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February 8th, 2008, 18:33
@Article: Neat! Very cool to see someone picking up the structure I'm thinking through and applying in in their own way. Especially in terms of Context, this is exactly what I'm talking about. I've often thought that MMO designers don't understand the implication of making a vast empty world with avatars who have to slowly crawl through it. They feel this compulsion to make the world ever larger but lack the resources to populate it. The result is a large, empty, lonely world without the possibility of ongoing engagement. Also, Josh Sprague…from Tempe? Jeremy's brother?

Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Swink's analysis is good stuff but doesn't go far enough for us, because there's more to these games than just steering yourself around and interacting with whatever's there. Unlike the others, your identity in an RPG should feel like a life. There needs to be a lot that's beyond your control.
So, I'm actually writing a book for Elsevier on the topic of game feel. I'm getting a little more in depth with all of these topics; that article was necessarily abridged and brief. Here's kind of a snapshot of where my thinking is now:

http://www.steveswink.com/images/GameFeelModel.jpg

I'm leaning towards seeing games as a sort of surrogate perception, where the feedback from the monitor, the speakers, and the push back of the controls takes the place of the feedback you normally get from the physical world. At least, when you're experience what I'm defining as game feel. This would give at least a partial explanation for why games have the potential to feel so "immersive" - you're literally substituting your everyday, physical perception for a new set of senses, those of the avatar. To me, this seems to be a powerful tool for creating a role for players to play and for giving them a "real" experience of playing that role. The avatar becomes your organ of expression in the game world. And the sensation, the perception flows both directions - you both express yourself through and receive feedback from the avatar. You feel as though your body and identity expands to encompass the avatar, much the same way that it expands to encompass a car when you drive it. You have a sense of the position of the car in space, as an extension of your senses. You say "he hit me!", not "his car hit my car!", right?

And to quickly set the record straight, I'm not much of a casual designer. I worked on a canceled Xbox title called, ironically, "The Unseen" that would have been a really neat action/RPG. We actually had the lead designer of Starcraft, James, as our lead. After that, I worked as a designer on Tony Hawk. Now my company, Flashbang Studios, does some training stuff to pay the bills and sells casual games as an affiliate portal at www.flashbangstudios.com. But we tend to make stuff like this nowadays:

http://www.raptorsafari.com

http://splume.flashbangstudios.com

…with more interesting experimental stuff en route (raptor safari is kind of an inside joke taken way too far) We're going to launch a separate website for our own games in the next few weeks. There may be some wiiware kinds of things in our future as well.

Thanks for reading; loving the discussion here. Don't be surprised if you end up getting quoted in the book .
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February 8th, 2008, 19:23
Hm, I personally think that a "game feel" is not only that "expended perceivement of some kind of "reality" - in a rather technical sense - but I personally think that a "game feel" is like … Something more.

It's like technically describing paintings by for example Marc Chagall, or Salvatore Dalí - but a pure technical descriprion - and therefore perceivement - of these paintings doesn't get the emotional factor in it, things that appeal to the non-technical part in us, so to say.

So, I believe that a "game feel" shopuldn't be considered as something that can be technically achieves, but it must also be a "hook to the senses" to be successful, imho.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 8th, 2008, 22:54
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Hm, I personally think that a "game feel" is not only that "expended perceivement of some kind of "reality" - in a rather technical sense - but I personally think that a "game feel" is like … Something more.

It's like technically describing paintings by for example Marc Chagall, or Salvatore Dalí - but a pure technical descriprion - and therefore perceivement - of these paintings doesn't get the emotional factor in it, things that appeal to the non-technical part in us, so to say.

So, I believe that a "game feel" shopuldn't be considered as something that can be technically achieves, but it must also be a "hook to the senses" to be successful, imho.
Right, of course. The output of the system is an experience for the player, something that's greater than the sum of its parts. Something beautiful and meaningful. But in order to meaningfully examine and compare the feel of various games, you have to get down to the nitty gritty of how perception works and try to measure things. Derek Daniels has made some cool steps in this direction:

http://lowfierce.blogspot.com/2006/0…an-others.html

Think about the Principles of Animation; they're these "laws" for what is otherwise a purely subjective medium. But they're incontrovertible. If your animation has squash and stretch, overlapping action, and maintains volume it's better than an animation that doesn't do these things. This is not a matter o f preference, it's an established fact, a technical skill and tradition that all animators must learn. Game feel is very subjective and very subconscious, but there are parts of it which can be measured. And the result of that measurement can only be to make it easier for more people to make better games. At least, better feeling games. Measure to master, as it were.

