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1  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rewards inherent to interactivity? on: February 25, 2011, 03:00:40 AM
Interaction, by definition, involves some kind of feedback. When that feedback is positive, that's a reward.
2  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Imagination as a talent in varying supply on: January 25, 2011, 04:52:02 AM
I don't give a damn.

I say that as an affirmation of a personal principle. My priority is not to make games that are popular, famous, well-regarded. My priority is to make games that are good- that enrich the lives of others via the experiences they provide.

I also say that because "people who didn't like my creation lacked the mental ability to appreciate it" is a view I reflexively reject.
3  Creation / Notgames design / Re: When gameplay hurts - my path to notgames on: September 09, 2010, 02:11:09 AM
Thomas, I think I'm very much on board with your views & interpretation of the "notgames" label- the way I'd put it is that referring to something as a "notgame" while talking with a game developer is like referring to something as a "notnail" while talking to someone with a hammer. The most well-honed techniques aren't always going to be the best tool for a job.

On a tangent, I wonder how much of what we identify as the limitations of videogames (as a medium) are the product of their interface (i.e. binary-input buttons on a keyboard or controller, plus some thumbsticks or a mouse). Perhaps the physical navigation of a space is simply the most intuitive kind of virtual experience, and thus the one where we're most inclined to accept a limited set of actions.
4  Creation / Reference / Re: Action Button Dot Net on: May 10, 2010, 01:19:00 AM
Tim Rogers on Four Warriors of Light:
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It wasn’t just a grind — no, a “grind” is when you level up your guys and buy better stuff outside the context of the actual in-game missions. Seventh Dragon was a slog — where you have to grind inside the context of the missions. Huge difference.
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Our definition of “crunch” in a videogame is “you feel like you’re doing something“. We believe games seldom contain greater entertainment than that which comes from feeling like you are making a contribution of some type (even violent) in the world of the game.
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In Light Warriors, even when you’re not dying, you can feel symptoms of a struggle. You nearly die, and it feels like it was (nearly) your fault. You triumph, and you feel like it was your doing.
5  Creation / Reference / Re: Action Button Dot Net on: May 09, 2010, 09:59:36 PM
Tim Rogers on Ninja Gaiden II. I'll readily admit to including the first quote just for the enternainment value.
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At this point, Itagaki did not own a single leather jacket. His hair perched atop his head in a greasy clump like a Scottish terrier that had fallen out of a window. He licked his lips, shaking with fear: “You know,” he said, standing up, “uhm, sirs: video games aren’t . . . they aren’t fucking cup noodles you know?”

“WHAT SAY YE?” screamed the CEO.

The fear of that moment transformed Itagaki; his muscles appeared out of the aether, exploding his buttoned-up shirt from his scrawny frame; his epidermis mutated into an exquisite snake-skin jacket.

“You geezers don’t get it. Companies don’t make games — hard dudes make games.”

After a fierce, hours-long staredown, the old men were swayed. Itagaki had arrived.
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All at once, Itagaki’s yawning dismissal of any game design that plops a button icon in the middle of the screen and calls it “interaction” makes perfect sense: in Ninja Gaiden, everything your player character does is so perfectly cinematic, and the enemies are so fierce and unrelenting that no amount of running up walls will ever look illogical or superfluous. Every little spat with a patch of grunts is a desperate struggle, a matter of matte-black life of blood-gushing death.
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The experience is not a “throwback” to the “old-school” Ninja Gaiden so much as it is quite obviously crafted with that whole sketchy era of innocuous character design, just-hip-enough visuals, and rapidly ramping difficulty in mind.
6  Creation / Reference / Re: Users creating their own meaning of the provided interactive piece on: May 08, 2010, 12:06:16 PM
Inspiration comes from without, meaning comes from within.[/brokenrecord]  Tongue
7  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Rhythm on: April 29, 2010, 04:40:46 PM
If you guys keep this up, I'm going to have to start using the phrase badwrongdesign in my discussions. Or maybe badwrongcraft.
8  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Words on: April 29, 2010, 04:20:57 PM
You're going to be told lots of things.
You get told things every day that don't happen.

It doesn't seem to bother people, they don't—
It's printed in the press.
The world thinks all these things happen.
They never happened.

Everyone's so eager to get the story
Before in fact the story's there
That the world is constantly being fed
Things that haven't happened.

