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Gameplay patterns - Render - Jul 21, 2002 08:56 PM

Long time lurker, first time poster... Wink

Just to throw in yet another person's view on this, I actually think that the current low level of originality in new game design is due to the curent high level of new technology. Like screenplays with killer effects but porr scripts, as long as it remains profitable to create yet another FPS with amazing new eye candy, there's little incentive to stretch the boundries in the basic designs.

Contrast this with the early to mid eighties, when the limits of eight-bit technology had quickly been reached and people were forced to create totally new paradigms. I'm thinking of games like M.U.L.E. which, although it IS a fusion of trading games, exploration games, etc., was a totally new idea of what should happen during play. SimCity... Archon... These can all be considered fusions of ideas that existed at the time, but the designs themselves were all new.

Every time a new level technology came out, a slew of amazingly high-tech versions of existing paradigms would immediately saturate the market, and then inventive design would again win the day. The Amiga and Atari ST came out, the Mac went color, the PC graphics caught up... a ton of shooters, race games, etc., came out, then... Populous, Lemmings, Syndicate (first ever RTS, in my opinion).

At some point, the pendulum will swing again and we will again see really exciting ideas in the designs. The Sims was a great idea, I think, but is not satisfying to me as a game. Black & White incorporated some interesting ideas into the GodSim. Blizzard's stuff is always a ton of fun to me for a certain length of time, after which it becomes unbearably repetitive. I will always love FPS games (prefering team-based CTF/Fortress sort of stuff to DM) but come on, what major changes have there been to the core idea since Wolfenstein/Doom? (except perhaps beings that you help instead of kill, and how long ago was that introduced?)

So, I wait patiently for someone to come up with a totally new schema...

I know, I know, "money where the mouth is"... I'm noodling with a design for a game called "MIGHTY METAL mental midgets" which is most definitely a fusion, but hopefully a fun one--ask yourself what would happen if a lemming fell in love with a M.U.L.E. Sadly, I have no coding ability (the design part is what I really enjoy anyway), but someday... Until then, thanks for a great site.


Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 22, 2002 06:26 PM

What you just said ties right in with what I, as well as most of the others, have been saying. Technology has put game designers in a position to make more realistic simulations rather than more original games, not to say that new types of games have not arisen from developments in technology....

Gameplay patterns - Hawksun - Jul 23, 2002 09:53 AM

I don't think we need new types of games. Besides, subgenres are not really important too. What are the differences between a Dungeon-RPG and a "standard" RPG? Most people don't know and don't care. Sorry for the rambling, i had to get that off my mind.

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 23, 2002 04:41 PM

Well, I think that, given enough thought (and possibly new technology), an unlimited number of different types of games could be created, not even within the bounds of existing genres. It's all in how the game designer approaches the creation of the game.

Gameplay patterns - Render - Jul 23, 2002 04:56 PM

Have to disagree with you there, Hawksun. I think new TYPES of games are critical--but very hard to come by. I also think it's going to be harder and harder to come with truly original designs even on existing types. But that increased difficulty is all the more reason NOT to give in and say "well, what shall I make, Quake with different graphics, or Tetris with different graphics, or WarCraft with different graphics, or..."

Perhaps we have exhausted all the "types", but I doubt it. Even if we have, it's still possible to come up with a new twist on existing types and genres that will play as something totally new.

Take MYST as an example... in one sense it was just another "adventure" type game... and "graphic adventures" had been moving towards something like MYST for a long time. BUT, the design was so incredible, it spawned what amounted to a whole new "type".

Just my humble thoughts.

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 23, 2002 05:33 PM

Okay, I'm going to make up a truly original game right now. I have done no previous planning whatsoever. This is completely on-the-spot. I just want to demonstrate that new types of games are not so hard to come by. I'll try to show my thinking process through all this.

Okay, first thing is to think of an objective for the player. What is something that players have not done as a game so far? Hmm.... I would say something like hide-and-seek, but that is already technically a "game," just not a video game. It's not quite sophisticated enough for the average player anyway.

Maybe putting some sort of twist on it? Let's put a scenario in this. The player, controlling the hero or heroine as the case may be, must hide from somebody as a life-threatening situation. You have no special fighting talents in any way whatsoever. All you can do is run and hide. Well, what else is there to do? Let's see what we think of in a few minutes. Let's get to the reason the player is hiding.

How about you are, or a member of you family is, a key witness to crime by a terrorist group? Terrorism is a very common way for designers to make a clear distinction between good and evil in a game. Actually, it's a bit too common, but this game is different. Rather than fight against them, you go under a witness protection program, attempt to stay under cover, and protect your family.

