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Topic: Emphasizing Strategy in Pikmin 3

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Tainy

1. Posted:

For minimal reading, just read the bold text.
I can imagine Nintendo reintroducing strategy in Pikmin 3 in the following ways:

1) A Single Goal with Limited Days to Complete
This would be something just like Pikmin. The player has to complete a goal within a set number of days or the player fails the game.

2) Micro-Goals each with Limited Days to Complete
This would be like Pikmin but in chunks, so that the player would never have to restart the entire game. For example, say the player has to collect 5000 Pokos worth of treasure in 5 days, and player fails to meet the goal within the deadline. Now, instead of losing the whole game, the player just reverts back 5 days. This is comparable to a game over in Mario. When you get a game over, you don't actually start the whole game over (anymore). You just go back to the last castle or fort you completed.

3) Far Away Tasks and More Comprehensive Explorative Level Design
This would be like Pikmin 2 in some ways, but the player would be challenged to accomplish tasks farther away from the ship and onions within the day limit. If placed far enough away, some tasks would be impossible to accomplish if the player is too slow, especially if coupled with soft resets.

4) Soft Resets
In this scenario, if the player isn't timely, stuff will start to reset in levels (like bridges being eaten in the earlier games), setting the player back to square one for the given task. This could be like obstacles and enemies reappearing and treasures reverting to their original places. These conditions would not have to be the same on every level. Some of the later levels could undoubtedly be harder.

5) A Single Goal with Unlimited Days to Complete but a Challenge Mode for Strategy Seekers
This would basically be like Pikmin 2.

I tend to think of all games as on a scale. At one end is pure strategy and at the other is pure action. So I think of games as some combination of strategy, tactics, and execution (ie. action).  

To be clear, strategy is the steps one takes to victory, whereas tactics are how one actually carries out those steps.  There is sort of a hierarchy: goal→strategy→tactics→execution.  So in Pikmin, the goal is to get all the ship parts or treasures. The strategy is "today I will get this item, kill these enemies, and avoid that really big thing."  The tactics are how many of each unit type you will use to fight those enemies, how many of each unit types you will spare for each task, how you will time your pikmin throws, and how efficiently you can move around (and I mean the decisions in accomplishing that not the actions themselves).  Execution is your ability to control Olimar's abilities and do what you mean to do.  

In actuality, there are very few pure strategy games that operate in realtime.  The fact that it's in real time dictates some degree of tactics and execution.  Side-scrollers (like Mario) are generally great examples of games featuring very little strategy (if any), limited tactics (if any, but usually at least a tiny bit), and a heavy focus on execution—not really about thinking analytically.  Shooters (like Halo) feature limited strategy but tons of both tactics (to play well anyway) and execution.  Most turn based games and board games will feature next to no execution play.  Ultimately, it's very hard to create a game that doesn't feature some degree of strategy, tactics, and execution as part of the play.  

Strategy and tactics are all about analysis and decisions (motivated by prospect of victory). Strategy tends to be more about logistics, economics, and ability all on a macro scale, not just of self, but also of the adversarial forces. Tactics seems to be more of the same on a micromanagement level. Both tactics and strategy can seem pretty similar, which is where the distinction of action and strategy derives. When many people talk about strategy, without realizing it, they are actually talking about both tactics and strategy.

If one eliminates all decision making components (which is only possible in mental theoretical conception, not the real world), you are left with only execution/action, and it's in the realm of execution that most modern games differentiate themselves as various action games. I mean action in a very pure sense, not necessarily as many have come to regard action games a a genre (in this way, racing games and many sports games are action games too; it depends on the adventure game; some RPGs can be weird in terms of being a true/pure game). Execution is the action of video games. I think of execution play being a combination of reflex, and reaction (and exploration sometimes, and I don't mean virtual world exploration. However, sometimes I feel exploration is more of a decision process or goal—it could just depend on circumstances) (motivated by stimulation).

It's pretty foolish to assert that Pikmin has no strategy (especially Pikmin), so I guess the argument is really about just how strategically comprehensive and difficult Pikmin truly is as well as how similarly it is structured to games in the various strategy genres.  Pikmin impresses me for featuring vast qualities of video games abroad simultaneously and largely equally. For a game to feature strategy heavily, complex and/or varied decisions need to be available to the player all at one time. Most games accomplish that by introducing multiple units, as Pikmin does, but Pikmin is unique in some other ways.

