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Corpus
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« Reply #60 on: January 09, 2009, 01:47:49 AM »

Trying to make a fun game is a perfectly admirable thing to do, but saying that you're making a fun game is insufficient, because everybody has a different idea of what "fun" means.

I just HOPE people will find it fun when I make games.   Concerned Hand Thumbs Up Right

Excellent.

Presumably you have some sort of set of criteria in mind when you make said games, hoping that people will find them fun. Is this a safe assumption to make?
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« Reply #61 on: January 09, 2009, 02:24:23 AM »

I've always had trouble defining my approach. I've been asked many times about my working habits and how I'm inspired, but all I can really say so far is "I just do it".

I guess I'd need to analyze myself before I can give an answer. I wouldn't make a great speaker.
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« Reply #62 on: January 09, 2009, 04:04:11 AM »

Let's assume, for a second, that I found going outside and staring into the sun fun, it was engaging, I'd lose track of time and just stare into the sun for hours. To me, that would be the most entertaining thing available. Now, if you found that staring into the moon was the most enjoyable thing ever. Which of these is more fun? What you enjoy or what I enjoy? The point trying to be made is that fun is subjective, that what one person likes someone else may not, so it's not really good to say that there is some universal measure of "fun" an object has.

To some extent this is true, but it shouldn't be exaggerated. People are all basically people. We have nearly identical DNA, our brains work very similarly, many of us even share a culture. These similarities shouldn't be understated. What I find fun, many other people are likely to find fun; what they find fun I'm likely to find fun.

Of course there are idiosyncrasies. And you need a dozen or two playtesters to be sure that most people playing your game are having fun. But it's not hopeless, people aren't hopelessly different at what they find fun, very few people actually find staring into the moon or the sun fun. I don't know anybody who does. What my friends find fun is usually what I find fun. There are exceptions, there are things I find fun that my friends don't, and things a friend finds fun that I don't, but they're only exceptions.

So I favor figuring out whether a game is fun or not, through playtesting. If you let 20 people try out the game and 19 find it fun, yay. If none of them do, you have a problem. If only three of the those 20 do, you probably have a problem but it could also work as a very niche game.
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« Reply #63 on: January 09, 2009, 04:28:09 AM »

Oh, and for a more analytical look into what people tend to find fun -- there's a lot of variation, but I'm a radical behaviorist at heart so my firm belief is that fun is about stimulus and reward. This is most clear in games like World of Warcraft, but pretty much every game "generates" fun by alternating challenges and rewards. It's kind of stupid, but it's seen in pretty much every game. Civilization has a 'one more turn' feeling; RPGs have level-gaining and treasure chests, and so on. Most fun games are fun because they challenge and then reward a player, repeatedly, in a pattern.
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« Reply #64 on: January 09, 2009, 04:29:41 AM »

In fact, I can't think of a single genre of game (except perhaps visual novels) that don't basically work like that: challenge, reward, challenge, reward, challenge, reward. It's basically like a mouse pushing a lever for a treat.
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« Reply #65 on: January 09, 2009, 05:13:28 AM »

Let's assume, for a second, that I found going outside and staring into the sun fun, it was engaging, I'd lose track of time and just stare into the sun for hours. To me, that would be the most entertaining thing available. Now, if you found that staring into the moon was the most enjoyable thing ever. Which of these is more fun? What you enjoy or what I enjoy? The point trying to be made is that fun is subjective, that what one person likes someone else may not, so it's not really good to say that there is some universal measure of "fun" an object has.

This doesn't relate to what your point was, I just liked the examples. What I gets me about saying that the purpose of games are to be fun is that staring at the sun is not a game. If the most fun you can have is staring at the sun, and we say that the purpose of games is to be fun, and leave it at that, then the best game (for you) is staring at the sun.

We can say that games should be fun, if we use one quite broad meaning of the word like the one Rinku came up with, but then we can say that all entertainment should be fun. Movies and music and plays are all supposed to be fun. They're all supposed to be stuff their audience is supposed to enjoy experiencing and not find boring. So there has to be more to the purpose of games than being fun (I think that it at least involves interactivity and the player trying to achieve certain things within the game).


On, or closer to, the original topic:

I pretty much agree with agj. Of course saying that some game is fun is fine and everything, but you're hardly saying anything more than that you like it. Stuff like saying that the some designer forgot that games are supposed to be fun or that a game is good because it is fun isn't very meaningful/useful.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Some things are more fun than others, and you have to be able to recognize which game design decisions make a game the most fun. Haowan had an idea for a platformer that went "Pickups would give the player a reward for their platforming, break up dormant sections of levels, and we can let them know how many of the pickups they got out of the total which will give them a goal to achieve". But where in there does he analyze how fun it would be? He said an idea, but he didn't actually check to see if it were a good idea at all. No one will play games with game design decisions that aren't fun to play.

