What mini-games would you like to play?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Kupotepo, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    Whatever you come up with, it should compliment core gameplay. Use the battle engine. Remember the Fairy Battles from Final Fantasy IX? You could come up with something similar.
     
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  2. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    It may be a bit out of line to say this, but that's kind of one of the reasons I respect you. I tend to enjoy your lengthy walls of text on subjects even if they're wildly different viewpoints than my own. While I find it difficult to dispute your points of view most of the time, I find the input pretty valuable despite disagreeing. It is very obvious we're from two different schools of thought on most every single game we've played and every single Game Mechanic we've engaged with. I guess that makes it fun for me to an extent, reading your posts.

    As for a game where mini-games are the core of the gameplay... I don't think that's a bad thing. It's the core of your gameplay, after all. It isn't this weird tumor that's growing on an otherwise good game. It's the meat and potatoes of the existing game. I love Mario Party. Well, until they started removing the "Board Game" aspect of the game in favor of absolutely stupid gameplay mechanics like, "everyone shares the same space" and "you just go to the end of the board instead going around it". Rather than do something interesting and innovate the game, they essentially turned Monopoly into Chutes and Ladders. But, I digress. There is nothing wrong inherently with Mini-Games. At least, not to the extent that they're universally terrible.

    My main problem tends to stem from devs who insert this "game on top of another game" in order to make up for the shortcomings of their original game. I'm skipping ahead a little to talk about the ennui you mentioned at the end... But, that right there is the reason I think that mini-games shouldn't be put into other games where it's not a core mechanic. If you have a 50 hour game and the only way you have to make it "tolerable" or to keep the player engaged is to slap a Mini-game into it... I think that's poor design. Just shorten your game, cut the fat. Get rid of all the nonsense that lengthens your game and is uninteresting.

    But, my opinion on that largely stems from the way I've engaged with any media. I've plowed through 1200 page Steven King novels in 48 hours because I was engaged the whole time. I've also spent weeks upon weeks trying to finish a 300 page book because I was disengaged for most of it (I'm looking at you, most of what was in our Accelerated Reader classes in school!). I've done the same with a TV Series (lots of people do this, it's probably why Binge Watching exists, that massive amount of engagement) before as well. I've had that experience with games even. There is a level of engagement to be had that keeps the player enjoying your 50-100 hour game. For me, when the game leaves that core gameplay to throw a mini-game at me... That's the moment I begin tuning out. Not because of my dislike for Mini-Games, but because the quality of the game tends to make itself known around that point.

    Let me touch on Fallout New Vegas because it's sort of personal for me. You have the "gambling" mini-games and the "Caravan" card games. I found these aspects to be the weakest part of the gameplay of that RPG (aside from the abysmal level design and Quest design). If there had not been achievements for playing these mini-games, I would have not engaged with them at all. I doubt many players would have. I have no idea why these mini-games even exist except as extra padding in the game world. Caravan is poorly explained to the player, so most people look up a guide to even engage with it, and once they understand it, the card game is so easily cheesed that it makes the player wonder why NPC's aren't stronger than they are and win more often with the same basic strategies any player will pick up (like loading your deck with face cards for easy wins). This actually HURTS the core experience of the game by breaking Immersion. The games you can play at the Casinos are no different. If you have a high enough "Luck" stat, you easily win everything. Well, the game has been telling us all the way up to this point that essentially the Casinos cheat everyone, and anyone who goes to New Vegas to gamble inevitably loses everything they arrived with, due to how lopsided the gambling is. But, you show up with 10 Luck and you clean the Casinos out and they kick you out to keep you from playing. Why am I the only one kicked out? Are you telling me that nobody is as lucky as I am? What kind of sense does that make? I'm so lucky that New Vegas can't even cheat me like it's designed to do. More immersion breaking and it's tacked on for the sake of "Oh, you can go to New Vegas, so there must be gambling, right?". A problem they could've avoided had they chose any other setting in the United States except the capital of Gambling.

    You run into that a fair bit with games that tack on Mini-Games. Just these crazy Immersion Breaking experiences. Experiences that detract from the original concept of the game.

