Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Discussion about MARP's regulation play

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kranser
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Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:20 pm

I have posted on this before, but I have now analysed this further and would like opinions on my findings.

Some racing games (i.e. Outrunners buggy boy) and maze games (i.e. Camel Try) have different routes are these routes are recognised by MARP as
MARP splits the high score depending on the route taken.
Additionally, MARP also allows splits for some games based on difficulty (i.e. the Beatmania games, Fire Fox, G-LOC Air Battle, Pang 3)

Now, these Puzzle Bobble-style games - pbobble2, pbobble3, pbobble4, spuzzbob, popnpop (except for pbobble), allow the user to select from
a wide-range of routes (each route gives a unique set of screens to clear). While it is not a rule, it is generally the case that the left-hand
fork of a path leads to an easier level than the right-hand fork of a path.
I.e. for Puzzle Bobble games the easiest route is usually A-C-F-J-O-U, and the most difficult route is usually B-E-I-N-T-Z;
and for popnpop, the easiest route would be A-B-D-G-K, whereas the most difficult route would be A-C-F-J-O.

Additionally Puzzle Bobble 4 and Pop'n'Pop have difficulties (Normal or Hard) for the Puzzle Mode.
In Puzzle Bobble 4, if the user selects the 'Hard' difficulty, the puzzles are usually the same as the normal mode, except that extra bubbles are added, and the
screens have been tweaked to make them more difficult.
In Pop 'n' Pop, some of the normal and hard stages follow the Puzzle Bobble 4 style (of making the normal level more difficult) - whereas some hard stages are completely different to the normal stage.
[Note: Pop 'n' Pop even has a separate high score table for Normal and Hard mode - the Puzzle Bobble games do not].

MARP doesn't treat the Puzzle Bobble-style games fairly, as users cannot compete based on either route or difficulity (as per other games in MARP).
There seems to be two goals for Puzzle Bobble games: challenge or points. The highest points can be obtained through the Easy route [A-C-F-J-O-U] (especially when using the drop-building techniques) - while it is more difficult to get points via the most difficult route [B-E-I-N-T-Z] as there is less opportunity to buildup bubbles to 'drop'. Therefore, anyone who does play the harder routes in MARP is penalised - as MARP is based on points and not challenge-factor).

I would like to propose a solution to this problem as follows:
Of course, we cannot split Puzzle Bobble based on the different routes (as there are far to many!); however, what can be done (and this will handle the route and difficulty factor) is as follows:
Have a split for Puzzle Mode games called -hd (hard/difficult), this split will have special rules that the player must follow the hardest route (B-E-I-N-T-Z) and that they must choose the Hard difficulty
(if available - i.e. for pbobble4 and popnpop).

BBH has indicated (when discussing the possible tgm2 splits) that having a separate high score table is one reason for a split - and popnpop (at least) does have a separate high score table for Normal and Hard modes.

Do others think that this idea is necessary, and do-able?

Thanks for listening,
Kranser.

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Chad
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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by Chad » Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:14 pm

On a general topic I think the traffic here is so light that we need to spice things up a bit. As a avid watcher of any forms of a game, I really like the idea of archiving as many splits as possible, because many times a game can become one track minded, i.e. the easiest most scoringest selection is made if there is any selection allowed. But I dislike the idea of having to many splits since it becomes unwieldy, mainly for PL and the site itself. I would hope everyone would want a site where you could upload any format of everygame, marp just cant be that site right now.

Thinking about puzzle bobble, i would also like to see different paths uploaded, but I think PL would be worked to the bone if i had to enumerate all possible paths and add them as splits. The argument to having splits other than it's hard to maintain is that why don't "you" upload it to the message board? well it's just not the same, uploading doesn't get rank, there is no competition, etc.

my minimal thoughts, hopefully i can think of more later.
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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by Phil Lamat » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:01 am

kranser wrote:spuzzbob
??? not in Mame to my knowledge

Concerning routes, number is 2^5=32 routes.
Too much for split, and I don't see why one (BEINTZ) and not others.
Let's play the one which gives more points.
You can blame (like me) programmers who didn't make all levels to be played in a single game.
Puzznic is another example.

