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Thread: Book-shaped switch, tear-off napkins and Gabe Newell.

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia

    Book-shaped switch, tear-off napkins and Gabe Newell.

    Smoothly making my way through A Pirates Downfall FM by nicked I enjoyed the fact that I am able to do it by my own. Until one moment. A book-shaped switch at the bottom of the lighthouse. Frobbing that switch had ZERO effect! But that was me who have found this little pixel in the pitch black room! Give me my reward! I looked through the whole map! Every corner! Under the water. The Silence of the World buzzed in my ear. It was a pure panic.
    And know what?! You should had to frob it twice!!! How smart of you, Nicked!

    And here I am. Trying to rewind what exactly made me so panic. Of course there is an answer in my head already. This post is just an attempt to make myself clear. Protocol record of how did I come to this answer.

    Tear-off napkins. ( Yes, it's that far! This is the first thing that came to my mind Cant help myself! ) I babysat my 2 years old cousin and to distract her from sobbing and screaming I decided to interest her with something. Roll of tear-off napkins was the first thing that came to my hand. To my surprise it was a perfect solution. With such excitement she began to tear off piece after piece. Each napkin cost her some effort, but each of them torn off so smooth and exactly the same as the previous one. She giggled so happily!

    And here comes Gabe Newell. This is where the theory begins. From 16:07 of Half-Life Anniversary Documentary, ad hoc definition of FUN ' the degrees to which the game recognises and responded to the players choices and actions'. My cousin does not care about 'the degrees', little piece of paper is enough. The feedback issue here is essential.
    Why does my cousin screaming in the cradle at night? Why do I panic when I can't find the door which that freaking book-shaped switch opens? Why do I write this on TTLG? Lack of attention is trully a botomless pit.
    Videogames are another matter. They are designed to fill this pit because real world can be so deaf sometimes.

  2. #2
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I remember I wrote a tutorial about planning Thief-like FMs. (Actually it was for TDM FMs, but same difference.) In that tutorial, I wrote about the author using little dopamine hits to lead the player through a mission, but more importantly, to give a little reward for their exploration or figuring something out. The classic example is loot. You put a little loot in a room, and then the player feels rewarded for having gone down that path, and it will be felt it was worthwhile, otherwise, without it, they'll wonder what was the point of going down this direction at all. The mission space only makes sense when there's a reward or point for going through it.

    Anyway, I see what you're talking about as that kind of issue; if I understand what you're saying. When you do something, it's good to have a quick feedback loop that connects map progress with the players' sense of progress. Having perceived feedback when the player frobs the thing that does the thing is part of that and what you're feeling when it's not done well.

    Anyway it's something for mappers to keep in mind for future reference.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    That said, a great pleasure of the old Thief games is that some areas are only there for worldbuilding; they have no loot, readables, or anything else. Including dead ends makes finding the live ones more exciting. It makes it feel like the game world exists apart from you rather than for you.

    But a secret book switch that does nothing is a bridge too far.

  4. #4
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    For the record, I put a bit in my tutorial about that too. You could have areas only there for visual storytelling, or even just pretty or fascinating to look at, and that's good too. I actually count that as a feedback ping. Anyway I agree a lot with that.

    I think the thing you don't want is dead space, like copy-pasted hallways, massive basically empty and bland space, or big parts of the mission that don't contribute anything, not even to storytelling or visual interest. I think a mission will be tighter and better if you just lop the dead space off.

    Reminds me of that T2X mission, I think the one with the brothel, where they have an entire half of the mission space built, but they closed it off because they didn't develop it. Although some things back there were interesting, it's a better mission for just focusing on where the space could be made alive.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    And know what?! You should had to frob it twice!!! How smart of you, Nicked!
    its a bug in the mission. the intended design was that you only had to frob it once.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    @vfig
    But the door that this switch opens is near the other end of the map, miles away. This fact alone is so frustrating for those who managed to find it.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    ...it's good to have a quick feedback loop...
    Isn't this addictive?

  8. #8
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Pretty literally so, because addiction is rooted in the same dopaminergic systems.
    There's a whole genre of games that prey on people with it.
    It's like fire, a necessary feature if you want any flow in the gameplay, but you don't want it to consume your player to the exclusion of everything else either.

    ---

    Edit: For this specific case (going from your description; I haven't played it) ... I think the most notorious example in the history of FMs was JIS's Elevator Mission, which had hidden levers opening stuff on the other side of the map all the time, and the whole thing was kind of surreal and non-sensical. But in that case, it was designed to be confusing and convoluted like that, so it's a special case.

    In a lot of games that do this, there's a cut-away to show the thing that opens, but that'd be jarring in a game like Thief, which really tries to stay away from cut scenes and the like that take the camera away from the player, certainly mid-game. Another way to handle it is to at least cue the player to what should open by the thing.

