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Roman Age
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So much to say, I can't keep up with your blog! I know that companies do copy ideas, and that making clones is part of the industry, but it still makes me angry (however few people are to blame, and most employees whether programmers, artists, designers, have no choice but to do it, keeping your job is a priority... fortunately my company is known for always coming up with original ideas). I was curious to try Radical Fishing (the Flash game), and after just a few minutes of playing, it was obvious that this was a little gem, with great potential to be exploited on other platforms. Still even though game design is not protected by copyright, there is a limit to the extent to which a game can be copied. If you are interested, this video from Nitrome (the company I work for) was intended for Apple to demonstrate the ripoff of one of our flash games ported to iOS without our knowledge, and sold on the App Store. In this case, many of the graphics had not changed, and the level design was exactly the same. Justice was done, Apple removed the game from their store, but this happened another time with another of our games, and probably many more Flash games that have been ripped off this way. Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPrVe_YDRFc Now I can't blame some of our fans who say that this would not happen had we ported some of our games on iPhone ourselves, which I'm sure is what some people are inclined to think about Radical Fishing too. Can't blame them either.
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2011 on Ninja Fishing vs. Ridiculous Fishing at ihobo
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Hi Chris, Being involved in one activity, it is natural to want it to acquire respectability. Art is very respectable in our culture. Many people will defend video games as being art just as a matter of principle, but with no genuine interest nor any artistic reference. On the other hand, I have seen that most people people who are truly passionate about games, I would even say obsessed (much more than me anyway) have little interest in playing or creating something of great artistic value - it's just not a criteria they take into consideration. Yet they are certainly very creative and talented people, and strive for innovation in games (things that I am sure you can identify with, Chris), but art is not a word that normally enters the discussion. I personnaly do believe that some video games (traditional, not artgames) can be considered art, but only with hindsight, they were not intended to be art in the first place and I do not think it is useful to discuss them in those terms. But I also believe (like you) that Artgames should have their place, and for those (but only for those) a critical discourse of games as art would be very welcome and healthy. I for one would be very interested.
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I've tried The Killer, it left me pretty shaken, annoyed too (as no matter what you want to do you have no alternative, but I know that this is exactly what is intended, which completely makes sense in the context). Thanks for sharing, Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2011 on Retro as Genre, Retro as Art at ihobo
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Hi Chris, I'm glad you liked the game. Thank you for taking the time to write a nice review. I often thought of Bubble Bobble as I was building levels: single-screen levels, yet great variation in geometric shapes. Although I have played many games that are now considered retro, it was my first true retro game as a programmer, and it made me realise the importance and power of symbols. Mostly, what I like about retro arcade games, is how you can lose yourself in a colourful world of blinking lights, beep sounds, and the use of symbols for everything, just like a pinball machine. Very, very far from modern realistic games, one can even wonder if it is the same medium at all. PS: the game design is by Nitrome; the level design was shared between the artist and myself. I'm going to try The Killer, sounds interesting. All the best! Romain
Toggle Commented Jul 6, 2011 on Retro as Genre, Retro as Art at ihobo
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You may not be surprised that I am one of those players who enjoy the possibility of failure and the repetition it implies. That's not to say that I cannot enjoy fail-continue in some games, it really depends on the genre, but I generally don't like the idea of games being consumed like movies, you play it through in a certain number of hours, unveiling new content and story whether you fail or succeed, until you've reached the end. You have to admit that trying to find solutions to the problem of failure is like trying to trick players into giving them the impression that they are succeeding when they are actually failing. But I do believe it may be suitable for story-driven games (most modern games), which many players enjoy for the same reasons as they enjoy movies. I can accept it to a certain degree, if the act of dying in a game serves no purpose, then it's better not having it at all. This is the case for most adventure games (I know they are not mainstream), take the new Back To The Future games, having to restart the game as a result of failing would be completely useless, when just not progressing and being stuck as a result (even just temporarily) is enough to feel penalized (rightly so). But then again, since in those adventure games (think Monkey Island...) you may spend on average ten seconds unlocking a puzzle by doing the right action, for 10 minutes thinking and trying things that do not work, the state of "being stuck" becomes the norm (creating a permanent state of mild frustration throughout the game), and many players will never want to go through that. As for Nitrome games, when it comes to failure, they generally follow the tradition of old arcade games, albeit with some concessions, it depends on the game, they've tried it all over the years (one hit, three hits, no hits, checkpoints, no checkpoints...). The last game (mine) allows three hits to complete a level (continuing from from where you got hit). One rule they ALWAYS follow is never having to replay a level that has been completed (which was not the case for old time arcade games that did not allow the player to save the game, which meant having to play all levels from the beginning each time). I would even be willing to go through that if I like the game (like I did many times as a kid), but I understand that for most players it would just be horrible and they would stop playing the game even if they liked it in the first place.
