Sunday, December 02, 2012

Free Style R&D

It has been a few weeks that we have revived our weekly game design R&D sessions at the office. These sessions include a presentation about a topic by a developer followed by open discussion about the topic. They have always been quite useful and fun. Talking to colleagues about different topics and passing ideas is probably one of the most important activities that can be done.

Recent presentations have been about multi-player level design, combat system techniques and designing for horror in games.

I was at bat this week and since I've been investigating the idea of emergence in games recently, I read a book with the same title, Emergence in Games. The ideas in this book are quite generic and it really does not add any valuable insight for the idea of emergence in games and it covers a lot of unrelated material. This is why we chose to discuss a different topic, Minimalist Games. I reflected upon an excellent paper called, Towards Minimalist Game Design from Rutgers University. There are a lot of interesting notes about game development in general in minimalist games and the way they abstract everything out to focus on the most significant aspects of the game for the player is something that we can learn a lot from. The ubiquity of games on mobile devices has resurrected these types of games.

One of the key notes in the paper is about the differences between perceived complexity and systemic complexity in games. It is always good to have low perceived complexity in a product, so do minimalist games but their systemic complexity is not necessarily low. This means they do not have to be very simple casual games. This idea has been tried out in different fields by expert designers, a lot of apple products such as the iPhone have benefited from such a view to product design.

There are references in the article to a great presentation by Jonathan Blow, "Conflicts in Game Design" which is quite fabulous. This talk discusses why games have not been able to have similar effects on their audience as novels or movies regarding emotional experiences. The conflicts mentioned here are mostly conflicts between gameplay and narrative. A highly recommended talk.

Other references are to articles by Ian Bogost. Puzzling the Sublime is one of the most interesting of these articles which investigates about the meaning of puzzle games. Sublime, being a word with roots in philosophy has been discussed by numerous philosophers including Kant. Sublime talks about a kind of aesthetics which can be found in unbounded phenomena and infinity. Hegel believed that the aesthetics of the excessive use of details in eastern and Islamic art are examples of the sublime. There is quite a lot to inspire from in these areas.

1 comment:

Ashkan said...

Nice stuff
The beauty in first 12-15 chapters of the art of game design was that it mainly values these abstract elegant game designs and this original core and innovation as good game design so the concepts in the article seemed not new to me :)

The talk was awesome by the way