后来Zynga又向我展示了《FrontierVille》，他们向我讲述了游戏的故事。但这也并没有让我心生向往。他们又跟我推荐了《Empires & Allies》（借鉴了《Advance Wars》的一些灵感），我从其中的战斗系统中意识到，玩家可能会输掉战斗。输掉的玩家必须有一个走向胜利或失败的选择，我对这款游戏较有兴趣，但试过之后很快就厌烦了。
后来我又试玩了《Adventure World》（游戏邦注：Zynga后来将该游戏更名为《Indiana Jones Aventure》，游戏中的主角很讨厌蛇，其中的一场与蛇相遇的情况则让我相信，《Adventure World》不但算得上游戏，而且还有成为好游戏的潜力。
而当Zynga成员又让我去玩《Mafia Wars 2》时，我就知道自己要找的是什么了——选择。我认为，游戏中的选择越多越好，至少对Zynga来说是这样。我认为Zynga成员越来越进步了。他们不再制作一些没有分支的流程图表让用户点击，他们也开始懂得为玩家提供分支，他们提供了一些拥有明显结果的选择。
身在日本的Dylan Cuthbert（游戏邦注：他曾参与开发《Star Fox》、《PixelJunk Monsters》和《Digidrive》等游戏，并与曾与任天堂京都总部的一些高层合作）通过电子邮件表示，“这是一个见仁见智的问题。例如，我认为《暗黑之魂》是杰出的游戏，但其他人可能另有看法。不过，真正的好游戏总有一些共同特点。对我来说，这些特点包括美感（不局限于美术设计），优化、粘性、原创性和‘Merihari’”。
作者：David Ethan Kennerly
趣味性和艺术性之间的讨论不绝于耳。这些参与者可能会从中得到乐趣，但是这两者的对立却不适合出现在游戏中。比如在MMORPG中，对Jessica Mulligan而言，趣味性包含艺术性，而对Raph Koster而言是艺术性包含趣味性。我将挑战这种对立观点。构建趣味性本身就是游戏的艺术。
如果你想要编写21世纪的《Seven Lively Arts》的话，你首先会想到的形式显然是游戏。——Greg Costikyan
部分问题在于，知识产权领域很少将优秀的故事和优秀的游戏联系起来。《龙与地下城》并非J.R.R. Tolkien的游戏媒介。《American McGee’s Alice》也并非Lewis Carroll的游戏媒介改编版本、。Reiner Knizia的合作桌游《指环王》即将面世，这款游戏保留了小说的精髓。但是，《指环王》看起来仍然更像是小说而不是优秀的游戏。
诸如《银河飞将》和《马里奥兄弟》等许多游戏向电影的转型都失败了，电影到游戏的转型也是如此，比如Atari的《E.T.》或《勇敢的心》。这些失败给我们的教训是：电影只能迎合观众，游戏只能满足玩家。如果想在游戏中寻找电影体验很艰难，反之亦然。尽管优秀的游戏能够让某些玩家产生很强烈的感觉，但是不可在游戏中追寻J.R.R. Tolkien或Lewis Carroll的身影。同样，我们在故事中也看不到Reiner Knizia、Sid Sackson或Harold S. Vanderbilt。
先让我们给这个术语下个定义。和许多普通的词汇一样，趣味性承载着各种各样的含义。在韩国，趣味性描述的是获得乐趣、娱乐并产生兴趣。美国人有时也会将某些此类词语结合起来。但是我的看法与传统观念不同。我觉得像在电影中在屏幕上看到爆炸并不有趣，但是在屏幕上创造出爆炸很有趣，就像在游戏中那样。我的意思是能够主动控制的趣味性，正如Patricia Marks Greenfield所述：“他们一致同意更喜欢游戏而不是电视。理由也很一致：（游戏可以让他们掌握）主动控制权。”所以，现如今以及这篇文章中所说的趣味性，指的是你可以通过每次行为直接影响结果带来的快感。
我对趣味性的理解同Sid Meier、Will Wright、Tetsuyu Nomura和Yamauchi相同，即互动性体验。在绘画、歌曲、电影、书籍或电视剧中，观众无法在剧情过程中改变结果。在优秀的游戏中，玩家可以通过每次行动来改变结果。
许多游戏设计师有着广泛的兴趣点。尽管对现实性的考虑、虚拟其他内容、多主人公的故事剧情这些对系统构建者来说很有趣，但是游戏设计的艺术就是创造出玩家觉得有趣的东西。在20世纪90年代中期，Sid Meier就在许多的采访中提到了这一点。比如，在接受Richard Rouse III的采访时，他说道：“在我们的游戏设计规则中，我们将游戏分为三个类别。有些游戏是设计师享受乐趣，有些游戏是电脑享受乐趣，有些游戏是玩家享受乐趣。我想我们应当制作的是让玩家享受乐趣的游戏。”
向玩家出售游戏的职业游戏设计师应当追随Sid Meier的步伐，尝试去设计其所述的第三类游戏。各类行业从业人员都对此表示认同。故事顾问Brad Kane说道：“最后要强调的是，游戏必须有趣，再有深度情感也无法拯救乏味的游戏。”
纸笔设计师Monte Cook、Jonathan Tweet和Skip Williams说道：“趣味性是强大的驱动力量，千万不可忘记。”
Paul Schwanz正在寻找某些比他在有些游戏中的体验更好的东西，他说道：“互动娱乐能够提供哪些堪比Steinbeck的《Of Mice and Men》、Coppola的《The Godfather》和莎士比亚的《哈姆雷特》的体验？”MMORPG创意总监Raph Koster持有相似的观点，他表示：“如果我们希望能够改革什么的话，那么为何不改变普通动画比游戏更能展示人类境况这个事实呢？”
1、正如Steinbeck的经典之作《Of Mice and Men》，《Spades》是两个低阶级工人在美国经济大萧条时期左右发明的两人游戏。这款游戏已经被工人阶层的人玩了数十年之久，这些玩家所处的境地与Steinbeck所描绘的角色类似。在游戏中，合作者打赌他们可以赢得多少分，很像大萧条时期的境况。因此，我不认为自己在军中的好友在闲暇时间玩《Spades》是种巧合。优秀的《Spades》玩家学到了很多后工业时代服务业工人的情况。他们了解了自我评价以及团队行动比个人有着更高的价值。
2、7张扑克是美国生意场上排名倒数第二的游戏。扑克可以教导人们进行统计化的考量。电影《Pirates of the Silicon Valley》中声称比尔·盖茨在大学期间是扑克高手，这预示着他可以在商业上获得成功。
音乐师Sting希望游戏能够反映人类的境况。《文明》、象棋、《Settlers of Catan》和《Diplomacy》之类的游戏中都包含屠杀、谋杀、崇尚力量、土地侵犯和经济危机等元素。
篇目1，Behind the Scenes of Lucky Lady Games Studio
by Sandra Wong
At Lucky Lady Games, the most important question we believe we can ever ask about a game design is ‘Is it fun?’. You can have the most amazing artwork, sound engineering, technology，story line etc. but without the fun factor, the game is not going to succeed to its full potential (if at all).
