Why do so many games *CONTINUE* to have uncontested skill barriers to entry?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Ilk1986, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    What I mean by the thread title is this:

    No matter which way you turn, basically no matter which competitive game you play, there is always some must-do something-or-other that has literally no interaction with opponents, takes a ginormous amount of time, and is more or less, all around, an unpleasant experience keeping you from playing "the real game".

    Even the best games have these sorts of idiotic aspects in them:
    The best RTSs: poor UIs that force muscle memory, or deliberately stupid mechanics such as SC2's macro mechanics, which make players play against the game in addition to their opponent.

    Fighting Games: deliberately difficult inputs, whether it's very closely overlapping moves (EG why wasn't Sol's sidewinder 236+P in the air instead of 236+H, where it had a good chance of overlap with VV? Wolverine's UMVC3 move "Swiss Cheese" was deliberately implemented to trip up players who are trying to execute combo attacks such as LMLH or whatnot), inputs more difficult than they need to be (360s, Sol's grand viper), deliberately unforgiving timing windows (FRCs, other cancel-type windows), deliberate "glitches" (jump install, jump-canceling, Plinking, option selects, SHFFLing and L canceling from SSBM), etc... Your opponent has no effect on whether not you can do these. It's simply a case of, once again, building muscle memory and dexterity to do them.

    TCGs/CCGs: actually getting the damn cards. And to make it worse, because of bonafide Sirlin textbook definition SCRUBS, by the time you actually do get them, there will already have been cries of WAAAH NERF NERF NERF. Because people want to have fun, and then wind up getting slaughtered by competitive players.

    Tangent: In fact, in card games, I actually think that there's such a thing as too much variety, because at some point, you can no longer put together enough resources in a single deck/file/strategy/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to be able to simply outplay everyone. AKA, I prefer environments where there are several overpowered cards scattered across all the factions, and when you have this top tier of overpowered stuff, you actually wind up having a lot better matches than a random blowout because you just so happened to be playing your opponent's weakness or vice versa.

    Basically, why do we continue to have uncontested skill barriers to entry in games? Wouldn't games be better if we could all hop right in, play the real game, and depend on our opponents to provide us with strategic depth, difficulty, and opposition, as opposed to difficult inputs, clunky interfaces, or ridiculous gambling/collecting schemes?
  2. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    It's not always that simple. For example, you say that the SC2 macro mechanics are an uncontested skill and activating them on time every time is uncontested in the mechanics of it, but it's a decision every time for many things. Notably Protoss and Terran (less so with Zerg, but with them you have the idea of killing the queen).

    There's a huge difference in future interactions between a Protoss that chronoboosts warpgate once, twice, or three times. It's not exactly clear how you'd make that more straightforward other than maybe allowing you to Queue up chronoboosts on a building (which overall might not be a bad UI enhancement). There's a big risk difference in when/how often you MULE even if it does become moot later on in the game (though there's still always the decision of where to MULE). If you took out chronoboost/MULE you'd be restricting the possible interactions players could have later on. Maybe it's worth it, maybe it's not, but it's not just as straight forward as being able to say it's uncontested and doesn't need to be there.

    Likewise for fighting games, I was under the impression that some move inputs were intentionally a little more involved to slow down the possible response time to throw out a move. Now I bet a lot of moves could be trimmed, but clearly there are some difficult trade-offs or complex challenges if/when you do it.

    I guess my point is that you need to be really careful when calling specific things uncontested skills in complex systems/games. It's not always the case, nor is it always clear cut. Especially when you're looking at an unreleased/unfinished game.
  3. BeastofBurden

    BeastofBurden Well-Known Member

    Logo is right about the decision making with sc2's macro mechanics. Ilk wouldn't know because he didn't play SC2 at a decent level or understanding, which is why he would rather leave Terran Mules on auto-cast only to die to single DT or cloaked Banshee in his base due to lack of energy for a Scan, or when someone attacks his ramp and kill his supply depots he'd not have enough energy for a supply depot drop to keep producing units to defend properly. Or leave his Nexus auto-casting Chronoboost on his Nexus for faster workers after he fast expands, only to die to an incoming timing attack scouted at a Xel'Naga tower because he lacked enough energy on the nexus to instead chronoboost his warpgates to get enough units to defend the push.
  4. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    Nobody's denying that every game is going to have SOME learning curve. After all, you have to understand how the game WORKS. But then there's the "well, I know how the game works--it's just that I can't execute a move when I want to". AKA is your game a case of "intention=execution"? Of course not, but how are you doing your damndest to make sure it is as close to that as possible?

    Not sure I agree with the macro mechanics assertions. Yes, it's a choice, but executionwise, it's more difficult than it needs to be. For instance, I want you to, at some point, just playing alone or vs. a very easy computer or whatever, take all of your production buildings (Nexuses, Gateways, Warp Gates, Star Gates, Robo Facilities), and put them into a control group. Just one big group. Now, notice how you can just go 4 (or whatever hotkey you assign for your production) E (for probe), tab, Z click click click click, tab, V, V, V, V, V, tab, C, C, C? That's about as easy as it gets between giving you a choice (what if you only want to build two zealots and 3 stalkers?), and making it as efficient as possible. Now, what if you were at the Nexus part of your control group tabbing and pressed C, and tried to click on another wireframe of a building to chrono boost it from the control group, instead of literally mousing over it on the map?

