Player Mechanics Discussion

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Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby Guest_xD » 20 Jul 2014 14:22

Hi

This is the first of a multi-thread spam that I'm gonna unleash on these forums, mostly because I can.

I've discussed with datahead about this a little, and several issues came to mind regarding the future of SMC.
First of all, we both agreed that changing the gameplay mechanics is probably a better idea than changing just the graphics to get away from the whole "SMC is a Mario clone" thing.

I'll start of with a list of what Mario (from SMW1) can do, and what Maryo can do.

Mario
-Jump
-Run
-Fly (cape)
-Shoot fire
-Become invincible
-Become big
-Climb
-Punch while climbing
-Slide down slopes
-Ride Yoshi
-Grab items
-Store one reserve Item
-Get a life every 100 coins

Maryo
-Jump
-Run
-Shoot fire and ice
-Become invincible
-Become big
-Climb
-Grab items
-Store one reserve item
-Get a life every 100 coins

Things to note: Maryo can do exactly one thing Mario can't, which is to shoot ice.
Mario can generally do more different things than Maryo.
SMC is trying to not be a Mario clone.

Sorry if I missed some things either of these characters can do.

Not trying to bash here, but from the standpoint of what the player can do, this very much feels like a Mario clone and I reckon people claiming it is one wouldn't be too far off.

In order to move away from SMC being a Mario clone, considerations about the abilities of the player should be made.

Things to consider:
Movement enhancing items (wall-jump claws, grappling hook, double-jump item, temporary platform-creation item)
Allow new movement types (sliding, consecutive jumps for bonus height, falling with higher velocity causing interactions with certain obstacles (pseudo-stomping))
Creating new ways to attack enemies (kicking could be a thing, also arbitrary spells)


Personally, I've always kinda missed having "superpowers" like magic in a platformer available directly to the player, and I dont know any platformer that does that (albeit I dont know all that many platformers).
Also, being able to cast arbitrary spells would allow for a lot more depth as not only would it generally allow for really gimmicky things, but also potentially allow interactions across the whole screen and not just
those few places one can reach with shells, fireballs or the player character itself (kinda like Yoshis Islands eggs add at a ton of complexity and possibilities to virtually the whole game).

Concrete ideas, as they may help others get their own/expand on these etc:

==[ MOVEMENT ENHANCING ITEMS ]==
Claws
Allow punching enemies with them at close-range
Allow grabbing onto massive objects at close-range and sliding down or climbing up walls
(this or similar items are found in many platformer games)

Grappling Hook
Allows grabbing walls from a short distance and pulling yourself towards them
Allows grabbing enemies from a short distance and pulling them towards you
(this or similar items are found in many platformer games)

==[ NEW MOVEMENT TYPES ]==
Sliding
If you hold the down key while running, Maryo will enter a slide state for a short while, allowing him to also mow down small enemies (like furballs, but not armadillos, spikas or whatever else, apply common sense)
(this is also seen in many platformer games)

Consecutive Jumps to gain height
If you hit jump in a short time window after landing while running, your next jump will be higher, can stack up to 3 times or so
(this is also seen in many platformer games)

==[ IDEAS FOR SPELLS ]==

Ice spell
Casts a platform of ice that slowly melts down (shrinks horizontally) and starts falling if an enemy or the player steps on top of it, crushing everything it falls down on.

Fire spell
Casts fireballs in all directions from where Maryo stands and wraps him in a fire shell that kills everything that is not immune to fire as long as its active (lasts a second or so)

Growth spell
Can interact with seed objects and grow them into vines, can make enemies bigger.

Earth spell
Creates an earthquake-esque wave left and right to maryo that will make enemies fly upwards (armadillos could enter their shells when being hit by this cuz they get scared)

Mutation spell
Can mutate enemies through colors and similar-looking enemies (furball changes color, armadillo changes color, gee changes color), can mutate items (poison mushroom to mushroom, fireplant to ice mushroom, etc)

Gravity spell
Creates "black holes" that stay only for a short amount of time but drag all kinds of objects towards them (should include things like coins/waffles, too, but mainly enemies, mushrooms etc)


These are ideas about how I would think some of the suggestions I made could be realized. This is merely my personal opinion, and discussion about these is welcome.
I just felt it was more worthwhile to directly put out a handful of suggestions instead of starting an aribtrary discussion.

Things to consider are backwards compatibility with old level design, as new possibilities for the player to move about may in turn break traps and puzzles levelmakers have been creating.


Any ideas regarding the players mechanics should be discussed in this thread.

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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby datahead » 21 Jul 2014 05:51

Personally, I like the idea of SMC continuing to feel like a Mario game in some respects. My thought would be to add some additional game play features like some of the ones you suggested, so as to "supplement" it. Thus in other respects we would deviate from being a Mario clone with some original game features. Some of the abilities you suggested actually have shown up in some form in Mario games; we would want to be as original as we can.