Fun is fundamental to player retention, social buzz/share worthiness and monetization, so if you want to make a successful social game, focus on fun first, and everything else secondary. It is so critical in fact that all else can be overlooked to a degree and people will still play.
So how do you achieve fun in a game design?
The fun factor is definitely not something that is easily achieved and there is no one-fit-all type answer. Finding the sweet spot of where ‘fun’ meets ‘game play’ harmony is what every game designer should aim to achieve. To get there, we recommend lots of a/b play testing during all stages of the game design life cycle. Is it fun to you? Why and why not? What can you add? What would you like to see?
What may ‘seem’ fun in theory on paper, might not translate well in real time production. Depending on the type of game you are designing, different elements of what would be considered ‘fun’ varies.The secret is in game balancing… throwing every ‘fun’ game design element into a game will not guarantee more ‘fun’, it needs to make sense to the game play.
The psychology behind ‘fun’ is very similar to asking ‘what makes this game addictive’?
Here are some common game design ‘fun’ elements/hooks:
The High Score
The high score is one of the most recognizable hooks. Trying to beat the high score (even if the player is trying to beat his own score) can keep a player playing for hours.
Beating the Game/Leveling Up
The desire to beat the game or level up keeps players wanting to keep playing.
Story line & escapism is a great way to engage players.
Used mostly in RPGs (role-playing games). EG. World of Warcraft – a good portion of the game is spent exploring beautifully designed imaginary worlds. This thrill of discovery (even of places that don’t really exist) can be extremely compelling.
Online role-playing games allow people to build relationships with other players. For some, this online community becomes the place where they’re most accepted, which draws them back again and again.<br />
Sometimes the actual game play might not be the fun element of the game. Eg. Farmville, one meta game is the social aspect. ‘Ask friends’ for help and items to build your Barn, might be more fun than actually farming.
Moving blocks, dodging missles, spinning the reels… all games require some kind of player interaction.<br
Opening boxes, rolling the dice, flipping the next card… the element of surprise is much more intriguing and engaging than known rewards.
Collecting & items, points, score board… people love to collect things. Give them a sense of achievement and purpose.
Player choices, unlocking doors, new access levels… give them a sense of status & recognition for their efforts in the game.
Character appearances, dress up, weapon choices… personalization of characters makes players feel like they have ownership over the game and in turn a sense of belonging and loyalty.<br />
Game challenges and flow. Game needs to make sense: E.g, You can’t get to level 5 if you haven’t beat level 3.
Laughter is always fun so adding a little humor can lighten up the mood. The real world is too serious as it is.
Do you have a game/app design you would like to get feedback on for production and don’t know where to start? Feel free to send it to us at Lucky Lady Games and we will get you sorted out!
Until next time, try to add more fun to your life game!
Happy designing & playing.
篇目2，Debunking “Losing is Fun” Game Design
By Josh Bycer
If you’ve ever played any difficult video games such as X-Com, Spelunky, Dwarf Fortress and so on, you’ve probably heard the phrase “losing is fun” to describe them. Losing is fun means that the game’s design is meant to be overcome and a challenge to be conquered.
Personally, I hate when people use it as a defense of game design as it is more often than not used as a catch all for any kind of discussion on difficulty and design. Losing is fun can work, but in my opinion there is a very narrow margin of where it is acceptable design.
To talk about game difficulty, we first need to talk briefly about the two kinds of progression in game design. Player progression refers to the player improving their knowledge and skill at a game. While character progression is about anything in-game that affects the player’s chance at success: Leveling up, items and so on.
What that means is that both forms of progression have a different feeling when it comes to failure. Failing at a skill based game means that you as the player haven’t reached the skill level needed to win and the problem is on your end. While failing at a character based game means that things outside of the player’s control were the reasons for their demise. Maybe they didn’t buy a strong enough weapon, or the random number generator during combat gave the enemy a critical hit.
The amount of control the player has over their success is a big factor when it comes to if a game is frustrating or not to lose at and where losing is fun is difficult to fine tune.
The Right Kind of Punishment:
Replayability is an important concept when it comes to game design and is a major component of difficult games or those where the player has to restart constantly. If your game is all about starting back at 0 each time, then the game needs to be very replayable.
In my opinion, for losing is fun to be correct, the game’s progression has to be on either extreme of progression.
In a skill based game like Spelunky or even those with light RPG elements such as Demon’s Souls, the player is the determining factor of whether they win or lose.
Failing in a game like Spelunky is OK as it always gives you a lesson to learn or something to make use of for the next time.
With character progression or strong randomized elements, like The Binding of Isaac or Dungeons of Dredmor. There is enough variability to the design that you don’t have enough control to win or lose that it’s not completely on you if you fail. Maybe an enemy got a lucky hit or you couldn’t find any powerful upgrades to win.
Depending on which case, either failure is controlled by the player’s actions or it’s completely out of their hands. This in my opinion is where losing is fun works as it means that either the player needs to get better or you just need to roll the die again and see what happens.
Ultimately there is one main detail of replayability that must be involved in a game for “losing is fun” to work: there must be some form of growth earned through each play.
The game must never reach a state where the game falls into a routine and there is nothing for the player to continue learning from.
Growth can be skill based IE: Player learns through trial and error the right way to beat a boss. Or character based: After experimenting with enough different builds, the player finds one that they like. When a game just becomes a grind to play, then “losing is fun” no longer works in my opinion.
My case in point and the reason for writing this post has to do with X-Com Enemy Unknown (and recently the expansion — Enemy Within).
I’ve heard people reference Enemy Unknown due to the choices and squishiness of characters as where losing can be fun, as it’s all about fighting an uphill battle. My problem with Enemy Unknown is that I’ve reached a point trying to play through on classic ironman where the game’s balance of character and skill based progression has become stagnant.
Due to the game’s cover system and randomness of enemy damage, the tactical side of the game or where skill is rewarded is too random for me to learn anything from.
While on the strategic side or character progression, I know what I need to do but not being able to rely on my skill during the tactical section, has a huge affect on progressing through the campaign.
As I mentioned in my analysis of Enemy Within, the feedback loop of the game is very polarizing, that if you start to fall behind at any point, it becomes very hard to recover. I know the right build order to go for in terms of base building and research progression to have a chance at winning on classic. But if I can’t get characters to be promoted quickly enough, or unlock the right researches, than I won’t be able to survive past the second month.
So my games either stall before the end of month two, or I get several months down the line and then win or fail based on my strategies and luck.
To give you an example, there are times where there is nothing more I could have done to save my characters and I lose an entire group due to the game’s randomness and therefore the game.
If your game is about promoting skill based progression, then the player’s skill needs to have enough impact on the gameplay. On the other hand, if your game is all about character progression and randomization, than the game must be so random that there isn’t any one way that wins every time.
“Losing is Fun” is a phrase that I hate to hear, as more often than not, it’s used to shield games with design issues from criticism.
If playing the game is a frustrating experience, then I don’t care how much fun losing is.
This is why games that are balanced around constant lost are either some of the best designed titles out there or horrible.
As the balance has to be perfect to keep the player invested in a game where progress is earned and not given.
篇目3，The Difference Between A Good Video Game and a Bad One
During my first 25 years playing video games I had no theory about what makes a video game good. I knew the good ones when I played them. I just felt it.
Last year, however, I was forced to come up with a theory—a theory about what makes a video game good. I’ve been testing it ever since.
My theory is simple. Whether a video game is about shooting guns, flying planes, jumping over mushrooms, solving puzzles or rotating falling blocks, the game is a series of choices for the player.
A good video game presents a series of interesting choices for the player to make. Should the game’s choices be uninteresting—should they barely be choices at all—then the game is bad.
Events in the year 2011 had forced me to come up with some sort of theory about what makes a game good. The events involved Zynga, the company behind FarmVille, CityVille and, as I understood in early 2011, much of the eVil plaguing video games. The Zynga games, I’d heard, weren’t so much games as psychological tricks that baited players to keep playing by enticing them with scheduled rewards, not by entertaining them as games should, whatever that meant. Millions of people may have enjoyed Zynga’s games, I had heard, but the thinking was that millions of people didn’t know what was good for them. These things Zynga made weren’t just bad games, the critics charged; they weren’t even games.
A good video game presents a series of interesting choices for the player to make.How awkward, then, that Zynga was courting me throughout 2011 to play their games. They did that monthly, contacting me in my capacity as an editor at major video game website in the hopes that I would pay attention to their next big game, appreciate its improvements over the last big Zynga game and wind up with something positive to report about it. I did not want to play their games, but a reporter’s job is not to stem the flow of information. Yes, I told the Zynga people month after month, I’ll try your games.
Before the Zynga courtship began, I had only played FarmVille and only for a few minutes. The beginning of the game had presented no choices that interested me. It pulled me from one action to the next, telling me what to build or collect or what to wait for, giving me no sense that I was making any decisions of my own. It had bored me.
The Zynga people showed me FrontierVille. They told me about the game’s story. That didn’t make me want to play. They told me about Empires & Allies, which borrowed ideas from an old favorite, Advance Wars. Through its combat system I recognized that a player could lose a fight. The losing player, I realized, must have had a choice to make that brought them to victory or defeat. I was more interested in this game. But I tried that one and it, too, quickly bored me.
Then I tried Adventure World, a game Zynga would eventually re-brand as an Indiana Jones aventure. The hero of that series hates snakes, but an encounter with a snake in Adventure World is what convinced me that not only was this one a game, but it had the potential to be good.
I’ve tried to recreate my moments of discovery with some screenshots.
First, I entered one of the game’s maps and realized that I had a choice of where I could go. One path, to the upper left of the frame, would bring me toward bushes through which I’d have to slash.
I had no idea if anything was hiding in them. The path to the right would bring me to a piece of red treasure but also toward a snake that was moving in a pattern of its own and might intercept me.
I chose to move toward the treasure—and toward the snake.
I grabbed the treasure, and the snake closed in.
I decided to fight instead of fleeing. I discovered it was too weak for me. I killed it.
These were not the most fascinating choices in video game history, but they were choices. They were choices that would lead to immediately distinct outcomes. They interested me.
When the Zynga people showed me their next game, Mafia Wars 2, I knew what to look for: choices. The more the merrier, at least for Zynga, I thought. The Zynga people were getting better, I had decided. They were no longer making unbranching flow charts for their customers to click through; they were beginning to offer players branches; they were serving decisions that led to distinct consequences.