    Well, everything is relative anyway. Anyone making a map is juggling a lot of things to get a map to work, some of which work well for players and some of which don't, and they only have so much energy, time, and feedback to know how different things play to different players, who themselves might disagree on it, and some are bigger or lesser deals than others in their minds and in the minds of players -- and even taking all of that into accout they're usually happy if they can just get all of the moving parts to more or less work for players to get through the mission at all.
    Last edited by demagogue; 23rd Jan 2024 at 17:16.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    There's a whole genre of games that prey on people with it.
    Are there any videogames that don't do this? My first videogame was a TV volume control ( I dont remember, my mother told me
    how satisfied I was when I managed to reduce the number of stripes on the screen to right triangle - 3 stripes). If there is a whole green right triangle which you can construct by yourself on the screen(!) isn't it a miracle by itself? There is something in common with every videogame. No, further, a simple interaction with a computer, when there is something happening in response to your actions – isn't it a 'quick feedback loop' aka 'little dopamine strike'?

  10. #10
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Walking sims, visual novels, art games and the like sometimes don't bother with a feedback loop to the player, though often they're considered on the boundary of being non-interactive.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2024
    Location: Egyptian Afterlife
    I just need to know when HL3 is coming out.
    Not that I will be able to play it anyway, I haven't updated my main rig since sept 2012.
    Time to upgrade in a few months I presume.
    There is a lot of games that I can't play right now, but there is no urge like when HL2, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, Thief DS, Doom3, Quake 4, TES Oblivion, TES Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout NV, Fallout 4, came out. There is nothing out there that I know right now that calls me to play it, maybe its just me.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Another way to handle it is to at least cue the player to what should open by the thing.
    Could just label it like people do in real life if there's a control that's not obvious what it's controlling. Bright glowing cables leading from the switch to the effect are popular in video games. Talos Principle II Sphinx switches have an interesting take; the switches themselves are just out in the wild pretty randomly, but the Sphinx itself displays a map of their locations.

    Quote Originally Posted by DuatDweller View Post
    I just need to know when HL3 is coming out.
    It isn't.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2024
    Location: Egyptian Afterlife
    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    It isn't.
    Noooooooooo1!!!!!""2223444!!!! Slashing veins right now, I'll be right back.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Walking sims, visual novels, art games and the like sometimes don't bother with a feedback loop to the player, though often they're considered on the boundary of being non-interactive.
    The picture on the screen changes in response to your 'press W' action, if we talking about walking sims. I dont talk about mouse rotation in FPS it's a roller coaster.
    Lets call those essential for an interaction with a computer actions and computer's response 'simple feedback loop'. Pressing one button and an appearance of the symbol on the screen is an example of simple feedback loop. It's much harder to reduce to such a simple description with a computer mouse, as you understand.
    We, experienced gamers, usually dont notice it ( for me it's a big question: Why are we dont notice it now?). But it is a simple feedback loop which cannot be avoided. And just like with the tear off napkins (the joy of tearing off which we lost since we aren't 2 years old dopamine hunters, we are experienced lifers now) the source of our 'dopamine strikes' is somewhere inside those simple feedback loops.
    Yeah. Lets stop right here.
    I feel like I've already made too many logical leaps and it's becoming too difficult to understand me now. Unlike some art games designers I do bother about interactivity of my thoughts.

  15. #15
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    In order to be properly defined, it's not really a feedback loop if you stop simply at 'press key' -> player moves. The output needs to feed back into the input, so the entire cycle of a walking sim providing you environments to negotiate in whatever simple way it can as you move within the world defines the loop.

    Most walking sims do in fact have more sophisticated feedback loops, usually in the form of funnelling the player through a sense of progression via a story. Dear Esther, for example, could be reduced to walking to checkpoints to get the next snippet of narration if you zoom all the way out. But that would be ignoring the holistic aspect of it, which is that the environment fills in part of the story when the narration is quiet, and vice-versa, and the whole thing has a definitive build towards a definite conclusion.

    Apart from that, the thing about walking sims is they still engage pattern recognition in some form even if they don't have a traditional 'story' per se; the experience of the environments builds into their own little microcosm of a tale in your brain as you amble through - without that, I deeply doubt anyone would find them interesting enough to engage with for more than a relatively tiny amount of time.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    In order to be properly defined, it's not really a feedback loop if you stop simply at 'press key' -> player moves.
    'player moves' is an interpretation here, logical leap, therefore this description doesn't fit the one I suggested earlier. Your one is more complex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Most walking sims do in fact have more sophisticated feedback loops...
    This is what interesting for me here. Am I right if I say that they are intended ones? I the answer is Yes then I assume the process of their "sophistication" is an answer to a loss of effectiveness ( I just came up with this term so feel free to ask me what it actually means :mad) of the previous ones. If so, why do we strenghtening our tolerance? Reminds me of the effect similar to the drug tolerance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    without that, I deeply doubt anyone would find them interesting enough to engage with for more than a relatively tiny amount of time
    If that 'interesting enough' depends solely on our imagination ( Can I call this pattern recognition thing and 'microcosm of a tale in brain' like this actually?) then I have some bad news. It means we are not capable making something 'intresting enough' by our own anymore ( Because we need more and more sophisticated feedback loops (look previous citation note)).

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