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Author Topic: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design  (Read 40905 times)

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Thad

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #60 on: January 29, 2008, 01:00:43 AM »

After only a little bit of practice, I was able to deal with most of the BS that the com drivers threw at me in SMKart. I don't think anyone was given lightning or seeking shell by default though, having access to those powers definitely would have broken the game beyond a point that I could call it fair.

Nobody was given ANY random items in the original, each had a preset single item they could use at seemingly any time.  Peach and Toad had a mushroom that shrunk you like lightning (or reverted you to normal if you'd already been shrunk), DK had the banana peel, Koopa Troopa could drop shells that worked like the banana peel, Yoshi could drop eggs that worked like the banana peel and the dropped shell...and I'm blanking on the other 3 and it's 2 AM so I'm not going to bother looking them up.

(I want to say Bowser dropped fireballs that worked like the banana peel/egg/shell?)
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Rosencrantz

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2008, 02:02:45 AM »

Don't forget Mario and Luigi, who had the ability to turn invincible (the Star power) basically whenever they wanted.
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jsnlxndrlv

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #62 on: January 29, 2008, 03:31:25 AM »

I'm tired of games where failure states are tied to particular sections of the geography.  Assassin's Creed and pre-San Andreas GTA being the worst offenders, here, as they're trying to portray reasonably realistic settings.  (No More Heroes kind of pokes fun at this; there's a ramp pointed at the ocean, but the moment you hit the water you're just teleported back to your apartment.)

I guess it's still sort of appropriate in Mario games, but that just brings up the issue of how fucked-up the failure states in that series are.

I'm tired of my only alternatives in RPGs being death and victory.  I'd like to see some middle ground--let's see something with actual emotional value at stake, rather than just the player's time.  Give me some alternatives besides dying and getting to the next scripted plot point.
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Kazz

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #63 on: January 29, 2008, 04:31:24 AM »

I'm not sure that letting enemies "break the rules" makes for bad game design. Back in my day, we called it, "challenge".

Presumably, your mad skillz would allow you to overcome the advantage given to your opponents. Or if not that, the fact that your intelligence is still way smarter than your average game AI.

The only reason that your AI opponent has a game-breaking advantage is that your AI opponent is retarded.

This is why I am not, by and large, into single-player games.  If you beat the odds in a multiplayer game, it's a triumph; you out-thought and out-played a live human, or many live humans, and made them know the crippling shame of defeat.  But the odds are always stacked against you in a single-player game, and victory often comes by attrition or trial and error.  And when you do win, you're the only one who knows.

I like the single player games where you torture fake people.
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Bal

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #64 on: January 29, 2008, 06:21:11 AM »

Hit detection is fantastic and all, but there's also something to be said about hit recognition. As in, yes, I've shot you square in the face with a mobile javelin launcher, now would you please be ever so kind as to acknowledge this happenstance? Even with a lack of copious amounts of plasma emitting forth, Goldeneye 007 henchmen went the gentleman's route and stopped dead in their tracks once hit, possibly even flailing their string bean arms about as they dropped to the pavement. This enabled the computer and player to form a beat with one another, becoming semi-balletic from corner to corner. Every kill felt earned or justified.

Not so with Crysis (see above), which is packed to the brim with North Koreans and [spoiler]night-glo extraterrestrials [/spoiler] who, if hit in the shoulder or [spoiler]tentacle thinga-ma-bobber[/spoiler], merely continue to strafe out of sight, delivering perfect shots up close or hectometers. Dead in the chest? Nothing. A spray of bullets to the kneecaps? Maybe a twitch at best. With no attention paid, the player is left wondering if even a quarter of their shots are connecting. Even better, the foes have at least one magazine's worth of hit points upon their already hardened bodies of marble & steel.

:rage:

I can't think of more than a few games that ever got this right. GoldenEye did, as you said, and Bioshock does too, for those enemies that aren't pain immune monsters begging for death. The Call of Duty games, or at least 2 and 4, have this down pretty good. If you shoot someone in the chest with a rifle, say, they usually die, and if they don't die they're writhing on the ground. In CoD4 this can actually be replicated in the multiplayer game with a perk called Last Stand that spares you from death for a few moments in which you whip out your pistol and can take pot shots at the person/s who killed you. Of course this same game has another perk called Martyrdom where, upon death, you magically poop a frag grenade (regardless of whether you had any), that hopefully blows up a few people.

That brings me to another design choice that often sticks in my craw. Martyrdom is an ability that requires no input, thought, or skill from the player who uses it. Just the ability to die sort of near someone. Shit like that in multiplayer games just drives me up the wall. I can't really think of a big list of examples, but many games have similar things that come off the same way.
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Kazz

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #65 on: January 29, 2008, 06:57:25 AM »

It isn't enough that they writhe in pain.  I'd like a game where the AI baddies are scared.  They don't want to die, and when they see you gun down their friends, they run.