All I can tell you is,
It hasn't happened.
It's going to happen.
9  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: Generative/procedural graphics on: April 29, 2010, 04:18:08 PM
Use different note sequences to denote different types of spellcasting (i.e. targeted enchantment vs. hastily-cast area effect vs. counterspell), perhaps even requiring players to memorize simple inputs a la the Ocarian of Time. Each school/category of magic (life, fire, wind, thought, etc.) uses the same key and note sequences, but has a different sound/instrument. A mage can thus easily identify the different types of magic that make up a spell being cast, as well as the specific components they're used for.
10  General / Introductions / Re: Is this thing on? ... errrm, Hi! on: April 24, 2010, 12:31:00 AM
Yow! That's quite a wall of text you've constructed there, Jon. (All the more impressive since you kept it pretty interesting.  Wink ) I know what you mean about perfectionism- actually, I'll repost something I wrote out for another thread here:
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I used to spend alot of time editing these fan-made music videos, like the ones you see on youtube (though 99% of the ones you'll find there are garbage). I liked to put a ton of effort into each one, making sure it had a high level of polish. There were a couple of different editors out there at the time who were starting out like me, but their work didn't compare because they were always doing these quick rough works. I thought it was a shame, because they could make something really impressive if they'd have focused some more on quality of over quantity.

Thing is, when I came across them a year or two later they were way beyond me. They'd kept on doing the same thing, but now the results had this easy elegance and grace that I had to work for hours to come close to (assuming I could keep at it that long). It was like they'd switched their bikes to a lower gear while we were riding uphill.
In other words, I'm still struggling not to "write the final draft first", as one teacher of mine observed. Even if it seems like it makes each thing you make better, overthinking these matters can really hold you back in the long run.

As for what games can be, here's my key question for you. What do you want from games- from interactive virtual experiences- that things like novels and movies can't provide? I'm curious to hear your answers, here or in another forum.
11  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Terminology on: April 19, 2010, 03:20:48 PM
It's probably been two years since I first scribbled this note to myself:
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Inspiration comes from without. Meaning comes from within.
That is to say, I don't think you can create something that's inherently meaningful in a particular way. One man's epic manifesto on the human condition is another man's shallow entertainment. As far as I can see, the reason human beings can "find" meaning in just about anything is that the 'meaningful' element of an experience is actually something we generate internally. The outside world just provides the stimuli to keep the gears in our heads turning.

Now, I do have a term for the fundamental thing I'm after. But it needs to be prefaced with word of warning- I don't consider myself an artist, unless you define that term broadly enough to include the vast majority of human beings out there. To me, art is abstract self-expression. I think it's very important and have great deal of respect for the artists in our society, but I don't count myself among them.

What I do consider myself to be is a craftsman. And the fundamental quality I'm pursuing with my works is impact. I want my creations to make people laugh, cry, scream, cheer for joy. I want to enrich their lives, to come up with something that people are still mulling over hours, days, even years later. I want to simultaneously engage people on as many levels as possible, to create something that stimulates your rational mind, plucks at your heartstrings, and resonates deep within your soul in ways you couldn't even begin to articulate.

And I also want to help others who're after the same thing.
12  General / Check this out! / Re: Anyone preordered Sleep is Death? on: April 19, 2010, 04:05:33 AM
I'd been meaning to make a comment here about how I was still going to be to poor to afford this for the near future (still underemployed- I'm literally running about 5 miles each day to avoid paying $4 for bus fare). Then I noticed the whole "Buy for you and a friend" thing.

We're friends, right? Guys?

I'll tell you a story~  Grin
13  Creation / Reference / Re: Action Button Dot Net on: April 19, 2010, 01:19:35 AM
Tim Rogers on Bioshock:
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To explain it simply, without re-referencing the game’s core wallpaper themettes of Ayn Rand, Art Deco, and beautiful triumphant jazz music, here is a description of BioShock’s story: a man is flying over the ocean in a plane. The plane crashes. He survives. He swims toward a monolithic structure. He goes inside. Without questioning why, he boards a deep-sea-diving vessel, and finds himself in an underwater “utopia” built years before by scholars, artists, and philosophers who found the then-modern society not suited to their ideals. Upon entering the city, he discovers it has been destroyed, and is currently teeming with drugged-out brain-thirsty genetic psycho-freaks. A man contacts the hero via short-wave radio, and offers guidance. He wants the hero to save his family, and himself, and help the last few sane survivors of this nightmare get to the surface and go back to the society that they had once seen fit to leave.

