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316  General / Check this out! / Re: Heavy Rain demo on: February 23, 2010, 02:36:35 pm
Just the story. A crime story is almost inherently game-like because you're trying to find the criminal. Which is a sort of puzzle.
Ah, I thought you meant the goals of specific scenes. I assume these are pretty goal based though, like: "I am hungry, must eat", "Need to take shower" or "Find clue killer left behind"? Or are you allowed to more freely move about and determining what to do? If it is like I suggested, then is it said explicitly to the player or only hinted at? And finally (if what I said was true), what are your feelings about these kinds of goals?
The reason I am so interested is because I see it as nice mechanism to containing the player at a certain scene (by making character-will a sort of obstacle).

You're always welcome to come and play in our play room in the attic in Gent, Belgium!
Thanks! Perhaps if I ride a bike to you it might actually be cheaper than buying a ps3! (+ I get exercise!) Smiley
317  General / Check this out! / Re: Heavy Rain demo on: February 23, 2010, 08:09:10 am
I think it's a cheap solution to add some rules and goals to the experience and make it seem game-like
What features of the game are you referring to here?

I would also like to try it, but have no ps3. Hopefully our next game sells good enough for me to afford one Tongue
318  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewarding the notplayer... on: February 15, 2010, 11:42:14 pm
But how do you feel about less essential things? Interactions that are not required to make progress?
As along as there is "something for everyone" I guess it is not that big of a problem. I do like the idea of playing the game any way you like, mixing acids and hitching rides while doing so Smiley However, I guess it all depends on what kind of game you are making and to what kind of audience. I do however think that as much as possible of the interaction space should be available and not locked away because of cultural background or whatnot. I see it as a sort of goal that anyone (given a few basic requirements like age, being human, etc) should be able to pick up and have access to most of the game. Otherwise it feels like locking away things unless you know the secret password.

I have not given this too much thought though, so I might change my mind if you have arguments for the other side Smiley
319  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Exploring Deeper Meaning In Games on: February 15, 2010, 08:29:38 pm
Yeah, that meaning was probably not the best of formulations as it is quite vague. But cannot one say that meaning could be atmosphere/aesthetics as well? I always thought that for instance David Lynch had a sort of atmosphere as the core meaning. It is just that for me, "meaning" is pretty much the same as "intent" and it just feels right to say that a certain emotion can be a meaning in itself.

I understand this will easily boil down to quoting dictionary entries, but I am very interested in your view on this. I am aware that I use strange definitions at times, so always good and try to use what is most commonly accepted.

And glad you liked the post Smiley
320  Creation / Notgames design / Exploring Deeper Meaning In Games on: February 15, 2010, 07:31:18 pm
Just wrote a little essay/post on how to a approach designing games with more meaning:

Very interested in hearing what you all think about it!

(also posted it on gamastura here. Perhaps interesting comments pop up there)
321  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewarding the notplayer... on: February 15, 2010, 10:22:07 am
Do you have a reason for this? [...]
This is of course a fuzzy line here and one could question how universal drawers and such things are. But I think that opening stuff is a basic sort of interaction and exploring hidden spaces is a kind of human instinct. Just see how children tend to pull out any drawer and open any door that they find. Who knows what goodies that are hidden? Smiley
As for how it works in our game, the idea is kind of that player could (if they wanted) only examine drawers that are at interesting places. For example, if found in a work worm, it seems more plausible that the drawers will contain interesting things, than drawers in a hallway. Right now we have spammed items everywhere just to reward whenever the player takes time to examine the environment more closely.
I have managed to get my father to play the game, and he seems to be doing fine so far Smiley

What I meant with world knowledge was mostly specific facts or practices that might be common in the real world. For example, if that player had to do a thumbs-up-movement in order to get a ride, I would consider that bad design unless the game world had somehow stated this fact. The same would be true for an action that required the mixing of chemicals without stating a formula in the game (for example assuming that all knows HCl is an acid).

an the player challenge the game once in a while? And could the game be required to use its abilities to meet the player's challenge? Can a game be "in the zone"?
I really like questions like this and I really think your analog of the game as something living and emotional as really good and helpful. It might be that I am somewhat of a sci-fi junkey, but I do not see that too far fetched that killing enemies in games might eventually even become a moral issue. Do not wanna go off-topic about that now though Smiley

How would one go about challenging a game (given our current technology)? I think think the first step is having some kind of adaptive element in the game (which could perhaps be quite simple) that would try and keep the experienced focused on certain things. The challenge would then be that when the player chose to interact, the game would have to adapt itself and make sure the focus was intact. There could be a sort of exchange in this manner.

