Sunday, November 3, 2013

Exploring Deeper Meaning In Games

This post aims to be a deeper look at my earlier rant about meaning, narrative (plot) and gameplay. Following thinking about feedback and pondering about it some a lot more I would now like to write a more constructive text. In this post I will outline some measures and ways of pondering that I think are required in order to attain deeper and much more varied meaning in games. "Deeper which means" is of course a extremely subjective factor, but what I mean is merely games exactly where the core is not just about a gameplay mechanic, displaying entertaining gore or related. Instead, the focus should be on exploring something other than pure "exciting".

Which means
must come 1st
Instead of starting out with a gameplay mechanic, a single must uncover some other sort of which means to have at the core. Note, that "which means" does not have to be one thing difficult to recognize or incredibly profound. "The joys of snowboarding" is 1 kind of which means and "What is it like to be homeless?" is another. Note the difference in meanings right here, 1 is quite mainstream although the other is not. Also note that I would consider each of these meanings "deep" as they do not concentrate on the gameplay directly.

I believe getting this sort of meaning can be vital in order to create a excellent function, and numerous (all?) great films and books are primarily based around it. For instance, take books like Animal Farm and Grapes of Wrath, each of which are very compelling stories and also have a sturdy meanings. The which means that lie at the core of these performs is what is essential even though and not the plot. Grapes of Wrath tries to describe the difficulties poor farmers had when they exactly where forced to move to California. Animal Farm is at 1 level about corruption in governments following revolutions and at an additional a relatively accurate description of the Russian revolution. The important point is that the plots are not what is vital in these books. Rather the plots are merely vessels in order to bring forward the meaning and have been written to do so in the most effective manner. With no the sturdy meaning at the core, the novels would have never been written. The engaging stories has grown directly from their respective meanings.

It is worth noting that just due to the fact a which means lies at the core, a game does not have to turn out diverse from how they generally are these days. For example, the "The joys of snowboarding" could be created into an ordinary game like SSX or something a lot more experimental like Stoked Rider (that does not contain targets, scores, etc). What is vital even though is that the which means is never sacrificed for other functions. If a score is added to the "joys of snowboarding" game then it ought to improve the meaning and if doesn't, it must be discarded! Ignoring this result in problems in several games, some of which have been discussed right here.

Exciting does not need to have to be in focus
When designing a way to bring forward the meaning, one need to use all tricks that are accessible to the medium and not feel forced that every little thing must be fun gameplay mechanics. Focusing on obtaining some sort of entertaining activity at the core of the game have a tendency to take away the which means and alternatively let the mechanic take more than. A recent instance of this would be combat and upgrading in Dead Space that requires away really bit of the Alien/Event Horizon-like atmosphere ( which I assume is what the designers exactly where right after).

When designing our upcoming game Amnesia we 1st focused on having a core gameplay which the rest of the game could be constructed upon. Even so, every single sort of gameplay we tried out weakened our core meaning of making a scary and disturbing atmosphere. It was not till we just let go of the concept that something "fun" requirements to lie at the core that we really felt the project coming together.

It really is not all about events
What drives the which means in books like Animal Farm is essentially a string of plot events. This is due to the fact linear media, like books and films, are pretty much all about plots and for that reason events is the most frequent way to bring forward a meaning. Nonetheless, this is not correct for games, where we have interactivity, non-linearity and generated content material to operate with as properly!

I consider a lot of game designers look too significantly at books and films, and mimics their approaches of communicating a message. Instead I think that one way to move forward is to appear at the meaning and then figure out the ideal way to convey it. (Of course this also means that one particular need to have a meaning from the start off...)

Take into account portraying a dangerous neighborhood. In a linear media a character might be mugged when walking in the location, and in that way conveying that it is a poor location by employing a plot occasion. In a game this could be carried out by means of interaction instead. For instance, NPC:s can give more hostile answers to concerns asked, showing particular objects will make individuals stare with greedy eyes, and so on. These types of interactions all improve the which means that is portrayed and tends to make the mugging occasion irrelevant.

What I wanted to show with the preceding example is that instead of a scripted event, interaction with the globe can offer the very same type of meaning. It is also worth pointing out that some games (Fallout comes into mind) already use this strategy, but I would like to see employed more often. Also, it is extremely important to be aware of this possibility and not just assume that an event is important for the story. There are bound to be many plot events in a story that could be changed this way. One should not focus on possessing every thing as interactivity although the method to be utilised need to constantly be the one which greatest conveys the intended meaning.

