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Old 11-19-2009, 09:35 PM   #21
bob
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That's a cool idea. Plenty of emotional potential there.
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:45 PM   #22
Retro
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Note: An updated version of this submission can be read at Post #34.

First draft of my submission. Not sure if I will include pictures or not, seems pretty cut and dry and I don't really need to demonstrate any mechanics that aren't explained. Maybe just a cool banner image (when I think up a name), a shot of Samus with a Metroid photo-shopped in, and a gameplay screenshot ripped from Smash Brothers Brawl (which is as close to a next-gen Metroid as we've gotten so far)....

------------------------------
"Metroid x"
Set after the events of Metroid Fusion, Metroid x finds galaxy-famous bounty hunter Samus Aran captured by the Federation. In the opening act, Samus' Metroid-infused body is being tested in a zero-gravity research facility orbiting an unknown planet. Breaking free during a power fluctuation, Samus escapes the facility, picking up a companion; a Metroid cloned from her infused DNA. Able to communicate via their genetic bond, Samus and the Metroid make for the main research structure buried under the planet's surface, to recover the various parts of Samus' suit being studied there and destroy the Federation's research on her.

Control:
The player controls Samus' Metroid via the Right Analog stick, which allows total freedom of movement within the 2-D environment. The limit of movement is restricted to the edges of the screen. The Metroid cannot pass through solid surfaces; it shares the same movement restrictions as Samus.

The player can also press down or 'click' the right analog stick ("R3") to direct the Metroid's behavior, based on its position;
  • When floating over an enemy, the Metroid will latch onto the foe, draining their energy. This energy is redistributed to Samus' suit energy (health).

  • When floating over an object, the Metroid will pick the item up. The item can then be carried about, and dropped by pressing R3 a second time.

  • When floating over Samus, the Metroid will land on her shoulder.

  • When floating over Samus when she is in Morph Ball-form, the Metroid will carry Samus.

  • Clicking R3 at any other time will cause the Metroid to remain stationary until R3 is pressed again or Samus moves off-screen (in which case, the Metroid rushes back to her side).

Gameplay:
The most basic function of the Metroid is that of a shield; Metroids are resistant to all known weaponry (with the exception of ice-based weapons), allowing Samus to use the Metroid to block incoming projectiles.

Because of their strong mandibles, the Metroid can also be used to carry objects that would normally be out of reach. This includes puzzle elements, ammo canisters, and equipment upgrades. This proves especially useful in areas that Samus herself cannot normally pass, such as acid or lava. The Metroid can even pick up Samus when she's in Morph Ball-form, though only for a short duration. Obtaining the Gravity Suit makes this lifting easier.

Metroids are able to survive in all environments except low temperatures; to pass through frigid areas, the Metroid must ride on Samus' shoulder, using her body's heat to avoid freezing.They can, however, survive in acid, lava, or even the vacuum of space. Because of this, Samus can use the Metroid as a platform, to gain access to higher levels or cross dangerous terrain. As with carrying Samus, the Metroid can only support her weight for a brief period of time, though the Gravity Suit improves this function as well.

Finally, the Metroid can be used as a weapon, latching onto enemies and draining their life force. Because the Metroid and Samus share a symbiotic relationship, any energy the Metroid drains from enemies is automatically redistributed to Samus' suit energy, allowing the Metroid to be used as a form of healing as well.

------------------------------

I'm hesitant to include any more, as it would just make the entry longer and not really support it in any way. Anyone who's played a Metroid game probably has a few puzzle ideas in their head just from the description of the Metroid's uses.

I had considered using Wii controls (as there hasn't been a Nintendo System with an "R3" function), but I honestly don't want to try and figure out how you'd control a game like Metroid (where just about all of your controller real estate is being used) with the Wii + Nunchuck. I honestly don't think it would work, so I'm taking sort of a generic "next gen controller" approach. I did have a brief comment in there on how a second player could control the Metroid, but.... again, I just don't want to ram classic Metroid controls into the Wii's somewhat frugal control options.

