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Paul Cunningham

Submissive Tyrants Welcome

36 posts in this topic

- The Game Designer is a Submissive Tyrant - We decide what games will be made whilst obeying the desires of the Human. We work out what''s good for a game and what''s not only to realise that it all fits into the frame of "if it was wanted". If you''re not submissive to the Human want''s it''s all a matter of time until you''re shoved aside like an old book. Blunt but true! Our real problem is knowing what our masters want. How the hell are we meant to know. They tell us they want originality and we go "ok". They then tell us not to lose the qualities of good games that are around today and we say "sure thing". But they want it done better and they want it now! We use our creativity as our primary tool and polish it with logical thinking. We apply our practical knowhow to work out if "they" will comprehend and enjoy our little master pieces. But what are our master''s really telling us? What is their strongest wants from games? Can they be satisified in general terms? Is there something we''re missing or worse forgotten? Is it right under our noses but we just can''t see it? It irritate''s me when i can''t answer these question''s not because of there seemingly simplicity but we/i ignore it hoping some bright spark will come along and tell me one day. They want to be entertained people and there''s a lot of ways to do it. But computer games are more than entertainment, they are here to give the player the ability to be someone else. To live a different life for a measly few hours a day or week. This is more than entertainment, this is a new existance of mind. How fare should we take them on our beautiful and nightmarish journeys. Are there limits (which we should know of)? Are we risking certain embarresment if we don''t watch out how far we take people on our journeys? We are a fully commercialised research and development industry. What are the perils that face us? Do we want to end up like the genetic engineering industries that have such a bad reputation?
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Ugh - it''s always annoying when people ask smart questions on these boards. Not only do they mostly go un-noticed because people would rather go to a message where they can verbally (?) bash some one, but also because they are exactly the type of questions where all the action should be.

I''ll make a vague attempt to tackle all of your questions, most respectable Paul C, but this could take a while.

We are quite obviously slaves, no designer could dispute the fact that we aren''t designing the games we want to design, we are designing the games the consumer wants to play. The biggest blight on the gaming industry as a developing form of human entertainment is the gamers themselves. They restrict the f**k out of us (I mean to be vulgar).

More often than not, game designers are the creative types. Artists are hardly ever recognised by anyone but art-fanatics, there aren''t really any mass consumers of art, there are small numbers of people that appreciate it. As long as a large mass of people are the only target of games, there will be no flexibility within the creation of a game. You will just have to go for the formula that has worked to the largest scale. Art doesn''t appeal to everyone, even amongst the few people that it does appeal to, there will always be those in that group who think one piece sucks and another one is excellent.

That''s why art isn''t a mass form of entertainment. Large masses of people just don''t respond to something different.

We just have to respond to what they want. Yet as you say, they tell us to do everything in a big hurry cause they want more like some kind of perverted drug abusers, constantly demanding more and more. It''s quite frustrating because you do something original and they may not like it. They really want the same formula as always but they want it "better".

I don''t like to think of gamers as drug-addicts, but if you want to make a game that gets published you might as well anyway.

Games aren''t taken as a serious mode of taking people on a journey through a fantastic world, showing them experiences. People don''t want to take a different perspective and learn something from a world or situation that a game designer puts them in. In other words - they don''t seek enlightenment from games. They just seek entertainment. And to them, entertainment is just plain old blasting the crap out of things. It''s a male dominated industry, and males aren''t known for their depth and intellect (at least in Australia - hehe). Still, before any bra-burning feminists jump on, females aren''t that much better. IF a game tells them that they look good and they are "worth it" then - well you get my point

The closest computers come to trying to show some kind of art is in the demo coding scene, but that hardly has any interactivity or takes people on a different journey, and that industry has been crushed over the years by lack of interest (grumble grumble).

As a commercialised industry I don''t think there are many perils other than us trying to break formulas. As long as there is still one developer pouring out formulaic games, everyone else won''t have a chance of changing the way the industry works.