Implementing some of the abilities as power ups akin to the Ice and Fire power ups may be one possibility that would work seamlessly and avoid breaking old levels. The other possibility is to introduce gadgets as a separate entity in the game. We should still consider changing Maryo's default abilities but need to be very careful in those decisions. For the squat jump, people will probably be confused if they have to hold the run button in order to jump higher than normal -- that's one I would definitely change.

Introducing arbitrary spells may in some ways push us toward being an action RPG; this will boil down to the question of where we want the game to go as you mentioned. Personally I'd rather not see arbitrary spells, but I'd be curious to hear other thoughts. We were somewhat leaning towards not using the spell book power ups I suggested.

I like the wall kick and grappling hook ideas a lot. The sliding idea sounds interesting but may need more discussion. For consecutive jumps it would be interesting if you had a power up that let you jump a second time while already in the air. We had also talked about not having 100 tokens giving a life and instead having them be used to purchase items in stores; this would not break existing levels.
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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby Quintus » 27 Jul 2014 22:03

The wall jumps where discussed somewhere in these forums in the FluXy era, and if I remember correctly FluXy feared it would break existing levels too hard. What is a grappling hook? Something you can use to hook into something and then use the rope to cross an abyss or so? I would love such an idea. I don’t like the temporary platforms. It makes it possible to reach areas where you were expected to go by thinking and combining things, rather than cheating with some temporary platform.

falling with higher velocity causing interactions with certain obstacles


Thinking about falling I had an interesting idea. Currently, Maryo can fall off any edge may it be as high as Mt. Everest. What about properly applying gravity acceleration and making ground collision damage Maryo when he falls off a too high edge?

This is related to the Hit Points discussion I saw in the IRC logs. On that I want to note that at least the console Mario games (Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine being the ones I played) had a HP-like system. I like that idea. We may remove Small Maryo in its current state (even make it a powerup?). Representing the HP to the player is another question. I do agree about not using the term "HP". We might use a Maryo face that turns from normal color more and more to black? When it reaches full black state, you loose a life. There would be a need to restore "energy" (if we don’t want to call that HP). Mario games use coins for that. Re-iterating the fruit idea, I think we can have special fruits dedicated at restoring your HP. The coins/waffles can then still be used for something different, like an item (spell?!) shop.

Personally, I've always kinda missed having "superpowers" like magic in a platformer available directly to the player, and I dont know any platformer that does that


I love the idea of spells. We will have to discuss their concrete mechanics and their relation to powerups, though. Here is what I think:

We will keep powerups in their current state, maybe even add new ones. Powerups can be taken from one level to the next, allowing for adding bonus passages to levels you can only reach if you kept a powerup from a previous level. However, how will relate powerups with the HP-like system? Currently, fireflower, ice mushroom, etc. make Maryo stand one hit instead of dying. This will have to be removed with a HP-like system. Powerups will then be something solely related to Maryo’s "physical" abilities, whereas spells are related to his "mental" abilities. Getting hit, regardless of your HP amount, will make you lose your powerup.

We will add spells. Spells are always local to a level, i.e. Maryo will be able to collect spell scrolls and use them, but only in this level. This allows the level designer to have control over what the player can do. Finishing the level (either successfully, advancing to the next waypoint, or by loosing a life) you lose all your spell scrolls. Also, spell scrolls probably play very nice with the librarian story line.

What do you think about that?

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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby Guest_xD » 27 Jul 2014 23:42

Grappling Hooks or Wall-Grabbling Claws (kinda like the ones from Terraria - if you know them) would also be level-specific items you don't get to keep.

As for the general idea of Spells:
I think in datas notes it said that Maryo doesn't like to read, so Scrolls for casting spells don't really fit that.
How about finding Wands that have some magic power left in them instead?

Individual spells I noted above as well as others proposals regarding spells - they should be discussed when we add them if we decide to add them.

I like the idea of not taking fall-damage, and there's levels like lvl_6 for example that have pretty high drops, so changing that probably isn't a good idea compatibility-wise (and potentially fun-wise, long drops can be used creatively in cool ways, not just for super-hard quicktime dodge puzzles).
However, I still think that having some sort of stomp by dropping from high areas could potentially create cool puzzles.

As for energy (I'll go ahead and call it that), I think every power-up you take should restore some of your energy, as well as have items dedicated to just restoring energy (such as the current red mushroom :) ) that simply do nothing if you take them while at full energy.

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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby datahead » 29 Jul 2014 23:50

The wall jumps where discussed somewhere in these forums in the FluXy era, and if I remember correctly FluXy feared it would break existing levels too hard.


