Arcen Games

Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => Topic started by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 10:19:44 AM

Title: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 10:19:44 AM
I am NOT suggesting that we are actually going to do this.  Right now there is literally a 0% chance of a Valley 2 expansion, though, because to me the game is complete and there's not anything else that I can think of that I'd want to add.  In other words, we accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish, and I'm not sure what else there is to do.

Or looked at another way, what else there is to do that would be worth paying for as a consumer.  For example:

- Yeah we could add more mage classes, but to what end?  There are already a ton of them, and I can't think up any more types of spells that would be interesting and not completely unbalanced; except for reskins or variants of what is already there, but that's no fun.

- Sure we could add more biomes, and that would be interesting to a certain extent.  But increasing the variety of monsters in the existing biomes is probably what would lead to more true variety.  You only spend so much time in a given biome.

- So yes, we could add lots more monsters, but those get pretty expensive to add on the art side, meaning that they would take up a huge amount of the budget of any expansion that had any remote hope of breaking even.  I'm not sure if that's really something that would be worthwhile for enough players for them to actually buy a "monster pack" sort of expansion.  And I'm also not sure how many more types of legitimately-new monsters we could add on top of the 130ish that we already have.

- We could add more pieces to the strategic side of the game: more building types and other things on the map to make that more complicated.  But is a more complicated strategy game really what people want out of Valley 2?  That would slow down the game a lot, which is definitely counter to the flow that we were going for.

- We could add more bosses, and that would be interesting, but that has the same problem as the spells.

- We could add some sort of side quests, but here again that would slow down the game.  And it would either be unbalancing, or else the game would have to be rebalanced around expecting you to have done these, and then these become non-optional and slowing.

- We could add some sort of entirely new adventure arc in addition to the existing game one: so you do something other than fight Demonaica.  But that's almost like a whole new game (using existing pieces of the current game, I guess), and I can't really think of a good way to do that.  If there were a really good design for this, then I guess it could be something inexpensive to us and to players.  If we weren't adding many more monsters or other things that require new art (say 1 for each biome or something), we could just add in some sort of new secondary adventure flow as a new option, and maybe that would make for a nice mini expansion.  But I don't have any particular ideas on how any of these would work in a rubber-meets-the-road level of thinking (aka, something practical that is not pie-in-the-sky vague months-of-coding and tons-of-art sort of wishing).


And that's basically all I can think of.  To me, Valley 2 does precisely what I want it to, and that's why I'm not keen on an expansion.  But I get the feeling like some people are wanting more, and the game is profitable enough that doing a small expansion would probably be able to break even pretty fast, so it's worth at least exploring the question.  I doubt we could get to this at all until 2014, if this even is something that wound up having a good and focused idea that people would actually want to have and that we could implement reasonably.

But better a discussion than just writing it off, I guess. :)
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 19, 2013, 10:25:25 AM
In other words: do people want fire that can be fitted nasally? :)

Anyway, yea, what would you actually want out of a Valley2 expansion?  If it's something that can be feasibly done in a month or two without requiring a ton of new art then it's just a matter of "is this actually interesting enough that people would want to buy it?"
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 19, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
Honestly... if you could manage it with the existing assets, I'd really like to play a game that uses the Valley 2 resources but plays more closely to Valley 1. So... essentially, I'm thinking more about exploration, personal progression, extinguishing a vague threat. Purification could even work the same way. The ultimate idea is that, in this game type, you still simply explore continents and purify away, fight bosses and clean up. I imagine that, really, the hardest part about this would be fitting all the little bits and pieces together back together design-wise. ...and then, the least feasible part is figuring out who really wants gameplay a bit closer to Valley 1, anyway. I could flesh out the idea more a bit later today if there's any interest, and see how feasible that is.

In terms of strictly content to add to Valley 2, I'm at a bit of a loss myself. Something I like the idea of is something like 'minor factions' but for the action side of the game. So, you add a few, and they have little effects on the gameplay during the action-y stages.

Cataclysmic Storms: Occasionally (to always if there's an intensity slider) the weather will shift in drastic ways. This can range from firestorms, to harmful elements bursting out of the earth, even down to simple windstorms that simply push stuff around. These storms result in well telegraphed environmental 'attacks' while roaming around. Demonaica is always unaffected.
Watcher: Demonaica is watching you... When entering a tile within the intensity's range (or 4 as a default if there were no intensity) of Demonaica, an invulnerable image of Demonaica will fire spells at the player. Demonaica is significantly more aggressive the closer you are.
Survivor Rebellion: Dormant survivors are no longer just blips on a map. Very occasionally, unrecruited survivors may unleash special attacks of their own instead of waiting for rescue. These attacks can include short term spell-like abilities that affect the world map, to smiting world map monsters off the map, to simply making locations nearby safer for other survivors (that aren't you) to travel on.

...or not action-y stages. And that sort of element might be fun for people to play around with as well.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 19, 2013, 10:51:03 AM
Honestly... if you could manage it with the existing assets, I'd really like to play a game that uses the Valley 2 resources but plays more closely to Valley 1. So... essentially, I'm thinking more about exploration, personal progression, extinguishing a vague threat.
This would run rather afoul of the "If it's something that can be feasibly done in a month or two" bit I mentioned, and given that AVWW1 already exists, it may also run afoul of "is this actually interesting enough that people would want to buy it?".

But thanks for the ideas; the minor faction stuff is certainly a possibility, just a matter of whether it's compelling.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Mick on June 19, 2013, 11:16:09 AM
Please excuse me if I only speak in vague terms.

It's difficult for me to think of a compelling expansion that could be done in such a small time frame. By compelling I mean something that adds to game play and is not just new skins and things.

From my perspective, I'd want things added on the strategic layer more than the action part (so new monsters alone would not be interesting). The strategic layer seems to follow a simple primary objective path: scout out windmills -> get windmills -> profit

The other objectives are secondary: avoid dying by monsters, avoid dying by lack of supplies, avoid dying in big bad, JUST DON'T DIE OKAY!

I think good expansion content would add more to the "primary objective" path instead of the secondary. I don't think it's fun enough if you just add more ways you can die or more things you now have to worry about, unless those new things are added to help counter the alternate primary path.

I don't think the alternate path should be something as binary as "Do I try to win by windmills, or do I try to win by ... I dunno Totems (really just pulling a "thing" out of nowhere here, like I said.. vague)." The player's path to victory should involve a strategic combination of Windmills/Totems.

What do these "totems" do? Well, that's a good question. Maybe instead of buffing your character in combat, they buff your whole resistance in some way. Windmills build "tall" and totems build "wide" so to speak. Less combat perks, but instead you get some sort of "Strategic perks". A perk that makes your soldiers have a bit more combat value. A perk that makes your skirmishers get better scavenging bonuses, a perk that slows enemy movement or reduces growth of monster difficulty.. there are lots of options here.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 11:22:14 AM
It's difficult for me to think of a compelling expansion that could be done in such a small time frame. By compelling I mean something that adds to game play and is not just new skins and things.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with the Valley games.  They are simply too expensive to make for their audience, and thus far we've currently lost something like $200k in making them (forget profit, there's no profit in sight for a long while).  The goal of an expansion would be to help close that gap some, while also providing more fun for players.  If we just make the loss we take even LARGER by doing an expansion to the game, then we're just absolutely shooting ourselves in the foot yet again with it.

I'm not sure if there is an answer to this problem, which is why I've not wanted to do an expansion (well, one reason).  It's going to take some sort of flash of insight on somebody's part before this would really become a thing that is feasible.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 19, 2013, 11:58:06 AM
I really like Valley 2, but there a quite a few things that could be done to improve the base game. Off the top of my head a better character creation system, improved equipment system, something similar to the SC playback to see the monsters movements on the map... blah, blah blah, but none of this stuff is in the territory of expansions.