In Pikmin, the player is tasked with making most efficient use of time to collect as many ship parts as possible. To maximize strategy, the player must balance unit creation (and loss), unit management (nectar, candypop buds, exchanging units at the onions), enemy engagement, travel, obstacle confrontation, and part collecting within the same broad timeframe. The player must develop tactics to defeat the various enemies, anticipate necessary unit numbers, divide tasks among various groups of pikmin efficiently, avoid and confront obstacles and attacks, and keeping track of units, their tasks and their movement. (To execute those tactics, the player must be able to control Olimar efficiently, throw pikmin quickly and in correct number, respond to and anticipate enemies in adequate time.)

Pikmin quite clearly meets the criteria for being a strategic game. The questions now are how difficult is the strategic thinking process and how varied are strategic alternatives (there are many different ways to approach most highly strategic games). In these ways, I would argue that Pikmin is not so highly strategic, but obviously still strategic. Strategy in Pikmin is not layered. It's not like chess where every decision adds a layer of complexity to the game. Pikmin is very consistent in its relatively strategical simplicity. In Pikmin, any strategy the player devises (and there aren't a great number one can devise in the first place) is likely to be a working one. It's just a matter of being able to execute that strategy through sound tactics, which themselves are similar in that there are typically only one or two sound tactics to any given scenario. This is all quite different from a game like chess for example, in which there are tons of different strategies to adopt, and, against a sufficient player, not just any strategy will work. Pitting the player against a largely static environment rather than a competing adversary also limits Pikmin's strategic propensity. That actually makes Pikmin a puzzle game in many aspects.

Pikmin 2 is much less strategic because of the removal of an ultimate time constraint. Pikmin 2 does not punish the player for doing a single task at a time. This virtually eliminates Pikmin's entire strategic element. Pikmin 2 is entirely about tactics and execution, while strategy is now optional. By that I mean that strategy is in no way needed to accomplish the game's goal, but using strategy will still expedite the speed at which you accomplish that goal. However, I think Nintendo was well aware of this, as the Challenge Mode, which reintroduces a (much tighter) time constraint, does reintroduce strategy as a necessary component to accomplish the goal. In fact, some of Pikmin 2's Challenge Arenas are extremely difficult, though some only call only for better tactics and execution to meet the time.

Overall, I think Pikmin operates more on a tactical and operational level, than on a strategic level, though it definitely still has some level of a strategic component.

Comparing Pikmin to a typical realtime strategy game, there are actually a number of similarities. While many think of Pikmin as a third person game (and it ultimately is), just imagine that Olimar wasn't there for a moment. What does Pikmin look like now? It looks a lot like a realtime strategy game in which you control a single swarm and throw units at your cursor with a button press. You also have units, both on the map and in storage, a map, and management of both tasks and resources. Pikmin clearly has some pretty big things in common with realtime strategy games. Pikmin is different too though, largely in the scale of those elements. Pikmin simplifies the typical realtime strategy game elements so that it can perfect the action of the game. Pikmin actually plays more like an action game, which is quite different. Pikmin is clearly not a typical realtime strategy game, but it is in realtime and does incorporate strategy and tactics, so I'm not sure quite where Pikmin falls in regards to that genre.

Edited on by Tainy

Tainy

3DS Friend Code: 0860-3388-5483 | Nintendo Network ID: Tainy_Tonner

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Chrono_Cross

2. Posted:

Where am I?

Digitally Downloaded.
PlayStation Network: JosephDigital
"I'm just a musical prostitute, my dear." - Freddie Mercury

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Tainy

3. Posted:

Chrono_Cross wrote:

Where am I?

Do you mean there is too much to read? I will bold the most important text. I did end up rambling on a little bit, but it is relevant.

EDIT: Ok, I've got it bolded now.

