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'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general
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Abion47 Offline
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Post: #11
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

(08-21-2016 01:00 PM)brus Wrote:  This is already in all inventory based games but it does not have to be heavy distraction for the player. More like of the choice.
In Amnesia and Outlast if you run out of oil or batteries, the game provided it for you along the main story line and it was not actually a big deal to play without it.

And again, I ask the question. If the oil or batteries are freely given to the player, and if the game is perfectly playable without them, then why are they even in the game?

Quote:I would set mechanic as the player's choice. So, if he doesn't like to do something in the game, it would affect his gameplay in another way.
Gameplay should be modular and adjustable by the player to some extent.
I brought up weapon mechanics just to have additional playstyle variety.
There could be some other mechanic what was introduced in System shock 2, or even something completely new we haven't seen yet.

FG addressed this exact thing in their Amnesia post-mortem. They said that the sanity mechanic was a mistake. When the player ran out of oil/tinderboxes or chose to forgo them entirely, the resulting insanity mechanic didn't add anything to the game. It was just an annoyance that the player had to deal with until they found more of the arbitrary collectible game items. All the reasons I've said about why the battery mechanic is a bad one are the same reasons why FG themselves decided to drop the sanity mechanic from SOMA entirely.

The problem here is that having a lantern in Amnesia, or having a night vision camera in Outlast, isn't a benefit to the player. It is the normal way to play. The players are rarely without batteries or oil, so there's little reason not to have them on all the time. The problem is that during those rare instances where the player runs out of them, the game takes away all the benefits the players have grown accustomed to. It's the whole thing with power-ups in action games. If you ran around in L4D with adrenaline always on, then it stops being a bonus and just becomes an annoyance when you don't have it. Or if in Super Mario Bros you always had star power, then your experience would come to a grinding halt when it suddenly went away.

That's the problem with battery-style collectibles. They are power-ups that the player has constant access to, so instead of appreciating them when they have it, they instead get annoyed at the game when they don't. But the trend in horror games right now, as you said, is to give them to the player all the time. With that being the case, the devs have no choice but to design the game with that in mind, lest their game get accused of having a useless mechanic. That makes it anywhere from stupidly annoying to near impossible to play without them.

So yes, the battery mechanic is a great example of what happens when a power-up stops being a bonus and starts being the norm. Of course, the natural continuation of that thought process would be "we should make it so they are only necessary during specific sections of the game", but the problem with that is that it runs into the same issue that if the player doesn't have their batteries, that section becomes arbitrarily difficult. The difficulty of the game should be natural, like trying to figure out how to circumvent some environmental hazard. If the game is hard just because the player doesn't have some item, then the difficulty is artificial because it is something in the game, not in the player's ability to play it, that is hindering their progress.

Now, I say a lot about the battery mechanic being an arbitrary annoyance, but the awesome thing about games is the ability to channel negative emotions of the player into the immersion rather than away from it. If there was a specific section of the game that used the battery mechanic, and the player's annoyance was mirrored through the protagonist's annoyance, then it becomes a story point. The mechanic can then be carefully paced through that area, and discarded once a story-appropriate event has occurred. That ties the mechanic to the story rather than it being some arbitrary design decision, and instead of becoming the norm, it becomes a necessary section of gameplay that adds to the experience.

But I have yet to see a horror game do that.

Quote:Secret strategies can be discovered by the player but they could come with a challenge so that they don't feel like safe point. Player gets a reward for finding out how to cheese the A.I. but with a twist of fortune with aftermath in the storyline, possibly.

Being able to outmaneuver the AI is a sign of good level design. It means that you can lure the AI away from where you need to go, giving you a window of safety in which to explore and figure out what to do next. Being able to cheese the AI is a sign of bad AI design, since it gives you a 100% efficient way to negate the AI entirely. That breaks the immersion, since the atmosphere of horror and dread is completely undermined by the knowledge that the AI is never a real threat.

Quote:But that would leave the game to linear and with no exploration. Personally, exploration gives a sense of atmospheric immersion.

Exploration extremely important for immersion, I agree. But personally, I feel like encouraging exploration in an area where monsters are a constant threat is bad game design. I had this experience in Tau, where I really wanted to explore the area and get more lore information, but I had to constantly run around back to hiding locations because the monster would not get off my back. It detracted from the entire experience, because it went from "holy crap the monster is going to eat my face" to "will this monster just give me five seconds to explore this goddamn room". In that case, the ability to explore actually broke my immersion and made that whole sequence a massive chore.

Quote:Yes, environment hacks and puzzles are welcomed. Basically, everything what can engage the player into thinking how to approach the problem he's facing.
And, so that he does not have only one option for solving his endevours (for the replayability).