One "entirely new adventure arc" idea that does come to mind, though, and is something that was talked about back in the day is the idea of a prologue or prequel expansion. This would be a pure platforming expansion telling the story of  your infiltration into Demonaica's inner circle. One of the criticisms of Valley 2 seemed to be that the random generation would not allow for tight platforming action, so to have a series of hand-crafted levels would be something really interesting. Many times in the story it is hinted that you have had to undergo trials and perform many deeds in order to gain the trust of Demonaica, so actually living and playing through some of this could be great.

Feasibility? I tend to get feasibility estimations badly wrong on occasion so this could be way way out of the scope of what you are looking for, in which case, apologies in advance, but it doesn't seem completely out of the question to me. This would be a different approach to Valley 2 which would rely heavily on custom level design and extreme emphasis on writing and dialogue interjections. Asset-wise you would certainly be looking at a few new human/survivor bosses. One advantage this game has is the large variety of existing human models which would make up a large part of the survivor enemies.

I could write reams about this as I found the idea very exciting in the past, but you get the gist.

To sum up: short completely hand-crafted campaign (not just chunks) telling the story of your infiltration of Demonaica's inner circle with heavy emphasis on narrative and dialogue featuring survivor enemies/bosses.

From a developer perspective I could see how this would be an interesting project for the team, too, as it would allow you to flex your level-design and narrative chops. Something a bit different, although you got a little bit of that during the development of Shattered Haven.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 12:31:52 PM
Hmm, that's actually really interesting!  I think that's probably the most feasible thing I've heard yet.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 19, 2013, 12:40:18 PM
Agree with what Pepisolo said.

Additionally story-wise, would love to see the continuation of what happens after AVWW2, or even before it - like Demonica's "fall to evil" (or rise to power). Building up the wind generators instead of tearing them down for instance, heh.

Regarding mage classes. I would love classes designed for specific play styles. We have plenty of shooty classes, I would like classes with other inspirations behind them. An example being a melee-focused class - I could see a combination of whip spells, a "slashing" spell, and maybe a dash or invisibility-spell, and then one ranged spell in the ammo slot. Most classes play like contra, a class that feels like castlevania - or other styles as well would be cool.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 12:44:49 PM
In the beta we had quite a number of melee classes, as I thought that would be cool, too.  Players didn't seem to agree, and complained loudly and a lot. :)
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 19, 2013, 12:54:05 PM
In the beta we had quite a number of melee classes, as I thought that would be cool, too.  Players didn't seem to agree, and complained loudly and a lot. :)

Heh, I recall! I think part of the issue was the touch spells were a little too hard to control. Something more akin of a "slash" type effect could be cool. They would need access to a decent caliber as well.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 19, 2013, 01:02:10 PM
Valley2: Animator's Revenge: Revenge Of The Robots
Flying robotic Player Characters that are actually relatively feasible to animate!
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 01:09:19 PM
Yeah, the longer this discussion goes on, the more I remember why I don't want to revisit this in an expansion.  Adding new styles of abilities like that really are such a nightmare in a lot of ways.  I love playing this game, and designing as well, but I think the Valley series has to be my least favorite to work on from a coding standpoint our of all our titles.  Blargh.  :-\
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 19, 2013, 01:12:35 PM
I think sort of the problem with melee classes is that the danger of being up close isn't really offset in a reasonable way. If you can construct a melee class in such a way that it becomes a dance between deflecting enemy projectiles (something melee classes should probably be able to just DO), damaging and stunning, and locking down enemies with various crippling attacks, then it becomes really fun. Melee classes should be fairly powerful, to compensate the whole 'no range' thing.

Oh. Really, my best idea for a sort of alternative campaign really is also one that focuses a bit less on the strategy side of things. THe prequel sounds really fun. The idea of setting up the wind generators also sounds fun, but the stress of the strategy game is usually what drives me away from my Valley 2 campaigns.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Mick on June 19, 2013, 01:15:34 PM
the stress of the strategy game is usually what drives me away from my Valley 2 campaigns.

It's funny, I'm the opposite. I like the strategy part but get driven away by the platforming half.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 01:19:22 PM
the stress of the strategy game is usually what drives me away from my Valley 2 campaigns.

It's funny, I'm the opposite. I like the strategy part but get driven away by the platforming half.

And there's another big problem with Valley 2 in terms of limiting its audience.  I love both halves, but for anyone who just likes one of the two genres, it's a lot less attractive suddenly.  You'll notice that even as we're mashing up genres in our titles that came after Valley 2, we're not mashing up quite so disparate ones.  I guess Valley 2 is niche for some of the same reasons that Actraiser was. 

They both have the same problem, really; but that "problem" is something that makes them particularly popular with the people who do really like them, so in an artistic sense it's not really a problem.  But from a marketability and income sense, yeah, it's a problem.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 19, 2013, 01:57:38 PM
AVWW, the roguelike (in the truest sense of the term - a tile, turn based game). Make this a thing.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 19, 2013, 02:01:23 PM
AVWW, the roguelike (in the truest sense of the term - a tile, turn based game). Make this a thing.
I wouldn't mind, but why tie it to AVWW?
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 19, 2013, 02:08:49 PM
Umm, my sole reasoning here is that this is an AVWW thread.


To be on topic, I could potentially see more micro-expansions as a thing rather than full blown double the game asset expansions. A set of classes, tile/missions, etc. Less new content but also less investment - much as I would love a new campaign entirely.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: doctorfrog on June 19, 2013, 02:33:13 PM
Just spitballin' here, assuming that terrible ideas are permitted.

A couple times, I wanted V2 to have a "beat-em-up" play mechanic. Throwing punches, kicks, simple combos instead of spells. Or both!

I'm not sure if there's much appeal in an aftergame, but like with my suggestion for V1's endgame, it might be interesting to discover, across an ocean, a "new world" continent that has the appearance of having developed independently, that is now a rival to your continent. I do say this not having beaten V2 yet, though.

This would be a different kind of strategy game, since you'd now have the elbow room to build up things back home without getting smashed, you'd be getting attacked from the coastlines, with periodic drops in the middle of the land. You'd be protecting and developing assets you already have, so it's less of a scramble than before, while undermining and eventually toppling the works on the other side.

I guess you'd have some new offensive units and abilities, etc. for making and establishing beachheads on that other continent. And you'd dispatch folks on missions on this other continent and so forth, while carrying out your own special missions, with levels more bent on exploration as with V1, or perhaps shorter and simpler levels... not sure about this bit yet.

And then there'd be another final boss to contend with, sort of a wicked witch of the west component to old 'Monica.

(I'm mostly thinking about easy duplication of assets and possibly code here, though of course I'm not a programmer and know not of what I speak.)
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: mrhanman on June 19, 2013, 02:37:36 PM
I just want to voice my support for the hand-crafted-story-driven-platforming-prequel idea.  I like strategy games a lot, but I always found myself liking the platforming a lot more in AVWW2.

I'm not holding my breath that anything will ever see the light of day, but it would be incredibly awesome if something like this came to be!  Though, if I were completely honest, I'd rather have a Shattered Haven expansion.  I've always had a soft spot for runts. :'(
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 19, 2013, 03:07:17 PM
Just asking: would there be any interest in a "just the strategy game" mode?  Or a "just the platformer game" mode?  I think one of them could be spun as an expansion with a little sprucing so it wouldn't be "paying more money to get a subset of the original content".  But there'd need to be some interest for them to make sense.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 19, 2013, 03:26:36 PM
Quote
A couple times, I wanted V2 to have a "beat-em-up" play mechanic. Throwing punches, kicks, simple combos instead of spells. Or both!

