Jump to content

Photo

Is 'no dmg' a poor standard of fairness?


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

Poll: Is 'no dmg' a poor standard of fairness?

Is 'no dmg' a poor standard of fairness?

You cannot see the results of the poll until you have voted. Please login and cast your vote to see the results of this poll.
Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 NewJourneysFire

NewJourneysFire

    Deified

  • Contributors
  • Real Name:Grant
  • Gender:Male

Posted 31 October 2019 - 05:24 AM

For a long time, I've been taking 'no dmg' as the golden standard to fairness. If a room is designed in such a way that you an get through each room without taking damage "in theory" then the room should be a pass, but what I'm beginning to learn, that this is a very subjective opinion and what makes fairness is much more complex than "Can the quest designer get through this dungeon without taking damage".

 

I ask this because it seems like a lot of people use this standard without realizing what actually even is considered fair, and I'm probably one of those people. So I'm trying to get community feedback.

 

Also, if you agree that the 'no dmg' rule is a poor standard of fairness, can you provide your input as to why and share your thoughts? Engage in discussion. :)



#2 ShadowTiger

ShadowTiger

    !~~ah~~ha~~!

  • Members
  • Gender:Unspecified

Posted 31 October 2019 - 06:43 AM

I think it might depend on what the questmaker is looking for.  :shrug:  I mean, globally, and on a room-per-room basis.    I'm going to post in a way that will clearly demonstrate that I am not fully abiding by the spirit of the topic at hand, so I apologize in advance.  I do have some thoughts on it though.

 

Suppose there was a room with spikes and a block puzzle to get around those spikes.  If the spikes do half a heart of damage, the player will just " ALyPqAr.png Uhhh... alright then." and tank the hit just to escape the room quickly.  That feels super-cheap.

 

But if there's a puzzle in the dungeon that demands that the player be at full health so they can use their sword beams as a gear-check of sorts, and taking ANY damage (Because they have no potion and enemies don't give hearts.) will mean they can't complete the dungeon, that's definitely something different.  Or, if the spikes are an insta-kill or do 8 hearts or something. 

 

Basically, it all comes down to the motivation of the quest designer AND of the player.  Does the player have the luxury of being lazy?  Is the quest designer forcing the player not to be lazy and be unable to tank a hit?  Are there spikes and a block puzzle in the room simply because the quest designer didn't manage to think of anything better to do with that room, and just wants to occupy the player's time?


  • Anthus, Evan20000 and Matthew like this

#3 a30502355

a30502355

    Hi

  • Members
  • Real Name:Xavier
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oregon

Posted 31 October 2019 - 12:01 PM

"No damage" is a poor standard of fairness, but it's still a step in the right direction.

 

The problem is that going through a level or dungeon without taking damage can vary in each play through. As I test my dungeons by playing it over and over, one run I can easily go through it taking no damage, and the other I take lots of damage. I'm saying that we don't automatically get better when we keeping playing.

 

But there is no other way to judge fairness, so that's why I think it's heading towards the right direction. The criteria just needs to be broader. Instead of a "no damage" objective to clear a dungeon, change it to "no potions" Now that I can do, I can have a a lot of consecutive of test runs without using a single potion.

 

But that's just how I design my quests, which are pretty vanilla designed when you get to the bottom of it.


  • Matthew likes this

#4 Jamian

Jamian

    ZC enthusiast

  • Members
  • Gender:Unspecified

Posted 31 October 2019 - 12:42 PM

Making sure it is possible to go through each room without taking damage is a good start. It doesn't have to be easy, or something the player can perform every time, just make sure it's possible.

 

I would add that to be completely fair, the player should also theoretically be able to do it without prior knowledge of the dungeon. For example, an enemy that instantly hits you as you enter a room unless you already know the blow is coming and prepared yourself, is not fair either.


  • Shane and Dark Ice Dragon like this

#5 klop422

klop422

    Evil Crazy Mastermind

  • Members
  • Real Name:Not George
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Planet Earth

Posted 31 October 2019 - 04:15 PM

Personally I'd say you should probably be able to do each room without taking damage. That said, if your only enemy in the room is an 8-heart one and is kind of hard to dodge (for example), that's still not entirely fair.



#6 Anthus

Anthus

    the wild-eyed boy from freecloud

  • Forum Moderators
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 31 October 2019 - 08:05 PM

It depends on how much health you have. I generally don't think mandatory damage of any kind is good, but if it only shaves off like 1/128th of your health, who cares? Then the next question would be "well, is it worth it to have it damage the player at all?"

