…as long as you’re talking about me.
Since you will (hopefully!) be paying me for this game, you are, in effect, my bosses, and I intend to listen to all your concerns to please as many of you as possible.
Most people have probably missed the exchange that’s been going on between myself and a mysterious masked man named Matt over in the comment section of Dev Diary 6. He brought up some very valid points about the rewinding system I’ve implemented in Resonance, and through this conversation with him, I’ve come to realize a better way to handle things to please more players.
I thought it would be an interesting read, so I’ve reproduced the conversation below:
Personally, Iâ€™m confused as to what this â€œrewind pointsâ€ system is achieving. Isnâ€™t it essentially the same as the old save / load method? The player is still interrupting the story to go back and do something over. In fact, your method sounds more intrusive – as if the game was automatically asking you to reload after making a mistake.
I also think that points really belong in arcade games and shoot-â€™em-ups. It sounds like youâ€™ve created a detailed, realistic story with high emotional stakes – wouldnâ€™t a points counter just spoil that atmosphere?
I appreciate that youâ€™re trying to make a playerâ€™s actions have consequences that count, which I think is a wonderful idea, but wouldnâ€™t it be better to have those consequences play out in the story rather than on an external scoreboard? There are several adventure games out there in which solving – or failing to solve – one puzzle one way has in-story repercussions further along (â€Zack McCrackenâ€ and â€œFate of Atlantisâ€ are both good examples of this).
Sorry if I sound very opinionated – everything about â€œResonanceâ€ so far sounds fantastic. Iâ€™m truly impressed by what you and your team are doing, and Iâ€™m only offering my 2 cents because this points system would seriously dissuade me from purchasing and playing what otherwise sounds like an amazing game.
Best of luck!
Vince Twelve says:
Thanks for the comments Matt! I definitely appreciate your direct criticism. I hope that I can adequately defend my design choices here. If I canâ€™t, let me know, and I may have to go back to the drawing board.
You are right that this system is, in essence, the same creature as a save/load system, interrupting the game with a meta-game action in order to repeat a section of the game. However, this system is intended to work in a way similar to that familiar system, but apply penalty to the player for a different set of actions.
I want to have the possibility of the characterâ€™s death always on the table for the reasons stated above. I want the player to feel the tension associated with peril. So, with death a possibility, the game usually forces the player to take a very pro-active approach to saving, doing so every few minutes just to be safe. In this way, a death is punishing the players who donâ€™t save often more than those who do. I donâ€™t agree with this philosophy and was hoping to find a way around it. Iâ€™d rather punish for poor gameplay than poor saving habits.
This system allows the player to die a limited number of times before having to resort to the old reload. It also gives the non-active saver a chance to save (perhaps immediately after dying once). Also, players that have been playing the game well, solving alternative puzzles, being more thorough in their exploration of the world, will have amassed more points and therefore, will have more chances to pass the danger before exhausting their rewinds.
Furthermore, the rewind system fits more organically into the story than the usual save/reload system, which really sits above the game in an outer layer of meta-game actions. So, combined with having to use the rewind less than you would have to save the game in the absence of a rewind system, it adds up to less of an impact to the playerâ€™s immersion.
As for the point system. I agree that points are much better relegated to action/arcade titles. In fact, even in those types of games, Iâ€™m highly unconcerned about score, focusing more on just getting through the game itself. The point counter is relatively unobtrusive (I suppose I could even make an option to turn it offâ€¦) and isnâ€™t really a â€œpoint counterâ€ in the usual sense. As mentioned above, it only counts up to 99 and there are an abundance of points to be had. If you get 99 points, the counter will just stay there until you use the points for a rewind. Itâ€™s more of a stock than a counter, and since thereâ€™s no penalty for low points (other than having fewer chances at rewinding a section) and no reward for high points (no better ending, no high score list), you might as well use them.