Ugh - I''m sure I sound really vague in that post, but I can''t think straight when people pose slightly intellectually demanding topics. Or it could just be that I''ve been staring at a cathode ray tube for too long.
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You know enlightenment isn''t the same thing for all people. I see ritualistic combat as the only real elevating experience. Honestly I don''t want all these fancy and original experiences that wrech my heart and teach me about the "human condition", I want quality experiences that challenge my mind. The game is the arena in which I battle intellectually, formation vs formation, feint vs counterattack. In the end it is just me and my opponent (and our allies in certain types of games) in battle. The game is just the set of rules we use. My favorite game has pretty good graphics and great atmosphere, however I don''t notice them anymore and I don''t care.
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Arg - damn people that make good points that go against my points.

I think that''s true. Some people see an enlightening experience in a different light to others (that soudns cheesy). But due to my stubborn nature I dunno how i can change my thinking to suit this.

I think that there are thousands of games out there that currently fill the void in your mind - gives you the chance to try out the combat nature in things. So you don''t really have a big problem. For game designers, doing these kind of games is getting quite tedious (at least I feel that way) and we really are just regurgitating the same formula with more features.

There is room out there for other types of games that try to give people more insight to the human condition. Sure - lotsa people think that''s totally lame to ritualistic combat, but I find it much more challenging as a game designer to try and do something different than just make something that appeals.

There is not a single problem with finding combat as enlightening, but it does make things quite restricting on the game industry as a developing medium, where so many people like that (combat) and anything else gets quite violently rejected.
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Humm.. ::rubs hands together:: sounds like my kinda thread Let me get some words in before Landfish awakes to find this.. hehe

First off, Paul.. when I read this topic i was like "dominatrix game developers?" hehe.. Now THAT would really get people to look at a thread.. hehe. Damn good subject, though.

Now, it''s true we have to imagine some kinda target audience, and think about what THEY want, despite what WE want. Any professional programmer with an ounce of creativity will tell you how much this sucks. Why? Well.. i''ll explain with my girlfriend. She makes web pages, she makes good ones. She makes good art for them. She has design plans for them. The person that owns a site contracts her. They tell her to design this. She says "but this way is so much better, more attractive, and has more options and features" and the boss says "i have no need for someone who freely thinks. do as i say". Ok.. we get the picture here (see Landfish, i''m working on that brevity thing..).

We all know what''s best, at least.. according to us But we have to follow a game plan. We can''t deviate, we can''t be different.. unless we do it WELL. So.. how do we do this? How can WE, the lowly designer, break the mold? Good question I have no fricking clue.

First, marketting comes in to play. Who are you designing for? What are your design goals? Who exactly do you see playing this? People like you is an incorrect answer to this. Why? because people like you make their own games!!!
Answer these to yourself, and i shall continue my rant later.

J
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The reason why i call it submissive tyrant is that its a display of flexability. That is, you can go one way or the other when need be /simulanteously.

quote:
from Maitrek
We are quite obviously slaves, no designer could dispute the fact that we aren''t designing the games we want to design, we are designing the games the consumer wants to play. The biggest blight on the gaming industry as a developing form of human entertainment is the gamers themselves. They restrict the f**k out of us (I mean to be vulgar).



But if someone contradicts their instruction to you then aren''t they really saying... "do what ever you want"? This is want most feedback to games tends to say.

That''s my point you see, "communication breakdown". Who should we listen to. I mean, we have to listen right? If common sence was the answer then we''d all be millionaire''s and the industry would control the world. Not that i would like that.

quote:
from niphty

We all know what''s best, at least.. according to us But we have to follow a game plan. We can''t deviate, we can''t be different.. unless we do it WELL. So.. how do we do this? How can WE, the lowly designer, break the mold? Good question I have no fricking clue.



We don''t necessarily have to listen to the consumer at all. If game designing is an art then screw''em. If someone tells you that you should do your own thing then do you continue to run after them waiting for them to change their mind?

"unless we do it well", every game should be done better than well or as i say before "you get shoved aside like an old book.

There''s no need to break a mold, just creat a better one, an inovative one, a creative one.

------------------

What worries me is the media. If we behave like immature kids only to satisfy our sensless want''s (gore and violence) then we are asking for trouble.

If we wait for governments to enforce laws on us, saying what we can and can''t make the hand will natually be heavy and swift. But if we can prove that we can regulate ourselves then the blow will be lighter/ when it comes and i think it will.

-------------------

quote:
from niphty

First, marketting comes in to play. Who are you designing for? What are your design goals? Who exactly do you see playing this? People like you is an incorrect answer to this. Why? because people like you make their own games!!!
Answer these to yourself, and i shall continue my rant later.



marketing is used for to purposes: 1) appealing to consumers 2) actually creating demand. Games are very similar in this respect. If you come up with something inovative enough then you will actually create demand.

When you supply demand you are simply improving on an idea. I like the idea of creating demand. Inovation is the attackers advantage after all.

quote:


Games aren''t taken as a serious mode of taking people on a journey through a fantastic world, showing them experiences. People don''t want to take a different perspective and learn something from a world or situation that a game designer puts them in. In other words - they don''t seek enlightenment from games. They just seek entertainment. And to them, entertainment is just plain old blasting the crap out of things.



It depends what mood your in right. If people were not interest in taking a new perspective then there would only be one genre of games/ FPS. Why do you think half-life succeeded so well?


WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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Paul, I think you''re right about how hard it is to determine exactly what to do. Do we listen to them or do we follow our creativity and let it run?

It''s a tough question, and one many people don''t know how to answer, so it usually ends that they run with the pack to try to get something out of it. But when you run with the pack, how will you stand out, be different? Simple: you won''t. Ok, so what do you do then? You have to follow your heart. Is it not better to try to make your own niche and fail then to try to cram yourself into someone else''s niche like everyone else, and fail?

Honestly, I think we should just screw them. We''re the tyrant, we decide what they play. I mean, hell.. if they buy it, too bad hehehe. no morals for game designers!!! LOL. Actually.. i think we should understand what people want, and give it to them in a new way. That''s how we''ll succeed. And i plan on doing this MY MMORPG has got quite a lot different from those out today. And it''s using my girlfriend''s and my personal beliefs and philosophies to do it but it works out so much better.. hehe. Two designers with opposing views seem to work well.. because we''re making things that both of us like That''s how you make something different. One person with total control? well.. then you''ll miss out on ideas others could throw in. oh well though

J
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Allow me to commit complete blasphemy against the Hollywood paradigm:

People don''t always know what''s best for them.

Oh, yeah. Hollywood has assumed for years that the only films people will watch are the ones where everything goes according to a specific formula. Writers used to know how to make a good villain, or a tragedy. But no more, because it''s not in the formula. Why? Hollywood thinks it knows what''s best for the viewer, because the viewer thinks it knows what''s best for themselves!

Take the tragedy. It''s subversive, a very difficult genre to explore, because at face value it makes no sense to enjoy. It''s pure bad from beginning to end, even the good is intended to make the bad look worse by contrast. But there is a cathartic release one gets from tragedy. Schindler''s List is another example. Why would you enjoy watching something so basically sad?

This applies to games. A lot. The players don''t necessarily know what''s best for them. Of course, they know what they like, and if you''re good, you''ll package them together. I''m not saying that games that do what''s best for the player will sell well, or at all. But, there is a market for independant film, right?
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Too true, Landfish
Pulp Fiction is an independant film.. and look at it Damn cool.

I agree, people don''t know what they want. It''s inherant in man to ride the fence and not choose sides. We must learn to cultivate this.

This short post was brought to you by the Landfishian movement for short posts with little answer and many questions. Thank you.

J
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True; players don''t know what they want before they play it; just make something you like, and if it''s good, people will like it (Pulp Fiction = good, no formula, noone knew people would like it, since it was good, people did like it); and if they don''t like it, fuck, at least you have created something you liked!
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I agree about Hollywood, Landfish...I am at the point where I can hardly stand anything that isn't on the unusual and original side. Watching anything w/ a predictable formula just about turns my stomach. There's nothing better than seeing a movie, and not knowing 90% of the plot before seeing it. Being John Malkovich is good recent example IMO. It was just really out there, and every portion of the movie was totally unpredictable.


Edited by - Nazrix on June 25, 2000 2:20:14 PM
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Hmmmm, Nazzlie, maybe that''s why we get along. BTW, I wanted Nazzie to be your nickname, but that''d be a little close to the title of a facist dictatorship from about fifty years ago. So Nazzlie it is. =)
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Yeah, we kinda think alike, LF.