Going a bit off-topic, but here's a great idea for a game if anyone wants to make it (says he casually): permadeath randomized almost roguelike scrolling beat'em up. Myself and a friend were playing "house rules" permadeath Super Double Dragon on the SNES (online actually using the amazing Retroarch emulator) and it is tremendous.

I'm sure Arcen could knock a game like this up -- if you had a spare $100,000 lying around to invest in the art assets, and maybe 6 months of free programming time to code a new engine and ... etc!

Just a dream of mine. If such a game already exists somewhere out there in the tinternets then I'm all ears.

Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: mrhanman on June 19, 2013, 03:50:52 PM
Just a dream of mine. If such a game already exists somewhere out there in the tinternets then I'm all ears.

Rogue Legacy (http://www.roguelegacy.com/)

You're welcome.  :D
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 19, 2013, 04:12:56 PM
Just a dream of mine. If such a game already exists somewhere out there in the tinternets then I'm all ears.

Rogue Legacy (http://www.roguelegacy.com/)

You're welcome.  :D

I was looking for something a little more like Double Dragon/Streets of Rage rather than a platformer, but this does look cool. Thanks for the heads up!
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 19, 2013, 04:15:33 PM
Whoa, that looks super awesome! I'm definitely impressed.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: mrhanman on June 19, 2013, 04:46:17 PM
It's got a very generous demo.  I've spent quite a few hours with it.  If there is any legitimacy in Greenlight, this will get on steam.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: nas1m on June 19, 2013, 04:49:24 PM
I just want to voice my support for the hand-crafted-story-driven-platforming-prequel idea.  I like strategy games a lot, but I always found myself liking the platforming a lot more in AVWW2.
I can only second this.

Just asking: would there be any interest in a "just the strategy game" mode?  Or a "just the platformer game" mode?  I think one of them could be spun as an expansion with a little sprucing so it wouldn't be "paying more money to get a subset of the original content".  But there'd need to be some interest for them to make sense.
There is. I for one would love to see a pimped "just the platformer" mode :D.

What I would really love to see in a Valley 2 expansion would be anything that brings the platforming part a bit closer to its (implied) metroidvania roots instead of being slightly generic (as it is now). Some thoughts on things that might help with this (feasibility left totally aside as I can't really judge what kind of effort would be necessary):

So, all in all, I am going for a more diverse platforming experience here, without necessarily having to add any assets at all (aside from slices).
Make an expansion that makes V2 into a proper Metroid and I will never play another game again - this is a promise ;D...

Thanks for (even remotely) considering a V2 expansion at all - I was really heartstruck when I recognized that V2 did not take off as well as I hoped...

Cheers :D. 
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 19, 2013, 05:27:16 PM
I would likely grab either a strategy side or platforming side expansion.  Likely my preference is on the platforming side, that's where 80% of the gameplay is really.  But I would eat up a strategy only expansion.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Aklyon on June 19, 2013, 05:37:06 PM
I'd probably get the strategy one first if there was both. Both sound interesting (certainly the backstory part does), but I am not as good at platforming as I sometimes think I am.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Oralordos on June 19, 2013, 06:35:15 PM
I would say yes to a just strategy or just platforming expansion. With how the game is right now... I would probably want a just platforming expansion more. Just because it's already good so anything making it more good would be awesome.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 20, 2013, 03:14:02 PM
I would absolutely play a 'just platforming' sort of expansion. As much as I like, say, metroidvania games (wander, explore, level up, pretty much what I like about Valley 1) and would like it to lean a bit more towards that... I would still be fine with it just being platforming. I love my platforming.
Oh.. and I do want to clarify. The stress of the strategy game drives me away, not purely because it's strategy, but because it's so easy for people to die or get really seriously hurt. You're always losing structures. There's just this invincible man that is destroying everything you love and hold dear. That is really what stresses me out more than anything else. It's like the idea of playing a game of AI War, where the devourer golem only stays on your planets and never hurts the AI.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Billick on June 20, 2013, 04:50:28 PM
I do miss the exploration aspect of Valley 1.  I'm not sure how you could incorporate that into the second game without blowing up the budget.  As it is, I got bored with the platforming before I got bored with the strategy portion.  I would play a "just strategy" mode.

Rogue Legacy was accepted by Greenlight btw.  It looks pretty good.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 20, 2013, 05:56:38 PM
By the way, for those that were asking about a rogue-like beat em up.

 Legends of Dungeon.

http://www.robotloveskitty.com/LoD/
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 20, 2013, 07:20:09 PM
By the way, for those that were asking about a rogue-like beat em up.

 Legends of Dungeon.

http://www.robotloveskitty.com/LoD/

Thanks! I think I remember this from Greenlight. I'll be keeping an eye on this one!
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: doctorfrog on June 20, 2013, 07:34:57 PM
Just a dream of mine. If such a game already exists somewhere out there in the tinternets then I'm all ears.

Rogue Legacy (http://www.roguelegacy.com/)

You're welcome.  :D

I was, and still am, an enormous fan of Spelunky, and I'm looking forward to the PC release of both Spelunky and Rogue Legacy this summer.

There is an undeniable appeal to super hard Metroid-style exploration platforming for me.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: madcow on June 20, 2013, 07:38:58 PM
Spelunky is an amazing game. I love it to bits.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 21, 2013, 04:14:45 PM
Spelunky is an amazing game. I love it to bits.

I am excited for that one, too.

When I see something like that, it makes me lose all motivation to work on something too similar, though.  Not in a depressing way, just in a disinterested way.  When someone else executes something flawlessly, I'll happily play their game instead.  I want to go boldly where no game has gone before. (Although I hope this is more than a five-year mission ;)).
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Billick on June 21, 2013, 05:08:59 PM
Spelunky is probably my favorite platformer in the last 20 years, and I'm excited that the new version is coming out on PC. 
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: mrhanman on June 21, 2013, 08:14:33 PM
Dust (http://store.steampowered.com/app/236090/) has been eating most of my time lately.  I've got about 6 hours into it so far, and I'm still amazed at how incredible every aspect of it is.

If I were inclined to make my own platformer, I'd probably put it down after playing Dust.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: doctorfrog on June 22, 2013, 03:05:42 AM
Spelunky is an amazing game. I love it to bits.

I am excited for that one, too.

When I see something like that, it makes me lose all motivation to work on something too similar, though.  Not in a depressing way, just in a disinterested way.  When someone else executes something flawlessly, I'll happily play their game instead.  I want to go boldly where no game has gone before. (Although I hope this is more than a five-year mission ;)).

I think I understand what you're saying here. When Spelunky showed up in 2008, it basically both created and perfected the action roguelike genre. It's not that it can't ever be topped or polished, or what have you, it's just that it came out of nowhere and said, "Hey, here's an idea of mine. And here's basically the best possible first-generation implementation of it. Also, it is free and adorable."

It's a little bit like the Wright bros wheeled out a P-51 on that first flight. Best plane that can ever be made? No, but a hard act to follow, and you just kind of want to admire it for a bit and see where the industry takes it... because in the meantime, it's still the best thing in the air.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 22, 2013, 03:31:38 PM
To some extent, yeah.  I like being the Wright Bros instead of Boeing, would be the fitting description inside your example area.  If someone else has already done something and done it well, then I don't have any interest in going over there and trying to chase it and do it better.  My motivations come from doing things that have never been done before, or which in my opinion have been done poorly. 

