Anna Anthropy posted a list of her games’ goals in response to a challenge by Andi “Jumpman” McClure. Seemed like something worth doing for my own games. So below are the stated player character or plot goals in my games. I’m not including LORE, since goals depend entirely on the individual group playing it.
In this episode of the Ludus Novus podcast, I discuss achievements and how there are a lot more aspects to them than are immediately apparent.
The music for this episode is “The Temple” by Out of Orion and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike License.
This podcast is certainly not a complete discussion of the topic, so please leave any input or feedback in the comments section.
I just released “The Day” on ArmorGames.com. It’s a game about birthdays, trading cards, and war.
It’s Tia’s birthday, and she’s looking forward to beating all of her friends with the new card her dad gave her! Beat the other kids by choosing the right cards, and earn more cards until you’re the best of them all!
And don’t go into the woods, or the guards will kill you.
The game is an experiment in orthogonal goals.
Play “The Day” at Armor Games.
Last year, I resolved to create a game a month. That went quite well for me, but I think I want to be freer with my development goals this year. I still needed a new year’s resolution, though. Since I often neglected Ludus Novus in the wake of my game development, I chose a goal that should keep the content here flowing smoothly.
I resolve to post at least once each week on this blog. Posts could be game discussions, tabletop RPG summaries, podcast episodes (that’s right, I have a podcast!), or something else. If I’m especially busy, they could just be one or three preview screenshots of what I’m working on. Note that The Absolute Sum of All Evil comics do not count for this resolution. They’re weekly, but I drew the comics years ago, so that would be cheating.
If all goes according to plan, I should have over 100 new posts this year, including comics. Wish me luck!
I’ve been thinking about a goal to set for the new year, and I’ve come up with a good one. Here it is: release at least one new game each month for the year of 2009. I’m pretty sure I can achieve this; in the worst case scenario, the games for some of the months will be small in scale.
The satisfaction in releasing a game and knowing that people have played it and enjoyed it is incredible. At the moment, “Majesty of Colors” has been played over 700,000 times. I don’t know if I can duplicate that kind of success, but I know that I can put more of myself out there for people to enjoy if they want to.
So expect something by the end of January, and something each month after that, at least through December. Sometimes it may just be a little piece of IF, but I have bigger ideas in the works, too. Wish me luck!
As I sat at my desk sketching out a puzzle structure for my next game and listening to the latest episode of Radiolab, “Choice,” I started to think about complexity in goal trees. Just about any game’s structure can be represented as a tree (a partially-ordered set, really) of goals, some of which are required before others.
For the simplest of games, this tree consists of a straight line of nodes labeled something like “Reach Checkpoint 1,” “Reach Checkpoint 2,” and “Beat Boss.” Games with a hint of nonlinearity, however, can often have rather complicated goal trees. The simple tree has a branching factor of one. Each action, or node, has only one successor action. The game Planescape: Torment, on the other hand, has a branching factor of more than ten in some places, such as just after the player reaches the Clerk’s Ward. There are many the player can go or quests she can pursue, each separate and rather complex in its own right.
I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lately, and that is a game with a branching factor. Each town has four or more quests connected to it, in addition to the main quest, which itself sometimes branches into subquests. Add to this the guilds, of which there are at least four, and the game gets a bit intimidating for me. I hesitate to even mention the plugins and expansions. I walked through the door to the Shivering Isles, a whole new country with its own central plot, towns and sidequests. I think I lasted about fifteen minutes before I retreated back to Cyrodiil, overwhelmed. Oblivion‘s branching factor is a bit too large for my tastes. So what, then, is the optimal branching factor? Let’s look at some examples.
In this podcast, I discuss the player-author contract. An interactive work sets up a trust between the player and the work’s author. This takes the form of a contract which, when violated, can cause the player to reject the work.
The Player-Author Contract
The work can be played by the player.
- Violated by games which are unexpectedly incompatible with the player’s system.
The entire work can be played by the player.
- Violated by “game-breaking” bugs as in Battletoads and Pac-Man
Through playing the work, the player can affect the progression of the work.
- The events in the work are governed by a set of rules.
- Violated by some Choose Your Own Adventure games
The rules of the work do not change without warning.
Any player failure can be avoided by player actions.
- Violated by really hard games.
- Subverted by I Wanna Be The Guy and similar games and custom levels.
- The author provides some goal that the player can pursue.
The player can evaluate progress toward a provided goal.
- Violated or subverted by Noctis.
- Let me know if you know a game that violates or subverts this!
Also see Without a Goal: On open and expressive games by Jesper Juul.
The music for this episode is “Broken (DURDEN version)” by DURDEN and featuring Trifonic & Amelia June, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license.
No sooner do I post about constraint in games than Shamus Young over at Twenty Sided contradicts me. Continue reading
Earlier this week I played a game called Yume Nikki (or Dream Diary, apparently) by Kikiyama. A post on the IndieGames.com blog turned me on to it; you can get an English translation (with complicated installation) there. The game is about a girl who refuses to leave her room and her journeys through creepy and labyrinthine dreams. The game is one of the most open and goal-less games I’ve played in a while, and it brings up some questions on the nature of goals in games.