PDA

View Full Version : Open-world systemic loops on example of repurposed AC3 ideas and mechanics



Farlander1991
06-03-2014, 12:26 PM
Here I am, talking about AC3/game design again, yaaaaay. Not in a form of a blog-post, as instead of carefully writing a message I'll just pour down my thoughts in a forum post in real time (there's no real purpose to this thread other than to just state my thoughts, to be honest). So with the release of Watch_Dogs there are talks around these forums in regards what open world games have, should have, and how that concerns AC. And I've been thinking about it, and the biggest problem in open world games is that eventually you run out of things to do. The thing is, even if a game has got a lot of random events, those events become 'just do stuff for the sake of doing things', it's still purposeless. Open world games should have a systemic loop. A sort of a 'board game' (metaphorically speaking, not literally, i.e. not actual board games) component when you replay matches over and over again because it's fun. At the same time this loop must feed into the more limited content: story/narrative, specifically designed missions, etc.

AC4/Freedom Cry do this to a degree. For example, in AC4 the loop, in simple terms is: get more and more money to upgrade your ship to get to more challenging locations/places/actions. All side content feeds into that. It fits into the narrative and gameplay, but the problem is, there's an end to that loop as well: the Legendary Ships. You defeat those, and you find that while there are still things to do: ships to plunder, warehouses to rob, etc, there's no real reason to other than 'just because'. Now in a game where you can cause all kinds of havoc like Just Cause 2, 'just because' is enough. But you can't have every open-world game be 'weeeeeee whatever fun explosions blam using rope to destroy airplanes and stuff!'.

So, we need a systemic loop that can be played throughout the whole game, that makes sense mechanically, narratively, and that binds the open world game together, and has still plenty of things to do for a specific reason even when we run out of a specially designed content (all of which should be able to be replayed, btw!). And it doesn't just have to be one loop, there can be several.

But the main loop that I would propose for AC3 is (oh, and keep in mind that I'm writing this with a presumption that there are no broken core mechanics in the game, like AI detection or no reason to use items): Forts. Imagine Templar Dens of ACR, only better :p I call it the 'Liberation' loop. AC3 has got most ingredients for it to work (only it doesn't put it in that way).

So, each Fort (and there's three in every city if we count the two mission specific ones in Boston and New York) has got two states: Liberated (not under Templar influence) and Occupied (under Templar influence). Each state provides the map with content for different purposes. When it's Liberated the nature of the content is to keep it Liberated, and when it's Occupied the nature of the content is to get it Liberated. So, yes, it constantly switches hands, and the content depends if the Fort is in the Frontier or a City. Okay, you know what, let's try organizing this a bit (as I said, I'm writing this on the fly :D )

We have two loops:
Liberation loop (the loop where Connor tries to keep the lands free from Templar's influence)
Homestead loop (a.k.a. the character loop).


Liberation loop is, as I said, based on forts. The advantage of forts being liberated is you can get access to stores (which work a bit differently) to get resources (no money system, and no weapons/ammunition/anything in the stores) for the Homestead loop.
Homestead loop is based on upgrading your homestead, hunting, and crafting (i.e. upgrading your character and keeping him with stuff). The advantage of the Homestead loop is that you can support the Liberation loop with it (not to mention that you have more stuff!)

A bit more about the Liberation loop. Forts start the game in the Occupied state. We want to get them liberated.

In the cities, this is essentially combined with the Liberation side missions. Areas with Occupied forts are in bigger turmoil, and we complete Liberation side quests to lower the Templar influence. Lowering the Templar influence makes forts easier to infiltrate, as well as providing additional means to get to it (for example raising a riot to go marching on the Fort and distracting the forces occupying the fort while you sneak in to kill the captain and do the whole Fort-liberatey stuff).

After we liberate a fort, the area is in a lesser turmoil. We have access to the store that can provide us with resources like iron/wood/etc. (and we barter hunting goods which have value - the better the skin the better the value and more resources we can get). However, Templar influence is on the rise. To keep it at bay and lower it, we disrupt Templar communication (i.e. couriers), search for and kill Templar agents on the streets (something like officials, and we find them by using, gasp, EAGLE VISION!!!!!), and if we see somebody starting a riot, kill the instigator (plus some other things that could possibly be done there). If we fail to keep the Templars at bay, the area gets into a huge riot stage, which we can stop with different means while it's going - but if we don't, Templars take back the Fort). As a possibility, we can place an assassin agent in the area to do it for us if we're too lazy :p (it won't stop the Templar progress fully, but it will slow them down). The downside of that is we can't use that assassin's ability unless we're in the area they're at.