    We are such opposites that the things you're praising as "done well" in these two games, I had the opposite impression of. I absolutely hated how long and drawn out the "Midgar" section of FF7 was, to the point that only once did I ever leave there and continue the game. Of the 30+ attempts I made at playing the game, I had one where I just powered through to leave that area since people kept telling me, "the game gets better! It gets better!". I then ran into stuff like the Golden Saucer, and random mini-games along the way thrown in (like dressing Cloud up like a woman to seduce a guy. While I found the payoff to be pretty funny, I found the act of getting to that payoff tedious and boring).

    The aspects of Banjo Kazooie you found fun were some of the low points of that game for me, ha ha. I hated the Sprout Eating as it was all luck, very little skill, and ate up too much time in a Main Quest that was otherwise paced VERY well. Lots of the mini-games in BK had that problem, actually. I actually don't remember the race on the slide... But, that's probably been replaced with the 12 times I had to do that in Super Mario 64 and got bored of it there. I also hated the Gruntilda Board Game. It had this knack of slowing the action of the game to a crawl in order to inject tedium. I kept thinking, "I have about 100 Skills I've acquired in the game that I could use here and avoid every single one of these freakin' tiles and their consequences, but the game is forcing me to engage with them because they decided that THIS would be fun instead of a climactic boss fight or final level where Gruntilda harasses you every step of the way until you get to her. When I bought the game again on Xbox Live, I ended up just grabbing a Guide to complete it, as I really hated it and didn't want to play it.

    I can't relate to your example since the only God of War I ever played was 2 and I found every aspect of its gameplay quite tedious. I suspect the game wasn't designed for a person like me and is why I didn't enjoy any of it. So, I can't really comment on it except to say that I found normal "Beat 'Em Ups" to be more engaging to me (like Final Fight or Champions of Norrath, or Baulder's Gate) than what God of War was. I actually found "Gauntlet" to be more engaging than God of War. But, I suspect this lies simply with my taste in games and not that it's designed poorly. For me, the game felt like, "When does something actually happen?" when I did play it and "when does something I do as a player actually matter to the gameplay itself?". I kept having these problems, so I ended up just dropping the game entirely and never picking up another entry. I guess I just never felt like I had any Agency in the game, so it turned me off.

    However, I do agree that you can't just have the constant tension. You find this in storytelling quite a lot. Something really exciting happens, and then you have a "lull" to let the audience recover. However, you cannot interrupt your "Rising Action" in order to put that lull in your game, or you end up "ruining the pacing". I'll try to describe my problem with Mini-Game insertion in this context, as I think it's important. I think a "Mini-Game" counts as "Rising Action". It is rarely a "break from the tension", it is more often "a new source of tension". Thus, slapping them into your game creates a point of tension where you otherwise wouldn't have one, and destroys your pacing. I just beat this terrible and horrible boss, I get some down time! Let me go play a mini-game where the tension is still quite high because there are rewards for playing it and losing feels bad, especially if whether I win or lose is mostly out of my control. It's out of place. It's why games that don't have combat often resort to mini-games or puzzles instead. Because they ramp up tension. Devs are trying to use them to "relax the player", when that is not what they do. They force the player to run a second marathon after the first. If you want to give me "down time" after something exciting, let me go exploring or interacting with NPC's, or engaging in some character building. Don't slap a mini-game in there and expect me to feel good about it. The only way I'll "relax" at that point is to simply ignore it exists, because once I've engaged with it, I'm back into the "Rising Action", except in a different way that destroys the pacing of the storyline in the game.

    I'd also like to step off on a different point here. I don't think a game can "be too long" unless a game dev has simply run out of Quality Work. I'll try to explain. Halo: Combat Evolved, when it was released, contained three core concepts behind it. "30 Seconds of Fun", "Combat Tripod of Shooting, Melee, and Grenades", and "Tell an Engaging Story to keep a player invested after the end of each level". Every combat in the game was meant to last roughly 30 seconds and offer 3 options you could mix and match how you wanted in order to provide that fun and a different experience on each playthrough. The story itself was interspersed during each level through ambient dialogue, cutscenes, level design, and combat banter/dialogue. The game itself would run roughly 12 hours or so to complete on the Normal Difficulty, so it wasn't all that long. However, it inspired this crazy phenomena. I don't mean the "Halo Craze" either. I mean... Players would finish the game... Then they'd go back and load up levels they enjoyed, or start the next playthrough on a harder difficulty. Or, they'd impose personal challenges on themselves. They kept coming back to the game and it ended up providing more than 12 hours of enjoyable content for a player. Myself, I'd put in probably at least 1000 hours into the campaign alone. Just exploring levels, trying to do things I'd never done before, looking for dialogue I hadn't heard, memorizing the level design and enemy troops. A few of its levels received backlash because of how tedious they were, but the reason for that was because those levels broke the 3 Core Tenants of the game. "The Library" often broke the 30 seconds of fun rule in that combat was often engaged across the entire level with almost no down time between it. This was to enforce that "The Flood are so numerous, that even fighting them wears on your mentally". It was good for storytelling, but it destroyed pacing and enjoyability. Likewise, they were very hard to put down, so they often destroyed the aspect of "Tripod of Combat", which meant only two of your means of killing were useful, and only sometimes. Grenades were 100% useful against Flood, but only Shotguns and Assault Rifles were useful against the Flood (and only because the Flood were so difficult to kill, that these weapons did the job best by putting a ton of rounds down range or by providing a single shot of a massive amount of damage that they were killed instantly, even at decent ranges), and Melee was NEVER good for fighting them as they didn't even react to being punched and it did so little damage that if you were in Melee Range of the Flood, something had gone horribly wrong during your combat anyway.

    So what's my point on that? If you design a game very well, you get what Halo had. A 12 hour game that people play once? No. You get a 12 hour game people play again and again and again, because it's designed very well. I'm not saying you design for replayability (often because doing this actually hurts your game and prevents players from wanting to play it again), but if you design your game well and don't break the pacing with Mini-Games, you won't need to include things like Mini-Games in order to "break things up for the player". Use the natural aspects of storytelling to do those jobs for you. You've got rising action, then a lull, then more rising action, then a lull, you hit the climax, then the rising action comes quickly to a halt with no lull in between, because you're at the Climax and things need to be resolved here. The reader/player is expecting a resolution, to have their questions answered, to be working their way to the end. Not to have to stop off at The Golden Saucer to play Mini-Games.

    See, for me... I've played enough games that didn't need to inject that "Go do something else for a while to get you keyed up to play this again" that I don't see it as necessary. I find that anytime a player needs to disengage with a product, it's because that product is inferior in some way. Trust me, I've left a LOT of games unfinished over the years as a result. I was 100% engaged with Farcry 1 and Farcry 3. To the point they were played exclusively. Breaks were simply to make way for real life (eating, sleeping, working, chores). I was 100% engaged with Mass Effect 1. I didn't need breaks in these games of other games to continue playing them. These are examples I'm going to use of "games designed well". I even completed Mass Effect 1 and immediately started a second playthrough on a higher difficulty to make different decisions and see the world more fleshed out. I found the combat to be "subpar", but it still engaged me to the point that I was having fun while doing it. Mass Effect 2 and 3 had problems in which while the combat was better... It wasn't engaging in the slightest. I did the same with Farcry 1, in which I played it again on a higher difficulty and tried different approaches to each level. Farcry 3... I only played the once, but the only problem I had with it was that Vaas wasn't the main villain and the story peters out after him to the point it isn't engaging at all.

    An RPG can be that level of engaging and I think devs should be spending their time trying to keep their games fun to the point that a person plays nothing else until it's completed, instead of trying to just get a player to the end once. I think Mini-Games run contrary to that goal of keeping a player engaged 100% of the time, especially since you're deliberately disengaging your player by giving them a Mini-Game to play in a game that otherwise doesn't have Mini-Games as a core concept.

    Anyway, that's my take on it. Sorry that's a huge wall of text, but I was trying to explain better how Mini-Games made me feel in games.
     
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  3. atoms

    atoms Veteran Veteran

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    I think Mario Party handled mini games really well as well, and I actually liked both version of board games being separated and being together. I had a lot of fun playing those as a child. But at the same time I don't feel most of those mini games would fit RPG Maker, although it could be useful for some inspiration and a few ideas from Mario Party might help create a mini game for RPG Maker.
     
