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What IS Game Design?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by GarBenjamin, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    Excellent. I agree with the edited definition and had the same thought about structured and rules being redundant.
     
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  2. RJ-MacReady

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    Yes.... The only issue that remains are games with a variable ending condition like Monopoly. However if turns can be interpreted as time, and they can, inevitably the game must end.

    If it never ends it's not a game.
     
  3. RJ-MacReady

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    So now what is game design?

    It's determining the structure, what play consists of, defining the goals and figuring out what the time constraints are.
     
  4. AndrewGrayGames

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    So, Skyrim does not end, even though individual quest threads do. Do these endings of child content qualify as the necessary endings for Skyrim to be a game, or is Skyrim really not a game?
     
  5. Gigiwoo

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    It's a good point! And it asks the question: how deep does the design have to go? In Flappy Bird, it's not clear WHY you are trying to fly through pipes and yet, it is clear that you aren't supposed to hit them. So, the player has a goal - get as many points as they can, by dodging pipes. That meets the first requirement of flow and enables players to become engaged.

    Some games take that further, by providing a back-story, and a deeper sense of purpose. Mario is rescuing a princess and the Angry Birds are getting revenge and rescuing friends. And some games don't bother at all. Tetris is about blocks - no why. Similar with Threes, and Skeeball, and even solitaire.

    Of note, when researching for Flow, Motivation, and Fun, I discovered three types of tasks: 1) Explicit tasks (Kill 10 orcs); 2) Implicit tasks (don't die); and 3) Player driven tasks (building a glass-tree-house in Minecraft). More on that available. For game design, #3 is better than #2 which is better than #1.

    Gigi
     
  6. Gigiwoo

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    In skyrim, my kids liked to waltz into town and kill the guards, one by one. Until they'd end up with the entire city dead at their feet. They'd be hated by all, and they'd laugh about it... Questionable parenting, to be sure. And yet, clearly that was a "Player Driven Task". Skyrim, like Minecraft, has few explicit tasks, which is why people play the game for so dang long. Player driven tasks > Implicit tasks > explicit tasks. And yet, any of them meet the requirements for flow (aka engagement), which is a core part of games.

    Gigi
     
  7. RJ-MacReady

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    It's a virtual world.
     
  8. RJ-MacReady

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    It's a core part of play. We can stop conflating terms, it's possible.

    It can be done. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  9. AndrewGrayGames

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    I think many, many, many people would agree that it is both a virtual world and a game. However, there are virtual worlds that are not games. Dear Esther is a great example; others have proposed that experiences like that one are instead 'Interactive Art', again a key part of the 'Video Game' experience (Audio Games, now, might be a field worth investing in. The wave of the future, they are, hmm?)

    There's an idea that has been brought up elsewhere that may be of value to the discussion - I think one of the defining features of a game is some type of 'failure state'. This wouldn't satisfy the 'end of an experience', but it would work with the idea that games are structured play. A broad example of a failure state can be the classic 'game over' screen, or an implicit failure state like, 'you can't figure out this puzzle, so you can't yet progress any further'.
     
  10. RJ-MacReady

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    What we have here is failure to 'municate.

    A virtual world is a lot like a real world. You might even be able to play games in a virtual world...
     
  11. AndrewGrayGames

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    So you're saying that in the context of Skyrim, each individual quest is a game, but the work itself is not a game?

    Also, what we don't have is a failure of communication. We have disagreement. I think you're wrong, and I challenge you to prove that Skyrim is actually not a game.
     
  12. RJ-MacReady

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    I have attempted to define a game as:

    A time constrained form of structured play in pursuit of a clear and compelling goal.

    What is the goal of "Skyrim", and when does a session of "Skyrim" conclude?

    Anything can be play, but all play is not a game. You're sort of confusing the issue as fast as I can clarify it.
     
  13. GarBenjamin

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    There are numerous quests in Skyrim. All of them being objectives (mini goals). Completing them helps your character to progress toward ultimately winning the game... which is completing the main quest.

    The player can, of course, choose to not do the quests and instead randomly explore. But the same can be said for any game.
     
  14. RockoDyne

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    The bigger question is, does it matter? Much of the issue with defining something as a game is that there are two things that are called games. One is the classical definition of game as a ruleset with a goal. The other is it's use as a name for the whole of "interactive media," to which classical games are a sub-genre of. Chances are what people actually care about aren't classical games (the genre), but "games," the predominant term used to define the medium.

    The reason I kept trying to make a point that story is an important part of games is, that is what is actually important to the media. It doesn't matter if it has a failure state or end goals, because what is actually important is creating engagement and interest through the player creating their own story.
     
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  15. RJ-MacReady

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    Super
    In super Mario for NES if you do not complete the level in time, you lose a life.

    Any. Game?
     
  16. GarBenjamin

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    Yes, there are consequences for your actions. Sometimes the consequences are harsher. I can choose to go where the designers did not intend for me to go or even to not do anything at all. You can explore SMB going all over the screen. Trying to enter every tunnel you find etc. That is your choice and what I meant by you can choose to randomly explore in any game. Even real world games.
     
  17. AndrewGrayGames

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    This assertion, I can agree with. Older games are much more strict about enforcing their failure state, and the failure state being a key part of the game's design(n).

    The reason I chose Skyrim to challenge Mr. Selmo, is because it is something of an outlier; if you choose not to start (or, complete) most quests, there is no downside, really. If you do get killed, you just restart from your last auto-save, which as failure conditions go is a slap on the wrist (but, necessary for the player to practice their knowledge of the game; if you're dropped all the way back to reloading your last save file, and you haven't saved, you've lost a lot of progress, which is frustrating from a usability perspective.)

    Also, an idea that I'd like to propose is that Mr. Selmo is being a bit narrow-sighted in regards to Skyrim. While individual quests have clear and compelling goals, the rest of the game has an intrinsic goal, that varies from player to player. Some players want to explore the world. Some players want to slaughter everything. Some players want to genuinely roleplay, other players want to consume every quest's story, still other players want to experience the game, then determine how to write mods to extend it.

    While Skyrim has no top-level 'end' in its flow of game actions, I beg to differ on each of these points that it has no goals. It is a "A time-constrained form of structured play in pursuit of a clear and compelling goal." The difference is, the player is supplying the time-constraints and the clear and compelling goal. The structured play is being administered by the game rules as written into the software.

    I also suspect these intrinsic goals are the reasons why games like MineCraft and Terraria are regarded as games. In MineCraft there are no quests, only crap to mine, and/or craft. There is death in the form of monsters, who can kill you and cause you to drop stuff you're carrying, so much like Skyrim, a failure state with penalties exists. MineCraft has a final boss (the Ender Dragon).

    Terraria is much the same; they did (recently) add a guy who gives out fishing quests, but there is an implicit progression of boss fights that leads to unlocking hardmode, and phatter loots, unlike the other two. The developers keep having bosses and new biomes appended to the game experience, along with doodads to decorate your bases. If you defeat the most powerful boss in the game, get the most powerful weapons and armor, you've gone as far as the rules allow for. However, the game doesn't stop, and there are other things people do, like attempt to purge both the Corruption/Crimson and the Hallow from their world.

    Also, time does not have to be explicitly limited in mechanical terms. Going back to the Final Fantasy VII example in another thread, it's fully possible to screw around for as long as you want on Disc 3 before going to defeat Sephiroth. In-game, the story says that Meteor will fall within a matter of hours. In reality, you can spend real-world days grinding monsters to max out Materia, defeat the Weapons (in the U.S. version), and play minigames at the Golden Saucer. If you spend 12 hours on Disc 3 without going after Sephiroth, you won't get a game over message. In fact, if you take so long that the clock rolls over, you don't get a game over message; you just haven't completed the main & terminal quest of the game.

    If you want a more egregious example, there's Final Fantasy VIII after you get the Ragnarok, learn that Rinoa has become the new Sorceress, and that Esthar intends to seal her to prevent the world from going to crap (despite the Lunar Cry, which has screwed Esthar something fierce.) This is actually the opportune time to clean up any sidequests you haven't yet done. Yet, Rinoa is supposed to be launched into space within a few minutes. No matter how long you take, you always get there just in time to 'save' her, and be co-opted into Dr. Odine's plan to stop this 'Sorceress' craziness once and for all. (In fact, it's led to a cliche on the Grand List of Console RPG Cliches.)

    What I see that these established examples provide to our conversation, is that a game does not have to explicitly tell you a goal, or explicitly enforce time constraints, but for a player to feel like they're playing something, they have to identify, and make choices in pursuit of something they want, but have the chance to encounter some degree of failure within a framework of rules. This progression requires at least one event to realize. (I agree that time is necessary such that all things do not happen at once, that's just chaos.)
     
  18. GarBenjamin

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    Agree with people's minds change game. I've mentioned more than once in this thread this may not be as concrete as we'd like because at least some of the game is in the player's mind. Their purpose. Their expectations
     
  19. RJ-MacReady

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    You will lose the game. That is not a way of playing... that is subverting the process of play entirely, like sitting out during school athletics. That is refusing to play the game. Skyrim encourages you to explore without penalty. When you compete the final quest, you are returned to the open sandbox world. It's not a game.
     
  20. RJ-MacReady

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    Earlier you said you weren't going to take part, now you're subverting the process by saying there are multiple, inherently contradictory definitions and that none of it matters because your definition of games is the correct one, anyway.

    For this, no evidence, no support. Just your opinion offered as fact.

    If we follow your method of no method and the rule of "whatever just make it fun" we're just going to have endless goat simulators.

    Define media, define interactive... dvd menus are games?
     
  21. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Must a game be time-constrained? I was going to list a few games that aren't, until the list got so long that I realized it was silly. Poker, chess, baseball, angry-birds, ... the list is endless.

    If you want to define a proper lexicon, you may follow the research of smart folks like Raph Koster. Check out "when is a clone" and "playing with game". He makes a TON of sense, and still, I refuse to change this to the 'Ludic Artifact Design' Forum ;).

    Gigi
     
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  22. AndrewGrayGames

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    Part in bold: Wrong. If you die, you are sent back to either your last autosave, or your last save, whichever was more recent, which results in a slight loss of progress. This is not only a failure state that requires retrying, or pursuing different objectives until you can accomplish the task at hand, there is an actual penalty. Additionally, exploration itself is one of the core conceits and mechanics of the game; not only do you gain XP for finding new major locations, you can the ability to quick-travel to them, which allows the player to find finer challenges and resources.

    Part in red: I fail to see how play continuing despite the capstone objective being completed disqualifies something as a game. You could argue that, similarly, Civilization V is not a game. After you achieve a victory you can still continue taking turns, but the victory and loss conditions no longer happen, because they are satisfied. Everything beyond that point is merely for a player's intrinsic fun.

    The more I've been thinking about it, a game doesn't need to be time-constrained (all things are, if you really think about it), but there needs to be sequence of some description. (I agree with you strongly on that point, Mr. Selmo.)

    You don't pop in the disc, and fight the final boss - that may be a game, but it's a pretty crap one. No, you need to learn how to play (or, if you already know skip the tutorial.) You need to do things to build a sense of investment in the game's context and ruleset, such that you desire being present at the resolution of the challenge that was posed to you. Finally the game needs to reward the fruits of your labors as appropriate, in order to either prepare you for a new challenge, terminate the game sequence, or allow the player to pursue interests with mechanics that are achievable with the game rules.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014
  23. GarBenjamin

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    According to who? If am having fun just sitting there watching studying to see what will happen... that is part of play that I have done many times. If I go where I want in the game instead of where you or Asvarduil want me to go... I am still playing the game. I am just playing the way I want to play within the rules (limits) of the game.
     