I do have a bit of Bias though; I hate using analog control for 2-D side-scrollers. Feels way too sloppy, give me a D-pad any day of the week. Even using the D-pad on the Wiimote, I still can't find a comfortable set-up. Been sitting here with my wii-mote for a while and I really can't find a comfortable way to cram it all in there and retain that Metroid feel.

Thoughts, comments, criticism, death-threats, junk-mail, chain-letters, catchy off-color limericks, and incendiary statements concerning my mother and/or her implied promiscuity/weight/economic status are welcome and appreciated.
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Last edited by Retro : 11-21-2009 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:17 PM   #23
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It looks pretty solid to me, Will. My favorite part is that it lands on your shoulder at times and when it needs to stay warm. Seriously, that is really cute. I think I would get really attached to this thing.

It'd be interesting to watch highly skilled players using both the analog sticks independently.

I have one criticism. None of the things the Metroid does are very original. It's all pretty standard fare as far as abilities go. I'm sure some great puzzles could be designed around it, but I'd like to see more imaginative abilities if I paid money for this game today. For instance, what if it could infect people like it did in Fusion, giving you control over the enemy it chose to effect. Then you could squeeze in even more puzzles given all the different enemies you could control and their different abilities. Since the Metroid shares your DNA, maybe one ability could be absorbing the Metroid or having it latch onto your face (comical!) and then your powers are combined! What do you think about offering different abilities?

edit: oops, the metroid didn't infect people, the x-virus did. But you could create some plot device to allow this.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:51 AM   #24
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Note: Kind of a long post. I cannot abide anyone reading this without being properly nourished and hydrated. You might not come out alive without supplies. Go get a drink and a snack first, I'll wait.

Got it? Ok, carry on then...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
It looks pretty solid to me, Will. My favorite part is that it lands on your shoulder at times and when it needs to stay warm. Seriously, that is really cute. I think I would get really attached to this thing.
Yeah, that was one of my intentions with that element. I want the player to think of the poor little baby Metroid as their buddy, not as the genetically engineered killing machine it really is. That's kind of a plot element I wanted to develop, but since it's not necessary, I'm not including it. But, there's usually a lot of extraneous material for all of my challenges... might as well share some of it.

If you wade waist deep into Metroid Lore, you find that the Metroids are actually produced by the Chozo to combat the X-parasites. "Metroid", in fact, translates as "Ultimate Warrior". I was working around the idea that the Metroids are, in fact, destined to enhance Samus. All of the time she's spent fighting them when, in fact, it was always part of the Chozo prophecy that she'd become bonded with them, to become the "Ultimate Warrior" as the name suggests.

By the end of the game, I wanted Samus to basically be a "Metroid Queen"; she realizes the Federation is just as flawed as the Space Pirates (maybe even more so, as they proclaim to be the 'good guys'), and sets out to restore true justice to the galaxy with her army of Metroids in tow. She might even evolve to become a new villain in the series, that'd be an interesting twist .

As far as the actual mechanic goes, the Metroid's only weakness is cold areas, so instantly you have an environment where the Metroid's use is extremely limited or even disabled. I think it is important when implementing a new feature to also have sections of the game that remove it, especially if said feature could be a bit of a crutch. Witness the amazingly challenging (and fun) FLUDD-less Secret Levels of Super Mario Sunshine. The water pack allows you to hover and recover from missteps and bad jumps; the Secret Levels mercilessly throw obscene jumps at you, just when you'd want it the most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
I have one criticism. None of the things the Metroid does are very original. It's all pretty standard fare as far as abilities go. I'm sure some great puzzles could be designed around it, but I'd like to see more imaginative abilities if I paid money for this game today.
To some extent, I agree; the Metroid is a shield, mobile platform, healing mechanic and item-grabber. I'm pretty sure we've seen all of these things before, maybe not all at once, but they're fairly familiar.

