Tips on Designing a good Experience

Ask for help about creating mods and scripts for Grimrock 2 or share your tips, scripts, tools and assets with other modders here. Warning: forum contains spoilers!
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David Ward
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:11 am

Good tips, ideas, and stats all around there, Azel. Thank you for that.

My friend and I are creating a shorter sequence of a game akin to Oregon Trail meets dungeon crawler, so resource management is a paramount aspect to the game.

The intention is that a single playthrough would be at most 8 hours long, and that only maybe 30-40% of the total items in the game would be discovered. Replayability will be key, and branches in progressing through the game essential. We'll see what happens. It's looking good so far after 2 months.

One thing I learned with the item system, particular to weapons and armor (you touched on this regarding the machete, Azel) is the *valuation* of items. Finding a new weapon, armor, or magical item should FEEL special, and that can be reflected in its statistics. Getting the right *feel* on that is taking some work, because it is measured against all other items.

It's awesome that the Grimrock 2 editor allows for all of that and more.

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Frenchie
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Frenchie » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:39 am

For me a good gaming experience is:

- multiple ways to reach a goal (stuck at a puzzle, try another way)
- choices that affect the end game but not ruin it (a rogue should play different game than a maze)
- combat scaled to party level (keep the pressure on)
- enough resources, but at logical places (hunt animals for food or fish in a lake)
- different starter items for different parties (class scan)
- adjustable game difficulty (slow explorers get less combat, fast paced fighters a lot)
- unique puzzles no one tried before (we want to be amazed)
- better clues for difficult puzzles depending on time (a mysterious hud message or message on a wall changes if you fail to solve a problem making it easier)

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Drakkan
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Drakkan » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:43 am

I´d like to know your opinion about re-playability of custom mods - in general I think it is really cool if game could be replayed few times, but in case of grimrock I think it is not really required. How many times did you play main campaign for example or how many times did you play some custom mod for Log1/2 ? I personally think only few people will play some more than once.
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Azel
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:01 pm

David Ward wrote:My friend and I are creating a shorter sequence of a game akin to Oregon Trail meets dungeon crawler, so resource management is a paramount aspect to the game.
I'm very much looking forward to this. What a fun and unique blend! Can we get some teaser screenshots soon? :D
Frenchie wrote:unique puzzles no one tried before (we want to be amazed)
I couldn't agree more. And this is very hard to pull off; but worth it! For things like this I strongly recommend doing research. In this case, the research is super fun because it entails playing other games and watching videos of other games being played. Who can argue with that type of research? :P

My Mod implements Boss Battles, and for that I have watched over 100 different famous Boss Battle videos, spanning every gaming platform and genre imaginable. Research isn't about "stealing" ideas, it's about knowing the good vs the bad of game experience implementations. Plenty of ideas for Boss Battles and Puzzles in general can come from some good quality gaming research.

Drakkan wrote:I´d like to know your opinion about re-playability of custom mods - in general I think it is really cool if game could be replayed few times, but in case of grimrock I think it is not really required. How many times did you play main campaign for example or how many times did you play some custom mod for Log1/2 ? I personally think only few people will play some more than once.
Oh this is a topic I am slowly becoming obsessed with. The only way I was able to replay the Main Campaign of Grimrock 2 was with the idea of "DoomRock" that I posted (running around with 4 gun-wielding Alchemists and infinite ammo). Other than that, though, there wasn't a whole lot else in the re-playability department. But that's okay, that's why they gave us the Game Editor!

One of my favorite RPG series is Gothic. And in the 3rd installment of the game there was somewhat of a "secret" intro to character progression. Initially, players have the ability to build their characters with the standard approach: melee, ranged, magic. However, later in the game you realize that there is a desert that contains a ton of valuable items that will increase your magical abilities. So much that if you decide to replay the game, right when the game starts your player can sneak over to that area and find all of them; thus becoming a mighty strong caster before you leave the newbie area. Doing so completely changes the power you have and opens up different decisions you can make in the game (as Gothic is very much based on player choice).

This is one of those "re-playability" factors that always stuck with me. I'm sure other people can think of much more entertaining/rewarding replay experiences, but that one in Gothic 3 is a classic for me.

My goal is to somehow provide enough choices and paths to success that several play-throughs can yield unique experiences. I have not achieved that yet, but it's a nice goal!

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David Ward
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:49 pm

Drakkan wrote:I´d like to know your opinion about re-playability of custom mods - in general I think it is really cool if game could be replayed few times, but in case of grimrock I think it is not really required. How many times did you play main campaign for example or how many times did you play some custom mod for Log1/2 ? I personally think only few people will play some more than once.
I agree that Grimrock did not emphasize replayability. Why? It doesn't appear to have been designed that way. It is one path through, same path, every time. You might find some extra secrets on subsequent runs, and a different party composition could make subsequent runs new and novel, but yes, it was all largely the same. Nothing wrong with that. It's a one-off dungeon crawler.

The reason I want to emphasize replayability is because it allows for such a great **variety in party creation**. That is a huge part of the fun of the game - making your party, seeing the different party types. Like...why not have it so that if you make 4 wizards, it can work, and the experience is completely new, rather than the standard 2 front row and 2 back row powerhouses? Or 4 rogues? Or some bizarre combination whereby the game allows for the opening of doors that give you the opportunity to make choices that strengthen and assist whatever party type you've made.

Trick 1 with making a replayable game? MAKE IT SHORTER! We're making a game that is going to be, at most, 8 hours to complete. Not 40.

