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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Legend of Grimrock - Jeff Vogel on Design Space

Default Legend of Grimrock - Jeff Vogel on Design Space

May 13th, 2012, 18:59
Chess never gets old

Design Space:

Land mass:
8x8=64 squares

Char classes:
one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns

Possibilties = endless -> okay nearly
The number of legal positions in chess is estimated to be between 10^43 and 10^ 47
(a provable upper bound), with a game-tree complexity of approximately 10^123.

You can design hundrets of Dungeon Master clones if combat & puzzles are interesting enough. Jeff makes some good games, but his articles are often … bullshit.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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May 13th, 2012, 20:46
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
Chess never gets old

Design Space:

Land mass:
8x8=64 squares

Char classes:
one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns

Possibilties = endless -> okay nearly
The number of legal positions in chess is estimated to be between 10^43 and 10^ 47
(a provable upper bound), with a game-tree complexity of approximately 10^123.

You can design hundrets of Dungeon Master clones if combat & puzzles are interesting enough. Jeff makes some good games, but his articles are often … bullshit.
How many sequels to chess are there? Or different games on the same board with the same pieces? Checkers perhaps.. Seems Jeff is right.

Lands of lore remake please.
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May 13th, 2012, 21:32
Chess variants

I'm right

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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May 13th, 2012, 21:52
Chess varients are all well and good, but almost nobody pays money for them compared to how many people buy the base chess games. Using chess variants as a basis for considering sequels to LoG would seem to be making the argument against their viability.

I don't beleive that a sequel for LoG needs to be like a chess varient compared to chess though; a sequel more along the lines of Ultima Underworld would probably not feel like a simple variation on the same formula anyways. Even if it was a simpler variation on their existing formula, I'm not entirely sure the chess analogy would be appropriate.
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May 13th, 2012, 22:03
It's also generally agreed that the global popularity of chess has been plummeting, which suggests that for many people, chess does in fact get old (it certainly got old fast for me). Although there are still countries where chess is quite popular, so this is not a universal thing.

More importantly though, chess is not a RPG, and I'm not aware of any RPG genre based around chess boards. So clearly you need some additional level of complexity. The question is just what that level is.
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May 13th, 2012, 22:43
Jeff Vogel is an experienced, respected and successful game designer within his selected circle. If you think he is not good at what he does then it makes sense to reject his opinions. However when an experienced game designer like him talks about game design, if you consider his work worthy and if you care to know about games design, then you need to listen.

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May 13th, 2012, 22:55
Valuable piece of advice coming for free?

And who is he addressing it to? People who would like to do their own dungeoncrawler?
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May 13th, 2012, 22:57
Originally Posted by pibbur v.57 View Post
Denies???

As for the purpose, I think there is no purpose except just expressing an opinion. No more, no less. Like many (most?) other comments.

pibbur who also thinks his comment serves no particular purpose.
His comment is more than an opinion. It is prophecy. Or prediction.
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May 13th, 2012, 23:01
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
Chess never gets old

Design Space:

Land mass:
8x8=64 squares

Char classes:
one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns

Possibilties = endless -> okay nearly
The number of legal positions in chess is estimated to be between 10^43 and 10^ 47
(a provable upper bound), with a game-tree complexity of approximately 10^123.

You can design hundrets of Dungeon Master clones if combat & puzzles are interesting enough. Jeff makes some good games, but his articles are often bullshit.
Sequels against clones.

He states Grimrock 2. Without explaining why it has to come as a sequel. Or if he only means by that the studio's second game.

Every chess set is a clone of the same game. None is a sequel.

That studio could change the settings and deliver clones of their own games.
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May 14th, 2012, 02:19
They can make 1 more game. After that it will become boring. The almighty jeff has spoken.

This blog wasn't about design space. He could blog for day's about design space without bringing up grimrock. He didn't like how successful it was and is planting seeds in the minds of his fans, the primary audience that will read his blog.

To me it sounded very condescending and arrogant. I could easily play a couple more grimrocks if they just add some more classes and new monsters. If they throw a slider to allow real-time or turn based I would play many more. Yes it's a niche market but if they are the only one's doing it and keep costs down I see no reason why they can't continue.

Then they could slowly add this like story, C&C, economy and npc's to keep things fresh. I don't mind grid movement at all.

