Weapon choice and secrets

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King Bowser
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Weapon choice and secrets

Post by King Bowser » Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:41 pm

Hi! I'm starting this topic 'cause I'm searching some advices.

As some of you already knows, I have the habit of giving the player the possibility to choose three of eight weapons at the start of the level.

The right choice will give some advantages to the player, like making some sections easier, obtaining useful objects like E-Tanks, M-Tanks or extra lives, and gaining access to secret paths. Obviously, two weapons will help the player during the boss fight (as primary and secondary weakness).

How I do it: I add a room at the left of the starting point. There are eight weapons locked and three keys. The player can unlock three doors and choose the relative weapons. I'll post a screenshot to help me explain (my english is a bit rusty).

Image

Benefits: I think it's a good idea that can make a traditional level less linear without loosing its "megamaness" (I know, most users doesn't care about this and others find this boring, but I made a point of making my levels the most Mega Man feeling as possible), giving also some replayability to them.

Problems: as some users made me realize, there's a downside to that idea. It's really easy for the player to miss the right weapon. It's ok for a secret path or secret item to be a prize for the most skilled or most wise players, but this way these secrets will be found by a really small percentage of players, adding a lot of screens almost no one will never see and thus making the idea almost useless. Making the matter worse, choosing the right weapons can be just a matter of luck, and it's unfair and pointless to reward the player just for being lucky (maybe with some thinking the player can guess the boss weakness, but there's no hint to which weapon will be required to "unlock" the secrets).

Possible solutions:

- The player will not need to unlock the weapons, 'cause it will have all eight from the beginning. I don't like this idea 'cause it makes all the "choose wisely and be rewarded" concept useless.
- The player can find the required weapons on the way, as some users suggested me. As above, and that's so "unmegaman".
- The player can choose more weapons at the start of the level. It's the solution I'm more oriented to, but how much weapons will the player be able to choose? What's the perfect number to make the secrets still not so easy to get, but more accessible to a wider percentage of players?
- I should give up. To be honest, i'd like to mantain the idea and discuss for a solution, but if there's none (or if the solution can totally ruin the traditionality of the level) it will mean there's nothing to do but toss away the entire idea. I'd like to avoid this one.

If I knew what to do, I'd never open a topic about that, so I'm searching for suggestions, even ones not listed above. I hope i didn't do too much grammar errors. Feel free to give suggestions or, why not, to get inspired if you like the idea :D
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SMAAASH!!! Puppy
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by SMAAASH!!! Puppy » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:13 pm

One things you could do is start the player off in the weapons selection room. Players are allowed to ignore it, or pick the weapons they want as normal. This way they can't miss it.

For the best results you will probably want to split the possible weapons into the three following categories:
  • Weapons that interact with the level, and can uncover alternate paths. This includes fire weapons in the presence of oil or those bomb blocks from Grenade Man's stage, Skull Barrier in the presence of spikes, Top Spin, any weapon in the presence it's respective weapon block, etc.
  • Weapons that solely make it easier to deal with enemies, such as Magnet Missile.
  • The boss's weaknesses. This can be lumped in with the second category if you wish.
Then you center your stage's design around these weapons. If a weapon interacts with a stage, make it do so. Perhaps Charge Kick allows you to enter a bonus room gated off by a Force Beam or a faraway ledge. Perhaps Water Wave allows you to dilute a chemical solution, and enter an area that challenges the player with a route that requires its use to complete. Certain rooms could have enemies attack you from above to encourage (but not requiring) the use of Air Shooter. Certain Rooms could have a lot of shielded enemies that could be easily dealt with via the Ring Boomerang or Scramble Thunder.

It's a bit of a balancing act, but approaching level design in this way would make each decision feel more satisfying no matter what you picked, and therefore, more impactful overall.

