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Level playing field

Posted by Rem on June 18, 2011

Yes, it’s going to be one of those posts.

When I started playing LotRO back in 2007, truth be told, a major motivation was to just “sample” what an MMORPG plays like, what it does wrong and to come up with ideas how it could be done better. I then found myself having lots of fun playing it and the rest is history. Not exactly history you can expect to be taught in history class. Unless it would, in some unthinkably wicked way lead to me ultimately making some sort of discovery that will elevate mankind onto another level. Which would be cool. Or to be directly related to me becoming a historically renowned villain. Which would be uncool. The part about me becoming a major villain, not so much about LotRO being directly linked to it. Although that would suck too, really tired of those “gamer plays games, goes on to destroy the Moon” stories. Other than those possibilities, I can’t really see how anyone would ever be taught the beginnings of my MMORPGaming in history class, so I guess it’ll be more like mysterious and forgotten history, rediscovered millennia later to make gullible people believe the world will end in 4012 AD. Don’t ask me why or how that can possibly have any connection or meaning at all, those future mountebanks are just crazy like that. How are my KiaSA-style tangents coming along? Working on it, working on it.

So, anyway, the earliest major point of criticism was, to put it in the words of a friend: “forget your stats, forget your gear; there is one number that determines how your character performs more than all others combined: your level”. Almost 4 years later, and the grave gravity of those words weighs heavily on my shoulders, like a heavy weight that makes everything appear much heavier. In fact, compared to what I’ve seen since, those heady days appear almost like a dream of level-unhindered harmony, when we’d be dancing and running over green meadows with higher and lower level mobs alike. Killing each other in the process, naturally. I mean us and the mobs, not players killing each other. LotRO is a fairly strictly PvE-focused game.

Mobs as far as 9 levels below you, if memory serves, would get on your case, as LotRO used a sharp aggro cut-off, rather than a gradual never-ending reduction in perception radius, if it was 10 levels below you, it would ignore your existence completely, but spot you perfectly fine if the difference was less. Which was more than a little silly from a simulation point of view. But naturally – and it’s a shame it’s so natural, really – no later than when you were 5 levels higher than the mob, the poor bugger may as well have had his weapons – or claws – replaced with cotton swabs, as they’d never be a danger to you. On the other end, you could pick a fight with a mob 5 levels above you, and it would be a winnable affair, the sharp cut-off, i.e. the point at which you’d just be precluded from being able to hit, coming somewhere (not far) above that. It was indeed easy to see that your level was not so much a representation of your character power, as naive pre-MMO me had thought, but the very basis and structure of said power, everything else effecting only a small variance.

This is not to downplay the insane power creep and power discrepancy games like WoW or RIFT create between characters of the same (max) level due to escalating gear rewards. Not only because any character below max level does not have access to that gear, but also because the means of earning that gear are usually balanced in such a way that there is no way for a sub-level-cap character to appropriately contribute to the success of the process of their acquisition, even if they are not, which is also often the case, mechanically excluded from participation at all. In other words, at best a raider can toss a BoE drop to a leveller/alt, which they won’t be able to equip until they hit level cap; there’s no way for the leveller/alt to actively earn that reward themselves.

Fast forward to RIFT. Let’s keep this short with one concise example: if I take on a mob 3 levels above me, something close to half of my attacks do not land in the target, despite me having a 5% hit bonus from talents and another 1.5% from gear stats. This breaks simulation, breaks immersion, and basically constitutes the game coming at me with a big flashing neon sign saying “do not go this way, go that way”. On the other end, of course, it also gets dull to fight mobs you outlevel pretty quickly. All in all, you end up with this really narrow corridor of “what you’re supposed to do”.

