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Author Topic: Replayablity in a mission  (Read 712 times)
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All in good time

« on: 03 Mar 2009, 06:09:10 »

Hi I want to start a topic about replayability in missions. Because when you have that you more likely will have the player come back and play your mission and keep it in their C:Drive.


1) What kinds of ideas do you have for replayability?

2) Possibly define your idea of replayablity or just define the word.

This is just to get the questions going, I don't really have a good idea yet, but this is just a brief post.

Post your ideas. Thanks.

\"Even if you\'re an expert in basic mission editing, you can still make an  outstanding mission-NightJay0044\"<br />\"I\'ve always believed the mind is the best weapon, well times change, some people-Rambo II\"<br />\"Keep the simple things of life in mind\"
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« Reply #1 on: 03 Mar 2009, 08:17:08 »

Replayability really depends on what kind of player you're facing, and what kind of mission it is you're making. E.g. a mission like Steal the Car, which was basically just a couple of minute-long romp through town, possibly not exchanging a single shot with anyone, can be replayed a hundred times just BECAUSE of this simplicity - you can just load it up and start at a new, random location, with new, random enemies all round, that you can then proceed to either avoid or hunt down. It was perfect for e.g. testing total conversion mods, killing five minutes just for fun, etc.

Problem with these kinds of "simple" missions is that generally a neophyte editor can create just as good, if not better, missions in five minutes in the editor. Smack down some OPFOR, give them some "probability of presence" and a random spawning area + a Guard or S&D waypoint, then smack down your squad, and go hunting. Want to move location? Select and move the whole shebang someplace else. That's why missions like Steal the Car, although replayable, don't really cut it for me when it comes to actual replayability.

What makes your regular-sized missions replayable is often what makes regular games replayable. The option to take several different paths, with different outcomes, facing different opposition and getting different support every time, changing the game dynamics. In ArmA/OFP, this is ridiculously simple to do thanks to the AI, the open world, and the easy-to-use editor. On the other hand, this kind of randomization might actually take the "playable" out of "replayable" - how is the mission-maker supposed to be able to balance the mission to be fun and engaging, seeing as one time there might be massive opposition and another almost none? This, on the other hand, can be fixed by allowing the player some control - for instance allowing the player to pick difficulty beforehand, or to decide certain parameters (enemy reinforcements, friendly reinforcements, support, time of day etc.).

And then, of course, there are the missions DESIGNED to be replayable and dynamic - but once again it's important here for the designer to make the mission PLAYABLE - replayability is all nice and well, but if it's no fun...I personally find the story elements and specific design (bunker placements, enemy unit placement etc) to be a big part of a mission's playability, and that's something truly dynamic missions need to contend with. For instance a mission made with DAC can be very nice-looking, with generated bases and patrols - but do the patrols make any sense, do the base placements make any sense? Usually the answer is no - and that's the price you have to pay for truly dynamic and randomized systems like DAC.

So really, replayability is an eternal balance between too much and too little. I could rant on about this for some time, but I think I'll give it a rest for the moment Wink

Wolfrug out.

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« Reply #2 on: 04 Mar 2009, 00:37:52 »

I pretty much agree with Wolfrug.

Designing MP missions is my passion, and curse.

What I always try to accomplish in my missions is massive randomness, but still making sense of the story.
I want to be able to play my own missions, without really knowing what's going to happen next.
This probably originates from the days when me and Nominesine made MP missions to top each other.
Playing your own missions (even with other players in MP) becomes quite boring if you know too much about the upcoming events and who might be waiting around the next corner.

It is much easier to design a thrilling mission for "first timers" if you make it non random.
The problem is that the mission will then NOT be very re-playable.

The downside of massive randomness is that the mission sometimes will seem (as stated) boring or easy.
Furthermore, sometimes your mission concept allows for flexible player(s) tactics and approach, sometimes not.

When I made the mission "Iraq Street Patrol" and put it in beta testing section some comments suggested that the mission was a little "slow" or "non-eventful". If you play that mission several times though, you will realize that it is very different every time and sometimes it will be extremely stressful.


I basically want the mission descriptions to state if it is a "one hit wonder" or an "acquired taste" mission. "Acquired taste" meaning that it is a mission that can (and should) be played multiple times, to experience its full potential. That way the player(s) will know how to judge it and what to expect. You will then also attract the kind of players that the mission was directed to.

