Bad Games Can Give You Good Ideas

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First game idea sounds pretty good to me. The second one....eeehhhhh, I can see where it would be an existential, introspective sort of thing, but it's a very bleak, cynical outlook on the idea of trying to be proactive about the large-scale problems surrounding a person or group. While it's true the ends don't always justify the means, sometimes action has to be taken to make things better, lest conditions stagnate and people become mired in status quo out of inertia.

In short, yes sometimes the protagonist can seem like a bit of an ass for getting up in people's faces and picking fights rather than just letting sleeping dogs lie. But as an old saying goes "don't be afraid of criticism; those who enact change inevitably stir up criticism."

the antithesis:

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.

That is a really neat way of making boss fights make sense, tying it both into the mechanics and the lore. It also explains why they're going to be tricky fights, as they'll have some vampire powers of their own. Hell, maybe that's a way to gain new powers; when you defeat them, you can absorb their vampireness, and gain their skills.

Well done, internet person. I like your brain.

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.

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

I was referring to the White Phosphorus scene, how they make it so that it's impossible to proceed without doing it.

Even then, I din't choose to burn the civilians; I chose to burn the humvee that was shooting at me, and they burned anyway. Also, what's the point of even having moral choice sequences if your entire message is predicated on me choosing the evil option?

I always have control over playing a game where you murder tons of people. It's a game, and like most healthy adults, I can differentiate between fantasy and reality.

The thing I always toy with, game mechanic-wise, is how odd it is that when players get more skilled they are rewarded with powerups. They've already proven they can accomplish a task, it seems counter-intuitive to then make them better.

Yes, I get that this is offset by giving them more difficult opponents or a wider breadth of options, but then you just get into an arms race which ultimately gets kind of foolish. It seems games seldom make use of scarcity, or making abilities more limited as a game goes. You start with advantages of weapons, regenerating health / armor, all the things which make you 'more than' human. And then on subsequent levels you lose those advantages.

What if you start as some flavor of 'Speece Marine', then after doing something appropriately heroic your next task is (loosely) the same thing with some average grunt. And if you succeed there, the next iteration is with a civilian. And then an elderly civilian or a kid or something. Because, look - if having Master Chief mow down bug eyed monsters is mildly impressive, seeing granny hose down the Alien Queen and attendant hoard is simply jaw-dropping.

Plus think of how fun this mechanic would make a CoD-ish spunk-gargle-weewee game. Your n00bs, the first time players, they would take to the field with airstrikes at their beck and call. But as their experience grew, their weapon choices would become more limited. Their magic regenerating armor / health would stop. They could be one-shotted. Weapons would do less damage, requiring more teamwork. Become slower and lose the ability to jump meaning you have to re-think how you navigate maps.

Over a game's life-cycle, as you have fewer and fewer people joining, you have fewer and fewer 'hero' troops and more masses of regulars. Which seems... well, something which would help define 'hero'. The canny oldsters would be the veterans who can stand on their experience, not their perks.

Sound like Geist, only with it's head up it's bum.

gotta tell you Ben I'd play the shit out of both of those games

as for the first it sounds like the issues have sorta been solved by commentators already so ahh yea get on making that

and as for the fuck you ending in the second, I enjoy that sort of thing and I think there's a market for it

I actually loved the ending of little inferno, which as I'm sure you know was essentially "go the fuck outside"

Darth_Payn:
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.

Geist was for the GameCube; it was a Nintendo-published title. But yes, I'm assuming Yahtzee never played it because it's a very similar concept and while I was reading it I just kept thinking, "Well, someone would get a kick out of Geist."

I had to think a while about the first game concept for a while, and I actually managed to come up with a loose formula that irons out the kinks (i.e., the "let bad guy kill you, body jack bad guy, ad infinitum"), as well as actually construct a loose story-line for a final product:

The setting is a near-future city (one with society slowly becoming more violent and unstable), with your character being one of several selectable archetypes: to put it in "Fighter, Mage, Thief" terms, the equivalents are "Soldier" (a former member of the army, who suffers from guilt at the things he did in the war), "Preacher" (a clergy member who fell out of their congregation, and often questions their faith in God), and "Runner" (a kid from the streets, who has resorted to petty crime to survive), although there are a lot more archetypes which blend elements of these three archetypes (more about them later). The Soldier has the highest health, and is skilled with heavy guns (assault rifles, shotguns, explosive launchers), and is a brutal close-quarters combatant, but is slow to move (since he has resorted to alcoholism and other substances to drown out his PTSD), and his melee is mostly limited to using the butt of his firearms as clubs, using a combat knife or machete, or just brawling with slow and klutzy punches, kicks, and grapples. The Runner is the fastest and agile, with free-running and parkour skills galore, while focusing on using light, concealable firearms(semi-auto pistols, light SMGs - anything that doesn't hinder his movement), and uses the widest range of melee weapons (preferring "swinging" blunt instruments, pocket knives, and brass knuckles), but is extremely fragile, and needs lots of finesse to successfully fight or take flight. The Preacher, although middling in terms of health and agility, has the lowest skills of any weapons - they make do with the power of their words to persuade human enemies out of fighting (and later, using magic and holy spells against the legions of Hell that can't be swayed by speeches).

