20 July 2019

WildStar's Legacy: The Telegraph-based Combat System

Giving it some thought and a quick search I realized something. It seems that Wildstar has not only revolutionized but created the telegraph-based combat system. Since other games that are similar in combat and gameplay start to implement it slowly over time I figure I should write about it on my blog.

What Is a Telegraph-based Combat System?

Simply put a telegraph is a system sending messages. Which pretty much matches the purpose of this combat system. The goal is to inform players where they can stand to avoid getting hit by enemies attacks, but also to inform them where it is good to stand. While you might think that this makes your game easier it's a helpful system that improves the quality of your game to fix certain issues. These issues appear when players try to beat a challenge but fail and don't know why. One of the things that makes video games fun to play is that there' clear indication to what the player did wrong. Avoiding telegraphs in a game that requires and relies on player position may result in the player not knowing where the damage they take comes from, breaking this idea and leading to complaint and discomfort of the player.

WildStar's Creation of a new Combat System

In the following I'm going to talk about where the telegraph system comes into play, how the game WildStar implemented the telegraph-based combat system. Therefor I'm going to focus on what telegraphs there are and the meaning they convey. After that I'm gonna talk about the accessibility it provides and lastly I'm gonna mention all the down sides it still has or created. While this system is an improvement for movement and position heavy games - as all things - it's not perfect.

Where Does the System Come Into Play?

Back in the old days tap-targeting was the goto style for combat systems as it was the easiest to implement from a collision detection point of view. For tap-target we make an animation towards the current target and deal the respective damage. Nowadays games went away from tap-targeting and have switched to more dynamic systems. Some games use a mix between different styles, such as Guild Wars 2 for example. Anyways with a collision based approach it is harder to tell when you are hit by an attack or when you hit an enemy. This is where the Telegraph-based Combat System comes into play. The idea is to mark with telegraphs where an ability hits and allows for simple collision detection of "is a hittable object in the telegraphs area". This means that telegraphs can be used for all abilities that are not single target and tap-target.

WildStar's Implementation

Illustration 1: Illustr. of the
components of a telegraph in WildStar
WildStar uses a total of two different types of telegraphs that, however come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. These can be found most often in rectangular, cone-shape or circle form. Additionally telegraphs consist of three components. The border, the background and the fill (see illustr. 1). One aspect that is not clear from the illustration is that all three elements have an alpha component. This means that the background is visible as well as that overlaying telegraphs will represent more clear and vivid marks. In the following three paragraphs I will describe the implementation of the three types of telegraphs and how they behave, each having an explanatory illustration giving a visual idea to further help bringing it across. Overall the telegraphs can be identified by their pattern.

Full-Pattern

Illustration 2: A screenshot of a
full-pattern AoE
Full-pattern AoE's (Area of Effect) have a full background and fill up with their fill. The way these work is that they can be ignored as long as they do not fill up completely. Standing in one of these AoE's when will result in getting it once it has filled up. After this procedure they will disappear. This means these types of telegraphs only deal damage once. The border cuts off the dangerous area from the non-dangerous one. The background helps further marking the area in case the border drowns in visual noise and the fill is the warning on when the AoE will effect anything in it. This gives the player enough visual cues to get an idea about the positioning (where should I stand?) and the time (when should I?).

Striped-Pattern

Illustration 3: A screenshot of a
striped-pattern AoE
Striped pattern AoE's have a striped pattern in their background and fill up with their fill. Notice that the fill does not use a pattern but the alpha value to emphasize on the striped pattern of the background. These work different from the full-pattern AoE's as they deal damage constantly to the target in it. The idea behind the fill in this case is similar to the full-pattern fill. With the full-pattern fill the AoE disappears after it has been filled completely. This is the same idea for the striped-pattern. This is important so that the player can conclude that filling of AoE's has something to do with time. In game design it is important to try to let the same instance or happening have the same behavior. The stripes are also animated giving a sort of a dangerous vibe from them and helping being able to see or detect them under visual noise. The player will know not to stand in these and get out of them immediately. The filling tells the player when they can consider moving to that area if the current position is getting dangerous. Again the "where?" and "when?".