Of course, between point A and point B, there’s going to be a whole lot of psycho-freak smashing. “That sounds good”, says the entertainment connoisseur. “That sounds plausible”, says the literati. “That sounds fucking bad-ass“, says the gamer.
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BioShock fails, and quite embarrassingly hard, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes time to tie all of its genuinely enthralling atmospheric concepts (underwater city, inspired art design, excellent music, political message, overt genetic enhancement as common and convenient as multivitamins) into an actual knife of entertainment.
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Now, 95% of Bioshock’s appeal for me, personally, is the mystery of this destroyed undersea utopia, and the pleasure of wondering what exactly went wrong. Early on, I felt like Sherlock Holmes as I pieced together the smaller clues: I saw the signboards discarded at the dock, displaying messages such as “WE DON’T BELONG TO YOU, RYAN”, and thought, “Aha! These people wanted to leave! Something was going wrong here — and someone named ‘Ryan’ was to blame!” It would have been really nice if these sort of hints had built gradually in momentum.
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The first one you find is sitting on a table in a bar, overlooking a frankly spectacular view of the ocean. The voice of a woman echoes out of the tape, with microphone clarity, over the din of people enjoying themselves in a quietly lively place. She says she’s getting drunk, and alone, on New Year’s Eve. She laments what a “fool” she is, for “falling in love with Andrew Ryan!” It’s not impossible to believe that this woman would be drunk enough to tape-blog about her Deepest Personal Secrets in such a public place on New Years Eve; the very candor in her voice indicates immediately that she’s That Type of Woman. Her tape diary ends abruptly with an explosion sound and an “Oh my god!” So the story creeps up and seeps into our brains: something happened on New Year’s Eve, and this woman’s tape diary was forgotten here on the table.
Random thought: Bioshock's audio diaries might have made alot more sense if they'd been done as the recordings of hidden audio surveillance.
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And though I do believe I originally said that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was not a perfect game, I believe it demonstrates a much “more perfect” way to appropriately use an epic amount of human resources: basically, you write down what the player can do in your game, then you figure out what’s going to happen in your game, then you build a story around that, then you tell everyone, “This is the plan, and we’re sticking to it”.
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My idea is that there should have only ever been one Big Daddy, and one Little Sister. The story of the game would branch depending on whether you kill the Little Sister, and at which opportunity you kill her. Maybe the Big Daddy has some kind of card-key and can open doors that your character can’t, so it’s to your advantage to slink around behind them. Every time your path converges with theirs, there’d be some kind of big cathartic showdown. Maybe enemies would attack the Big Daddy, and he would destroy them, and you’d have to avoid getting caught in the fray, or else join the fight to take the Big Daddy down. Maybe the Big Daddy, ultimately, would perish at the end of the game if you let him live long enough, forcing you to make a decision about what to do with the girl.
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It used to be that characters would do stuff like fall asleep and dream about ravioli if you didn’t touch the controller. In BioShock, if you don’t press any buttons for a few moments, the words “Hold the right directional button to get a hint if you are stuck” appear on the screen.
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What we have here, with BioShock, is a well-meaning game with some excellent concepts and an iron grip on its execution. It’s just a shame that “its execution” equals “execution of absolutely fucking everything written in every draft of the design document.”
14  Creation / Reference / Re: Action Button Dot Net on: April 19, 2010, 12:51:28 AM
Tim Rogers on Final Fantasy XIII:
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Numbers were, in the early days of the role-playing game, a placeholder for some more-effective future means of communicating the awesomeness of an attack. In Final Fantasy XIII, you will never see an enemy’s total hit points: you will, however, see the shit out of the amount of HP being subtracted with each attack.
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Final Fantasy XIII is most likely a game made entirely by artists. They drew characters and monsters and everyone on the team was pre-programmed to believe that these games are mostly popular because of their graphical presentations, and that if these artists made it through the hiring process, they must be geniuses. A producer admitted that “there is enough discarded Final Fantasy XIII to make an entire other game”. This is a bad thing to admit in an interview, because it indicates that the development team just didn’t know, from the very beginning, what the game was going to be about.
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The story elects to talk over the audience’s head most of the time in hopes of being mistaken for art. We won’t make this mistake.
15  Creation / Reference / Re: Action Button Dot Net on: April 19, 2010, 12:46:59 AM
Tim Rogers on Lost Vikings:
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Years later, games are still struggling with how to present a tutorial. “Reminding the player of what he can do, whenever he can do it, with a disembodied text message” seems to be the answer game developers always fall on. Lost Vikings forces us to merely watch, for one minute, as the characters do everything they will ever be able to do in the game.
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Then it’s back to their houses, where Erik concludes this prologue by telling us that he enjoys his life. Night falls, the alien spaceship abducts the vikings, they awake to find themselves alive, and under our control, and they immediately decide, through snappy word balloons, that they must escape this ship. That’s all the plot we need. We don’t ask why they want to escape the spaceship, because we’ve seen that they have wives. Imagine that — a game about three lost guys trying to get back to their wives and kids.
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Giving me a choice of two ways to score a one-hit kill (one of them with a gun, the other making use of an “environmental gimmick”) on a plain-sight sitting duck isn’t “game design”. Make me think about that one hit, the way Lost Vikings does, so, so many times over, and effortlessly.
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