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Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:20 pm
by RightClickSaveAs
matt wrote: I'm trying to think of a way to make enemies threatening without making them more challenging. I think making them less predictable and not having the player one hit kill would help with this. We'll see how that goes. Lots of prototyping!
I think not being able to see them clearly, at least not right away, would help a lot also. This is probably tougher to do in a 2D game, given you can't as easily just make the room really dark, but maybe something like blurring their features and making them more shadowy in general? NN used sound to great effect to suggest things lurking in the darkness, it would be amazing if that were continued and expounded on in the next game!

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:12 pm
by matt
I agree. I think I'm going to make a lot more of the next game dark. I think Together at Last was really awesome as well as the dark chase segment of Destroyed Dreams. In hindsight, I think we should have done more dark segments like that for Neverending Nightmares, but we can do a lot in the dark for our next game. :)

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:25 pm
by Harry Sunderland
Hey Matt,

So glad you opened up a thread to take suggestions. One of the common criticisms I read for NN was that many players felt the entire game boiled down to "walking to the right." In many ways, I view NN in the same way that i view the Dark Rides at Disneyland, in that it's supposed to be a narrative journey, not a skill-based game. However, maybe one way you could keep the general "Dark Ride" feel of the game while still mixing things up for the players is use some more dynamic camera angles.

Maybe for some rooms, the camera is above Thomas. In others, maybe it's isometric. You can kind of leverage that "cinematic" camera angle idea utilized in early Silent Hill/Resident Evil while avoiding it's biggest downfall (that it's shit for combat).

This might make the game feel more deliberate and more like a horror movie. Plus you can totally use the camera to create tension. Imagine how WTF a player's reaction would be if they walked into a really creepy room and the camera was FIRST PERSON. You could even "cheat' and keep your 2d aesthetic and make it like those "behind the back" levels in Contra. That would create so much tension, especially if we didn't see it coming. Of course, it'd be a hell of a lot more complicated art-wise and your engine might not even be suitable for that. But that would be my fantasy.

Another thing you could do is maybe add in some kind of "resource" management system. I know that you really want to avoid things that are overly "video gamey", so I'm not even sure if this is feasible, but maybe something minor like Thomas has a rusty key that is likely to break after use, and he has to choose which door to use it on. Things that make the player feel like they have more efficacy. Maybe give the player two options to avoid a monster, do they hide or do they run (and each one yields a different result)? Things like that really engage the player without making the game some dumb item grab-fest.

The thing I hate though is games where you have to hunt around for ammo in random trashcans. That's why the Bioshock games bum me out. There's all these great environments, and I'm not even enjoying them because I'm scrapping every wall and corner mashing x to find food, money, and bullets. :p

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:59 am
by matt
While I'd love to do cinematic cameras, the player is only drawn from the side, so we'd have to redraw him and reanimate him to do something different. :-/

I definitely would like to do a bit more with the camera though for the next game. There are things we can do like dutch camera angles, or zooming in/out during a level that might help with that. You'd still be walking mostly to the left or right, but I think changing the camera a bit would mix things up.

The problem is if we delivered something first person, I don't think it'd work because people expect to look around. That's not something we could deliver on with a straight 2D rendering. While we use some 3D rendering techniques and might explore using a few more, I think that if we rendered a scene in 3D, there's no way we could get it matching our art style, so it'd really stand out.

They are really great ideas though, but I'm not sure we can really deliver on it.

We are definitely thinking about options with resource management. It is a challenge to do anything along those lines without it seeming too gamey. I'm probably leaning to just more things with items, but hopefully make it simpler, so it's not too gamey. Maybe you just have to find keys (although that is really overused in games, but hopefully we can do it with a twist or something), or other key items in order to progress. That might go a long way to adding interactivity. We have some other neat ideas that we aren't really talking about right now, but I think they may help with engagement. :)

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:26 am
by JPrice
OK first of all, sorry about my large absence. I've just been rather busy lately with finding work and generally going out! Thankfully that's all sorted so I should be on here more often now :)

Now that that's sorted, suggestions!

Well first of all there was something in Neverending Nightmares that was touched upon but I feel should be emphasised more, environmental storytelling. A lot of the environments in NN were visually interesting yes although I feel that more could be done to make them more tangible to the overall plot/themes. I know that there was some of this in the game but I feel like it could be utilised more as a storytelling technique, having the environments act as a canvas for the protagonists warped physique. You could do it in numerous ways like you did before by having writing on the walls, having levels get progressively more disturbing and with minor story cutscenes. There are also other methods you could implement though like having readable material that indirectly or directly correlates to the main story (Like the bible passage in NN), enemies reflecting the protagonist or other main character's emotions/thoughts and generally having less repetitious or blank rooms (I mean there obviously needs to be some to break up the flow but having more rooms contain some kind of information makes them generally more interesting in my eyes). I know that you did a lot of environmental storytelling in Neverending Nightmares so all I'm really saying is that I think that you should develop it a little more as I found it to be a really interesting part of the game :)

