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Your Game Is Unnecessary (but it would be nice if people played it anyway). Jason Compton Planewalker Games IGDA Wisconsin July 28, 2009. Disclaimers. Lots of issues to raise No guaranteed solutions No Ico Very few games from the past decade, actually Classic “opening band problem”.

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Your Game Is Unnecessary (but it would be nice if people played it anyway)

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Your Game Is Unnecessary(but it would be nice if people played it anyway)

Jason Compton

Planewalker Games

IGDA Wisconsin

July 28, 2009


Disclaimers

  • Lots of issues to raise

  • No guaranteed solutions

  • No Ico

  • Very few games from the past decade, actually

  • Classic “opening band problem”


Nobody has to play your game: A difficult problem with difficult solutions

  • Desperate dark ages

  • Forget the wallet: You want share of waking hours

  • Nearly innumerable choices


How innumerable, you ask?

  • Gametap, GOG, Steam

  • El-cheapo compilations and re-releases

  • Coverdisks

  • Legacy freeware releases

  • Emulator packs

  • The power of Solitaire

  • ...and that’s just the legit stuff


It gets worse...

  • Movies galore

  • Free books

  • Free movies

  • The Internet, she has many web sites


Outspend the competition!

  • Compete on audiovisuals

  • Good news: Pushing the envelope makes everybody happy!

  • Bad news: Anything you can buy, I can also buy.


Motivating players: Coin-op style

  • You are either with us, or against us

  • Good news for the player: small outlays of time and money

  • Bad news for the developer: By and large, these stories have been told.

  • (Wizard of Wor!)


Motivating By Simulating


Motivating with Nationalism(“Fight the good fight!”)

  • The good news: You can sell a zillion World War II games, if you know what you’re doing.

  • The bad news: You might create something tacky and quickly dated.


Motivating With Famous People(“Play a hero you know and love!”)

  • The weird news: Licenses used to guarantee awfulness.

  • Obvious advantages,

    but hard to be

    really thorough.

    (Jedi mind tricks!)

  • Where have all the good books gone?


Is Fun the Only Motivation?

  • “Game” is an awfully loaded word...

  • ...but Americans love a happy ending.

  • Swerves and trick endings aside, games tend to deliver.


Dystopia: No Fun, But Good for you!

  • Reading 1984 is not fun.

  • Neither is AMFV. But

    it’s exceptional.

  • Can we get past“game = fun”?


A very incomplete guess at what’s gone wrong

  • The rise and fall of the auteurs – they knew what they wanted to say, and how to say it!

  • Obscure computer science = gaming!

  • Auteur system gives way to division of labor, for very good reasons.


Right Hand, Meet Left Hand

  • Do designers and programmers really understand one another?

  • If so, how did that conversation happen?

  • Writers, I blame you, too.


The Complexity/Choice Spectrum

  • Postulate: The more detailed your message, the more you must constrain choice

  • Fallout 1: Lauded as the ultimate in story/choice balance!

  • ...but it has a dark secret.


What to do?

  • Design for narrative objectives rather than technological accomplishments

  • Realize that choice is ever-expanding

  • Find a lucky penny.


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