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  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    @Tai_MT I've read your response several times over the past month and couldn't really think of a good way to respond without gigantically ballooning the topic into what worked and didn't work in each game, but today I think I finally noticed an interesting trend throughout the message, which was that it seems to annoy you when games introduce mechanics/activities which are too different in their feel and logic from the identifiable core activity of the game, and too shallow to qualify as core activities on their own. Seamless transitions between activities, and of course the quality of the activities, seem to be important to you as well, but I think that it's the difference and depth that really stand out as what you like to see game designers avoid.

    After all, in your Halo example - I could make the argument that the "combat tripod" of shooting, grenade-lobbing, and melee combat are actually different activities, and that any one of them (or even all three) could be compared to 'minigames'; I could also make the Devil's Advocate argument that story segments are a completely different type of gameplay than shooting and if shooting was so satisfying then why do we need to break it up with cutscenes. It seems like you accept all of these because the story segments feel enough like a "core" activity that the game can be both story and shooting - and because the combat tripod's activities all you similar enough logic, and transition into each other smoothly enough, that they feel like one engaging activity instead of three disparate ones.

    Similarly, while all of Mario Party's minigames feel different (and all of them are drastically different from the core of a mildly strategic board game), and each minigame itself it pretty shallow, you seem to enjoy the structure because the minigames are frequent enough and meaningful enough within the scope of the larger game to feel like they are "core" to the game. And I wonder if this has to do with the Aesthetics of Play - the idea that a game like Mario Party makes itself about improvising every few seconds and overcoming arbitrary obstacles in minigames, so it feels natural - whereas when a game like Final Fantasy makes itself about rich narrative and worldbuilding, throwing in a minigame that says "improvise and overcome" feels really out of place.

    (Similarly, I remember To the Moon got a bit of flack for throwing in Whack-a-Mole and a Sega Action-game kind of sequence in its final hour, after most of the game was a cycle of storytelling and hidden-object sort of gameplay. A lot of people didn't like this sudden and unnecessary change in format - not because it was necessarily bad, but because it felt like such a departure to what they were enjoying. I just remember thinking "I wish the whole game were this interesting"!)

    I'm obviously putting a lot of words in your mouth here, but let me know if this feels like an accurate take on why some games with activities of different natures appeal to you while some don't. I tend to be more forgiving about stylistic breaks (and even segments with shallow gameplay, as long as it's quick and fun), and therefore I feel it can be a necessary evil of a good addition toward the game - but I can definitely see how radically different, shallow activities that seem to come out of nowhere could harm your experience.

    Speaking to a few specific points:

    I think to some extent this furthers my earlier point (from last month) that an activity might legitimately be fun for 20 hours, but not for 20 hours straight. The dev might be able to produce 20 hours worth of "Quality Work" consisting of only shooting, but if the grenade-lobbing and melee combat and story segments (and platforming elements and quiet exploration) aren't there to break things up, the shooting will probably start to feel stale by around Hour 5. It's not that the dev has run out of Quality Work; it's that ennui has set in for the player because there's isn't enough Difference in Kind to break things up.

    This is why I think RPGs tend to work so well on a fundamental level (offering constant differences in kind between combat, cutscenes, exploration, class/character building, crafting, dialogue, etc.). It's also why I think that minigames tend to be a nice addition (so long as they don't obstacle the player's progress) - maybe that long dungeon which features a lot of exploration and combat is legitimately super fun as two 20-minute segments, but it's less fun as a 40-minute marathon. Throw a minigame in halfway through that the player can play for a few minutes, and you're good to go! (I suppose an alternative would be to divide it into 2 separate 20-minute dungeon dives, and break it up with something more "natural" to the RPG format, like a cutscene and town segment. That could work too, if the minigame would feel too separated from the game itself.)

    Have you ever played Super Mario RPG (Legend of the Seven Stars)? If so, did you find the minigames more palatable in that game than in most other RPG's you've played?

    Gold Saucer aside, the lead-up to the Cloud cross-dressing routine was really more of an annoying series of plot flags than it was any kind of minigame.

