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Old 10-15-2020   #1
PencilVoid
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Default Thoughts about the Lives system

This sparked from a discussion in the Discord server- what do you think of SRB2's lives system? In my opinion, lives are pretty useless since getting a gameover does the same thing as closing and reloading a save, except it resets your score which is useless anyways.
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Old 10-15-2020   #2
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Gaining extra lives for every Game Over is a great system. It keeps the tension of having lives while still allowing people to grind out a victory if they want.

The only thing I'd add is a little animation on the Continue screen showing the number of Game Overs you've gotten and the number of bonus lives you get from that. Make the system transparent.
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Old 10-15-2020   #3
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Agreed with OP.

I feel like lives had their most purpose for either games without a save feature (like arcade titles or most early 2D platformers), and for 3D games with more than one kind of map to go in and out of (game over in a map, go back to the hub and make your way back). And in a game that has neither of those things, it feels like just a remnant of older game philosophy, at least to me.

That said, I can see why it'd be kept regardless. People like a bit of challenge, and feel like without lives there's no good enough punishment for playing recklessly. Though while that's true, I feel like Sonic was never the kind of game to encourage trepidation in the first place; it's game design always encourages players to jump in head-first and feel out the stages/obstacles, so I think Sonic would actually be a bit better without it, if we're going to allow a game to save it's progress at least.

Punishment in Sonic games, I believe, lends itself more to score than lives anyways. How many rings you can keep a hold off, how fast you can make it to the end, how many enemies you can destroy.. maybe focusing on that a little more is a worthy trade?

As for people who desire it to make you retread if you make mistakes, I think that can still be accomplished by making checkpoints more scarce in later stages? No lives to micromanage for, but something to ensure you don't get too reckless.

I don't know, just a lot of musing on my end here.

Last edited by azoo; 10-15-2020 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 10-15-2020   #4
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I think lives and continues are valuable for creating an arcade-like experience/challenge, but they're only particularly well-suited for playthroughs that are intended to be finished in a single sitting. We have such an option in SRB2, but our campaign (and even individual levels themselves) is at a scope that can take new players much, much longer to complete than a speedrunner.

An issue with attempting to remove lives is that it neutralizes the applicability of 1-up monitor placements and makes rings less valuable. Considering we lack any sort of currency system, I don't know how much work it would require to keep them relevant.

Continues could very easily be made infinite, however, and only be allowed/awarded in limited capacity during No-Save runs.
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Old 10-15-2020   #5
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Originally Posted by CobaltBW View Post
An issue with attempting to remove lives is that it neutralizes the applicability of 1-up monitor placements and makes rings less valuable. Considering we lack any sort of currency system, I don't know how much work it would require to keep them relevant.
Maybe the ability to lose rings in increments can be a new reason to keep hold of them? People would probably argue that'd make the game too easy, but I've always thought that if 2D Mario could upgrade from a 1/2-hit system to one with a few more HP in 3D that Sonic could do similar.

It'd definitely rise the incentive to keep a lot, at least. The more you carry, the more hits you can take before you're really in danger of death. It wouldn't even have to be a small increment to be fair either, it could be as simple as "if over (insert apt amount here) rings, lose half of your ring count, if under then lose all".

Alternatively, a ranking system could work as an incentive, if SRB2 were willing to go into that. But I can see just as well why you wouldn't want to put that on the player, at least for the main campaign (ranks always seemed more suitable for a time attack / trial mode).

Last edited by azoo; 10-15-2020 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 10-15-2020   #6
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An issue with attempting to remove lives is that it neutralizes the applicability of 1-up monitor placements and makes rings less valuable. Considering we lack any sort of currency system, I don't know how much work it would require to keep them relevant.
You could always just replace 1-up monitors with the scrapped Silver Ring monitors or something else instead. As for making rings more compelling in a scenario with infinite lives, maybe bringing back the score emblems could work, as the player would want to hoard them to nab one?
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Old 10-15-2020   #7
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I feel that lives are valuable for creating a sense of punishment for failure, something for the player to hold onto that has enough value that they don't want to lose it, so that when one is taken away it clicks in the players mind not to make the same mistakes that lead to that happening again. I feel that the game is already plenty generous enough with handing out lives, and more ways to earn continues would only further reinforce this. Additionally, 1up monitors can be placed in tricky spots to get to as a way of rewarding players for doing a little extra exploring or doing a little extra platforming challenge. Something not required to beat the game, but that rewards players who go out of their way for it. These would lose all their value if lives were made infinite.

