Sunday, October 24, 2004

Project update...

I have had somewhat of a breakthrough on my project. It seems to have changed dramatically
but the core ethics are there. No party, that will have to be explored another day. Instead scale down the dramatics to a differen't setting. This time the game focuses less on party elements to make for interraction and after talking to Jane about it I am now more interested in what I can make people do on their own vices. I now have a game that starts off as an ice breaker but quickly develops into a much more complicated game. A lot of use of hidden information and opportunity for emergent play. I want there to be differen't elements to the game that keep it always interesting, treachery, and revenge, memory, and misinformation, endurance, and smarts. I want there to be balancing factors and most of all creative non-competetive elements too.

Information Systems

Squares, what I consider a "busy" game, involves a non-complex, but extreemly efficient system of information. Played on a piece of paper and drawn in with a pen similar to tic-tac-toe or handman, a set of dots are drawn. The size or weight of the information on the game depends on how large the playing field (how many dots are dawn) and the length of the game can also be shortened or lengthened by choice of quantity of dots. After deciding on the game grid players begin taking turns creating lines in between dots. Lines can only be created vertical or horizontaly in order to produce complete squares, no diagonals. Players after completing a square with a line (you are only allowed to produce one line a turn) put an inital in the box to denotate their ownership of that box and are to move again until they do not produce a complete square. The information system in Squares is more than perfect. Not only is all the information in the game available to all players at all times but like the games named earlier possible next moves and opportunities in game are also available. After playing squares enough you can easily see where the game is headed, either in your favor or not. Not only will you be able to easily judge the point score in the game by visually estimating using the opposing initials but you can also pretty much tell after a while whether luck is in your favor to win. After a while, the information system tells you whether your next turn and the number of turns it will take to get a certain string of squares coincide. This system of information really kills the lasting power of the game, the only perk of its obviousness is the ability to recognize mistakes and faults of your opponent immediately. The games unlimited time constraints has a lot to do with margin for error but that still dosen't change that the only way to win the game if the pattern of turnover you have been given isn't a winning one is through a players misjudgement or nearsidedness.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Meaningful Play

For your game critique this week, please evaluate a game you play by asking the question: Does meaningful play happen? To what degree is it meaningful, compared to other games? Which game design elements make it meaningful (or not)?

Handball has meaningful play. As a kid the king of the playground was usually whoever could kick some serious ass at handball. Within a game, the stakes at hand make the game meaningful. You could either win the match and go on playing or have to wait in line forever again until you got your turn again. All of your indivuidual actions within the game or on the sidelines makes you involved to the point of building a reputation. Pink elephants for example are an element of the game that makes playing more meaningful. This gives the option to the player in the front of the line to be able to run across the court and distract players already in a game. This is an option to the person in the front of the line and taking it has its consequences. If you get hit by the ball while doing a pink elephant than you are not next to play anymore, you have to go to the end of the line. Also, by practicing this sort of sabotage for the players in their game you can become an enemie with a player or gain a reputation as disctracting.

Also, the ability to excel in the game regardless of your skill at hitting the ball makes the game more meaningful. For example, if you are a bad player when it comes to beating a player with too much power at hitting a ball, you can beat them with brains. There is usually a star player and you will end up watching him beat all these people throughout the game. The fact that you wait in line and watch all the matches before your next can serve as research for play. By learning a players classic moves you can beat him from observation and reaction. Hence you are always in play in the game and all your involvement has meaningful outcome.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Core Mechanic

Well obviously the core mechanic to my game was originally the act of drinking. I want people to be rewarded for how much drinking they can do. But, Also I know that it is excluding to people who don't drink heavily and so there are other options like dancing, there are rewards for dancing. I in particular know people who could dance all night at a party and could "win" just through that. I also wanted conversation to be a core mechanic, talking to people is another element of the game that can earn you a greater outcome. So I want Talking, Dancing, Drinking to be the main verbs.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Magic Circle

The Ouija board is all about game "color" and atmosphere. If it wasn't for the magic circle then a game like Quija board wouldn't work. Knowing that there is a separate attitude and rules for behavior when sitting down to play Quija is essential to its success as a game. For Quija gamers adopting a lusory attitude allows for the board to be successful. The time, space, and environment of Quija could be anywhere but usually people about to play the game accept the popular and most effective environments like an attic, or a dimly lit room, or anywhere that is neutral enough to call attention to the boards answers and the players involved. The game is very simple and therefore accessable to all players. The board is very clearly labeled and has very clear clues in it to directing players how to use the magnified glass piece (an object in the circle). Entering and exiting of the game circle is also very clear in that your hands are always on the piece when a game is going on and they are off when a game has been distrupted or ended. Communication and collective reaction to the board is most of what the game is based on. Everyone is working together to ask questions and get answers from the board.

Another element of the circle is the setting of the Quiji board. Everyone understands the degree of imagination or faith involved in the game is high. You must either play along or believe in the powers of the board. The board from its name down to its look tries to evoke a mystery and power and gamers must bring that power to life. But once you are in the game circle there is really only one question...

whooooo is in the rooooom with us now?