What Makes Tetris Great
As my idea about choices in video games coalesced, I began to look at my favorite video games differently. I love Metroids and Assassin’s Creeds, which I never doubted were video games. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is my favorite game, though I’m pretty sure that Tetris is the best video game ever made. All of these games support my theory, Tetris most purely among them, which is probably why it’s the best. Each falling piece presents the opportunity for some basic but almost always-interesting choices: Where will I put this piece? Can I rotate it fast enough? Should I drop it swiftly? What is the next piece coming and how will this piece set me up for dropping that one? Do I want to set myself up to score a four-line-clearing Tetris? Etc. The choices come quickly.
The choices are always clear. The consequences are sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed. They are always clear.
The game isn’t really about falling blocks; it’s about a cascade of chances to make decisions.
Merihari… and Forks
I reached out to some of the smartest video game creators that I know and I asked them how they could spot a good game and distinguish it from a bad one. My theory was that the big thing was the presence of interesting choices, but what was their theory?
Dylan Cuthbert weighed in from Japan, which thrilled me because Dylan Cuthbert not only makes many video games that I like—Star Fox, PixelJunk Monsters, Digidrive, to name a few—but he has also worked closely with the top people at Nintendo’s Kyoto headquarters where many indisputably great video games have been made.
“Well to begin with, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’” he told me over e-mail back in the beginning of the year. “For example I think Dark Souls is an amazing game but others might disagree with me. However, for any game that someone thinks is really good there are a few common factors. For me those are: Aesthetics (not just artistic beauty), Polish, Engagement, Originality and final but not least, ‘Merihari’.
“‘What’s merihar?’ you are probably asking; well it’s a Japanese word that embodies rhythm+balance+distribution—for example. imagine a roller coaster ride without merihari, and it would just be a continuous downhill ride. That may sound good, but, actually without the tension of that initial climb, a fairly large chunk of the thrill is lost. It’s why boss fights work well in games. The stage before it builds up the tension. If you have a game that only has boss fights, the experience begins to feel shallow. (a game that sticks in my mind for doing this, unfortunately, is Omega Boost from Polyphony, a game that would have been much better if it had built up the tension before each battle)
Cuthbert: “For any game that someone thinks is really good there are a few common factors. For me those are: Aesthetics (not just artistic beauty), Polish, Engagement, Originality and final but not least, ‘Merihari.’””Probably the main thing, though, is that old favourite: tender love and care—when the entire development team has loved and cared for the game that alone can simply make all the difference.”
The merihari thing sounded right. Theory revision! Interesting decisions + merihari. Plus other stuff too, probably.
I got another response, this one from Eric Zimmerman, a game designer and academic in New York:
“I don’t think you can answer the question in simple terms, i.e. a certain kind of game design or a certain kind of player experience,” he told me in an e-mail. “I would have to answer that deciding WHAT constitutes a good experience for your players is part of the design problem itself. A game designer has to decide what success will be for her game. And then she has to design it!
“This idea of a game designer defining her own design problem is particularly salient for game designers, as opposed to other forms of designers (like architects or industrial designers) because our work is usually explicitly non-utilitarian. A fork designer can always fall back on the success of a fork design being the functional use of the fork: someone actually can use it to eat food.
Zimmerman: “Fork designers usually have their own aesthetic goals, for example. But in the case of (non-educational) games, the non-functional goals are ALL THAT WE HAVE.””But in game design, we have to create our own criteria for success. This might include aesthetic goals, goals for exploring or conveying ideas, commercial metrics, and technical innovations, etc. Of course, all of these kinds of goals are things that non-game designers can take on, too. Fork designers usually have their own aesthetic goals, for example. But in the case of (non-educational) games, the non-functional goals are ALL THAT WE HAVE.
“So game designers themselves decide what makes a good game good. And it can be unique for each individual designer, and for each individual game a designer might make. A game might be good because it makes you sad, or happy, or angry. It might be meant to relax players, or excite them, to grind them into a zen state or snap them into problem-solving alertness. A game designer might decide success is loving social interaction, or ruthless trash talking, or solitary isolation. Or success might be thinking about violence in a new way—or maybe thinking about violins in a new way.
Usually it is a stewy mix of a whole bunch of different and sometimes conflicting success criteria.
“And a designer’s idea of what success looks like for a game can even change as the game is being developed or after it is released. In fact the sweetest pleasure for a game designer can be seeing your game played in ways you never anticipated. That’s when your players teach YOU about what makes a good game good.”
This seems right as well, and helped remind me of my original quandary, which wasn’t to distinguish between good games and bad ones but to determine if something—specifically, the creations of the Zynga corporation—were games at all. Zimmerman did not address that specifically, but his comments about the goals of games helped me realize what it is that Zynga’s big FacebookVille games possess that makes it so hard for me to relax and just play them: their goal of making money for the people who created the game feels apparent every time I make a decision in one of those games.
Every time I make a decision, I use one of my rationed pieces of energy, bringing me another step closer to having to wait to continue (that’s annoying) or to bug my friends for help (that makes me feels like I’m marketing the game for Zynga) or paying for more energy (that feels like I’m losing a test of wills with a rich corporation).
Possible theory revision: A good video game not only contains interesting decisions but doesn’t include decisions that make me feel like I’m being manipulated/used/nickel-and-dimed.
Super Mario Decision-Making
In 2012, armed with my theory I’ve been looking for games that are full of choices. The Zynga people still call, and they still show me their games. If the game doesn’t appear to offer choices I haven’t been offered before—or if it doesn’t offer choices that lead to distinct consequences—I lose interest.
As I’ve hunted for games full of choices, I’ve honed my taste in first-person shooters and realized that I’m less interested in the ones that feel as if they pull me down a straight line and not give me a choice how to solve my problems (so that’s why I liked 2011′s Bulletstorm so much… every enemy encounter was ripe with multiple choices about how to win it).
I’ve realized that my low tolerance for Japanese role-playing games might be less due to the stories they present than to the lack of choices available in the ones I’ve played (so that’s why the Fire Emblems are my favorites and why I despise level-grinding, the epitome of the uninteresting choice of how to spend your time).