Accessibility of the Telegraph System

One of the biggest issues of marking telegraphs is that not everyone see's colors the same way. A week red outline will not help on a green grass if the player can not differentiate between green and red. Even if the AoE is animated under visual noise it might drown especially for those players. WildStar solved this issue by allowing the player to fully customize the color and alpha of the telegraphs and it's components. This means it is potentially possible for the player to modify the border, background and fill of the types of AoE's so that he himself can determine the perfect settings where the AoE's are visible under all the circumstances in the game. Or disable them if wanted (e.g. alpha = 0).

Disadvantages and Issues

As I already mentioned this is not perfect. So, there are still some issues. One of the biggest issues I've seen is that the collision of the player or enemies is not quite clear. This means whether you are in the AoE or outside of the AoE when standing near the border is not always clearly indicated resulting in the player getting hit even though they thought they weren't inside the AoE. A plus point of the telegraph system here however is that the player knows why he was hit, even though they will feel cheated and see it as unfair. A solution for this could be to give the players and enemies a telegraph for their hitbox that is unique from the others and can be modified respectively. I would advise to make it's border bigger to make up for the inaccuracy of tiny pixels. A mechanic similar to the coyote time. At this point I'd advise to always indicate AoE's bigger than they are in this regard.
The other issue is that AoE's still may drown in too much visual noise. If we assume that multiple AoE's overlap each other it is hard to tell which telegraph means which and where AoE's or support is. A priority list may solve this which can potentially be fixed by the alpha values but requires more research, I would say.

Conclusion

So, if you plan to make a dynamic combat system game that requires player position or have one as a game as a service (GaaS which comes from SaaS) then I'd advise you to implement a telegraph-based combat system. If the players don't like it they can disable it by setting all alphas to zero. Believe me it will improve the player experience.

Also thanks WildStar for creating this. R.I.P. until the private servers are runnable.

27 June 2019

Guild Wars 2: Dragon Bash Without Procrastination

I only realized it now. This has become a little series of my blog. Even though I skipped some of the in-game events of Guild Wars 2 here and there most of them have a "Without Procrastination" post already. This is the 4th one, so without further ado, let's get to it.

Dragon Bash, It's Been A While

Dragon Bash is a festival event in Guild Wars 2. While it is not completely new as it has existed in 2013, it seems to have gotten a major overhaul. We have four new attractions and three are not available. With this overhaul came a new bunch of achievements and a lot to do.[1]

As with previous posts I'm gonna go into the achievements that need you to do things multiple times or a lot. The idea behind this is to instead of farming them, do a little every day to prevent unnecessary farming or to not be able to complete the event. This is similar to the way you prevent procrastination in real life by working a little on it even if it's just a tiny bit, as it still provides progress and on the long term you have less to do at the end and have an easier time hitting the deadline.

What Is There To Do?

Before we can get into how much we need to do every day we need to select the achievements that are relevant. For me relevant achievements are those that give achievement points, as they provide a limited reward that is relatively unique. Additionally one-time achievements like "complete this adventure on gold" boil down to.. *ahem* "JUST DO IT!". With that out of the way, here's the first draft of the list of achievements I deem relevant, broken down into the annual category and an "others" category:

Annual
These can be repeated every year to get Annual Feats achievement rewards 50 achievement points each up to a 1000.
  • (Annual) Zhaitasty - Eat 1000 Zhaitaffy
  • (Annual) Paper Dragon - Bash 150 pinatas
  • (Annual) Going the Distance - Finish 15 laps of the race
  • (Annual) Color the Sky - Launch 100 fireworks
  • (Annual) Hologram Herder - Participate 5 times
  • (Annual) Masters of the Arena - Defeat all 5 bosses
  • (Annual) So Lifelike - Defeat 300 holographic minions
  • (Annual) Winner's Circle - Win the moa bet 5 times
Others
These can be completed only once in a lifetime.
  • Color the Sky - Use 150 fireworks
  • So lifelike - Kill 500 holographs
  • Hologram Herder - Participate in 10 Stampede events
  • Winner's Circle - Win the moa race 10 times
  • Paper Dragon - Break 300 paper dragon pinata's
  • Zhaitasty - Eat 5000 Zhaitaffy
  • Cheerful Ingester - Consume 3000 foods
  • Burn Them All - Burn 3 effigies
  • Masters of the Arena - Defeat all 5 bosses
  • Help a Quaggan Out - Give 1000 Zhaitaffy to the Quaggan
  • Stampede Survivor - Complete the third round of the Stampede 3 times
  • Arena Slayer - Defeat all 5 bosses
  • Party Commander - Do your dailies
  • Annual Feats - Finish 7 annual achievements

