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A discussion of gameplay and narrative

Creator: Searz October 20, 2013 1:32pm
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Searz
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I very much agree that games need to stop taking away control from the player. That is very annoying.
Probably one of my biggest bug-bears after game mechanics that rely on chance.
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caucheka
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im surprised he didnt mention gone home, but then again pretty much all of his arguments for dear esther apply, except the interactivity.

but i agree completely with tb.



also what do you have against dice rolling?
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caucheka wrote:

also what do you have against dice rolling?

Because chance takes away control from the player.

When you're down to that last HP and you have one shot to kill the enemy and you miss your 95% accuracy FLY.
When you're rolling a go-for-it roll at the start of your turn and roll 1 twice.
When you roll three red skulls twice.
When your Colonel gets killed by a crit from behind heavy cover in heavy armor.
When you have 5 minions out and your enemy has one, yet his is the one to survive after a Brawl.
When you have a lead in both minions and cards and your enemy top-decks a Soulfire and kills you with it.
When you're just about to beat the last stage of the final boss, but are hit with a missile that breaches the hull in your shield room despite being cloaked and having 90% chance to dodge.
When you're low on health because of a tough level in random rogue-like game (The Binding of Isaac/FTL/SotS:The Pit) and the next level spawns no ways of healing.
When you're finding useless item after useless item in random rogue-like game.

There's a few examples for ya. Have fun guessing the games.

Chance is a poisonous game mechanic that needs to be killed off. For the exact same reason that cutscenes and handholding are bad: It takes away control from the player.
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep October 20, 2013 4:35pm | Report
and all of those examples are extreme cases.



if you don't like a little chance thats fine, but to say that chance is on the same level as cutscenes and handholding is ridiculous.
I like things that make me feel stupid. - Ken Levine
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Searz wrote:

Chance is a poisonous game mechanic that needs to be killed off.


I'd say it needs to be toned down. Removing the chance mechanism completely will be a disaster.

No chance mechanism will mean no more card games.
No chance mechanism will mean no more drop/loot mechanism. (It'll be like guaranteed rewards at the end of a boss room, which is boring and not as thrilling as when you get a super rare item than others can't get because it has a .01% chance of dropping)
No chance mechanism will mean no more quality RPGs. (Final Fantasy, one of the greatest games in history, would be ruined)

Also,

1- Pokemon
2- Monopoly?
3- dunno
4- dunno
5- dunno
6- Hearthstone
7- dunno
8 and 9- both could be isaac?
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4 sounds like xcom to me
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep October 20, 2013 6:22pm | Report
I can agree with the video, though I don't think he should compare a visual novel to a game, that's just not fair in my opinion. I haven't played Dear Esther(shame on me), but I think the goal of that game isn't to be the new Legend Of Zelda, but to deliver a story in a new way. I can imagine it to be very nice to just have another look around and let the story "pause" for a minute while you take a look at some detail. All in all I think the game at least deserved some more respect in the way that, while it might be at fault, tried something new.

Also, I really can't stand a time limitation on making a choice in games when there shouldn't be one, so I can't find myself in his opinion there. I mean, a fps or a real-time strategy or a multiplayer game doesn't need them(because in my opinion there shouldn't be clear choices in games like that), and if I play a dialog-heavy game I want to be able to actually think about choices instead of having to choose the first thing that comes to mind. They can't create a "normal pressure situation" like when I'm playing Team Fortress 2 - in which there are virtually unlimited choices - in a game like Ace Attorney when there are a fixed amount of choices.

Not all games can be open world sandbox games. Also I think that chance isn't exactly luck or anything once it's clear that it exists in the game. I mean, when I'm low and considering to go full ******, I also take critical hits in account and such. As long as there is a worst case scenario that's clear, I think chance can be a nice addition to games. Same goes for dodge chance, if the value is clear I believe it has become a constant, even if it's semi-random.
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Permalink | Quote | PM | +Rep October 20, 2013 6:49pm | Report
Warning: Long post is long.

Searz wrote:

There's a few examples for ya. Have fun guessing the games.