My zeal for interactive decision-making has enhanced my appreciation for Angry Birds Space and explained my limited interest in the wonderfully-written but choice-limited Ace Attorney games.
I now crave from the games I play the choice to do radically different things to see what happens next. If I feel like I’m being funneled or forced to do only a certain thing next, I resist. I get annoyed. I dislike the game. This must be why I loved Portal 2 last year, a game that may have had just one solution to each of its puzzles but let me feel like I was experimenting—making decisions—as I tinkered with possible ways through. And this must be why I tired of Uncharted 3′s combat, which offered me the same choices against the same enemies ad nauseum.
When I say I now look for games that are filled with choices, I don’t mean that I’m always looking for BioWare-style role-playing games that are full of branching moral paths. For me, choice can involve having two different targets to shoot. It can involve something as simple and pure and being posed with the quandary of whether or not to jump.
A Mario level rushed through briskly is an encounter with a series of interesting choices.I’ve always been fascinated by the act of jumping in Super Mario Bros.. I consider it the most perfect activity ever put in a video game (how strange that it’s not in Tetris!). Mario’s ascent is associated with discovery. On his way up he might hit a block that will sprout a mushroom or flower that grants him new abilities. His descent is an attack. On his way down he squashes his enemies. When combined, the ascent and descent are also a necessary means of traversal used to pass bottomless pits or avoid carnivorous plants that emerge from green pipes. Every inch of a Mario level presents the player a string of choices, almost all of which compel the player to decide whether or how to use the ascent, the descent or both to one’s advantage.
A Mario level rushed through briskly is an encounter with a series of interesting choices. The best levels in the series are composed of a series of obstacles that, when approached rapidly, offer a delightful set of quandaries. Do I run and jump over this guy? But then what does that put me in a position to do to the next guy? Do I take this upper path? But then do I miss the power-up that was hidden below? Do I hope on this turtle and knock its shell into the next few enemies, do I hop across each of their heads? Etc.
Perhaps this idea of good games that present interesting choices is too obvious a theory. Perhaps it does not sufficiently sift gaming’s good works from its bad, to say nothing of distinguishing between gaming’s good work and its greats. The theory has aided me, though, because it has helped me respect myself as a gamer and made me more conscious of how a game will use my time. If it offers me interesting choices, second by second and minute by minute, I may enjoy it. If it does not, I’d have been better off not playing it. This is how I now distinguish the good games from what I believe are the bad.
篇目4，Toward a Philosophy of Game Design
David Ethan Kennerly
This is by no means the philosophy of game design, but these notions may help an aspiring game designer before he begins his work and in reviewing not just his work but the fitness of his goals.
What is the Sound of One Hand Designing?
“[Do not] mistake yourself for an ‘artist.’ Our goal is to create newer and more fun games. Art is not our goal.” Tetsuya Nomura, Final Fantasy character designerThe Entertainment versus Art debate flares perennially. These participants may be having fun, but the dichotomy is uniquely inappropriate to games. For example among MMORPGs, to Jessica Mulligan, fun subsumes art; whereas, to Raph Koster, art subsumes entertainment. I will challenge the dichotomy itself. Crafting fun is the art of the game.
To paraphrase Stephen King: Put your game design desk in the corner to remind yourself every day that Art supports Life, not the other way around. By the end of this article, we may disentangle the faulty dichotomy. After reconsidering what we think we know about a game, fun, and art we may come to discover that Nomura and Costikyan are correct:
“If you were to write a Seven Lively Arts for the 21st century, the form you’d have to mention first is clearly games.” Greg Costikyan
To begin disentangling, we need to come to terms with the game as a unique medium.
A Unique Medium
“Unfortunately, as similar as the two media are, the differences are real and compelling and the superficial similarities can actually make people LESS effective in new, game-oriented roles.” Warren Spector
Games are not like other forms of art. To define a game: if it uses points, has players and rules, it’s a game. Of course a game may be part of a service or a world or a community, too. To keep a game, as I use the term here, from being confused with all the disciplines that game theory has been applied to (economics, psychology, politics, empirical analysis), call it “a parlor game,” if the reader must. But Joe and Jane at the checkout counter call it a game.
As the sound designer for the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers video game wrote: “It is unproductive to think of games as ‘interactive movies,’ although many people tend to think of games in those terms. Let’s be clear: games and films are different media. The techniques, processes, and skills involved in the creation of each are unique and not interchangeable. The metrics by which each is judged are also different, meaning that many of the properties that make for a good film would lead to a lousy game, and vice versa.”
Narratives, which includes most films, and games differ dramatically, because games don’t tell stories, players tell stories. A narrative is a passive experience.
One watches and feels but does not do. The audience is not the actor. In a game, the audience is at once the actor, also. Herein is a conflict of purpose. The author of a narrative must control the lives of the actors. Whereas, the designer of a game must abdicate control. To paraphrase Will Wright’s first advice for a budding game designer: Games are about players having fun; not about writers solving the narrative problems they want to solve.
Part of the problem is that an intellectual property rarely links a fine narrative to a fine game. Dungeons & Dragons is not J.R.R. Tolkien-in-the-medium-of-a-game.
American McGee’s Alice is not an adaptation of Lewis Carroll-in-the-medium-of-a-game. Go or Eleusis, which are puzzling, logical, and playfully deep, offers better comparison to Lewis Carroll. Reiner Knizia came closer with his cooperative board game of “Lord of the Rings,” which retains the spirit of the novel. But still “Lord of the Rings” is more of a novelty than a fine game.
Many game-movie crossovers, such as Wing Commander or Mario Brothers, failed and so did movie-games, such as Atari’s E.T. or Braveheart. Their lesson: satisfy an audience for a movie, a player for a game. A bleak road lies before one who seeks a movie experience in a game or vice versa. Although the fine game invokes something powerful inside the willing player, don’t look for J.R.R. Tolkien or Lewis Carroll in a game. He’s not there. Equally, there’s no Reiner Knizia, Sid Sackson, or Harold S. Vanderbilt of narratives.