Puzzles, yes. Hacks, no. Like I said before with cheesing the AI, the ability to break the game and achieve an unintended result breaks immersion. Amnesia-style horror games aren't technical games that are designed with speed-runners in mind. They're designed for an engrossing atmospheric experience. Without that, it's just a walking simulator.

Also, and this is another point in which I think that we will fundamentally disagree, but I don't see the point in introducing replayability in a horror game, particularly one with only a single ending. The entire point of the game is to keep the player on the edge of their seats with the unknown, and that is not something that is possible if the player already knows what's coming. In a horror game like FNaF, sure, the nature of the game itself introduces the required unknown so that replayability is entirely possible, but in a story-driven horror game like Amnesia or SOMA, that's just not the case. There can be story choices that lead to never-before-seen areas, sure, but minor choices like whether to escape a monster using option A or option B? That's an in-the-moment decision, not a puzzle that necessitates a second playthrough.
08-21-2016 10:48 PM
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Radiance Offline
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Post: #12
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

(08-21-2016 10:48 PM)Abion47 Wrote:  And again, I ask the question. If the oil or batteries are freely given to the player, and if the game is perfectly playable without them, then why are they even in the game?

More interactivity.
I agree, oil and battery mechanics is not very well done if it doesn't change the game aspect or it's not connected to the lore.

For example, in Dark souls the Catacombs area, if you don't gain particular item you will have a difficult time.
But, the item is gained in particular way and you can miss it. It changes the game mechanics substantually.

Quote:FG addressed this exact thing in their Amnesia post-mortem. They said that the sanity mechanic was a mistake. When the player ran out of oil/tinderboxes or chose to forgo them entirely, the resulting insanity mechanic didn't add anything to the game. It was just an annoyance that the player had to deal with until they found more of the arbitrary collectible game items. All the reasons I've said about why the battery mechanic is a bad one are the same reasons why FG themselves decided to drop the sanity mechanic from SOMA entirely.

Sanity is nice touch but time of the screen effect is too long to watch. It could be used in different way in story element. If went insane, char could remember something or see the world in different way.
Player could experience different aspect of the game.

In Amnesia, screen time when enemy spots you, is to long to watch every time but it serves the lore.

Quote:Being able to outmaneuver the AI is a sign of good level design. It means that you can lure the AI away from where you need to go, giving you a window of safety in which to explore and figure out what to do next. Being able to cheese the AI is a sign of bad AI design, since it gives you a 100% efficient way to negate the AI entirely. That breaks the immersion, since the atmosphere of horror and dread is completely undermined by the knowledge that the AI is never a real threat.

I meant 'cheese' as 'outmaneuver'. Player would need to learn and discover the strategy of A.I. to succesfully find out the way how to get rid of it. And every game element tied to that should be eleborate and interesting to the player.
And possibly connected to the game lore, rules and level design.

Quote:Exploration extremely important for immersion, I agree. But personally, I feel like encouraging exploration in area where monsters are constant threat is bad game design.

Not if the A.I. encounter is thrilling and challanging.
To extent, I would prefer hard challange but rewarding one. This is not the core horror, I know, but it keeps the player motivated along with story elements.
For example, Dark souls was horror experience for me when I first tried it.
I literally didn't have so much dread moments as I had in DS in first playthrough.
But it balances the challange and reward along with this horror feel.
Altough, Amnesia and SOMA are oriented with building the horror feeling, DS is based on surprise and jumpscares.

Quote:I had this experience in Tau, where I really wanted to explore the area and get more lore information, but I had to constantly run around back to hiding locations because the monster would not get off my back. It detracted from the entire experience, because it went from "holy crap the monster is going to eat my face" to "will this monster just give me five seconds to explore this goddamn room". In that case, the ability to explore actually broke my immersion and made that whole sequence a massive chore.

This was the point were it would be good for the player to discover a challenging way how to get rid of the A.I.
Whether that be slowing down the A.I., electrify it, trap it, stun it... using some particular hidden item or learn a way how to build one.

Quote:Puzzles, yes. Hacks, no. Like I said before with cheesing the AI, the ability to break the game and achieve an unintended result breaks immersion. Amnesia-style horror games aren't technical games that are designed with speed-runners in mind. They're designed for an engrossing atmospheric experience. Without that, it's just a walking simulator.


I though the hack is, for example, electrify the puddle of water with A.I. standing in it?

