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Part 2 || Anatomy of Game - Khel Khel Mein

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Part 2: Khel Khel Mein : Anatomy of a Game
Read Part 1 Here First

Alright, back in train, back to writing this:

So last part we left at “I will talk more about magic circle and other aspects of game definitions in next post..”

Lets start by identifying a few fundamentals i.e what is a game? What is play? Difference between game development,
game designer/ producer/ creative director, etc? And what is the job of game designer? Is he an over glorified project
manager? Who goes on stage to receive GOTY awa—wait wait we are getting ahead of ourselves, I am sure
you get the point.

Look, personally I don’t really LOVE doing this, I would rather make a game or dissect a particular game (with your
help aswell), but we must try to nail down the important essential keywords, as these will be instrumental in clarifying,
researching and then creating future references and breaking down ideas. Also these will help in recognizing true creativity
and originality of an idea, when you design your own game.

Okey now down to the nitty gritty so we can understand what we will achieve by this exercise. For this, I want to explain using
top down approach, meaning I will now write the end result and then we will dissect it and take logical steps to the
above conclusion.

So drum roll pls* We want to achieve meaningful and juicy play.

The book “Rules of Play : Fundamentals of Game Design” has a whole chapter dedicated to meaningful play,
I feel it is written more for theoretical education and understanding for game researchers and game designers
rather than practical, nonetheless it is worthwhile read. I will state the summary of it here:
  • There are two ways to define meaningful play: descriptive and evaluative. The descriptive definition addresses
    the mechanism by which all games create meaning through play. The evaluative definition helps us understand
    why some games provide more meaningful play than others.

  • The descriptive definition of meaningful play: Meaningful play in a game emerges from the relationship between
    player action and system outcome; it is the process by which a player takes action within the designed system
    of a game and the system responds to the action. The meaning of an action in a game resides in the relationship
    between action and outcome. The evaluative definition of meaningful play: Meaningful play is what occurs when
    the relationships between actions and outcomes in a game are both discernable and integrated into the larger
    context of the game.
  • Discernibility means that a player can perceive the immediate outcome of an action. Integration means that the
    outcome of an action is woven into the game system as a whole.

  • The two ways of defining meaningful play are closely related. Designing successful games requires understanding
    meaningful play in both senses.



Cool...now logically speaking, for us play will come from some sort of a game (and that’s why we usually refer to it as gameplay).
So, now taking another logical step, lets define what a game is alongside describing what play is.

In the book “ Art of Game Design- Book of Lenses” – Jesse schell has taken quotes from a lot of different significant sources,
complied them and explained each one of them, here I will just simply state those sources, because this blog is not to
dissect every word (this does mean that we miss out on some intricacies though), but come to a quick conclusion which we
can use practically, so I will use those quotes to give you an idea and come to a conclusion aswell :

For defining Play :

Play is the aimless expenditure of exuberant energy. – Friedrich Schiller

Play refers to those activities which are accompanied by a state of comparative pleasure, exhilaration, power, and the feeling of self-initiative. – J. Barnard Gilmore

Play is whatever is done spontaneously and for its own sake. – George Santayana

Play is manipulation that indulges curiosity. – Jesse Schell

The whole truth regarding play cannot be known until the whole truth regarding life itself is known. – Lehman and Witty
A Game is, well according to Google its “a form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules” or “an activity that one engages in for amusement”.
Well who needs google, when we have Zubaida apa ..god damn my cringe worthy jokes

Another thing which comes to mind is how many different authors have talked about games in sense on a system, I think this is actually a feedback loop system.
Where the user acts as the feedback part and alters processing part. One thing that you would read in most game design books is about the concept of magic circle.
I always felt that this concept is a little outdated and restrict game developers and a lot of books still carry this heading. Even I was taught this in two different course,
but one should read it. Eric Zimmerman wrote a whole chapter on it in fundamentals to game design but also later wrote an excellent article which I think you should
read when you have some time.( or now, as you wish)

Gamasutra - Jerked Around by the Magic Circle - Clearing the Air Ten Years Later


Some quotes for what is a Game:

Games are an exercise of voluntary control systems, in which there is a contest between powers, confined by rules in order to produce a disequilibrial outcome. – Elliot Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith

[A game is] an interactive structure of endogenous meaning that requires players to struggle toward a goal. – Greg Costikyan

A game is a closed, formal system, that engages players in structured conflict, and resolves in an unequal outcome. – Tracy Fullerton, Chris Swain, and Steven Hoffman
You see this is why it is hard to nail a game or play down, because its nature of being an art form there are a lot of ambiguity.
For me, it’s the organization of rules that make a game. It can be out of anything.

