Ludomedia #54

September 4, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Barry Hawkins: The Story of Why I Left Riot Games

  • “There were two predominant flavors of behavior. One was the use of sexual references and gestures by straight men toward other straight men, and the other was the sexist and inappropriate language about women. […] The head of Communications said that we were edgy, and that if we as Riot started chipping away those edges, we would become shapeless and bland, like EA or Blizzard. […] I concluded that I was not going to be able to effectively impact the issues with the culture at Riot, and my first significant attempt at raising concerns had put my job in jeopardy.”

Jeremiah Reid: The Indie Post-apocalypse

  • “We’ve arrived at the worst it can get because you can’t sell less than zero. An experienced game designer with multiple shipped titles and a moderately sized following shouting into the void and getting no response whatsoever… I guess that’s the new normal, but something about that doesn’t seem normal to me at all.”

Jim Sterling: Ubisoft And The Division Of Content

  • “It should be no surprise The Division 2 will feature a division of content as per Ubisoft tradition, because we’re expected to believe that a healthy industry is one where its leading companies can’t simply make products and then make money selling those products. […] If you need to do what Ubisoft is doing, the industry is fucked.”

Matthewmatosis: God of War Case Study

  • “It’s hard to connect with the events on screen when we’re juggling several roles, one of those being a camera man wrestling against subpar equipment. […] Combat systems are complicated […] but generally speaking two major priorities should be clarity and consistency. […] The terrain is more concerned with looking nice than providing a clear battlefield for you to work with. […] Every combat system has flaws, but the ones in God of War are so pervasive they leave little left to be enjoyed.”
  • “Outside of combat the experience falls down in numerous other ways: Huge chunks of time are occupied by the sort of walkie-talkie sequences you’d find in Uncharted or The Last of Us. […] As it is now you’d have to be insane to replay it on a regular basis because you’d be forced into the same lengthy dialogue sequences every time.”
  • “Interacting with inventory and RPG mechanics costs time, which should pay off by enhancing the underlying gameplay in some way. […] But many games get away with tacking them on regardless because seeing the numbers go up is a shortcut to your brains pleasure centers. Combat systems that are good for their own sake don’t need leveling systems, in fact they’re better off without them.”
  • “Everything [God of War] does is better represented elsewhere. […] My problem isn’t so much with the developers of God of War, I’m sure they tried their hardest to make the best of what is fundamentally a bad situation. […] Games are more like films than they ever have been, not just because they shoehorn in shaky cams and other filmic techniques but because the business itself now mirrors the Hollywood machine: Budgets have gotten so big that games have to cram in a bunch of extraneous tickbox features or compromise on their vision to recoup costs.”

Paul Kilduff-Taylor: The 10 Secrets to Indie Game Success (and Why They Do Not Exist)

  • “If your game is too familiar, it’ll be boring and obvious. If it’s too novel, it’ll be weird and difficult to parse. […] Stylish, constrained art is always a thousand times more evocative than ‘my best stab at AAA’. […] I firmly believe that the best games are created by a combination of generalised grand-scale systems-oriented thinking, and microscopic nit-picking pedantic perfectionism. […] A very large proportion of any success you have will be entirely down to luck. You need to be conscious of this, embrace it and take it to heart.”

Ludomedia #53

August 13, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Cecilia D’Anastasio: Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games

  • “Riot is just one company, but two dozen current and former employees have personally experienced or witnessed how its culture and structure—ones shared across the ranks of gaming, infosec, hardware, software, and digital marketplace companies and tech giants—disadvantaged women.”

Josh Bycer: The Good and Bad of Video Game Addiction

  • “Respecting the player’s time is keeping them in control as to how long they want to play a game for. Essentially the player should never be “punished” for having real-life commitments. […] Having elements that force the player to play the game or continue playing to avoid a penalty are not examples of good design. […] One of the big issues when we talk about F2P games and heavily monetized titles is the very fact that they are not designed around the player’s experience, but to get as much money from them as possible. These games feature weighted elements such as gacha, loot-boxes, energy systems, “timed sales,” and more.”

Matt Cox: Does PUBG work as an esport?