 

Games where you die in one hit obviously can't have mandatory damage. These games are really, really hard a lot of the time. I'm thinking Super Meat Boy, and Celeste to name a few.

 

I guess my pretentious long winded point is basically, no, mandatory damage is not okay. :P

 

Games that have it feel cheap imo, and there are many examples of well designed hard games that either don't have it, or are based around only having one hit point.

 

EDIT: For what I'm saying, I'm not counting optionally tanking stuff like floor spikes to skip stuff as mandatory damage. I'm talking about explicitly mandatory damage along the critical path.

 

 

EDIT 2: I'll mention this too. Mario games are often based around two, or one hit points. If you have mandatory damage to get Mario small to do the following area, I think that is okay, if that makes sense.


  • ShadowTiger likes this

#7 Orithan

Orithan

    Studying Scientist - Commission from Silvixen

  • Members
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Australia

Posted 31 October 2019 - 11:44 PM

"No damage" by itself is a poor design philosophy because damage is just one of many elements of the game.

In most cases, it is a step in the right direction but it still does not resolve situations where a fight my be poorly tuned. A good example of stuff you can do damageless but is not exactly fair is the infamous Mecha Dragon fight in Mega Man 2. He is fairly easy to take down damageless with consistency but his sprite flickering combined with the terrible knockback from his fireballs and contact with the dragon itself being instant death makes for a lame and frustrating boss fight.

Mandatory damage is fine if it brings interesting situations beyond "lets do this at low health.". In Super Mario Maker, courses may be tightly designed around Small Mario or restricting the use of specific powerups to specific locations. Mandatory damage is the main way to enforce this after the player has been given powerups - some obstacles are impossible when not Small Mario and some courses would easily be cheesed if you say kept a Fire Flower after a certain point.


  • ShadowTiger, Anthus and Matthew like this

#8 NewJourneysFire

NewJourneysFire

    Deified

  • Contributors
  • Real Name:Grant
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:17 AM

Well, I'd like to add that I've said many times that good telegraphing and communication is important too. But the more I get into game design, the more I realize people often ignore good telegraphing and communication.

 

Heck, there's still a good portion of players who doesn't even look at enemy A.I. and will just see the enemy's existence as cheap if the A.I. steps away from the norm.

 

I guess that's one of my fears. You can telegraph, communicate, and clearly show your design as much as you possibly can, but people almost always ignore these cues and personally prefer things sticking to the norm "The same way everybody else does it".

 

Zelda 2 Iron Knuckles have an A.I. you can study, but I've seen countless of times people saying "They are stupid cheap enemies that the only way to kill them is a jump trick". This frustrates me to tears because that is not true, they have a very easy to understand A.I. and if you pay attention, you'll notice they get more aggressive when you hit them, forcing you to up your defensive game. But when people are so used to aggressively slashing, these enemies tend to "break the mold".

 

Now that said, Zelda 2 Iron Knuckles lack the communication. They do have the telegraphing, but there's nothing about them that tells you they behave in this way, which is why people resort to this jump trick (also, fighting them the traditional way is a slower process, so maybe that's a contributing factor as well). But besides the point, these enemies are always considered cheap and dumb, but outside of how they are communicated I feel most of them are good enemies. The Bird Knights however in the final palace is just the perfect example of a dumb enemy. 


  • ShadowTiger likes this

#9 NewJourneysFire

NewJourneysFire

    Deified

  • Contributors
  • Real Name:Grant
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:49 AM

I'm going to quote everybody's best points and add my own perspective, that doesn't mean I'm going to challenge anybody, because there are some points here I feel I totally agree with.
 

Suppose there was a room with spikes and a block puzzle to get around those spikes.  If the spikes do half a heart of damage, the player will just " ALyPqAr.png Uhhh... alright then." and tank the hit just to escape the room quickly.  That feels super-cheap.

 

But if there's a puzzle in the dungeon that demands that the player be at full health so they can use their sword beams as a gear-check of sorts, and taking ANY damage (Because they have no potion and enemies don't give hearts.) will mean they can't complete the dungeon, that's definitely something different.  Or, if the spikes are an insta-kill or do 8 hearts or something. 

 

Basically, it all comes down to the motivation of the quest designer AND of the player.  Does the player have the luxury of being lazy?  Is the quest designer forcing the player not to be lazy and be unable to tank a hit?  Are there spikes and a block puzzle in the room simply because the quest designer didn't manage to think of anything better to do with that room, and just wants to occupy the player's time?

