Tag: board games
Used to be, games didn’t need a proper Graphical User Interface the way applications do. They’d show a title screen, you’d press fire, the game would start. After game over, they’d show you the high score list and that was that.
Nowadays expectations are a little higher. Any game needs at least push buttons or some sort of menu, so you can see the credits, choose your language or turn off sound. As a next step, you’ll also need a dialog pane, textbox control and image control so you can depict an NPC speaking, for example. By the time you move on to strategy games, we’re talking sliders and spinners in addition to the lists you need for, say, an RPG — practically all the controls in a full-blown GUI toolkit. And that’s a problem, because the latter aren’t easy to make at all.
But what if you could make a game using a general-purpose GUI toolkit, say Swing, or Gtk+?
That wouldn’t fly for a lot of games, mind you. Regular GUI toolkits are too slow to render in real time, and they don’t render to OpenGL anyway, as a general rule. They also don’t have visual appeal as a primary design consideration. (Unfortunately — I’ve talked to many people who think they should. But see below.) Still, that leaves plenty of open possibilities, as I’ll explain in a moment.
Last night, my friend Felix asked me for an article for No Time To Play, and since I owe him and this time I knew I can do it, I started thinking about games once again and my history with playing. And I thought about sharing with you as much as I can in a blog post. So, this is it: my (incomplete and far from final) story with games.
I used to be quite a gamer. I was playing around 2-3 hours a day on average, and I had 5-6 hours sessions at times. I loved it. I was escaping to alternate worlds, exploring different situations and having a wonderful feeling whenever I was winning.
Not anymore. Now, when I play games from time to time I can’t help myself analyzing them. I see most games as repetitive, dull, without substance. Maybe I learned too much about how my brain works. Maybe I’ve seen more of the real life and games seem artificial. Or maybe games are not what they used to be.
I’ve just discovered Raph Koster’s essay on game design (via Lost Garden), and while it’s a classic, I can’t help but think that most would-be game designers stumble long before getting to those advanced considerations. Why? Because of a few myths that endure and keep luring people into mental traps. So I decided to tackle some of them in the hope of bringing them down.
Myth #1: My ideas! My preciousss ideas!
This is the big bad wolf of myths, not just about game design but all creativity: that ideas are somehow rare, unique and valuable. Well, sorry to disappoint you: I have more ideas for games than I can shake a stick at. Most of them are probably bad; the rest are likely to end up unrecognizable when (if…) they’re going to be made into something playable. As for uniqueness, where do you think your ideas come from? The same place as mine: everything we see, hear, play, read and generally experience. Guess what, we live in the same world; our experiences are likely to overlap a lot. Speaking of which.