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  24. RJ-MacReady

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    Not playing is valid play, sure. But you're not playing the game.
     
  25. RJ-MacReady

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    Or, because death doesn't result in you losing the game... What exactly does constitute losing the game? Or can you not lose the game?

    Hmm... sounds like an open world sandbox.

    I don't suppose they could teleport you ahead in the game for dying, and from a technical standpoint what should they do? Keep the quest running for you? No. Reset world flags.
     
  26. GarBenjamin

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    Time is running out for our current game of defining what a game is.

    I think we better get to wrapping this up so we can move forward.

    I say we grab something we all agree on (and don't disagree just for the hell of it or just to have more discussion) stamp it as accepted and move on. We can always revise it down the road. We have enough understanding at this point to move forward.

    Agreed?
     
  27. AndrewGrayGames

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    Before I answer your questions, I've been thinking about your responses. You've said some really helpful things, so I want to be helpful back to you.

    The problem I'm seeing with the way this has been being argued is that you're looking for hard absolutes. Like, so absolute only a Sith could say it, absolute. The problem is that you can reach a level of unworkable rigidity in any system. As a programmer, I hit my face on this paradox of rigidity on a daily basis. I forsee this search for a rigid truth actually harming you in the long run, and that's not good - you're our colleague!

    The fact is, a good system is one where flexibility is a native part of it. A good system doesn't set out to find the maximum allowable coverage and accuracy; it usually just happens, like a beautiful revelation of profound truth. I'm concerned that we may be approaching this entire problem from the wrong angle, but that's just my professional paranoia talking. Probably.

    But, that's not the main reason I'm saying this. While you're searching for absolute truth - which is fine, we all are - I don't feel that you're receiving our ideas and counter-examples. You're reading them, then plowing on as if the ideas you have put forward are still 100% correct...that is, your arguments have no room for any fallacy, whatsoever.

    Some of what you've said has some holes that popular, well-recieved, works that professionals and amateurs alike classify as 'games' specifically contradict. That is why I bring these up. These aren't personal attacks, I merely see holes in the arguments that you are making. I don't want any of us to stop debating - this has been crazy valuable for me, and I'd imagine for everyone else involved.

    While you're not being overtly disrespectful, I feel that you're treating the ideas and counter-points that are being advanced with some disrespect by 'trampling' them. I don't see from your responses that you're considering that any of us have said something that is valid.

    Just because we're debating and seeking truth, and disproving and giving examples and evidence, doesn't mean we should expect to trample each other's arguments, it's arrogant and rude. I know I've been wrong on points and you've successfully corrected me or added new perspectives. I only ask that you allow us the possibility to do the same for you.

    Anyways...

    I don't feel that your analogy of 'losing the game' always applies, it's too rigid of a failure condition. There are degrees of failure. What you've specified - the 'hard game over' - is merely the most final one. 'You couldn't do what was asked, fail. Go back to your last hard save/insert more quarters/restart the program.' Skyrim - our example - does do this, if you have somehow not quicksaved, but it really falls into the softer failure state below.

    To my understanding, in order to appeal to more gamers and allow for additional player iteration, games have gone for a slightly softer failure state involving quick saves, so that the player isn't penalized so hard for failing at something. Skyrim does this by default, but is configured such that failing to a hard save is essentially this. However, there is a penalty - you still lose some game state, but not enough to discourage the player. That's an essential point of this reduced penalty!
     
  28. RockoDyne

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    I'm a bored S*** disturber, sue me. The only thing I added that wasn't agreed upon already was "game" as the interactive medium. If you are going to get into the bitch fest of 'is this or is this not a game' and get to the point where "game" is a temporal state in something like skyrim, you might need to reassess whether the term is even relevant.

