. . .

Posts relating to Game Design:

5 years ago

Silly Types

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Game DesignIdeas
This is a follow-up to the previous post! I mentioned a silly monster-catching game idea, which would have silly types similar to Pokemon types in that each monster would have one or two, and they'd flavour moves and affect damage.

After a while spent going over dozens of potential ideas, I've narrowed them down to a possible set of types, which I'm writing about here purely for the sake of interest! I may never even work on this game, and if I ever do, it probably won't have these exact types in it. Still, it's amusing to combine two at random and see what ideas come to mind; I think I might do some drawings of potential monsters by doing that (using a random generator to give me two types, which I'd combine into a design) purely for the fun of it!

Anyway, here's a list:

Fire or 'Flaming' - A fire-like type. Added because fire seems a 'necessary' type, but it could very easily be removed!

Wet or 'Water' or 'Liquid' - Again, a boring but common and 'necessary' type?

Airborne - Essentially Air/Flying; not interesting, but it might also be 'necessary'...

Stone - These four were the basic 'four elements', but they're not silly so they might be changed.

Animal - Like Miasmon's Bestial, or sort of like the Normal type from Pokemon.

Nature - Foresty; could be anything from plants to insects to fairies.

Undead or 'Corpse' or 'Skeleton' - It's easy to come up with designs with this as type, though I suppose it's not very *silly*...

Pirate - Maybe the first really silly type. Designs come readily to mind and might be amusing!

Ninja - A natural progression of ideas! Pirate and Ninja would be super effective against eachother, of course.

Food - Anything from chocolate to roast potatoes.

Filth or 'Slime' or 'Ooze' - Could include anything from rubbish to rotting, slime, decay, sewage, etc; similar to Poison from Pokemon, but more disgusting.

Paranormal - Includes ghosts, aliens, cryptids, dark magic, and all sorts of things like that!

Architecture - Includes buildings and furniture and things like that.

Gadget - Appliances like egg whisks and toasters would fall under this, as would mobile phones. Maybe it could cover robots too? Or mabye I'd need a separate 'Robot' type.

Dinosaur - Rrar.

Love or 'Lust' - This could be silly when combined with things.

Silly ideas come to mind, like:

- A chair (Architecture) which evolves into a shed (Architecture) then a castle (Architecture/Stone).

- An egg whisk (Gadget) that evolves into a monster truck (Gadget/Architecture)

- A raygun which evolves into a flying saucer (both Gadget/Paranormal)

- A dragon might be Dinosaur/Airborne

- A chupacabra which is Animal/Paranormal!

- Silly combinations, like: Dinosaur/Pirate, Food/Love, Ninja/Filth, Gadget/Stone (magical runic ancient technology!), Architecture/Ninja (o_O), Animal/Gadget (a robot dog!), Undead/Food, Architecture/Airborne (a plane or helicopter), Pirate/Airborne, Love/Ninja, Gadget/Undead, and so on and so forth!

I wonder how long the Pokemon developers worked on their type list for? No doubt I'll be making significant changes to this over time, but for now it's amusing me.

I may entirely remove some of the basic ones like Fire and Water, and could replace them with things like Magic/Wizard, Science, Religion, or more *conceptual* things like that!

One annoying this is that I feel I should compress the types as much as possible. I can't have more than about 18, which is why I have to combine things like ghosts, aliens, and cryptids (which aren't even very similar) into 'Paranormal', and why vehicles have 'Architecture' as their type, and so on. I would have wanted 'Food' to be 'Chocolate' or 'Savoury' and 'Sweet', but it's best to go with wider categories.

Planning their weaknesses and resistances will be interesting. o_O
I'd probably come up with really absurd rationalisations for why one type is good against another.

Anyway, I'm mainly just entertaining myself here!

EDIT: Maybe a list like this would be more interesting and original? EVERYONE does fire/water/whatever, so basing types more around 'archetypes' than 'elements' like this might at least be something new:

01. Animal
02. Dinosaur
03. Airborne
04. Undead
05. Nature
06. Food
07. Filth
08. Architecture
09. Gadget
10. Love (or Lust or Sexy or Cute or something?)
11. Pirate
12. Ninja
13. Paranormal
14. Religion (resisted by and weak against Science!1)
15. Science (maths, physics, chemistry...!)
16. Magic (wizard-style spells, contrasting with Paranormal's weird 'unexplained phenomena' stuff)
5 years ago

Animated Miasmon (edit 1)

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Art FlashGame DesignMiasmon
I've been playing Pokemon Black 2 lately, since I did eventually acquire it. It was Pokemon Black Version that inspired the start of Miasmon, and I hope the sequel can inspire me to complete it.

Annoyingly, though, seeing the fancy animations in this Pokemon game (which aren't exactly new since Black had them too, but still) has made me feel that the static monster sprites in Miasmon are so flat and lifeless in comparison.

Out of curiosity, I tried animating one of the monsters - Gruul - in vector form to see how it'd look, and to learn how long it'd take... and I was rather pleased with the results! In fact, now that I've seen this, it feels very difficult to want to keep the pixel sprites.

