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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:55 am

KingAl wrote:
Stewsburntmonkey wrote: The reason games like WOW work is that people enjoy accomplishing things. In life the rewards for hard work are generally a long time coming, but in games like WOW you can get a new level every few hours and new loot all the time.


Indeed - but that is the very thing I dislike about such games. 'Enjoyment' is derived from the 'immediate delayed gratification' (you know what I mean...). This is playing on people's reward systems - the same way same way scientists have entertained the idea of remote-controlling rats by zapping their medial forebrain bundle - and as a result people literally become addicted to it. You could set up a system whereby pressing a little red button led a magnet to stimulate the same area, and because of the artificial sense of reward people would keep on doing it. It doesn't make it a worthy pursuit. Indeed, it's exactly this kind of artificial 'reward' that turns the whole exercise into pointless escapism.


It's a game, it's not meant to be a worthwhile pursuit. The fact that you could artificially produce the same feeling is irrelevant. You can artificially produce virtually any feeling, that does not make the feel any less valid. People need to have fun and if WOW is fun to them, there is no real harm in that. It's not like posting here or playing a single player game is all that productive either, but we all do it.

Your argument seems to be that because it is fun, it is a worthless product. The fact that WOW plays so well on people's reward system is exactly what makes it such a good game.
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Postby KingAl » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:49 am

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:It's a game, it's not meant to be a worthwhile pursuit.


I'd have to disagree with you. Good games should be, and are, as worthwhile a pursuit as good films, and are just as valid a medium for contemplation of life etc.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote: The fact that you could artificially produce the same feeling is irrelevant. You can artificially produce virtually any feeling, that does not make the feel any less valid.


That's true, but it's missing my point. Essentially, I believe that games based on an inane process of work/reward are playing on a basic human weakness for the feeling of reward. I believe that games are able to be art by affecting people emotionally. Reward is not an emotion - it's a simple process which, from an evolutionary point of view, is designed to ensure that people do all the things they need to live and strive to be successful. True, gaining a sense of reward can also lead to happiness, but it's a baseless emotional response - the true test is if MMORPGs can consistently produce emotion based on things like empathy and companionship: tangible, meaningful emotions.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote: People need to have fun and if WOW is fun to them, there is no real harm in that. It's not like posting here or playing a single player game is all that productive either, but we all do it. Your argument seems to be that because it is fun, it is a worthless product. The fact that WOW plays so well on people's reward system is exactly what makes it such a good game.


First things first, I'm not criticising the people who play it, I'm criticising the basis of the entertainment, because I believe that developers of games should seek to transcend the work/reward basis for games. All games are based on reward - getting the highest score in Pac-man or Tetris, say - but the fun is in the experience, whereas a large portion of games like WoW seems to be reward for reward's sake. How is endlessly clicking on a random grunt until you level up any different from the 'button pressing' analogy? I reiterate - this isn't a problem with the gamers, because it's a hardwired human trait to seek gratification, it's a problem with the approach to the design of the games. I realise that this isn't all to things like WoW, and that there's social interaction etc.: that's definitely a good thing. But as long as a significant portion of gameplay relies on simple work/reward tradeoff, I'd hesitate to call those portions a game, let alone say that it approaches what games can and should eventually be.
Now, I'm simplifying the formula in presenting it here, so I don't mean to demean the gamers themselves, and I don't mean to be inflammatory, it's just something that I feel strongly about. But essentially, I feel it that the basic XP building exercises people undergo cuts too close to the simple button-pressing analogy I provided - allowing people to feel a sense of reward is good, but relying on as the sole basis for entertainment it is bad.
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Postby BrianBlessed » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:52 pm

KingAl wrote:there's social interaction etc.: that's definitely a good thing.

I think that's stretching it a bit.......
I'm not implying that all World of Warcraft players are mindless cretins, i'm stating it. Such easy targets. Anyway, I had a brief skirmish into the world of EVE: Online, however I soon came to realise that I don't get any sense of accomplishment from doing anything in said game(s). This is because my triumph was purely based on my fittings I had accrued and what is lamely described as tactics, which essentially consisted of flying away from someone so you are out of their range whilst shooting them. I mean it's not exactly the Spanish Armada is it? (ignoring the fact that the fireboats were fairly unsuccessful in actually damaging anything)

Monster Hunter on the other hand, which was just a console game with an uncharacteristically good online component, you could actually shove a sword (or hammer in my case) into a dragon's face. Not only could you actually control your movement, but whether you won or not was based upon your ability to attack, roll, dodge, block, not get killed, etc. So while there was a hierachy of weapons and armour (the best being about 5 times more powerful than the worst), if you attack and dodged well you could just bollocks to equipment. Unfortunately as it was a console game it essentially suffered from having a single player game longevity, albeit a fairly long one, but still all hail to it.
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Postby Crook » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:01 pm

xander wrote:
Crook wrote:If enough good content can be created procedurally to keep players interested then the major problem will be finding other players in such a massive universe. I'd guess that in a system like that you shouldn't be able to move too far from a population. In a space game for example you would run out of fuel/oxygen/food if you simply flew off into the black.

