Ok so I think this is pretty cool. I also think this is one of THE ways you should create core mechanics.
Simply – I’m creating a jump in a game, but this is so important to get right. A good jump is a little bit of positive feedback every time you hit the button. It can be addictive and genuinely fun. A bad jump makes you feel like you’re fighting against the controls. In fact most people don’t notice when a jump is good or bad, they just like one game and not the other and they don’t know why. This stuff is important.
So this is how I’m doing it –
I’m using this easing function generator to create and tune the appropriate curve and then converting the function into C# and plugging it into my code. This is the initial result using a standard curve, it’s not right yet but it already feels like it’s on the way.
Next I need to gut that site’s (very kindly freely available) code and create a solution that will give me more control over the curve and allow live editing
Ok so first I want to start by saying that I am thoroughly bored with violent games. This all came from trying to think about something that could truly replace it. But why is violence so popular in games?
So here’s a couple of theories.
1. Violence is easy to program. It’s far easier to program some bullets and health than it is to program complex interactions. Artificial intelligence too is much simpler when all it has to do is run around and shoot at the player. Kind of a dull point though this one, and there are always ways around technical problems.
2. Violence provides players with something to master. You see my first thought when thinking about replacing violence was something like an adventure game in which you try and find, say, a long lost sibling. You could build an entire game around this and there could be a myriad of challenges along the way involving meeting and talking to new characters mainly – but the mastery would be missing. That one core skill you practice again and again and are ultimately tested on. You could build a game without it, but something would definitely be lost.
So let’s just replace it with something – for the sake of argument let’s change the story. You’re a tennis pro searching the land to become the ultimate player. You travel in search of new challengers. But the problem with this is that it doesn’t provide the bite sized challenges that violent games do – you’d be limited to less, more meaningful encounters because a game of tennis takes a significant amount of time.
Violence is actually very well suited to a medium in which progression is so key. Bite-sized encounters hone your skill ready for the ultimate test at the end. Also from a more abstract design point of view, violence works nicely to clear the path of the blocking challenger once you’ve bested them, allowing you to continue on.
There is a lot that you get for free with a violent game mechanic – it fits games very well. In fact even in the real world you’d be hard pressed to find something that allows small meaningful rounds of challenge better than fighting does. I’ll keep thinking though..
…perhaps a game about a wondering debater in a world full of the opinionated…
Ultimately I think the answer is to simply come up with some activity and an excuse for why everyone challenges you at it, like Pokemon. Surely though there must be a more elegant solution…
I wrote this before he died. I was going to re-phrase this, but I think I’ll just leave it as it is. It’s unfinished, and there’s a bit of a mess towards the end, but perhaps that’s rather apt.
Iain M Banks is dying. This actually hit me in a more profound way than I thought it would. I’m not the kind of person who gets upset about the deaths of people I don’t know. I was surprised by my own reaction to the news, but then I started to realise that he has been one of, if not the biggest source of creative inspiration in my life since I was a child.
I was always drawing robots when I was little, and making things out of pieces of cut up cardboard. I’d watched StarTrek before, and Star Wars, and I knew I liked these things in some way but I never considered them as part of a genre. When I first started to read his science fiction books I was amazed at the seriousness of them, the sexiness. They are written like adult novels, there are no ray-guns or spandex-clad barbarellas. I began to think about these things more and more. I watched Ghost in the Shell, I looked at the concept artwork for Metal Gear Solid. There is a style here that I want to be part of, I want to contribute to. Good stories told about incredible things, or just stories told in interesting worlds. Often this is a genre that allows a great deal of philosophical reflection as it can be so rich in metaphors. Science fiction releases you of so many restrictions imposed upon you by other genres, especially in Games, which I now make for a living.
So much of my imagination is plagiarised from the ideas in his books. Actually so much of so many things are plagiarised from his books. The ‘halo’ from Halo for example…
When I was younger, before I went to film school, one of my often daydreamed ambitions was to make one of his books into a film. There are so few good sci-fi films. I always imagined the letter I would write to try and convince him to let me do this, and to justify why I would do the material justice like no-one else could.
As I’ve got older I’ve grown my own worlds inside my head, and I no longer want to simply tell the stories of others in a different form. But still, these worlds wouldn’t exist without his writing and I still wanted to ask him for his permission to include some homage in my work. It’s an odd, very selfish feeling to realise that I will never achieve this; one of my earliest ambitions.
If you read one thing from his volume of sci-fi work, read the short story ‘The State of the Art’ from the book of the same name.
I read it once on a family holiday in Turkey, and then again lying next to my friend in central park in NYC, with him too hungover to move. It’s about our world as seen through the eyes of others, but there are no UFO’s or aliens in the traditional sense. You follow a woman as she walks around European cities, contemplating humanity.
traditional science fiction ideas with genuine people and a more realistic view of the future that satirically criticises current western culture. moulding the spiralling, inky-abstract grasps for something more lucid that began to form in my head when I was young.
his ideas -
Stories that begin and end at opposite times and meet in the middle.
ships within ships, endlessly and intricately tattooing each other, recursing into… something
I never knew him, but it makes me sad.
The Bechdel Test:
- [The film / game] has to have at least two [named] women in it
- Who talk to each other
- About something besides a man
It’s amazing how few films and games pass this simple test, even things that you think would, like most Wes Anderson films for example, usually fail on point 2. There are definitely occasions where this isn’t a sign of anything, plenty of trashy films starring female characters would pass, but could barely be described as woman-friendly story telling.
Games have always been a chief culprit of negative gender stereotypes, but we already knew that, and much as I would claim to be a feminist I don’t actually care about this at all. If people want to play through a teenage power fantasy full of half-naked girls, fine. I won’t play it, but I don’t care that it exists either.
What bothers me is the lack of women and female-centric story in media that we perceive to be mature. How often have you watched a scene, especially in a game, where two women talk to each other in a room? Just that. Honestly I struggle to think of a mainstream example where this happens.
We seem to have a short-circuit that just stops us from creating female characters unless there’s a specific reason to. take a film like Ratatouille. How many chefs are there in the restaurant where the film takes place? Quite a few. And how many are female? One, the love interest. Many of the characters in these films or games could be female, there is absolutely no need for them all to be men. If they are, they are the exceptions. Lara croft is a woman in a world of men, Colette from Ratatouille is, again, in a man’s world. Yes in Monsters Inc the only women are a simpering receptionist, a little girl in need of protection and a woman who, for all intents and purposes, works in HR. But this seemingly more extreme gender-stereotyping is more obvious and more easily addressed. It is the subtler and far deeper problem that bothers me the most, one that I wasn’t even aware of until I really started thinking about point number 2 on the Bechdel Test.
It’s not a question of making more women-oriented stories, or getting rid of adolescent sex objects, it’s far simpler – why aren’t more of our characters women?