Art Games: Modifying Part of a Game

As someone who plays games often enough to create art games, there can be some things said about imagining how an already-existing favorite could be changed. I personally find game mods to be a subject of interest, and I am moved mostly by how some mods are used to change how the game itself addresses the player as an entity that affects the events of the game (whether the game even has a narrative or not). I would like to write a possible proposal about changing gameplay mechanics of Touken Ranbu, one of my personal favorite games.

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Touken Ranbu is a browser-based game that is primarily concerned with collecting anthropormophized swords that appear as a variety of handsome young men brought to life by the player; said swords can then be arranged into teams to be used in combat in order to advance through stages, which can potentially yield new swords to obtain. In the context of this game, the player is assigned a role as a “commander” figure in charge of leveling up swords through grinding and managing resources. This intended role of the player also draws me into game, as the characters address the player directly based on their actions, such as giving them equipment or tasks to complete.

Despite the amount of player involvement story-wise, much of the game’s elements are fairly automated: during the battle phases, the most that the player has to do is decide which six swords will be fighting and what battle formations will be chosen for each sortie (and whether or not to proceed to further battle nodes for each stage). The order in which the team members attack is based mostly on individual stat numbers (attack power, defense, speed, etc); that, and which enemy the sword attacks is also random. However, to involve the player further in the battles, I would suggest creating an option in which the player could ignore these stats and decide themselves which swords attack which enemy, and in what order they see fit.

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Inspired by other tactical-based games (such as Fire Emblem) and team-based RPGs, this change in gameplay would give the player more control over the actions of the soldiers. The player will know their sword’s exact stat numbers, but the opponent’s numbers are hidden. From this, the player will have to decide which enemies to target based on their team composition, paying attention to possible elements such as the types of swords in the party, the amount of “armor”/troops each member has, and whether or not one sword will have an advantage over a particular enemy.

Additionally, it also brings the player to be more involved in fighting “alongside” with their swords. As the game assigns the player as a “commander” role, the player is essentially given a certain degree of responsibility over the swords. This is reflected particularly in the sword characters’ in-game dialogues, as they respond to whether or not you assign them to an expedition, repair them, refine their strength/stats, or take them out to battle. The mechanic of directly choosing battle commands could potentially emphasize the player’s involvement in the game as a character themselves as part of several game mechanics that encourage a closer connection with the swords that they are responsible for collecting and caring for.

 

(Images borrowed from the Touken Ranbu wikia site) 

Art Games: 1/22 Update

I’m still getting used to working with Unity as a platform for making games!

Currently, I’m still working on Ink Story in RPG Maker (the VXA version), though I am also considering making a short spin-off game in Unity. Based on the world introduced in Ink Story, where artworks are “transformed” into anthropomorphized characters, I am highly interested in revealing the possible experiences of one of these artworks.

Art Games: Analyzing an Existing Game

One of the earliest games that I remember playing and enjoying was an archival version of Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, 1991) for the Nintendo Gamecube system. Most of what I remember is playing through the first two stages as I was hilariously bad at making much progression; however, the legacy of this character and subsequent games are also a part of why I enjoy this game in particular. While this game was not conceptually striking, it is recognized and remembered for its highly-detailed graphics for its time, the music, and gameplay.

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Sonic the Hedgehog, at its most basic description, is a 2D-sidescrolling platform game. The player controls the titular character through each “zone” or level (divided into smaller “acts”), in which the goal is to guide the hedgehog to the goal at the end of each segment. At the end of the last act of each zone, a boss battle with the villain Dr. Robotnik would start. After the player defeats him, they are able to progress to the next zone until the “Final Zone” boss battle with the doctor is encountered. If all stages are cleared and the boss battles are won, the game is complete.

Common gameplay elements throughout each level typically include rings, power-ups, and enemies. Rings are scattered throughout each zone and serve as a sort of protection for the player, in which collecting these rings allows Sonic to withstand one hit from enemies or harmful obstacles. Otherwise, if he does not have any rings he will die from enemy contact. Collecting 50 rings will allow the player to transport Sonic to a “Special Stage” that involves navigating a maze; collecting 100 rings will grant him an extra life.

What I found to be notable about this game is the particular attention towards building a stylized, detailed world. The appearance and details, such as a panoramic, scrolling background indicating depth, are completely appropriate for the game as a sidescroller; these kinds of games in general seem to have a particular focus on environmental details.