The Pod: Emergentes Storytelling

May 21, 2019

Ich war zu Gast beim Gamespodcast “The Pod” und habe dort mit Jochen Gebauer und Wolfgang Walk über emergente Geschichten gesprochen. Im etwa einstündigen Gespräch diskutieren wir diverse Tetris-Varianten und plädieren für fokussiertere Visionen in der Spieleentwicklung.

Der offizielle Ankündigungstext:

“Meine Damen und Herren,

erzählt Tetris eine Geschichte? Auf diese Frage könnte man freilich unumwunden mit „nein“ antworten und würde nicht Gefahr laufen, für diese Antwort ausgelacht zu werden. Im Rahmen der neuen Walkthrough-Episode beantworten wir sie gemeinsam mit dem Game-Designer Fabian Fischer allerdings mit „ja“, denn am Beispiel Tetris mit seinen zahlreichen Varianten lässt sich wunderbar nachvollziehen, wie sogenannte Emergent Stories entstehen. Stories nämlich, an denen nie ein Autor geschrieben hat – die im Kopf des Spielers aber nicht minder gut (und manchmal sogar viel besser) funktionieren.”

Die Folge ist ab sofort für alle Abonnenten des “Spielemagazins zum Hören” verfügbar. Abos gibt es per Steady oder Patreon. Aber wer sich tatsächlich genug für Spiele interessiert, um diese Zeilen hier zu lesen, hat bestimmt längst eins abgeschlossen… oder?


Ludomedia #63

May 7, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Chris Wallace: How YouTube let’s plays are preserving video game history

  • “While let’s plays are unquestionably not preserving the game itself, they can function as secondary documentation, and preserve the cultural impact of a game as well as the community that built up around it. […]Even in their current state let’s plays are an important part of video game history, so it’s probably an idea to look at how we can improve that currently imperfect science.”

Dominik Schott: Anno 1800 schreibt die Geschichte um

  • “Dass Sklaverei und Sklavenhandel auch noch während der Industriellen Revolution […] grundlegender Wirtschaftsfaktor waren, das unterschlägt die Spielwelt komplett. […] Sklavenhandel ist zu heikel, aber Arbeiterproteste in den Städten können auf Knopfdruck blutig niedergeschlagen oder neue Inseln zu Arbeiterkolonien erklären werden, wo Menschen in Überstunden und unterbezahlt malochen müssen.”

Jim Sterling: The Epic Brutality Of Unchecked Capitalism

  • “If you have a problem with Epic’s methods, you don’t just have a problem with Epic. You have a problem with the environment that allows, condones and by design encourages Epic to do what Epic does.”

Ross Scott: “Games as a service” is fraud

Words Per Game: Artifact: Locked by Design

  • “Artifact is built for those who like that there’s no easy answer. […] Artifact is a game where most moves come laden with trade-offs, where actions have cascading, hard-to-evaluate effects across multiple turns. A game that rewards strategic anticipation and modular, flexible planning. […] Everything in it points towards a unified, purposeful direction. It’s just uninterested in communicating it. […] At the end of the day, Artifact doesn’t want to teach you, it just wants you to learn.”

Vom Glauben an den AAA-Gott

May 6, 2019

“Sind die Entwickler von Computerspielen die großen Erzähler unserer Zeit?”, fragt Leander Haußmann in seinem Gastbeitrag auf Zeit Online. Eine interessante und berechtigte Frage. Und auch das “Jawohl!”, das dem Leser entgegen geschmettert wird, ließe sich verargumentieren. Die Gründe allerdings, die der Regisseur und Schauspieler in seinem Text liefert, sind bestenfalls fragwürdig – und das vorhersehbar.

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River Rogue auf itch.io

May 2, 2019

Hinweis in eigener Sache: Im Rahmen eines Quasi-Game-Jams habe ich mit der Idee experimentiert, diskrete rundenweise Bewegung auf einem Grid (die klassische Roguelike-Formel) mit einem räumlichen Echtzeit-Timer zu verbinden. Das Ergebnis nennt sich River Rogue und ist steht ab sofort auf itch.io zum Download bereit.


