Author Topic: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.  (Read 7955 times)

Offline x4000

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Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« on: November 28, 2011, 03:18:15 PM »
Here's an interesting thing I've been thinking about, and I've not been coming up with huge numbers of ideas on this and so wanted to put this to the players.  In what ways could AVWW better allow players to be clever in the game?

Background

In AI War, I think that a lot of the lasting appeal of that game (for me anyhow) is that it offers a decision space that is really rich.  Unusually so, even for a strategy game.  There's lots of kinds of ships, and ridiculous numbers of ways that you can combine them.  Some players use ships to great effect that others detest, and every so often a player will come up with a really unique and clever strategy (exploit or otherwise) that nobody else has ever thought of.

I think that this is part of the enduring appeal of AI War: whether or not you personally ever do, there's always the feeling that you can come up with some cool strategy that nobody else has ever thought of.  And even when you come up with something that others have already thought up, it's not necessarily something that was obvious to everyone.  There is an element of strategic creativity there, that really lets people of all skill levels feel clever as they come up with a plan and then execute on that plan.

Other Games And Cleverness
I think that, to some extent, Tidalis also rewards cleverness.  However, it's much more traditional in how it does so: all of the puzzles have a solution that we (mainly meaning Lars) thought of, and your task is figuring out the how to solve that puzzle.  Sometimes there are extra solutions that he didn't think of in advance, which is also part of the fun with Tidalis (as with AI War), but in general it's a much more curated experience -- until you get into custom games, which can involve all sorts of odd challenges that other people have never or only infrequently encountered.

When it comes to games like platformers, FPS, schmups, and other action games, however, these are not exactly known for the same phenomenon.  Games like Zelda and its many derivatives do in fact have puzzles, and many of them require the player to be quite clever.  But these are all about as curated as they come, each having a single very specific solution.  It's a different kind of game, and a different kind of cleverness, than I really mean.

Thinking About Player Cleverness In AVWW
Right now, AVWW doesn't have Zelda-style puzzles -- and whether or not it does in the future is irrelevant to what I'm really talking about with this thread.  That's a way to provide players with an interesting challenge, but it's inherently finite and something that has a 1:1 puzzle design-to-solutions ratio.  In other words, we design one puzzle, and you solve one puzzle. 

The sort of player cleverness I'm talking about is the more freeform kind that you see in AI War, or Magicka, or Minecraft.  In AI War you've got this strategic cleverness where you can combine all the myriad of ships in different ways to overcome challenges that would otherwise be insurmountable.  In Magicka you've got that spell combo system that lets you create custom spell combos that lead to effects others might not have thought of.  In Minecraft, obviously the fairly small number of blocks (under 30 I think) are able to be recombined in Lego-style fashion to make this ridiculous number of possible creations.

I'm open to any suggestions, this is a brainstorming thread after all, but what I'm most interested in developing is opportunities for player cleverness in AVWW along the lines of what you can do with AI War or Magicka, not in the creative building-block-style that you see in Minecraft.  After all, you've already got Minecraft and Terraria for that sort of thing, and frankly they do it better than we could.  Aside from things like the room templates that players are already creating for AVWW, as that's obviously really creative and bears really cool results (although the actual creation process takes place outside the game!).

Extra points the closer the proposed ideas tie into the existing mechanics we already have for the game; I'm not saying I will only implement one idea for player cleverness or something, but I am saying that the ones that are quicker for us to integrate are likely to show up faster. :)

Thoughts?
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Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 03:45:37 PM »
Well, first thoughts --- the first things that come to mind are things like status effects, but I'm sure those are already planned.  One thing that occurs to me is that in AVWW you never get to scout Mk IV world with a raid engine next to your home, as it were, and then go "Holy sh**!" and go back to think about what to do with your Mk I triangle ships and 10,000 starting k --- combat tends to be surmountable with enough jumping and reflexes, and you never really do get a clear view of something totally overwhelming.  That's a feeling I miss a lot, tho I don't really know how to recreate it. 

So I think one thing might be trying to create situations that pose much more intense challenges, with crazy numbers of spawners or multiple bosses or something, but then give you a lot more information about the playing field before you start and potentially some way of adjusting it a little --- maybe laying a few traps and crates while hidden --- to give yourself a (hopefully painfully inadequate) edge.  I think having situations where you get forced into combat without being able to go get the loadout you really want would contribute to that too --- I feel like I only come up with clever things after I experiment and try a few massively dumb things, and I don't tend to take that risk unless I'm forced to.  Perhaps larger no-warp areas --- or whole dungeons you have to restart if you warp in and out --- would help with that?

