Lying to the player about the game lenght ?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by ManuTOO, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. ManuTOO

    Original Member

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    Lying to the player about the game length ?

    Hello,

    in short :
    is there any con against telling in-game the player will have to do 8 levels to reach the end of the game, but actually having 15-20 levels ? (but the game information on website will tell the real number of levels)

    in long :
    I'm currently creating a FPV Dungeon Crawler (close of Dungeon Master). It's party based, and during the exploration, the party members will talk to the leader, which you incarnate.
    You're running after escaped prisoners, starting in a prison deep into the dungeon. As you're making your way up, 1 of your companions, who has some basic knowledge of the dungeon, will tell you when you arrive in a new level, letting you know how many levels are left before you reach the exit.
    Just before you reach the exit, you'll meet the big boss who will talk to you and teleport you to a level deep down in the dungeon, unknown to anyone, so now your companion will have no idea where you are.
    So my concern is that I'm going to build up a feeling of "we're almost there, even a bit closer, yup, game is almost done", and boom, big unknown, no idea how long the game will be anymore (except if you have read the detailed game description and its feature listing ;) ).
    Would you see any problem to that ?
    An alternative would be to let the player know is on the "final" level only when he reaches it, or when he gets very close of the exit. It'd still give some strength to the surprise, while avoiding too much build-up to the possibly frustrating deception.

    my opinion (read it after you have made your own! ;) ) :
    as a gamer, I often like to know how far I'm into the game, and I begin to anticipate & root for seeing the end of the game as I feel it's approaching. So I'm not sure how I'd react if when I just thought I had finally reached the end, I was getting thrown in the middle of nowhere. It could be quite frustrating. On another end, if I still didn't have enough of the game, I'd be relieved to see it's going on..! :p


    Thanks in advance for any thought on that matter !
     
    #1 ManuTOO, Jul 26, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  2. dannthr

    dannthr New Member

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    You have to accept two things: one, that your expository character is unreliable and two, that you present the game itself as unreliable depending on how you present the first thing.

    If you have a character whose job is to provide exposition, then remember that exposition is for the benefit of the player. If your main expository source is fallible, and there is no other expository voice, then you will likely frustrate the player resulting in them either giving up or not caring (which is basically the same thing except they keep playing). If you build the lie into the story, and it makes sense, then they will accept it and be engaged.

    Make sense? You have to justify the lie as a part of the game plot in a way that allows the player to accept abandoning the fallible character and looking to something new.
     
  3. keysofnine

    keysofnine New Member

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    really? Really? REALLY?

    Think about this in terms of real life. I sell apples. I tell you, hey guy, I'm going to give you 8 apples for $5. The guy gives me $5. He turns to walk out of the door, and opens his bag to make sure he has 5 apples, but instead, realizes... "WTF, he gave me 20 APPLES! Wow, that store clerk with all the flare on and the badge that said 'gus' is really AWESOME. I know where I'm coming back to buy apples the next time". =D
     
  4. dannthr

    dannthr New Member

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    I'll use Keysofnine's analogy but with the twist as I see it:

    A chef tells you that it takes 8 apples to make apple pie--he gives you one apple at a time to peel--you have to peel 20 apples instead of 8 because he was lying.

    Not awesome--unless you make lying an important part of the game concept.
     
  5. ManuTOO

    Original Member

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    keysofnine,
    thanks for your point of view !

    dannthr,
    hopefully, playing my game will be more fun than doing chores..! ;)
     
  6. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    I agree with dannthr. It sounds frustrating unless it was part of a major plot twist and for instance the guy who was trying to help by telling you how many levels was really working for the enemy and deceived you into getting sent into the lower levels.
     
  7. DanHayesGamer

    DanHayesGamer New Member

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    I liked the way Binding of Isaac Kind of did it, where even after you beat MOM you find out you're barely halfway through the game...
     
  8. Mister Builder

    Mister Builder New Member

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    A brief thought, but perhaps the best way to handle this is to not outright lie to the player, but to have the player lie to themselves.

    By setting up particular goals for the player, or by giving them a set of seeming end game goals, you can have the player make assumptions and estimates about when the game will end. This way you can have that 'pull the rug out' moment where the player is suddenly made aware the game will be much longer than they originally thought, without ever telling them directly "the game will be six levels... NOT!".
     
  9. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Hmmm....

    It really depends on how it's delivered.

    DanHayesGamer uses the example of Binding of Isaac and I was thinking of Castlevania SOTN or Frog Fractions --> these games all have a kind of false ceiling as part of their design... And it made them AMAZING to experience.

    But unless it is incorporated into the foundational design, it doesn't really seem like there's any value in altering the players' understanding of scope.
     
  10. arzi

    Metacritic 75+ Indie Author

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    I don't personally see this as a problem, as pointed above, plenty of games have false endings. As the information is relied via NPC, it's completely plausible that the NPC can be wrong (and should be, he's not actually lying, he just doesn't know about the boss in the end).

    I think the most important part is to make the game interesting enough for the player to want to play more. If I'm like 'finally, the game is at end' when the boss is confronted for the first time, it would feel frustrating to go through dozens of similar levels after that. Maybe open up a completely new gameplay feature after the teleport?
     
  11. Leon

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    The first thing that came to mind is Resident Evil 4. I can't really remember the plot details, but I do recall playing the game and around the 13th or so hour I had logged I was thinking the game was close to it's end - because games in that genre tend to have around 13 hours of gameplay - and after a really hard boss the game didn't end. I think that game ended up being around 23 hours long when I was done. It was a very pleasant surprise and has left me with fond memories of playing it.
     
  12. Jax_Cavalera

    Jax_Cavalera New Member

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    I would tend to see that establishing something as critical as the number of levels in a game to the player via a false indicator could irritate them for the following reason :

    A game is usually seeking to fulfill the player by giving them a sense of achievement. If the player is not able to gauge how well they are progressing due to false or misleading information then this will in turn have an effect on their level of enjoyment due to them not being able to calculate how much they have achieved so far.

    Unless there were a specific plot twist that demanded the player be deceived which in turn resulted in extra levels I wouldn't think it is a beneficial approach. That being said, I have never been a fan of games were you are almost at the "End" and then the goal post keeps shifting further away from you.. I lose interest in trying with the mindset.. well this could go on forever and what will it accomplish. Deadlines and set goals are a must have I believe they improve overall morale and gameplay enjoyment/experience.
     

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