Yeah, this is nothing like a facist dictatorship. I'm getting forced to use a different name



Edited by - Nazrix on June 25, 2000 3:04:51 PM
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quote:
Original post by Niphty

How''s that for short?


!LF

That''s shorter.
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Hmm, why are you guys discussing a question you must
decide on each and one individually anyway?

How''s that for short?

PS. I prefer to do my own thing, always. But I also notice
that I am not in sync with the rest of the pack. The things
I appreciate are ignored/misunderstood, cause there is no
immediate "coolness" attached. Originality/individuality
is seldom merited, in fact so seldom, it is not even worth
the effort in this entertainment industry. You gonna buy
Duke 3 anyway, you know what you get for the hard earned cash.
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There are two problems with listening to consumers

1 = You can''t please them all because more often that not one day the big news will be to do things one way, then the next day the next group consumers that like to see their opinions voiced will say something completely different

2 - If the consumer has proverbially consumed, then if they say something should be done differently, then it''s possible they didn''t have an informed position on the state of whatever kind of game they thought should be different and it might''ve been aimed at a different audience anyway.

It''s hard not to be pulled in all directions and that''s why we always play it so safe because it''s a big risk to
a) respond to something the consumers say and
b) not respond to something consumers say

The problem is, eventually the formula will get tired. This is why there area few games out there that only do little special things (nothing amazing) and yet are still amazing successes. It''s not that consumers are morons, but they are never quite sure what they really want until you serve it up to them (like a restaurant, how will you know that the pasta dish will be crap?).

And also about games not being taken seriously as a medium of taking people for a journey, I still stand by that. The idea of listening to the consumer means also that you are attempting to appeal to the mass market. This means that there are certain things that the large market aren''t very interested in (although how do we know until we try? hehe), which means that these journey''s aren''t sellable.
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Well its true, a lot of game companies are employing people not just with the skills who can do the job but people who play games 24hrs a day. This way they get their feedback and production in one person. But how reliable is this one person? Its a complete gamble, sorry if i offended anyone but thats how i feel.

Every time we come up with an idea we question it in relevence to the consumer. Will they handle this? Is this as fool proof as it can be? etc. SO WE balance all of our judgements off the consumer regardless of how creative we are. Is this some kind of peer pressure we''re under?

yeah, we get an original idea. We write out a sales pitch to our staff. They say "yeah, we''ll do that next project, it sounds good". By the time the next project comes along there''s annother licence up for grabs and guess who got it. You did! Where does it end?

This is not a good cycle.

WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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Most titles must walk a narrow path. If it is ''just another FPS or RTS'', the game is DOOMed for lack of originality. Original games that break new ground are often considered too confusing, too boring, too different, or ''just too damn original'' to succeed.

Blah.

I''ve played plenty of games that will never touch a sliver of market share, and plenty of games that were aimed the average consumer. There is no question in my mind which of them was ''right''. I believe the artistic consideration should come first, like writing a book, composing, painting. If you are fortunate enough to design what the common man will enjoy and you make some money, more power to you. If you take your creativity and skill and create a worthless piece of garbage aimed at the sheep for a quick dollar, well, there is a word for that in the English language, and it ain''t one the moderators will appreciate...

I realize this is unrealistic. I haven''t been the same since they quit selling games for my C64. (Damn I miss those old games!)

sniff....sniff...

ManaSink
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I think i''m going to start a new club internationally. GDWA.. Game Designers With Attitudes. hehe We''ll add this one to this list of "things we should do, but are really too lazy to". Also on this list: GASP, Gamers Against Stupid Parents. This one we thought up to combat the stupid parents who think violence in games makes us violent. No, ma.. it was all that abuse as a child!

