Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1398266 Posts in 67576 Topics- by 60888 Members - Latest Member: Pillow Packaging Boxes

January 19, 2022, 02:27:06 PM

Need hosting? Check out Digital Ocean
(more details in this thread)
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignAesthetic Layering for the Refined and Unrefined
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4
Print
Author Topic: Aesthetic Layering for the Refined and Unrefined  (Read 17753 times)
Zaphos
Guest
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2007, 11:00:49 PM »

In terms of variety of experience, it's not clear that in general you need or want an increased variety of experience in a single work.  I don't need to hear my books, I don't need to smell my television, I don't need mathematical insights in my action films and I don't need to taste my music.  Could you do something interesting exploring that variety of experience?  Sometimes, but it's hard to say it's an absolute positive thing.  I certainly don't think there is any strict 'more is better' rule, here.

Could you give an example of something which is considered a classic which you don't think has wide appeal? I can't think of any offhand myself.
I don't know what's considered "classic," but I think of stuff that English teachers tend to like too much, like James Joyce or T.S. Eliot, which has very little appeal outside of the literary criticism sort of people.

It's worth noting that 'broad appeal' and 'layered' are not equivalent to me; if you focus on specific things which a lot of people happen to like, you can have broad appeal without layering.  So what I really expect from the layered approach, taken to its logical extent, is not broad appeal but 'universal' appeal -- which is probably not achievable, and the pursuit of which would imply endless compromises and a much weaker work to me.

It doesn't have a negative connotation to me really. Unrefined sugar for instance has a positive connotation to me. I think it's neutral
Yeah, there are two different senses of the word, and the connotation doesn't generally  transfer across definitions like that.  When talking about people, the second definition is typically inferred, which is: "Lacking in delicacy or refinement: barbarian, barbaric, boorish, churlish, coarse, crass, crude, gross, ill-bred, indelicate, philistine, rough, rude, tasteless, uncivilized, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unpolished, vulgar. See courtesy/discourtesy, smooth/rough."
Experienced / Inexperienced makes for a friendlier word choice.
Logged
frosty
Level 1
*


ice cold & refreshing


View Profile WWW
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2007, 11:11:58 PM »

Great topic.   And as long as everyone is writing long posts...  Smiley

I try to do this, though not quite on a philosophical level.  I prefer themes that are inviting and simple, even shallow.  But I try to offer interesting choices that are artfully combined with the theme (versus a lot of mainstream games, which I see as slapping Theme X onto Gameplay Genre Y and not integrating the two.)  So, in my case, I hope the appeal for a "refined" player is in being presented with novel gameplay and appreciating the design itself.

My favorite example of this is a board game called Awful Green Things from Outer Space by Tom Wham.  It's a familiar theme of aliens invading a spacecraft, and the presentation is really cartoony.  And the core of it is a rather typical dice-rolling strategy game. 

The cleverness is in the way the alien player can multiply, and the fact that the ship's crew has to experiment to see which weapons have what effects on the aliens (e.g. a pool stick might be deadly, but a can of soda makes them multiply.) So the mechanics add to the frantic and ridiculous setting.  It's not a *great* game, and has some balancing issues, but it has so much personality and cleverness that it's hard not to like it.  Younger players will enjoy the colorful theme and funny possibilities, but more experienced players can appreciate the strategy and unique mechanics that could only exist because they were inspired by the theme.

The biggest problem with this approach that I've experienced is that with a shallow theme, it's easy for people to overlook the more "refined" parts.  In my case, a lot of people have dismissed my game as a collection of retro knockoffs... which it is, in a humorous way, but I also put an enormous amount of work integrating the metagame with the arcade setting.

Hmmm, maybe chocolate-covered steak isn't such a good idea...
 
« Last Edit: November 09, 2007, 11:13:38 PM by frosty » Logged

ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2007, 11:12:50 PM »

I think you don't *need* it, but I don't think it'd take anything away, if integrated well. But of course no one work can contain everything, even really long, really good ones like the Ramayana or Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Brothers Karamazov. My post was more in favor of 'you should maximize the depth of a game by making different elements in it understandable in more than one way or play double-duty'.

