Strategy game designers should start thinking about alternatives to "score systems" for their games. In this article I will talk about how and why we use score systems right now, what their weaknesses are, and how we can (as well as why we should) move beyond them. Much of this article is written with respect to designing single player strategy games, but the theory absolutely applies to multiplayer strategy games equally.
This episode goes into my history as a videogame player (more than a designer) and talks about how recently I've been sort of regretting how much time I've spent playing videogames. Of all of the episodes of this show, this is the one I'm least confident about, in terms of, it doesn't have some super strong "thesis statement". So if that sounds like something that you wouldn't want to listen to, you've been warned. Hopefully there's some value in it for some listeners. Thanks for listening!Read More
The day after the horrifying Orlando shooting, a friend was inviting me to play Overwatch. It was a weird moment. I felt like, I don't know—maybe it's just me, but I really don't feel like running around with a gun shooting at people right at that moment for some reason. Some E3 events began that night. Everyone was talking about a new Quake game's announcement on social media. I found it to be pretty distasteful, and actually felt a little bit bad for the people who had to present this stuff at a time like this. Then again, I always find E3-type events pretty distasteful, so I felt like, well, it's probably just me again. (more…)Read More
Today's episode addresses consumerism (or hyperconsumerism) in the world of videogames. Videogames are, for the most part, the most fun they'll ever be at the moment of purchase, or perhaps while you're installing the game and leafing through the manual. I talk about "hype" and how being immersed in an atmosphere of advertisements affects our ability to use good judgment when making purchases. I reference this study which talks about how children under the age of 6 can't discern the difference between advertising and programming. I also reference this Ars Technica study which looked at the percentage of purchase Steam games that actually got played. Also of interest is the existence of this website: http://www.backloggery.com/ Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments. Like the show? Support it on Patreon!Read More
We tend to think about things that are designed to cultivate addiction with disgust for a very good reason. When we think about casinos, or drug dealers, or pyramid schemes, I think it's reasonable to have a strongly negative reaction; even more so when we think about those who actually end up falling into the chasm - those who get addicted. Addiction is a terrible thing, and those who actively try to bring it on should be - and mostly are - maligned in our society. Our disgusted responses to "the drug dealer" or "the pyramid scheme salesperson" are useful defense mechanisms against something that's actually "offensive"; something that goes on the offense against our well-being and mental health. (more…)Read More
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called Videogames are Broken Toys. Its general thrust was that most videogames are fundamentally toys with a goal sorta slapped on. This both limits the "toy" aspect dramatically and leaves users instead with a thin, weak, unsupported goal. In that article, I focused on the "preserving the toy" aspect, which I think developers really need to do for a lot of single-player adventure-y/sandbox-y types of things, like perhaps Grand Theft Auto or The Legend of Zelda. On the other hand, though, there are some videogames which are almost always played competitively: things like Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Outwitters, or fighting games. The problem is that even these competitive videogames, all of which do qualify as "games" by my prescriptive definitions, are still operating on a mostly-toy foundation. They are loose, still footed too deeply in fantasy simulation, and allow for too much "play" overall. This results in a number of problems, but the most visibly apparent one is the problem of turtling. (more…)Read More