So Flatfinger's talking about Game-fun vs. Simulation-fun in LT in regards to research got me thinking about what Game-fun would mean in a broader sense for a game like LT. And then serendipity hit and I saw 2 GDC talks. I HIGHLY recommend you watch them both as well.
I've included my notes on both talks in the spoilers
Also, the 4 keys to fun
Now, lets apply that to Limit Theory.
First is general UI Feedback. Every little thing needs to have some sort of feedback, but the more time and effort the player put into it, the better the reward they expect. Here we're somewhat limited by the player/npc symmetry and the infinite procedural nature of the game. However We can give visual and sound cues for doing different things.
. A flash and a ping for every kill, pings come in harmonies, so multiple kills at once sound different and richer
. A sound when being the first to discover something, popping up with a box that allows you to name it. Richer and more complex sounds for discovering a new system than discovering an asteroid field
. A buzz when depleting an asteroid, and a change in that asteroid's color on the UI
. A "Ka-ching" equivalent when doing a transaction, other sounds when accepting contracts, completing builds, etc
Looking at Reward structures, I think many rewards are already built-in or side effects of already present mechanics in the game, but for others, we are again limited by the nature of the game to things that must be player-npc symmetric, optional, and always present while not being identical. The only way I think this could reasonably be done is by having changes or special features in the environment that are open to whoever happens to be there.
For example, Cyclical spawning of transdimensional objects that exist for a short time and then disappear again. The spawn location could be discoverable by the AI, which will hang around, waiting for a while in case it shows up, but if it takes too long, the AI will leave.
For Choice and Control, I think that the Delegation and Contract systems offer plenty to satisfy this, but there's an opportunity for even more.
Contracts for example, From what we've seen, fulfilling a contract will only result in a payment, but what if some NPCs made a sort of barter agreement "I'll give you A, B, or C", objects from their inventory which can have different cash values on the local markets, perhaps 1 above, 1 below, and one at the cash amount they would have otherwise given you, hoping you pick the least valuable one.
In terms of Level & Skill progression, that doesn't really exist, but you could have Contract Completeness indicators, a checklist of things you need to do/kill, how much ore you have left to mine, etc. Or you could make your own Contract, define the levels which represent completeness, and then tell you how close you are to that self-defined goal. And how you accomplish it? maybe just delegate
someone else to complete it for you
Now for the Player taste and motivation. Vanilla LT isn't going to really be for casual "bejeweled" gamers. Nor is it really going to be for Counter Strike gamers. LT is also not going to have a compelling built in story, but will be bursting to the seems with player stories, and perhaps AI NPC's with their own stories. It's probably going to lean a bit more towards exploration than building, but building will still definitely be possible and extensive.
Now, From everything we know about LT, I think that This might be a fairly good picture of what LT is at least trying to be.
Will it accomplish that? That remains to be seen.
Now LT was initially sold as Freelancer 2.0, but as it's developed, it might now be more the child of Freelancer and Minecraft. And so that once again brings into question, what is the "Game" in LT? Well, let's look at Freelancer and Minecraft.
Freelancer, though I've never personally played it, from what i've gained from members on the forum and it's wikipedia entry, is about taking on the role of a pilot in a single ship, being a fighter pilot in dogfights, a bounty hunter, merchant, pirate, smuggler, and explorer. In the more relevant single player mode, it has a story, travelling along a predetermined path that the player doesn't have a choice in. Freelancer thus has a gameplay topology like this
It has some degree of freedom, but it ultimately just many ways of getting from A to B to C. The path you take is your choice, but there's really only so many meaningful differences.
Minecraft however, is about exploring an infinite world, and molding it into literally whatever you want, with or without friends. It has some weak combat, for AI at least, but with other people, combat is rich with invention and originality. It is digital, multiplayer, moddable Legos. Minecraft's gameplay topology thus would look like this
Now, Vanilla LT has taken all the roles possible from Freelancer, and put it in an infinite universe at the expense of a pre-defined story. It promises many generated backstories to entire factions and civilizations, let alone individual NPCs. The depth and richness of those backstories? again remains to be seen. But LT also gives the Player the reigns of power too, or at least the potential to take them. The player can form their own faction, and build their own empire, and mold the universe to their will. It's certainly not as freeform as minecraft, you'll never see pikachu or westeros in vanilla LT, but it's also completely different than what was possible in freelancer. I would argue that LT has a topology that looks somewhat like this
More like Minecraft than Freelancer, you can just go off and start over somewhere else far far away, where everything you did before becomes but a memory.
More like Freelancer than Minecraft, you can have complex and varied interactions with an intricate AI system.
So, if we begin to see it as the depth and richness of freelancer inside the infinite and malleable world of minecraft, what is gameplay beyond self-defined goals? I would say its a system of feedback and micro-rewards, a system for easily defining one's own goals in a quantitative or qualitative manner, the ability to measure your success in your own metrics, having meaningful choices that affect the world around you, Having as many or as few things to focus on and manage as you like, and encountering the occasional environmental situation or event which you are free to engage with, or not, or even just watch the AI engage with it as a spectator.
So I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, because Architecture development seems to be coming to a close soon and the Game aspects will need to be addressed.
Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:44 pm
Challenging your assumptions is good for your health, good for your business, and good for your future. Stay skeptical but never undervalue the importance of a new and unfamiliar perspective.
Beauty may not save the world, but it's the only thing that can
Beauty may not save the world, but it's the only thing that can