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Game Analysis by Verbs

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The "We Need More Verbs" thread got me thinking. It is a really constructive excercise to think of all of the verbs in a given game when analyzing it as often these are the most profound innovations in gameplay. Many times our focus is more on technical innovations like the move from sprites to 3D polygonal objects. Very important moves for certain, but core gameplay innovations can be easily seen by looking at verbs. For instance: Doom verbs: Shoot/Move (FPS keyboard/mouse functionality) Collect weapons/health/powerups Jump Teleport through teleportation pads Duke Nuke'em 3D: Shoot/Move (FPS keyboard/mouse functionality) Collect weapons/health/powerups Jump Teleport through teleportation pads Climb/Crouch Activatable objects Use Jetpack Half-Life: Shoot/Move (FPS keyboard/mouse functionality) Collect weapons/health/powerups Jump Teleport through teleportation pads Climb/Crouch Activatable objects Mod Support that opens up the game for major replayability Network support for easy online play. Interactive NPCs Counter-Strike: Weapon Buying Interface Expanding reticle Aiming (crouch and stay still to tighten, move or shoot to expand). Team Fortress Classic: Rocket-Jump Conc-Jump Create/support Sentry Gun Snipe Lay grenades Half-Life 2: Drive Gravity Gun Unreal Tournament: Dodge/Double Jump Alt-Fire on Weapons (Shock Rifle) This is just one genre too. . . Basically, you can go through any genre and get the core functionality features and then see what other games have brought to the table that innovate. I think it's important to look at style/art and technical innovations too. For instance, Max Payne innovated not with new verbs but with film noir style and bullet-time gameplay. See, this forum isn't just people asking questions they know the answers to already or people ranting about game design flaws we all agree are bad. I actually got something out of the "We Need more Verbs" thread. :)

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I maintain my stance that looking at the verbs is not a worthwhile activity. Instead, we should be looking at the properties those verbs are affecting. The fact that you can move a box around is ultimately more important than listing the 10 different ways in which you can do it.

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Quote:
Original post by superpig
I maintain my stance that looking at the verbs is not a worthwhile activity. Instead, we should be looking at the properties those verbs are affecting. The fact that you can move a box around is ultimately more important than listing the 10 different ways in which you can do it.


Your last statement. Do you mean LESS imporant than the 10 different ways you can do it? Your first statement seems to imply that analyzing verbs in their basic form to chart innovations in gameplay (and hopefully to design future innovations)

Well, both are important. I wouldn't get in an argument about which is more useful because I don't think they are objectively quantifiable.

As with most things creative, you have to choose the tools that work for you.

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Quote:
Original post by dink
Quote:
Original post by superpig
I maintain my stance that looking at the verbs is not a worthwhile activity. Instead, we should be looking at the properties those verbs are affecting. The fact that you can move a box around is ultimately more important than listing the 10 different ways in which you can do it.


Your last statement. Do you mean LESS imporant than the 10 different ways you can do it? Your first statement seems to imply that analyzing verbs in their basic form to chart innovations in gameplay (and hopefully to design future innovations)
No, I mean what I said. Forget it, my point isn't very interesting anyway.

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Personally... I would have to agree that analyzing verbs is probably not the most productive way at enhancing approaches to game design as it is the actions/features that the verbs describe that are actually imporant. Maybe I don't quite grasp the idea of listing verbs in the context that you may be interpretting it. This could be a case of poor communication where I don't fully understand the objective of what you are suggesting.

It seems to me that what you really need if you're trying to quantitatively compare gameplay innovations between games is a breakdown of game mechanics into distinct action/event elements. Everthing that was described in dink's post can fall under game mechanics. I'm not trying to undermine the actions you described, but simply stating that they should be referred to as game mechanic elements rather than verbs, which can be an elusive term if the context is not known.

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Quote:
Original post by superpig
I maintain my stance that looking at the verbs is not a worthwhile activity. Instead, we should be looking at the properties those verbs are affecting. The fact that you can move a box around is ultimately more important than listing the 10 different ways in which you can do it.


What he said is right. The problem, which occured so soon into the other thread I gave up trying to join that one without posting, is that the literal and the abstraction got mixed up.

Let's assume that the basis of any game is what the player does. Seen from this perspective, it is quite obvious to list the "verbs" to find out what kind of game you have and if it's any good. Take for example an RPG, in any RPG you can 'Say'(as in have the ability to speak), but only in a few can you 'Talk'(hold down a conversation). Anyway, looking at property changes is a correct viewpoint as well and the two camps(action implied by property change and action implied by the complexity of the definition of a verb) are totally able to communicate since English has this lovely little property of having a verb for every property(enlarge, shrink, douse, set ablaze, dunk, raise, etc.).

This is where the literal and abstraction got mixed up and superpig finds fault and sheds insight, all those ten ways to move a box are really the same verb so far as listing them as part of the game goes. People were treating the game as reality when we must keep in mind it is still a abstraction/simulation.

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