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Your Artistic Statement/Philosophy Of Game Design?

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Spun off from the Cute Games thread...

"Why make the game you choose to make? What are our artistic goals as game designers, and why do we like our favorite game traditions and tropes?"

Some of you who aren't involved in the art side of things may have never heard of an "artistic statement" or "artist's statement". What is it? This is where an artist takes a few paragraphs to talk about why they are doing the particular art they are doing. The statement may be displayed at a gallery exhibition along with the artist's work, may be included in applications to art schools and for grants, and may be part of an artist's personal webpage and "platform" (a sales/popularity campaign). Often the artist learns new things about their own motivations and what they subconsciously consider important during the process of writing the statement.

Some game design documents also include a statement of guiding philosophy. This usually defines what type of fun the game is supposed to be and what audience it is trying to appeal to, so contradictory things don't end up in the design. For example it can be disorienting to audiences to have light comedy and dark tragedy in the same piece of entertainment.

Game design is definitely an art. Have you designers thought about why you want to make the games you do? Do you know what your internal guiding principles of good design are? Do you have a statement you want one or more of your games to make to your audience? Do you love a particular genre because of something unique in the way it works or what it provides to an audience? Have you considered your favorite older games and figured out what made them great and how to pursue the same effect with your own designs? Tell us about why you design what you design! :)

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As an example, here's the philosophical statement from my design document for Xenallure: A Tapestry Of Hearts.


[color="#000000"][size="5"]The Philosophy Behind Xenallure's Design


[color="#000000"]Our purpose in creating [color="#000000"]Xenallure[color="#000000"] is to make a game which is literary, philosophical, and offers the player maximum immersion and emotional involvement in the game's world and story, especially in terms of romantic interaction with NPCs. [color="#000000"]We wish to put the player in a new world, offering him/her a variety of romantic opportunities and cultural philosophies to explore. [color="#000000"]Towards this end, [color="#000000"]Xenallure[color="#000000"] will be a single player science-fantasy RPG with a branching story, multiple endings, and a thematic focus on romance and philosophy. [color="#000000"]The main focus of our development is therefore to portray a rich set of philosophies and realistic or novel types of relationships for the player to explore, pursue, and enjoy. [color="#000000"]The game will feature deep, complex characters and pondering of moral ambiguity, but will maintain a positive tone. The worldbuilding will be vivid and immersive with mysteries for the player to uncover, tools for him/her to master, and abilities for him/her to learn. The plot will be complex. Gameplay will emphasize social interaction with NPCs, world exploration, and puzzle solving, although arcade-style combat and RPG-style equipment management will also make up part of the gameplay.


[color="#000000"]The player is invited to examine and compare the different choices in terms of lifestyle and moral values. At the same time we will immerse the player in a tangle of mysteries about the worldbuilding, especially the relationship between the four races, the PC's options and abilities within this world, and how the humans embody "the source of Illuvana power"; the answer is diversity and flexibility. The human race represents potential, while the other three races represent different ways in which that potential has been actualized, none of them necessarily the best possible outcome – each approach has benefits and drawbacks, and there is no best possible outcome for the species, only lifestyles which best fit individuals. Thus the meaning behind the world's mysteries lies in the moral that there are different 'right ways to live' for people of different personality types; this will be explored through the personalities of the three races, the personalities of the RNPCs, and the type of personality the player chooses to give the PC.


[color="#000000"]The philosophical and moral perspectives behind the world's mysteries are embodied in the dynamic character elements and types of love of the RNPCs. It is through dialogue choices and actions towards these characters that the player establishes the PC's personality. The dynamic element is the aspect of an RNPC's attitude or approach towards life which the player affects to push that RNPC toward a good or bad ending. The consequences of the player's choices are thus shown to him/her through the changes in each RNPC's relationship with the PC and each RNPC's personal progress (changing dynamic element) over the course of a gameplay, culminating in each RNPC's happy or unhappy ending at the end of that gameplay.


[color="#000000"]As the player's choices within the game show preferences towards a certain set of philosophy and morals, the game world will react accordingly, the RNPC's attitudes toward the PC becoming more or less friendly and passionate, and the political climate of the world changing from it's initial state of isolationism to become more open and friendly or more warlike, with conflict favoring whichever side the player has allied with. There are many possible paths and good endings to fit different PC personalities. For example, a player who makes Novrevel-like choices in their first gameplay could be rewarded with the idea that it is possible to become a Novrevel in the next gameplay. A player who works hard through multiple game+es to acquire all the abilities available and become an Illuvana could 'find out' that he/she is the same person as the Oldest Illuvana (the NPC who has been providing the game+ opportunities all along) and must go back in time to save the island and the proto-[color="#000000"]Virtu[color="#000000"][font="Times New Roman, serif"]é[/font][color="#000000"]sse [color="#000000"] and proto-Novrevels from the apocalypse. On the other hand, a player who works hard to build the human settlement up as much as possible could 'find out' that he/she will go down in history as the father/mother of the 'fourth race', having accomplished the great deed of making the world more culturally diverse.


