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Author Topic: Monday Design Update 10/11 - Random Design  (Read 13502 times)
Brian
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« on: October 11, 2010, 04:04:39 pm »

I don’t know how many people replay games – I often don’t – but I do know that I like knowing that a game isn’t always going to offer the same exact experience to everyone or that it won’t always offer the same experience to players who liked it enough to give it a second go. Player decisions and character builds are one way we can change the experience, but one thing that seems to be missing from a lot of games is randomization. Some games will do this with maps, but very few do this with events.  Today I thought we would cover a few ways that Dead State changes things up so that even the best FAQ can’t always prepare you for what’s in store.

In Dead State, there are multiple ways we randomize the events of the game outside of just reacting to player choice or from resource shortfalls. On our area map, for instance, some locations for allies and resources are randomized at the start of the game. You may never even find some of these locations on your first playthrough or you may discover them much later than your first playthrough/friend’s playthrough. Everyone will have the chance to discover these locations – we always spawn them – but prior knowledge of these events won’t make finding them any easier. Some locations/allies will always be in the same place, so you’ll somewhat of an advantage when playing a second time, but not for everything.

We also randomize some events. For example, in one game you might meet someone who tries to hold you up for your loot, claiming you’re surrounded by their friends. In one game, they might be bluffing, and in one they might actually not. There are a few events like this. There are also some allies you might not realize are allies on your first playthrough, and some allies that may behave differently than expected the second time… And, of course, zombie bites aren’t 100% infectious, so your infected ally population may vary game to game.

One of the other ways your game might change due to pure chance is from random events that hit the shelter itself. Don’t want to spoil too many of these, but I will give one example of how this works. Illness is one such random event that can strike allies. It’s a very real possibility, given the circumstances of the world and the exposure to unsanitary conditions. When an ally gets sick (which won’t happen often) they will ask to be taken off the active roster that day. The player might need them – you were going to raid an enemy position today! – but forcing them to work or fight when they’re already fighting a cold can be asking a lot of them. You may opt to give them the day off – but you’re now short one active member. You may push them into service – but it will sour their mood toward you. You may use your negotiation skill to make them more loyal for the day off – but you’re still short one active member.  Or you may use strong leadership to make them feel like they are a necessary component of your operation – but you’re going to have to have pumped some major points into this skill. Illness can be annoying when it hits an ally or two, but it can be pretty devastating when a serious illness starts to spread around the shelter. IF that happens, it would be a bit more inconvenient…

All in all, we’re pretty sure your “story” of the zombie apocalypse is going to be a completely different experience than everyone else’s. Of course, when you find/lose people, how you approach other survivor groups, what direction you travel, how you balance food and morale, and what you ultimately decide to do for major events in the game will have a large impact on your experience too. Oh, and difficulty - survival mode changing the rules a bit. You know, you may want to play this game more than once.
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Silellak
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 04:20:50 pm »

Everything in this post fills me with Grin, but I loved this part especially:

Quote
We also randomize some events. For example, in one game you might meet someone who tries to hold you up for your loot, claiming you’re surrounded by their friends. In one game, they might be bluffing, and in one they might actually not.

Obviously you can't do that with every random encounter, but I hope you're able to do implement something like that as many times as possible, because it's a fantastic idea.
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Goweigus
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 05:38:32 pm »

I also REALLY like that bit about sometimes he is bluffing and sometimes he isn't!

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You may push them into service – but it will sour their mood toward you.
Do NPCs have... different moods? Or do they still only have 1 mood? ex: can a character feel pretty good about everything (well fed, healthy, rested, etc) but be unhappy with you as a leader?
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Caidoz
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 05:39:57 pm »

This sounds great; even in games that give you plenty of "alignment" style choices in dialogue, so that you can replay and see the other outcomes, end up being basically the same game.  With a degree of randomization to the order and even nature of events, every time you play is going to be a different story, as you said.

A couple people asked in the FAQ if the players starting location will be randomized, I believe, but the beginning of the game is shrouded in anti-spoiler mystique.  I think that would add to the unique story element is if the starting location and/or the location of the School were randomized.  Just changing the location of the School would change a lot about how you replayed the game, depending on what natural resources and non-randomized locations were nearby.  But as it is, this sounds great.

Every update just makes the anticipation that much worse!  Panic
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MagFlare
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 07:11:59 pm »

You know, you may want to play this game more than once.

Yeah, I'm getting the same vibe from Dead State that I did from the first Fallout. I played that game on and off for a decade -- and every single time I played it, I discovered something new. That's frankly something you don't see much in big-budget RPGs these days. Since it costs so much to do... well, anything, the developers must feel pressured to make sure that every dollar ends up onscreen during a single playthrough, and that kills the replay value.

