Bad Games Can Give You Good Ideas

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Bad Games Can Give You Good Ideas

Playing Dark has left Yahtzee with a couple ideas for new games.

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I always thought a fun game concept would be a play off of multiple game playthroughs(New Game+ and etc), and the consequences of playing five times over on all the NPCs and your actual character.

They where sure that they beat the big baddie four times times already, but they just doing it again, and again, and again until insanity takes over.

Something sort of like Groundhog Day, but with games.

Bad games give you good ideas because all you can think about is How much better the game could be.

I actually had a similar idea to transferring the demonic curse. In my game the player character is reanimated by spores and spreads them to NPCs. If the character dies then the player is merely handed off to another host, who then becomes the "queen".

I would actually put in another non-death motivator. Imperfect memory transfer.

The more you die the less you know. Memories sort of get overwritten by the host or they get lost. So the story changes and switches as you take on more and more bodies eventually resembling nothing of the original. It would be interesting to see if people would want to try their hardest not to die just to see the actual reason why they came to this endless dungeon.

The best place to think up ideas is a place you don't want to be. Because your mind has only one goal. Not being here anymore.

And secondly, boss fights don't work with this idea at all. 'Cos a big bad boss becomes not a challenging hazard that you have to work at but a free super body you only have to die to once to attain. Some different rules are needed. Let's just say boss fights are the only things that kill you permanent like, and if you fall to them, you have to start all over again. That'd be in keeping with the spirit of Roguelikes, I suppose.

This is easy to avoid with a vampire dealie by saying the bosses are already vampires. You can't turn something already facing the right way, or however that saying goes.

The transitional player character is also seen in that Zombie U, which was more or less favorably reviewed by Yahtzee aside from the "waiting for a curve ball that never came" problem. I'm also reminded of an old game called Avenging Spirit where the player character is a ghost that possesses enemies to whatever end the game has... I didn't play it very much. So here's a Youtube video.

Yahtzee, have you ever played the old arcade game Avenging Spirit? It was based around an enemy-possession mechanic that sounds like at least a troglodytic ancestor of what you're proposing.

Also, the last idea might make for an interesting indie movie, if not for the fact that it'd probably get turned into an anti-videogame crusade.

I believe I did read something about a game where dying makes you possess the nearest NPC or something like that, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, I believe?

As far as death being penalized, either have the enemy wander out of the building or something before you possess him (so you are moved away from your objective, just like a checkpoint) or maybe turn the whole thing into a puzzle game where you have to use death to solve puzzles, e.g. to get up on a ledge you let yourself get sniped by the dude up there and that would be your traversal mechanism, of course every enemy could only act as a transport once and some might be placed so that you couldn't complete the puzzle if you were to be killed by them so you need to kill them somehow, etc.

Just make it cyberpunk. Most of the enemies (including the bosses) are robots, you can only take over humans. Problem solved.

P.S. Thanks

I would play a game if it was that first idea.

However what if one of the weaker enemy's kill you? Surely there'll be more than one soldier per level, unless you make them all the same which would slice the variety thin.

TheProfessor234:
I always thought a fun game concept would be a play off of multiple game playthroughs(New Game+ and etc), and the consequences of playing five times over on all the NPCs and your actual character.

They where sure that they beat the big baddie four times times already, but they just doing it again, and again, and again until insanity takes over.

Something sort of like Groundhog Day, but with games.

You should play Alan Wake's American Nightmare then, which has a similar concept. It got quite harsh criticism compared to the first one, which I never understood, it's simply a neat little experiment within the interesting universe of Alan Wake.

The boss characters could be AI sentries, drones etc. that way with no soul, there's no body for you to steal

Kickstart this shit!

Rush Syks:

You should play Alan Wake's American Nightmare then, which has a similar concept. It got quite harsh criticism compared to the first one, which I never understood, it's simply a neat little experiment within the interesting universe of Alan Wake.

Sweet, thanks for the heads up. I was getting around to finish up the extra chapters on Alan Wake a little while ago, I'll be sure to give American Nightmare a spin.

Wasn't this basically the plot twist that you theorized Mindjack was leading up to?

I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a less-awful version of Mindjack, come to think of it.

See not only the comments pointing to "messiah", but of course to a very small extent "Stacking".

wouldn't you just need the start point of the dungeon be on the other end of the body shoot that they throw all the dead people down down, and have the vampire curse thing kill the guy on the receiving end before re-rasing them. You could also have it be the morgue. This has the added benefit of an intro that explains the mechanics, as your first death could be at the hands of a mortician that freaks out and kills you when you wake up during the autopsy.

