Finding items in barrels, urns, crates etc.

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by jonthefox, Mar 28, 2016.

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  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    So, a lot of games have this age-old trope where you walk into a house or a basement or wherever, and there's like a stack of 6 barrels or jars or whatever, and if you use the action button on them you either nothing happens or you get a "you search inside but nothing is there" for most of them, but one or two of them you'll get "you found a potion!" or whatever.    I'm sure you all know what mechanic I'm talking about.  What I'd like to bring to discussion is:  is this good game design?


    The obvious pro is:   it gives a sense of immersion and exploration.   The obvious con is:  it is very tedious to just click barrel by barrel because occasionally you find something, and it's basically rewarding the player for nothing more than a laborious, exhaustive click-fest.   


    Like many issues of game design, I'm sure there will be some people who enjoy this kind of thing in games, and others who don't.  But I'm curious whether people think this kind of thing is good or bad game design, and why.  
     
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  2. Balako

    Balako PattyCake assosiation Veteran

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    i enjoyed this system in dragon quest series, where they hid the tiny medals though...it was like a nice bonus to have.


    other than that i really dont mind having it or not.....unless it the type that becomes slightly annoying where you find potions that heal 50hp when you are lv90 and have 9000 hp
     
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  3. Clovejar

    Clovejar Veteran Veteran

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    Woah this is a great question.


    Personally I love this kind of exploratory gameplay BUT only if there is a lot of unique, immersive optional text as well as the "nothing happens" results. (By immersive text, I mean something more descriptive than "nothing is there". Good example* out of mad father: "I'm too scared to look" when you try to investigate a bloody bag, because it helps the characterisation as well as adding to the atmosphere.


    Reading well-written optional text to me is a reward in and of itself - it's a great way to add depth and detail to the game world while the player is making progress.


    (*On the other hand, a bad example of barrel-clicking imo might be in 'the crooked man'. Every time you looked at something, all it would say was "A chair." "A bed." "Medical equipment." Or something like that, if there was any text at all. And it was sooo boring.)
     
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  4. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    I am using this, but when there is nothing, I usually won't set up the text. 
    Either sth happens (once) or nothing happens.

    What also can be included, are Easter Eggs.


    Overall I think, if set up right, it makes the game quality alot better.


    But not only, so  there is sth. There should be put some thoughts in these.
     
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  5. Phonantiphon

    Phonantiphon Veteran Veteran

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    I think it's a great idea, but I think that what the character finds should be contextual and relevant.


    Why would you find a health potion in the cellar of an inn, in a barrel? It's the same as finding daggers and armor on rats and assorted livestock.


    I'm using a version of "clicking on stuff", in part I actually tell the player that there is something there anyway - because there is a reason for it, and also the character might find something lying around. It certainly wouldn't be "Oh look i've just found 19 health potions under the bed in the spare room of this house I've randomly walked into..."(!)
     
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  6. Balako

    Balako PattyCake assosiation Veteran

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    or sword of eternal shadow vanquishing that 1 hits last boss in a fish barrel ...*legendary equipment or strong ones in stupid places...ergh....*
     
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  7. Pine Towers

    Pine Towers Knight Hospitaller Veteran

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    Never liked the "enter NPC house and break his clay pots for Ruppees while he is still inside". Or searching the house of a NPC like the police with a warrant. Even entering the house without being a guest!
     
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  8. Azurecyan

    Azurecyan Veteran Veteran

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    lol there should be a game where all the houses are locked, but if you befriend the house owner, you can go into their house. Or if you find the house key(or some magical master key) you can enter at the risk of being called an intruder.\


    I think finding collectibles in breakable objects is an incentive. Maybe these collectibles can be used for something in a mini-game or some sort of sidequest. Plenty of games have you finding odd items that when you collect a certain number, you can bring it somewhere for either as currency, a sidequest, or a boss battle. 
     
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  9. wintyrbarnes

    wintyrbarnes Jack of a Few Trades Veteran

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    Well, I have the achievement for "looking inside x many trash cans even though I know nothing will be in there" in Pokemon, so. I think bonus things or small useful extras should be hidden in those kinds of places. Unless the game is exploration-and-interaction based, there shouldn't be key objects hidden in random boxes in random houses a player might never even enter. There will always be players who don't look in anything that isn't a treasure chest, and there will always be players who attempt to interact with every last object that's reachable. So my goal is to reward both players, so the former player doesn't have to backtrack to find the last puzzle piece in a cabin they didn't even know they could enter, and so the latter player gets small rewards for their curiosity (but nothing game-breaking; just easter eggs and the occasional potion). It's a great way to give depth to the setting without making everyone slog through 20 pages of exposition. Players who are interested in that kind of stuff will seek it out; players who aren't interested will ignore that stuff and not suffer for it.


    As for easter eggs... I'm fond of putting a Master Ball in one trash can in my games, generally with flavor text like "Too bad this is the wrong game." 
     
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  10. Reedo

    Reedo Coder Veteran

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    I believe the allure behind, and key to, any successful RPG Maker game comes in staying true to the "classic RPG" experience that RM was designed to create.  When games attempt to go too far outside of that intended realm, through fancy scripts and art updates, then end result, while feature-rich, often winds up feeling like a poor version of some better game.


