Looking back at giant monsters

Sometimes, in order to rule the world, you have to break a few cities!

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Defenestar
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:51 am

Looking back at giant monsters

Post by Defenestar » Tue Sep 28, 2021 5:58 am

And keeping my tradition of only posting to these boards if I can get the post title to scan to the old TMNT cartoon theme song.

I like this game. I come back to it occasionally. Pick a monster and play through their campaign over the course of a few days. I have a lot of hours on this thing. And I wish it had gotten more sales, because I wanted more of it.

And so I'm looking over it and trying to think on how a purely hypothetical followup might revise the formula to maybe get the kind of market penetration that it deserves. Will there be a followup? I've no idea, but a man can dream.

First off, what're the fun parts? Blowing shit up with your giant monster is the primary gameplay loop, I think that's the right term for it. That's the full-engagement mode that the rest of the game is largely in service to. Beyond that there's kitting out your kaiju, and to an extent building your base.

And what's the less-fun parts? Downtime. Waiting. Wondering if the thing you're doing is even helping at all. Painting yourself in to a corner.

Overall it's something of a perfect example of a Kerberos game. It's fun and engaging if you can get in to it, but getting in to it is a bit of a hump to get over. SoTS was the same for me, it took several attempts and help from a friend who had described it as 'Master of Orion 2's only legitimate heir' to get in to it, but when I finally did it was loads of lasery fun.

Please do not get cross with me for describing what I think I see from here. I am attempting constructive criticism, but I recognize that my perspective is limited.


So how to even out that on-ramp without sacrificing depth of meaningful decisions for the player to make and preserving that primary loop? A little more in-game information would be a decent start. Carve up the info that would go in the manual and tie it to a ? button somewhere on the interface. Maybe a Stomp-O-Dex that fills out with information about enemy units as you kill them. Perhaps depict it in-setting as a book of pressed enemy units, like you'd have a book of pressed flowers but in this case it's things stomped flat by a thousand tons of giant robot. The goal of this is to alleviate the occasional sensation of feeling lost that players sometimes get if they're not sure what does what.

To further ease players in to the experience, carving a to-do list in to a piece of lumber might be of use. A sort of 'quest log' if you will. Give a prize for completing sets of tasks. Like, 'conquer a tier 1 city, build a fission plant, and kill the crap out of a patrol to unlock fission reactors' sort of thing. KAGG is hardly directionless, as 'conquer the world with your abomination of mad science and then laugh maniacally' is a pretty clear instruction, but directing a few of the intermediate steps might not be that bad a plan.

Base defence is another area that can have some uncertainty in it. Where will the enemy make landfall? How much firepower do I need to protect my stuff? What's in the enemy attack fleet? If there are limited, known places where the enemy can land a transport ship, and they're forced to air-drop in units if they want to approach anywhere else, that clears things up a little. As would a building or satellite that lets you peek at what the KDF is preparing to send, or has included in an attack force.

With the uncertainty that can leave a new player feeling discouraged so they go back to playing one of those wretched mobile gatcha games or Skyrim for smartfridge dealt with, we can take aim at the waiting. Now I might be a weirdo but I like loading up my towering monstrosity with all of the apocalyptically powerful upgrades I can lay my hands on. That means a lot of time spent with my kaiju parked for a month or more at a time on the upgrade facility while Nicky and Albert try to get the new plasma cannons hooked up right.

I propose instead tying the basic versions of abilities to an upgradeable upgrade centre building, like the current training buildings but with the newer versions built directly on top of the old, and tying things that enhance those powers to other buildings. Like Gino gets laser eyes because you upgraded him to tier 2, and the laser turns to Death Stare because you built a fusion plant. Or his armour goes up when you build and upgrade a foundry. Building these structures and upgrading them to juice up your kaiju can still take time, but it doesn't tie your kaiju down. You can still go blow things up while your base is gearing up to enhance the monster, and when it gets home for repairs they can graft in the new tissue samples, or upgrade the superconductors in the onboard particle accelerator.

Also some of the cooldowns on higher-tier powers can be truly brutal. Some lower-tier abilities are more effective than the upper-tier ones that you'd think would replace them just because they can fire three or four times as frequently. It's hard to make waiting in a game engaging. Stealth games do it, but when I am directing a five hundred foot carnivorous plant to flatten a financial district, I'm not playing a stealth game.


All of this is said knowing that my game design experience is largely limited to homebrewing for tabletop games. Just, like, I really love Kaiju-A-GoGo and I'd be delighted if more of it happened, and if more of it does happen I want it to be as approachable as possible so that it gets truly monstrous sales and continuing to support it for a long time is financially feasible so you can add a stack of new monsters and I can have a variety of fun apocalyptic scenarios to play with instead of the scary ones I keep seeing on the news.


Thank you for making a fun game,

Dave

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Mecron
Kerberos
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 7:26 pm

Re: Looking back at giant monsters

Post by Mecron » Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:37 pm

that's some great feedback!

And a sequel might head into the 3-D realms with a tighter default view so that you are engaging tanks and troops in a more visceral way.

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