So I think that I may indeed try to convert the existing pixelated battle graphics to vectors, like this!
It'll be a refreshing change that'll no doubt re-motivate me to work on the game... and it'll look much better, too, I hope.
The non-battle graphics won't change, and battles will still use pixelated GUI stuff. It's sort of like how DS games have 3D graphics, but pixelated menus and stuff!

It may take some time to convert the current sprites, but it seems that making one of these animations takes just as long as making a pixel sprite; it might actually be quicker! So if I need to add new monsters - and I still need to add many - then this method seems a good one.

Unfortunately though, I've been having some really frustrating problems with Flash's new-fangled motion tweens, which replace the ones that I've been familiar with for years. It's still possible to use the old "Classic Tweens", but I can see the benefits of this new one and feel I should get used to it. I felt this years ago though, when trying to make Chimaera, but just became too frustrated with it because it seems so... fickle. Unreliable.
Each keyframe now stores transform methods like movement, rotation, scaling, etc separately from the rest, which causes tremendous pain when I want them all to be stored together. It's possible to create keyframes with all transform states set (by pressing F6), but even then, it seems that sometimes (and only sometimes, seemingly at random) when I rotate a MovieClip on one frame, when I release the mouse it suddenly jumps a few pixels up and to the right... And if I drag it back into place, it alters the location of that MovieClip on previous keyframes! So frustrating!

If you have direct experience with Flash CS5 and the problem that I'm attempting to describe, and understand and managed to solve it, I'd be very interested in hearing from you.
If however you've never used this specific version of Flash or encountered this specific problem, then I don't want to hear your 'I reckon' or 'have you tried' sorts of 'help', because it's condescending and not at all helpful when you assume that I haven't thought of something that even someone completely inexperienced would think of without any effort.
"I've never used whatever you're talking about, but have you tried [something really, really obvious]? How about switching to another program entirely? Hope this helps."

ANYWAY, look! Animated monsters!1

(They seem to display at a weird size here, making the pixel sprites beside them look really unpleasant... I might try looking into that.)

Edit: Another one:

This animating problem seems to be getting worse though. I'll show you what's happening; I bet it'll totally be understandable!1
Each of these models is made of various parts on different layers. For example, here, the feather on top of the Meep's head is selected: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞
I want to rotate it slightly - very slightly - so I do so using the Free Transform tool... and this happens instantly: ∞ Fig Hunter ∞
Not only has it jumped to entirely the wrong position (I didn't nudge it at all; I only tried to rotate it), but it's also apparently messed up essentially all the other keyframes in the animation, as you can see from the significantly different X, Y, rotation graph things in the Motion Editor at the bottom.
It makes no sense at all. If I try to do the rotation using the Motion Editor - by dragging a little node on the graph - then it works! So why would the Free Transform tool mess it up so very badly?!?
5 years ago

RPG Features you don't like to see

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Game Design
As much as the recent posts about personality types deeply interest me, this is a site essentially based around gaming, and many of you probably have no interest in personality theory stuff... So I'm going to actually be writing about something game-related today. I can hear the huzzahs.

This isn't immediately relevant to Miasmon, but I've been thinking about other games to make in future, and I'm interested to make them as appealing as they can be.

I've been playing various RPGs myself recently and analysing their various mechanics and features to see what I like and don't like; what I'd want to steal and what I'd want to change, essentially. At the moment I'm playing Morrowind and Earthbound, and I want to comment on Earthbound's features specifically.

While I enjoy the silly and certainly unique feel of the game itself, and find it an enjoyable experience because of that, I don't like the battle system. I find it frustrating, and I very much dislike how I can't see my own characters. The lack of animations doesn't bother me as such, but I don't like the first person view of it because I can't feel any personal connection to the people I'm battling as or with. I've never liked the first person perspective in any games because, oddly, it makes me feel less involved. Perhaps it's because I'm more used to being a watcher than a participant? (I play Morrowind mostly in third person, switching to first person only to target bows or some spells, or to open chests and things if I can't do so from third person.)

I have various specific problems with it too, which I'll mention here not because I want to shoot down Earthbound - I don't, and it's an excellent game that's influenced me for many years (I first played it a long time ago) - but because I dislike these kinds of things in ANY game, and noticing and analysing them allows me to avoid them in my own games.
I'm by no means a casual gamer, as you can tell from my own games, but I'm not interested in frustrating difficulty either. I'd rather a game was too easy than too hard (and yet I made Raider; clearly I'm a hypocrite and stuff).

Anyway, these are a specific list of things that I don't like in Earthbound, and as such don't like in other games too:

- When a companion falls, it's very inconvenient to revive them because revive items are uncommon, nobody has any revive skills yet (I'm up to Fourside), and you have to walk all the way back to the nearest hospital.
I do like how significant being KO'd is so then you have to really worry about avoiding it at all costs, so there's a genuine feel of something being at stake, but sometimes it happens purely through poor luck rather than lack of skill, and then you're stuck in the middle of a dungeon with fewer allies, meaning a tedious trek back to town.