Repetitive Achievements

It's also important that some of these achievements are repeatable giving more and more achievement points. We need to calculate that into the amount we have to do.

Achievement AP1 per Repetition AP1 Limit Resulting Repetitions
Help a Quaggan Out 5 25 25 / 5 = 5
Stampede Survivor 5 25 25 / 5 = 5
Arena Slayer 5 25 25 / 5 = 5
Party Commander 10 100 100 / 10 = 10
Annual Feats 50 1000 1000 / 50 = 20
1AP: Achievement Points

Every Day a Little: Annual Part

Let's right to it. We just need one more thing though. The duration of the event. This can also be found on the Guild Wars 2 wiki as well as on the official post. The event goes from the 25th of June to the 16th of July.[2] That is equal to 21 days ±1 day (depending on your work or play time). So for the following calculation I'm gonna use 20 days, you can use replace the 20 in the following calculation with the amount of days the event still has.
Small tip: If you subtract the current day from the days in the month and add one to it (= counting the rest of the days in the month) e.g. 30 - 27 = 3, then you can add the next months days to it to get how many days it is e.g. 3 + 16 = 19 => 19±1 days until the end of the event from the 27th of June.

Let's go down the list.
  • (Annual) Zhaitasty: We need to eat 1000 / 20 = 50 Zhaitaffy a day.
  • (Annual) Paper Dragon: We need to bash 150 / 20 = 7.5 or 7 to 8 pinatas a day  
  • (Annual) Going the Distance: For this we need to finish 15 / 21 = 0.75 laps a day. However, this is quite inefficient as we can just do 3 laps in one race because that's less annoying. That means we only need 15 / 3 = 5 races in 21 days which is 5 / 20 = 0.25. That's about one race every four days.
  • (Annual) Color the Sky: This requires 100 / 20 = 5; So, 5 fireworks launched per day
  • (Annual) Hologram Herder: This needs 5 / 20 = 0.25, just like the races one participation every four days.
  • (Annual) Masters of the Arena: Four days like the previous one. I would recommend doing it in one go though as you may end up with bosses you don't wanna do.
  • (Annual) So Lifelike: The recommended amount is at least 300 / 20.0 = 15 a day.
  • (Annual) Winner's Circle: Win one bet every four days.
This is the yearly to-do list. Thus I'm gonna write it down again nice and clear. To complete Dragon Bash yearly/annual stuff you need to
  • Eat 50 Zhaitaffy a day.
  • Bash 7 to 8 pinatas a day.
  • Complete one whole race every four days or one lap every three out of four days.
  • Launch 5 fireworks per day.
  • Participate in the Hologram Stampede event every four days.
  • Finish the all bosses in the arena once.
  • Defeat 15 holograms a day.
  • and win one moa race bet every four days.

