Thursday, January 22, 2009

January Boston Post Mortem

This months talk was given by Randy Smith who was the designer that helped shape the Thief series of games for Looking Glass and recently of EALA.

This was a talk he gave at the Montreal International Game Summit, called "Games Are Art, and What To Do About It."

It was interesting and to summarise the talk, he went into how game mechanics have progressed over the years talking of the parallel of how peoples comprehension of movies have grown, so you don't necessarily have to be blatantly obvious with every detail to show emotion or the progression of time, people know a day shot followed by a night shot in a movie means that time has progressed, even though they didn't when film first came about. This kind of evolution is happening and how it needs to continue so that the game users experience can be more engaging. The slap in the face uninteractive cut scenes, overly forced sound and facial animations to show emotion fail because they aren't engaging, they break the flow of the experience that takes the game player out of the continuity of the expeirence much like if a movie director had a statue roll up in the middle of the cinema at a particular moment to show an emotion would be breaking of the flow and feeling of the movie.

He also talked about design decisions and different genres of games, how best to engage emotion out of the game player so that they have a feeling of accomplishment, how they can care about an outcome so that they have the desire to replay the game in to see a different outcome. It all comes about asking the question "Why?" at every stage of the design process. What you think will be a good idea, question why. What way of having a game mechanic do such and such, question why. Continually questioning these decisions brings about a more layered mechanic to the game so that you can see and show how engaging and what responses you are looking for. It also can lead to interesting spin off thoughts that could lead to new avenues to explore.

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