    So in staying true to the classic RPG experience, clicking on every random clickable thing because it might have something in it, or something entertaining to read, is essential.  I want a game that makes me figure out how to reach that obscure corner of the map for no other reason than because I see a vase there that might have something in it.  :D


    In my game, everything that could contain something is clickable.  There's a lot of standard "you search and find nothing" text, but then there's also the search-specific text to add flavor to more interesting situations (like the bloody bag example given by another poster).


    Actually I just had a thought... a simple script to randomly select "you found nothing" messages from a list... that would add variety to common failures.  You could even have some counters to get entertaining messages every so often after repeated failures... hmm... I think I will have to add this to my Simple Plugins collection...
     
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  11. kurt91

    kurt91 Veteran Veteran

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    I agree with everybody else in that you need to have special text instead of a generic "You Found Nothing". You don't even have to go all-out with it, either. You check a bookshelf in a library, you get something like "It's full of children's books with bright pictures. Too bad you outgrew these years ago...", while a bookshelf in a mage's home might mention that it's reference material on magical ores or the philosophy regarding specific spells or schools of magic.


    Otherwise, you should make a visual hint on what objects contain items. A subtle sparkle like in Chrono Trigger or something. Hell, it doesn't even have to stand out as much as the one in Chrono Trigger, it can be as faint as you want as long as it's visable. You could even do a bit of both, and have it so that every bookshelf doesn't have hidden items or flavor text, while observant players can notice that the ones that do all have a single purple book among the contents.
     
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  12. Eurgh

    Eurgh Lord of the Reapers Veteran

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    In my game you're only really allowed in the houses of your home town and shops. There is a moment in one woman's house where she basically catches you and tells you to leave and you have to come back at night and break in if you want to come in.
     
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  13. Emberstorm

    Emberstorm Resource Staff Restaff

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    Gameplay wise it's usually used to help with
    a. Drip feed the player recovery items so they don't always have to go back to town to relieve status effects, or heal up.
    b. Make the players feel like they are achieving something for exploring. If you have basements or some off paths in dungeons, it makes your world feel more open, and even if they only get a potion or some items, they will generally feel like the detour was worthwhile.

    Of course, games reuse this feature without making it anything other then "press enter or click to be rewarded". Instead of barrels and boxes, I'd like to see more interesting hidden objects.
     
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  14. sabao

    sabao Veteran Veteran

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    Has anyone here played the first Wild ARMs for PSX? Barrels do or say absolutely nothing unless there's an item in them. They wouldn't have registered as conspicuous at all if players never bothered checking (at least until you get the Radar tool). Spreading these around your game provides low-impact rewards (curatives, small amounts of gold) and encourages immersive play as many have already said. Players that don't want to do it don't have to, but they are beneficial at very low cost for the developer.


    Also, the problem with hiding only rare items in inconspicuous spaces is that you only have very few opportunities to do this-- apart from NPCs or something like that leaving a possible trail leading to these things, you're not really conditioning your players to be thorough. Finding that rare tome that adds +30 INT in a bookshelf in town #5 would not have registered at all for a player when nothing in the game so far has taught him the possibility existed. I would've given up hitting 'confirm' on inanimate objects long before that if nothing that I've encountered early on told me that the possibility of these things happening existed.
     
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  15. captainproton

    captainproton Dangerously Nifty Veteran

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    For most items lying about, I use a sparkle animation to indicate there's herbs or alchemy minerals or whatever there.  Drawers and cabinets always have something there, even if it's "lots of colored yarn, all neatly balled," "an abandoned spiderweb," or "a small, battered novel entitled Paladin's Passion."


    Now I'm trying to get a working respawn system for foraging herbs or collecting spring water.
     
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  16. Emberstorm

    Emberstorm Resource Staff Restaff

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    That's a great idea for most games. That way players who want to read the lore, and indulge in their environment can check every drawer and cabinet. However the players who only want to check for loot, can identify items of interest by the sparkle.
     
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  17. captainproton

    captainproton Dangerously Nifty Veteran

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    Also, someone (and I want to say it was @Candacis, though I could be wrong) took the cabinet/drawer tiles from the RTP and turned them into chest sprites.  In an early cutscene, you could have someone opening a cabinet, with the animation, thus establishing loot can be found in cabinets, like chests.  


    And it's a good idea to make sure that the items are in a logical location.  Like, you probably wouldn't find magic potions in crates at inns.  But, guests might leave loose change or clothing-type equipment behind.
     
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  18. Menos

    Menos Veteran Veteran

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    One factor that impacts whether this is good or bad game design is your intended pacing for the game. If you offer rewards for searching everything, many players will, and this will slow down how quickly they move through towns. Too much of this is obviously bad, but I think you can also go with too little. I find one of the strengths of RPGs is the diversity of gameplay elements within one game: exploration provides a break from battles that can make them more enjoyable.
     
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  19. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    that is a really great point.  
     
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  20. Ghost of Christmas Kloe

    Ghost of Christmas Kloe Ghost of a Princess Seagull Veteran

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    I think if you can balance decent healing items, gold, and crafting stuff(if that's a mechanic) with flavour text then it'd be really cool. Also if your flavour text is good, for example The Legend of Heroes: Tales in the Sky had a really cool mechanic where chests had hilarious lines when empty and you tried to re-loot em. I think if you have a bunch of chests, this sort of humor or decent items can be got from them, it won't be boring.
     
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