I'd say score based continues should be rewarded to players at the goal sign, as some mods have already done. Additionally, perhaps a "Casual mode" could be implemented as an optional difficulty option for the campaign? While in Casual mode, you don't have lives. This replaces 1-up monitors with invincibility or shield monitors. As long as progression is made in casual mode, you can't unlock anything that's in the secrets menu. However, you are entirely free to collect the chaos emeralds, go Super Sonic, fight the final boss, etc.
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Old 10-15-2020   #8
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Originally Posted by CobaltBW View Post
Continues could very easily be made infinite, however, and only be allowed/awarded in limited capacity during No-Save runs.
Continues are already infinite (except for No-Save runs). That change was made in one of the 2.2.x releases.
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Old 10-16-2020   #9
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Don't think too hard about getting rid of the life system, remember that all Sonic games I can think of have a life system, and this is supposed to be just like a Sonic game, so I don't see a need of getting rid of it. Alot of games have a life system like Mario, Kirby, and Megaman. Clearly there's a reason for there to be a life system in so many platformers.
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Old 10-16-2020   #10
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Disagree with OP.

My reasoning sorta segways from Colbolts point on a single playthrough.

Of course lives and continues do not matter when you know the game pretty well. But as a newcomer, this is very important. On my first playthrough i died alot and used a few comtinues. Im very sure everyone else did too.

I do wish lives were more scattered and harder to obtain making them more valuable. I was going to comment how i disliked Tokens giving us continues but that's for another thread.

Also this is stupid timing but someone made a video about lives being an outdated concept a few hours ago LOL!: https://youtu.be/c2CLO8CcBjg
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Old 10-16-2020   #11
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In my opinion, a "lives" system doesn't impact skilled players (aside from there just being another counter/number that they can increase to 99 if they want to), while punishing bad players.
Especially so if you enter a level with 20 lives, then lose some of them on the way and the rest near the end, as then you might restart the level from the beginning with less lives than you originally had, making it even harder to beat the level than before.

In other words, it makes it harder if you're bad at the game, which is the type of situation in which the game shouldn't get harder, at least in my opinion.


I'd be happy with if the player has, say, 5 lives per checkpoint. Whether you die 0 or 4 times on the way to the next checkpoint, you'd have 5 lives after activating the next one. (See LittleBigPlanet 1 on PlayStation 3 for an example.)
This way, dying too much at one section will put you back to the start of the level, so there's still an incentive to not die, but you'll not be disadvantaged (nor advantaged) further the next time that you get back to this section after a game over.


Of course, with such a system, extra life monitors would have to be replaced with something else.
I'm not sure how continues would work with this, but maybe you could use a continue to restart with 5 lives again from the checkpoint instead of the start of the level, maybe with a life or two more at each checkpoint for the rest of the level?
Skilled players could be rewarded with an emblem for clearing a level without dying (or without getting hit?), so as to reward skilled players with emblems instead of lives now that the latter won't work.


That said, I understand that SRB2's current lives system is like that of "classic" Sonic games (even "modern" ones until Sonic Forces (in which you have infinite lives)), even if I don't agree with it in those games either.



TL;DR: I think that accumalable lives punish bad players, since if they die too much, they may have to restart a level with less lives than they started it with at first.
Having per-checkpoint lives might solve this without resorting to infinite lives.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownlight View Post
[...] The only thing I'd add is a little animation on the Continue screen showing the number of Game Overs you've gotten and the number of bonus lives you get from that. Make the system transparent.
Is "the number of Game Overs" permanent per save slot, or just temporary until you beat a level? In the former case, I disagree; That's a negative statistic that can never be decreased (aside from deleting the save slot and starting all over), which I'm not a fan of, as that makes it possible to make a save slot permanently "not perfect".

Last edited by Zwip-Zwap Zapony; 10-16-2020 at 01:19 PM. Reason: Added a quote and replied to it
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Old 10-16-2020   #12
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I recognize that there's a spectrum of viewpoints on this issue, so this post won't apply to everyone, and is directed more towards those on the more extreme end of "Lives systems are bad", but I feel I should get this off my chest anyway. This isn't intended to insult anyone, just a voicing of my confusion and how I feel about it.

I've never really understood the stigma that punishing a player for playing bad is a bad thing, or especially a "retro, outdated concept" as many often put it. Yes, skilled players need lives less. That's because they have played the game a lot, and got better at it. At some point, every veteran was a new player. They dealt with the lives system, they got their game overs, they persevered, they improved, and in the end they triumphed. Then they learned to do it again, but better. The only difference between a newbie and a veteran is where along that journey you are.

By punishing the player for playing bad, you are giving the player incentive to improve. As such, not losing lives anymore is the reward for having done that improvement. I see people talk a lot about replaying levels after failing them as if it's the worst thing in the world and should be avoided at any cost, and I seriously just don't get it. It feels impatient, or as if people are unwilling to accept the responsibility for their failure in games and just want progress handed to them without going through the process of improving themselves to get to that progress. It feels like wanting a shortcut to me, and I see it as a watered down experience.

