19th November 2004

I’m constantly looking for ways to give games and mods more replayability. The obvious answer would be to have a certain amount of randomness to the location of enemies and health, the way enemies respond etc. But there are also other ways. I’m currently writing a post that discusses this exact point.

It’s main argument is a call for more difference between difficulty settings. By that I mean in the way the game plays, not how accurate the enemy shots are or how much health is available. With this in mind I offer the following ideas as possible options for the HARD difficulty setting.

Perhaps during an extended firefight or in some particularly hot level your playing character begins to sweat. This could manifest itself in a number of interesting ways:

1. The sweat runs from your forehead into your eyes causing them to become blurred and sore. This requires you to wipe the sweat away either as you reload a weapon or automatically. If you don’t wipe the sweat away them your vision becomes seriously blurred.

2. If you are wearing a helmet or mask then the surface becomes condensated meaning you must remove it and clean it. This would only really happen if your helmet became damaged and as such exposes you to danger.

3. Your hands become slippery making holding and firing weapons difficult. Again you must wipe them before continuing.

4. Depending on the type of health system you use, your core temperature rises meaning you use more energy and require recuperation faster. Perhaps you need to find water to alleviate this particular problem.

5. This next one would be VERY game specific. By sweating you would leave a scent trail that could be easily followed by dogs or similar smell sensitive creatures. The only way for you to stop them following you would be to either find an area that masks your smell or walk across a river or other liquid area. The last part should not be explicitly mentioned so that the player has to work it out themselves.


  1. Joe

    Seems like a good way of using a visual representation for the stamina gauge common in games now. I like little touches like this. I’ve always dreamt about a game that gives you three characters in a house to choose from (or make your own) that, when a war breaks out, have to complete certain win-objectives. I.e. one character is worried about her boyfriend and must journey to get him, one character is militant and insists on joining the army – travel to the nearest base, and one simply wants to run and hide – gather supplies and get out. In my mind this would be good because each is a seperate story with different twists. Each could be handled with a different look and writer because the char’s see the world different. When building a PC random traits are added.

    Short-sighted? then don’t get in melee combat or you risk your glasses!
    Animal Activist? Bring your dog with you and don’t use chemical weapons!
    Vegetarian? Won’t eat the majority of meat (health) about but will be fitter on average.

    This list could continue endlessly of very simple but involving traits. Off the top of my head? Colour-blindness, nervous tic (low accuracy), vertigo (screen sways), Qualified driver (vehicles useable), Pacifist (don’t know how to use weaposn properly). These traits could be added randomly up to a limit set by the players difficulty choice, but based on the PC’s chosen stats. I.e. Give yourself high charisma and you’d avoid the Nervous Tic trait but risk a “Braggard” trait that makes NPC’s behave more agressively (wether good or bad is random). High Aggresion avoids the Pacifist trait but risks a “Bloodlust” trait that will become active in combat sometimes and prevents you from being able to hide effectively (say when sneaking, if this is a seperate movement type) by occasionally twitching and firing off a single round or burst.

    These stats would have to be fairly numerous and could consist of; Charisma, Strength (physical and mental), Reflexes, Agility, Perception, Aggression, Intelligence, Knowledge (seperate because provides you with innate stuff like a knowledge of firearms but not an ability to learn new skills). Many of these could exist on sliders forcing players to decide between being simply ‘smart” (able to figure out how to bypass an electric lock) and “Educated” (having to go find a book and a set of tools to do this job but knowing about which types of chemicals in the locker would be most useful for, say, making a bomb.)

  2. You make some good points but I question whether a veggie would not eat meat in a game. I’m a pacifist but happily kill things in games because I know it’s not real. IF my actions in games had consequences in the “real” world then maybe I would act differently.

    BTW, thanks for the thoughtful and insightful comments you’ve made recently.

  3. Joe

    Yeah, I realise that it is silly to expect a veggie to select death over eating meat but its just an example :). The idea of the traits would be to get the plyer to accept the game as being as real as possible. The marvellous thing about the idea in my mind is that it not only investigates the idea of psychology and how players view themselves etc, in ways that only games like “Alter Ego” and ‘sims” have before but it also forces the character to become the central part of the game. Location doesn’t matter as much and gameplay is simply a reaction to the PC’s psychology. The game could be set in a cityscape or, as I had thought, a rural setting with many small villages and a larger town. The game is perhaps a bit indepth with its idea but it can be simplified to three kinds of traits based on the six standard stats of charisma, strength, luck, perception, agility, intelligence. These three sets could be divided into: Psychosis (Problems that affect what the player can and can’t do or how they interact and see the world), Mental (Phobias, opinions) and Biological (short-sighted, crippled etc) as well as special traits earned from performing actions. Save the girl from the burning building? Then if your mental strength is high you can become resistant to fire to a degree, if its low then your burns end up scaring you so much that you become afraid of it and accuracy, abilities etc fall when near fires as well as the screen dimming so that contrast makes the fires seem brighter.

    These are all just ideas admittedly, in coding and designing this would be a significantly formidable game to make and thanks for the appreciation.

  4. anonymous123

    On a philisophical note, what makes games really great is risky ideas. Very risky ideas. some games are just average, because they didn’t want to run the risk of a stupid idea while making it. That kind of out look is how we get New age music. So let’s all not be afraid to take risks. Though I’m pretty sure all of us would have still taken those risks even if I hadn’t said this. Don’t sweat it.

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