zondag 6 december 2009

When rules try to kill game design

Okay, I haven’t been posting as much as I wanted. But it has been very VERY busy. Basically I worked on the USA and EU version of Flipper. And hopefully (if everything goes right with the lotcheck) the USA version is available around xmas (but probably January).

As you may know there are a lot of technical rules for developing a console game, but there are also gameplay rules. I’m sure that when they created them it seems like a good thing, in fact if you read the rules they seem good. The problem is, they don’t always work for every game.

Flipper happens to be one of those games. It’s a puzzle game. It’s normal for the player to get trapped. However the rules say a player should never be trapped. And this is where my nightmare game design begins.

In flipper, there’s a powerup which lets you build blocks. You can build staircases and bridges with it. However, if you build it on top of the player. The player gets trapped. This is against the rules.

There are few options that one can take to solve this problem :

a.) When the player is inside a block, just push him up (to the top of the block). But this sucked because it ruins most of the puzzles. For example, in most of those puzzles, flipper is on top of a hill. You build a block against it (while the player stands against it aswell) and the player gets pushed to the top. Now the player can get Flipper without solving any of the puzzles.

b.) Not being able to build blocks around the player. Which also suckes a lot because now there’s a invinsible boundary where you can’t build. And you need to move the player before you can. This is irritating. Besides that, it was cool to be able to lift the player up by building a block under him (this is different than building a block ON him).

c.) Let the player die instantly (well, after the dying animation). Which is still against the rules, but a little better then letting the player decide it’s over (and manually have to restart the level). However, it also doesn’t give you the change to free yourself (in case you have a destroy-powerup).

In the end I decided to go for C. I don’t wan’t to just pick a fight, but I feel this is too important for the fun of the game. I don’t want to kill the puzzles for something as stupid as this.

Just to get something visual in this post: here’s a look at the result screen. You get points for unused powerups (solving the puzzle with the least amount of powerups), you get points for trapping the enemies (letting them fall of the world), and you get 250 points for reaching Flipper and another 500 points for finding the golden star!

7 opmerkingen:

  1. A fourth possible alternative would be the same as option C, but give some sort of warning, giving the player a chance to use a destroy powerup or die within the next few seconds.

    Game sounds great though. It must be tough trying to adhere to all those rules without losing the soul of the game.

  2. Hey, are these rules that they sort of hand down to you when you want to make a console game? Weird?

    I remember LOLO had the option that if you got trapped, you just hit a button to die/restart the level. It seemed to work in that context well enough.

  3. @booJoh: yes, but that would take a considerable amount of time to implement, and testing. Something I didn’t want to do for Flipper at this time.

    @PsySal:No, I haven’t seen anything like this before hand. I’ve only seen the technical documents and stuff. But maybe it’s just because it’s my first DS game and I’m just missing the experience.

    Also it’s not like you have to obey these rules. But you do need to have some good arguments before they give in. It’s a hard fight that costs time. Something I don’t need right now (because I want a xmas release for Flipper). So it’s really tempting to just give in.

  4. Even C would break the rules? Well you can always have an undo option, but then that would mess with the game play, and if limited...would break the rule again.

    I guess you're stuck with that. Good to know though.

  5. Can't you just display a text that says you can't place it there? Or use a sound to make clear you can't place it there?

  6. @Maarten:
    That’s basically option B right ? it’s just really annoying if you need to move the player in order to use a powerup.