  • “Those problems will be present no matter how you choose to spectate, and result in the same fatal flaw that’s sown by the chaotic nature of Plunkbat: it’s not tense enough to work as an esport. Not consistently. […] A battle royale structure can generate uniquely compelling moments for spectators, but only if they’re willing to sit through tedium and confusion.”

Samuel Ratchkramer: Don’t Starve: Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

  • “To truly live is to be challenged and to change […] It’s one of the reasons that games are important. Games are a safe place to learn about the world, its systems, and ourselves. They let us practice at being human, whatever we interpret that to mean. They change us, shape us, hopefully for the better. […] If the game is only fun when you’re doing what comes naturally, it’s not very much of a game.”

Wolfgang Walk: Hakenkreuze im Zeitalter der Entschleunigung

  • “Aber bis die Mehrheit der deutschen Feuilletonisten begreift, dass sie seit mindestens 1993 (DOOM! Igitt!!!) die wirkmächtigste, am weitesten verbreitete und innovativste Kunstform des Planeten weitgehend ignorieren, werden noch eine Menge Ringzyklen den Bayreuther Hügel hinabgeschmettert werden.”

Diagnose: Phantomtiefe

August 3, 2018

Gehen wir im Folgenden einmal davon aus, dass Spiele im Idealfall das Leben ihres Publikums bereichern, indem sie intrinsische Motivatoren bedienen und immer wieder neue Erfahrungen bieten. Sie erweitern den Schatz an Lebenswissen, den ein jeder sich im Lauf der Zeit aufbaut. Sie sind tief auf eine ihnen urgeigene Art und Weise. Ein bewusster und kritischer Medienkonsum wird diese Erlebnisse in der Regel solchen vorziehen, die “bloß” Entspannung und kurzfristige Triebbefriedigung versprechen.

Es ist dabei im Einzelfall nicht ganz leicht, spezifische Werke auf Anhieb richtig einzuordnen, denn einige versuchen, Tiefe und Bedeutsamkeit zu suggerieren, wo keine ist. Dabei nutzen sie teils gezielt Schwächen des Gehirns aus. Sie machen “Spaß”, aber aus spielerisch fragwürdigen Gründen. Mehr Schein als Sein: Phantomtiefe.

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Ludomedia #52

July 18, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Extra Credits: The Price of Randomness

  • “Playing around the RNG, thinking of how to control the RNG and tip it in your favor can be one of the most interesting strategic elements a designer can present the player. […] RNG isn’t bad, it just has to be used well.”

GamingBolt: Has Game Design Taken a Back Seat Because of a Focus on Graphics?

  • “It is important to remember that not all games are part of the massive mainstream game development machine, that prioritizes increasing the amount of pores on Nathan Drake’s face over the amount of things he can actually do.”

James Margaris: Are Ideas Cheap? In Praise of Strong Ideas

  • “Of course there are plenty of fine games with no flashy grand ideas, and plenty of “big idea” games that fail. And there’s no “idea guy” job where every six months you come up with one cool idea then lean back and wait for everyone to implement it. But ideas very much do matter, and quality idea generation is a skill like any other.”

Lars Kalthoff: Im Käfig der Freiheit (english version)

  • “Trotz der Relevanz des Begriffs “Freiheit” in der Vermarktung digitaler Spiele und der absolut positiven Konnotation des Wortes selbst, bergen offene Spielwelten und -systeme markante Schwächen, derer sich Designer und Autoren zu jeder Zeit bewusst sein sollten.”

Rob Fahey: Prickly denial is the wrong response to WHO’s “gaming disorder”

  • “Comparisons with other kinds of media and talking about the value of escapism is a rather slippery attempt to avoid the core point; book authors and film makers don’t have conferences multiple times a year where talks focus on building compulsion loops, snaring “whales” and using psychological tactics to encourage consumers to stay engaged for years.”

Ludomedia #51

June 25, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Dustin Connor: What do you mean by ‘Narrative Design’?

  • “Why is a story about love and friendship told mostly through killing enemies? Why is the narrative about experimentation when the system punishes the player for trying new things? What kind of feelings are evoked when players first encounter this mechanic, and what kind of story can I tell that fits it well?”

