Ludomedia #57

December 10, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Jim Sterling: Child Gambling Quadruples In UK, Loot Boxes Named And Shamed

  • “If the video game industry doesn’t want to regulate itself, it’s gonna keep drawing negative attention to itself. […] Aggressive monetization is about the only innovation many major publishers care about now.”

Joseph Anderson: Subjectivity is Implied

  • “It makes me recall that saying ‘If everyone is special, then nobody is’. Can’t you do the same for opinion statements? If every sentence needs one, can’t we agree that most of them don’t?”

Keith Burgun: Artifact and the Game-Complexity Overton Window

  • “I think we’re moving towards a more complex idea of what games will be, and not just in strategy games. And this is a really positive thing, because I think our games have been just squarely too simple, which has forced us to rely on execution and bad forms of randomness to create variant outcomes.”

Mark Brown: Building Better Skill Trees

  • “Don’t feel the need to add in crappy skills just to boost the numbers. Some skill tree designers obviously believe that bigger is better. […] But if you ask me, a tightly pruned bush with a handful of truly interesting upgrades is often the best solution.”

Michael Ardizzone: Incentives and Intent: XCOM’s Creeping Forward Problem

  • “The design punishes the player for engaging the most stimulating and interesting kinds of dangerous combat situations. The design gives the player no reason to seek challenge, so the smart player studiously avoids it.”

Ludomedia #56

November 16, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Emily Grace Buck: The Human Cost of Game Development

  • “Something needs to shift in the way that companies in the US are treating their workers, not just in games, but definitely in games. […] We deserve a lot better than what happened at Telltale.”

Jim Sterling: Black Ops 4 Sneaks Microtransactions In After Launch

  • “This is a classic case of what we on the channel here call a ‘Fee-to-pay’ game. […] There are lootboxes roped into this whole thing as well. This time they’re called reserves, because if you keep changing the name with each game you’ll fool people into thinking you don’t have lootboxes. […] And the fact these were smuggled in after launch only makes this shittier.”

Josh Bycer: The Risks of Making Safe Games

  • “With each console cycle (and sometimes within the same one), we see the trends push developers to focus on a single design or style. […] When AAA games aren’t delivering, it’s up to the Indie space to deliver, and they most certainly have. Over the last eight years, some of the most touching, innovative, and unique games I’ve played have come from indie teams.”

Richard Moss: How bad crediting hurts the game industry and muddles history

  • “Despite their importance, however, it’s not unusual for the credits published with games to be inaccurate, incomplete, overly vague, or even (on rare occasions) downright misleading.”

Tom Francis: Dealing with Scope Change in Heat Signature and Gunpoint

  • “The question I should have asked myself is: What is the core of the game? […] I’m now always looking for things that have a single core.”

Ludomedia #55

October 8, 2018

Ludomedia

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


Extra Credits: The Joy of Losing

  • “In games today, we put a huge emphasis on winning. We’ve moved it from being the goal of most games to the raison d’être of most games. […] Losing isn’t actually a bad thing. It’s often how we improve. […] If you’re not playing for the gameplay, the hook you’re playing for is as much of an illusion as any free-to-play treadmill or MMO grind.”

Jim Sterling: The Unfortunate Reality Of Microtransactions, Gambling, And Desperate Publishers

  • “You really can tell the difference between a game without micro-transactions and a game full of the bastards. Because one’s designed to encourage you to play it and the other […] goes against what a video game is because it doesn’t want to be played.”

Mark Brown: Playing Past Your Mistakes

  • “Screwing up causes you to dynamically shift your goal and do something different for a while. Awesome stories can occur when things go horribly wrong. And risky play is far more meaningful if you can’t just rewind and try again. But it can’t be up to the player to enforce this pure way of thinking. […] Given the opportunity, players will optimize the fun out of the game.”

Matthias Kreienbrink: Super wird der Held erst im Spiel

  • “Die Erzählung in Spider-Man wird vorangetrieben durch Zwischen­sequenzen. “Filmisch” nennen Kritiker sie gern und erwähnen sie lobend. Doch was sind diese filmischen Sequenzen anderes, als die Verbannung der Spieler in die Passivität?”

Tom Francis: Desperation Innovation

  • “Challenge pushes you to discover what’s interesting about a game.”

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.”

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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.”