serpx, on 26 May 2012 - 11:07 AM, said:
Off the top of my head, ways to make a Sonic game more challenging:
- Ring Count in level
- Time limit
- Availability of Power-ups
- Characteristics of Enemies (I.e. upgraded weaponry, faster movement)
- Placement of items
- Characteristics of Obstacles (I.e. speed of a trap designed to smush you as you run)
- New Enemies/Obstacles
- Amount of Air Bubbles available underwater
I think a good level designer would utilize all of this to make a level more challenging for a player. I like the idea of reducing things that keep a player alive (rings, powerups), rather than placing obstacles in every spot on the map. Though, to make things even more
challenging, I feel playing with the other variables would be needed. That's just a brief list -- there's a lot of room for more.
If it's unfun to play, and is just cheap, that's just the fault of the designers.
Quite true. It doesn't matter how interesting or creative your gimmicks are; If you don't place them correctly in your stage, then it's going to come across and cheap and convulted. It's always a good idea to understand exactly how your engine works and the various ways that players can interact with your badniks and gimmicks, because then you'll be able to piece together all sorts of interesting situations.
For example's sake, I'll refer to a section of level that I recently built for Relic Maze Act 2 of Freedom Planet:
Notice the tank-like enemy at the bottom. It moves back and forth on that platform while spitting fire like a flamethrower every now and then. Also notice the crystal item box just to the right of it; that's the game's equivalent to Sonic's speed shoes. Now, in the engine I'm using, enemies can destroy item boxes like the player. With this particular setup, if the player doesn't reach the speedup box in time, the enemy will destroy it with its flames and it'll
get the powerup instead, making it move and attack twice as fast. So, the player can choose to run past the enemy and get the speedup themselves, or they can spend time grabbing the card item to the left of the ladder, but at the expense of having to deal with a slightly more dangerous enemy. This is the kind of stuff that I wouldn't mind seeing more of in modern Sonic gameplay.
I think that another way difficulty should be handled in Sonic games is by having the level's geometry guide the player rather than some on-screen textbox or annoying sidekick. Human beings can communicate in other ways besides the written and spoken word, afterall. I'll use another FP example since I'm too lazy to pull up level maps for official Sonic games. xD;
This piece of level originally didn't have those hanging bars: What I wanted players to do in order to clear the spikes was to jump on the left spring, then pull their character to the left so that they'd "cling" to the sloped corner and run along the ceiling to the other side. However, I realized that this would actually be kindof an unfair move, since I realize that many players wouldn't understand that particular aspect of the physics engine. So to make it more fair, I offered a more obvious alternate solution: Jump on the left spring, then pull right and use the hanging bars to jump across the spike pit. It actually works out pretty nicely because the hanging bars method is a bit slower than the cling-to-ceiling method, so for players who know how to pull it off, it's a good way to shave off a few milliseconds of their time.
If Sonic games had multiple-choice solutions to tackling certain obstacles like this, then the level would also feel less linear even though it technically still is. It's like a really miniaturized version of the multiple-paths concept.
This post has been edited by Strife: 27 May 2012 - 06:26 AM