Cheats

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by ggambett, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,982
    Likes Received:
    6
    I'm implementing cheat codes for testing and debugging purposes in Betty's Beer Bar, and I started to wonder... do you have cheat codes in your games? What's the point? Do people ask for them? Do you implement them and then "leak" them somehow, or let users with lots and lots of time find them? I'd like to hear your opinion about this.
     
  2. Robert Cummings

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    1,155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Doesn't make any difference to sales IMHO, and it will just slow you down. Use for debugging or if your game is truely hardcore and needs them.
     
  3. kerchen

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think cheats and easter eggs can potentially make you game more fun and can even help word-of-mouth advertising of your game. For example, if you had an easter egg in BBB that, say, turns Betty into a cross-dressing man, you'd probably attract some extra attention to your game (though in this example it maybe not the kind of attention you *want* necessarily, but you get the idea). However, I'm opposed to cheats that let the player win more easily. I understand that if a player wants to cheat they should be able to, but I think enabling cheating reduces the value of your game. Why? Because, looking back on a game months after playing it, most people (I suspect) will probably only have a vague memory of the game. Which would you rather have: someone who tells their friends "I played it for a few hours and then used some cheats to get to the end," or "I played it for a weeks on end because I wanted to get to the end?" By enabling your players to fast-forward to the end, you've made it easier for them to forget your game. Just my two bits; I'm sure others will have diametrically opposing views. :)
     
  4. Savant

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Messages:
    1,674
    Likes Received:
    0
    That starts to smell of designer ego, however. Just because it wouldn't be satisfying for YOU to warp to the end doesn't mean it wouldn't be for someone else. To rebutt your statements - which would you rather have: "I had a great time playing this game" or "This game was really hard so I gave up"?

    Personally, I love cheats in games. I don't want them handed to me but if I go searching on the web and find a code that helps me get past a certain level that I'm having trouble with my experience goes from "annoyance and putting the game on the shelf/uninstalling" to "continuing on with the rest of the game and having fun".

    Whenever designers start to impose their own visions on how people "should" be playing their games, I get a little antsy. Get out of my way, let me have fun.
     
  5. Spaceman Spiff

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cheat Codes (and related: Easter Eggs) have taken on a life of their own in the games industry. If you are working on a AAA title, you'll find that "cheat codes" are strongly expected of your game.

    The usage of them I heard sited most often is to let reviewers go through the game and see all of the content without having the (insane sometimes) skills necessary to go through it the legal way. The next most often sited reason I've heard is that "all our competitors have them!" .. i.e. the keeping up with the Jones effect and making it another bullet point on the feature list.

    In any case, the buying public of console and PC games has come to expect them, which is reason enough to consider them.

    That said, I don't think they belong at all in many of the casual or indie games. to argue: what sort of cheat would make sense in Bejewelled? To allow illegal moves? Do that once, and the player loses much of the compulsion to go on.

    As for a 2d-shooter with an insanely hard end-level boss? maybe yes so players won't get frustrated and just walk away from the game. But if that's the case, I would think it a problem with the game's design (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault: Sniper Town, I am looking at you!)

    For a better idea than a cheat code in such a situation, look at Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 -- if you get killed at the same point 3 times, on checkpoint reload, the game pops up a message box saying "Life isn't fair, but a game doesn't have to be -- want to restore to full health?" letting the player choose to temporarily make it a bit easier so they can move on. The scope is limited and the player doesn’t think they actually invoked a cheat code.

    The line can get blurred with easter eggs, as often they are invoked with the same mechanisms as a cheat code that effects game play, such as “display secret credits†vs. “kill all opponentsâ€. One has Zero impact on the game, the other 100% impact. It gets further blurred with bonus content such as the ED-207 Robot (from Robocop) in Age of Empires: fun, frivolous, but obviously not part of the Bronze age. Is that a cheat, easter egg, or combo? I’m not sure what to call it.

    Back to the question at hand:

    Yes, I implement a cheat code system, and also include a bunch of “developer build only†stuff such as a mechanism for changing critical runtime variables on the fly.

    I also want to include out-and out easter eggs, as well as bonus content (that doesn’t take much effort) to reward people who spend time with the game.
     
  6. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    For what it's worth, my wife plays very few games if she can't cheat. She enjoys cheating because she doesn't really like the challenge, but she does like the play. She likes the "power" she feels from conquering a game, even if she didn't do it fairly. If the author is adamant about leaving out cheats, perhaps a "Super Easy" mode might suffice. But a game designer is not the player's "opponent". Don't forget about the popularity of Snood, which removed all the challenging aspects of Puzzle Bobble!

    "I challenge you to achieve, I encourage you when you fail. I lay the traps… but I also provide the clues that the traps are there. As my customer, your entertainment is my responsibility. Sometimes I am your guide, sometimes your opponent, sometimes your mentor. Above all else, it is my role to see to it that you enjoy yourself. If my game does not give you pleasure, then I have failed." (From "What Kind of Designer are You?")
     
  7. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,982
    Likes Received:
    6
    ????? :confused:
     
  8. papillon

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    2,193
    Likes Received:
    0
    A special 'I quit' command that forfeits the current game but does a REALLY SPECIAL SHINY visual effect in the process.

    I suppose this counts more as an easter egg really, though.