    I personally loved the BK minigames - they were the highlights of a really good experience for me. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about that one, but the point you bring up about the Grunty Board Game is really interesting. From a design standpoint, it does seem really bizarre to throw away most of the platforming, combat, and puzzle aspects in a big segment right before the end of the game, just to replace it with something else. I can definitely see how that would feel frustrating when you felt like you had built up your skills to the point where you should be able to take on the final boss, only to be handed a bait-and-switch.

    For me, I guess what I loved about it was the way that it felt like everything I had done to that point - all the story I'd followed along with, all the places I'd explored - now felt like they had extra meaning - a second life in my mind. The objectives weren't just one-off things to do and then forget forever. I was being tested on how well I had internalized it all, and I thought that was really cool. I guess a better implementation of such a concept might be to pepper it throughout the game instead of all in one block at the end, and reward the player with stuff like bonus items or lives (or even short-term adventure branching) if they answered correctly rather than use it as an obstacle.

    Thanks for the kind words, man! They made me feel really good. Likewise, while I'm often shocked to find disagreement with something I thought was natural or intuitive, it's really healthy to hash out the discussion and uncover our biases and over-generalizations. I also really like how passionately you explain your experiences with games, and the rigor with which your argue your point of view.
     
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  5. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    You're probably right. I don't have much to add beyond that, but it feels like that's probably the reason I dislike mini-games so much. They're almost universally "different" from the core gameplay of whatever game they're slapped into.

    It's fine to put words in my mouth if you're trying to understand me and you're following some sort of logic in doing so. If you were doing it to attack my opinion or me as a person... We'd have to have some words. Ha ha. Your assessment seems fairly accurate to me at least. So, I'll just tell you that you're right.

    I can agree with this to an extent. Even during my marathons of Mass Effect 1 and Farcry 1, I would take breaks from the game. I'd stop what I was doing, save, go hang out with a friend for a while. Or, I'd go shopping for junk food or something. Maybe that's another problem I have specifically. When I want a break from a game... it's a break from all gaming. I need to step away and clear my brain for a few hours. Putting another game on top of the one you already have doesn't do anything for me as a result. It's still "playing that same game" except at "reduced quality".

    To be honest, I tend to just prefer that 40 minute dungeon, provided it's interesting and engaging the whole time. Then again, if it isn't, maybe it should be split up? I've played dungeons for at least that long and enjoyed the whole experience... But, maybe I'm the exception to the rule, ha ha. I don't know. I'm just of the belief that length doesn't necessarily matter as long as the dev tries to make something engaging the whole time. Even if that dev has to change the parts of the brain being engaged to get that effect.

    I liked just one mini-game in there... and only once I understood what it was asking of me. Yoshi Racing. The tutorial is TERRIBLE. It does not tell you what you need to be doing at all. Took me forever to figure out that I had to match my taps with the music, because the tutorial doesn't tell you that. The tutorial only tells you, "match the rhythm". Of which they just essentially tell you, "hit A, B, A, B, A, B" repeatedly in rapid succession. But, if you don't time it to the music, you go nowhere and go slow. Once I knew what I was meant to do, I enjoyed it. I didn't like the Coin Rapids thing... I didn't like the Musical Tadpoles... I didn't like the Beetle Catching thing... Or the mini-games in Boosters Tower... Were there other minigames? Those are the ones I remember. Oh, I guess I liked the Scavenger Hunt you did once you got to the Monster Town and slept in that bed. The ghosts told you where they hid flags and if you wanted their reward, you had to remember where you'd seen those places before. Is that a minigame? I enjoyed that.

    For me, it was frustrating because you couldn't "jump gaps" even. I think it would've been far more interesting as a static 20x20 board you have to decide how to cross and use skills "efficiently" to do so. Otherwise, you're hit with the challenges or questions or whatever else was on there. Maybe have tiles that could only be crossed if you used the "invincibility" while other tiles would flip over and drop you in the lava if you had that on, so you had to navigate well. Maybe you could try to do extra air distance tactics you've been using all game to land on the tiles you find "least offensive". Maybe have tiles with monsters roaming on them, and those tiles don't activate on you while the monster is on them... But, then you're close enough to be hit by a monster and have them smack you onto a tile.