AI War came out of my frustration that I had never liked any space-based RTS games, ever.  If you asked me in 2008 what I thought of space-based RTS games, I would have said "slow, clunky, and not fun."  But I really like space, and I really like RTS games, and it seemed stupid to me that I couldn't find some game that didn't feel like my ships were in molasses and where I could feel like Ender Wiggin.  So I did it myself.

Shattered Haven came out of my love for both Zelda and Lode Runner.  I was frustrated that there had only been (to my mind) one really good Lode Runner game, and nothing to come close since.  And I thought the general idea of it had a lot of potential that had been left untapped, but also that the side-view perspective was really limiting the sort of stages that could be designed.  So I made my own take.

Valley 1 came from a whole host of desires, most of them "things I'd like to see but that are not based on any one particular game since there's nothing else really close to it."  Trying to make a better Metroidvania title than anyone else ever has (with far more budgets and experience than me at the art of a very long-running genre) is something I'd run screaming from.  I'm excellent at invention, but making super-polished late-life entries into an existing genre is something best left to others.

And while we're at it, Skyward Collapse came from my desires to create a form of living boardgame that involved tile placement in a fun solitaire fashion where you are your own enemy and there is no enemy AI, there's just you versus a very tough situation.  The whole "god game" aspect actually was something that we backed into, it wasn't the core thing about it.  I've never actually really played god games before, other than maybe two hours of Black and White, which I didn't like.  I missed Populous.  I loved Actraiser, thought that doesn't really count.  And Actraiser was one inspiration among many for Valley 1.

Whew.  Anyhow, perhaps that clarifies.  I like swooping into spaces that are either ignored or served poorly.  And then innovating there.  That's the strength of Arcen, is coming up with new and crazy things.  Getting into a direct battle over who can do the best art, or perfect every last nuance of gameplay the best, is an area we'd lose out in.  I'm sure we could do it, but the budget would be large and we'd be trying to innovate while doing the other stuff, and that rarely is going to work out well.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 22, 2013, 06:40:09 PM
You say that, but you've spent all this time perfecting AI War.
I think you could definitely do a great job improving on a formula, you'd just need to hold back a little on your innovation instincts just enough so you don't ruin things. It's like, any kind of game design ideas I do any work on, I always have to hold back on making it complex. I love complex, but unfortunately, people don't often.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 22, 2013, 07:07:33 PM
You say that, but you've spent all this time perfecting AI War.
Well, yes, but one thing to note is that my personal inclinations and abilities tend much more towards refinement of something like that, and I'm honestly pretty inexperienced on just doing whole new stuff out of nowhere.  Chris is more balanced on that.  Hence my mostly taking care of the ongoing AIW work while Chris hatches crazy schemes makes new games :)  Though it does sound like he'll keep refining SC for a while if things continue along current lines.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 22, 2013, 07:17:57 PM
Ahhh, I see. So, in that way, you two do really complement each other rather nicely.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 24, 2013, 08:42:50 AM
You say that, but you've spent all this time perfecting AI War.
I think you could definitely do a great job improving on a formula, you'd just need to hold back a little on your innovation instincts just enough so you don't ruin things. It's like, any kind of game design ideas I do any work on, I always have to hold back on making it complex. I love complex, but unfortunately, people don't often.

What Keith said, but also the situation is different because AI War was something brand new that I invented.  And same with Skyward Collapse being something brand new that was invented here at Arcen.  To me, for a very long time AI War's "decision space" was not remotely fully tapped.  In other words, this whole new treasure chest of potential had been cracked open by a game we created, and then I wanted to keep digging and digging.  The same thing is true with Skyward Collapse.  We've only begun to scratch the surface of what could be possible.

Compare this to, say, the Metroidvania genre.  That genre is really really mature!  It was thought up by other people, perfected by those people and tons of other people, and has had tons of thought put into it.  AI War's concept originally tapped, say, 40% of the potential in its idea.  Skyward Collapse is probably in the same neighborhood.  But something like a straight Metroidvania title?  People are scrabbling for the last 1%, in the main.

That doesn't mean that innovation, even major innovation, is not possible in that genre or any other genre that is mature.  However, you have to have a big flash of insight into something that will be legitimately new and awesome there.  If you just make a straight adherent to the genre, all you can do is compete on polish.  And if your new innovation is judged not to be sufficiently new, you're going to be competing on polish anyhow.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 24, 2013, 04:31:36 PM
I'm inclined to disagree just a little bit on 'all you can do is go for that last 1%' actually. As far as competition goes, I know there's always the idea of hey, I want my game to be the best/most popular so it sells well and so it can be a project I'm really proud of, I understand that. However, despite all the perfecting of Metroidvania, I don't often find myself revisiting the old games I have for any more than 6-ish or more playthroughs. I want more new stuff in that genre. Even if it were a game that played the same, and just had different zones (or re-randomized buildings and caves, for instance), I would eat it up. The reason why, is because it's a genre I'm actually really really into. The people that are into that genre are probably going to try to check out all the competitors, if they can. I legitimately love exploring new territory, finding new stuff, and getting a bit better over time as I do it. That's a characteristic of AI War that I really really like, as well, and a big part of why I really play it. Sure, it's always the same basic stuff, but man I love finding that planet with an advanced constructor, ARS, and a couple fabricators or something. Just, that jackpot of stuff being in a different place every time is so cool to me.

I also want to ask about that last 1% actually. Define the last 1%. Again, going back to metroidvania, it's not as if each one is the same game. Look at the most recent DS games in Castlevania, and you'll see Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia. In basic mechanics, they're pretty similar, but there's always this one huge thing that sets each one apart from the last. Dawn of Sorrow allows you to learn (via drops) one attack from literally any enemy in the game. Portrait of Ruin gives you two characters and the puzzles associated with that. Order of Ecclesia makes every single attack a spell, and allows you to combine every spell with any other spell. Sure, those are little differences in the mechanics of the game, different ways to spice up the game a little... but who says that those can't be fleshed out into some kind of really unique game? Metroidvania/puzzle is something that kind of exists elsewhere. I think the soul system in Dawn of Sorrow could have used a lot of refinement. Portrait of Ruin could try more puzzles, separate the characters, improve the AI, any number of things. Order of Ecclesia could allow you to combine more things, or add a gem or rune to spells to make them more unique in addition to all of the combos. All of a sudden, you have games that are very fundamentally the same, with a very different feel from each.

The real problem there, I guess, is that we're talking making a game unique once the very basic mechanics have already been perfected. To a gamer like me, that would guarantee everybody my money. I'm a bit of a connoisseur of the little differences like those, especially in genres I'm really really into like metroidvania. I definitely don't feel like there's any 'perfect' one, either. I don't feel like they're hunting for innovation, they're trying to make sure the game doesn't get stale, and succeeding.  Is that the 1%? Or, is the 1% strictly limited to the basic game mechanics?
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 24, 2013, 04:45:49 PM
To me, if you're adding in some wildly new twist, you're no longer making a straight Metroidvania title.  If you're just adding some mix of existing items that have been in the genre for a long time, plus some obvious additions from popular trends of the day (crafting, RPG elements), then that's only so unique, too.  In those circumstances, it comes down to the polish and execution.

I'm not saying that nothing more can be done, I just think that the best things are big departures.  Or if there are things that can be done without being a big departure, those don't really play into our wheelhouse.

I'll also note that both Keith and I are pretty shell-shocked after the Valley games, to be honest.  There was so much negativity flowing around there, that our willingness to go in that area again is tepid.  So in terms of leaping onto some wildly new thing in this genre, that seems unlikely.  Extending Valley 2 a bit more in some safe ways since there is something of a following for it.. that's a different matter.