    Oops, can't do that. That's just dumb. Also, why can't you stack or queue chrono boosts (you can summon as many mules as you have energy for at once, and they all mine)? Also dumb.

    Same deal with Mules. Look, if I'm calling down mules in the general vicinity of a command center near a bunch of mineral patches, nine out of ten times, what the heck do you think I want those mules to do? Is the game AI so unbelievably bad that it can't add "mule+mineral patches" to equal "mine"? Yes, there MAY be that one time you want to summon mules to repair a bunch of tanks/battlecruisers/thors that just so happen to be stationed at that mineral location. Fair enough. If you want to do that, THEN you'll have to select your mules that are mining and tell them to go and repair your units.

    But currently, mules NEITHER repair, NOR mine when they're called down. They just sit there. So it would be a strict improvement if mules did either or when summoned.

    Also, same deal with call down supply depot. Do I REALLY care which particular supply depot gets extra supplies, when I already have five of them there? No, not particularly.

    IMO, a game designer should always seek to make a competitive game as brainlessly easy to play in a "solitaire" fashion as possible. Why? Because good competitive games have opponents to provide you with a challenge.
  5. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Yeah but look into the trap you fell into. Now you're backtracking and saying that specific mechanics of the macro mechanics are the problem and could be improved rather than the whole thing. If we had gone on your first assertion unchallenged we would have removed chronoboost, mules, and larva inject because they were uncontested mechanics. My point pretty much is that you need to approach stuff carefully not just tear out everything you think is uncontested.

    (Also yes specifying the supply depot is important as you don't want to boost a supply depot that's on the edge of your base or part of your wall-in).

    I'd say this is true until you consider spectating and pacing of the game.
  6. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    The "real" game is the game that you actually play, not the game you wish you played. If for instance you think of the opponent as the yardstick against which you are tested, rather than the test, this not only makes the "unnecessary" parts of video games make sense (as an obstacle separate from and potentially equal to the mental challenge) but it also makes it possible to understand popular games like bowling, running, archery, darts, horseshoes, marksmanship, synchronized swimming, and horse as things that people do on purpose for fun, in order to compete, rather than as absurd contradictions.

    There is great fun in totally interactive psychological combat (but see the other thread on this topic for why no game is purely interactive) and I am all for people making more games that emphasize that element. But there is nothing at all wrong with indirect or comparative competition, nor with the games that blend both. Instead I'd argue that the games like Street Fighter or StarCraft that blend both kinds of competition are the superior game, because they provide a wider range of experiences. Why would you make a game that engages only the rational faculties, when you could make a game that engages both mind and body?

    (My question and your question have the same answer: because people enjoy playing them.)
    zem likes this.
  7. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    As much as I agree with your issues with card games... I believe that thinking of card games are purely competitive is a little silly to be honest. Yes the competitive game is marred by the collection aspect, but Magic for instance is partially about the collection. There is a somewhat fun game to be played with the trading, deciding which packs to buy, and what you are going to build and what compromises you are going to make and how are you going to overcome them with what you have.

    Personally, the most boring part of magic for me was once I started playing a bit more seriously, and was forced to actually play the 'real game' with all better cards/decks.

    And, just as there is fun to all of that stuff I outlined in magic there is fun to be had in the process of learning, discovering and honing your skills? Do I believe we have too many high profile titles with too much execution... Yes. Is the fact they are difficult entirely bad? Not really otherwise why would so many people actively want it? It might make them slightly worse on the competition of contested skills, but isn't that what makes fighters interesting? The combination of contested and uncontested skills?
  8. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    What I'm saying is if I call down a supply depot reinforcement in some general direction, and I have a cluster of the things in the corner of my base, I don't care which of those it lands on. As for that TL;DR epic fapping to a cheater article, I think it proves my point entirely. It wasn't mechanical requirements that allowed Savior to pull off those attacks, but moves he himself made.

    My point is that if your game needs the players to fight against the interface, then your game isn't deep enough, period. A good game is one in which my opponent would be able to keep my attention the whole game through, rather than needing menial tasks to detract from it.

    Mechanical skills are uncontested. Doing 236+P->FRC gunflame is a mechanical skill. Nothing your opponent does will make 236+P->FRC not do gunflame FRC. The question is: "when I intend to do gunflame FRC, why do I have to practice that move a thousand times to train it into muscle memory"?

    Now you can hop onto the Starcraft example (an old, clunky-interfaced game, only worshiped by a nation that lacks any other sort of pro athletes outside perhaps soccer, and even bad ones there), and as you can see, many issues in its interface (12 unit control groups, single building select, rally mining) were then rectified in the next iteration (and in my opinion, may have made for an even better SC1, but I digress). All of those savior games were a case of "intention=execution". The reason that TL.net is all over his tiny wang is that he made his opponents momentarily pause their intent.
    BeastofBurden likes this.
  9. BeastofBurden

    BeastofBurden Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you're angry. Since we cannot down vote anymore, I'll just like your post.
  10. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    He couldn't have done any of them if his opponents were not busy doing macro and stuff at the same time.

    Remove what you want removed and it becomes impossible to pull it of.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for making a strategically deep game with lighter execution, just don't try to change starcraft 2 to something that is not starcraft 2. Instead start working on a concept for a perfect game. - You might actually some day get the opportunity to develop it (or go light on ressources and hardware and do it yourself) so it might do something useful instead of ranting other games.

