Jump to content
  • Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Dauntless

Holistic Game Design

This topic is 6137 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Well, DashZero offered the food, so I''ll take the bite with this thread What do I mean by Holistic Game Design? Well, I mean that you have to take a macro look at the game rather than a micro look at the game. Huh??? Hmm, let me see if I can explain this. AS I pointed out in another thread, if you design elements of your games from a bottom-up perspective, then some of the balancing issues do not get taken into consideration. In programming terms, think of it as designing your physics engine, 3d engine, or AI subroutines before you even bother looking at WinProc function (i.e the Game Logic). In a nutshell, the "balance" of your game is NOT the sum of its parts. Rather it is a collective whole based on many factors other than just the items at the bottom. If you think of an upside down tree, with all of your base units (objects) as the leaves, counting all the leaves does not address all of the balancing issue. The twigs and branches and limbs are also crucial in determing game balance (twigs might me how unit objects interact with each other or intangible factors like quality, branches might reflect differences between groupings of units....hopefully you get the idea here). From a wargaming perspective, I almost wonder if the game should be about balancing itself? When you think about it, in the real world, there is no such thing. Wars are fought with only a vague idea how effective they will be against an opponent. I almost wonder sometimes if America''s little excursions into hot-spots is simply "testing" (i.e Grenada, Panama, Somalia). If the player was allowed to design his own units, and perhaps even more impressively, design his own country, I think this in itself could be a very interesting game. The game itself would be about design issues...seeing how you could build society itself, its science, its socio-economic model, its psychological profile to build the foundation on which your units are built (in my tree analogy, the country itself would be the trunk of the tree...and if you''re wondering, the game programming itself would be the roots). Let me give an example. Let''s say you have a sci-fi setting and you want to create a "faction", that''s roughly modeled after Japanese society. You could then build your "country/faction/nation/sovereign" to have excellent manufacturing quality, with a very high discipline/morale psychological profile, but with limited natural resources and manufacturing output. Or you could model something after China....say a decent technological base with excellent crowd control and vast natural resources, but limited manufacturing capacity. Get the idea? You actually DESIGN the foundation which in turn influences what you can and should design your units after. Think about it. If you model something like China, are you going to design lots of Armored units? Probably not. Better to have massed hordes of infantry. So, think of the upside down tree analogy...how a limb seperates into branches and then into twigs and then to leaves. Leaves come in clusters...these are the groupings of units (say a squad for example), trace back along the twig and you get to the branch (which is the platoon), back down the limbs (which are the companies). But the twigs branches, and limbs are more than JUST the hierarchical organization. They are also the glue that DEFINES how everything comes together as a whole. This is my whole point about looking at things holistically (i.e, think about the entire tree, not just the leaves) While I used wargaming as an example, I think this applies to ALL genres.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
Well, DashZero offered the food, so I''ll take the bite with this thread
(...)

I almost wonder sometimes if America''s little excursions into hot-spots is simply "testing" (i.e Grenada, Panama, Somalia).
Don''t wonder, man...

You''re right in that tribe-modelling is a very succiinct and accurate way to analyze and stratify the various cultures or avatar-groups.

Holistic, though? I''m not sure it''s so much some new way to design, rather than A Right Way.

You have my respect, that''s for certain. You are 100% correct whn it comes to balancing. It''s important to stress it, but it is far far far from the sole aspect of building a warsim, much less any other game. Part of what makes heroes heroic is facing, and either defeating or taking a good slice of, a daunting, powerful enemy. Mazer Rackham would be just another Kiwi if he hadn''t destroyed the Bugger command ship and won the First Formic War.

--------
-WarMage
...we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (wo+)men are created equal, and that they want cool games...


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
If the player was allowed to design his own units, and perhaps even more impressively, design his own country, I think this in itself could be a very interesting game. The game itself would be about design issues...seeing how you could build society itself, its science, its socio-economic model, its psychological profile to build the foundation on which your units are built



I''d play a game like that. My question is, how would the programming "understand", "judge", and "reward" the player''s society-building ability?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would think you pretty much don''t give a hoot about the society-building, just that you build a society.

My thoughts were to build an RTS engine, and allow the users to "skin" units and weapon effects and upload them to the server after some qualification step. This would allow users to join fantasy, amazon, techwar, or whatever, based on the series of units available to a realm.

-----------------
-WarMage
...yes. i _am_ that good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
From a wargaming perspective, I almost wonder if the game should be about balancing itself?


This is meaty enough to deserve its own thead...

While I like the idea the major problem is that to be a fair game it must be an even contest at the start. This implies "already balanced."

quote:

Wars are fought with only a vague idea how effective they will be against an opponent. I almost wonder sometimes if America''s little excursions into hot-spots is simply "testing" (i.e Grenada, Panama, Somalia).



There definitely is testing. But there are two vital things here I think you overlook: Effects of past wars on strategic thinking, and raw brilliance.

We''ve moved from cattle raids to the blitz or pincer movement because of centuries of analysis. Modern admirals look to Mahan. He in turn studied Clausewitz and Jomini; they in turn looked to geniuses before them, all going all the way back to Sun Tzu. That''s a lot of study!!!!

And all of that doesn''t even begin to mimic the intelligent problem solving that warriors apply in their own age. (After all, generals don''t just rely on doctrine).

quote:

If the player was allowed to design his own units, and perhaps even more impressively, design his own country, I think this in itself could be a very interesting game. The game itself would be about design issues...seeing how you could build society itself, its science, its socio-economic model, its psychological profile to build the foundation on which your units are built


Mmmmm... SimCivilization, something I''ve been waiting for for ages. Heard in an interview that Will Wright won''t touch this, so it''s open season!


