DEVELOPMENT OF THE EvA SYSTEM
Written by: Matthew Calloway
The idea behind the Evade or Advance, or EvA, system is that the player of most games today faces many challenges in the course of a game’s play time or storyline. Many of these challenges are often faced back-to-back or within close proximity of each other. This often times leads to players doing one of two things:
2. Forces the player to put the game down/up and stop playing. The trouble that game designers have is finding that fine line between hard and too hard. Many gamers are looking for a challenging experience: such as the constant puzzles and growing intensities of enemies in the Half Life 2 series (HL 2, Ep1, and Ep2) and enjoy it. The type of challenges that they do NOT like are the types of challenges that force them to stop playing and think about what their next move will be, not based on observations and moving on. There is nothing worse than having to sit in a paused game and think about your next move.
The simple fact of the matter is that EvA’s core mechanic is built around ensuring that the player will have a clear choice when facing an obstacle. For instance; you come out of a building after being in a firefight with a handful of enemies (for this example we’ll use 6) and have suffered some heavy damage. Your health is down below 40% (for this example we’ll say 38hp) and you have only a few clips (or whatever ammo form you use) for you weapon.
Now, you exit this room and you notice 6 MORE enemies walking toward you. Your first thought is “damn. I’ve got to do this again.”, but, here is where EvA differs itself from the standard situational system. In most situations you as the player would take the things you learned in the previous encounter and apply them (along with your condition and ammo count) to the current task at hand. The simple fact that is, most people would not go “Gun-Ho” out and attack your enemy in a desperate attempt to get by. You, as a player, would more than likely try to sneak around or be sneaky about getting to each of them individually.
EvA handles this problem by removing the need to have to change your strategy. Simply put, the map turns off in two directions, meeting back together later on along the course of the level. The idea is that, though subtle to the highest degree, the map and game lend itself to allow the player to “duck-in” certain doors, alley ways, and other map areas to let danger pass.
Now, this is not only a map detail. The characters, events, and even vehicles will be / are scripted and edited to reflect this change. If you hide in a room that a zombie, for instance, cannot see you for more than twenty seconds – he gives up and begins to resume whatever it was that was so fulfilling in his daily life as a zombie. The idea is the same for the combine and a lot of it has to do with line-of-sight. This is handled by an invisible beam in the shape of a really big ice cream cone emitting from the enemies eyes, if you’re in it – your seen, if not your good.
This is a big jump in development as this has been slated as a part of the final concept and is already in progress of being added to the game and its level design. Stay tuned for screen shots and videos of the EvA system in action