    I'm doing something similar. I think going back closer to the tabletop genre might help, like the Total War series with better controls and better multiplayer support. Don't simulate every soldier like they do but just the regiments and do it with flash, could work nicely ...
  11. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    You don't think so? I'm sure he could have. It meant that the attention he spent on his own macro would have then been devoted to yet another force somewhere else. See what I'm getting at? Why does the game itself need to be an attention sink? If your opponent can provide you with all of the mental stimulation you need, what more is there left to say than the depth is there?
    BeastofBurden likes this.
  12. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Maybe you get something with less deathball and 5 force moving simultaneously.

    Maybe it is better, I just don't try to change sc2 but I make my own game where you move 10 unit groups simultaneously with no macro involved. If you have an as good understanding of the matter as you believe you do go ahead and use it instead of random flaming on mechanics that are liked by millions.

    For the record, I'm not good at sc2 (silver/gold league when I played 50 games) because I prefer other aspects in games (slower, more time for important decisions, less automatic repetition).
  13. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    Jonathan Blow gave an anecdote about how he got into a flame war with the id Software guys when they released the source code of Doom. The way assets were packaged there was the simplest, dumbest implementation: just a list of names and pointers at the start of the file, so lookup would mean a slow, linear search. Jon went into full nerd rage mode, saying that they're "obviously" stupid and lazy for not going with a more sophisticated data structure like a hash table or somesuch. However, in practice, the performance impact of this lookup was negligible (everything else during loading is way slower), so optimizing it only makes your code harder to read/write/debug/maintain/compile/etc. - basically, in the real world, it'd be worse in every conceivable way.

    The point was that people are too quick to assume that others are idiots, and don't really try to take the time to understand that there might in fact be good reasons for why some things are the way they are. There are tons of subtle implications to any design that don't come up at the theorycrafting level, which you are liable to miss. So you should entertain the idea that maybe you don't truly understand what the other guy is saying.

    To pick an example from SC2 other than the macro mechanics: pathfinding. You would "obviously" want pathfinding to not be terrible (as it was in SC1). However, that means it's possible to pack units together much more tightly, leading to armies becoming "deathballs" that simply attack-move into each other, which is worse for gameplay (that is why they're taking steps in the expansion to try and combat this).

    You listed "option selects" as something that would need to be removed from fighting games, but that is also not so trivial. Option selects mostly exist due to lenient inputs, and that failing the non-input-based entry conditions for a move doesn't halt progress down the move priority list. If you screw around with those, you'd instead get moves requiring tight timing or simply not coming out.

    Leartes makes a good point: if you want to truly understand something, don't stop at theorycrafting, go build the damn thing! An actual, tangible prototype is also a lot more effective at convincing people than a bunch of flames on a forum.
    zem, Atma, Logo and 2 others like this.
  14. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    I'd love to see a game like this!

    But keep in mind spectators!

    Once again look at perfect UI Starcraft 2 where you then now want to split well microed forces across 8-10 different fronts all working together (or some other attention sink if that's what we want). That'd probably be really fun for gameplay.... but what about the spectators? You're making the game much much harder for them to watch and follow along.

    An overall point I'm trying to make is, unfortunately I suppose, is if you're trying to make a truly competitive game (as in a game that's not just fun to play, but enjoyable enough to watch that there can be money in playing it) some of the requirements for that are going to be in conflict with good design principals.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is either you can make the 'perfect' competitive game OR you can make a competitive game that's fun and really enjoyable to watch, but you probably can't do both. And you may think you want the 'perfect' game everytime (and it'd be awesome to have that option don't get me wrong), but at some point which is more exciting, playing a game with $50,000 on the line or playing a perfect game (keeping in mind the more money in competition the more likely an inferior player can have shot at winning small amounts of money in a tournament).

    FWIW I think fighting games could possibly reach both potentials at once, but even then I don't think it's likely.

    This isn't entirely pathfinding, the unit bounding/pathing boxes in SC2 are very tight to the size of the unit itself. You could expand the bounding box of the units (possibly separate from hitbox) and force units to not clump as much. You'd have more units pushing each other around, but the pathfinding would still feel effective. The only limitation to tinkering with that is what can fit on a ramp.
  15. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    @ pkt-zer0: I'm not sure I agree with your point on option selects. Why? Because they're present in no other fighting game. I suppose you could make the case for Smash Brothers actually having option selects present with shield-grabbing, but for instance, in MvC3 and Guilty Gear, there are no option selects (maybe because instead of option selects, you get push-blocking and faultless DF, respectively), there are no option-selects with Mortal Kombat (block button!), there are no option selects with Soul Calibur, or any other fighting game. It's just Street Fighter that has them. And, going by what you said, they're exactly an issue with the game mechanics, as opposed to something intentional.

    Now I love how everyone jumps on the Starcraft example, and as for creating a game...well, I simply don't do that kind of coding. Don't know a shred of Actionscript/Flash/whatever it is you program games with. As for the SC examples...I'm just saying that the macro mechanics could be streamlined. The way they are now, they deliberately move away from intention=execution. For instance, if I think "I want to call down some mules to mine minerals", why do I have to go and click on the freaking mules? If I summon mules at a natural expansion, do I really want them to stand there and think "well maybe he wants to select them for repairs". And sometimes, I may want to. But most of the time, I don't.

    Even more egregiously, protoss's Chronoboost. What would be wrong with queuing several Chronoboosts on one building? What about being able to Chronoboost from the wireframe, as opposed to clicking on an individual building? Once again, deliberate inefficiency.

