Defined Experience vs Choice

Continuing from HUD Feedback thread


The topic is about the discussion between two ideological ideas when designing a game. Both ideas have come up several times in other topics.

When designing a game sometimes different options are given to the player. This sometimes creates the situation that one option is superior in some way in achieving the games objectives. This may be stuff like Input method or display method.

One option to dealing with this is to decide which option fits more with the game and concentrate development on that segment. Trying to create, what I would call a “Defined Experience”. This does not halt at artificially hindering lowering the effectiveness of one options in ortder to bring them in line with the other option.

One other option is to allow as many options as possible, ignoring inherent inbalances that may bring or may favor a certain option. In order to compensate that certain options can be restricted for certain groups of players that wish that, like custom servers restricting only one type of input or view. I call that the “Choice” option.


The HUD feedback Thread was starting to derail into discussing these ideas, so in order to not derail it further I created a new thread:

That’s what a well tuned and thought out default view will do, and most players will use it if it is really well thought out.

This can be turned on its head and work the same way:
If the external view can not have a HUD, then nobody is going to use it unless they’re forced to, obviating the value of creating high quality player ships in the first place.
I find it a weak argument. Why exactly does the cockpit view need to be forced? Why should a player not be allowed to choose for himself what he prefers? Is a nice cockpit inherently better then a nice outside view of a ship?

How exactly does the option to have an external view break imersion? You never have to switch to that view, it’s your choice to do so. How is other players having that choice be a bad thing when it does not influence your view of the game and only theirs?

Exterior view is not designed to be better. It is better in some situations. It may obstruct less of the screen or give a better feeling of position. The developer may choose to hinder its capabilities but just by being different it can have strengths that outperform other options.

It may be more immersive for some players. Some players are more used to “being” the ship instead of someone inside of it. Many RPGs have 3rd Person view as a default etc. etc.


I don’t oppose in creating an immersive, coherent experience. I just don’t see how it can’t coexist with a Choice Ideology and why a Difined Experinece Ideology is supposed to be needed to create such immersive games.
As long as there is choice for my playstyle, I happily accept what the default setting is. Even if the default setting is restricting my playstyle on official servers.
If unoficial servers have the options to allow my playstyle, I can go there and ENJOY THE GAME!
And the more choices, options there are THE MORE PEOPLE CAN ENJOY THE GAME!

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It seems like the biggest trigger for these kind of discussion is competitiveness of playstyles. People want to play their preferred playstyle while still being competitive. And they should. Games like WarThunder don’t go far enough and that does upset a lot of people.

My solution is to provide Server Settings. Instead of balancing input, view and display mechanics arround a playstyle we allow all playstyles in the Game in general but the default server setting is geared towards one kind of playstyle or not geared at all, conciously allowing for the natural imbalances of the available options.

What will be the default settings will be a hard choice and up to the devs to decide. It depends on what audience they want to attract primarily and what audience they want to attract secondarily.

Some examples for server settings:

Options True or False
###View

  • First Person Allowed
  • Third Person Allowed
  • Mouse Look Allowed

###HUD

  • HUD Allowed 1st Person
  • HUD Allowed 3rd Person
  • Limited HUD Allowed 1st Person
  • Limited HUD Allowed 3rd Person

###Control

  • Mouse Controll Allowed
  • Virtual Joystick Allowed
  • Real Joystick Allowed

###Movement

  • Flight Assist Allowed
  • Flight Assist Off Allowed
  • Rotational Flight Assist Allowed

Any combinations of these options should still allow for all the rest of the gamplay to be experienced. They shouldn’t make a server “unregistered” and force a player to play a certain playstyle to LVL up or something, that would defeat the whole point of the idea.

The danger here lies that it may segregate the community too much, thinning it out so that not enough server are full enough to experience the game correctly. This can be a problem, but a good default configuration should encompass most players and a good secondary configuration most of the rest of the players. This idea should bring in more players anyway, as more playstyles would be attracted to the game.

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Why does Apple force us to use a phone with rounded corners? Why are we forced to use iOS? Why are the icons forced to be all the same style? It’s so restrictive.

It’s restrictive for the express purpose of presenting the precise experience that the designer was after.

When applied to Battlescape, it means that the ships have a consistent ‘feel’ to them. The weapons follow that pattern and reinforce it. INS doesn’t just throw in whatever weapon types that occur to them. There is a method to the madness - else it comes across as madness.

Specific to cockpits, if players can fly third person with a HUD then the game has an arcade feel to it. If that’s what INS wants, then by all means go that route. If they want more of a simulation feel (which would be pretty consistent with the detailed astronomical objects) then keeping the pilot in the cockpit would contribute to that.