Concerning diff, I'm more hesitating, especially where it can be selected on start screen (Mamescore have those splits though, if you want to play this way)

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by mahlemiut » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:32 am

Super Puzzle Bobble will be in a future MAME version (probably soon after 0.130), as it will require a change to the CHD format (better to do it at the beginning of a cycle rather than near the end). Yes, you'll need to update all your CHDs. ;)
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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:39 am

Phil Lamat wrote:
kranser wrote:spuzzbob
??? not in Mame to my knowledge
Hopefully, as mahlemuit has already said, Super Puzzle Bobble will make an appearance in 0.130.
Phil Lamat wrote: Concerning routes, number is 2^5=32 routes.
Too much for split, and I don't see why one (BEINTZ) and not others.
Let's play the one which gives more points.
You can blame (like me) programmers who didn't make all levels to be played in a single game.
Puzznic is another example.
Thanks - I forgot about Puzznic.

Well, the reason for picking BEINTZ is that logically this should be the most difficult route, and as we cannot have all 32 routes split (that would be far too much!), it made sense to at least give the player the option of choosing the normal pbobble3.inp, or a more challenging pbobble3-hd.inp, where they were forced to follow the most difficult route and hopefully open up a more challenging gameplay.

Another idea I've had, is that even though the 32 routes is too many to split, maybe we can split based on the 7 end stages U, V, W, X, ?, Y, Z - and the player can get to that end stage via any route they choose- that would give more variety to the gameplay.

It just frustrates me that Puzzle game players have more limited gameplay choices (as they are better of playing the less challenging levels) than games of other genres.
This is especially true of popnpop (hard mode), where it is easy to leech during the normal mode play - but a lot more difficult to leech during the hard mode. Additionally, in Puzzle Bobble 3 players often skip the levels where the level plays as one scrolling round (instead of 5 separate rounds) - as these levels cannot be leeched on.

Kranser.

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by mahlemiut » Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:36 pm

kranser wrote:Hopefully, as mahlemuit has already said, Super Puzzle Bobble will make an appearance in 0.130.
It'll be after 0.130 (which is due out this week). So most of you will be waiting for 0.131.
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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:05 pm

mahlemiut wrote:
kranser wrote:Hopefully, as mahlemuit has already said, Super Puzzle Bobble will make an appearance in 0.130.
It'll be after 0.130 (which is due out this week). So most of you will be waiting for 0.131.
So you don't think they will push the CHD changes and the new driver through in the same release - and they will split it across the beta (u) cycle?

By the way - weren't the CHD changes made in 0.129u6? I'm not sure if these were the changes applicable for G-Net or not.

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by mahlemiut » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:55 pm

I guess, since the change requires all CHDs to be updated, they feel it'd be better to do it at the start of a new cycle, rather than at the end. All I see in u6 was something about flags for metadata checksums, which currently do nothing.
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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:59 pm

mahlemiut wrote:I guess, since the change requires all CHDs to be updated, they feel it'd be better to do it at the start of a new cycle, rather than at the end. All I see in u6 was something about flags for metadata checksums, which currently do nothing.
Yes - that's what I was referring to. I was wondering if that was for G-Net - I guess not (if there's another CHD change to come!)

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by ***PL*** » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:04 am

Kranser raises some good points, but one thing that has been not discussed is DEMAND. If only a couple of people want special rules for a specific hard course, then why bother?

My initial reaction is that the pbobble programmers blew it. They created more difficult routes but did not increase the points awarded for completing those stages.

Part of gaming has always been for players to figure out which methods give you maximum points -- there is no better measure -- unless you want to independently challenge yourself, which in turn improves your skills on the pre-determined "best path".