I don't like T.S. Eliot much either. But I think that when you're forced to read something you tend to enjoy it less. Also, T.S. Eliot's works aren't very layered, I don't think a kid reading them could enjoy them. Keats is probably a better example of a poet that can be appreciated by people both inexperienced and experienced in poetry. Keats did it by making it simply pleasant to read (like Dr. Seuss, where it's fun just to say the words aloud) and have some deeper content as well.
Logged

Zaphos
Guest
« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2007, 12:38:06 AM »

I think you don't *need* it, but I don't think it'd take anything away, if integrated well. But of course no one work can contain everything, even really long, really good ones like the Ramayana or Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Brothers Karamazov. My post was more in favor of 'you should maximize the depth of a game by making different elements in it understandable in more than one way or play double-duty'.
I don't really buy that you can say with any generality that it doesn't take anything away; I think almost any addition changes the nature of the experience and its positives and negatives should be weighed carefully.  (Of course, you could say  that part of your definition of "integrated well" is "it doesn't take anything away" -- in this case I would simply say I'm not sure it's always possible to "integrate well".)

Beyond the costs to the ideal experience, there is the practical issue that no one has infinite time or money to put towards their games, and the cost of adding additional layers must be weighed against the cost of strengthening additional layers.

Also, in practice, there the issue that focusing on the areas which truly interest you may yield much better work than layering functionality which you think may broaden the experience.

I don't like T.S. Eliot much either. But I think that when you're forced to read something you tend to enjoy it less. Also, T.S. Eliot's works aren't very layered, I don't think a kid reading them could enjoy them. Keats is probably a better example of a poet that can be appreciated by people both inexperienced and experienced in poetry. Keats did it by making it simply pleasant to read (like Dr. Seuss, where it's fun just to say the words aloud) and have some deeper content as well.
I mentioned TS Eliot in the context of works which are considered 'classics' but aren't very accessible, so it's sort of the point that they're not very layered; it's an example of narrow focus leading to success beyond a 'cult classic'.  As to whether you could improve TS Eliot's work with layering by making it more 'pleasant to read,' I think it would be very hard to do without also detracting from the work in some way.

I also don't think cult classics are a bad or inferior thing, especially from the perspective of a consumer (as opposed to a creator).  As a consumer, I would probably prefer a work that satisfies my tastes specifically, rather than one which appeals to the full spectrum of tastes (which would incidentally include my own).  And that's actually one of the appeals of small / indie games and the internet and all that -- you can create work for a niche without going bankrupt, and it can be very satisfying for all involved.  TellTale's Sam and Max games are a good example of this working out well in practice.  As a consumer, it's not limiting me -- it's actually giving me more options, more senses, to choose from.  Not through one super-layered product, but through a wealth of focused products.
Now as a creator, I see there's some incentive to go for the big audience and the big bucks, etc, but I still think it's great that our current culture seems to be really shifting to support niche work and make it viable, and I don't think anyone's really creating a 'lesser' work just because it's niche.
Logged
ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2007, 12:51:17 AM »

I can't say it with generality, but by well integrated I mean something like this: that if you're not specifically looking for a layer of interest or if it doesn't appeal to you, you wouldn't notice it that much, if at all.

For instance, the people who play Fallout linearly, if they like linear games and hate non-linearity, won't be too bothered by the fact that you *could* play the game in a non-linear way. And the same goes in reverse: if someone really hates linearity, they wouldn't be too bothered that there is a trail of breadcrumbs intended to guide those who like linear games. It doesn't detract from the experience of either type of audience very much to allow both.

Maybe this isn't possible to do for everything, there could be some layers which can never mesh well no matter how you do it (for instance, a game would have a hard time appealing to both people who like big explosions and people who hate violence), but I think a lot of the time it's possible, and that when it's possible, there's no reason not to do it, provided you (as the author of the game) yourself are interested in both layers.

I also think there's a distinction between niche games and one-dimensional games. There are quite a few games which are pretty niche but which have multiple layers of interest value; Nethack for example, or Dwarf Fortress.

Also, the layers need not be mutually exclusive in a single person; what I mean is that it's not only that each layer exists for a different kind of audience, it's also that one person could appreciate a game simultaneously on multiple levels. For instance, yesterday I watched The Incredibles for the first time. And at the same time, I appreciated it as saying something about the mundane-in-the-fantastic, I appreciated the family dynamic, I appreciated how well-done the 3D animation was, and I appreciated how fun the action scenes were. If it had only focused on one of those, the total experience wouldn't have been as good for me, it was all of those working in parallel which made it so interesting to me.
Logged

frosty
Level 1
*


ice cold & refreshing


View Profile WWW
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2007, 01:11:29 AM »

Quote
'you should maximize the depth of a game by making different elements in it understandable in more than one way or play double-duty'.

