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 Post subject: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:12 am 



Joined: 25 Sep 2019
Posts: 148
I like checkpoints in shmups, and I'm thinking of adding them to the vaporware I'm working on.

But I'm not sure if I want to add open looping.

In the presence of closed looping, the usual way to make checkpoint milking not pay off is giving score for every life in stock such that score from 1 life > max checkpoint score.

The problem with this is it goes against the principle that higher risk should yield higher reward. I quite like Under Defeat's system of giving a larger bonus for clearing with less lives in stock.

So instead, I'm thinking of making it so enemies that have spawned for a second time due to the player being sent back to a checkpoint, yield no score.

This would include bosses. So basically, you'd only have one shot at getting the score from a boss. Or I could make bosses the exception if I make super sure there's no way to double KO them.

The mechanism for this would be super simple in my engine, just wondering if it would be received well or is it just a completely retarded idea?


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 2:33 pm 



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 716
Location: stuck at the continue prompt
If the score for killing any specific enemy is significantly variable depending on chaining, state of charging weapons, bomb stock, weapon used or cause of death in general, killing them quickly, etc. it might be nicer to keep, for each enemy, the highest score between the first and second time the player kills it instead of the first score. Otherwise a better performance after respawning wouldn't be rewarded.


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:54 am 



Joined: 25 Sep 2019
Posts: 148
I guess players might be tempted to suicide to "retry" certain sections that way.

I think a bit of score penalty for missing isn't a bad thing. I mean lives in stock bonuses also mean you lose potential score when you miss.

The act of missing itself is not the same as flying with your credit more at risk, and I think the approach I'm thinking of allows for greater separation of the two than lives in stock.


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:38 am 


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Joined: 26 Jan 2005
Posts: 682
Quote:
The problem with this is it goes against the principle that higher risk should yield higher reward.


I'm not sure I totally agree with this. I think it depends on the game balance as a whole. I associate risk reward more with moment to moment scoring opportunities. If you provide those risky point grabs, but have a high end game bonus for extra lives, the sense of risk is only heightened by knowing a small mistake will be extra costly.

The main problem I see with removing score at any point is removing the incentive for playing well. If you're repeating a level bc you died on the boss, but you already killed every enemy, playing back through that checkpoint becomes dead air for a scoring player. Missed that enemy? Oh well he wasn't gonna give score this time anyway. That truly will encourage lazy safe play at least until the player gets back to the next place to start scoring again.

You could try thinking of other ways to reward no miss play. For example a system like in Metal Slug where you collect prisoners and get a bonus for each one at the end of stage but lose them all if you die.


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:07 am 



Joined: 19 Jan 2009
Posts: 716
Location: stuck at the continue prompt
As a less harsh indirect alternative to taking away score, you could take away enemies: when the player dies you can easily classify enemies as "included in the scoring opportunity" and "not spawned yet", and after the player respawns include only the "not spawned yet" enemies and appropriate extra powerups, if needed, for that point of the level.
You could/should switch from a set of a few designated checkpoints to generically respawning the player a few seconds earlier than the point where they died, to provide time to prepare before enemies appear.
This way regardless of when and how often the player dies there would be exactly one fair opportunity to kill each enemy over the course of the level, ensuring even score opportunities without suiciding tricks, with broken chains and lost firepower as easy to tune negative rewards for dying.


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:03 am 



Joined: 25 Sep 2019
Posts: 148
Rastan78 wrote:
The main problem I see with removing score at any point is removing the incentive for playing well. If you're repeating a level bc you died on the boss, but you already killed every enemy, playing back through that checkpoint becomes dead air for a scoring player. Missed that enemy? Oh well he wasn't gonna give score this time anyway. That truly will encourage lazy safe play at least until the player gets back to the next place to start scoring again.

That's very true, if you remove scoring, by definition all you're left with is survival play.

Even if your survival play is fun enough (from recovery it tends to be more challenging) the other worry I have is that it's just so unusual having nothing give you score for 30 seconds to 1 minute that players might think it's a glitch or something.

Putting aside the risk thing, I'm still hesitant at rewarding no-miss play explicitly e.g. I'm a big fan of Batrider, and that game is all about calculated misses to switch characters or manage rank. I think that's pretty cool. By going to a system that rewards no-miss explicitly, that's something else you lock your design out of.

Quote:
For example a system like in Metal Slug where you collect prisoners and get a bonus for each one at the end of stage but lose them all if you die.

With some modification maybe something like this is workable. Thanks for the pointer!

Spoiler: show
I'm thinking you collect gold dolls, one per checkpoint and they get added to a little graphic all lined up next to eachother.

When you miss, all the dolls turn into ghost dolls. If you miss again, they all "pop" and you no longer get dolls for that stage, instead where they should be lined up in the HUD will write "miss!".

Now, if instead you successfully recover and make it past that checkpoint, all the dolls except that checkpoint's doll regain their color, which instead becomes like a stone doll.

I think this communicates things to the player intuitively enough after some observation.

Now it's a matter of getting the bonus arithmetic correct, so that one miss and no misses are the same, if you play the checkpoints perfectly both times, but any more than that is not worth the extra score from milking.