As I mentioned before, another problem is the style of the ship versus the style of the HUD. They have no business in the same game. The HUD needs to be designed to follow the 1960 style. And yes, I know that 1960 HUDs didn’t have all that technology, but the 1960s had a particular style, and that’s the inspiration that the HUD should be using. Look at the animated film Robots for inspiration because that seems to roughly match the ship style of Battlescape.

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And this is what I was heading towards. It’s about the branding of the game. If they want to create a playable, fun sim then cockpit view is the way to go. (I:B has always leaned more in that direction previously). If they want a playable, fun arcade game then they should allow external views.

If marketing the cockpits, we should make it clear that it’s still easy to fly and play this game, even if you’re used to games with external flight! The prototype is fun to use in cockpit mode and that is a good achievement.

Let’s not go as far as Elite: Dangerous did though. I still want to be able to look around the outside of my ship and stuff.

I generally understand and agree with the first part of your post and that’s what I try to address with the “default settings”.
WarThunder has three supported settings. It has an Arcade Playstyle and it has an Simulation Playstyle. Both play vastly different and attract different players but both fulfill your requirement of being well thought out expirences. I would even go as far and think that this played a big part in WarThunder becoming as popular as it is now. If they only would have supported the “Realistic” mode that is currently ingame and is a weird mix between arcade and simulation, they probably would have failed to gain such a big playerbase as they have now.
Insurgency has also three supported settings. Sustained gamemodes with respawn and Tactical Gamemodes without respawn. They didn’t just disable respawn, they crafted special gamemodes that go well with a more tactical approach.
Coexistance can work and a lot of people sometimes want both in their game. I like to play both sustained and tactical in Insurgency and it is to date a quite populated game for a niche shooter.

The devs may decide to make Battlescapes default Arcade while a lot of people on the forums wished for a more Simulator Style experience, with Server Settings they can have both. This also applies the other way. Simulator Default and Arcade Secondary or both equally presented ingame.

If Apple supported several different styles it would appeal to more people or if they would allow to disable the jail from a menu a lot of people would probably reconsider. Apple is an extreme example though, they keep forcing changes to the consumer and I don’t know if I-Novae wants to be like that, especially as they want to support modding in some fashion, though their vision sounds like an app store but still.

What if the Starfolds tech is inherently anachronistic and having varying techs from the past is the whole idea? I think I-Novae should be allowed to use different SciFi styles to create their own. Though it definetly indicates some possible flaws in the cohetions that may need to be either explained away or designed away to “clean up” the design and trough such make it more comprehensible. I don’t know, I personally don’t see that much of a problem of jumping a mere 30 Years of tech when looking at a civilisation that is faar in the future. The UDSSR had such HUDs much earlier then the US on top of that, for them it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. :stuck_out_tongue:

Then do that. What they have now is not that. It’s a fully-functional 2040 HUD seamlessly presented in a 1960 ship. If Starfold is a mix of technologies, then the ship itself should not be a cohesive 1960 visual, and the HUD should not be a cohesive 2040 visual.

If they’re going for clash, then clashing styles should be visible everywhere. If it’s a mix, then I’d expect stuff in the 2040 HUD that shows things that that poor ol’ 1960 ship wouldn’t even have. Where are the 2040 upgrades to the ship itself? How about stuff from other factions and corporations that visually clash with one another?

Someone should complain about real-life military and how they’re using a 1980s alongside early 2000s aesthetics without blending them at all.

*Bolting flat-screens into the holes where CRTs used to go. State-Of-The-Art.

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I’d tend to agree with that solution, provided people can create their own servers.

If one compares with DayZ, there is no shortage of servers with FP view only.
However, there is a real strategic interest in DayZ to have TP view: squeezing yourself against a wall and watching what’s on the other side without taking any risks.

Does the TP view leads to the same problem in I:B? I don’t really think so, since structures are not so common, rather big and ennemies can quickly flank you (at least much quicker than in DayZ).
Besides, the radar will tell you “there’s someone somewhere in that direction”.

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Splitting up the player base between lots of different servers? Not sure about that for a game as small (initially) as Battlescape.

A few. Initially no splitting at all. But later a few, scaled to encompass the ammount of players.

There are quite some examples out there where it worked.

