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Playing your own game

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There's another question I've been meaning to get answwered and this might be the right place for it. I get the impression that at least one or two of you are in the business of developing games, you see. ;o) 

Here's my thing: The game I'm working on (I think it sounds pretentious when I say it, sorry) comes from the idea that I'm just gonna make the game I want to play and if somebody else likes it too, that's a bonus. The problem here is that it's supposed to become a point & click adventure, but writing the thing myself pretty much negates all the drives that keep me going when playing.

"Ooh, I wanna see what's next!", "I wonder how we get out of this situation.", "Plot twist!" - You know, anything that makes you wanna play a game. Aside from replay value, which I'm guessing mine is not gonna have.

I'm assuming that most games get made because people wanna play a game they can't find, but what happens after it gets made?

My question (which kinda sounds like an insult, really) would be: Do you like playing your own game?

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Posted (edited)

Should you not get the same excitement of what comes next while writing the story? Once you written the story, share the story from there. The medium is just the adventure game than a book. From there, ask yourself, what kind of story can you convey through an adventure game? What puzzles you want to see? What mechanics? Adventure games doesn't have to be around the story itself, although many are driven by the story.

So, for me, they are separate entities. So, write a story that brings you that excitement, then think about how you can evolve that story through the medium of your choice. It's like a movie. You can Interpret a story in many ways bringing all forms of atmosphere, focus, and direction, for better or worse.

So, when writing an adventure game. Do the story first, and enjoy the story writing. Once that is finished, focus more on how do you convey that story that thrills you even more? Is it a cool little scene that you, in your head, think "That's awesome." Then the gameplay of any scene you want to convey the mood. Is it a spooky puzzle or thrilling action scene?

To me, if you aren't enjoying your game, then maybe you are doing something wrong in the gameplay front.

Edited by neveza

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, neveza said:

To me, if you aren't enjoying your game, then maybe you are doing something wrong in the gameplay front.

Oh, I don't wanna give the impression that I'm not enjoying what I'm doing. I've got my actual dayjob for that...

No, I'm having all the fun doing this right now, mapping out the story in a flowchart thing, making it look real professional. Since I work more or less linearly through the story, I run into situations that I didn't quite see coming and I go: "Oh! Room for a puzzle situation here!" whereas when I started this thing I hadn't the slightest incling of how the hell I was gonna integrate puzzles.

Long, overly enthousiastic story short: I'm pretty much already playing the game. So much so, that when I come to the almost inevitable point where I have to concede that it was fun while it lasted, the only thing I will really be sorry about is not seeing the characters in my head coming to life.

I think I may just have answered my own question. Thanks, doctor!

Edited by Bakkerbaard
Punctuation

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1 hour ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Do you like playing your own game?

When developing games I don't do it to play my own game but to play against the player. This is probably because I grew up on games like Dungeons And Dragons, the games I loved was the ones where the GM takes the role of the villain.

When making your point and click adventure, think how great it will be if you can surprise the players with plot twists and puzzles.

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It is very famously a rare thing when a designer actually enjoys playing a game that they have made, even when story is a minor element or even practically non-existent within the game.  There are many reasons for this, and it is a subject that has been discussed a lot in the past, but is really one of those things that nobody can really put their finger on and fully explain why they don't like playing their own games.

I've always thought that I would actually play my own Pirate Dawn, and it's alternate zones like Space Hockey, because I love those kinds of games and it is against other human players.  But, if I had got to make it, I might have found that even then I wound up having little desire to play it.  Because I made it, without being able to explain why.

This is a very old and well-known thing that applies to all types of games.  It's not the story.

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Interesting question! I just recently played an old platformer game I made a few years ago. It was actually my first game, took me a year to make alone, and enjoyed the whole process. Didn't release it though, just for friends, it was not a quality that I thought would sell or anything. 

Upon replaying it for the first time in years, I was very surprised however of the quality, length, difficulty and the fun factor of the game. I had a very good time with it and I regret a bit of not pushing it out to more people to play. It could just be the memories but it was a great deal of fun returning to that world for a few hours. :)

And as I said even if it has not become a popular game, I've had a whole year or fun making it and also gained tremendous experience. It's also great fun to read back your diary if you ever made one :D

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3 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Ooh, I've read my old diary. I used to be an idiot and a whiny asshole.

I think I'm over the whiny bit nowadays.

"Play of light, a photograph, the way I used to be.  Some half-forgotten stranger, doesn't mean that much too me." - Neil Peart

 

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As much as I'd love to go "Yeah, exactly!", I sadly can recall the exact feeling and reasons I had for writing the whiny crap I did and I can still justify my mysef for writing it... then. I'm just happy I am now at an age that I can stop myself from doing something stupid even though I might still want to.

Pretty much the only difference between me-now and me-then is the ability to take a moment and estimate a risk/reward ratio.

I guess the takeaway from this is: Play your own games, don't read your diary?

