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Orthogonal Unit Differentiation Harvey Smith

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Presentation on theme: "Orthogonal Unit Differentiation Harvey Smith"— Presentation transcript:

1 Orthogonal Unit Differentiation Harvey Smith

2 Intro – Ion Storm (Austin) An EIDOS Studio Deus Ex (PC/PS2) Deus Ex 2, Thief 3 Action-RPG Focus

3 Intro – Harvey Smith Unit Differentiation Is Universally Relevant  Deus Ex 1 & 2 (Action-RPG)  Fireteam (Team Sports)  Technosaur (RTS)  Cybermage (Shooter)  Ultima VIII CD (RPG)  System Shock (Action-RPG)  Super Wing Commander 3DO (Flight Sim)

4 Overview – O.U.D. (O)rthogonal (U)nit (D)ifferentiation A Talk About Game ‘Pieces’  Units, Enemies, Monsters, AI’s …And How Their Differences Facilitate/Create Gameplay

5 Overview – O.U.D. Beginner To Intermediate  Recognizable Examples  Minutes To Learn, Years To Master

6 Overview – O.U.D. Abstract In Application  Relevant To All Genres, Cross- genre  Employs Generally Applicable, Useful Design Terms

7 Primary Terms -- Differentiation Orthogonal Unit Differentiation  Game Design Principle Granting Heterogeneous Qualities  Primary Functionality Rogue Sneak Attack vs. Wizard Spellcasting  Secondary Traits (Durability, Speed, Damage) Rogue 6 HP’s Vs Wizard 4 HP’s In the Name of Strategic Interests  Facilitates Meaningful Decisions

8 Primary Terms -- Unit Orthogonal Unit  Game Piece Categorization Enemy, Character Class, Vehicle, AI, Troop Example – Fire Elemental Differentiation

9 Primary Terms -- Orthogonal Orthogonal  Related To Functional Axes  Math Term – “Right Angled” Orthogonal Axes Have Nothing In Common  Example Properties – Armor vs. View Cone No Amount Of X Will Move Y (And Vice Versa)  Design Vernacular “By Degrees” “Hidden Math” Unit Differentiation

10 High Concept – O.U.D. Orthogonally Differentiating Game Units Encourages (Intentional) Strategic Play and Expands the Game’s Possibility Space O.U.D. – A Useful Design Concept  High Contrast Roles For Each Game Unit  Facilitates Meaningful Decision Making  Allows Designers/Players to More Fully Take Advantage of the Game’s Environment  End Result – Interesting Units (Not Just Minor Variants)

11 Tangential Design Concepts Intentionality  Goal – Playing According To Plan, Not Randomly  Player Should Understand The Game Empowered to Make Meaningful Decisions Feedback  Info About Game State  Usually In Response To Player Actions Emergent Gameplay (2nd Order Consequences)  Game Behaviors Arising From Rules Interactions Agency  The Player’s ‘Obvious’ Impact On The Game

12 Orthogonal Axes X And Y Are Purely Orthogonal No Amount Of X Provides Any Movement Along Y (And Vice Versa)

13 Orthogonal Axes Math Metaphor – Spanning the Possibility Space

14 Archers Vs. River Transport

15 Lesser Vs. Greater Archers Roughly Homogenous  Basic Function -- Arrows Slight Numerical Differences  Damage Values, Hp’s Mostly Overlap  Two Lesser Equals One Greater Not Orthogonally Differentiated

16 Archers Vs. River Transport Mostly Heterogeneous  Different Primary Functions Arrows Vs. River Crossing, Troop Transport Little Overlap  No Amount Of One Equal To Other Orthogonally Differentiated

17 Archers Vs. River Transport Game Budget – Two Units  Which Provides the Greatest Range of Possibility? Archer/Archer  Very Narrow Archer/Transport  Very Wide

18 Litmus Test – Orthogonal Unit X and Unit Y – Different Primary Roles Tactical Deficiency of Unit X Can Be Compensated For By Unit Y Tactical Deficiencies of Unit X Cannot Be Compensated For By Additional Unit X

19 Litmus Test – Orthogonal Archers vs. Riverboats  Archers Fire Arrows, Riverboats Transport (Unit X and Unit Y – Different Primary Roles)  Archers Cannot Transport, Riverboats Can (Tactical Deficiency of Unit X Can Be Compensated For By Unit Y)  Any Number of Archers Don’t Equate To Even One Riverboat (Vice Versa) (Tactical Deficiencies of Unit X Cannot Be Compensated For By Additional Unit X)

20 Litmus Test – Not Orthogonal Lesser Archers vs. Greater Archers  Both Archers (Primarily) Attack (! Unit X and Unit Y – Different Primary Roles)  Both Archers Share Deficiencies (! Tactical Deficiency of Unit X Can Be Compensated For By Unit Y)  Two Lesser Archers Are Equal To One Greater Archers (! Tactical Deficiencies of Unit X Cannot Be Compensated For By Additional Unit X)

21 High Concept – O.U.D. Orthogonally Differentiating Game Units Encourages (Intentional) Strategic Play and Expands the Game’s Possibility Space O.U.D. – A Useful Design Concept  High Contrast Roles For Each Game Unit  Facilitates Meaningful Decision Making  Allows Designers/Players to More Fully Take Advantage of the Game’s Environment  End Result – Interesting Units (Not Just Minor Variants)

22 Example – Adventure Orthogonally Differentiated  Black Bat  Dragon(s) Only Differentiated By Degree  Green Dragon  Red Dragon  Gold Dragon