Edited on by Tainy

Tainy

3DS Friend Code: 0860-3388-5483 | Nintendo Network ID: Tainy_Tonner

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PloXyZeRO

4. Posted:

I think one thing that would really make players more cautious is if the game didn't save on every sublevel in a hole. You could easily just reset the game if too many Pikmin died, and you could start over. If they removed that feature, it would make the game much more challenging, and the player would get one chance to plan a strategy

I've actually been playing Pikmin 2 without resetting the game at all, and it's a LOT harder, but that makes it more interesting for me
It's just really annoying if too many purples or whites die because they can take a while to obtain

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3DS Friend Code: 3325-2132-3153 | Nintendo Network ID: PloXyZeRO | Twitter: ContraParadox

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Tainy

5. Posted:

PloXyZeRO wrote:

I think one thing that would really make players more cautious is if the game didn't save on every sublevel in a hole. You could easily just reset the game if too many Pikmin died, and you could start over. If they removed that feature, it would make the game much more challenging, and the player would get one chance to plan a strategy

I've actually been playing Pikmin 2 without resetting the game at all, and it's a LOT harder, but that makes it more interesting for me
It's just really annoying if too many purples or whites die because they can take a while to obtain

Personally, I would like to see a return to focusing on the over-world (or just level as it's not actually an over-world in Pikmin) instead of caves. I find the caves both aesthetically and geographically bland (there is only so much you can authentically do underground). Also, caves, along with their unlimited time, remove any incentive for the player to multi-task, which is where almost all strategy is derived in Pikmin. The goal of getting all treasures with minimal loss is approached one task at a time without any great need to think ahead. This ultimately stresses tactics over strategy which is basically what my original post was about moving away from.

Tainy

3DS Friend Code: 0860-3388-5483 | Nintendo Network ID: Tainy_Tonner

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ShadJV

6. Posted:

Tainy wrote:

PloXyZeRO wrote:

I think one thing that would really make players more cautious is if the game didn't save on every sublevel in a hole. You could easily just reset the game if too many Pikmin died, and you could start over. If they removed that feature, it would make the game much more challenging, and the player would get one chance to plan a strategy

I've actually been playing Pikmin 2 without resetting the game at all, and it's a LOT harder, but that makes it more interesting for me
It's just really annoying if too many purples or whites die because they can take a while to obtain

Personally, I would like to see a return to focusing on the over-world (or just level as it's not actually an over-world in Pikmin) instead of caves. I find the caves both aesthetically and geographically bland (there is only so much you can authentically do underground). Also, caves, along with their unlimited time, remove any incentive for the player to multi-task, which is where almost all strategy is derived in Pikmin. The goal of getting all treasures with minimal loss is approached one task at a time without any great need to think ahead. This ultimately stresses tactics over strategy which is basically what my original post was about moving away from.

Well what about us that actually enjoyed the caves? Just because you didn't like them doesn't mean no one did, cutting them out is removing a chunk of the gameplay some people really liked.

Feel free to add me on the Nintendo Network: ShadJV
Here's my 3DS FC, always looking for Pokemon X Friend Safaris: 2191-7643-5167
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SCAR392

7. Posted:

This is exactly why I didn't like the 2nd one as much. The time limit, making you plan ahead, and taking things as they come in the first playthrough is what I liked about the first one.
Putting Olimar in a do or die situation was cool.
I'm against the caves, too. They probably figured it would be considered mining, but there wasn't anything truly special about the caves IMO(especially being randomly generated) vs. the actual world that looked better and had more environmental attributes that actually belonged there.

$¢@®³’²

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Tainy

8. Posted:

ShadJV wrote:

Well what about [those of] us that actually enjoyed the caves? Just because you didn't like them doesn't mean no one did, cutting them out is removing a chunk of the gameplay some people really liked.

Just to be clear, I never said that no one likes caves, nor did I say that caves don't have any merits of their own. This is clearly how I feel and perceive it. With that said, I will expound my opinions and observations.

I clearly enjoy the notably more thoughtful gameplay of Pikmin (the first game), and caves are, of all Pikmin 2's features, the second greatest reason for Pikmin 2's lessened strategical elements (the first reason being unlimited days to complete the game). Pikmin was a strategic game because time was limited. With unlimited time, there is virtually no strategy. It becomes less important that the player make the right choice, and more important he simply not mess up whatever choice he does make. That typically results in doing only one task at a time with all or the same group of Pikmin because splitting tasks is only valuable as a time cutting measure, and time has been rendered irrelevant to the goal of the player. Pikmin 2 was almost strictly completely about tactics and execution.

What I'm wondering is what particular things do caves accomplish that a more comprehensive over-world cannot accomplish? The reasons I hear people like caves are typically either challenge (in tactics against enemies) and/or adventure. I don't see why you need caves exclusively to serve either of those qualities. In terms of adventure, I'd ague that caves are actually inferior as a primary focus as they cannot offer as open or as varied environments.

