Exploration mechanic in a stealth game

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Oddball, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    Figured id ask about this before implementing

    so. in my most recent project idea, I'm thinking of implementing something were the player has to find wild edibles in each level
    because its a stealth game about a mother crossing a war torn country with her children to get a better life for them

    you have a forage skill that has a chance of finding something, but recharges based on steps. there's also wild edibles scattered through out the level

    if you find 0-3 edible plants the main character doesn't eat that day, and max MP goes down by 2.
    4-6 and it goes down by 1 because most of it went to her children
    7-8 and she eats decently, and MP isn't affected
    9 or more and it increases by 1 (if it's below 10)
    Mp is used for various skills that can make your life easier

    would this be too annoying to deal with? I'd like to encourage exploration a little bit, but it might frustrate players trying to avoid enemies and find stuff like wild onions, dandelions, berries, violets, sorrel, ect
     
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  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I usually recommend against this kind of "maintenance of self" gameplay; however, in your game it might serve the play experience well. It definitely thematically fits with the idea of your character never knowing when her next meal is coming - what you also need to ask yourself is, does it fit in well with the rest of the gameplay? Will your gameplay be better served by encouraging/forcing players to explore the environments and deal with the possibility of being caught by enemies or whatever else they might find there - or is this kind of activity less engaging than the plot events and big battles (if any) that players could otherwise get to more directly?
     
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  3. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    I'm trying to show a plot through game play and have very little story through text, making the cut scenes as short as possible

    I was hoping to up the tension and sense of urgency with this, but i didn't want it to be too cumbersome (hence, the forage skill) but i also didn't want the forage skill to make it too easy (hence, the cool-down based on steps)
    Also, the forage skill is the cheapest in the game only costing 1 MP to use. Meaning even if you've lost 5 MaxMP, this mechanic is somewhat forgiving (at least that's the idea)

    I'm also hoping this creates an interesting choice for the player, but i guess we wont know till i put out a demo
     
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  4. rpgdreamer

    rpgdreamer His Royal Highness Veteran

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    How many children does the mother have? Is that what you're basing the numbers for how much she finds on? Also, how does she regain MP? Is the only way to through foraging because it seems like this is an easy way to lose a lot of MP. Of course, I'm not sure how much she has to start off with/what the max is. Also, what is the potential amount she could find, and how much can she travel? It's a little hard to give an option since I don't know all the variables, BUT!

    With that being said, I think overall the foraging system seems very unique and a great idea. I feel like it would really enhance the gameplay of it, considering the plot. With the info I currently know, the way the MP regain is seems too unforgiving, but yes, that would also be something I'd like to see in gameplay.
     
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  5. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    she has two children
    I was thinking MP would go to its current max after each segment of the game. Or maybe leftover food could carry over, and the player starts with a decent amount? I don't know. I'm kinda at a loss for how to make it less unforgiving besides the forage skill. Without that, i assume it would be brutal. I'm also implementing multiple ways to solve puzzles/advance through stages so the player can adapt
    I'll figure it out

    maybe 7-8 should increase the max by 1
    and 9 and up by 2?
    with the rest being the same

    I was also thinking they find different items along the way that help them kinda like Zelda. I
     
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  6. rpgdreamer

    rpgdreamer His Royal Highness Veteran

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    I think that would make it less difficult, yeah! But it would have to be put into practice to truly see, but I think starting with that would be good. Also, finding items along the way would be both helpful and interesting.
     
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  7. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    Good. I hate implementing/using punishing mechanics. Though in this particular instance It helps to give narrative. So, I'll try to make it forgiving as well
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    One way to make it more forgiving would be to scale the rewards (or even the needs) based on your current Max MP. This would simulate how if you go on a barebones diet for years, eventually you get used to it and it the amount that you are further disabled by each subsequent day of deprivation is less and less. (Similarly, life-threatening gastric distension aside, a few days of good food can restore a lot of your vigor, even if you were near death via deprivation.) More importantly, this would also provide a helpful rubberband to get players out of a death spiral/vicious cycle that they didn't see coming.

    So maybe if you're at like 3 Max MP, you will only lose a maximum of one MMP for complete starvation, you only need to find 2 plants to maintain your current (low) MMP, and if you find 5 or more you'll get the Increase for the day (perhaps an additional point to +2 MMP if you find 9 or more).

    You could also have a few events or findables or buyables be full meals that are offered to the family, which would give you an automatic "ate well" for that day.
     
