Posts Tagged ‘What Works And Why’

What Works And Why: Mentoring in Far Cry 5

Far Cry Mentors

What Works And Why is a monthly column where Gunpoint and Heat Signature designer Tom Francis digs into the design of a game or mechanic and analyses what makes it good.

Far Cry 5 is a mixed bag, but one of the bigger, shinier objects in that bag is its companions system. It’s a crossbreed of Far Cry Primal’s pets – you can summon them and direct their attacks at will; and Far Cry 2’s buddies – they can revive you if you get taken down. Nine of the companions available are starring characters: people or creatures you meet and recruit through main story missions with backstories and (when human) dialogue. But I don’t really care about eight of those, and I only care about the ninth because he is a dog, which gives him three key advantages:

1. He is, again, a dog.
2. He never alerts enemies if I’m being stealthy.
3. He never speaks, a big plus in a world where almost everything anyone says makes you like them less. Read the rest of this entry »

What Works And Why: Unfair intel in stealth games

What Works And Why is a monthly column where Gunpoint and Heat Signature designer Tom Francis digs into the design of a game or mechanic and analyses what makes it good.

Games about one player character against hundreds of enemies generally have to give you some kind of unfair advantage. In action games, it’s usually resilience: getting shot in Call of Duty covers you in jam for 3 seconds but leaves you otherwise unharmed, gunshots in Wolfenstein can be fixed with chicken dinners, and in Doom 2016 punching a demon feels so good it physically mends you.

Stealth games need a different solution, because the fun part is generally over by the time you get shot. That’s good – they don’t need jam vision or dinner magic. Instead they need a crutch that helps you before things get that bad. And in games about hiding from everyone, that’s usually intelligence. Information is power. To evade improbable odds, you need to know more than you reasonably should.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Works And Why: Opus Magnum

what-works-opus-magnum

What Works And Why is a new monthly column where Gunpoint and Heat Signature designer Tom Francis digs into the design of a game and analyses what makes it good.

Opus Magnum is a puzzle game about designing machines that arrange and combine shiny little atoms to turn lead to gold, and other fanciful alchemy. It’s by Zachtronics, whose games follow such a recognised pattern that they’ve become a genre: the Zachlike. SpaceChem, Infinifactory, Shenzhen IO, and now Opus Magnum all involve designing an automated system to process some given input, and produce some desired output. But it’s a particular quirk of this format I want to dive into, and it’s one Opus Magnum does especially well: optimisation. Read the rest of this entry »

What Works And Why: Emergence

Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider

What Works And Why is a new monthly column where Gunpoint and Heat Signature designer Tom Francis digs into the design of a game and analyses what makes it good.

I love Deus Ex, System Shock 2, and Dishonored 2, and the name for these games is dumb: they’re ‘immersive sims’. If you asked me what I liked about them, my answer would be a phrase almost as dumb: ’emergent gameplay!’

I always used to think of these as virtually the same thing, but of course they’re not. Immersive sims usually have a whole list of traits, things like: Read the rest of this entry »