I could make an ultra-realistic FPS game where you have to press a button periodically to breathe, or else you'll suffocate to death. But nobody would like that, because that's a terrible idea that wouldn't fun at all. Fun is not to be used as a descriptor, but it's absolutely necessary for each game designer to know what decisions he has to make in order to make a fun game. And whether or not the game has a fun story or fun gameplay or fun audio or fun graphics, his game is going to suck if he doesn't think about fun at all.

We can't really analyse how fun something is so long as we don't have "fun" figured out. You don't offer an analysis of how fun that ultra-realistic FPS of yours is either, you just say that it is not; if the reader thinks it sounds awesome, given your description, the "wouldn't fun at all" bit won't make much of a difference (and if the reader agrees with you it is arguably redundant).

What we can do is to point at stuff and say that we think it is or is not fun. And then it really is quite useful to be as precise as possible as well as being able to make abstraction. Haowan is quite precise about what it is about pickups he would find fun and he puts it in a way so that it applies to more than just that one game (there's a good chance I understand what he means by "break up dormant sections of levels" without knowing all that much about the imaginary game of his). Of course, people might disagree that that would be fun anyway, but then at least chances are that they'd be disagreeing with what haowan meant (while with your ultra-realistic FPS, my mother might agree that games where you can die are no fun, and I might agree that repetition that is not challenging is no fun, and you might have meant something else).
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« Reply #66 on: January 09, 2009, 05:24:11 AM »

Another thing to keep in mind is that fun isn't the be-all and end-all of games. It's important, but it's more important how you have fun than that you have fun.

I can have fun playing Civilization 4, I can have fun watching English commentaries on professional Starcraft games, I can have fun looking at pornography, I can have fun donating to people in third world countries using Kiva, I can have fun sending love letters, I can have fun marketing my last game, I can have fun making my next game, I can have fun reading LiveJournal, I can have fun reading these forums. All of those things can be fun, but they aren't all equally good uses of time.

So that's why I see making a game fun as easy: it's not that difficult to make something fun and entertaining, or even addicting. What really matters is what they have fun doing and how beneficial it is to them as a person. A fun game that achieves its fun through exploding heads or leveling up and maxing out their stats is probably less beneficial to someone than a game that achieves its fun through exploring interesting environments or making interesting moral choices.
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« Reply #67 on: January 09, 2009, 07:32:03 AM »

Quote from: GeneralValter
Some things are more fun than others, and you have to be able to recognize which game design decisions make a game the most fun.
Let's assume, for a second, that I found going outside and staring into the sun fun, it was engaging, I'd lose track of time and just stare into the sun for hours. To me, that would be the most entertaining thing available. Now, if you found that staring into the moon was the most enjoyable thing ever. Which of these is more fun? What you enjoy or what I enjoy? The point trying to be made is that fun is subjective, that what one person likes someone else may not, so it's not really good to say that there is some universal measure of "fun" an object has.
Which do you like more: ET: The Extraterrestrial, or Chrono Trigger? One of those choices is obviously more fun (and it's the one that doesn't start with an E). You're still going on about how everybody has totally different opinions, and someone's going to like something even if you don't. But that's not even a little bit true. Even if there are people who do like ET, you can bet that they like other games an awful lot more.

I guess it's hard to talk about this anymore, because we've reached the point where your argument relies on one opinion, and mine relies on an entirely opposite opinion.

Rinkuhero: Exploring environments doesn't sound that beneficial to me. It merely appeals to a single aesthetic, just like leveling up or maxing out stats. I don't see how graphical taste would be "beneficial" to a player in comparison to other tastes. "Interesting moral choices" is more valid to me, but the fun in moral choices usually comes from the presentation of the moral choice, not the moral choice itself.

You're right that games with meaning have more benefit than games without. My favorite games and stories are the ones that can provide a thrilling experience while still allowing for a metaphor or analogy to give it purpose. However, the inclusion of morality or metaphor usually does little to provide fun by itself. "The Scarlet Letter" is apparently about adultery, but most people I know weren't able to figure out exactly what the moral was because the book was just so boring. Things with morals aren't necessarily fun, and things that are fun aren't necessarily important. The key is linking morality and fun together.
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« Reply #68 on: January 09, 2009, 08:03:10 AM »

You're still going on about how everybody has totally different opinions, and someone's going to like something even if you don't. But that's not even a little bit true.

It's pretty obvious that it is more than just "a little bit true". For example I do not like Chrono Trigger. Other people like it. I don't think it is much fun, while other people think it is. One person doesn't even like the same things, find the same things fun, at different points in time.
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« Reply #69 on: January 09, 2009, 08:24:25 AM »

The reason I think exploring interesting environments is worthwhile is because it can be a sublime experience. I.e. if I'm on my deathbed and thinking back at all the wonderful experiences I've had, the feelings I got exploring the environments in, say, Seiklus, is going to be up there. Exploding heads in Fallout 3 and maxing stats in some jRPG are not going to matter then, not even to people who love that stuff.

