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About Wavinator

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  1. Bad Design vs. Niche Design

    This is definitely true, there are cases where a perfectly good idea turns out poor on implementation or even where what sounds like a good idea turns out poor because of hidden, unexplored implications. One reason I raised this topic is to explore some limits around what we can know about a design in advance. I can't find the Medium piece that inspired me, but someone made a comparison between "unconscious design" and "conscious design" in game development. The gist of it is to compare designs which we follow in gamedev which are pursued solely because they worked in the past versus deliberative designs we know tend to work because we understand the underlying elements which make the design successful. The author compared the craft of wagon wheel making to modern game design, noting that at one point in time we made wagon wheels by borrowing from what came before. If something didn't work, we tended to retreat back to what did rather than delve into the underlying physics. I don't know exactly that game design is comparable, but I'm intrigued by the idea that there actually may be some hard limits to be found by asking the question.
  2. Bad Design vs. Niche Design

    No not at all! These are good examples but I would note common elements such as rhythm. The clapping piece was particularly striking because I would ask, "Can the audience clapping before the performance be called music?" This is the point I was making about the troubles with procedural content generation earlier, which to me is very striking with respect to design: Random pixel generation or even random terrain generation can be considered art in a way that random noise generation cannot. The question is why?
  3. Bad Design vs. Niche Design

    This might be part of the problem: Most computer games are made up of complex, interrelating parts. (Not all, but most.) Music, art direction, narrative context, user interface, computer science all have to work together in harmony. I can imagine, for instance, "bad" coming from all of these elements working well save for memory management and all the pains that come from a failure in that domain. The director's job is pretty much to make the best of the limits of all these elements, so there's merit to that.
  4. Bad Design vs. Niche Design

    I think you're right here. One thing I am seeing now is that any critique or analysis has to be very specific or very simple to hold. For music, for instance, I don't imagine in any culture one note played over and over has ever been considered music, but you're absolutely right with respect to culture and harmony. I think you CAN find limits, but they all tend to be in the extreme (e.g., randomized note arrangement) but that then leaves us with what? An upper bounds for the question, maybe, but nothing more insightful. Fiction I think suffers the same phenomena. ("I woke up and got out of bed" I'd wager is probably a story in no culture.) Even if we talk mechanical design, we have to be narrow and specific. Rules for wings and wheels are not the same, and while this is entirely obvious now, there was a time in the past when it wasn't. In game design we seem to have general conventions we follow without entirely knowing why they work, with an often hideous amount of risk involved in varying the "special recipe" in any significant way. Success seems highly dependent on luck and the mood of the audience that moment. Maybe that's actually all there is with games, and we'll learn nothing unless we're highly specific ("portrait painting" rather than "painting", "noir fiction" rather than just "fiction" etc.)
  5. Ideas to make more action

    Without knowing more about the game (astronomy/co-op/management is kind of vague) I have to wonder if the problem isn't adding action, but rather addressing what makes the decision making itself boring. Boring choices I find are often because of a predictable thought process which doesn't challenge, doesn't cause you to risk anything and which have outcomes which don't offer anything surprising or unexpected. Limiting resources and adding more consequential decisions (with more long term effects) might be a better way to go to fix the core problem.
  6. I don't see any core problem with mechanics and I think the addition could make static battles more exciting (an issue which always dogs turn-based games). I can imagine that you have more art / animation requirements depending on how you're doing graphics. Is range a factor? Can a spell / attack create a flood of water pushing an enemy back, or open a chasm between attacker and target? This may be entirely in the wrong direction, but I can imagine per tile effects creating barriers or dangers, but then that might drop you into having to deal with positioning and movement even if it's just of hit boxes, which may be undesirable. If you did go that way, however, it would allow for more dynamism: You could have a trap-like battle area, range concerns, cover all within a more easily depicted 2D environment.
  7. Bad Design vs. Niche Design