I disagree. If it were me, I would fly off into the aether. I like the idea of exploration. And, even if the universe if procedurally generated, it is fundamentally static -- if I discover a planet, it will still be there when the next group shows up. Why should I be artificially forced to interact with other players when I don't want to interact with other players?

xander


Not much point being a MP game if you're not aiming to interact. It might as well be a single player game. I guess you could easily code in a 'hobo mode' ;)
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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:36 pm

Crook wrote:Not much point being a MP game if you're not aiming to interact. It might as well be a single player game. I guess you could easily code in a 'hobo mode' ;)

Does it really matter? If the game is capable of allowing me to fly off, far away from everyone else, why shouldn't I be allowed to do so? And, I would still be interacting with other players, in that my actions would have consequences for other players. I might discover a planet, and some other group of players would be able to colonize it. I might be the first person to encounter an alien race, and lead them back to Earth for commerce. While I am not directly interacting with other players, my actions would still have consequences for them, and their actions could still have consequences for me (price of fuel, types of planets that I get paid the most to explore, &c.).

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Postby Shwart!! » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:08 pm

Question is where a limit would be reached. You could explore for 4 or 5 real weeks and reach he end of our galaxy-then what? Fly until you hit another one? I doubt you, or anyone else, would do that. If the galaxy was large enough, then a limit might never be reached... but then again, it still could.

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Postby Montyphy » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:29 pm

Intergalatic Jump Points!
Uplink help: Check out the Guide or FAQ.
Latest Uplink patch is v1.55.
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:32 pm

KingAl wrote:
Stewsburntmonkey wrote:It's a game, it's not meant to be a worthwhile pursuit.


I'd have to disagree with you. Good games should be, and are, as worthwhile a pursuit as good films, and are just as valid a medium for contemplation of life etc.


Quite, it's worth is in it's entertainment value (and perhaps artistic value). However you dismissed games like WOW because they were so entertaining. Not every film can be an art film and not every game is going to be some deep introspective creation (few in fact are).

KingAl wrote:
Stewsburntmonkey wrote: The fact that you could artificially produce the same feeling is irrelevant. You can artificially produce virtually any feeling, that does not make the feel any less valid.


That's true, but it's missing my point. Essentially, I believe that games based on an inane process of work/reward are playing on a basic human weakness for the feeling of reward. I believe that games are able to be art by affecting people emotionally.


To be honest I've never been affected by any game in the way you talk about. People need to shutdown and just relax in order to regenerate intellectually/emotionally. Games are one way people have always done this. A game that affects you in some deep emotional way isn't going to let you shutdown and relax.

KingAl wrote:Reward is not an emotion - it's a simple process which, from an evolutionary point of view, is designed to ensure that people do all the things they need to live and strive to be successful.


Yes, quite true. However, you just got done calling reward a weakness. The two ideas are rather contradictory. You're not making a very consistent argument here.


KingAl wrote:True, gaining a sense of reward can also lead to happiness, but it's a baseless emotional response - the true test is if MMORPGs can consistently produce emotion based on things like empathy and companionship: tangible, meaningful emotions.


Perhaps, but that is just the criteria for one type of game. If you look at movies there are generally two kinds. One tries to achieve the sort of deep emotional reaction you talk about here. The other type tries to entertain, to entertain and let people unwind. There is a need for both forms. To try and define one type in terms of the other is missing the point of each.

KingAl wrote:First things first, I'm not criticising the people who play it, I'm criticising the basis of the entertainment, because I believe that developers of games should seek to transcend the work/reward basis for games. All games are based on reward - getting the highest score in Pac-man or Tetris, say - but the fun is in the experience, whereas a large portion of games like WoW seems to be reward for reward's sake. How is endlessly clicking on a random grunt until you level up any different from the 'button pressing' analogy? I reiterate - this isn't a problem with the gamers, because it's a hardwired human trait to seek gratification, it's a problem with the approach to the design of the games. I realise that this isn't all to things like WoW, and that there's social interaction etc.: that's definitely a good thing. But as long as a significant portion of gameplay relies on simple work/reward tradeoff, I'd hesitate to call those portions a game, let alone say that it approaches what games can and should eventually be.
Now, I'm simplifying the formula in presenting it here, so I don't mean to demean the gamers themselves, and I don't mean to be inflammatory, it's just something that I feel strongly about. But essentially, I feel it that the basic XP building exercises people undergo cuts too close to the simple button-pressing analogy I provided - allowing people to feel a sense of reward is good, but relying on as the sole basis for entertainment it is bad.


So basically giving people what they enjoy is bad. . . What a ridiculous idea. If the basic reward instinct isn't bad, then tapping it to provide some entertainment can't be bad either. You can't fault game developers for developing such games while not faulting gamers for playing them. It is a fundamental inconsistency in your argument that cannot be overcome.