In the Frontier, it's kind of a similar situation but more 'war-based'. Again, to liberate the fort we need to kill the captain etc., and there are things to do around the Fort that can make things easier. Killing Templar convoys cuts the supply lines to the Forts (so there will be less guards in places). Also, the 'non-Templar' force tries to attack the Fort to take it back on its own. There are a bunch of small camps around the Fort, and if we free them (either when nobody's attacking it or during an attack), the 'non-Templar force' takes it, and if it gets to the Fort, they launch an assault when we get there (again, a big distraction).

When the Fort is liberated, the same thing happens in reverse. I.e. the enemies try to take back the camps and kill the supply lines to launch an assault. So we can save attacked convoys, camps, and take back old camps. We can also send our own convoys to the Forts.

Now speaking of the Homestead loop. There are no money in the game. Just resources. We can get resources actively, by hunting in the Frontier and then bartering in the stores (if we unlock them, if we don't - those moveable cart stores), or passively - by letting the Homestead peeps doing it for us.

We can't buy weapons, ammo or anything. We can only ask our homesteaders craft them. (Or, well, loot people for ammo at the least). And no useless crafting like chairs or stuff, just the gameplay items. Plus we can send resources to Forts to keep them liberated (and ammo/weapons to our assassin agents so they could fight more effectively and keep a better watch on areas?).

So, something like this. This is not perfect, there are lots of little neat things that can be added, and again, this presumes that there are no other problems with AC3. But I just want to state a point.

In this example, we have a range of varying content all around the place (taking forts in some regions, keeping them liberated in others) that's constantly updating due to changing situations, we are never at a point of having TOO much things like money in other AC games (if we want to be efficient, that is) since there's a constant exchange going on, and there's always an alternative to things (i.e. we don't want to bother with hunting and trading to get ammo for us, we still can loot and passively get, admittedly lesser, resources). So even when we fully complete the main campaign and all the specially designed side-missions, when we get back into the game, instead of pointlessly running around and doing stuff or encountering random events just because, we still are Connor, and we still want to keep the lands free from Templar influence, and there's a purpose to doing everything. And players can even challenge themselves trying to optimize how long they can keep things liberated, and if they want to vary things around they can just let things rot for a bit (or maybe use a cheat to reset everything) and switch up the content.

And this is what open-world games should have, I think. Not just random events happening all around the place. But a particular specific loop with a specific purpose (both gameplay wise and narrative wise).

Dev_Anj
06-03-2014, 02:09 PM
I'd like to see an open world game with this concept. Also, please no Den Defense to reclaimed a captured fort! :p

Sushiglutton
06-03-2014, 03:28 PM
Hahahahaha I disagree with this soooo much :D! I will start by saying I think your ideas are well presented/thoughtout and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with them in principal. But they are orthogonal to my OW preferences!


To me one of the core principals of open-world games is that they should never ever force content on the player (this includes any kind of punishment for not participating in an activity). Instead they should try to sell content by teasing/rewarding, but if the player choose to walk away there should be no consequences. Another important principal is that there should be no regress unless the player specifically asks for it (like the reset option for the camps in FarCry). This is actually more of a corollary to the first principal: you should not force the player to do a certain activity by threatening with regress. Your suggestions goes against both these principal. This to me leads to a game that is stressful, feels like a chore, is annoying and just overall sucks the fun out of playing.

I also don't think activities being part of an overall loop is that critical. By far the most important thing to me is that the activities are fun in their own right. A deeper, more interactive parkour system would for example mean countless of hours of enjoyment as I just aimlessly ran around the city trying to find cool lines. Connecting the current system in an overall loop of (say) catching robbers would do nothing for me. I do see the value of activities being thematically consistent and having a similar style of gameplay (aka third person action, no strategy games). Having some sort of overall goal (like the legendary ships) is cool too. In general I want the content to mainly focus on action (in a wide sense: stuff you do) and exploration. Book keeping, economy, various meters going up and down etc I'm far less interested in.

