Analysis of the Hollow Knight game design. Part 2. Green trail + Mushroom wasteland
Previous part . Video version below.
The main focus in the development was aimed at the diversity of the world. The Green Trail is not just a version of Crossroads, a little changed thematically, but a full biome with its unique atmosphere and content. But by the forces of two people you won’t create so much content that you can keep up the pace at a given level with one variety, so you also need to monitor the complexity. In addition to gross growth due to the health and distance of attacks, it also increases due to the mobile set, exploding corpses, as well as unexpected attacks. And the latter is the main focus of the location: traps are placed at every step, which makes the player more attentive, and not only skillfully time the attacks. Platforming remained at about the same level, except that some enemies require better positioning. It is important that the main task here was rather not to let you get bored than to teach you how to fight better.
After the upgrade, soul management became more variable. According to the idea, he should create situations where the player will make a mini-decision, and his outcome will either improve skills or strengthen self-confidence. For example, is it worth killing the enemy to make up for hp, or wait for easier production, so as not to risk it? Is it worth it to spend your soul on a spell to facilitate the battle, or to secure future fights for yourself, leaving your soul on the heal? This is a great idea that deepens the gameplay. But in practice, everything is different.
In the early game, the places where the spell is obviously more profitable to use can be counted on the fingers. Yes, this is an effective tool in the hands of a skilled player, since it allows you to quickly deal with enemies, but for this you already need to have the skills. And the player on the Green Trail has not yet been so familiar with the combat system. Here the balance itself plays an important role: the spell requires exactly as much soul as the heal. Here a psychological phenomenon manifests itself, which is expressed in the asymmetry of perception of benefits and losses . The bet should be strongly in favor of the person so that he decides to take a chance. This leads to the fact that, despite the power of the spells, the player can practically not use them throughout the passage.
Routing (routing) until the next upgrade is less commonplace than in the first location, but still sluggish.
Here, experienced players can jump and get a valuable opportunity to explore without a map, but this path is less likely due to inaccessibility. And when you go through the main path, a cartographer sits at the very beginning, which clearly reduces the chance of getting lost. So the study of the location becomes less stressful, but also less full of emotions. Also, before receiving the next upgrade, it is possible to visit 2 different locations, both of which will end in a dead end, but more about them later.
The hunter’s magazine adds motivation to kill every enemy on the way, not missing even the strongest, because information will be given for the dead. But the number of victims required to get particles of lore is such that some mobs will have to be farm - and this seems to me not the most interesting occupation.
Next on the way will be a couple of interesting fights, NPCs, and after that the significant options in the exploration of the location end, because you have to kill the Boss.
Upgrade guards Hornet. I did not immediately succeed in defeating her, because I am not a very skilled player in 2d-action games, but it took less than 5 attempts. However, I read such stories, where people made 20 attempts and more before they could advance further.But the boss is pretty light, why so? Despite the individual characteristics, one can find the reasons for such events in game design. Hornet is the first enemy where damage must be steadily avoided, while relying heavily on reaction speed. Naturally, sooner or later, the player will begin to act proactively by learning the attacks, but until then he will have to rely on his limited conductivity of nerve fibers. Let's see how many types of mobs were found in total, and how many require a reaction test.
At the same time, the Root is optional, the False Knight can be skipped, and even that is very slow. The rest are rarely found ordinary mobs, of which it is necessary to kill only a mossy knight (1 time).
It is not surprising that when there is a need to fight with a boss who has this main feature, the player will have problems. It is good that there is a bench nearby, so the breaks between attempts will not be too long. However, nothing prevents her from skipping, and in this case the experience will be much more frustrating.
After receiving the Cloak, the HC becomes much more mobile, in fights it now becomes easier to use the hit & amp; run tactics. Access to Salubre, as well as the next location - Mushroom Wastelands. When meeting a new merchant, the player is presented with a clear way to become stronger - to collect amulets, as this will allow access to a larger number of cells. This also serves as an additional reason for the study of branches. So, Salubra and the presence of a map give a high probability that a player will return to unexplored places on the map before moving to a new biome. This behavior is also seen in some curious players: it is so difficult to live with the fact that they have behind them a “closed door”, to which they already have a “key”. They will definitely come back and see what is behind her before moving on. So it’s important to understand that some will first explore all the rooms available right now, and only then move on to get a new upgrade .
The proposed amulets are undoubtedly useful. But in the absence of a sufficient number of cells, the Long Nail will be most effective, since it will make it possible to do what the player already can do, taking only 2 cells. In this, by the way, he is similar to the Soul Catcher. For boss fights, you can wear Quick Focus. And yes, the Shaman Stone is one of the most powerful amulets in the game, but at this stage it is ineffective for an inexperienced player.