In my style of design, I try to discourage this laziness. Lots of rooms you have to "navigate around traps", if you are just trying to tank obstacles to get through faster, that can and will be a punishing experience, especially on harder difficulties where this type of behavior is highly discouraged because it could result in life/death. That said, I'm starting to wonder that by "trying to discourage laziness" is in fact just me being a dick and is poor design. I notice sometimes people just want to walk through obstacles, and then hypothetically I'll get blamed for having those obstacles that slows them down.

My question is, should I start just letting people be more lazy and empty up my rooms of the obstacles and traps that I consider to be the "gameplay" of the dungeon?

 

But there is no other way to judge fairness, so that's why I think it's heading towards the right direction. 

 

I'm beginning to wonder if this is true. What you describe here is now the issue I'm starting to really ponder. Are we sure there is no other way to judge fairness? Because I think there might be, and we are both not looking at this from a more clearer perspective. For me, I get by because I have beta testers, but I'm realizing there are a lot of people who can design very good fairness and the only beta tester they have are themselves. So I'd like to think there are other ways to gauge fairness, but it's something both you and I are clearly not getting. 
 

Making sure it is possible to go through each room without taking damage is a good start. It doesn't have to be easy, or something the player can perform every time, just make sure it's possible.

 

I would add that to be completely fair, the player should also theoretically be able to do it without prior knowledge of the dungeon. For example, an enemy that instantly hits you as you enter a room unless you already know the blow is coming and prepared yourself, is not fair either.

You're the first one I ever heard mention this, and it stuck with my design ever since. Congrats on being on of the most motivational inspirations in quest design I've ever had in the past. To your 2nd point, this is why I feel good telegraphing is important. Take Dark Souls for instance, Bosses take huge long winded swings, they are swings you see coming, and they are timed in such a way where you can see it coming. I've been explaining to Moosh recently when it comes to him designing my bosses, I feel visual and audio cues are extremely important to boss design for the very reason you just gave. Before a boss shoots a fireball, there should be a visual flash. But most of the time, Zelda Classic enemies suck at this and not every enemy can script, so I feel these are limitations we've all grown accustomed too thanks to the engine. 

 

Personally I'd say you should probably be able to do each room without taking damage. That said, if your only enemy in the room is an 8-heart one and is kind of hard to dodge (for example), that's still not entirely fair.

I'd almost argue that it's better to avoid even using enemies that's hard to dodge, especially when they are hard to attack. There is a reason why people hate flying types (especially digdogger children). When I have these types of enemies (which I must because my screen design doesn't give much room for walking enemies), I develop very quick ways to dispatch them quickly. Arrows and Cane of Byrna destroys enemies with annoying movement patterns (like in a single hit). 

 

It depends on how much health you have. I generally don't think mandatory damage of any kind is good, but if it only shaves off like 1/128th of your health, who cares? Then the next question would be "well, is it worth it to have it damage the player at all?"

 

Games where you die in one hit obviously can't have mandatory damage. These games are really, really hard a lot of the time. I'm thinking Super Meat Boy, and Celeste to name a few.

 

I guess my pretentious long winded point is basically, no, mandatory damage is not okay. :P

 

Games that have it feel cheap imo, and there are many examples of well designed hard games that either don't have it, or are based around only having one hit point.

 

EDIT: For what I'm saying, I'm not counting optionally tanking stuff like floor spikes to skip stuff as mandatory damage. I'm talking about explicitly mandatory damage along the critical path.

 

 

EDIT 2: I'll mention this too. Mario games are often based around two, or one hit points. If you have mandatory damage to get Mario small to do the following area, I think that is okay, if that makes sense.

Health shaving kinda sucks too, anybody remember the spike path rooms from Souls of Wisdom? Or just foolish spike floor rooms in general? It's not only the damage, but the knock back that annoys people. So even if it's a fraction of your health, nobody wants to be knocked around by stupid annoying little enemies that does small fractions of damage. I hope that makes any sense. In a game like turned based RPG, mandatory damage clearly is part of the gameplay experience, it's literally what makes the game. But from almost every other genre, I don't agree even small necessary damage is good unless we take Orithan's point below. 

 

"No damage" by itself is a poor design philosophy because damage is just one of many elements of the game.

In most cases, it is a step in the right direction but it still does not resolve situations where a fight my be poorly tuned. A good example of stuff you can do damageless but is not exactly fair is the infamous Mecha Dragon fight in Mega Man 2. He is fairly easy to take down damageless with consistency but his sprite flickering combined with the terrible knockback from his fireballs and contact with the dragon itself being instant death makes for a lame and frustrating boss fight.

Mandatory damage is fine if it brings interesting situations beyond "lets do this at low health.". In Super Mario Maker, courses may be tightly designed around Small Mario or restricting the use of specific powerups to specific locations. Mandatory damage is the main way to enforce this after the player has been given powerups - some obstacles are impossible when not Small Mario and some courses would easily be cheesed if you say kept a Fire Flower after a certain point.