Ludomedia #62

April 26, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Brandon Rym DeCoster & Scott Rubin:

  • Rare Game Mechanics: “There’s common game mechanics like drawing cards or playing Poker. […] We’re trying to highlight things that are interesting, that are different, that you might not have encountered.”
  • The Real Harm of Games: “Variable reward schedules demonstrably cause a behaviour to be done more often in almost all cases. […] Gaming these days seems to be going more and more in the direction of just being gambling but not looking like [a slot machine].”

Jim Sterling: A Video About BioWare Working Staff To Tears And Calling Its Mental Abuse “Magic”

  • “Any single stress casualty in the game industry should be considered an ugly fucking stain on their business and a mark of eternal shame for any company in which things have been allowed to go that far. […] BioWare isn’t the only company to describe game development in terms of magic and mysticism. [….] It tries to hide the fact that human beings work very hard on these games.”

Keith Burgun: Difficulty in Videogames

  • “There are many people who just have never had the time to get good at videogames, because they have to work two jobs, or they have a sick relative, or a dozen other reasons. Many people are disabled in various ways which also makes it more difficult for them to make similar kinds of progress. […] That’s why games, especially games like these, should have more options to allow players with different needs and abilities to engage with them.”

Mark Brown: How Games Get Balanced

  • “This is just not going to be an intensive tutorial. Instead, Game Maker’s Toolkit presents a whirlwind tour through the way games are balanced and rebalanced… and rebalanced… and rebalanced… and rebalanced.”

Wolfgang Walk: Der Computerspiele-Preis ist tot!

  • “Der DCP ist tot. Seine aus historischen Gründen eingebaute, korrumpierende Engführung mit der Politik ist der Krebs, an dem er zugrunde gegangen ist. […] Eine Gala, welche das Kunstschaffen rund um das Spiel zum Thema hat. Dort könnten deutsche Games auf Augenhöhe mit der Welt antreten, dort könnte Deutschland sich eine eigene Identität, einen Markenkern innerhalb der internationalen Spieleindustrie aufbauen.”

Das Menschenbild kompetitiver Spiele

April 24, 2019

Der Wettstreit mit anderen Spielern ist fundamentaler Bestandteil des Mediums. Ob heute in Online-Lobbys mit Matchmaking, früher auf den Highscore-Listen der Arcade-Automaten oder schon in vergleichenden Erfahrungsberichten über scheinbar reine Single-Player-Games auf dem Schulhof oder der Arbeit – hinter jeder Ecke lauert auf den Gamer die Frage: “Wie gut bist du eigentlich?”

Welcher Blick auf die Welt wird durch die ständige Einteilung in Gewinner und Verlierer und deren Anordnung in einer Rangliste vermittelt? Welche Botschaften stecken in einem zutiefst kompetitiven System und welche grundverschiedenen Perspektiven lassen sich dabei einnehmen? Und wie können Spiele die Wahrnehmung ihres Publikums beeinflussen? Im Folgenden einige Gedanken zu diesen Fragen.

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Ludomedia #61

April 8, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Alex Jaffe: Cursed Problems in Game Design

  • “A cursed problem is an unsolvable design problem, rooted in a conflict between core player promises. […] Cursed problems cannot just be solved. They require sacrifice. You have to give something up.”

Alex Schwartz, Ziba Scott: 1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar: Adventures in Quantity Over Quality

  • “We were looking through the App Store and realizing how scummy and gross some parts of it can really be. There’s clones everywhere, garbage reskins, low-effort shovelware. […] We thought: How do we do gross better?”