Got it. And I think defining "depth" is where individual taste comes in.

I know you're more interested in an underlying message, and using it as a vehicle to provoke thought. But when I think "deep", I think about design for design's sake -- actually, your idea of each element playing "double-duty" is one of my rules-of-thumb for making sure the theme and mechanics are tied together. (i.e. something shouldn't just be thrown in for the sake of setting, it should play a role in the player's decisions somehow.)

I also think there's a difference between depth for the sake of marketing (like Pixar films that appeal to kids and adults, though arguably they are good story "design"), and adding depth to games to appeal to people like us.  Because that's really it, isn't it?  When we create something, we imagine there are people out there that will appreciate the same things we like.  If we didn't think there were "refined" people out there, we wouldn't bother adding our special sauce. =)
 

Logged

Michaël Samyn
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2007, 01:43:49 AM »

I haven't been keeping up with this discussion. So apologies if this came up already. Something just kept bugging me...

Art is not a problem that needs a solution!
Art is an opportunity to talk about things that cannot be said in any other way.

Layered content is often a natural concequence of the artistic way of talking.

But you cannot engineer art.
Art exists as an alternative way of talking about reality.
It's not scientific.
Logged

Tale of Tales now creating Sunset
ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2007, 03:07:05 AM »

Art itself isn't a problem that needs a solution, but there are issues relevant to it which are problems which need solutions, such as how to solve a particular problem that comes up while creating it, or how to end a story that you don't know how to end, or how to describe a particular scene, or what color to color a particular house, or what music to use in which place, etc. -- and the post that I originally wrote is something that might help you answer those questions some of the time.

Someone could of course just use intuition and what feels right to answer all of those questions too, and that's a different style of doing things, but not everyone does it totally in that way. Usually they combine the two, making decisions using both what they think is right and what feels right.

Some novelists create outlines for their novels and think of the plot as an interactive system like clockwork and use a bunch of different systems to create a story, others just write page after page without any planning, most use some combination.
Logged

ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2007, 03:24:43 AM »

Even you two have that manifesto, where you outline what direction you think game development should take and explain what you like in art and so on -- I don't see that as too different from this, both are designed to help people become better at making artistic decisions.
Logged

Alec
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2007, 04:02:36 AM »

Hmm, I'm getting tired of the art nazis.

Let's say art can be whatever you wish in your little heart for it to be and leave it at that.
Logged

Zaphos
Guest
« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2007, 04:05:58 AM »

I can't say it with generality, but by well integrated I mean something like this: that if you're not specifically looking for a layer of interest or if it doesn't appeal to you, you wouldn't notice it that much, if at all.
I guess when you get to the point where you're not talking about this artificial refinement-level thing (which is just a cripplingly less general version of "people have different tastes"?), and not touting it as this generally applicable Solution (where making a focused game is "an easy temptation" which is "bad," and the way to fix it is to Just Add Layering! (tm)) ...
... well, it looks like it boils down to 'people have different tastes' and 'sometimes you can combine elements to broaden and improve appeal of your game,' which is just not that interesting a claim.

I will give you that the Fallout example, and generally the idea that you can design the game so that players only see the parts that will match them, is interesting, and I think highlights a unique strength of games as a media.  But it's also probably the most difficult to generalize -- especially to generalize without greatly increasing the amount of content you have to create.
Logged
ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2007, 04:36:10 AM »

I think that people have different tastes, but I also think that those tastes do follow the pattern I mentioned in the first post: that the more experienced you are with a particular art form or genre, the more you can appreciate finer or more subtle distinctions. I don't think that's particularly narrow. That's the main premise/claim of the post, and that's what I think is interesting.

And what I meant was bad was not too much focus, but rather underusing the game elements when they could easily be used for more. It seems lazy or inefficient to me not to pack as much significance into as small a space as you can; if you can say the say more in the same space it's a good idea to do it, it's bad in the way that it's bad to write on only one side of the pages of a notebook and leaving the backs of each page empty. It's not a moral evil, it's just wasteful, and makes a work more flat than it otherwise could be.

