Love Dev Update #2: Clarity

LovePosted by Eskil Mon, June 18, 2012 16:34:48
Have you ever been confused by Love? If so, lets consider some fundamental things in Love and how they impact your perception of the world:

-Like any First person game, a player can only see about a tenth of her surrounding at any one time. The quick mouse movements helps but it still remains a problem over say top-down games.

-In a large scale world, things frequently happens far away from the player. In love things can literally happen on the other side of the globe.

-Its a free roaming multiplayer game, so you cant simply trigger an event when all player are there to see it since the players are likely to be far away from each other. You can guarantee that some players will miss things.

-Players can log in and out at any time, so players need to be able to quickly understand the current situation, without having been there to experience the events that caused the situation.

-In a shared world without personal progression, players will be dropped in to the state the world is in, not one that may be appropriate for their level of experience.

If you come to the conclusion that the kind of game you are making, is incredibly difficult to make for these reasons, you have two options. Either painstakingly find solutions to these problems, or make a different game. I have decided to do both. I want to solve these issues, so I'm trying to work them out in Love, but at the same time I know that there are lots of things I cant do because I have these limitations, so in order to be able to go beyond that, I'm making another game that doesn't have these limitations, but more about that some other time.

The easy way to communicate with the player is to simply tell the player what they need to know. If players aren't there to see the bomb get planted, you just play a "the bomb has been planted" sound file to tell everyone its been planted. I think this is a bit of a cop out since it violates the "Show don't tell" rule, and its going outside the game world. Also if something happens that the player needs to know about, shouldn't the reason that the player needs to finds out that it happened, be that it actually influences the player? The expansion "Dark matter spreads over fair land" and my continiued work is all about creating large scale visual events that the playes can experience in the game.
Dark matter actually spreading over the land as it gets dominated

Let me give you an example. If you have played Love you may have experienced artillery strikes, and you may think of them as just another weapons. To me they are much more then that, they are "quests". What they do is that they provide the player with the motivation of a problem (Hell raining down on them) but also what they need to solve it. The artillery leaves clear trails in the sky to lead the players to the position of the artillery peace so that they can go deal with it. Most games would have a old man with a exclamation mark over his head, or a female voice in your ear, that precedes to give you some scripted spiel about how you need to go kill some goblins, Nazis or whatever to save the village, despite the fact that they have been killed by hundreds of thousands of players before you or that no matter how long you wait to kill them, the village will never be attacked. the artillery on the other hand does all that, but without using words, by being a real event.

Power beams are also used the same way. If item A is giving you a problem, and it is clearly getting the power it needs to operate from object B, no one needs to tell the player its good idea to go and disrupt B. Its an Implicit mission.

Just like artillery uses the sky to draw a directions for the player, many other items in Love uses the sky as a canvas to give players information, like the beams coming out of powerwells and occupation monoliths or the cloud of domination.

For all the major pivot points in the story, I have made sure that their effect is something near global. These are the events that all players should be aware of. In a large scale world you want events to have a global impact, because you don't want players to be able to ignore things just because the happen some place far away.

Will trigger a rain storm a that will eventually flood the entire world, causing all power sources under watter to stop functioning.

The Planet will stop turning and half the planet will be in perpetual darkness, and the other half will be in eternal sunshine. The bright side will be ravaged by wild fires, while watter will freeze, trees will die and power wells will stop producing power on the dark side.

All cable relays will stop operating. (Yeah, I know it doesn't sound as epic, but its a big deal for any player trying to automate matter gathering)

The occupying tribe will get access to the massive artillery peace in the red settlement and will begin shelling players in its hemisphere.

The occupying tribe will be given access to balloons so that they can attack the player from the air.

All these things should be noticeable even if you missed the event that caused them. I'm planning to strengthen the clarity of each of these and even give them some effects that can be to the players advantage.

Bring clarity to a game like Love is a huge amount of work because its something that has to be added everywhere. Bullets has to travel slow enough for you to dodge them, character designs changes depending on a tribes state, Laser sights tells players where direct hit weapons are aiming, the map gives players the ability to foresee events, and so on. You cant add anything without thinking about how to make it clear to the player and that very often means you have to scale down your ambitions, and simplify things.
The map showing to location of the artifact and the spreading domination.