We don't have to agree, in the end.  I see your points, and I actually agree with you on almost all of them, in truth.  I think that's a great way to look at it.  I'm not even trying to directly argue with you, although I know that's what I'm doing.  What I mean is, I think that the question is more than 2D.  It's a 3D shape of some kind, and we're each looking at some of the same faces of that shape, but not all of the same faces.  And there are some other faces that neither of us has even brought up.

In other words, it's kind of a complex thing.  But I guess at the core of it, Keith and I feel like we really got beat up by the market in the Metroidvania genre.  Despite all the money that was made, it wasn't enough to recoup costs.  And despite some really stellar reviews, the first game overall got panned by the press overall, and both games were really viciously attached over a long period of time by a lot of haters.  There are... more pleasant ways to spend our time.  And at any rate, lots of other ideas that we have on hand, whereas I don't really have many Metroidvania titles on hand (well, okay, I have one and we might do it in 2014, but it's a pretty big departure from anything like the Valley games).
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 24, 2013, 05:34:31 PM
Oh no, I wasn't trying to start an argument or anything, more a discussion. I don't know any other professional game developers that I can really discuss things with, so it's interesting to hear your perspective. So... sort of what you're saying about the wild twists strikes me as, taking a genre and adding that wild twist is what you guys do really well. I guess the process isn't quite that, but the result seems to be. Like, AI War is a bit of "Well, strategy games are all about PvP... but what if we just made really really good AI you had to fight?" So, it becomes an AI-focused RTS, unlike a lot of RTS out there. God games, you often are in command of only one faction and want everything else dead... but what if you commanded everybody? Another wild twist to something fairly well known. I actually also go in that direction myself with any sort of design ideas I come up with. Another reason why I like to discuss various topics with you as we have before.

But yeah, I understand, getting really hurt anywhere will drive you away from it. Market-wise, I can't say you wouldn't get beaten up there again. I definitely think you guys could bring a lot to the metroidvania genre, in terms of a big unique departure, but I kinda get how you feel about the subject. Granted, only emotionally-- haven't been so hurt financially or as deeply as I imagine you've been on the subject. I'm curious to check out your 2014 departure.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 25, 2013, 08:42:01 AM
No worries, and quite understood on the desire to discuss design thoughts; I enjoy doing that, too.

And yeah, we start out with at least one big twist before we ever are working on the game, and then on a good game more big twists will occur to us as we are implementing it, and those will also get integrated.  For instance, the big things about AI War was the extreme asymmetry of your situation versus the AI, the unparallelled scale of the battles that allowed for different kinds of AI in the first place (flocking, etc), and then eventually the idea of AI Progress in order to make it so that there was a clear and immediate cost to any territory grabs you made.  Actually all of those happened to come up during the development of the title, but these days we don't go into a title without at least one big twist on that scale, preferably two.

The idea for the 2014 game really only came to me the other day, so it's still super embryonic.  It has one fairly substantial twist, but it's not completely unique in games in general.  I have a second twist that would work if we could hire Zack, who worked part time on Shattered Haven.  And then it would still need at least one more major twist before I'd actually be comfortable even starting a prototype on it.  Maybe two, depending on the end scale of that twist.

But suffice it to say, most of what my current idea stemmed from was "how do we make a Metroidvania title without falling afoul of all the things that went wrong in the Valley games?  Or more specifically, avoiding the extreme expense (including art expense) of those games, while at the same time quelling complaints about the art, the controls, and so on)."  I think I figured that out, which is a good start.  So then it's a matter of building up more ideas around that core discovery.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 25, 2013, 11:51:28 AM
Seeing as we're talking generally about games design, the Valley 2 engine at its core seems like it might make a good foundation for a Contra/Bullet-Hell style game.

Mechanically, the way in which you control your character and shoot, it just feels a lot like Contra -- which I don't think was really completely intended as I don't recall Contra being cited as a big inspiration. If you were to refine the engine around this already existing feel I think you would be able to come up with a pretty solid Contra-esque game.

Part of the problem with AVWW2 is that the level design is pretty bland and homogenous. The slice system really needed to include a lot more different types of area with different styles of platforming for it to work well. Most of all the slices share an identical design philosophy which makes it seem like it doesn't really matter what randomization occurs as the areas are mostly all going to be the same anyway. One significant exception was the robotic escape areas which had a welcome "running the gauntlet" feel. Ideally each of the different biomes should have had their own thing going on.

Of course, it was always going to be hard to create great levels using such a slice system, so completely hand-crafted stages might really unlock some of the potential that is in the raw mechanics.

I really don't think it's on the cards, largely due to the art asset costs that would be involved, but a refinement of the AVWW2 engine with a view to creating a more traditional Contra style title might be cool. Just add in a bit of Strider wall-climbing, change the spells to guns, the monsters to aliens, and Bob's your uncle (there you have it).

Quote
But suffice it to say, most of what my current idea stemmed from was "how do we make a Metroidvania title without falling afoul of all the things that went wrong in the Valley games?  Or more specifically, avoiding the extreme expense (including art expense) of those games, while at the same time quelling complaints about the art, the controls, and so on)."  I think I figured that out, which is a good start.  So then it's a matter of building up more ideas around that core discovery.

Interesting...I look forward to hearing more about this.

Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 25, 2013, 11:59:55 AM
I think you'll be pleased with some of the things I have in mind for the other game, based on your comments.

In terms of the blandness based on the slice-style philosophy... it's one of the great challenges of making everything have to be traversable through jumping and walking.  I don't mind saying that a big part of the shift in the Metroidvania-style game that I have in mind for later is shifting it to actually being something where you fly around robotic units.  So it becomes something more of a cave flier, but I think that enough Metroidvania aspects can be kept to make it feel like a mix of the genres.  We'll see.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 25, 2013, 12:01:25 PM
Ahh, very cool. So, that's sort of how you do your kind of invention then. It's more like [genre that exists] with a twist. Then a few more. While I have like basically no programming knowledge (I know how println works!), I do have game design knowledge, and I actually like to mess with that from time to time. I know some game developers, and a few of us work together on various titles in way of game design and custom levels, as is going on now. What I've actually done is I've taken turn-based JRPG style games, and came up with a few twists on those. I'm actually fairly excited about that, because of how fleshed out it is so far. It takes something I really really like, which is the idea of effectively infinite combinations of stuff. It also takes JRPGs, and adds a lot more in the way of strategic potential while making the enemy AI a lot smarter. Imagine seeing a suit of armor that "looks icy". As an enemy who's tagged as intelligent, you might try a fire spell on it to see if that's a weakness. You'd recognize that didn't work and cross fire off your list of things to try. Something like that. I don't envy whomever programs this. Of course, it could very well end up being me...

I actually really want to hear more about the metroidvania title, just so that I can imagine playing it. That's how much of a fan of the genre I am. Do you write down the specifics of your ideas? You might find that it actually leads you in directions you wouldn't expect, that's what ends up happening to me sometimes. You could find something else in the genre that can be twisted, that you may not have considered. One game I'm actually looking forward to for sure is Starbound, which is going to have some kind of procedurally generated enemy logic, which in itself somehow doesn't actually result in monsters that look like horrible frankenstein abominations. You had me imagining something like that. Something like dynamically changing enemies. That, or maybe it's a game where you spend the entire time playing as the far zoom icons from AI War. Who knows? I'm just wondering how you're going to quell complaints about the art, given the last complaints were of jerky animations.

not-an-edit: Oh hey. I was right. It's a game where you fly around as a ship or robot of some kind. =D
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 25, 2013, 12:05:06 PM
Very cool.

