How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

It's been a few years since the Game Maker's Toolkit YouTube channel reviews and describes various aspects of video games and related concepts in short and informative videos. The field pays. I decided to translate the content of these videos into Farsi by adapting them to the medium of writing. This series of articles will be very useful for those who dream of becoming a game developer, or simply want to understand video games better and more deeply. Keep up with the "Game Makers Toolbox" series of articles.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

It's been a few years since the Game Maker's Toolkit YouTube channel reviews and describes various aspects of video games and related concepts in short and informative videos. The field pays. I decided to translate the content of these videos into Farsi by adapting them to the medium of writing. This series of articles will be very useful for those who dream of becoming a game developer, or simply want to understand video games better and more deeply. Keep up with the "Game Makers Toolbox" series of articles.

Undoubtedly, the coolest mechanism in Gears of War is active loading. Let me explain how it works. Each time you load your gun, you have to play a mini-game. An arrow will start moving on a bar and you can hit the reload button again to get a bonus.

If the arrow lands on this point, you will reload your gun very quickly.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

If your arrow is fixed on this point, your weapon will be upgraded somehow; For example, the bullets you shoot will become more powerful. It will have a technical fault.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

This mechanism is great and one of the simplest verbs in shooter games. It adds an element of tension, skill and excitement. But this mechanism created a problem for Epic Games, the developer of the game. While testing the game, they noticed that professional players consistently performed flawlessly; Their skill made them constantly get better bullets and always have an advantage over the enemy. Therefore, the developers had to balance the game's enemies from the beginning and make them more resistant.

But novice players generally ignored the active magazine mechanism, so they did not get better bullets and had to constantly deal with bullets. The weak fight the enemies. This scenario sounds very nerve-wracking, doesn't it?

The focus of a large part of game design is to solve such problems. An idea comes to your mind and then you realize that this idea is somehow problematic. It's unbalanced, confusing, doesn't provide the gameplay you intended, or is generally incompatible with another game mechanic.

As a game designer, you may find yourself stuck in an endless maze of solutions. Surely there has to be a better way to solve these problems, right?

In this article, we're going to look at how the best game developers solve game design problems. By examining these solutions, we may get an idea of the correct way to solve the problems that we may encounter in the future. Meanwhile, I will tell you how Epic Games solved the problem of active storage. The solution was to

You will see below.

Identifying the problem

Before we get to the solutions, We must ensure that we have identified the problem with full accuracy. During the development process of Dying Light, the game director ran into a problem: the weapons were breaking down faster than expected. So he told the game designers to increase the resistance of the weapons. But Maciej "Matt" Binkowski didn't want to tinker with this part of the game because it might mess up the game's economy.

Instead, he looked deeper into the problem, more questions. he asked, rooting out the main problem: they could only kill a few zombies before the players' guns stopped working. Therefore, to solve this problem, the game designer did not touch the resistance of the weapon at all and instead lowered the health bar of the enemies. This solution not only solved the problem, but also made the combat system more enjoyable.

According to Binkafsky's advice, it is better for game designers to step away from the problem and try to solve it before trying to solve the reported problem. root It is also necessary that everyone involved in making the game has the same preconceptions about the problem. Before Astroneer left early access, its developers wanted to improve the game's construction system, but they had very different ideas about the problem.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

One of the game designers thought this system was too simple, so his solution was to add more machines and resource chains to the game. Another designer's opinion was that this system is already too complicated and the processes related to it are careless and uninformed.

This issue naturally led to a series of disagreements, but when the creators with a deeper vision They looked at the problem, they realized that they are talking about two problems They speak completely differently. One of the designers was looking at the game's shallow gameplay cycle from a broad perspective. Another mechanism builder considered the operation of complex devices from the point of view of moment-to-moment interactions.

Now that they had reached an understanding together, they could solve the basic problem and solve both problems at once. They could rebuild those pesky devices and use them to extend the simple construction cycle and create a more interesting economy.

Okay, so once we've identified the root of the problem, how do we go about fixing it? Below are some of the best solutions that have been used in the gaming industry.

The first approach: quick trial and error of possible solutions

When Blizzard had Diablo 3, the creators of the game wanted to fix a problem left over from the previous game in the series: the spammy use of potions. In Diablo 2, players were constantly drinking health potions, so in order for enemies to have a chance to kill the player, they had to hit him with a high combo.

Unfortunately, Blizzard didn't know how to fix this problem. solve it, so they tried a few different ideas in a trial-and-error fashion. The first idea was that the more potions you consume, the less effective they become.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

This idea didn't work. If a potion was only 25% effective, players would simply drink all four of them.

The second idea was to automatically restore the player's health bar, but only if the enemies didn't know it was there.

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BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

This idea was not good either. Whether or not enemies were aware of the player's presence wasn't clear enough.

