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samedii
9th Apr 2008, 18:09
I have read a post or two asking that bio-mod augmentations be made more necessary for completing missions. (or even the game...) Implementation of this 'request' would lead to a huge level design pitfall.

In a game where multiple weapon loadouts, multiple skill sets, and multiple paths to completion exist it is the kiss of death for levels to be designed around what the player, in the designer's view, should have chosen. This takes the choice completely away from the player and puts it back in the hands of the designer which then kills the multiple paths to completion concept.

What you will end up with, again, is an illusion of choice.

A painful example (if extreme) of this was Jedi Academy. You could put your force points into whichever talents you wished with the exception of some 'basic' jedi skills like 'Jump.' Unlike previous installments in the Jedi FPS series, Jump was raised automatically after a set number of missions. Thus as your character became better at jumping, suddenly the levels had bigger and bigger jump puzzles. Your character often had to 'Jedi Jump' to get to spots to fight non-Jedi NPC's which left one to wonder how the Non-Jedi NPC's got there in the first place.

In one of the prequels to JA (IIRC), you could choose to put points into jump, thus certain parts of certain missions were made easier but it was never required to complete the game.

Certainly Jedi Academy is at the far end of what can happen if the DX3 devs choose to make certain augs necessary for mission/game completion but I still think that it serves as a good example of what NOT to do in DX3.

Hopefully DX3 will have no 'jump puzzles' whatsoever anyway but that is not the point I was trying to make.

Making certain 'content' available only to those who are equipped to attain it would be a fantastic alternative. This content could range from weapons and equipment to clues and backstory elements. Perhaps access to these areas would allow the PC to somehow make future missions easier or even just different.

A few examples:

A PC hacks into a whitehouse computer. If the PC is an 'expert' level computer user or above the PC could see, in addition to the lower level stuff, a file about some General's family being iced by UNATCO but being covered up at the highest levels of government and the blame being placed upon the NSF.

Perhaps an unskilled hack makes future hacks on computers in that system more difficult.

If this same PC also has a 'Jump' aug installed then he can get to an area which is inaccessible to a PC who chose the 'Silent Running' aug, the PC could introduce a 'hacker's back door' into the computer system which makes hacking machines on this system easier on this and subsequent visits to the same location.

Opportunites such as injecting a hack into a computer system would work even better if they are not mission goals in and of themselves but discovered 'on the fly' as a result of having the right knowledge in the right place at the right time. A PC with the Jump aug but no computer skill might have the option to bring the system down by yanking wires or might have no options at all since a non-computer person might have no idea what they were looking at. I digress...

With DX3 the more choices the better, IMO, but this can lead to another pitfall. In DX2 it seemed like every door (every obstacle, really) had 3 or 4 ways to get past it. I can see this being the case with most ordinary doors but after a while getting past obstacles became less a matter of using your brain to get past than engaging on a scavenger hunt to find a lockpick, multi-tool, ventilation shaft, or nearby carelessly discarded datacube with the door code on it.

The door formula seemed to be calculated just right in DX1 as far as methods of accessing restricted areas but in DX2 it felt like I was being spoon fed door access. I would say that 90% of doors in the game world should be destructible using various amounts of force but opening them by force should also produce a predictable response by the authorities. Which brings me to another possible pitfall...

It seemed sorta unrealistic that you could take out all of the police in Hong Kong, for instance, and then have the ability to run amok with impunity. I think that a respawn system during alarms such as in System Shock 2 might be the way to go.

I will stop now for fear of rambling on. I just have high hopes for DX3 and I hope that the experience will not be diluted as it was in DX2. Developers really, really listen to gamers more often and not invest so much of their emotion and identity into their 'vision' of whyat they think a sequel should be. It makes them defensive and prone to not listen. Gah! Here I am rambling...


-Sam

Larington
9th Apr 2008, 19:42
The best example I've seen of jumping being useful is in the airfield level on DX1 after that electronic gate. Theres a window facing you that, with the use of jumping (Or often in my case crate stacking) you could get access to the building from the side and get a jump on the enemies. But it didn't stop you from going in the front door, so it was optional.

Thats fine, I'd agree that making any biomod essential is going to get a very negative response from the reviewers and community (Except maybe the built in flashlight, and even for that I have seen one person wondering why you can't just use a more traditional flashlight.

IceBallz
9th Apr 2008, 19:44
I think it's just up to the level designers to have lots of balance to their level making throw whole game. So there will always be a balance to every choice the player makes in game. That there will not be any loose lines in the storyline. Like example : If somebody goes more for stealth and other player goes more for hacking. These two choices must have some looses in different moments in future storyline. Like the hacker player maybe get into difficulties more sooner in storyline then the stealth player will be. But the stealth player maybe get into difficulties later in the storyline. It's just up to the level designers to lay some balance to the scripting. Ofcourse there should be some winning on all chooses the player makes, but this only up to the specific player style. Somebody maybe are better on playing in stealth then others and this could make it a better choice to that specific player type.

minus0ne
9th Apr 2008, 23:51
I think you meant to say that in IW, as opposed to in DX, there was nothing stopping the player from choosing EVERY method of entry/goal accomplishment (in fact it was very tempting for power players to explore every option and location as opposed to choosing a single one), leading to an almost gamebreaking experience.

