I was taking about the general concept of counterplay in SP games. Lets say FPS, how many guns or abilities can you make for a game to be deep ? lets say you have 11 weapons how many enemies can you create to counter the players options? many fps have 50+ weapons because they think more = deep.
There isn't a set number. Something about my approach to depth is trying to sum up how both a game with 3 guns and a game with 50 guns can both have the same amount of depth.You can build 3 guns so that they can each be used in 50 ways, and 50 guns so they can each be used in 3 ways, and ultimately you end up with 150 ways to use the guns you have in both games. Neither is distinctly better, it's about how many ways you have total in the end, not how many things you start with. So you can choose whatever number of weapons you want, whatever number of enemies you want, but looking at it in terms of purely numbers of features isn't right, it's about looking at how many distinct situations you can ultimately create.This is a devil in the details type of scenario, I can't tell you "yes, with this number of weapons you should have this number of enemies." It depends on the specifics of how each option works. You need to think more low level, about the physical processes operating each weapon, each attack, each enemy. How do they move? Over what time period? In what shape?My general rule for counterplay is, everything should have something it's better than the other things at, but never completely so. Things should counter other things, but how much they counter should depend on timing and spacing, or other factors of the scenario. Enemies should have a counter for every strategy the player has, but it shouldn't be a perfect counter, that counter should give the player some means of manipulating and getting an advantage on the enemy too. Like enemies investigating disturbances in stealth games. It's a way of enemies attacking players, such as to counter players moving quickly around them, but it also gives players a way to manipulate enemies by distracting them.An attack in a melee combat game has 3 parts, the startup, active time, and recovery. Players can take advantage of attacks by interrupting them, counterpoking them, or whiff punishing them. Enemies make themselves vulnerable in the process of attacking the player, and the player needs to pick the right option based on the attack the enemy does, but the enemy needs to also have options to guarantee that the player can't just keep doing the same thing, that they need to mix their tactics and respond to the situation. The situation, such as timing, spacing, number of enemies, arrangement of enemies, current enemy state, needs to evolve over time to continue to force the player to vary their attack patterns and adapt to the situation.Think more about the specifics of how the moves work, think less about high-level roles, more about low-level functionality.
You seen to know every single person who writes about games wheter you like their stuff or not. Do you think that being familiar with how your "antagonists" elevated uour level o knowledge of gaming?
Antagonists? Nobody cares about me enough to be an antagonist.I've read through nearly everyone else's thoughts on games, I think it's helped me realize a lot I wouldn't have otherwise, spurred me to think about a lot of topics I wouldn't have normally.I've fallen behind on other people's writing since 2016, and generally don't care as much, because I think I have everything I need to know for now. This might be hubris, but I'll change my mind when I get more active and have more indication that other people are doing stuff I haven't seen before.
I think you've already expressed your dislike for Chain Combos, and while I understand where you coming from, I can't imagine a way to totally get rid of them in 3D Beat em Ups without making the controls an abomination to use
Does DMC4 count? Or is that an abomination?I'd say God Hand is a reasonable example too, it has 1 chain on square, then command moves on X, Triangle, and down + X/Triangle/Square. Plus it has hidden contextual moves on triangle that are just direction + button, and dashing attacks. Since God Hand lets you assign any move to any button, you have a fair number of moves that you could potentially assign. A chain + 5 command moves.This obviously isn't the most in the world, but it's a fair number of moves with no chains required.So how do you get more moves? You need to dedicate more buttons to attacking, or you need modifier or moveset toggle buttons (or modifiers buttons that allow you to toggle movesets, like Nioh with the stance change button).Modifiers are pretty simple. Moveset toggles are closer to abomination I'd guess. So the question is, how do you make the most of your modifiers?The obvious modifiers are the lock-on button and held directions. These are probably the most intuitive. The lock-on button can modify which attack you do when locked on and off, the directions can modify which attacks you do when you're locked on.So basically, start with at least 2-3 attack buttons. Give them all a unique attack when locked off, give them a unique attack when locked on. Give them a unique attack for when forward, back, and sideways are held when locked on. Assuming you have 3 attack buttons, that's 3 * 5, or 15 attacks. 10 attacks for 2 attack buttons. That's more than God Hand and you've only used 3 face buttons and a trigger. if you forgo a jump/dodge button on the face, that's 20 attacks. If you have moveset toggle buttons on the triggers, you could probably get even more attacks. Imagine all the moves get toggled at once, 3 * 5 * 2 = 30. Dante in DMC4 has like, 77 moves because of all the moveset toggles he has.You could also have back to forward inputs, mash inputs (like crazy combos in DMC3), and even directionals when locked off if you require a back to forward, or a forward forward tap when input.There's a lot of ways to fit moves on the character that I think are reasonably intuitive. If you use tank controls like god hand, then you don't even need a lock-on button.