23 Orthogonal Axes – Adventure Bat vs. Dragon  Mostly No Overlap  Entirely Different Roles

24 Orthogonal Axes – Adventure Dragon  Attacks Player  Vulnerable To Sword  Guards Objects

25 Orthogonal Axes – Adventure Black Bat  Does Not Attack Player  Invulnerable To Sword  Steals and Redistributes Objects

26 “By Degrees” – Adventure Dragons  Mostly Overlapping  Similar Roles  Minor Differences

27 “By Degrees” – Adventure Dragons  Attack Player Movement Speed Chomp Speed  Sword Vulnerability  Guard Objects Different Objects  Minor Variations Yorkle – Fears Gold Key, etc

28 Benefits Of O.U.D. Spans the Design Space  Differentiated Player Experience  Developmental Efficiency Communicates Role Of Unit  Makes Differences Obvious Allows Tactically Meaningful Decisions Exploits Primary Dynamic Game Element (Units)

29 Benefits – Coverage Greater Possibility Space – Spans the Design Space  Provides Greater Range of Options Emergent Gameplay  Different Units Require Different Tactics  Memorable Player Experience

30 Benefits – Efficiency Functionally Different Units  Fewer Units Equate to Interesting Gameplay  Provide Combinatorial Range  Change Value Based On Context Engage the Player Tactically Cosmetically Different Units  Get Old Fast – You Need More Units

31 Benefits – Clarity O.U.D. Communicates Role Of Unit  Mapping Context To Function Is Useful Player Gets It -- Fireman Unit Puts Out Fires Player Baffled – Green Dragon vs. Red  Provides Clues (Or Inspiration) About Potential Tactics with Unit  Tactics Specific to Area or Situation Riverboat Useful At River  Less Differentiated Units Are Harder to Parse Paladin vs. Holy Knight – Subtle Difference Paladin vs. Necromancer – Much Clearer

32 Benefits – Tactics Tactically Meaningful Decisions  Interesting Trade-offs  Unit Synergy In Combination Or In Opposition  Archers Transported By Riverboat  Archers Attacking Riverboat From Shore  Empowers the Player Play with Intentionality Win or Lose, Player Experiences Agency  Player 1 Uses River Strategically, Transporting Archers  Player 2 Fails to Employ Riverboats  Player 1 Wins – Both Players Understand

33 Benefits – Exploiting Units Primary Dynamic Game Element  Environments Are Mostly Static  Units Move and Change  Units Often “Create Gameplay” Player’s Primary Tools (Pawns)  Empowers Designers to Fully Employ Tools Game Supports River Transports Designers Can Use Rivers Strategically

34 Synthesis Orthogonally Differentiated Units Clearly Defined Roles Clear Feedback About Function Consistent Behavior Rules

35 Populous Units Populous: The Beginning  Warriors Melee Combat Immune to Conversion If Engaged  Priests No Combat Can Convert Enemy Warriors

36 Emergent Gameplay Initial Wave of Warriors – Enemy Warriors Stop Near Priests  Listen to Conversion Chant  Now Converted – Standing Guard Near Priests Successive Waves of Warriors – Engage Newly Converted Warriors  Fighting Warriors Can’t Be Converted Player Rings Base with Priests  First Wave of Warriors Converts  Successive Waves Are Not Converted Second Order Consequence – Player Must Actively Defend

37 Differentiation By Degrees Or, When To Deviate From O.U.D.  When It Makes Sense Context/Player Expectations  Sniper, Medic, Engineer, Multipurpose Commando  Licensed Characters  To Avoid Over-complication One Healer Cures Poison, Disease, Damage and Sells Magic Potions Not Meaningful Differentiation Video Games Usually Feature Hybrids  Almost No One Does Purely O.U.D.

38 Meaningful Differentiation (Healer Example) O.U.D. Not A Formula For Fun You Must Differentiate Meaningfully Units Are Infinitely Divisible  Differentiation Should Swing the Tactical Situation Significantly  Should Allow For Tactical Outcome/Change Victory Defeat

39 Hybrid Example – DX Bots

40 Medbot  Common Functions Responds To Alarm Can Be Destroyed Can Be Piloted Bot Vulnerabilities  Orthogonally Differentiated Primary Role Heals  Differentiated Minor Functionality Hover Movement

41 Hybrid Example – DX Bots Repairbot  Common Functions Responds To Alarm Can Be Destroyed Can Be Piloted Bot Vulnerabilities  Orthogonally Differentiated Primary Role Recharges/Repairs  Differentiated Minor Functionality Treaded Movement

42 Interesting Related Ideas O.U.D. Applied To Emotional Behavior  Iconic Personas Respond Differently Systems That Allow/Encourage Players to Design Orthogonal Units  Instead of Min/Maxing  RPG’s, Strategy Games, Starship Games

43 Summation – High Concept Orthogonally Differentiating Game Units Encourages (Intentional) Strategic Play and Expands the Game’s Possibility Space O.U.D. – A Useful Design Concept  High Contrast Roles For Each Game Unit  Facilitates Meaningful Decision Making  Allows Designers/Players to More Fully Take Advantage of the Game’s Environment  End Result – Interesting Units (Not Just Minor Variants)

44 Summation – Last Thoughts O.U.D. – Representing Units By Game Mechanics  Not Just By Fiction Or Art Unit Differentiation Allows Designer and Player to More Fully Explore Your Game’s Design Space Orthogonal Differentiation Can Be Applied to Many Game Design Elements  Weapons, Powerups, Traps, etc

45 Additional Design Terms If You Downloaded This…  Look Into The “Notes” Section of the Tangential Design Concepts Slide

46 Goodbye And Good Luck Special Thanks  Doug Church, Rob Fermier, Tim Stellmach, Art Min  Ion Storm Austin

47 Orthogonal Unit Differentiation Harvey Smith

48 WWW – Slide Location Harvey Smith


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