I think the idea of endless fun is an illusion and pointless to chase. It's simply impossible to achieve. Sooner or later you will get bored. To make the game last as long as possible you need to:
1) Have deep and enjoyable mechanics that feel great to do in their own right.
2) A variety of different flavoured content so you can go from saying sneaking in a plantation into fire a broadside into a Man Of War.
3) Systemic content that constantly presents unique gameplay opportunities for the player.
4) Option to reset/replay some content.

It will never be enough though. Sooner or later you will just lose interest. Then you can come back a few months later and replay the game instead.



Ok just some thoughts I randomly typed in as well :p

DinoSteve1
06-03-2014, 03:45 PM
No AC3 sucked.

Ureh
06-03-2014, 04:14 PM
Sounds almost like a living breathing world.

shobhit7777777
06-03-2014, 04:31 PM
I want to shove a cookie down your throat, through broken teeth and jaws....for bringing up systemic gameplay.

Skimmed through the OP..largely agree with it. Templar Den/Towers are the way forward to showcase a game's strength...which is why other Ubi games are adopting it - WD, FC2/3.

Dunno if they should be part of the primary loop.....but definitely the meat of the game lies there, for me atleast.

Dev_Anj
06-03-2014, 05:02 PM
To me one of the core principals of open-world games is that they should never ever force content on the player (this includes any kind of punishment for not participating in an activity). Instead they should try to sell content by teasing/rewarding, but if the player choose to walk away there should be no consequences. Another important principal is that there should be no regress unless the player specifically asks for it (like the reset option for the camps in FarCry). This is actually more of a corollary to the first principal: you should not force the player to do a certain activity by threatening with regress. Your suggestions goes against both these principal. This to me leads to a game that is stressful, feels like a chore, is annoying and just overall sucks the fun out of playing.


I don't see this system "forcing" anything on the player. This system seems more to provide something meaningful for the players to do after the game. If you don't want to liberate forts, don't do it! What's the problem? If you don't put a mechanic where the fort is taken back eventually, then you're essentially making it a one time thing. Resetting may not help if the events are the exact same to capture a fort, and besides, weren't you the person telling that random events are overrated? :p Essentially, this just gives a stronger context to the events, so it doesn't feel like the player is participating in these events for the sake of it.

But there's an easy to fix it for players like you. Disable the "fort can be retaken" option and put a "reset" fort button, and you're set!

Megas_Doux
06-03-2014, 05:03 PM
If there is some open world to be "imitated", is AC IVīs.....

Sushiglutton
06-03-2014, 06:32 PM
I don't see this system "forcing" anything on the player. This system seems more to provide something meaningful for the players to do after the game. If you don't want to liberate forts, don't do it! What's the problem? If you don't put a mechanic where the fort is taken back eventually, then you're essentially making it a one time thing. Resetting may not help if the events are the exact same to capture a fort, and besides, weren't you the person telling that random events are overrated? :p Essentially, this just gives a stronger context to the events, so it doesn't feel like the player is participating in these events for the sake of it.

But there's an easy to fix it for players like you. Disable the "fort can be retaken" option and put a "reset" fort button, and you're set!


Note that I wrote: "never ever force content on the player (this includes any kind of punishment for not participating in an activity)"

In Farlander's system you will get punished unless you constantly take actions to prevent forts from being retaken. In my view an open world game should never do that because it hurts player freedom. There are other options. For example the plantation model. You don't get any lasting perk from beating a plantation. For that reason there is no punishment in it resetting. On the contrary it gives you a chance to gather more resources.

The thing is that I do like the open sandbox-stealth levels. In fact they are my favourite part of the game. What I don't want is for them to be locked in with a bunch of other content that I perhaps don't want to do.

Farlander1991
06-03-2014, 07:55 PM
Sushi, a loop doesn't necessarily have to be time-based ;) Though, honestly, I personally don't have anything against real-time based loops, but that's all preferential. But the AC3 example was just an example, using AC3 elements. (And, to be fair, while Animus is a perfect narrative example that can justify every game mechanic, everything time-based kinda feels weird there...)

The main point is in having an eco-system that won't die (of course it might get boring in a while, EVERYTHING might get boring in a while), that also provides a bunch of alternatives for different things (i.e. there can't be just one way to gather something you need). Here's the thing with warehouses: after everything is said and done, they're pointless. I have more money than I will ever need, and I have bought everything resources can buy. I don't care about resources. Because the loop, which is not a loop in AC4 but a spiral, has ended. When I was still in that spiral, I had a desire to be stealthy and try different approaches to get the bonus in the end, because I needed as many things as I can get. But then I got out of the spiral, and warehouses became an activity just for the sake of it, and as a result they become not as interesting much faster than they otherwise would.

