On the topic of points...

Discussion and analysis of graphics, story, levels, and so on.
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XkyRauh
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On the topic of points...

Post by XkyRauh » Wed Jul 28, 2004 10:22 pm

Alright, let's get some discussion going here--this place has been far too quiet!

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What purpose, if any, does SCORE serve in your game/mod?
Sounds like a completely inane and stupid topic, I know, but think about it, really. What does a player's score represent?

*) Is it a simple answer, like "a player's score reflects how thoroughly they scoured my levels, collecting every treasure I sprinkled about."

*) Or is it more complex, stating that "a player's score represents their skill within my realm, their ability to perform awkward and sometimes nearly impossible jumps when asked, and their talent at avoiding danger."

*) It could go further than that, too, saying "a player's score shows just how much knowledge of the game's layout the player has--a player who knows that red bricks always point towards secrets will have a significantly higher score than the player who doesn't."

*) And likewise, it could be a lot more basic: "a player's score represents their completion percentage of my game--I put exactly 20,000 points in every level; thus a perfect score is 360,000 (16 levels, 4 ship parts)."

This whole topic was sparked by a recent discussion in the PCKF regarding TUIT, and indirectly regarding Lives, Score, etc. Older games usually gave a player 3 lives and a score of 0; levels were little more than variations on a theme that increased in speed and thus difficulty over time. Resultingly, a player's score represented a talent at managing resources, a skill at avoiding traps, and a knowledge of appropriate tactics, strategies, and loopholes. As video games have aged, they've slowly slumped off the Score aspect, and are now beginning to shun even the mainstay Lives counter. In order to keep the spirit of older games like Keen alive, we have to decide: WHAT DOES SCORE MEAN?

--Xky

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Post by CaptainKeen » Wed Jul 28, 2004 11:48 pm

it means how many times the player died because each time you die you get to collect the same points again. thats why score is something I never care about points are only to get extra lives.

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grelphy
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Post by grelphy » Thu Jul 29, 2004 1:47 am

I think that score is an indicator of the modder's prowess at both graphical and level design. Given good graphics and good levels, a relatively high percentage of the points will be collected; lesser quality levels or graphics tend to reduce the percentage. (Level design has a more pronounced effect, but graphics has some. I've missed many a point that blended in with the background. Contrast! Contrast!) Of course, these are percentages, not actual values.

CaptainKeen's point about recollecting points is also very true. Especially in Keen 1, the opportunity exists for literally limitless points - play the maze over and over again, teleporting back each time. (The Gargs are somehow ressurected each time, but I digress.) Thus, points as a progress indicator are less then perfectly useful. Indeed, they could be otherwise because someone having much trouble with a mod would tend to do levels over and over again... racking up points each time. (This is much more of an issue in Keens 4-6, with people collecting life items and a couple thousand points, then dying and doing it again. With enough patience, you could overflow the point counter. Negative points? Maybe. Interesting.)

Points may also clock the player's observation of secret areas. If you scatter secret areas throughout your mod, players with higher scores probably found more. Not neccesarily, but probably.

Another interesting use for points, used by Spleen is as "goal" items. AFAIK, from reading his story, the point items are what Keen is really going after. This is an interesting idea, and may spur on other brainstormers.

But points are really just meant for the enjoyment of the player. After all, what would a game be without points?

Whew!

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What's the point?

Post by CommanderSpleen » Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:54 am

I'm still not certain what I think about point items. I've pondered the potential for infinite scores and the resulting diminishment of meaning of the player's score many times in the past, and I'm still trying to decide my stance.

I guess I'll probably design my levels with the assumption that the player isn't going to get sneaky and collect all the points in the level, get a life, then die and start the level over again. If that's what the player wants to do, the option is there. That's about the best we can probably do as the creators of these things.

