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What is the Source of “Fun” in Game Mechanics?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by S_Darkwell, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    I bet I can. When I played through the Water Temple, my problem with it was how much I was mentally juggling. Put differently, the Water Temple was less enjoyable than other dungeons because it had a significantly higher cognitive load.

    Seriously, compare Jabu-Jabu's belly with the Water Temple. They both occupy the same 'point' in the game - roughly mid-game - but while I found Jabu-Jabu harder in terms of execution, the Water Temple was more complex due to the various mechanics in play, as well as fights I considered 'attrition' battles, like Shadow Link. To me, the Water Temple is overwhelming not because the level is hard, not because the level is badly-designed, per se, but instead because the level is designed to be complex, and in addition to everything a player already juggles at that point in the game, it's a bit too much, even though it's completely beatable.
     
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  2. Schneider21

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    I enjoyed Papers, Please for what it was, but did not enjoy it as a game, and in fact have not gone back and played it since those first few times.

    I also have trouble dragging myself back to games like State of Decay and similarly-themed games where you have to manage limited resources and an unbeatable enemy. As much as I love having to manage your group of survivors, that eternal feeling of doom hanging over your head just drags me down too much. It's one of the big reasons why I chose to tackle personnel management in my next game, to show that it can be done in a way that's challenging and engaging, while still being fun. Hopefully.
     
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  3. RockoDyne

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    Have you ever watched Schindler's List? People consume media for a multitude of reasons, and games are no exception. If they weren't, people wouldn't consider Silent Hill 2 one of their favorite games of all time, and the game is nothing but a trip down someones clinically depressive psychosis.

    The problem is fun is not loose and ill-defined, it is EXPLICITLY defined. Yet for some reason the gaming collective largely carries a four year old's notion of fun, which is a chain of logic that goes: am I bored, am I hurt, if not then I must be having fun. It is nothing more than the bastardization of the wonderful English language (post Webster because F*** British spelling). Maybe if the plebs definition made a term more exact, then it would be less of a problem, but taking a focused, specific term and ballooning it into an amorphous and ethereal concept, because their grasp of the English language is so limited that they can't draw upon the actual words to use, is complete and absolute bullshit. If you EVER have to ask "what do you mean by" you have a breakdown in language.
     
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  4. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    I would say it's because it's the most non-linear dungeon in the game. There are frequently several things that need to be done during any given stage, so it's easy to miss something. I remember my first time when it took me forever just to find the map (and the compass alone was not helpful). Compare it to the other dungeons where they do have a pretty clear through line. I wish I had a link to a fairly old breakdown on OoT dungeons, because it broke down the dungeons into graphs where it becomes pretty obvious why the water temple is complicated.
     
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  5. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Or would love to experience in a controlled environment. I would love to experiencing certain types of horrifying circumstances if it was both removed from every day experience (so I wouldn't have to fear its nonoccurrence) and I ultimately survived unharmed.

    Good point, Master Frog!
    - S.
     
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  6. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    I clarified in a later post that actually, I don't think games necessarily need to be fun. I certainly wouldn't define games like Cart Life or Papers, Please as fun games. What I should have called it from the beginning was "Engagement". Now that the post has been made, though, I'm disputing the merits of editing the original post for clarification versus leaving it as is.

    Additionally, my question is not so much how to make an entire game engaging, but rather, what makes one approach to a mechanic more engaging than another approach.

    Absolutely. That's a great point. Still, some mechanics seem to add to the game experience, while others take away. My search was for how to determine the value of a particular approach. How to determine whether a mechanic would be ultimately beneficial, detrimental, or superficial.

    Thank you so much!
    - S.
     
  7. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    I 100% agree. Again, I should have said "engaging", not "fun", and now I pay the price for this oversight. Haha.

    I've heard so many positive things about this game. I really must experience it. I believe I was initially dissuaded because the title sounded very Modern Warfare to my ears, which isn't really a genre that I find enjoyable.

    That seems to be my conclusion, yes. As I mentioned previously, Edgar Allan Poe's concept of the "Vivid Effect", and how every element of a composition should work toward it. There is an irony that I was a firm believer in the concept back when I was writing short fiction, but I never applied to to the concept of game design. *facepalms*

    I understand what you are saying, but how does one quantify the "spirit" of a work. Or is being "full of spirit" more in line with Plato's Theory of Forms?