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King Bowser
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by King Bowser » Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:15 pm

SMAAASH!!! Puppy wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:13 pm
One things you could do is start the player off in the weapons selection room. Players are allowed to ignore it, or pick the weapons they want as normal.
To be honest, I've never liked the idea of the player starting in a weapon room. That's why I've always put the room at the left of the starting point. But...
SMAAASH!!! Puppy wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:13 pm
This way they can't miss it.
... that's absolutely true. Regardless of my tastes, i'll do as you suggest. It's objectively a more practical idea.
SMAAASH!!! Puppy wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:13 pm
Then you center your stage's design around these weapons. If a weapon interacts with a stage, make it do so. Perhaps Charge Kick allows you to enter a bonus room gated off by a Force Beam or a faraway ledge. Perhaps Water Wave allows you to dilute a chemical solution, and enter an area that challenges the player with a route that requires its use to complete. Certain rooms could have enemies attack you from above to encourage (but not requiring) the use of Air Shooter. Certain Rooms could have a lot of shielded enemies that could be easily dealt with via the Ring Boomerang or Scramble Thunder.
Now THAT's the right idea. It seems obvious, but it wasn't for me. I've always put more attention on the "right" weapons, building the level around them, just to choose the others without thinking and analizing them. That's a more difficult, but way more mature approach. Thank you.

The only problem left now is rethinking the secret parh formula: I'm adding more keys for now (for a total of five), but I'll have to think more about the probabilities.
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memelord69
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by memelord69 » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:18 am

- The player will not need to unlock the weapons, 'cause it will have all eight from the beginning. I don't like this idea 'cause it makes all the "choose wisely and be rewarded" concept useless.
A player can never choose wisely if he doesn't know what the level is about lol. In cases like these, I personally always go with mobility options since they're most versatile. Maybe someone will pick the weapons that do the highest damage. Either way, the player will never know which weapon might've been most useful until the level is over. Having to "choose wisely" also carries the implication that there are right answers and wrong answers when choosing weapons. So a lucky player will be rewarded, and an unlucky player will pick weapons that weren't useful, and both won't know until they're deep in the level. But if there are "wrong answers," then why have those wrong weapons as options at all? This observation could let you outright eliminate redundant weapons, and you can skip the pick-and-choose process altogether.

You also mentioned you don't want to reward the player just for being lucky, but having the boss weak to only 2 weapons will add luck to the choice regardless. Weapon pickups are prob the only way forward if we want to eliminate luck, at least for boss weaknesses.

A level like the type you're aiming for is ALWAYS gonna have to be designed for the lowest common denominator (no weapons, buster only), and because of this limitation, your level will always be restrained in what you can do with it. Your current problem is a bit of a brick wall because it depends on the player choosing the right weapons, but there's never any guarantee that these weapons will be chosen.

The best bet would be to have small challenges that are trivialized by certain weapons along the main path, like the other guy suggested. You won't have the alternate paths you're hoping for, but ultimately, they just wouldn't be compatible with your setup at the start. This approach would also mean that you're limiting yourself in what you give the player. For example, Charge Kick might be out of the question for your level since it would be used to skip content potentially.

You're putting a lot of implicit limitations on yourself with your philosophy of wanting to keep your levels feeling like a pure MegaMan stage. The original games also suffered from this same limitation in RM stages, since the devs had to assume the player didn't have anything the entire time. It wasn't until Wily stages (where it's guaranteed we have everything we need) that the devs were able to experiment a lot more with level design. You're putting this same limitation on yourself, and it's a really big one
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SMAAASH!!! Puppy
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by SMAAASH!!! Puppy » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:46 pm

memelord69 wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:18 am
You're putting a lot of implicit limitations on yourself with your philosophy of wanting to keep your levels feeling like a pure MegaMan stage. The original games also suffered from this same limitation in RM stages, since the devs had to assume the player didn't have anything the entire time. It wasn't until Wily stages (where it's guaranteed we have everything we need) that the devs were able to experiment a lot more with level design. You're putting this same limitation on yourself, and it's a really big one
This is mostly true, though I personally believe that the Robot Master stages are pretty much always way better than the fortress stages. It's also worth pointing out that since the player can run out of energy during the stage (which is especially easy to do in a castle), you can't really require weapon usage in the fortress levels either.