Secondly I think there should be a little be variation in the gameplay itself. I mean personally I found just the simple adventure style walking back and forth to be fine as it worked with the game's overall tone and feel, although you can tell that there were a lot of people who found it to repetitive and dull. I think that there are two ways to help alleviate this problem. One is by having more variation in the gameplay, you know break it up with some chases, frantic moments, storytelling moments and even puzzles perhaps. Hell you could combine some of them together if you wanted and add even more variety, just so long as it keeps the average player engaged. The other way is by making sure the levels themselves keep a tight focus just making sure that they don't feel padded or too lengthy, although I'm sure that we'll be able to help you with that hahaa ;)

Finally try to have more of an emphasis on the story, more specifically the characters. I do like Thomas but lets face it, there isn't much of a character within him aside from what is learnt on face value. I find that one of my favourite things about horror games is their intriguing stories. With a genre like horror there are numerous avenues you can take when giving a character personality and motives, whether it be purely psychotic or highly troubled due to past events. Hopefully you're thinking of giving this new game a much more traditional story, that combined with all the subtext and environmental storytelling you did in the first game would be great! Could potentially create something that's really interesting to read into and try and decipher its meanings.

Anyway these are just random thoughts from the top of my head at the moment, hopefully they are of some use and not just some random unfocused rambling hahaa :D

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:16 am
by evilkinggumby
I generally have to second what Jprice is suggesting. I absolutely LOVE environmental storytelling and seeing it used to its full extent is a total joy for me. I can see why many developers don't do it as much, it's difficult to set up as you never know if the player will notice it, will understand it, and will interpret it even vaguely close to what was intended. But if you hit that sweet spot, OMG is it awesome.

I also agree that having less "blank" rooms would be good. And by blank we mean " you walk in, there is little to nothing to interact with, so you walk in a circle and leave". I realize in NeN you wanted to imbue the game with certain feelings, but overall finding rooms with no purpose other than to exist, especially a lot of them, feels like a developer created the room but never found a use for it within the framework of the story, but chose not to remove it. I.E. empty space.

Emphasis on the narrative/story is also going to help with the next game. Matt has already stated he was not shooting for a tight narrative focus on this story, so the characters were sort of archetype shells that the player could try to project themselves onto. With the next game, choosing to better develop the characters so they feel more well rounded and interesting will go a long way and I believe Matt said he was going to try this on the next go around. So yay!

It is hard to offer suggestions for the next venture, we have no real clue what he is going to do. It will most liekly be a Nen2 but with a very different story and feel. It sounds like it will have more conventional aspects of video games so a lot of the very elements that were omitted from NeN will find their way back to some degree. My only suggestion would be to examine every element of the game as you arew developing it and ask the question " is this relaxing, neutral, or stressful?" and be conscious of that as you go along. WOrking to balance, and heighten the tension/stress within the game by breaking down every bit of the game, from graphics to shading to music to speech, you can really have some fun with tension without being outright and obvious. :) I'd love to see a NeN game where it gets under your skin in a way that no one can quite put their finger on.

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:45 pm
by matt
No need to apologize for your absence. I know real life can get busy! :) I haven't been checking the forum quite as much as I should, but it seems like it's slowed a bit post-release (understandably so), but I hope we can keep it going until we are ready to talk more about what's next.

We definitely want to do more environmental story-telling. That is a good suggestion. We will also make it more character focused. Thomas was meant to be a blank slate, so you can project yourself on him, but I think we will take a different approach for the next game. I think having a well developed character will make things a bit easier to do environmental storytelling and all that.

As far as gameplay, we have some ideas to mix things up a bit more. We'll probably have light puzzles - or at least more things along the lines of "The Coming Storm" where you have to find items. I have been trying to think about more puzzle-y things that we could do that don't feel too game-y or forced, but I haven't come up with anything I'm really happy with yet (other than an idea I stole from you, JPrice. mwhahaha). Thomas Grip has written quite a bit on his blog about good puzzle design, but to meet all his criteria, it's really hard. In addition, the location for the next game doesn't really lend itself well to puzzles. :-/ It is early in development, so we still have time to work through these issues. I'm also introducing a new mechanic that I'm pretty excited about, which will give you something else to do when walking around, but I want to keep it to myself until we have a good demo before it. It's something that I think won't sound very cool if I just tell you, but once it's in a demo, I think it could feel really good. Or maybe it'll totally suck, and I'll save myself the embarrassment of talking about it before we put it in.

