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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:36 am 
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Play a Mega Man game that gives passwords. Find a new permanent powerup, such as a move in Dr. Light's capsule, a heart container, or an E Tank. Then lose all lives and continue. What happens to the found powerup? Save and restore from the password. What happens to the found powerup?

I'm working on finishing up a game that has password save. My boss wants to implement the following behavior, and I'm trying to figure out whether this is a good or bad idea and why.

  • 5 lives
  • 3 continues
  • Resuming from password refills continues
  • Beating a boss other than the final boss gives a new password with the ability gained from the boss and all newly found powerups
  • Continuing refills lives and keeps all found powerups, but the displayed password omits those powerups found since the last boss was defeated

The trouble is that a lot of found powerups are located in the last chapter with no ability-giving bosses, roughly like Dr. Wily's castle. So when coming back the next day, the player would have to reacquire all these powerups. My boss says he trusts my judgment, so if I can give a good explanation for whether or not it's wise to distinguish the effect of a "continue" from a "reload from password", he'll probably listen.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:18 am 
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First I gotta ask, what is the point of having limited continues when there is a password system?
And second question, why can't the passwords from checkpoints hold the acquired power-ups information?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:36 am 
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The passwords already do hold found power-ups. He proposes that the act of beating a boss be the event that locks the found items into your password.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:53 am 
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If you get a powerup, in let's say Metroid...varia suit...it disappears, and the game sets a flag so that if you enter the room again it won't be there. Get password. Start from password, player has varia suit. Go to room. It isn't there.

I feel that is a standard approach. It shouldn't appear if you already have it.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:37 pm 
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I understand not showing a permanent pickup that the player already has. The question is under what condition the player should still have it. This is the behavior we're discussing:

  1. Get item, beat a boss, go back to item's spawn point:
    The item does not appear because the player already has it.
  2. Get item, beat a boss, write down password, enter password, go back to item's spawn point:
    The item does not appear because the player already has it.
  3. Get item, get Game Over, use a continue, go back to item's spawn point:
    The item does not appear because the player already has it.
  4. Get item, get Game Over, write down password, enter password, go back to item's spawn point:
    The item appears because the player does not already have it. The player lost it by using the password without defeating a boss.

Or shorter: The password saves only those items picked up prior to a defeated boss. Losing all your lives gives you the same password that you got after the last boss, which incorporates those items you picked up before the boss but not those after. Half the items appear between the second to last boss and the last boss.

Or a more concrete example:

Pick up jump springs, defeat Spider Man, pick up dash boots, lose all lives.
  • Continue: Player has jump springs, web shot, and dash boots.
  • Resume from password: Player has jump springs and web shot and needs to go find dash boots again.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:30 pm 
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Resuming from a password should always be the same thing as resuming from a continue, because the player can bypass any continue penalty by resetting and putting in the password. Passwords are meant for players who need to stop and pick their game back up later, so if a password sends you back a little bit (like how using a continue would send you back), that's fine. Whatever continue-point checkpoint system you use is up to you, but the password should be considered the same as using a continue.

Limited continues are somewhat moot, unless your current amount of continues is saved by the password as well, but be prepared to own up to the dick move that is. :P


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Drag wrote:
Resuming from a password should always be the same thing as resuming from a continue, because the player can bypass any continue penalty by resetting and putting in the password.

But not the penalty that running out of continues causes you to lose any powerups that you found since last time you defeated a boss. The powerups that you find are added to the password only after defeating a boss.

Drag wrote:
Limited continues are somewhat moot, unless your current amount of continues is saved by the password as well, but be prepared to own up to the dick move that is. :P

As I wrote above: "Resuming from password refills continues". As I understand my boss's specification, continues represent chances to defeat a chapter's boss without having to go back and get the found powerups again.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 5:01 pm 
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Quote:
Pick up jump springs, defeat Spider Man, pick up dash boots, lose all lives.
Continue: Player has jump springs, web shot, and dash boots.
Resume from password: Player has jump springs and web shot and needs to go find dash boots again.


IMHO, it depends what the password means. If it means 'start at beginning of level 2', then you shouldn't have the dash boots. If it means 'continue with all items at the start of level 2' then you should have dash boots.

Or...Ask the decision makers, since this will have a big difference.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:54 pm 
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Ok, I misunderstood a little bit. :P

Losing a life sends you back to a checkpoint (tier 1), using a continue restarts the stage but with all progress intect (tier 2), exhausting all continues restarts the stage and resets progress in that stage (tier 3), and using a password does the same thing as exhausting all continues.

