I have no words & I must designby Greg CostikyanCurrently a Games researcher at Nokia
Context • “I Have No Words” was written in the early 1990s, at a time when virtually nothing had been written on the subject of game design as a discipline, before game studies as a discipline or Game Developer magazine existed. • This piece was written with emphasis on decision making and may be less applicable to games that depend on fast action. • Greg Costikyan is an inductee of the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame For a Lifetime of Accomplishment in the field
Lots of Games out there ITS ALL GAMING!! • Cart-based • Computer • CD-ROM • Network • Arcade • PBM (Play By Mail) • PBEM • Mass-Market Adult • War games • Card games • Tabletop RPGs • LARPs (Live Action Role Playing) • Freeforms • Paintball • Virtual Reality • Sports • Horses
Do these things have anything in common? What is a game? • How can you tell a good one from a bad one? • Good game !! • Good book… does that help you write a better one • Game designers need to analyze games • Understand them • Understand what works • Understand what makes them interesting
What is a game anyhow? • Its not a puzzle – Puzzles are static • Present logic structures to be solved w/assistance of clues • Games are NOT static and change with player’s actions • Think of games on a continuum • Crossword 100% puzzle • Zork 90% puzzle – 10% game • Characters move from setting to setting allowable actions vary by setting and inventory changes with action. • Almost all games have some degree of puzzle-solving, even military strategy games require players to solve puzzle of making optimum attack
Not a toy • Sim City is not a game at all, but a toy. • Will Wright makes a comparison to a ball • Offers many interesting behaviors for your to explore • Bounce It, • Twirl it, • Throw it • Dribble it • Can play multiple games with it • It provides a world that the player may manipulate, but provides NO objective • You may chose one… • BUT Sim City itself has no victory conditions, NO Goals, • It is a Software toy. • A toy is interactive, BUT games have goals
Not a Story • Stories are inherently linear • Games are inherently non-linear • Depend on decision making • How would gamers feel if game master says “I don’t want you players to do that, because it will ruin the story? • Gaming is NOT about telling stories
It Demands Participation • Traditional art forms have passive audiences. • Admire a painting, you may imagine things in it, you may see something other than what the artist intended • When reading a book… Most of it is in your head… You are receiving the authors words. • Enter the game. • Games provide a set of rules • But players create their own consequences • Like Music • The Designers provide the Theme • The Players provide the Music • A democratic art form for a democratic age.
So What is a Game? • Players make decisions • Manage resources through game tokes in the pursuit of a goal • Opposition • Competitive games • Real interest is about struggling toward a goal. • After you win you fill the thrill of victory! • Game Tokens – entities you manipulate directly • Resources are things you manage efficiently to achieve a goal • Tokens are your means of managing them • Without tokens you have a system that operates with out much player input • Giving the player a sense of control and it makes the game more interesting.
Other Things that Strengthen Games • Diplomacy • Whenever multiple players are involved they are strengthened with diplomacy • Games permit diplomacy if players can assist each other • Color • Color counts a lot and some games work solely because color • Some games suffer because their lack their of. • Pageantry, detail & sense of place can add greatly to emotional appeal, BUT don’t over do it and make it look appealing • Simulation • STAR Wars: The Role Playing Game • He adds simulations of the move, to encourage players to attempt far-fetched cinematic stunts • Using the system to reflect something about the atmosphere and ethos of the films. • Can also improve character identification
Other Things that Strengthen Games • Variety of Encounter • Random elements are never wholly random, they are within a range of possibilities • Randomness can be useful.. It is one way to provide variety • Players like to encounter the unexpected • With inadequate variety, it gets boring quickly • Positive Identification • Character identification is a common theme in fiction and games • Lends emotional power to a story • In a sports game the identifying position is YOU, • Making the game more important to YOU • Role Playing – provides position identification, the feeling that the world is alive and colorful • Socializing – When designing think about social issues and how the game encourages or discourages socialization. • How can you encourage better socializing • Narrative tension- The story should become more gripping as it proceeds until climatic resolution
What do these myriad form of games have in common? • All involve • Decision making • Managing Resources in pursuit of a goal • How can we tell a good game from a bad one? • Terms to analyze game appeal • Decisions • Variety of encounter • Compelling • Narrative Tension • Role Playing • Socializing • Color • Simulation • Diplomacy • Gaming is a artform! Be mindful of what it takes to make it GREAT!