You can apply a flat bonus per doll. To make milking unprofitable, this would mean that each stone doll should be worth 2 * checkpoint max, and each gold doll 3 * checkpoint max (as each miss allows you to milk another checkpoint max worth of score). So if you get a gold doll, you can get up to 4 * checkpoint max, if you get a stone doll also 4 * checkpoint max, and with no dolls, you get misses * checkpoint max for that checkpoint but you also lose all the other dolls, so you'd have to to sacrifice 4 * number of checkpoints in stage lives to break even, which is like 20 lives if your stage has 5 checkpoints.

But having these dolls weigh so heavily means your actual checkpoint score doesn't matter so much. So probably better for it to be a multiplier.

I guess the range here should be 2 to 4. So perfect play with all stone dolls nets you 2 * the score due to repeating checkpoints * a multiplier of 2 which is the same as perfect play with 1 * the score * a multiplier of 4.

But it's hard to get the math right for the in between states. Say you make your formula for the multiplier 2 + 2 * (gold dolls / checkpoints). Lets say there's 4 checkpoints, and you miss 1. Well that's 2 + 2 * 3/4 = 3.5. And you're getting 4 + 1 = 5 checkpoints worth of score. So that's 5 * 3.5 = 17.5, which is not the same as 4 * 4 = 16.

So I guess I have to think about this some more.

EDIT: I think it's 2 + 2 * gold dolls / (2 * number of checkpoints - gold dolls) or simpler

2 + 2 * gold dolls / (checkpoints + stone dolls)


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:41 pm 


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Joined: 26 Jan 2005
Posts: 682
Had kind of a crazy idea while trying to wrap my mind around the idea of a checkpoint game that encourages suiciding for high score that isn't just basic milking.

When you die, not just the items are ghost items that you can recollect, but the whole checkpoint the second time is in sort of a purgatory mode. Basically a second loop type difficulty that plays like a harder arranged mode of the stage. Graphics shift to sort of a ghost world or hell theme with darker color palette and transparencies, remixed music etc. Items have far increased value especially if recollected. Upon reaching your wrecked ship (ala dark souls blood stain) you switch back to normal mode and cash in your item bonuses, regaining the life you had suicided. Die in purgatory mode and if you have lives still, you simply respawn right where you died the first time and continue in normal mode. Nothing lost nothing gained except one life down. So not too punishing for new players who can't hang in the dark world. Bombs function as a get out of purgatory free card. Perhaps meaning that for the end of the life you used the bomb on the next hit will just be instant death and respawn in normal.

There could be mechanics that carry over between worlds. Eg blow up a certain wall and when replaying in ghost mode there will be a bonus or extra midboss there etc.

Could also be that instead of the respawns in spirit world being tied to predetermined checkpoints, how far back you can go is tied to a spirit gauge. When you die you see the spirit gauge deplete and a rapid rewind effect that respawns you with a few seconds invincibility right when the gauge depletes.

If the spirit gauge can only be built up in normal mode, this would mean you can't just checkpoint milk ad nauseum. The best you could do is sort of two steps forward one step back. If you die with less than a certain amount of the gauge filled say 25% you simply lose a life
and instant respawn in normal mode with an empty gauge. Think SF Alpha 3 V-ism bar where you don't have to have a full gauge to trigger it, but you have to hit a minimum first. That means in certain sections like a higher point midboss, cashing in just a small gauge to repeat a short section could be used.

So the basic loop would be filling up the gauge and figuring out the best spots to suicide to cash it in, then trying to get out of hell so to speak. High risk high reward.

Sorry to go OT with my ramblings. Maybe something in there will be useful though. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Disincentivizing checkpoint milking.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:33 am 


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Joined: 18 Feb 2011
Posts: 6125
Location: Denmarku
Licorice wrote:
I guess players might be tempted to suicide to "retry" certain sections that way.

I think that's not necessarily a bad thing, though? It's not exactly checkpoint milking, and the player does suffer a massive loss from doing so.

In fact, I think it plays well into the risk vs reward balance that you want. You can sacrifice a life to improve your performance in any one section, but of course that will leave you crippled for future challenges. It turns remaining lives into a tactical resource in the same manner as bombs used for scoring purposes, rather than a flat boring no-miss bonus which I can see you aren't a big fan of either.

Quote:
the other worry I have is that it's just so unusual having nothing give you score for 30 seconds to 1 minute that players might think it's a glitch or something.

This really depends on your scoring system. If your scoring system is just "killing enemies gives you points", then yes it's weird. But if the scoring system is enemies carry chips that you'll collect in a chaining manner to increase their value or whatever, then a more intuitive approach could be that enemies you've already killed stop carrying chips, or something along those lines. Or maybe enemies are replaced by a different kind of enemy that works in a similar way, but is visibly different.
Or maybe score is accumulated via a scoring item you collect from destroyed enemies, but you don't get the actual point bonus until you reach specific checkpoints in a stage, so dying before cashing it in will make you lose your score in the run that you missed, rather than on retries.


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