Ok, Paul.. sorry for gettin off topic with landfish, but.. he started it!! ;p

I don''t think we''re under "peer pressure" to conform to a medium for the consumer, we''re under "economic pressure". As in, do it like this or the game will flop. But that only goes for the DOOM cloners. But seriously.. we have to understand that people can and will break our games. What do we do then? We must anticipate things. I''d like to make AI work and have a fully functional 3d environment in which all objects are REAL, but.. not yet. I mean, what would you do with all these items? perhaps the gamer would come up with a "pen is mighter than the sword" kinda solution to something that you assumed the sword would be used for. We as humans can''t keep track of all the stuff in the games. "What? who put the pencil in level 4''s main office?! they''ll be able to solve my quest easily!" This happens with multiple designers/programmers or a multiple personality.. hehe I''m forgetful, so if i leave a pencil lying around in my game, and the gamer comes along and kills my huge man-eating creature that was designed to block an enterance.. well.. what''s behind there? NOTHING! hehe. What then? I saw a movie like this, but i can''t remember what. It had one of those "oops, we weren''t supposed to do this" kinda things. Ultima 8 had this. If you had the cheat, you could teleport to where you shouldn''t be, and the map had nothing to render, so it merely created a buncha replica lines of what was already on the screen. At least it didn''t error
It''s impossible to make a world so complete that the user will not go to the end of it unless you''ve got a very small, round world. What''s beyond the end? nothing.. prove it Well, this is how i feel as a gamer. And i understand as a programmer why it must be that way. And it hurts us all, i think, that we can''t fully develop like we wish to. In my MMORPG, i''ve got a system to allow people to walk off the beaten path. This gives rangers something to do. And yes, there are things that aren''t mapped out to the player''s civilization.. and i can''t wait till someone stumbles upon something
The most obivous way to create a blockage is to have some sorta natural feature. Quest for Glory 3 had a huge map you could roam. There were mountains on all sides, and a river, and even a huge canyon. Yet.. you couldn''t attempt to cross the river or even explore in the mountains And the city you were in! only had exits to the part trapped in!! how did these people get any sort of trade goods! ACK! designer''s nightmare.. right there A player like me who questions things. Sometimes you have to concede and say "we simply can''t do that". At what point do you do this? Only when there''s no other option. If you want the player limited, do it. Don''t screw around thinking that they might get annoyed at you. They''ll understand, and if they don''t.. they''re jerks There''s always gonna be someone who says "why didn''t i get my way?" and you say "make your own game if you want your way.. i did" hehe

J

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from Niphty
quote:

It''s impossible to make a world so complete that the user will not go to the end of it unless you''ve got a very small, round world. What''s beyond the end? nothing.. prove it


You can always use map wrapping as i think you said. That''s real life too.
----
A lot of RPG developers think they have to have something exciting in every tile/chunk of graphic. I think thats rubbish. A lot of damn good rpg''s make massive maps but only have interesting elements implaced here an there i.e. fairey tale, fallout, battlemech, sentinal worlds etc. these were all good and sucessful games.

What really annoys me is when the odd developer breaks through with new ideas, the game sells excedingly well an no one in the industry talks about it or accepts these new ideas. Then every time someone uses these ideas it''s a breakthrough all over again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again you get my point. It''s got to be the worst element in the industry... Ignorance. We lack history, we need somewhere where our progresses can be noted and filed for everyone to see. Like a public domain library on every aspect of computer game development.

There''s just too much confusion. Everyone''s talking it up but knowones really taking any serious notes.

I hear people say i just do it my way. That''s rubbish. Because every idea you have is FOR the player! I don''t think i''ve heard of an idea for a game where "player consideration" is not the foundating there of.

I believe we take every player on a journey. There''s a well known term called "Suspension of Disbelief". It is the prime goal of every writer to attain as much suspension of disbelief in their stories as they can.

(from Maitrek)
quote:


It''s hard not to be pulled in all directions and that''s why we always play it so safe because it''s a big risk to
a) respond to something the consumers say and
b) not respond to something consumers say


Ahhh, that''s a very clearing thought Maitrek, thank you. So what you are saying is (my interpretation). How can a consumer know what they are talking about if we don''t? Thus, we remain constant and uptodate is the formula for survival/yes?




WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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Paul, how the heck do you do those quotes? lol.. i asked somewhere and never got an answer.. hehe

Yeah, i think a library of game design terms and ideas would be neat, but impossible. LOL
And yeah, we all hafta assume the player in the equation. it''s difficult to do. isn''t that the point of this thread?

J
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