    A cheat command in Bejewelled that made the game play itself would be entertaining, but might need to be available only in the finished product. It could damage the compellingness of the demo if you could just sit back and watch, but 'screensaver mode' can be a cute thing to have, and should be easy to implement in a puzzle game like that which already has computer 'hints' programmed in.
     
  9. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Considering they take so little time to implement then you may as well put them in. They've been in games for years to give a title a second wind once sales start declining - usually leaked by the publisher. Working for Hasbro they insisted their games have cheat codes.

    Once a game has been out for a while they get the cheats published in a magazine and create a little bit more coverage. This wouldn't quite work the same way with the internet but it can't hurt can it?

    You can always release them to cheat websites, in your newsletter, reward them for completing tasks in the game, display them in small text for people to find and discover.

    If it helps make your game better then it will increase sales.
     
  10. HairyTroll

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    582
    Likes Received:
    0
    There are two ways of looking at it.

    Take Grand Tourismo for example; For some hardcore gamers, the thrill comes from spending countless hours attempting to unlock the next car. Normal people just want to race the damn Ferrari already.
     
  11. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    Uhm... that's 1 way, just for the record. ;) However, since cheats are optional, the inclusion in games creates a multi-faceted approach to the gaming.
     
  12. Dingo Games

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gran Turismo has that "B-Spec" mode now which is sort of like cheating because you can just leave the game on and make money. But it is part of the game and doesn't really feel like cheating.


    In my game, Laser Dolphin, there are tons of unlockable cheats. Some make the game easier but a lot of just for fun (giant dolphin, flying dolphin, enemies run away, etc.). But when you have turned on the cheat codes, beating levels doesn't count - it doesn't get recorded in your stats. So the player still has motivation for playing the game without cheat codes. There are also "type-in" style cheats which are good to give to reviewers.

    There are also cheats in my other game Jack of All Trades. This is a space trading game where you must always earn money to get the next bigger ship. I really think that using certain cheats in this game ruin the game.. e.g. getting infinite money. Sometimes people ask me for the cheats. I usually try to provide them with a way to win without using cheats.. and also give them the cheats.

    I don't know about the "designer ego" thing, but I know that in the past I have used cheats and afterwards regretted because the game wasn't fun anymore. I think this is true for games which rely on exploration or discovering new things.. if you cheat and see everything then you don't feel the urge to play any more.

    Although cheats would also be good for testing things during development, I usually don't end up putting them in until the game is almost done. :rolleyes:
     
  13. iopred

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Heli Attack 3 launched with a 'cheat' area in the menu where you can type in cheats. From the amount of email I have received in 2 weeks, I highly recommend not doing it that way. As it stands I receive 5 or more emails an hour, a scary thing to wake up to every morning.

    Edit: This is in addition to the fact the full list of codes is online.

    Next game, it will be an unlock system, where completing a bunch of high difficulty challenges unlock them for free, or doing it like 'Lego Starwars' where you can simply purchase your cheats from a vendor with collected coins. Additionally, cheats that do things like progress levels, give infinite health etc. should be left as hidden key combos, and if these affect gameplay, should dissalow the player from submitting a score for the remainder of that game.

    Finally, it is scary just how many people want to cheat, I was blown away.
     
    #13 iopred, Jun 30, 2005
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2005
  14. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    Incidentally, she has yet to ask about any cheats for Betty's Beer Bar! ;)
     
  15. mahlzeit

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2004
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    1
    The other day I was playing a bunch of C64 games on the emulator. All of them had trainers added to them by crackers (har har). This got me to thinking: you might as well put in the trainer yourself and give players the option: play with trainer (infinite lives, invincibility, etc) or go for a hiscore.
     
  16. soniCron

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    0
    That would make it a "cheat". ;) Trainers are designed to modify the memory of a program to afford the player extra functionality that wasn't originally intended by the developer (usually in the form of invincibility, infinite money, and the like).
     
  17. mahlzeit

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2004
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    1
    Duh. But it's not a cheat that's hidden and that you have to go lookup on the net. It's right there in your face. ;)
     
  18. kerchen

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey, I agree with you. I'm not at all concerned about cheats from a design standpoint. If a player wants to play the game differently from how the designer intended, so be it--it's their game to play how they want (with the notable exception of multiplayer games--allowing cheating in those games usually destroys the game unless there's a mechanism to alert other players to a player's use of a cheat). All I'm saying is that, from a business/marketing standpoint, the presence of cheats in a game *could* reduce the lifetime of that game. If I find a game too difficult, I lose interest in that game pretty quickly regardless of whether or not there are cheats. By giving the player the option of fast-forwarding through the game, one is also giving them the option of fast-forwarding through the period of time when they might mention the game to other people. Of course this is all just speculation and opinion. ;)
     
  19. Savant

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Messages:
    1,674
    Likes Received:
    0
    And it could extend it as well. I know there are several games I would have stopped playing if I couldn't have found a cheat to get past some stupidly hard level or puzzle.

    But yeah, I think we agree. :)
     
  20. C_Coder

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2004
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    0
    I did need to get into the game fast for testing so I had to make some kind of control panel. I did one of those quake style consoles. Then I said, why not just leave it there in the release version? You can make many things in it especialy since I use the lua scripting engine and anything you type is parsed by the engine for maximum customization. :D

    I quite like it and I agree on having cheats especially when you cannot get through the game and you want to know what you paid for ;)
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer