Do you actually have to kill them?
Either have them pass out indefinitely, or have them cowardly run away when they've had enough.
I'm doing some prototyping for a game aimed at children (think super mario bros, littlebigplanet, donkey kong country, etc, etc) but I'm having trouble thinking up of a creative method in killing bad guys.
The bad guys in the game are mostly of a fantasy nature, orc like creatures, sorcerers, skeletons and so on and so forth. I was thinking of having a sword and shield but that feels boring, Zelda did it The game is more targeted at younger kids so it just feels a bit too violent to have weapons in it of the traditional sort.
Maybe I'm looking a bit too hard, since Mario and Donkey Kong Country both do such a good job creatively for taking out baddies I feel I should be able to match it, but for the life of me I can't think of something as smart.
So any ideas?
Last edited by meds; 10-13-2010 at 07:14 AM.
It's more about the journey than the destination How does one dispose of these enemies through fear and intimidation? Should it involve making a scary face at them? Would that be too simple/lame?
Yeah, speaking of which: There's an incredible lot of traditional throwing, punching and kicking going on all over the place on the kids TV channels these days. Sure, it's all computer animated in various cartoonish styles, but it's still humans and humanoids beating each other up in a typically human fashion.
Still, it doesn't seem right since the main game character is more or less a cartoon rendition of a boy/girl at age 8-ish. Not 100% sure if getting said boy/girl to throw punches/kicks would go well with the vibe of everything.
Send them off to sleep with your moon wand.
© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd
Wrap them in bubbles and watch them harmlessly float away
Google Zürich - Formerly Mystery Studio
As a parent now these days I wouldn't be buying any games for kids that young that depict concrete violence against creatures mythical or not. There's already too much of it on the telly and it doesn't seem all that surprising kids seem so violent these days.
I remember "Captain Planet" (gosh, that's going back a bit) had some very strange monsters. When you "killed" them, they turned into mini, friendly versions that followed your character around in a long trail. They didn't do anything in themselves but the more you had (you could have up to ten) the bigger score multiplier you had. One of the few aspects of that game that actually worked well!
I suppose the solution depends upon your theme and overall style. And the gameplay - do you want monsters that disappear permanently, or ones that are temporarily subdued and return later? The latter is actually easier. I can even see monsters being incapacitated by Silly String...
Our kids grew up on a steady diet of Pokemon and they are fairly normal, sane teenagers now. I would look at how Disney and Nintendo handle these cases for guidance, they've been doing a good job for a long time. Stars spinning around heads, crossed eyes, fade creature or have them go spinning off the screen sort of stuff.
I first had enemies run away after being beaten, then later switched to having them not be actual living creatures, but instead, magical constructs - basically magical 'robots' that aren't alive. After beating them they disappear in a poof of smoke.
I think it works quite well - not only is there no reason to feel remorse for fighting them, it also freed me to make much more interesting enemy designs.
Though my game isn't supposed to be exclusively a kids game...
Last edited by Amirai; 10-13-2010 at 11:25 AM.
Developer of the casual RPG Loot Pursuit! The Map to the Mountain of Money
How about a vacuum where you suck them up, Ghostbusters style? Or maybe a teleporter where you send them back to the dimension where they came from? Perhaps a magic wand that changes them from bad to good? I'm sure there's lots of others.
That reminds me, has anyone played Sonic the Hedgehog 4?
You need to step back from the design and figure out what role the baddies have in the game.
(A) In Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, etc.. etc.. the bad guys were to slow down or impede your progress through a level. Sonic was about speed and collecting rings, so bad guys were about slowing you down and robbing you. Mario was more about timing and clearing obstacles.
(B) In Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey/Exodus the bad guys were complications to puzzles that the player had to solve before advancing or saving friends. Like 'Flicker', but with more game design.
(C) In games like Zelda, Pokemon, WoW, etc.. The bad guys have the added benefit of increasing XP.
If your design were like (A) or (B) then you could easily get away with NOT battling baddies at all, but avoiding them or causing their demise remotely. This slows down the pacing of the game and changes it a bit from action to strategy. That's a key point I would playtest for an 8yr old demographic.
(C) is a little harder to get around. You will have to dispatch baddies in some manner. Note that Sonic and Mario respawned baddies when you entered the area whereas most RPG type games avoid respawning to keep players from playing the same 2 minutes of the game for a very long time to level up quicker.
Here's another consideration:
"the main game character is more or less a cartoon rendition of a boy/girl at age 8-ish."
When you use a human being as the main character, you're limiting your options to do battle (ie. kicks, punches, weapons). When you're 8 years old, it's easier to identify with a creature like a hedgehog or Italian plumber. It is easier to for the creature to bend reality/physics with a 'cartoon' style attack.