Dark Souls actually does the second bit, (Spoilers from here on) if you go and ring the bells of awakening you meet Kingseeker Frampt, a giant snake who gives you a sort of standard hero's journey quest to get the Magical Macguffin(The Lordvessel), beat 4 bosses and then succeed Lord Gwyn, but it doesn't tell you that the whole purpose of the quest is so that The Age of Fire can go on for a bit longer, you "succeed" Lord Gwyn as kindling for the magical fire that keeps the Gods in power, not as a God yourself as his dialogue would have you believe, on the other hand if you avoid Frampt you can find Kaathe who reveals Frampt's plan and that if the Age of Fire ends the Age of Man can begin and asks you to help him start it, but Kaathe is also manipulating you so that it can be in power when the Age of Fire ends.

The only way to actually beat Dark Souls is not to seek out any ending but to just fvck around the world with Covenants and stuff, the game actually tells you that there's nothing you can do for the game world in the prologue "and soon the flames will fade, and only Dark will remain" and there's really nothing you can do about it.

The thing about that possessing-the-enemy-that-killed you thing is that, for the most part, enemies are weaker than the player. That's why he's able to dispatch them in such high numbers. So getting picked off by a boring, bog-standard mook because you've been whittled down by a whole level full of them would put the player at a disadvantage, while getting killed by one of the rarer, more powerful enemies would be an improvement, perhaps, and is actually the primary method for leveling up your character. The incentive then becomes making yourself a target for those enemies without getting killed by the weakling mooks who are attacking you at the same time. Ensuring that the biggest baddie in a room is the one who gets to deal the killing blow.

The problem with such an idea is that the consequence for failing the first time is that you are now more likely to keep failing. Remember how much you hated that in Demon's Souls? At least a normal roguelike throws you way back to the beginning where the enemies are more or less matched to your power level. ZombiU, meanwhile, kept pitting you against the same boring old zombies, making it more of a test of endurance than a progressive difficulty curve, and if you wanted to you could also try your luck at retrieving your kit from your now-zombified former self.

KDR_11k:
I believe I did read something about a game where dying makes you possess the nearest NPC or something like that, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, I believe?

Yes, Omikron does have a system like that. If you died in that game your soul would migrate to certain npcs at the cost of some kind of spirit energy or mana or such. Exceptions were areas where there are no possessible npcs or if you died at the hands of a demon, since they could absorb your soul and take it to hell for a permanent game over. Of course, most of the games bosses are demons.

You could also purposefully posses someone if you don't like the body you have or if you need a specific npc for something. Quick example, I think there was a section where you need to gain entry to a high security warehouse or something. One of the ways was following one of the guards to a secluded spot and then possessing him. I do seem to remember that possessing made your old body disappear, so no hopping back and forth.

I also recall a game called Messiah which also had a similar mechanic. You play as a cherub and have to possess the right people to infiltrate secret labs and military bases and such. That's all I remember though.

One small story-side problem with the body-switching idea: Why would getting killed by one of the bad guys make you into that particular bad guy? Or, from the other end, why would killing the monster make you into the monster?

I do love the "Protagonist" idea, though. Right up to the Wargames ending, that is.

--Morology!

That body-switching idea reminds me of another game from the PS2 or X-Box (that's not Omikron: the Nomad Soul or Messiah), where you were a disembodied spirit at the start of each level and you had to scare a particular NPC enough so you can then possess them and advance to the rest of the level. I think it was called Geist.

"Like I said, just an idea. I doubt I'd want to make it even if I did have the resources, because the whole theme of the thing is basically "Fuck you for playing this game". But then again, that worked for Spec Ops: The Line, didn't it."

No it didn't.

Because Spec Ops fucking sucks, and misses it's own point with it's rampant railroading and shaming a player for shit they had no control over.

You don't want me playing this game? Playing this game makes me a bad person? Off to the bin with you! I look forward to writing you a one star review on Metacritic!

(In case you haven't noticed, I have some issues with Spec Ops the line)

OT:

I had an idea a while back for a game based around being a shapeshifter and using that power for manipulation rather than overt murder.

As for possession, you just described F.3.A.R ; Paxton Fettel can't carry guns, so you have to possess people to use firearms and serve as meat armor.

And secondly, boss fights don't work with this idea at all. 'Cos a big bad boss becomes not a challenging hazard that you have to work at but a free super body you only have to die to once to attain. Some different rules are needed. Let's just say boss fights are the only things that kill you permanent like, and if you fall to them, you have to start all over again. That'd be in keeping with the spirit of Roguelikes, I suppose.

Another solution to this would be to have bosses who can't kill you at all: maybe the boss is trying to knock you out and capture you alive (a bit like The End in Metal Gear Solid 3) or maybe the boss solely attacks by knocking you off some platform, meaning you'll have to climb back up again (like many of the bosses from Wario Land 3).

Another fun idea would be to have a boss that has the ability to resurrect the dead and uses this to assault you with an army of undead mooks. When he kills you (possibly after having been killed by one of the undead enemies first), you can either choose to continue playing as this boss (which is not very advantageous, since being able to resurrect your enemies won't help you much) or to resurrect yourself, effectively giving you the ability to retry the fight.

(If Yahtzee doesn't remember this game I'll be surprised.) As to the first idea, with the idea of switching between PCs with different abilities and getting progressively stronger as time goes on, there's something a bit similar (though not the same) out there. One might want to look up Paradroid for the C64, or its "sequel" for the Speccy, Quazatron. The entire idea of the game is that you play as an "influence device", a weak robot with the ability to hijack other robots. Sure you can shoot the living daylights out of everything, but eventually you're going to run into security droids and other things that you just can't kill. Unless you lay off with the shooting a bit and hijack something better along the way that can hold its own easier*. But you can't settle in one host: Not only are you still perceived as a threat by other robots, but the act of controlling a robot burns it out. Its maximum HP slowly lowers until it hits zero and it dies, or until it gets low enough that something one-shots you. You spend a decent part of the game host-jumping, either out of necessity, or for an upgrade, or just as a cheap way of healing up.

Death while controlling something means death of the host, so the influence device survives to hijack another robot. Of course, if the influence device is killed, it's game over, so getting into a firefight outnumbered is still an incredibly bad idea. Also, you get resources to play the "transfer" (hijack) game based on what your host is. It's easier to go from a 420 maintenance robot to a 742 battle robot than it is to go from a 123 cleaning robot to a 742. So a "chain" of victims from low to high without dropping back to the bare influence device is suggested.

(*Linked video starts with a player doing something suicidal: Attempting to control a battle droid armed with a smart-bomb type weapon right off. If it fails in one of several ways your game is over fast, but if it succeeds you can plow through the weaker droids easily, and there's score bonus for a high rate of kills. He then miscalculates and winds up trapped having to transfer right from the bottom of the upgrade tree to the command cyborg at the top of it. He gets lucky; the randomized field layout for the minigame is unbalanced enough to take advantage of.)

Possession really is an interesting mechanic. A pretty standard take could be that when you die, you need to posses a new body.

I'm a bit hesitant to see the second game -- where you play as some faceless entity trying to better society when you only realize that you are in fact ruining it through violence. I get the impression it is like "Spec Ops: The Line" which I did enjoy, but I don't want to see the thesis of these games go mainstream.

I guess my concern here is that most video games are still a leisure activity to me and several other players. Sometimes I just don't care if the Reapers are going to destroy Earth in X days; I just need 5,000 more XP to get my Shepard to level 23 (or whatever the XP cap is). Video games these days tailor to the amount of violence and power-fantasies we strive for because it is cathartic. It helps us relax after a hard day of work or when we feel bummed out. But when you have more games like "Spec Ops: The Line" telling us how bad of a person we are for playing this game, it makes it less desirable to play further. I'm just worried that more games scolding players for playing would make the leisure activity less fun.

As for the first game where you transfer player control to NPCs of varying stats and play-styles: It could work, though it does have some balancing issues. The biggest problem for me would be that Death mechanic is essentially a 'reward' to the player, if they get killed by a beefier NPC. Plus it doesn't make use of the randomly generated dungeon if the player can just "respawn" at the same spot with a better character. That would be like a roguelike game with infinite lives, and each death gives you higher-tier races to play as.

Instead of being killed by an enemy, the player could build reserves by first "turning and storing" NPCs. Each enemy has a chance of being instant-killed by your bite, with higher chances as their health goes down (similar to how the player has a higher chance of capturing wild Pokemon when their health goes down). At this point the NPC becomes a carcass the player can carry, which needs to be put into a special type of ground for it to become a potential vampire. This makes the player having to use their enemies as resources so they can respawn again. Deciding on what NPC to use next, and whether they can take that NPC back to a ground they found. Otherwise they respawn with a weak human form.

The above solution would also allow random-generation of the dungeon. The spawn point could be where the NPC corpse was put to rest at, or it can be the spawn point outside of the dungeon if the player didn't get an NPC 'planted'.

That's it, I've had it with you Yahtzee. I am going to boycott ZP and EP until you start making the games your visions promise us. I don't think i've ever read or heard you describe a game idea that wouldn't be entertaining AND inventive. Make Thirsty-tooth or META (the names i've given the two games you've described. META should be an acronym. something like... Murderous Entity, Trickster Aggressor. god that was an awful attempt.)