    Thank you again!
    - S.
     
  8. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Papers, Please is a game that I would never describe as "fun." To describe it in more words, it's depressing, stressful, and rather tragic. It forces you choose between what is "right" and what is "good." I love the game, but I don't feel as though I have fun playing it.

    I believe that playing games like those mentioned are akin to tragedy, drama, mystery, or thriller. I love the movies The Road (based on a book that no, I haven't read) and The Fountain (anyone see The pattern here?). I love them, I love watching them, but they aren't fun. Why then must games be inherently fun? Shouldn't we really seek games to be compelling or engaging? Fun can certainly be engaging, but in a way, fun is contemporary. (Perhaps why very few subjects smile in "art" photographs or paintings)

    I'm partially responsible for some of the ambiguity in the ongoing conversation. "Engagement" was the term that I sought. Compelling is also a useful verb here.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful post!
    - S.
     
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  9. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    I'm pleasantly surprised by depth of engagement that my initial post has received.

    Thank you for joining the conversation!
    - S.
     
  10. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Someone get this man a reading glass!
    - S.
     
  11. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    I'm no philosopher; my education on such things is nearly non-existant. I've got reading to do, but I'll try to clarify myself.

    You can't quantify the spirit of a work. It's qualitative. What is a work setting out to do?

    XCOM 2, for instance, is a game about an insurrection against the ADVENT Administration that conquered Earth in Alternate!2015. Everything in the game is about being a rag-tag resistance member freeing their homeworld from the alien menace, despite being Public Enemy #1.

    Conversely, Pac-Man, is all about 'The hunter becomes the hunted.' You start off being vulnerable to the ghosts, who you can merely avoid. Then, you get your vitamins and all of a sudden the ghosts aren't so scary.

    If you were to try to mix the 'resistance member' feel of XCOM 2 and the 'hunter/hunted' feel of Pac-Man, it would be impossible to say, "Oh this game will be 33.517% resistance and 65.483% hunter/hunted!" Chances are good you'd never hit that actual balance, and I bet you can't measure such a thing anyhow! (Side note: if you figure out a way to measure subjective things accurately, either you're Chuck Norris, you're the Dos Equis man, or you're about to become one of the wealthiest people on Earth. Just saying.)

    TL;DR: The spirit of the game is that essential experience. What is the player in the context of the game?
     
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  12. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Yes. Right! @Gigiwoo mentioned "Engagement" back on page 1. I think my agreement in post #36 may have been lost in the shuffle of conversation.

    But then, there's Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. I feel the public can cope with a depressing story and setting, as long as they believe they will still have agency over the world. It seems that it is when a Player is placed in a depressed setting AND disempowered that they become uncomfortable or repelled by the concept.

    Merely my own observation. I have no studies to back this conclusion.

    Again, thank you greatly!
    - S.
     
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  13. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    I love this. "An experience worth experiencing" summarizes a wide variety of artworks across genre and media.

    It seems to me as though the desire for accomplishment is more meaningful than accomplishment itself. As mentioned before, repeated accomplishments leave the Player jaded, requiring a constant feedback escalation. If there is a way of inspiring the player to feel constantly on the brink of success (surely, no easy task), would that not be superior? When the singular accomplishment is finally bestowed, it would have a massive value to the Player because of the Player amount of investment given to it.

    Fantastic thoughts! Thank you!
    - S.
     
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  14. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    I think with Papers, Please, the intent was two-fold:
    • To illustrate the stress of working under unreasonable expectations such as those. The very fact that the surface within which you are able to work isn't large enough for all of the documentation you need to view seems to be conscious reflection of this.
    • To force you to place your and your family's interest before others in similar situations. One way to succeed is to turn down anyone who requires more than a cursory check. I found myself inclined to turn away people who were very likely eligible to enter, just so I could find someone who I could more quickly pass through. This became unexpectedly affecting for me.
    I absolutely understand why many people wouldn't enjoy the game. I didn't the first time. I forced myself to play it again because I felt like I was missing something. It wasn't until I realized my second point that I understood the impact that the designers (may have) sought.

    But not every message is for every audience. It almost wasn't for me.

    I only played This War of Mine briefly. I enjoyed it, but didn't play long enough to really experience it.

    Be well!
    - S.
     
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  15. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Nice!

