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antde2001

How to Revolutionize Gameplay

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The gaming industry has gone through many changes in the past 20 years. We've gone from completely 2-dimensional environments detailed by simplistic sprites to fully 3-Dimensional environments which sported high resolution textures, fully 3D characters and objects. This jump in technology [from 2D to 3D] also changed the basic structure of gameplay of the time. No longer did one have to only worry about getting from point A to point B while avoiding obstacles between, but now the player was faced with objectives and secondary objectives. This change in the basic structure of gameplay is what really made games like Metal Gear Solid successful. It's been 7 years since the release of MGS and can we honestly say that gameplay has changed? Let's take a look. The fundamentals of gameplay are what dictate what a game needs in order to give the end user a sense of actually participating in what is going on on screen and to immerse him into the game. These fundamentals are the basic structure of gameplay. But when it comes to the basics, it seems as if everyone is doing just that....the basics. No one has attempted to completely rewrite the basic rubric of how to structure gameplay. Technology jumps in hardware do change the way games are played but only to a certain degree. You get a new and more powerful platform to work with, you're able to provide the gamer with more than what he's used to. The player therefore gets "extras" such as better graphics, more characters on screen, better physics simulation, better character performances, and stronger emotional connections to the game itself. These changes, for the most part are all that is needed to get gamers to accept the new product as revolutionary. And even if not to the extent of revolutionary, they accept it as an acceptable change in gameplay. But what they don't notice is that the gameplay didn't change at all on a basic level. It's like this, you get a watergun. This watergun is only able to shoot a single stream of water at a very low pressure but it will do the job of getting the person being shot at wet. Next year you get an upgrade to this watergun where it's able to now shoot two simultanious streams of water with double the pressure. Then next year, this same watergun will get another upgrade where it will have only one stream of water but this stream is triple the pressure of the last watergun and a lot thicker, but in the end it's purpose and basic function has not changed. It still gets the person being shot wet. This is the same with games for the past generation. We've been getting additions to the same basic gameplay that we've been playing for the past 10 years. They're adding this that and the other thing but they've yet to do the most important thing and that is completely throw away the basic structure of making games and do something completely different. In order to truly change gameplay, the designer must develop a way to allow the gamer to feel as if he's doing something he's never done before and give the gamer the freedom to conduct actions which no one else will do or never thought of doing. The structure of gameplay must now be put into the hands of the gamer and the environment the gamer is immersed in. No longer should there be a book or document which outlines what the gamer can and cannot do. This process will no longer work and my theory is that this process will soon be rejected by the gamer's mind due to evolution in the way the mind accepts reality. If you want the gamer's mind to believe what is happening onscreen to be real, you must let the mind explore and let the gaming environment change and evolve around the gamer. Gameplay, just like the technology that creates, should be a changing entity that is not written but is created by one's mind and imagination. This doesn't mean that there cannot be limitations in the game itself, but the basic format of gameplay must be seemless to succeed in future generations. Gameplay can longer be a document written by a designer. Gameplay must be a mental thought created by the gamer and his mind. This means transfering the true elements of gameplay from the screen to the controller itself.

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So what you're saying is that you want to simulate the real world, and let everyone do whatever they want?
Gee, that's an original thought...

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Quote:
Original post by tok_junior
So what you're saying is that you want to simulate the real world, and let everyone do whatever they want?
Gee, that's an original thought...


No, it's not quite that simple. Your simplified explanation is an idea that the GTA series and games like it have been doing. But even with those games, what a gamer can and will do is defined prior to when he actually plays the game. My idea completely removes defined gameplay and turns it into imaginative expression. Let's take a story driven game for example. Most games allow the gamer to progress through the story in a series of linear routes and checkpoints. Even in GTA's case. This is a way to guarantee that the gamer will progress through the game and witness what the designer has created. In this situation, nothing is created by the user and the end result is usually a feeling of disappointment because your idea of how to progress isn't allowed. Allowing the gamer to create his own way to progress through a story would give a greater feeling of accomplisment since his idea worked and most likely, no one else will use that same route...ever. Therefore in this same storybased game, if you didn't want to meet that contact that would give you information on how to get to x,y,z person, you don't have to. The story will still move on. If you didn't want to fight or kill the last boss...fine, you don't have to; the story will still progress, just a lot differently than originally planned. So this isn't just about allowing the gamer to do what he wants, but allow the gamer to feel that the game is based on his actions and that the game is indeed his own. Limitations in the game's design is still acceptable. If you can't go here or can't go there, it's not a big issue. But giving the gamer the idea that he cannot progress because the designer didn't have the same ideas he has doesn't work well. So there's a difference here though my idea is a variation of what you said. But this is what the industry is all about....sharing ideas and having them morph and evolve. Glad you took the time to read.

