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I think one way to view DLC made before release is as a choose-your-own-price model. The developer creates a great deal of content, then sells the "base" amount at say $60 instead of a higher $70. Then they sell a handful of the rest of the content at some price that makes the cost of extra production worth it. What players don't seem to be understanding is that budgets are going up, but the price is disproportionate to the budget increase. So it seems reasonable that the difference needs to be made up somewhere.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2012 on Purchase Models for Games at ihobo
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I would say yes, but probably not as heavily as an RPG. The activities I remember involve a lot of poking around, some repeated actions, and a little revisiting areas. I think as opposed to cRPGs using villages for character development, HL2 uses villages for world development. Maybe this makes more sense since an FPS is so spatial? The world could be seen as the ultimate character to develop in an FPS.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2012 on Dungeon and Village at ihobo
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Thanks Chris! I'm glad you are critiquing this idea, as I've been trying to find holes in it myself. I think you'd have to look further than hacking, though. Hacking a videogame is an act that lies completely outside the experience of playing it. And the end result of a hacked videogame is an altogether different experience than the original, not only as a game but as a work in a medium. The magic circle for Mouse Trap involves upholding its game rules and even the arrangement of pieces on the board, but not upholding the laws of physics. Could the game be played in zero gravity? It sure could, and the result would be fundamentally different. That doesn't mean that the physics of the interactions the game relies on are part of the magic circle. Gravity in Mouse Trap is a real limitation, the circumvention of which requires effort that lies completely outside the experience, not only as a game but as a work in a medium. It seems that you're trying to argue for a magic circle of civilized society. To me, the walls of a building during a game of tag are real limitations. How hard is it to kick a hole in the wall so you can give yourself a shortcut? Probably not too hard, certainly less effort on average than hacking the game rules of a videogame. But I think it's reasonable to argue that the difficulty in modifying that restriction doesn't suddenly make that part of the magic circle. With that same reason, I argue hacking does not support a notion of a magic circle for videogames.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2012 on Stories and Games (3): Experiencing Fiction at ihobo
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I guess I would say no, most likely not. Pretending is simply play. But yeah I know what you mean, you're kind of committed. Understood :)
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2012 on Stories and Games (1): Art at ihobo
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Mirosurabu makes an interesting point here that I fully agree with: "Accept it as a new multimedia entertainment so you could actually build upon in a proper way." This new entertainment is actually a single medium. Since there's not a better word, I like to call it videogames, and I consider most videogames we play today to contain the game meaning structure. But they don't need to; Dear Esther would mostly contain a meaning structure that is neither game nor (traditional) story. Because of that, I think it has great value, because that makes it more distinct as an experience. I guess for me it makes much more sense to think about artistic media and certain structures of meaning that can be delivered through that media. It feels more elegant, and because of my interest in mathematical structures, I find elegance to be more true. With this model, the problem of CaL simply goes away. It is an experience delivered through the medium of token-based roleplaying that has a structure very similar to a game. With that in mind, you can begin to study how CaL expresses meaning through token-based roleplaying's specific strengths and weaknesses, in addition to judging how well its meaning structures fit the medium.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2012 on Beyond Definitions of Game at ihobo
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I like this concept. Hey what about Half-Life 2? To me that seems like a perfect example of a combination of dungeon and village. In fact, there are several places I can remember off the top of my head that were literally like villages - including the plaza at the start of the game.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2012 on Dungeon and Village at ihobo
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This is a great post, Chris! I mostly agree with you, but in some way Dan has a good point. There is a realness to videogames you are not quite taking into account, but I do agree that one shouldn't be bound to primary emotions. I hope this elaboration can help you guys see each other's points. As games, videogames are the most real. That is because with videogames there is no magic circle. The only means of playing are exactly those which are permitted. In that specific sense, "Games are artificial. Videogames are not. Games have rules. Videogames do not." (DeLeon). In the conventional version of boardgame Chess, moving a pawn sideways is physically allowed, but not allowed in the context of the game because of its rules. However in the conventional version of videogame Chess, moving a pawn sideways is not allowed at all. That limitation is very real. There are no game boundaries defined by game rules; there are just game boundaries. You simply cannot move that piece illegally. That means there's no requirement at all to hold up the game-based fiction of the experience, because the videogame holds that up on its own. In fact, in a sense you could say videogames have no game-based fiction at all, only game-based reality. And thus, Dan is right in this sense. The very way videogames becomes the most real as a form