Offline x4000

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 03:50:19 PM »
It's true, one of the things we had thought of a long while back were Boss Buff rooms where you could go to them to destroy them to weaken the boss in some fashion, but otherwise the boss is tougher thanks to having those in place.  That felt a bit artificial the way I'd partly implemented it, though, so I wound up scrapping it since the ideal path was always just to go kill the buffs first and that was therefore just extra steps to get to the same end result.

But in terms of the core of what you're saying, in terms of needing to recreate that sense of an overwhelming challenge that you can chip away at -- that's absolutely something I couldn't agree with more.  That goes hand in hand with having a lot of tools at your disposal to chip away at that challenge in an interesting fashion.  To some extent I wonder if the entire world should be that kind of "boss."  It's kind of like how the AI War galaxies are a giant puzzle of sorts in themselves, right?  That mark IV world is one particularly intense part, but just taken in isolation without the rest of the galaxy I think it would be less interesting.
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Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 04:07:03 PM »
Yeah, that's absolutely true --- one of the solutions to the Mk IV world is always "let it reinforce and just live with it," and you're always trying to look at it against a dozen other planets you could be throwing your ships at.

But tactically, I was thinking more about things you could do to change the actual room you have to fight in.  I don't know, having a little portable fort or status effect turrets (maybe ones that target you too) or some lava-in-a-bag.  But for that to work you'd have to at least be able to see the whole room while you're still under invincibility, I think, so you'd have time for a plan.  Does that make any sense at all?

Offline x4000

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 04:10:19 PM »
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense -- I'd not thought of anything like that, but it could be an interesting mechanic for sure.  Almost like some... tower offense elements.
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Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 04:18:56 PM »
Tight.  I think it appeals to me for the same reason you mentioned about switching to side-view --- it makes space not just space.

Offline Ixiohm

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 04:27:26 PM »
I like this idea too :) How about a spell that make you kind of astral project (visually maybe similar to the vengeful ghosts). In this form you could scout and make some preparations without drawing the attention of the enemy. However, you would not be able to physically interact with anything and the preparations you make would only 'activate' once your character travels there physically.

Offline x4000

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2011, 04:30:55 PM »
I like this idea too :) How about a spell that make you kind of astral project (visually maybe similar to the vengeful ghosts). In this form you could scout and make some preparations without drawing the attention of the enemy. However, you would not be able to physically interact with anything and the preparations you make would only 'activate' once your character travels there physically.

That would be really cool!
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Offline Hearteater

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2011, 04:33:48 PM »
Inventory

The less inventory I have in the field (to a point), the more creative I need to be in selecting what I bring with me.  You've already touched on this with the spell ammo concept.  But an important part of making inventory selection interesting is to make the costs interesting.

For example, if I can carry an equal number of 10 types of items and they each solve a different problem, I'll carry an amount of each type proportionate to how often I encounter those problems.  If there are 30 item types each of which solves three problems, I now am burning solutions to two other problems each time I use an item.

Further, if I had extremely limited in carrying capacity for any item I haven't increased my max capacity, things become more complicated and interesting.  Each player is now making decisions based on what he is capable of carrying.  Somewhat similar to the limitation of starting ship types in AI Wars.  Implicit here is you can never max all your item types capacity.  I actually would say to a degree, item types would be similar to ship types in AI Wars, with certain core items being like the triangle ships.

Obstacles

I'd like to seem more physical obstacles (which would be the above mentioned "problems" although other things can be problems too) that require certain items to overcome, or cost a steep amount of health/mana/spell ammo as an alternate means of passing them.  For example:

* Magical barriers over doors/chests that can be removed with something, or destroyed with a lot of spell damage (problem for non-cost spells as that just makes it a time cost which is bad).  So bring the counter, or burn a lot of mana/ammo.

* Attrition Totems that slowly damage the player in the chunk until destroyed.  Certain items can make you immune to the damage, so if you opt not to carry those items you'll lose health when you encounter them.

* Anti-Warp stone that prevents warping into or out of a chunk.  This might be something that gets seeded into a fairly large (4-8 adjacent chunks) area to make the items that circumvent it more interesting.

* Null Magic Field that occupies an area of a surface chunk (unlimited vertical height, limited horizatal size) that prevents spell casting, or at least reduces the effect of spells you cast.

* Rotting Mold in caves on the walls that destroys any wooden platforms after a few minutes (guess you should have brought steel platforms)

Unlocking Chunk Warps

Part of the challenge with this idea is once a player passes an obstacle, they can return to town to recover and then warp past the obstacle that was expensive to bypass.  So maybe chunks shouldn't be warp targets automatically when visited if certain obstacles are present.  In fact, warp unlocks should maybe only be applied when the player reaches a chunk through a path that contains no un-defeated obstacles.  Think of it like supply in AI Wars.  I can ignore an Attrition Totem (losing a bit of health) but I won't unlock that chunk for warping TO (I can still warp out) and further I won't unlock any other chunk I visit past that point until I personally travel an unblocked path.