Every Day a Little: The Rest

Now if you would like to finish all of the achievements this year it looks different. Let's see what the normal achievements need.
  • Color the Sky: 150 / 20 = 7.5, meaning 7 to 8 fireworks need to be launched a day.
  • So lifelike: 500  / 20 = 25, holograms need to be killed in a day.
  • Hologram Herder: 10 / 20 = 0.5 participations a day, which is equivalent to every two days.
  • Winner's Circle: Just like the Hologram Herder, every two days.
  • Paper Dragon: This requires 300 / 20 = 15 pinatas to be bashed per day.
  • Zhaitasty: A freaking 5000 / 20 = 250 Zhaitaffy per day needs to be consumed.
  • Cheerful Ingester: As well as 3000 / 20 = 150 Dragon Bash food items.
  • Burn Them All: 3 / 20 = 0.15 effigies to be burnt. That's every 6 to 7 days, but it makes more sense to do it in one go.
  • Masters of the Arena:  Same as the annual. Four days like Hologram Herder (5 / 20 = 0.25). I would recommend doing it in one go though as you may end up with bosses you don't wanna do.
  • Help a Quaggan Out: This requires 5 repetitions each needing 1000 Zhaitaffy. That's 5 * 1000 = 5000. So 5000 / 20 = 250 per day. Additionally to the 250 you need to eat yourself.
  • Stampede Survivor: This requires 5 repetitions as well. So, 5 * 3 = 15 rounds. That's 15 / 20 = 0.75 a day. That's once every 1 to 2 days.
  • Arena Slayer:  With 5 repetitions this takes 5 * 5 = 25 bosses. That's one boss every 25 / 20 = 1.25 days. So every 1 to 2 days. I advice to do this in one go as you might not get the bosses you are missing. It takes 5 / 20 = 0.25 rounds a day then. So every 4th day.
  • Party Commander: Well. Just do your dailies every day. It can be repeated 10 times  but requires 5 days to complete. That's 10 * 5 = 50 days. That's equivalent to 2 to 3 years.
  • Annual Feats: When will Guild Wars 3 come one? Let's see. You have to repeat this 20 times and you can only do it once a year... hmmm... in 20 years? We'll see.
Since these are one time achievements and probably only hardcore achievement hunters or players will aim to complete these this year I'm not gonna summarize these. Especially since the blog post is already long enough. Which meaaaans. I'm out. Cya! :D

[1] https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Dragon_Bash
[2] https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/dragon-bash-returns-next-week/

26 June 2019

Guild Wars 2: Ultra Shiny Like a Skritt - What Did It Cost?

The perfect title for every Skritt fan. Okay for collectors, achievement hunters and completionists too, or people who want animated weapons that were made out of litter shinies. However, as the popular Thanos meme quotes so well: "What did it cost?"

Not Everything

Luckily for us, it doesn't cost everything, but what does it cost exactly? Well there are five weapons. The recipes follow a pretty simple schematic. First you craft the shiny weapon and then you craft the ultra shiny weapon. Both recipes work through the mystic forge. For the shiny weapons you will need:
  • 3x Elder Wood Log
  • 1x Quartz Crystal
  • 3x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of one certain color
  • 3x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of a different certain color
The color of the Condensed Ley-Line Essences define which type of weapon you get. More about that later. First, this is what you need for the ultra shiny weapon:
  • 1x The specific shiny weapon
  • 1x Charged Core
  • 3x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of one certain color
  • 3x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of a different certain color
As you can see from a material cost point aside from the Condensed Ley-Line Essence and the Charged Core these are standard materials. Maybe you need to farm a little bit of Quartz Crystals depending on whether you get them through your home instance or occasionally mined them on one of the specific maps that have these (e.g. Dry Top).

We can fuse these two recipes, build the union or inherit the one from the other. Whichever you prefer in the end the result should be:
  • 3x Elder Wood Log
  • 1x Quartz Crystal
  • 1x Charged Core
  • 6x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of one certain color
  • 6x Condensed Ley-Line Essence of a different certain color
This is needed five times for each weapon but before we do that, let's see which Condensed Ley-Line Essences we need.

Condensed Ley-Line Essences

Looking through the Guild Wars 2 official wiki[1] gives us a quick  breakdown on which Condensed Ley-Line Essence is needed for which weapon (demonstrated by the following table).

Weapon/Essence Crimson Saffron Azure Emerald
Rifle X X
Pistol X X
Short Bow X X
Staff X X
Torch X X
It's every permutation except Saffron and Emerald. (either they got bored, ran out of time, the artists were striking or they can't do math :P) By looking at the amount of X's vertically we can multiply that number with how many we need per weapon to get the total amount we need.
  • Crimson: 3 * 6 = 18
  • Saffron: 2 * 6 = 12
  • Azure: 3 * 6 = 18
  • Emerald: 2 * 6 = 12
Before the 25th of June you had to kill at least 60 bosses for these. Unfortunately the exact drop rate on each single boss could not be found out even though there was noticeably a pattern since certain bosses favored or some probably guaranteed a certain color.