Humbly, I would agree with the concept of “server settings”, if you take a look at Rust, Dayz, CSGO, they also provide the concept of server settings that can be customized based on the style of gameplay that they want you to experience. When it comes to the concept of being able to have different choices in a game, I would say that in order for it to be considered something that should be a choice at all, it should have an impact on gameplay or some tangible and visible way, or on the world that you are currently inhabiting or characters within that world.

In the case of Battlescape it would probably be ships and ship design. Elite has followed that model to an extent with auto-targeting gimballed weapons vs non-targetting weapons for example. You can choose how you want to play to a certain extent and even customize your HUD with external mods. Though I am not sure how successful giving players the ability to split up onto different servers of their own making would be. So unless the designers of Battlescape want us to experience one forced perspective, I don’t see a problem with being able to customize things such as the HUD style or cockpit view.

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After reading all this, I’d like to point out a couple of things.

First, as a game genre, Battlescape creates a highly competitive environment. In such an environment, if there is a “meta” (and there always is one), everybody will embrace it, sooner rather than later. A 3rd person view with a very good HUD will definitely be a “meta”, as it provides a much better situational awareness.

As far as I understand, the developers are aiming to balance the combat abilities and fighting strategies of different ships. A capital ship is a whale - strong but slow - so as long as there is only one player running it, with only a cockpit view available, he’d never have a real chance against a swarm of small sharks, as he’d never be able to actually track them moving around. I believe this is why they decided to implement the 3rd person view for large ships.

But if you add a great HUD to that, it’ll kill everything around it. We’ll all be flying capital ships. If it was up to me, I’d make capital ships with turrets manned by other players, but…see my next point.

The second thing I want to point out, is that making both 1st person and 3rd person fully functional views and HUDs for all ships, means double the work. The developers are obviously channeling their efforts to create something small, but very well thought, designed and built. Battlefield is (in my opinion) due to become a statement of Infinity’s potential. Employing a larger volume of work (as usually each one little addition leads to 5 more), will generate delays in the release and may even lead to an unpolished final product.

I don’t like Battlescape. I want Infinity. So I’d let them work within the limits they’ve already set.

Now, as far as my preferences go, I lose heavy on immersion if I’m out of the ship. It’s a tad strange, as when it comes to shooters, I’m an addict of the 3rd person view.

About the separate servers idea…I don’t know. This “trend” appeared mostly as a method to fight griefing in MMOs. I don’t know if it makes sense in Battlescape, as the point is already to kill whoever is not in your team.

However, if the game would allow for heavy customization options, having such servers would be logic. In any case, I’d wait for a larger player base before implementing the concept.

Capital ships are already planned to be 3rd-person-view only.

Shouldn’t one capital ship off by itself with no support die to a ‘swarm’ of enemy craft anyway?

It’s currently unconfirmed, but I doubt capital pilots would need to track everyone at once. We might end up with turrets being AI controlled by default and capital pilots prioritizing targets for them.

How is not disabling the hud when you change the view double the work?

You lost the last sentence in my paragraph when you quoted it. Anyway, the whole whale/sharks explanation was an attempt to justify why the devs decided to have that 3rd person view for the capital ships.

Yes they should. There is however a difference between…a “death” and an “embarrassing death”, so to put it.

I sometimes think about a lot, but write down very little, so it may not always make sense. Sorry about that. Let me try to give a better explanation.

I have over 20 years of experience in design work (not programming, but the same principles apply) and I’ve seen the process I’m about to describe, happening every single time. I’ll use the HUD subject as an example:

So, let’s say you have the cockpit HUD already done. You put in 3rd person and you realize some elements look awkward, as in…they overlap with that view in a strange way. So you start moving them around. And then you realize some of the info is redundant or simply not useful, so you start takin’ it out. Then you realize there’s some other HUD info that should be put in, so you start adding it.

So, you basically start by making small improvements, but you end up almost fully re-configuring the initial HUD. Also, while doing this, you may end up making various improvements to the 3rd person view itself, which is another volume of work.

To put it simply, it’s sort of a rolling snow ball type of process. The devs seem to be perfectionists, so they’ll definitely end up doing this.

Also, there’s another issue (in regard of the main subject of the thread): the fight control model in 3rd person view. It should be different for small ships and big ships. Small ships can be handled like this. Big ships - like this.

You’ll notice the HUDs are very similar in those 2 games, because…well…they don’t need more. BUT, they both give a prominent arcade(ish) feeling, which is something totally different from what Battlescape aims to be (a flight simulator, among other things). If the devs would go for the 3rd person view and control for all ships, most of the HUD elements specific to a flight simulator would become redundant. So…you’d have a completely different game.

Came across this yesterday, seems like a perfect fit for this thread.

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