I'll skip the ones that other people have already mentioned.

2 is totally Bloodbowl.
7 is totally FTL.

Searz wrote:

Chance is a poisonous game mechanic that needs to be killed off. For the exact same reason that cutscenes and handholding are bad: It takes away control from the player.

I don't agree. Yes the chance-based elements you've listed are bad, and yes that's a problem. However, not all chance-based elements are inherently bad.

For example, in the pay-for version of The Stanley Parable that just came out (and which I very much recommend), there are several versions of the starting corridor and associated narration before the first (official) "choice". Which one you get on any given run through is determined randomly, so it's a chance-based game element. Now, because you are going to move through this starting corridor a dozen or so times as you try to find all the various endings of the game, none of which are longer than some twenty minutes of gameplay, having multiple versions of the opening prevents it from becoming really boring. Yes, the player doesn't have control over which version of the opening he is going to see this time, but that 1) doesn't actually matter and 2) keeps the opening fresh and interesting when it would otherwise become a horrible drag. So this is a chance-based mechanic that actually improves the game that it's in, and a single counterexample is all I really need to disprove your statement.

More generally, I'm not convinced that taking control away from the player is inherently bad, either. Take Bioshock, for example. The whole "a man chooses, a slave obeys" speech wouldn't mean the same thing if the game didn't deliver it in a cutscene, where the player is unable to act. Yes, cutscenes are frequently over done and quick-time events are used to showcase characters doing cool things instead of just letting players do their own cool things. But this doesn't mean that cutscenes are inherently bad, just that games aren't using them well. And it doesn't mean that quick-time events are inherently bad, either; some games use them to great effect, especially games that aren't terrible interested in developing deep mechanics in the first place (Telltale games, David Cage games, etc.).

TL;DR: Sometimes it's okay to take control away from the player.

YayaFTW wrote:

No chance mechanism will mean no more card games.
No chance mechanism will mean no more drop/loot mechanism. (It'll be like guaranteed rewards at the end of a boss room, which is boring and not as thrilling as when you get a super rare item than others can't get because it has a .01% chance of dropping)
No chance mechanism will mean no more quality RPGs. (Final Fantasy, one of the greatest games in history, would be ruined)

No more traditional randomized-deck card games, sure. Building a stacked-deck card game could be interesting, actually... Anyway, a lot of current successful card games actually include basically no random elements anyway.

Drop/loot mechanics in MMOs are basically designed to keep players playing. It's a really thinly veiled Skinner-box mechanic. I wouldn't be sad to see stuff like this go in favor of more predictable systems.

Refresh my memory on this one, but doesn't Final Fantasy include pretty minimal chance-based mechanics? I don't remember that accuracy is all that relevant in a lot of those games, and the randomization on damage isn't actually relevant in most circumstances. I actually can't remember much really random from FF13, back when I played it, other than perhaps enemy behavior and enemy encounters (maybe? I haven't played that game in a while).

For other RPGs, I wouldn't be sad to see random encounters go away. They make the game hard to balance, because spending more time in an area automatically means more EXP and money, which can break things. Dragon Age: Origins did well on that front (although it had some other issues), and there are plenty of other games that do less-random enemy encounters in interesting ways (I'm thinking games like Shin Megami Tensei IV and the Tales series, for example, although both those games are grind-able).

And a lot of classic western RPGs are based on D&D, which has some pretty crazy scaling chance-based mechanics. Especially if you include optional rules like fumble or crit tables. I really, really wouldn't be sad to see that sort of thing change. In one of the D20 editions of Star Wars, for example, any given crit has a good chance to result in an automatic kill. And since the player characters tend to get attacked a lot in a D20-based game, it's statistically impossible for any level 1 character to live to see level 10.


They can't create a "normal pressure situation" like when I'm playing Team Fortress 2 - in which there are virtually unlimited choices - in a game like Ace Attorney when there are a fixed amount of choices.

Try playing The Walking Dead. Of course, strictly, not making a choice is also a choice in that game.

Also, Dear Esther isn't really a visual novel. TB's right when he describes as something more like a virtual exhibit. I don't know if there's a name for the type of game Dear Esther is.


