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Topic: Game design tricks

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Th3solution

I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for sharing.
I think I probably subconsciously knew that game developers used these little tricks to engage us, but never saw it explained quite this way with the whole biochemical responses they are targeting.

I have most recently noticed the "Bonding" mechanic while playing Persona 5 earlier today. I kept thinking, "Why am I given dialogue response choices when they clearly don't matter and really don't change the NPC's response or direction of the conversation?" Now I know.
Also I noticed that "Fairness" mechanic when playing UC Lost Legacy recently whereby the jumps seemed to be unusually forgiving like jumping in and out of moving vehicles in the final chapter and some of the crumbling pathways that seemed to slow down and give you time to run off and jump.

Game developers, those clever devils. Emotionally manipulating us all these years!

If the other guy is getting better, then you'd better be getting better faster than he's getting better, or you're getting worse.

kyleforrester87

Part of the thing that bugs me with ND games is how obviously some of these concepts have been implemented when you're playing it. The level design has me rolling my eyes too, during a chase scene you're lead towards your goal by various light sources and flapping cloth etc. They might as well have a big cartoon arrow hanging from the sky pointing toward the exit. It just makes everything feel so artificial?

I guess I like a bit of jank in my games. Occasionally it's nice to feel as though you're stepping outside the cage of the game, defeating the developers intentions.

Edited on by kyleforrester87

kyleforrester87

PSN: WigSplitter1987

KratosMD

@Th3solution @kyleforrester87 I find it funny how you guys bring up ND games as I've seen so many people on Youtube and the likes that constantly have issues knowing where to go and how to proceed in those games. Taking a recent example, in the IGN review of The Lost Legacy, the reviewer stated he had trouble navigating the rooftop section (which I personally didn't have any problems with). So apparently, the blatant obviousness is probably there for people like them.

I do agree with you guys that it is really obvious where to go in ND games, especially considering how they are linear games! I can't understand people who have trouble with navigating, unless they are not gamers and haven't learned to easily identify patterns in video games in general.

'To judge others by your own standard is the height of folly'
'They fail to live because they are always preparing to live' - Alan Watts

kyleforrester87

@KratosMD I think when you play a lot of games it's easier to get into the developers head and understand the direction they're pushing you toward. I can't speak for Lost Legacy though as I've not played that one, maybe the open world nature of it makes it less obvious where to go next.

kyleforrester87

PSN: WigSplitter1987

BAMozzy

@kyleforrester87 I agree that ND, not the only ones though, leave 'markers; to indicate the direction to go. Its not quite as blatant as the big arrow but when all climbable ledges, rock faces etc are 'white', its almost that obvious unless you are really not paying much attention to your surroundings. I do think though that ND at least opened up the game more by Uncharted 4 with Madagascar as a 'stand-out' that had less linearity to it and less 'hand-holding' If you wanted to explore every nook and cranny you could but you could also short cut most of the landscape out. The driving sequence after the market also let you take whatever route you wanted down the hill - you didn't have to stick to the road - but its 'minor' and still funnel you to point 'B' to progress the story. Its difficult with a 'linear' story and lacking any reason to hang around a 'big' area - like side quests for example. You still have to get from point A to B to progress and move the narrative forward.

As for game tricks though, its not a secret and many have been discussed before. I knew about MK64 using 'rubberbanding' whilst that game was still relevant. Its certainly not fair - If you are winning, you always get a 'banana' (cool to keep hold of to take the hit from a shell) and if you are so far behind, whilst you may get more 'powerful' power-ups, the AI don't go 'slow' to allow you to catch up.

I couldn't care less if Devs use tricks to make us feel 'better' about playing a game. The point of most gaming is to have fun. Obviously some games may be all about getting the highest score on a leaderboard more than reach the 'end' of the story. The mechanics of these don't change just because you can't get close to the high score, make it easier and easier for you whilst others who are better have a 'tougher' job to beat that high score. Devs don't want you stuck at a 'checkpoint' in a story indefinitely, they want you to see the rest of their narrative and creation. So what if they help someone out a bit to get them to the end? It's not like they suddenly become the 'number 1' best player and 'better' than someone who had 'less' assistance, not like they are replacing someone on the top of a leaderboard. Its more like allowing them to see the 'same' movie, experience the same story and I see it more as tailoring the 'experience' to the players skill level. Other tricks, like helping them survive a bit longer and get a few kills in MP isn't an issue for me. It may skew their experience a bit to give them a bit more of a carrot rather than plonking them in at the Deep end and letting them drown never to return. Some games also utilise Skill Based Matchmaking - some more aggressively than others - to give those newcomers a chance to get a feel rather than drop them in with 'anyone'. Some may find this a way of balancing so the games are not too one sided or someone is the reason a team lost and the 'wonderfully polite' rest of the team doesn't feel the need to message them with 'helpful criticism'...

In any case, for the majority, whether they are aware of these or not, it doesn't make the games suddenly 'terrible' and if anything, just makes gamers enjoy the games more - where is the harm in that?

What I do object to though in 'modern' gaming is the way micro-transactions are starting to increase and playing on certain aspects of human nature. Instead of that 'joy' at earning some camo or cosmetic gear from completing a 'challenge', mission etc, now they are putting that behind a paywall. The 'best' looking items are all part of the RNG system and they want you to spend even more money to get that instant gratification because the RNG gods gave you that item instead. It really is no different from a slot machine which you put money in, roll the wheels of fate, hoping that 1 lands on that legendary or even 'exotic' item you were craving. If not, put more money in and 'roll' again.