    I've always considered a game "Designed to be complex" to be poorly-designed. I differentiate "game" here from "puzzle", where the challenge is in fact comprehending complexity. A game may possess complex puzzles, but the gamespace within which the puzzle exists should only be as complex as required to function appropriately.

    A Zelda game does not seem an appropriate place to express complexity. SimCity 4, a bit more appropriate.

    Just a thought!
    - S.
     
  16. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    State of Decay is actually a game I love. My primary reason for losing interest in it, funny enough, was because I stopped having the sense of impending doom. Once you've fully upgraded the best base site, the tension is severely diminished.

    Then again, I'm not entirely certain how I would describe myself as a gamer. Just from speaking with peers, my tastes seem to be in the minority.

    Thank you!
    - S.
     
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  17. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    That's a fun movie!
    (I joke, of course)

    Absolutely, I agree.

    How do you really feel?

    I understand what you are saying.

    Be well!
    - S.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
  18. S_Darkwell

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    Aside for a single philosophy class in college, I just read a lot of articles and watch a lot of documents. Most of my references are based upon chance knowledge. So, no worries. I merely include it in the case that it removes ambiguity.

    I had originally misunderstood your meaning. Thank you for the clarification!

    I still love that summation. It's simplicity expresses brilliance.

    I like this as well. Saving this quote! :)

    Thank you for the clarification!
    - S.
     
  19. RockoDyne

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    Fallout has always counterbalanced the depressing with comedy and violence though. Really it's never relished in the depressing either, maybe some fridge horror, but not in the dower. It's really a lesser form of Rick and Morty's eldritch comedy.

    The main thing with using depression and negative themes is you really have to aim for being short.

    There is a difference between complex and complicated. A wine is complex, but a tangle of string is complicated. Complex is nuanced, with choices that have pros and cons without a clear, definite solution which enables freedom, while complicated is picking apart how something has to be done, probably with more than a few ways to screw yourself.
     
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  20. S_Darkwell

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    Good point!

    By that definition, though, was the Water Temple Zelda level complex or complicated?

    - S.
     
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  21. RockoDyne

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    Complicated, because it's largely figuring out what you're missing and what you need to do at all the different water levels.
     
  22. frosted

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    Complex vs Complicated is way more subjective than we'd like to think. In gaming, in code, in life. The more one enjoys the process, the more one will generally consider things complex instead of complicated.

    You can even chart this sense as you gain mastery of a system, as your first instinct will generally be that it's quite complicated - then slowly you see it as complex. This is especially true in games that deal with more complex systems, like simulations or 4x.

    Examples here can be found in 'hard core' games or mods. Probably one of the more accessible examples being the "Long War" mod for XCOM. People who want to approach the game with added 'depth' will see this as complexity, those who prefer the streamlined approach of vanilla will see it as needless complication. A similar thing can be seen in Jagged Alliance's 1.13 mod, which added absolutely absurd levels of detail in inventory management and weapon selection - this mod went so far as to model individual pockets in various vests, pants, and packs such that your clothing choices and what kind of pockets these clothes offered were vital decisions, and well optimized equipment loadouts could take hours to put together and assess. The average gamer approaching 1.13's "load bearing equipment" system would be like "F*** this, it's an overly complicated mess". The super hard core audience for 1.13 on the other hand loves it.

    The same games can even be seen in entirely different lights depending on platform alone. You can see examples of mobile ports to PC that get hammered for being overly simplified for PC while being very well received on mobile. "Complicated" is just more "Complex" than the player - at the moment he's playing it - wants it to be.
     
  23. Master-Frog

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    In the case of horror, the point is that it is not enjoyable, it is uncomfortable to the point of being upsetting. It can induce nightmares. I know you're not trying to say that being afraid/experiencing discomfort is "fun", I think you're just streeeetching the word well past its meaning to try to sew up a gap in your understanding of why people play games.

    I have done it, myself.

    Think of a game that helps someone to realize and deal with the fact that everyone will one day die... it isn't all about fun, anymore. It has grown up. Games can convey a broader array of emotions, if we are willing to embrace them as a legitimate art medium and stop thinking of them as kids toys.
     
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  24. JoeStrout

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    Fair enough. I'll concede that people may subject themselves to experiences that aren't fun because they perceive other value in it.
     