Toggle Commented Jun 4, 2011 on The Role of Failure in Gameplay at ihobo
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Yes it is curious. If I think about my history of playing since I was a kid, being frustrated is so much part of the experience. Now since you mention it, it would be interesting to see if this applies to other disciplines. DIY maybe? At a very amateur level, I see a lot of frustration in it, and some eventual reward (at least the possibility of it) that is enhanced by the difficulty of the task.
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2011 on What is Endured Always Enhances Enjoyment at ihobo
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Hi Chris, The version of Joust that I have known is from Atari ST. I have later played it on a ST-PC emulator. My concept of freedom in (digital) games is not having endless possibilities like you would have in a table RPG where in theory you can do any action you like, but within the boundaries of possible actions offered by the game, having the freedom to use those actions the way you want. More important, a limited number of actions or movements can symbolize much more, just like behind every pixel of a basic 2D graphic representation lie infinite layers of details that you cannot see on the screen but that are very present in your mind.
Toggle Commented Mar 22, 2011 on What You Like and Dislike in Games at ihobo
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Hi Chris, To answer your questions, trying to come up with specific terms, for adventure games I would mention one word: freedom (which is the main factor allowing me to identify with the character, as explained in my previous comment). I like being able to take my time, not being forced to progress into the story against my will, being allowed to go back to places in the game that have become familiar. I like to contemplate, just like in real life. I don't like to be rushed. This can apply to any game whether they contain graphics or not (I have played text adventure games a few times in the past, but I do find that ideally old time 2D graphics can contribute to the strongest immersion for me, this must have something to de with the pixel element itself, I have a theory on that but it's not the point now). For action games, I like very basic controls - the input, that can create infinite variations in the output, i.e. the produced effect. Games that have a simple control system but that still allow a lot of room for developing and mastering your skill. Think of the old game Joust (also called Knight Flight), one of my favourite games of all time. Angry Birds on mobile may tick this box too, I haven't played it though (and I believe it uses some elaborate physics which is crossing the line as far as I am concerned). Anything with momentum, inertia, trajectories, usually does it for me, as long as it really gives you a sense of control (elaborate physics with chain reactions is totally beyond anyone's control). I forgot to name the classic Asteroids that fits perfectly in this category. Some old school top down racing games can be included too (very similar to Asteroids in fact, just with more grip). That's it, don't ask me for modern games, I'm sure those elements can still be found to various degrees (blended with other elements as modern games do not have the luxury to offer just one thing, they have to be huge and offer the richest experience ever otherwise payers will complain and start insulting the developers or any other player).
Toggle Commented Mar 19, 2011 on What You Like and Dislike in Games at ihobo
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Hi, Things I like: simple game mechanisms based on timing, reaction time, accuracy... This can be found in many old and "primitive" games, but not only. In a different category, I also like games that allow me to identify with the character (whether the character is actually represented on the screen or not). This could apply to FPS for some people, but I haven't played any for many years. Older adventure games do that for me, and it's not much about the story, generally I do not care about the story (and hate any kind of non-interactive story development), it's more about having an environment with some coherence and being able to imagine yourself being part of it as you are playing. Then comes the challenge, of course we all need a challenge to keep being interested. Modern games can be very immersive too (I'm not saying it was always better in the past), but there's too much emphasis on the story for my taste.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2011 on What You Like and Dislike in Games at ihobo
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For a long time now I have taken a dislike in the over used term "addictive", or "extremmely addictive" used in promotion and adverts for games, especially for casual puzzle games, one reason being that I can't think of real addiction as something you would want to submit yourself to, another reason being that I tend to naturally react against something that I see over used and that has become cliche (especially when it is used for promotional purpose). I am also aware that the particular type of games I am talking about are not truely addictive, it's just something that annoys me personnaly (for mobile phone games, it is desperation that motivates the use of those terms, as we all know that some puzzle games have had huge success, but most mobile games, whether they are puzzle or anything else, don't sell...well if they are going to be desperate, at least they may try to be creative in their approach). I'm a bit off topic, I didn't not react to the real issue of addiction that you are addressing, but I found it interesting (and agree with you, nothing to add).
Toggle Commented Jan 27, 2011 on What is Game Addiction? at ihobo
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Could it just be that the more advanced in the game a player is, the more he/she will tolerate grinding sections (so the longer they can last)? Because of all that's been achieved before, it can't have been for nothing...on the other hand, if you have to be grinding from the start, you may think "what's the point?" So if is there's going to be a certain amount of grinding in a game, it makes sense to spread it so that those sections last increasingly longer as the game progresses. Then the question remains, why to you need grinding in a game at all? Maybe this escalating ratio schedule in game design - and the grinding that is often associated with it, comes traditionaly from the need in video games to make levels (or whatever progression system is in place) last longer, and artificially prolong the total playing time of the game through: 1- having to repeat the same difficult task over and over (because failing or dying), resulting in frustration (think of old platform games, vertical scrolling shoot them ups...) 2- having to repeat very similar and easy tasks (like collecting a certain number of items) - resulting in boredom. I know this doesn't translate well into modern games, what is your opinion?