    It felt very bad to me because I'd been railroaded into this narrow corridor where the game devs took away all my power and skill and required I answer freakin' questions or engage in combat challenges. The entire game up to that point had been about "level navigation" and "movement mastery". I had been hoping for a level even harder than the one with the oily water... And I got a board game that was an entirely different game than the one I'd been playing.

    On a different note...

    I did enjoy "Blitzball" from Final Fantasy X... For a while. When they gave it to me, I did take a diversion into it for roughly 10 hours straight... But, it began to have problems all on its own. After I figured out how it played, I just kept thinking, "I wish this were more fleshed out. This is kind of tedious. This might work better as its own game instead of slapped into this one..."

    I've been thinking that about most minigames since then. "Why isn't this a better game and why is it slapped onto this other game? Why not just flesh it out and sell it as its own product instead of diminishing the quality of both games to get it to work?"
     
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  6. Idiot

    Idiot save early, save often, save versions Veteran

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    I know I'm coming in after a bunch of long, thoughtful and insightful posts but. Hey, does anyone remember Tin Pin Slammer...honestly, it was such a tonal shift from the rest of TWEWY but somehow I can't help but be totally fond of it...
     
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  7. Soryuju

    Soryuju Combat Balance Enthusiast Veteran

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    I enjoyed the way The World Ends With You built Tin Pin Slammer into its universe and gameplay, and TPS itself was pretty addicting even if did have some rough edges. It definitely felt like a tonal shift from the rest of the game, but it was a pretty minor part of the main story, and the clear parody of collectible children’s games matched TWEWY’s quirky humor well (especially when the game leaned into it completely with the Tin Pin-obsessed alternate universe from Another Day).

    Mechanically, I liked how TPS tied directly into the game’s pin-based skill system. The fact that every pin in the main game had different (TPS-exclusive) weight, spin, ability uses, and ability variants gave players room to customize their playstyle, and it added surprising depth to a game which basically boiled down to “Rock-Paper-Scissors meets Beyblade.” As you found new pins in the main game, you got new toys to play with in TPS, and certain pins which were mediocre in one mode could be excellent in the other.

    Furthermore, the feedback from the regular crashes and collisions was extremely satisfying for players. Charging up your dashes by stretching out a line with the stylus, coasting on your momentum as you smash into the opponent with a spike or hammer, and then bullying them over the edge while they were stunned always felt brutal and satisfying.

    Outside of a couple easy matches you needed to win to progress the story, TPS could be completely ignored. I know I preferred to just play the main game on my initial playthrough, and did just that with no major consequences. Later on, however, the game offers plenty of optional, somewhat more difficult matches for players who do enjoy TPS. I like the model of giving players an easy sample of a game which you can then flesh out into something deeper later on (specifically for the portion of your audience who wants to engage with it). All that could be gained in the optional matches were side-grades of existing pins and goofy sidequest dialogue, so the pressure to participate was low.

    It was far from perfect, of course - a certain number of TPS pins were clearly just better than a wide range of others, certain tactics could be exploited to win matches effortlessly, and there were very few matches in the game which were significantly challenging even when playing “fairly.” I also don’t know if it was an intentional part of the parody, but whenever they hyped up an opponent who could “control multiple pins at once,” they’d usually spend most of the match attacking themselves with their own pins, and often defeat themselves in short order. Maybe they just ran out of time to implement team mechanics. But TWEWY as a whole was filled with bold and occasionally flawed experiments, so these issues didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the game in any significant way.
     
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  8. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I like mini-games, it brings variety to the game and it shows the developer can do more than write text boxes and place battle encounters on the map (speaking from an RPG Maker perspective, of course).

    But I think it's important to keep things in mind when putting in mini-games in a game that doesn't revolve around them as a main gameplay feature:
    -Make them fit in the world, and have them make sense for the scenario in which they're used.
    -Make them optional, so people who don't want to deal with them can skip them. Or have fail saves, to prevent people from getting stuck on them and hinder their progress. If they can be failed, make it quick and easy to retry.
    -Keep them short. Doesn't need to be longer than a minute or 2.
    -Make them intuitive to play and easy to understand. Best mini-games are those that can be played without needing a how-to-play tutorial.
     
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  9. newfarap

    newfarap Veteran Veteran

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    big fan of the shooter game in stardew valley
     
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