Why does this bother me particularly? Because I play together with MFCFKAMFDFKAMFLM (My Favourite Cleric Formerly Known As My Favourite Druid Formerly Known As My Favourite Lore-Mistress), and I’m really very much enjoying it. Currently, we’re levelling together. Levelling together means, because of the above, staying at the same level, ideally within a few percent points of a level from each other. As soon as you drift apart even a little, you start banging the walls of that narrow corridor and the game comes at you with its flashing neon signs. Consequently, when one of us doesn’t play, the other, effectively, can’t do anything. This is exacerbated by the quest driven game play, which offers you exactly one way to interact with the content, by “doing the quests” – which is content we want to do together. In fact, RIFT offers a resort of sorts here, in the form of the namesake rifts – one could run around a lower level zone just outside the XP range and close rifts. Doing something like that alone does start feeling like an end in itself pretty quickly though.

So what’s the result? A subconscious rush to level cap. Which is ironic, because RIFT is a game that is actually really good fun to play below level cap as well. I have been and am still enjoying the levelling process, despite having never been a fan of quests. But this is one of the fundamental reasons why people rush to level cap. Not because we’re all impatient and can’t enjoy the road for the goal. Not all of us are, at least. No, it’s because only at level cap that number which is way more powerful than it should ever have been stops changing, and only then can we meaningfully play with others. Especially with specific others rather than random others. On a level field.

To close and be clear, I’m not complaining about playing together. Playing together is awesome. I’m complaining about the restraints resulting from a level-centric quest-driven game design. One of those restraints is that playing together only works either in a perfectly static group (which excludes the “sharing independently made discoveries and experiences” element) or at level cap (which needlessly devalues the game before level cap). Yeah, I told you it was going to be one of those posts.

Posted in Game Design, RIFT | 12 Comments »

More on Riddles

Posted by Rem on June 4, 2011

In my previous post I made a few remarks on how riddles shouldn’t be viewed as inherently slowing and interrupting, how they should be part of the game world and the game experience as a whole. The comments made me realise that I should have emphasised that point much more.

The problem is that when we say “riddle”, what we imagine is having to stop and align a bunch of stones such that they light up or something like that. And all the time while figuring out how to align them, our gaming (levelling?) flow is kind of interrupted and we feel slowed down. Then there is an easy way to accelerate and bridge that interrupt, namely by looking up the solution. Which we promptly do. Here’s the thing: when I say “riddle”, I don’t mean the “align five rocks” sort of things, at least not exclusively.

What I mean is this. Usually, that is in an MMORPG you’re likely to play in 2011, you get a quest that tells you to do something. And how to do that something is laid out step by step: kill X, loot Y, apply to Z. A riddle, in the wider sense of the term, for me, is when you have a goal but no recipe how to achieve it – you need to figure out how to get there yourself.

This comes with a few issues attached. For one, if all goals in your game come with a recipe, except for some, which you consider your “riddles”, the reality is that the recipe-driven gameplay takes place at a particular speed, which is, by nature, higher than a riddle-based one can be. Thus when your players get to your “riddle”, they feel slowed down, their flow interrupted. For example in the early levelling game in RIFT, in Freemarch, there are a couple of (story related) quests that ask you to find something/someone, but don’t tell you where. That doesn’t add any sense of mystery, but only annoyance, because all other quests tell (or rather show) you pretty exactly where to go, so suddenly having to run around more or less blindly, suspecting that there is probably exactly one right spot to look in, but unless you end up standing on top of it, you won’t know, because there are no hits to work with, feels rather awkward. Which leads in nicely to the second point.

In the real world, figuring things out is fun (if you’re the inquisitive type, that is) and actually even just possible, because everything takes place in a highly consistent system: the laws of nature. Any knowledge you have about how a certain process works is universally applicable, everywhere and always – and you accumulate a lot of that knowledge. All those “brilliant heads” we watch in our favourite TV shows, solving crimes and difficult problems, are basically characters who are really good at connecting causes and effects. A game world doesn’t have this luxury. The laws of a game world are – inevitably and in significant parts also desirably – different from those of the real world and potentially arbitrary at that. Therefore, unless you make an active effort to relay the laws of your game world to the players and then stay rigorously consistent, the players won’t have a frame of reference to work with. This is the important difference between being able to figure something out gradually and trying things at random until something works.

