What do you do to keep your gameplay fresh and reduce repetition?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by SpicyNoodleStudios, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    Okay so what I've gathered from all the comments so far is, and correct me if I'm misunderstanding;

    -Let players have choices.
    -Fun repetition is okay.
    -Add some cool random events to make it less repetitive.
    -Have unexpected things.
    -Have new things you can unlock as you progress.
    -Make things rewarding.
    -Make sure none of the options are fake, or that they really do stuff and aren't there just to be there.
    -Let players have control! Let them choose and dictate things!
     
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  2. Sunjean

    Sunjean Veteran Veteran

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    Random loot and pure luck can be ok, but I loved the loot system in Everquest.
    We could kill for hours at the same camp just to get that special weapon/armor/augment I wanted. Since most bosses had a fixed loot you could plan ahead. I remember a boss-camp we (my partner and myself - and all our alts) killed for hours each day for many weeks to get all the augments we wanted. It felt like an accomplishment for every augment we got, so all the hours spent were worth it. :)
     
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  3. Baggie

    Baggie Someone Veteran

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    One thing that works is making almost everything interactable. Like with my game, I'm making so you can pretty much interact with anything and get either an interesting side story or a quirky remark from whatever you're interacting with be it a light pole, a tree, or a random sign.

    Another thing that works is switching up the battle music for different characters that lead your party. What I'm doing is I have a "leitmotif" melody that's like the "Default Battle Theme" but depending on which character is leading the party, that battle theme will either sound more intense or more easygoing.
     
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  4. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    @Sunjean Was it still chance based loot? I mean, like a 10% chance to drop, etc?

    @Rockenberg That's what I like too. Outside of combat, my game is built around investigating and interacting with stuff. Not only can you interact with everything, but you can use topics and actions (I'm not sure if I will use many "actions" in this game, but I was adding them into a previous one) plus key items to interact with basically any object. (not supposed to get too in depth in any one feature in this sub forum though)

    switching music based on characters is a smart idea. That's super interesting. My game only features one playable character but I'd love to see how that's working out in your game!
     
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  5. Baggie

    Baggie Someone Veteran

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    @SpicyNoodleStudios

    Oh, if you decide to do the music thing with just one person, you could make it where different places have different remixes of the same battle theme? I personally LOVE when games have different renditions of the same battle theme!
     
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  6. Sunjean

    Sunjean Veteran Veteran

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    Yes, it was. The Augment we camped for, was a rare drop that only dropped from that named monster.
    He dropped a lot of other stuff too, but the Augment was his best loot.
     
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  7. SpicyNoodleStudios

    SpicyNoodleStudios Aspiring Vigilante Veteran

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    I am changing the battle music based on where the battles take place, but they aren't different renditions of the same song. I've never thought of doing that at all before, honestly. That's super cool.

    Would it have been as fun without your friends? I mean, would it have been fun -at all- without your friends?
     
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  8. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    At some point, all gameplay becomes repetitive. There's little way to avoid that. Only minor ways to alleviate it. You can alleviate it by allowing the player options. Or, content.

    As for what I do personally? I don't know. Quite a lot, I guess? The post would be very massive if I went into detail, so I'll give you the basics.
    1. Players don't gain power from leveling up, they unlock map features and shortcuts. This prompts players to go exploring to figure out what they unlocked after gaining a level.
    2. Players distribute their stats through items they are awarded for every Quest they complete. This prompts players to explore the world to find Quests and then stick around to complete them. Many of the Quests have multiple solutions and the stats awarded tend to fall in line with the solution the player goes with.
    3. Equipment is varied wildly. Each "type" of weapon has a specific stat distribution as well as usually special abilities or skills associated with it. The weapons are a "playstyle" you adopt for each character. Synergy with the way you play and what equipment you use allows you to become overpowered.
    4. Players are allowed to "level up" their Skills into one of two ways. This leads to each skill having 1 of 4 end-states, hopefully tailored precisely to what the player wanted. The choices are currently irreversible, but I had thought to include a point in the late game where the player could make the choices again by completing a non-repeatable quest.
    5. Skills are widely varied and don't "tread the same ground" very often. Each skill has a unique use and some planned "synergy" usage with other characters and their skills. For example, there is a skill that deals a lot of damage with the less HP you have. There is also a skill that removes most of your HP in exchange for making you "Immune to Death". Combine the skills and you can do maximum amount of damage with the first skill and then heal up before you die.
    6. Combat revolves around gimmicks and tricks. I am also not afraid to give my players a "game over" as necessary. I may let them get away with some tricks for a while, but then I'll shut them down for a bit, and then allow them again sparingly. Likewise, my "bosses" retaliate to "obvious weaknesses" being used against them by doing unique things in combat which put the player on the "back foot", but does not necessarily result in a Game Over unless they were already doing poorly. You can continue to exploit the "obvious weakness" since it deals the most damage, but you'll have to have a way to counter the reaction.
    7. Player choice matters. There are Story Choices, World Choices, Quest Choices, and Personal Choices. Each denotes the level of change you bring to the world. Story choices only affect the story, World choices affect the world in a major way, quest choices affect the Quest and anything linked to that Quest, and Personal Choices only affect one or two characters. The Main Story, itself, actually branches off and is different based on the choices you make in it. Granted, it all comes back to a single point at the end, but that single point is carried out far differently depending on choices made as you moved along. One player may have their personal story branch off where they were on the run with their family for a while before founding a revolution. Another player may have had their family destroyed in front of their very own eyes and become an insurgent against the people that killed their family, playing along and acting a spy while slowly whittling down the ranks. But, no choice is an "ultimate good" or "ultimate evil". Even the good choices have really terrible unintended consequences. Even the bad choices have really altruistic outcomes as a result of doing terrible things. Each player will have their own story to tell about their experience. There will be very little, "So, did you get to the part where X does Y yet?".
    8. Collectibles exist in the game and actually add value to the exploration and grant indirect power to the player.
    9. "Relics". Relics are items that work like "Traits" from Fallout 1 and 2. You get a really great benefit, and it's weighted against a downside. It is in figuring out how to best use these equippable "Relics" that allows the player to exploit them and make them overpowered.
    10. A dual storyline. There's the story of the past being told and the story of the present being told. The interact and mingle together, but they service two separate stories and two separate revelations. Hopefully, the story is interesting enough to keep players wanting to not just know more about the world, but the characters involved.
    ---
    There's probably a lot more, but that's what I got off the top of my head, in as "bare bones" fashion as I can muster. Most of it just creates a very large "gameplay loop" to keep the player engaging as often as possible.
     
