#game design

I finally made good on my threat and made a blog about adding stripping variants to old designer board games; it is a very dumb idea and I look forward to exploring it on Cohost; it is OBVIOUSLY adult content, though NONE of it will be explicit


our first game is COSMIC ENCOUNTER

Love, ya boi @elnarez

I have no idea who invented ladder systems in (online competitive) videogames but I wish them a very "that was a decent idea but please someone else make a replacement".

At its core, the idea is pretty simple : use win/loss ratios to rank people into skill slices and use that for matchmaking, so instead of searching for rooms of their skill level people just click a single button and gain a match around their ability. It pleases solo players that just want to get their game in, and allows for an in-game skill metric. However, rank points quickly start becoming some kind of prestige, progression, "reward" if you will. I believe everybody who has an interest in the subject already knows so, but playing a game for rewards not only is a different experience to playing for playing's sake, it also lower one's intrinsic fun in playing. Modern ranking systems are made to slowly trend up, by blocking ranking down if you get worse for example, or rewarding wins more than losses. They're also often directly linked to in-game rewards (cosmetics).

I do not believe that games that rely on rewards are worse than games that don't, there is a fun in games based on loot and currencies and grind that you either exhaust and move on or keep being addicted till you burn out on. I'm a Destiny player ffs. But being competitive is all about playing to improve (not to win btw, tho playing to win is part of playing to improve and competitive games tend to reward mainly winning because it's a good metric) and playing to improve is all about appreciating the play in the game itself rather than the result.

I spent too long on this post and I'm sure I had another good point without a conclusion, but I forgor 💀 so i'm just gonna conclude by saying : idk if there's a better answer, it makes sense to illicit immediate player investment by using rewards as a carrot rather than hoping people take your game seriously from the start especially in a world where you will be called "dead game" for not having #content. I do think it doesn't make games that last a billion years. A lot of these recent competition thoughts come from meeting friends in the FGC, which is very different in term of relationship to these things, because it's a genre that target a niche userbase that's already about hands-on mastery, and whose casual side is like, smash bros.

Next time in Lena's random garbage takes about games she doesn't play much, I'll talk about why I don't know if I like games having updates !

Last night I had a dream about this video game with a kind of odd premise.

In the dream in particular, it was this run-and-gun team-based FPS, with a really fiddly system for acquiring/buying weapons and other equipment. But the real gimmick was, your team was depicted as human, like just dudes with guns, but the opposing team was depicted as these fucked-up face-eating ghoul sort of monsters (who also had guns).

I'm not sure how this would actually play out, or what the point of it would even be. Maybe it, like, makes it harder to see what the other team actually has equipped? Or something? I 'unno.

Those of you who have been following what I've been doing may remember that before I disappeared again I was working on Super Passion Heaven:

You may have noticed that I am now not working on Super Passion Heaven.

This game, mechanically, was an iteration on the mechanics of Be Drunk (first game I released hehe) which was made for Wine Jam, run by Nina Freeman and her discord/stream community in 2018 (Nina made a nice write up about it here) (also check out Toby Do's excellent entry listed and others). The general throughline here is mechanically exploring the interaction between mental health (specifically depression/OCD) and personal and technological interventions to it, with broader implications to technological and social ethics.

The narrative of SPH is based on this, and especially the broader implications to ethics part, although explaining exactly how is very difficult. In fact so much so that it became The Problem with that game. I know it sounds kind of insane and pretentious, but the plot of that game was based on a detailed understanding of a few hyper-specific topics in mathematics, science, and philosophy which I wouldn't expect most if any players to have going into it, and that I only have an understanding of because it's the culmination of my personal academic studies as a former bioinformatics researcher.

Analysis of neural dynamics has identified bifurcation parameters with these approximated congruence classes (not entirely gibberish)

The problem with this is not my lack of faith in players ability to understand these topics, just that properly communicating them expanded the scope of the game too much. And I wanted players to really get it. In fact, I ended up working into the plot and design of the game that the player has to take academic courses in these subjects as part of progression for which I was going to design in-game interactive educational material (this actually isn't that ad-hoc in context). Although I wanted to make this fun and like a hanging-out-with-your-friends-studying-in-uni-simulator and I kinda like that idea still in a perverse way, it's at that point which I decided the scope had gotten too large and complicated for it to work and I needed to rethink things. :host-nervous:

The game I'm making now is a response to this problem. They do not on the surface appear related at all, but in terms of what I'm communicating they're the same game. Well, specifically it's only a part of the first game. The first part of this as a solution is that it's a reduction in scope and significantly more focused in terms of what I want to cover conceptually and its design goals. Although "visual novel"->"open world exploration game" may not seem like a reduction of scope on the surface it actually is lol trust me. The main difference is, with this project I have one well defined core thing that I want to do with the game, and I can reduce and adjust the scope as necessary to get that thing done in a reasonable timeframe. And I am extremely motivated to do so, I want to make this stupid game so badly and I dont want to spend forever doing it!!!

The second part of this as a solution is that it's just a much better way of expressing the slice of SPH that it represents. The design I've come to with this project is so much more elegant as a game and just really the kind of art that I want to make, and I'm honestly super hyped about it and just want to put it out so I'm reallly gonna try to do that no matter what. :host-joy:

All that said as I was writing this I remembered how much I still like the core Thought Loop mechanics of SPH and I'd like to do something with it. When I showed the game at MAGFest it really seemed to click with people, so apparently it's a good design and I shouldn't throw it away. Maybe I'll make an unrelated vignette game with it sometime, we'll see!