    Moving onto Zerg queens: why isn't (at least) the spawn larva ability a toggled autocast? You can even make the case for a toggled transfuse, though the spread creep would probably not be such a good idea. I mean think about it--in warcraft 3, you could autocast moonwells, couldn't you? Uh huh.

    My opinion is that if you need to add in uncontested skill testers, then odds are, your game doesn't have enough depth. As for spectators...I think spectators would prefer that they were able to see the reasons that a player won as opposed to some sort of subtleties that don't readily lend themselves to appearing on screen.
    BeastofBurden likes this.
  16. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Then Starcraft is the worst spectator game ever because people watching understand/see very little of what is actually going on that determines the winner. Even casters miss or avoid talking about very important/brilliant stuff. For example, as a spectator you see the order of buildings, not the fact that doing something a certain way means you get to place a building precisely when you have enough resources and that building will finish precisely when you have enough resources to make several units that will finish right as a related upgrade finishes so that no time is wasted on any aspect and you've minimized the window in which you are vulnerable. Likewise you don't see a player's fog so the whole idea of managing vision is very hard to see as a spectator.

    As to that first sentence there was a thread not too long ago (I think the other Contested vs Uncontested skill thread) where we talked back and forth about whether or not a uncontested skill is capable of diminishing the contested skills (depth) of a game (and if so the extent that it's possible). I'd suggest looking through that rather than dredging up the topic again.

    There are some answers to why certain things aren't like they are in respects to streamlining macro mechanics, but wireframe casting worked fine and is only disabled to force camera movement, so it's not really worth picking them apart because we all agree aspects could be streamlined if desired.
  17. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    That "force camera movement" is exactly the nonsense I'm talking about. Same thing as 632146+P for a command grab when something like 236+P would do just as well.
    BeastofBurden likes this.
  18. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    But it won't. 632146 is unquestionably going to take longer to input than 236 which changes how it handles different situations. There may be other more streamlined ways of handling it, but 2-3-6 isn't strictly better for the game without considering other factors. Now if the average good player (or pro player) can input both moves in the same # of frames then you can safely make the argument that it's unnecessary. Even if that's not the case you may decide you don't want long inputs so you avoid moves that are balanced around them. That's also fine, but it's going in a different direction rather than just streamlining an existing thing.

    The value/worth of causing more camera movement for SC2 is more debatable about it's worth, though I wasn't defending it or condemning it in my previous post.
  19. CWheezy

    CWheezy Well-Known Member

    Don't respond to ilk about option selects, because he knows nothing about fighting games at all, he thinks they are not something present in literally every fighting game ever made
    Mad King likes this.
  20. pkt-zer0

    pkt-zer0 Well-Known Member

    To be honest, I'm not familiar with non-SF fighting games or their engines (the majority of my experience is a couple hundred hours of SF4, actually), so maybe other games avoid this problem better. The point was that this is a side-effect of adding input leniency (intended to make execution easier!), not a deliberate "glitch".

    There is no such thing as "games coding", or "languages for coding games". Learning syntax is the most trivial aspect of them all. So the above makes no sense to me.

    Regarding forced camera movement: what is not on your screen is sort-of hidden information and sort-of noncontrollable (you still have the minimap and control groups), so this mechanic involves trading information/control for some other in-game resource. That seems like a perfectly valid reason for it, and I'd guess it's closer to the angle Blizzard were approaching it from than "adding uncontested skill barriers to entry".
    Leartes likes this.
  21. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    SC2 is huge as a spectator game.

    SC2 matches are decided to a pretty large amount by actions not visible to the spectator.

    Not sure what you try to argue here, but I as a spectator want to see some guy do amazing micro while I sit back, drink beer and relax. When I play in this relaxed state I am capable of at most 60 apm (in dota, sc2 even less) and I'm not capable of understanding much more than 100 apm while doing nothing.
    Therefore if pros micro a battle with all their 300+ apm I can not follow what they are doing in its full extent, I can only watch the outcome (like I can see some tanks go in siege mode, but I can't follow the commands). Now if all commands had an outcome as direct as you propose I would not be able to follow a SC2 match in a relaxed state, it would exhaust me a lot. Therefore it would make SC2 a worse spectator game for me (and I think I belong to the majority of casual SC2 gamers that suck around in a low league and watch a stream every now and then).

    Obviously this makes SC2 a worse game for me to play. I think I would have more fun playing it if it had more of the mechanis you propose. But I don't really want that either, since I prefer playing a relaxed game of dota and watch a relaxed game of SC2.
    Now stop messing with one of my favorite games and make your own - but wait.

    You waste time creating this thread instead of learning the basics ? If you put some dedication into it, you can learn simple programming in a week. The hard part is getting good assets, coding is sooo much less work (in terms of time invested).

    And even if you don't want to do it, go ahead and formalise the game you wish to play. With some luck there are people on the forum looking for a project worth doing - at least I'm looking for a game concept that convinces me to work on it, so far I have failed with my own design.
  22. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Ouch... that hurts.

    I'll go cry in the corner now :).

    (it's true though if you use mod tools vs going from scratch).
  23. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    Leartes, I know how to code in other programming languages. I do financial programming currently, and also implement statistical algorithms as part of Stanford's Machine Learning course.

