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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignsome indie game articles i found (theastronauts.com)
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Author Topic: some indie game articles i found (theastronauts.com)  (Read 7494 times)
ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2012, 07:13:44 AM »

i definitely agree that level design is important. i probably spend more time on level design for my games than on any other aspect of them (even programming). but i doubt that people will actually *remember* my games for their level designs, because level designs are sort of a big complex thing that doesn't fit easily into memory. you can't make a meme out of a level design

similarly with SoTN, the level design was obviously one of the best parts of the game -- along with the music -- but for me it wasn't the most memorable part of the game, even though it was very good. the memorable moments of that game for me are stuff like:

- starting off powerful and losing all your stuff
- the part where the upside down mansion appeared and i realized the game was only half over
- the 'miserable little pile of secrets' quote
- the scene with the screaming woman (alucard's mother? i forget who she was)
- the boss made up of all the limbs and body parts stuck together
- the store owner with that creepy voice
- the little imp creatures that followed you and attacked on their own

etc.
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« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2012, 07:20:25 AM »

Definitely. Those were all the profound moments that almost anyone would quote as the memorable moments of SOTN. I can't disagree with that.

I guess I kind of considered those as parts of the level design but they might be more part of the game design or story design.

That said I guess maybe it might be one of those situations where the level design has to be apt for the player to continue to play but might not be appreciated otherwise.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2012, 07:29:37 AM »

i think with the exception of the upside down castle thing, those were largely unrelated to level design, or even to gameplay. those bosses could have worked exactly the same without their particular sounds and graphics that made them memorable. there's no reason the big ball of limbs couldn't have been a big ball of jello or slime instead, but it was because it was made of limbs and not slime or jello that it was memorable. similarly there was no gameplay reason alucard's mother or whoever she was (i think it was actually a doppleganger pretending to be her, now that i think more about it?) had to scream at the end after you killed her, it was purely aesthetic, but that is part of what made it memorable

i think what i took away from his articles was not that games should have no gameplay or whatever, just that they should not neglect or look down on the non-gameplay parts of the experience, because it's often those parts that make a game memorable
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« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2012, 07:30:20 AM »

What? If you remove gameplay you remove a game. Then it's just an animation.

i think it's the other way around. if you remove the game, you remove gameplay. it's not if you remove gameplay, you remove the game. in particular, if you remove *goals*, you remove gameplay, and it's no longer a game. but you can still "play" with it, as in simcity and minecraft and etc.

For instance I feel like the dota players and street fighter players are a bit different from the angry birds players but I'm not sure why. Maybe because dota and street fighter involve playing against other humans?

i think dota/sf players are playing neither to pass time or to form memories; they're largely playing to get better, to gain skill in a competitive e-sport. same with starcraft players.

If there is no goal then it's a simulator.
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« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2012, 08:03:58 AM »


i think what i took away from his articles was not that games should have no gameplay or whatever, just that they should not neglect or look down on the non-gameplay parts of the experience, because it's often those parts that make a game memorable

I definitely agree with that but I also think if you don't have the basic fun gameplay down then your artistic vision is largely in vain.

I suppose our medium has many difficult constraints to satisfy.
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« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2012, 08:09:29 AM »

i think with the exception of the upside down castle thing, those were largely unrelated to level design, or even to gameplay. those bosses could have worked exactly the same without their particular sounds and graphics that made them memorable. there's no reason the big ball of limbs couldn't have been a big ball of jello or slime instead, but it was because it was made of limbs and not slime or jello that it was memorable. similarly there was no gameplay reason alucard's mother or whoever she was (i think it was actually a doppleganger pretending to be her, now that i think more about it?) had to scream at the end after you killed her, it was purely aesthetic, but that is part of what made it memorable
what if the ball of limbs (legion) wasn't a boss but just something that is mentioned in dialog or appears on a painting in the background? would it still be as memorable?
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« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2012, 09:18:21 AM »

I'm not with him on the 'killing gameplay' part.
First of all, any systems driven game that's built to facilitate emergent gameplay and player driven storytelling has its most memorable moments in gameplay. Even in games that aren't like that I've had moments where the gameplay helped create a powerful response. One example would be the final mission of Mass Effect 2 (not counting the very last bossfight) which had a super strong atmosphere that persisted between the story and gameplay segments. They both enhanced eachother and it was just a great experience as a whole.