Screenshot of the Preview of a Djinn Energy Cluster
 In-Game
Now they no longer drop since the Destabilizing Magic event ended. They're still available in the game though. There's primarily two ways to get them. One way is to buy the Djinn Energy Cluster from the Trading Post. At the time of writing this post they're worth 51 silver and 56 copper. Unfortunately their price will most likely increase. These used to drop from the world bosses additionally to the Condensed Ley-Line Essences which could've been mined. They can still be bought from the raiding vendor by using the Condensed Ley-Line Essences. The Condensed Ley-Line Essences are in the Uncommon tier of the Djinn Energy Cluster, which is even less efficient (could be worse though). 

The alternative would be to buy it from the raid vendor.
at the raid vendor it costs 10 Gaeting Crystals and 20 silver. Aside from the Gaeting Crystals, which are capped at 150 per week. It's a lot cheaper than the Djinn Energy Cluster, which do not guarantee a drop.

For Such A Shiny Title...

Summing everything up we need the following to finish the collection.
  • 3 * 5 = 15; 15x Elder Wood Log
  • 1 * 5 = 5; 5x Quartz Crystal
  • 1 * 5 = 5; 5x Charged Core
  • 18x Crimson Condensed Ley-Line Essences
  • 12x Saffron Condensed Ley-Line Essences
  • 18x Azure Condensed Ley-Line Essences
  • 12x Emerald Condensed Ley-Line Essences
If you decide to buy these Ley-Line Essences from the raid vendor. It would cost 10 * 60 = 600 Gaeting crystals (600 / 150 = 4 weeks of raiding) and 20 * 60 = 1200 silver, a.k.a. 12 gold.

At this point it's also interesting whether you can make money out of the Djinn Energy Cluster

Well, I'll leave that up to you. Anyways that's it for this post. The Dragon Bash Festival post will come tomorrow or on friday, depending on whether or not I hit the project deadline for the university project. Happy farming.. or.. something!

[1] https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Shiny_weapons

16 June 2019

Guide to New Raid Bosses

Quite a long title, huh? Well I've been working mostly on my games homework from university and I'm kinda sick of it right now, haha. xD Anyways, lately I've been asked by a person how we find out so fast on how bosses work so I want to give the people who have no idea some tips.

Brute Force Way

Before I give you some tips let's go with the easiest way: brute force. It basically means, don't think too much about keep trying and every time your group wipes try to figure out why and solve the issues at hand. Of course, if you keep this up at some point you survive long enough to kill the boss. Bam, you made it! This doesn't sound too efficient though.

The Basics

Most of the bosses in raids, regardless of the game - yes, you heard right in all games - basically work with the same mechanics. I mean think about what a game designer can do in a game. Since nearly all MMORPGs work with similar systems like buffs, debuffs, stuns, stunbreaks, healing, tanking, collecting, moving and more. Additionally they inspire each other. Well, since the mechanics reappear throughout different games but mechanics also usually don't change in the game itself and raids are build using the tools already in the game what you have will mostly suit what is needed for a boss.

Just checkout the abilities you have and what they do:
  • "Deals damage"
  • "Stuns the enemy"
  • "Breaks a stun"
  • "Heals allies"
  • "Taunts the enemy"
  • "Leaps"
  • "Teleports"
  • etc.
Boss fights are not designed to be impossible. They're basically a combination of challenge and puzzle. Solve the puzzle, overcome the challenge and they're dead. So, familiarize yourself with bosses, the more you see the easier it becomes for you to figure things out. Especially if you know your class or even other classes. The more you know about what the players can do the more easy it becomes for you to figure out what the developers intended. Know the limits within which you have to work!

Survive, Deal Damage, But Most Important Analyze

The hardest part next to solving the puzzle is the ability to analyze the fight while still doing your job. The less stressful a boss is the easier this is. Basically what you want to look out is the mechanics of the boss. Here you want to answer the following questions:

Buffs & Debuffs
  •  Does he have buffs? Does the group have debuffs?
  •  Do the boss or the group get these during the fight?
  • Where do they come from? What do they do*? 
* Note: It is often wise to post buffs and debuffs to chat or screenshot them in the old-fashioned way to discuss after the try.