However, I feel that throwing any extra features into the mix would change the gameplay too much, so that the Metroid charm is kind of diluted.

The addition of a sidekick to a series needs to be carefully balanced; too little and it's just a mindless pet that follows you around (Tails from Sonic 2, at least when there isn't as second player nearby), but too much and the gameplay you're supposed to be enhancing instead changes.

At no time while controlling the Metroid does the player ever lose control of Samus, and by extension the traditional Metroid Gameplay. You can latch the little bugger onto your shoulder and never use him, except for puzzles / locations that require it, and it wouldn't drastically affect the gameplay too much. Skilled players would obviously use the Metroid as a shield / healing ability, but that doesn't rock the boat too much; you still need to run, jump, and shoot in the classic Metroid style to get anywhere.

My rationale for the Metroid's uses is that he's there to be a sidekick; useful, but not the main attraction. He (it?) is there to support Samus, not carry Samus through the game (though he literally would in places, but... nevermind )

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
For instance, what if it could infect people like it did in Fusion, giving you control over the enemy it chose to effect. Then you could squeeze in even more puzzles given all the different enemies you could control and their different abilities.
Right, and that's a neat idea, but what happens when this occurs? Players lose control of Samus and instead take on the role of a monster. This might be useful for combat once in a while, but ultimately would be a gimmick for certain puzzles / fights. Going back to Super Mario Sunshine as a reference; the implementation of Yoshi left a LOT to be desired. The player finds Yoshi and instantly knows there's something Yoshi-related nearby. The player has no incentive (or even the ability) to take Yoshi from stage to stage, and make use of his abilities there. Yoshi, in Sunshine, was a gimmick that was brought out in very narrow, specific situations rather than the 'global' gameplay feature he was in Super Mario World.

I had considered allowing the Metroid to gain new abilities as the game goes on, but why? The game could simply introduce new situations where the 'same old tricks' take on a new twist. A GREAT example of this is Portal; you basically have two abilities through the entire game; jump and make portals. And yet the situations you use those abilities in allow for an incredible amount of variety.

I just feel there's a fine line between "Sidekick enhancing gameplay" versus "Sidekick redefining gameplay". Crossing over means losing the charm of the original concepts the sidekick is meant to support. That's why the Metroid has limited uses; it doesn't replace Samus, it just enhances her play style in different, functional ways.

Here's a list of ways you can use the Metroid. They're not listed above because an exhaustive list would take too much time and space in the entry. But for the sake of explanation, here's all of the things I've jotted down while working on this submission...

- As a platform to avoid hazards, over Acid or Lava.
- As a stepping stone to higher platforms.
- As a mobile platform to travel short distances.
(imagine samus standing on top of the Metroid, who then moves around to carry her over hazards, though for a very short period of time, at least until you get the Gravity Suit... a classic Metroid mechanic with a whole new function.)

- As transportation when in Morph-ball form.
- As total protection; the Metroid totally engulfs Morph-balled Samus.
(imagine an enemy attack that covers the whole screen, and your only means of avoiding is to morph-ball and hide inside your Metroid?)
- As a shield, absorbing incoming attacks.
- As a means to restore health.
- As a means to weaken or distract an enemy, exposing a weak spot.
(imagine enemies that have thick armor on their front? The metroid could distract them, turning their unarmored backs towards you. Or a boss that is nearly impenetrable, but suddenly exposes a weak spot when he's trying to get the Metroid off him?)
- As a means to obtain items that are intentionally unobtainable alone.
- To bypass certain environmental hazards, allowing for safe passage.
(imagine a locked door with a laser-grid protected airduct overhead. The Metroid can pass through it without harm, and unlock the door from the other side.)
- To carry puzzle items Samus might not be able to touch or lift.
(remember, Samus has never picked anything up in the game, as far as I can remember. There might be radioactive or just very heavy items she cannot touch that the Metroid can shuttle around for her)
- As a scout, to safely reveal invisible traps or enemies.
- To grab health, missile, or bomb ammo that enemies leave behind.