I'm not sure I necessarily agree about blank rooms. Obviously, it'd be amazing if we could create every square inch of the game to be super interesting, but I think that's impossible. Can you name a game without empty rooms? Just having loot you can find doesn't count. Obviously loot gives your search purpose, but it isn't applicable to our game. (Honestly, I think loot detracts from the horror of The Evil Within, but I'll save that story for my dev video once I finish the game)

We want to create something that feels like a real place. Not every room in your house has something relevant to you at every point in time. For example, if we don't allow the player to go to the bathroom, a bathroom is going to be empty. (There are two bathrooms with bloody sinks that are interesting, but I don't think we could have interesting things for every bathroom that would make sense in the game)

If anything, I think Neverending Nightmares was a little too linear and we should have had more dead ends. If you look at a level like Destroyed Dreams, most of the side rooms aren't super exciting, but I think it is more interesting to navigate because it wasn't linear. What do you guys think? Did you dislike Destroyed Dreams because the rooms weren't interesting enough? Do you want to see a game without bathrooms? :)

In general, I think giving a payoff in terms of an interaction that gives a clue to the story in optional side rooms makes exploration more rewarding, but I don't think it makes sense to outlaw blank rooms without interactions or environmental storytelling. Am I crazy? Do you have any examples of games that made every room worthwhile? Do you want a streamlined/linear experience like Call of Duty?

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:05 am
by JPrice
I haven't come up with anything I'm really happy with yet (other than an idea I stole from you, JPrice. mwhahaha)
Oooooooo, might I ask what idea you stole? Hahaha ;)
Also I'd like to give some suggestions for puzzle ideas but as you said the new location is hard to design puzzles around so it'd probably be best to first know the location in order to design around that, but I imagine you want to keep that underwraps until you make a proper info release on the new game so I'll try and think of general puzzle ideas in the meantime and post them in the other relevant thread :P
Obviously, it'd be amazing if we could create every square inch of the game to be super interesting, but I think that's impossible
Well I'm not saying that you should make every room relevant and full of stuff, obviously that's probably a little overkill. You are right that it's important to have these empty rooms in order to create a realistic setting but I was just suggesting that there should be a higher ratio of "information rooms" as it were, rooms that tell the player something about the world/characters or is relevant to gameplay. You should still keep some of the empty rooms though as they help break up the pace of the game and make the setting more realistic as you said :)

Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:58 am
by evilkinggumby
What Jprice said- I don't think you should take what we said to an extreme and eliminate every bit of the "map" that doesn't outright have a noticeable function. Like Jprice said, it is ok to have a few if they help make the 'world' believable. But keeping empty dead ends to a nice ratio is better than piles of rooms where there isn't a real purpose except to exist.

Bathrooms are ok, and personally I think there is plenty of things that could be found in a bathroom that would be relevant to NeN as I have friends that have OCD and habitually mutilate themselves slowly by over-fussing about things. Plucking facial hair, squeezing infected pores, meticulous over-hand washing, hair brushing, toilet habits, cleaning the sink/toilet/shower obsessively. etc etc. finding blood and teeth in the sink is really tame compared to the terrible things people do to themselves in the bathroom.

I will say I don't mind empty rooms/dead ends if they make clever use of environmental storytelling. If you had specific intentional and unique clues in those rooms that helped to flesh out the story or the characters, then it may be initially empty but for those looking with a keen eye, it's sheer GOLD. I saw this in some of the rooms in the DLC for Among The Sleep where there was no specific task at hand for a room, but it was included because you could gleam more understanding about the family by placement of objects and the objects themselves.

Now if you were able to rattle off how every seemingly empty/dead end in NeN had a unique and telling environmental storytelling aspect to them, I'd go back and replay the entire game looking for/checking out what you list and look for any more you didn't list. But honestly I didn't expect to see much with environmental storytelling after I started seeing the reused assets over and over. I still kept a watched eye, but I was skeptical that I'd see anything significant, which is likely more my doing than yours. ;)

I don't want every game to be linear, but if one is that's not necessarily a bad thing either (it depends on the game and style). I mean I just played Never Alone and LOVED IT and it is extremely linear (and fairly short). If you have a clear and well thought out story to tell, or experience to be had, or idea to be conveyed, linear is ok if the 2 mesh well. Branching or free-roam gameplay is also ok, if the core concept for it makes sense. That is why I don't want every game to be skyrim sandboxxy, or have overly branched narrative, or be entirely linear. I think the point i had in my posts was more attuned to 'significance of content' than overall style. If you made a game that had 5 branching paths and 4 led to a dead end with no real significance (no storytelling, no alternate graphics or characters, no loot or items or puzzles, just paths leading to nothing) and then design the whole game around using that idea.. I don't see that as being very enjoyable or "benefiting" from those dead ends. If you set 4 alternate paths that were dead ends but each offered insight, loot, puzzles, characters, story/narration or some other benefit beyond that path merely existing, then GREAT. There is a weight, a significance to them existing. and that, to me, makes them worth having.

though again, there are exceptions. Laberynthian style games where you are dungeon crawling or set into a huge maze is going to have numerous blank and pointless paths that exist because it is a firm pillar of the gameplay. If you choose to follow that logic and use a maze like structure, fine, but make sure it's expressed to the player that's what they're getting into. Most folk won't want to get lost in a cornmaze if they think it's actually just a path to the cider donut stand. :)


Re: Suggestions?

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:34 pm
by ranger_lennier
Some "empty" rooms did serve as respawn points, but I did occasionally feel like there were just too many similar areas without anything going on. I liked the asylum level, but it took awhile to really get going.