Attacks
  • What can the boss do? When does he do what?
  • Is it time based? Is it health based? (at 75% or 66%.)*
  • Which attack hurts how much?
  • Does he have mechanics that instantly kill?
  • Are there scripted events? What happens?
  • Does he have an attack pattern?
* Note: Game developers love to use these numbers like every 5% every 10% every 20% every 25% or every 33%.

Map Awareness

  • Does the map mark something? Does it mark something throughout the fight?
  • What symbol is used? What could it mean?
Surroundings

  • What's in the boss arena? What is on the ground?
  • Is there a pattern matching the fight?
  • Are there AoE fields? Does the arena change?*
  • Are there minions or adds spawning? Are they bound to an important mechanic?
  • Are there visual effects? What do they do?
  • Are there sound effects? Where do they come from? What do they mean? Are they important?
* Note: Developers seem to love to destroy the platform or decrease the area the player works with.

Boss Itself
  • Is the boss attackable? Is there something that needs to be done first?
  • How does the aggro work? Does he need CC? When does he need CC? 
  • What happens if you don't CC?
  • What works/doesn't work well on him?
Grouping
  • How many people need to do what?
Achievements
  • What achievements are there? What happens if you fail them*?
* Note: Sometimes failing an achievement triggers mechanics that deal group damage or do otherwise bad things.


Answering these questions together in your group should give you a good idea about the encounter and boost your speed of killing it. I mean you can always leave this to other people but.. hey. Now you have a good idea on how to do it yourself for the next boss you come across or if you wanna faster with your group on a new boss without waiting for a guide.

While this sounds like the end of the post I've got one more thing for you.

Good Game Design & Boss Mechanics

In a game with good game design coming across a new mechanic in a boss fight that hasn't been explained yet often has an explanation of the mechanic before hand. In the best case you will have the mechanic or a similar mechanic be played before the boss with some miniboss or enemy that shares this. It could also be possible to that the players are told this by an NPC or have to read it which is sloppy, but at least it's explained.

From a game design perspective you don't want your players to go into a fight completely empty handed. You always want to at least hint to the solution so that it is technically possible to figure out the fight first try. (Which is rarely the case).

Just look out on whether or not you've seen similar mechanics somewhere else.

There You Go: A Guide to New Raid Bosses

This all should be enough to get you started on having an easier time learning new raid bosses. I'm actually gonna create a quick google form for one simple question. Just wanna know if you'd be interested in me giving examples for this or actually explaining primarily WildStar and Guild Wars 2 raid bosses from a mechanics and/or player guide perspective.








12 June 2019

Accessibility of Difficult Content

Before I write this blog post I wanna mention that there seems to be a difference in the understanding of "Accessibility" from a game design and a gamers perspective, which surprised me at first. Anyways this blog post pays homage to a discussion I saw on Youtube by fellow Guild Wars 2 players, Youtubers and/or streamers. As such I will add a link to said video to where the sources go.[1]

Accessibility - Game Design vs Gamer Interpretation

When a game developer or game designer talks about accessibility (of content) they're most often not talking about the same thing that a gamer would talk about. In game design the topic of accessibility deals with the question of how to develop games so that they can be played by as many people in the target audience as possible. If you plan to develop your game for a certain audience you will still have a smaller audience due to the people who cannot enjoy the experience because of illnesses that plague them. Assuming your game requires the player to listen to some sound but the player has hearing loss, you're alienating those players. This is one of the examples that accessibility addresses in game design.

On the contrary, when gamers talk about accessibility of content
they instead refer to the ability for players to enjoy or be able to access any content in the game. This now has less to do with the limitations they were given in real life but most often the ability for them to be able to complete and conquer the challenges set to them by the game. This is most often an issue seen in multiplayer online games and not in single player games. However, is there really an issue at hand?