To use an example from RIFT again, there is this awkward “puzzle” in Moonshade Highlands, the point of which is basically to open valves along a water pipe to fill target reservoirs with water. The reservoirs are aligned in a chain, filling up one after the other. You fill up all 10 – you win. Each valve, after being opened, stays open for about 10-12 seconds and cannot be interacted with until it closes again (so you can’t just keep them open continuously, they will inevitably close and you’ll have to reopen). So far so pretty evident from the arrangement you find – it should also be noted that there is no actual “puzzle” element at work here, unlike in the other puzzles we did so far there’s no actual secret to solve here, it’s basically a click-time game, which is bad in itself, but that’s not the point here. The point is that how the riddle, or shall I say the water behaves is not consistent with anything you could derive from real world or game world observation.

The water flows when all valves are open, through the pressure generated by the source – so far so good. We’ll also accept that the valves auto-close after a while, because that’s how they work, fair enough, such are the tools we’re given. But why is it that water already in the target canisters starts draining when there’s no fresh water being pumped in? Is there a leak somewhere? Possible, but I can’t observe it. All I can see is lights going on and off, and when one of them remains on while the previous ones turn off, I have no idea whether it’s just a bug in the game or actual information being relayed to me. I can’t tell because neither is consistent with any reference system I’d feel my actions and their consequences bound to. Also, while it’s understandable that the flow stops when any of the valves closes, because that cuts off the pressure of the source, it is entirely unclear why this causes all water that is already in the pipe but not in the target canisters yet to outright disappear. That doesn’t align with any law of physics or game world one would be aware of. Shouldn’t it remain in the pipe and be pumped forward once I reopen the previous valves again? It just disappears. This behaviour cannot be derived from any other process observed in the game, nor is it teaching me anything about “how water behaves in RIFT”. It is nothing more than an arbitrary mechanic of this particular riddle. No consistency whatsoever.

This example got a bit lengthy, but was important to explain what I mean when I call for consistent rule systems. If we want players to figure something out, we need to give them knowledge based on which they can make educated deductions. We can’t give that knowledge out all at once, at the moment when it’s required – that’s the recipe approach utilised by modern day quests. We need to introduce it gradually, letting the players (interactively) observe consistent and reoccurring processes and events, allowing them to learn about the game world and how it works. And then, when someone goes ahead and creates an online resource about the consistent laws governing our game, no harm is done at all. This is what community research should be all about, rather than providing players with scripts to success.

Besides, we need the game to take place at a slower pace, such that stopping to think doesn’t feel like an interruption. Of course solutions will still be discovered and gathered online, but here’s the thing, once again (cf. previous post): players don’t look up everything, they look up things they aren’t having fun doing on their own. When the players feel slowed down, they will look up the solution to accelerate back to their usual pace. When they’re used to a slower pace in general, the difference won’t be there to compensate for.

The modern raiding game is a good example of a bad riddle, in fact. Why does everyone look up strategies (and then follow them with a ridiculous rigour, not understanding why something may or may not be applicable)? Because the pace set by the rest of the game doesn’t align with the notion of stopping to think, attempting to observe and find a solution. At the same time, the raid encounters themselves don’t make much of an effort to provide observable cues, to allow you to grasp what’s going on without already knowing in advance. As Telwyn commented on the previous post, the developers pretty much expect us to know. We’re very rarely provided with analogies to established knowledge, because there’s very little consistent knowledge that could be referenced to begin with. Except, you know, don’t stand in the stuff on the floor. Unless it’s good stuff. Naturally.

Posted in Game Design | 13 Comments »


Posted by Rem on May 29, 2011

I was recently watching the recording of a political cabaret live performance. For my German readers, it was, of course, Volker Pispers with the 2010 version of his “Bis Neulich” programme. He was ridiculing the economical nonsense of a news announcement predicting the pension premium rates for 2050, wondering how one can pretend to derive any serious information from such detailed predictions that far in the future, including his wonderful line “economic experts are people who calculate how the future will look like if everything remains exactly as it is now”. He invited us to think back in time and to consider which events of the last 20 years would have appeared like a reasonable prediction in 1990. In an off-hand joke he posed as a hypothetical student asking “what, no Wikipedia? How did you do your homework then!?”. And then it hit me.

