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What do mean by Gameplay

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What I'm asking is, what is game play? How do you define it? And the bigger question, how do you make it fun? I'm looking for people opions here, with an example if you will. And please no "If you don't know what it is, we can't/won't tell you" answers. Thanks, Armand.

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This is going to sound like a "If you don't know what it is, we can't/won't tell you" answer, I think it's nearly unavoidable.

The best description of gameplay is 'how the game plays'. It's much like the aesethic experience of a work of art can induce.

It's generally not possible to explain fully why you like a work of art.

I'm hoping this scenario is reasonably familiar. Consider having a painting that you like and a painting that you don't. Consider that they are also similar, similar subjects, similar attention to detail etc., Why do you like one and not the other?

All in all, it's rather difficult to define and quantify gameplay. It's easier to spot good gameplay when you see it. Even then it's a subjective assessment - hence why some people enjoy certain genres and others despise them.

It's much easier to identify what makes for poor gameplay. Which because gameplay is pretty much the experience of the player, anything bad in the entire game makes for bad gameplay.

I mean bad, not poor, Something is generally bad when it doesn't perform it's function eg., controls that don't, icons that you can't understand. Anything above functional is a bonus.

Where the functional line is drawn is quite game specific. Compare Halflife 2's graphics to Doom 3's. Personal preferences aside, HL2's graphics are essentially eye candy, they're not important to the gameplay. Doom 3's graphics are more critical (and rather too dark), if places that stuff was going to leap at you from was clearly marked (by looking like a model and not like part of the world) much of the experience would be lost.

Similarily, Doom 3's physics are essentially eye candy, whereas in HL2, they're much more part of the gameplay - eg., use of objects as weapons.

I think that things that can destroy an otherwise decent game are not lack of technology or pretty things. It's been shown /many/ times that excellence in these does not make a great game. If the player doesn't know what to do or cannot use the controls, they'll drop it /really/ fast.

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well if you don't know.. KIDDING!! =D

to me, gameplay is what the player has to do in the game. Not the objective, but the actual tasks to do.

For example, tetris gameplay is about moving and rotating pieces so they fit.

Mario 64's gameplay is to run and jump around a level, avoiding or hopping on enemies, heading for the location of a star. Sometimes this is replaced by another specific task, such as racing sliding down on ice, etc etc. (and while typing i realise how deep it is.)

How to make it fun? Following the Mario example, i'd say make it varied enough to keep interest, yet consistent with a theme. In a plot driven game, gameplay takes almost a second seat to the story (but not quite, gameplay is always first!) since the main grip is the latter. If your gameplay is really good, you'll find players tend to forget about the story. Adjust game design accordingly =)

about consistency, to me is ALL in gameplay. If running too much makes you tired, every other character should get tired after too much running. If you can barely see in some levels, other human characters should also be barely able to see (this is something commonly missed, i believe Far Cry has this problem). This will reduce the impression of AI cheating and make for much more enjoyable gameplay.
So the consistency is all about letting the player predict the outcome of actions, allowing him/her to make plans and execute them, and as the game advances use this knowledge in more complex plans.

er.. yeah that =) (woo long post)

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The topic is rather subjective, which is why I'm asking, I want other/different opinions on the matter

LucidIon : You explained your self, which was the point of the "If you don't know.." line.

Madster: >;P (back at you)

But okay, to summarise what we've got.

Game play is more about interfacing the player with the world, and the tasks you give them to perform. More than the actual "Goal" of the game.

So if the player can:
* Manipulate the world/avatar in an intuitive way, to the extent that the world can be manipulated (i.e. doing every thing that can be done easily, but not limiting what could be done by the way your doing it.)
* Easily recognize what has to be done to accomplish the "Goal"
* Respond quickly to changes in the game world.

The reason I'm trying to quantify this, is I have an opportunity of reworking a games design for a new job I'm starting soon.
I want to keep a list of what I'm trying to achieve. It's better if I can print it out, rather than keep it as a unexplainable thing in my head.

I expect it to read far more like philosophy than any tech check list, but well, doesn't all art.


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The gameplay consists of the actions a player can take in-game and the logic dictating which actions have which results.

In an FPS, the actions might include moving, shooting, reloading, changing weapons, etc, and the logic would include things like "hit somebody with a shot and their HP decrease. when HP = 0, they die and are moved to a 'spawn location' and being play again with only the weakest weapon"

In a board game, the only action might be roll the dice->look up the value on the table->move your piece as the table indicates, and the logic would be 'take turns until one player's piece reaches the gold square, and that player is the winner. continue until only one player has not reached the gold square'.

The specific details are very important as they effect the 'feel' of the game and a very small change can be the difference between a player loving the game and hating it.