This would still leave players always with the option to leave, but going deeper would require them to either bite the bullet on the alternate resource costs, or bring the right item to get past.

Spell Customization

Making custom spells to solve your problems is fun and interesting.  More so when the custom spells are strict improvements in every area, but instead specializations.  As long as limitations come with power, we'll be forced to be more creative with our spells.  Obviously our inventory needs to limit our spell slots to some very reasonable number.  I'd say 8-10 is probably close to ideal.  It could be interesting if we could make multi-slot spells that were powerful at the expense of less diversity.

I'll wait to see the crests to see what direction you go with custom spells.

Offline TNSe

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2011, 04:36:44 PM »
I was thinking about the strategic view and the village view. And the more and more I was thinking about it, the less inclined I am to keeping the village view. Everything in the village view can be done on the strategic view instead, think more like Civilization. Actually right now, village view adds an extra complexity to the game with very minor impact on the rest of the game.

With more focus on building buildings/securing areas for villages (somehow allow you to claim, demonsterize tiles) and building on them... I dunno, maybe it turns the game too much into civilization. And this kind of game has been somewhat done before, in Actraiser (which is a great game). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a0boYKS1RI
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 04:45:35 PM by TNSe »

Offline Dizzard

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2011, 05:16:58 PM »
Well in terms of developing your civilization I'd like to see a more obvious "we're going out and doing this" rather than just clicking on something and it's done. This might already be planned but I figured I'd mention it. So you might actually bump into npcs doing the missions you set them out to do and you can choose to lend them a hand. It would also mean if your npcs aren't properly equipped they might get ambushed while on a mission and never come home. At the moment I don't really feel my npcs are at all threatened because I just never advance the turn when there's a mob next to one of my towns.

Possibly there could be some kind of magical "radio" system that could be set up. When active you may receive alerts from other people in peril nearby (your settlers, people from other civs, separate survivors or maybe even an enemy faction). You can choose whether to answer their call and if you do help them there will be consequences (generally good but something bad could occasionally happen too). For example saving your own settlers will result in a morale boost. Saving setters outside your civilization they might join your civilization or the relationship between their civ (if they belong to one) and yours would get a boost. On the other hand it would be interesting to have a dilemma where coming to the rescue might not always be the best choice....or you have to decide between saving your own people or saving the people of the civilization you're currentely trying to suck up to.

I agree with the spell customization too, something really "out there" in terms of mixing spells would be very welcome. I mentioned in another thread it would be neat to really get a sense of being like a wizard concocting new spells.....with some mystery attached to what the result is going to be. I'd really like to be in a position where I could mix items and not really expect to get anything special (or expect to get a "mess" back)....but then out pops this really cool spell from nowhere. Feel like I'm the one creating the spells and not necessarily being told "this + this = this" so much.

It would be interesting to be in position where you could logically look at two items and say "I wonder if I put these together.....will I get this?" and then you try it and hey bingo a spell similar to what you were thinking of is created. I bet the spell system could be one of AVWW's big strengths.

Not sure if this is what you're looking for in this thread though.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 05:23:48 PM by Dizzard »

Offline zebramatt

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2011, 05:27:03 PM »
One thing I enjoyed in Starcraft II were the occasions on which you got the choice to do one of two possible missions, completion of which would then give you a distinctly different advantage in the next level. Like, you'd raid the space platform to prevent air support on the world below in the next mission, or take our their transport network to stymie their reinforcement capabilities. You could only do one, and whichever mission you chose was permanent.

Lifting some of that, giving the player the option to either do X or Y side-quest to hinder an overlord or help themselves - but never both X and Y - might, combined with some of the other ideas above, lead to some feeling that your choices actually matter.

Offline Coppermantis

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 06:48:22 PM »
I like Zebramatt's idea a lot.
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Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 06:49:35 PM »
:)  the thing that comes immediately to my mind is settlements and resources. By that i mean currently we have a settlement, or several, (i just have one so far), but we have everything we need in this one place.

It might be more interesting, if say the player had a choice in the type of settlement is first created, and or is created at all.

Say, that i prefer a strategic overview of the world i venture out in, and so, build a settlement with several iLari stones that give me a strategic overview of the world, what is where and what is friendly and what is not.

Or if i prefer, what if my first settlement was a resource gathering settlement, full of wood mills and stone cutter buildings that give me a definite advantage to housing all my settlers, and headstones for the graveyards of those that i lose, or perhaps there might be other uses for stone? Perhaps in building different kinds of new buildings?

Or perhaps my first settlement is a magic oriented settlement, revolving around producing spells of various sorts, but perhaps i need to find skilled 'gem cutters' in the npc's in the field first? Or teach them, which may mean building schools, where i have to have a certain level skilled gem cutter first. Say my gem cutter is only level 3 that i have found, meaning i can only train gem cutters to that level and no more until i get a more skilled cutter npc into my settlement.