As for making the playerâ€™s actions have consequences later in the game via plot and character interactions, youâ€™ll definitely find a lot of that in this game. Itâ€™s death that becomes tricky. If you kill off one of the main characters early in the gameâ€¦ itâ€™s tough for me to write what the rest of the game is going to be. Stuff like failing to catch the bad guyâ€™s henchmen in order to get the bad guyâ€™s location out of him is possible in the game. It just leaves you with another puzzle to solve in a separate story branch to figure out where that darn bad guy is. These things have in-game consequences. Itâ€™s only when you decide to walk into that electrified puddle of water that we have to involve the meta-game rewind or save/load features.
Obviously, there are flaws, and itâ€™s not a perfect system. But I think that for players like me, who get lost in stories and wind up only saving right before I quit a game, this will be a much better system. For those, like potentially yourself, who donâ€™t like the system, you can ignore it all together. If you die, just reload your last save. The rewind wonâ€™t be a mandatory thing. The old save/load system is there as well. Donâ€™t let this dissuade you from trying the game out!
Let me know if any of this isnâ€™t floating your boat yet!
Thanks for responding to my comments in depth and with such good grace! I appreciate the absolutely colossal amount of effort that everyone on your team is putting into this game, and itâ€™s all too easy for someone like me to shout comments from the sidelines. Youâ€™ve obviously put a lot of thought into this system, and Iâ€™m sure that will come across in the final product.
As long as the rewind option is only automatically cued *after* a *fatal* event, and if – as you say – the save / restore system is still in place, then I think I could be at peace with the rewind system, even I chose personally not to use it.
I would strongly suggest, however, that the rewind is *never* called up automatically, and that the points counter only visible if the player makes it visible, or maybe only when they access the rewind interface. You might even allow the player to disable the rewind mode entirely.
I see what youâ€™re saying about the rewind option being more â€œorganicâ€ to the story, but I think I disagree. After all, youâ€™re still engaging with a UI in order to interrupt gameplay and restart it at a different point. Some people (me included) might even find the fact that itâ€™s prompted *automatically* after you die to be invasive. It would never be *truly* organic unless it was a geniune part of the story – e.g. if your player character was Hiro Nakamura from â€œHeroesâ€ and actually possessed the ability to rewind time. (Now thereâ€™s a thought â€¦) I guess my point is, since Iâ€™d have to interrupt gameplay either way, Iâ€™d rather interrupt it with a system with which Iâ€™m already familiar.
Iâ€™m also not sure youâ€™re really punishing poor gameplaying, since – if the points are so easy to earn – it might almost be as easy to blunder into a mistake and rewind as it would be to blunder into a mistake and reload. Adversely, if the points *were* hard to come by, then youâ€™d be unfairly punishing players who were quicker to overcome their obstacles. However, this is more a matter of personal perspective and gameplaying technique.
Ultimately, as long as you leave the option in the playerâ€™s hands, then thatâ€™s all that matters. I think it was the â€œautomaticâ€ and â€œalways visibleâ€ part of the idea that really bugged me – anything that robs me of the decision to play the game the way *Iâ€™d* like to play it. (Like most gamers, Iâ€™m immensely selfish that way :)
I should take a brief moment to add that everything else youâ€™ve mentioned – multiple puzzle solutions, in-game consequences – plus the graphics and story Iâ€™ve seen / read about so far – all sound absolutely amazing, and I canâ€™t wait to see this game completed.
Best of continuing luck!
Vince Twelve says:
Ok, Iâ€™ve been thinking about this. Iâ€™m considering adding an option when you start a new game to choose how you want to play:
1) Classic mode. This is just like the usual adventure. If you die, you must start from your last save. There is no point system.
2) Safe or â€œRewindâ€ mode. If you die, the game will allow you to rewind an unlimited number of times until you get it right. Players will not need to save except when exiting the game (though they may still save at any time). There is no point system.
3) Limited Rewind or â€œRewind Challengeâ€ mode. In this mode, the point system is implemented, accumulating points when you achieve certain tasks in the game. If you die, you must spend a certain amount of points to rewind the game and try again. If you run out of points, you must restore from a saved game. The player may still save at any point during the game. (Though I may possibly disable saving during the critical scenes during which death is a possibility.)
I think having these three choices at the beginning of the game will benefit everyone, and each player can find a mode that fits their playing style. What do you think, Matt?
And what do you think, other readers?