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  9. byronclaude

    byronclaude Master of all things... (except the things I am no Veteran

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    I love anything that involves something new or unusual in the world of game mechanics. I think the foraging skill is an interesting idea worthy of trying.

    For anything innovative... I recommend small-scale beta-testing. Have others sample the mechanics of game play and pay close attention to feedback. If the game play is enjoyable to the testers, then you are on to something great! If it is somehow not enjoyable to the testers, determine the reason why, and rather or not it can be modified to eliminate the problem while preserving the initial idea.
     
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  10. Basileus

    Basileus Veteran Veteran

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    So I hate to be "That Guy" but...this isn't a new or unusual mechanic. In fact, it's actually very common in game mods and Open World games so I highly recommend you check some of those out before you commit to implementing this. Off the top of my head:

    • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a gigantic modding community that loves to add challenge to exploring the vast world of Skyrim by adding basic needs and things for the player to keep track of. I'm not kidding, there are dozens of mods from comprehensive gameplay overhauls to one-off scripts. The biggest two mods are "Frostfall" and "Realistic Needs and Diseases". Since Skyrim is a cold Northern land, "Frostfall" added a hypothermia system that centers on an "cold" gauge and a "wet" gauge that fill up as the player wanders the frozen wilderness which can be slowed by wearing cloaks and warm clothes or reversed by sitting next to fires and other sources of heat. Getting caught in rain without taking shelter will increase your exposure which makes you freeze to death faster, and getting caught in a blizzard is almost certain death if you don't take precautions. For all other basic needs, "Realistic Needs and Diseases" is the go-to mod. It adds hunger, thirst, and sleep systems with small buffs for staying on top of needs by drinking regularly, having a couple meals, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep a day with debuffs that go from small to severe if you keep ignoring one of more of your needs. Each need affects different attributes, so each need you neglect carries a different impairment. It also edits the food in the game to create a food spoilage system where food you might find is old crypts is likely rotten or stale and food you carry too long without eating goes bad. Going along with this is the modified disease system where you can get sick from eating stale food or drinking unclean water, with disease symptoms getting much worse if left untreated or if you neglect your needs while sick. There are also many other mods that handle the same features in different ways with very different balance and gameplay and some mods that add different needs altogether - including one that makes bathing necessary while adding buffs for staying clean and debuffs for poor hygiene.
    • Fallout New Vegas has a survival-focused "hardcore" mode that changes many aspects of the game to create basic needs and alter parts of the game to be more realistic. I'm not sure of all of the details but it generally makes the instant-heal Stimpacks much rarer and requires you to consume food and drinks to stay healthy. Being a post-nuclear-war setting, much of the food you find laying in abandoned houses in the wasteland is radioactive, so you also need to manage how much radiation you are taking to avoid radiation poisoning. Overall, it means it is much more important to stock up on essential items while you can to be prepared and much harder to just instantly recover if you take a lot of damage because you weren't prepared.
    • Minecraft added some survival features during the Adventure Update a while back which added a hunger meter. If you didn't have reliable sources of food and only ate occasionally, the bar would stay around the middle and nothing would happen. If you had a good source of food to eat regularly, the bar would stay topped up and you would recover health over time any time you weren't at full health. If you couldn't get food to eat, the bar would be depleted and you would start losing health which would either leave you at 1 health or outright kill you depending on your settings.
    • Don't Starve and other survival games also have their own systems for needs-based gameplay and various rewards and penalties to go with it. There are literally dozens of games like this, mostly open world survival games, that you can find on Steam.

    This really isn't something I can recommend lightly. There are some really stellar games with engaging hunger/needs systems and a heck of a lot of games with poorly implemented ones. If you intend your hunger system to be a focal point of your storytelling, then you absolutely 100% need an engaging and fun way for the player to interact with this system. You aren't writing a book, you are making a game. That means the player needs to have an active role in things. If you just hand out food for doing gameplay-related tasks then the system might as well not exist, but if the means to acquire food require the player to pause what they want to do (or which they feel they need to do) then the entire system just feels like a chore. If the player is constantly a bit hungry but not starving then it becomes boring, but if the player constantly alternates between feast and famine then it becomes aggravating.

    There is no sure-fire formula or balance for this. It's done a lot, but fails more often than it succeeds. I highly recommend looking into some of the games I mentioned, maybe watch a few Let's Plays to see how the mechanics play out. Figure out of this is something you can do with fun and interactive gameplay before committing to it too much.
     
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