[/quote]

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I'm not sure if this is quite what you mean by an artistic statement, but for what it's worth: Philosophy of Project Rue (Working Title)<BR itxtNodeId="490"><BR itxtNodeId="489">Philosophy of Project Rue (Working Title)

Rue is intended to be a fantasy themed Role Playing Game using anime style graphics, a large cast of significant NPCs, and a flexible plot. The goal is to immerse the player in a grand opera where the player can drive some events but only respond to others, providing a large, dynamic story for the player to experience. A New Game+ option along with a flexible job-class system encourages replay and exploration of different play styles.

The driving focus behind Rue is to offer an interesting game world in which the world itself is the major focus, as opposed to only the player him- or herself. In such a game, the central concept is that characters and events do not sit idly, waiting for the player and no one else to activate them. While the player is intended to take an active and eventually central role in major events, the goal is to maximize the flexibility of the game itself in determining what those major events are, and how they unfold. The game will feature several layers to make the game world seem maximally immersive, allowing the player to feel as relevant as possible to the game world and the characters that inhabit it.

From a plot perspective, the main way that the world allows the player to affect it is the Dramatis story engine. The Dramatis engine contains roles to be filled, by the player character and by NPCs. Rue will contain a large number of characters with pre-set goals to pursue, and these characters will be distributed geographically such that there will always be conflict as characters compete to fill a more prominent role. The outcomes of these conflicts determine broad story arcs, allowing for high flexibility in the plot, and many opportunities for the player to attempt to affect that plot.

All major game characters are engaged in the struggle to define the next epoch of the world, as the responsibility for doing so has been wrested from the gods for the first time in history. The waning of the current age prods the game’s characters towards greatness, throwing them into conflict with each other. Plot events are intended to shape the game world in a way that suggests the age to come based on which characters succeed in these conflicts. Rather than a simple slider or number describing the player’s moral state, the goals that the player pursues will alter the game world and demonstrate the consequences of the player’s choices.

Time will play a major role in the game for two reasons: to drive the world-centric plot, and to give relevance to player actions. To the former end, it is vital to immersion that events not automatically wait for the player—a villain poised to attack a city won’t hold off on doing so for weeks, simply because the player has chosen to investigate a side quest first. The player’s actions will still affect the world; however, so should the player’s inaction. This leads to the latter reason, giving weight to player choices. If players must decide between alternatives, particularly those which can have large effects on the plot, then the player’s investment in those alternatives will increase.

Another goal to increase immersion in the game world is to allow player skills to be applied as broadly as possible, and give players the option of advancing the plot in different ways. All player skills will have a use in battle, but also a use outside of battle. Similarly, players need not be involved in combat at all to advance the plot. A player can develop combat skills and directly fight enemies, but can also engage in sabotage and political maneuvering or command armies major campaigns. Players are encouraged to mix play styles as desired, and all styles will be capable of completing the game. As character skills persist in a New Game+, the options a player has in play style increase with every playthrough.



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I want to make games because I'm not happy with what's available. Of course, I find plenty of games that I love, but I find way more that, although interesting, disappoint.
So I'll list a few areas I want to improve on:

Gameplay. A controller has 2 sticks, 2 triggers, 2 bumpers, 4 buttons, and a directional pad. I'm going to make you use more of them.

Reality. A video game creates an instance of a plane of reality. Animals should reproduce, not spawn. NPC's should eat, not stand about indefinitely. Plants should grow and die, not be made of plastic.

Emotional investment. I want players to decide to help the princess, not just do it because it's their quest.

Reduced UI. No more arrows pointing you to the goal. You'd better learn to read a map.

Eliminate the mundane. Thinking crafting from a list of recipes is boring? You're right.

I'm sure there's plenty more.

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I'm not sure if this is quite what you mean by an artistic statement, but for what it's worth: Philosophy of Project Rue


Yes, that's pretty much what I meant. :) I also think it's interesting how similar Rue's design is to Xenallure - overall goal is determining the course the history and future of the world will take, things happen in areas of the world the player is not in, game+ feature - except we did not want time pressure on the player so instead of warning the player of an event and giving them a time limit before it happens, or using an AI engine, we broke the story into chapters and scripted the possibilities for what can happen in each chapter in each location, depending on what has already happened.