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I think this is more about story writing than actual game play. The game play of a point and click adventure drives a story, and you're complaining that since you know the story already, playing the game you crafted doesn't hold the same appeal. I think you can compare this to tickling yourself vs someone else tickling you. When you tickle yourself, you don't feel tickled because you're in concious control over where your fingers contact your skin. When someone else does the same thing, you don't know where their fingers will go (because you're not in complete control) so the anticipation of mystery and potential touch is what actually causes you to feel tickled.

So, how does this work for story writing? When you're the reader of a story, the author is the tickler. You don't know where the story will go, what plot events will happen, so you get feelings of anticipation, mystery, suspense, and wonder. You just don't know what's going to happen next, and that's exciting. If you re-read the same story, you lose a lot of that suspense, but not all of it. Okay, so how do you create a fun story? I think... stories sort of write themselves. You, the author, are just sort of the conduit/medium for the story. You just have to let your fingers rest on the keyboard and let your mind be a stream of conciousness, and write whatever comes to mind, and write it well, and the story that wants to come out, will present itself. The first time you write a story as an author is also the first time you're reading that story, so in a way, it's a unique privilege to be an author because you get to be the first person in the whole entire world to read this new story. What twists and turns will there be in the plot? What happens to the characters? What exciting events will unfold? You get to decide and find out!

When it comes to story writing, I think it's a mistake to look at the finished product of other authors and think that they wrote the story one sequential word at a time. The reality is that a book is like an office building. You can look at the finished product and be amazed at its elegance and design, but a casual observer will never see the scaffolding it took to build that office building. With writing books and stories, you're going to probably be iterating over the same story about 20 times. The first few iterations are going to be you fumbling through the darkness of your imagination, trying to figure out what the story being told is even about. With each successive iteration, you get a better and better feel for the story, and instead of trying to figure out what story to tell, your focus shifts more towards figuring out how to gracefully tell the story you've been practicing over and over again. You can be more like, "I know I have this plot event coming up, so how can I setup the current narrative to nail that plot event?" Eventually, you become more like a musical conductor, coordinating players and their instruments, creating a synchronized dance of words on the page. This process in itself is a pleasurable activity, so if you thoroughly enjoyed writing your story and its practiced variations, and then you put that story to a point and click adventure, you can almost be certain that the game will be amazing.

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"In days to come, I shall stand here and think 'I did that?'."

It would be like writing source code, and then returning to it in a years time( or longer ).  Yes, you will still remember the highlights, but there are moments when you fail to remember writing that object, or piece of code.

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In general... no.  I don’t enjoy playing games I have written.  I think that’s just the way it is in games development, for me anyway.  It’s worst than that, I can’t enjoy playing games in general because I’m too focused on how it works rather than enjoying the game.  I’m just thinking about how the code was written behind the game I am seeing.  However, I prefer games that I wrote for myself rather than when I’ve worked for another games company.  But don’t let me put you off, the challenge of just making it all work is good enough for me! 😉 

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I've always enjoyed playing games I've made. I had a blast toying around with the editors, making new levels, then leveling up my mage while collecting loot on one of the RPGs I worked on. Sometimes going through stories isn't as exciting when you know the outcome, but you have to learn to live in the moment and just enjoy it for what it is.

On the current project I'm doing now it's not an RPG but a competitive game, and it's been nothing but a great time when testing new builds against the AI.

This is what drives me as a game developer, I actually enjoy making and playing the games I'm working on. This is the type of passion you either have or you don't, and not everyone is like this. I've worked with people who've lost that passion to play their games, but they're very talented and enjoy the creative process. Kinda like building a world, but not actually going down into the world to experience it, and there is nothing wrong with that.

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2 hours ago, desiado said:

It’s worst than that, I can’t enjoy playing games in general because I’m too focused on how it works rather than enjoying the game.

Oh, I know what you mean. Had that with movies ever since I wanted to be in special effects and watched every forking docuentary I could get my grubby paws on. I can still enjoy a movie, but there will inevitably be a point where I'm disappointed I can't explain to my girlfriend how cool or how bad that thing they just did was. 

Now I work in TV (nothing of importance, no special effects) and having seen behind the screens of most shows (in the Netherlands) I don't watch TV at all anymore. It doesn't help that Dutch TV isn't all that... good anyway.

So, I'm staying away from learning too much about games, just to protect my favourite hobby.

2 hours ago, Rutin said:

Kinda like building a world, but not actually going down into the world to experience it, and there is nothing wrong with that.

You're describing my SimCity experience.

This post does make me realise I have a bit of a double standard. I'll replay the living daylights out of XCOM, just to see how my squad's turning out and what hail-mary-moves I'm gonna have to make this time around. Ofcourse, that's not really story driven. Then again, I played Red Dead Redemption three times, just for the story. 

What the hell is wrong with me? ;o)

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