Just because Wikipedia exists, schools didn’t stop giving out homework. Even the most slow-to-adapt school systems can’t help but realise that at this point, virtually everyone has access to the internet, meaning that all answers can be looked up, interpretations can be found, essays can be assembled from sufficiently reworded sources and Google generally knows everything. I pulled a somewhat audacious stunt myself about 10 years ago, when I failed to read an assigned book in time and instead looked up a one-page summary and interpretation of “what it is supposed to mean” on the then-young internet, and proceeded to score an A+ for an oral discussion of a book I never read. And yet, homework is still around, going strong and I think we’d be rather surprised if it was announced to us that there is now a general consensus that “homework is pointless, since everything can be looked up”. We’d have a thing or two to say about throwing out the baby with the bath water.

This made me wonder whether we’ve been all a bit rash to completely and indisputably give up on riddles, secrets and mysteries in games – especially online games, especially MMORPGs. The widely accepted reasoning goes that with the power of crowd-sourcing, the more interest your game generates (i.e. the less likely you are to simply go bust because nobody buys your stuff), the less time it will take for every single secret to be discovered, disclosed and meticulously broken down on countless wikis, guides and community websites. Thus, in the Age of the Internet, every task or mechanic relying on the player having to find something out in one way or other may as well just not exist at all. Everyone will tab out, look it up and the development effort will be disproportionately higher than the game experience derived. Occam’s Razor did the rest. Was it wrong to assume that riddles and secrets are worthless because you can circumvent them with external knowledge? I think it depends.

Granted, educational institutions have a slightly different take on things: their goal is to teach you to seek out and apply knowledge, not necessarily to create knowledge. Finding the answer on Wikipedia isn’t really worse than finding it in your textbook; training in finding desired information through modern media is arguably quite beneficial. In the above personal example, the primary reason I got a good grade was that whenever a classmate would stumble through a failed attempt to express their thoughts concisely, I’d catch the drift of what he was going for, cross-match it with the short summary I read, wait for the teacher to cut them off, pipe up and deliver a well formulated version of that same thought. You see, I dare say I’m somewhat clever and can express myself reasonably well, and since those are the very qualities the school system is out to teach, I don’t think I cheated it all that much. Or, in other words, I did cheat it, but without invalidating its purpose.

Games don’t have this particular advantage going for them, but they have another, revealed once again by looking at the goal: games aim to be fun, to increase your joy, your level of satisfaction. Satisfaction can be derived from various aspects (achievement, immersion, socialising etc etc) in varying combinations, but it is always the overarching goal of a game; in the simplified world view where you do things either because they keep you alive or because they bring you joy (not necessarily mutually exclusive), games are firmly in the second camp. So the question that needs to be asked is not whether someone would tab out to look up the solution, but why someone would tab out to look up the solution. And the answer is simple: because searching for it themselves is not fun. It doesn’t mean that people hate riddles, it means you gave them a bad riddle! Riddles have a bad name because they tend to be this thing that slows your gaming flow down to a crawl and makes you stand around staring at some unintuitive interface or some such. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Several questions need to be asked.

Is the process through which the riddle is solved fun in itself? – Clicking on static objects cannot be the only mechanic used in solving riddles. An element of “figuring it out” can be applied to all sorts of game activities, and all sorts of game activities can be involved in the process of solving riddles. If your game is about slaying dragons while your riddles all consist of clicking on bottles, then yes, they’ll come across pretty lame.

Is the process through which the riddle is solved part of the game world? – A riddle should be a challenge posed to and solved by my character/avatar, by means available to my character/avatar. Sure, it’s me who controls him, but … no, actually that’s not even a “but”. The riddle should be solved as I control my character, not as I sit there with pen and paper, ’cause that’s less than a step away from Google.

