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ongoing no-interruption management & action game

Started by droqen, December 05, 2021, 09:30:46 AM

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i can't quite ... i've been trying to figure out a name for this genre of feeling ... but i can't. maybe i need to take a look at some pattern language for game design exercises.

a game that has a real-time pressure to make decisions and engage with systems optimally, but there's some 'play', some downtime - and activities to fill that downtime with something.


starseed pilgrim does this. i guess so does probability 0... the way the screen scrolls and prevents you from going as quickly as you want?


December 05, 2021, 09:51:16 AM #2 Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 10:17:43 AM by droqen
exercise 7 - player experience pattern

step 1. pick a player experience

see above

step 2. ten games that create this experience...

starseed pilgrim, wilmot's warehouse, everquest, haven & hearth, the longing (i haven't played it though), candy box, starcraft, probability 0, inconsiderate climbers

step 3. describe how each game achieves the intended effect

edit:: oops, i'm supposed to name AS MANY WAYS AS POSSIBLE

starseed pilgrim. the darkness applies time pressure so you have to make decisions before it catches up, but once a seed is planted you might have to wait a little while for it to grow to an optimal length before your next action. unknown/variable wait times. heart seeds make the wait so long that you move on, then return to them later.

wilmot's warehouse. there is a timed phase where you test your memory/organizational skills to find all the necessary products (clear goal), and it alternates with a more untimed 'memorize/organize' phase where you're really just making decisions/taking actions that affect the main timed challenge phase. playspace-affecting decisions.

everquest. health and mana return on their own slowly (with rate varied by effects). in combat, you will consistently be taking damage, and need to make decisions under pressure. out of combat, you can consume static resources to replenish health and mana (potions etc) or you can sit around and wait. when sitting/waiting, players may socialize.


haven & hearth. performing most actions consumes stamina and time, and you must be present in order to initiate these actions (for example, walking a cart from location to location involves many clicks, some seconds apart). alternating patterns, multiple "clocks"... doing something repetitive knowing that you will have to take a break at some point. when out of stamina, you convert 'food in your stomach' (non-hunger, fullness) into stamina at a rate you have some control over (by drinking water). you must eat food and drink water in order to facilitate stamina replenishment, but even still it takes some time. during this time, the player can perform a reduced set of actions (those that don't cost stamina).


candy box. clicking a button gives the player candy, but eventually clicking is pointless and growing candy outpaces the player's click rate massively. clicking for candy is an action the player can still perform during downtime, but it feels less pressing. diminishing return on seemingly necessary action, subtly increasing freedom.


starcraft. player sets into motion build queues and automatic looped actions like "probe gathering gas", and no further actions are necessary or useful. during downtime the player may strategize, look at the map, chat to opponent, perform small optimization actions, or expend resources to do more high-attention activity such as scout. spending resources to give myself something to do!


probability 0. the screen advances at a semi-fixed rate, but killing the enemies on screen rewards the player with valuable resources and experience points. so, the player should attempt to kill as many enemies as possible without risking too many resources or wasting too much time. once the player has killed the enemies that are easy to reach, they can only wait for the screen to scroll down far enough to spawn more enemies and reveal more territory... during this downtime, the player can move to the bottom of the screen to accelerate the scroll rate, or try less likely methods of killing enemies since time is of no concern.

inconsiderate climbers. when a player has used all the machines they need that they can reach in the current tower, there is no other action they can take which will be productive for them on the current screen. this is a local multiplayer game, so they can socialize with other players (and advocate for moving to the next tower), they can help other players by activating beneficial machines and telling them about the state of the game, they can harass other players by pushing them - or even use their machines, a negative act that nonetheless accelerates other players getting to the point of 'other players don't have anything to do here, either.'


