I was just watching a video about Loot Boxes and how Online games charge players real money in order to gain these items, which apparently are random items that can benefit the player to progress further in them.
Outlawed in several countries apparently.
And this is new stuff for me, the first I've heard of it. I know, now you can think on that a bit if you like. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in coding I'm unaware of the world around me.
However, I was thinking this might be something good and nice to have for Pico-8.
Not real loot boxes, not the ones that cost money anyways. But no, perhaps missions a player could go on in some of these advanced Pico-8 carts. The reward ? A loot box, completely free, earned by the dedication (and perhaps perspiration) of the player to go beyond the call of duty on side-quests and other items that the average player may skip over in their haste to see the ending to the game.
It's something to consider, and would definitely be icing on the cake of very fine and excellent Pico-8 carts already produced and written or in the process of being written.
There was something existing like this with the Gacha game by the very talented, @enargy.
And while it's grand fun, unfortunately that's all it was, a bit of a loot box. Where you get a new card every hour or so but no actual gameplay otherwise to earn them.
I think this could be worked into games where you play, you work at it real hard, and congrats, you finally won the game. But that's not the end of it. As you went through the game you did not see all the secret paths and secret doors that opened up the rest of the game. Or perhaps you saw them but could not access them. Playing and winning the game might get you 25% of finding everything in the game.
It's up to you to play multiple times to find every and all secrets.
And of course for locating one or more of these hard-to-find secrets, you are rewarded with ? A Loot Box.
The Loot Box might have items that let the player jump higher to access areas they could not when they went through the first pass on the game. Perhaps swimming gear so they can finally dive in the water and not drown. Special boots to let them cross hot lava. Special weapons and/or armor, new playable characters, new NPCs to meet, new story paths to follow, you name it.
It could open up paths previously locked but now could be opened since the player has the matching key.
It could have collectable sprites that you can bring up to put on a shelf to view them in detail (with accompanying description) later. I think Brave Fencer Musashi has this ability.
Just like we collect prizes from Cracker Jack or a cereal box, they are collectable.
The Loot Box would have something in it, whether it's a platformer, racer, shooter, fighter, battler, RPG, puzzle, whatever it might be. It might have something in it that would help the player and encourage them to play your game "Just one more time" so they can explore that new area they couldn't earlier.
What are your thoughts ? And are there any existing Pico-8 games that do in fact have Loot Box prizes for outstanding ability or perseverance in gameplay ?
Hmm. I think that loot boxes are fine, and benefit certain games greatly, but it is good to remember that they don't work well in all games. Celeste wouldn't benefit from loot boxes, as it is all skill based. So games that are less skill based and more exploration would fit better? I don't know, any ideas?
I will also say that I think loot boxes on timers are usually bad, as they condition the player to come back whether or not the player is actually enjoying it.
The game Celeste itself may not benefit as far as useful items (except maybe a true double jump anytime).
But there could still be songs and sprites to collect. I know I believe it's Dragon Warrior 2 for the Gameboy Color would let you win and earn Monster Coins which were collectable coins that detailed the monsters you would face and fight in the game.
It was pretty neat to try and collect them all.
Pokemon is a classic example of a Loot Box. Heck the whole game itself (gotta catch 'em all) is just that - showing a Loot Box is indeed a desirable thing in games.
It does not necessarily have to benefit the player in playing a 2nd or additional round in the game, but if it can, it does indeed expand the game.
Usable Loots I can see for Celeste that would affect the game could be:
- Double-Jump anywhere
- Special jeweled keys for locks the player must skip over in the first run of the game but unlock in the next
- Meeting and rescuing other NPCs and listening to (reading) their stories
- Activating and making use of Warp Points to navigate around the levels, both forward and backwards
- Time Warp, win one loot that speeds up the game, the other slows it down, say 20fps and 75fps.
Non-usable items for Celeste might be:
- Listen to new or unfinished music by original Celeste author (co-op)
- Have different color costumes for Celeste to wear
- Turn snow on/off or change direction
- Pixel library where you can see Celeste in enlarged pixels and can see the animation frames for her in movement
- Bonus but possibly incomplete levels, just for fun to explore
- Hair lengthen (heck I'm just guessing now) :)
But you get the idea.
I'm not sold on the value of loot boxes, tacked-on random elements, achievement systems, and so on. PICO-8 seems to be a fresh departure from what's happened to mainstream gaming, and personally I like it that way.
Who benefits from this sort of design? We can already create unlockables in games and marshall it via savedata().
Pokémon is not a loot box game. It's a monster collection game in the JRPG style. It wouldn't be a gacha game or a loot box game unless it was totally random and the monsters didn't have any real gameplay to them. That's not true, though. Each route has its available Pokémon, who each have their own individual traits, and their own battle flavor. Trainer battles, breeding, item farming, and completing puzzles fleshes out the gameplay.
It's important to not mix designs up; a game isn't a loot box game just because it uses random numbers to decide certain things. By that measure, Castlevania, Animal Crossing, and every arcade puzzle game ever is also a loot box game.
A loot box needs to be paid for with real money and give out items that are either required to advance, or are a pain to acquire legitimately.
Pokémon is nothing like that. It simply depends on an RNG for deciding which monster to throw at you, and it's also used in the battle system for accuracy and whatnot. Like every other JRPG.
I do not think loot boxes or achievements add to the PICO-8 platform. In fact I think they would make it worse by polluting it with modern 'game design' that's more designed for profit than it is art.
(Apologies if I come across a little strong. Many changes made to my interests these days are ruining my interest and I really don't want to see PICO-8 hit with this sort of culture.)
Well maybe they're not called Loot Boxes when they're free. You know, like winning tickets in an arcade playing a carnival game because you're skilled at it.
You can redeem your tickets for something you like.
Heck I was even thinking of making a Crane Machine down the road in Pico-8 where you win little virtual prizes. It's not that hard to program something like that.
And don't forget in Brave Fencer Musashi you can purchase and collect dolls.
In many Tower Defense games you win points to make additions to your tower building to help you like decrease the cost of the Green Archers by 10%, etc.
So like it or lump it, power-ups, coins, diamonds, golden mushrooms, whatever you want to call 'em, they're in games, players earn them through playing a game well and/or sometimes making a cash purchase if they so choose.
However, I think it's entirely possible to have little virtual prizes and power-ups in Pico-8 games without having to say it can only be done through real cash purchases - which I think is what you're saying.
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