Not all games can be open world sandbox games.

Way to straw man. That's not what TB, or Searz, is suggesting. Restricting a player's options (in general) is fine. I mean, every game has to do that to craft the experience it's trying to get across. What TB is talking about as problematic is when games don't actually give the player any options. And I don't know if he's right, honestly. I think there is a place for the kind of virtual exhibit games like Dear Esther are. But it is a problem that there are trends in gaming to keep taking options away from players.

Similarly, the problem Searz has with chance-based mechanics seems to be that there isn't anything you can do about (some of) them. I mean, for chance-based hitting mechanics, you can maximize your chance, minimize your risk, and such. But if the RNG's against you, you're just out of luck. Period. No way around it. Nothing to do. And that's kinda' a problem, because it means that there isn't a way for a player's skill to solve problems.

I tried to play XCOM about a month ago. Started fresh, because I didn't feel like playing my old save. And I had this problem where my newbies in the squad could flank an enemy, fire from point blank range, with a solid 70+% accuracy, but they would never hit. And then the enemy would make crazy shots and people in full cover and crit them for instant death. There wasn't anything I could do. Now, I know that XCOM cheats like crazy, so this isn't a really representative example, but... It highlights the problem.
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Searz
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YayaFTW wrote:

1- Pokemon
2- Monopoly?
3- dunno
4- dunno
5- dunno
6- Hearthstone
7- dunno
8 and 9- both could be isaac?

3 points.
caucheka wrote:

4 sounds like xcom to me

1 point.
lifebaka wrote:

2 is totally Bloodbowl.
7 is totally FTL.

2 points.
The correct answers:

And guys, keep in mind that these are all off the top of my head, things I came up with in less than five minutes.

I'll respond to the serious discussion tomorrow. I'm up way past what I should be zzzzz
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Searz
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I can agree with the video, though I don't think he should compare a visual novel to a game, that's just not fair in my opinion. I haven't played Dear Esther(shame on me), but I think the goal of that game isn't to be the new Legend Of Zelda, but to deliver a story in a new way. I can imagine it to be very nice to just have another look around and let the story "pause" for a minute while you take a look at some detail. All in all I think the game at least deserved some more respect in the way that, while it might be at fault, tried something new.

Yes and no. I would probably have enjoyed Dear Esther more as a movie too. Because the entire game is quite literally: listen to 15-30sec audio clip -> hold W for 30sec -> repeat.
This gets old REAL FAST.
I mean, seriously. If there is one "game" that would benefit from a more directed experience it's Dear Esther.
Quoted:
Also I think that chance isn't exactly luck or anything once it's clear that it exists in the game.
if the value is clear I believe it has become a constant

But that's exactly what it is..
Both those statements are just blatantly false.

Honestly, lifebaka already wrote most of what I was thinking, so I'm just gonna quote him here :)
lifebaka wrote:

Way to straw man. That's not what TB, or Searz, is suggesting. Restricting a player's options (in general) is fine. I mean, every game has to do that to craft the experience it's trying to get across. What TB is talking about as problematic is when games don't actually give the player any options. And I don't know if he's right, honestly. I think there is a place for the kind of virtual exhibit games like Dear Esther are. But it is a problem that there are trends in gaming to keep taking options away from players.

Similarly, the problem Searz has with chance-based mechanics seems to be that there isn't anything you can do about (some of) them. I mean, for chance-based hitting mechanics, you can maximize your chance, minimize your risk, and such. But if the RNG's against you, you're just out of luck. Period. No way around it. Nothing to do. And that's kinda' a problem, because it means that there isn't a way for a player's skill to solve problems.

I tried to play XCOM about a month ago. Started fresh, because I didn't feel like playing my old save. And I had this problem where my newbies in the squad could flank an enemy, fire from point blank range, with a solid 70+% accuracy, but they would never hit. And then the enemy would make crazy shots and people in full cover and crit them for instant death. There wasn't anything I could do. Now, I know that XCOM cheats like crazy, so this isn't a really representative example, but... It highlights the problem.
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