I meant in games not based around collectables, like in GTA, where I don't really understand them, because the only way to find every single one of them is with a guide, so searching for them on your own is counterproductive. Those kind where it appears they're just there because it was easy to do.
Shrug, probably because it is easy and it gives people something to do.
You have game where the player only has 4 abilities. fire, lighting, water,ice. How do you design enemies and have enemie vareity that counters the player strats and abilities if the player only has four abilities for example. I have hard time grapsing the ememy design concept.
4 elements isn't enough to build a game on. Like, what type of game is it? RPG? FPS? Action? Platformer? What do each of the elemental abilities do? Are they all the same ability with a different element attached? Do they each have unique physical properties?Elements are generally a bad starting point, because an element doesn't necessarily mean anything. One element might as well be the same as any other. You need asymmetry between them, or they're redundant. Asymmetries such as differences in range, which counter which, damage, speed, shape, etc.Try thinking in terms of more physical factors, things you can visualize, not just abstract things like elements.Think about the patterns enemies move in, the speed, range, shape, of their attacks. Think about it in terms of raw hitboxes, not the things those hitboxes represent. It's okay to derive inspiration from representation, but it's the hitboxes that matter in the end.
I don't understand the purpose of collectables in games in general (not talking about games based around). It appears that the idea is to incentivise exploration, but the best way to collect them is to actually not bother with them unless you have a guide, cause you dont run the risk of missing one.
The purpose is simply, people have a desire to collect things.On a more broad level, collectibles can be used to point people in the right direction, as they often are in Mario with coins, they can be used to add optional challenges (either in optional challenge areas, or in ), they can be used as a form of currency for progression, or they could exist solely to prey on the way people desire to collect things.And when I say desire, I mean something different than enjoying collecting things. People don't usually enjoy collecting things, they want to collect them, but it's not exactly connected to making them happy. Collectibles can be a way to drive enjoyable interactions, but the collection isn't what's fun, it's what you do in order to collect things.Collectibles can be used to drive challenges. Make a platforming landscape, scatter collectibles across it, it's a challenge to find and collect each collectible. It's a challenge to reach them. It's a challenge to cut across them in the most efficient path, vacuuming up as many collectibles along the way as possible. There's a lot of tangential benefits that can be attached to collectibles, just as long as you remember the collectibles aren't the reason people are playing, they're playing for all the other stuff. You need to succeed on the core level first.This was the failure of Mario Odyssey, too many collectibles, too trivially obtained. It's fun to roam around and grab random collectibles while doing the core platforming challenges plus some bonuses occasionally, but it's lame when you need X number of collectibles to proceed and it's pointless when the collectible is just sitting there and there's no reason challenge to obtaining it. In a speedrun context this is more fun, because every second counts, so optimizing your movement is way more important, but in casual playthroughs, there's no risk, so there's no fun in it.Collectibles can push people to move through the environment in a more challenging way, or take on additional challenges, but if they're just stuck around and the player needs to walk around grabbing all of them without doing anything to earn them, then it's rather pointless.