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(error, last sentence): but familiarity in games is NOT limited to...
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2011 on The Power of Games at ihobo
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Chris, very interseting, I'll only mention the part where I have doubts, for the rest I find it spot on. "Those games which enjoy widespread appeal represent familiar situations..." Yep I agree. But if the familiarity in games is found in the feeling of greed, getting and winning, then shouldn't all games achieve huge widespread appeal? We know it is not the case, althought those elements of greed are found in pretty much all games (not absolutely ALL games, but the vast majority, whether they do achieve widesprpead appeal or not). In the same way, I think that the feeling of greed is even intensified in multiplayer games, but again, that doesn't give widespread appeal to all multiplayer games. So I do agree about the need for familiarity in order to achieve widespread appeal, but familiarity in games is far not limited to the feeling of greed, getting and winning.
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2011 on The Power of Games at ihobo
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Mmmmh, sorry for previous comment, wrong manip... (how it happend is quite a mystery). Now here is my though: Michael, it is true that the idea of art in video games is quite at the oppsite end of the spectrum from the idea of addiction design. But I can think of hundreds of games that have excellent game design (including very old ones) and certainly don't use addiction design, yet I wouldn't see much artistic value about them, or if there is it is not the primarily reason for them to have been created, nor the reason for them to be good. It is just pure game design at its best. Chris, I said I was not familiar with addiction design, the main reason being it is a recent phenomenen and I don't play modern games, except some casual games (occasionnally). Well I have just come across a game for mobile phones extended to Facebook (or series of games by the same company) that I recognize as solely addiction design, it is if a regular game concept had been stripped from its regular fun gameplay element, to retain only the RPG - multiplayer - reward and ranking elements. Addiction design taken to the extreme (with nothing else left)!
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2011 on Game Design is Dead at ihobo
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Michael, it is true that the ideathe question is not so much about art, but about addiction design. I can think of hundreds of games that I like (including some very old ones) that I don't consider to use addiction design, but that have very good game design, yet
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2011 on Game Design is Dead at ihobo
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Chris, do you think the title of the movie Avatar (which I haven't seen) is appropriate then? It seems that we are right into the representative function there - the doll, and not the avatar (according to your distinction).
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2010 on Avatar and Doll: Entering Fictional Worlds at ihobo
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Rik, if you read all the comments, including my previous one, it is clear that we don't all disagree with Chris, simply it would have been usefull to have a proper look at the mechanism(s) of addiction design (with examples) as opposed to conventional game design. Chris, not being involved in game design myself, I first heard the concept of addiction design at least a year ago (maybe more), and thought it was a valid concern, so I was at least aware that such questions were being raised by certain people in the game design community. Now I know that you were merely reacting to it, not trying to explain how it works and what is so specific to it, but I hope another article can tell more about that, as it is an essential point to know about for people (who are not so familiar with design concepts and may not easily spot the difference with what is considered conventional game design) to form an opinion.
Toggle Commented Dec 27, 2010 on Game Design is Dead at ihobo
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This is the kind of articles that I like to read, whether I completely agree or not. I think it's all down to production costs. If it is still possible for a team to produce a game for a reasonnable cost, then I don't see any reason game design should be dead. However it is obvious that any average game on console or PC does not fall into that category (even for non-blockbuster titles). So is there anything left? Yes, I think so, what you call the diversion market, but in particular games for mobile phones, which can be produced for a fraction of that cost, and for those games I really don't agree with your depiction: match 3, time management and hidden object. Angry Birds doesn't fall into that. And many other of those games I see and sometimes play don't. As to know whether those game are now moving towards addiction design, that's a valid question to ask, but I don't think they will for the simple reason that they are casual, and meant to remain so. Of course it is not that developers/designers of those game have any more ethic and don't want to cross the addiction line, but rather that most players (of those games) would not be ready to follow. In conclusion, I really think game design may be dead for the type of games to which you wish it wasn't (because of your professional involvment in those, and probably as a player), something I do understand as they should showcase the best of video games (always getting bigger, with better graphics...) yet they are disappointing (in their design) and there doesn't seem to be any hope. But for other more modest games on their respective platform, at this point, game design is still a very important element that can contribute to making the game a success (and profitable).
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2010 on Game Design is Dead at ihobo
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