Heavy Rain

Hier habt ihr Anfang April 2012 die Möglichkeit, dem Designer von Scratches und Asylum nach Herzenslust auszufragen.
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JackVanian
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Heavy Rain

Beitragvon JackVanian » 01.04.2012, 20:36

What were your thoughts on Heavy Rain? In our interview I had the impression that you weren't a big fan of the gameplay, but what about the rest? The story, depth of the characters, the aspect of immersion etc.?

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Agustin
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Re: Heavy Rain

Beitragvon Agustin » 01.04.2012, 22:04

To be fully honest, I never got much into Heavy Rain. I only played it briefly but followed closely the reactions and criticism to the title. Some things I liked, others I didn't. I'm not really a huge fan of Quick Timed Events, for example (already had a bad experience with Farenheit). I think it's lousy design to make players feel as if they're part of the action when they're still spectators.

While the story seemed good, I felt the characters were shallow; just didn't connect with them in any way. I may need to give the game more time, yes, and I will do so, but it's not quite up on my list of priorities.

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Simon
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Re: Heavy Rain

Beitragvon Simon » 02.04.2012, 12:06

Agustin hat geschrieben:I think it's lousy design to make players feel as if they're part of the action when they're still spectators.
This is an interesting point. I got the impression that game development is mostly about cheating. Since AIs in real time strategy games are not clever enough, they might get more resources or other advantages, since it is hard to have a very complex storytelling (mechanism) that allows several splits with substantial different plots, it is pretended. If techniques of cheating are used well, a game can still be challenging and enjoyable. Isn't that what games are about?


A related question: About a week ago, we discussed non-linearity and momentous or moralizing decisions in (adventure) games. We had Mass Effect as an example, where the player sometimes had to make inconvenient decisions. This sometimes created a good feeling in me, that what I did really mattered. However, later I found out, that this often was not true, this was kind of disappointing. Still I was inspired to think about this kind of mechanics in an adventure game. Wouldn't it create immersion, if the player has to do such inconvenient decisions and than has to live with the result? Wouldn't it be interesting to see, if a solution to a puzzle that is simple for my character would have a negative effect on other characters, so that I might have to think about another solution (if I care about that other character)?

Well, some people didn't like the idea, since it would mean to them that they would miss some part of the game. Others claimed that the resulting problem would be a story and programming that is so complex that it's simply not feasible, especially with the usually low budgets of adventure games.

What's your opinion, is it a good thing to have such kind of inconvenient decisions in a game?

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Agustin
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Re: Heavy Rain

Beitragvon Agustin » 03.04.2012, 20:05

Hi again, I'm sorry that I couldn't reply yesterday. You bring a good point, and yes, in a way developers "cheat" all the time. I know I cheated a lot in Scratches :D

But there's a difference between giving control to the players and fooling them into believing they're in control. I think a good design is heavily tied to a particular control system, which should remain consistent throughout the entire game. In QTE sequences you're suddenly dealing with a secondary control system that often has little to do with the rest of the game. I honestly think this is lame, a patchy solution. Basically, just a bunch of glorified cutscenes.

Critical decisions is a whole different issue. My personal preference are tight stories with no ramifications (and note this doesn't necessarily mean a linear game). For example, I never liked Blade Runner which was way too open ended: that is, too many decisions that literally divided the game into several storylines. On the other hand, The Last Express gave great liberty to players but always maintained one strong, main plot.

I was recently discussing about a similar problem, that adventure players are always wary of missing something. The reason, I think, is that we have been spoiled by bad designs which allowed us to dissect entire games in all the wrong ways. For example, dialogue trees: how many times you felt the need to choose EVERY single option, even if that meant repeating dialogue lines? Granted, adventure players tend to be a bit obsessive, but I do feel that we must begin to "let ourselves go" and enjoy games in a more natural way. Dialogues should be one way only (that is, never going back in a dialogue tree) and if you miss something, so be it. The design should be clever enough so that you never hit a dead end because of this.

(a nice example of dialogues that feel natural would be the Tex Murphy series)

Going back to your question, I think that the possibility of taking critical decisions is good, especially if they have a moral repercussion of sorts. But not if they can alter the main plot completely, rather decisions that may affect secondary storylines, or perhaps the outcome of the game.

For example: if you were a bad character, you save the world but in the end live as a recluse, bitter old man. If you were a nice character, you save the world and keep the girl too. So you always save the world (main plot) but there can be additional consequences to your actions.

I also like the idea of puzzles that may be more easy or difficult to a particular type of character. I say easy puzzles for the bad guy but a very depressive outcome, and tough ones for the good guy, but a much more rewarding outcome.

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Simon
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Re: Heavy Rain

Beitragvon Simon » 04.04.2012, 20:20

Agustin hat geschrieben:I'm sorry that I couldn't reply yesterday.
Same here, too much work. :) Thanks for your reply, it was quite inspiring.
Agustin hat geschrieben:But there's a difference between giving control to the players and fooling them into believing they're in control. I think a good design is heavily tied to a particular control system, which should remain consistent throughout the entire game. In QTE sequences you're suddenly dealing with a secondary control system that often has little to do with the rest of the game. I honestly think this is lame, a patchy solution. Basically, just a bunch of glorified cutscenes.

Critical decisions is a whole different issue.
I actually liked the QTEs in Fahrenheit but especially the QTE-minigames (or whatever one should call them). For me, the illusion worked, that I felt closer to the character when I was distracted during dialogues. First I hated not to be able to completely follow them, but it was somehow realistic, since I wouldn't be able to concentrate that much either, if I would be in the character's situation.

However, I would try to implement QTEs in a different way, quite close to dialogues. The player could make choices during cut-scenes that would affect the plot. Well, since this would neither be quick nor timed, one could probably call them Es. ;)

This kind of control will probably lie in the same category as common adventure-game-controls. But I believe that it will be hard to design those events in a really good way. They need to have a realistic effect that the player can feel and relate to, if the effect on the plot will be too small, the player might feel cheated, if it is too extreme, it might feel unrealistic or disappoint such players who want to see everything, and in probably the worst case, the player might just not care about the consequence and find it ridiculous to have that choice (or he might want to have choices in situations, where the game does not offer them…).
Agustin hat geschrieben:Granted, adventure players tend to be a bit obsessive, but I do feel that we must begin to "let ourselves go" and enjoy games in a more natural way. Dialogues should be one way only (that is, never going back in a dialogue tree) and if you miss something, so be it. The design should be clever enough so that you never hit a dead end because of this.
I agree, this is most likely the reason, why some people had problems to accept the idea of decisions in adventure games. So I guess that the design must even be clever enough to convince those people that they win more than they lose.
Agustin hat geschrieben:Going back to your question, I think that the possibility of taking critical decisions is good, especially if they have a moral repercussion of sorts. But not if they can alter the main plot completely, rather decisions that may affect secondary storylines, or perhaps the outcome of the game.
[…]
I also like the idea of puzzles that may be more easy or difficult to a particular type of character. I say easy puzzles for the bad guy but a very depressive outcome, and tough ones for the good guy, but a much more rewarding outcome.
I think that this is an interesting path to choose, it might even convince the people mentioned above. I'd love to play (and design ;)) such a game.


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