If there's no punishment for death, what's the reward for living? With no real punishment or reward, where's the fun? Where's the game? It just seriously baffles me. It's like how if you abuse Super Sonic too much, eventually the novelty wears off and everything starts to feel too boring, and you have to start deliberately not transforming to get that enjoyment back.
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Old 10-16-2020   #13
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Agree with time_gear
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Old 10-16-2020   #14
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Originally Posted by Zwip-Zwap Zapony View Post
Is "the number of Game Overs" permanent per save slot, or just temporary until you beat a level? In the former case, I disagree; That's a negative statistic that can never be decreased (aside from deleting the save slot and starting all over), which I'm not a fan of, as that makes it possible to make a save slot permanently "not perfect".
It's already permanently tracked under-the-hood, but it can be hidden once you complete the game.
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Old 10-16-2020   #15
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@Zwip-Zwap Zapony: I'm having serious issues understanding this post. Are you talking about a scenario where a player starts a level with 20 lives, gets a Game Over, then gets placed back at the start with 5? If so, then that's hardly the fault of the lives system, and more the game being silly. The game could read how many lives the save file had when the level started, and if it's more than what would be granted from the number of Game Overs, then it just uses that number. I'm not an expert on SRB2 Game Over-ing (not to brag or anything ;) ) but if they weren't changed to work that way when saves became per-act then uhhh... yeah. That's something to improve.

Other than that, I also agree with time_gear. Infinite lives are fine for games without checkpoints (like JRPGs, you can always try again but you'll always be placed at the start of the battle you lost: you have to learn in order to overcome) or hyper-brutal games (which have a very small chance of the player completing challenges with mere brute force), but SRB2 is neither of those.
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Old 10-16-2020   #16
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I think it's very silly to consider removing the lives system from SRB2. The system is already very lenient to new players and allows for easy rewards for exploration, and I think it's best that way.
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Old 10-16-2020   #17
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Originally Posted by Pyrakid Wolfo View Post
Don't think too hard about getting rid of the life system, remember that all Sonic games I can think of have a life system, and this is supposed to be just like a Sonic game, so I don't see a need of getting rid of it. Alot of games have a life system like Mario, Kirby, and Megaman. Clearly there's a reason for there to be a life system in so many platformers.
Sonic Forces doesn't have lives. Unless you choose Hard Mode. A lot of recent games which normally would have lives have opted to having that system as optional.
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Old 10-16-2020   #18
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Just gonna copy paste the wall of text I posted on discord:

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Limited lives is one of many factors which I believe factors into the negative new player experience in srb2, which I will describe as follows:
- Constant use of tails flight
- Playing slowly and methodically and not making use of a sonic game's signature speed
- Playing with fear, avoiding conflict, and having no confidence to explore

SRB2, believe it or not, is a pretty hardcore game in terms of difficulty. Not only do many players have long periods of trouble adjusting to the game's acceleration curve (you have better acceleration once you're already moving quickly, causing new players to constantly overshoot and "slide" around everywhere), but the most common character new players pick (Sonic & Tails) makes it easy to accidentially lose several lives in any map with death pits. So, more often than not, new players will run low on lives and begin to play in a scared, uninteractive way - especially streamers, who know for certain that getting stuck and game overing will turn away viewers.

While I believe these problems stem primarily from issues with the game's physics and the steep difficulty curve of level design, the lives system only serves to discourage the aggressive, experimental play which is necessary in the mastering of SRB2. And, by the way, we do want new players to be able to reach some level of mastery of the game's mechanics by the time they reach Egg Rock Zone, instead of sidestepping all challenges with slow, methodical play and Tails abuse.

I actually do appreciate extra lives in games that use them properly - I want to have a blood-pumping experience in a game that tests my skill to its absolute limit. However, in SRB2, oldbies like me have no trouble at all beating levels without losing a single life. When I encounter a hidden life in a level, I can only feel disappointment instead of joy at the sight of a reward that is so useless.
If lives stay, I'd prefer if more thought were put into how they worked instead of being the same the classics - currently, I don't think the upsides outweigh the downsides.
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Old 10-16-2020   #19
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Just gonna copy paste the wall of text I posted on discord:
Quote:
Limited lives is one of many factors which I believe factors into the negative new player experience in srb2, which I will describe as follows:
- Constant use of tails flight
- Playing slowly and methodically and not making use of a sonic game's signature speed
- Playing with fear, avoiding conflict, and having no confidence to explore
- This is a consequence of Tails having flight and the level design allowing it to be abused, not a consequence of having a lives system.

- That's also more of a quirk of the level design. The levels aren't really built with constant speed in mind like the classics in a lot of cases, and maintaining speed without stopping or getting hurt/dying can be quite difficult. A lives system does NOT force players to slow down, as even without a lives system players would still be running off cliffs or into hazards.

- This sounds more like an excuse to me. An overabundance of fear because of not wanting to lose lives isn't the fault of the system, it's just the player being paranoid. SRB2 is actually quite generous in handing out lives, and for every continue you use the more lives you start out with after a game over. If anything, the lives system actually encourages exploration, as doing so is rewarded with yet more lives.
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Old 10-16-2020   #20
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In an ideal world, I'd give the SP campaign a "legacy" playstyle which plays just like the classics, and a new mode that does away with lives and employs a death count or something of the sort that gives you some reward for avoiding dying too much (like Crash 4?). I know the "just make it an option" roadway turns some noses up, but I think this is a case that could work.
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