Stupid Suggestions

I think Pokémon is great, for the most part. I just finished the league in HeartGold, with a play time of 30:49 over 3 weeks, but already, there is talk of the next installments in Japan: Black and White.

At first I deluded myself with how fresh they looked, and listened to the insidious talk that they would revolutionise the game. That will not happen, on reflection: Game Freak will stubbornly hold onto their precious metagame like their firstborn son… their onlyborn son, in fact.

“Digimon is a Pokémon rip-off” is the popular opinion. I always thought it was OK, because it was like Pokémon, but wasn’t Pokémon. That’s important; why can’t that holy grail of kids’ RPGs — the first and best monster game — be a little bit more Digimon, or a bit more… *sigh*…. Telefang? Digimon changed its whole plot every season, and sure, it’s rubbish now, but it really peaked around Season 3!

I guess they’re content with just swimming in their yen-filled, diamond-lined pool while women dressed as Lopunny dance on pedestals made of remastered precious materials.


Game Design

I think about this topic a lot, so this may the first of many posts on the topic.

Leon introduced me to 1000 blank white cards. It is a game which was already present in my brain, as an ideal, but which I’ve never considered by name. In years 8 through 10, I think, Alex Tear created a card game called Smogioh, which was a comedy more than anything, lacked balance, and had no real strucutre, but was still engaging and amusing.

What is the base level of a “game”?

Triangles are popular in gameplay. If Rock, Paper, Scissors had two elements, it would not be a game. If it had 4 elements, it would be too complex. I once wrote a computer RPG where you had one stat: the game was CNinja Express, and the stat was Ninja. It served as currency, power, and high score. It turned out to not be very good, but it was playable.

Gameplay has to be fun… I suppose I miss that a lot in my search for clever dynamics, and valuing skill over chance. One of the best games I ever invented was almost entirely chance, and that was Ste and Trebble’s Paper RPG. Think Dungeons and Dragons as procedurally generated by dice rolls.

My conclusion is that the best games are the ones that you take the most satisfaction from, and I think a good source of gameplay satisfaction is how much of yourself you put into it. Games you invent and which then work, are awesome… perhaps the best. Games that somebody else made that aren’t fun, are surely the worst.

Now click for the above paragraph in the form of a bad comic:
Making a game with friends


Old-School MUD Fun

This stole my day:

Like the title says, this is a way-old-school multi-user dungeon where you have no permanent account; your character is stored as a cookie on your PC. There are a load of classes, like rogue, knight, wizard etc., and some must be unlocked by getting over level 10 or 20 in an available character type.

Grind around an overworld, kill things, get better gear.

They have these things which are unanimously known as “rape trains” (to my distaste). I guess it perfectly describes the system, and no-one has a better shorthand way of describing it. It involves a leader (which was me, when I had my level 20 Wizard) roaming through the “blacklands” in the far north-west of the map with a gang of people, killing the high level monsters known as “gods”. They drop good stuff, and give lots of experience.

It was interesting socially: It’s a very new game, but already has a very specialist vernacular, as you can see from the paragraph above, and screenshot below. Offering protection, or the guarantee of easy experience via a “rape train” gets a lot of people on your side very quickly, but the game is very ephemeral; accounts are won and lost in the blink of an eye. Fail to make it to level 10 and you’ve acheived nothing in your playthrough.

I went from being a “casual” (“Only casuals use pirate caves” say the hardcore) to being the hardcore. Then I died. Then I was a hardcore newb… it’s very confusing.

I signed in for 5 seconds to get a screenshot… check out the bottom line of chat.

Realm of the mad god

Anyway, check it out, but please, stop when you get past level 10. Stand up, have a drink, get some fresh air… it is the most addictive game I have ever played.