But the player still needs to be rewarded for particularly gruesome puzzles that may take a few deaths to complete. Having only 20,000 points in a level will definitely not be an option with my design tendencies (sorry Xky) =(:P)-

Perhaps a solution would be to punctuate choke points with an opportunity to grab a handful of points, or access to a secret area or shortcut if the puzzle was completed properly (excess keycards scored from doing door mazes in a particular order, or hidden in a Corner of Death). Since my levels will be huge, having the player charging through without a chance to rest and hopefully make up for the retries yet to come would be folly.

Xky And likewise, it could be a lot more basic: "a player's score represents their completion percentage of my game--I put exactly 20,000 points in every level; thus a perfect score is 360,000 (16 levels, 4 ship parts)."
Although given the amount of lives the player will receive from those 360,000 points, and the further points (and yet more lives) that can be achieved from milking all those lives, the maximum score increases significantly. Still, in such a situation it does remain an indication of the player's skill level (and patience), since the maximum score is achieved without dying at all.

The (not so) hidden pyramid level in the Patchwork Mod suffered from Infinite Score syndrome. I had like an extra ten lives by the time I'd climbed from one side to the other, before I even entered the building itself. There's no advantage to passing the level. That sort of thing I'll do my best to avoid.
Grelphy Another interesting use for points, used by Spleen is as "goal" items. AFAIK, from reading his story, the point items are what Keen is really going after.
Yeah, there's the side-mission of saving as many Dinu'u as possible. It's not so much a goal as a justification. It may be that, as far as the story goes, at the end of the game the freed Dinu'u are restored, but those left in Garthuria would be lost. Then again, there are bound to be a few twists, so not even I know how it'll end. It'd be good if I could make an alternate ending or two...

Hmm... déjà vu. Cool.
Grelphy But points are really just meant for the enjoyment of the player. After all, what would a game be without points?
Indeed. Regardless of whether the points are necessarily balanced to the edge of perfection, or scattered in every corner of the level, they're still fun to collect. The Patchwork Mod secret level I find fun despite its out-of-balance bounty. My perfectionism keeps nagging at me to keep dying and rack up the points, though, so when I finally decide to exit the level properly I feel like I'm missing something. Those levels that require a bit more maneuvering make me feel less guilty.

>Commander Spleen

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Post by adurdin » Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:14 am

Slightly off-topic: You could prevent much of the die-and-go-through-the-level-again-to-get-more-points-and-lives syndrome by using a patch that made lives from score harder to get (as per Keen 4-6), or even impossible (so that the player had a finite number of lives to get through the game with)... I'm sure Spleen and Xky can come up with other creative ideas for things like this...

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W00t! Extra life!

Post by levellord » Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:17 am

^ I agree. With my mods, its very difficult to keep track of how many points I put in a level [and sometimes where.] As such points to me are a measure of game completedness and skill.

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re: dying and restarting

Post by XkyRauh » Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:13 am

These are all issues that I'm wrestling with for XkyKeen3. I want the score to actually MEAN something again... which would mean either removing the extra lives completely (increases difficulty significantly for some, makes the game take longer from save-loading for others) or to try and implement the Keen:Galaxy method where the extra life keeps getting bigger.

Come to think of it, the old arcade games like Asteroids and Ms. Pac Man usually gave one extra life pretty early, at say 30,000 points, and after that, the only other one you got was at 1,000,000 points... and nothing after that, no matter how far you went! That'd be an interesting twist for a mod, I think... give it a more arcade-like feel.

Without patching so far, though, I've got a seperate solution in mind that should keep players on their toes. I just need to get some more tiles fixed so that I can start building levels. :-)

A (very) final solution to the "n points per level" thing would be to have the exit at the bottom of a long fall; one that the player could not possibly return from, and have the level's reward in it. Thus the player must struggle through the entire level, earn the reward, and exit. But that does seem a bit drastic.

My only other thought on the subject at this time (it's 3am) is that dying and restarting a level, much like loading a game after every death, is a rather below-the-belt way to play a game. There are plenty of ways to rationalize it, but I don't think that's ever the INTENDED method of play.