In terms of writing down ideas, yes, we write down all of them that we've had prior to implementing something.  However, we don't try to get a design more than probably 60% fleshed out before we go to prototype.  Once we have a prototype of the basics, then the more advanced stuff becomes clearer much faster.  Skyward Collapse was going to have random tile pools rather like Scrabble, and no resource costs to your actions (just stuff that civilians would do), until we tested that and found it phenomenally un-fun.  It was no big thing because that was one idea among several, and doing the prototype quickly answered some of our questions.  Within another couple of days we had a system that is very close to how the game works now, and then that got further refined over about two weeks beyond that.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 25, 2013, 12:20:25 PM
I kind of figured you guys did, but it never hurts to double check right?
Man, random tile pools? That sounds like it could force you in really devastating situations, especially with the various kinds of tokens and such. Were tokens and resource chains a part of the actual design at that point? I could imagine, being randomly dished out buildings that you needed to make so a side could make units would actually result in some really imbalancing situations that a player can't actually avoid in any way.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 25, 2013, 12:24:30 PM
Quote
I think you'll be pleased with some of the things I have in mind for the other game, based on your comments.

Cools!

Quote
I don't mind saying that a big part of the shift in the Metroidvania-style game that I have in mind for later is shifting it to actually being something where you fly around robotic units.

Already imagining a Metroidvanian Bangai-o. Probably way-off, but that would actually be awesome. Oh, I recommend everybody playing everything Treasure have ever developed -- easily my favourite game dev team. 

It's nice to know that you haven't been completely put off developing non-strategy titles.


Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 25, 2013, 12:49:55 PM
I kind of figured you guys did, but it never hurts to double check right?

If you don't write things down, it's easy to forget; particularly if you aren't implementing something in the very short term.  I have much too many demands on my memory to try to keep long-term details of that sort in my brain past a certain point.

Man, random tile pools? That sounds like it could force you in really devastating situations, especially with the various kinds of tokens and such. Were tokens and resource chains a part of the actual design at that point? I could imagine, being randomly dished out buildings that you needed to make so a side could make units would actually result in some really imbalancing situations that a player can't actually avoid in any way.

It was a lot less of a strategy game at that point.  Much closer to Carcassonne than it wound up being in the end.  The god tokens concept was in our design at that point, but the specific functions had not been designed out at all yet.  Same with all the mythological stuff.  We knew we wanted to add all that, but we also felt like if it wasn't fun with just the humans, then it wouldn't be a fun game at all.  So it was a long while that we focused on just the humans and their buildings, and then once that was reasonably fun we added the rest and it became waaaay more fun.  But I think if we'd just gone for the end prize at the start, rather than focusing on humans for a while first, it would have not come out the same.


Already imagining a Metroidvanian Bangai-o. Probably way-off, but that would actually be awesome. Oh, I recommend everybody playing everything Treasure have ever developed -- easily my favourite game dev team.

Ah cool, I just had to look them up, as I'd never heard of the company.  I've certainly heard of a number of their games, though.  Never played them, but that's a bit more brawler than really my style tends to be from the looks of it.  Last brawler I was really into was TNMT2.

It's nice to know that you haven't been completely put off developing non-strategy titles.

Nope!  But we are more cautious about it in certain ways, and will take a specific philosophy when developing them.  We're also taking a break from them, partly because we've spent half the company's life working almost exclusively on the Valley games, and so we're ready for a change of pace to say the least. ;)
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 25, 2013, 01:11:36 PM
Quote
Ah cool, I just had to look them up, as I'd never heard of the company.  I've certainly heard of a number of their games, though.  Never played them, but that's a bit more brawler than really my style tends to be from the looks of it.  Last brawler I was really into was TNMT2.

These guys are the easily the best devs of all time -- for me! It's pretty rare for them to put out a game that isn't awesome. Pretty small team too, as I recall Ikaruga was developed with a team of 3 or 4. They've made Run N Guns/Shooters/Brawlers even an RPG once upon a time. It might be worth you picking up Bangai-o on Xbox Live Arcade or just checking out a few vids on Youtube... here's a longplay that looks OK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZllCtGuuRaM

As you can see, flying robots/mechs mixed with a puzzle element. It's pretty cool.


Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 25, 2013, 01:48:15 PM
Wow that's some craziness.  Quite an attractive game, though definitely a bullet hell sort from the looks of it around 20 minutes in.  Pretty cool. :)
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 25, 2013, 01:57:29 PM
Wow that's some craziness.  Quite an attractive game, though definitely a bullet hell sort from the looks of it around 20 minutes in.  Pretty cool. :)

Yeah. I love it. I am a proper Treasure fanboy, though!
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 25, 2013, 02:25:09 PM
I played the demo, and if it's a bullet hell, it can be defined as a bullet hell where you are the boss and there are so many enemies that they generate a second bullet hell. The game's really hectic.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Pepisolo on June 25, 2013, 03:25:34 PM
I played the demo, and if it's a bullet hell, it can be defined as a bullet hell where you are the boss and there are so many enemies that they generate a second bullet hell. The game's really hectic.

Very true! There also stages that are a bit more puzzly, too, which adds a little bit of another dimension to things. Good stuff!

Thinking about this other game idea, I can sort of see how having the ability to fly would help with the control problems: mouse and keyboard and dual sticks would both work very well with this. Interesting...
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on June 25, 2013, 08:54:20 PM
I think flying also means you need fewer complex animations. If you look at, say, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (I think there's a demo somewhere) you just play as a flying saucer. You get knocked about a bit if you ram a wall or get hurt, but otherwise you just sort of rotate and float and that's really about it. Players of Valley 2 complained a lot about animations. It seems to add up rather well. It might also be why AI War doesn't get many (as far as I see) complaints about its graphics. The ships really only need to just move. Ships do a lot of things, but a simple 'ship slides around' animation is definitely adequate. Whenever a man or woman is moving around, there's a lot to animate there. It's a lot more work to do.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on June 26, 2013, 09:41:58 AM
I think flying also means you need fewer complex animations. If you look at, say, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (I think there's a demo somewhere) you just play as a flying saucer. You get knocked about a bit if you ram a wall or get hurt, but otherwise you just sort of rotate and float and that's really about it. Players of Valley 2 complained a lot about animations. It seems to add up rather well. It might also be why AI War doesn't get many (as far as I see) complaints about its graphics. The ships really only need to just move. Ships do a lot of things, but a simple 'ship slides around' animation is definitely adequate. Whenever a man or woman is moving around, there's a lot to animate there. It's a lot more work to do.

All true.  Also, if we just have one type of ship, we can AFFORD to do lots more animations and make it multi-part with various upgrades and attachments and so on.  A lot of those sorts of animations are things that we can easily do in-house versus paying a line animator for them, too.  Even most of the monsters in Valley 2 were animated by me directly, not by Heavy Cat.  It was just the characters and the henchmen that were animated by Heavy Cat, plus maybe 10 out of the 130 monsters.  It seems like players really liked my animations, although that may just have been in contrast to the Heavy Cat ones.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Misery on June 28, 2013, 09:29:29 AM
Ok, just stepping in to answer the original (unexpected) question here:


As AVWW goes, I can see why you guys considered the second game to be pretty much a "complete" product.   The first game really didn't have that aspect to it.... at least, not to me, while I enjoyed it alot there were various unfinished things in it, but the second one felt properly "complete". 