    Just never seen actionscript/flash. As for formalizing a game...hm...
  24. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    If you know any of the object oriented languages you pretty much know actionscript.
  25. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but to be honest. I tried making simple flash and java games. I'm pretty confident in getting the core of the gamerules done and working. But even simple flash games that don't look like total crap need lots of work on pixelart or vector graphics. Maybe it is just because I suck at doing it, but I usually feel constraint by needing 50-100 icons, 30 animated 2d units and stuff like that.
    I know you can do it simpler, but I have certain visions and I don't want to fall short ...

    Well one week might be to little if you don't know the matter at all. I started programming as part of my bachelor in computer science. I had a course over one semester (3 month lectures) with 2 lectures a week and some exercise.
    At the end I was no good programmer, I was a total beginner, but I had all tools needed to start working on my own projects. You don't need to understand fancy generics to start working on games, you only need a good place to look stuff up and people to ask questions.
    Therefore I believe if you concentrate your effort on learning flash/actionscript you can do much faster with all the tutorials and ressources provided online. Maybe as a total beginner you need two weeks up to a month to learn enough to get something started, but this is not the case here.

    Well if noone ever started to use anything except assembler ... well lets leave it at that.

    I think you do have your own ideas about games and maybe you're right in some way. I just think it doesn't work changing the fundamentals of a successfull game or genre. If you want to change something you have to make a proof of concept and not start a topic "Why do so many games *CONTINUE* to have uncontested skill barriers to entry?" when you haven't discussed the matter with the people that make the games you talk about.
    It's like I have read your opinion and maybe - maybe - it will influence me in the unlikely case I make a successfull game someday.
  26. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Well Flash, especially with something like Flixel, is incredibly generous in what it gives you for capabilities out of the box. (Actionscript is probably my #1 starter programming language really given at how easy it is to get something visual going).

    Animation, sounds, graphic rendering, etc. all come out of the box with flash and Flixel can even provide key customization and collision detection. Move away from pre-existing engines or even onto more powerful engines and the art requirements stay the same while the programming requirements skyrocket.
  27. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Hmh, so far I have worked from scratch. But I never tried to do fancy stuff like 3D graphics or 3D world. So far I tried to do 2D tile and turnbased strategy or card games. As long as you don't try to do complex ability interactions or an ai it's really simple (and imo has lots of potential).
    I mean programming wise it can't be hard to do a new panzer general, but I wouldn't want to do it with noone doing the graphics, animations, sound effects etc.

    As I said above, currently I think about easy ways to bring tabletop gaming online, but I haven't started anything yet. (Maybe someone remembers, I was working on some CCG-idea for some time, but I stopped it since I can't make nice pictures for cards and I don't want to start a community project atm due to my master thesis)
  28. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    If you're working with flash it's really a high level language and a lot is abstracted out for you already. Even compared to something like XNA you get a lot for free. Also there tends to be a big jump between simple games and more complex games (especially real time vs turned based or something with networking capabilities).

    Also in your case I'd recommend: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ChrisHildenbrand/20111114/8882/

    Graphics don't necessarily need to be that hard to do. Vector graphics, like the guide I linked, really help a ton in streamlining graphics for a game.
  29. SW

    SW Active Member

    Lack of programming skill is no excuse at all. I was reading the thread and the solution is obvious.

    If you are complaining about something like SC2, just make a custom map. You don't even need programming skills, only ability to specify unit stats and abilities, and you can add code only if you really need it. Everything else, from graphics, interface, physics, networking, matchmaking and all the other annoying stuff that is required to make a game accessible to a larger audience is there.

    And then there is taking a subset of mugen and getting it balanced and with sound inputs.

    And then there is board games, pen and paper games and such don't need anything then a definition of the rules and a printer at most.
    If you ask me, the actual design is the hard part, if you want a game that is both fun and competitive, to large group of players. I personally think I have zero chance of making anything as good as SC2 (as flawed as hindsight and perfectionism would suggest). Just compare the resource, a massive playtesting team, almost unbounded source for new ideas and feedback, and equally huge base of statistical data.

    It appears to me that the vast majority of humans spend their time enjoying things like singing, dancing, sports (a huge chunk of which have no 'strategy', like the 2 24h golf channels I have bundled in my cable package). The "real game" is actually a idea that is liked by a vanishing tiny group of people (remember all the guys whining about MBS in SC2?) and optimizing it is likely to result in commercial failure.

    If I'm making the new blockbuster game with a budge and strong basic features (engine/support/interface/polish), I'd explicitly aim for a centralist position that seeks to be tolerable to the largest audience then to be optimal for a small one. Unless I can charge $500 bucks for a game or something, volume is king.
  30. FMJaguar

    FMJaguar Administrator

    zem and CWheezy like this.
  31. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Nothing new. But in this context completely wrong.

    You don't need to practice programming for 10 years before you start your first small game project. Much better to start your first project in week 1 and learn by doing.
  32. SW

    SW Active Member

    I was just thinking about stuff posted here, and there is a few ideas I need worked out here.

    1. Interacting singing game:
    There are singing contests since forever, but there isn't one where players interact. With independent component analysis it is very possible to separate out different voices at the same time, and all that it takes is coming up with a good interaction rule and a scoring mechanism. Being someone completely ignorant about music, I'll hold off proposing the solution here.

    2. SC/SC2's noninteracting elements is a result of following things:
    a. Fog of war is strong and there is long stretches of information black out
    b. If one builds the game to focus on interaction despite strong fog of war, you get:
    b.1 Brittle results because a few guesses between scouting periods is more important, and short fights (which have more variance then, say, macro or creep spread) is far more decisive. It makes it harder for stronger players to win.
    b.2 Boredom where players do little while waiting for opponent info to come it (wait for scan, timing to sack a overlord, etc)

    So to prevent this from happening, mechanics requirement is added onto the game. If one gave the interface the kind of power of Supcom games it would actually make the game worst.