    Thanks for the replies! (Wanted to get back to this earlier with specific points, but for simplicity I'll make this more general.) Synthesizing from the feedback so far, we really have two forms of bad design: The thing which doesn't work or breaks when used, and then something more nebulous that seems to relate to a difference between expected function and actual function. The former's pretty cut and dry and for that reason not as interesting as the latter, where there is a lot of subjectivity & room for debate. In discussions around game design, I'm often struck by the lack of a commonly agreed upon yardstick to base our evaluations on compared to other kinds of design. Mechanical design enjoys physics as an ultimate arbiter, for instance, with it probably safe to say that a plane with badly shaped wings may not control well or fly at all. It seems we can bound discussion of good/bad music around elements such as repetition (is one note repeated over and over music? Two? Three?), harmony and even frequency tolerances of the human ear (physics meets neurology). And then we have fiction, which appears-- and I'm hedging greatly here-- to be measurable based on long held conventions: Plot is composed of events which are significant rather than trivial, relations between characters are consequential rather than irrelevant ("Luke, I am Boba Fett's father!"), and the entire tale culminates rather than just abruptly ending. If we compare the idea of "good story bias," which posits that we reject or accept real world information based on whether or not it conforms to narrative-like patterns, I think we can further argue that fiction conventions may relate to deeply embedded psychological expectations. (Thinking Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, which talks about common archetypes/narratives found all around the world.) Finally we have painting, a minefield I'll steer clear of except to note that our standards seem to be so amorphous that random, computer generated pixels can be considered good art in a way that random notes and random bits of narrative don’t seem to enjoy. (Maybe this is because the way the brain creates meaning out of visual input is less discriminating?) Crashing, broken things aside, I'm not sure where game design fits into all of this or, more importantly, *WHY* it fits into one category over another. Games may be ancient, but computer games are odd, hybrid things. Maybe they are as amorphous as paintings and we can't say anything useful about good or bad. But it would be fascinating to understand why.
  8. "You can't call any one game design bad, really. Like all art, it either speaks to you or it doesn't. If it only speaks to a few, it's just niche." Some friends and I were arguing about esoteric game designs and whether or not you can ever really classify bad design objectively when one made the above assertion. I'm curious if you agree or disagree and why. Is a game design good simply because it is popular and therefore enjoyed, or as with narrative art are there underlying elements that a game can hit or miss, rendering it good or bad? If you don't like it, are you simply not the target audience? I'm of the mind that games make something of an aesthetic contract with players: Not simply 'this game is about shooting' or 'this game is about racing' but rather a series of promises that can be said to be embedded in all of the elements presented-- from the sound design to the UI to the mood and tone of the world presented and most importantly the interactions and responses given by the simulation itself. "I promise you the gritty, harsh reality of a Special Operator behind enemy lines" or "I promise you the zany, action-packed experience of rocket powered cars that launch balls into goals." To illustrate this idea, consider a perfect, hyper-realistic modern military stealth game. It's balanced, the levels are interesting and the choices offered are consistently engaging. Now make the UI bright & cartoony. A bit jarring? Swap the enemies with big, red nosed, ridiculous clowns. Gameplay is still the same, it might be funny, but did you originally buy it for funny? I would argue that the implied contract with your player is stretched to breaking or outright broken, and that THAT more than anything else, without some kind of upfront warning or easing of sensibilities, makes for bad design. This breaking of the aesthetic contract with the player can extend right through the inclusion or exclusion and construction of gameplay elements itself. "Crafting is fun! Let's introduce wear and tear to weapons in our gritty Special Operator game and have the player hunt around the level for parts!" But you're a member of the best equipped, best prepared fighting force in the world. Doesn't this turn you into some kind of camouflaged, scavenging murder-hobo? I think it would break the contract, break the implicit expectations of everything that comes to mind when you think about "special forces" and thus blunder right into bad game design. What do you think?
  9. WMD gameplay in a strategy game

    Another quick thought: If you have any modifiers to building / maintaining forces, it would be interesting if you could rack up some sort of penalty each and every time you deployed WMD which affected it. Say you had some notion of National Unity acting as a discount for building and maintaining troops (or build time accelerator). Each time you deploy WMD, National Unity would take a hit. This would make it more expensive to build and maintain troops (and/or slower). So you could still viably use them (as in World War 2), but your decision to do so would have to be very strategic and limited. (Heh, you could also force players to offset this National Unity cost with other expenditures, such as Humanitarian Aid or Propaganda. You could even tie down forces over several turns on some areas of the map as they get bogged down generation National Unity via Humanitarian Missions... but that might be beyond scope) I think this would work better as a balancing mechanic than just high, upfront research costs (although I still agree with those, as well). This keeps WMD from being a dominant strategy and you might even say that it injects a bit of moral intelligence to subject matter that would otherwise be somewhat soulless.
  10. WMD gameplay in a strategy game