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  9. velan235

    velan235 Veteran Veteran

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    Convenience.

    sometimes the difference is just as that, can you provide convenience to the player while playing the game? it could be considered as "cheat" button, but a well deisgned convenience gonna glue the player harder to the game.

    for me, it's not always about extra super new mechanics, but rather how could I enjoy even a standard game mechanics.

    sometimes repetition can't be avoided, but convenience could make the repetition feels okay

    some example of modern RPG did:

    - map combat command to controller button instead of scroll-down menu in Persona 5
    - add turbo/fast forward in combat (FF port, some new RPG)
    - add counter to how many treasure available in the map (DQ11 erik nose for treasure)
    - temporarily null random combat (Pokemon Repel)
    - add 1 button to fast access useful command (DQ11S, but can be upgraded further for more convenience)
    - fast travel

    for more, let's say making Repel from pokemon accessable from single button (ie. L or R button) instead of opening bag and scroll down to use Repel. it's a small change, but makes exploration feels 10x better, because I think lots of people just got tired to open bag every 100 steps.

    it doesn't change the game design or the repetition, but with this, repetition feels more okay than a chore
     
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  10. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    I've never understood this mentality. While I agree it is difficult if not impossible to have all builds be close in power, there should at least be an attempt made to make sure your planned builds can get through the game. I absolutely hate when a game presents bad choices! Unless you mean, like, they are being really dumb. Like, imagine they spec everything into 2-handers but they're walking around with a sword and board. I always say that there is a limit to just how stupid you can let players be before you just have to give up on them.

    Even then I'd say that 99% is a massive overestimation. Like, half the players of any given game don't even read the tooltips. They're definitely not gonna go out of their way to look up a guide.

    So, a lot of people have said "just make your game fun!" Which is great and all, it's a bit on the nose. Like, I don't think any dev says to themselves "I think the combat should be not fun." I have a few thoughts then on how to try to make sure you core gameplay loop stays fun.

    - The carrot on a stick: the player should always have something to look forward to on the horizon, and they should be aware of that thing (at least vaguely). This should be applied to every aspect of the game. Whether it's an exciting tidbit of the story they are working towards, a big chest at the end of a dungeon, a new skill that will unlock soon, a big monster off in the distance to chase after, etc. If you just dump them in a giant zone with a million enemies and tasks with no clear reward, it's a big challenge to their attention span you are throwing at them.

    - Fatigue. As referenced at the end of the previous point, this is somewhat different. You can have the most engaging content in the world, but you have to be aware of how intense your combat is, and how much of it, too. It's best to break sections of combat up with other distractions. Whether it's mini-games or plot or managing your bags, you want the player to feel like they're getting a meal, and not just gorging on one thing.

    - Cadence and rhythm. The previous two points can be summed up by this. You give the player steady progression and structure, and then you disrupt that with something that changes the game. Plot twists, drastically different zones, new characters, new toolsets being introduced, etc. As soon as the player feels they are settling in, you put in new ripples so they aren't allowed to auto-pilot.
     
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  11. FleshToDust

    FleshToDust Pixel Beginnings Veteran

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    Playing a bad build could be seen as hard mode. Put some skill points into cooking to make your time a bit more challenging. With enough level ups even a bad build should beat the game.
     
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  12. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I'm probably one of the few people in the world who isn't bothered by a "bad build". I've often created a dozen characters with stat configurations and put a dozen or more hours into a game discovering what I should've done with my stats to make the game easier... and then doing just that with a new character.

    I mean... I guess it sucks to have to distribute stats without any indication of what you'll need or how they work... But... part of the fun of a game is the exploration of how you can use what you've got.

