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Sage13

Lack of Premise

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We''ve been talking about it a lot lately and it seems to be a well agreed upon fact that the reason so many games seem stale nowadays is because the majority of them lack premise. You may have herd about the petitions and such going around that the freedom of speech should not be applicable to games because games have nothings to say. No message to "really" get across. What are your thoughts about this? Personally, I do agree that there should be more games out there that aren''t just there to be a game. The strength of the medium is interactivity and the psychological effects of gaming are much higher than many other forms of entertainment. I think that it is beneficial to have a real premise to get across. Firstly it makes the game you are developing have a purpose, and it becomes much more than a game. Secondly, it would force the developer to get away from just throwing out themes as after thoughts to their creations, and rather focus on creating a game around a premise and not only telling the player, but showing them why this premise is true false etc. I just think this would spice things up a bit. Again, think about it and leave some feedback about your thoughts. peace -Sage13 Liquid Moon Team X2: Official Site

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I''ve been trying to say the same thing here for awhile now. Indeed, I think the very word "game" is too limiting, as it comes with a host of connotiations of what it means to different people. That''s why lots of people here argue over semantics and come up with terminlogy to better define what they want...for example, "toys", "sims", "interactive story", etc. etc.

Personally, I feel that by saying game, you automatically limit how people perceive what you can accomplish. To me, the computer is a tool with which we can provide experiences to the viewer. It doesn''t have to be a game with the strict definition that there are objectives, or a winner/loser category.

Games to me are just that...games. They may be fun, and you can get enjoyment out of them, but I''d like something more than that. I want people to out something IN to the game as much as get something OUT. We have been conditioned inour culture that we sit back and entertainment comes to us. We sit back and we wtach TV, sports, movies, and play video games. Very rarely do we stop and think of what we do, or question what goes on and how we can be better. Being better can mean improving our skills or making us better people even.

So what can we do to change this? I think for starters by creating a "game" with a message. And not as an afterthought, but purposefully constructed around this message. I think Black and White was a step in the right direction, but actually didn''t go far enough.

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Above all else, this is my passion when it comes to game design. To make games that are entertaining, and yet make people wonder if it should really be called a game.

It disturbs me deeply that video games are currently not accepted by the public as being worthy of being "speech." There are several games that disprove this belief, but the sad truth is that most games have very little to say. You could say that making games with something to say is my Holy Grail -- my ultimate quest.

Messages are most effectively conveyed through stories; such has been the case since the dawn of man. Games have as much potential of film to tell a story -- but it seems to be difficult for many, including some of the the more gifted and intelligent designers within the industry, to grasp the concept.




Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

"I create. Therefore I am."

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Yes, I agree. From my conference with other designers in the industry at the IGDA meetings, the fact that publishers don''t want to ''Say'' anything also stifles the ability of designers to create what could be perceived as ''art'' on it''s own.

This, of course, is what the independent game development community should be pushing towards. Yet the industry trend of mimicking has trailed down to even the bowels of the independent developers. Do you think this could be lack of education about game development? Fear of creating something no one would want to play?

We should be experimenting more such as the film and comic industries have.

-Sage13

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Gaming nowadays is much like Hollywood Film Industry, no message is required to be delivered across since noone cares due the fact that people play for entertainment, not to get smart. ITS ESCAPISTS entertainment.

IF you want messages, feel free to grab any penguing literature classic book and you''ll start to understand why tehre is a huge distinction in between escapist literature and more meaningful literature. Quite often these two don''t come in a same packet and for a nowaday reader who is not interested in finding a lot of significant meanings hidden in the theme through stylistic devices they don''t offer a lot. Of course there are many novels that accomplish this, but yet there are too many that fail in this. However, things are different if you are interested in stylistic literature, then you''ll probably gain more reading these "meaningful" books. I mean reading Moby Dick is totally different from reading Rainbow Six or reading Fahrenheit 451 compared to your general shitty star trek book with a lot of erotic fan fiction involving jumpsuits and elf ears.


The state of general human mind is that nobody really cares what you have to say as long as they are entertained. If someone started to put shit involving changing attitudes towards gay people(i''m homophobic and not going to change) I would most likely throw this shit where it belongs: trash can.

I''d say indie-games are cabable of having this *meaningful* content, but for mainstream market it is too dangerous. Let''s say you express positive attitudes towards gay people and you get the hatre of some faggot Southern Babtists and other religious shitstain groups.

