Great quote from Michael Brough re: balance in game design.
“we want a landscape with bumps in many shapes and sizes just none so sheer as to render all else flat by contrast.”
Day 15 – Bunch of subtle and large changes to unit movement and abilities. Added meta-game where once you beat the level, it will give you a new unit for each new floor, to encourage players to preserve their units.
Going to expand on the meta-game more later, but for now its enough to test units with. I want to hook up a counter that will tell me the average number of enemies each unit kills on a turn. (Will be a bit tricky for wizard refreshes but still possible).
At this point the game is pretty easy when you know what you’re doing, because it was important to me that the player units feel powerful and have the potential to make a lot of combos, so I’m going to need to add more enemy variety/enemy spawners next to ratchet the difficulty back up.
Here are several examples of games that I have been playing lately that have a “format” that gives them the potential for being single player evergreen games. That is to say, they have procedural strategic challenge generation, and seem to have a high rules/complexity ratio. (NOTE: This doesn’t mean that these games aren’t solved or easily solvable, it just means that provided they AREN’T solved or easily solvable, then they could be considered single player evergreen games).
I think these games are interesting for this reason, and I want to explore this space further with my own designs. Do you guys know of any more examples of this kind of thing for me to check out?
I’m becoming increasingly fascinated with “evergreen” games. That is, games that can “stand the test of time” by resisting solution and maintaining playability and interest over a long period of time.
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I’m talking about games of strategy, not necessarily contests of skill; you can find many examples of contests that date back to very early human history, like racing and wrestling, and more recent examples of video game contests with some level of staying power, like Street Fighter or Quake. As an aside, although you can point to examples of decision making in both Street Fighter and Quake, I would argue neither is PRIMARILY focused about decision making. There’s also a class of games that are primarily contests of luck, like many ancient dice games, and decision making certainly isn’t the primary focus in those games either.
ANYWAY, Common examples of very old strategy games still played today are Chess and Go. Less commonly known are games with Mancala mechanisms, and I think with the doubling cube, backgammon can even squeak in as a game with some long term strategic staying power.
It should be noted, I think that all of these games are multi-player games. This helps A LOT with strategic staying power, because opponents can provide a bit of depth themselves by performing moves that are sub-optimal in a broad sense, but have other benefits like surprise, and moving your opponent into unfamiliar game states (see: Donkey Space).
However, the neat thing about video games, is that the computer can provide unfamiliar situations for the player to tackle via randomly generated levels, or situations, or slight random aberrations in enemy AI, etc. etc. This is a cool thing about “roguelike” permanent death and randomly generated levels (the permadeath is just so you can’t use memorization). And as long as you keep the randomness constrained to mostly Input Randomness, you can maintain strategic depth without having the outcome become arbitrary (i.e skilled players will still perform better and be able to measure themselves against one other in a useful way).
This is ESPECIALLY interesting when you consider the idea of something like a “single player ladder”. With a solution like that in place, you suddenly have the opportunity to create a very new type of game design: an “evergreen” single player game. A game that can be played and explored solo, and yet can be used as a test of skill in a broader context. A few games are scratching at the surface at this kind of thing, and I think its a very rich and rewarding area of game design.
We have the potential to create game experiences that can stand the test of time, and if they are single player, they can be considered, interpreted and explored both alone and with our game-playing peers.
THIS IS EXCITING.
Day 14 – Pretty big change today. Added captains (marked with a yellow star). The objective is to kill all enemy captains to win the level, while preserving your units for future levels (If you lose all of your units you die). Haven’t hooked the level counter yet though. Perhaps tomorrow!
Day 13 – Added the wizard! First unit with a non-attack ability; the wizard swaps two units that are on reflected spaces on the board. Had a neat bug emerge when coding it that the unit that was swapped was refreshed when swapped, and so you could use them again. THIS WAS AWESOME SO IT STAYS.
Starting to get a sense of a couple bits of emergent complexity/combos/tactics available with the current units. Probably won’t add any more player units for a while, so next up is:
1) Win condition
2) Enemy variety (either archer or a diagonal type orc or something)
Day 12 – Added the jumpy-stabby cavalry!