Back in the old days, it was possible to play through an RPG and only see a fraction of the content. It's nice to see someone's keeping that tradition alive.
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Gareth
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2010, 01:39:12 am »

 Approve
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SnallTrippin
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2010, 07:01:17 am »

Approve

^


Sounds good- one of the too many games I'm waiting for...sigh.
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c00lizz
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2010, 07:45:21 am »

It's funny, back in the day games could give me the feeling of never being able to see it all in one play-through with just the staggering amount of content available. Games like Fallout, Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment spring to mind as games where you could go through them twice with the same mindset and goals and still discover something new. However the way that content based RPG's have been heading lately(Oblivion-esque generic "Look at all the dirt and respawning monsters") I am looking forward to see what can be done with a system based more around randomization.
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boogada
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2010, 01:30:24 pm »

Glad to hear this.
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quasimodo
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2010, 05:58:55 pm »

This is fantastic news.  I think the best measure of greatness in a game is its replay value.  I have long since lost count of how many times I've played through JA2 which pretty much stands alone at the top of my charts.  The thought of someone actually designing a game to be replayed these days is pretty sweet.
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Nosmirc
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2010, 07:27:13 pm »

We also randomize some events. For example, in one game you might meet someone who tries to hold you up for your loot, claiming you’re surrounded by their friends. In one game, they might be bluffing, and in one they might actually not.

Love the sound of this, but one question burns in my mind, given my annoyance at Infamous' 'big choice' moment.

When would the check of if they're bluffing or not be made? When the encounter starts, or when they reveal if they're bluffing or not? If it's when the encounter starts, will there be indications of how truthful they are being?

Reason why I ask that is that in Infamous, they have a major 'good' and 'evil' choice near the climax of the game:

(click to show/hide)

This in turn made the choice meaningless for me. If you're going to punish me for being selfish, don't punish me for being selfless as well. As far as I'm concerned, it's a fake choice.

So for the purposed scenario, while I could live with it being determined at the reveal, I'd much rather have it determined at the very beginning, and leave indicators, either in the environment that a sharp character might pick up on, or in the dialogue itself.
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34s Cell
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2010, 12:38:59 am »

If there are indicators they will probably be perception checks.
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MerinTB
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2010, 12:46:52 pm »

I am someone who replays games repeatedly, if I enjoy them and especially if the experience is significantly different each play.

This game sounds like it'll be one I do replay, for both reasons.  Approve
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Yttermayn
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2010, 08:44:08 am »

Replayability is key, definitely. c00lizz mentioned Oblivion earlier.  While Oblivion is a fair game by intself, it's really the ability to run many multiple mods at once that makes it shine.  Just like I did with Morrowind, I will probably play Oblivion until the next game in the series comes out.  The plethora of high quality, user made mods and utilities to make them all work together correctly is responsible for Oblivion's near infinite replayability.  I am always finding something new in the game, and I haven't even come close to finishing the main quest it's shipped with.
Back to Dead State: this game appears to be made from stuff congealed directly from my very own cerebral cortex.  I do a little amateur game making by myself (and never finish... sigh), and Double Bear has hit upon the very game concept and replayability ideas I had.  My current project is a space exploration game, where each system may have something interesting in it to find- one example is a system wide battlefield littered with debris from destroyed ships and warbots.  With a random chance, you may be able to find enough pieces to reassemble one working bot.  Another random chance that it will yield some new technology, lead you somewhere interesting, become a friendly unit, or become a hostile unit.  There may be other results, and the results may be mixed and matched.  I am using a lot of ideas from the old roguelike games.  Because I'm using the Game Editor software, players could conceivably make mods to the game pretty easily- particularly if I keep the project organized with that possibility in mind.
Where does Doublebear stand on modding for Dead State I wonder?
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UbAh
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 03:57:29 pm »

Nosmirc brings an interesting question to my mind, and it relates to the save/load discussions we have had.  The time these random events are determined can make a difference to how you play the game if all you have to do is load a save from before the encounter to get a different result.  Can I reload and get an encounter with him where he is bluffing if I don't like the outcome of him being serious?  Or reload to get the behavior I want out of an ally?

Now I have mixed feeling about this, on one hand I don't like the thought of using a save as a game play mechanism to get past obstacles as you are doing when you load up to get a different but more desirable result.  Doing that makes the game boil down to how many times you save and your patience level.  I see being able to reload just to get the "best" result from an encounter as a broken game mechanic.

On the other hand if the game play is tedious I will not replay the game just to see a different story unfold, or find all the different events.  In that case I would use the reload saves option just to see the way the scenario plays out differently without having to start a new game and slog through some awful tedious piece of the game I dislike.  I hardly ever replay a RPG game, and this is only because the game elements do not lend themselves to me wanting to suffer through them again even though I would like to see how the story would play out differently.  I do however come back to many games time and time again that have very little story but very entertaining game elements and different levels of challenge like some of the good rogue-likes. 

Not that I am accusing you of making a tedious game, but explaining my thought process of when I would prefer it one way over the other.  Of course its probably also true that no one ever thinks they are putting anything boring or tedious in their games, and what is to much repetition to some is fun to others (case JRPG, or MMORPG).

I think the best case for me would be a mode you can go through that gives you the option to skip combat and just see different parts of a story, maybe something opened up after the 1st play through.
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