Also, it might be better to think of fun as not something that a game "has", but as something that a player does with a game. Fun is more in the player than in the game. When someone enjoys Chrono Trigger, where is the fun located: in the game or in the person? It's in the person. People have fun with games, they use games as a tool for having fun, but the fun isn't located inside the game somehow, it isn't a property of the game, it's a property of the person and how they are using the game.
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« Reply #70 on: January 09, 2009, 08:27:54 AM »

Replace "Chrono Trigger" by any other game widely debated as the "best game of all time". You can replace "ET" with any game in contention for worst ever, too.

I didn't like Chrono Trigger either. But I can guarantee you that it's about a cubic mega-ton better than ET.

How about Out of this World? Do you think that it's better than ET? I'm pretty sure everybody else does too.

Rinku: Fun is a part of the players experience, but it is caused by stimulus in the game. And again, there are things that make a game fun, and things that make a game not fun.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2009, 08:32:32 AM by GeneralValter » Logged
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« Reply #71 on: January 09, 2009, 08:29:56 AM »

I don't think the fun is caused by the game. Rather the game is a tool to elicit fun: its relation to fun is like a spoon's relation to your food. We wouldn't say that a spoon "causes" food or eating, but it does make eating easier. Similarly, games don't cause fun, but they make having fun easier.
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« Reply #72 on: January 09, 2009, 08:34:59 AM »

I don't think the fun is caused by the game. Rather the game is a tool to elicit fun: its relation to fun is like a spoon's relation to your food. We wouldn't say that a spoon "causes" food or eating, but it does make eating easier. Similarly, games don't cause fun, but they make having fun easier.
An especially fancy spoon won't make your food taste better, will it? I think you're mixing up your similes. The game is more like the food, which tastes better or worse depending on how well it was made. the spoon is more like the video game controller (or keyboard layout), as certain spoons are suited to certain foods, just as certain controllers are best used for certain games (like keyboard + mouse controls being better for RTS games).
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« Reply #73 on: January 09, 2009, 08:39:58 AM »

A fancy spoon could make food taste better, sure -- there's a lot of psychology that goes on there. When I eat with a silver spoon I especially enjoy the meal. I definitely don't think the game is like the food, because I can have fun without games, but I can't eat without food.
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« Reply #74 on: January 09, 2009, 08:48:10 AM »

talkin about spoons

ILL TELL YOU WHATS FUN
PLAYING A VIDEO GAME
c ya!! Well, hello there!
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« Reply #75 on: January 09, 2009, 09:02:09 AM »

I don't know if fun is a particularly good or bad word either way - it's undeniably subjective and unhelpful unless you're speaking only for yourself or very abstractly.  But at the same time it's a word that does encompass that specific sensation of enjoyment in ways no other word does - "Happy" or "enjoyable" don't suffice.  In general, I'm agnostic to the word itself.  If you can come up with a more specific or colorful way to describe why you do or do not enjoy a game, use it.  If it's the only word that fits, it's the only word that fits.

The real problem is that fun, however you define it, is seen by just about everyone (including wide swaths of developers) as the de facto reason for games to exist.  I.E., a game can be poignant or moving or culturally relevant or politically and emotionally charged - but if it isn't fun then it has failed as a game.  The notion is just as absurd as saying that pictures need to be pretty or songs need to be catchy.  You can't boil an entire medium down to a single concept and judge all works based on it before any other consideration.  If there's one reason to remove "fun" from the designer's lexicon, it's that it is incredibly limiting when viewed as The One True Goal.  Not every mechanic and design choice should have the "But is it fun?!" litmus test applied.

I'd go so far as to say games will fail as a medium until this preconception is dropped, since it precludes us from exploring a ton of interesting design and thematic elements and relegates us to the realm of nothing more than various flavors of escapist entertainment.
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« Reply #76 on: January 09, 2009, 10:05:03 AM »

Replace "Chrono Trigger" by any other game widely debated as the "best game of all time". You can replace "ET" with any game in contention for worst ever, too.

I didn't like Chrono Trigger either. But I can guarantee you that it's about a cubic mega-ton better than ET.

How about Out of this World? Do you think that it's better than ET? I'm pretty sure everybody else does too.

If you narrow your selection down to games that nearly everyone agree are good/bad, then you're not making much of a point by noting that a lot of people agree that they are good/bad.

