Discussion in 'Game Design' started by keithburgun, Oct 10, 2015.
Any plans for the next podcast? Anything useful we can do to help out?
Suggestions for guests/topics are good, comments are good! Spreading the word, contributing to the patreon are really good.
Next week I have Carolyn Petit of Feminist Frequency coming on.
Feel free to propose questions!
Awesome, looking forward to it.
How should an indie game designer on a budget deal with the conflict between wanting to represent diversity in their games vs wanting to not stereotype a minority? Won't attempting to provide an honestly representative model for a population often result in something at least moderately stereotypical? Where should we draw the lines before such attempts become deserving of criticism?
How can an indie developer respect the grander sensitivities of our culture when they personally have a narrow perspective? What should we do if we unintentionally step on someone's foot through innocent ignorance of the issue we've missed?
Do AAA studios innately have more social responsibility than indie devs?
Very excited for the awesome guest!
Yeah sorry, it got pushed back a bit to tomorrow.
The interview is live! http://keithburgun.net/interview-with-carolyn-petit-of-feminist-frequency/
I did an episode with @BrickRoadDX about his game design commandments. Here it is!
The discussion of "Ambiguity Engines" reminds me of Greg Costikiyan's "Sources of Uncertainty": https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/uncertainty-games
Re. Actor Removal in the podcast.
That was a really engaging and wide-ranging episode - nice one. Loads of interesting points but so as to be brief (aka lazy!) I'll just comment on one thing you guys covered, specifically controlling the complexity of board positions, how actor removal is generally something which works to simplify them, and whether that's desirable. I think Brett was making the point that it might be a good idea to have positions which didn't simplify throughout a match but instead got more complicated as the player got more deeply involved, and that design goal would weigh against having actor removal.
I don't disagree but thought it would be worth looking more closely at the way more actors probably means more complicated positions (the interview did touch on that when you moved onto Skyboats straight after). Clearly there is a design tension if we're also trying to limit the amount of calculation the player has to do.
On the flipside of whether actor removal is good or bad, I think it does have a strength for a different reason, also relating to position complexity. It means that when the player is sifting through the "state tree" forward of their current position (assuming we're allowing any calculation at all), there are scattered places where they can find these moves which drastically simplify the position (i.e. actor removal moves, i.e. usually kills). Perhaps they'll occasionally also find a sequence which kills everything and simplifies the position right down to nothing. Speaking for myself I think the sensation of discovering these "nuggets" in the possibility space around which calculation is simplified is a really satisfying thing. Sometimes just as much or more rewarding than any winpoints or whatever go along with the kill. It's probably a lot of the psychological reason so many games feature the idea of clearing levels - it feels good to have a complex problem and square it away/tidy it up/sort it out. I also think it may be a fundamental feature of strategy to be able to make decisions which trade off the complexity (and hence usually predictability) of different paths against other benefits, and actor removal is one way to provide that kind of lever to the player. E.g. in @Toad_Racer's videos he often burns off a couple of spells to kill a lich or something when the situation starts to get "just too risky", giving up probably more points in the short run in exchange for more control. E.g. weak chess players like me often make exchanges they know are probably slightly disadvantageous when playing a stronger opponent, just to try and keep complexity down to comprehensible levels.
As an aside I was thinking about this recently in the context of avoiding combat themes, which has been harder than anticipated! One of the (annoyingly many) advantages of combat themes mechanically is that actor removal via killing is such a simple "drain valve" on position complexity.
Long story short I think actor removal does have things going for it, and maybe rather than just letting actors build up, a good way of implementing increasing board complexity through the course of a match could be to have some kind of actor removal, but achieve net increase of actors by just adding more than get taken away. Doing that also allows there to be an ebb and flow of complexity during a match, where there might be times the player can take a breather in a relatively simplified position - I think that was mentioned in the interview too. It also seems like Minos Strategos kind of takes this approach, so I'm sure I'm not saying anything new.
Anyway, great interview
Thanks @richy! Don't have much to add other than that I agree completely. Very insightful post
I feel like a only lurk apart from this thread at this point but never mind.
Thought the most recent episode was fantastic (to the point where I want Brett Lowey to be on the podcast like every other week or something). He really clicked in with how you talk and what information you both know but also seemed interested in talking about other parts of stuff. One of things I would love to hear more about was your design process and how you design in such a quick cycle? Also loved to hear you talk specifically about the real value in interactive stuff and how the games industry doesn't really seem to embrace or understand that at all.
But I also had some general things to say:
I really appreciate someone talking about feminism and games. Although I felt like Carolyn Petit, understandably, didn't know your work well enough to get to a really meaty conversation about games, everything you touched on was super cool and so nice to hear people talking about stuff especially in game circles. More guests like her would be a charm.
It is hard to find places that feel strongly about game design and political, ethical issues.
Feminism seems so linked to bad game design (I am writing some articles about this at the moment) that talking about it is so useful for everyone.
You touched again on consumerism and stuff in games, and recently I saw your retweet of the Nintendo Wii-U covered in dust thing, and would love to hear more talk about that if you have more to say? Also linked to that gambling, wasting the players time and modern length of games etc.
Something you haven't talked about that I am always super curious: How you literally go about conceiving strategy game designs. When I start making strategy games they always turn into puzzle games. I find it hard to turn mechanics into a say a match structure rather than a specific goal to demonstrate and share a specific piece of understanding like in a puzzle game.
Sorry for the poorly written message again but I wanted to share and show my enthusiasm and love for the podcast.
Interview with Raph Koster.
Really glad to hear that. Thank you Burgergirl!
I will hit both of those up in the next podcast episode. Thanks again for listening.
Sorry for dragging up a year old quote, but this argument has been on my mind lately and this is the first instance of it I found.
Do you think that conventional wisdom might be confusing correlation and causation in this case? Perhaps losing doesn't cause learning, it's just that you lose more often when you still have a lot to learn. Being inexperienced causes both losing and learning.
In a well designed game you should be losing about 50% of the time, no matter your skill level. Also I don't see at all how you learn more or less from a loss or a win. Why would one teach you more than the other?
Perhaps in a well designed game, but conventional wisdom didn't develop from playing well designed games. In most domains, you will fail more often when you're inexperienced. You also learn more quickly when you're inexperienced. I'm suggesting that this may have led people to falsely believe that failure is more instructive than success.
If the ideal game was so deep there was always a lot to learn however good you got then Fenrir's line of reasoning might kind of hold. But loss rate would still be affected by whatever matchmaking was in place so I don't really see that it follows at all.
Also I too don't see why losing necessarily makes you learn more anyway. Yes close losses can be highly memorable, and especially bad beats when you actually played correctly but still lost, so perhaps that what he was talking about. I.e. the idea that pain is a more powerful stimulus to memory formation than pleasure, although I'd imagine it's probably somewhat personality-dependent (some people responding better to carrot vs stick).
Funnily enough I wonder whether a game allowing you to choose your win rate could be self-adjusting in that sense. If you're someone who likes to win most of the time, your occasional losses will hurt disproportionately and be extra-memorable. Conversely if you like things to be HARD, and usually lose, what you did on the way to your occasional wins might be what sticks most.
Episode 38: Interview with Tadhg Kelly
Episode 39: Interview with James Lantz
Separate names with a comma.