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Level 2: Homeplay

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let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

Level 2: Iteration and Rapid Prototyping
For this week:
Iteration & Rapid Prototyping

Have any thoughts on this week's Homeplay assignments?

Before next Monday, read the following. I will be referencing these in Monday’s content when we talk about the formal elements of games:
- Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 2 (Atoms). This will act as a bridge between last Monday when we talked about a critical vocabulary, and next Monday when we will start breaking down the concept of a “game” into its component parts.
- Formal Abstract Design Tools, by Doug Church. This article builds on Costikyan’s I Have No Words, offering some additional tools by which we can analyze and design games. While he does use many examples from video games, think about how the core concepts in the article can apply to other kinds of games as well.

Share any thoughts you had regarding this week's homeplay reading assignments in this thread.


let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
This Week's Readings

Some thoughts on this week's Homeplay materials:

I strongly recommend the rapid iterative design process, though primarily for a reason the author hadn't mentioned. The Rapid Iteration Process helps prevent perfectionism as a barrier. Have you ever heard of someone "afraid of their own success"? The way I see it, it's more like the person is afraid of criticism, or having their own shortcomings pointed out by someone else. Not only will rapid iteration allow for more improvements to be made in the long run, but it will also prevent immaturity and/or anxiety from holding back someone's design efforts.

If there's one thing that designers need less of, it's an entourage that constantly says their games are great and fun and awesome and they want to play them all the time. By being willing to accept criticism, and actively listening to what the playtesters report, a designer can squash their anxiety about how their game is, as well as start the long process of improving it... so that it really DOES become a game that's fun and awesome and is played all the time. :)

I enjoyed this reading, and took away a lot from it. Primary among these takeaways would be the identified tools: Intention, Perceivable Consequence, and Story/Narrative. I'd translate these a little bit more in terms of developing a Universal Vocabulary:
Intention = WHY a player is doing things. Their motivation.
Perceivable Consequence = WHAT HAPPENS when a player attempts a tactic.
Story = The BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END of a tale.

Also of interest is the reminder that the END of the game's Story can be brought about by either the player(s) or the game itself. It's difficult to confidently state that one option is more thrilling/engaging than the other, in terms of creating a gripping Story as part of a game, since even in the mildest of Eurogames there can still be some immense tension in the final round or two.

Finally, I agree with his closing points that indicate the tools should be used to maximize the player's ability to carry out their own decisions. Games are different from movies or books specifically because they allow the player's input to affect the outcomes. The Intention to carry out a tactic produces a Perceivable Consequence that influences the Story. This leads me to believe that, without the Perceivable Consequences, it's likely there is very little of an engaging game for players.

DifferentName's picture
Joined: 09/08/2013

I like the idea of developing more language of game design. It allows you to convey so much information so quickly, like if you mention the alpha gamer problem in a co-op game.

The talk about finding design tools was interesting. I'm sure it's something we all do all the time, collecting game mechanics in our minds to use in our games, but the way the FADT article described it got me thinking about some of my game designs. But the details of the article really got me thinking about some games, like what could work in some of the game ideas I have. And why the last level of the game I just played got me kind of stuck, because suddenly they introduced new rules that hadn't been around for the entire game, messing with the whole intention -> perceivable consequence thing that was working so well in the rest of the game.

He also had a quick comment about how RPG's haven't really learned anything from RTS games, and I had fun thinking about what they could use. Essentially an RTS game is giving you way too many things to manage all at once, so you have to decide how to split your attention, between managing your resources and infrastructure, or your army and how you could split your army. I could see an RPG using that method of giving you too many things you need to do, forcing you to decide between them, without the need for an RTS army.

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