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Addiction?

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froghaus

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Ladies and Gents, the emotionally stable and promisingly fantastic Jesse Chounard is in the house. Utterly fabulous. Hope you're doing alright, old bean.

My experience with programmers has been ... less than extraordinary in past attempts. So, this time around, we're designing the whole game (graphics, sound, maps, everything) up front and then either:

a) Handing the project over to a hire hand or

b) Programming it myself, which is a royal pain in the butt, as I'm not the hottest programmer on the market.

The fact of the matter is, finding quality team members is next to impossible, especially over the internet. Matt and Jin are both personal friends of mine who I've been able to analyze in person and come to know/understand. Finding people online is hard, trustworthy people even more difficult. But even more difficult than that is finding locals who share your passion.

I'd taken a shot at it using Torque, but honestly, in my relatively modest opinion, I wasn't impressed. Though the idea of multi-platform availability for our game is alluring, the chaos of Garage Games' "documentation" is just that: chaos. Especially when creating a product aimed at "non-programmers". I've been programming off and on for years and I had a wicked hard time getting anything working.

So, anyway, the technology being used for Asparagus will most likely be Mappy for maps, Tile Studio for sprites/tiles, Photoshop for some more tile work, Illustrator for other graphics, Allegro for graphics display, God-knows-what for audio, MySQL for net-related information, and Visual C++ Express Edition for compiling. Yee haw? Yee haw.

It will be a pain trying to program this bad boy, but someone has to do it, eh? And Lord knows the guys can't do it.


If I may rant for a bit, I just read something in The Game Producer's Handbook. The author, Dan Irish, made a comment about making games addicting. Okay, so he probably made it in innocence, but the fact of the matter is, I'm sick of designers/producers/hairy aunts and uncles talking about how games need to be addicting. Again, no beef with him, as he made the comment innocently, I believe.

But here's my deal. I've seen game addiction. It's the most disgusting thing since morbid obesity (which I overcame... obesity, not game addiction). I've seen it completely sap peoples' drive for life and send them into funk unimaginable.

Addiction is what you do with drugs, alcohol, or sex. Games are something you play: an entertainment platform. Just like books read for entertainment, movies, or whatever else, they're toys meant to kill some time and keep ourselves amused. Sure, some of them make some bold statements about life, love, and other mysteries (The Sims is a fantastic example of a game that went further), but it is utterly ridiculous for us to pretend that entertainment is anything but just that: entertainment.

The point when we feel we need to grab the player by the genitals of addiction is where we lose touch with the entertainment medium. I think that, despite my hate for ties between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, game developers can take notes from other forms of entertainment that truly understand what they're existing for.

I've never played a game to become addicted. I've never played a game because it was "fun"; in fact, the word "fun", tied to videogames has always kind of grossed me out. I've played games, watched movies, read books, and listened to music not because it is "fun", per se, but because they interest me. Everyone is simply entertaining themselves, looking for something interesting.

As far as I'm concerned, games don't need to be more addicting, they need to be more interesting. Games now are boring. Once in a while, something interesting comes along, like Katamari Damacy or Shadow of the Colossus. Games, for the most part, are designed for the minds of 15 year-old males, an audience with whom I share no common interest. It isn't fair that, as an adult, I am almost actively neglected in my gaming tastes, simply because 100% of my income isn't expendable.

Sure, a company needs to go where the money is, and I don't hold it against EA, Activision, Take2, etc., for their pandering to children, but where are the games for me? Where are the games made for adults who've read philosophy, discovered deeper meanings to religious influence in their life, gotten jobs, gone to college, or just plain ... live a real life?

I don't give a rat's buttocks about graphics. I want a quality game with a great story, intuitive gameplay, and doesn't require 20 hours of my precious/valuable time.

Guess that's why we have to make Asparagus.

The game should take 5 hours to complete, the interface (MUSE) is entirely mouse-driven for simplicity, the story ties together a lot of our philosophies on life/God/purpose/compassion/hope, and we're excited for it.

So... from addiction to Asparagus. I don't want Asparagus to addict you. I want it to interest you. I want it to teach you. I want it to give you some semblance of hope/peace in a dark world.

Thanks for the comments everyone. You all rock.
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I too have always felt a little uneasy when designers describe game addiction as a "good thing". I've studied a bit of basic psychology as well as ultra-addictive games and I'm pretty sure I could design one if I tried, but frankly I'd feel guilty knowing people were unheathily addicted to playing my game.

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Haha! Thanks for the smile.

Gimme a shout if you need any assistance. (I added my ICQ number to my GDNet profile.) My experience with Allegro is probably stale by now, but I'm sure I could pick it up again. I've got alot more recent knowledge with SDL (with and without OpenGL) and Ogre3d, should you go either of those routes in the future.

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