Also note that there is a difference between game and a toy :
is a game different than a toy? Yes. Games are more complex
than toys, and involve a different kind of play. We even use different language: A toy is something you play with .
So NaNoW, why did you waste our time? Well because now you know what direction should you be looking in.
The purpose of these entries is not to give you footsteps to follow, its to give you the ability to walk, so you can make your footsteps. :P

Now lets go back to Juicy and meaningful play and see how we can use play and games somewhat brief (honestly multiple books have
been written on these topics alone) explanation can be used in developing interactive experiences. We need to focus on which bringing out
the curiosity in the player, have depth in our system and can should allow the player to significantly impact the system.
My bachelors was in electronics, so let me give you an example from that, it’s the way I understand the best:

Imagine if you have a closed-loop circuit with a bulb, battery, switch, inductor and capacitor all in a series. Like this (replace bulb with resistor):



Now you can interact with this system by introducing increasing the value or the resistor, or dropping the value of input current or something else, but
I feel that the most meaningful and Juicy gameplay element would be to simply connect/disconnect the switch (see all Pakistani electric firms want is awesome gameplay when the gift us with loadshedding :P).

This is what you should try to do, if you are making an app or a game.
If you think adding a feature will “look cool” but lacks much of meaning and juiciness behind it, then it will end up as a gimmick which will eventually run out its novelty. You want your game to have gameplay which "feel" substantial and really highlights a new aspect
of your game. This donest mean that the action has to be over the top, on the contrary, we must try to make it simple, intuative and relevant to the design which you want to achieve. I will elaborate more on meaningful and juicy gameplay when we talk about narratives, art style and other aspects of games. For now remember, meaningful and juicy gameplay might be the biggest factor in successful game design.


*-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*



Wow…phew. That was a lot of think about, I was unsure how to define these important but basic things properly, hopefully I did a decent enough job. I couldn’t concise it anymore, complete books have been written on topics which I just skimmed over :P. Okey IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF Anatomy of a Game : In terms of game design What is a gamer? What do we mean when we say game development, game design and etc. Later on I will try to comment on How you can start right now in preparation of entering game industry (as someone requested on our fb post)

I will try to get this educational part out of the way first, so we have the tools to analysis a bunch of games later in the series.


TC
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Updated 04-03-16 at 08:06 PM by NaNoW

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  1. NaNoW's Avatar
    Ofcourse comments, suggestions, your take on topic, etc is very encouraged.
    So if you think you have learned anything or find it interesting or know someone who might find it interesting.

    I would highly appreciate you linking other people on pakgamers, twitter or FB..or even share with on your timelines with others!



    @
    Chukandar, @V3N0M, @Eternal Blizzard @Gizmo @CerebralTiger @OldMan @DarkLordMalik @Ottoman @abobobilly @TrueCoolGuy @Arkonov @Fir3d3mon @Cerberus @murtaza12 @GloriousChicken @DarkSith @nafu @Pleasant @opethian @staticPointer @Necrokiller @Spartan117 @mac007 @Solid Link @Yasir Nadeem


    I couldnt tag you all in the post itself as I exceeded our blog characters limit
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
    Updated 02-03-16 at 12:19 AM by NaNoW
  2. EternalBlizzard's Avatar
    Really liked it. About the two definitions of "meaningful play" Now that i think about it, i feel like games today lack the second part "evaluative definition" and focus more on the "descriptive" one. They leave out "integrating" that action<->outcome into the larger context of the game.
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  3. NaNoW's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Eternal Blizzard
    Really liked it. About the two definitions of "meaningful play" Now that i think about it, i feel like games today lack the second part "evaluative definition" and focus more on the "descriptive" one. They leave out "integrating" that action<->outcome into the larger context of the game.
    thanks...ummm I feel the focus on grabbing more people and bigger audience has driven devs to go towards quantity than quality. Some developers use their development resources in wronge fashion for example instead of making a specific but indepth gameplay mechanic opt for various multiple things which a game can do.. and A or AA industry cant deal with this and they have to look for alternates ..for example in my opinion the most popular A/ AA games are innovative and have meaningful gameplay for example Wolf among us, rocket league, counter strike GO ,etc (Yes its made by value, but they had assigned a relatively small team to make it) ....but game industry is mostly AAA studios who have unlimited resources or small indies...at least with indies we can see innovative game designs


    Also guys please share this on fb, at least among your friends...
    1 Likes, 0 Thanks
    Likes EternalBlizzard liked this post
  4. mac007's Avatar
    agreed to most of the parts....
    the example of circuit is not understandable for all of us...
    overall its a great thing that u r doing
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  5. V3N0M's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Eternal Blizzard
    Really liked it. About the two definitions of "meaningful play" Now that i think about it, i feel like games today lack the second part "evaluative definition" and focus more on the "descriptive" one. They leave out "integrating" that action<->outcome into the larger context of the game.
    There is a difference between meaningful play by descriptive definition & by evaluative definition . Modern AAA games especially RPG/Narrative driven titles tend to have evaluative part more because they both have the immediate outcome of certain actions (like in descriptive definition) & effect on the world's behavior too . For example killing a NPC in a RPG has both an immediate outcome & long term effect . You attack the NPC & he's dead , that's the immediate outcome . Long term effect then will be his/her family looking for a revenge later in the storyline . So it's more dynamic ...