    I disagree with the decision to not allow WMD to target forces as their strategic/tactical reality has dramatically reshaped force composition and arrangement (especially nuclear). It would be nice to see strong, slow moving forces more vulnerable than rapid force, creating a strategic trade-off (and discouraging stacks of death if you have stacking). If your setting is near future, rather than a straight NBC breakout, what about: 1) High yeild nuclear - Mass destruction, multi-tile weapons such as hydrogen bombs. Biggest, most difficult, most expensive to build. If diplomacy is in scope, significant penalty for building (would be nice if it harms alliances and causes AI to pay more attention to your doings). 2) Low yeild clean nuclear - Good for clearing a tile of unarmored forces, air power. AFVs, cities with bunkers less affected. Can be delivered by artillery, air power, subs, agents. Effectiveness is balanced by high upkeep / maintenance cost (vs. high research cost of high yeild). 3) Viral - Same as your biological mechanics but I'd make it possible to spread to ANY nearby cities, armies along the road (or if you have it, air) network. Long incubation time, exponential growth among empires not devoting production/wealth to maintaining the population (abstracted healthcare) and high growth among lower tech empires (if you have TL differentiation). 4) Genetic - Same as Viral without the spread as it targets a specific empire. Longest research time, highest diplomatic cost. (Atrocity mechanics of Civ/Alpha Centauri games would be perfect here, imposing possibly crippling trade / diplomacy costs). You could extend this to targeting food supply rather than population as well. I think the effectiveness would merit a Pandora's Box mechanic similar to plague spread, maybe in the form of some kind of unintended super-mutation possibility. 5) Chemical I guess could still be a low-tech tactic. It would be interesting if tiles had a notion of pollution because in the spirit of area denial mentioned previously you could cause units in an area to be damaged over time. If cities need tiles for production, this could be a way of denying tiles as well. Something that doesn't get included enough in these types of games is the reason why these weapons aren't simply a dominant strategy, and that is the idea of the commons. If there are blow-back effects to using some weapons, it creates a depth and tension to choosing one strategy over another. Mutually assured destruction, the idea of the risk of destroying the common environment to the point that it not only affects your enemies but you and your allies, would be a powerful balancing mechanic to WMD in an empire game.
  11. Why is it that games tend to rarely vary their form? You start with a set of activities-- running, jumping, shooting-- and while they may deepen and expand, they almost never change significantly through the entirety of the experience. By (very flawed) contrast, consider how much more malleable as a medium books and movies can be: They can switch genres, alter perspective and even change subject matter entirely. A movie like Good Morning, Vietnam, for example, starts out as a comedy but ranges into romance, drama, suspenseful action and even tragedy (Hancock, From Dusk Til Dawn, Vanilla Sky, District 9 and Click are movies that could also fit this example). What is it about games that so limit their form? Is it the maturity of the medium? The strict genre expectations of the audience? Or is it possible that one of the medium's greatest strengths-- interactivity and the process of engaging with it, which is basically learning-- is simultaneously a weakness of sorts? I lean toward this. Maybe the process of learning and mastering mechanics sets a kind of upper limit to what a game can depict and the sum of what experiences it can convey. Card games and board games seem to share this limit-- chess does not morph into poker, for instance, and it would be hard to see it do so (I wouldn't count playing both at the same time). Or maybe the whole question is flawed and the comparison to books and movies essentially apples to oranges. You might argue the bulk of movies & books fall into well defined genre categories, for instance, varying similar plotlines maybe much like a shooter or platform jumper or racing game varies levels. But I can't shake the idea of how most games can't really even switch genres let alone their overall form. When you start most, you know you'll be doing basically at the end what you started at the beginning, just maybe with different permutations and contexts. Imagine the howls of going from a shooter to a match-3 game, or from an RTS to a racing game, even if it was a smooth transition. Games that have attempted this, like Spore (or the little known Gordon Alliance decades before it), often run afoul of the problem of sacrificing depth for breadth or suffering from mechanics that just don't cohere well together. What do you think?
  12. Would an action point system work? I'm imagining something where fighters start off with a fixed number of action points but moves cost different number of points depending on the fighter (so you still have certain strategies like kicks are easier to use with one fighter but punches easier to use with another).    Combos might be unique in a turn-based game in that they temporarily award more action points to a combatant. This might give you the same dynamic as when a skilled player gets the upper hand and is able to capitalize on and press their advantage, but it only lasts for a round or two.   I'd probably use initiative just as in many turn-based RPGs to determine who gets to attack first. You could add in & make visible variables like Stun, Fatigue and Balance, all of which rise/fall based on attacker and defender actions, and add that to your initiative calculation.   There's a lot of cool things you can do with this idea!
  13. I have been centrist/centre-left, Now I am going Right Wing