    At least... to me it is.

    For me, if a stat or build turns out to be absolutely worthless, I just start over with the new knowledge and create an even stronger character.
     
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  13. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    The problem I find is that as an adult I have limited time, but I have greater disposable income. What this means is I am, unfortunately, more likely to be impatient with a game than when I was a kid; the feeling of wasting my time is incredibly irksome.

    I tried out Dark Souls, and the first build I went for was being a dagger backstab guy. It quickly dawned on me that bosses (at least the very large ones) can't be backstabbed. This just annoyed me. Further research also revealed that their community sneers at people that use magic. Why have choices if I should only go with one choice?

    But Diablo 2 back in the day? Sure, I made a couple druids and tried to get them into Hell difficulty. It sucked beyond belief but it was a fun experiment.

    Now- as a dev- I can't fathom putting in the work to design and implement a bunch of stuff that not only sucks, but will possibly aggravate and drive away players. Why would I work at pissing off my customers? It seems like the only reasoning would be laziness/ran out of time (a hobbyist shouldn't really use the latter reason) or some kind of sadism. Oh yeah. There's also bias. It's really weird when dev's favor one character or build over others.
     
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  14. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I have very limited time as an adult as well, and almost no desire to play video games anymore. Yet, I still enjoy the act of learning how the game works through creating multiple builds in order to let me do better at the game.

    in Fallout 3, I did 3 full runs of the game. I wanted all the achievements, and for me, it was just easier to do one run for each "morality" achievement (good, neutral, evil). My first run was woefully terrible. My stats were terrible by the end, I had a handful of good perks, I struggled in combat, and just shot for trying to get the most achievements on that run that I could. My second run went much better. I decided to specialize in shotgun combat (rather than plasma guns as I did with my first run) and managed to get all my stats fairly high, hit max level fairly quickly, pick much better perks, and didn't really struggle at all. My third run of the game, I went "full Melee" build. I used a Shishkebob (flaming sword) and a Deathclaw Gauntlet (giant clawed hand). I was stupidly broken by the end of the game. I had every single stat maxed out (base stats and skill stats). I was murdering the roughest enemies in the game at level 10 with ease and utter impunity, I knew the solutions to every quest to get the outcomes I wanted (this was my evil run), but still remain on good terms with people, and had a blast doing it.

    I did the same for Fallout New Vegas.

    I used the first few runs to learn more about the game. What is useful? What isn't? Can I make something useful that doesn't appear to be? My final run of the game was as "overpowered melee guy" who had maxed out everything and could one to three shot kill everything in the game. With New Vegas having a "super ultra mega high difficulty" to complete as well, even that was an absolute pushover after all I'd learned about the game.

    I'm currently playing "The Outer Worlds" and I'll likely be doing the exact same thing again. Three separate runs to learn as much about the game as possible and to be as overpowered as possible by the third run.
     
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  15. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    A game that requires you to learn its mechanics and minutia is a good game. But I think there's a difference between learning and having to parse through bad choices. I tried to make a stealth melee character in Fallout 3, but discovered stealth didn't seem to work properly. I also made such a character in Oblivion (same engine, same dev) and it seemed to be just fine. I don't see how that's fun. It's like that scene in UHF where the lady chooses the mystery box and it has nothing inside so the host yells "You're so stupid!" at her. That's the feeling I get.

    But here's a not-so-secret trick a lot of triple A dev's use: they design the game to be completable with ZERO talents/upgrades. That way, any build or character is able to reasonably complete the game. Although this usually means the game will be quite easy or bland.

    What I think is supposed to be fun about builds is having things be OP in different ways. Back to Diablo 2, I had a blast playing as a Javazon, spamming the entire screen with hundreds of javelins. And I also had fun as a Revive Necromancer, filling the screen with NPC's and slowly rolling over the bad guys. Hammerdin? Ridiculous damage in an whirlpool of magic hammers that ignore most damage resistances/immunities. Druids, on the other hand can either be a crappy mage, a crappy necromancer, or a crappy barbarian. No thanks.

    Builds should be about encouraging experimentation and trying things with another method. Having bad builds is not encouraging. You can also create enough variety that people can go out of their way to find bad builds. Like this one time in World of Warcraft I created a "ranged" DPS Paladin revolving around Exorcism and Judgement. It... was not good. :guffaw:
     
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  16. FleshToDust

    FleshToDust Pixel Beginnings Veteran

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    Some people take the approach of

    bad build = normal mode, good build = easy mode

    I prefer bad build = hard mode, good build = normal mode

    I've no problem with a game being impossible if you're using a goofy build or spreading yourself too thin and don't put enough points into an offensive skill to do well. That'll be on you and you'll realize you're not focused enough, restart and do better. Meta builds of course will be easy mode. That could be a reward for mastering(or breaking) the game.

    Some people will disagree with that and preach about being player friendly but I don't get my jollies off playing easy games. I want to earn those end credits.

    If a bad build is normal mode then it's impossible to have a hard mode. The goal could be to strip yourself down as far as possible and still beat the game. Reminds me of those level 1 dark souls runs people do.
     
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