I do not think it is all that far from how some IF games work. Since you can type whatever you like, when ever you do an interaction it does not feel like pressing buttons (even though that is essentially what you are doing), but rather rather an action of "free will". Then when you try out crazy stuff and the game is able to respond, it gives me a sort of warm fuzzy feeling, almost like the game met my challenge and is playing with me. Also note that IF games are very close to a conversatiion (as you essentially "talk" to an interpreter). One example game would be Lost Pig. It is a really charming and cute game and allows for some really funny interaction. It can be played online here:
322  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewarding the notplayer... on: February 14, 2010, 09:45:58 pm
You probably mean "game world" knowledge, right?

And about real world knowledge I am pretty much against that unless (as u say) very basic stuff. I think a game should be grounded the game world. If real world stuff is needed, than the game world needs to be real and allow the player to find this out through the game interactions..
323  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewarding the notplayer... on: February 14, 2010, 09:23:01 pm
So it would be interesting to me if other flow models can be imagined with different terms but that still apply to interactive media.
Gonna give stab at this, what about:

Abilities -> World Knowledge
Challenge -> Interaction possibilities
Boredom -> still boredom
Anxiety -> I guess anxiety still works, but perhaps confusion is better?

And for some more flow info, this video is a good start:
324  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Persuasion versus freedom on: February 14, 2010, 07:00:52 pm
Oh, another issue I recently have some troubles with!

In one way, the problem lies some what in the questions: "Is okay if the player miss content?" and "How much should I force the player to find content?"

Since we (frictional games) make very story oriented games, there is often a lot of info that the player needs to get, some more important than other. I am against spoon feeding the player with information, but at the same time not too much should be missed. We try to make most of this information redundant, but one does not make repeat things too much either. For some bits, it is not that hard, but it can be kind of hard when some piece of information is very important. Near the start of our upcoming game, we have a piece of info that is kind of crucial for the player to get, but it is possible to skip it. So should this be forced by some cheap trick like denying the player to progress or just force feeding the info (eg enter a room and it is automatically shown). We settled on making it highly unlikely that the player miss it, since we thought using cheap tricks would just spoil immersion and this was not good especially this early on. I think that it is important to take risks with interactive works and not always force the player down certain paths. Often so few player miss out on it, that it is more than worth it for all the rest that get the intended experience.

Another way this is a problem is when wanting to have a certain situation and atmosphere. Another part early on in the game, the player needs to find two pretty visible objects in order to progress. However, one of these is in a room that is not that easy to spot. The reason for this is that we want the player to wander around the dark and make them feel unsafe. Making this door visible would severely decrease that feeling and destroy the mood. So in this case too, we opted for freedom instead of forcing/spoon-feeding the player.

So to sum up: For me it is all about what is intended. If you want the player to feel lost in a forest, then always giving directions destroys that feeling. However, I think one should always try and make an easy start before making giving the player too much freedom. I think one can start the game by doing your best to educate the player at the start. Once the player understands how the game is played, I think one should only concentrate on creating an experience and never sacrifice that to be sure that everyone gets it. This is at least how I want to do and I cannot say that I always follow it, but I try to at least Smiley
325  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewarding the notplayer... on: February 13, 2010, 03:40:21 pm
I think that coming up with good ways of thinking about (and solving!) this is the most important thing for evolving the game medium. Normally in games, you have some slot-machine like additive mechanic that serves has a carrot for the player. I do not like this, because it limits games that can be made and it is also kind of degrades the experience. As Kaworu said, like getting candy for watching a movie. Games like Fallout and Planescape Torment, that has a really interesting worlds and actions have a large part of the game filled with meaningless status upgrading. One could say that the leveling/looting makes you connect to the character/world, but I think it is just a cheap mechanic that adds an additive ingredient to the game. I believe that getting rid of this need for a "fun" core mechanic is crucial to evolve.