The Current State

Looking at many games, especially in the massive multiplayer online role play game (MMORPG) category, you can see content specifically dungeons or more likely raids to be considered locked towards the biggest part of the player base. While the motivation for accessing locked content really differs from game to game one thing is definitive. If some content is only played by less than 5% of the community chances are high that said content might get a lower amount of work done by the staff of the game development team. Afterall while this content might be nice at some point when the numbers drop something has to be done and those niche content additions most likely won't be it. We can all agree that making as much of your game available to as many people as possible sounds like a pretty respectable goal. So, how do you achieve a higher accessibility?

The Simple Solution

Since the biggest issue is that content is locked behind gear, progression and/or difficulty. The easiest solution would be to implement easier ways to get the gear. Simplify the progression or decrease the difficulty. Given the current state of World of Warcraft, a level boost and probably some quality open world gear drops could potentially get you ready for the raids pretty fast. Especially if the open world drops were end game drops. You could technically lock these items behind a daily grind but that would be too complicated wouldn't it? 
Another example is getting raid ready in WildStar. At first you needed about 12 steps or so to complete from farming reputation to killing world bosses to completing dungeons on bronze, silver, gold, I don't remember. Later on they decreased these steps from 12 to four for accessibilities sake. Removing all steps would allow even more accessibility. Lastly difficulty. If the people don't play the content because it is to hard make all the content easier. Then everyone can play it and everyone wins right?

Accessibility In Real Life

Let's get back to the current state but from another dimension so to speak. When we talk about accessibility to education in real life. We're not talking about decreasing the difficulty of university. We're talking about giving everyone the opportunity, the chance to study. To do so we do decrease the entrance requirements. This allows everyone even those who were bad in the one or the other topic to be able to study and get a degree. There are tons of people whose grades did not define their abilities and success in university and this is important. So if we're talking about accessibility in real life we're talking about "the ability to do" something. With this mindset we're slowly getting there, but it's not enough yet.

Excourse: Difficulty Curves

Also something I notice a lot here is that in single player games there's hardly ever an complaint about accessibility of content. Why is that? Well thinking back to the old times games have been getting easier and easier and recently started to pick up difficulty again. One fact stays though. Throughout all those years game designers have tried to pinpoint and build their experience keeping a difficulty curve. Which means regardless of what game you played in the end the difficulty did increase and this is not the case for most of the games with the accessibility issue (or so it seems as there are always exceptions).

The Right Approach

Taking in all this information and coming to a conclusion.
What seems to be the right approach is to implement accessibility by modifying the given factors. First of all we want to decrease the entrance to the content. We want the requirements for dungeons, for raids or for any content for that matter to be easy enough so that the entrance requirements are set to "E for everyone". Of course, we're not gonna stay on this level. Now the goal would be to increase the difficulty slightly higher and higher perhaps with some up and down jumps to figure out the learning speed of the community (in case games as service) and to make it more interesting. Unfortunately as the level increases only slowly hardcore interested gamers would probably have no interest in this. There's a solution for this two. If we split our hardcore content into packages (cmp. raids wings) and make the first bosses easiest while increasing difficulty by quite a bit until the last bosses per section (wing) we can "carry" the less ambitiously or skilled players with the easier bosses while providing difficulty content to the ambitious skilled players through the hardcore content given by the upper end of our section.

Ill. 1: Representation of a simplified difficulty curve
 showing the applied system
To simplify, we're basically treating each content drop or section of the game as it's own subgame providing it's own difficulty curve while still increasing the overall position of the section difficulty to average out on a classic difficulty curve. The illustration (Ill. 1) shows this by splitting the overall difficulty curve (shown as a line for simplicity) fragmented into smaller sections that each have their own difficulty curve forming the overall one. Each section increases in base difficulty while having their base lower than the previous sections last boss to provide an easier entrance for those who could not grow with the previous curve. You can see it as a way to catch those who were unable to grow as rapid giving them another chance.

Regardless of whether or not you successfully defeat all the last bosses in all cases you can select your own difficulty curve created from your selection of bosses you wanna do and are able to do. This system is partly inspired by the system Guild Wars 2 / ArenaNet is trying to implement.

