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Rules must make sense

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by StealThePixels, May 8, 2016.

  1. StealThePixels

    StealThePixels

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    Sometimes when i think about a game idea, i always check that every brick , every gameplay rule makes sense in some way.

    For example, look at the Flash game Earn To Die http://thegamerstop.com/45717-Earn-to-Die-2012.html

    When you kill zombies, you earn $$ out of nothing, which is nonsense.
    Ok it is a fun game overall, but i think it would be even better if the game explains at least why i am earning $$ for killing zombies..
    i don't know... maybe zombies have cash in their pocket because they were honest human workers before turning into zombies and they had a job, and so after killing them i can rob them.
    It's the first stupid thing that came up to my mind just now that i am writing this line.. but at least it's a motivation :)
    In the game that is not evident, it is like the money prize is something forced.

    So, is it a good rule of thumb to ask themselves if every single thing makes sense? Otherwise it is not fun or not as fun as it could be ?
    I'm not sure.. sometimes i think about Mario 64 when you win coins after you beat a Goomba.... why is that?? But anyway M64 had success.

    P.S. How is it called the game genre of Earn To Die and similar ones? Maybe "iterative survival game"? I said iterative because after you die you always restart again from the beginning.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  2. StealThePixels

    StealThePixels

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    Another nonsense in Earn To Die... after you are dead you restart from the beginning but with all the money you earned in the previous matches. That means that you resurrected. But the game does not explain why and how you resurrected.
     
  3. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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    Conflating theme with design.

    Why were there coins hidden in bricks in Super Mario? Nobody really cares. Your game's design doesn't have to fit your theme. If your theme is "frozen wasteland" that doesn't mean that your character needs to be dealing with hypothermia and frostbite or real life cold weather problems. Slipping around on an icy floor is fine, because it's pretty fun. But it's not required. Zombies can drop gold, or they can drop dollar bills. They can drop diamonds and plant seeds and chocolate, for all anyone cares. It would make more thematic sense if zombies dropped decayed body parts, but it wouldn't necessarily be as fun as them dropping money. It's not about what it is, it's about what it does. Money lets you buy more upgrades so you can kill more zombies and get more money. It's a solid design that has been used everywhere, by everyone and it works beautifully.

    Games tell a story through the experience of the player, not through the literal events that take place.

    Mario is on a mission to rescue a princess in a castle from the clutches of the evil dragon... theme.
    Mario must jump to avoid obstacles and collect power-ups while moving toward the goal and reach it before the timer runs out... design.

    Shooting fireballs and busting bricks with his fist and eating magic mushrooms that make him grow bigger have nothing to do with the princess and the castle. That stuff is just weird. It's thematic garbage.

    But it enables the design to have legs.

    Think of it like this... theme is what you see when you step back and look at the game's graphics, hear its music and think about its story.

    But when you play you are experiencing the design of the game. The theme is still present, it colors the experience, but the theme is not the experience itself.
     
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  4. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    So long as players can intuitively grasp what is going on, it really doesn't matter. You can argue about things being unrealistic til the cows come home, but the point of realism is that you are taking what you expect to be commonly understood rules. It's a shortcut to say "this is how things work" without having to construct a full secondary world made off a rule-less blank slate that you then go into elaborate detail to explain.

    Realism is a good starting off point, but it's impossible to adhere to it entirely nor is it important to. For one, reality is subjective. There are plenty of cases you think are fact, but are complete BS. You are misled, ill informed, or frankly the human race doesn't understand it. Throw any space game out that isn't KSP, and hell KSP doesn't do n-body physics.

    What is vastly more important is that the rules of the game are shared with the player. You need to make it so that the mental map of logic players create mirrors that of the game's logic.
     
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  5. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

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    It can easily be explained away as a belated reward, ie you kill the zombie and get cash later for how many kills you racked up from grateful settlements.
     