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One thing that has not revolutionized for quite some time are traditional writing rules... until antde2001 (OP) came along and created the world's longest paragraph. :)

I'm curious, antde2001, are you attending a class/school where there was some discussion of this?

-Razorguts

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What is your point? Games will never approach the "realism" of real-life, and I wouldn't want them to. Free-form games are great, but even the good ones are merely illusions. They are still firmly rooted in a limited world with fixed rules.
Quote:
Original post by antde2001
It's been 7 years since the release of MGS and can we honestly say that gameplay has changed?

Your focus seems extremely narrow. What about the Sims? The Grand Theft Auto series? The Battlefield series? What about the scores of Indie games like Darwinia, Oasis, Bontago, or Wik And The Fable Of Souls? There have been tons of extremely innovative games in many different genres in the last decade. It could be that you simply need to look outside the RPG and action-adventure genres.
Quote:
Original post by antde2001
In order to truly change gameplay, the designer must develop a way to allow the gamer to feel as if he's doing something he's never done before and give the gamer the freedom to conduct actions which no one else will do or never thought of doing.

This sounds like emergence: "Emergence is the action of simple rules combining to produce complex results."[1] It has been explored in a bunch of games already, mainly strategy titles like XCom or the Sims. But in any case, I agree with you here. Freeform worlds where the player can explore the relationships between dynamic entities is much more exciting than simply manipulating a set of static rules.
Quote:
Original post by antde2001
The structure of gameplay must now be put into the hands of the gamer and the environment the gamer is immersed in.

How? This could fit in with the description of emergence above, but it sounds too abstract. The structure of gameplay will always be decided by the developers of the game, no matter how much an illusion of freedom the player is given.
Quote:
Original post by antde2001
No longer should there be a book or document which outlines what the gamer can and cannot do.

Quote:
Original post by antde2001
Gameplay can [no] longer be a document written by a designer. Gameplay must be a mental thought created by the gamer and his mind.

Until we develop some sort of AI game master, games will be limited to the art and code created by the developers. So how can games not be limited to what is outlined in the design document?
Quote:
Original post by antde2001
This means transfering the true elements of gameplay from the screen to the controller itself.

What are the "true elements of gameplay"? Is the "controller" the player, or are you actually referring to the gamepad/keyboard/mouse/joystick?

- Mike

[1] Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design (p 262)

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I'm going to go ahead and disagree with you. I think that the pipe dream of infinitely engaging and fun sandbox play is beginning to fade.

When all you could do was run and jump, players would shout at the screen, "Don't just STAND there, you imbecile! Duck under that fireball!" Then we got ducking, and it was good.

Then we said, "Yo! Why are you trying to duck that guy to death when there's a perfectly good board right there?" Thus interactive environments were born.

And so it has been for decades. As technology catches up with our demands, we are gratified. But now technology is capable of giving us such freaking huge control schemes, such ridiculously complex interaction, and such infuriating little mini-games that it gets in the way of the game we're playing. Batman should have to use a slot machine to hack a console. That can be handled with a button press. We shouldn't know so many kung-fu moves that we never use half of them. There shouldn't be five million outfit possibilities in a single-player game.

All these doodads distract designers and programmers away from appropriate graphics, engaging sound, and solid gameplay. You try to get everything in, and by the time you finish the bullet-deflecting, the ninja rolling, the super powers, and the twenty-five slightly different weapons, you don't have money or time left for AI, and you produce Samurai Western, which has so much bonus and unlockable content that you almost don't notice that it's Robotron in a kimono.

Games should be fun, and interesting, and novel. They should make available a variety of interactions that complement one another. It's the difference between a Dragonlance novel and the Big D&D Tech Spec Manual for Hardcore DM Role-Players. Gamers can customize games with mod kits if they want a super-duper ninja/pirate battle royale.

If you want to sit with a controller and dictate the nature of a game, that's fine. Just make sure that the "controller" is a keyboard and your "game" is C++.

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Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
If you want to sit with a controller and dictate the nature of a game, that's fine. Just make sure that the "controller" is a keyboard and your "game" is C++.