Do it, or surely feel the wrath of my lessened viewership. until you review something I like. SPEAKING OF WHICH

HEY YAHTZEE! where's a State of Decay review?

Machine Man 1992:
shaming a player for shit they had no control over

I always thought the point was that you had control in choosing to play a game where you murder tonnes of people.

OT: Both those ideas sound great, although the second one reminded me a bit of the "stealth" sections in prototype.

I had a somewhat different / similar idea to this.... er.... these....

In my idea you started off as an African American Rookie Soldier who is told he has been implanted with a learning device. However you soon find out this device is nothing more than a recorder sending a message to another Machine. You find this out because you're means of transport was destroyed giving you your first in game death that you're unable to avoid.

You then awaken as a generic white clone ready to do what you would've done if you could've avoided death. While also your character mourn the wife (& child) he had. Only to at the same time realize they are not his & he just has the memory of it. Then you have to continue on with knowing exactly how many times you died, killed someone innocent, killed someone via friendly fire, etc.

At the time I came up with it I was listening to Losing My Religion by REM (& Memory Remains by Metallica) too much.

I ultimately scrapped it though once I acknowledged Spec Ops: The Line & felt I lost my whole War / Anti-War Originality.

The problem with your first idea is that for what reason would the last guy who killed you have for taking up your fight? Even if you turned him/her into a vampire, he/she would have little reason to take up your cause. Presumably they'd just continue to serve the big bad, only as a vampire.

canadamus_prime:
The problem with your first idea is that for what reason would the last guy who killed you have for taking up your fight? Even if you turned him/her into a vampire, he/she would have little reason to take up your cause. Presumably they'd just continue to serve the big bad, only as a vampire.

He did say it was some magic racial memory, so the new guy would have all the knowledge the dead guy had.

OT: Yeah, Yahtzee I think most of us know the "I-have-a-great-game-idea-but-it-needs-a-AAA-budget-to-make" feeling. I've only had 2 game ideas and neither can be made without a AAA budget.

Though as for your first idea, instead of "vampire racial memory magic" just change the setting a bit and make it technology-based. That way you can explain how some enemies are immune to you taking control by throwing phrases around like "incompatible software" or "firewalls".

Boss fights are already vampires.

BAM! You get a super-enemy that the player immediately can realize 'oh damn, I can't take over this guy if I die!' and has to beat without dieing to. Else, you're done.

Samantha Burt:

Machine Man 1992:
shaming a player for shit they had no control over

I always thought the point was that you had control in choosing to play a game where you murder tonnes of people.

Except for people who chose to play Spec Ops because they heard that this game was "deep" and "had great story"

They then had to force themselves through luckluster shooting experience, they would really rather avoid.
Just to reach a conclusion that said "Did you really just do all that murder for fun? You are messed up, son"

But hey, for every such person there are 10 dudes with nicknames like "teh_pwnerer1995", who spam their allies and opponents in CoD with "l4p n00bz lol" and so on, and so forth - I mean the real demographic of the Spec Ops was shooting for with their message.

As for the Yahtzee's idea - yeah, you don't really want to deconstruct essential gaming experience too much through using a game. That would be so post-modernist that the universe would implode into a neat trilby wearing hipster glasses on a scooter.

You could, however, do it in a film or a book.

I've had a similar idea to the "Protagonist" one, though on a much more personal scale. Basically the set-up for the game would be showing this normal boring peaceful bloke and his life. Then one day he starts feeling "compelled" to change the world for the better (much as in your scenario this is when things go from third to first person). He joins up with a militant resistance group to take down the corrupt government. Along the way you are presented with many choices that help further your goals and better yourself as the character, usually in horribly gruesome ways. But around the midway point of the game somehow the guy realizes that he's been manipulated by you the player (or rather the "Compulsion") to do these terrible things. You also find out that the Government your fighting is less corrupt and more just horribly run so you've done all these terrible things for naught. Realizing the horrible truth of it all the person you were playing as is driven mad and breaks free of your control. In his madness he then goes on to threaten to destroy all of humanity so you have nothing to feed on. You have to possess, or "compel", one of the Government Agents you were fighting and then you get to see things from that side. Depending on the decisions you made when you played the other guy the game can become harder. If you wiped out most of the government, built a strong resistance, and leveled the other guy up a lot then you are going to have a much harder time in the second half of the game since your resources now come from the Government side of the equation. It would end with you having to fight the person you formally controlled in the final battle.

I like the protagonist mocking game idea but the win condition seems a bit of a difficulty. A spec ops feeling would have been largely undermined by meta humor but a battle against another protagonist or the realization that gratuitous violence was the whole point would be at least darkly amusing...

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