If you were to ever do an expansion though, I would say.... more strategy stuffs.   The strategy mode that is in there is very, very good and has alot of depth, but somehow it kinda felt like there wasnt as much "stuff" in it as compared to the platforming side with it's 10 kersquillion enemy and spell types and enchantments and biomes and towers and factories and powerups and.... yeah.    I also feel like the strategy part is the bit that could easily be added to without ever breaking anything, whereas the platforming bit got really fiddly with the balance at various points during development.


Overall though, I personally would be more interested in a third game at some point.   You guys created quite the game world there with lots to do and lots to see and an interesting backstory to all of it (which is something I only very rarely ever say) that seemed like it was very open to more stuff down the line.   

A bloody shame that it's so unlikely at this point, though, with SC having turned out the way it did, I really cant complain too much.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Teal_Blue on July 05, 2013, 05:36:04 PM
Just asking: would there be any interest in a "just the strategy game" mode?  Or a "just the platformer game" mode?  I think one of them could be spun as an expansion with a little sprucing so it wouldn't be "paying more money to get a subset of the original content".  But there'd need to be some interest for them to make sense.


I haven't finished reading through all the posts for this thread, but when i saw Keith's post i thought i'd throw this idea i had in the back of my mind out there...

Basically, take the strategy portion of the game and separate it from the platformer, where you have the map and the small icons that represent the player, the npc's and demonica and the monsters and have the game revolve primarily around having your npc's take the tiles, establishing the farms and medical facilities to keep other npc's alive, and increase the number of npc's that the player has access to, perhaps as many as 20, or 30, or more, but offset this as well by beefing up the monsters and demonica's attacks as well. But have it all playout as tooltip blurbs when the npc's face off against monsters or attacks from demonica, where perhaps they evade, or escape, or are injured but manage to get out and onto another tile nearby.

The player character can be used to orchestrate the movement of the npc's, or for recruiting purposes, or for some particular purpose now that the platformer portion of the game is removed.

Having this type of playstyle; which reminds me of Conquest of Elysium 3, or a Paradox Strategy title, and extending it by having sub-bosses or new bosses take demonica's place on his death would mean extending the game play onto bosses that have different variables than demonica did. Different strengths and weaknesses, different spells, taken from those available, different movement speeds.

In this way, we have no additional art assets that have to be produced, we limit the game interface to the strategy maps and the small icons in use for players and npc's and demonica/other bosses. We extend the strategy and tactics used for each game by varying the boss elements and the available recruited npc's.  To make things more difficult, when necessary, it might be difficult for the player to recruit certain types of npc's, not for every game certainly, but perhaps every game would randomly choose a difficult to recruit npc so as to vary the tools the player has to use for each game.

This is just my opinion, but i think it could be fun.  :)

-Teal

Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: SerratedSabre on July 07, 2013, 02:34:54 AM
Ah yes, Bangai-O. I'll second the mention of it being an action-puzzle platformer. Some of Treasure's best stuff in terms of level and game design, which is strange considering their big claim to frame is all the wacky boss fights they come up with. In Bangai-O's case, the boss stuff is not really there, but due to how crazy the game already is you hardly realize it's gone. Also, Bangai-O also has this unwritten goal of putting enough missiles on-screen to slow to a crawl whatever console it was on; a goal easily met, even on the Xbox 360. It's definitely worth a look at, just for the experience of crazy it is, and how powerful you feel when the game starts to click (for reference, the guy in that youtube vid wasn't very good, though he probably got better at the end).

I feel both Valley games are in a weird place. I feel the "incomplete" feeling of the first game I think came from how there was no true end game. Sure, you managed to crush that overlord into paste, but there was always the next big guy to take his place, so eventually the game turned into:
crush the lieutenants
crush the overlord
rinse, repeat
with the only two hurdles being leveling up your spells, and pushing the wind back a couple tiles. Note that pushing the wind back in some cases is optional, as I remember at least one person on a multiplayer server who was crazy enough to stomp the lieutenant under the windstorm. It kinda turned into a race actually, cause the guy would clear an entire continent all on his lonesome, despite the fact the difficulty was cranked up to one spot below The Chosen One.
That said, I still think the exploration part is one the first's game's strong points. Searching for materials, finding bonus missions and survivors, and sometimes pushing the next level of the caverns to see if you can take it. I'm surprised there wasn't more incentive to go deep to the point where you needed a heatsuit just to keep going, though part of it was that the monsters scaled really hard and would curbstomp anybody who got down that deep. Faced with almost certain death going down deep or going elsewhere and not coming back, people would usually go with the "I live" option. There needed to be some reason for people to risk the plunge, especially when a lone bat down there could chew a third of your HP before you kill it.
Hmmm, I didn't make my point about the exploration clear. I liked it a lot, a feel there's plenty of room to grow there.

Umm, as for Valley 2, I'm not quite finished playing a round of it, so I can't give a full view of it. It certainly has more focus on game goals that the first game. I do like the different mage classes, and the abilities they bring. Even the classes I think of as clunkers have their uses (fist spells OP).
The enemies demand a bit more respect, since they have a lot more tricks up theirs sleeves. Now if certain enemies could actively dodge spell shots, or try to react to certain player actions, I think there's potential for really memorable critters.
On the flip side, the bosses. So far I've only dealt with the henchmen, aaaand they're kinda meh. While they can cast a different number spells and have different quirks (Lilith's counter), they're samey in the sense that have almost zero movement. I also feel like each henchman should have a theme going. Vorgga seems the type to be in an open room by himself, challenging the player to a one-on-one duel against a very mobile opponent. Fanzara seems the type to throw monsters first at you, and attack you with support from other creatures. Wordrak seems the type to be slippery, teleporting around to get a better vantage on you. Lilith seems the type to try to overwhelm you with magic, while at the same time being in terrain that favors her. I haven't met Elder, so I don't know what his deal is. And I haven't had any of the final fights with the henchmen, so I maaaay be jumping the gun a bit. It's just that right now, the henchmen are just a fist spell away from being utter chumps.

I don't mind the strategic part of the game, though I am certainly feeling the dread now that Demonica out on the field. His presence is pretty intimidating. That said, I'm not the best strategy player, though I think I can manage this bull in the china shop.

Ugh, this post is running too long. I'll continue it later.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Aquohn on July 25, 2013, 05:22:02 AM
OK, not sure if this idea has been floated yet, but what if there are both strategic and combat methods for achieving a variety of objectives? This is just a vague idea, but I was thinking about Evil Outposts. What if we could venture into them and destroy them ourselves, instead of relying on survivors? And what if we apply this method of doing things to everything else?

I don't know. Just a random idea. Somehow it sounded quite a bit more substantial in my head.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: nas1m on July 25, 2013, 05:49:50 AM
OK, not sure if this idea has been floated yet, but what if there are both strategic and combat methods for achieving a variety of objectives? This is just a vague idea, but I was thinking about Evil Outposts. What if we could venture into them and destroy them ourselves, instead of relying on survivors? And what if we apply this method of doing things to everything else?

I don't know. Just a random idea. Somehow it sounded quite a bit more substantial in my head.
I like this idea!
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Shrugging Khan on July 25, 2013, 09:01:47 PM
The above sounds like a good idea; it would let the player have some choice in whether to risk himself or his goons. Of course, the actual risks would have to be adjusted...