Games are pop culture, pop culture is like a snickers bar, flawless creamy chocolate crust leaving a taste that is lasts 10 seconds leaving a hollow feel that is over as soon as you get another one. Then you get fat.

Feel free to try, I''d say you are doomned in a limbo of artsy faggotry, where there is no other escape than killing yourself.

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Captain Goatse has a point in that basically people are....well, cattle. They don''t want to exercise their minds or their soul, and if something comes across as pedantic, pedagogueic or remotely like a soapbox, they immediately tune out.

I think the only way around it is to trick the audience into caring. Make it seem like they aren''t really doing anything but they are actually making choices. Getting the players to try something new maybe diffucult though, even if it comes with good praise (how many good games have there been with good reviews that were just too different for people to accept?).

I think the Indy game developers have a greater degree of freedom to pursue these kinds of avenues however. Me personally, I want to make a game just as practice for my programming skills. I know it won''t be of the same quality of games that are produced by development studios with scores of workers, but I bet I could put out something more unique than they ever could because the almighty $ has no control over me. So frankly, I don''t care if 90% of the population thought my game was stupid as long as 10% thought it was amazing.

So there are two problems...one is human nature that people want their breads and circuses (a saying attributed in Roman times that people will be contented as long as they are entertained and have food even if society is going to hell around them) and the other problem is getting the industry to dip their toes in different waters. The latter I think is actually a more easily surmountable problem. All it takes is a brave soul to make something new that succeeds, and then you get the copy cats to flock to it with slight tweaks. It''s a slow evolutionary process, but it does work. As for chaning human nature, I think the only answer to that is to trick them into thinking its escapist entertainment when it really isn''t.

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Boy, is this a topic that really irritates me!

[rant on]
What irritates me is the fact that a few people think they have the intelligence and ability to define what is freedom of speech and what is a "message" and what isn't. For example: a person can get funding to splash paint on a canvas, let their dog walk on it and crap on it, then hang it up in a museum and call it "art"!!! What are they thinking?!?!? Or a person can sort through a trashcan, glue together some pieces of trash and put it on a pedestal and have people oohhhh and aaahhh over it! But if a company spends a couple of years (more time in actual man-hours) and a couple million dollars to create something that people actually want to buy and play, they get told they shouldn't be allowed to create it because it doesn't "say" something?!? What kind of drugs are these censoring idiots on and where can I get some, because they must be really good!!!

If people would spend their time on dealing with what's really important instead of sticking their noses in an industry they don't understand and don't want to understand we'd be a lot better off.
[/rant off]

I have to agree that most games don't really have a premise, but then again, they don't really need to. Most games aren't about getting a point across or making the players think. They're about good clean fun. I have no problem with companies that want to make a game with a point. Perhaps more of them should just to please the idiots noted above. But it's not a requirement and shouldn't be. Many people just want to fire up a game and blow stuff up or beat up on other players or monsters. It's stress relief for some and just something they like to do for most.

One of the main problems is that some companies are just satisfied with jumping on the genre bandwagon and cloning the latest best seller than putting the effort into making a more original game. The main reason for this is that publishers want to play it safe. They'd rather put out something they think is a sure money maker than take a chance on something original. It's sad that publishers don't think more of gamers than that. That's the main problem. Developers can't really take a risk on creating something original unless they can afford to develop and publish it themselves, since most publishers won't touch a game unless it's a sure thing.

If the community as a whole would somehow let the publishers know that taking a risk is a good thing and might forward the industry instead of letting it stagnate then things might change as far as developers creating more games with a premise.

[edited by - Machaira on December 6, 2002 8:27:32 AM]

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I doubt that it´s an "agreed upon fact", I can´t agree at all with this whole "games gotta have a message" thing. Actually I tend to agree with Captain Goatse, games don´t need to have a message. If you think your message is so important, stick with the traditional media for delivering it (write an essay, print pamphlets, found a cult or make an experimental short film).

Games are for fun. Fun alone. Your task is to entertain people, not educate them or pound your world view into them. Of course, games will never be entirely free of that, and that´s ok I think (after all, a little sprinkling of real life issues never hurt anyone), but basing a game on a message is a different thing entirely.

Make a game first, the message will come by itself. If you go at it the other way you tend to have all message without game.

If you find ways of incorporating touchy subjects in your game, all the better, I think it will be a better game because of it. But making a game in order to bring home a message is not going to work.

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