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FrankCSIS
10th Apr 2015, 18:40
I've come to realise that the formative years of my play styles has greatly hindered my capacity to fully enjoy most of today's design. Without going about whatever is deemed superior or better, I can't deny playing games today the way I do almost always breaks its natural flow. Since I can't be the only one with this problem, I'm wondering if there is a way to reconcile multiple paths with multiple corridors.

Dishonored, generally regarded as a good spiritual successor to Thief, still posed the same problem. I'm so used to backtracking, pixel hunting, farming, and other tasks deemed "tedious" by many, that by offering me multiple corridors instead of multiple paths I simply couldn't commit to one. Game being designed to always move forward, it works very well for someone who goes along for the ride and does not look back. But I couldn't do it, and explored the **** out of it, never hesitating to go back, clear all areas and use all the corridors at my disposal. The trouble is that it rarely offered anything, and often broke the scenario. The conclusion of each chapter was almost always destroyed by offering zero challenge on my way back.

Surely, there must be a way to make a game that works for players who always go forward, without destroying the experience for the explorers with some minor compulsive tendencies. Could we build a rewarding experience for both styles? Could there be more to find and do, if you explore and backtrack? Could a level adapt itself, if it realises you are backtracking? Could some paths be closed off once you've committed to one, or at least become more challenging? Could the scenario of one path change once you've set in motion the scenario of another path?

CyberP
10th Apr 2015, 18:56
No. Not optimally. Pick the type of game you want to make/your target audience and stick with it. No legendary game/piece of art ever compromised beyond difficulty modes and maybe a couple of extra preferences in the options.

FrankCSIS
10th Apr 2015, 19:16
I see what you're saying about optimisation, but that means we're almost condemned.

I mean, there is such a thing as organic enemy AI. It's aparently purposefully limited because of how challenging it supposedly is to players (I've my doubts on this) but it still exists. You're saying there can't be such a thing as an organic level behavior without sucking too many resources and workload? A world cleverly built that gives you a solid illusion of evolving around you. A level that doesn't feel like a movie studio if you start exploring its limits, but can still offer a natural experience if you don't?

I realise it means a lot of additional resources and content many people may never see, but there's got to be a way to not penalise or scare away those not used to one play style. I've talked in great lengths about custom features in the UI, as a way of helping light players without destroying the game for more hardcore ones, something the Thief team has eventually adopted. The rest didn't turn out so well, but I feel that bit worked out. I've also played a few games that had additional sections in levels based on chosen difficulty. Without using that strange design, they were on to something about levels being different depending on the player.

Irate_Iguana
10th Apr 2015, 20:44
I mean, there is such a thing as organic enemy AI. It's aparently purposefully limited because of how challenging it supposedly is to players (I've my doubts on this) but it still exists.

My guess is it doesn't work half as well as they are portraying. The AI probably turns out borderline psychic because it knows everything about the players position and reacts to that.



I realise it means a lot of additional resources and content many people may never see, but there's got to be a way to not penalise or scare away those not used to one play style.

That is the problem right there. It costs time and personnel and thus money to make that. Most of the people playing games will never see it, so game companies figure why bother with it.

Corridor gameplay is relatively easy to make and divide between a team. You can gives sections of a level to a section of the team. Making them all work on their bit and then slapping it all together. Having the game react to your exploring means more resources spent on working out how the player affects the game world and compensating for that. More work, little payoff.

CyberP
10th Apr 2015, 20:48
I see what you're saying about optimisation, but that means we're almost condemned.

I mean, there is such a thing as organic enemy AI. It's aparently purposefully limited because of how challenging it supposedly is to players (I've my doubts on this) but it still exists.

This is a thing but it is arena shooter bot AI: limited potential scenarios & AI states; a selection of weapons, an arena-type level, little to interact with in said level beyond lifts and pickups, and AI programmers can code the AI to be almost indistinguishable from humans, and they do indeed need to be dumbed down because they can counter player actions with optimal certainty (as well as have 100% accuracy, but that's easy from a programming standpoint).
As far as I am aware for a DX-style game this has not been achieved (or even attempted?) because there's far too many possible scenarios, plus the game needs to be enjoyable otherwise you'll be dominated due to being outnumbered.


I realise it means a lot of additional resources and content many people may never see, but there's got to be a way to not penalise or scare away those not used to one play style. I've talked in great lengths about custom features in the UI, as a way of helping light players without destroying the game for more hardcore ones, something the Thief team has eventually adopted. The rest didn't turn out so well, but I feel that bit worked out. I've also played a few games that had additional sections in levels based on chosen difficulty. Without using that strange design, they were on to something about levels being different depending on the player.

Well there's certainly things you can do. You can do almost anything based on difficulty level, or a hand-holding/hardcore mode, but it is time that could be spent on making the game more wholesome/focused than an appeal-to-all product.

As for exploration in a "moving forward" game, well they could have additional events that happen in the map, such as spawn in a new squad of enemies (that enter via an inaccessible door or something) if you take longer than x amount of minutes to pass a section, have civilian AI routines to vary over time, even environmental changes, dynamic weather effects whatever, but of course it is work that strays from the rollercoaster design that is the standard and is more closer to Immersive Sim design, which is of course very rare to see these days. And if you are going to do stuff like that, you may as well go ahead and actually make an Immersive Sim.

Try Far Cry 4, it is certainly a game that appeals to the short attention span type and the sim enthusiast & strategic explorer. But it doesn't reach it's obvious potential because of that divide. Very fun game regardless, it just angers me, much wasted potential among the finer aspects of the game.
Oh, and turn off the radar/mini-map so all loot is not pointed out to you (nor are enemies) and therefor rewarding exploration is actually a thing as a result.

Edit: irate iguana pretty much beat me to the pie.

FrankCSIS
11th Apr 2015, 06:16
And if you are going to do stuff like that, you may as well go ahead and actually make an Immersive Sim.

I guess it really comes down to that.

I'm just thinking that if you are going out of your way to create a multiple corridor game like Dishonored, it means you're already prepared to offer content people will likely never see, as long as they commit to one or two approaches and follow the intended flow. Wouldn't you make that extra mile of having an organic level for people who will explore each corridor?

The only problem I have with the argument against extra content is I still see enormous games like Skyrim or Witcher being made. I realise the target audience is not the same, but strictly in terms of budgets and team sizes compared to potential revenues, they manage to squeeze every penny in order to produce an insane amount of content even their most devout players will never see. You can easily dump 200 hours in there. I don't know what their numbers are, but I'm somewhat dubious they're making that much more revenues.