The introduction shows an "average day" in the life of your selected archetype, with them having to put up with a situation that seems to happen to them - and countless others - every day in the city: fighting for survival. Each case is a tutorial in basic (i.e. pre-Vampirism) abilities: the Soldier gets in a bar brawl showcasing their up-close and personal melee combos, the Runner is forced to use their parkour to outrun a street gang and/or the police, and the Preacher has to talk down several assailants in a speech check. No archetype can get a "game over" if they don't complete their objective: their opponents just beat the crap out of them, and the only difference is that they get home more battered and bruised than if they had succeeded.

However, by the time the character gets back to whatever miserable wreck is their excuse for home, they end up being attacked in the night by a vampire. This first phase of this fight shows how to use defensive weapons/spells, with the Soldier and Runner hurriedly grabbing a melee weapon of choice to beat off what they believe to be a drug addict, while the Preacher falls back on a Lord's Prayer (or an equivalent of such) to ward off the evil creature. The second phase has the vampire suddenly start showing off his fancier moves (i.e. teleporting and clinging to the ceiling), the characters break out the offensive weapons/spells, with the Soldier and Runner drawing firearms, and the Preacher using incantations to damn the vampire. After a desperate fight, the character seemingly kills the vampire, who disintegrates into ash. Believing the fight to be over, the haggard protagonist collapses in relief, partly wondering why they were attacked, but mostly thankful to have "killed" whatever was attacking them.

However, the third phase of the fight has the spirit of the vampire rise from the ash, and try to hijack the protagonist. This starts a "Battle in the Center of the Mind", where the vampire distorts the protagonist's mind into relieving their darkest moments: the Soldier is brought back to the battle that their unit was killed at, the Runner relives the moments their family was slaughtered, the Priest is forced through the same event that got them exiled from the church. Then it becomes even more distorted and surreal as the vampire begins the battle in earnest, and the protagonist is barely able to defeat the beast. However, just before the vampire's soul is banished to oblivion, he tells the character that their battle was for naught: defeating him only made them recipients of the vampires curse, and they would be doomed to walk the earth until their soul is defeated, and will be damned forever in Hell.

Needless to say, the prospect of eternal damnation more than outweighs whatever longevity and superpowers the player gets now, and they thus become desperate to find some way to lift the curse from their shoulders. However, as they journey through the seedy underworld of the city, they will discover a plot be the vampire society to spread chaos in the city, allowing vampires to destroy the human population before moving across the world.

Anyways, the gimmick is that, instead of automatically possessing an enemy after death, one has to undergo a last-ditch attempt to possess the nearest enemy, and destroy their soul to get their new body (which is shown as a 1v1 duel with the person being possessed). If a player waits too long in trying to possess an enemy, their soul gets drained of energy, making the possession harder and more dangerous, and getting killed too many times in a row drains their soul of energy even faster. Boss enemies are of either other vampires, or particularly strong-willed humans, who are thus more harder to take down than standard enemies, but reap tons of XP, abilities, etc. when defeated. The end goal is to destroy the main vampire lord, whose death will break the character free from their bounds of vampirism, and put an end to the schemes of the vampire society against humanity.

So there you have it - a way to balance the mechanic of possessing enemies upon death, and a plot to get the player invested in the action.

Oh, and to fully explain the archtype system, there are three major skill trees a player can invest in: fight (which is raw damage resistance and firepower with conventional weaponry), flight (which focuses on agility and quick, lightweight weaponry), and faith (which relies on the powers of persuasion, and using holy items and weapons to repel enemies). The archetypes of Soldier, Runner and Priest are respectively fully invested in the fight, flight and faith trees. The following archtypes are either dominant in one tree while taking parts from the other trees, or evenly split between two trees:

* Gangster(Half Fight, Half Flight): A member of one of many street gangs in the city, this career criminal isn't quite as agile as the Runner, but has more experience with heavier weapons (such as sawn-off shotguns, or stockless assault rifles).

* Survivalist (Half Fight, Half Faith): A right-wing militia man, this archetype doesn't have as much firearms training as the Soldier or the religious teaching of the Preacher, but more than makes up for it by covering the areas the Soldier and the Preacher lack in.

* Goth (Half Flight, Half Faith): Although more of a hobbyist on the underworld than a true "child of the night", they are still able to come to grips with powers better than most, and are more agile than the Preacher.

* Police Officer (Half Fight, Quarter Flight, Quarter Faith): Mostly trained in cracking down on gangs, this archetype still has to rely on some running skills to catch fleeing suspects, and some ability to negotiate hostage situations.