  25. RockoDyne

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    Yes and no. It's mostly because people don't understand the difference of the two terms and wouldn't understand how to analytically differentiate between the two. You can have a puzzle that is complicated without any complexity to speak of (old adventure games are full of this), and there can be complex systems that are dead simple (like Tetris). It's not a spectrum of "player understanding of the systems," because these are two separate, discrete terms.
     
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  26. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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    I like to think I am "facing my fears", as an example. It makes me feel in control for a moment. It lets me familiarize myself with the feeling and accept that fear can't hurt me all by itself.
     
  27. frosted

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    I think we're all very familiar with these ideas.

    The problem is that once you've moved beyond highly abstract games (puzzles, games that deal with simple geometry, games that deal with spatial problems in abstract form), most of the more established game designs are good enough that complexity and complication are not discrete terms, but tend to be tightly coupled enough that to reduce one, will, reduce the other. The question is, how much complication can you remove with the least loss in complexity.

    This is why we have a fairly significant debate among gamers and game makers about 'streamlining', where game developers have been trying to remove complication while trying to retain as much complexity as possible. There is a spectrum of response to this by gamers who have differing tolerance for complication in exchange for additional complexity. Hearthstone vs MTG is a great example, or you can look at the changes to inventory systems in Mass Effect, or XCOM:EU vs the original XCOM.

    Chess is a more complicated game than Go, it also has less complexity. That said, the complication of it's rules work to add a thematic aspect to the game. All your pieces represent different units in an army, and the game itself has the thematic feel of a great war between two equally matched sides. Chess, when compared to Go, makes sacrifices on the wrong side of both complexity and complication - but I (and many others) personally prefer the game because of the thematic aspects, the drama that this theme brings.

    It's easy to trumpet platitudes on the elegance in games that produce a tremendous number of outcomes from very simple rules, but the thing that's really valuable is the examination of the tradeoffs and sacrifices and relationships between these qualities.
     
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  28. S_Darkwell

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    I've spent some time pondering complex versus complicated, and I don't like how we're applying this terms. This thread proposing complex as a positive version of complicated, in traditional definition, complex and complicated have very similar meanings. In their adjective forms, complex and complicated only differ in that complex implies that something is structural, consisting of interconnected parts.

    I would propose that what we're arguing here is complex versus deep. Complexity would refer to the number of rules or variables or the difficult to understand said rules or variables, whereas depth would be the emergent complexity of such games. Essentially, Keith Burgun's definitions. While I find many of Burgun's concepts mostly applicable to highly strategic games, I think some of his concepts work well across all genres.

    Absolutely a great point. Beyond the use of complex/complexity, I agree with your statements. I've always been a fan of 4X games (though they've lost my interest recently).

    Thank you for joining our conversation!
    - S.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  29. S_Darkwell

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    I find this a great example of why complex and complicated don't seem appropriate to me. Tetris isn't complicated. It is very simple. Calling it complex still just seems to imply that it's complicated. In fact, I'd argue that by traditional definitions, complex is the more appropriate word to describe Tetris. Tetris is, however, far deeper than it is complex (though, truly, not that complex, because the "information horizon" of only knowing the next block is quite close. Still, with its (number of rules/depth), I would agree that Tetris is relatively deep.

    Be well!
    - S.
     
  30. S_Darkwell

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    I just realized that this may also become more clear when relating complicated, complex, deep, and elegant (discussed by Burgun) to descriptions of a person. As social descriptors also very widely, this may not be congruent with others' understanding, but it fits in well with my own.

    • A person who is complicated is dramatic, difficult to deal with, and typically not very fun to deal with. Eg: Shallow.
    • A person who is complex is difficult to understand. They have many related traits or tendencies that are often not immediately apparent.
    • A person who is deep is one who speaks or acts with great meaning and forethought.
    • A person who is elegant (in action or speech) is able to explain the great meaning and forethought behind complex thoughts or actions in a simple manner [thus, inherent (complexity/depth)]
    Additional points for consideration!
    - S.
     
  31. S_Darkwell

    S_Darkwell

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    Haha. Yes.

    Well-stated! Yes. One can either determine the level of depth desired, and whittle down the complexity as much as possible, or, your target complexity can be defined by either your audience, and from there, your tweak the rules in maximize depth. Simply removing complexity for the sake of simplification has no affect on the quality of the game.

    The thematic aspect being depth, in the form of story.