Even those few in-game challenge rewards you get after completing, are often 'Meh' and don't look as cool or flashy as the ones you get from RNG Micro-transactions. It really knocks the incentive to do the challenges. When was the last time you saw a CoD gamer using a 'challenge' camo - especially the 'highest' tier camo for that weapon? When CoD4 was out, everyone wanted Gold and you knew that if you were killed by a player using a Gold camo, it was generally more acceptable as you knew they had mastered that weapon. Nowadays though, you never know if you were killed by a scrub with more money than sense, got lucky or really is a 'top' player and has mastery of that weapon.

I know it brings in more diversity - more cosmetics mean fewer people looking the same - but it also has taken a fundamental part out of the 'enjoyment'. I know that in games like Destiny, you would see a LOT of Guardians with the 'same' Raid gear and Shaders but you knew they earned that by beating the 'hardest' content in the game. There was a certain 'respect' from the rest of the community.

A pessimist is just an optimist with experience!

Why can't life be like gaming? Why can't I restart from an earlier checkpoint??

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Rudy_Manchego

Great read - thanks for sharing.

I guess it is like anything, if you notice it then it breaks immersion, if you don't then it builds up the enjoyment of the game. The first time I played the Jeep section in Uncharted 4, when you are being chased, I remember being completely exhilerated at me choosing my own path and was 100% immersed. It was only on playing that I realised that I was being nudged gently into the correct places. Now obviously there was trickery going on but my first option was to ignore it and just go with it.

Then again, when you see certain puzzles or obvious paths for climbing or doing then it does break immersion but I think this is the inevitable consequence of those mechanics being used a lot. I think games like Dark Souls are popular with dedicated gamers is because they throw in new mechanics that aren't what we see in most games and make you rewire your brain a little.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

kyleforrester87

@Rudy_Manchego Dark Souls lack of map and lack of way points makes all the difference. When you stumble upon a secret in those games you feel like you're one of the few people who might have actually found it. I find games like The Witcher very tiresome in comparison. A map full of question marks for you to check off? Whats the point...??? Let me discover those areas naturally.

I'm very keen to try Zelda, the lack of hand holding is very appealing.

Edited on by kyleforrester87

kyleforrester87

PSN: WigSplitter1987

Rudy_Manchego

@kyleforrester87 Yep - I remember on Bloodborne finding my first shortcut back to the lamp and was so excited.

The problem with open world games, in general, is that they become shopping lists for me. Go to new area, get collectibles, do side quests, do main quest, move on. Zelda took me a good 10-20 hours to get my head round the concept of not having constant reminders of where I was going. When I realised there was subtle nudges if I wanted them or I could just keep wandering and exploring I felt liberated and finally 'got' the game. Before that I was a tad grumpy that I didn't know what to do, that is how deep the open world mechanics had gotten into my player expectations.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

JoeBlogs

@kyleforrester87 Re: Witcher 3. I suppose the best thing might be to give the player choices. If you don't like question marks on a map, then you should be able to turn them off (I can't remember if the Witcher 3 gives you options like that) and explore the world on your own. Personally, I quite liked them. Sometimes if I only had a spare half hour, I'd 'just do a few question marks' lol. At other times I didn't really look at the map and just headed off into the wilderness to let the world surprise me.

JoeBlogs

JoeBlogs

@Rudy_Manchego Yeah, Breath of the Wild drove me mental for a while. I didn't really know where to go and practically everything in the world - even the weather - was out to get me. All that rain, sheesh!

JoeBlogs

Rudy_Manchego

@JoeBlogs Ha ha oh boy, I got so annoyed with the lightning, I would just port away until I realised that I could just unequip the metal weapons and armor and actually use it against foes.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

BoyFromMars82

I hadn't really thought about any of these, except I had heard about the 'rubberbanding' in Mario Kart.

@Rudy_Manchego @JoeBlogs I am tempted to try Zelda but its the lack of hand holding that is holding me back. I quite like linear games because I feel I can get some gaming in a short amount of time, rather then spending an hour or two wondering what to do!

BoyFromMars82

PSN: BoyFromMars82

kyleforrester87

@BoyFromMars82 Don't get me wrong, I love linear games too. But if you're going openworld, then I should feel like I'm on my own to do what I want and discover what I want. Otherwise make a linear game. Don't have me running round a big map chasing icons lol

kyleforrester87

PSN: WigSplitter1987

Th3solution

Yeah, I hate to admit, but although I consider myself a relatively hardcore veteran gamer, I like a little hand holding, but I like it even more when I don't know my hand is being held.
Like has been said, some of it is time constraints. With so many games to play, I can't be wandering around aimlessly and not making some kind of progress toward a goal. If it's too open world, it runs the risk of losing my interest. I tried Dark Souls a long time ago and didn't get too far into it, partially due to the nebulous goals of what path I was supposed to take, coupled with lack of save points and easy loss of progress when dying. Maybe I need to try it again one of these days; I've been tempted to give Bloodborne a try but I worry I will still just get frustrated.
Playing Persona 5 now and the game makes sure to tell you to look up in the right corner to find out what you're supposed to be doing 😅. That's more my speed.

If the other guy is getting better, then you'd better be getting better faster than he's getting better, or you're getting worse.

Rudy_Manchego

@BoyFromMars82 It is a mindset change and I was really not sure it was a good fit for me personally but what I found, with the Switch anyway, was that you could pick up, have a wander for a quick bash and then put it down. Because there weren't lots of missions or objectives I was able to find time to do a bit of exploring and then put it down. I managed to fit over 100 hours over several months while playing other games.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

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