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!
Azel
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:40 pm

Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:10 am

I figure it might be a decent idea to start the dialogue for tips on how to actually design a good gaming experience. I have played a few Grimrock Mod's at this point, and I'm also working on creating my first Mod. The resources provided on this site seem to be geared almost entirely around the Technical aspects of Mod creation. From new Assets to great Scripting references. However, at the end of the day, all the cool technical implementations won't count for much if the overall experience is lacking. This is something that exists outside of the Technical realm and resides solely in the creative design.

In my case, since I am completely new to Mod Creation and game design in general, I did some research and found some very good articles that served as my starting point:

What makes a Good Game?
http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/games/goodgame.html

7 Sins of Bad Game Design
http://lumiaconversations.microsoft.com ... me-design/

If anyone has some better tips and resources to share I'd be interested in exploring the Design aspects more in-depth. Cheers!

User avatar
David Ward
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:44 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:36 am

Very cool. Reading through this now.

User avatar
David Ward
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:44 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:13 am

The 7 deadly sins was very good. All makes sense.

My friend and I are trying to pull together a Grimrock 2 mod that is focused on the reworking of skills, traits, spells, equipment, and monsters to produce a more intense and varied battle system. So far, it's looking good, and we're just now adding in stats and numbers. We're combining this system in a game sequence akin to the classic Oregon Trail. Just need a couple more months...

Would love to hear any game design tips/ideas/games in the works.

Azel
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:40 pm

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:02 am

Glad you liked them. When I hit the 95% Complete point with my Mod, I read those two articles and realized that I was only 95% complete when it came to the Technical aspect. All my Assets were thoroughly tested (including the infamous Save State), as well as thorough debugging of scripts. After reading these articles I was able to take a step back and ask myself some very pointed questions:

1) Why is the Player being sent to this area? Am I adding this section simply because I need more content, or is there a real story here? Can I tie this area directly back to the main plot and theme of the game world? More importantly, by completing this area, is the Player being rewarded in a way that makes sense to the central theme while yielding an accomplishment that fits in to a grand scheme?

2) Are the puzzles and secrets I implement providing a narrative to the World I am creating, or am I simply creating "puzzles for the sake of puzzles"? For example, am I placing hard-to-find wall switches underground only, or open-word only, or both? Is this arbitrary or does it play to a central theme that I have made clear during the start of the game? Have I set a tone early on that lets the Player know that this specific game World has hidden wall switches everywhere, or have I made it clear that hidden switches come in to play during certain conditions; following-up consistently with sensible expectations for pressure plates, levers, portals, and push-stones?

Once I started walking through my Mod with these questions in mind, I realized that I was closer to 50% complete from a game Design/Experience standpoint. Now the end result is starting to feel much more polished.

So what am I building? A re-interpretation of the original Myst game. The same cast, Atrus, his wife Catherine, and the two brothers, Sirrus and Achemar. I call it a "re-intepretation" because it is not a direct copy n paste, and the Grimrock elements take as much as center stage as the Myst puzzles and storyline. I think I'm about 1 week away from the first release; which will entail Myst Island and a brief intro to the other Ages.

User avatar
msyblade
Posts: 792
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:40 am
Location: New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by msyblade » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:37 am

Here's a great thread from an era past. ;)

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3802&p=39004#p39004
Currently conspiring with many modders on the "Legends of the Northern Realms"project.

"You have been captured by a psychopathic diety who needs a new plaything to torture."
Hotel Hades

User avatar
David Ward
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:44 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by David Ward » Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:12 pm

Good tips Azel, good link msyblade. Thanks for the inputs. Much to consider.

I see tremendous value in releasing a *finished*, *polished* product. If players are actually going to make the choice to invest their time into someone's mod (of which there are what, now, hundreds out there?) make it solidly worth that investment. No half-assed releases, for sure.

Azel
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:40 pm

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:34 pm

While I'm taking a break from playtesting, I thought I'd toss in a few more personal design preferences for funsies...

1) I find that the machete is a bit over-powered to introduce early on and becomes quickly under-powered with the other weapon options. Also, I feel that the machete is not really a weapon that belongs in an RPG, so I personally decided to exclude it from any Mod's I build. No offense to anyone who enjoys the machete in the world of Grimrock. I just feel that unless you're building a Mod about Camp Crystal Lake then it takes away from the fantasy realm.

2) I think most of us have a hard time avoiding the desire to create a "wolves den." You know.... some Cave that has a big bad 'ol wolf inside, guarding some treasure, including bones and a skull. However, even when I consider it, I do my best to avoid the "bones and skull" routine because I think that in Grimrock the skulls should be truly meaningful. A skull should be the result of a challenging hunt (NPS specific) or Boss kill; things like that. Not just the random remains of some person not related to the storyline.