Do you focus on the solution or on the search for it? – Easy mistake to make: here’s my riddle, here’s how the riddle is solved. But how, i.e. through what process and activity, does one arrive at the solution? If all you focus on while designing the riddle is the solution, that will be what players will focus on as well. You have to provide a path if you want people to walk it.

Are your players in a hurry? – Also known as the WoW-Syndrome. If the driving force in your game design is the accumulation of staggered rewards, then yes, the majority of your players will take every short cut imaginable to get to the reward faster. Be warned, because WoW shows that speed is addictive, and you’ll need to somehow increase it with every update, endlessly streamlining until every second not spent rushing full speed towards some destination is perceived as wasted.

Did you try to design a game element or a time sink? – Be honest. Players will know.

Will everyone like it? – Doesn’t actually matter. No one game mechanic was ever universally beloved by everyone. Tastes are different, perceptions of fun are different. Even in one person: what I want to do today, I may not like tomorrow. If anything, it should be an incentive not to design all of your game around One Thing, rather than to kick out features not everyone may love. If you leave out everything someone might not enjoy, you’ll end up with a blinking dot in the middle of a rectangle faster than you can finish reading this post.

Can it be done in a group? – Massively Multiplayer. At the very least, multiplayer. If your riddles are a process during which one person works towards a “Eureka!” while everyone else sits around unaffected, go back to the drawing board. Think about meaningful sharing of gained knowledge, think about mechanics that allow people to help each other: “help” being notably different from “do it for you”! This isn’t easy. It’s a challenge. But solving riddles together that allow you to truly cooperate in finding the solution is so much more satisfying. It is, in a way, the essence of MMORPGs.

Does it stay the same every time? – That’s the question, isn’t it. A static riddle isn’t always bad: not if it’s well designed, with a focus on the search for the solution and using entertaining mechanics while being rooted in the game world. Bringing in random elements isn’t automatically good: it is, if you can meaningfully diversify. Now, a riddle which is not actually a riddle but a problem situation as presented by a dynamic state of the world with various available solutions through differing approaches, each with built in variations: jackpot.

As a friend of mine tends to say:

We can’t stop people from ruining the game experience for themselves, nor should we try. All we can do is to design in a way that doesn’t make them want to.

PS: Despite having a heavy crush on RIFT, I am objective enough to not really consider its puzzles (one per zone) very much as riddles in the above sense. They’re all variations of clicking on static objects; are completely devoid of any relevance or connection to the game world (as a matter of fact, they are, as a rule, always in particularly hard to access spots, there is no explanation or justification for their presence whatsoever, nor does solving them have any perceived or even hinted at effect on anything); are entirely solution-focused, the only effective progress feedback being “you won!”; they incentivise through very powerful rewards; are for the most part solo-only deals (and the one that actually encourages cooperation does it in a horrible way); all in all leaving an impression of “just being there for variety”. Which is all good and fine, but they don’t make RIFT a “game with riddles” in any other than the most literal way (it mathematically contains riddles).

Posted in Game Design, Gaming | 6 Comments »

It’s not the boars, it’s the bores

Posted by Rem on April 4, 2011

From a recent discussion about MMO-design:

I’m tired that being a hero means killing 10 boars.

The boars are not the problem, nor is killing them (except when they parry). The problem is the lack of a credible context.


Why do we kill boars? Because an NPC asked us to. It is not our goal, it is not something that we, by looking at the world in its whole and parts, decide that needs to be done, it does not even remotely contribute or assist any of our goals or things we think need to be done. We have no desire to kill the boar. It is only the NPC’s desire or goal, and they reward us for advancing their agenda by handing us XP, coin and loot, all of which only serves to help us get to the next NPC, who will then recruit us for their goals.

I had this thing in LotRO that my character particularly despised orcs (no, they didn’t kill his parents). He’d be vanquishing them wherever he encountered them due to personal motivation. It worked quite well, but was of course just a little personal gimmick, not a feature of the game itself.