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King Bowser
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by King Bowser » Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:54 pm

memelord69 wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:18 am
A player can never choose wisely if he doesn't know what the level is about lol. In cases like these, I personally always go with mobility options since they're most versatile. Maybe someone will pick the weapons that do the highest damage. Either way, the player will never know which weapon might've been most useful until the level is over. Having to "choose wisely" also carries the implication that there are right answers and wrong answers when choosing weapons. So a lucky player will be rewarded, and an unlucky player will pick weapons that weren't useful, and both won't know until they're deep in the level. But if there are "wrong answers," then why have those wrong weapons as options at all? This observation could let you outright eliminate redundant weapons, and you can skip the pick-and-choose process altogether.
That's mostly true, but now, following the suggestion of SMAAASH!!! Puppy, I'm studying my levels to make every weapon useful in one way or another, so there's no more a truly wrong or right weapon, aside from the one(or ones) that grant you access to the alternate path. Of course, luck can't be truly eliminated, but givin' the player all the eight weapons from the start is not really a solution I like, and it will make all the alternate path useless.
memelord69 wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:18 am
You also mentioned you don't want to reward the player just for being lucky, but having the boss weak to only 2 weapons will add luck to the choice regardless. Weapon pickups are prob the only way forward if we want to eliminate luck, at least for boss weaknesses.
Wait, no. Maybe in my first two or three levels i did it wrong, but a boss weakness must always be intelligible to be considered a sensed design choice (I mean, that's true if the player must choose a limited amount of weapons, but is always a good thing to remember even in other kind of levels). If the boss is, for example, Magnet Man, it will never be weak to, let's say, Tornado Blow. The weaknesses must be a nod to the weakness in the original games (being the same weapon or a weapon with similar characteristic, like an electric weapon for Magnet Man) or to a Robot Master characteristic (for example, Toad Man can be weak to Search Snake in absence of an explosive or drilling weapon with similar properties to Drill Bomb, or maybe both can be his weakness). If a player thinks Wood Man is weak to Thunder Beam, that's not bad luck: is just his fault. But this fault should never hinder too much the player: to be a fair battle, it should always be possible going buster only. So, luck just don't fit in there (EDIT: I mean, if we are talking about bosses weaknesses).


SMAAASH!!! Puppy wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:46 pm
memelord69 wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:18 am
You're putting a lot of implicit limitations on yourself with your philosophy of wanting to keep your levels feeling like a pure MegaMan stage. The original games also suffered from this same limitation in RM stages, since the devs had to assume the player didn't have anything the entire time. It wasn't until Wily stages (where it's guaranteed we have everything we need) that the devs were able to experiment a lot more with level design. You're putting this same limitation on yourself, and it's a really big one
This is mostly true, though I personally believe that the Robot Master stages are pretty much always way better than the fortress stages. It's also worth pointing out that since the player can run out of energy during the stage (which is especially easy to do in a castle), you can't really require weapon usage in the fortress levels either.
That's exactly why I consider unfair making a level that requires obligatory weapon usage. Even some levels in the original series suffer from that. On the opposite way, putting weapon energy spammers would make the matter too easy (and more boring) to the player, that simply isn't my thing.
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6bee
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Re: Weapon choice and secrets

Post by 6bee » Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:33 pm

King Bowser wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:54 pm
That's exactly why I consider unfair making a level that requires obligatory weapon usage. Even some levels in the original series suffer from that. On the opposite way, putting weapon energy spammers would make the matter too easy (and more boring) to the player, that simply isn't my thing.
Lightning striking trees and burning them isn't something unheard of, so I wouldn't fault someone for thinking Thunder Beam could be a weakness for Wood Man.

You could still make a level that requires weapon or utilities at certain points by giving the player more than one option. Putting a single big energy before the obstacle shouldn't be as big of a deal as using a spawner or a Yashichi.

Or if you're against that you can have a small optional challenge that rewards the player with weapon energy. This would be interesting in that it rewards players for conserving some weapon energy by giving them an option not to do it, punishes those who wasted it all by forcing them to do it, or reward players who don't need it but want to refill another weapon.

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