3) Another hard-to-resist scenario is the Turtle guarding the nest of eggs. This is always fun, and a Mod that has this is sure to follow up with the rat swarm guarding their cheese. While cute, any attempt to implement these Racial Foods in a mod should take in to account the actual Mathematics:
Insectoids - Horned Fruit
Lizardman - Turtle Egg
Ratling - Cheese

Stat progression:

First 3 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat
Next 4 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat
Next 5 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat

Next 6 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat
Next 7 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat

Next 8 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat
Next 9 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat

Next 10 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat
Next 11 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat

Next 12 Favorite Treats Eaten = +1 Random Stat

For a maximum of +10 Random Stats at 75 Favorite Treats consumed. And of course, there isn't anywhere near enough favorite treats in the game to max out this bonus

Mod Designers would be doing us all a great justice to incorporate the math at all times, so that the Player can feel confident that regardless of how many Racial Foods reside within the game, at the very least there will be enough to get that last +1 Random Stat. For example, a Mod that has 12 of each (horned fruit, cheese, turtle eggs) is making sure that the Player gets a total of +3 random stats. If instead there are only 11 or 13 of these food items, the gaming experience falls short in terms of proper reward and consideration. And with proper consideration, if the Player only finds 11 Racial Foods they will have the confidence to know that they must have missed a secret somewhere. That's good game design, as opposed to forcing the Player to seek out that 12th Racial Food only to discover that the Game Designer never put one in.


4) Alchemy Ingredients; their distribution is essential to a quality gaming experience. This is another Math approach, and for this I turn to the Main Campaign of LoG2:
77 bloodcap
27 mudwart
18 blackmoss
40 falcon
58 etherweed
14 crystal flower
Those are the total number of Alchemy ingredients found throughout all of Grimrock 2. And that is enough to gauge if your Mod has the proper amount of fair distribution.

Lastly, in regards to Food Item and Alchemy distribution, I am not suggesting that we confine ourselves to the same even distribution, as that could become monotonous and far too confining in regards to creativity and uniqueness. Say for example, we are creating a Mod that is all about a world of evil Rats. It will likely make sense that this Mod will have 75 total cheese items, yet only 7 horned fruit and 3 turtle eggs. But at least we still took the math in to consideration, so that a Ratling Champion gets +10 stats, an Insectoid gets +2 stats, and a Lizard gets +1 stat.

The same goes for Alchemy; if we designed a game that's mostly Water, then Etherweed will far outweight the others. Yet with a standard in front of us we can still consider what makes sense, as opposed to arbitrary distribution and 'best guess' - as they can set the wrong tone of the game.

Well that's all for now. Just my personal thoughts as a wannabe Mod'er :mrgreen:

minmay
Posts: 2700
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:24 am

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by minmay » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:58 pm

Azel wrote:1) I find that the machete is a bit over-powered to introduce early on and becomes quickly under-powered with the other weapon options. Also, I feel that the machete is not really a weapon that belongs in an RPG, so I personally decided to exclude it from any Mod's I build. No offense to anyone who enjoys the machete in the world of Grimrock. I just feel that unless you're building a Mod about Camp Crystal Lake then it takes away from the fantasy realm.
The machete was invented before the flintlock and the cutlass.
Grimrock 1 dungeon
Grimrock 2 resources
I no longer answer scripting questions in private messages. Please ask in a forum topic or this Discord server.

Azel
Posts: 808
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:40 pm

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by Azel » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:28 pm

You mean in history, or in the timeline of Grimrock? And was that before or after the birth of the first Medusa? :lol:

User avatar
msyblade
Posts: 792
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:40 am
Location: New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: Tips on Designing a good Experience

Post by msyblade » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:24 am

Mod Designers would be doing us all a great justice to incorporate the math at all times, so that the Player can feel confident that regardless of how many Racial Foods reside within the game, at the very least there will be enough to get that last +1 Random Stat. For example, a Mod that has 12 of each (horned fruit, cheese, turtle eggs) is making sure that the Player gets a total of +3 random stats. If instead there are only 11 or 13 of these food items, the gaming experience falls short in terms of proper reward and consideration. And with proper consideration, if the Player only finds 11 Racial Foods they will have the confidence to know that they must have missed a secret somewhere. That's good game design, as opposed to forcing the Player to seek out that 12th Racial Food only to discover that the Game Designer never put one in.
Great tip!
Currently conspiring with many modders on the "Legends of the Northern Realms"project.

"You have been captured by a psychopathic diety who needs a new plaything to torture."
Hotel Hades

Post Reply