Conclusion

While I may call this the right approach this may also be a wrong approach for all I know. After all this is just theorie and without taking it and applying it into praxis who knows. However so far it sounds like a better approach than giving away the rewards and at the same time allows better and less skilled players to play at the same time more or less in parallel as Player vs Player does. Though it is important to say that this approach does not replace tutorials. It is imported for you to explain your community or audience in-game mechanics via good game design philosophy (which is another topic) or via text or even better give your community the option to repeat and skip said tutorials even for trivial content such as raiding in groups. Here too good game design philosophy and awesome tricks are better than forcing or a skip option. Get creative or take examples from those games that did an awesome tutorial.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHVuY3ac170

10 June 2019

Genius Loci - "The Spirit of a Place"

I try to mix things up by switching topics. Unfortunately the game related / Guild Wars 2 stuff takes more time than I have so let's go with another magick topic. I should also make a poll on what people wanna read to better cater to the audience and out of curiosity. Anyways you might find this topic interesting.

English Meaning

Genius Loci may or may not sound fancy depending on whether or not you like latin. The dictionaries write:
"The general atmosphere of a place."
~ Collins Dictionary[1]
it is also literally translated as "the spirit of a place". Though as the dictionaries definition already shows it we're not talking about an actual spiritual entity. Even though I'm talking about a spiritual topic. Which throws up a certain question.

What Is This "Genius Loci" Then?

How does it work?

In my opinion it's best described as the energy in a certain place. For non-spiritual people or uninterested people you can go with atmosphere here. :P

Let's we assume that every place has a neutral energy or atmosphere. Now assume we perform rituals related to a god, describe a place as holy, act like it's holy, decorate it accordingly etc.. If we do this to a room or building the energy or atmosphere of this room or building will feel similar or equal to what it feels like to be in a church. If you've ever been in a church or a similar ritual place you may notice that it feels different than any other place. It's the same reason why haunted places feel off.
"Wait, but aren't haunted places not scary if you don't know about the haunting." It really depends but let me assure you there are more than just spiritual people who get the hint that somethings off. A shiver down a spine, some weird feeling etc.. Why do we categorize a houses rooms into different themes, such as bedroom, living room, kitchen etc.. Why do you not usually sleep in the kitchen? Why are you not supposed to sleep in the same room you work or play in? Because it badly affects your sleep. This is usually not the problem,but it's preferable to avoid this mismatch.

What's The Use?

Technically you can use this for literally anything. If you want people to feel welcome give a room a welcoming feel. Decorate it, add the words "Welcome" somewhere, add something that can get people cozy. Practice or welcome people in the room primarily and take care of them showing your guest friendliness. As crazy as it may sound it all rubs off.

A bedroom should have a bed and drawers and that's pretty much it. Basically anything related to the wake up and go to bed routine as these remind and are part of waking up and sleeping. There shouldn't be a television, toys or books if these do not belong to your routine. Anything that distracts from sleeping in the room will - so to say - "taint" the energy or atmosphere of the room.

A workplace should only contain things related to work or needed to work. This will also allow you to easily switch to "work mode" thinking about work while in the room. It also helps not to have the "loss of your train of thought" when moving from one room to another (which is also an interesting topic itself). 

Now for the spiritualists and magick users. The genius loci may or may not be important it really depends on your goals. If you want to perform magick fast and successfully selecting a room or part of a room if not possible in another way to perform your rituals there. The goal is to make out of this part or room a magick room. If the room itself thinks it's a room for magick and rituals your chance of success on a ritual or spell is increased. Of course, you might not want your magick to be bound to one place in that case you have to work harder though.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is that every place has it's own life. Lol, no. It is believed that every place in space has some atmosphere or energy that is determined by the use of this place and decoration of it. People shape places and every happening rubs off a bit. Some people notice this and it can be used positively or negatively. 

Side Note:

Really fascinating is that it has been used in architecture and art as well. People use this concept to shape the building towards it's purpose building it respectively. Even the romans did this supposedly.
Who would've thought!


[1] https://www.collinsdictionary.com/de/worterbuch/englisch/genius-loci
Liked the post? Noticed an error? Wanna discuss the content or leave a comment*? You can join or check into the discord to do so! (*Note: Comments are disabled to avoid saving user data on this website.)
>> Join Discord

About Me

My photo
I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.