- Many status effects last forever and are very difficult to cure. I hate how an entire dungeon is made significantly more difficult by someone being Mushroomised (a status which causes them to randomly attack allies) right at the start, for example, with no way of curing it unless you head back to town.
I suppose I prefer status effects that go away after battle. Lingering effects seem like an outdated concept at this point (though I'm aware that Earthbound is old and as such shouldn't be compared to modern design sensibilities).

- The limited inventories! Organising inventories, selling things, worrying about not being able to pick up items, etc... None of that is fun for me (yet I stupidly had inventories like that in MARDEK).
I've obviously learned my lesson over the years and will be using infinite inventories from now on in all my games. Probably. Maybe.
Western RPGs like Neverwinter Nights and Morrowind tend to give items weight and your character a carrying capacity, which I have mixed feelings about since I'm a 'pack rat' sort of player who picks up everything I find, and quickly become encumbered, and frustrated that I'm not able to collect all the fancy things I find in my journey. Yet if I made a game like Fig Hunter Online, I may consider actually using such a system for various practical reasons (such as storing characters as data, which is much easier if they only have a limited number of items).

- On that note, this is about Morrowind rather than Earthbound, but I don't like finding really valuable items, then being unable to sell them for their actual worth because no merchants have enough gold available (every merchant in that game has a maximum amount that they can pay for stuff, and it's frustrating having something worth 50000 gold and nobody can afford more than about 10000, with most being able to afford less than 1000). I know there are ways to get around this, but having to work around a frustrating mechanic says a lot about that mechanic.
It is interesting though how in that game, you can barter with NPCs over the price of the transaction, with a success rate based on your skills. Through inventive enchanting (with no cheating involved), I managed to sell a piece of Hound Meat - worth 1 gold - to a merchant for 9000 gold (his max value) yesterday, which he happily accepted. Which was amusing. Most RPG merchants buy stuff at 50% of their total value, so selling something at 900,000% its total value is just silly.
I do like that kind of 'customisation' over something as simple as buying and selling, so that you can see your 'power' improve in something other than combat settings as your skills improve, and I'll be keeping that in mind for future games.

- Missing! Ugh! Missing! It seems like all my characters in Earthbound are constantly missing; the attack (or Bash or Shoot) command isn't remotely reliable, and I always have to hope that it'll actually hit this time... and then it only seems that it actually does about a third of the time. Then some enemies inflict Crying on everyone, which further reduces accuracy! Very, very, very frustrating.
Is there really any need to have missing in modern RPGs at all? It's nice when you get lucky and an enemy misses you, but frustrating when you do nothing but miss, or miss at a really key moment.
Miasmon is full of missing and dodging, but I wonder whether to reduce the focus on that in future games. I suppose missing isn't so bad if it only happens like 5% of the time rather than 50% of the time.

- Long stretches without save points; the lack of save points before bosses is notable. I might have just quit if I didn't have emulator save states, which I only reluctantly used once or twice before bosses I thought I might lose against (and did).
While I save every few seconds in games that allow you to save anywhere (like Morrowind), there is something that I find appealing about Save Points, and I prefer to use those in my game these days. I'd place them sensibly, though, and always before a boss.
Saving is really tedious in Earthbound too; you have to go through the same relatively long conversation with your Dad via a phone every time, while Save Points in my game only require you to press X at them. I think in MARDEK you had to choose a slot to save in, but in my more recent games, I prefer to have three save slots that you choose between on the title screen, then whenever you touch a save point, it automatically saves in the slot that you're playing in. This has some drawbacks - you can't save different states of your adventure for the sake of having 'backups' - but I think the convenience is worth it.

- There's no in-game explanation of what stats do. I never usually include descriptions in my own games either, but I should use this as motivation to do so. I don't know what Vitality or IQ do in Earthbound though, and can only guess.
I like using as few stats as possible in my games; for example, Miasmon each have HP and MP, but only four basic stats: Strength, Spirit, Vitality and Speed. Vitality determines HP and affects defence, Speed affects turn order, accuracy and evasion, and Strength and Spirit affect both the attack and defence of power- or magic-based skills. I like having a small number of stats, where each one has multiple useful uses, than having a ton of different stats that all do fairly minor things.
Another thing I like is having stats low and relatively unchanging, so that +1 to a stat really matters. I think I've talked about this before. I don't like it when you start with stats which are single digit numbers, and after a few levels, they're into three digits. It feels like the stats don't really mean anything then, and you don't really need to pay attention to them. Miasmon lets you choose a single stat point to add every second level, and these points really end up meaning a lot.

- Max HP is not obvious. I never like it when games only show the current HP and not the maximum, so I've no idea how wounded people are and whether healing them would be wise. Most Final Fantasy games only show current HP, which always annoyed me.
I try to avoid this in all my games, and am very, very fond of hp bars.

All these things and more make games like Earthbound 'challenging' in a way that's not fun for me.

Anyway, I mentioned all this stuff not just to complain about my own experiences, but because I would like to ask you what features you do or don't like in RPGs. I'd like to avoid frustrating features and add appealing ones in future games! Even if someone else has said something that you want to say, that doesn't mean that you can't mention it too; the more things are mentioned, the more I'll know that they're important to many people.