Some players just want 5 minutes of action, whereas some players (like me) actually want to be immersed for a long time and many times, if the set up and story is good enough. I personally don't spend a month designing a mission with the intention to have a player to test it only once and say: "Wish it had more action". I know how to create action, but the action needs to be unpredictable, if it's going to be re-playable.

« Last Edit: 04 Mar 2009, 01:09:19 by laggy » Logged

And I looked and beheld a pale horse and his name that sat on him was Death and Hell followed with him.
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« Reply #3 on: 04 Mar 2009, 01:58:22 »

I feel like,
  • Random start points
  • Random waypoints
  • Random time delays for each waypoint
  • Probability of presence beyond the scope of needed units (i.e. insert the necessary units to fulfill your goals but add extras with probability of presence to effect the difficulty during replays)
  • Optional selection of insertion time, or method
  • Random sounds
Are some easily implemented options
And some more time consuming options are............
  • Various responses for various approaches i.e. AI response(dependent upon author creativity)
  • Random dialogue
  • Multiple story paths

Difficulty selection is not needed for SP missions because in my opinion, this is the authors decision and the player should adjust his settings according to how good or bad he/she is. This is a user way of changing the replay value.
One undeniable replay factor for MP is player(s) cooperation when mounting a combined assault and as such, that is the greatest tool for replay and if the author uses the simple methods above, there should be no reason why it would not be random enough.

Another contribution to replay is immersion. It may not seem so, but many players remember good times of overwhelming victory or defeat and often return to a mission that they shared those emotions in, just to experience the nostalgia. I myself have replayed the OFP campaigns repeatedly because of that same reason.

But in the end, people will only play a mission for so long before moving onto new proving grounds by which to test their boundaries and new found skills. So, I wouldn't expend too much time trying to create the ultimate random mission.
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« Reply #4 on: 05 Mar 2009, 06:49:22 »

Randomizing situations is one of the best ways to do it. I'm currently going to create a mission where you must rescue 12 rangers soldiers that were riding in blackhawks.

Not easy, bunch of waves of enemy SLA and consequences are hard if the player lets it happen.

Consequences are a great way to get the player thinking about their mission to..

\"Even if you\'re an expert in basic mission editing, you can still make an  outstanding mission-NightJay0044\"<br />\"I\'ve always believed the mind is the best weapon, well times change, some people-Rambo II\"<br />\"Keep the simple things of life in mind\"
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« Reply #5 on: 05 Mar 2009, 15:20:23 »

So, I wouldn't expend too much time trying to create the ultimate random mission.
Hey, I resemble that remark!  Yes  Cheesy Wink

Here's my thing - replayability does not always mean randomness.  I think whoever mentioned the emotional content is spot on.  The human experience is one big feedback loop.  The first time you do something, if you like it, you're gonna want to do it again.

I think the idea of "layers" is a factor along with randomness.  I guess that's another way of saying "attention to detail" too.  Like with a book, the first time you play a mission, you may miss something.  Sure, you see the enemy recon squad, but do you see the sniper/spotter providing overwatch?  The main thrust of an advance may be in one place, but do you see the elite squad trying to outflank you.

The idea is that there may not be one right way to finish a mission.  Like, Splinter Cell, as I recall.  The missions were pretty linear, but there were many variations on how to accomplish the tasks.  And, by trying it a bit differently the next time, you increase the overall enjoyment and give the feedback to keep someone coming back.

Just MHO. Smiley

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« Reply #6 on: 05 Mar 2009, 21:50:37 »

I agree with most of the above:  randomness (but still maintain balance), as well as depth and story being key.

Here's how I tried to make a simple "destroy a few objectives mission" replayable in Last Tango in Bagango:

1. In the Editor I placed a pool of nine different ammo/fuel cache objectives, complete with guards.  At mission start I randomly deleted six of the nine objectives.  So every time you play  you have 3 objectives to destroy, but the locations differ, so you are forced to take a different path.  But the overall balance is maintained because each objective has roughly equally well-placed defenders.

2. Depending on whether or not you save El Cojon and/or his brother, you get different dialogue and different intel.

3. Probability of Presence.

4. Random waits at waypoints staggers movement of troops.

5. Placed five or six snipers on rooftops with waypoints walking the roof, but randomly removed all but one at mission start.  Once again the unit placement was thought out, but which one exists at mission start is random.

6. Surprises that player  may or may not see.

7. In beginning of mission, the dialogue where El Cojon and his brother are interrogated can be interrupted by player action and have multiple outcomes (save El Cojon and his brother, save only one, or save none; loud firefight alerts town, short silenced fight does not alert town).