In games where that isn't the case I don't think the answer is to cut gameplay, it's just to reduce the dissonance between the gameplay and the story, themes and atmosphere of the game.
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« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2012, 12:20:07 PM »

like for example, simcity and minecraft and interactive toys like those don't have gameplay, but aren't movies
[/quote]

Minecraft has a goal, get to the ender and kill the  dragon.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2012, 07:31:57 PM »

i think with the exception of the upside down castle thing, those were largely unrelated to level design, or even to gameplay. those bosses could have worked exactly the same without their particular sounds and graphics that made them memorable. there's no reason the big ball of limbs couldn't have been a big ball of jello or slime instead, but it was because it was made of limbs and not slime or jello that it was memorable. similarly there was no gameplay reason alucard's mother or whoever she was (i think it was actually a doppleganger pretending to be her, now that i think more about it?) had to scream at the end after you killed her, it was purely aesthetic, but that is part of what made it memorable
what if the ball of limbs (legion) wasn't a boss but just something that is mentioned in dialog or appears on a painting in the background? would it still be as memorable?

that's kind of hard to answer since obviously it'd depend on how it was done. it's hard to determine how hypothetically memorable something is -- i mean, i can imagine that if it was done very well, it could have been even more memorable, and if done poorly, it'd be less memorable. hypothetical situations / ideas are hard to evaluate without seeing the execution

it may not have worked as well because it wasn't all that important of a character in the plot. but, like, i imagine dracula still would have been memorable in the game if you never actually fought him in the end: i mean, if all he said was that aforementioned quote at the beginning and then there was no final battle against him, i don't think that quote would become less memorable. even as the game stands, the quote is more memorable than the battle against him. i don't actually even remember what the battle against him was even like, but i still remember almost the exact intonation of that 'miserable pile of secrets' bit
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« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2012, 03:05:30 AM »

Quote
I think than when we’re focused on overcoming a challenge – we try to kill an attacker or win a race – we go into savage beast’s survival mode and shut ourselves down for any “higher class” emotions. Our vision gets extremely narrow, and we’re no longer multi-tasking. Beating the challenge becomes the only thing that matters.

The best example is QTEs. You either engage in them emotionally or win them, but you cannot do both at the same time.

Does it mean that if you want a deeply emotional game, you should drop regular gameplay, with all its core combat loops, gameplay mechanics and other voodoo?

Yes.

Whoa, this is interesting.

It's almost cliche now when some dev is like, "_game_ mechanics ruin immersion in fictional world/drama/etc." Like these devs know _all_ mechanics. There aren't anymore. If your mechanics don't detract from the emotional experience then they aren't game mechanics, because we are game designers and our mechanics detract, and there is literally nothing else!

Oh yeah. Oh. yeah.

QTE is literally the most primitive game mechanic ever created. "Press A now!" - FAIL/SUCCEED. I dare you to invent a more trivial mechanic that can still be classified as a game on its own.

Most AAA designers come up with some emotional experience then just throw random mechanics at it, find like 3 ways - out of the thousands of permutations - that the mechanics link to the "emotional experience" and call that "design." Then when the two forces clash it's the fault of game design itself.

Making mechanics match everything else is hard, because not only do you need to tackle the challenging problems of creating a game that is deep, original, varied, easy-to-learn, easy to build on a budget, but you also have to tune them to create an experience in the player that complements the story being told. Often the story has to develop alongside the mechanics. That takes teamwork! Oh god!

Most designers have trouble making something that is original and as deep/varied as the predecessor in a series. Take every FF combat system.... Making it suit a series of boundaries on the constructed experience, oh boy. Have some humility AAA.


in other words, *even the people designing* all that mindless hi-res shooting, handholding tutorials, and quick-time events hate that stuff, and often hate it more than the average gamer does

Bleszinski quit, Molyneux, the Bioware doctors, Romero. These guys realized that game design is actually hard, that AAA budget is not a substitution for it, and it actually takes thinking and humility and questioning things. I'd hate AAA tendencies too if I was a AAA dev. I hate them already, just by thinking about them. Ugh. A lot of big-budget designers have the passion for games, got lured by the money trap, and at some point realized... "this is more like entertainment product construction than art... whatever that means." So they harbor resentment. Their hearts are in the right place.
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« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2012, 03:11:08 AM »

i'll never understand people who say challenging games can't be memorable or "emotional" but oh well.

I think he's misusing the word "emotion." What he really means is the way games try to make you "emotional" with their stories or whatever. You're like supposed to be engaged in some murder-something in Heavy Rain but you're doing QTEs. Emotion - the word - is just misused. What he's really looking for is, "that deep shit everyone knows they can get reliably from movies/books but not from games."
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« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2012, 03:16:05 AM »

he kind of even specifically said the opposite: he listed memorable moments from games with gameplay. he just said that all tended to occur in the parts of a game that didn't have gameplay, not the parts of the game that did

This observation of his isn't even correct. If we all did a round table we'd quickly realize how emotional each of us has become in mechanics-heavy sections of gaming. The observation that memorable moments happen by-majority in non-mechanics-laden sections of a game just isn't even true. The most powerful moments in HL2 for me were most certainly not the passive parts. Listen to any human being talk about their experiences playing Half-Life (1) and remember all the "key" sections. They are largely the interactive parts. The AAA guy is just disillusioned.

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« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2012, 03:25:28 AM »

another issue is: does something have to be memorable in order to be good? there are plenty of good things which are not memorable, and a lot of bad things which *are* memorable

for instance, the "master of unlocking" in resident evil 1, and the voice acting in that game and in symphony of the night, are certainly memorable. the level design in those games was good but forgettable. but that doesn't mean that the best part of those games is what you remember about them

Ok, so this is coming up a lot. Be careful with the word "memorable." There is a big difference between powerful memories and clear ones. I remember a conversation I had with a girl I had strong feelings for 6 years ago. I don't remember a single thing we talked about. I had forgotten literally the day after. However, I knew a lot of things about her. I knew a lot of things that I felt. The second time I talked to her at length it was as if we had built lots of memories. The memories weren't clear, but they were powerful, they affected me, and I could draw from them.