I've never played an indie game that was good enough to hold my attention for more than a couple hours but I beat grimrock and it has nothing to do with nostalgia because I never liked these sort of games back when they were popular.

Game design this, design space that. If the games are fun people will play them.
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May 14th, 2012, 06:24
Originally Posted by fadedc View Post
It's also generally agreed that the global popularity of chess has been plummeting, which suggests that for many people, chess does in fact get old (it certainly got old fast for me). Although there are still countries where chess is quite popular, so this is not a universal thing.
This is completely off-topic, but I just had to respond to this.

I'm sorry but what you say about chess is absolute rubbish, particularly for my country. Perhaps you should speak for yourself about the game in future instead of generalising? Your last sentence did appear to try to regain perspective. somewhat.
I'm actually a professional chess coach and an advocate in schools and education for the game and I can honestly say from my experience, that the opposite is true. Ex-world champion Garry Kasparov is also helping to popularise the game world-wide within schools in a "chess in education" movement which is definitely gathering momentum, thus it's certainly not "plummeting" as you wrote.

Try to watch the chess-analogies from now on please guys? Cheers. They tend to make me cringe a little on the inside.

Regarding the article - I've not played enough of Jeff Vogel's games to really comment in a valid way on what he wrote, but needless to say I'm glad that Legend of Grimrock was made and would definitely check out the sequel should one be made! The Dungeon crawler experience will never really get old to me.

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May 14th, 2012, 06:51
I'm not speaking about myself, I'm speaking about hard data about the overall popularity of chess. The number of people looking for information about chess on the internet has dropped dramatically over the last 8 years. I trust this information a lot more then your subjective opinion of a chess couch about how much everyone loves the game he teaches.

But as I said, it depends on the country. But trends show that chess popularity is steadily declining in Australia as well. If you were talking about China though it would be another matter entirely.

Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
I'm sorry but what you say about chess is absolute rubbish, particularly for my country. Perhaps you should speak for yourself about the game in future instead of generalising? Your last sentence did appear to try to regain perspective. somewhat.
I'm actually a professional chess coach and an advocate in schools and education for the game and I can honestly say from my experience, that the opposite is true. Ex-world champion Garry Kasparov is also helping to popularise the game world-wide within schools in a "chess in education" movement which is definitely gathering momentum, thus it's certainly not "plummeting" as you wrote.
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May 14th, 2012, 09:12
I think Chess is a bad example, really - because it's a 100% competitive game. The reason Chess is so popular, is precisely because the "mechanics" are so pure - and it wouldn't be a better game with an expanded game design. It's meant to be brain versus brain - and you don't need advanced rules for that. I'd call Chess a "cerebral competition facilitator" more than an actual game

As a game design, I think it's incredibly simplistic and boring - even despite all its elegance.

But the "gist" of the original point is very true, in that you can come a long way with grid-based movement and a combat system similar to that in Grimrock. You can expand on mechanics, exploration, and story almost indefinitely without touching those core elements.

In fact, I'd say LoG made poor use of the core elements - but I know I'm alone here. But the point is that they can make it a much, much better game without moving away from a relatively simplistic formula.
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May 14th, 2012, 10:15
@D'artagnan: I think that is definitely true the concept can be easily expanded, but I assume it also means that you expand the game engine to allow for more diverse designs. I didn't understand Vogel to mean that you can't have interersting grid movement blob games, but that developing those means a revision of the engine and actually incorporating new gameplay elements. That is, expanding the design space. I guess, personally I would agree with him that working with the exact same elements as we have in LoG (that is, just having new tilesets, new monsters, new weapons and spells, but otherwise the exact same game mechanics), would not allow to repeat the success of LoG over too many sequels.
I really like LoG, but it's at heart a simple design, that would exhaust it's welcome on my hard drive eventually (while full RPGs have not dones so in many decades, and I don't expect them to).
ChienAboyer argues the opposite, so maybe there are many people who would love to play this formula indefinitely without major changes. Maybe that's true, I really don't know. But it seems in this thread at least the majority of replies argue for expanding the formula towards a more fully-fledged RPG like Lands of Lore.

