Some questions concerning 2D action Platformers and Metroidvania's.
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1. There's no doubt that Alucard is possibly one of the most versatile video game characters with a wide range of moves to choose from whether it means traversing certain landscapes with transformations or fighting with specialized abilities. The game is built around your upgraded abilities and the likes in such a way that that you're able to progress to new areas with your new found abilities giving you a sense of progression and growth. What I want to know is if you think it'd be a good idea to start a Metroidvania off with a character already having most of that versatility and strength? The sense of progression could be lost but with a versatile character right off the bat wouldn't be easier to bring some more sophisticated level design into the mix with that versatility in mind?
2. We know for Megaman games that bosses often have a weakness that can be exploited, in most Megaman games said bosses are stunned when hit with that specific weakness. These powers that Megaman uses can also be applied to levels as well though some powers are 'hit' and most are usually a 'miss' when trying to give them a practical use. So my next question is, if we were to scrap the idea of a weakness that stun's or a weakness in general and make it more about how the player chooses to approach said boss or level with whatever ability they choose would that be a good design choice? Since it's not so much about exploitation as it is about how the player utilizes their abilities. Like a Link to the past, you have all these items but however you choose to fight the boss is up to you, do you think this can be applied to a 2D action platformer?
3. My next question is about plot progression. In Megaman games you are able to choose from 8 levels right off the bat, you're not limited to playing in a specific order and you have the freedom to defeat the 8 bosses in whatever order you wish. The thing is, these bosses aren't essential to a plot and therefore don't effect the overarching story, they're simply a means to an end. And let's say we do make them essential to the plot, it'd be hard to tell a story and build upon it when you're choosing to fight these bosses in whatever order you wish. So for someone who wants to tell a good story, how do you circumvent this? Do we pull a Paper Mario and have at the end of every level a cut scene that furthers the story and develops the characters in some way? Do we scrap freedom of level choice altogether? Or do compromise and simply try our best to write the story with freedom of level choice in mind?
4. I already asked about versatility in Metroidvania's, but can that same versatility be applied to a 2D action platformer too? Especially in terms of fighting capability? Is it possible to make a 2D action platformer where the main character is capable of fighting like Bayonetta ( exaggerated example I know but it's just to get my point through )? Of course the levels and enemies would be designed around those fighting capabilities so do you think it's possible?
5. My final question is about flow. Do you think it's better to design for a video game to be designed around moving at a certain pace so that player never stops moving or design it in such a way that the player has to adjust their pace accordingly to problem solve by using their specific abilities to their advantage?
That's it. So let me go ahead and say this ahead of time to whoever replies, thank you! I'd like to hear your thoughts and feel free to correct whatever misconceptions I may have. I'm not particularly knowledgeable on game design, this was more or less me running my mouth off on what I know from video games I've played before. But yeah, really thanks again for whatever answers you can offer. Let me know if you want to me to expand upon something if you didn't get what I meant.
"Henshin A Go-Go Baby!"
Hi! Nice question. I'll try to tackle them a little:
1. No, I don't think it's a good idea. The Metroidvania games typically have quite a lot of mechanics and moves at the disposal of the player. I would definitely look to make some sort of progression, to easily be able to teach the player one thing a time.
The rest will be coming later, it's 4AM here and I'm dead tired.
Everything has an end, except for the sausage. It has two.
Alright, here comes the rest:
2. Yes or no. I think both approaches can work just fine, they rely heavily on the design you do down the road. I don't think a 2D platformer is inherently better or worse for any of these approaches.
3. Being someone whowants to tell a story, we have to think of what tools we should use to tell it. Is an action-oriented 2D platformer the best medium? What limitations does it have? How do you intend to tell the story? Cutscenes? Finding stuff in the levels (think Metroid Prime)? Narrator while you play (Bastion)? How you want to structure your plot progression relies heavily on how you intend to tell the story. Telling a story in a non-linear fashion is definitely possible, but you need to take that into consideration when you're writing the story.
4. Are you talking about 2D beat 'em ups? Sounds pretty close to what you're describing.
5. Both can be good. The Ninja Gaiden series for NES is an example of games that are designed in a fashion that you have to break your flow to not die. The player will typically want to get into that flow sort of by instinct, so if that's where you put the obstacles, you get challenging elements.
I definitely think that you should vary the pace throughout the game. Much like how watching a movie that's always in the highest gear is exhausting, a game works in a similar way.
Everything has an end, except for the sausage. It has two.
1. I don't like starting off with everything because:
* I don't want to have to learn everything at the beginning.
* Having everything at the beginning means that the game will play the same the whole time (level design aside).
* If you don't get abilities, there is no incentive to go back to old areas and find places that were inaccessible when you last played it.
2. People already play bosses in the way you describe... I mean, most (all?) bosses in Super Metroid and Castlevania don't have a weakness like megaman, so what you're describing seems to be the norm for game design. (I do think that the weakness aspect in megaman isn't all that fun... it just describes an order to beat the level since it trivializes the bosses). I like Zelda's design in that they mostly force you to use the item in the dungeon to defeat the boss (meaning each boss plays/makes you play differently), but it doesn't kill the boss in 3 hits.
3. Yeah... with a level select like that, I don't think you can make them important to the overall story. In Azure Striker Gunvolt you have a stage select like that (6 levels available) and after you beat 3 of them it removes the stage select and forces you to play a few story related levels, then after you get to beat the other 3 stages. And then more story. Or, like you said, you can play ordered cutscenes after you beat each stage.
"If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut."
I just came here to say, I misread OP's name as
That is all.
I make games!
1-) No. You would lose market penetration and require more tutorialization for no easily identifiable and tangible benefit.
2-) Yes. Look up the Megaman ZX metroidvania series.
3-) Personally, I don't think variations of the monomyth constitutes as good stories in the 1st place. And that's pretty much the extent of what video game storytelling has been thus far. But if you must and want an example on how to achieve what you proposed, the easiest way is to create the necessary plot points and present them in the same order regardless of the stage selected by the player. This will ensure your authorship regardless of non-linear gameplay progression. If you scrap stage selection then you're not talking about Metroidvanias anymore.
That said, I wouldn't waste my time attempting to do this. I won't elaborate on the good methods because it's too extensive to write about here but if you want to learn how to completely fix ludonarrative dissonance while not sacrificing pacing, look up the game Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon.
With that out of the way, it's better to stick to the basics here. So one thing to keep in mind: don't kill the gameplay pacing with unnecessary plot exposition. If you want to flesh out the setting or characters, make those sequences optional and out of the way or extremely brief. In other words, don't forget the maxim: the primary purpose of storytelling in video games is to contextualize gameplay. Otherwise choose another, superior medium to deliver that storytelling. Unless you can do what that Spider game above did, of course.
4-) Yes, but it would require the same gating and spoon feeding of mechanics that those more involved 3D games have (or you lose market penetration).
5-) Both, simultaneously. If you allow the player to use multiple core mechanics of different game genres to solve problems of the OTHER genre, you have effectively created authored pacing in the way you want and that is also regulated at the player's discretion. At the same time, you achieve better player retention and less burnout rate. Good examples of this are Mario and Zelda.
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