Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Anatomy of a Game Design

John Funk | 25 May 2010 12:33
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In response to "Hypocritical Mommy" from The Escapist Forum: I'd be in agreement with most of it, tho I'd say not to feel guilty that you get more 'fun time' than your kids, as I see it as a reward for responsibility, after all, kids get pocket money for doing chores, or pay for having a paper round, you work to bring in the money to run the house, along with running the house in all the other ways, therefore you 'buy' yourself more leisure time. Just the way I see it.

It could be explained in that way to the kid when they're old enough to take on the concept.

'Sure you can play another hour, go spend half an hour doing the washing up, or folding laundry, or walking the dog, and you earn an hour's game time.'

- SenseOfTumour

Well now. This is quite an interesting article, as I, too, am a work-at-home with parental responsibilities.

But my opinion is also coming courtesy of my wife's sagacious knowledge from her days teaching preschool and her early childhood development education.

Part of the reason why parental figures often need to impose hypocritical rules on children are simply because the needs of children as they develop are different to a fully-developed adult. The stimulation that needs to be addressed over the formative years focus on several avenues; for example, the ability to move an object from the left to right and vice-versa is imperative in childhood development.

If we were to follow the same rules, then either a)the child's development or b)the adult's development would theoretically be hampered.

- JEBWrench

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Playing for the Story" from The Escapist Forum:

Setsuhen:
Playing Oblivion for me was no easy task. I found myself getting killed time after time, and it just became a bore. I tried active leveling, and it worked, yet there were still parts that just made me want to rip my hair off. My "pride" refused to make me slide the difficulty bar all the way down, so I just set it down when fighting a monster I found impossible, then resetting it after getting it done.

This is my Oblivion experience, too. I wanted so desperately to get into it, and there were a few moments (listening to The Slip, because the same few tracks got annoying after a while) where I wouldn't have been able to tell you the difference between my current dungeon and reality, but those moments were fleeting and outnumbered by constant death over enemies that seemed far stronger than I. Eventually, I just gave up with the entire affair. I pick it up every now and again, thinking "I"ll do it this time" but each new experience often never makes it out of the sewer.

But I agree with the article, and find myself in similar situations often. I always seem to get about 3/4ths of the way through a game before the actual gameplay begins to become boring. I did this recently with Persona 4 and simply forced myself through the last two dungeons to continue on the story - a God awful grind, but one I'm thankful for, having made it through and seen the ending to a close.

However, there are certainly some games where I play it now for the simple challenge. Excluding 'arcade' sorts of games, I play through Dead Space now on Expert just for the sheer difficult thrill of it. I suppose that, after already playing the story, I feel more inclined to challenge myself, but, until then, I do my best to make it through on normal... but always keep in the back of my mind the knowledge that "easy" is often a few clicks away.

- 9NineBreaker9

That's an eerily accurate description of my personal mindset - I'm not in any way bad at games, but I'm not playing them to be challenged, I'm playing them because I find immersing myself into the narrative framework of a universe to be a fulfilling experience. It helps if the gameplay is fun too of course, but purely skill-based gaming experiences are not even remotely appealing to me - as far as my brain is concerned, I might as well be playing an exceptionally difficult game of "Bejeweled".

Mind you, I'm flexible enough that even the barest skeleton of a story will tide me over, but I literally cannot make myself care about a game that has no story at all - without that narrative framework, there is no meaning or purpose behind my actions, and any illusions I might possess that what I'm doing is not inherently pointless are quickly dispelled.

Finding oneself frustrated by seemingly insurmountable odds or dealing with the annoyance of frequently having to replay things because your avatar keeps shuffling off the mortal coil are therefore impediments to the reason I game in the first place, and the thus I happily play on easy all the time, unless that changes the game in a meaningful way that makes it less fun (like removing/altering things rather than simply changing stat balances) - if I could cheat and be invulnerable in every game then I would do it in a heartbeat, as dying typically makes the story stop and why would I want that to ever happen?

This flies in the face of the traditional truism that "success is more meaningful when it is achieved at great effort" of course, but one doesn't read books or watch films to "succeed" at them: the point is the experience itself.

- Gildan Bladeborn

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