The Clockwork Game Design Podcast: Episode 6 – Discussing the Discussion with Richard Terrell

NwE5D37lIn Episode 6 of the Clockwork Game Design Podcast, I had a discussion with Richard Terrell (@KirbyKid) that was largely about the game design discussion itself.

People may not know, that we had a discussion about three years ago, and back then, I think we both thought that we could just dive right into the conversation. What we’ve both learned since then is that if you don’t have a solid understanding of each others’ language, the conversation will go nowhere – which is precisely what tends to happen in most conversations that take place outside your “inner circle”.

Either way, we’re both formalist thinkers who are primarily interested in competitive/strategy game design, so I thought it’d be interesting to have a discussion about why it’s so hard to have a discussion. I think it went well! Here’s a few links:

Apologies about the audio in this episode, which is slightly worse than previous (or future!) episodes.

  • 15:20 – Funny thing! As I’ve taken my game playing more seriously, I find myself enjoying a wider range of games. I guess I would say I’ve grown more critical of myself. Now, I’m able to recognize what skills a game requires, whereas before I would just throw down the controller and say “this game sucks.” Shmups in particular used to be frustrating until I realized I was playing them wrong–now they’re a delight.

  • Rob Seater

    “I enjoy fewer things, but the things I do enjoy I get more value out of” is a good summary of intellectual discourse.

  • Rob Seater

    This is quite interesting, and both of you are quite sharp. I think there is some kind of taxonomy here that captures both definitions.

    Grinding – repeating activities in a game for in-game-only rewards
    |_ Repetitive. Repeating the same behavior, regardless of its difficulty/risk.
    |_Trivial. Repeating behaviors with no difficulty or risk, regardless of similarity.

    Activities in the intersection of repetitive and trivial are definitely bad, and represent a lot of ‘mindless addictive’ games. Games in one subset but not the other are more debatable in their value, but they are a minority in practice.
    –> Repetitive but not Trivial – leveling up your ELO rating in a game where you are better than your current rating suggests

    –> Trivial but not Repetitive – wandering into a new part of a Pokemon map and finding new enemies that you easily crush to gain levels

    Note that the notion of ‘trivial’ may be relative to a player, but it is still an objective measure in the context of a given player’s ability. Including player ability in a formal definition does not make the definition subjective; it just adds a parameter to the function. Thus, both notions can be used to describe a game relative to a typical population.

    There is also something above both Grinding and Practice, which may have a similar subdivision, but involve outside benefit. Maybe just ‘Repetition’.