    Agreed. In Burgun's video above, he defines elegance as (Number of Rules/Depth), or (Inherent Complexity/Emergent Complexity). What degree of complexity is "best" is entirely subjective, but if such complexity doesn't lead to at least a proportionate amount of depth, it serves an unnecessary barrier to entry that won't result in better gameplay.

    Thank you again!
    - S.
     
  32. frosted

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    In terms of games, it's really easy to differentiate "complexity" from "complication" - you can literally measure complication as the number of rules (or mechanics in modern terms), and you can measure complexity as the meaningful differences in the state of the game that these rules can lead to.

    The old saying "easy to learn, hard to master".

    The weirder grey spaces start coming up when it becomes harder to detangle the 'rules' from 'game state'. These ideas used to be pretty clear in board games, since you needed to actually learn the rules in order to play the game. In video games the machine executes the rules for you, and in many games, gamers don't fully understand the rules while they play it.

    Stat systems in RPGs are a classic example. In most of these games you have two sets of stats: base stats and derived stats. Base stats are generally pretty simple things we've all seen before: Strength, Dexterity, etc. Derived stats on the other hand are what get actually used to resolve effects. For example, both your strength and dexterity (base stats) could have an effect on your "to hit chance" (derived stat). Most players don't really need to fully understand how these systems work exactly, as long as the results generally line up with what they expect. For instance, Diablo 3's character screen shows 3 numbers: Attack, Defense, Life Gain. But if you dig into the details screen, there's a list of stats that goes on for 4 pages. Most players never even look at those details.

    Hearthstone's effect resolution phases are very detailed and the chain of effect resolution can become really crazy very fast. I would consider Hearthstone's effect resolution system more complicated than MTG's Stack in absolute terms. It would be incredibly difficult to play a game of Hearthstone without a computer resolving the effects for you. That said, player's don't need to be intimately familiar with these rules (in fact, the vast majority have no idea they exist). The game hides these complications from the player, and things execute in a way that generally lines up with the players simplified mental model of how the game works.

    These are some examples of where there is a sharp divide between the absolute complication and the perceived complication. Does it matter how complicated a system is if you can successfully hide the complication from the user (most of the time)?
     
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  33. frosted

    frosted

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    I would actually sort of compare this to our taste buds. I would consider "fun" to be kind of like sugar/sweetness, these are things that generally feed our ego (super powers, shiny level ups, excitement). But there are other flavors as well, bitterness is an unpleasant sensation - often a warning to our senses that something isn't suitable for consumption. You can see the dystopian themes or elements as bitterness. Generally in cooking you want to suppress bitterness with sweetness or salt, but there are some bitter foods and drinks that can be delicious (I can't live without coffee or post apocalyptic rpgs).

    In general, the easiest way to make something "taste good" is to throw in healthy doses of sugar. But we can learn to appreciate the other flavors just as much. Or have a weird craving for something bitter or salty.
     
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  34. RockoDyne

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    Personally, depth and complexity are largely synonyms. Both effectively boil down to the inter-connectivity of systems (just think, tetris is quite literally about inter-connecting systems). Maybe if I really need to differentiate the two, it's better to use depth when referring to mechanics, where a mechanic is deep when it impacts a number of systems and not all of them positively. In contrast, a shallow mechanic is then one that is one dimensional, which is only used depending on whether it is more efficient than other options.

    I'm probably a dissenting voice on elegance. Practically, the best value is it's less to program, so I can't totally write it off. For player experiences, the value only comes into play with gameplay loops where it's absolutely vital that a player comes to understand how to play. Engagement cycles on the other hand don't give a F***, as it generally benefits by giving the player options and more conflicts, and the player doesn't need to understand everything because he has options (and of games that generally fit engagement cycles better, they tend to have simple systems that are logically straightforward once you become aware of their existence). In essence, cycles see systems and mechanics as tools in a toolbox, and you never know when you might need that weird bent ice pick thing (or alternately you might discover a thousand and one uses for vice grips because those things are OP). Just look at NetHack, which is probably second in complexity only to Dwarf Fortress, where you can polymorph yourself into a monster that eats metal thereby enabling you to eat your metal jewelry to permanently gain their abilities.
     
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  35. Master-Frog

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    Spicy?
     
  36. frosted

    frosted

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    Sure, but don't expect to get your spicy game published on steam ;)
     
  37. Master-Frog

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    What about a steamy game?
     