I think the devs are very aware of this though, being designers themselves they've probably already diagnosed this in IW and are taking a different approach.

Xcom
10th Apr 2008, 07:58
A painful example (if extreme) of this was Jedi Academy.

Hmm, but JA was never meant to give you any kind of super realism or freedom in the game world. It was a very linear game -- go from A to B and kill everything -- and its main focus was on saber+force fights. In a setup like this, why would you even question how some NPCs got in certain positions? Does it really matter?

samedii
10th Apr 2008, 13:41
Hmm, but JA was never meant to give you any kind of super realism or freedom in the game world. It was a very linear game -- go from A to B and kill everything -- and its main focus was on saber+force fights. In a setup like this, why would you even question how some NPCs got in certain positions? Does it really matter?

Hah hah! You are correct here. I know that it was a stretch to compare JA to DX1 or even DX2 but JA was the first example that came to mind.

JA did, however, have a storyline thus there was an immersion factor which though thin at the outset, was torn completely apart due to the stuff I mentioned in my original post. So no, it does not really matter except from the point of view of immersion but, as you say, JA was never meant to be a free-form/sandbox style game.

So, you are correct, and really the fault is mine for setting my expectations too high for JA.

A better example might have been the progression of freedom of action in the Splinter Cell games. Splinter cell was neat but pretty linear, Pandora Tomorrow was better at giving multiple paths to completion, Chaos Theory was darned near perfect, and then Splinter Cell:Double Agent was DX2.

I guess that I want to see DX3 staying as far away from that sort of thing as possible and I think that even with the very best of game mechanics, presumptive level design can erode immersion. (i.e. Ventilation shafts should be where one might reasonably expect to find a ventilation shaft not next to each and every door.)

-Sam

Voltaire
19th Apr 2008, 14:04
What you will end up with, again, is an illusion of choice.

A painful example (if extreme) of this was Jedi Academy.

I was thinking of this the other day. As much as I love the Jedi Knight series, JA was a weak game, and poorly put together in general. "Illusion of choice" as you so eloquently put, should be avoided at all cost by the writers of this program if they want to maintain respect from the DX fanbase. We know when we are being jipped out of somenthing we deserve ;)


Thats fine, I'd agree that making any biomod essential is going to get a very negative response from the reviewers and community (Except maybe the built in flashlight, and even for that I have seen one person wondering why you can't just use a more traditional flashlight.

You mean like a flare? :p

minus0ne
19th Apr 2008, 18:59
I was thinking of this the other day. As much as I love the Jedi Knight series, JA was a weak game, and poorly put together in general. "Illusion of choice" as you so eloquently put, should be avoided at all cost by the writers of this program if they want to maintain respect from the DX fanbase. We know when we are being jipped out of somenthing we deserve ;)
But DX has a very realistic 'illusion of choice' (as opposed to JA), but an illusion regardless! There came a point you HAD to side with Paul and the NSF. These little illusions where we THINK we have a choice are the base gameplay mechanic for a whole lot of games. I wouldn't mind a lot more freedom, but don't dismiss how well this mechanism can work, if implemented properly (it worked brilliantly for the first game).

Voltaire
20th Apr 2008, 21:26
But DX has a very realistic 'illusion of choice' (as opposed to JA), but an illusion regardless! There came a point you HAD to side with Paul and the NSF. These little illusions where we THINK we have a choice are the base gameplay mechanic for a whole lot of games. I wouldn't mind a lot more freedom, but don't dismiss how well this mechanism can work, if implemented properly (it worked brilliantly for the first game).

Excellent point. But it's still a gamble, and if it's clumsy, it's very noticeable. :eek:

samedii
22nd Apr 2008, 18:06
An illusion of choice, if used properly, can work out just fine such as how you mention in DX1. Perhaps a better example of poor use of this would be in DX2 where you could completely screw one side over but the very next time a new mission objective came up they were perfectly willing to forgive and forget despite any trouble you have caused them in the past and despite how willing you have been, so far, to completely go against their wishes. There were rarely any noticable consequences to choosing one faction over the other until the very last level of the game.

I understand the reasoning behind it to an extent, if they put...(just using random numbers here for discussion sake)...if they put 50 quests (main and side) in the game for each faction and early on you tick off one of the factions then a large number of quests for that faction (45-50) might never even be seen. So it might feel like wasted quest development on the part of the authors/designers.

Personally I think that is the way it should be for complex games like the DX series. This sort of thing would be a great way to enhance replayability.

I applaud the idea behind the faction missions in DX2 but I deplored the implementation. I hope that if they do this stuff in DX3 that the different factions will be playing for keeps.

-Sam