...anways, as far as the OT goes, I gotta say this: No thank you, I'd rather have more AI War or something entirely new. AVWW and me have no working chemistry together.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on July 27, 2013, 07:33:56 AM
Regarding choosing between personal missions and strategic ones: that's only valid of there is a strategic-layer cost to your running a personal mission. Anything that lets you skip strategic layer requirements by running around on foot makes he strategy game no longer a strategy game.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Aquohn on July 27, 2013, 10:10:48 AM
Hmm, maybe some kind of incremental/exponential cost such that trying to win a pure strategy/pure combat victory would be much more difficult than a mixed one?
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on July 29, 2013, 01:45:20 AM
Doing certain things pure combat could increase danger, as a result of you outright blasting Demonaica's forces away and making your presence known all over the place. I imagine, the survivors' way of doing missions is much more sneaky and less chaotic, and would end up reducing danger or making it decrease it a slower rate.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on July 29, 2013, 07:27:01 AM
Could be, yes. But then that has its own strange sorts of consequences that get very hard to balance. When someone does something via combat too many times , they shoot themselves I'm the foot strategically. So how much is too much? Safest thing then becomes to always do things strategically. Etc.

There are a lot of vicious circles there that I'm not just paranoid about uselessly: we've seen, repeatedly in AI War and even Valley 1, how a lot of players will do something quite un-fun for a long time if it is "playing optimally." Then they give up and quit. Giving players options that are nonfun but optional,which is what often happens with something like this mixing, really goes poorly.

Anyway, other game ideas that I really want to do are stacking up these days anyhow, so I doubt this will ever come to light in the first place.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: abdulmuhsee on August 03, 2013, 10:50:22 AM
Something that involves fighting Elder and the Lords of the Underworld might be nice, but I'm just holding out for the 1.008 patch, really :-).
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on August 09, 2013, 02:32:21 PM
That's got to be really frustrating as a developer. I get all kinds of ideas myself, which unfortunately do revolve around players using whichever things are most fun to use at the moment. That mass of players that plays games in the most efficient way as the 'only way to play' and quit after getting bored or frustrated... what do you really do about that, I wonder? It doesn't seem like there's a good option, other than releasing something very well balanced or forcing the player along a particular style. Basically, you need just overall really tight design to prevent that sort of thing.

Really, every gamer should be a little like the Elder Scrolls fanbase... The same guys who say "Well, crafting's overpowered, and so is this bug. I just won't use it on my next character" instead of steadfast sticking with the most efficient route.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: x4000 on August 09, 2013, 02:35:57 PM
Our main problem is that we cater to a strategy game audience, and a strategy game is very much broken if there is any sort of "press this to win" button.  I'm exactly the same way as the people I might complain about who can't play a game once it gets stale.  I've talked about that aspect of myself many times as part of my motivation for making AI War.

But on the flip side, with games like Elder Scrolls (not that I play that, but with other things like it), I don't have that same sort of thing.  I'll play with suboptimal builds for the fun of it, or do all sorts of interesting things.  Final Fantasy 1 is a good example, I loved trying to win with all Fighters.

The difference is in context: strategy games are all about thinking your way around the rules and your opponent.  The other games are more about exploration and just finding a sense of place and doing cool things there.  The challenge that Arcen runs into is that we make mostly strategy games, heh.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on August 09, 2013, 03:10:14 PM
Ahh, so it's kind of the general player mentality when faced with certain genres then. Strategy games are more intense, engaging, competitive, so you'll take the optimal way around things. They're games where really you have to be optimal and efficient already anyway. RPGs, however, are a different story. RPGs aren't really nearly as intense from a gameplay standpoint (I'd like anybody to try to compare high level RTS gameplay to high level RPG gameplay), and end up being more about role-playing and having fun with that side of yourself, so you are permitted to do suboptimal things. The game doesn't really challenge you to be super efficient, unless you opt into the highest difficulty setting in Skyrim or something. Pathfinder makes me think of that to a greater degree, actually... Looking at the character classes, they don't really seem remotely balanced. They're so wildly different from each other. Some prestige classes look amazing, some look really really awful. Some feats are clearly the way to go, while others are so useless that nobody would ever take them. The thing is, all of that is there so that you can build a character not around optimal gameplay, but around being an interesting character with highs and lows.

That seems like why I see a lot of Diablo 3 players who hate skill point distribution and flock toward cookie cutter builds. Diablo games have little margin for error later on. There's always going to be those one or two strategies that are the only things that work for the higher difficulties, and if you can't play those difficulties you can't finish the game.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Ganrao on September 09, 2013, 10:16:00 AM
It's difficult for me to think of a compelling expansion that could be done in such a small time frame. By compelling I mean something that adds to game play and is not just new skins and things.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with the Valley games.  They are simply too expensive to make for their audience, and thus far we've currently lost something like $200k in making them (forget profit, there's no profit in sight for a long while).  The goal of an expansion would be to help close that gap some, while also providing more fun for players.  If we just make the loss we take even LARGER by doing an expansion to the game, then we're just absolutely shooting ourselves in the foot yet again with it.

I'm not sure if there is an answer to this problem, which is why I've not wanted to do an expansion (well, one reason).  It's going to take some sort of flash of insight on somebody's part before this would really become a thing that is feasible.

I figured the sales for these games were probably not that great, but I'm still sorry to hear they put you that far in the hole. The graphics / art direction are /were the main barricade from commercial success if I had to venture a guess. Perhaps the best thing you could do is revise AVWW 1 into an entirely new game franchise with a different title and find a proper art director. Use the lessons you've learned, but nail the art this time. The mix of side scrolling Metroid style combat and larger world strategic objective pursuit is a GREAT starting point, and I still believe it has a lot of potential.

I'm really curious though what problems that creates for you, since it sounds like art was already one of your biggest expenses in making these games.

edit: I actually went in and played 2 after you said the majority of art didn't look like the opening scene, and I agree your monsters look much better than the player character. The overall style of 2 from the 2 levels I cleared is better than 1.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Anon on September 15, 2013, 04:52:34 PM
More/better animations. Heavy cat's sprites look alright in stills, but in motion they're rather ugly. Intermediate frames and animations for shooting while moving/jumping and in each direction would go a long way to making the game look and feel a lot better. I'd pay for that, honestly. The graphics in AVWW2 were so ugly in motion that they ruined the game for me, and this is coming from a guy that plays Doom and Dwarf Fortress. And who thoroughly enjoyed AVWW1 and thought it looked very good.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Kingpin23 on October 13, 2013, 12:01:34 PM
Instead of a new expansion for 2 I think you guys should make a new game in the series where you
 put all the good thing from 1 and 2 in a new game.
You already have all the art styles and classes and such and there is so much room for improvement.
Title: Re: If we did do a Valley 2 expansion, what would you even want to see?
Post by: Teal_Blue on October 26, 2013, 12:26:00 PM
I know it would take time, but if you simply re-worked the game mechanics using the same art to make a new game in the series there might be no additional major costs. I say major costs, because even if you have no art costs, there is still the time that the team puts into the game.

Looking at all the other Arcen titles, Valley seems to have the most active forum people apart from the current title. SH has fallen off and i see no new posts recently. SC as well, which is a little depressing, because that is an awesome, though crazily hard game for me.  :)  BD is doing well with posts, even if you say sales were low, perhaps there is still a chance here, although maybe slower. Posts for LF look dependent on dev posting new information, but am hoping it will pick up and do extremely well, fingers crossed.

(i was really surprised, but happy to see that Valley 1 had 70% approval  over Valley 2 had 30 percent.

Anyway, just thought a rework of what you have for the Valley, not getting new art or major costs might produce a new interesting take on the games.

With that said, perhaps reworks of SH, Tidalis, SH and SC with no new art but reworked mechanics (looking for a new type of play, or a different approach to the game, etc...) could draw new attention and sales for those titles, as series, instead of just losses in their current form.

I know it would take your time, especially away from new projects, but it could be done over time, if you feel you have a new approach on several of the old games that could help to make new sales.

Just a thought, re-using assets on hand is not a bad idea, if it leads to something new and interesting and saleable too.  :)

-Teal