We might also have farm settlements, that produce only food, and nothing else. But need the storage sheds built into the settlement to expand production?

This might mean we have to have those 'roads' used by 'caravans' that travel between settlements to distribute out products, be they gem stones, food or wood and stone or whatever?

Also, having npc's venture out into the world, and running across them, as they pursue their ends, makes for interesting interaction, or choices between the player and new npc's you come across, or don't come across.

In addition, the players reputation, might of course mean that the npc's are either interested or not interested in joining with the player?

In this way, there are several 'elements' that we have 'choice' and options with.

Do i as a player, build up all my resource settlements first? Does this mean that i am a 'Turtling' type of player?
Or do i build up armies in quickly built military schools where my npc's and i all go against 100 bosses in a lava chunk?

Do i chose to put all my interests into building 'Spell' settlements where skilled gem-cutters make fabulous spells, and perhaps if i do, i have an advantage in having my npc's 'find' those new gem veins?

Does the terrain itself vary enough, that my settlement is in the hills and therefor less accessible to armies? Meaning they would have to attack 'up the slope' of the mountain as they near my settlement?

Or is my settlement wedged in between two massive mountains in the south, meaning that the only access into my settlement is through a valley that i heavily fortify?

Now this means of course, some changes to some things, or how things 'may' look as they are added?

How do i create a map with a settlement in between two mountains and the only road in is through the single valley that acts as a choke hold? Perhaps,  the tiles on the over-world have to get more detailed? Or have a mouse-over or right-click view that gives us a more precise view of the area?

And if there are single access settlements, what if there are many accessed sites as well? Meaning the enemy could attack from several fronts, and if i am allocating my resources where do i place them? I could be over-run, because i didn't see that the back slope of the settlement was the hardest, but also the most direct into my camp.

Anyway, i think that giving the player options and choices to go one way, or build certain types of things, in the same way that players chose which ships to build and what planets to take, and how in AI War, would increase the degree of complexity and strategy and choice and depth that AVWW already has, and certainly one  that i would love to see.

I think we can do this several ways, one of which is to play with numbers, meaning that Spell settlements get +1 to finding gems and gem veins, or wood, or stone, or food, or whatever. And the same for the advantages and disadvantages for settlements located in rough or deeply inaccessible terrain? +1 or +2 to the home teams defense, or attacks abilities. Also, there could be + or - stats added to those settlements depending on the number of npc settlers. So say, my settlement of 5 people has less of a chance at defending than say a settlement of 10 or 20.

There might be also 'types' of skills, saying that my farm community of 10 people has less attack skill to overcome, or less defense skill to overcome a horde of advancing monsters, or raiders that have come to loot and pillage my town. But my settlement of 5 spell masters, has more ability against those very same looters. 

Using numbers of course, means that we don't have to create 'art assets' that appear in game, they can simply be stats added to areas that are already 'visually defined'.

Or choosing to go 'visually' expressive would make for some 'visual difference and visual interest' from what is currently in the game.

Of course choosing to go more visual is more costly, and takes longer to get in. Text and number stats added are quicker and have no art asset cost to them.

Or a mixture of both,  :) 

But choosing what to build, and how many and where, and so forth, makes for some interesting differences, because not all players are going to play or choose the same things, making their game experiences different. 

And perhaps that is a neat thing too?

:)

Just my two cents,

-Teal



« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 07:03:55 PM by Teal_Blue »

Offline Coppermantis

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Re: Brainstorming Thread: Show Me The Clever Players.
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2011, 07:06:05 PM »
A few ideas I have. These haven't exactly been thought out, so they might be bad ideas. I dunno.

1: more unique region conditions. As far as I can see, there are two types of condition a region can be in: stormy, or calm (under protection of a wind shelter). I think a few more possibilities (stacked with the storm, since that's a global effect) would be nice. You could encounter a flooded region where there's a layer of water covering the low-ground, or a burning one with fire popping up and doing damage or even a radioactive spill that causes monsters to mutate into more advanced and deadly versions. The region would have to be scouted or visited in order to identify what it was, and the effects wouldn't be too common. (maybe one in eight regions have an unusual effect with the more deadly ones being even more rare.)

2: Maybe optional game modifiers, like the minor factions or AI plots in AI war. For an example, to mimic one from AI war, after an overlord is killed, a very powerful group of rampaging monsters appears on the doorstep of a random settlement (doorstep being within 1 or 2 tiles). Something toggleable to add difficulty if it's wanted.

3:As has been discussed in other threads, character customization such as allocating points to skills and attributes would be cool, in my opinion.

4: I'll probably think of more later when I have more time.
I can already tell this is going to be a roller coaster ride of disappointment.