Elliot George: Games and Drama

  • “Humans are complex, emergent systems, and so the things that matter to us are complex and emergent. […] Even [experience-centric players] are best served by games that offer both engaging novel experiences and engaging, complex systems.

Eric Lagel: Video games, you are killing me

  • “Horror and violent TV shows exist, and the television medium also has been chastised for using violence as a powerful lure, but you can still see many shows that are funny, romantic, instructive, scientific, dramatic, intriguing, that don’t rely on someone shooting someone else to provide valuable and profitable entertainment. This balance doesn’t exist in video games, it seems.”

Nicholas Kinstler: Card Games: A Simple Design is a Good Design

  • “Oftentimes, the reality is that complex cards are either too unfocused to appeal to anyone, too complex to actually work, or too difficult for players to understand.”

Peter Bright: Game companies need to cut the crap—loot boxes are obviously gambling

  • “Loot boxes work like gambling, and they’re designed like gambling. They’re designed to provoke compulsive reward-seeking behavior.”

Ludomedia #50

May 30, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Jim Sterling: Detroit: Become Human (Jimpressions)

  • “This is where I hit upon the big problem. You see, David Cage loves movies. He wishes he was a movie director.”

Josh Bycer: A Study Into Replayablity: Defining Variance

  • “The problem with many titles that make use of randomized elements is that they don’t create a different way of play. This is especially true of the survival genre, and how it really is the least replayable of games built on random gamespaces.”

Keith Burgun: Three Types of Bad Randomness, and One Good One

  • “Information in games gets its meaning from its relationship to other aspects of the game state, including the history of game states; but most of all, it gets its meaning from your input. […] We don’t want things which just appeared to instantly be affecting the game state permanently, because such things had no chance to develop a relationship to the player.”

Tom Kail: Reading in Strategy Games

  • “When considering a new design it’s important to consider how much time it will take for players to understand the information you’re laying out for them, but also to understand whether your game’s inherent focus lies in reading or decision making.”

Wolfgang Walk: Hinterm Hakenkreuz verschanzt

  • “Und bei der Wahl zwischen Faschismus und Moral gewinnt immer noch das, was sich gerade am meisten auszahlt. Moral, die nicht bereit ist, Ware zu werden, hat im entfesselten Kapitalismus der Gegenwart konsequenterweise keine Chance.”

Heldenreise? Mottenkiste!

May 16, 2018

“Spiel und Story? Das passt nicht recht!” Solche Aussagen kennt man normalerweise von Jesper Juul, Greg Costikyan oder Jonathan Blow.

Nun äußerte sich jedoch Autor und Industrie-Veteran Wolfgang Walk mit “The Myth of the Monomyth” in eine ähnliche Richtung und gesteht langjährige Irrtümer der Erzählspiel-Riege ein. In der passenden Folge seiner Kolumnen-Reihe “Wortreich” (verfügbar im Abo bei The Pod) lässt er sogar diesen bemerkenswerten Satz fallen:

“Im Nachhinein, muss man sagen, hatten die [Erzählspiel-Kritiker] wesentlich weniger Unrecht als wir [Erzählspiel-Verfechter] geglaubt hätten.”

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Ludomedia #49

May 15, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Brandon Rym DeCoster & Scott Rubin: The 40 Tabletop Games you Must Play

  • “This is a set of 40 games, that if you play them all you’ll have a pretty full understanding of the full scope of what tabletop games are and what they could be.”

Charlie Cade: The God of War 4 Review

  • “I get it: ‘Murderers can only recover their humanity through the innocence of youth.’ But will I ever recover the time I spent walking in these games? […] Even the games I liked this gen are still filled with this time-wasting, ever-present, empty, pretentious, unskippable-cinematics story time bullshit.”

Jiajun Liu: Designing Countermoves in PvP Games

  • “Players form a strategy when they put game elements together according to the rules of the game to gain a larger advantage or to find an optimal solution to the whole game. On the other hand, countermoves are […] the adjustment or backup plan when trying to play according to a strategy.”