    For a interaction heavy RTS to work, what is needed is:
    c.1. Scouting information is updated very quickly and rather consistently
    c.2. Scouting information can be exploited quickly and often with actions (none of this scout the other guy and figure the best thing is to siege up and built turrets for 15 minutes stuff)

    The kind of play that fits the above model would be something like drop play, where rapid information updates (eg defending muta stack position) and exploitation of small stretches of poor defence is important. Tech based scouting works at too slow pace to fuel the game without radical redesign of the concept in most games.
  33. TheRealBobMan

    TheRealBobMan Member

    I didn't see anyone correct you, so I'll point out that there are option selects in Guilty Gear. If you hit back to throw and push H+something, yeah, you get Faultless or Slashback. Hit forward and you can option select another move. The game performs the lowest rank button pushed, so P+H results in punch coming out. However, it'll detect throws. So you can 6+P+H for a throw attempt, that, upon being out of range or failing for any reason (opponent used something throw invincible), results in your forward punch anti-air coming out. Same thing works in the air. Also, I found out recently that this even works with bursts (6+H+D results in a throw attempt that will Gold Burst if a throw is not possible).

    Chip likes 6+S+H because he has his really fast (frame 4) c.S come out at that range, so if they jump out, he can still do something, and if they try to hit him with something throw invincible, he has a good move come out. You can also play shenanigans with 6+K+H, but it's highly stupid (his forward kick goes airborne, so it beats some sweeps and is throw invincible, meaning that if you think they're going to command throw after you've already committed to a dash in throw, you can beat the attempt). I-No can play some reset games and option select parts of her combos to go for an air-throw against a tech if she leaves a gap, making them afraid to tech, letting her do more efficient combos or get more damage in, or get knockdown where she shouldn't. Of course she still has to make appropriate reads to deal with a lot of the openings she gives, but she can divert focus off of some of them this way.

    And honestly, if you want to hit back+H, you get your 5H move if the throw attempt fails. So you can make quite a variety of moves come out when you whiff a throw, whether it be on the ground or airborne. You don't have those option selects like jump in whatever > buffered uppercut, with the result being an uppercut if the jump-in whiffs or no uppercut if it hits due to hit-lag.
  34. Jobber

    Jobber Well-Known Member

    "Barrier to entry" is not the same as a "barrier to being good," which is what the OP is really complaining about. If you took golf as an example, a barrier to entry could be not being able to afford fees and equipment, or being stuck on a desert island. Being awful at the game and saying "I can't drive the a ball straight for 300 yard or make 20-foot putts" is not listing barriers to entry, it's just saying you're not good at a game that's inherently impossible to coming close to perfecting. Even if you've got a +35 handicap, it's not like you're being prevented from playing the game at all and having a good time. If you had to be elite in order to enjoy playing a sport, nobody would ever play recreationally.

    A game doesn't have to have head-to-head interaction for people to enjoy it, it can be simply about who can perform whatever task better than the other guy. Fact of the matter is that there are people who like to compete about things like setting a world record score in Pac-man and Donkey Kong, or establish speed run records in Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man. Fact of the matter is, people generally enjoy those types of contests. Outside of computer games, many of the most popular games, sports, and activities in which people participate are all about "uncontested skills." Such examples include bowling, most track and field events, darts, and golf; mostly uncontested contests such as pool; subjectively-scored contests like cooking and dancing; bizarre ones like eating; and ones that are randomly and largely unfair such as spelling bees.

    Just FYI, Korea's national teams are respectable in soccer and no worse than third in baseball. They have a fair amount of PGA tour members for a country their size, and they usually do quite respectably at the Olympic and Winter Games medal counts.
    zem likes this.
  35. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    This actually describes SC2 more than the first section. You have to remember that in Starcraft (2) you do a LOT of scouting in a negative way (you don't see something at a certain time which rules out one possibility or you see a particular unit and that rules out several builds). While the 'in a vacuum' optimal solutions aren't fast, there's generally something of a solution you can employ immediately unless your build is bad.
    Sure there's a FEW windows of being blacked out, and scouting could overall be a bit better (see positive changes in that direction like obs cost reduction, hallucination changes, and overseer cost reduction), but generally the game tends closer to the second. Generally the periods where you are blacked out are there somewhat intentionally to allow for Fog of War to actually give some flexibility in what you can do.

    Most surprises from FoW stem from either very early game stuff or from a player neglecting their scouting (either unintentionally or as a way to cut some corners for a potential gain if they guess right). If you play often then beyond the initial game period you rarely feel like you don't have a general handle on what your opponent is doing or could be doing. Most things that surprise you even if you stay on top of everything tend to do so in a way where you're capable of handling it, but just not quite optimized to handle it.
  36. Spurn

    Spurn Active Member

    Well you could always try programming in Mugen. Enjoy the consequences of 1 button push sonic booms.

    I agree that I wish they had some 2d fighter with less execution barriers. I'm not satisfied with what I've seen out there. (part of my qualifier is a game that can be played online against others)
  37. Coffee

    Coffee Active Member

    You can if you enjoy tripping. Most people don't.

