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RE: [gamedesign-l] Re: 4X tedious and dull

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  • Brandon J. Van Every
    ... Right, so make the automation mandatory. Cities just grow. No individual facilities that the player can control. The player would have a global budget
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 31, 2002
      > > "If you give the player the ability to do something, no matter how
      > > dull, that increases their chance of winning the game then they will
      > > do it and complain about how dull the game was no matter how many
      > > interesting avenues are open to them"
      >
      > YES, that is the problem with automation. If automation is
      > optional, and it
      > is worse than what the player can do (which it always is),
      > the player will
      > always opt to do it themselves. Anything less would be
      > performing at less than 100%

      Right, so make the automation mandatory. Cities just grow. No individual
      facilities that the player can control. The player would have a global
      budget with categories such as "colonization" and "infrastructure."

      Automating military stuff is more problematic. There is a temptation to let
      the player move some things manually, to hedge bets against your AI doing
      something stupid. One possibility is to solve the issue game-mechanically.
      You get a limited number of generals who can move manually, like maybe 5.
      Everything else has to be automated. But this can still be problematic,
      because as per the previously stated maxim, the player may try to do
      everything possible manually no matter how dull it is to do that. They
      might try to stick all the units possible with those generals, or create new
      generals, or even elaborately shuffle units back and forth into the generals
      so that they get manual control. I suppose you could adopt draconian
      measures against this: the production of generals is outside the player's
      control, and the allocation of units to the generals is handled
      automatically.

      My current concept of automatic control is the "sphere of strategic force
      projection." For instance, you could put down a target marker and then the
      AI tries to strategically control everything within a radius R of the
      marker. Or if it's a coast, you could define a segment of the coast and
      then everything at radius R from the coast. There are some difficulties in
      drawing battle lines vs. circles. Directionality is also a problem, as is
      reactivity to changing contexts. Basically it looks to me like a giant
      painting program. You have to paint what you want all your guys to do
      strategically. The issue is how to make this painting with few
      brushstrokes. Also, how to avoid the Post Impressionists, the people who
      want to use the tiniest possible radii to defeat the automation and
      establish a hackneyed manual control.

      > I remember reading about Diablo and how originally you wold
      > slowly recover
      > HP if you stayed in one place. But they took it out because
      > players would
      > naturally rest and become bored after every encounter. It was
      > forcing them
      > to trade between pressing on and having fun vs. resting,
      > doing better but being bored.

      Game designers have to be very careful about any rule that says "it costs
      time." You're sorta stuck with trading off time, space, and money, you
      can't fight a war without these factors, but if you make players wait to
      gain something then you're increasing the amount of time it takes to play
      the game. Usually that means handing them a bunch of repetitive actions and
      that's dull.

      Some designers do it deliberately in order to get that "40 hours of
      gameplay," they're basically slowing the player down so that their thin
      content is "savored" or not shown to be minimal. But the amount of quality
      in the game is the amount of quality in the game. Doleing it out from a
      drip bottle isn't going to get players super excited about your game.


      Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
      Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

      20% of the world is real.
      80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
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