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Twisting the rules

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How does the following sound? Use all 4 elements in the game, but on a given playthrough, you will only see one or two of them. If the game is highly replayable (thinking Nethack-like here, or perhaps Strange Adventures in Infinite Space), you'll see the 4 elements in the game in the same amount of time as any other game, thus you could say it satisfies "An element must have a significant presence in the game to be considered as included." However, this would have a significant advantage. I'd like to try creating a somewhat more serious thriller game (1) but I find it kind of hard to create a good storyline where all of those elements feature. It seems like you can only create slapstick comedy with this stuff. Leaving out ponies makes it possible to create a single solid storyline I think (2), but I'm also thinking about a bit of an experiment in my game here, by making the story have a certain amount of randomness. What would you think? (1) I will fail horribly. (2) Thinking about this, the combination ponies + explosions is hard. I really can't conceive a way to combine these that doesn't fall into comical situations, and there will be enough games here that do that already.

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I, too, would be interested in this answer, assuming that the game is intended to be replayed at least several times.

All my layouts involve at least 3 elements, so it's not an issue, but it might allow some more flexibility to change this. Either way, it's cool with me.

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Superpig touches on this point in his journal. I quote, regarding element "signifigance" (emphasis mine):
Quote:

There are two tests I've described in the past for this:
The "layman" test: I find someone on the street and give them $20 to play your game end-to-end, then ask them, "Did the game have ponies in it? Did the game have accountants in it?" If they answer no then the element is not sufficiently present.

The "boss" test: Your studio head calls you into his office, and says that the company is looking to start preproduction for a new game. Market research shows that games featuring ponies, accountants, crystals, and/or explosions will be well received around the time the game comes out, so he wants you to go and throw together some game designs based around them. If your design isn't something you think the studio head would be happy with based on that criteria, you need to rethink your elements.


Being a smartarse - playing on alternative meanings of elements, etc - will not gain you anything in the element test, although if you pass the test, playing with double meanings could be cool from a creative/design point of view, e.g. a sudden violent growth in a colony of heat-based life forms that results in both a population and physical explosion. It's difficult to pull off well, but could make for nice aesthetics.

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Original post by Amarth
(2) Thinking about this, the combination ponies + explosions is hard. I really can't conceive a way to combine these that doesn't fall into comical situations, and there will be enough games here that do that already.
Think outside the box. Explosion+Pony != Exploding Pony in every case. But even if it did, a pony carrying explosives to a mine, where crystals are mined, could be done seriously. Or a boy trying to lead his pony home in the middle of a bombing raid.

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Quote:
Original post by jpetrie
Superpig touches on this point in his journal. I quote, regarding element "signifigance" (emphasis mine):
Quote:

There are two tests I've described in the past for this:
The "layman" test: I find someone on the street and give them $20 to play your game end-to-end, then ask them, "Did the game have ponies in it? Did the game have accountants in it?" If they answer no then the element is not sufficiently present.

This part is interesting. How do you define end-to-end if the game is meant to be played multiple times?

Anyway, thanks all. I've thought of another possibility that might be doable to pull off - parallel storylines. The story of the little girl and her pony is as least as important as the story of Jack Bauer and his explosions, and they could be woven together meaningfully.

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This part is interesting. How do you define end-to-end if the game is meant to be played multiple times?

If the game's really long (probably unlikely do due content creation constraints within the timeframe) or highly replayable, I would imagine "end to end" would become something more akin to "for 45 minutes," or something.

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"End to end" is supposed to mean "played sufficiently to have seen everything the game has to offer," really. It doesn't really matter whether the game is linear or fully branching - all the content of the game should ideally be explored. For 'infinite' content (e.g. procedurally generated stuff) we want to examine enough of it that we can reasonably extrapolate the rest of it.

Two interwoven storylines sounds like a fine idea.

Another possible combination of ponies + explosions is escaping on a pony through a facility that is exploding around you.

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