Why is AM2R one of your favorite games? How does it rise above the other Metroid titles?
Really strong enemy, level, and boss design. It's not as non-linear as other metroid games, and generally doesn't do the metroidvania thing as well, but I value strong core interactions above non-linearity, above stat systems, above progression, and so on. I think that a game needs to deliver on the core level, the actual interesting choices you make in the moment with short term consequences relating to whether you live or die, before worrying about higher level concerns.I think the Alpha Metroids are a good encapsulation of what AM2R is about. They weave around you in semi-predictable fashions that aren't strict orbiting. They're only vulnerable on the bottom side, so you can see when they're vulnerable coming up and plan for that. You need to make fuzzy evaluations of exactly what's going to happen, simulate the situation forwards in your head and make a prediction. And the way you move affects the way it moves, and hitting it knocks it into a different pattern, so you gotta make the predictions fresh. If you're good, you can get them caught in a pattern for extra hits, but the arena is also set up to make that difficult.Everything in the game works this way to some extent, it's about being pushed to evaluate the situation and make a judgement call. AM2R does this amazingly with every boss and most enemies in the levels, except Omega Metroid, which sticks out like a sore thumb.It's just really marvelous design on a core level, worth studying. It forces you to make interesting choices and test core platforming, aiming, and predictions skills at the same time. This is what a good game should do.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK1X5RhxDFs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WlWG1_56Iw
What are your thoughts on Totalbiscuit, specifically as a reviewer and journalist?
I was asked this before he passed away.As a reviewer, I didn't think he was great. He mostly reviewed options menus, especially FOV and FPS. He was critical about those because restricting FOV options and having a low FPS on PC could, in certain rare cases, literally make people sick. His wife was one of these people.As a journalist, he did pretty alright. He championed a lot of smaller games. He called out a lot of industry abuses. He helped highlight a lot of bad industry practices that we probably will have to deal with more now that he's gone.I wasn't a big fan of him, but we're in a worse place with him gone.
What was your most recent paradigm shift/change in perspective in game design?
For example, I personally hadn't thought about how limitations such as mega man being unable to aim specifically where he wants to shoot forces the player to use movement/positioning in interesting ways.
I don't remember.I've been in a relatively steady state for a while now. I've had a lot of paradigm shifts over time, but as I've written more, I've mostly evened out. I've figured out where I stand.I had an argument with Lambhoot a while back over his definition of depth versus mine, and after discussing it with my brother, I think there's a way to merge the two, but I never got back to him on that. Should get around to that eventually.In case I don't, my definition of depth is basically statespace, selected for the non-redundant and relevant states. His definition is the comp-sci definition, look at parts of the game as nodes, breadth is the range of different nodes that can be traveled to from the current node, depth is the number of nodes that can be traveled to in order. So naturally he thinks breadth is more important than depth, which given his definitions makes sense. Dante is one of the deepest (my def) action game characters because he has such a breadth (his def) of moves. The depth (his def) of moves meanwhile is practically a useless statistic, because you can have a deeply nested move in something like dance macabre with dante (forward + ■ ■ ■ ■ [...]) but that doesn't really indicate anything about how complex the game is, where breadth, in his terms, is a much better indicator.I've frequently talked about connections between elements as a way of heuristically gauging depth, and he's pointed this out. After a lot of consideration, I think that taking some terminology from graph theory might make sense. Breath of the Wild attempted to have as many elements as possible be connected to one another to create what they called multiplicative gameplay. If there were some metric to judge the totally interconnectedness of a graph, I think that might be a good heuristic for determining game depth (my def).
What do you think of spawn protection in multiplayer FPS games? Have any games done it in an interesting way?