If you're going for a mythical/fantasy setting with a 'PageMaster' type avatar, then perhaps you can get the best of both worlds:
Let the player use magic to morph into a creature that has attack ability (spin dash, jump attack, etc...). Like Ben10 or Kameo (you don't need 10 creatures to morph into, only 1).
Limit the time the player can stay morphed into the creature and make the player collect 'mana' to be able to morph. XP points increase the amount of 'mana' the player can collect at any time (or slows the burn rate).
With that mechanic:
- You have the collecting mechanic (mana) that also serves a purpose (like collecting rings in sonic).
- Offers the designer the ability to balance levels between strategy (human mode) and action (Orc mode). 2 gameplay modes for the price of 1 mechanic (switching).
- XP Points give the player a desire to dispatch bad guys instead of always sneaking by them.
- Offers an interesting story arc: How does the player get cursed with changing back and forth? How does he fix the problem?
- Avoid the problem of punching/kicking/weapons because the player's alter ego attack is something similar to Sonic/Mario (a well established mechanic).
Haunted Hotel I, Haunted Hotel II, Jane Croft
Hmm, I'm not too keen on the main player using magic but I suppose its apt considering the setting
Well just go after the classics...
Booble bubble made the enemies into bubbles.
Snow Bros, Froze them into Snowballs and you could even toss them agaisnt enemies (and use them as platforms).
In rainbow Islands you would shoot rainbows at enemies.
Donal Duck and Mickey Mouse in the castle of illusion would rip the game like (literally) like it was paper sheet and the enemies would fall off the game.
In Yoshi island Yoshi would eat the baddies and spat them off when needed.
Use a gizmo to teleport them...
Use a net to take them out
Have a goo gun (or make the character shoot goo off his nose) that oozes them into place, you can even jump on them and use them as a trampolin.
And there is always the good old jump on them trick.
How many games use this in the classic sense? Besides Mario and Donkey Kong I can't think of anythe good old jump on them trick.
put the baddies on the naughty chair.
© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd
If the game is set in England, the player should be made to deal with the baddies by completing various bits of bureaucratic nonsense: ie, form filling, antisocial behaviour orders, then more form filling to replace the forms that have been lost.
And we must call them "special needs" people now, not baddies.
© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd
There's a rather large difference between people with special needs and baddies, my dear. I know it's a joke, but as it's entirely possible that a dev here has disabled relatives... make the joke more accurate, call them "morally challenged"!
I wonder if there's room for the opposite of jumping-on-heads... grabbing monsters and throwing them up-and-away?
In my Dirk Dashing game, Dirk can put enemies to sleep with gas grenades, knock them out by dropping things on them from above, or trick them into knocking themselves out (by running into walls or each other, running off ledges, etc). Parents are my primary audience, and they seem satisfied with this minimal level of violence. At least, I've never had any complaints in the 5 years the game has been available - only positive feedback.
Other games you can examine for inspiration: the Snowy games, Commander Keen, Turtle Odyssey, Kenny's Adventure, LEGO Batman, etc.
Fantasy games open up so many possibilities that don't have to be believable - turn the baddies into harmless flowers or chickens, trap them in bubbles, put them to sleep, freeze them, make them vanish in a puff of colored smoke, etc. It's fantasy - be creative!
You don't necessarily need to find a literal solution to the problem. Sometimes art style and theme can influence things.
E.g. the Kirby series gets E (Everyone) ratings from the ESRB, but contains swords, kung-fu, and other forms of cartoon violence. Presentation counts for a lot.
That is an excellent point you bring up, if a player swings a sword and it has little more than a bump like effect on the enemy it surely is to be taken differently than if it actually cuts the enemy with blood.Presentation counts for a lot.
So it wouldn't be too out there to use a sword were the enemy gets 'hit' and falls to the ground with little birds flying around his head since it's just kids stuff and not really violent so much so humorous.
I wonder why people try to hide violence from children so much.
Yes, they DO have trouble distuinguishing fiction from reality, reason why some stuff should not be shown to them (anything that they think is cool and that doing is bad), but kids are usually more violent than most adults.
I already saw a 3 year old kid grab a metal ruler a teacher forgot lying around, and strike it like a sword in the arm of another kid that was bothering him (result: annoying kid with a gash in the arm, violent kid getting parents called, and those got surprised, since they were of the overprotective type and never allowed that kid witness any sort of violent thing, to the point that they don't even told fairy tales to that kid).
Or I was told that when I was two, I smashed another baby head in a pillar.
But as a "non-violent" solution to taking out baddies, I sugest using magic to turn them into something harmless, or send them to another place... you know, turn them into flowers, or make zombies turn into normal humans, whatever like that
The argument I make is not that violent games make children violent, but that they maeke children more accepting of violence in real life.
If a young person plays violent FPS war games, then that's their only insight of what a warzone is. So it will inevitably colour their imagination of what real warzones are like, and the prospect of war might not seem so terrible.
© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd