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DDM4323 - Game DesignChapter 7:Action and Adventure Games
OutlineAction and Adventure Game Genres • Shooters • Non-ShootersDesign Elements • Rules • Setting • Victory Conditions • Interaction Model • Perspective • Structure • Storytelling • Challenges • User Interface DesignSpecial Design Consideration for Action & Adventure Games
IntroductionIntroductionThe designation “action game” covers a widerange of game styles, both 3D and 2D.But all games categorized under this label invariablyhave one aspect in common (they are all twitchgames)The key skills tested by the gameplay are reactiontime and hand-eye coordination under pressureAction games tend to be simpler than most othertypes because there is only so much informationand complexity that the average brain caninterpret in unit time.
IntroductionAction games are the oldest genre - (the very first arcadegames were mainly action games).The game mechanics and gameplay are very simple andprovided the presentation layer is correspondingly simple,they are ideally suited to the lower spec (and older)machines.An adventure game isn‟t a competition or a simulation. Anadventure game doesn‟t offer a process to be managed oran opponent to be defeated through strategy and tactics.All adventure games are conceptual descendents ofthe original Adventure - exploration, collection ormanipulation of objects, puzzle solving and a reducedemphasis on combat and action elements.
Action and Adventure Game GenresAction Game GenresThe action game genre can be divided into 2 sub-genres : • Shooting games • Non-shooting gamesThere is an issue where some people consider the First-PersonShooting (FPS) is a genre in its own. Almost all action games use a number of common elements such as lives, reaction tests and hand-eye coordination test. Many of them also use the levels, waves and power-up design elements. First-Person Shooting (FPS)
Action and Adventure Game GenresShootersShooters make up the majority of action games.Shooter games don‟t always involve explicit shooting, but theydo focus on violence as a major game mechanic.Shooters generally focus on the actions of the avatar usingsome sort of weapon. Usually, this weapon is a gun/ longrange weapon.3D isn‟t the main area of innovation in fighting games althoughfor the realism purpose of the surroundings or environment.For the most part, the area of innovation in fighting gamesis in the realism of the characters, (including theirinteractions with each other and their reactions to injury)and the methods used to control the fighters.
Action and Adventure Game GenresThe main elements found within fighting games are variants ofrock-paper-scissors + the combo moves.There are 2 broad classes in shooters : • First-Person Shooters (FPS) – Quake III, Half-Life • 2D shooters – R-Type, RobotronThe original versions of the games were all completely 2D. Withno hardware capabilities, the focus is all on the gameplay.Fortunately, the developers of the updated versions realizedthe need to upgrade the graphics in their games.So far these developers succeeded in difficult task ofpreserving the gameplay while updating the appearanceto keep up with modern standard.
Action and Adventure Game GenresEg: First-Person Shooters (FPS) - Quake III Eg: 2D shooters - R-Type
Action and Adventure Game GenresExamplesThe original Gauntlet was one of the first games that providedthe option for cooperative multi-play (player able to chooseeither Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie & Elf for their avatar).While the updates Gauntlet Legends brings the graphics andenvironment up-to-date, adding a backstory and some extrafeatures, but still manages to maintain the core of the old gamemechanic Gauntlet and Gauntlet Legends
Action and Adventure Game GenresExamplesSimilarly, the original Robotron 2084 was a classic game when itwas released into arcades back in 1982. The sole object of thisgame was to defend the last human family against waves ofkilling machines.The updates of this game, Robotron X , which updates thegraphics to 3D. The gameplay is almost the same as the originalRobotron, but the shift to 3D environment negatively impactedthe playability.The advantage of the original Robotron all the action could beviewed on screen at one time (single-screen design). The 3Dupdate, with its swooping camera, often obscured parts of theplaying area.This meant that occasionally you would be killed by anenemy that suddenly appeared from the off-cameraregion – an impossibility in the original game.