But really, none of that is to say that caves have no place at all. As I've said, I do see that caves have a few merits of their own. For a person who does want more tactical play, I can certainly see why caves might be more fulfilling. Caves also offer unique environments and conditions that are impossible on the surface, which might be a loss if just tossed out.

Also, there is no reason that the nature of caves themselves cannot change. For example, it might be interesting if caves led to other areas and were the only mechanism by which the player unlocked new areas. There are all kinds of possibilities.

If caves do return in a big way like in Pikmin 2, I hope they at least feature puzzles in addition heavy enemy combat.

Tainy

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ShadJV

9. Posted:

Tainy wrote:

ShadJV wrote:

Well what about [those of] us that actually enjoyed the caves? Just because you didn't like them doesn't mean no one did, cutting them out is removing a chunk of the gameplay some people really liked.

Just to be clear, I never said that no one likes caves, nor did I say that caves don't have any merits of their own. This is clearly how I feel and perceive it. With that said, I will expound my opinions and observations.

I clearly enjoy the notably more thoughtful gameplay of Pikmin (the first game), and caves are, of all Pikmin 2's features, the second greatest reason for Pikmin 2's lessened strategical elements (the first reason being unlimited days to complete the game). Pikmin was a strategic game because time was limited. With unlimited time, there is virtually no strategy. It becomes less important that the player make the right choice, and more important he simply not mess up whatever choice he does make. That typically results in doing only one task at a time with all or the same group of Pikmin because splitting tasks is only valuable as a time cutting measure, and time has been rendered irrelevant to the goal of the player. Pikmin 2 was almost strictly completely about tactics and execution.

What I'm wondering is what particular things do caves accomplish that a more comprehensive over-world cannot accomplish? The reasons I hear people like caves are typically either challenge (in tactics against enemies) and/or adventure. I don't see why you need caves exclusively to serve either of those qualities. In terms of adventure, I'd ague that caves are actually inferior as a primary focus as they cannot offer as open or as varied environments.

But really, none of that is to say that caves have no place at all. As I've said, I do see that caves have a few merits of their own. For a person who does want more tactical play, I can certainly see why caves might be more fulfilling. Caves also offer unique environments and conditions that are impossible on the surface, which might be a loss if just tossed out.

Also, there is no reason that the nature of caves themselves cannot change. For example, it might be interesting if caves led to other areas and were the only mechanism by which the player unlocked new areas. There are all kinds of possibilities.

If caves do return in a big way like in Pikmin 2, I hope they at least feature puzzles in addition heavy enemy combat.

I'm sorry if I seemed to attack you in the wording there; I understand your points about the caves and I didn't mean to imply that you were claiming no one likes the caves. I simply meant that Pikmin 2, which focused a lot on caves, brought in new players (as all sequels do), and these players might be turned away if the mechanic was cut entirely. And I'm sure I'm not the only older fan (who got the first game day one) that enjoyed the varied strategy the caves gave. In fact, they helped me stay interested longer, as being careless in the first one can result in rendering the game unbeatable (such as wasting too many days when struggling to beat some enemies fast enough or efficiently). The entire game kept risks high and I never felt a moment of relaxation, I found it very stressful. Yes, I enjoyed it nonetheless but once Pikmin 2 came along and I first entered a cave, I had a moment of relief. I could stop and regroup when necessary, focus on precision, plan each floor separately. Yes, I still had to prepare at the start of a day, since my army would be limited while I was in there. I needed to plan ahead on who to bring with me and had few chances to add to my ranks while on my underground missions. The way the game is played underground is different enough that cutting them entirely removes all traces of the strategies required; it's slower paced yes but it's still requires strategy, even if the risks might not always be as high.

Perhaps there could be compromise though. Pikmin 2 had above ground treasures but I honestly must admit the majority of the time was spent underground. A better balance between the two might be nice. Adding more multitasking requirements underground might help too. Maybe some parts could require an army to split up, and the risk of incoming enemies could require players to switch back and forth between their teams.

Feel free to add me on the Nintendo Network: ShadJV
Here's my 3DS FC, always looking for Pokemon X Friend Safaris: 2191-7643-5167
Peace!