WoW has a very interesting example in Sholozar Basin, where Frenzyheart and Oracles are basically acting as boars and farmers, each asking you to kill and/or annoy the respective other on a repeated daily basis. As a player, you could not care less. Your character could not care less. You just pick the faction with the cuter pet – or ignore them altogether.


There is none. And I’m not even talking about having an impact on the world, real or faked through phasing. There is no effect on the player. Because the slaying of the boars was not motivated by my own reasoning or desire, their death means ultimately nothing (harsh). Whether they respawn, or whether we are moved into a phase where all boars are dead after we killed our precisely measured amount of 10 (and where we cannot adventure with those of our friends who have not yet slain 10 boars), doesn’t make a difference. It could be either way, and it will have no impact, not on the world, but on us, because we’ll move on anyway and whether the boars are there or not will be entirely irrelevant to our future doings.

As long as we are doing what NPCs ask us to do and for no other reason than the reward the NPCs hand us for complying to their will, rather than making decisions based on our own observations and motivations and taking actions according to those decisions, everything we’ll do will carry an inevitable shade of blandness.

Posted in Game Design, Gaming | 2 Comments »

Travel and Exploration

Posted by Rem on March 28, 2011

I have not seen Gilneas yet. I heard it’s rather impressive. It would hardly cost me any effort to visit it. And yet, I haven’t done it. Does it not put a dent of sorts in my claiming that I want to have “more to do than just raiding” and “a world to experience”? As a matter of fact, it doesn’t. Because of the two E – effort and experience.

All I have to do is hop on my flying mount, zip over and look at it. The same way one would look at screenshots on the internet, or a YouTube video. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Of course being there in person means you can run around, climb around, get interesting looks and perspectives, some of them may be pretty awesome. But still, it’s not a matter of “going to Gilneas” or “exploring Gilneas”, but really just happening to be in Gileas. Consuming Gilneas. And then getting the hell out of there, because you need to catch the teleporter to where you need to be next.

I often hear Melmoth complain about the need to travel in LotRO. Funnily, I mostly didn’t perceive travel in LotRO as an annoyance (with the exception of Forochel, where the main epic story mostly consisted of two people sitting at opposite sides of the Bay and making you ride back and forth around that damn freezing-cold thing carrying meaningful one-liner messages). I used to think of it as an experience. When I was in Bree and there was a reason to go to Rivendell, there was the possibility to take a swift ride (i.e. instant travel) from the stable master at the South Gate, but I would rarely use that. In most cases I would mount my own horse, just a plain, simple, brown horse, no pink elekk or angry mammoth, and get on my way.

I would ride eastward through Bree-land, circling around the Midgewater Marshes and remembering the little stories and events I was part of when I was just a beginning adventurer. I would enter the Lone Lands, pass the Forsaken Inn and ride on, frequently looking up towards the Weathertop, towering impressively and visible even from a distance. I would reach The Last Bridge, a monumental construction. I would usually stop there for a bit, especially if the sun was about to rise or set (LotRO doesn’t follow the real-world time of day, but instead a roughly 3 hour cycle, with 6 times of day and 6 times of night, each about 15 minutes in length), because the colours at those times were amazing; and especially when travelling with a friend, because it was a good place to halt and enjoy the scenery.

Then I would enter the Trollshaws, not quite where the lore would have them, but moved south for a greater gameplay relevance and experience, with their beautiful red-leafed trees and the winding road leading further east. At night, a couple of stone trolls (elites) would patrol the road. We used to kill them to make life easier for young adventurers who might have been travelling nearby. We’d sometimes steer off the road a little and towards a stone troll den, killing a few and looking intimidatingly at the others, so they’d remember to fear us and not dare to make too much trouble. Then we’d continue our travel.

