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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Means-Based Game Design

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24 posts found
  SirBenedict

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 5

"What if..."

 
OP  3/19/10 9:23:13 PM#21

I see the theme of psychology cropping up again and again, and I think that it does so because it's absolutely the key to this issue. What is the difference between "work" and "play"? Or what is the difference between "repetitive" and "addictive"? An internal state of mind, a perspective. A means-based game would have to carefully, purposefully, and scientifically manage the psychology of the player to prevent his developing self-destructive psychological attitudes. Sid Meier's talk on this was really excellent because he established a distinct list of key mental attitudes players could put themselves in which destroyed the game, and he furthermore established that there are legitimate ways of handling this. Essentially, to put it in his terms, the game design needs to be such that it never breaks the player's suspension of disbelief. A means-based game would have to be one which induced and maintained a child-like credulity, a make-believe dream-state that permanently kept the mind of the player in the "playful" state of mind.

The type of player is important, yes, but I think we easily underestimate the power of the unspoken command, of the environment's ability to shape our consciousness and feelings. If a printed page can draw out attention into the fantasy world of the author's make believe for hours, then why can't this be done in the dynamic world of multimedia gaming? When the player is drawn into the game, when his disbelief and incredulity are forgotten, and when he slips into that simple state of unconscious joy felt by children when playing with toys, then you have a "means-based" game in which the player isn't thinking about how much better it's going to get down the road, but about the moment. Really, it's about living in the moment, or rather, getting the player to live in the moment.

Is this possible? Is this practical? Wouldn't this cost way too much money? Aren't gamers way to jaded? Are adults even capable of such a dream-like consciousness? My answer would be, why not? It's been done before hasn't it? People dream all the time, and people forget all the time. Even if people didn't want to forget their cares, to leave their worries behind for a time, to be liberated from their fears for a while, there are known ways of making this happen. Think of psychotherapy and hypnosis. The whole principle of these sciences is the suspension of analytical thought and the delving into a deeper, simpler state of dream-like reality. I'm not saying that games need to be designed to hypnotize us, I'm just saying that this child-like, carefree joy in the moment is entirely attainable for anyone.

lolcatz - ftw

  nate1980

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/03/09
Posts: 1809

3/19/10 10:28:32 PM#22
Originally posted by SirBenedict

I see the theme of psychology cropping up again and again, and I think that it does so because it's absolutely the key to this issue. What is the difference between "work" and "play"? Or what is the difference between "repetitive" and "addictive"? An internal state of mind, a perspective. A means-based game would have to carefully, purposefully, and scientifically manage the psychology of the player to prevent his developing self-destructive psychological attitudes. Sid Meier's talk on this was really excellent because he established a distinct list of key mental attitudes players could put themselves in which destroyed the game, and he furthermore established that there are legitimate ways of handling this. Essentially, to put it in his terms, the game design needs to be such that it never breaks the player's suspension of disbelief. A means-based game would have to be one which induced and maintained a child-like credulity, a make-believe dream-state that permanently kept the mind of the player in the "playful" state of mind.

The type of player is important, yes, but I think we easily underestimate the power of the unspoken command, of the environment's ability to shape our consciousness and feelings. If a printed page can draw out attention into the fantasy world of the author's make believe for hours, then why can't this be done in the dynamic world of multimedia gaming? When the player is drawn into the game, when his disbelief and incredulity are forgotten, and when he slips into that simple state of unconscious joy felt by children when playing with toys, then you have a "means-based" game in which the player isn't thinking about how much better it's going to get down the road, but about the moment. Really, it's about living in the moment, or rather, getting the player to live in the moment.

Is this possible? Is this practical? Wouldn't this cost way too much money? Aren't gamers way to jaded? Are adults even capable of such a dream-like consciousness? My answer would be, why not? It's been done before hasn't it? People dream all the time, and people forget all the time. Even if people didn't want to forget their cares, to leave their worries behind for a time, to be liberated from their fears for a while, there are known ways of making this happen. Think of psychotherapy and hypnosis. The whole principle of these sciences is the suspension of analytical thought and the delving into a deeper, simpler state of dream-like reality. I'm not saying that games need to be designed to hypnotize us, I'm just saying that this child-like, carefree joy in the moment is entirely attainable for anyone.


 

That's something that is hard to do for a single player game, much less an online game meant to keep players subscribing for months and even years. Let's not forget the most important element of a MMO, the community. If you have much experience in MMO gaming, you know that a lot of player get their kicks by ruining the game for others. It doesn't take but a handful of these types of people to ruin that suspension of disbelief, so while it's possible for a developer to create the atmosphere for a player to be immersed into their game, the player community will most likely ruin it in every game.

The primary goal of a business is to increase shareholder wealth. So you tell me what's practical: a) what we have now or b) what you propose. We both know what we'd both prefer, but that's the ever going conflict between businesses and consumers. We want what's best for us, while they want what's best for the shareholder's. What's best for the shareholder's is the strategic plan that brings in the most amount of money, while simultaneously reducing the amount of money going out towards the project. So until todays consumer completely turns away from MMO gaming as it is today, we'll never see a business motivated enough to spend more money on a more immersive game.

I do think that gamers are jaded, but I don't think gamers are too jaded. Maybe some are, but most of us still get immersed when we play an immersive game. Most of us still get excited when a new game releases that we're interested in.

  SirBenedict

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 5

"What if..."

 
OP  3/22/10 7:37:02 PM#23

But why do you assume that an immersive game is inevitably more expensive? Was the Zelda game discussed in that "Lovin' Feeling" article I cited an uber-budget expense? Was the Yoshi game mentioned initially in my first post an economy-crashing pecuniary catastrophe? What about Flower? Or flOw? I don't think so. I guess you might say that the implicit premise of my original idea is that becoming means rather than ends based is a feature of design rather than budget. Thank of literature. Is a good book differentiated from a bad book primarily by the resources of the author? On the contrary, great herds of the greatest titans of human expression have been completely penniless. In short, I don't think that creating a game whose end is in the moment and whose aim is in the now would be a necessarily expensive game, but I do think it would be a deeply thought-out and very carefully crafted game.

lolcatz - ftw

  nate1980

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/03/09
Posts: 1809

3/22/10 9:19:17 PM#24
Originally posted by SirBenedict

But why do you assume that an immersive game is inevitably more expensive? Was the Zelda game discussed in that "Lovin' Feeling" article I cited an uber-budget expense? Was the Yoshi game mentioned initially in my first post an economy-crashing pecuniary catastrophe? What about Flower? Or flOw? I don't think so. I guess you might say that the implicit premise of my original idea is that becoming means rather than ends based is a feature of design rather than budget. Thank of literature. Is a good book differentiated from a bad book primarily by the resources of the author? On the contrary, great herds of the greatest titans of human expression have been completely penniless. In short, I don't think that creating a game whose end is in the moment and whose aim is in the now would be a necessarily expensive game, but I do think it would be a deeply thought-out and very carefully crafted game.

 Well, I'm not going to argue with you, especially since I don't know you and since our argument will mean nothing in the end. But I'll pose you a question, let you think about it, and come to your own conclusions.

1) What costs money when it comes to development?

2) Assuming paying programmers, artists, writers, and so on hourly was one of your above answers, which do you think takes longer to create: a) Go here, Kill x, Collect y, Deliver z quests or b) An elaborate and immersive quest or activity that makes a person want to concentrate on the moment, rather than getting past the tedious task?

3) If a company can profit doing a), with an already proven market for a), then why would a company spend more to serve market b), which also buys a) when they're released?

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