Quote:Also, and this is another point in which I think that we will fundamentally disagree, but I don't see the point in introducing replayability in a horror game, particularly one with only a single ending. The entire point of the game is to keep the player on the edge of their seats with the unknown, and that is not something that is possible if the player already knows what's coming. In a horror game like FNaF, sure, the nature of the game itself introduces the required unknown so that replayability is entirely possible, but in a story-driven horror game like Amnesia or SOMA, that's just not the case. There can be story choices that lead to never-before-seen areas, sure, but minor choices like whether to escape a monster using option A or option B? That's an in-the-moment decision, not a puzzle that necessitates a second playthrough.
New game+ doesn't change the story but it could thighten the game rules with harder challanges. Players often like this and can have competitive achievements.

Basically, NG+ serves as an answer to the following question>
How to make another playthrough more interesting and variable for the players who had finished the game and know the story?
(This post was last modified: 08-30-2016 12:33 PM by Radiance.)
08-30-2016 12:03 AM
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Abion47 Offline
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Post: #13
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

(08-30-2016 12:03 AM)brus Wrote:  More interacivity.
I agree, oil and battery mechanics is not very well done if it doesn't change the game aspect or it's not connected to the lore.

For example, in Dark souls the Catacombs area, if you don't gain particular item you will have a difficult time.
But, the item is gained in particular way and you can miss it. It changes the game mechanics substantually.

That right there is precisely what I'm talking about. Dark Souls had an area that used the lantern mechanic. An area. It didn't take up the entire goddamn game. It showed up, did its thing, and then buggered off during the rest of the game. That made it special rather than just a necessary annoyance.

The battery and oil mechanic needs to be used in a way that helps the player only under certain circumstances. That is the difference between the mechanic being a story element and it being the default. Used sparingly, the battery and oil mechanic can be an effective way to raise tension and advance the plot, but when it lasts the entire game, it's just a chore, and instead of adding to the game when it's there, it takes away from the game when it's not.

Quote:Sanity is nice touch but time of the screen effect is too long to watch. It could be used in different way in story element. If went insane, char could remember something or see the world in different way.
Player could experience different aspect of the game.

In Amnesia, screen time when enemy spots you, is to long to watch every time but it serves the lore.

Once again, moderation. The sanity mechanic didn't work because it was too prevalent for too often that once the novelty wore off, it was just annoying. It's similar to when, in the Deadpool game, Deadpool shoots off his classic witty one-liners in various certain situations. It's amusing at first, but once you've heard every line 50 times it just gets grating and annoying, and something intended to make the character come to life just ends up having the opposite effect.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "never let the lore get in the way of a good game". Every decision needs to be made around the context of what will make the game better. Lore-based mechanics are well and good, but the game designer also needs to recognize when a particular mechanic, feature, or aspect of the story has overstayed its welcome. People berate AAA games for having sequences that introduce and heavily feature a mechanic, then leaving that sequence and never using that mechanic again for the rest of the game. The truth of the matter, though? Those mechanics wouldn't have been nearly as memorable if they were just another part of the game as a whole.

Quote:I meant 'cheese' as 'outmaneuver'. Player would need to learn and discover the strategy of A.I. to succesfully find out the way how to get rid of it. And every game element tied to that should be eleborate and interesting to the player.
And possibly connected to the game lore, rules and level design.

Of course. That's just one of many examples of problem-solving mechanics in a game. But there are very different ways to deal with an AI-controlled monster, and some ways are better at maintaining immersion than others.

For example, say there's a monster patrolling a hallway. The intended tactic would be to hide in shadows or behind boxes, timing your advance until you successfully advance past him. Another way might be to try and just blow past him, hoping that you are safe inside the next room before he catches up with you and kills you. And a third way would be to get him to chase you in such a way that he clips into a box and cannot move.

Option A is the intended strategy, and it reinforces the fact that you are a scared helpless little avatar in a world that wants to kill you, thus it maintains the immersion. Option B is an all-or-nothing strategy that doesn't quite break immersion, but it does bend it a little in that you may find yourself loading the same save over and over again until it works or you revert to another strategy. (Every save loaded imparts a penalty to the overall sense of immersion.) Option C breaks immersion entirely by revealing that the monster is, in fact, just a program that can be rendered harmless despite all evidence to the contrary.

In most cases, and especially an immersion-centric game like Amnesia or SOMA, you as the designer must strive to encourage the immersion-maintaining strategies at all cost. Once immersion is broken, the game is a lost cause.

Quote:Not if the A.I. encounter is thrilling and challanging.
To extent, I would prefer hard challange but rewarding one. This is not the core horror, I know, but it keeps the player motivated along with story elements.
For example, Dark souls was horror experience for me when I first tried it.
I literally didn't have so much dread moments as I had in DS in first playthrough.
But it balances the challange and reward along with this horror feel.
Altough, Amnesia and SOMA are oriented with building the horror feeling, DS is based on surprise and jumpscares.