Andrew Przybylski: When the Fun Stops: The Science of Addiction

  • “I think, best case scenario, this party is going to go on for about five more years. […] There is a level of understanding that the public and policy makers have. They can intuit a whole bunch of stuff about gaming addiction. […] But as [they] get closer to the iceberg, they’re going to be able to see all the other stuff.”

Anthony Giovannetti: ‘Slay the Spire’: Metrics Driven Design and Balance

  • “Without change and experimentation you aren’t going to narrow in on the good stuff. Don’t be afraid to make changes. In the worst case you’re only going to get more information to act on later, and ultimately change is just going to help you.”

Jason Rohrer: 2014 vs. 2018: The Shape of Financial Success Before and After the Indiepocalypse

  • “One [type of game] which I think has become extremely risky […] is the consumable game. And far less risky are what I’m calling infinite unique situation generators.”

Lars Doucet: Wash your game’s windows

  • “Ever played one of those games where you have no clue what any of the mechanics actually do and you just kind of muddle through? Playing this kind of game is like peering through a dirty, smudged window. […] So go ahead. Put some Windex on it.”

Mark Brown: Why Synergies are the Secret to Slay the Spire’s Fun

  • “Synergies make you feel smart. […] You weren’t simply given the tools to be powerful, you found them. You noticed some link between two cards and put them together in your deck. […] On the surface these cards seem very simple and easy to use, perfect for new players. But these cards also hide untold complexity that is only seen by advanced players, because the only way to really get the most out of them is to use them in combination with other cards.”

Matthew Davis: ‘Into the Breach’ Design Postmortem

  • “We needed to follow those natural design constraints. We needed to see what the game was imposing on us, instead of us trying to impose nonsense on the game. […] Letting the combat thrive and find its place and really dominate the play experience is fine. Letting the strategy layer just get out of its way, doing its necessary job of mostly not annoying you is all it needed to do.”

Rich Wilson: ‘Mooncrash’: Resetting the Immersive Simulation

  • “Roguelikes generally rely heavily on a player’s internalization of systems. They don’t rely on rote memorization and they generally allow for expressive players and emergent situations. A lot of those core values speak to what we do in immersive sims as well, so there was a lot of overlap there.”

Tom Francis: Design Talk

  • “Having a language to talk about stuff helps you think about it more clearly and helps you advance your thinking beyond basic things and just be better in your reasoning. […] Design thinking, design reasoning is kind of your compass or flashlight, something that is pointing you in a direction – it may well be wrong, but to not have a compass or a flashlight is way worse.”

Spiele für eine bessere Welt?

March 25, 2019

“First, computer and video games are going to become the predominate form of popular culture interaction in our society. We can watch them get progressively dumbed down or we can see them spread to new people and new niches while retaining their power and complexity. Their spread will make more money for more people, but retaining their power in the act will, I am convinced, make a better and smarter society.”

(James Paul Gee – Games as Learning Machines)

Obiges Zitat ist mittlerweile 15 Jahre alt und doch aktueller denn je. Angesichts der Marktdominanz psychologischer Taschenspielertricks – immer unter dem Motto “Außen hui!” und nicht selten insbesondere an die Neulinge unter den Gamern gerichtet – stellt sich mehr denn je die Frage, ob und wie das Medium sein “disruptives” Potenzial eigentlich nutzt.

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Ludomedia Extra: “D&D: Chasing the Dragon”

March 8, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Editorial Note: This is the first “Ludomedia Extra” all focused on a single author. I felt it was appropriate given the extraordinary depth, density and volume of this highly important series of articles, as well as its full release over the course of just about one week.

Samuel Ratchkramer: D&D: Chasing the Dragon

“Why six articles? There’s a lot of ground to cover, and there’s a lot of angles of attack. I’ll be talking about the rules of the game and how they inform character design, influence plot, delineate narrative power, and what this all means to the stories you’re likely to tell using D&D.”