      We all have morbid curiosity when idiots speak. I didn't read the articles, but I will make an argument based on the titles alone since that seems to have been the original championing point you made.  Kinda what spiro said, news sources that touch on extreme subjects, or radical viewpoints will always garner a lot of attention. A bit of a stretch but in the late 1930's it was almost impossible to turn on a radio in the US, and not hear Hitler ranting, and raving. People however, weren't tuning in for their daily fill of ideology, however, were tuning in for a morbid curiosity of a violent man who had enslaved most of Europe (And just a general fear that war would inevitably reach them). You will always have fringe groups. And as "Rational, and Intellectual" people we will always gravitate to paying attention to, and pointing at fringe groups, not because we support them in any way, shape, or form. But because we are genuinely intrigued how these group's came to the conclusions that they did.   I take your point but doesn't your example undermine it a bit? The heart of the issue is this: Do these articles reflect a small, fringe sentiment which has no traction, published solely to shock & profiteer, and which can safely be dismissed? Or do they represent some wider phenomenon, maybe even an emerging ideology whose sentiments are becoming normalized, just as the Tea Party and its sentiments (particularly conspiracy theory) became normalized on the Right? In your 30s example, if I understand you correctly, news outlets were a conduit. But a conduit for what? Couldn't we say they reflected the phenomenon of a rising ideology emerging from Europe?  
  14. I have been centrist/centre-left, Now I am going Right Wing

    It is true that news outlets are not in the habit of chronicling quotidian events. As they say in the business, we publish when man bites dog, not necessarily when dog bites man. But that in no way means that these articles are published because they were "outlandish" or "controversial." They could be newsworthy because they represent a growing world view. Or they may be published to challenge the readership.  Or the editorial staff could agree with the point of view.   Well, at least on this we can agree. (I have encountered a number of people claiming to want to reform society who would not).   Agree again, given the lack of interrogation and acceptance of dissent in certain academic circles. It is, effectively, brainwashing.   I know of nothing that would support this statement and am highly skeptical given how damaging confronting this would be.   When they don't agree you tend to hear of it. cf. New York Times hiring climate change 'skeptic' Bret Stephens and angry reader response https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/public-editor/bret-stephens-climate-change-liz-spayd-public-editor.html   Or, alternately, it is a poorly addressed rot within the Left that drives true believers to apoplexy when pointed out, just as it does on the Right. Note, by the way, that you are the third poster to read this as a broad condemnation of the Left, despite my initial statement about Left and Right sometimes being right. I find this curious. Why not adopt the position, "a subset on the Left believes this, but I disagree with them?" Why the elaborate lengths to deflect and minimize any criticism whatsoever?   Sure, but our level of basal rationality is up for debate and likely waning, as exhibited by gridlock and political dysfunction. We appear to be less given to compromise, evolving separate realities (#alternatefacts) and increasingly polarized. It is foolish to stick our heads in the sand and ignore this, and the only way back is self-criticism.  
  15. I have been centrist/centre-left, Now I am going Right Wing

    The hell? No, that's not what that means. None of us are responsible for the actions of our predecessors, but we are responsible for how we respond to the society they created - whether we perpetuate the systems they left us with or change them to be more inclusive. One should not ignore history when making decisions of how to treat people. It would be nice if that were possible, and we should work towards a future where it is, but the wounds are still too fresh.   You are still not acknowledging how we should treat those who disagree.   It isn't merely a shadow, there are still echoes of the bad shit in today's society. THAT is what all this talk about institutionalized racism is about. So, what do you suggest as a "centrist solution" to address the problem of intergenerational trauma? An example of that on the Canadian side of the border would be the residential schools and the fallout therefrom.   Truth and reconciliation is a powerful strategy for grappling with the evils of the past. It addresses the psychological component. But it is meaningless without specific, measurable results-- none of which this nebulous delving into "checking privilege" addresses. Metrics mean we count and drive reforms not based on identity but on our foundational principals. If a person can't afford school, we should care little for whether they are born in Appalachia or Atlanta. If police are using the courts to soak a population, we need the numbers to make comparative judgements and demand reform. If one population is dying at a greater rate than another, our arguments in Congress should be blind to their demographics and assail the idea that we are failing to treat our citizens equally. Tribalism is a powerful drug and I'm under no illusion that shifting our mentality will be easy, but I'm quite certain that getting us to fight each other will end in disaster.
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