What Games Do You Enjoy?

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Gaberaham Lincoln
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Re: What Games Do You Enjoy?

Postby Gaberaham Lincoln » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:08 pm

Administrator wrote:I'm always intrigued by these games that are mechanically minimalistic, but use basic gameplay to tell a compelling story. I'm not an expert on these sorts of games, but I've seen a couple via streamers (RetroPrincess' stream of The Bunker immediately comes to mind), and these sorts of games can be amazing. I think that indie developers can take bigger risks and wade into more controversial subject matter than the bigger companies can touch, and these story-telling sorts of games are an arena where indie studios can shine.


Yeah, it's a really interesting subject, since it really leans on how gaming itself is just one element of a video game, much like audio-visual presentation, or narrative. You can have a video game like Tetris, which is minimal on the latter two, but 100% focused on the game aspect, or ones like the Telltale Walking Dead games, which have very limited gameplay, but heavy cinematic and narrative elements. In between you can find things like RPGs, which can have complex gameplay and complex narrative. And all of these elements can tie together differently, too.

Some games like Undertale really heavily link their narrative to gameplay, while others, say Metal Gear Solid, puts it more in cinematics. Still others like the Talos Principle do neither, and just throw it into a bunch of audio and text logs.

What's really interesting about the minimal gameplay games is seeing just how they deploy the game aspect. Have they justified telling their story in this medium? With the Walking Dead games, for example, you are part of this ongoing story, told in a very linear and cinematic way, and your gameplay is responding to people in conversations, and making choices that could have consequences. Though the game has to end up in the same place no matter the choices, it does remember the things you do, and they affect how people treat your character. I found that minimum gameplay really helped to engage me in the story, since it tied me to the consequences in the way that a movie can't. When you watch a horror movie, it's easy to detach yourself from the characters, but the Walking Dead games invest you by their nature.

Unfortunately a lot of people still misunderstand this, and only buy games for the game aspect, with everything else being a perk. Admittedly, the naming doesn't help, since a game is a game, so you would expect gameplay focus. In reality, though, video gaming is perhaps the most complex medium out there, and gaming is just a part of it.

My interest level is very high, and I've added this to my "list of games to someday explore if I ever have free time again".

This is one of the only downsides of being a game developer. Don't get me wrong, I desperately love what I'm doing, but whenever I get free time, I need to spend it away from the monitors and keyboard, because I can only spend so many hours a day sitting in a chair and wailing on keys. There are so many incredible, deserving indie games out there that I really should be playing, but I just don't have the opportunity to experience them at this stage in OC's development.


I mostly get to do my gaming during breaks from school, myself. Unless it's the Binding of Isaac, which at this point is just sorta zen, and I use it to focus on other things, haha. I guess the bright side of having to wait is that, in the mean time, all of these interesting games will pile up, and you'll have a lot to go through once you have the time.
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Re: What Games Do You Enjoy?

Postby Administrator » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:25 pm

Gaberaham Lincoln wrote:Unfortunately a lot of people still misunderstand this, and only buy games for the game aspect, with everything else being a perk. Admittedly, the naming doesn't help, since a game is a game, so you would expect gameplay focus. In reality, though, video gaming is perhaps the most complex medium out there, and gaming is just a part of it.

I think your assessment here is spot on, and you'd be a great panelist at some of the gaming convention panels that tackle these kinds of things. I'm not familiar with the Walking Dead game or TV series, but it sounds a bit like The Bunker to me, and that makes it extremely cool. I've never played one of these games that's very narrative focused - they seem like interactive sorts of movies, which is conceptually interesting.

And you're right that video games are a deep, complex, multi-faceted medium! I think if a player looks at Outer Colony with a keen, discerning eye, they can see that the game tells a story in its own right. If you pay attention to the cultures, the people, and their behaviors, stories are told everywhere! Outer Colony's stories are told through the gameplay - the narratives are emergently generated by the nature of the world. You can see that violence begets violence, war is physically disgusting and devastates social networks, rampant consumerism can change the workings of an economy - there are scores of other themes that emerge, and if you pay attention to your colonists, it's all there to be seen.

I think that's one of the neater things about the game. Every colonist has a story. Every society has an arc. In a way, the system is like a procedural story generator. I talked in an interview recently about how Outer Colony can be a bit like an ant farm, sometimes, and that some of the joy that comes from watching a world's story unfold makes Outer Colony a bit more like a software toy than a traditional game.

I think that game design is an utterly fascinating subject, and I'd love to write a huge post on how I approached these sorts of matters in Outer Colony, but the whole system is designed to do precisely what I described above.

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