    Also, SW's post about Starcraft makes no sense to me. The game is very much a constant exercise in keeping tabs on your opponent. Logo's points about negative scouting are exactly on the mark - at lower levels, it doesn't really work though because people are horrible and basically do whatever and their opponents don't punish it. At higher levels, people WILL kill you for stupid shit, so that basic respectfor the opponent sanitizes a lot of things out. At those levels, the tells couldn't really matter less and you're better off going for that actual, positive information which is easier to get than in a higher-level game.

    (Good example: I'm Bronze-horrible and lost some games against Bronze/Silver players to one-base Muta because I counted it out: I know one-base Muta shouldn't be feasible so a sane person wouldn't do it. I'm bad, didn't prepare against air or just fucking kill him because I didn't see a second base, lost. Such is life.)
  38. NoahTheDuke

    NoahTheDuke Active Member

    There is no, and there can be no distinction between those two. Not in fighting games, not in strategy games, not in Yomi, not in Go, not in Monopoly, not in anything. The act of playing a game on any level is mechanical, and requires specific technical and mechanical skill to manipulate. Whether it's speaking the letter in a Spelling Bee, or having to press the Pass button online in Yomi, or selecting Chronoboost in Starcraft, or placing a stone in Go (Baduk). You seem to be arguing against "too many useless" choices, such as MULEs or Supply Depots, but those are degrees of granularity that allow for depth and player skill. Without them, the game becomes more like Yomi, which I definitely don't want. I already have Yomi, why would I want a mechanicalless Starcraft?

    A question: Do you think that the physical manipulation of the ball in Basketball or the club in Golf is an "uncontested skill barrier"?

    And now you've spiraled into racism and nationalism. Good for you.
  39. Coffee

    Coffee Active Member

    Agreed. Savior pulled that stuff off because of the nature of the RTS (and thus mechanics), taxing his opponent's attention. Some quibbles in Duke's otherwise good post, though:

    Most people dislike the mechanics because they were added just to make the game more annoying to play due to Brood War pros and fanboys crying about the game being too easy (an utterly ludicrous statement, in my opinion) and newbies being able to actually do stuff. Nevermind superior gamesense, overall better unit control, tighter build orders and sound strategy, THEY'D BE ABLE TO DO STUFF. Newbies doing stuff, can you imagine? And no one managed to think of making stuff that rewarded good attention with awesome. No, boring chores are good design. All told, TL.net was not a good thing for a sane person's blood pressure 1-1.5 years ago.

    MULEs are also a rather bad example because the alternatives to not MULEing and how to MULE are actually meaningful often enough, same with Chronoboost. Inject is the main horrid piece of bs here. Imagine one-use-only reactors that didn't occupy the production facility to build and autosalvaged themselves upon finishing the unit. That's what a Queen is, more or less.
  40. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    Way to bring in semantics. You know full well what I mean.

    Of course there can be distinctions made where intention ends and mechanics begin. Every time a player anywhere misses an input on a special move, that's an issue of the mechanics not being streamlined/easy enough. Every time somebody's attention is overloaded in Starcraft/SC2/whatever, that's an issue of mechanics. That is, I wanted to do things, but my hands weren't fast enough.

    In other words, say your world champion gosu got into a car accident. Suddenly, he had some nerve damage and while he can use his hands, they're nowhere near as fast as before. Would you say "that's too bad, you're fucked", or would you say "use this thought-reader" (in fact, such devices are not pure science-fiction. Stephen Hawking for instance, communicates through a computer designed to read certain thoughts that formulate them into speech)?

    I think Coffee hit the nail on the head. You know that you could add more depth to a game when the self-proclaimed competitive people want to keep up mechanical barriers for fear that someone, when they could actually do things, can suddenly beat them when they couldn't before.
  41. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    I still think you lack sufficient evidence that this ever happens for anyone other than very knowledgeable players and the very rudimentary players who can't manipulate a mouse or keyboard with any proficiency.

    An overarching intention (I want to win, I want to make roaches, I want to attack) does not mean anything more than saying, "I want to make a game about blowing up things in space."

    It's this mythical class of people that have the specific intentions (vomit larva, spread creep, make roach warren) AND remember those intentions at the right time BUT lack the physical dexterity to do so that seems to be fabricated out of nowhere, their existence being purely hypothetical until we get into the realm of highly skilled players where there seems to be differences. I've yet to meet anyone in SC2 that's proficient (knows hotkeys, understands basic concepts, etc) that won't fluctuate in APM for moments that are 'easier' to process, have an increased APM in an important match, or have an increased APM when paired with a coach reminding them of what they need to do. I've seen several times where someone will get 'boosted' 30-50 APM just by having someone telling them, "Inject, build workers, spread creep.... inject, build workers, spread creep." while they play.

    Yet that class of player, those ones that we do know exist, are fine with the execution requirements. So it seems like you're arguing a cause for no one. The only people I am convinced exist in your situation are mistaken people who think that they are remembering to make workers, but unable to do so, simply because they happen to think to themselves before the game that they want to constantly make workers.

    Sure there may be some injured players who are saddened by being able to play... but you're talking about dozens of people world wide at most.

    Just like with the things we invent and produce the value of an idea IS the execution (not necessarily the mechanical execution, but things like remembering at the right time as well).