I think a good compromise would be to have only ONE additional course, in effect an "easy" course which already exists, and the suggested "hard" solution. However, as Phil had mentioned, these would extend to several games beyond the pbobble series.

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by Haze » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:27 pm

kranser wrote:
mahlemiut wrote:I guess, since the change requires all CHDs to be updated, they feel it'd be better to do it at the start of a new cycle, rather than at the end. All I see in u6 was something about flags for metadata checksums, which currently do nothing.
Yes - that's what I was referring to. I was wondering if that was for G-Net - I guess not (if there's another CHD change to come!)

Kranser.
The CHD format is being changed specifically to accommodate the needs of Gnet, and to correct the past mistake of not hashing the metadata. Chances are it, and the Gnet support will be added in 130u1, although there are some lingering issues with the PSX emulation.

Note, that Gnet requires the games to flash, like CPS3 and Raiden Fighters (although it's much quicker, about 20seconds unthrottled to 300% speed and the games boot straight to game without reset)

http://www.mameitalia.net/index.php?s=& ... t&p=146761 screenshots for the bored ;-)

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:40 pm

Thanks Haze on the 50 spuzbobl screenshots - glad you got some of the chak'n cut scenes included.

Thanks for unofficially letting us know when we might expect to see the changes too.

Kranser.
Last edited by kranser on Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:55 pm

***PL*** wrote: Kranser raises some good points, but one thing that has been not discussed is DEMAND. If only a couple of people want special rules for a specific hard course, then why bother?
I agree that demand would play a factor if for example we were adding many splits, but for adding one extra split for hard mode (and that split could even just be on the parent (Euro region?) of the game if demand was really an issue) I wouldn't consider demand to be an issue, as there are some unknown factors:
A) Would the -hard versions (with added "challenge" factor) attract more players (old players coming out of the woodwork and brand new players wanting a challenge!)
B) Current demand has no bearing on possible future demand!
***PL*** wrote: My initial reaction is that the pbobble programmers blew it. They created more difficult routes but did not increase the points awarded for completing those stages.
I'd agree with you there - especially as the levels appear to be laid out in a logical order of difficulty (easier on the left and harder on the right). Well - seeing that having a different high score table for each route would be very confusing - so Taito couldn't have done that, I'd agree that extra points for completing the difficult levels would certainly change the challenge factor of the Puzzle Bobble games.
***PL*** wrote: Part of gaming has always been for players to figure out which methods give you maximum points -- there is no better measure -- unless you want to independently challenge yourself, which in turn improves your skills on the pre-determined "best path".
True - however for Puzzle Bobble and for Popnpop especially, the best path for points is always straight down the left-hand side! So not much to figure out really!
***PL*** wrote: I think a good compromise would be to have only ONE additional course, in effect an "easy" course which already exists, and the suggested "hard" solution. However, as Phil had mentioned, these would extend to several games beyond the pbobble series.
Agreed. So what games should MARP consider adding a -hard mode for? pbobble2, pbobble3, pbobble4, spuzbobl, popnpop, puzznic?

Kranser.

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by Phil Lamat » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:00 am

Super Puzzle Bobble has still puzzle and vs mode, but another debate to come :
http://mamedev.emulab.it/haze/misc/spuzbobl/0013.png

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Re: Please reconsider splits on puzzle bobble-style games

Post by kranser » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:44 am

Phil Lamat wrote:Super Puzzle Bobble has still puzzle and vs mode, but another debate to come :
http://mamedev.emulab.it/haze/misc/spuzbobl/0013.png
And also this: http://mamedev.emulab.it/haze/misc/spuzbobl/0035.png!

http://mamedev.emulab.it/haze/misc/spuzbobl/0036.png shows the normal route selection, but http://mamedev.emulab.it/haze/misc/spuzbobl/0035.png indicates that several courses are available (maybe in the same way as in racing games?!).

Kranser.

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