The Problem with "Transformers in X Genre" Threads

Discussion in 'Transformers Video Game Discussion' started by Matt_M, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Matt_M

    Matt_M Snarkabot

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    First off, let me say: I love that your imaginations are eager, and that you want to see more good Transformers games. Don't stop brainstorming, tweaking, and if you're able - actually building out these ideas.

    That out of the way, I want to address a persistent problem across a lot of threads on this forum around adapting Transformers to the video game genre of your choice. This is not limited to a single thread or author.

    During college, one of my wiser professors had a saying: "A difference, to be a difference, has to make a difference." In original context, it talked about the composition of a shot, scene, or story. For example: if this scene takes place on a beach, why? What does the beach confer that an empty field, or an interior of a gym, does not? If the beach has no bearing on what's going on, why should it take place at the beach?

    I've read a lot of threads with an excellent grasp of the Transformers as characters, and how their unique personalities might influence a MOBA, a fighting game, a shooter, RPG, etc. They have invested a painstaking amount of detail into how to map these characters to an existing format.

    Here's the problem with pretty much every last one of them (and it's what most of the worst Transformers games have in common): The fact that they are Transformers has no real bearing on the game they've designed. There is no difference, as defined above, between this game starring the Transformers and a bunch of generic humanoids.

    War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron are some of the best Transformers games in part because of their amazing polish and their reverence for the characters, but the game is just as fun when you're playing as a Genericon in multiplayer. This is in large part because transforming is integral to the gameplay. Each alt-mode has trade-offs and choosing between what mode you're in from moment to moment makes a difference.

    If I make, say, a Transformers Real Time Strategy game, then being able to transform needs to play a key element in it. Every unit would need the equivalent of a Starcraft Siege Tank mode switch. Look at Red Alert 3's Rising Sun faction for a sample of what an entire faction might look like. Making a MOBA? League of Legends has a lot of Two-Mode Transforming characters to learn from as examples (Gnar, Nidalee, Elise, others).

    I play Transformers: Earth Wars. In some ways, it's pretty standard base assault game play. But, when attacking, you really only have one way to interact with the battle: your special abilities, all of which involve transforming. This isn't ideal, but it does tie the fact that Transformers transform intrinsically to the action.

    In contrast, Transformers for the Famicom:



    Transforming is incidental at best, and a hindrance at worst. This game sucks, not just because it's incredibly harsh, but because it could just as easily be another action shooter with almost no changes. If not for the giant Decepticon Logo boss fight you wouldn't necessarily peg it as a game that had the Transformers license.

    So, again, my aim isn't to tear down the plans you're making. It's just that before wondering how much HP should this attack drain or should this punch be +2 frames on block, make sure that the game you're making couldn't just as easily be reskinned as a non-Transformers game. Let the difference make a difference.

    Also, sorry for the length of this post.
     
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  2. juliarush

    juliarush New Member

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    the post is great! it was really interesting to read your opinion!
     
  3. AUTOBOT1995

    AUTOBOT1995 Well-Known Member

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    right on the money, for a game to actually be worth doing going between alt modes need to be the centre of the game otherwise why bother making it a transformers game, just make it a game and save the money on licensing :p 
     
  4. Matt_M

    Matt_M Snarkabot

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    Thank you, and welcome to the site!
     
  5. MapleSamurai

    MapleSamurai MapleSamurai

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    Interesting you've brought this up, since I was doing some scribbles about a hypothetical Overwatch-style Transformers hero shooter a while back (inspired from my coming across the TFWiki article for Transformers Online), and one thing I wondered about was how to integrate alt modes into the gameplay, especially thinking in terms of how a game developer could realistically program the mechanics of the wildly different alt modes found in the franchise. I might go into more detail if I ever make my own thread about this idea, but the solution I came up with was a collection of "Movement Types" that would each serve as umbrella categories that various alt modes would fall under that each have their own control schemes, advantages and disadvantages (no idea how characters with multiple alt modes would work in this system, but that's probably why I don't really make video games).

    How does that idea sound in relation with your grievances on these kinds of discussions?
     
  6. Matt_M

    Matt_M Snarkabot

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    I think that's more or less in line with my thoughts. For something like a hero shooter, your character might have better mobility or have a big gun when in alt-mode, but lose access to abilities and normal weapons. I think consistency is important - either a dedicated "transform" button, or maybe the primary ability always requires transformation, etc. I would caution against tying transforming to an "ult" ability, though (not an absolute, just a guideline).

    Even if it's nothing like that, though, it sounds like you're working to integrate transformation into the design at a fundamental level, and that's absolutely what I'm hoping to see.
     

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