Your idea of mandatory damage being fair under the circumstances of Mario Maker is profounding. That said, I feel Mario Maker is a very hacky kind of game. There's hardly anything about Mario Maker that acts like an actual video game, and I feel exploits are more of the gameplay experience than actual gameplay. I've been criticized relentlessly for not using the infinite checkpoint exploit in red coin levels. I find it dumb. But that's my lack of understanding of Mario Maker. So it is a very good argument for mandatory damage for those types of games, but I feel it's very limited to that genre, and I can't see many other games benefiting from mandatory damage unless it's stuff like Mother Brain zapping you to near death for thematic effect. 

I agree with your issue on the dragon, and yes, I do agree now from all the arguments above that it's so easy to make a "no dmg" level that's still bullshit in design and completely not fair. Which is why I stand towards my argument that good telegraphing and level communication is important too. But lots of time people ignore all these things, and I wonder, is this on the player or the level designer if the player decides to ignore everything the designer has put down to communicate the design intent. Perhaps, it was just bad design in the first place, and no matter how you communicate it, the design should have never been made in the first place.

 

As you can tell, lots of this now confuses me and it's been confusing me since playing Mario Maker. Some of my most hard worked levels are polarized and I done everything to make them as fair and well communicated as possible, but the argument seems to be "You use this type of enemy that's forbidden, you go against this kind of trick that everybody else does" and it all starts to sound like conformity at this point. :/


  • Anthus likes this

#10 ZoriaRPG

ZoriaRPG

    The Timelord

  • ZC Developers
  • Gender:Unspecified
  • Location:Prydon Academy

Posted 01 November 2019 - 08:51 AM

For a long time, I've been taking 'no dmg' as the golden standard to fairness. If a room is designed in such a way that you an get through each room without taking damage "in theory" then the room should be a pass, but what I'm beginning to learn, that this is a very subjective opinion and what makes fairness is much more complex than "Can the quest designer get through this dungeon without taking damage".

 

I ask this because it seems like a lot of people use this standard without realizing what actually even is considered fair, and I'm probably one of those people. So I'm trying to get community feedback.

 

Also, if you agree that the 'no dmg' rule is a poor standard of fairness, can you provide your input as to why and share your thoughts? Engage in discussion. :)

 

It's entirely subjective. Ultimately, IMO, the fairness standard is based on if damage comes from cheap or unavoidable sources. Taking damage within a second of the screen loading is a common problem due to the lack of things such as enemy placement flags.

 

I mocked the hell out of this in that Kusoge quest, where you walk onto screens and just die.

 

In general, screens should be possible without death. Without 'damage' though? That's a good goal, and if you can do it, then it's probably fine.



#11 Aevin

Aevin

    Lucas, the Reluctant

  • Administrators
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oregon

Posted 01 November 2019 - 10:34 AM

I'd like to bring up this room from Yuurand:

UM1RFsn.png

  • The green floor deals direct damage over time with no knockback.
  • For the majority of situations, taking damage from the floor is unavoidable in this room.
  • Immediately before entering, there's a tile that restores your health to full.
  • Once you beat the enemies, the key drops and another health refill point appears.
  • The room has been tested to ensure it's possible with minimum health.

The room is intended as a "race against time" situation where you have to beat the enemies to open up a safe point and survive. Obviously, having designed it, I'd argue that this is a carefully balanced situation where mandatory damage is fine. There's really no penalty to the floor's direct damage, which happens quite slowly over time. The enemies are manageable, and the player is fully healed before and after.

 

So I would suggest that "no mandatory damage" as a hard rule is too strict, though it's a good guideline to adhere to in most cases. I think the philosophy behind it is more, "don't be sloppy with enemy placement and justify it as a challenging room." I could imagine, for example, a puzzle room where floor obstacles deal varying amounts of damage, and you're expected to plot a path in tanking over them that would allow you to survive to the end of the room. Of course, you could also have a room that's technically not mandatory damage, but is so demanding that it still feels unfair. So, yeah. It's less about "no mandatory damage ever," and more about the player feeling cheated by taking a hit when they've done nothing wrong, I think.


  • ShadowTiger, Magi_Hero, Anthus and 1 other like this

#12 Yloh

Yloh

    My Face!!!

  • Members
  • Real Name:Michael
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mike's Fun House

Posted 01 November 2019 - 11:01 AM

There is one factor that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet. The player's skill and tolerance level. Does the player what to overcome a challenge, or does the player just want to have a relaxing time? 