And probably half a dozen more things I could think of if I sat down and worked at it further, maybe drawing some quick level designs out as well. However, I feel that these functions alone, stemming from just the basic functions I've given the Metroid, are enough to merit his inclusion into a game, without any extra bells and whistles.

There was even one idea I had, where the Metroid automatically drains life from an enemy it floats over; you wouldn't even need to press R3 to activate that feature. That'd make the functionality much simpler, but I like the idea and feel of manually telling the Metroid to "sick 'em!".
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Last edited by Retro : 11-21-2009 at 09:00 AM. Reason: Added disclaimer. It needed one!
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Old 11-21-2009, 11:02 AM   #25
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I think that's a pretty solid entry, Retro. The sidekick obeys the rules laid down by the previous entries in the series, adds some new layers of gameplay, but doesn't change the fundamentals. If I think of anything that I think needs some ironing out, I'll let you know.
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Old 11-21-2009, 12:18 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlovemark View Post
I think that's a pretty solid entry, Retro. The sidekick obeys the rules laid down by the previous entries in the series, adds some new layers of gameplay, but doesn't change the fundamentals. If I think of anything that I think needs some ironing out, I'll let you know.
Thanks, I'll be waiting until Monday evening or so to submit in case anyone has any extra feedback or I come up with any changes. Maybe I'll get Wii controls figured out, maybe not. No specific hardware restrictions are implied, and honestly... the Classic / GC controller has the Z-button to work with, so I'm not too concerned.

I'm thinking of titles, honestly; I want the title to kind of imply Samus becoming a Perfect Warrior by fusing with the Metroids and becoming their 'leader' and using them to right the wrongs of the universe. Words like "Harbinger", "Salvation" and "Perfection" spring to mind. Not sure though, especially with Salvation (thanks to Terminator: Salvation, of course).

Edit: Leaning towards "Revolution" or "Evolution". Might be obnoxious and make it (R)evolution... if they can get away with something as odd-sounding as "Other M", I say why not =p.

I usually get pretty detailed on my graphics, giving them fancy borders and such (though the last one ended up looking kind of crappy, but I was in a rush). I may skip the entire process this time. I don't see a need to demonstrate the controls or fake a screenshot, though that would be kind of cool. Maybe just a fancy title image to catch the eye...
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Last edited by Retro : 11-21-2009 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:57 PM   #27
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Retro,

Definitely very solid, and you're articulating it very well. What you just mentioned about the Metroid distracting people sounds really cool. I think at that point it should become vulnerable, so that people feel like they need to hit that weak spot really fast before the enemy is able to hurt the metroid. That would strengthen the bond between the player and the metroid because it's like the metroid is willing to sacrifice itself for you.

Just to clarify, that thing I threw out about the metroid fusing with other enemies wouldn't change the gameplay of the game. You'd still be controlling it with the right thumbstick while controlling Samus. I think you make a good point about having innovative puzzles rather than a page-long list of abilities. What I was going for was giving the player a sense of wonder about the characters and some kind of new gameplay mechanic they had never played with before. If the puzzles were just that incredible though maybe it would make up for it.
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Old 11-21-2009, 03:50 PM   #28
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Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, November 25
Question: may multiple entries be submitted?
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Old 11-21-2009, 05:38 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
Definitely very solid, and you're articulating it very well.
Thanks. I always worry that I'm not explaining a particular design choice very well, so I tend to over-explain things. Design hasn't evolved to the point of having an established vernacular, so we're left with words like "feel" to describe things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
What you just mentioned about the Metroid distracting people sounds really cool. I think at that point it should become vulnerable, so that people feel like they need to hit that weak spot really fast before the enemy is able to hurt the metroid. That would strengthen the bond between the player and the metroid because it's like the metroid is willing to sacrifice itself for you.
I agree with the bonding element, and it does provide a nice element reminiscent of Super Metroid's ending sequence. It certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility to have the Metroid 'thrown off' a boss, limiting how much time Samus has to make a vital shot. It's also possible to have the Metroid make a little painful noise or other non-verbal expression of pain. But that vulnerability would be a complete illusion; there's no way the Metroid can be killed (with one exception, which I'll get to shortly).

