[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Tue Oct 2 17:11:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


John Hopson wrote:

> It is mental ergonomics, designing a game to work with the players
> rather than imposing decisions on them at the designer's whim.

WHAT GAME ARE YOU PLAYING???  Ever seen how game companies go
bonkers about "exploits" and "cheating"???  You know, the
zero-tolerance policies?  Ever seen players complain about
"nerfs"???

Ohoh, a player is off the rails.  Hey player, yes you! Don't stray
away from those rails, or I'll smack ya.  *smack*

You? Again??? *ban*

Anyway, I dislike "ergonomics" used this way. Ergonomics should be
about reducing cognitive load, stress, making things LESS tedious
etc.

> people want to sit on.  It is not manipulation or entrapment to
> shape a chair to be comfortable, it's the chair designer's job.

Depends on the amount of glue he left on the chair's surface. :P A
bad analogy anyway, the chair is passive.  But hey, even when
designing a game for kids the most important property is to make it
compelling. One of the Windows screen savers have this mystery
house. I've watched otherwise hyperactive kids be absolutely
enthralled by watching this one. "Is the owl coming back?" "Is it
unhappy?" "Is the man going to bed?"  It nurtures the imagination.
By nurturing the imagination (and expectation of future
possibilities), I believe you hit higher-level needs, goals and
sources for generation of meaning and emotions, goals and sources
you as a designer cannot possibly know about.  The moment the player
hits the limit of your system (the lack of depth), the game loose
its imagination-nurturing potential and is practically dead.  Then
maybe you can keep the dead game alive by artificial means, such as
encompassing unidimensional scoring systems and social comparison.

> Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that setting up an
> effective schedule of reinforcement is all there is to a game, any
> more than grammar is all there is to Shakespeare.  But it is an
> essential component of the medium, and one that deserves respect
> and attention.

Feedback is important, yes.  But so is context, expectation and
catharsis.  In the lack of more intellectually satisfying goals,
primitive social comparison is the common substitute.  Does this
relate to torturing rats?  Maybe, but I doubt it!!!

If you make a game for rats (or pigeons!) then maybe what was stated
about rats was particularly useful.  Unfortunately the higher-level
goals/needs of rats and humans are different. Motivation in humans
can not be analysed by a simple stimuli-response experiment. If you
read the paper, you would've seen that the author made a lot of
statements about the adaptive behaviour of RATS.  What kind of
relevance does that have for designing a game?  A rat can learn
stuff, so what?  We KNOW that humans can learn, studying a rat won't
help ya.  In fact it tells me less than nothing, it is noise.  You
certainly don't want to electrocute your players when they make
mistake, yes that is feedback, but no, IT DOES NOT MAKE THEM HAPPY.
Only the most mentally incapable will find the mastering of tedious
activities to avoid punishment entertaining!

I have only read a little about behaviourism, but I have skimmed the
last couple of years of "advances in behavioural psychology" and
most of those were like several kilometres away from studying "how
the human mind works", actually it was mostly about observable
stimuli-response behaviour in animals (unless my mind plays tricks
on me)...

And what about drug-dealer and gang-initiation metaphors?  Who says
games in general deserves respect?  I don't!

Now, if this response is perceived as inflammatory, then keep in
mind that the initial stimulation made me _cringe_.

--
Ola  -  http://folk.uio.no/olag/


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