Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Some gameplay insights

Another 'thoughts about stuff' post, feel free to skip.

Making a smut is pretty easy, since competition is relatively low, making a game is not so much... Making smut game is arguably easier than making normal game, as many people will just go for the smut and be happy with it. But I'm not really great at writing smut (at english at least), so I'm left with pretty straightforward presentation and gameplay.

In my opinion, smut is what make people come and gameplay is what make people stay. Importance of both is relative, but I'm really looking forward to providing fun gameplay, as it's a main thing I'm (presumably) capable of. That said, 'what makes games fun' is one of the questions I never stop myself asking. After taking short stroll to the modded Diablo 2, which gave me lots of positive emotions at its time, and did not make into modern time as D3 failed every possible thing, I had a small insight of what makes game fun/good.

It's really simple, yet fun mechanics - in case of D2 its slaying tons of various and interesting enemies in creative ways. Everything else (what makes game actually _good_ and not just fun) is built around it - skills, items, drops, builds, quests... You can kinda pinpoint something core in most games like that. In WoW (until cataclysm hit) it was character development and exploration of the world. In roguelikes its (generally) a combat. In Skyrim its again exploration of the world.

So naturally I asked myself - what is the core mechanic of Strive I absolutely must focus on honing? Well certainly its not combat, plot or exploration, as they all server to expand gameplay. It's a character(slave) interaction. So, naturally, by all means I shall focus on making it as fun and satisfying as I can.

Now, I'm nearly finished working on, which (among other things) will involve changed to main quest line. Hopefully it will be out in next few days after proofreading is done.


  1. What many games fail at is Risk/Reward.
    The more that is Risked, the greater the Reward. Whether the Risk is that of slaying a dragon, or driving a girl to the brink of madness time and again, there has to be some prize worthy of the effort to get there.

    Secondly, familiarity breeds contempt, if the path is always fixed, players will soon determine the lowest risk path to the final reward. If I know that every time all I need is a human teen with XX skill to complete the Phase three of soe quest. Then I will likely look for one in advance and have her ready when the expected quest pops up. Some make sense to always be the same, for example, the Fairy to the Magic Guild being there to teach the player the source of Magic Essences. But the Elf to the Brothel, or the Human Teen with Service to the Slave guild, these could be, maybe should be randomized.

    If a player can easily identify the triggers, and they remain the same game after game, they contribute to a 'One-True-Path' walk-through guide.
    Especially if things like get Magic Journeyman, visit Market, offer to send girl home, get free servant... A fixed path decision tree, soon becomes really no decisions at all.

    Third, avoid confusion of content. Some games hide their shallowness in a vast variety of options. They provide the player what seems like a hundred quests and paths, but two moves later that quest is done. So which would be better a vast selection of quick content, of a few truly deep and even branching quest paths?

    Sorry for the Wall of Text.

    1. I don't quite believe into risk vs reward approach as it is purely gambling technique instead of actual gameplay. Gameplay involves Choices to make, while Risk generally presumes RNG. On the other hand feeling of reward can be induced by difficulty (which is partly associated with risk). As textbook example - Souls series. They do not provide that great of content and reward for slaying a boss, but the fact that sometimes it takes extreme amount of effort to finally beat the boss gives many people astounding amount of satisfaction.

      I do not really plan to randomize core quests as they will be 90% educational, plus randomizing them (and then integrating it into save/load) would take quite some effort.

      For other stuff there's basically 2 approaches - roguelike-rng where nothing ever is same and determined, where most things are same. First option promotes replayability, but I believe second one is preferable, because i believe, most important part of strive is a feel of personality. It's pretty hard to provide one with purely randomized characters and their actions, even if they follow some pattern.

      Not exactly sure if strive gives feeling of shallowness, as many quests are really bare bones right now, but I really planning to go for deeper and extensive quest lines.

    2. I wasn't intending a critique, just a commentrary on what I saw as being a good game.

      The randomness does promote replayability, but yes sufficiently deep quests can make it fun to do again, especially if there is some branching.

      For example, the random street beggar, say three options, Feed her, Give her money, knock her out and kidnap her. All three give the player a servant, but each would seed a different stat or skill set. Especially if it was separated enough to make reloading of previous saves to loop the quest inconvenient.

      As to RNG, I have been playing Roguelikes since Rogue itself, and 30 years later still enjoy Angband, NPP-Moria and a few other variants. Playing Path of Exile (D2 like) for my ARPG fix.

  2. >It's a character(slave) interaction. So, naturally, by all means I shall focus on making it as fun and satisfying as I can.
    What sort of "interaction" are you talking about? Do you mean something like FC's myriad of random events that allow you to take an intimately close role in a slave's development?

    Do you mean something like JoNT's personality/backstory system, which changes a slave's reaction to everything?

    Or, do you mean something completely different, something of your own design, whether it was inspired by the work of others or now? That's all I can ask about that without more information.

    As for the game in general: will slaves ever be able to learn skills on their own? IE: a slave that gets lots of EXP from doing a certain thing (as opposed to studying in the library) will eventually get a rank in that skill.

    1. It would be a record keeping nightmare I fear, but tracking each skill as a separate exp track would be a great way to skill up by experience. The Library would be general exp, usable anywhere, while say taking the companion out fighting would teach her combat and body control, points that could never be used on say Service or Sexual performance..

    2. Can't say I personally like FC events, as they quickly repeat itself to me and make me skip over them when I don't really care about girl involved, so yeah, perhaps something closer to JoNT, but it will require plenty of planning and brainstorming regardless.

      That may happen eventually, but it won't probably get high (like novice-apprentice skill level), but then its a bit cheap on skillpoints.

    3. I'm sorry, what is JoNT? Seems like something to look into.

  3. I'd like to add something that is sometimes forgotten on these games but I think it's vital in management-focused games: feedback. You need proper feedback of the consequences of your actions so you can know what you're doing right or wrong and adjust your plans.

    Using the games everyone knows as comparison, this is where Free Cities shine and JoNT fails miserably. In FC you always know exactly what's going on: this girl is becoming obedient because of forced silence, this one hates you because she's a stress eater being underfed, this other one doesn't hate anal anymore because you turned her into a buttslut with smart-piercing conditioning. Meanwhile on JoNT you tell your girl that she has to be respectful to you and are left scratching your head when she's mindbroken 20 days later because her pride plummeted.

    1. It's a bit more complex than that to me. The more 'easy to understand' information you give about girls, the less lively and interesting they feel. You can technically make them infinitely complex so two similar girls would react different to same thing, but that will be a disaster to process and transmit to players.

      In FC you have double digit number of girls, so you must know what's going on about them, while in JoNT you only have 1 and if you know what's going on exactly since day one, you'd be bored in few hours.

    2. I'm not saying that you must spoonfeed everything to the player, but at least some feedback is necessary, like the end of week reports in FC. JoNT doesn't give you any feedback _at all_, you're required to be constantly reviewing everything about your girl to check for any changes, and even if you find out something changed you're never quite sure what made it change. Always knowing exactly what will happen on each choice is bad, but never being sure of anything you're doing is even worse.

      On that note, Strive's daily reports are pretty OK so far, noting all the important changes happening with each girl.

    3. Speaking of which, in next version there will be notification if girls are overstressed by something.

  4. What's this "JoNT" game people mention? I can't find it.

    1. It's called "Jack'o Nine Tails", not sure if I can post links here but you can easily find it on /hgg/