I really like that approach! Perhaps one could kind of compare playing a game to having a conversation? If you keep asking different questions and just get the same kind of answers the conversion quickly gets boring. If you are asked questions you need to be able to provide varied and interesting answers that hopefully makes the person talking to you want to ask other questions, tell you about themselves and so. Also, you would like to give them hints into asking talking about certain subjects that might be an area that you are good talking about.

Now, instead of talking, in a game the player has input. Translated into conversion the input could be "So what if I pull this lever?", "I am walking along this lonely road", "I would like to examine that more closely" and so on. The idea would then be to get the player to do the correct input and keep on giving interesting output as they try out things. The game gets uninteresting when the player:
- does not know what input to give
- does not get interesting output from the input given

So, with the game's role as "mate" you have to keep the player entertained and make sure that they feel like they are moving on. Rewards would then be:
- Get meaningful output from input
- Learn new inputs
And you got a sort of input-output cycle and the role of the game is to keep this rolling. It seems to me that just keeping this rolling is a sort of reward for the player. Now this could work on several levels as well. From simple things like: "push forward and the characters moves, displaying a funny animation" to more complex: "Get all animals healthy and watch how the ecology in the nature blooms"

I like the idea of having a game that, while not being on rails, always keeps the player interested and makes sure she has stuff to do. Like a good play mate would do, to use Michaels analogy! This of course gives rise to interesting and hard problems, such as knowing when a player is stuck and needs a push in the right direction.

I like your idea of underused actions getting larger and so on giving the player of things to do. If I understand, your game is a sort of space of actions that is expanded for every action being made? Would you call it similar to a sort of branching dialog system (as seen in many adventure games), except that entire game is one big dialog? Will be interesting to try (if I get to try the beta that is Tongue)!
326  Creation / Reference / Games that had impact on you on: February 12, 2010, 09:26:51 am
Because some questions raised in the this thread I would like to know if anyone could name some games that have had impact on them on real life issues. Since all of you are game designers I do not mean games that made you think different about games, but rather about real-life things.

For my part, the list is depressingly short (so many games.. so little impact):

This game gave me a greater understanding of gravity, orbital mechanics and momentum. It actually felt like I was being enlightened while playing it.

and that is really all I can come up with now...

327  General / Check this out! / Re: The Only Thing I Know on: February 12, 2010, 09:16:19 am
But do you regard it as being a contribution to a wasteful culture?

Wow, that is a really interesting question! Actually, I have never really thought about it until now, not at least directly. I have been pondering the meaninglessness and slot-machine-like behavior of many games, but not really the significance of my own stuff.

I do not think anything I have been part of producing have had any significance other than as pure entertainment. There has been some attempt at raising questions in Black Plague, but it was a very small part at the end of the game and few seemed to "get" it. So to sum it up, I would say that the games I have made so far have been mostly wasteful entertainment.

I hope that will change, and have been slowly been moving towards more deeper meanings in the games made. This is not something I want to force though, as in: "This game must have large impact on people's lives!". Instead I would like to create things because I find it interesting myself and then if someone else thinks the game had great meaning to them, then that is a great bonus.
328  General / Check this out! / Re: The Only Thing I Know on: February 12, 2010, 12:44:52 am
That lil clip was better than I thought it would be and was actually quite connected to the not games cause.

Have any of the people here feel guilt at involvement in the production of something they felt was ultimately an abuse of others?
Nah, I have only made short single player games with no replay value Tongue Minimum wastage of people's life so far Smiley
329  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Form on: February 11, 2010, 12:36:26 am
I have thought a little about this too, especially when it comes to themes and how these can used to create complex songs. For example by using fugue,  canon, etc the theme is repeated and changed in various ways and a very beautiful songs can be built up from this. What I know this I pretty much read in GEB, so I am not expert on this.

I have thought about using the idea when creating levels, but never gotten very far in to it. Still, it feels like there could be something into this, so hoping to explore it more. Another idea was that you could take some core mechanic and then by repeating and changing it build up an interesting experience. But I guess one can say that is already done in games Tongue
330  Creation / Reference / Re: Stoked Rider on: February 11, 2010, 12:02:37 am
Seems simple yet effective. The only problem with this game seem to me to be that the environments are so similar (snow, snow and more snow), but perhaps when you snowboard on them they feels very different.

Would be fun to see this try out with cycling, basejumping, handgliding and stuff. Some day Google Earth will perhaps have such a good data set that one could just use that for enviroment Tongue Would be neat!
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