    I don't know how you think my method is no method though, when my method is to turn to story. People have been working on analyzing plotting and story structure, and how to create tension and excitement for far longer. All of which is still 100% applicable to games FYI.


    I don't know. That might actually be a good way to keep it high level and scare away the noobs.
     
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  29. GarBenjamin

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    Good because that would be way off base to what we are doing here. But I guess that is what you mean "not forcing the shoe to fit" so to speak.

    So, anyway... where are we? What is going on? I am ready to move forward after our thorough examination of the meaning of the word "game".

    Anybody else to that point? If not carry on. I will read the discussion but may not participate in it much more because I think we have already thoroughly covered it enough to move forward.
     
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  30. RJ-MacReady

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    I wasn't able to post for the past several hours, but I just want to say that time is part of structure and so the definition should be amended. Ok, I'll get up to speed with the discussion now...
     
  31. RJ-MacReady

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    @Asvarduil - You're right, I'm not being outright disrespectful. I've done nothing but try to consider every point of view. I also try to resist things that are highly contradictory to establishing some kind of foundation to this discussion, and ultimately this subject. This isn't some crusade for truth, but I'm interested in understanding on a deeper level what games are and how to make them well.

    I think it's pretty shameful that there's a forum about designing games and nobody can give a good answer what a game is.

    Or worse, everybody has an answer--and every answer is different.

    Anyway....

    A structured form of play in pursuit of a clear and compelling goal.

    For Pete's sake, does anyone disagree?
     
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  32. RJ-MacReady

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    @RockoDyne - I think story driven games are types of games. Why not? But all games don't necessitate a story. Some games you create a story as you play, etc.

    I'm just trying to pin down some hard details, establish something solid in what I see as an undefined field.
     
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  33. RJ-MacReady

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    I think we're at an impasse, people can't discuss something that has no formal definition, people don't want to discuss formalizing a definition.

    I dunno.

    I got what I was looking for, a good definition I can build on. I have no idea what other people want at this stage.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
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  34. AndrewGrayGames

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    This is a major problem with games. It seems like everyone perceives them differently, which is why academic attempts to do what we've been trying to do have gone about as well as what has happened so far in this thread. We're hardly the first to attempt this, unfortunately. I was hoping that, since we're not academics, but actual do-ers that we'd have more success. Maybe next time.

    I think this is about as good as we're going to get, without contradicting ourselves and stumbling over every other definition. It's not perfect, but I agree with you and @GarBenjamin - we need something on which to establish ideas.

    Anyways, I've had my fill of back-and-forth arguing over what is and is not a game for the time being. What does it mean to design them, and can a game have a design?
     
  35. RJ-MacReady

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    I will continue. Nobody is stopping me (yet) and I do believe, all hiccups aside, we're on a bit of a roll.

    Let's extrapolate this definition and see how far we get before it falls apart. Hopefully, we spent enough time before people started having mental breaks and have something worthwhile.

    ELEMENTS OF A GAME

    1. Structure
      • That which is Arranged, Planned, Organized, Complex and Interrelated.
    2. Play
      • Engaging in activity within a given context. If play is balanced correctly, can induce a state of Cognitive Flow within the player's mind.
    3. Goal
      • Must be:
        • Clear
        • Compelling
    So, we might begin by trying to look at extremely simple games and finding these elements within them.

    PONG

    1. Structure
      • The game field is arranged with player's paddles on either side, reminiscent of a tennis court.
      • The ball moves around, its velocity is optimized to be fast but not too fast. The ball also 'bounces' off of the edge of the screen on the top, or bottom simulating 'walls' or 'ceiling and floor'.
      • The ball bounces off of the player's paddles as well.
      • The player's paddle can additionally add 'english' to the ball, granting additional control and thereby enhancing play.
    2. Play
      • The ball is always moving, bouncing and this can induce a somewhat hypnotic state within the human player(s) mind. Something is always happening, has just happened or is about to happen. There is really only a brief moment after hitting the ball that the player can stop and appreciate the result of their actions before having to begin thinking about what is coming next.
    3. Goal
      • Score on the opposing player by getting the ball past him while avoiding the ball getting past you.
      • Highest score at the end of a match is the winner.