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Well i design game i would personally like to play. About 50% of the ideas i have come up with originally started as improvement for a current game that i felt they could have taken further. There is also the element of wanting to share what i create and to have others get enjoyment out of them as well. I also enjoy the challenge of solving the issues that arise when creating a game.

What i just said is why i design a games gameplay. I make a small distinction between that and designing the story. With stories i love creating a world that i can tell stories with and have the player immerse themselves in. It's because of this that i design stories for games and not say books. It's the one medium where the player can fully interact in the world and, almost, become physically part of that world.

Not sure if that is what you where asking for but i hope it has some relevance. :)

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The reason i got into game design is because i look at big companies, doing the same thing again and again. I notice the mistakes they make, and wonder how with such a huge number of people, how they can miss such obvious issues. Well, if it doesnt get done right, why not do it yourself? :D Ive been a gamer my whole life, hell, my life is almost based around video games, as sad as that is. Can't fall asleep without the sound of chiptunes, leave NES sprites drawn on whiteboards wherever i go... Game design was the only logical choice of career for me :D (Well it technically isn't my career yet, im not enrolled in college for it, but i applied a few days ago)

Anyway, what i think makes a game good depends on the audience. Some people prefer engrossing storylines, some people like uneccesarily good graphics, and some (like me) put innovative ideas and variety above all else. Sure, you can try to make everyone happy and put it all into a game, but not everyone will be happy. As long as you enjoy the game you make, keep working on it, and keep improving on it. I tend to ignore most advice from gamers (not people who actually work on games) because they only give ideas from games theyve played. I always imagine it like a minecraft clone in the app store i saw: the reviews all say "Nice start, but you should add (insert long list of minecraft's features here)". This is how most advice seems to me

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Yes, that's pretty much what I meant. :) I also think it's interesting how similar Rue's design is to Xenallure - overall goal is determining the course the history and future of the world will take, things happen in areas of the world the player is not in, game+ feature - except we did not want time pressure on the player so instead of warning the player of an event and giving them a time limit before it happens, or using an AI engine, we broke the story into chapters and scripted the possibilities for what can happen in each chapter in each location, depending on what has already happened.


There are a lot of similarities between our two projects (even more than are evident in this thread, I took a look through the Xenallure design document a couple of weeks ago). Of course, since we're both working for an immersive and responsive game world for story telling purposes, I'm not too surprised at the overlap. Rue is also divided into chapters, although there are clocks running in each (though I'm trying to keep the time pressure feeling to a minimum, we'll see how well my design pans out). I'm intrigued by the idea behind Xenallure, it seems like an expanded ren'ai game, which always seemed like a fun idea to me. I hope you'll keep us posted on your progress!

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It is true that game designing and playing a game are two different paths. A developer has to keep his feet on both of them.

The reason why I decided to make games is due to the lack of multiplayer cooperative modes in most modern games. In the older days, games such as Doom or Duke Nukem 3D offered a multiplayer cooperative campaign - allowing friends to play together for long hours, complete mazes, feel the emotions of taking down a boss, then finally defeat that last level. This seems to have been taken over by the MMO genre as of late, but it is not the type of immersion that f.e. Gears of War provide. Playing in a 8 player party with millions of players around and a generic story behind the world that boils down to creep population control does not hold it's ground against good, immersive design of a campaign focused on a small group of players.

The L4D series is my favorite game for now - the story is a bit sloppy, but emotions in vs mode can be really heated. In today's time there is just not enough games that offer a story for more than one player - I thought that Doom 3 with the multiplayer mod was a lot more fun than single, despite the mod being buggy. I can only imagine how cool would Mass Effect 2 be if you had a friend beside you playing one of the NPC's. Come to think of it, there are several games that would look great with a cooperative campaign, but somehow didn't get it - Bulletstorm being the most recent.

Games such as Saint's Row 2 or the DoW II series still make me illude myself that things might change, that developers might actually open their eyes and say "Whoa! There iz internets all around! Why not make a story driven game that uses THAT?" more often than not. Anyway, I plan to become such a designer. Maybe not now, maybe not in the next year. RPG's are hard to make, I know that. And multiplayer makes it even harder. But I guess it's worth it. As long as I'm not the only one seeing the need, it's worth it.

That is my Philosophy statement for Game Design.

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