Trick 2 - Make it so that MOST of the content in the game, items in particular....WON'T be found on a single run. Choose your prize from door number 1, 2 or 3. You picked 2? You CAN'T have the prizes from door 1 and 3! Sorry! Play again! T.V. Gameshows spring to mind here.

Trick 3 - Branching pathways. You have 2 paths before you to complete this portion of the dungeon, path A and path B. You chose path B? You DON'T get to even see path A! Sorry! Play again!

It means making a lot of content and having it compressed into smaller areas.....3 items, for example, all in one area, choose 1, instead of having them laid out throughout the path and all 3 will be found.

Just some thoughts on replayability features.

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David Ward
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:56 pm

My goal is to somehow provide enough choices and paths to success that several play-throughs can yield unique experiences. I have not achieved that yet, but it's a nice goal!
Yeah it requires making a LOT of content because it means compressing what would have been a 1-way path through the whole game into multiple branching paths with single areas, like dungeons that wind 6 different ways but the player will only ever see through 2 of them in one playthrough.

I'm very much looking forward to this. What a fun and unique blend! Can we get some teaser screenshots soon? :D
I am honored, thank you. :D Right now the only worthwhile screenshots would be design sheets but hey, what the hell. I'm guessing we can't upload photos here on the forum, right? Just use an image uploader and post the link?

[edit]

Am going to hold off on the screenshots for now, Azel. There's not enough to show just yet. Will post some when things *look* more interesting.

Eburt
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Eburt » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:02 am

David Ward wrote: Trick 1 with making a replayable game? MAKE IT SHORTER! We're making a game that is going to be, at most, 8 hours to complete. Not 40.

Trick 2 - Make it so that MOST of the content in the game, items in particular....WON'T be found on a single run. Choose your prize from door number 1, 2 or 3. You picked 2? You CAN'T have the prizes from door 1 and 3! Sorry! Play again! T.V. Gameshows spring to mind here.

Trick 3 - Branching pathways. You have 2 paths before you to complete this portion of the dungeon, path A and path B. You chose path B? You DON'T get to even see path A! Sorry! Play again!
While I generally agree with your assessment that making strange party compositions is fun, I disagree that re-playability of a mod should be accomplished using these methods.

For an example, look at the MMO Guild Wars 2. The single biggest criticism of that game at launch was the way the story was implemented with too many choices. Simply put, most players never experienced even a small fraction of the different story lines available, mostly because leveling multiple characters was too repetitive. And this was in an MMO, where each class (and to lesser extent race) feels very unique - its encouraged that players have a variety of characters.

By comparison, each class in Grimrock is pretty similar in the way it plays. The most unique one is really the farmer. Doesn't mean there aren't interesting choices, but I do think it means that most players won't bother creating a new party to run your dungeon a second time. I'm sure some will, but not all (and maybe not even the majority). Generally, I would rather try out a new party comp idea in a new dungeon, to get the most out of my gaming time. Forcing the players to choose paths does somewhat make the game more re-playable, because they want to see everything... but why not just make the original play through include everything that you spent so much valuable time working on?

If you find other ways to make a dungeon more re-playable, by all means consider branching to compliment that. But by itself, I don't think this is enough to get players excited to replay mods or the base game. If you want to do that, I think you really need to provide a completely different way to play the game the second time through - like Toorum mode in the original, for example.

TLDR: If you're going to put the effort into something great, I would think you want each player to enjoy every aspect of it. And, IMHO, Grimrock as a game just doesn't encourage re-playability, so try to encourage players to enjoy your mod to the fullest on the first run.

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David Ward
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:34 am

We're remaking all of the classes, modifying them slightly to make them more unique, and adding 2 more, for a total of 10 classes.

2 more races added makes 7 in total there.

The entire item, weapon, armor and spell systems have been partially redone to emphasize the replayability a bit further - more specialization.

And we have a feature to make unique the entire party structure.

It could be interesting. We shall see. As Indiana Jones said in The Last Crusade...There's only one way to find out.

Azel
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:59 am

Eburt wrote:For an example, look at the MMO Guild Wars 2. The single biggest criticism of that game at launch was the way the story was implemented with too many choices. Simply put, most players never experienced even a small fraction of the different story lines available, mostly because leveling multiple characters was too repetitive. And this was in an MMO, where each class (and to lesser extent race) feels very unique - its encouraged that players have a variety of characters.
The reason this approach does not work in Guild Wars is because, as you mentioned, you have to go through the tedious process of leveling up characters all over again. However, this does not apply to Grimrock at all since you can Import your characters. If we take in to account the Character Import feature of Grimrock then David Ward's suggestions are quite viable.

Which brings me to agree on another Mod Tip Suggestion:
It would behoove Grimrock Mod'ers to consider implementing choices that are most effective when a Player engages your Mod for a subsequent play-through, with the idea that the Player will simply Import the party that they used to beat your Mod the first time.

Good game design should take in to account all tools available to the Player. This includes Difficulty Setting as well as Character Import. With the right kind of Script in the game, we can even calculate the accumulative level of the Group (ie, Four beginner characters have a total level of 4) at the start of the game, or other trigger areas, and make gameplay decisions on the fly that change the experience; such as spawning higher level monsters or opening up a new section on the map that is only available if the groups accumulative character level is 28 or above (which can be met with Four level 7 champions).

:mrgreen:

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David Ward
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Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:14 am

Azel wrote:It would behoove Grimrock Mod'ers to consider implementing choices that are most effective when a Player engages your Mod for a subsequent play-through, with the idea that the Player will simply Import the party that they used to beat your Mod the first time.
Had not considered that. Is that a popular idea?

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