of games is by becoming the least real as a medium. To say that moving a pawn sideways is not allowed in videogame Chess in only partially true. Technically, there is no pawn. It's only a depiction of a pawn. Technically, you're not playing Chess, but a virtual depiction of Chess. And so, the experience becomes real as a game, yet only does so by being fully encapsulated as a simulated fictional experience. The magic circle of games gets exchanged for the suspension of disbelief that other media has. And therefore, it is subject to those same emotional results. And thus, Chris you are right in this sense. But since games are simply an abstract structure for meaning, surely other structures can also become real through videogames, right? Dan's example of permadeath in an online videogame is a perfect example here. The concept of death applies to living beings. In the context of a videogame experience, a living being is a fictional thing. But within the videogame, a permadeath is real. That character is really gone. There's no actual way to experience living as that character again like you could by simply watching a movie again or reading a book again. Since the beginning of mankind, we've never before had that ability with our fiction. And since what is happening is a fictional character dying, there's no reason at all to think that only primary emotions are relevant here. Death can cause any number of them.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2012 on Stories and Games (3): Experiencing Fiction at ihobo
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I'm afraid you already lost me before I've even gotten very far: "There's a sense that a game with a lot of cut scenes is really a mixed media artwork, but as it happens this distinction is not necessarily useful. Plenty of modern art requires that the appreciator reads the descriptive card displayed alongside or at least knows the title, but we don't consider such artworks mixed media, and neither is the collision of text and image in a graphic novel considered problematic." First of all, I think that sense is right: a videogame can indeed be a collection of other, more "pure" media. Mixed media painting is an apt phrase to consider in this context. One way to use the design principle of elegance is through purity of media, and therefore there is value in understanding what exactly constitutes purity. Second, I would suggest that, while an artwork is not usually mixed media by itself, the *pairing* of experiencing some artwork plus its statement is precisely a mixed media experience. I would argue that one of the reasons so many people get frustrated about contemporary art is that so many artists start to consider the mixed media collection of the artwork+statement+gallery as a medium in itself, and started to create in that medium instead of the more specific medium of the artwork itself. In other words, things got too meta for most people. :P Lastly, I would argue that distinction can be extremely useful if you're trying to find out exactly what makes up this medium in an attempt to explore new ways to create successfully, especially without causing dissonance by using structures of meaning that have forms not well-suited to the medium of videogames.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2012 on Stories and Games (2): The Emotions of Play at ihobo
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I feel like you've missed a great opportunity with your theory here. Why not just consider all art to simply be pretend instead of a game? It seems like by considering all art a game, you make things needlessly complicated, because a game is so specifically structured. Consider the following: As an abstract structure for meaning, there is no way to experience pure game. Therefore, the game structure must be delivered through a medium of some kind. If this medium is token-based roleplaying, the result is a boardgame. The same is true for story. The story structure must be delivered through a medium of some kind. If this medium is live-action roleplaying, the result is theatre. By making all art pretend instead of a game, that frees up art to include some combination of these abstract structures for meaning: game structures, story structures...and even others! And because each medium is unique, that necessitates these structures to take on different forms in order to deliver meaning more clearly. If they conflict with each other in some way, you get some form of dissonance. When Samyn says videogames don't need stories, I interpret that as him saying that there are other abstract structures besides just games and stories. And that makes perfect sense with this model. I find this model an *order of magnitude* more elegant than 'all art is a game.' It's simply pretend, which means each artistic medium requires its own form of suspension of disbelief, i.e. the pretending skill. Therefore, I don't consider myself to play a painting because it's a game. I playfully consider a painting because it's a form of pretending. I'm playing in the lusory sense of the word instead of the ludological sense.
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2012 on Stories and Games (1): Art at ihobo
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After reading this series (only on this blog), I feel that I don't really have any practical knowledge that I can apply to game design, other than "more representational games are more accessible." Not that I didn't find value in this, but are there are other practical points that I missed?
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Don't you think that, when it comes to the kind of playful imagination required to freely explore a game, the average imagination level of the "mass market" is increasing over time? It seems to me that a generation that is growing up being able to create their own YouTube videos, write their own blogs, and explore their own interactive sandbox experiences will have a more developed imagination simply because they've kept it in use. Part of this starts to overlap with the social knowledge of videogames becoming more mainstream over time as more people entire the world who will play videogames from an early age, but I hope you see my point.
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