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Author Topic: Thomas Grip: "keep things simple and let the player fill in the blanks"  (Read 16716 times)
Michaël Samyn

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« on: April 19, 2013, 08:19:52 AM »


Quote from: Thomas Grip
The basic problem of a game's world breaking down is well known and is usually combated by adding more complexity to the system. If a character does not behave like a proper human, we need to improve AI; if the facial animations are not lifelike, we need better graphics, and so forth.

The problems here are manifold. These kind of solutions have an exponential increase in development time; they simply get harder and harder to do. Also, the more complicated any system gets, the harder it gets to predict it. Unpredictability lead to unwanted behavior, which works against what you were after in the first place. Finally, by aiming for realism expectations are raised, and the risk of breaking the illusion increases.

There are further problems still. Pretty much all games are based on around black box design, which means player strive to optimize the output of the system. The better the player is at predicting and using the rules that are in the black-box, the better they are at the game. Thus games encourage the player to unravel the systems that support them, and in effect help breaking the spell of presence. The only way of fixing this is to make sure the system can handle close inspection, which increase the complexity even more.

The end result is that is really hard to make game systems that are not be be viewed mechanically. In order to make a system that is fool proof we would have to make it extremely complex. But then we things become so chaotic that we loose control over our creations.
There is a solution to this problem though: keep things simple and let the player fill in the blanks for themselves. Make the systems seem more complex then what they really are. Our brains come to the rescue as we are very apt at doing this. The mind constantly take incomplete data and make a big coherent picture out of it.

Source: http://unbirthgame.com/GDC2013_PresenceSelfAndStoryTelling_Script.pdf
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God at play

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 09:24:20 AM »

In terms of "listening to your design", our design has basically told us to go in this direction. Interesting!

Also Thomas is probably my favorite game design blogger. So good  Grin
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axcho

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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 12:44:15 AM »

Really inspiring read, thanks!

Makes me wonder what Thomas thinks of The Love Letter...
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Thomas

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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 12:04:40 PM »

axcho:
Just gave it a go and it was super cute Smiley Great idea, and one which which really work well with simplistic mechanics. The only problem with keeping the illusion is that the time limit forces one to scrutinize the behaviors. I wonder if it would be be possible to change the game so that there was less of an competitive edge
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Thomas

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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 12:07:13 PM »

And glad you liked the presenation script. Hopefully it goes live on the Vault so you can see me doing some "stunts" on stage Tongue
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God at play

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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 07:05:08 AM »

Live as in for free? I would love to see that talk.
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Thomas

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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2013, 07:04:03 PM »

Live as in for free? I would love to see that talk.
Probably not free Sad
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Thomas

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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 07:22:41 PM »

Some interesting takeaways from my talk:

During QA time, the majority of interesting/relevant questions came from women, and men mostly asked questions that hinted at a lack of understanding.

During GDC EU this talk (or at least a similar version) got: 73/23/4/0 (excellent/good/poor/terrible)
Average for GDC EU is: 42/41/13/3

At GDC US I got: 52/33/14/0
Average for GDC US is: 55/38/6/1 (for design track only: 59/35/5/1)

And I think that my US one was better as I managed to round it all up better at the end (but might of course be wrong). So find this quite striking.

I should perhaps not be that surprised, as there was a general air of "what has he been smoking" during the applause. But still, it is BELOW average... And also important to remember that it was during the Experimental Games Showcase, so one would think that those attending would be really interested in the topic (or perhaps the long line for EGS was off putting?)

Not sure if this really mean anything, the us version of GDC has a quite different mix of people than the EU one. But still, felt I wanted to share Smiley
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QXD-me

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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 11:56:41 PM »

Live as in for free? I would love to see that talk.
Probably not free Sad

That's a shame, your previous talk was released for free and was very good.

I guess I'll have to do this the old fashioned way (i.e. reading).
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axcho

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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2013, 08:47:58 AM »

Thanks for trying The Love Letter! In watching people play the game, I did not notice the time limit causing them to scrutinize the behavior in an immersion-breaking way, but maybe I didn't test on enough actual gamers... Wink
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