Regarding Vogel - I have defended him here since I don't agree with the interpretation that he posted with dishonorable intentions, but I am not that fond about him myself, he is just so ultra conservative in his design and business philosophy, that I don't find him very inspiring. But as someone who did the indie RPG thing long before it was hip, and survived over 15 years on it, I respect him and am interested in reading his thoughts.
Like others I am not convinced he adequately listens to his own advice. I am not sure his own design space has expanded enough - the backlash here about his games being all the same at least indicates that he might have the same problem. I still found it an interesting concept to think about though.
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May 14th, 2012, 11:40
I suppose you're right GBG, but that's what I meant with "non-information post". I mean, does he really expect to educate ANYONE by saying that you can't keep making the same game over and over? An ironic statement if ever there was one.

That's what I base my interpretation on, that he really had nothing useful to say - and as such, there must have been another reason for his post.

Since I'm not a fan of LoG, personally, I obviously don't think making another one with the exact same mechanics and tools would "cut it". But I really don't think much needs to be changed to create a few more hits.

The reason I'm careful not to criticise the game in detail, is that I'm developing a grid-based dungeon crawler myself, and I'd rather not bitch too loud until I have something better myself

Suffice it to say that I'm not going for a DM clone!
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May 14th, 2012, 12:06
Well to someone like me who never heard of the term "design space" before, it was interesting.
I know about your project, and obviously I won't be unhappy if it deviates from LoG - variety is the spice of (a gamers) life. Now get back to work!
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May 14th, 2012, 13:07
@gbg: Well put. Just like I would have said it myself.

Eh.. actually better than I could have said it myself.

Except that I really like his games. (and LoG)

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May 14th, 2012, 13:08
I think "design space" is something which means what you want it to mean
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May 14th, 2012, 14:11
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
In fact, I'd say LoG made poor use of the core elements - but I know I'm alone here. But the point is that they can make it a much, much better game without moving away from a relatively simplistic formula.
You are not alone.
I think the reason behind LoG's success was not it's elaborate use of the core elements, but a market hungry for that kind of game. It seems like Nintendo's 'Blue Ocean' strategy. When there's no competition, you will win even if you are not good enough.
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May 14th, 2012, 20:33
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I guess, personally I would agree with him that working with the exact same elements as we have in LoG (that is, just having new tilesets, new monsters, new weapons and spells, but otherwise the exact same game mechanics), would not allow to repeat the success of LoG over too many sequels.
Ambiguous as expanding the gaming elements does not guarantee them to repeat the success they met.

The point was more that people will buy and play that type of game, good year, bad year. There will be iterations more or less inspired.

There is a demand for that kind of games relying on this set of gaming elements.
I really like LoG, but it's at heart a simple design, that would exhaust it's welcome on my hard drive eventually (while full RPGs have not dones so in many decades, and I don't expect them to).
ChienAboyer argues the opposite, so maybe there are many people who would love to play this formula indefinitely without major changes. Maybe that's true, I really don't know. But it seems in this thread at least the majority of replies argue for expanding the formula towards a more fully-fledged RPG like Lands of Lore.
Second time I have to correct that point:not many. Enough to support the developpment and sales of this kind of design over time.

It is definitively a niche game design. If ever the developpers grow too ambitious they will out grow their niche, not expanding their customers base and losing their core as the core consumers would not find the elements they wanted in.

Between what players say and what they buy, there seems to have a gap. Once again, the argument made in the OP is not cogent. The game design space is limited. It was exhausted in the past as suggested by the OP. So why old timers buy that LoG?
It cant be for graphics. It cant be for huge game universe etc It is because there is a demand for this limited design.

Between what players say and what they buy, there is a gap and I wonder how many of them have never played a game like this one before. If you have played one or more in the past, the game, due to its limited design space, cant not feel original to you. Or it means that the design space is more fruitful than reported.

Expanding elements, wanting for more, it is quite good but ultimately, it might lead to their games selling less as there is a gap between what players say and what they buy.

Another point: story telling is constrained by the game design. Since telling stories was made a central point in gaming and not just decorum to magnify the gameplay, the studios have struggled to find the proper formula to convey efficiently the much wanted story.
They have spent some money on it though. No success. They have adapted the gaming structure to fit better narrative telling.

One element I add to the list that must be present: the future games must happen in close environment, underground, tunnels, sowers, towers, temples, dungeons, space ships etc If they go for outdoors, they will find that their niche can not provide enough to match the efforts of others'studios.

And developping a narrative technique while being constrained to the limitations of corridor exploration meets limitations too. No developpers have found the right formula to tell a story in a game, despite spending so much on adapting the gaming structure, any studio relying on limited game desing wont make it either.
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