To make it fun, it really depends on the kind of game you want. The two big categories as I see them are simple games and complex games.

Simple games are more rules-light. This would include most FPS games and for ex. the Mario series and the Zelda series etc. They might take significant time to complete, but overall the rule system isn't very deep or complicated. The goal in desiging this kind of game is elegant simplicity. You want to make everything simple, but not too much so or you'll make the players feel patronized or frustrated that the game isn't capable of doing what they want.

Complex games are rules-heavy, such as computer RPGs with tons of stats and modifiers and the like. They often require number crunching and really thinking about the rules to do well. The goal here is to make the rules make sense, so that players can more easily play the game intuitively without having to memorize verbatim all the rules. A good example is that attacking from behind reduce the dodge change of the target - it makes realworld sense, so players can identify with it and such a rule wouldn't surprise them too much.

Reguardless of the type, you want to make sure the player has enough time to make decisions about what action to take next in-game while avoiding dead time where there is nothing to be done.

[Edited by - Extrarius on November 24, 2004 11:30:26 PM]

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YES! a word about rule complexity:

rules should be easy enough to grasp in a few minutes, yet deep enough to take a few weeks to master.
How is this accomplished? the basic rules are the ones that make the most difference, while the more complicated rules must give smaller bonuses.

This is used for example in wargames, so that the mad micromanager will beat an equal battalion of someone who only masters the basic rules. Its the extra 1 or 2 damage points per hit, but a mad micromanager will still be helpless if he forgets about a basic rule. (also this makes balancing easier ^_^)

If you want to numerically qualify the 'fun factor', while this aint an exact science, i'd break it up in:

-number of gameplay modes
-number of basic rules
-number of basic actions
-number of advanced rules
-number of advanced actions
-shape of learning curve
-'coolness' of the possible actions (for example, Super Contra's hanging and jumping from missile to missile was, say, 85% cool)

and then figure a way to get a single number out of all the above.

Yeah i know im not helping =P but i try

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Gameplay is essentially the sequence of choices presented to a player [otherwise, the player would not be interacting with the game, in which case it's a movie not a game].

Fun gameplay has traditionally meant presenting the player with -meaningful- choices. That is, choices that actually influence their path through the game, either towards victory or defeat.

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Original post by Extrarius
In an FPS, the actions might include moving, shooting, reloading, changing weapons, etc, and the logic would include things like "hit somebody with a shot and their HP decrease. when HP = 0, they die and are moved to a 'spawn location' and being play again with only the weakest weapon"

It would be cool to analyze a few games by putting down all the rules in code like that. Then you might be able to actually "read" the gameplay.

In my mind, gameplay is all about the visible and invisible rules. This has always been what makes a game a game, from ludo, hide and go seek, chess, poker, to Halo. What makes the gameplay good is another thing though, and largely a matter of opinion. Anyway, i'll analyze some of them a little.

Ludo has always been a simple family game that almost anyone can enjoy. All you really do is roll a dice and move a piece accordingly until the first one to get them all to the last square wins. That's all you need to know to be a ludo player. Little kids can do it. Adults can have fun playing it with their kids because there are some optional strategic decisions to be made. You have to choose which piece to move, which could lead you to knocking an opponents piece out. If you roll a 6, you can either move 6 squares or get another piece into the game. It's a classical easy to learn, hard to master game, with random factors(it all hangs on the dice) that evens it out between the skill levels of the players.

Hide and go seek is a game as well. You just go hide and sit there until the seeker finds you. The player who remains hidden the longest wins. It's really simple, i don't see adults playing this too often. There's just no challenge for them, but to a kid, it's a fun way to explore the house etc. (hey, it even has a plot!)

The rules of chess is complexity in simplicity at its finest. There's about 6 different pieces, and you can move each one according to certain rules over the 8x8 squares. You could probably put down all the rules in about 10-20 lines. Try thinking ahead a few moves, there's almost an endless ammount of possibilities, but only a few will make sence. Some more than others. You have to figure out what move is the best one. Maybe your opponent does something unexpected, forcing you to think through the whole thing again.

Now look at Halo. Unlike chess, there's about a million rules you're following here. However, most of them are represented through a simulation of the real world, so you're already familiar with most of them, but stuff like 'what comes up must come down' is a rule of this game. You can fire X ammounts of shots before you have to stop and reload. You can not loose health until your shields are down, and your shields will recharge after X seconds without taking damage. You can drop your weapon to pick up another one, and you can carry one extra weapon. If your health drops below 0, you can no longer move around or do anything, reload to the last checkpoint. I could go on and on forever. While many of these rules might seem natural, they are part of the gameplay as much as the CTF flag capture rule. This is where realism ties in with gameplay. The player already knows the rules that are based on the real world.

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