I decided to have the Metroid be indestructible because you need him to get past certain puzzles or obstacles, and because he's irreplaceable from a story standpoint. According to Fusion, Metroids are extinct and only their genetic material lives on in Samus; the one you utilize in this game is cloned from her. There's no way the Metroid can die without the game ending and the player having to reload from a previous save.

I would hate to have a health gauge, and by extension, death and a Game Over screen pop up every time your Metroid gets nuked accidentally. For one, it would get tiresome having your game end because you missed something that killed him. Can't you just hear the players getting angry at (instead of bonding with) the Metroid because the little guy ruined their game again?

The exception, of course, is exposure to cold, be it an icy environment or enemies who use ice-based weapons. BUT, those situations where he can die, and the "game over" situation does exist, are areas of intentionally heightened danger. You'd step into a cold room, your Metroid would give a little shivering squeak, and you'd say "Ok, hop on little buddy, this could get ugly", knowing that his death means a Game Over in that specific instance.

At one point, I had considered adding a health or 'energy' gauge to the Metroid, so that you could tell how long it'd be able to support your weight or stay on an enemy to drain them. I cut it, however, because I didn't want another UI element and wasn't happy with non-traditional communication of that data. My best option was to have the Metroid's innards normally be Transparent, but shift to a solid, glowing color when his energy was low... but I wasn't pleased with that or the reverse (growing more transparent as he grew weaker).

I wanted players to feel "Uh oh, Metroid is getting weak because we're slowly starting to lose altitude" rather than stare at a gauge and try to 'read' how far they could make it. The communication isn't as clear, but it doesn't need to be once you get a feel for how long the Metroid can support you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
Just to clarify, that thing I threw out about the metroid fusing with other enemies wouldn't change the gameplay of the game. You'd still be controlling it with the right thumbstick while controlling Samus.
Ah, I didn't get that from your comment, but that would logically work. I would, however, be concerned with how players utilize the controlled enemies; how would you activate their special abilities? How would you 'free' the enemy when you were done with it? Can you control any enemy, or specific ones? There are solutions to all of those situations, but I really don't feel like that kind of mechanic would bring that much to the table beyond use in a few specific situations, at least as far as being used in a Metroid game is concerned.

If you did build that mechanic, and took it further... well, you'd end up with Kirby, wouldn't you? Where you more or less take on the power of different enemy types and use it to your advantage? An interesting concept, to be sure, but not one that I am entirely sure would fit with Metroid.

That said, it's a fun idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob View Post
I think you make a good point about having innovative puzzles rather than a page-long list of abilities. What I was going for was giving the player a sense of wonder about the characters and some kind of new gameplay mechanic they had never played with before. If the puzzles were just that incredible though maybe it would make up for it.
Yep, and it's certainly a fun concept worth exploring further... but Metroid has never really been about 'using your enemies' to explore. The Metroid sidekick is, when you look at it in a purely gameplay-oriented view, a 'tool with personality'.Which is kind of ironic considering I made a comment earlier in this thread about not throwing in a feature and calling it a sidekick. But, when you get down to it, anything in game design is just a mechanic or tool for something else.

Thanks for the feedback, I'll likely make a few updates to my entry based on your feedback. I also am working on some images, so far just the "Title" image is done...



...hmm... I may have to shrink that a bit, it might be too wide... and I'd hate to have someone else re-size it. Ah well, I'll work on it a bit later, and I still need to capture a screenshot from Brawl.
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Last edited by Retro : 11-21-2009 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 05:39 PM   #30
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Question: may multiple entries be submitted?
Pretty sure you can submit multiple entries, but don't take that as gospel. I've never heard of anyone winning more than once a challenge, but... maybe you can be the first?
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