One thing to notice is that none of these involve characters. While characters may be the basic building block of most stories, they simply don't work well in this setting because they are so local, mobile and fragile. Instead I have made each settlement a "character". Having many tribe members in one place makes them easier to find, and it matters less if one or two of them gets "lost" and the players don't have to manage as many relationships as each tribe works as a hive mind having a shared opinion of you.

Adding clarity, is a constant battle between making things familiar and yet innovative, complex yet easy to understand, clear yet integrated in the fiction. All the things that make Love a challenging game to understand, like the large world, the shared progress, the multiplayer aspects, and the evolving world, are also the things that makes it great. The difficulty is to keep the good things while making it more inviting for people to come and experience it.

  • Comments(12)

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Posted by genesis Sun, September 09, 2012 21:41:03

Hi dude! I just want to know how can i play with this game? I downloaded the client and i run that but i can make only account, login, exit. How can i play freely to try this game? Thankies

Posted by Ruber Eaglenest Sun, September 09, 2012 13:05:22

Man, you need a layer of sound to support all that feedback. You have the correct ideas to improve the game, but without sound, most of that events will go unnoticed. Good luck!

Posted by eobet Sat, September 08, 2012 11:34:11

Oh, and the blue text displays that pop up by objects... I didn't see an explanation and they weren't intuitive enough to explain themselves.But that would have only been an issue if I'd had paid for it. Now that it's free, I can't complain. I'm just noting a design issue (the text was difficult to read as well, which generally goes for the entire UI).

Posted by eobet Sat, September 08, 2012 11:32:17

I saw the news on RPS about this going free and decided to try it.Apparently, someone on my server decided to stand and shoot anyone who spawned repeatedly.That, coupled with the message that a tribe was using balloons which didn't go away didn't make this a good first impression.

Posted by Chicortiz Tue, August 28, 2012 15:18:36

@Mr Frosty and Apelsinov:


Please don't forget to check Love's tutorial over here, its a bit old but still covers the basics pretty well: You could join us on TeamSpeak ( or you could contact me at g mail, using my nickname. We could also use to schedule some matches. We usually play during the weekend. I test the client every day 7:00 am and 7:00 pm GMT. ;)



Posted by Apelsinov Thu, August 23, 2012 19:29:08

Hi, your game is difficult for new players - because there are no tutorial. Nobody know what to do and how to do different things. This game has big potencial!

Posted by mr. frosty Thu, August 23, 2012 03:20:49

Where I come from its called show and tell. You show something then explain it neither is good enough on its own for someone who is clueless and frustrated.

Listen you simply have to hold hands at least in the beginning or you lose too many people to frustration.

As I play a game I find things about it i like, these are the things keeping me playing when I find something I don't like. hope I find the good things before the bad or I'm not going to keep playing.

I tried the demo but it is useless as no one else plays, you cannot solo. I start out with water and walls everywhere next to impossible to navigate, I know I can edit them somehow, only because the system informed me there is an edit tool when enemy found one. only how do I find tools? are they drops from mobs is there a place I can find them? if I was on a populated server I would ask and be TOLD by someone who spent alot of (unfun) time looking. there are things that simply need to be told or I spend too much time looking in vain and losing interest all the while.

Posted by jok13 Fri, July 27, 2012 23:52:13

i played "love"..3 y ago. it was amazing! THANK YOU!

now download demo :3

Posted by chicortiz Wed, June 20, 2012 00:14:49

@Easy Moon: don't forget that the Love demo is now free! And demo mode has almost everything like the paid version ;)

Posted by sinoth Mon, June 18, 2012 18:42:00

I respect your commitment to "show don't tell". Teaching the player without UI or audio shortcuts is extremely hard to get right. It's understandable why many modern games go the route of constant telling, as it is an easier task and one gamers are being trained to expect. As developers we need to constantly be asking ourselves, do we need this tutorial text? Do we need these UI elements? Must the player be spoon fed or can we trust in their ability to learn?Thank you for fighting the good fight!

Posted by pinguiniv Mon, June 18, 2012 17:32:23

This is truly awesome!

Posted by Easy Mon, June 18, 2012 16:49:30

I haven't played Love since 2010, but I find myself pining for it when I read these updates... I should still have a few hours left on my account. Mmm.