unchangeable outcomes:

    The most basic example of this in regards of H-games is when you intentionally lose to enemies. There's that certain kind of hot feeling to it because there is a choice behind that action. The bigger kind of example to this would be intentionally screwing up at some key points of the story to cause a bad end at the end of the story. It would be nice to have multiple save slots for this stuff though so that you wouldn't have to play the game through from the beginning again and again.

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  28. One thing I truly craved in Kurovadis was a gallery of sorts so you could see all the sprite-sex animations and what-not as you unlocked them, and to maybe unlock them you had to be like, fully defeated by that specific enemy.

    Just a gallery like the game Witch Girl or something where you can click on the icon of the enemy, see the sprite-sex, etc. Adds a sense of completion to the game.

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  29. I personally thoroughly enjoy the rapey sort of enemies, like, the ones that restrain the heroine or like, idk.

    I really enjoyed the flying metroid jellyfish thing from Kurovadis, or the green floating thing with a cloak. I like enemies that will force you to have to break out of their grasp, rather than them finishing their animation and dropping you, only to pick you up a moment later.

    Personal favourite sort of fetish is just enemies that constantly ejaculate inside the protagonist, instead of only doing it at the end

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  30. Replies
    1. Mamono Assault ForceMay 8, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      It's been nine long days since his last post here.

      Everyone panic!

      Delete
  31. Personally, I don't mind long long long ladders if they're good for the story, for example Snake Eater's long ass ladder. That ladder was one of the best things in the game.

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