Interactivity of a Game

I love tetris. I used to play Tetris all the time on my computer, the version that came with one of my pcs years ago, i used to play it on the gameboy a friend of mine sold me in elementary school, i used to play it on ols-skool nintendo too. I remember watching some movie or documentary about the russian guy who invented it and how he was some big-shot math guy or something. When I was 6 or 7 I bought a pc version of tetris that had all of these cheesy photographs of Russian landscape/cityscapes as the backgrounds to the game. I remember getting sucked into this warped perspective of Russia and what it was like through how much I played that game and how much those pictures got imbedded in my brain. Oh and that god-dammned music!

Under Chris Crawford's cyclical process of interactivity Tetris works in the following way:

The gamer...

Listens... by paing attention the new pieces being introduced into play (and the up and coming ones)

Thinks... by processing where to put the piece play while also dealing with the pressures and time constraints the game has given

Speaks... by placing the peices accordingly

The Tetris Mainframe...

Listens... by watching where the player has put its peice

Thinks... by determining the hieight of the stack of peices and whether or not the last move has deemed a row/s erasable

Speaks... by erasing rows of blocks and/or speeding up falling movement of game pieces

Overall the game is not highly interactive only because we are usually under the assumption that the Tetris Mainfranme is under some sort of rule of radomizaiton. If the mainframe responds with a differen't piece according to a players last move, then the game becomes much more interactive as there is some real responses being made by both players. But, when it comes to a game that is played against a computer there is only so much interactivity, according to Crawfords model, that can occur.

Project Post #2

Earlier I was rethinking the location of my game. I was testing the game to the chart of scale and duration that was on the board in class when I realized that by raising the the scale of players of the game, I would need to move the location. I started to become comfortable with the changes forced on my game by it becoming a massively mulitiplayer warehouse party instead of a moderatley sized house party. Although I can't necessarily afford to booze up a huge crowd of people just the thought of thinking bigger started to get my brain working again. I came up with a new location that would allow for a significant change to the atmosphere of the party, create a larger scale of playersto the game, and make for a longer duration. I decided, even though it would require some more planning and coordination, I want the party to happen at my friends warehouse/home in the financial district. I realized that by moving it there I wouldn't have to worry about how long the party goes or how big it gets. I also realized that it would make room for a very essential party element, DJ's and a dancefloor!!!! (I will go into how I am going to work them into the game later)

I also thought about a players required investment in my game. I thought about what someone has to invest into a party when they go to one. A party goer always has a certain amount of personal investment in going to a group gathering. He/She always has a certain amount of personal investment in either the people he/she is going to meet and the impression that he/she is going to make on them. The unpredictability of who is going to be at a party and what is going to be going on there means you have to invest a certain amount of personal saftey and comfort into your evening (and I know I keep mentioning the eveining as if all parties happen during the night but I am aware of all of the awsome parties I have been to in the daytime they just are a lot less common). A party can affect you for a long time. You could meet someone at a party that will be with you for the rest of your life. You could go home with someone who turned out to be your murderer, that would definitley be a form of an infinite persistent party. Or, you could go to a party, it could totally blow, and you could end up leaving in a couple of minutes. Frankly you could have the intentions of going to a party and trying to find it all night and then never getting there. I digress. I was trying to think about how I could add some persistence to my game. I was thinking that the game could end up online. The scores and names of those with them could end up online. I was also thinking maybe taking a picture of everyone who entered the party and posting that online with their scores/outcome so that other players could, if they didn't catch their name during the game, could put the face to the name online. I was thinking of how a payoff to high enough scorers of the game could get name and phone numbers to anyone from the party (now that would involve some personal investment and impact). Maybe the game could continue online by allowing players to comment to each other by having the game site be a livejournal or blog. This could be a way for people to make contact with people from the game and keep whatever relationship they made at the party going, possibly letting the game have a bigger impact on their lives then just a hangover.

Surrealist Game Critique

I think the Surrealists really hit the meaty part of the discussion of games. For me it is always interesting when you place a more serious light on any subject. The Surrealists found this special quality of games and exploited it to the point where it becomes of philosophic importance. So, when playing a surrealist game whether you understand the theory behind it or not you can feel how differen't it is from your "average" game. When playing Exquistite Corpse you immediately feel the abstract energy of the game in its lack of competition and lack of substantial goals or pay-offs. The game is about sharing. In the drawing version of Exquisite Corpse, regardless of the nature of your fellow players abilities to draw, the game is always successfull. The only argument or difficulty of the game is in the decifering of the end product, the interpretation of the resulting drawing. I really enjoy this games ability to bring a group of people together. In playing the game, people whose brains and personalities normally work on very differen't wavelengths, are seemingly forced to come together and do come together. Its always interesting how a drawing will come together with the same themes and style. Even through the people who are playing the game are differ in many ways it is common for there to be a collective unconsiousness at work when it comes to the final drawing. It is that kind of outcome from a game of Exquisite Corpse, one that reminds us of the errie forces of coincidence, that screams of the Surrealists.