A game designer can borrow inspiration from another medium but not techniques or values. For example, being inspired by the pace in a movie is far from learning how to pace a game from studying pace in a movie. When I’ve successfully borrowed from other art forms, it was only the inspiration. To fail to understand this may create a scenario where:
“[G]ame development is turning into a circus, costs are skyrocketing, users get bored faster than ever before, and the development of truly new games — new ways of having fun — has all but stopped.” Mr. Yamauchi, President of Nintendo
A fine game does not resemble any other medium’s fine art. To give an extreme example: What fine movie resembles ChuChu Rocket? It defies the qualities of other arts.
It lacks story, depth, and eye candy. Yet it is still a fine game. Fun comes in different flavors: Chess, Kungfu Chess, ChuChu Rocket, Bust-a-Grove, Bomberman, Pacman, Lost Cities, or more. Each is an active, controlled, enjoyed experience. The player makes things happen.
Understanding these varieties of fun expands the scope of a fine game. As we shall see, the game designer should subordinate other qualities of the game to the quality of fun itself.
From the Point of View of Fun
“From the point of view of fun, the type of all the arts is the art of the game designer.” Paraphrase of Oscar Wilde
When discussing the art of game design, fun is the yardstick—not realism, not novelty, not narration, not philosophy, not impressive technology, nor visual quality.
Let’s define the term. Fun, like many common words, is overloaded with various meanings. In Korean, the same word describes having fun, being entertained, and being interested. Americans often combine some of these words, too. Bear with me if mine varies from the conventional. I mean not the fun of watching an explosion on screen, as in a movie, but the fun of creating an explosion on the screen, as in a game. I mean active, controlled fun, as Patricia Marks Greenfield wrote: “They were unanimous in preferring the games to television. They were also unanimous about the reason: active control.” So fun, for here and now, is enjoyment where you directly impact the outcome at every move.
I use the term fun as Sid Meier, Will Wright, Tetsuyu Nomura, and Yamauchi do, which excludes non-interactive experiences. In a painting, song, movie, book, or TV episode, the audience does not, within the course of the episode, alter the outcome of the episode. In a fine game, the player alters the outcome with every move.
Many game designers have broad interests. Yet while musing on realism, virtual this-and-that, multi-protagonist storytelling, is fun for system architects, the art of game design is to produce what is fun for the player. Sid Meier cleverly put it in several interviews since at least mid-1990s, if not earlier. For example, an interview with Richard Rouse III: “We have, amongst our rules of game design, the three categories of games. There are games where the designer’s having all the fun, games where the computer is having all the fun, and games where the player is having all the fun. And we think we ought to write games where the player is having all the fun.”
A professional game designer, who sells games to a player, ought to follow Sid Meier’s lead and attempt to design games of the third kind. Diverse industry professionals agree. From story consultant, Brad Kane: “Last, but not least – games must be fun. No amount of emotional depth will save a game that is boring.”
To online world designer, Starr Long: “Fun should always win over realism. These are games after all.”
To indie developer, Perry Board: “Don’t forget fun for the player. Your overall objective is to provide enjoyment. Everything you do should somehow be centered on that goal. ”
To pencil and paper designers, Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams: “[They are] all powerful motivators. So, of course, is fun. Never forget that last one.”
To board game designer, Reiner Knizia: “[The game] is just a platform for the people’s enjoyment.”
Invoking fun does not require a fine game, but a fine game does necessarily invoke fun.
An Upward Spiral
“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”
It would not do well to exclude fun, at least a few of its well-mannered incarnations, from sacred experiences. Fun, we shall see, is a precious instinct.
Game playing has roots older than the human species. Young mammals play. They don’t have specific rules, so they’re not games. But mammalian play behavior shares more in common with human game behavior than movie watching shares with playing a game. Play behavior may even be connected to the evolution of intelligence. Darwin’s early description of evolution resembles a game. We generally recognize our instinct to play as a feeling of fun.
If so, then fun is not low. It evolves sophisticated strategies. The old adage of a fine game, a minute to learn, a lifetime to master, is true because strategy begins simple and becomes complex. This same instinct is a compelling force toward science and art. Fun is a root of creativity. Einstein began math only after his uncle introduced him to it as a game of an investigator capturing a wily thief, wherein the solution was the capture. Discovering the nature of light in a gravitational field is not a simple pleasure, yet fun may have been its original fuel. Feynman won the Nobel Prize when he was pursuing a thesis that he described as the sort he enjoyed—he had fun at.
In the fine game, fun intersects fine art. By fine art, I mean basically great art: fine art is the final art, or the most perfect of the arts. There is a quotation:
“The more I study the smarter Aristotle gets.” In a fine game, the more the player studies the deeper the game gets. Once a player knows the perfect strategy in a game, such as tic-tac-toe, no amount of play will reveal a better strategy. When the game ceases to teach the player a new lesson, the game stops being fun. The mind engages in a process of learning, in an education about a special system when playing a game. When perfected, there is nothing new to learn. Whereas, in Lost Cities, Go, or any fine game, each iteration teaches a new lesson. New strategies unfold. Weaknesses in old strategies appear. This is a kind of wonder that precedes discovery. This shares the impetus of science and art.
So fun is the art of the game. It is a high goal. It is noble. It is not necessarily base. It is not necessarily a simple pleasure. Whosoever plays earnestly at a fine game ascends an upward spiral of intelligence. Even the strategies for choosing playing strategies evolve. The enabling goals within the span of the game themselves change. And once so involved, one is learning, “To be able to be caught up into the world of thought—that is to be educated.”