    By this we can say Evaluative definition is more design oriented as compared to descriptive definition , I mean your actual game design is performed in the evaluative part . But that doesn't mean that games having a descriptive definition don't have a design element in them . For example the Flappy Bird has a descriptive definition & you play it in a fixed designed system having fixed relationship between a player & the system .
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  6. EternalBlizzard's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by V3N0M
    There is a difference between meaningful play by descriptive definition & by evaluative definition . Modern AAA games especially RPG/Narrative driven titles tend to have evaluative part more because they both have the immediate outcome of certain actions (like in descriptive definition) & effect on the world's behavior too . For example killing a NPC in a RPG has both an immediate outcome & long term effect . You attack the NPC & he's dead , that's the immediate outcome . Long term effect then will be his/her family looking for a revenge later in the storyline . So it's more dynamic ...

    By this we can say Evaluative definition is more design oriented as compared to descriptive definition , I mean your actual game design is performed in the evaluative part . But that doesn't mean that games having a descriptive definition don't have a design element in them . For example the Flappy Bird has a descriptive definition & you play it in a fixed designed system having fixed relationship between a player & the system .
    Yes by all means i understand that. I can't be looking for evaluative definition in fifa or other games. When im talking about games lacking it i mean those games that can and should have evaluative definition but don't.
    For example, its my own personal opinion but what why do you think AC 2 was a hit, and see AC unity. Sucks, very badly (imho).

    If you have played AC 2... most of the quests you did, the actions you did had a certain outcome but more or less they all seem connected. It was like the end result was tied by a rope and by doing quests we were gradually pulling the rope towards us. Check Unity, doesn't have that sorta feeling to it. feels more like 50 miniquests rather than 1 large game :s The story may have been good but they failed to connect it through the actions :s

    I can proudly say there is one game that sucks and i have managed to play it whole. That's unity. All the time i was doing missions i just knew what had to be done. I didn't feel connected with the story. I saved loads of money thinking i'll upgrade shit in the last chapter, and i didn't even know that the mission i was doing was actually the last mission lel.
    In AC 2 i somewhat felt connected to the character and his story. That's why i enjoyed it. I knew a direction where the game was headed.
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
    Updated 02-03-16 at 04:31 PM by EternalBlizzard
  7. Solid Link's Avatar
    Spoiler: show
    We need to focus on which bringing out
    the curiosity in the player



    Praise the lord.. Never before such truth was spoken in this 4 deewari forum

    Ustad dil jeetlia is article ne Developers today concentrate on quantity rather then the quality no doubt....Its as if companies are ignorant to what it was that made games so special in the past...

    Maybe thats why indie games developed by actual gamers turn out to be better then some AAA titles... cause they know what is it that actually drives us to play,explore,venture and discover..
    1 Likes, 0 Thanks
    Likes mac007 liked this post
  8. Yasir Nadeem's Avatar
    Great stuff keep it coming.
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  9. OldMan's Avatar
    Probably why many AAA titles are milked and feel overrated is that their predecessors were built on the above discussed articles, partially the reason why we still prefer them over the modern sequels. Or, well, at least some of us do. It's not that major developers are ignorant to what we want (probably), it's just that their game formula worked so well, and still does, that they don't want to take any risks. And that's completely natural from their point of view, to be honest; not saying that taking risks doesn't always pay off but you get the point.

    There are butt-load of games that have linear gameplay and limited features but still end up being successful and famous. Like Angry Birds or Flappy Bird or even Fruit Ninja. Hell, I've been playing Atomas on my phone lately and it's freaking addicting even though all I'm doing is throwing atoms around making supposedly resulting elements. What I mean is that these games have such a clean design that you can play through them over and over again and not get tired, because they're made that way. There's only one thing you gotta do and there's different ways to do it, or something. Or shit. Fuck, I lost track of what I was trying to talk about but it definitely wasn't mobile gaming because that's not gaming.
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  10. Spartan 117's Avatar
    Another great read, thanks for this NaNoW. Now onto the part 3.
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
  11. Hazel's Avatar
    Thanks for such great information. i will read it later plz write also on mobile accessories
    0 Likes, 0 Thanks
    Updated 15-09-17 at 02:20 AM by Hazel
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