Personal, abstract experiences are like this. It is incorrect to think that because you remember the details of one thing that you "remember it better" than something else you remember 0 details of but have lots to say about.

Everyone knows "do a barrel role," and I'm sure you'd quote it if we chatted back when we were young - chatting about star fox - but if we talked at length I guarantee you the passion and words would come from the things you did, not from the scripted events. It just so happens that a conversation like that is harder to get into, and even when you have one it's not like its particulars are glued into your mind.

There's this issue with "clarity of memory" that gets thrown around a lot in game design discussion. A lot of designers misunderstand what players like about their games because they are poor at extracting what the players felt when playing. Games are inherently interactive. Interaction is personal, abstract. It is by-definition more complex to talk about, analyze, write down, identify etc.

Sometimes this fact is forgotten and people incorrectly conclude that the cinematics in FF7 were what made the game great, because that's what everyone could agree upon was awesome. But it wasn't the cinematics, and that's why the more recent FFs are less popular, especially when you account for their budget.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 03:40:02 AM by Graham. » Logged
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« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2012, 03:35:46 AM »



This is so true that hurts.

Also, the so called "deep and/or memorable emotions" are not even a must in game at all. [rant] I was talking yesterday with friends about some game ideas, and they had this idea of a game in a origami world, and it had some pseudo confrontation of creator and creature in a kind of sad way, which instantly turned me off. He is a damn origami, he doesn't even need a story, he is already awesome by itself. But if he need a story, why does it need to be sad? Why this trend with sad stories? Why can't we just have some fun? [/rant]  Waaagh!

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« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2012, 03:41:26 AM »

Sad is our attempt for identity. "Fun" isn't seen as serious enough. It's growing pains.
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« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2012, 06:34:14 AM »

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« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2012, 06:52:06 AM »

Yeah, we should just give it time instead of bitching.
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« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2012, 07:27:14 AM »

He had me in the first article, where he encourages you to question the extreme amount of codified rules involved in AAA game making, but loses me in the second article.

"The best part of GTA3+ is riding around listening to the radio"
...while running down hookers and smashing things.

An entire game of just that anyway would be pretty boring.  Roll Eyes

"If you read discussions like Most Jaw-dropping Scenery or Sequence in a Game you can see that the things that people remember from their favorite games are:

    * Beautiful places
    * One off events like a helicopter boss fight or escaping a house on fire
    * Gameplay-less experiences like exploration or short interactive dramas"


Don't AAA games already focus heavily on those things? Isn't that why they're bad?

"And, on the other hand, in threads like that no one ever talks about the regular gameplay. No one mentions combat zones, jumping sequences, or enemy variety."


Because they're unilaterally not interesting in most AAA titles.

KGSDHFBDSdfsI'm going to throat-jab this guy.  Sad


edit:
I looked up The Walking Dead as his article suggested; what, what is this? I watched the trailers and it was like watching a trailer about a movie not something I actually play at all.  So Heavy Rain with zombies.

Heavy Rain with zombies is an example of what all games should be more like to this guy.  Lips Sealed

edit 2x:
Although, he does make me think that maybe we should have a distinction between games that are heavy on story-telling vs. games that are heavy on doing things.  Or rather shooting zombies in the face and collecting trinkets vs. interacting with characters and finding out their story because goddamn it I want to know because they're interesting.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 08:14:12 AM by Ben_Hurr » Logged
ஒழுக்கின்மை (Paul Eres)
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« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2012, 11:35:50 AM »

Sometimes this fact is forgotten and people incorrectly conclude that the cinematics in FF7 were what made the game great, because that's what everyone could agree upon was awesome. But it wasn't the cinematics, and that's why the more recent FFs are less popular, especially when you account for their budget.

but the thing is, imagine ff7 without the cinematics and music and story and so on. imagine it had bad graphics, and was done on the nes, like this ff7 nes chinese remake hack:





the gameplay is essentially the same between the two versions of the game (there were obviously some differences, but the essential difference is mostly graphics and music, not game mechanics). but almost nobody would enjoy the ff7 nes game more than the ff7 ps1 game, they aren't even remotely the same experience
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« Reply #39 on: November 10, 2012, 12:01:09 PM »

but what if the game didn't have gameplay?

what i'm trying to get at here (and with my previous post) is that both mechanics and aesthetics are important. even in a game that's mostly about audio, visuals or writing, the "gameplay" (mechanics, level design etc., ESPECIALLY level design) helps "frame" these things and tie them together.

think of it like cinematography and editing in films. of course the average moviegoer doesnt remember camera movements and cuts but that doesn't mean they aren't extremely important. would transformers be a mega blockbuster if it all the scenes were static camera angels with no cuts?
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