win/lose

Apr. 12th, 2015 01:56 pm
inferiorwit: (socks)
Because I was talking to [personal profile] peardita ‚Äč about this and she said I should post it publicly:
 
What makes something a game, as opposed to an activity or a simulator, is win/lose conditions. A game designer needs to figure out how the player can win the game, and how they can lose, and that can be more complex than you think.
 
Basing a game around combat and violence is a convenient short-cut on that front. How does the player win the game? They kill the other guy. How do they lose? The other guy kills them. Boom. Done. Put it in a box and ship it.
 
And because this is the path of least resistance, almost every modern game designer does it. To the point where games without violence in them are frequently declared to be “not real games.”
 
But the thing about using violence as a shortcut is that it’s not only lazy, but it very quickly gets boring, especially since the market is saturated with violent games. Some studios try to change things up by adding compelling characters and intricate plots to their shootypunchygames, some go the nonviolent route (puzzle games, Portal, etc) (many of which, you will note, have been extremely successful outside the “hardcore gamer” demographic), and most just try to one-up their competition on the blood and gore and brutality. Which is how you get entire teams of people working on hyper-realistic blood spatter and slow-motion kill cams and Mortal Kombat fatalities and on and on and on.
 
People look at this from the outside and assume everyone involved in the industry must be a bloodthirsty sadist, but in reality, it’s all a desperate attempt to grab and hold the interest of a fickle and rapidly-shrinking core demo.
 
And this is why we should put video games out to sea on a wooden boat filled with Modern Warfare discs and shoot flaming arrows at it until it’s a burned husk at the bottom of the ocean.
inferiorwit: (Default)
So Etherlords II is on sale at GOG.com for $1.79 right now. It came out in 2004 and I originally bought it for $40.

Etherlords II is a top-down RPG-ish strategy game where you crawl around a map, collect resources, and fight monsters. Only the monster fights are basically turn-based card games, where you use spells to summon monsters and buff them up and have them attack the other guy’s monsters and it goes on FOR FUCKING EVER, to the point where they had to add lightning bolts that hit the players for exponentially-increasing damage if the battle goes on too long. Because otherwise it would NEVER FUCKING END.
 
It is a slow, pedantic, excruciatingly difficult game and I love it because I am the worst kind of retainer-slurping nerd trash.
 

cake

Mar. 30th, 2015 02:47 pm
inferiorwit: (socks)
Let’s say you’re part of a group that’s trying to bake the most awesome cake ever. Everybody has ideas about how to make the cake awesome. You’re all really excited about the cake.
 
Every day, each of you work on different elements of the recipe, bring them together, bake a test cake overnight, and come in the next morning to see how it turned out.
 
Some mornings, it’s pretty good. Other mornings, it’s awful. On a few memorable mornings, the oven is on fire and the cake is completely inedible.
 
Time goes on, and as you approach your deadline, your cake recipe is reliably decent. With so little time left, you can’t risk big changes; only small tweaks to the recipe are allowed.
 
Next thing you know, the deadline is tomorrow. The cake recipe isn’t perfect. In fact, it has pretty obvious flaws. But you’re out of time, so you just have to pick the best existing version of the cake and present it to the world.
 
Sometimes people like your cake. Sometimes they don’t. Very frequently, somebody who’s never baked anything in their life will make a smug YouTube video about how much you suck at cakes.
 
This is game development.

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