Now, you can say that it's not that important to want to appeal to both the experienced and the inexperienced, and maybe it isn't, but at the very least it leads to greater replayability: someone might play the game a second time and find something they missed the first, whereas if it only appealed in a single way you wouldn't find much that you missed if you replay it ten or twenty years later.

And, I don't think seeing only the parts that are relevant to you is unique to games. The first novel I ever read was one of the Narnia books, I was about seven or something. I saw the fantasy elements and enjoyed the story inasmuch as I could, but didn't see the other parts that I later saw when I re-read it twenty or so years later -- for instance, I later saw that the seven books each focused on each of the seven sins of Christianity, and I noticed a lot of Christian imagery and ideology in the books in general, all of which I missed when younger. It wasn't that it got in the way then, I just didn't notice it. And some of the parts that most interested me as a kid (such as how Swedish Delights tasted) didn't particularly interest me as an adult, but I didn't really notice them as obstructing anything either. So I think this type of thing exists everywhere.
Logged

Michaël Samyn
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2007, 04:53:03 AM »

Let's say art can be whatever you wish in your little heart for it to be and leave it at that.

Can we do that for games too? Please! Embarrassed
Logged

Tale of Tales now creating Sunset
ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2007, 04:57:11 AM »

I think that things can be defined however someone wants, but things also have natures too. You can define an apple as a square blue vegetable, but it's still a red/green round fruit despite that. It's just that art and games are more abstract than apples, so it's harder to prove a particular definition right or wrong. I don't think they're subjective, but they're so abstract that they may as well be.
Logged

Zaphos
Guest
« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2007, 04:58:13 AM »

And, I don't think seeing only the parts that are relevant to you is unique to games.
Well, I meant that in games the parts can be completely unseen to those who wouldn't want them, as opposed to other media where they are seen but they just go over the reader's / viewer's head.  So it seems like a more powerful device in games specifically.  The way it's used in Narnia or <insert animated film here> seems relatively less interesting because somehow I see people talk about it basically every time people discuss or review those things.

Let's say art can be whatever you wish in your little heart for it to be and leave it at that.

Can we do that for games too? Please! Embarrassed
Never!  Angry
Logged
ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2007, 05:04:45 AM »

I see what you mean. In games you can literally not have something show up unless someone looks for it.
Logged

ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2007, 05:10:08 AM »

I think there are a few things about art that 99% of people would agree on:

- It's made by people (animals or nature can't make art, although some of the things they make can have art-like effects on people).

- It's usually made to be experienced or contemplated through one or more of the senses, it doesn't have any practical use like most other things do.

I think that's about it; anything more specific than that and you'll have good arguments on either side.
Logged

Alec
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2007, 05:10:18 AM »

Let's say art can be whatever you wish in your little heart for it to be and leave it at that.

Can we do that for games too? Please! Embarrassed

Erm... think most people here think of games that way. Like that they can make them whatever they want. I don't think anyone's implying that games have to be made in a certain way.
Logged

Alec
Level 10
*****



View Profile WWW
« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2007, 05:12:37 AM »

- It's usually made to be experienced or contemplated through one or more of the senses, it doesn't have any practical use like most other things do.

Not entirely true, because you can have everyday useful things that have art on them, in them, as part of them, etc. Engineering and art can overlap a bit, I don't think there's a black and white division between them.
Logged

ஒழுக்கின்மை
Level 10
*****


Also known as रिंकू.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #39 on: November 10, 2007, 05:19:38 AM »

That's true, architecture for example is usually both practical and artistic in some degree. And you can put art on things, like pottery or wallpaper, as decoration. So the second part may not be true, but I still think it's true that when we call something (or some part of something) artistic we mean it's meant to be experienced through the senses. If a pencil has an artistic design on it, that design is meant to be experienced through the senses even though the pencil has a practical use too.

Also I think a few of us here do define games. For instance, a lot of us would say that something without rules or goals (like The Endless Forest) isn't a game in the strict sense of not having gameplay, although it's a game in the sense of something that you can play with. Sometimes we restrict game to mean something with rules, because we don't really have any word to distinguish games with rules and games without rules.
Logged

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4
Print
Jump to:  

Theme orange-lt created by panic