The third idea was simpler: if the player didn't receive damage for three seconds, their health bar would automatically fill up.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

This wasn't a good idea either, as it caused players to constantly run away from combat and play neutral and defensive. This was the exact opposite of what Blizzard wanted; Blizzard wanted players to play aggressively.

While this was not a good solution, it was a way to find a real solution: after killing enemies, they would leave behind orbs that filled the health and mana bar. .

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124) He encouraged to play aggressively. Thus, the problem is solved.

In such an approach, the game maker tries different methods and ideas and uses the obtained results to find his way to the final solution. For example, when trying the first method reducing the effect of potions when used in a row Blizzard's Wyatt Cheng said: When we were trying this idea, we weren't too excited about it, but we did it anyway. We knew that even if it wasn't going to be a solution that made it into the final version, it would teach us a lot about the nature of the problem.

Approach Two: Identifying Levers

Jaime Griesmer, a member of Bungie, talked about how to fix the problems with the sniper rifle in Halo 3 in one of his interesting talks at GDC on the topic of game balancing.

The problem was that the sniper was not balanced at all. Players could kill enemies with this weapon from a long distance and at an extremely high speed. They could also use a sniper rifle at close range to bring in the high combo. In general, this weapon was too powerful.

To solve such a problem, one must first identify which levers can be pulled and which cannot be pulled. According to Griesmer:

  • The range of the sniper rifle could not be reduced
  • It could not be reduced
  • It could not be lowered its accuracy
  • >
  • The immediate killing of the enemy in case of a headshot by a sniper bullet could not be excluded

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

The reason was that all these features were among the inherent features of the sniper rifle and changing each one would harm the identity of the weapon. So by removing these options, it became clear what features could be changed, features such as:

  • Number of bullets in each magazine
  • Duration of magazine
  • >
  • Time required to zoom
  • Fire rate per bullet
  • Whether or not it is possible to headshot an enemy off-camera
  • Maximum amount of ammo that can be carried

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

Finally, among the above options, the correct solution is to change the "fire rate per It was a bullet. This solution prevented the player from being able to aim at the enemy and shoot immediately. Also, this solution made the sniper's efficiency in close conflicts down, because the trigger could no longer be spammed. Finally, for the solution to work, it was enough to increase the time between each shot from 0.5 seconds to 0.7 seconds.

By understanding what factors can and cannot be changed, Better to focus on possible solutions. However, this should be done with caution. Sometimes the target of change is the very thing you've convinced yourself is unchangeable. As the saying goes: Be prepared to kill your loved ones.

Third Approach: Make Big Changes

Okay, a little while ago I talked about a change that Its scale was 0.2 seconds. It was a very small change that made a big impact on the game. But sometimes it is necessary to start a calculation. A month before the release of the first game in the Civilization series, Sid Meier, the developer of the game, realized that the game was suffering from a problem with the beat. So he decided to solve this problem by reducing the map size. It is not meant to reduce the size of the map by a few tiles or a few percent. He practically cut the game plan in half!

This decision paid off. The game found a faster beat, engaged the player more and conveyed very well the feeling of "relentless forward progress" which is one of the themes of the series. We talked, but the time to make the game is limited, so if you only make minor changes to the game - say 5% buffing something and 6% nerfing something else - you might never get the right answer. Otherwise, you may find out too late that your solution was never meant to work.

Mayer's philosophy was: "Either double it, or halve it." If you make such radical changes, you will soon find out whether the change has had an effect or not. If you might overdo it, you can always make the necessary adjustments in order to create moderation.

Mayer said in relation to the map mentioned in Civilization 1: "If my concern was that there would be too much of what he made We were going to take a break, I could never get the map the right size before the game was released.

4th Approach: Flipping the Game

In Shovel Knight ), the game's developer, Yacht Club, wanted to introduce the storage system in a new way. They wanted to create a system where the player could bypass a checkpoint to get a reward. That's why they made a checkpoint that you had to pay to use. If you wanted, you could skip the checkpoint without activating it and keep the money, but if you died, you'd lose most of your progress.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

But this system did not work very well. It was complicated to use and visually a bit boring. Worse, it had a balancing problem. New players, who needed these checkpoints more than anyone else, were less likely to have enough money to activate them and thus save their game. It was useless.

So the solution was to turn the concept upside down. That is, the solution was that instead of the player paying to save his game, he would receive money for not saving the game. he does. Therefore, novice players will not get into trouble. But besides, this system has a very attractive "risk and reward" dynamic. Those skilled players who are sure of their mastery of the game can break the game's checkpoint to earn more money.

Sometimes you are close to the right solution, you just need to reverse the formula.

The Fifth Approach: Find the Solution Elsewhere

When Naughtydog was working on The Last of Us UI, he initially Their intention was to allow Joel to upgrade his weapon whenever he wanted through a submenu in the game's backpack UI. But this decision caused problems. For example:

  • The user interface of the game was designed with a minimalist approach, but this option added complexity
  • Some players failed to find it
  • Considering that players could upgrade their weapons whenever they wanted, they would upgrade something as soon as it became available. In other words, only the cheapest upgrades were considered.