Winning is not almost everything
All ancient games like go and backgammon are at the core about a single issue: winning. This is some thing that appear to have followed ever since and most games rely on some mechanic exactly where the player either succeeds or fails. Although it suits some types of games, it can devastate the expertise in others and it also sets up a sort of barrier on who can play the game. Many games properly say: "Either you complete this process or you will not proceed!". There seems to be some sort of typical understanding that this sort of mechanic is a must in order for a creation to be named a game and if the player can not loose the game is pointless.

I think it is time to stop thinking in terms of "beating a game" and instead concentrate making an expertise for the player. For instance, I have discussed chase sequences in a preceding post and the main difficulties with these is that they loose their effect when replayed. There is a extremely easy answer to this problem: make positive they are only played when! I feel it is possible to nonetheless create tension even if it is predetermined no matter whether the protagonist dies or not. It is all about immersing oneself and it works excellent for films and books. One more way is to continue the game regardless if the player wins or looses, altering the game accordingly. Both of these approaches are implemented in Heavy Rain and while I have not tried the game, testimonials look to show that it functions really effectively. Also note that it is feasible to fool the player into believing that there are grave consequences if failing in specific sequences. As extended as there is some uncommon occasions exactly where it genuinely does matter, the player will by no means be confident if the current circumstance is "for true" or not. This method makes it easier for the designer as massive amounts of narrative permutations does want to be supported.

This considering can be applied to just about any sequence that is supposed to have tension. Each time "game over" is shown immersion is broken and the player is pulled out of the game planet. A single can give the experience more flow by skipping the old notion of "trial and error" and instead make positive that the game often progresses. At the exact same time the game is produced accessible to far more folks and not just tough-core gamers.

As a final note on the "win or loose" topic I want to add that this is of course not correct for every single sort of game. But I do believe that designers ought to cautiously consider if a trial and error mechanic is genuinely necessary and if it may possibly not be for the best to skip it.

Existing for existence itself
The interactions performed in games are almost often connected to some type of gameplay mechanic. Typically just about all the actions offered in a game are relevant to the core rule program and actions are not frequently present only simply because of their intrinsic worth. I consider this is anything that demands adjust and would like to show why by taking into consideration how graphics has evolved in games.

In the 1st games, all graphics had some sort of relevance to the gameplay (e.g. Pong). Nevertheless, as technology sophisticated graphics where added just to enhance atmosphere and for the viewing pleasure of the player. These days quite little of a game's graphics are there strictly for gameplay and are mostly there to make the game desirable. The very same has not been true for interaction and there has been quite little improvement. Often when far more "superfluous" interactions have been added, they have nevertheless gotten some kind of gameplay connection (like consuming numerous food products in Program Shock 2).

Notable exceptions are for instance Max Payne where sinks, driers, and so on can be turned on in a public toilet. One more examples is Half-life 2 exactly where a lot of of the objects have physical properties, allowing interaction, but no relevance to the gameplay. Although these interactions add a lot to immersion they are fairly easy and I consider a lot more complicated actions could and need to be added.

Take into account a game exactly where a male protagonist has a kid following him and certain actions can make the child sad or satisfied. The mood of the youngster has no influence on the gameplay, but would just be a imply for the player to connect to the father-child connection. Some may possibly argue that adding some gameplay relevance would make the impact of a satisfied/sad kid stronger, but I believe this is false. Initial of all, gameplay comes with balancing issues and rather of focusing on producing the child believable and on generating a specific knowledge, a single may finish up focusing on producing it all operate gameplay sensible as an alternative - in the end decreasing the effect. Secondly, adding a gameplay mechanic effortlessly make the player focus on the underlying rules rather of evoking feelings. Because of this, only getting the happy/sad boy interaction for its personal sake can make it a much more emotional encounter.

Just as adding nice graphics, for no other cause than their beauty, can make a game more compelling and attract far more men and women, adding gameplay smart "meaningless" interactions could aid make the game medium attain new places.

Finish notes
I do not want to cease games from being created as they are now. Neither do I want all future games to have deep meanings. Nevertheless, I would like to see games that take the medium to new locations and discover deeper subjects . I would like to see games that can provoke deep thought and really feel as anything other than "pure entertainment". As I pointed out in the earlier post on this subject, the current state of games, exactly where the core knowledge is virtually constantly be about hero induced genocide, is just sad. There requirements to be some alter to this or else a lot of prospective will go to waste!

No comments:

Post a Comment