I used to have it arranged so that they would try to disperse themselves fairly evenly thoughout; not particularly realistic behaviour, but I thought it would play better that way. Then I found that it was better if they didn't move around so much; as it meant they would clump up in interesting ways and force the player to keep moving rather than letting them come to him. So although I want to create the illusion of comically stupid creatures trying to organise themselves, ultimately I'm thinking about ways to arrange patterns that create satisfying play structures, and disrupt patterns that aren't so good. Pretty much everything I've done has been to encourage the player to keep moving around.I can see a simple version of this working for a platformer. Perhaps rather then vision the NPC's could head to the location they least recently stood on. But by refreshing each others data when they can see each other they would patrol a level in a fairly natural but not repetitive manner.
It usually happens after you've evaded the shot and it goes on to hit another enemy some way behind you. But it doesn't happen all the time. It was meant to simulate imperfect aim, to help create an image of the aliens as bumbling, and to be funny. Sometimes it saves you; there have been times when I've been spared taking a hit by a stray shot. But usually it doesn't make much difference. But another example is when you have lots of fire coming at you from different sources; it's not so interesting to have them all coming at you with pinpoint accuracy; a little bit of imprecision makes it more natural and makes the pattern more interesting.The shooting each other stuff would happen when they attempt to shoot the player character and he avoids the shot. Or do you mean they would actually mistake each other for the player character sometimes?
I'm not really sure why it's desirable to have a margin of error with these things. Isn't it more satisfying to defeat\evade attack by outwitting the enemy?
Anyway, this is a bit tangental - but it is still kind of related to the main topic, in the way I've come to feel about random events, and replayability, in the design of my game. Whether it works or not... we'll see:
First time through, the game plays as you'd expect - beat each level, unlock the next one, and so on until you get to the end. But you do still have a score for each level, and an overall score. I know that score isn't sufficient motivation for everyone, but it has its uses and some people like it.
Once you've finished the game, you can still increase your overall score by replaying levels. If you get a better score than your previous best, the difference is added to your total.
So, as I say, at first I thought it was really important that the game be fair, and everything be reproduceable. But I found that it wasn't that exciting to repeat the levels that way. So now I'm thinking of increasing the number of random special events by quite a lot - the game will no longer be fair in how many points you can score, but it seems more exciting that way. So the total score for a level might be 50% skill and 50% luck.
It seems counter-intuitive, and it was against my intuition as well. Relying on luck seems so cheap. But since you can play each level as many times as you like, it doesn't matter that it isn't always fair. People that play a level lots of time will get the occasional lucky run, and I think that's fine as it means persistent people will be rewarded. But a good player should be able to earn similar scores with skill alone.
However, a skilled player who has an exceptionally lucky run will then have the opportunity to pull off their best skillful play at the same time, and score extremely high. But there is pressure to perform there, because it's a rare chance to top your high-score.
So the randomised element creates that kind of "one chance only" excitement that you used to get from being on your last man at the final boss, but without the frustration of sending the player back to the beginning. It's adds a little bit of a gambling element; the desire to "make the most of a good hand". But it also diminishes that problem of a good player wanting to play perfectly, or give up. I really hate that feeling you get when you're good at a game, and you quit every time you make a mistake early on. But with a lucky run, you won't want to restart the level just because you took a hit and lost your perfect health bonus. You want to just keep trying your best and see how well it comes out.
And it's totally the opposite philosophy than I had a few months ago, but, with this set of game mechanics at least (and particulatry the metastructure of levels and score), it seems to work better. Also note that this is entirely related to replayability; it shouldn't be much of a concern for a "first run" player who is trying to unlock each level. The element of luck is only related to bonus points, not win/lose.
Last edited by Anthony Flack; 07-18-2006 at 08:55 PM.
A slave to the ideal