Halo got both things right.
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Doom

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #66 on: January 29, 2008, 07:03:02 AM »

Classic: Derp Derp Derp?

Most examples of letting the AI cheat are above and beyond the call of duty, or even self-hating challenge for any gamer.

You folks throw around Mario Kart. I've always enjoyed the series in the SNES/N64 days, but put me in Double Dash and my eyes will turn comically blood red. And I bring it up all the fucking time, but try a Pokemon game's optional, end game shit. It's such a perfect, textbook example of sloppy AI programming.

There's an ending bracket of trainers in Battle Revolution that is evenly split between interesting teams that use strategy alone to offer you challenge, and flat-out cheating bullshit cocksuckers. How insulting and lazy on the part of the programmers, to even bother to show us that they can do the AI properly and then to say "Fuck it, go fight a guy with legendaries who directly reads your data input."

I mark a colossal difference between the computer flat out cheating(10% proc rate becomes 100%, Blue Shells never fail to appear, etc) and added challenge.

If you wanna see added challenge done right and wrong, I recently beat God of War 2. There is a huge gauntlet of every monster in the game near the last Sister of Fate, and for a second I thought it was cheating pretty readily. Everytime I got to the Medusa wave, I'd get petrified a split second before a Siren's bolt hit me. On about my 4th try, I just abused the ever loving hell out of Titan's Rage and the randomly spawning separators. It was challenging and refreshing.

A bad example? The third part of the Ares fight in GoW1. Notable because the computer isn't even cheating. They just take away all of your toys and tell you to win a duel with big-slow-stupid-strong-sword. It wasn't particularly fun and I didn't feel challenged after slogging through it. In fact, they undo this at the end of GoW2 and the difference is like night and day.

Maybe it's just me being a whiny git. It's a colossal pet peeve of mine for luck-based events to occur endlessly against my favor(cut me a break) or for the scenario in a game to be stacked so blatantly against you that the only way to win is via a miracle. I've never mastered Grand Theft Auto: Vice City because of that one retarded fucking racing mission where you have to beat the driver for the Bank Heist, and you're shackled with Two Stars and a Shitty Car while he has perfect driving AI and if he gets off screen, ignores all obstacles.

Nine times out of ten, the Computer AI does not need to cheat. He usually gets advantages you can only dream of, and it's often the whole draw of the gameplay that you are trying to defeat a horrifying, ridiculously powerful force by your lonesome. The Strider Finale at the end of HL2: Episode 2 was good because I was offered a metric fuckton of interesting tools and methods to deal with my foes, and probably would've been really piss poor if my enemies got to cheat on top of being an army fighting a single man with some amazing toys.
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Niku

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #67 on: January 29, 2008, 09:22:10 AM »

I'm tired of my only alternatives in RPGs being death and victory.  I'd like to see some middle ground--let's see something with actual emotional value at stake, rather than just the player's time.  Give me some alternatives besides dying and getting to the next scripted plot point.

Fable 2 says hi.

And then goes back into the closet and gets whipped with a chain because Molyneux can't do jack shit.
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Arc

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #68 on: January 29, 2008, 10:10:21 AM »

Back into the intrepid waters of Crysis, we come to the confounded subject of endings.

[spoiler]Or more to point, the lack of them. Or even more to the point, the dreaded realization that FRANCHISE has just been stamped upon your psyche. This is Halo 2 all over again, but without the already proven status of a hit installment. So presumptuous are these recent offerings, that a tint of glee washes over oneself the moment the less than stellar sales numbers are revealed.

No matter the playtime, the buyer still comes away wounded, as if an element had been stolen from their purchase. The central mission was lifted up from under them, leaving their jaw hanging, their mind awaiting finality to come, just beyond those forever looping credits.

Artists are now convinced they've all epic stories to tell, see the fatbacks upon the multi-tiered plan, and thus throw economy into the wind. We're beyond the days of being greeted with a game over & high score upon the death of the the final boss, but also beyond the days when a game could be more than just an installment.
[/spoiler]
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Classic

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #69 on: January 29, 2008, 10:15:50 AM »

STUFF AND STUFF AND...
(I want to say Bowser dropped fireballs that worked like the banana peel/egg/shell?)
Yeah, but I thought that the koopa troopa actually got to fire green shells?

Anyway, that's what I meant to say. My point was they always had their normal toolkit and, as Kazz mentioned, a fairly limited intelligence. Because of this, I never felt that it was particularly unfair because I could predict the actions of my opponents and adjust to them without too much trouble.

Classic: Derp Derp Derp?

If that's the stuff you want to refute, why does it sound like you agree with what I wrote (or at least, meant to write)? Though, we seem to disagree on what exactly is an obnoxious way to increase difficulty.

It seems to me that it's an obnoxious way to increase difficulty if:
  • You cannot possibly predict it on your first play through,
  • It cripples you to the point of being unable to compete,
  • It takes away valuable tools, which you should have no reason to expect be taken from you, during tests of skill

These criteria are clearly rough, as they would include IWbtG and (possibly) HL2, among others that I'm sure we'd agree have superb design.