The problem right now, at least from a game designer's perspective, is that there's a disconnect between player experience and system design. A player says that they think the controls are "floaty." What does that mean in terms of the abstracted variables of my particular system? Is floaty good? Is it bad? What does it mean? Is it like the color blue; only bad or good relative to context, just another shade to paint with? Or what? And, again, how does it translate into the language of programming? If I want to create a game that feels a certain way, what are the generalized principles I can apply that inform me how to do that? Hence the book .
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February 8th, 2008, 23:47
@Swink: I think your Perceptual Field diagram does a good job of illustrating what I would call arcade-game interpretation. Fittingly, it depicts a console instead of a computer, because arcade games are really what consoles are all about.

But computers are capable of providing a lot more to games than just cool graphics, sound and the kind of feel you're describing. If better RPG applications were written for computers, that would be obvious.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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February 9th, 2008, 00:29
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
@Swink: I think your Perceptual Field diagram does a good job of illustrating what I would call arcade-game interpretation. Fittingly, it depicts a console instead of a computer, because arcade games are really what consoles are all about.

But computers are capable of providing a lot more to games than just cool graphics, sound and the kind of feel you're describing. If better RPG applications were written for computers, that would be obvious.
Well, the NES is just a convenient icon for many people. Replace it with a PC, mouse, and keyboard if you want. I'm interested; what kind of feel do you think I'm describing? Because, really, saying that the feel I'm describing is about flashy graphics and sound is completely missing the point. You say interpretation…interpretation of what? Seems like you have something specific in mind. I'd love to know what.

To me, it sounds like you, Alrik, and I are describing the same thing. I'm just describing it from the perceptive of a game designer. That is, by identifying the pieces of the system that produces the experience we're discussing. I take this pragmatic view because, as a game designer, I know first hand that it's very difficult to craft experience. It's done indirectly and it's often difficult to predict how small changes in code or structure will affect game feel. What I'm saying is that to create feel, your tool kit is programming, art, sound. You have to map the input signals coming from the input device - whether mouse and keyboard or console controller or haptic device - to actions in the game. There's a huge amount of expressivity and artistic judgment that goes in how this mapping is accomplished but at the end of the day, this is the palette of interactivity. Actions in the game are expressed via monitors, speakers, and other output devices.

Also, X-Com is probably my all-time favorite game. To assume that because I drew an NES as an icon in a diagram I've never touched a PC game is a bit silly .
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February 9th, 2008, 00:33
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
But computers are capable of providing a lot more to games than just cool graphics, sound and the kind of feel you're describing. If better RPG applications were written for computers, that would be obvious.
Ooh, ooh. And are you saying that game feel and "deeper" experiences are mutually exclusive? If you're saying that controlling something in real-time excludes the possibility having these amazing higher order experiences (which you seem to be implying can only exist on a PC but haven't really defined) I must respectfully disagree .
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February 9th, 2008, 01:34
Originally Posted by Swink View Post
And are you saying that game feel and "deeper" experiences are mutually exclusive? If you're saying that controlling something in real-time excludes the possibility having these amazing higher order experiences.
No, as far as I can tell those characterizations are the only mention of those things. I don't see it as being all one way or all the other, and real-time has nothing to do with the point I'm trying to make. So I'll try to be more clear.

I simply mean consoles aren't computers; and it's worth remembering that, because computers are capable of more than consoles. If it's hard for you to imagine the potential differences, I don't blame you. The video games that are being made for both platforms today are usually identical.

Keep in mind that these designs aren't science projects. They're not funded by the government or anything like that. Businesses make these games. These are their products.

There are lots of ways that computer RPGs can be more sophisticated than console RPGs, and we've discussed some of them here. Browse the forums if you're really interested.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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February 9th, 2008, 02:44
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
Final Fantasy is Round-based - not turn-based.


Actually, it's neither imo. FF7 used Squaresoft's Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which lets a character perform an action as soon as his\her ATB gauge is full.
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February 9th, 2008, 20:00
Originally Posted by Swink View Post
You say interpretation…interpretation of what? Seems like you have something specific in mind. I'd love to know what.
I really, really didn't want to answer that question. As luck would have it, Richard Garriott did a fabulous job of describing and discussing a lot of what I mean in a recent interview.

Garriott definitely doesn't sound like a typical software guy to me. He sounds more like the kind of guy software guys make faces at from across the room. Really, he reminds me the most of some of the hardware guys I've met.

In the world of hardware, there's always the thought in the back of everyone's mind of some guy working in his garage somewhere, developing the next big thing. So nobody ever balks at the idea of new concepts.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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