--Xky

EazyJay

Post by EazyJay » Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:57 am

In a lotta mods there are just way to many points. Like unexperienced levelbuilders tend to make their levels too dificult (see that other topic ) they also tend to put way to many points in them. In shadowkeen 2 for example your never below 15+ lives. Not only makes this points worthless (player wont be bothered with that secret pasage - in shadowkeen 2 I walked past teddy's like they where nothing) but when you're low on ammo the smartest thing to do is grab ammo, die, grab ammo, etc... Not the way it was meant to be.
Basicly, collecting bullets and point items is a very important part of the gameplay, but as soon as the player has plenty that part is gone.

The high scores in keen 1 t/m 3 are indeed pretty useless as it just represents how much patience the player had with dieing grabbing points again etc. but i do believe points, and bullets, are very important for a balanced out status bar.

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Post by CaptainKeen » Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:17 am

I want the score to actually MEAN something
the only way to make your score mean something is to ask adurdin a patch that each time you die your score will be reset to what it whas when entered that level. that way you would only be able to get new lives by completing a level.

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Post by KeenRush » Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:50 am

Wow, an interesting new topic while I was a while away! :O
A (very) final solution to the "n points per level" thing would be to have the exit at the bottom of a long fall; one that the player could not possibly return from, and have the level's reward in it. Thus the player must struggle through the entire level, earn the reward, and exit. But that does seem a bit drastic.
I was just going to say that! :) Yeah, but agree, it's not very good way.

Anyways, interesting reading, and I think that score and points show how good player is, how eager he is to go and collect all the points, and how he tries to beat the existing records. I most of the time want to collect every point I see, no matter how hard it'll be. If player goes through something really hard part, he should be awarded with couple of extra points. ;)

I probably tend to put too many points to my levels, but I can't control myself on that.
Those ideas adurdin posted are good. Changing the amount of score game checks and gives extra Keen if there's score enough, is good. Also, letting player to go through the game with finite amount of Keens is good (Or how about infinite?).
Also, if one wants to be really tricky it could be used for example that pogo tile sets player's score to zero. :P Though, it wouldn't be fun when you've played some hard mod 8 hours straight and in the last level you lose all your points.

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re: points and lives

Post by XkyRauh » Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:41 pm

The ultimate test, I think, would be to take the player's overall score at the end of the game, and divide it by the number of lives they used. Thus a player who beat the whole game with a score of 549,200 points and never died would have used 1 life, and would get a modified score of 549,200. But the player who used the die-grab-die-grab method might have a score of 2,480,000 but used 10 lives to do it, bringing their modified score down to 248,000, which is less than half of the first player.

But sigh, the system doesn't work, because then you have even MORE save-load-save-loading going on, for players who want to do the entire game on one life.

What if we remove the save-game button... and give the player just 5 lives... and no extra lives... and then use the division method... lol. Too much patching. Everything is too abusable!

--Xky

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Post by KeenRush » Fri Jul 30, 2004 7:02 am

Very good idea otherwise. :)

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Post by levellord » Fri Jul 30, 2004 11:19 am

You could fiddle with the points so that a level is filled with items, then at the end there is a 50'000 point object as a reward.

I am thinking of using a background tile that is also points. Keens score rapidly increases as soon as he touches it, theoretically heading for infinite score. The tile would be in a long drop though, so Keen would get a large score, but not an infinite one.

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Post by KeenRush » Fri Jul 30, 2004 1:00 pm

I am thinking of using a background tile that is also points. Keens score rapidly increases as soon as he touches it, theoretically heading for infinite score. The tile would be in a long drop though, so Keen would get a large score, but not an infinite one.
Cool, I've had that exactly same idea! (You're sure you haven't visited in my mind..?) But never used it, though.

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re: background points

Post by XkyRauh » Fri Jul 30, 2004 8:35 pm

If you use the background tile as points, be sure to use the sound utility to fix the soundeffect... otherwise that'll be a noisy fall!

--Xky

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