On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

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On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

Postby Vartul » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:28 am

This was posted in the NMS subreddit, but I think this is immensely relevant to LT too. I hope Josh sees this-

https://m.reddit.com/r/NoMansSkyTheGame/comments/4xhxbd/the_biggest_game_design_flaw_in_no_mans_sky
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Re: On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

Postby Flatfingers » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:50 pm

I got the following message from that link:

"Sorry, we are having trouble communicating with Reddit's servers. Please check your internet connection, or try again."

Network trouble for Reddit's cloud provider?

Global disaster of some kind, or a Thing happened to a Celebrity?

Too many people trying to get information about NMS?
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Re: On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

Postby Dinosawer » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:57 pm

Works for me:

First, excuse me my weird expressions, as English is not my first language. Second, I'm definetively a fan, and this is trying to start a constructive chat to maybe help Hello Games finding their way with NMS.

Is not my intention to show of, but I'd like to state that I've been making videogames for 30+ years, since 1984.

Cut to the chase. Hello Games are incredibly talented coders and artists. However, there's some weak game design in NMS. The main game design problem I see in NMS is that there's a disconnect between all the procedural variations and the gameplay. Simply put, most procedural variations of everything don't mean shit.

When people say 'boring', that's what they mean. In borderlands the weapons were also proc gen, but the all played differently. In NMS, all procedural weapons are basically the same, a pretty shell for exactly the same gameplay content. Ships share the same problem.

All creatures are 'gameplay-wise' the same (maybe except predators/non-predators) thus, they are 'boring'.

The gameplay is only based around all the NON procedural elements, the parts that repeat, the same resources, upgrades and items. And those are extremely repetitive.

So doing exactly the same, searching for the same plutonium, the same 'expensive item' (vortex cube/gravitino balls/...) in a different background, still feels repetitive.

The most amazing thing Hello Games accomplished, the incredibly detailed and varied planets, all play pretty much the same. Yes, there's some 'hazzards', but even those all PLAY the same. So after a while, it doesn't matter if it's Toxic, Heat or Radiation, it's all the same.

No Man's Sky suffers from a very safe and conservative game-design, like they were scared of trying something fresh or new. They risked so much on technology/art, that they were scared to risk anything on the game design side.

I don't have all the answers. But the path to fixing is that the procedural variations (planets, ships, tools) HAVE TO MEAN MORE, on the gameplay front. The planets need conditions that truly turn them into different gameplay scenarios. The ships/weapons, need more features that UNIQUE to each SHIP/WEAPON. Things you CAN'T change, balanced with the features you can edit yourself by installing upgrades and such. Creature types, shoud have more gameplay differences like; man, those worm things are a bitch because ...

That's my 2 units. There are other, more minor things, but this is the most flagrant game design problem I've seen. I so want NMS/HG to succeed. I wish we could help them! :-/

TL;DR; There's a disconnect between all the 'visually different' procedural variations and the gameplay.
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Re: On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

Postby Flatfingers » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:03 pm

It's working now -- weird. I probably should have assumed a glitch on my end before wondering about Reddit's servers. Thanks for copying the text, though.

While I haven't played NMS yet, I think I've been hearing that same concern elsewhere: that HG created lots of systems, including but not limited to its procgen systems, but the systems are mostly just façades as in BioShock Infinite: they look nice, but you can't do anything interesting with them. Also, most of these systems are not being allowed to interact with each other in ways that allow surprising effects to emerge for players to enjoy.

That's actually an interesting contrast to Rimworld, which we've been talking about recently in the Games subforum. Specifically, one of Tynan Sylvester's goals was to allow events to overlap, and to have combinatory effects with each other, and for these effects to operate in different ways on different colonists. That, to me, sounds exactly like the kind of thing that would add real dynamism to No Man's Sky.

I wonder if the console-orientation of the developers at Hello Games causes them to believe that surprising effects from system-interactions are actually a negative behavior that must be stamped out ruthlessly? That seems to be a pretty common belief among developers of AAA games.

It'll be interesting to see which specific kinds of player feedback they choose to recognize as worthy of changes.
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Re: On Game Design, Repetition and Boredom

Postby Vartul » Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:27 am

In one of his interviews on Rimworld, Tynan mentioned that he wanted to keep the graphics simple precisely so he could add complex systems that interact with each other and the environment. Maybe that's the issue with NMS. Both the nature of the procedural generation and its sheer hardware overhead would make adding significant interactivity pretty much impossible for a 10 person team.

Who knows though, this might be a different game with a bucket load of changes an year or so later.
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