  • Part One: Rule Zero is Bullshit
    “The way D&D gets by lies in being a homogeneous, squishy ungame that invites you to project whatever you want onto it by way of a do-it-yourself game design. […] One game can’t be all things to all people, so if a game isn’t working for the direction you’re pushing in, there’s another game waiting for you that you’ll like just as much.”
  • Part Two: On Good Characters
    Focusing on how characters fight instead of why they fight is all wrong. It captures the wrong parts of the fantasy archetype, and leaves only a hollow shell. […] For as many questions as the character creation process asks, for as many combinations of stats, feats, and armor are possible in the game, they all tend to resolve down to about the same thing: a guy that can kill stuff.”
  • Part Three: On Plot and Narrative
    [D&D] is most at home when players are killing things and taking their stuff. […] If we want a gripping narrative, we’ve got to have more than just fighting going on. The motivations and the stakes behind the fighting need to matter, or else the conflict is little more than a sporting event played for fun. […] Conflicts are about people and how their humanity clashes with other people – without that it’s just a meaningless spectacle.”
  • Part Four: On Narrative Power
    D&D exists in a strange space: while the game claims not to be a competitive game, it also claims that the game functions best when players think that it is. […] Players of D&D may outwardly agree that the game is collaborative, but in real play the relationship between between player and DM turns out quite adversarial. […] All the while, the game rules help or hinder either the DM or the players at random. They’re designed as a neutral physics engine instead of a narrative guide, so they care very little what happens.”
  • Part Five: What About 5th Edition?
    I really can’t stress enough how destructive this dedication to realism truly is. […] Either you intend your rules to be about simulating a world, or you intend them to be about generating a story. There really isn’t a middle-ground, because those two design directions are on different layers of detail. […] But by trying to rope all these different interests into the same game, the design of the game often doesn’t know what it wants to be.”
  • Part Six: An Open Break-Up Letter to D&D
    “Every single game that has ever been made has the values of its designer baked into the rules. Every mechanical stroke was put there to serve some purpose, with some particular play experience in mind. […] I’ve been very hard on Dungeons & Dragons in this series. But that’s only because I’ve been evaluating it as a game specifically about storytelling, which is wrong. It never tried to be any of this, not in the beginning. It’s clearly designed as a Conan simulator, a micro-wargame on a global scale.”

Ludomedia #60

February 26, 2019

Ludomedia

Lesens-, hörens- und sehenswerte Fundstücke aus der Welt der Spiele.


Adrian Novell: Core, Focus & Power – A Game Design Methodology

  • “Core is the objective, the intent behind the design, the North that we’ll keep through the design. […] Focusing is asking ourselves every time that something is about to be implemented: does this feature point towards the Core of our game? […] [Power] aims towards also making this experience extraordinary, fresh and bold.”

Brad Grow: Bad Game Design – Clicker Games

  • “Why do we keep playing [clicker games] knowing they’re so inherently shallow? […] I’m not saying you’re a bad person for playing them […] but when you sit back and look at the big picture, they highlight how many different games can take advantage of our subconscious desires to steal our money at the worst, but our time at the very least. […] They’ve sort of dropped off in popularity in recent years, but I’ve noticed the techniques that they employed are still cropping up all over the place.”

Jim Sterling: CAAApitalism: The Successful Failure Of Videogames

  • “The endgame of thoroughly unchecked capitalism is to have no endgame. […] This is all working as intended by design. It looks like a total mess […] but apparently this is doing it right.”

Keith Burgun: 3 Minute Game Design – Systemic Meaning

  • “The process of making an internal model is a creative act of moulding interpretations together into a coherent picture of a ruleset. […] In storytelling and game design you must always make sure that there is coherence to random events, so that they can be built into our little castle of meaning.”

Keith Burgun: Clockwork Game Design Podcast Episode #53

  • “Most strategy games that we have are still just tactics games. This points to a larger problem: We don’t really think that much about match structure. […] In terms of single-player games we have no respect at all for the match end feedback, win/loss, the structure of a match overall.”