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Paul Cunningham

Gameplay compromising Reality

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One thing that i know irritates many experienced Game Designers is when a newbie walks in and asks that same question that every other newbie asks, "But that''s not realistic is it?" or "But how come this doesn''t happen?". As i''ve noticed in a lot of threads sometimes these questions do hold water, sometimes they don''t even deserve an answer normally due to context. I''ve also heard that you need elements of reality to allow the player to have something to relate to in the game (like i run around a maze all day eating yellow dots and running away from ghosts). Yet no one has truely suceeded to come up with a universal definition for "Gameplay". We know what reality is, well some of us do anyway. Gameplay is like a word that we''ve come up with from our gutteral insticts when we realise "that was fun" but we don''t know why. It seems to me that you CAN compromise gameplay for reality but not the vice versa. Maybe this should be written in stone as one of the 10 Game Design Commandments - thee shalt not compromise gamusplay for reality or thou shalt be doomed to shovelware. We should stop here and make the issue of game design one of imagination and creativity and leave the shackles of reality behind us. Screw the slogans, explainations and one liners... THIS IS A GAME! I love Game Design and it loves me back. Our Goal is "Fun"!

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I''m not entirely sure about your post, but I think I understand, and I''ll formulate a reply:
It''s all about consistency, as Kylotan once pointed out in the early days of "what''s with stats". A world in which you can go up, left, right and down is easy to make consistent. You automatically eat dots when you move over them, and sometimes you can eat a ghost when you eat a special dot, but most of the time they eat you. When you have all the dots, you win the level. There''s nothing you can try to do that doesn''t make sense. You can''t move through a wall, but that''s logical to us.

Now, assume the same circumstances in another game, with one difference: you also have a magic spell "walk through wall".
You cast it on a wall and you can go through it. Now imagine this only works in one place ( it happens to be convenient there ), and in all other places, it says "you can''t do that here." People will wonder why. Is there a reason? Do I have to believe this, just because you say so? The consistency is gone, there is no logic in being able to move through some walls, but not through others.

Gameplay is becoming the art of adding as much realism as possible, without sacrificing too much of the consistency.


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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I do agree with MadkeithV there. Still I think logic would be a better word than realism (casting fireball, fighting dragons not very realistic, isn''t it).
If actions are logical (well logical in the game universe) then the player can guess most of the time what would be the logical thing to do or how to do it.
I agree that too much realism can kill a game, but i dont think there can be too much logic.
Gameplay is the alchemy of game making. A little of this, a bit of that. All the elements must be weighted carefully so it can work. This is why Goblin is so good an idea



"Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Arius there was an age undreamed of..."

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By the way, Goblin is really still shaping up quite well, though the progress might not be terribly apparent yet. More updates to come soon...


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.

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I fully agree with DM.

As long as you can explain (and do it) all the reason of do and don''t in the world, I''ll be happy.

But if there is somehting I can''t do with no reason... the game sucks IMO.

Notice that you don''t need to explain me this reason when I first met the problem, but take care of not esplainning it too late, cause if so, I''ll probably never know since I would have already delete the game from my computer.


-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Suspension of disbelief. Maintaining consistency and logic is to maintain suspension of disbelief. Every feature should be evaluated for it''s ability to maintain suspension of disbelief. Magic, monsters, aliens, cyborgs, these will all seem realistic within your gameworld if they fit seemlessly within that world. As has already been said, that requires consistency and logic, but it also requires a believable background (believable in a fantastic sense) You need to ask yourself, if such a thing did exist in our world, could it be like this?

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I think what we''re forgetting is that a game acts as a teaching device. There only needs to be foundational logic, you don''t have to base one element after another around logic. Half the fun of a game is discovering why for yourself. If you keep looking at logic at a way to express the game there will be no game left, it''ll be nothing but a book with some graphical character who can only do this or that.

Just look at the teleport spell. No logic but it improves games. You don''t need to explain, let the graphics speak for themselves and let the player use there imagination a little without having to explain everything for them. All you need is rationale to control any confusion that a weird idea may bring with it. Look at Nox, the character gets sucked through a TV. I agree that explaination is neccessary for some story orientated games. Btw, where does Thor keep getting all those axes from in Gauntlet? We got to get away from reality not get closer to it!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

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The logic has to exist within the environment. You have your town portal spell in Diablo II and you have your personal teleporter in Unreal Tournament. I don'' think UTs version would fit very well into D2s world, or vice versa. Each implementation has enough visible logic to make their existence within the game believable. UT was technology based abilities. Diablo was magic based abilities(spells). Two implementations of teleporting abilities designed specifically for the worlds they exist in. There''s enough logic behind each to make them believable.

As for Gauntlet, that was an arcade game that tailored completely to fast paced action without regards to a believable world. Had enough of a story to support the goals and obstacles, but that was it. Gamers today obviously expect more from the games they spend their hard earned money on.

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Yeah, sometimes is frustrating when you want to get to a location on the other side of a window, but no mater how much amo you pump into that plane of glass, it doesn't even get a scratch. Where as other windows shatter with a single gun shot. Even plexyglass would buckle under the firepower of a dozen stinger missles. If you don't want me going through the window, put bars on the other side.

I'd also like it if my tourch actually burned things. Some bad guy following me across a wood bridge? Get to the other side, light a tourch, and burn baby burn. It's my fault if I've cut off my only rout of return.

E:cb woof!

Edited by - dog135 on August 30, 2000 2:21:42 PM

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You know, this lack of internal consistency, it has to be just laziness. Good Object Oriented Programming would assure that every object in your game behaves the same way. I don''t mind that in Super Mario Bros., a mushroom makes me grow, but the next one had better not kill me! This, or the fact that windows shatter when hit with bullets, could be programmed as an attribute of the object, once and for all, rather than on a case-by-case basis.

I would disagree that there needs to be an explicit explanation for every non-realistic feature of your gameworld. It just depends on your world. Again using SMB as an example, the first few minutes of play establishes that this is a complete fantasy world, so I don''t exactly beg for an oxygen meter in the water world, and there''s no need for explanation when a cloud-man starts burping up beetles. On the other hand, if halfway through Deus Ex, I am expected to eat a magic flower that makes me breath fire, I would expect an explanation, since Deus Ex is established very early as a sci-fi semi-realistic game.

This is kind of a non-issue, just another one of those that just depends on your particular game. The one noteworthy thing that I can see has already been said: Realism should not be an ideal for your game, unless you''re making a sim. Its really that simple.

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