Classic! Of course, my "game" of choice has been C#, lately. :)

This probably applies to a lot of us who want more freedom in games. We aspire to be the game designer that "fixes" this "lack of freedom", but really the only person with the ultimate freedom is the designer. The player will always be playing in the designer's sandbox.

- Mike

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I completely agree with Iron Chef Carnage on his points.

I think there came a time where people started talking about revolutionizing gameplay. I think it started like 5 - 10 years ago. Every year ever since gaming became serious business, someone, somehwere has talked about revolutionizing game play. And things have changed and people have experimented with things. Like taking a side scroller like Contra and adding a level where its a top down scroller or stuff like that. There have been many little things added to games that over the years we've realized to be truly revolutionary.

However, we still diverge from the main point. What is the point of a game? The point of a game is entertainment and nothing else. Games that sell are games that are fun be it simple or complex. We can "revolutionize" gameplay all we want, but if the end result is not fun or entertaining, then there's really no point. There are reasons why simplistic games like Super Monkey Ball are so popular. Its just clean and pure fun with nothing added. Then you have the stuff on the other end of the spectrum that are alot more complicated like GTA, but in the end, it sells because people find it fun and entertaining.

Would I like to see a game with a world where you had full control in how the story went? Do I want full customizability? Well, I have to say sure, bring it on, but as long as its fun.. To that extent, I think I'll be easily satisfied with a few finite story branches that create different endings, like the 86 possible endings in Star Ocean 2 (wonder who has seen them all).

A game is a game. No matter how much technology advances, its always the fun games that will sell and have people coming back to play them over and over again. Do we really need to revolutionize gameplay? Maybe, but sometimes, all that is needed is a new twist on an old formula to make things great.

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gameplay revolution? Nope, sorry, nada

Gameplay evolution? Now you are talking...in fact that is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen.

Quote:

This jump in technology [from 2D to 3D] also changed the basic structure of gameplay of the time.


Nope. It changed the graphical presentation...The basic structure, the foundation, is still the same - and will continue to be the same till the end of time.

The basic structure, the fundamentals, the foundation, of games requires player participation and the player requires feedback...That isn't going to change, in fact the entire house of games is built on this foundation - doesn't matter if its 3D, 2D, Pen and Paper RPGs, board games, or even solitare.

Quote:

No longer did one have to only worry about getting from point A to point B while avoiding obstacles between, but now the player was faced with objectives and secondary objectives. This change in the basic structure of gameplay is what really made games like Metal Gear Solid successful. It's been 7 years since the release of MGS and can we honestly say that gameplay has changed? Let's take a look.


You really must have missed the previous Metal Gear games.

Quote:

The fundamentals of gameplay are what dictate what a game needs in order to give the end user a sense of actually participating in what is going on on screen and to immerse him into the game.


sense of participateing? That is feedback, the game showing the player changes in the game state...showing them that they are in a new location, that there is a obstical here, that all thier pressing of buttons does something, that they make a difference through thier involvement...all games give feedback to the player.

all that is required for Immersion is to simply connect with the players imagination...There is no sure fire way to do this, no special trick other than inviteing the player to use his/her imagination...players can get just as immersed playing Tetris on the old Gameboy as they can playing Halo, or even watching a movie, reading a book, or even just daydreaming.

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To revolutionize gameplay you have to work on the AI.

Also, If it aint broke, dont fix it. What im saying here is that even though we've come this far as for graphical technology (near photorealism), we should still concentrate on the gameplay that gave us the feeling we're having fun. And from times to times create sequels to games (Unlike what Square does with PS3, they dont want to create a FF7 PS3 edition, because that would be really cool). Well, Not always neccessary to revolutionize games, just see what works and try to improve on it if it is possible.

And yes to some of your posts, such as the one who says that player should be able to control the outcome of his actions (More roleplay here). And Star Ocean 2 doesnt do it too well, most of the endings are very very simple and do not differ by much. (I only beat the game 10 times, though it counts for much i bet :P).

But then again, concentrate on the AI. People like challenge.

Edit: Lets not forget virtual reality, true Virtual Reality where player feels he is within the gameworld as well as feels the pain the character feels and all the different feelings, basically, you ARE the character. That will be available sometime in the future, if the world would say "The hell with risks" (Since risks are pretty big with that kind of equipment). Well, that is all.

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