Dropping By

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Dropping By

The Cliffs level is still in the same state that it was in previously, since, let’s just say other stuff came up. On a basic level it had to do with this and the idea of moving. But I’ll spare the details here. So no version for The Tester. Yet.
I did manage to steal some time and draw out some examples of puzzles for the Walls level, and they seem to be interesting to say the least, using portal rectangles to make quick changes and imply a 3 dimensionality. It may play like ass, but the theory is working I think.

What I did consider, rather at length, is a new attack for The Thief. Effectively, I’m thinking that if you can fall onto an enemy with enough force, you should be able to knock them out. An Ambush basically. The trick is that the enemy can’t know you’re there and you shouldn’t be able to jump to do it. It kind of has to be a preplanned event. What I don’t want is to be able to use the new wall jump, then double jump and be able to Drop an enemy. That’s…cheap. So I’m thinking that if the player is high enough above an enemy, and falls into them, then it could be okay. Basically trigger a variable if you’re running and untrigger it if you jump, so it only works if you run off a ledge. I may even have a prep animation play.
From a gameplay perspective, I think it’ll speed it up and offer alternatives. After spending so much time getting the combat to not suck I’m still trying to force it into being the B feature – which it is. Offering an alternative to combat in certain situations (which I’ll still have design control over) only seems like a positive thing. Granted, the bosses are all still game progression gates and the only key is being able to fence, but the more options I give a player, the better the illusion of choice is, then the better the game experience will be. At least, that’s the theory. If I install and it’s crap, then screw it.

-A right, for those of you at home reading (deluded much?) who may not have spent the hours studying game theory, a “Gate” in gameplay terms is a passable obstacle. They come from the idea that a gate is in a wall and with the right stuff, you can get through it. Old games sometimes had actual gates, but a Gate is anything that requires the player to overcome something to continue. There’s a modern thought that says Gates should be transparent and shouldn’t really offer too much of a challenge. I say that a Gate should be a test of the player’s abilities and design around that. In other words, if the player can’t get past the Captain boss, then the Skelingtons in the following level will ruin them. It’s kind of an olde skool interpretation of the idea.
To go with Gates are the concept of Keys. Again, you could have an actual Gate and Key system, wherein you require a Key to pass a Gate, but I prefer to deal in metaphors here. When I think of a Key, I also consider skills to be keys, to be assets to the game itself. Like I said previously, having acquired the skills to get past a gate should mean that the player should be ready for the next part. That’s one of the things I hated about Ninja Gaiden II, the Gates (bosses) all required skills that were not taught as part of standard gameplay.

– Ah right, the illusion of choice in games. I break it down for you, in games, you do not have a choice. There’s no fuzzy logic. Since a game is, fundamentally a system of rules then the player’s “choice” is already figured in advance. One could argue that games like GTA4 or Oblivion give you choice, but they really don’t but instead serve up great illusion. In GTA you can’t go inside buildings, you can’t alter the story in a meaningful way, you can’t tell Roman, “You lied to me, I’m going back to wherever it is I’m supposed to be from.” You can steal whatever car you want and drive anywhere, as long as you don’t leave the city.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though. The illusion of choice means very real designer control. With control, you can do anything. As long as a designer can make it seem like the player is the one making the choices and being the prime mover, then the better. For every false choice given to the player, the player will think of what the other choice may have led to, even if if leads invariably to the same outcomes. The player will be happy though.
Do it badly though and show the player ugly truth behind the curtain and they can be quite upset. I think the rewards are worth it though.
To give another, really off the wall example, Halo 3’s multiplayer. It smacks of control. The weapons are balanced just so, the spawn points controlled just so and gamplay tweaked perfectly. The false choice given to the player is in what they do and where they go. You shoot stuff and stuff shoots at you, there’s no real choice in the matter. No matter what you do really, that game is meant to have bullets and lasers and crystal needles flying at people. The levels are all designed explicitly to encourage that. Players are given a wide variety of choices, but they all lead to the same place. The illusion of choice.

– Finally, I’ll be trolling Comic-Con (I pronounce it “Komi-khan” like people in the Eastern Bloc)for the next 5 days. I’ll be the big dude with the Magic card stuffed into my badge. If you see me, say hello and I’ll take your picture. I may even post it.