Author Topic: "Fun" Maps  (Read 6964 times)

wire_hall_medic

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"Fun" Maps
« on: January 29, 2016, 08:26:31 PM »
So I'm making good progress on my current project, to the point where I can actually call it a game.  However, in playtesting I find that my levels feel very same-y, or at the very least mostly uninteresting.  I'm using six different level generators (village, forest, cave, BSP building interior, Rogue-style, and arena), and only the cave feels that different.  Granted, I only have limited dressing at the moment.

What have you found that makes exploration more enjoyable?  What makes for a "fun" map?  What monster behaviors support a fun map?

Joonas

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2016, 10:16:48 PM »
Backtracking in big levels is never fun so consider adding more connections between areas especially if your level generator generates branches fron the center towards the edges.

Different architecture style in dungeons (only straight corridors and rooms vs lots of curved corridors and circular rooms vs lots of special rooms).

Themed levels (goblin town, subterranean pirate cave with underground rivers and so on). You could hint about a themed level coming up by adding for example more goblin encounters to levels before and after the goblin town level.

Special content areas (treasure room, weapon cache, wizard's study and so on).

Special encounter groups roaming the level (group of adventurers, mercenaries...).

Although I have somewhat implemented all of above or at least the possibility to add themed content, I still have the same problem that my levels feel too same-y. My average 96 x 96 sized map has still too many empty areas.

Krice

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 10:30:56 PM »
I've found it interesting to combine different types of generators. For example a maze type level is boring if there is nothing else than the maze, but if you create mazes as a part of something else (like a regular room-corridor level) it's suddenly more interesting I think. Also, trying to create something that is "realistic" is better than levels that look too much like computer game levels. Well it doesn't have to be realistic, but it has to have some kind of logic or reason to exist.

wire_hall_medic

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2016, 11:03:04 PM »
I learned from my previous endeavor, and made sure each map has good connectivity.  An automapping feature also helps reduce frustration.

Due to the theme I've chosen, I can stretch the bounds of realism quite a bit; you're participating in an adventuring tournament where the dungeon is specifically constructed and populated for heroes to storm through.  Like professional golf, but with more swords.

Holsety

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2016, 08:33:35 PM »
If possible, change the font color in themed levels. Ie use a cyan or whatever for underwater/coastal levels and a deep green for forest levels. It's a welcome change of pace in ascii roguelikes. Just don't go overboard with it.
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Gornova

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2016, 09:46:46 AM »
In my roguelike, CryptoRL2 I'm working with a simple cellular automata to build a cave-like dungeon.

I think adding more options, for example a set of rooms with different monsters type could help fun, but before doing that I wonder: what do you find fun in a "cave map" ?
Personally most fun thing is lack of symmetry or regularity: there are no rooms and monsters can be anywhere. I'd like to get your opinions on that :D

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Tilded

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2016, 06:31:59 AM »
I added a bunch of tall grass to my roguelike, like Brogue. Even though the player can't die yet, it adds a sense of discovery and tension—you could run right into a monster. It also makes running away and circling around monsters more fun.

abraksil

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2016, 11:53:11 PM »
I found it is good idea to add some pre-designed mini-locations and mix them into the levels - Thous places can break the monotony of generated levels.

forumaccount

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2016, 04:23:53 AM »
This is mildly similar to a frequent RPG question of how to make quest text interesting. The best writing (or best level generator) will still be ignored and invisible to the player... unless it affects gameplay.

So the best terrain, IMO, is terrain that interacts with your game, mechanically. Pools of water that do nothing are background noise, but the player notices water if it sometimes contains eels. Doors are meaningless unless you can use them to surprise or be surprised by mohsters - or lock them in TGGW-style!. Grass is cooler when you can set it on fire. Etc etc.

tuturto

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2016, 08:46:45 AM »
This is mildly similar to a frequent RPG question of how to make quest text interesting. The best writing (or best level generator) will still be ignored and invisible to the player... unless it affects gameplay.

So the best terrain, IMO, is terrain that interacts with your game, mechanically. Pools of water that do nothing are background noise, but the player notices water if it sometimes contains eels. Doors are meaningless unless you can use them to surprise or be surprised by mohsters - or lock them in TGGW-style!. Grass is cooler when you can set it on fire. Etc etc.