    Let's see how these elements relate to each other.

    Structure seems to place boundaries around Play. It defines what is acceptable Play and what is unacceptable, invalid Play. Structure seems to protect Goal from Play, the way a castle's walls protect it from invaders. If Goal were unprotected, Play could easily achieve Goal and then Goal would be of no value. Also, Structure guides Play. Like a guard rail on a freeway, it establishes maximum boundaries for Play while allowing for Play to take any shape within those boundaries. While this limits Play, it also enhances the subtlety and creativity of that Play because Goal must still be achieved somehow, since Goal is compelling. Play also serves as an instrument of rebellion or aggression against Structure, as Play is constantly evolving to find new ways to subvert Structure and make a mockery of Structure. In some instances, defiance of Structure is of equal or greater value than achieving Goal, where Goal is merely the embodiment of successfully overcoming Structure.

    Goal, therefore, mustn't necessarily be a static event, Goal can simply be a state of continued defiance of Structure, such as in Flappy Bird or Tetris or Space Invaders, where Structure is invariably going to win eventually, but each moment you continue to thwart Structure is only further achievement of Goal.

    ---

    Now what I think is important, is how does this relate to making better games?

    For one, I think any game could probably be said to be a battle of Structure vs. Play. When I play a game and I'm wandering around and nothing is trying to kill me, I'm bored. That game needs more Structure. If I was unable to walk without wasting energy, or requiring a constant intake of food as I traveled, then Play would have more value. On the other hand, if there is too much Structure, Play can become virtually unbearable. This is particularly true if Structure is not cleanly articulated and arranged well. If Structure is amorphous, then everybody is screwed. Structure must be rigid for Play to be dynamic and rich.

    We can then diagnose games that have problems and identify where they can be improved.

    If a game has poor structure, improve the structure... rather than add features.
    If a game has no clear goal, clarify the goal... rather than make enemies more challenging.
    Etc.

    I'm excited.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
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  36. RJ-MacReady

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    @Gigiwoo said, "Player driven tasks > Implicit tasks > explicit tasks"

    I hypothesize that this is because player driven tasks are pure Play, while implicit tasks are Play in Pursuit of Goal while explicit tasks are themselves Structure.
     
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  37. RJ-MacReady

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    Well, I now agree. Before I was trying to say that time had to be an element of the definition, but I have dropped that and folded it into Structure. Some games have time structure, some don't. You've all opened my eyes about implicit vs explicit goals, as well.

    I'm leaning more towards Structure and the role and development of Structure as being what really defines a game. Play seems to be everywhere, but games impose Structure and all sorts of amazing things result. Failure, death, game over is all part of Structure. It's up to the designer to build these elements.

    Skyrim has an open world structure, but it's a role playing game. So, you can't play it wrong. You do whatever you would do if you were that character. That's the game. The structure is apparent, you can't be a traveling Tupperware salesman or give it all up and join a punk rock band. The game offers little in the way of explicit goals, and much in implicit and player created goals. In fact, it seems designed to encourage you to do your own thing.

    I think incorporating a lot of different types of structure in unique and interesting ways can create a better game.

    The ability to imbue any situation with your own goal is also interesting, as almost anything can be transformed into a game.

    That said, Minecraft is barely a game thanks to an end boss that feels tacked on.

    Skyrim is on the edge... but they wrapped it in a game so, yeah, sorry, guess it is after all.

    But just cause something is technically *a game* doesn't mean it exemplifies what games are, I think we can agree in that.
     