T- Newbie:

There are lots of western games (and a notable handful of JRPGs) that have middle-ground endings for their stories and sub-stories. Unfortunately, because of what needs to be done to have the player approach a satisfying ending, these not-so-great victories need to be marginalized.

This is really a problem with just about every game, come to think of it. Of course, the Master Chief's current payload and human entourage in-between checkpoints is considered irrelevant to my discussion of middle-ground endings.
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Thad

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2008, 09:36:02 PM »

Don't forget Mario and Luigi, who had the ability to turn invincible (the Star power) basically whenever they wanted.

Right, THAT was it.

If you beat the odds in a multiplayer game, it's a triumph; you out-thought and out-played a live human, or many live humans, and made them know the crippling shame of defeat.

Mario Party.

STUFF AND STUFF AND...
(I want to say Bowser dropped fireballs that worked like the banana peel/egg/shell?)
Yeah, but I thought that the koopa troopa actually got to fire green shells?

My recollection is that he could throw them forward and they'd land up ahead, but that they wouldn't move around like regular shells.  But it's been ages.
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R^2

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #71 on: January 30, 2008, 09:11:45 AM »

Mario and Luigi: Temporary Star power at will.
Princess and Toad: Throw mushrooms ahead or drop them behind. Touching a mushroom toggles your size.
Yoshi, DK Jr., Koopa: Throw an object ahead that remains stationary, or drop it behind. Touching the object causes you to spin out. Yoshi uses eggs, DK Jr. uses banana peels, Koopa uses green shells.
Bowser: As Yoshi/DK/Koopa, but the fireballs move from side to side just a smidge once they hit the track.
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Bal

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #72 on: January 30, 2008, 09:53:45 AM »

It isn't enough that they writhe in pain.  I'd like a game where the AI baddies are scared.  They don't want to die, and when they see you gun down their friends, they run.

Halo got both things right.

Halo probably is the best example. Not only did you have behavior like you described (mostly in the grunts and jackals), but braver, or more savage races like the Elites and the Brutes would react completely differently to the same thing. In the case of the Brutes, for instance, they'll go berserk if you kill enough of their pack mates, discarding their weapons and charging you.  Elites on the other hand will fall back to better cover, and try to rally any other troops that are still around.  It made a lot of sense in Halo, but it's harder to get that much character out of generic terrorists/nazis.
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Sharkey

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #73 on: January 30, 2008, 10:03:26 AM »

That was one of the very few things I loved about EverQuest II. Gray mobs didn't just ignore you. They actually visibly cowered when you came close. It's an minor aesthetic difference with no effect on gameplay, but one I think should be considered mandatory for every goddamn MMO that's come since. I'm baffled that nobody has ever ripped it off.

I usually don't give two shits about "breaking immersion" or whatever, but when you walk by a gray bunch of goblins in LotRO and they don't even look up? Yeah, that's just fucking weird. There's a damn good gameplay reason for outleveled stuff not to attack you- especially in games with a separate combat mode that switches on. But a simple, easy to implement and visually obvious explanation for this behavior should be taken advantage of.
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Bal

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #74 on: January 30, 2008, 10:53:26 AM »

Most RPGs, MMO or otherwise, seem to have that problem. You walk into town wearing a god's skull, and people don't turn a hair. Even in less outrageous games, like Fallout for instance, you'd think people would comment on your arsenal.
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Classic

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #75 on: January 30, 2008, 11:04:13 AM »

Fallout for instance, you'd think people would comment on your arsenal.

They... did, but only for like, the first town. After which point no one cared that you were toting about horrific and alien death wands.
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BŁge

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #76 on: January 30, 2008, 11:29:21 AM »

Suddenly I'm imagining a group of level 70 Taurens driving a herd of panicky Kodo off a cliff.
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Bal

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #77 on: January 30, 2008, 11:53:09 AM »

Fallout for instance, you'd think people would comment on your arsenal.

They... did, but only for like, the first town. After which point no one cared that you were toting about horrific and alien death wands.

They said something along the lines of "You look well armed, go on this quest". That's hardly what I'm talking about.
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Classic

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #78 on: January 30, 2008, 01:38:12 PM »

Fallout for instance, you'd think people would comment on your arsenal.

They... did, but only for like, the first town. After which point no one cared that you were toting about horrific and alien death wands.

They said something along the lines of "You look well armed, go on this quest". That's hardly what I'm talking about.

I thought you could actually turn the first town on you if you walked around toting your firearms. It was about the most annoying part of the game, except that you can switch between two weapon sets for zero AP.

It's really a minor footnote tho'.
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Bal

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Re: Unforgivable Sins of Game Design
« Reply #79 on: January 30, 2008, 01:55:53 PM »

Oh yeah, a couple towns had gun laws, but that applied to a pistol as much as a gatling laser. I'm talking about NPC recognition that you're an unstoppable monster.
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