[MUD-Dev] DGN: Reasons for play [was: Emergent Behaviorsspawnedfrom...]

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Sat Nov 19 05:40:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


"cruise" <cruise at casual-tempest.net> wrote:

> Apologies to Raph for explaining his ideas badly :P I think the
> point is that games are fundementally more repetitive than many
> other forms of activity - which emphasises the pattern-recognition
> aspect.

I'm not sure I agree with that either. I mean, games are best when
you are making new decisions, not constantly going over old
ones. Would chess be fun if the same strategy was always victorious?
I think it is the adapting to new challenges which define games in
the first place.

> The "magic circle," the dividing line between game and not game,
> while an important element of the enjoyment of a game

Surely, we can find something a little more accurate and a little
less fruity than "magic circle". How about sandbox? Heck, even a
non-magic circle would work for me.

> But if you've abstracted the player that far back, then you must
> also abstract the game similarly, otherwise the question makes no
> sense.

> I agree entirely, since for most of this discussion I have been
> asking for a way in which to abstract games to the same point as
> Mr. Proto. It doesn't make sense to ask, "Does Mr. Proto like
> Sextris?" But it does make sense to ask, "Does Mr. Proto like
> time-limited spatial-manipulation challenges?"

Exactly. Then we can start asking questions like "why?". When we
understand Mr. Proto, we get cake.

> However, at some point we need to come down the abstraction scale
> again, since Mr. Proto doesn't actually exist, and "dress up" the
> abstract mechanics in some way. At that point, "Will a My Little
> Pony game sell?" is a valid question.

Perhaps, but it is theses questions you ask second. You start at the
backbone and start adding on bone and muscle, then flesh, then funny
colored hats. Most game designers start with the funny colored hats
and end up with something most monsterous pulsating beneith that
bonnet.

> Because of my point earlier, designers are close to being
> Mr. Proto than the average consumer. It's important not to forget
> that games appeal on many levels of reasons, not just the one, and
> we ignore /any/ of those levels at our peril.

Also true. Designers are expected to be more enlightened. After all,
if they are creating a game, they must know more about it than the
players, and this is rarely the case (I love reading the WoW or CoH
forums where players have complex DPS statistics down to three
decimal points).

I won't pretend that appeal is unimportant, but I think we've kind
of got that down already. We know how to make the prettiest colored
hats in the universe. It's the really important stuff that we don't
know and seemingly oppose knowing. If it seems like I am pushing
Mr. Proto's world too much, it's only because that's the world we
don't understand collectively yet, and that's the stuff we would
most benefit from trying to understand at this point.

- Sean
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