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Is this thing on? Intuition And Intellect Deconstructing The Design of Oasis Marc LeBlanc GDC 2005 Part I: Overview Or, what this talk is, and what it isn’t. Outline Demo Oasis Discuss “Intellectual” and “Intuitive” Design Outline an intellectual framework Deconstruct Oasis

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Intuition and intellect l.jpg

Intuition And Intellect

Deconstructing The Design of Oasis

Marc LeBlanc

GDC 2005


Part i overview l.jpg
Part I: Overview

Or, what this talk is, and what it isn’t.


Outline l.jpg
Outline

  • Demo Oasis

  • Discuss “Intellectual” and “Intuitive” Design

  • Outline an intellectual framework

  • Deconstruct Oasis

  • Bring up some moments of Intellect/Intuition collision


Disclaimers l.jpg
Disclaimers

  • This talk is not a post-mortem

    • Not “What went right”

    • Rather, “What we were thinking”

  • This is not a “how to win the IGF” talk

    • Like I would know


Part ii let s play oasis l.jpg

Part II: Let’s Play Oasis…


Part iii intuition and intellect l.jpg
Part III: Intuition and Intellect

In which we talk about talking about game design.


Intuition vs intellect l.jpg
Intuition vs. Intellect

  • Intuition:

    • Life Experience

    • Mysterious and Creative

    • Quick and Dirty

  • Intellect:

    • Study, Research, Synthesis

    • Articulate and Analytical

    • Slow and Precise



Another metaphor l.jpg
Another Metaphor inspiration.”

  • Intuition is “high gear”

  • Intellect is “low gear”

  • Speed vs. Power tradeoff


You need both gears l.jpg
You need both gears! inspiration.”

  • Without Intuition you will get left behind.

  • Without Intellect you will get stuck.

  • Intuition AND Intellect, not Intuiton VS. Intellect


However l.jpg
However inspiration.”

  • Intellect is inherently easier to communcate.

  • Welcome to the GDC


Part iv an intellectual framework l.jpg
Part IV: An Intellectual Framework inspiration.”

Wherein concepts are classified, and terms are defined.


Games as software l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code


Games as software15 l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code

Process


Games as software16 l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code

Process

Requirements


Games as software17 l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code

Process

Requirements

Rules


Games as software18 l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code

Process

Requirements

Rules

Activity


Games as software19 l.jpg
Games as inspiration.”Software

Code

Process

Requirements

Rules

Activity

“Fun”


A design vocabulary l.jpg
A Design Vocabulary inspiration.”

Code

Process

Requirements

Rules

Activity

“Fun”


A design vocabulary21 l.jpg
A Design Vocabulary inspiration.”

Code

Mechanics

Process

Requirements

Rules

Activity

“Fun”


A design vocabulary22 l.jpg
A Design Vocabulary inspiration.”

Mechanics

Process

Dynamics

Requirements

Game

“Fun”


A design vocabulary23 l.jpg
A Design Vocabulary inspiration.”

Mechanics

Dynamics

Aesthetics


The mda framework l.jpg
The MDA Framework inspiration.”

Mechanics

Dynamics

Aesthetics


Part v back to oasis l.jpg
Part V: Back to Oasis inspiration.”

Where we finally get back to that game we looked at.


Aesthetic objectives of oasis l.jpg
Aesthetic Objectives of Oasis inspiration.”

  • Challenge the player

    • He has interesting problems to solve.

  • Create a strategic landscape to Discover

    • The player crafts his own “game science.”

  • Create an emergent Narrative

    • Convey a sense of dramatic tension building to a climax.

  • Fulfill a Fantasy

    • The player feels like he’s building a tiny empire.

  • Create a spectacle of Sensation

    • Sights and sounds for the player to enjoy.


The design thesis of oasis l.jpg
The “Design Thesis” of Oasis inspiration.”

Oasis is the “anti-Minesweeper”

  • Clicking yields information, but

  • Clicking is good instead of bad.

  • Many carrots, one big stick.

  • Some carrots are sucker punches

    • Use sights & sounds to lure the player


The no bad clicks principle l.jpg
The “No Bad Clicks” Principle inspiration.”

  • Became an aesthetic yardstick.

  • We had to refine our notion of “bad.”

    • “Worth less than nothing”

  • Killed many, many potential features.

  • Still, some emergent “bad clicks” remain.


The strategic landscape l.jpg
The Strategic Landscape inspiration.”

  • Player starts out as a tourist.

  • Eventually, he becomes a native.

  • Map Generator

  • Combat System


Dynamics that challenge l.jpg
Dynamics that Challenge inspiration.”

Mechanic: Resource Contention

  • Different moves compete for turns.

  • Some also compete for followers.

    Combined with:

  • Random Maps

  • Random Players

  • Limited Information

    Challenging decisions emerge.


Difficulty balance l.jpg
Difficulty “Balance” inspiration.”

Q: How do you find the balance point?

A: You don’t.

Impossible

Easy

Challenging?


The oldest trick in the book l.jpg
The Oldest Trick in the Book inspiration.”

Start here

Impossible

Easy

Challenging?


The oldest trick in the book33 l.jpg
The Oldest Trick in the Book inspiration.”

  • The player has to win before it becomes impossible.

  • You still need to tune, but now it’s possible.

  • This reflects our whole attitude towards “balance”

Impossible

Easy

Challenging?