And it doesn't even have to be anything really complex. Just little details like mentioned by forumaccount take you far already. Emergent game play can be really interesting, even for the designer.
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AgingMinotaur

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2016, 09:05:42 AM »
Definitely what forumaccount said: Everything in the map should serve some purpose. Various kinds of beings/features should interact in interesting ways. For instance, many RLs feature traps that you can lure monsters over, or even let you set traps yourself. Monsters can like/dislike each other: I remember this game, "Abe's Odyssey", where one monster (a giant crab-thingie) would chase and kill you upon sight, but whenever two of them met, they would fight it out between them, which was the motor of several puzzles. Also, monsters that can use items and react to their environment, adds to the fun. Terrain features can be used to create an interesting field: Water might effectively block movement, but allow shooting over it, and tall bushes could block sight but allow you to move through. (I actually think this is an underused feature in RLs: terrain that blocks sight, but not movement; in games like Legerdemain, Vapors of Insanity, Brougue, Pixel Dungeon …)

In a procedural level generator, try to make content open-ended, so that unexpected combinations will occur. Even with little or no hand crafted challenges, there can arise fun things like wading through dense vegetation, and suddenly being surrounded by fire monsters that set the whole grove ablaze. And of course it's nice with a system for putting in pockets of handcrafted content (Kyzrati just published an article about that), allowing nice set-ups like a bridged chasm with some interesting object/switch on the other side. Even without "prefabs", you can still make imaginative places with a simple generator. A big room with lava pits you can try to push your opponents into, for instance.

I guess it's a question of giving the player purpose and agency – rather than endlessly passing down identical corridors, chasing some vague MacGuffin of the deep. There should be situations where you have some short term goal/reward (whether stick or carrot) that you try to reach with the resources at hand. Taking some examples from my abandoned game Squirm: I had a random place with a fenced-in "monster zoo", and a zoo keeper that would try to unlock the gates and release the hounds. This was intended to give the player some urgent purpose (apprehend the zoo keeper). There were bands of adventurers, who would be hostile to monsters and could become your allies, but also attacked the player if he picked up treasure or hit one in their group. I also put in "questlets" to keep it interesting. One involved retrieving the clothes of a bathing knight (the knight was generated in a pond in the middle of the dungeon, the clothes would be hidden somewhere). Another involved helping a hermit catch his runaway pancake (the pancake was really fast, and you had to work with the AI of the hermit to make it).

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forumaccount

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2016, 10:18:42 AM »
one monster (a giant crab-thingie) would chase and kill you upon sight, but whenever two of them met, they would fight it out between them, which was the motor of several puzzles

That monster sounds pretty fantastic! Definitely sounds like appropriate for RLs. Always nice to find ways to break up the bump attacking.

Hm, thinking of non roguelikes... TSW, an MMO, has cars in it. And if you do what MMO players always do as if by some compelling instinct (jump on top of things!) ... the car alarm goes off! And draws monsters. Which actually helps you solve a quest and can be used creatively in future scenarios.

The fantasy medieval equivalent is obviously the alarm trap, but that's less fun because it aggros the whole level. Intentionally grouping up a small handful of KNOWN nearby monsters could be a lot of fun with AoE consumables / weapons.

abraksil

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2016, 11:11:36 AM »
Emergent game play can be really interesting, even for the designer.

Yee the emerging gameplay is awesome but it's not easy to achieve. You also can't control it . It just happens. In my experience the only way to get it is keep adding new mechanics and hop it will magically appear. If someone has a better approach i would love to hear it

tuturto

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Re: "Fun" Maps
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2016, 11:38:16 AM »
Emergent game play can be really interesting, even for the designer.

Yee the emerging gameplay is awesome but it's not easy to achieve. You also can't control it . It just happens. In my experience the only way to get it is keep adding new mechanics and hop it will magically appear. If someone has a better approach i would love to hear it

I guess that's why it's called emergent, it happens as a sum of lots of little things. One can experiment and prototype these and see what they'll find. Open game system probably helps too (in a sense that if you explode an oil bottle, it'll damage surroundings -> can be used as a weapon or as a way to break through doors. Or crack ice with it and create traps.) But interesting emergent gameplay is hard to achieve. Balanced even more (I'm going to ignore balance in my game pretty much completely, just aiming for having fun while exploring).
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