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240

Game AIs are almost always non-competitive, because if the AI would really try its hardest to win, it would often be unbeatable. An AI is not bound to human limitations like reflexes, accuracy, perception, fatigue or computational ability. So when it is seriously playing to win, no human would ever stand a chance. Let's take the first person shooter genre ...


201

One major feature is that they make debugging easier. If there's a broken puzzle door that's not unlocking, and you can bypass it by clipping through the walls, or skip past some tough combat with invulnerability and an insta-kill weapon, or shortcut the economy grind by giving yourself infinite money to make sure the last-game purchaseables all work, you'...


192

That is a common concept in nearly all existing videogames: you either say yes to accept a new quest or no to not take it. Players get used to this pattern by encountering it over and over, and finally simply start to assume beforehand that this pattern is also true for your game. A good example of handling this problem is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In the ...


165

An Affordance in general is an action a person perceives as possible. Adding a handle to a desk drawer generates an affordance to open it. Without the handle it just looks like a panel and someone would not get the idea that opening it is even possible. Or notice the link I posted as the second word of the answer. It is displayed in a different color and ...


162

This is the type of game where the same move performed twice reverses the board to its previous state. So to ensure a board is solvable, generate it by playing in reverse. Start with a solved (blank) board, then start programmatically "clicking" randomly either a certain number of times, or until the board has the desired number of white squares. One ...


157

Fees & Taxes One common way to deal with this in real economies is to add a periodic fee that redistributes hoarded wealth back into the community. A few forms this can take: Wear on gear items that requires they be repaired periodically, so even a player who's hit a steady state and buys no new items still needs to pay NPCs (or other players) for ...


153

I apologize beforehand for the book I have written. I got carried away. I just hope it gives you some good ideas. What you are describing seems to be a fundamental shift in the way you view and play the game, and I think the clue in making games that avoid it, is in trying to understand the shift, so I'm hoping to explain it in this post. And that ...


130

It's common for games to have multiple overlapping loops of gameplay and reward, hitting different frequencies and motivation types, so that we don't have all our eggs in one basket, motivationally speaking. This helps the game appeal to more players, and more consistently appeal to any one player, since every player is a multifaceted human being with a ...


128

Change the options to Left-Right rather than Yes-No. A Yes-No choice is an option. Add this extra bit in or ignore it. A Left-Right choice is a choice. You can have this or that, but not both. So instead of having a single character offer an option, have two characters offer conflicting paths. Make it clear that either way the play will miss out on some ...


116

Just have them respawn Have an enemy spawner which will either spawn enemies that fall to their own deaths or just respawn the enemy once you killed it (e.g. drop it out of a pipe like in the original Mario Bros).


111

Usually, they're not totally worthless. While they're not better than what you have equipped, the items you can' wear can usually be sold or broken down and used in crafting. However, the psychology behind it is interesting. These small, mostly worthless items are called reinforcers(more). They strengthen desired activity. In this case, playing the game and ...


110

Slotting is a technique which is used to confront the player with an overwhelming number of enemies and still give them a chance to win. Instead of having all enemies attack at once, there is a limited number of "slots" of enemies which attack the player seriously, while the rest of the enemies keep their distance and just look threatening but do not do ...


101

Level designers I've spoken with often lament how difficult it is to create interesting challenges & spaces in open areas, so you've definitely set a hard problem for yourself. That said, the core structure of something like a Zelda dungeon is often about finding a number of MacGuffins (items required to progress) or switches (locations where you modify ...


100

Players like to personalize their characters. Players also like to show off their achievements in the game to other players. Hats are a very easy to implement way to do that. Because they are right on top of the character's head, they are a very visible feature. A hat can usually be seen from most angles other players will usually see the character. They ...


94

While the above answers are clever (and probably how I would do it anyway), this particular game is very well known. It's called Lights Out, and has been mathematically solved. There is a solution if and only if two sums of various elements (given on the wikipedia page) add to zero mod 2 (i.e. an even number). In general a little linear algebra should give ...