Samuel Van Cise: An Analysis of Building in Fortnite

  • “On one hand, building shifts the focus away from shooting, which makes the game more approachable and learnable. […] On the other hand, building inherently removes those most strategic components of the battle royale genre: rotations and positioning on a shrinking map.”

Wolfgang Walk: The Myth of the Monomyth

  • “The goal must be the concretization and emotionalization of the game core, not just a pretty packaging that has nothing or little to do with the core of the game. The dramaturgy of the game mechanics is the source of our stories. Graphics, sound and yes, words are our most important tools for narrative. The hero’s journey is not.”

Gefangen im Content-Strom

April 12, 2018

Mark Brown betreibt mit Game Maker’s Toolkit einen der besten Gaming-YouTube-Channels. Immer wieder macht er einem breiten Publikum Game-Design-Prinzipien zugänglich und erläutert, warum bestimmte Spiele funktionieren und andere nicht.

Das gilt grundsätzlich auch für sein oben verlinktes Video “How to keep players engaged”. Brown läuft in eine lobenswerte Richtung los, indem er klar stellt, dass er eben nicht über all die psychologischen Druckmittel reden möchte, die die moderne Videospielelandschaft dominieren:

“I won’t be talking about games that use psychological tricks like Skinner Boxes, daily rewards, resource decay, loss aversion, and the like.”

Verantwortungsbewusste Designer sollten sich dieser Mechanismen nach Browns Ansicht nicht bedienen. So weit, so gut!

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Ludomedia #48

April 5, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Allegra Frank: This is the group using GDC to bolster game studio unionization efforts

  • “But the thing is, that passion is the perfect medium for employers to exploit us. We’ll do anything to work in games and make games, and they know we’re desperate.”

Frank Lantz: This is Your Brain on Games

  • “Systems literacy involves thinking in models, thinking with math, thinking with logic, using computers, reading and writing software. And it’s different from pictures and stories, which are concrete, vivid time slices of recorded experience. […] We are the R&D department of modernity. We are the artists who think about thinking.”

Ian Dallas: Weaving 13 Prototypes into 1 Game: Lessons from Edith Finch

  • “Instead of trying to make an experience that tracked with the story, we adjusted the story to track better with what the prototype was that we had made.”

Jason Roberts: Gorogoa: The Design of a Cosmic Acrostic

  • “I could rip all the pages out of a great novel and hide them around the city. The novel might be a delightful read. Looking for the pages might be a delightful scavenger hunt. But are those two unrelated delights that I just stuck together? The story of the novel might suffer from pacing issues as you find the pages out of order etc.”

Jason Schreier: It’s Time For Game Developers To Unionize

  • “To accept the status quo means being fine with brutal, unpaid overtime, systemic layoff cycles, and other well-documented industry abuses. […] And the current trajectory of the video game industry seems unsustainable if something doesn’t change.”

Jason VandenBerghe: Drives: Helping More Players Get from First-Taste to Satisfaction

  • “Drives are best used […] in game design to help the player cross the gap from initial taste to long-term satisfaction.”

Justin Ma: Don’t Feed the Min-Maxer (Indie Soapbox)

  • “My problem isn’t that you can game the system by being as efficient as possible. My problem is when it’s specifically not fun to do so.”

Keith Burgun: Against Tactics and the Connect-Four CCG

  • “Maybe tactics games would be better as puzzles. Or maybe as some other form. In terms of the ‘game’ form of my interactive forms, it seems to me that strategy games are just better versions of tactics games.”

Soren Johnson: Know Your Inheritance (Rules of the Game)

  • “At some point you have to step back as a designer and re-evaluate your inheritance. Does the core gameplay survive without the feature? Is the feature unintuitive making the game harder to understand or pick up? Is there a better way for players to be spending their time? […] In the case of creep denial the answers to all of these questions suggest that [Dota 2] would be better off without it.”

Zach Gage: Building Games That Can be Understood at a Glance

  • “You have three standard reads. The first one pulls you in and explains the core of your game. The second one fills in key details or big unintuitive rules. And the third gives you contextually important information or […] rules.”