But again, Dark Souls didn't encourage exploration and fighting monsters at the same time. Before you can explore the area, you had to kill the monsters first. Otherwise, they just keep chasing you until you do or until you escape from the area entirely.

Dealing with monsters and exploring new areas are mutually exclusive experiences. You cannot go collecting lore pieces while the constant threat of a monster is breathing down your neck (unless you just enjoy dying a lot). A monster can be as expertly designed as possible, but when it is staring at you, it demands your full attention. Doing anything less risks getting killed. When was the last time in a game that you were capable of calmly exploring a room while a monster inside that room was actively trying to kill you?

Quote:This was the point were it would be good for the player to discover a challenging way how to get rid of the A.I.
Whether that be slowing down the A.I., electrify it, trap it, stun it... using some particular hidden item or learn a way how to build one.

This would be an example of pausing the monster encounter during the moments of exploration. Which would support what I already said - you can't explore and deal with a monster simultaneously. (Keyword: "Simultaneously")

Quote:I though the hack is, for example, electrify the puddle of water with A.I. standing in it?

No. That would be puzzle-solving, as in using the objects within the world to clear an obstacle and advance the story. Conversely, a hack is a way to exploit unintended weaknesses of the engine to advance the game in unexpected and unintended ways. Hacks by their very nature destroy immersion, which is why they should never be used outside of speedrunning or the whimsical "just to see if I can" setting.

Further examples:

Puzzle-solving: Using a knife to carve a key out of a block of wood, then using the key to open a door.

Hack: Leaning a box against the door in such a way that if you jump on top of the box, it slides you sideways and clips you through the still-locked-and-closed door.

Quote:New game+ doesn't change the story but it could thighten the game rules with harder challanges. Players often like this and can have competitive achievements.

Basically, NG+ serves as an answer to the following question>
How to make another playthrough more interesting and variable for the players who had finished the game and know the story?

I'm not talking about NG+. I'm talking about just straight-up NG vanilla. I don't see what draw there is in playing a game like SOMA more than once, except maybe to explore every nook and cranny to find lore pieces you missed. The intrigue is based on the unknown: not knowing the story, not knowing the setting, not knowing if a monster is hiding around the next corner. Without these, it is literally just playing a walking-and-collecting game that occasionally forces you to deal with an annoying monster.

Now, if we were talking about a more action-oriented game, then there's more merit to NG and NG+, because in those games the intrigue doesn't just come from a lack of knowledge of what's coming, but also from your skill in completing them. In that case, it can be fun to try the same scenario to try and find a faster way, or to turn on modifiers that change the encounter just enough to be an entirely new experience.

In a story-driven atmospheric horror game, though... what are you going to modify? Player speed? Monster speed? There's not much at all you can change to bring the horror back, short of playing entirely new levels. (At which point it's not exactly NG+ anymore, is it?) Any other changes to "increase difficulty"? Well, then it's not really a horror game anymore. You're just changing the game by making up for the lack of horror with self-competition, at which point... you have an action game.

08-30-2016 09:40 AM
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Radiance Offline
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Post: #14
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

Storytelling in video games talk
https://scriptlock.simplecast.fm/episode...p-jt-petty


Sales, feedback and 2 future projects
http://frictionalgames.blogspot.hr/2016/...later.html
(This post was last modified: 09-23-2016 05:46 PM by Radiance.)
09-13-2016 04:35 AM
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Chrysler Offline
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Post: #15
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

Good interview with Thomas Grip about FG and past and upcoming projects: On Making Landmark Games Remotely With Amnesia’s Frictional Games
10-31-2016 09:47 PM
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Radiance Offline
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Post: #16
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

New blogs:
http://frictionalgames.blogspot.hr/2017/...-good.html

http://frictionalgames.blogspot.hr/2017/...ative.html

http://frictionalgames.blogspot.hr/2017/...esign.html
04-14-2017 07:59 AM
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Radiance Offline
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Post: #17
RE: 'In the games of madness' discussions and FG in general

There was a creation contest:
http://frictionalgames.blogspot.hr/2017/...games.html

Best Music : https://soundcloud.com/sasha-rosser/sets/somage
Great sound.

Best Fan Art by hoshiSAM
[Image: hoshisam.jpg]

Best Mod by Draugemalf
http://www.moddb.com/mods/ariadnes-ocean
http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-path-least-treaded
04-21-2017 04:13 PM
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