To me it doesn't feel good. AC is an open-world game with a more specific and realistic approach, and it's not a type of game where I feel like doing something just because. There are open-world games which are more suited for those kind of activities where I don't mind them, but I don't feel AC is one of them. So in case of AC4 and warehouses, for example, there has to be a part of eco-system where I'd like to invest the resources I gather in. Doesn't have to be time based, but has to be an activity/action/goal that does that. And an alternative that won't require resources for the same thing (but would be less efficient, otherwise there's no need for the first thing... or different enough... for example, in AC4 both boardings and warehouses serve the same goal - resources and money, but are different types of activities - so there are two ways we can get resources for this 'thing' that won't just end, whatever it might be). And this thing, preferably, in turn would give us something for another part of the core gameplay. This creates a loop. Now warehouses are never an activity that I do 'just because', now, regardless if I decided to go through one for fun or because I need resources - there's still a certain purpose to them. See what I mean?

PS. Never play Sid Meier's Pirates, you'll hate it :p You have a limited life-span in there and you have to try and do as best you can before you die :p

Bastiaen
06-03-2014, 08:17 PM
Applause for Sushi!

Both great perspectives, but I agree, that we should never be punished for not participating in certain activities, however, this implies easier gameplay.

Sushiglutton
06-04-2014, 10:48 AM
FIrst off I just want to stress that I realize my preferences are far from the only possible ones. I'm kind of an extremist the way I want to focus of action (=stuff you physically do in the game) and the way I think about purity in games. And your ideas are by no means bad, they just clash with my views.


Sushi, a loop doesn't necessarily have to be time-based ;) Though, honestly, I personally don't have anything against real-time based loops, but that's all preferential. But the AC3 example was just an example, using AC3 elements. (And, to be fair, while Animus is a perfect narrative example that can justify every game mechanic, everything time-based kinda feels weird there...)

Yeah in Revelation the dens were reset using the notoriety system, which was ok because you never reached full notoriety unless you really wanted too. I dunno I'm still no fan of it tbh.



The main point is in having an eco-system that won't die (of course it might get boring in a while, EVERYTHING might get boring in a while), that also provides a bunch of alternatives for different things (i.e. there can't be just one way to gather something you need). Here's the thing with warehouses: after everything is said and done, they're pointless. I have more money than I will ever need, and I have bought everything resources can buy. I don't care about resources. Because the loop, which is not a loop in AC4 but a spiral, has ended. When I was still in that spiral, I had a desire to be stealthy and try different approaches to get the bonus in the end, because I needed as many things as I can get. But then I got out of the spiral, and warehouses became an activity just for the sake of it, and as a result they become not as interesting much faster than they otherwise would.

The way I think about it is that the only point of videogames is to provide entertainment. So if activities are fun to do, that's the only point they need to have. The lifespan of a videogame is only determined by how long it provides entertainment. And how long they are enjoyable has a lot to do with (for me) how enjoyable the mechanics are. How much depth/variety/options they provide (here I include variety in scenarios and enemies etc). Also of course how interesting the world is, how rewarding exploration is and so on.

Now I will admit that (say) an enjoyable combat system doesn't work as well in pure isolation. Wrapping it up in a narrative context and having some sort of overarching goal does enhance it. Similar with warehouses. That you do get resources to improve the Jackdaw was not a completely irrelevant point. That said I have raided many warehouses just for the heck of it too, testing various techniques and such.

The main issue with AC4's endgame for me was that you had to you to level up the Jackdaw a lot to take on the legendary ships, but that meant you were way overpowered vs all other ships (even multiple of them). They should either had spawned higher level ships (at least the pirate hunters could have become way more powerful), or allowed you to downgrade the Jackdaw (again player initiated downgrading is perfectly fine imo).

Also combat is dull as dishwater. The "do crime, run from the guards" thing is super gimped and unsatisfying. Parkour is real automatic. These things makes the endgame bloodless as well.




