Thursday, June 12, 2014

Game Design: Interesting Decisions versus Wish Fulfillment

Slides from this screencast:

Interesting Decisions
Wish Fulfillment
Dr. Lewis Pulsipher

Another way to look at game design
Insofar as game design is much about thinking…
Dividing/categorizing what game design is about can be fruitful
So we can look at games as:
Those with human opposition vs those without
All math, about people, or about stories
Linear vs “open world”
Mind control vs players make own story
Games vs puzzles
The system and the psychological
Talent vs technique

This time it’s: games as a series of choices
 versus games as wish fulfillment

Sid Meier’s classic definition of a game as “a series of interesting choices” versus
Games as wish-fulfillment, as “an experience” (role-play)
AAA video games have enabled the second method
Traditional board and card games lack ways to make something that “feels real” for the player

Wish-fulfillment can still have choice
But in many cases, to implement wish-fulfillment the designer/writer eliminates the larger choices in order to guide a story to a conclusion
As in, say, Mass Effect 3?
Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons provide the bridge between the two
You can play it either way
Some RP game systems encourage one or the other

Is one way “better?”
“Interesting choices” is the traditional game
“Experiences” is the “new” game
(And puzzles are something else again)
I’ll confess I’m mostly in the choices camp
Yet in D&D I tended to play the game as though it was me in there, not as an actor, so in that respect it was an “experience”

What kind of games do YOU want to make?


Courses in game development said...

Enjoyed reading the post! Thanks for the share!

anarchist said...

I wonder if a lot of the debates about D&D are really about which one of these it should offer.

Lewis Pulsipher said...

For sure. RPGs are the bridge between other tabletop games, which tend to emphasize interesting decisions, and AAA video games, which nowadays tend to emphasize wish fulfillment. RPGs can do either in the same set of rules.

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