With a cloak on the Green Trail, you can pick up a couple of amulets, fight with the optional mini-boss, and then you just have to go to the Mushroom Wasteland.
By the way, another reason why in addition to the influence of Salubra and the map, a significant part of the players will first explore all available options, avoiding visiting new locations. As you remember, exploratory behavior makes you interested in things around, because it is directly related to survival. Along with this, all animals are at least wary of incomprehensible and unknown things. Agree, I don’t really want to lose the accumulated geo or find ourselves in situations where the enemies are clearly stronger and do not allow us to find out what is next. Therefore, the more a player can protect himself before leaving a comfortable environment, the better. I think that in spite of the style of the game, you first spent geo on amulets and other useful gizmos, and only then went to large unexplored areas.
Understanding this, we will analyze the available options for moving. We all know that the next major location will be Mushroom Wastelands. However, they now have two passages: through the Forgotten Crossroads and the Misty Canyon. And the latter is a separate location, even if only a couple of rooms are accessible from it now. Therefore, the player doubts whether to go inland. And the same is true when moving to the Mushroom Wastelands from the Forgotten Crossroads. So which option is the player more likely to choose? I believe through the Misty Canyon. Firstly, because this transition is available until the upgrade.Secondly, the location is different thematically, and the player will find it later than the transition from the Crossroads - and therefore will remember better . It also makes sense to note that after passing the same distance along one or the other passage, in the case of the Misty Canyon the player will get to the Station, and from there it will be more likely to go to the next location.
On the way through this passage, the player will meet with the Cornifer singing in the distance, as well as a bank where the geo will be stored securely until the account exceeds 2550 units, but more on that later.
Like the previous location, Mushroom Wastelands are different thematically and gameplay. Here the emphasis will be on platforming, which will become more complicated both in combat situations and in ordinary research. This is the first location that cannot be completed without the use of pogo, so that by its end you can be sure that the player has understood this aspect. But this does not guarantee that this type of attack will be used in battle.
At the entrance from the Queen Station, you can immediately find a cartographer, which is slightly depressing for the third location. It’s very difficult not to peek at the card all the time when it is. And so the significant part of the dive is lost, since there is no need to draw the terrain in the head, thereby better feeling the scale of the world.
The battle is slightly more complicated. Local rank-and-file mobs now have on average more health, and have 2 attacks each, which will require you to rely more on the reaction and also better maneuver, which is facilitated by the newfound cloak.
After exploring the mantis village, a new upgrade will open, and here in the game there is a significant increase in variability in the subsequent study of locations. Mark Brown
Let's talk about this in order of probability of their visit .
- City of tears. Most likely, most of the players will visit him first. It happens like this: you are trying to defeat the Lords of the Mantis, you are not successful. You come back for your shadow, on the way you meet Quirella. He gives an explicit comment about the current unpreparedness for this battle, and suggests visiting the City, finding a blacksmith and improving his nail. It was also in this direction that Hornet set off, so the City is the brightest point of interest.
- A deep nest. As I said, there is a significant tendency to study all the available options in a location before going to the next. Thus, the player will find the destructible wall, and will collapse into the Deep Nest. Also, players who have defeated Praying Mantes (who, by the way, are one of the best bosses) will fall into it. It is important here that, unlike the City, you can get out of the nest. And given the uncomfortable atmosphere and fat mobs, some players will decide to visit the City first to improve weapons.
- Howling cliffs. Everything is simple here. To visit them you only need to remember one of the entrances: from the Green Path or the Royal Passage. And given that HC initially jumped from that side, this is of considerable interest.
- Crystal Canyon. This location is unlikely to be visited first, since the player will rather spend the geo on upgrades than on the lantern.
- The second half of the City of Tears. The most unlikely option, because you have to crank out such a trick.
Yes, it is understood that the player will pass through the Lands of Peace, but about them another time
In terms of research , the order will change a bit:
- City. Because closed gates will artificially restrict visits to other locations.
- Howling cliffs. Because the location is simple, and also does not require additional searches and resources.
- The nest. Because you can get out of it, and the location is complicated by mobs and impassable without a flashlight.
- Crystal Canyon. Because the flashlight is expensive, and unlike the Nest, you don’t have to kill the boss at one of the entrances here: the player will not identify the location study with the “treasury” that he got for passing a difficult test.
- The second half of the City of Tears. Since the entrance is not obvious, and the enemies are too fat for the first nail.
Since it’s easy to get to the Howling Cliffs, and the location itself is easy, I’ll take this into account in summarizing the player’s possible strength when moving to the next biomes.
Write how you are today. Thanks for your attention.
Video version: 1 , 2 .