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Clan TDG • View topic - Intensity

Intensity

Discuss general elements of gaming and game design theory.

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Intensity

Postby TopWolf » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:52 pm

My intent with this post is to share and preserve the conclusions and ideas discussed in the channel and to let other speculate so as to learn more. All statements are purely speculative and may be innaccurate. If there are any errors, please let me know.

Imagine a game of soccer. The striker on Team A receives an incredible pass with no defense around. He heads for net opposed only by the goalie and by time. The score is tied, and there isn’t much time left in the game. The striker gets within shooting range and rockets the shot on net! I call this feeling intensity.
Intensity is an emotion present in competitive games. Intensity makes games much more fun and makes games memorable. This article will discuss what intensity is.

Intensity is created when an object valuable to the player is at stake and when the outcome of the event is highly uncertain. Imagine a game of high-stakes Poker. There is lots of money on the line and very little certainty. Without money on the line or uncertainty in one’s hand, the intensity drops very fast.
In games, two pieces are needed to form intensity. The first piece I call the buildup. The buildup encompasses the majority of a game, and is defined as the gameplay leading up to an opportunity to score. Examples of buildup include passing the ball towards the goal in soccer, scoring multiple kills in one life in Call of Duty 4, and the first few laps in Mario Kart.
The second piece I call opportunity. Opportunity is that part of the game where a player has a chance to score. Examples of opportunity include the final lap of a race, the last five minutes of a basketball game, and a corner kick in soccer. Opportunities are the most intense parts of games. Moments of opportunity are the moments that are remembered and shared.
The difficulty of the buildup affects how emotional the opportunity is. Harder difficulties result in more emotional opportunities. Player match up is one of the most important factors here. If the match up is poor, one team dominates the other with ease and the intensity of opportunities diminishes sharply. If the match up is good however, it becomes very difficult to find an opportunity and therefore the value of the opportunity is raised.
Opportunities should be decided in large part by luck where skill further increases scoring chances. The buildup decides the winner, as the more skilled team will take more opportunities. Opportunities are moments to be enjoyed rather than moments of strategic purpose.

By nature, all competitive games have some intensity in them. The match point of tennis, the last minutes of basketball, and the sudden deaths in Super Smash Brothers brawl are all intense experiences. Games can be more intense than other games however. The following is a list of some ideas I have to increase intensity in competitive games.
- Limit the time players have to make a decision in order to prevent certainty. This is not to say that you need a shot clock, but something that pressures the player into acting quickly, such as defensive forces regrouping.
- Put rewards at stake for the players rather than trying to impose penalties for failure. Most times, the only thing at stake is the player’s life, which means almost nothing to the player. Call of Duty 4 gives rewards to the player if he can kill multiple people in a single life. Killing three opponents earns a UAV, killing five earns an air strike, and killing seven earns helicopter support. By the sixth kill, on the verge of earning helicopter support, players have a lot riding on the next few decisions, especially noting how easy it is to kill and be killed. Also note that when a player fails to score or earn a reward, it can sometimes lead to frusturation if the player doesnt believe it is his fault.
- Cap off skill as a determining factor during opportunities to make sure players are never certain. It may also be interesting to make it so that failing to win the stake grants the opponent a boost, and let the tables turn slightly, such as a free kick in soccer or a turnover on downs in football.

A problem specific to us mapmakers on WarCraft is that we cannot affect the match-ups, greatly affecting the intensity. Hosting a game does not filter players out for similar skill levels therefore a dilemma exists. Do we lower the skill factor in order to make better match ups? That’s a discussion for another time though.
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Re: Intensity

Postby TopWolf » Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:33 pm

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Re: Intensity

Postby Boreal » Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:16 pm

It also sounds painful. Think about how much aesthetic work that takes!
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Re: Intensity

Postby CHUNK » Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:08 pm

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Re: Intensity

Postby thelosthero » Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:58 pm

Ah, but they leave the crappiest ideas for last.
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Re: Intensity

Postby TopWolf » Sun Nov 30, 2008 7:33 pm

Here is the second part to the original article I posted. This one I find less interesting, but for those who are interested here it is.



In some ways, I think by using the structure your game will naturally be a bit cheesy. If you've seen a James Bond movie, while I could hardly say they are bad, they sometimes arent exactly good. Gear of War 2 I believe followed a similar structure (it feels like an interactive action movie) and while it's certainly enjoyable it sort of feels cheesy in retrospect. In any case, if you have any plans to incorporate an intense experience it would certainly be helpful to check that out.
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Re: Intensity

Postby TopWolf » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:12 pm

Another article, posted today. It has some interesting information within.

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Re: Intensity

Postby TopWolf » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:35 pm



This article was pretty cool. It explained how the developers of the racing game "Pure" designed their racing game to maximize the intensity of each race. They basically set it up so that the AI would split into four different groups, one that always would hang around the player, one that planned to start the race with the player and end 500 meters behind, one that planned to start 250 meters ahead and end 250 behind, and one that planned to start 500 meters ahead and end 0 meters behind. This kept the player racing side by side the other racers while steadily making progress to increase the excitement.

At the end the author writes that he believes that these ideas could be applied elsewhere, which could be pretty interesting.
Last edited by TopWolf on Fri Feb 06, 2009 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Intensity

Postby NoWorries » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:38 pm

intensity in ten cities
Ze doktair iz en. ::doc::
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Re: Intensity

Postby TheZizz » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:58 am

The rewards-versus-penalties example in Call of Duty is interesting. Although rewarding better players seems a bit messed up, I think it's okay in a game with HEAD SHOT!!(s) or where one mistake can spell the end, or indeed if the rewards themselves require considerable skill.

As far as problems that arise from skill disparity, I've played a good bit of Mario Kart Wii and, behold: in a given race have I observed anywhere from one to four separate struggles, wherein three vie for first, three others vie for fourth, four for ninth, and thuswise.
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