To me it doesn't feel good. AC is an open-world game with a more specific and realistic approach, and it's not a type of game where I feel like doing something just because. There are open-world games which are more suited for those kind of activities where I don't mind them, but I don't feel AC is one of them. So in case of AC4 and warehouses, for example, there has to be a part of eco-system where I'd like to invest the resources I gather in. Doesn't have to be time based, but has to be an activity/action/goal that does that. And an alternative that won't require resources for the same thing (but would be less efficient, otherwise there's no need for the first thing... or different enough... for example, in AC4 both boardings and warehouses serve the same goal - resources and money, but are different types of activities - so there are two ways we can get resources for this 'thing' that won't just end, whatever it might be). And this thing, preferably, in turn would give us something for another part of the core gameplay. This creates a loop. Now warehouses are never an activity that I do 'just because', now, regardless if I decided to go through one for fun or because I need resources - there's still a certain purpose to them. See what I mean?

I respect this view, but it's just not the way I feel about it. I do agree with you that it's cool in AC4 that there are multiple paths to the same goal so that players can concentrate on the activity they prefer (stealth or naval).

To get a loop you kind of have to take things away for the player or upgrade enemies, no? I mean otherwise you just accumulate enormous amounts of riches, higher levels, but what's the point in that :p.

Anyhow I don't mind that there is some spiral in the game for a goal that you can actually achieve. I don't really think that is something preventing an endgame. You can still have systemic gameplay setups after the loop is finished (teasing the player with interesting enemy constellations, infiltration opportunities and so on). As long as you make sure the player isn't so overupgraded that these encounters become too easy (this was an issue in both FarCry 3 and AC4).


PS. Never play Sid Meier's Pirates, you'll hate it :p You have a limited life-span in there and you have to try and do as best you can before you die :p

I won't :)! I watched some of the stuff Star Citizen is doing. That too seems like the absolute opposite of what I want. Millions and millions of layers of various systems, loops and god knows what. And it all converges in a (from what I have seen) super underwhelming dog fighting mode. Well pretty much the entire RPG genre is like this. Tons of stats, meters, customization for a combat system that just isn't fun to do. I don't get the appeal.



Ok this became longer than I intended. Really enjoy discussing these things with you :)!

Farlander1991
06-04-2014, 01:33 PM
I was about to start answering your post in detail when I realized that I most likely won't have anything new to say :p Just a few points:

1) I'm more kind of a 'whole experience' kind of player (and designer). That said, I don't mind doing things just for the sake of doing things because they're fun, but I don't think that can be applied to everything - in a sense that I view things as being much higher quality if there's something beyond that. The activities (that are beyond core mechanics, for example 'pick a random target and try to stealthily kill it' is not considered an activity in this case) that I can do in AC4 after everything is complete, and that is: warehouses, chasing couriers, saving pirates, boarding ships, playing board games and controlling the fleet (I think that's everything?) lose their appeal a lot quicker without a loopy wra.
2) Taking away things from player does not equal 'punishing'. When you buy upgrades you spend money, is that 'punishing'? I guess from a certain perspective. But from my perspective that's being fair :p
3) RPGs are awesome :p (though, there are quite a lot of different types of RPGs and I'm not a fan of all of them). Though to be honest, quite a few of RPGs tend to go into redundancies with stats/weapons/armor/etc. what I think creates only an illusion of depth rather than actual depth (in short, I think that too many little choices is bad, I prefer less but more meaningful ones).

Rugterwyper32
06-04-2014, 03:13 PM
I made a post long ago in Future AC Titles where I had brought up the idea of cutting out the money system, just that the loop worked differently as I connected that with the return of Assassin Bureaus and combining them with stores and making stealth the better option so to avoid having to deal with Templar attempts at taking over the Bureau, but I feel this is a really good idea as well!
A few things I feel this loop could do with are elements similar to Mediterranean Defense, in which you could garrison assassins to ensure control of the city was kept. If the element of recruiting assassins did return, that'd be one of the best ways to take advantage of it, I feel. At the same time, recruiting assassins should be ever so slightly more difficult than Brotherhood and Revelations so you don't have enough assassins to hold each district perfectly without putting much effort into it.

Jexx21
06-04-2014, 03:27 PM
PS. Never play Sid Meier's Pirates, you'll hate it :p You have a limited life-span in there and you have to try and do as best you can before you die :p

replace this with: never play any roguelike ever

Sushiglutton
06-04-2014, 04:12 PM
1) I'm more kind of a 'whole experience' kind of player (and designer). That said, I don't mind doing things just for the sake of doing things because they're fun, but I don't think that can be applied to everything - in a sense that I view things as being much higher quality if there's something beyond that. The activities (that are beyond core mechanics, for example 'pick a random target and try to stealthily kill it' is not considered an activity in this case) that I can do in AC4 after everything is complete, and that is: warehouses, chasing couriers, saving pirates, boarding ships, playing board games and controlling the fleet (I think that's everything?) lose their appeal a lot quicker without a loopy wra.