  38. Gigiwoo

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    What entirely IS the purpose of a smoking jacket?
    Gigi
     
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  39. Schneider21

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    My understanding is that it originally was intended to be used as a formal accessory worn by men when going to their parlour after dinner to smoke a cigar or pipe. The idea was that it would protect your other clothing from smoke and ash, though as any non-smoker with friends or family who smoke can tell you, the effectiveness of this must've been minimal.

    Their popularity has declined enough that they're pretty much only referenced now as a joke or when impersonating Hugh Hefner, though with the cyclical nature of fashion and the propensity of hipster culture bringing back old things, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see them make a resurgence.
     
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  40. AndrewGrayGames

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    As long as fedoras come back into fashion, it'll be worth it.
     
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  41. PlayCreatively

    PlayCreatively

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    I've pretty recently discovered from where I seem to find the most appeal in videos games and I thought you guys might wanna hear it.

    I receive a sense of fulfillment from watching, and mainly playing, a really smooth game, with smooth animations and physics.

    I love when I can just feel myself into the game and mostly take actions from instinct rather than thought.

    Whether I'm smoothly sliding around the dessert in Journey or parkouring through countless of enemies without getting spotted in Sly Cooper or Seamlessly drifting around on Jak's hoverboard without ever stopping or even loosing velocity.

    In my case, velocity and even better, feel-good roaming is one of my most favorite factors in (sadly) too few games. I can even play bad games, just as long as nothing will take away my control or take away my velocity.

    Being able to zone into just running around inside a video game world without even needing an objective is an awesome way of adding a whole new aspect to the overall gameplay. The only thing you need to ensure is that transporting around is as smooth as it is fun.

    I just felt like sharing an interesting point of view of video game enjoyment. I know I'm one of the most weirdest gamers out there so I thought this might give you more angles on the matter;)
     
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  42. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

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    The first game I thought of when I read that was Journey...

    Aha!

    Just played that for the first time lately, and yeah, a big part of that game does seem to be about the simple joy of movement.

    Arkham Knight I thought had that really dialed in. Whether you're careening around in the Batmobile, zipping through the city with the grappling gun at insane speeds, or gliding through the air, that game to me just "felt right."
     
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  43. PlayCreatively

    PlayCreatively

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    Same here. Just recently played Journey and loved it so much that I still jump in from time to time.

    I haven't played that game but that is exactly what I want from more games... but in this case it makes sense. If you're gonna make a game about you being batman, the obvious priority would be to make you feel like batman, so in this case they aren't really getting out of their way to add an often overlooked feature.

    Too often games don't make you feel like the character you're playing, because that isn't "what the game is about", which can be a valid argument, as long as you don't have money nor time to add the additional features.

    But still, when you've got the advantage of an interactive medium, you SHOULD utilize it to its fullest potential and make the player BE the gameplay rather than merely effecting it.

    When a game makes me think what action I want to make, instead of what the game is capable of, the game has successfully made me apart of the character. So when I want to, for instance: go through a window but the game rips me of basic interactions it makes the game feel super game-y and can ruin the whole immersion, which is simply the fault of devs not valuing the untouched power of subtle...ness and how it can effect us.
     
  44. KnightShift

    KnightShift

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    Theres a theory I seen a video on a few years back, also relating to game design, development and all that. I forgot the important things like what it's called or other information but he's the gist of it.

    Someone put a chicken inside a box with 2 buttons, the chicken eventually pushed the buttons. After the chicken pushed the first nothing happened. But after it pushed the 2nd it got a piece of food. Now the chicken pushed the button again- more food. The chicken knowing each time it'd get a "reward" from the button now, it continued to push it. -insert theoretical name of situation here-

    When it comes to games it's of a vastly similar nature.
    Hit mob- mob hits back
    kill mob- you get a reward
    Do action A instead of Action B- something happens

    Every situation/action made leads to a reaction and these reactions are often our "rewards", though the above was referring to actual rewards I think eitherway If something happens, we continue to proceed in making things happen.

    Since I can't find the information such as names and where I found it, I can't contribute much to the discussion however I believe this fits in nicely with the Engagement idea

    OK all that aside here's the video. Its actually a Pidgeon in a box but either way here's the video regarding it.