* Con Artist (Half Flight, Quarter Fight, Quarter Faith): Mostly relying on a silver tongue (and a way to book it if a deal goes sour), this archetype is still able to use basic weapons if he finds himself caught in a corner.

* Private Investigator(Half Faith, Quarter Fight, Quarter Flight): The final archetype of the list, this Harry Dresden-esque PI has already had some dealings with the supernatural world, and reacts to his vampirism predicament with more irritation than panic.

And secondly, boss fights don't work with this idea at all.

What if, instead of boss fights, you just had to fight through swarms of lesser enemies that are only effective in numbers? I'd certainly be motivated not to die, but then I can't imagine very many interesting set-ups involving that enemy type, so it would probably be anticlimactic at best and annoying/frustrating at worst.

I'm throwing money at the screen Yahtzee but nothing is happening!

Obviously. Everyone, after playing a bad game, or watching a bad movie or whatever will probably think of a dozen ways to improve it. Like in pretty much every MegaTen games ever, it's always demons and hentai. What about majuu and Playboy? Or just having another "go to school, save the world, go home" adventure just not crammed full of mythology and magic-marker abdomens.

Even though E.T. for the Atari 2600 is horribly done, I love the core idea of it. It's basically a power-fantasy game like Prototype or Infamous, except the controller is just one button and a joystick, so every single power is context-based. This makes you all-powerful and powerless at the same time; you can do anything if you're in the right place, and nothing if you aren't. Even something as simple as gaining health from health power-ups requires a specific type of location to work; which makes some sense, since recovering health is kind of miraculous if you think about it.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
as the investigations take a toll on the cop's mental and physical health. In the end, the Protagonist must realize that its fine motives and intention to 'fix' the problems of the world are just a slim rationalization for what it really wants: to reap praise and excitement without consequence. It must realize that the world is better off without it, at which point, the game ends.

Couldn't you just take possession of another cop? Organized crime sydnicates, and all those murders and rapists aren't going to get rid of themselves are they? I can see how that point is what makes so many assassins/hitmen zealous in their effort to undermine the endless battle between good and evil. A spirit would only be more so inclined to be consumed with hatred, hence why they have to be forceably banished by shamans/priests.

Machine Man 1992:

I was referring to the White Phosphorus scene, how they make it so that it's impossible to proceed without doing it.

Even then, I din't choose to burn the civilians; I chose to burn the humvee that was shooting at me, and they burned anyway. Also, what's the point of even having moral choice sequences if your entire message is predicated on me choosing the evil option?

I always have control over playing a game where you murder tons of people. It's a game, and like most healthy adults, I can differentiate between fantasy and reality.

This was already discussed at length previously, and it was pretty much debunked. 99% of players CHOOSE to fire upon all the dots on their screen. This is why the game is so effective in making us feel guilty.

Sure we don't actually have a choice when it comes down to it, but it successfully created what good linear games do. It created the illusion of choice. The only people that complain about this are the 1% or the people who after realizing their mistake, reloaded a older save and tried to not shoot upon them.

The key to making this work is in the context of the game, that there would be no way of knowing the catastrophe was coming. But boy does it hit us hard regardless.

TheUnbeholden:

Machine Man 1992:

I was referring to the White Phosphorus scene, how they make it so that it's impossible to proceed without doing it.

Even then, I din't choose to burn the civilians; I chose to burn the humvee that was shooting at me, and they burned anyway. Also, what's the point of even having moral choice sequences if your entire message is predicated on me choosing the evil option?

I always have control over playing a game where you murder tons of people. It's a game, and like most healthy adults, I can differentiate between fantasy and reality.

This was already discussed at length previously, and it was pretty much debunked. 99% of players CHOOSE to fire upon all the dots on their screen. This is why the game is so effective in making us feel guilty.

Sure we don't actually have a choice when it comes down to it, but it successfully created what good linear games do. It created the illusion of choice. The only people that complain about this are the 1% or the people who after realizing their mistake, reloaded a older save and tried to not shoot upon them.

The key to making this work is in the context of the game, that there would be no way of knowing the catastrophe was coming. But boy does it hit us hard regardless.

Speak for yourself, dude, and I'd like to get some hard numbers here. When you do the 99 vs. 1 thing, it implies that you have some statistics to back it up.

I'd also like to know where this was debunked, because I sure as hell didn't find any articles stating such. Unless you're just saying it's debunked to try and keep me from saying the game is boring, pretentious pile of player hating crap.

I knew the dots on the screen were non-combatants, because the game established before, during gameplay, that civilians can be killed in combat. The fact that there were so many white dots who weren't shooting at me clued me in. So I didn't bomb them, and they still died, because this game is bullshit.

Solution to the boss fights problem would be to make all the bosses non-human, so that the racial memory thing wouldn't work. Robots, sharks, robot sharks, whatever.

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