I haven't played ET and I've hardly played Out of this World. However I think that Space Giraffe is a much better game than Chrono Trigger, a lot more fun. Many people disagree with me. That's pretty simple.
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« Reply #77 on: January 09, 2009, 10:09:17 AM »

I don't know if fun is a particularly good or bad word either way - it's undeniably subjective and unhelpful unless you're speaking only for yourself or very abstractly.  But at the same time it's a word that does encompass that specific sensation of enjoyment in ways no other word does - "Happy" or "enjoyable" don't suffice.  In general, I'm agnostic to the word itself.  If you can come up with a more specific or colorful way to describe why you do or do not enjoy a game, use it.  If it's the only word that fits, it's the only word that fits.

The real problem is that fun, however you define it, is seen by just about everyone (including wide swaths of developers) as the de facto reason for games to exist.  I.E., a game can be poignant or moving or culturally relevant or politically and emotionally charged - but if it isn't fun then it has failed as a game.  The notion is just as absurd as saying that pictures need to be pretty or songs need to be catchy.  You can't boil an entire medium down to a single concept and judge all works based on it before any other consideration.  If there's one reason to remove "fun" from the designer's lexicon, it's that it is incredibly limiting when viewed as The One True Goal.  Not every mechanic and design choice should have the "But is it fun?!" litmus test applied.

I'd go so far as to say games will fail as a medium until this preconception is dropped, since it precludes us from exploring a ton of interesting design and thematic elements and relegates us to the realm of nothing more than various flavors of escapist entertainment.

You limit yourself by believing that fun is the only part of a game. You would equally limit yourself by deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun. I consider games to be two parts, fun and meaning. Games should be entertaining enough for the player to consider continuing with it, and they should have enough meaning to provide a reward that the player can actually take away from the game after playing.

There are lots of fun games that are totally pointless, and when you finish you are impressed with the game, but you have little reason to ever play it again. Yet the other extreme is just as bad, in my opinion. It's been seen in other mediums of art, like abstract paintings and Romanticism in literature (re: The Scarlet Letter). They have all sorts of hidden meaning, but they have no aesthetic pleasure to them. I consider such things to be worthless. A good painting can provide both beauty and symbolism, and a good book can provide both intensity and morality. Gaming should be no different.

Gnarf: Some games are good. Some games are bad. Thusly, your argument is false. Some things are more fun than others.
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« Reply #78 on: January 09, 2009, 10:27:21 AM »

You limit yourself by believing that fun is the only part of a game. You would equally limit yourself by deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun. I consider games to be two parts, fun and meaning. Games should be entertaining enough for the player to consider continuing with it, and they should have enough meaning to provide a reward that the player can actually take away from the game after playing.

There are lots of fun games that are totally pointless, and when you finish you are impressed with the game, but you have little reason to ever play it again. Yet the other extreme is just as bad, in my opinion. It's been seen in other mediums of art, like abstract paintings and Romanticism in literature (re: The Scarlet Letter). They have all sorts of hidden meaning, but they have no aesthetic pleasure to them. I consider such things to be worthless. A good painting can provide both beauty and symbolism, and a good book can provide both intensity and morality. Gaming should be no different.

What's wrong with saying that games can be made without any intrinsically or traditionally "fun" elements?  It's expanding rather than limiting to say that the medium can support games made with balls-to-the-wall action and kickass graphics as well as somber, serious, or even uncomfortable games.

To say that a game lacks fun is not to say they're not engaging on other levels, and I'm not promoting some Bogostian universe where being outright boring is a legitimate aesthetic (that's a debate for a different day).  A game that puts players in the uncomfortable position of a loveless marriage while trying to hide a passionate affair probably shouldn't be "fun" in a traditional sense, but it certainly could hold player's interests.  A game where the player is in a concentration camp during the Holocaust shouldn't be fun, but could be full of tension and drama.  While there's nothing wrong with them, there's more to the medium than shootin' dudes, racing cars, and earning points.
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« Reply #79 on: January 09, 2009, 11:40:17 AM »

What's wrong with saying that games can be made without any intrinsically or traditionally "fun" elements?  It's expanding rather than limiting to say that the medium can support games made with balls-to-the-wall action and kickass graphics as well as somber, serious, or even uncomfortable games.

To say that a game lacks fun is not to say they're not engaging on other levels, and I'm not promoting some Bogostian universe where being outright boring is a legitimate aesthetic (that's a debate for a different day).  A game that puts players in the uncomfortable position of a loveless marriage while trying to hide a passionate affair probably shouldn't be "fun" in a traditional sense, but it certainly could hold player's interests.  A game where the player is in a concentration camp during the Holocaust shouldn't be fun, but could be full of tension and drama.  While there's nothing wrong with them, there's more to the medium than shootin' dudes, racing cars, and earning points.
You're using some bizarre definition of "fun", where it can only be applied to frenetic action. Why is that? Fun can refer to aesthetics like graphics and music. Fun can refer to tension and drama. "Fun", "Engaging", "Exciting", "Tense", "Dramatic", they all mean the same thing. Fun doesn't just mean shootin' dudes.
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