This kind of tiered punishment system is appropriate for a game that's challenging, like Contra for example, where you might burn through your lives pretty quickly, but losing a life doesn't really set you back at all.

If your game isn't as challenging, and you're finding that most players aren't burning through their lives enough to where they're at risk of losing all their continues, then you can omit tier 2, or omit tier 3 and have the password invoke tier 2.

So to answer your question about whether this is a good idea or not, it comes down to balancing, and may just simply need playtesting.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:14 pm 
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Quote:
5 lives
3 continues
Resuming from password refills continues
Beating a boss other than the final boss gives a new password with the ability gained from the boss and all newly found powerups
Continuing refills lives and keeps all found powerups, but the displayed password omits those powerups found since the last boss was defeated

The major problem here is that limited continues doesn't make sense if you can continue to play by inputing your passwords. It's just a waste of time for the player.

The whole point of limited continues is to simulate arcade games where there is no coins in the machine anymore and the player have to quit. For example in Contra or Battletoads, after loosing a couple of times you cannot continue anymore, and if you want to, you have to restart the game from the very begining. This add challenge to those games since you cannot just waste hundreds of lives trying the same level again and again, you have to learn quick.

In any game where passwords are implemented, limited continues do not make any sense.

As for whether the powerup comes in the new password immediately or after defeating a boss, I do not think it's a major issue. Both make sense, the variant which gives the new password only after beting boss might be more challenging and more harsh to the player, but also better as it ensures the system cannot be abused. If the new password comes immediately, the player can just pick each powerup individually, reset and use his new password to continue the game. With the system where only one password is given per level, the player has to actually pick all powerup without getting a game over, like in a RPG dungeon where you have to get all chests between two save points without loosing, and cannot just go from one save point get each chest individually and reset, which would be much easier.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:27 pm 
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tepples wrote:
The trouble is that a lot of found powerups are located in the last chapter with no ability-giving bosses, roughly like Dr. Wily's castle. So when coming back the next day, the player would have to reacquire all these powerups. My boss says he trusts my judgment, so if I can give a good explanation for whether or not it's wise to distinguish the effect of a "continue" from a "reload from password", he'll probably listen.


I think it's fine to start "clean" from the last major (ability-giving?) boss. In fact I think it's absolutely preferable. Just make it obvious that the password you are seeing is somehow connected to the "checkpoint" you were at when it was given to you. I think using a continue should also be "punishing" enough to take you back here.

Unless you're playing something massive like Metroid, passwords are just there to pick up the games while you still aren't well enough into them to play them all the way through. Especially for a semi-long, linear game, it's a good way to practice later sections for what is ultimately the only way to play a true 8bit action game - all the way through in a single session, without using any continues. People are well aware that password systems aren't quicksaves, and they don't need to work like that.

If you're worried about it being a problem that you'll have to replay some areas and collect stuff you've already gotten, I don't think the issue is with your password system, but in the core game design. Playing stages over and over again shouldn't be a hassle - it should be what makes the game fun.

FTR - I literally never ever used a single password in any Mega Man game, and I've beaten all of the NES ones multiple times, over and over again.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:55 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
The major problem here is that limited continues doesn't make sense if you can continue to play by inputing your passwords. It's just a waste of time for the player.

I thought the same thing, but the presented design is such that continues are different from passwords, in that continues allow you to restart the stage while keeping your progress so far, and using a password lets you restart the stage but with no progress in the stage. In this case, the limited continues aren't redundant, but it'd be a good idea to refill the continues whenever you get a new password.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:47 am 
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The point is that the penalty for using passwords should be greater than the penalty for using a continue, and the penalty for using a continue should be greater than the penalty for loosing a live. In this case, yes both limited continues and passwords make sense, but continues should be refilled whenever the player get a new password (if they aren't then the player can refill them himself just by pressing reset and inputing his password).

If the penalty for using a continue is the same as using a password, then there's no point in having limited continues, it just saves the player time to enter the password but has no other effect. If the penalty for loosing all lives and using a continue is the same as the penalty for loosing a live, then theere's no point in separating both and not just give the player more lives.

So if such a system with 3 different penalites, each being worse than the other, can be introduced then yes it makes sense. In other cases, it does not.


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