We would cross the Bruinen and climb the steep path towards the last part of the journey, a barely touched wilderness where Turbine really managed to capture Tolkien’s description of the journey, the path gradually getting lost between plant and beast, confusing and making the traveller think he’s ultimately lost, and just then he would realise that he’s already there. And then you would descend into the wide valley to the swelling sounds of cheesy string music and the colour palette turning brighter and more vibrant, The Last Homely House in view.

This experience is what made Rivendell an actual place, rather than a postcard motif. We’d sometimes travel there on the eve before a raid night, so we could meet up with the others near Glorfindel the next day. Sometimes we’d go there for a quest, sometimes we’d go there so Alqua could do her scholary business in Elrond’s unique library. Sometimes I’d travel there because I wanted to mine ore in the Misty Mountains. Or for whatever other reason.

The only location I’m lacking to Explore Kalimdor is Orgrimmar – not even Durotar, just Orgrimmar. All I need to do is take the portal to Hyjal, jump on my gryphon, fly, reach, ding, gratz, done. I can do it any time. And since I can do it any time, I can’t be bothered to do it at any particular time. It just doesn’t feel like there’s an experience attached to it.

Posted in Game Design, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments »

Thought for the day: Inconvenience

Posted by Rem on March 22, 2011

In every in-game activity, be it an immediate or an overarching one, the inconveniences between the starting point and the goal, beginning with the very fundamental inconvenience of not having arrived at the goal yet, are what constitutes gameplay. Where the process of overcoming those inconveniences places on the scale from annoying to enjoyable determines how much fun the activity is. The desire to remove all inconveniences is a fallacy. Inconveniences have side effects. So does removing them.

Posted in Game Design, Gaming | Leave a Comment »

Introducing a new tag: game design

Posted by Rem on January 22, 2010

Having mastered the “November/December Rush” and having more time on my hands now, I am once again tempted to drift where every gamer with any programming skills tends to drift: making The Best Game Ever! Now, before you roll your eyes (as you should) and walk away, let me elaborate quickly.

I am fully aware of realistic capabilities of a single person – even if said person were to work on a particular development project full time, which I (at this point) do not intend. I am also aware what it takes to create a piece of gaming-software that would be even remotely capable of holding its own compared to what else is on offer. I absolutely understand that there’s no way I sit down with a drink and cookies, code to myself for a few hours a week and, look and behold, half a year later The Best Game Ever is born. Doesn’t work that way. The net is full with downloads of software (not only games) where some guy had some great idea, hacked together an ugly and unhandy piece of something and threw it out there. I don’t want to be that guy. I appreciate that the quality and success of a software product, particularly and especially a game, draws from many sources like graphics, artwork, ergonomics and a few dozen others. I know that I am not very knowledgeable or even flat out untalented in several of those areas. Even if I were, and had the necessary resources, it’d take me 10 years to finish everything on my own. That’s an optimistic estimation.

However, there are things I am kind of, sort of, talented at. Making up and developing concepts and mechanics. And to some extent, you know, programming. Therefore, I am not intending to write a game. Instead, I will try to present and elaborate on concepts I think would make for a good, fun and involving game experience. I will also program a bunch of little parts and components representing some of the underlying mechanics of those concepts – a toolbox of sorts.

This place, this blog, is where I am going to write down thoughts and ideas, inviting you, dear readers, to join in and contribute your thoughts and ideas. The “game design” tag is meant to be a combination of “thoughts on game design” and “thoughts on designing a game”. Let’s be clear, I do not claim that everything presented here is an idea no one ever had before me. Most will be inspired by things I see, hear, read and experience, bits and pieces I gather together and improve (in my opinion) upon. Some of it will probably be genuinely original, but to be honest, I can’t even know.

Therefore, if you like what you read here and happen to be capable of making games, well, you have two options. You can just take the ideas and put them into a game – I’ll be happy enough to play it. Or, better, offer me a job helping you make that game. Obviously, same goes for contributions in comments. Inversely, by submitting ideas over the comment function you agree on them being possibly used by whoever happens to read it. Sorry for being a megalomaniac ass about it, but better safe than sorry.

Posted in Game Design | 1 Comment »


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