  • March Onward and Upward


The dramatic arc l.jpg
The Dramatic Arc inspiration.”

Climax

Falling

Action

Rising

Action


Dramatic dynamics l.jpg
Dramatic Dynamics inspiration.”

  • Difficulty: Easy … Hard … Impossible

  • Choices: Few … Many … Few

  • Flow: Turn-based … Timed … Real-time

  • Combat: Losing … Even … Winning

  • Some arcs are authored, some are emergent.


The combat mechanics the simple version l.jpg
The Combat Mechanics, inspiration.”The Simple Version

  • Each round is a coin flip

  • The winner kills some of the loser’s troops


The combat mechanics the less simple version l.jpg
The Combat Mechanics, inspiration.”The Less Simple Version

  • Each round is a lottery.

  • Every soldier has a ticket.

  • Technology can add or remove tickets.

  • The winner’s team gets to kill some of the losing team’s troops.3 + <treasure bonus>/2


Some combat observations l.jpg
Some Combat Observations inspiration.”

  • The better army usually wins.

  • BUT, losing one round doesn’t cost much.

  • Ties can take a while to “snowball.”

  • The weaker army…

    • Still has a fighting chance

    • Can last a long time


But there s more l.jpg
But There’s More inspiration.”

  • Each side gets 200 “bonus tickets.”

  • When a side kills N soldiers, it loses >N bonus tickets.

  • So:

    • At the start, the battle is biased towards a coin flip.

    • There’s some negative feedback.

    • When the bonus runs out, the fight becomes more skewed


All this adds up to drama l.jpg
All This Adds Up to Drama inspiration.”

  • Fights stay close for a while, and then the tide turns.

  • The player starts out the underdog, and then wins.

    • Numbers vs. Firepower

  • Not too bad, for just numbers going down.

  • Again, the drama is emergent.


Part vi intution and intellect revisited l.jpg
Part VI: Intution and Intellect, Revisited inspiration.”

In which the previous parts are related to each other.


Creating oasis l.jpg
Creating Oasis inspiration.”

  • Our day-to-day process was largely intuitive.

  • Intellectual processes helped us:

    • Get out of ruts.

    • Communicate objectives.

    • Design tricky mechanics


Another example the smitey glyph feature l.jpg
Another Example: The “Smitey Glyph” Feature inspiration.”

  • Problem: All levels are won or lost, no “region of forgiveness.”

  • Proposed Solution: The “Smitey Glyph”

  • Many theoretical problems

    • Creates a “stalling” opportunity

    • Diminishes the “sucker punch”

  • But it Just Made Sense


Example pharaoh s challenge l.jpg
Example: Pharaoh’s Challenge inspiration.”

  • Publisher asked us for “campaign mode” to create an increased sense of “content.”

  • We felt free to experiment, create an “inferior game.”

  • We could rationalize that freedom intellectually.

  • We relaxed the “No Bad Clicks” rule.


Example level flow l.jpg
Example: Level Flow inspiration.”

Three Phases:

1. Turn-based explore & build

2. Timed troop deployment

3. Non-interactive battle.

  • Were we nuts?

  • Conventional wisdom says yes.

  • Conventional wisdom is largely intuitive.


It s all about drama l.jpg
It’s All About Drama inspiration.”

Battle

Deploy

Explore,Build


An important precedent golf games l.jpg
An Important Precedent: inspiration.”Golf Games

Ball Flight

Swing Meter

Aiming,

Club Selection


In general l.jpg
In General inspiration.”

Result

Execution

Planning


Example difficulty coupling l.jpg
Example: Difficulty Coupling inspiration.”

  • Originally, difficulty only determined starting level number.(Easy = 1, Normal = 11, Hard = 21, Insane = 31)

  • Empirically, a bad idea.

  • We changed it so all levels start at 1.

  • The change bought us tuning freedom.


Questions l.jpg
Questions? inspiration.”

  • Slides and Stuff: www.8kindsoffun.com

  • Oasis: www.oasisgame.com

  • Me: [email protected]


Example bugs l.jpg
Example Bugs inspiration.”

1. “10 Second phase” is too “solveable.” (challenge)

2. When the player’s scarab power is low, defeat seems inevitable. (drama)

3. Not enough ways to take risks (drama,challenge).

4. Treasure searching is too random, not skill-based (challenge)


Example solutions l.jpg
Example Solutions inspiration.”

  • “10 Second phase” is too “solveable.” (challenge)

    Introduce a penalty for each city lost.


Example solutions53 l.jpg
Example Solutions inspiration.”

2. When the player’s scarab power is low, defeat seems inevitable. (drama)

Introduce a special treasure that repleneshes scarab power, if defended. (Also addresses #3)


Example solutions54 l.jpg
Example Solutions inspiration.”

3. Not enough ways to take risks (drama,challenge).

Introduce a special treasure that earns score, if defended.


Example solutions55 l.jpg
Example Solutions inspiration.”

4. Treasure searching is too random, not skill-based (challenge)

Treasure placement has a more learnable pattern. (No duplicates, ascending order.)


Here s what we did l.jpg
Here’s What We Did inspiration.”

  • Saw Oasis

  • Discussed “Intellectual” and “Intuitive” Design

  • Presented MDA

  • Examined Oasis

  • Discussed moments of Intution and Intellect at work.


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