step 4. for each technique, describe why the technique has the intended effect

(Oops it says don't think about patterns yet. I messed up already lol)


starseed pilgrim. the player wants to hurry and is pressured to make decisions because of the darkness that is always catching up to them, but must wait for seeds to grow before they can take action. they are given some space where the only thing they can do is think and plan, even though the entire game is real-time. the player can see their inventory of three seeds and many of the seeds have predictable growth patterns, so they can plan ahead three moves.

wilmot's warehouse. the player must hurry during the timed phase, but during the untimed phase may take their time. during this time the player must take new products into the warehouse and file them away, but this involves engaging with the player's own organizational scheme. while putting away new products, the player tends to perform these actions: -inventing/altering an organizational scheme -reorganizing products according to their current scheme -refreshing their memory of the warehouse. these are actions that don't have a clear end state, so the player never runs out of the ability to continue doing them. (in ww the player can end the downtime early.)

everquest. sitting down makes recovery faster, effectively disabling the player's ability to interact spatially with the world, better communicating that they have entered downtime. during this 'seated' downtime the player still has many options available to them (inventory, character, socializing) which are nice things that are too slow to do during combat. however, combat is the more mechanically rewarding action, so the player is compelled to return.


haven & hearth. the player has a long, slow phase of activity which may include replenishing food and water stores, followed by a relatively short non-activity phase as their stamina returns. this creates a rhythm of 'constant labouring with short breaks'.

candy box. the player is the only thing driving the action forward in candy box... their own sense of 'playing optimally' is the only pressure there is. anyway, though there is initially no downtime, eventually there are moments in which the player has nothing to do but wait for candy to grow. during this downtime there is not much for the player to do inside the game, however it is a browser game which a player can easily click away from and return to later. downtime steadily increases as you play, and you take actions to reduce the downtime's duration.

starcraft. downtime slowly vanishes as a match goes on: more information and more actions become available over time. however during the early game, the player simply has a limited number of actions available to them, and downtime is spent preparing for the more intense later-game.


probability 0. (the feeling of downtime in probability 0 is quite rare, although i feel it when i play it.) enemies are not extremely threatening, but making an attempt to kill one can prove awkward and risky - with limited time, the player makes decisions about whether it's worth it to take the risk. during downtime, the player might be more able and willing to risk time since it has less value, and chase down enemies who seem like a waste of time to kill.

inconsiderate climbers. the downtime in inconsiderate climbers pushes players to interact (either cooperatively or with hostility), as is the point of the game. the mechanics accomplish this by having many actions that harm other players and a few that help them... and by having a non-smooth reward space, where some players will always run out of things to do before others.


step 5. look at the list of techniques you've created. describe each pattern you see.

if a player can't actively do anything productive, but will be able to soon, they can look for something else to do in the meantime.

opportunity cost varies depending on what actions are available.

when a player has nothing to do, they may socialize or click/tab away from the game.

the amount of downtime can increase or decrease with the player's progression into the game (candy box vs starcraft)

some activities are circular and endless (rearranging inventory, making plans, etc), and it takes an outside force or willpower to stop these activities.


December 05, 2021, 11:00:15 AM #12 Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 11:22:44 AM by droqen
step 6. pick one pattern and document it using the Pattern Template

Name: I Won't Just Wait Around

Confidence: 3

(no image)

Author: droqen
Design problem: It's hard to make a player partake in low-stakes activities in a game where most actions are high-stakes
Description: To get an optimization-minded player to relax and smell the roses, the designer may want to make the optimal way to play involve some downtime.

Games that use this pattern and how:

everquest. Combat in this game involves the expenditure of health and mana, resources which take time to replenish. While waiting for these resources to return, players have downtime in which many activities are still available, just not combat. In particular, the way to optimize recovery rate is the sit action, which disables certain actions and places a priority on the UI, especially socializing and inventory/character management.

starseed pilgrim. When a player runs out of seeds, and to a lesser extent when they plant certain slow-growing seeds, they must wait for their existing 'plants' to grow before continuing to act. The real-time pressure is continuous, but this affords the player significant time to take in the ambience and/or think about their situation, without feeling as though they are playing non-optimally.