Playing the Human Condition
“He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance” Sting
Paul Schwanz was looking for something finer than the experiences he’s had in some games: “What does interactive entertainment have to offer that can be compared to
something like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Coppola’s The Godfather, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet?” Raph Koster, a MMORPG creative director, held a similar opinion: “If we want to go on a crusade to fix something, how about we fix the fact that your average cartoon does a better job at portraying the human condition than our games do?”
A fine game does portray the human condition. Here are three examples:
2. Seven-card stud poker.
1. Like Steinbeck’s classic, “Of Mice and Men”, Spades is a two-player struggle of the lower-class worker invented around the Depression Era in the US. It’s been enjoyed for many decades by working-class men in situations much like many of Steinbeck’s characters. In the game, the partners bid on what points they can make, not unlike such plights of the Depression—and post-industrial labor in general. I don’t think it was a coincidence that my Army mates, at multiple duty stations, played Spades during downtime. A good Spades player learns a lot about the condition of the post-industrial service-oriented laborer. He learns that self-evaluation and teamwork trump individual excellence.
2. Seven-card stud poker is the penultimate game of American Business. Poker teaches the art of statistical speculation and bluffing. The movie Pirates of the Silicon Valley was fond of depicting Bill Gates as a good poker player in college as foreshadow to his business success.
3. Hamlet and Chess share equal footing. In playing Chess one realizes much about the state of feudal and post-feudal politics. Human life exists in freedom of movement. Each player gradually negotiates, with each move, for freedom of movement of their Principal. Bishops are bound to devour members of their own dogma (be it black or white), while the plight of the majority, the Pawn, is that he has the least freedom of movement of them all.
The musician Sting hinted at a perspective on a game from which to gain insight into the human condition. One who goes beyond the narrative media’s mindset may watch “[t]he numbers lead a dance.” Sessions of Civilization (Sid Meier), Chess, Go, Settlers of Catan, and Diplomacy have included holocaust, murder, power addiction, territorial threats, and economic depression. To those inclined to perceive, the fine game reveals, “The hidden law of a probable outcome.”
A fine game gives insight into the human condition, if you believe: The world resembles a game, and all of us are players—our moves finite, our consequences irreversible.
篇目5，The benefits of making your players suffer (and maybe throw up)
By Brandon Sheffield
Bennett Foddy, creator of QWOP, GIRP, and CLOP among others, likes to play with his players, and he suggests that more of us should be doing the same.
At the top of his talk at IndieCade on Friday, he asserted, “I’m going to try to convince you to put more suffering in your games.”
Learn a lesson from the Olympics, he says – it’s all about the suffering. It’s all about the pathos of second place.
“Nobody cries when they come second in a video game,” he notes. “Nobody lays down and cries. Why not?”
In track and field video games, “The way that you run is to either hammer a button really fast, or waggle a joystick really fast,” he says. “There’s no joy in that, the joy is in the panic – in your friends watching you injure yourself as you hit the button.”
“It’s not just that games are easier – though they are,” he says. “To me it’s that games these days are more comfortable. There’s less discomfort. My worry is not that games are getting too easy, because easy games can be wonderful. My worry is that games are getting too comfortable.”
What’s so good about suffering anyway? “When you’re suffering in a game, it makes failure matter,” he says. Counter-Strike uses boredom. If you fail, you have to just watch everyone else play, but frustration is more widely used.
“It makes success matter if there’s suffering in the game,” Foddy says. If you get to the end, you feel like this huge weight has been lifted. Thus, “this talk is a love letter to games that put you through Hell just for the sake of it,” he says, “because we enjoy the suffering itself.”
“Often when I start designing a game, I start by thinking about the aesthetics of the input,” he says. Would the interaction be fun if there were no game? “Most sports pass that test,” he says, noting that playing catch is fun even without rules.
One example is drumming your fingers on the keyboard – it’s sort of inherently satisfying – and that became the inspiration for CLOP, which uses the H, J, K, and L keys.
“I’d like to have an anti-ergonomic game where it’s physically challenging to play the game, and you could say to your friends ‘I played for three hours, and I had to go to the hospital,’” he said.
Foddy has been researching pain, confusion, and nausea in games, to make games that give players those sorts of feelings.
Wolfenstein 3D makes people nauseous, but it doesn’t make you feel good. “The reason I don’t feel good about it is that it’s not the point of the game,” he says. “I think you could make a game where nausea is the point of the game, and people would enjoy it.”
Motal Kombat gives you Fatalities, as an example of humiliation. “You might think that’s for the pleasure of the winner, but I don’t think that’s right,” he says. “The computer does it as well.
I’m supposed to be enjoying it as a player, even on the losing end.”
Ultimately it’s all about playing with the player, as a developer. “The reason I’m cataloging these various dimensions of suffering, is why would frustration feel good? Why would confusion or humiliation be nice?” he posed. “I think one reason is it represents the developer playing with the player.”
The idea among many developers is that confusion is an engineering failure. This means developer is teaching you how to stay interested in the game, rather than playing with you. “To me that’s a warped way to look at the interaction between the developer and the player.”
So in a single player game, the developer should be player 2. “Playing” is just an agreement that you won’t kill each other – if you take it down to completely not hurting each other, it loses its teeth. “That’s the flag football of video games,” says Foddy. “I think you should make the real football of videogames.”
If you do this, he says “you’re playing with the player, rather than providing an environment for players to play with themselves.”
Don’t worry too much about frustration, and playtesting. “Maybe you shouldn’t care so much about what people will think,” he posed. “I wonder if Marcel Duchamp would’ve put a tutorial into his video games, if he made them? He wouldn’t have focus tested his games.”
“Don’t water down your games. I think art should be difficult, I think it should be painful, it should be nauseating,” he says. “It should be more difficult, more nauseating than music or other art because it’s more complex,” he concluded. “Don’t make the easy listening of video games.”
篇目6，Fun vs features
You have a system. Let’s say it’s a system where you can throw darts. And you have to open your bar in one week.
Throwing darts might have a bad interface. The dartboard might be too small or too big or poorly lit. Darts may be a perfectly nice idea, but the implementation of it needs tuning.