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I''d play a game like that. My question is, how would the programming "understand", "judge", and "reward" the player''s society-building ability?


I''d think myself that the effects you get would be the reward, sort of like in Civilization. Weak police? Corruption. Huge gap between rich and poor? More revolutionaries. Heavy infringement on civil rights? Lost resources. You could layer the effects, too, for a richer experience.

But as for the AI playing against you, that''s where the real problem would be.

I''d be a fan of building the challenge into the numbers of the rules system itself. Then it would only need to understand that "Society X" produces more labor; or "Society Y" has a greater social cohension factor vs. revolution. The AI would see this as a bunch of bar graphs, and match strength to weaknesses (with a lot of preprogrammed help).

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmm, SimCivilization, that pretty much sums it up really, thanks Wavinator

But what I had in mind was more of the capability of the player to in essence build the foundation as he saw fit.

The best analogy I can think of right now is martial arts. Let''s say you want to be good at Jiujitsu. For a good foundation, you need to do lots of joint stretching (as opposed to muscle stretching, though you''ll need to do that too), lots of breakfall practice to toughen your body, and very good sensitivity training to get a "feel" for your opponents body language (so you can intercept his movements and control him with a lock....a much more diffucult proposition than a simple parry or block). On the other hand, if you want to be good at Wu-shu, you have to do lots of muscle stretching, lots of plyometric work for explosive power, and work on agility and coordination (it''s almost like acrobatics with the body mechanics of punching and kicking thrown in).

So, if you want your style of figthing to be geared towards close-in grappling, learn Jiu-jitsu or Aikido, and make sure your foundation is good for that. Conversely, if you want to excel at jumping, and very acrobatic maneouvers, train your body in that manner to excel in wu-shu. So how does this relate to my game foundation? If you want your army to be excellent at blitzkreig style warfare, then your country should be optimized to be able to fight like that. Actually, it''s the other way around....since the country has all the right "characteristics" to make small, fast and deadly units, it will excel at Blitzkreig style warfare...but I want the player to have control over his factions "charactersitics". That''s why I would want the player to actually be able to control the cultural, socio-economic, and manufacturing capabilities of his country for the game.

Some games let you design the units, I would want to design the country. Although of course, this is worthy of a game itself, but it''s definitely something to shoot for.

As for sunandshadow''s question about how would the computer know how to judge these variables, I have no idea I''m basically a guy with game design/storytelling ideas that has a smattering of programming knowledge, so that when I hear words like classes, objects, pointers, arrays, virtual functions, etc, I know what''s going on. Basically, if I look at code, I can get a good idea of what''s going on, but don''t ask me to write my own. I''m slowly working on my programming skills and 3d modelling/animation skills (btw, I''ve discovered that this REALLY helps understand 3d programming, as most 3d programming books I''ve glossed over don''t explain translations, world coordinates, object coordinates, view frustrums, scaling etc very well for beginners like me....but some modelling books do a good job....but I digress). So, if anyone else has suggestions, I''d love to hear them as much as sunandshadow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My concern here would be that the tree only has a dozen or so leaves. (How many different war units do you really need?) Those dozen leaves connect to 30 twigs that connect to 75 branches that connect to 50 limbs to 6 trunks which have a million roots. The complexity lies in the center, which may not be where the fun is.

How much time do I have to spend deciding on crowd control vs. discipline? How much time do I spend maintaining my education level? WHEN THE HECK DO I GET TO SMACK SOMETHING!!??

GA&D said that if there are actions that you would perform automatically all the time, the computer should handle that without bothering you. How much of the time do you want to be worrying about proper sewer systems and other national infrastructure details instead of military strategy??

Or are we really building a simulation here?

You might be able to distill the central planning stuff if you made each player in charge of a giant organism instead of a civilization. Battle of the Tamaguchi Amoebas!!! You could build your amoeba with a few central planning decisions: brain (intellegence), energy level (speed), circulatory system (supply lines), etc. Then see how you did against other amoebas! Maybe each player gets a herd of amoebas, or maybe you get to manipulate the various cells of your creature.

Enough on that. The point being that if you want a game about strategy, but dont want to focus at the unit level, beware of endless (somewhat irrelevant??) complexity that is not directly effecting the main game.

Dash Zero
Credits: Fast Attack - Software Sorcery - Published by Sierra 1996

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
If the player was allowed to design his own


In Sigma we are allowing the player to create their own units and armies by combining two animals together. For example an eagle and a monkey to get a flying monkey.

The player builds up their army from creatures they create, then takes them into the game and fights for all their worth, the whole time learning the strengths and weaknesses of their army and their individual creatures. Games are deliberately kept short to allow the player to jump back and tweak their army before trying it out again.

In our playtesting weve found that the combining element of the game is just as fun as the actual game itself. People spend loads of time seeing what sort of combinations give what.

Its very cool




Drew "remnant" Chambers
Game Designer
Relic Entertainment

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Drew

Sounds interesting. I''ve thought of a game where the game was about...well, balancing itself. That''s how the real world works afterall in that you don''t really know how effective your units will be until you test them out against an opponent. You may THINK your unit design was good intandem with others, but in practice it may be different. It''d sort of be like having a game where you are always a playtester...tweaking this and tweaking that to develop your army and units.

I think half the fun could be about developing your own units (and hence, there would be no initial game balance, as the game designer can not take into consideration all the permutations that could exist).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!