I think you are correct to some extent. I may have gone a little overboard honestly. I mean I do like some form of connection and having bigger goals to strive for. It's just that I don't consider it to be number one priority. And like I said I def don't want systems which force you to constantly react to them.

I agree with you that the activities you listed do lose their appeal rather quickly (you can also keep hunting/harpooning, but same goes for them). They could last a little longer if wrapped up in a loop, but I doubt they would ever be that appealing tbh (naval and warehouses ARE ok imo). Basically a loop would be the equivalent of holding out a carrot/using a whip to make the player do things that aren't that fun to begin with. Is that a win?

I dunno, to me the main issue is that the mechaincs are not where they need to be, not the presentation. Ofc some sort of overarching system would be a plus. But Ubi always seems to focus on everything but lifting the core mechanics to higher standards, which is unfortunate. In my mind that's would they should primarily focus on and then a lot of other benefits would follow in terms of easy to design, highly enjoyable side content.



2) Taking away things from player does not equal 'punishing'. When you buy upgrades you spend money, is that 'punishing'? I guess from a certain perspective. But from my perspective that's being fair :p

Well in that case it's the player who choose to trade one thing for something he wants more.

Ofc it's also fine if there are some minor punishments, I'm not that sensitive. For example I recently played A Link to the Past and in that game there is a monster who can steal your shield with his tongue. That's a funny little detail and not a problem at all. I'm more thinking about bigger, very time consuming systems.



3) RPGs are awesome :p (though, there are quite a lot of different types of RPGs and I'm not a fan of all of them). Though to be honest, quite a few of RPGs tend to go into redundancies with stats/weapons/armor/etc. what I think creates only an illusion of depth rather than actual depth (in short, I think that too many little choices is bad, I prefer less but more meaningful ones).

*Cheers!*

Seriously something like Mass Effect's weapon system is kind of terrible in my eyes. Anyway I don't hate RPGs. I quite enjoyed Mass Effect, The Witcher 2 and so on. But not thanks to their massive amount of upgrades feeding into an underwhelming combat.

Dev_Anj
06-04-2014, 06:05 PM
Let's just think about this in your way Sushiglutton.

You don't want any fort you took to be retaken. You want these forts to be a strong stealth/combat experience. You want to do some "fun" activities ( by "fun" I'm guessing technically well made, well presented and well thought out) in the process of capturing the fort. Once this fort is yours, you want to have a reset button to replay it again.

Don't you realize that what you are asking for is essentially repeating one thing over and over? Sure, there can be more than one way to capture the fort, and I do like non linearity/ choose your own adventure styled gameplay( that's part of why I'm a fan of Hitman). But don't you think you'll run out of things to do much quicker this way?

Of course Farlander1991's solution may not be perfect, but your solution isn't free of its kinks either.

Farlander1991
06-04-2014, 07:22 PM
Basically a loop would be the equivalent of holding out a carrot/using a whip to make the player do things that aren't that fun to begin with. Is that a win?

No offense, Sushi, but you seem to get back to this particular argument against a loop, and while I see your position fully, this particular part that you come back to seems fickle to me. Why do you presume that loop consists of things that aren't fun to begin with? For example, as I said in my example, it presumes that there are no problems with core mechanics/gameplay systems, that all the elements themselves are designed in a good way. I mean, yes, if we take particular EXISTING examples from AC games, there are parts that could use a lot of improvements, but this thread is more about open-world design principles rather than the existing flawed systems. So, to answer your question - it's not a win. But if all parts of the loop are fun - then it is, because then instead of a carrot/whip scenario it's a, well, fun loop with a wide range of activities.

Sushiglutton
06-04-2014, 07:34 PM
No offense, Sushi, but you seem to get back to this particular argument against a loop, and while I see your position fully, this particular part that you come back to seems fickle to me. Why do you presume that loop consists of things that aren't fun to begin with? For example, as I said in my example, it presumes that there are no problems with core mechanics/gameplay systems, that all the elements themselves are designed in a good way. I mean, yes, if we take particular EXISTING examples from AC games, there are parts that could use a lot of improvements, but this thread is more about open-world design principles rather than the existing flawed systems. So, to answer your question - it's not a win. But if all parts of the loop are fun - then it is, because then instead of a carrot/whip scenario it's a, well, fun loop with a wide range of activities.

