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How vehicle design in game can upgrade player experiences?

by Yongcheng Liu on 06/13/22 11:23:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

In real life, we rely on various types of transportation to help us move quickly. In games, we need to use the corresponding vehicles to achieve this purpose. There are many types of vehicles in-game settings, and they have a high property of independent experience themselves, and can be the core gameplay of simulation games, or racing games.

In this article, I will elaborate on the development history of the user experience of game vehicles and their role in in-game user experience with relevant game cases, hoping to bring some inspiration.

 

1. The development history of the game vehicles/vehicles 

The first appearance of vehicles in games was in shooting games, where players dodge, aim and shoot by driving specific vehicles, emphasizing only the pure shooting pleasure and fun, basically without the consideration of using vehicles and getting a good user experience.

In the racing games that emerged afterward, developers began to consider and achieve better user experience, such as the creation of immersion. The game style began to be divided into two kinds realistic and non-realistic. The realistic ones completely simulate the real environment in terms of game control, action and physical response, giving players a more multi-dimensional immersion; while the non-realistic ones usually pursue the sense of driving speed to the user, with a single sense of immersion.

Then there was the vehicle "simulator" type of simulation games, which simply simulated the mapping of a specific vehicle from the real to the virtual world. And they built a virtual 1:1 model for the study of user experience and interaction design.

 

2. The role of vehicles in game user experience  

So, what role do game vehicles play in the game user experience today?

Switching and balancing game rhythm

If the player's behavior or mode of controlling the character in the game remains a certain form for a long time, it will inevitably make the player feel a certain degree of boredom, and then the role of "vehicle" will be highlighted. By temporarily changing the game rhythm, movement speed or damage, vehicles provide players with the choice to control the game rhythm and gains independently, without affecting the main tone and gameplay of the game. And this mechanism unknowingly allows users to complete the game rhythm conversion and balance in the process of players' independent choice of driving a vehicle or not, which enhances the game experience.

 

Diversify the gameplay and interaction of players in-game

The interactivity and gameplay of game vehicles can enrich the player's experience in the game, and the player has the freedom to control the process, allowing them to explore and create their own mode of playing. Excellent vehicle design can assist the expression of the game worldview, reflect the self-consistency of the game narrative logic, and present the game better to the players.

For example, the mounts in Conqueror’s Blade greatly enrich the gameplay and interaction of players with the game. As an important vehicle on the battlefield, the war horse not only provides faster-marching speed but also expands the combat radius and is the most loyal partner of the warrior. Players on the war horse with different weapons of horse combat skills to battle, and they can drive the war horse trample, and hit the enemies as well.

There are various types of war horses in Conqueror’s Blade, and players will have different characteristics depending on their pedigree and training focus.

Horses also have unique interactions with players. On the battlefield, as long as the horse survives, it will return to the player's side for riding as soon as he blows his whistle, no matter where he is on the map. And when the warrior dismounts and steps into battle, the warhorse will also leave automatically so as not to interfere.

 

Less risk to make mistakes in-game

Early game combat death is basically set to be dead if touched by monsters, and the player's game experience will be largely affected by the "death" decision. The result of the game - especially the result of failure on the player's game experience is greater than the impact of the game process. Part of the reason why game vehicles made their initial appearance was to enhance the survival rate of players, or to give players a certain invincibility time (or vehicle HP), so that they can get a better experience of the game process. It, to a large extent, balanced the game result and the game process on the impact of the player's game experience and decreased the risks to make mistakes in-game.

 

Feeling of reward and the display of personality

The acquisition of vehicles and appearance customization of vehicles in-game can bring players a strong sense of reward, better display of personality, and more emotional connection with other players. For this reason, games can provide more vehicle types and appearances for players to choose from, building a multi-level game vehicle-player connection.

Conqueror’s Blade provides players with a variety of choices, and war horses can be equipped with harnesses, such as saddle, horse face armor, body armor, horse accessories, and etc, which not only provide all-round protection for war horses and greatly enhance their combat capabilities, but also allow players to match their appearance and create their own unique war horses.

 

3. Game vehicles innovation in terms of gameplay and interaction

Game development technology is constantly improving, and the technical composition, gameplay and art design of game vehicles are upgrading continuously. But how to achieve game vehicle innovations? Let’s take a look at the answer of these games!

- ShockRods vehicle and double jump

ShockRods is a unique 6V6 first-person free-to-play arena shooter. Its vehicles have a unique setting that allows them to move sideways during combat. The vehicle's steering wheel is a "universal wheel" that allows the player to move the vehicle in different directions, improving the mobility of the car and allowing more flexibility in dodging and controlling during combat.

The game also adds the ability to jump to the vehicle from the perspective of arena shooting, i.e. "double jump", which optimizes the 3D experience and combat experience of players.

- The answer of Naraka: Bladepoint

There are no vehicles in this multiplayer action game, and the only way for players to move faster is with their feet and cables. However, the role of the cables and vehicles have a lot of similarities, such as they both allow players to move quickly in the game, to help cross a variety of terrain, and can be used to fight and so on. So it is a special case that shows such an innovative concept of “unlimited map interaction” can bring inspiration to the vehicle design in games.

Summary

The vehicle system in-game is very much the part that can give more possibilities to a game. With its good gameplay design, expression of the world view, concept innovation, and vehicle system can greatly increase the player's game experience potentially.

 

 


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