Multiplayer FPS games don't have rounds like RTS or fighting games do, where everything resets to neutral. Players respawn in the thick of it. Spawn protection is a basic way to let players know what's going on around them before they can be harmed by the things around them, giving them a chance to get out of harm's way, because for all you know, you might spawn directly in the path of a rocket, or right on top of a grenade. Spawn protection also prevents the opponent from camping the spawn point and immediately destroying incoming players. Spawn protection can be categorized as a weak and temporary form of negative feedback.The opposite of this would be the incoming mixup in Marvel 3. When you kill or snapback a character, you get a mixup on the character that is incoming, you get a chance to get an attack in, and they don't have many options to respond to that. This is positive feedback. Contrast this with Smash Bros, where you respawn intangibly on a platform, and have 2 seconds of invincibility after that, which for spawn protection is a reasonably high amount of negative feedback, it can help you get in a kill move or start a combo on an opponent after they kill you. Dragon Ball Fighter Z resets rounds completely when a character dies to avoid these incoming mixups.Don't know which, if any, game does this, but having spawn protection expire the instant you attack is a pretty logical move, doesn't let you use the negative feedback of spawn protection to do much more than avoid the opponent getting positive feedback for killing you.Some FPS games randomize your spawn point, or let you pick your spawn point as a weak form of spawn protection, the idea being that if the opponent doesn't know where you'll spawn, they can't camp you. This has been gamed in a lot of games, so it's not a very effective form of spawn protection generally. Letting you pick your spawn can create a mindgame of where you'll spawn, which can be fun. The positive feedback of spawn camping is temporary, only creating a brief positional advantage, and if they don't camp the right spot, it expires completely, much like the incoming mixup in Marvel 3.Obviously if you don't have spawn protection, then people can camp your spawn, which is positive feedback. They can just wait and shoot at you the instant you spawn. This is especially bad in games where you can pickup better weapons and armor, making it so dying is extremely positive feedback for the player in the lead. They get access to the pickups, and they're stronger for the respawning player, who does not have protection against the player in the lead, which usually leads to them getting a further lead.Recognizing what is positive and negative feedback as well as where and how much to apply them is really important to designing games. Unknowingly creating feedback loops can be really dangerous.
I know that you're not a fan about ADS, but what do you think about crouching/prone improving shot accuracy in FPS games? Is there even much of a functional difference from iron sights? Different pros, same cons I suppose. No zoomed in view but you become a smaller target.
Stop having things modify accuracy! Stop having accuracy as bullet spread! Stop having bullet spread be randomized! That's the root of all the problems, that we feel like bullets should spread randomly outwards in a cone. Either have all the bullets fire straight down the center, or have them in a deterministic spread pattern.I'm generally not as upset by this, only because it doesn't affect accuracy as drastically as ADS does, but it's still a problem.Stop making stop-and-pop the defining way to play FPS games. If you want a fictional justification for it, say the character is highly trained to shoot accurately regardless of conditions, say the character has a neural implant, or a super recoil stabilizer, etc. The only reason this design trend exists is because it's "realistic", no matter how destructive it is. If it exists to appeal to a sense of a fleshed out world, then create a reason in that world to get rid of it.
Do you think the third person shooter genere is dead? is it possible to make a good game out of it since its seems we are stuck in the third person cover shooter bullshit? is it possible to make a tps without cover?
We got Infamous, which wasn't a cover shooter, not that long ago. Gunz from back in the day wasn't a cover shooter. And Warframe isn't a cover shooter.Dead is relative, it's less dead than RTS. It's just as possible to make a TPS without cover as an FPS, there's nothing really pigeon-holing TPS into being cover-based games. TPS just lends itself to snap-to-cover systems more, since you can see the character, so it makes more sense to animate them snapping into cover than a 1st person character, unless you pull a Deus Ex.Almost any good idea you have for a 1st person shooter would also work as a 3rd person shooter, and vice versa. It's hard to think of what would work better for one than the other, except that character motion and animation states are easier to read in 3rd person, though mirror's edge makes a convincing argument that those can work in 1st person too.
Did you ever get around to playing Dishonored 2, and if so, thoughts?
Yes, I did. My thoughts are, it's a marginally better version of the first game, with all the same exact flaws. Weak enemies that can't counter you, a few new powers that are sorta cool, but still generally oriented around killing everything in sight. Had some cool levels like the Jindosh Manor, and The Cradle expy (we've had 2 knockoff versions of The Cradle in a row for supernatural stealth games, now haven't we?), but largely it doesn't make up for the powers still being killing oriented, and the AI still being pitifully limited.If you liked the first game, you'll probably like this, but I'm just disappointed it didn't fix any of the major flaws, like the enemies not having any counterplay with your powers, you having basically no distraction options, and combat being a dumb slog. The range and finesse of the skills they test is really tiny.
What do you think of environmental hazards in fighting games? Can they work? Or do they mostly just get in the way?
I don't think they'll work in any fighting game that doesn't have robust movement, as if it were a single player game. Most fighting games, especially 2d ones, do not let you move freely, you only move in terms of the opponent, you don't have a jump button, etc. If you removed the opponent, they would not be acceptable as a control scheme for a single player game.Smash Bros is the most appropriate game to have stage hazards, because you have full platforming controls that work independently of an opponent, but the problem with hazards is, if they're overemphasized, the focus of the match shifts from fighting each other to avoiding hazards. This is the problem with a LOT of smash bros stages, like 75m, Port Town Aero Drive, Mushroomy Kingdom, Flat Zone, Green Hill Zone, Summit, Distant Planet, Big Blue, Warioware, Brinstar Depths, Mushroom Kingdom 2, Green Greens, Infinite Glacier, Rumble Falls, and a bunch of others.It's sort of nice when the hazards are avoidable, when they don't dominate the entire screen, and they don't change the flow of the flight to being about just avoiding the giant wave of lava coming at you, but a lot of smash bros hazards are not this way. And honestly, most players don't really want to put up with that, they'd rather focus on the fight, than having success largely determined by a 1-player interaction like avoiding hazards. Even things like Whispy blowing wind on Dreamland 64 interferes with the fight in a destructive way.Having totally static hazards might work better, but it's kind of untested territory, and I can see it detracting from the match in much the same way.
Have you tried out PUBG or Fortnite yet? Just wondering what you think of the battle royale formula, and the influence it may yet have on vidya.
I have not.I think it's an interesting game mode. It manages to stick over a hundred players in the same space and make them all relevant to one another.I don't think it's really going to have any influence, except spawning a bunch of imitators. Same way MOBAs didn't really have much influence on other genres. We saw a bunch of imitators, but the trend was largely contained to exclusively MMOs. We did see some spilling over into Hero FPS games I guess, with lots of "ability" design with cooldowns, but I don't really see anything from Battle Royale clones that is as likely to spill over like that.
Can a game with very few available actions be deep? For example the N series which has only left/right movement and jump.
Sure! The idea is, even though you have simple inputs, they can have a lot of compound effects on other objects, or on the player character, or there is a fine-grain range of effects they can have with careful inputs.A great example of this would be classic Ys, Divekick, or Katamari Damacy.In Divekick, you can only dive and kick, but you'd be surprised at the range of tactics possible, and the difference that a few pixels can make in flying past one another, or getting a headshot.Classic Ys is about watching the movement patterns of the opponent to hit them in their corners, and from where they're looking away, and not allowing them to hit you head on.Katamari Damacy is about managing your inertia and efficiently routing through levels.To really succeed, games like this need to emphasize precise positioning, having a range of different outcomes based on slight positional or timing differences, and avoid things related to snapping onto other things, because that takes a range and compresses it into discrete values.
With the success of Mario Maker, what other "Maker" style videogames would be pretty cool?
Probably a bunch of other classic NES games, like Castlevania, Contra, Ninja Gaiden. Would need to be something tile based, with a strong emphasis on level design and elements that play off one another. Bonus would be something that evolved across generations, but that's rare.Someone already did Megaman, and that looks pretty cool.The big trouble is it's just not that common for games to have interactions between different entities the way the Mario enemies and objects do. Though to be fair, Mario Maker added a lot more interactions for these things, making it more robust than a lot of the games it was based on.