    I'd say use the thought reader then beat the snot out of him in a real game. Good like trying to pay attention to multiple things when you need to focus on a single thing for it to be read and acted out. Meanwhile with different parts of my brain working all together I can have tasks broken down into small chunks and can execute something while thinking about the next thing that needs to be executed.
  42. Ilk1986

    Ilk1986 Active Member

    What I'm saying is this: vomit larva, spread creep, make roach warren obviously is far faster than "find a specific queen, move specific queen to specific location, hit hotkey to lay down creep tumor/inject larva, click location".

    In short, there is probably a way to make things more efficient. Maybe it's an autocast to build units, maybe it's something else, but I think we can all agree that even with SC2's interface, we could probably find a way to let more people do more things faster.
  43. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    You can make it easier, but that doesn't justify your previously quoted statement or necessarily solve the problem people have trying to play SC2.

    It's also not like you describe not because vomit larva is "3 queens vomit" (well more likely it's "queen vomit" and you've already internalized the # of queen/hatcheries you have) which is 66v77v88v which is stored/issued in your brain as a single thought, there's no reason your brain ends up having to think down to the individual command consciously. You have your brain issue the command, let your hands do it (with some help from your eye for the clicking), observe with the remaining attention your eye can spare, and queue up the next action ordering for priority in your brain to send off so you start doing it the moment your hands are done.

    The problem that people have at low levels seems to generally be in the last two parts. They can't multitask so they're not able to think of the next action while they're performing the task they've already offloaded to their hands.

    At least that's my anecdotal experience, but it's one that also seems to be reinforced by the

    thread where the paper aims to connect Starcraft with training people to be better at multitasking. My contention in this case is that better execution doesn't make you a better multitasker; being a better multitasker makes you execute better*.

    *Up to a certain point at which time the attainable speed of the mouse or the speed of hitting keys with the same finger in succession ends up as a limiting factor that needs to be improved or optimized.
  44. Coffee

    Coffee Active Member

    To say that there isn't a soul on Earth who thinks Larva Inject is designed well isn't much of an exaggeration. Your earlier claims were much more damning than "Inject is shit".

    This is crap. I fail at doing tilt attacks in Smash despite being a decent player. Yet anyone saying tilts in Smash are too hard could quite safely be called insane.

    Similarily, the barrier in Starcraft eventually isn't execution, but simply multitasking and attention. The pros do a ton of things subconsciously, without thinking, and they get taxed by managing multiple threats/responses at the same time with inputs that are as accurate and simple as is humanly possible with current input devices. We're not talking purposefully contrived bullshit like Larva Inject here. We're talking "grab stuff, A-move at drop", "perform subconscious keyboard-only macro routine" and things of that nature. That is simple attention. To claim that is an issue of interface is a laughable statement. The interface itself actually frees up conscious attention when you think about it.
  45. Coffee

    Coffee Active Member

    They haven't offloaded it to their hands, which is precisely the problem. The lack of muscle memory and larger "concept units" that come with practice and familiarity means they expend far more mental resources doing things. I doubt even casually good people like Psy spend much time thinking on where to send Overlords or which button actually builds that damn Reactor. I have to spend mental efforts on things like that or digesting the correct hotkeys to accomplish something I do rarely. This basic difficulty leaves little room to actually evaluate the game (not to mention others having said difficulties makes it doubly hard)
    It's not fully execution or thought, it's both combined.
    zem and Logo like this.
  46. SW

    SW Active Member

    Scouting in Starcraft/2 is subject to variance as large as the asymmetries in the game itself. There are cases where long ranged terran defenses builds a huge black hole of vision where nothing can be seen without fighting for info, and there are cases where both side gets half a dozen free scout anywhere tool per minute. I wrote my post after seeing a bunch of zerg die to things they couldn't have scouted and was a biased by immediate memory.

    The main point however, which I failed to full explain, is that the pace of effective information exchange can be much lower then other genres. (it can be higher too) During points of the gameplay where there is no fighting, something like 80+ actions can be executed for each crumb of imperfect info. If a player is doing something like a timing push, the amount of scouting info being exchanged might be close to nothing for a long span of the game, as a tight cohesive build often only have a handful of points for adaptation (and thus points to scout) and opponents might lose to such tight builds due to sheer strength even without deception. Granted, this is not a simple result. This does not happen to some matchups and not to some players.

    I think the biggest complaints about SC2 happens when the rate of info exchange is kind of low as people don't complain about persistent poking around for weaknesses or fighting. That said, perfect information is not good either (see ZvZ). In some sense one can probably say the importance in persistent scouting determines the strategic pace of the game. The more decisive information is, and the more recent it has to be, determines the amount of resources put into scouting and information hiding and its frequency.
    Logo likes this.
  47. Alstein

    Alstein Active Member

    As for why on fighters:

    Fear. I think developers are afraid, especially those with the arcade mindset, that players will learn their fighter too quickly if they put no barriers in, and the game will grow stale quickly, causing a loss of money.

    I don't think this is going to change until arcades start dying out in Japan.

    Some execution is necessary, but some of the barriers are really silly right now.
  48. Drakir89

    Drakir89 New Member

    The OP should be interested in Bloodline Champions, which was made with the express intention to be about interactive PvP and with as low execution barriers as possible. It's a cross-genre game that feels sort of like a fighting game, controls sort of like a shooter, and looks sort of like a DotAlike.

    Interestingly, it is pretty hard to watch for reasons stated earlier in this thread (too much action to follow, it's a team game), and hasn't been a commercial success and has thus been burdened with a progression system similar to that of League of Legends.

    Still, it's my favorite game of all time and I recommend it to anyone wanting deep PvP with low execution demands.

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