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  38. DallonF

    DallonF

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    We must be very careful to define "game" broadly rather than narrowly. If we come up with a good, objective description of what a "game" is, but it's a definition that excludes certain popular works that are commonly considered to be games (like Skyrim, Minecraft, or Flappy Bird), have we really succeeded? (Relevant Extra Credits video - highly recommend watching it before continuing this conversation)

    I still stand by my previous point that you can't define what a game is, only list attributes that are true of most games. But since you all seem determined to define it...

    The main thing I take issue with is this requirement that a game must have a "goal". Why is this a requirement? Classic arcade games like Pac-Man don't have goals - you can beat a level, but the game only ends due to a glitch, and that glitch only exists because no developer ever got that far to test it. Modern indie games are taking a more open approach (ex: Minecraft) and don't have goals. Even most modern games that do have a short term goal (ex: in League of Legends, you win a match; in FTL, you beat the final boss) also have mechanics to keep players engaged indefinitely (in League, you can advance on Elo ladder, buy new characters, and gain new passive boosts; in FTL, you can unlock new ships, achievements, and every game is randomized).

    I think the concept we should be using (I touched on this in my last post) is "measure of progress". In every game I've played, you can measure "how far am I".

    In Skyrim, you level up, you explore more of the world, you complete more quests.
    In Minecraft, you acquire wealth, explore the world, and build structures.
    In roguelikes, you gain skill at the game: your probability of beating the final boss increases every time you play.
    In arcade games, you simply get a high score.

    It goes on... even in Garry's Mod (arguably one of the most non-gamey games I've played), you can progress by building more and more crazy contraptions.

    The only disadvantage I can think of to this definition is that it might classify some things as "games" which most would consider to be just "toys". (Example: Garry's Mod, as mentioned above) But is that a bad thing? For the purposes of designing video games, which is what we should all be here for, is it valuable to distinguish between toys and games?

    Edit: My posts seem to be skimmed over. I wonder if giving myself an avatar will help...?
     
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  39. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    @DallonF - First, I agree we can't be too rigid with what we're calling a game, that's very important. However, on the subject of 'goals' not being a key differentiator between a game and something else like interactive art, I'd suggest going back to @Gigiwoo's (I think it's his) post on the three schools of goals - explicit, implicit, and intrinsic.

    Skyrim seems to be built on the idea of rewarding players for making, and achieving intrinsic goals within the framework of the game. Pac-Man and early arcade games had an implicit goal, of achieving a high score, so that you could get the #1 spot on the score screen (damn you AAA, thwarter of quarters!) Also, roguelikes do have explicit goals - by doing certain things, you unlock a new aspect of being able to start a new character. In FTL, if you successfully traverse the web, and beat the final boss, a new ship gets unlocked. In Magicite, if you do certain things before you die, you get a new race, or a new hat, or whatever. The interface makes these clear so that you mindfully try for them, which makes them explicit - the game is telling you about a goal you can choose to undertake.

    However, I think you're onto something with the idea of not neglecting non-video games. As this is a game design forum, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention non-video games. What's more, I've heard from many sources that it's a good practice to prototype your mechanics in a non-digital format before committing to writing a digital prototype.

    Additionally, I also counsel us to take a page from the EC video - saying 'X is not a game' when what we mean is, 'X is not a work that I like' is disingenuous and a falsehood. I don't like FPS games, they don't appeal to me, but unless a work marketed as a game has a darn good reason to convince me it's something other than a game, I'm going to assume by default it's both a virtual experience and a game.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
  40. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    Bare in mind, I'm not talking about just story driven games. I'm saying ALL games are telling a story. It is not something they are, it is something they intrinsically do.

    "And then the square block arrived, but it was too late, fore the T block had already wrought it's destruction upon the land," is just as much a story as anything in a Barnes and Noble. Just because it's not being told to you, doesn't mean it's not a story. Take any playthrough of FTL and write a Star Trek episode about it. Almost all of the drama and tension will have come from areas that had zero text to speak of.
     
