Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Patterns

Heh, spamming the blog tonight.

If you haven't, read Sirlin's WoW diatribe. Psychic readers will know that I keep my eye on Sirlin's blog, because when he does post, it's pretty good. Well, this is a finished Gamasutra article, and it's a head above his normal stuff. It is, in fact, a head above literally every other article I've read recently.

He, me, and Raph all agree on one thing: the underlying pattern of gameplay is what the game's crunchy nuget is. The story/art/etc is important, but the gameplay has a ton of power. In fact, a good story/art/etc can be thought of simply as being a gameplay multiplier.

The patterns you learn from a game are not limited to "zombies weak vs fire" and "72% throttle on turns". It includes basic methodology for interacting with the world. Obviously, this is most notable in games you play a metric shit-tonne. For me, I learned mostly from a combination of RPGs and adventure games. This has definitely had a massive influence on my life.

Sirlin talks about WoW, and the fact that it is subtly teaching its players to be lazy, whiny asshats. I haven't played WoW, so I can't say whether that is true. However, I can say that MMO games which prize skill - such as SecondLife and Eve Online - are the only ones which (A) hold any attraction to me and (B) have a player base worth interacting with.

Coincidence? I think not!

His other points are also extremely - EXTREMELY - good. This is probably the best essay I've read in six months. It just agrees with me that much. Err, I mean, is that good.

Point six bears special attention:

You cannot shape your players' actions with the hammer of regulations. You need to craft your game's internal logic to shape your players' actions. Seriously. I do it with every game I run. It's really not that hard, once you know how to do it and what you're aiming for.

Maybe I should write about that in more detail?

6 comments:

Corvus said...

I'm exploring some of the same things right now. My approach to the design of our game is one of "Reward Appropriate Behavior. Discourage Inappropriate Behavior" and my focus on game balance includes experiential and behavioral balance as well.

Craig Perko said...

That's a nice, solid approach. It may not be quite as straightforward as you might be supposing, but just taking it into account is much more than half the battle. :)

Corvus said...

Never one for the easy path, me.

Mory said...

It's a good article, to be sure. But it raises in my mind a more important issue. I agree that World of Warcraft is a bad teacher for the real world. But here's my question: Is that a bad thing?

Let's take this a bit more extreme, shall we? Say we had a virtual community in which theft and trickery is a way of life. Players get ahead by cheating others. The formation of groups is outlawed, giving a sense of "every man for himself". Nonsensical rules are often dictated by the corrupt in-game goverment (run by the creators of the game). All in all, a completely unwholesome place.

Now, I might just be crazy, but this sounds positively incredible. It would make the real world a lot more interesting, don't you think? People would gravitate toward the virtual world which seems most appealing to them. In those virtual worlds, they'd learn to develop their pwn character traits to the extreme. The result would be a diversity of character we can only dream of today, with everyone in the world much more well-defined. What an amazing idea!

Craig Perko said...

Mory: That's up to you. Personally, I would prefer my games to teach what I consider to be good traits, rather than what I consider to be bad ones.

However, if you wish to create a game which teaches bad ones, I will gladly let you. :)

Patrick Dugan said...

I agree that pattern learning is the nuget of gaming, including IS, and that was a very good article.

I'm focusing on single-player experiences for now, where you can stage the lessons to be learned about the social symbolic environment and paint a very intimate and concrete themology in the experience. This approach enables more indirect control so you don't inadvertantly teach WoW's lessons, and the dynamic nuance single-player allows can encourage a lively community of players engaged outside the game, what I call "massively single-player".