Ok then I missunderstood you. The reason I assumed that is because AC has a lot of mediocre content (such as catching couriers etc) that isn't fun and I thought your loop would consists of a mixture of such stuff.

Given a fixed set of mechanics adding some sort of (non-forcing) loop may make the experience more enjoyable. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the priority for AC at this point is to brush up its mechanics.

BoBwUzHeRe1138
06-04-2014, 10:53 PM
Hahahahaha I disagree with this soooo much :D! I will start by saying I think your ideas are well presented/thoughtout and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with them in principal. But they are orthogonal to my OW preferences!


To me one of the core principals of open-world games is that they should never ever force content on the player (this includes any kind of punishment for not participating in an activity). Instead they should try to sell content by teasing/rewarding, but if the player choose to walk away there should be no consequences. Another important principal is that there should be no regress unless the player specifically asks for it (like the reset option for the camps in FarCry). This is actually more of a corollary to the first principal: you should not force the player to do a certain activity by threatening with regress. Your suggestions goes against both these principal. This to me leads to a game that is stressful, feels like a chore, is annoying and just overall sucks the fun out of playing.

I also don't think activities being part of an overall loop is that critical. By far the most important thing to me is that the activities are fun in their own right. A deeper, more interactive parkour system would for example mean countless of hours of enjoyment as I just aimlessly ran around the city trying to find cool lines. Connecting the current system in an overall loop of (say) catching robbers would do nothing for me. I do see the value of activities being thematically consistent and having a similar style of gameplay (aka third person action, no strategy games). Having some sort of overall goal (like the legendary ships) is cool too. In general I want the content to mainly focus on action (in a wide sense: stuff you do) and exploration. Book keeping, economy, various meters going up and down etc I'm far less interested in.

I think the idea of endless fun is an illusion and pointless to chase. It's simply impossible to achieve. Sooner or later you will get bored. To make the game last as long as possible you need to:
1) Have deep and enjoyable mechanics that feel great to do in their own right.
2) A variety of different flavoured content so you can go from saying sneaking in a plantation into fire a broadside into a Man Of War.
3) Systemic content that constantly presents unique gameplay opportunities for the player.
4) Option to reset/replay some content.

It will never be enough though. Sooner or later you will just lose interest. Then you can come back a few months later and replay the game instead.



Ok just some thoughts I randomly typed in as well :p

I agree with this. One of the best things about open world games is they have the potential to push what games as a medium can do that no other art forms can. One of the biggest things is having a wide range of variable activities. I will always point to Spider-Man 2 for the Xbox/PS2 and Red Dead Redemption. They're not 100% perfect by any means but each ad a wide range of random activities that you may or may not do without any real penalty.

In Spider-Man 2 you have a wide range of random events dotting the city in addition to the main story. These random events helped cement the game as one of my all time favorites. You can go from breaking up a gang war to saving a civilian before they fall to catching a balloon and returning it to a little child to fighting mechs to saving a bunch of people on a sinking boat. But you can also do none of that if you didn't want to.

RDR is the same but also has mini games like poker and regenerating gang hideouts which means you always have something to do even after the main story. You can choose to tackle these random activities OR you can decide "no, I'd rather just slaughter people and get into a stand off with the authorities." The point is that they provide these random things to do if you CHOOSE. There's nothing worse than a sandbox game that basically has nothing left to do once you complete the story and side quests. Then you're just exploring a virtually empty city. For instance, Sleeping Dogs is REALLY fun but it could pretty much not be a sandbox/open world game because there's so little to do after the story and side missions. You can do **** fights which are annoying as it's purely random meaning you're literally just watching something happen and then there's one to two repeatable activities. The game essentially leaves you to make your own fun by killing civilians/cops. While that obviously needs to be an option...it shouldn't be the only thing to do after the game is beaten. You should be able to screw around like that if you want OR take part in a slew of optional random events and acts. It's all about populating the game world with things to do.

RDR is probably the best example...there are random events ALL OVER the game world but you also have the various mini-games to do as well as the regenerating gang hideouts which are essentially the same thing as the forts from AC3 (only without stealth mechanics)

Jexx21
06-04-2014, 11:06 PM
liberation loop sounds like the notoriety loop but with different actions and on a larger scale.