At this point, you have a feature, but not fun. It’s gonna take you four days to make it fun.
You can refine darts, get it fun. Make the UI good, have a great physics model and control, great graphics, and in general, you can get it to where you have a fun feature.
The exercise here is going to be threefold: making sure the inputs afforded to the user map well to their view of the “black box” that is the darts system; making sure the darts system itself offers interesting repeatable challenges; and making sure that the feedback from the black box Is both juicy and educational, so that the user can get better at darts. All this is hard.
Then you face a choice. Three days left, if you made darts fun. You can either go implement a pool table, or you can add content to darts. Content would be new kinds of darts, more kinds of dart games, etc. They don’t call for a new system, just other kinds of data. Not much new code (and new code runs the risk of introducing bugs). You can make the best darn darts game in the country if you spent the three days on that.
The pool table, you could get that in instead. But what if it’s not fun on the first try, just like darts weren’t? Then you’d have a decent darts game and a crappy pool table.
Which is better, having the best darts game available, or having a middling darts game and a bad game of pool?
Adding features offers the potential for fun, but fun comes from tuning and balancing. It isn’t magically there just because you got a pool table.
In order, I would have to tackle the black box, then the inputs, and finally the feedback. I can’t make a bad system much better with great affordances and while I can make it juicy, it usually won’t hold players.
I would choose to polish up darts, and promise to get a pool table in there as soon as I can. And when I do put in the pool table, it’ll be as good a game of pool as we can make rather than being rushed to fit in before the bar opens.
This isn’t the answer I would always have chosen in my career. I have done plenty of kitchen sink design. I have also settled for poor affordances and feedback far too often. I have even had perfectly wonderful systems be unusable because we could not figure out a way to make the feedback comprehensible.
I’ve always leaned towards elegant systems, meaning ones with few variables and few rules to them. When you populate a game with many of these, they very frequently end up leading to emergent behavior, which can be quite fun. But when you lean on the creation of simple systems, the temptation is even greater to have lots of them in your game. And that can and will lead to most or all of them feeling unpolished and unfinished.
I’ve gotten good enough at coming up with simple rule solutions that gosh, almost 10% of them work on the first try! (Yes, read that as sarcasm aimed at myself). But these days, I tend to assume that it will take me ten times longer to polish up and tune that rule system than it will to come up with the rules in the first place.
篇目7，Having Fun: Why Fun Matters
It often surprises me how easy it is to forget one of the most important aspects of game design. If everyone who ever designed just kept one principle in mind, I think the world of design – and likely the fate of some failed games – would be much better on the whole.
Let me back up to when I started thinking about design with this in mind.
For a few months, I’ve been helping develop a game with Jonathon Loucks for Skaff Elias and a few others. What immediately struck me as I entered headfirst into the fray is how we talked about the game.
At first, I didn’t notice. I’d be sitting across from Jon, talking about mechanics, and we’d mention how fun or unfun something was. But, as a pair of individuals who are around each other a lot and who regularly speak in these terms, it didn’t soak in immediately. It wasn’t until I was in a development meeting and Skaff started talking about how “fun” something should feel that the most obvious thing hit me upside the head.
Being fun is important.
Now, this seems obvious. We all try on some level. However, the thing about fun is that we often try and quantify it. Years of working in writing taught me to weed out terms that weren’t descriptive enough. The eyes of my poetry and prose professors unleashed invisible yardsticks on your wrists if you so much as mentioned “the flow” of a poem. After all, flow on its own meant nothing. There was always a way to pull out exactly what you liked with an increased description. However, in game design, sometimes too much pulling apart and quantification leads to stripping fun away from whatever you are designing.
But fun? Sometimes fun is just… fun. There’s not always good reason to describe it – or even a need to.
When you design something, at the end of the day, you need to be able to stand back and ask yourself, “Is this fun? Is this actually enjoyable?” For the most part (yes, I realize there are always exceptions) only one player group will want to play something simply because it proves themselves as people who can correctly identify value – the Spikes.
Even then, as someone who is partially a spike, I will often shy away from things I don’t find fun even if I know I can win with/at them simply because games become a grind otherwise.
A great example is Scrabble. I’m pretty good with words and have a propensity to figure out which words to put where. The problem? It’s excruciating to do so! I’ll look over a board, tank for 15 minutes, analyze the situation from every possible angle, and come out with a good play – but it’s absolutely no fun for me to do so. That’s partially why I don’t play Scrabble as often anymore – it just isn’t fun despite it being something I can be good at.
The problem is that’s hard to judge when you design something. There are competitive Scrabble players who thrive on figuring out the perfect word. Perhaps I am an oddball spike exception. However, what’s important is not to project your sense of fun onto other players’ sense of fun. Fun is normally something you have to look on an individual level. In design, though, it’s something you have to look at on a deeper level. You have to be able to look at what you’re playing and see how it applies to other people who haven’t even tried it yet. Will Timmy find it fun? Will Johnny find it fun? Will Spike find it fun? It’s a tricky balance. Scrabble is definitely a good, generally fun game overall, even if I personally don’t find it fun, because it has something for each group.
I believe Magic has had increased success lately precisely because Wizards has made the game more accessible and intuitive, which, in turn, make the game more fun to play for most people. Additionally, they have been making a lot of fun cards lately. It hasn’t always been this way. Fortunately, the days of Time Spiral are over, some new design rules and ideals are in order, and the game is a lot more fun to a wider group of players as a result.
When we sit down to play a game, outside of major tournaments, I think everyone’s goal is to have a good time. If a game (or card) does everything else well but still isn’t fun to play it’s still probably going to be behind something that is fun to play even if it does a couple of other things worse.
I have a lot to say on the topic of what is and isn’t fun, and there’s far too much to fit into one blog post. Consider this an introduction to the “Having Fun” series and expect future posts will go into specific details in depth. I look forward to talking to you then!