Builders could try different ideas for a long time; For example, move the upgrade option to different pages or change the way it is presented to the player. But the final solution was to completely remove upgrading from the user interface.

That's why the upgrade table was added to the game.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

These tables are special points in the game world where you can upgrade your equipment; This means that sometimes the opportunity to upgrade the equipment may not come for an hour or two. The implementation of this system allowed players to engage more with the upgrade mechanism and, given that they had more resources saved up when they arrived at each table, they could upgrade the weapons they enjoyed the most, rather than just the cheapest. They also had more time to weigh all available upgrade options and plan for their next upgrade.

Remember that games consist of a huge network of interconnected systems, so sometimes solving a problem in a specific area , depends on a factor change in another part.

The sixth approach: solving several problems at once

The creators of New Super Mario Bros. When the Wii was testing the multiplayer part of the game, they realized that dying in the game was frustrating because after dying you had to wait until the end of the stage or the next checkpoint to get back into the game. That's why they needed a solution.

The first solution was that players who left the game could randomly spawn inside the question mark blocks. It was a cool idea, but they thought more about it and came up with a better solution.

Their solution was to have players return to the game after dying inside a bubble. For other players to bring their teammate back into the game, they must jump on the bubble and burst it.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

This The work not only solved the initial problem, but also helped solve another problem: sometimes new players would get stuck in a difficult part of the game that they couldn't get past. Therefore, in this situation, they could kill themselves, enter a bubble, let a more experienced player pass that part, and after entering the safe zone, their bubble will be burst and returned to the game.

Adding this feature to the game made dying more fun and also the players could set the difficulty level of the game by themselves. Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, has a famous quote about this: "A good idea is something that solves not just one problem, but several problems at once."

That's why sometimes it's better to wait for a solution. Which has other benefits for the game.

Seventh Approach: Studying Player Behavior

Okay, let's get back to the story of Gears of War. which was mentioned at the beginning of the text. If you remember, we said that Epic Games had to increase the health bar of enemies because the more professional players were constantly making perfect stacks and increasing their melds. But this system worked to the disadvantage of new players, as they ignored this system and were constantly killed by stronger enemies.

But Epic noticed another difference between these two types of players: professional players. Shooters rarely finish a magazine; They replace it with a new one before it runs out. But newbies generally shoot until the magazine runs out and the game automatically changes the magazine for them.

This problem presented them with a new solution: the game developers secretly made the last few bullets left in the magazine stronger and the name They put "magic bullets" on them. So only novice players would get this buff, and in that sense, they would get the same score as pro players who made perfect stacks.

Most game design problems become apparent when you watch the player interact with the game. Couldn't the same approach be used to find a solution?

Implementing Solutions

Okay, now that we have a solution, we can implement it. . But there are still a series of challenges ahead.

The first challenge is the side effects (second-order effects). During the development of Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft knew it needed to balance the game's overpowered shotgun. So they nerfed the shotgun and this nerf left the expected effect. The shotgun no longer performed significantly better than other weapons. But this change also left a negative side effect.

BingMag.com How game designers solved these 11 problems in famous games Toolbox for game makers (124)

Considering that the shotgun is a defensive weapon Great, this nerf made it much harder for defenders to win against attackers. The defensive players could not stop the attackers from advancing.

As you can see, solving a problem in one area may lead to a problem in another. Game designers should be aware of how different systems interact with each other and be smart about avoiding these problems or at least find a way to fix new problems. It was giving a time limit between each process. Given that the defenders are automatically declared the winners when each round expires, this The issue made the defenders more likely to win and compensate for the points they lost due to the weaker shotgun.

Another challenge is finding the resources to implement these changes. In the final stages of Prey, Arkin Studio realized that they needed more variety in terms of monster designs on the space station, but they didn't have enough time, artists, or AI programmers to create new monsters.

Peri designer Ricardo Bare says: Good designers know how to solve problems given their limitations. Ironically, the poltergeist became one of his favorite enemies in the game.

Many game design problems show up late in the game - or even after it's released. So sometimes the best solution is the one you can achieve with the time and resources you have available.

Finally, you need to test through playtest sessions or finding new testers and see if Whether the solution left the desired results or not. Bungie member Jim Griesmer advises against telling testers how you solved the problem, as that information may bias their experience. It is enough to ask them if the problem has been solved or not.

If this has not happened, you can hope to find out the real problem, like the example of Diablo 3 and the rapid trial and error of various ideas in its context. Review the problem and try again to fix it.

Conclusion

As I have discovered in my own game development experience, game design revolves around problem solving. spins. Few ideas survive player exposure. So the best game designers are not the ones who can come up with good ideas; The best designers are those who can find good solutions to problems that arise from ideas.

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