Hopefully people found it replayable.  I played it 1000 times!  But of course I'm biased.   Smiley

El Cojon: "Do you like to Tango?"
You: "Only in Bagango."
Download Last Tango in Bagango and discover how El Cojon earned his name...
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« Reply #7 on: 05 Mar 2009, 22:26:27 »

Another thing, since I can't keep my mouth shut  Wink

I think custom scripts that gives you new possibilities of interaction and events are crucial for re-playability as well.

What I mean by that is that even though BIS has created an amazing game, the original ArmA game engine possibilities are still pretty much limited to "shoot or be shot" and if you are shot, you die or crawl. If you sit in a tank, you die in your exploding tank or get out and... crawl.

Scripts like i.e Mandoble's Air Support and many others add a new aspect of interaction, that will make a mission naturally more varied and interesting, simply because it makes your actions less limited.

I once started working on a script that would kick in randomly when one of your squad members got seriously injured. The script had him falling to the ground, screaming in pain, unable to move and you had to call in a MED evac, in the heat of battle. The idea was to create some serious stress and chaos for the players, that could happen any time or maybe never. Also hopefully it helped you to "care" more about the AI.

Bottom line being that the variety of "stuff" that CAN happen and BE done, besides shoot and being shot will make a mission more immersible, interesting and re-playable. I think  Cool2

From the looks of ArmA2 this kind of extended interactivity (carrying wounded friends, partial building destruction, AI more unpredictable, BARKING DOGS - that can be scripted to track you  Tongue etc.) is built into the game engine and will make any simple mission re-playable, compared to ArmA, so by the time it gets released this post is hopefully outdated.

And I looked and beheld a pale horse and his name that sat on him was Death and Hell followed with him.
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« Reply #8 on: 07 Mar 2009, 06:01:53 »


I think custom scripts that gives you new possibilities of interaction and events are crucial for re-playability as well.


This is a major advantage in Bohemia editor engine.  It allows you to pretty much use your imagination and create the missions you desire.

Unknown in Missions
Factors regarding the unknown of a mission really gets you going sometimes. The placements of patrols, how they act, how they move. Are they going to flank you, call in a mortar team or reinforcements?

Randomness is great like was mentioned, but also balance. Stories can only go so far. Some people may get bored in a story no matter how great it is with ArmA of OFP strictly speaking. Because mainly they want to play the game, not sit there and listen to a bunch and bunch of chit chat and watch a bunch of camera scenes. Keeping all those factors in missions is a key balance in missions.

Other Games
Games like Call of Duty are a great example of keeping the player "IN" the game. There is a lot of environmental sounds and immersion. They concentrate a lot of keeping the player informed. Keeping the player informed during a mission really is a good idea. Depending upon the mission ofcourse.

Specific Events and actions
Bohemia interactive is not real well known for their interaction with the game. That's one fault line with them. The player cannot interact with the game as much as you'de like which can create boring missions.

Otherwise your just stuck with create an infantry group, give them a move waypoint here and have some enemies come in and attack. Specific things would greatly increase the games power and influence on players. That's why scripting is so helpful, not to mention time consuming.

Scritping really gets into the specification on getting the player and AI units to do specific things that can't be done normally by the editor menu such as waypoints, triggers, groups, units etc. 

Scripting helpful tool, but not always easy to learn for all players. Usually people need to rely upon another person if they can't figure it out from a tutorial which really gets the player bogged down on making their mission as it would for me.

Bohemia games have a lot of potential. Immersion can be getting the player really invovled in a mission. Giving them very specific objectives and such. Sometimes you can just remain simple in your objectives but think about what would get your motor going? 

I hope that helps, I covered a few points.. Smiley

Further Note:
Do we not know that OFPRes and ArmA mission creation is much like writting a story just as they said in the beginning. I know the story wont always capture the attention of the player, but I'm talking about the in-game of the story.

Check out this site:

Basically if you create a good plot and conflict and everything it should all come together.  To keep the player really going.  Cheesy
« Last Edit: 07 Mar 2009, 18:27:15 by NightJay0044 » Logged

\"Even if you\'re an expert in basic mission editing, you can still make an  outstanding mission-NightJay0044\"<br />\"I\'ve always believed the mind is the best weapon, well times change, some people-Rambo II\"<br />\"Keep the simple things of life in mind\"
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