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January 13th, 2009, 16:06
Gareth over at his Scars of War Blog has a fascinating rant on what he sees as a current trend in game design to focus on 'The Experience', rather than the core mechanics of interesting and deep gameplay. Here's a key section:
He talks about letting a player “experience it” without playing. Experience…a game…without playing. It’s another oxymoron. You can’t experience gameplay without actually playing. You can only experience the frills, the environment art and the cut-scenes and storyline. This statement shows a clear and worrying belief that “The Experience” of a game is the superficial bits, the bits that are closest to movies, and not the gameplay itself.
So what’s happened? They are looking into ways that players can experience that superficial icing without eating the cake, without actually playing. Not coming up with some sort of intelligent way of adjusting the gameplay on the fly, of customizing the gameplay experience to the player skill with finer granularity than simple Easy/Normal/Hard difficulties. No, they are inventing ways for the player to skip gameplay.
Like Ben Mattes, this patent misses the point. The gameplay is the experience. If players are skipping the gameplay to watch cutscenes you have failed as a game designer. You shouldn’t be designing clever ways for the player to bypass gameplay. You should be designing clever ways for the game to adjust itself to be appropriate to the player, or alternate routes.

More information.
If God said it, then that settles it!!

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January 13th, 2009, 16:06

However, I think that the current trend is to build the experience of/via graphics.

Graphically brilliant games are the experience aka "eye candy".

And where's the gameplay ?
“ 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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January 14th, 2009, 16:13
I believe jRPGs are about the most glaring example of this. Traditional jRPGs are based on hundreds of easy (trivial) fights that lead you to bosses and then cutscenes. The only challenging fights are against bosses, while the hundreds of other fights only serve as time-fillers/exp grinding/money collection.
There are exceptions of course, and some cases are more glaring than others.
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