Storyline details aside, let's get to the mechanics of the game. What would be the best way to assume aliases and hide from people, especially when in most cases you will not know that they are the enemy. Well, controls could consist of a button for hiding. (Simply standing behind a wall or crouching behind a box will not always do. Sometimes a more complex position is needed (hiding inside a dumpster, getting into an optimimum position behind an irregularly shaped object, etc.) Other controls could consist of communication (family members, police officers and FBI agents, terrorists themselves maybe, and other characters not necessarily important to the story), changing clothes, driving, and many other integral aspects of running and hiding. This is just a demonstration, not a real game; no need to get to in-depth Grin

Other applicable ideas: running will attract more attention than walking in a crowd of people; turning away, rather than simply trying to act normal, can hide your face; doing stupid things like logging into your e-mail, phone calls, etc. on insecure lines are dangerous for obvious reasons (probably best used in the storyline where it can't be helped to push the story along), and many many more too if I had the time to think. The game is over when you are dead or caught, you make your testimony in court and a safe amount of time is passed, or when the authorities capture the key terrorists.

While not very in-depth, this description shows that original games are not so hard. I had the idea after only three minutes of trying to think of a new original idea. It took me much longer to type it all up. While, mechanically, it may possibly be a bit like Metal Gear Solid or and RPG, it has a completely different type of objective than the usual of either type of game.

Gameplay patterns - Render - Jul 23, 2002 07:27 PM

Bravo, you have an original IDEA for a game. Kudos to you for getting that far. I mean that seriously, because lots of folks don't seem to...

However, you are still a long way off from having a design. How you represent these ideas to the player and how the player interacts with the game world (apart from the "hide button" Grin ) are two of the several major areas left.

MYST and Q3A are both seen from the first person perspective, but the design decisions made AFTER that one make for two completely different experiences.

You also need to think about tone, style, level of abstraction, and a million other things. Maybe not a million, actually, maybe just a few. And maybe that would make for a more valuable list than the one that started this thread.

Just a thought...

A great game is more than any one decision, it is the sum of all the decisions, and perhaps more than the sum...

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 24, 2002 05:32 AM

Correct, but do you think I actually have the time to sit here for weeks and months designing a game that I will probably not make just to prove a point? Smile

Gameplay patterns - Render - Jul 24, 2002 07:45 AM

hee hee hee, nah... but maybe you can file the idea away in the back of your mind for UDG '03! Wink

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 24, 2002 04:28 PM

Heh heh. I would probably rather use an idea I had tossed around in my head for more than a few minutes. I seriously only spent three minutes thinking of that idea from scratch. I'm sure a much better concept could be thought up if I sat down and made about twenty or thirty in this manner and picked my favorite. I believe I have proven that original concepts are easy enough to think of for something like that.

Gameplay patterns - Cookie - Jul 25, 2002 01:29 AM

WOW! I am very impressed! It's not that I don't have imagination... but I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a game!

Actually, I was thinking how a "Game Ideas" forum group would go. Anyone with ideas for a game could post a simple concept, and others could choose to develop it, and others could add opinions and extend the idea... any comments on this??

Gameplay patterns - Lemming - Jul 25, 2002 04:24 AM

I presume that's what the "Game Design" forum is for, Cookie.

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 25, 2002 05:31 AM

Sounds a lot more like the Inkubator project to me. I don't think that a Game Ideas forum group would add that much more, except maybe having more than just a couple games in development at once.Wink

Gameplay patterns - Feanor - Jul 25, 2002 01:44 PM

I started this thread with the aim of just getting people to question their assumptions about what a game is, what games are like, and such, because I'm getting bored of games. So I'm glad some other people share my feeling that there are lots of ideas waiting to be discovered.

I think this forum is perfect for talking about general or specific game design ideas. Inkubator is about developing an actual, not theoretical, game. So maybe an idea thought up and argued about here would eventually graduate and become a real Inkubator game if enough people wanted to develop it.

I'm still interested in brainstorming both ideas and ways to come up with ideas. I'm also interested in what people think games are in a cultural context: what makes a game a game, and can you even change that?

I'd like to redefine games in a way that doesn't specify whether you need a computer to play it. Like, games are simplifications of real life situations, or games are abstractions meant to focus on specific mental or physical skills, etc.

Feanor (can't do the umlaut I'm on a PeeCee)

Gameplay patterns - geezusfreeek - Jul 25, 2002 04:24 PM

Sí. Exactly. A "game," by definition, is an activity providing entertainment or amusement; I was a bit too specific in my definition because simulations themselves can be amusing as well. Certainly, though, there can still be an applicable comparison just because I still see objective-and-rule-based vs. flat-simulation as a better way of categorizing games than realism vs. abstractism.

I would have to agree with Feanor on the forum group stuff. This group is for discussing your ideas and Inkubator for implementing them. Why did I overlook that this morning? Probably because I had just awaken and was on my way out the door to band camp. I apologize in advance for anything else I overlook or say that early in the morning....Wink