If it makes an old level too easy, I would view this as less of a problem than something that outright makes old levels unplayable (ie a shorter jump distance). Making wall jumps only available through spells solves a lot of these problems, though.

What is a grappling hook?

Grappling hook from Super Metroid (they call it the grappling beam):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLNK1pzAJhc
--Go about 3 minutes into the video and then watch. He'll use it multiple times after that, but he has to learn it first.

As Quintus said, temporary platforms could pose a lot of level design issues unless we had tight controls on their usage and availability.

Whether or not you take fall damage really comes down to compatability...as long as big falls don't instantly kill you it won't completely break old levels. Also, Super Mario 64 had an interesting solution because you could press Z to pound the ground right before you hit it from a distance, and you would not take damage when hitting the ground.

Finally, comes the big power up/spells discussion...

I'd prefer scrolls and/or books for spells/powerups. We could use books for power ups and scrolls for spells or fruits for power ups and books for spells. I tend to really like the reading and library theme here. I know Guest XD wanted to use wands for the spells...it's not my preference as it lends to a sorcerer theme instead, but I'd like to hear everyone else's opinions on it.

As for power ups, I believe you should be able to take them from level to level. You can already do this with fire/ice flowers, and once we add special blocks that can only be destroyed by fire/ice, this will become an inter-level mechanic. I also believe that flight/hover power ups (ie the cape power up we currently have a prototype for) should be able to be brought from level to level. We might consider making it a hover only power up if outright flight causes too many issues.

This brings up the question of making old levels too easy. My 2 proposals are either:
Option 1) Add signs that negate a power up or class of powerups - if you cross an x/y coordinate for a horizontal/vertical affecting sign, it wipes out your power up -- this fixes level design issues. Legacy levels can default to automatically wiping out certain classes of power ups. GuestXD was in disagreement with me on the signs; it's definitely something to discuss.
Option 2) Just let the user bring the flight/hover power up along and abuse the level. SMB3 and Super Mario World do this, and it's actually very fun.

I also would vouch for having a shop to buy items (ie power ups and extra lives) outside of levels (ie in the world map) and having an inventory system that is shared between levels (usable on the map and/or in levels). Only power ups or other objects that could normally be brought from level to level could be bought in stores; currently it doesn't sound like spells would be sold. SMB3 is a good example of how items can be used on a map. Super Mario World 2 is an "okay" example of how they can be used an a pause screen (it felt like an add on for them because it was hard to get items for a while).

GuestXD said he thought an inventory system put too many level designs at risk as I understand it; I think he did agree power ups could be brought from level to level but not arbitrarily. My thought is that item hoarding and power up "smuggling" are too fun to pass up :P
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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby Guest_xD » 30 Jul 2014 02:59

I'd prefer scrolls and/or books for spells/powerups.


Let's just call spells spells and powerups powerups shall we.

Animation-wise casting from a scroll or book that Maryo holds would probably look awkward. A wand makes for far superior animation material.
Logic-wise granting a limited amount of casts from a scroll or book doesn't make much sense either. You'd think Maryo just recites whatever magic words are on there and then stuff happens. How does that have limited uses? And why doesn't the knowledge carry over to different levels?

Theme-wise a library-/reading-theme seems to be somewhat stale, after all, imagery-wise you get books, and bookshelves and libraries and scrolls.
With a sorcerer theme you would get other sorcerers, demons/abstract beings, huge evil castles, small magical huts, dangerous forests, hidden swamps, crazy mountains etc etc


Hovering or even Flight seems to be too drastic of an ability to grant as powerup. It's kinda like giving the temporary platforms you're so concerned about out as a powerup. It'd wreck just about everything else as it heavily augments the players movability.
If you want to break and abuse levels edit them to just give you these abilities directly, or use god-mode.

As for the whole drama about backwards compatibility (which was also discussed in IRC): I plain don't care if there's a new powerup/ability in the game that breaks some section of your outdated level. I doubt it's a huge deal unless levels grow really old (in which case backwards-compatibility diminishes to wishful thinking because its practically impossible to maintain using sane approaches).
That being said, I don't advocate not caring about backwards compatibility. We should not introduce powerups (such as flight and hovering) that can easily wreck entire levels, but rather try to be a little bit conservative (ie introduce them as per-level items => such as spells) but also not trying to make sure we introduce ways that ensure levels are backwards compatible (because this just feels like adding unnecessary bloat to the game as a whole).

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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby Quintus » 30 Jul 2014 18:03

datahead wrote:Grappling hook from Super Metroid (they call it the grappling beam):


Ah this is similar to the hook item in Zelda Wind Waker. I like that. Very nice idea. Wantz!

Guest_XD wrote:Let's just call spells spells and powerups powerups shall we.