Action and Adventure Game GenresThis detracts from the playability because it is not the player‟sfault that he/she cannot see the off screen.In the original Robotron, if a player died, it was his fault – all theinformation was there to be interpreted so he/she has noexcuses if failed to react. Robotron 2084 and Robotron X
Action and Adventure Game GenresMore Examples: Centipede and Centipede 3D Uridium and Space Tripper
Action and Adventure Game GenresNon-ShootersThe non-violent games seem to appeal more to thefemale demographic.The non-shooter games are include Marble Madness,Lode Runner, Pac-Man, Chuckie Egg, the Mario Games,Q*Bert, Super Monkey Ball Frogger etc.All these games have the same non-violence motifrunning through them.The primary reason for this is because the game weredesigned to be appealing to children, particularly in thecase of the Mario series of games
Action and Adventure Game GenresExamplesFrogger was orriginally a highly successful arcade gamereleased in 1981. The aim of the game was to get the world‟sonly none-swimming frog family across a busy road, logging riverwith crocodiles etc.Frogger sold millions of copies and mainstay of the softwarecharts for many months after release.The developers decided to focuses on keeping the gameplayunchanged, and just updated the presentation, increasing thevariety of the levels available to the player. Frogger and Frogger 3D
Action and Adventure Game GenresAnother successful game was Q*Bert (1982). This game placeda strange orange character on the pyramid of cubes, who waschased by enemies including by an evil snake named Coily.The Q*Bert 3D translate well to the update, and the storydoesn‟t affect the gameplay negatively except playing areacannot be visible on the screen at one time. Q*Bert and Q*Bert 3D
Action and Adventure Game GenresAction-AdventureThe arrival of 3D hardware enables combination an action-adventure games.Action-Adventure games, is faster paced than a pure adventuregame + it includes physical as well as conceptual challenges.Note:Some people think tomb rider are Action-Adventure becauseinclude puzzle. But puzzle not that clever and the action is socontinuous. That‟s why other people consider as action game.If you plan to make an action-adventure, you should awarethat although your designmight appeal to some actiongamers, you might alsodiscourage some adventuregamers who would.
Design Elements - RulesDesign ElementsAction games are a good source of distinct designelements, because their relative simplicity makes analysisof their mechanics fairly easy.RulesThe RULES of an action game describe the basic gamemechanics. Action games required skill as the primaryfactor to play (not memorization etc)They are usually very simple because of the freneticnature of the gameplay.
Design Elements - Rules• LevelsAction games are often split into series of levels.A level is a specifically defined area in the game arena –objective of the player is to complete specific task.When task finished, the level is complete and then movedto the next level. The difficulty will increase with eachsubsequent level.Often , levels are grouped by theme. A set of theme levelsusually ends with an encounter with a big boss.In some cases, the boss has to be defeated with the use ofpower-ups and/or skills that the player gained during thepreceding level set.
Design Elements - Rules• CheckpointsCheckpoints basically used (when a life of the avatar is lost)as a starting point.The most straightforward form of checkpoint is that the avatarappears in the same location where it died.Other (more difficult) games, required to start the level from thebeginning. This will increase the game challenge and causesfrustration.The last form is an amalgambetween the first two – asplayer progresses throughlevels (he passes a predefinecheckpoints), when theavatar dies, the starting pointis at the last checkpoint.Eg : Moon Patrol
Design Elements - Rules• LivesInitially, the number of lives provided usually ranges frombetween 3 and 5.A life is lost by collision with an enemy or some other dangerousstructure. Extra lives can be earned either by picking up apower-up or reaching a certain score.The player‟s avatar is usually invulnerable for a few secondswhen reappearing after losing a life. When all lives are lost, thegame is over.• EnergyThe player‟s avatar is given a limited amount of energy, someof which depleted when the avatar is injured.It can be replenished by the use of collectible/power up.When all the energy is drained / depleted, the game is over.
Design Elements - Rules• The LimitThe Time Limit design element is indicated by the use of atimer that counts down from some initial value to zero.When the timer reaches zero, an action occurs that causesa major event in the game.The time limit is normally used in one of three ways : • The Level timer The player has limited time to complete the levels. I fails to do so, the level will reset/restart. • Countdown to Catastrophe The player has to achieve some task before timer runs out or the task will become much more difficult to achieve. • Limit the Effectiveness of Power-ups. When timer runs out, the temporary power-up is removed, and the player‟s avatar reverts to the normal state.
Design Elements - Rules• ScoreScore indicators in action games is probably the most activeindicators. It is how the player is intended to measure hersuccess against others.Scores are recorded in high-score tables to display the verybest players. Many games also reward skillful play with bonusscores and multipliers.• Power-UpsOne of the staple design elements of action games is thepower-up. As a reward for progress, the player is given theopportunity to increase the strength of his/her avatar. (in caseof a shooter, this can be in form of stronger weapons/shields.The general rule is that the more powerful advantage, theshorter the time is available for.
Design Elements - RulesOne interesting aspect of power-ups that is used in quite a fewgames is the concept of power points. The player is rewarded acertain number of “points” to spend on an upgrade, and thento a certain degree, the player is allowed to decide how hewants to upgrade his avatar.A specialized case of the power-ups is the combo move. This ismore often found in fighting games- to execute a sequence ofcommands with exact timing.Power ups come in 2 main strains : • Permanent - A permanent power-up is one that remains with the avatar for the remainder of the game (or at least the current life or levels). • Temporary - Temporary power-ups are usually short-lived (anything from a few seconds up to a couple of minutes) and provide the avatar with a powerful advantage.
Design Elements - Rules• CollectiblesCollectables are bonus objects that allow the player to augmenthis score. They are not essential to the game.In some cases, collectables can unlock secret levels or causespecial bonus event. For example, in Rainbow Islands, one means by which the player could kill enemies was by collapsing rainbows onto them. Enemies killed in this fashion deposited crystals that could be collected for bonus point. If these crystals collected in the right order (red, orange, yellow green blue indigo violet) then a secret doorway Rainbow Islands to a secret level be opened.
Design Elements - Rules• Smart BombsDefender was the first game to introduce the concept of thesmart bomb.Smart bombs are used to get the player out of a difficult situationwhen no other options available.The function of the smart bomb is to clear the area immediatelysurrounding the player of enemies, but the range cleared doesvary dependent on the game. Defender
Design Elements - Rules • The Big Boss A traditional staple of action games are the boss characters. In many games, the end of a group of theme levels is guarded by a large enemy (the boss character) Defeating the boss takes the player to a new set of levels, with a different theme. Boss character often can‟t be hurt by normal methods and require a special attack method to be damaged. The pattern of a succession of levels increasing in difficulty and challenge to a climax with the boss.The general progression ofan action game
Design Elements - SettingSettingThe setting in an adventure game contributes moreto its entertainment value than in any other genre. Grim and depressing, funny and cheerful, fantastic and outlandish – these setting creates the world the player is going to explore.Adventure games move slowly, which gives players thechance to create a world with a distinct emotion tone.
Design Elements - Victory ConditionVictory ConditionThe nature of the victory conditions were for the mostpart simple and clear.The vast majority of games have a clear set of victoryconditions, which are made clear to the player fromthe outset.In some cases particularly in the case of actiongames these victory conditions are illusory.
Design Elements - Interaction ModelInteraction ModelsThe primary model in action games is based purely onfast interactions - hand-eye coordination and reactionspeed.The ability to think quickly and analyzed situations almostinstantaneously is favored as well.In order to efficiently translate the player „s intent intoactions within the game, the control methods for actiongames are usually simple – because of the fast nature ofthese gamesBut the FPS games has attempt to implement morecomplex control for those players whose willing spendtime to learn the system.
Design Elements - Interaction ModelMost adventure games are avatar-based because the playeris being represented by someone who is inside the story.A number of text adventures asked for the player‟s name andsex when startup, using that information later in the game.Myst were careful to avoid ascribing characteristics to theavatar in the game – sex, age, and so on. They were trying tocreate the impression that it really was “you” in the game world.But eventually game designers began to find this model toolimiting. So they develop games in which the avatar was acharacter and hope that the player will imagine being thatavatar.
Design Elements - Interaction ModelThere was initially some concern that male players would beunwilling to play female charactersBut Lara Croft has demonstrate the avatar‟s sex really isn‟timportant.Making decision whether to make your game‟s avatar maleor female shouldn‟t be based on marketing considerations,but upon the needs of the story.Try to design an avatar who is interesting and likeable + havequalities such as bravery, intelligence, decency, a sense ofhumor and so on. This is the avatar the player will be seeing allthe time.
Design Elements - PerspectivePerspectiveThe preferred camera perspective of graphic adventuregames is changing. The context-sensitive approach istraditional, but third and first person games are becomingincreasingly common.Context-sensitive•This perspective is where the game depicts the avatar over a static background. •When the avatar walks through a door, the background changes to depict new location. •As display improved the game‟s art director chose a camera position designed to show off each location to best effect.
Design Elements - PerspectiveFirst Person (eg: Myst)• The player‟s avatar was not seen. Instead, it was the player himself/herself in the game world.• Myst did not render a 3-dimensional game world in real time.• The game world consisted of a large number of prerendered still frames, which it showed one at a time as the player walked around.• 3D hardware still not advance enough to render extremely detailed scenes in real time ( a room crammed with hundreds of complex object)
Design Elements - PerspectiveThird Person (eg: Indiana Jones)• This perspective keeps the player‟s avatar constantly in view.• This perspective is common for action-adventures in which the player might need to react quickly
Design Elements - StructureStructureThe structure of early adventure games. Each circle representsa room. S is the starting room and E is the end.
Design Elements - StructureWith the arrival of 3D graphics and the action-adventure.The stories began to be even more linear.The structure of story-driven adventure games
Design Elements - StructureThe space in an action-adventure games is structuredmore like that of an action game or a first person shooterThe structure of action-adventure games
Design Elements - StorytellingStorytellingHere are a few pointers about storytelling as it applies toadventure games.• Dramatic Tension - whether its interactive or a fixed narrative, is dramatic tension: a situation or problem that is unresolved• The Heroic Quest - a mission by a single individual to accomplish some great feat.• The Problem of Death - Adventure games shouldnt be so dangerous that the player has to save all the time because it ruins the storytelling.
Design Elements - ChallengesChallengesThe majority of challenges in an adventure game areconceptual : puzzles that require lateral thinking to solve.Finding keys to locked doors – the challenges as a designer isto give players enough variety that they don‟t all seem thesame.Figuring out mysterious machine - player has to manipulate avariety of knobs to make a variety of indicators show thecorrect reading.Obtaining inaccessible objects – the solution is often to find aclever way of reaching the object. Eg Stack of boxes
Design Elements - StorytellingManipulating people - sometimes an obstruction is not aphysical object but a person and the trick is to find out whatwill make the person go awayDecoding cryptic messages - many players enjoy decodingmessages as long as there are sufficient clues.Solving memorization puzzles - these puzzles require the playerto remember where something is. (concentration)Collecting things - the player‟s job is to find all the item.Doing the detective work - The player has to figure out asequence of events from clues and interviews with witness.(like detectives)
Design Elements - User Interface DesignUser Interface DesignIn principle, user interface design for action games isextremely straightforward. All the information that theplayer needs to be able to access in order to beeffective at the game should be immediately presentonscreen. (health, weapon etc).One way to do this is use colors wherever possible toindicate changing situations.Another golden rule for action games is that the playeravatar must be extremely easy to pick out. – as well asits important to identify the enemies quickly.
Design Elements - User Interface DesignAvatar MovementPoint-and-click InterfacesThe player clicks somewhere on the screen. If thecorresponding location in the game is accessible, the avatarwalks to itEg : “Walk to this point”Direct Control InterfacesThe player “steers” the avatar around the screen.Eg : “Walk in this direction”Movement SpeedIt is suggest that you implement both a “walk” and a “run”movement mode, so that the player can move slowlythrough unfamiliar spaces and quickly through familiar ones.
Design Elements - User Interface DesignManipulating ObjectsIdentifying Active ObjectsGraphic adventures have typically used one of four mechanisms:• Hunt and click - Active objects dont look any different from anything else; the player simply has to click everything in the scene to see if its active.• Permanently highlighted objects - The active objects in a scene are permanently highlighted• Dynamically highlighted objects - The active objects in a scene normally look like part of the background, but they are highlighted when the mouse cursor passes over them.• Focus-of-attention highlighting - Used with hand held controllers. Avatar moves around in a scene, his focus of attention changes depending on the direction he is looking.
Special Design ConsiderationSpecial Design ConsiderationIf we compare a game such as Defender with a game suchas Super Mario World, when just watching them being played,one would be appear to be more difficult than the other.Defender is a very unforgiving game. It tolerates no mistakeson the part of the player. If a player makes a mistake, then theplayer losses a life.In the matter of marketing, Defender was an arcadegame, designed to generate maximum coin throughput.Super Mario World was aimed at young players, and as suchwas designed to be easily accessible. (“easy to learned butdifficult to master”)
Special Design ConsiderationsConversation with NPCs (Non-player Character)Adventure game are interactive stories – the players expect thecharacters in them to be more human and less mechanical.
Special Design ConsiderationsMappingIt would be wise to give the player a map, because it‟shard for the player to remember how the rooms wererelated to one another.There‟s not a lot of fun in being lost. Another alternativeto maps is the compassJournal KeepingThe game fills in a journal with text as the player goesalong, recording important events or information he/shehas learned.
SummaryEven thought the examples in this chapter have used“classic” action games, this is one genre of game inwhich the core “gameplay” has remained essentiallyunchanged since the outset.The only change in action games throughout the years istheir graphical complexity.Adventure games are seldom a technological challengeto build unless you‟re trying to include powerful artificialintelligence techniques.Your talents at creatingstories, places, characters, plot, dialogue and puzzleswill be tested as in no other genre.