    I'd like to hear @Gigiwoo 's thoughts on this possibly as well. I find it's pretty interesting
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
  45. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    The source of fun is explosions.
     
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  46. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    The Skinner Box is not a lie. It's an important aspect of game design. And, it works perfectly with Flow. Meaning, you start by ensuring you have:
    1. Clear Goals
    2. Lots of Feedback
    3. No Distractions
    4. Balanced Difficulty
    Then, once you've nailed that, and you've worked to embrace simplicity, then you can look at more subtle aspects. Skinner box is about reward schedules. The POWERFUL take away from skinner boxes is that RANDOM rewards are more powerful than scheduled rewards at promoting behavior.

    What's more important to a house, the roof, the foundation, or the walls? It's a trick question - it's all important. The only difference is WHEN you address these things. Foundation is like flow. Plumbing and roof are like Simplicity. The walls are like the User Interface. And so on. They are all needed in the final product.

    Gigi
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
  47. ryschawy

    ryschawy

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    I'd like to throw in some concrete observations I recently did regarding going from 'playing a game' to 'having fun playing a game'.
    Imagine an early prototype of a level's geometry. There are mostly blocks and larger empty planes. Navigating the player character through this scene makes me think: OK, there are walls and floors.
    What happens if we replace the blocks and planes with great detailed high quality assets? In my case it did lead to: Wow, so many details in this scene, my eyes aren't able to grasp every detail. I need to watch carefully cause I might find something. So adding details did trigger interactivity in this case.
    This also worked for the size of the viewing volume. Scaling up the view volume (and go more top down) made me go from 'where do I come from, where can I go to?' to 'wow, so many tempting places around me, where do I want to go?'.

    I got inspired to focus on these observations by an interesting article I came across the other day regarding 'How do you tell a great story with a game?' The article discusses why a good book is a good book and a good film is a good film and a good game is a good game: http://hitboxteam.com/designing-game-narrative.
    I didn't see anybody mention The Art of Game Design. This is also a good read but you have to be lucky and read the right 'lens' regarding what you're mentally focused on at that point ;-)

    I'm impressed about the wide spectrum of replies this question has triggered. Thanks.

    ThomasR
     
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  48. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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  49. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    I haven't recently outed myself as a super-nerd again, so I feel a need to do that in a constructive way.

    I read the article, and the main point of order that we have to design the player story first then write a supporting explicit story, is great, and it brings to mind how Voldemort designed the trap dungeon around his locket Horcrux (spoiler alert - Voldemort has MacGuffins that Harry Potter has to destroy.) He made it so that you had to conjure a boat at a specific point to bypass his army of undead (because you don't want to be caught by Inferi) to get to an island which has the locket guarded by a potion/mind-poison you have to drink, but then have to drink water to survive...which triggers the Inferi and now turns what started as a fetch quest into the Night of 1000 Mooks.

    In-Universe, Voldemort does this to secure his MacGuffin behind a few layers of difficult-to-break magical protection; the only people who could find out about this are traitors to his cause, and therefore would be working alone, and therefore couldn't break such defenses. The reason it winds up failing, is because someone else finds out, and they bring a friend. And, it's totally Dumbledore and Harry! True story! It's actually Regulus Black and Kreacher. Don't trust fake-out spilers.

    Anyways, I find this a concrete example of what you're talking about, only in a literary sense; this setup could easily be adapted to be a videogame level, because the player has something they want to do (find the Big Bad's MacGuffins), and something working against them (various traps, the aforementioned Night of 1000 Mooks) They will experience exasperation at the esoteric, but seemingly useless defenses...until they're jumped by a battalion of zombies big enough to make Arthas a little uneasy, which is the true test - can you survive an entire zombie apocalypse, in a cave, on a small island, suffering from the deletrious effects of a mind-poison?
     
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  50. ryschawy

    ryschawy

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    I too want to continue being constructive. Let's talk about distraction, perception and how that relates to more fun playing a level.
    If we agree that distraction can have a positive effect on how much fun it is to play a level, e.g. adding lots of details to a level, we should try to find the best values for this. Let's say we define (for our players) perception as the number of instances per second he's able to observe. My gut feeling tells me that this number heavily depends on the complexity of the instances, e.g. mesh, but also on the variation of objects and their other attributes.
    I'd like to find out a bit more on how this player specific perception evolves over time and how we best can get a feedback to adapt this value.

    ThomasR
     
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