OK. Let us define:

Powerup: Persistent item that you can take with you between levels. Gives you permanent extra abilities until you get hit.

Spell: After collecting this is only available to you in the level you collected it.

Guest_XD wrote:As for the whole drama about backwards compatibility (which was also discussed in IRC): I plain don't care if there's a new powerup/ability in the game that breaks some section of your outdated level.


I second that. Don’t care too much about backward compatibility in levels. Announce things that will break in a future version, then break them. That being said, Levels should never break in tiny releases. I would suggest that we can do this in minor releases. As for the completely heavy-breaking rewrites, we will increment the major version number. But that will happen rarely, I guess.

Guest_XD wrote:Animation-wise casting from a scroll or book that Maryo holds would probably look awkward. A wand makes for far superior animation material.


Ask the people who know about this. mrvertigo27, if you read this, could you share your opinion on this?

Guest_XD wrote:Theme-wise a library-/reading-theme seems to be somewhat stale, after all, imagery-wise you get books, and bookshelves and libraries and scrolls.


The library theme will also give you daemons (as from old libraries or even from scary forbidden books), ghosts (also usually found in libraries I hear) huge evil forgotten cave libraries, about all kinds of landscape you can imagine (you will find everything in books). I do not think settling on library theming limits us in a game-design way.

datahead wrote:I'd prefer scrolls and/or books for spells/powerups.


Guest_XD has raised a proper question with the temporary thing. Does it make sense Maryo can only cast once from a scroll? On the other hand: Why does he lose a wand after using it? We could even have both scrolls and wands, denoting different kinds of spells. What about this: Wands can be used exactly once. You lose them after using. Scrolls can be used indefinitely. You lose them only when finishing the level. This does make as a compromise I think and additionally grants us more level design possibilities.

datahead wrote:I also would vouch for having a shop to buy items (ie power ups and extra lives) outside of levels (ie in the world map)


I don’t like this. This crosses the border to RPGs too far I think. I like the shops, but they should be in-level. The coins/diamonds/whatever you collect on the other hand should persist between levels.

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Re: Player Mechanics Discussion

Postby datahead » 04 Aug 2014 05:24

datahead wrote:Hovering or even Flight seems to be too drastic of an ability to grant as powerup. It's kinda like giving the temporary platforms you're so concerned about out as a powerup. It'd wreck just about everything else as it heavily augments the players movability.
If you want to break and abuse levels edit them to just give you these abilities directly, or use god-mode.

The reason why I'm interested in a hovering power up is because a single mistep into a pit will kill you instantly, and there are several levels with tricky jumps. A hover power up would offer a counter to this much as a fire power up offers a counter to the enemy challenges. Signs (vertical and horizontal versions) could offer a means to cancel out any class of power up that would offer level design control.
god mode makes the game so easy that there isn't really that much fun in playing anymore. Arbitrary flight should probably not be allowed in the game, however.

Quintus wrote:I second that. Don’t care too much about backward compatibility in levels. Announce things that will break in a future version, then break them. That being said, Levels should never break in tiny releases. I would suggest that we can do this in minor releases. As for the completely heavy-breaking rewrites, we will increment the major version number. But that will happen rarely, I guess.

As long as we make plans to fix all officially submitted levels (both packaged in the game and ones that were submitted through the forums), I don't have much of a concern. It is impossibe to keep adding new features and maintain reverse compatibility. It should not be the job of one person to fix these levels, though - we should put out a "call to save the levels".

Quintus wrote:Guest_XD has raised a proper question with the temporary thing. Does it make sense Maryo can only cast once from a scroll? On the other hand: Why does he lose a wand after using it? We could even have both scrolls and wands, denoting different kinds of spells. What about this: Wands can be used exactly once. You lose them after using. Scrolls can be used indefinitely. You lose them only when finishing the level. This does make as a compromise I think and additionally grants us more level design possibilities.

I don't have any problem with having two types of items this way as long as people are interested in doing graphics, etc, for them.
Besides scrolls and wands, will we still use books? Would they be used for spells or power ups?

Quintus wrote:I don’t like this. This crosses the border to RPGs too far I think. I like the shops, but they should be in-level. The coins/diamonds/whatever you collect on the other hand should persist between levels.

Super Mario Bros. 3 has Toad Houses that give you items outside of levels and an item system that is used on the maps. It of course does not have you buy items in that game. I don't think a shop outside levels feels RPG'ey, but I understand where you're coming from.

Quintus wrote:Animation-wise casting from a scroll or book that Maryo holds would probably look awkward. A wand makes for far superior animation material.

You could have a little glow (made with sprites or using graphics programming) that comes out of the book or the wand. You could either have a small splot glow or make the entire object glow. I'd be interested to hear Mr. V's thoughts, though.
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