  6. Taschenschieber

    Taschenschieber

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    Yeah, I always get confused when playing chess. Why can a horse jump over a tower? Why can't Bishops move in a straight line? Are they drunk? Anyway, how do towers keep moving all the time? /snark

    Rules do not need to make sense. They need to create a good gameplay experience. Loot drops have been made fun of for ages because they usually don't make sense, and they still pop up all over the place. Why? Because they *work*. They give the player the means to develop their gear without the intermediary step of finding somebody who is willing to pay you for killing stuff. Nobody enjoys job hunting in real life, so why put it in a game when the player could spend the time killing zombies instead?
     
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  7. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    Zombies. You are complaining about sense and realism in a game about Zombies. Think about that for a while.

    They are normally referred to as runners or infinite runners.

    Games are abstractions. They are designed to be fun and engaging first, and sensible representations second. Think about how earn to die would play if it was totally sensible. You drive your car a few kms. You run out of fuel. You get eaten by zombies. You never play again.

    Looking at specifics, earning money is a point scoring mechanism. Point scoring mechanisms are often used in games for several reasons.
    • They provide the player clear feedback and goals
    • They are simple, every player can quickly understand the significance of a single number
    • They allow a wide range of player actions to be incentivised by a single mechanic
    In Earn to Die the money system provides a couple of clear goals that are obvious to the player after the first play. Kill as many zombies as possible. Travel as far as possible. Jump as high as possible. The system also makes it very easy to compare runs. Is it better to use my boost to go uphill or in mid air to extend my jumps? Simply run both the same build of car twice with different play behaviour. The one that gets the most money wins.

    No. Its a good rule of thumb that everything should be intuitive. But this is not the same as everything making sense. When a player comes to the game they bring a ton of baggage from previous play experiences. Everyone expects a reward for killing enemies. Its how games have worked for ever. Playing to this preconceived expectation lowers the cognitive load on the player. And lower player load is often a good thing.

    You are allowed to break expectations. You just need to be aware that every unique mechanic makes your game harder to learn. And harder to learn games get played less. So pick carefully which expectations you break, and when you simply ride the coat tails of player preconceptions.
     
  8. Taschenschieber

    Taschenschieber

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    Even that is just a rule of thumb. Nobody would call Chess or Go bad games, and neither of them have rules that are "intuitive". If you give a chess set to a newbie, they will probably figure out that there is some different between the horsey and the pointy dude, but unless they're a savant they probably won't be able to figure out what either of them does or what's the goal of the game. Same for Go - you could use these stones to play Reversi, or to create pictures the opponent has to guess. It's not obvious you have to encircle your opponent's groups of stones in order to win.

    It's all a matter of the effort-to-enjoyment ratio as a function over time played (for which I propose the formula symbol E(t), and its unit is one Sid per second).
     
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  9. StealThePixels

    StealThePixels

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    Thanks guys.
    I honestly have to read another good game design book.
    I already read one but i have not a great experience with design.

    I have just released my first one that probably i will post here in the finished projects.
    But even that was mainly inspired by a hit from the past, with my own gameplay elements added to it.
    I've not risked with being too much original like the real pros in the industry do (Miyamoto, etc.)
     
  10. Taschenschieber

    Taschenschieber

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    I'm not really a "proper" game designer either, but you can't get all the answers from books. Sooner or later, you'll have to play some stuff, and think about what works for you and what doesn't and why. Maybe try finding a game with nonsense loot drops that you actually liked and try to find out why that worked for you and Earn to Die didn't.
     
  11. StealThePixels

    StealThePixels

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    I have read that in a book, i know what you mean.
    You must know what you like because you cannot design a game that you don't like, even if it follows the market trend.
    It will not come up nicely.
    And the only way to know what you like is playing/testing games
     
  12. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    I think this is a trap people of a certain mindset get into.

    I tend to strive towards realism too. I think being a good designer is knowing where to draw the line, and keeping player experience as the foremost priority.

    When I write, I tend to want to make sure every little detail is explained and absolutely believable, but the truth is most people aren't going to pick up on or even care about small little details. It's kind of like when you look at yourself in the mirror -- you notice a tiny little blemish and think "My god I'm hideous as Medusa" -- but literally nobody else will ever see that little blemish.
     
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