 

Also, just because a boss is fair doesn't mean the boss is memorable. Let me entertain you with some piratical examples.

 

The first video showed me defeating a boss without getting hit at all. The way I did it, however, was using exploits and lame strategies. While impressive, look at the number of views on this video.

 

https://www.youtube....2p&index=4&t=0s

 

This boss, while it may be possible to defeat with out taking damage, got way more attention when I posted this video. 

 

https://www.youtube....p&index=10&t=0s

 

Which boss is the better boss? You could argue that the second boss has some unfair qualities about it, but my character also has the tools to deal with those situations.

 

I will be the first to admit that defeating bosses untouched gives me great joy. 

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=oTgm0yQ9Rkg

 

For anybody wondering that took about 360 attempts on Akuma. Many more people find ways of defeating unfair bosses without getting touched. While I don't have proof, I did defeat Sephiroth from the first Kingdom Hearts game without getting touched. Before that, my first time defeating him involved me getting knocked around like a ragged doll and spamming heal all of the time. Sephiroth is a fair boss, but he is very difficult to defeat without taking a hit. My character had the tools to survive just long enough to whittle down his health to zero. 

 

This is a complicated subject, but my answer would be to not just use the "No Damage" rule as the only standard. Dungeons can be easy to take no damage, but be very unfair due to how it was designed.  

 

Edit: Let me make this even more complicated.

 

These games require you to defeat these bosses without getting hit, but they are totally unfair.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=GLNH8ichoHk

https://www.youtube....h?v=ZXGxEZmJD3A


Edited by Yloh, 01 November 2019 - 11:26 AM.

  • NewJourneysFire likes this

#13 NewJourneysFire

NewJourneysFire

    Deified

  • Contributors
  • Real Name:Grant
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 November 2019 - 01:29 PM

I'd like to bring up this room from Yuurand:

UM1RFsn.png

  • The green floor deals direct damage over time with no knockback.
  • For the majority of situations, taking damage from the floor is unavoidable in this room.
  • Immediately before entering, there's a tile that restores your health to full.
  • Once you beat the enemies, the key drops and another health refill point appears.
  • The room has been tested to ensure it's possible with minimum health.

The room is intended as a "race against time" situation where you have to beat the enemies to open up a safe point and survive. Obviously, having designed it, I'd argue that this is a carefully balanced situation where mandatory damage is fine. There's really no penalty to the floor's direct damage, which happens quite slowly over time. The enemies are manageable, and the player is fully healed before and after.

 

So I would suggest that "no mandatory damage" as a hard rule is too strict, though it's a good guideline to adhere to in most cases. I think the philosophy behind it is more, "don't be sloppy with enemy placement and justify it as a challenging room." I could imagine, for example, a puzzle room where floor obstacles deal varying amounts of damage, and you're expected to plot a path in tanking over them that would allow you to survive to the end of the room. Of course, you could also have a room that's technically not mandatory damage, but is so demanding that it still feels unfair. So, yeah. It's less about "no mandatory damage ever," and more about the player feeling cheated by taking a hit when they've done nothing wrong, I think.

 

 

All jokes aside, I believe that kind of damage is different than what's discussed here. We're talking about damage done by direct attacks or traps that seem to be placed or programmed in ways to deal unavoidable damage as a means to force players to start using more health items and stuff in such an artificial way, but it feels more like the player being bounced around unnecessarily when the game can just be balanced better with stronger attacks and weaker potions or some sort of matter. 



#14 venrob

venrob

    Scripter / Dev

  • ZC Developers
  • Real Name:Rob
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 November 2019 - 10:03 PM

If you want an example of what NOT to do.... Link's Grand Adventure 1

Link's Grand Adventure 2 isn't too much better.

(LGA3 suffered from different issues; less balance issues, more design issues)



#15 NoeL

NoeL

    Legend

  • Members
  • Real Name:Jerram
  • Gender:Male

Posted 01 November 2019 - 10:09 PM

Sorry if it's already been mentioned (I just skimmed the post) but I find the concept of "no damage" as a general rule is practically mandatory for fairness imo.

Consider a scenario where you scrape your way deep into a dungeon, find yourself with only a single hit point remaining, and then enter a room that REQUIRES you to take damage to pass <insert "Omae Wa Mou Shinderu" meme here>. It's really disheartening, it feels like the game screwed you over, and it's not fun. I consider it poor design. "Congratulations on getting here, but you didn't do it well enough so back you go!" If it's not telegraphed it's a slap in the face.
  • ShadowTiger, Shane and NewJourneysFire like this


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users