Tim Rogers discusses the concept of Overdesign in this video
It's when a game has enough things going on at once that it's nearly impossible to pay attention to it all.
Is Overdesign valuable in games? Can it reduce depth? What makes it un/enjoyable?
Yyyyyuup, that's a Tim Rogers video alright.Tim Rogers has a tendency in his writing to make up terminology and standards on the fly. I don't think his description of Overdesigned is really on the mark, and I don't think that deliberately overdesigning things is a good design practice.Overdesign means designed in a manner that is excessively complex; Having undergone excessive design, leading to complicatedness or an unnecessary degree of capability and durability.Having so much going on at once that you can't really understand it all is a symptom of overdesign, but not overdesign itself necessarily. I'd personally regard overdesign as a universally negative trait.Part of making interesting games is forcing the player to use heuristics over raw calculation of the solution. By making the problem more complicated than can be reasonably calculated, you can guarantee that people fall back on heuristic methods rather than choosing a purely correct answer.However you can do this like Go does it, which is completely clear and discrete, yet so complicated that calculating a correct answer is prohibitively expensive; or you can do it like Dissidia does it, where there's so many factors affecting how much damage that you do that calculating a specific answer is practically impossible, just because it's impossible to keep track of all the fine-grain values that go into anything, or the proportions by which they act upon one another.I don't think being overdesigned necessarily affects depth, but it certainly affects clarity of feedback, which is something that can affect how players perceive the game, which affects relevant depth. If players can't understand what's going on, they're less likely to explore the state space. Realistically, this effect is probably minor.Fighting Games feature a lot of things that are similar to this in their damage calculations, like damage scaling, counterhit bonuses, and proration/initial proration, and honestly you probably don't know how much damage any given attack does in the first place off the top of your head. However you do know that generally the longer the combo, the less damage each attack does, so you want to fit your hard hitting attacks at the beginning when they'll deal the most damage. You know that supers generally are resistant to scaling to some extent, so you want to tack them on at the end. And using moves with proration will make the whole combo weaker, so you want to avoid them. You have some simple heuristics, so you don't need to know the specifics, as opposed to whatever the heck is going on in Dissidia.Generally, I think the video just comes off as kind of incoherent, and not really expressing the advantages/disadvantages of that design style, just picking a stance that is controversial looking from the title, then backing himself up and saying he really enjoys it.
Rivals of Aether is on sale through HB. What's your opinion on it? What do you think about having no shield but having that weird parry (it stuns you unless you use a jab to trigger it, in that case you can DD out of range and punish), doesn't it ruin the RPS system?
I can't stand it, it works too differently from smash and it throws me off. I don't have much more to say than that.
Do you prefer the left analog stick above d-pad like on xbox controllers or vice versa like on dualshocks?
I think analog stick is better at 3d games, and dpad is better at 2d games. Having the appropriate one in the top slot is preferable for that style of game.But I think having the dpad on bottom, like on xbox is REALLY bad for 2d games, whereas having the analog stick on the bottom isn't so bad for 3d games.So overall I prefer dualshock controllers. They're really good at 3d games, and only lose a little in 3d games.
Got Nioh on your recommendation, and after a few days it has clicked for me like no other game ever has before. I am beginning to understand the joy of depth in video games with your help. Certain things like Ki Pulse probably would have just annoyed me before. Anyway, what is your favorite weapon?
I'm kind of a lamer, I use almost entirely kusarigama. I plan to try out spears and regular katana, maybe the odachi, more on future playthroughs. The Kusarigama has a tool for every situation if you can manage its stances well. It has decent range, dhalsim range, 2 types of high DPS, fast attacks, and dashing slash attacks. I'm pretty sure they nerfed the high stance light attack since the last time I played, since it seems like the majority of its damage is now on the final hit, which I approve of. It's still a really powerful weapon all around.