92

As Charanor and Philipp point out in other comments & answers, there is a school of thought in game design (called "Love the Player" in my studio) that says if the player wants to do something that doesn't break the game for other players, err on the side of letting them do it. Players who see a kidnapping twist coming and strategically prepare for it ...


92

Realism is generally not a good guide to game design. When someone asks you "What is your game design reason for having the player tell their character when to go to the toilet?" and your only answer is "realism", then you are doing something wrong. People play video games to escape reality. When the player wants a 100% realistic experience, they would stop ...


91

Yes, you totally should have cheats in your game. Replay value! Having all weapons with infinite ammo and invulnerability might make level 1 far too easy, but it can also be a lot of fun when you already beat the game regularly. Dealing with bugs! It creates a possibility for the player to work around game-breaking bugs. Let's say there is a very obscure ...


85

There is a critical flaw in your system. You assume players will play forever. In the real world, this is the case. "Players" keep "playing" the game until they die, and then their remaining wealth gets redistributed to their heirs. Not so in an MMO. Players play until they get bored. Then they find a new game and forget about yours. Then their wealth ...


83

There are probably exceptions to this, but as a thinking-aid, I theorise that failure severity, decision rate and responsibility should correlate. When one increases, players expect (and tolerate) higher levels of the other two. Some examples (high to low intensity): Super Meat Boy and N have high severity (much of the environment kills you on contact, ...


82

Having the player play against their own earlier accomplishments actually seems like a viable approach to implement dynamic difficulty. The better the player, the more challenging the game will become. But when the player becomes aware of this mechanic (and you have to assume they will find out about this before playing - because it's an unique mechanic and ...


77

In the end it all boils down to one axiom: Game design is hard! And multiplayer game design is even harder. After years of development, you think you came up with a perfectly balanced game design which allows for multiple viable playing strategies. You did extensive playtesting with a dozen or so full-time inhouse testers and a hundred external spare-time ...


76

Have the players take their turns simultaneously. This also has the added benefit of speeding up the game, because players don't sit idle while waiting for the other players to make their moves. In that case you might want to separate each round into an interactive "planning" phase and an automatic "execution" phase. During the planning phase, all players ...


73

There's many different carrot/stick approaches you can use to solve this problem, more than I can list in an answer. You'll have to play around to feel what work best for your game. Ammo System - your gun has limited ammo. You can get more ammo by killing enemies or attacking them in melee. Maybe the gun has a long reload time so it's better to shoot off a ...


71

Melee counter-attack is an easy way to make ranged attacks valuable. Do you build and use units that have strong melee attacks but die more easily because they're in melee or do you use units with weaker ranged attacks that live longer because they can stay out of melee? Melee counter-attack reduces otherwise over-whelming attacker advantage. In a game ...


68

Match making If you can keep updated skill metrics on the players, then you are able to create a system that can peer people of similar skill. Granted, this could lead to starvation (and by that I mean players unable to play because there is no match availed) and will not fly on couch gaming. I believe this will not solve your particular case, so I will ...


60

This is something you simply must get used to when you create any creative work. Not everyone will like your work. Not everyone must like your work. There are plenty of world-renowned artists who receive plenty of negative feedback and are still widely successful. It doesn't matter, because that negative feedback comes from people their work isn't made for. ...


59

Usually you should separate the logical state of your game environment from the visual representation. The player might only see a small part of it on their screen, but you still keep the state of the whole level in memory and usually also calculate the game mechanics for the whole level. When your world is so huge that this would require too much ram and/...


58

Music. Music is probably the most effective way to express feelings. If you manage to use the appropiate song that tells "Danger, run!", that is better than any camera movement (If you combine music with those kind of effects, it gets even better, of course). Imagine playing Silent Hill with david guetta music, that would make Silent Hill a joke, you ...


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