  41. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    The World: "Hey James, you make a lot of videos about games. What is a game?"
    James: "Who Cares!"

    Genius.

    Well, if one can list all attributes shared by all games, then you indeed can define what games are. And hey, that's what I thought we were doing...?

    Why shouldn't we define games as having goals? I can't think of any games I've ever played without some kind of goal. In RPG's I aim to develop my character with some ideal in mind, in Minecraft I often wanted to build something or see if something was possible, in Space Invaders I just wanted to see if I could pass several stages and then I compared my score to high score tables to see how well I did.

    In other words, all games you or anyone else have ever played were played with goals in mind. Even if the goals were intangible, they existed. I'm happy to have an in depth discussion about goals if you'd like.

    When we talk about progress, we have to have some kind of metric to measure progress by. Flappy Bird gives us the pipes, each pipe is one unit of progress. Zelda has an inventory of items, each item is progress, each piece of Triforce is progress. However, in order to decide what is progress or what is just meandering... we must only ask "does this bring me closer to my goal?" That's how progress works, it's always toward something. I'd also be happy to have a discussion about this.

    What must be done is to distinguish between other forms of play and game play. Game play is a pretty important part of game design, if you're into that sort of thing. Yes, there's a difference between a toy and a game and that is very important. However, no... we can't just restrict our discussion to video games. Why? Because that's a lot like restricting the discussion to "games we like" or "games in a certain genre". Put differently, it's like defining games in the way that we understand and then trying to get some universal relevance out of it. It's not going to happen. You may like FPS and spend hours refining movement and aiming, weapon positioning and think "games are all about weapon positioning". Then when you're working on a farming sim you begin with weapon positioning.....???

    Thanks, you are now creepy Christmas guy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
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  42. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    Have to agree with his goal business.
     
  43. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    So here's a wild change of direction...

    Are these discussion forums a game?

    If you notice, you have a message count. Messages are a type of score. You receive likes if people respond positively to something you've written, which encourages you to be friendly rather than aggressive. Post count and likes are metrics of progress, and even though there are no explicit goals there are certainly several implicit and intrinsic goals we can strive for.

    Thoughts on this?
     
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  44. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    See gamification.
     
  45. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    If we added a system of adding up likes, posts and responses to topics you've hosted and developed those into a form of experience... we could grant users levels and classes, etc. Could we not?
     
  46. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    The problem with threads like this, and why I hesitate to contribute is I feel that categorising and labelling what makes a game is directly counter productive to making a fun game.

    I like to see it from a child's point of view. We are all children when we pick up the controller. We're absorbed in an activity and we learn from it, it becomes a cycle with reward.

    I don't want to break that moment apart into little neat labels which define exactly what fun is. Because at that moment, it stops being fun, and starts being the result of research. If you want the manufactured band, that's fine - but everyone else is making manufactured bands too, and ultimately you won't make anything that's special.
     
  47. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    The problem with defining the term, then trying to segment out what is or isn't a game doesn't serve any purpose. You can go ahead and draw the dividing line between games and not games, but none of that matters to the player. To them, both sides provide equally comparable experiences.

    If the players don't give a S*** whether something is a game, why should we?
     
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  48. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    @hippocoder
    I can respect that point of view. It seems to be shared by many. I guess I'm just the type that appreciates high order. I know that for many, games are a source of magical inspiration. It has also been my experience in life that without a foundation, expression can be difficult. Ultimately the best game designer is going to be the one who respects all views and cherry picks from them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
  49. RJ-MacReady

    RJ-MacReady

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    The same reason a person eating at a restaurant doesn't care what spices were used in the preparation of their food, but the chef spent years perfecting the recipe.
     
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  50. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    I'm not positive that metaphor works in your favor. Comparatively, it's the chef's beef bourguinon being questioned as such because he doesn't throw in carrots.