Personally I don't play any MMORPG because I don't feel it is the best use of my time. I'd rather be playing guitar or taking photographs or whatever.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:42 pm

KingAl wrote:IV's manifesto the claim that "above all else, games must be fun" is flawed, as it precludes games causing other emotions or experiences

I agree totally. I've always been one for a good emotional story. "Fun" doesn't always cut it for me. I love IV's games because of their originality and pure fun, but one thing that has been missing is a good, strong story (Darwinia was good, but not strong). However, it is understandable, being a budding independent company.

KingAl wrote:Good games should be, and are, as worthwhile a pursuit as good films, and are just as valid a medium for contemplation of life etc.

I agree. Many people are of the opinion that games are only mindless fun, but in actuality, games can (if sufficient mind, heart, and effort are put into it) be movie quality. In fact, in some instances, there are things a game can do for a story that a movie cannot (and vice-versa).

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:You could still script a plot and such, you'd just have to have variables in the plot (such as where specifically different locations are and such).

But it would inevitably be of lesser quality and extremely shallow. Freelancer was an adequate space sim, but it wasn't the random missions, trading, or exploring that set Freelancer apart from other games; it was the story.


MMORPGs are a genius money-making tactic. Single-player games are a one-time profit (don't know the technical term). MMORPGs, however, are subscriptions, making infinitely more money off of a single copy sold. The trick, of course, that makes this work is to keep the player playing. What better way to do it than use a little psychology (Skinner comes to mind). I think that when the first successful MMORPGs were created, the developers were either well educated in psychology or hired psychologists to assist in developing the game's concept. They are doing the same thing tobacco companies are doing, addicting their customers to their product.

The best games, I think, are, just like the best movies and books, made not for the money but for the art. Now, don't get me wrong, almost all games are made with money in mind, but as long as the development team is of the right mind and are given enough freedom to act on it, the game can achieve that quality. But in my experience, such quality has only been achieved with single-player games. Multiplayer games almost always suffer from the limited "games are for fun" mindset, while single-player games are free to do so much more. Of course, you all are thinking "what about Defcon?" Defcon isn't the same as other multiplayer games. It may not have a story, but its purpose doesn't require one. IV managed to give it an emotional aspect with its style, music, and premise, which I think is a rare achievement in multiplayer games. However, Defcon still hasn't enthralled me as much as some single-player games have. Only a good, strong story could do that.

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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:54 pm

wwarnick wrote:But it would inevitably be of lesser quality and extremely shallow. Freelancer was an adequate space sim, but it wasn't the random missions, trading, or exploring that set Freelancer apart from other games; it was the story.


Not necessarily. In fact if done well it could be far more interesting and have greater depth than any totally scripted story. In the worst case you can always apply a scripted plot on top of the procedural stuff.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:10 pm

Yes, but it would be the same story every time, slightly altered.

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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:27 pm

wwarnick wrote:Yes, but it would be the same story every time, slightly altered.

wwarnick


Not necessarily. There are all sorts of things you could do with AI and such to have emergent plots that could be much more involved than anything a developer would put together.

And even if they were the same every time, that no different from how it is currently.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:52 pm

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:Not necessarily. There are all sorts of things you could do with AI and such to have emergent plots that could be much more involved than anything a developer would put together.

Not quite. Quality stories have tons of facets to consider:

Character development, for one, is something AI could not do (at the moment) convincingly.
The plot would need to be composed of scenes: set-pieces, and the build-up to set pieces.
The story has to be "woven": scenes late in the story refer (directly or discreetly) to scenes at the beginning and vice-versa. This gives the story cohesion and unity. Linear, sequential plots, which ai may be able to do, don't cut it.

I could go on and on. There is way too much to storytelling to be able to simulate it with AI. If that weren't the case, somebody would be making millions off of it.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:And even if they were the same every time, that no different from how it is currently.

Exactly my point. That is why single-player games are, at the moment, superior when it comes to story.

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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:17 pm

wwarnick wrote:Not quite. Quality stories have tons of facets to consider:

Character development, for one, is something AI could not do (at the moment) convincingly.
The plot would need to be composed of scenes: set-pieces, and the build-up to set pieces.
The story has to be "woven": scenes late in the story refer (directly or discreetly) to scenes at the beginning and vice-versa. This gives the story cohesion and unity. Linear, sequential plots, which ai may be able to do, don't cut it.


I think you would amazed what can be done with clever AI. In any event we are talking about something that is continually evolving, so in a few years what seems impossible now, may well be common.

wwarnick wrote:I could go on and on. There is way too much to storytelling to be able to simulate it with AI. If that weren't the case, somebody would be making millions off of it.


Ah, the times this type of argument has been proven wrong. . . What is possible now and what is possible in general are two completely separate things.

wwarnick wrote:
Stewsburntmonkey wrote:And even if they were the same every time, that no different from how it is currently.

Exactly my point. That is why single-player games are, at the moment, superior when it comes to story.

wwarnick


Umm, you do realize there is absolutely no logic to that statement right? The fact that you can do the same things plot-wise in both setups in no way proves single-player games are superior when it comes to story. 2 + 2 = 4 therefore I am God. . .

That said single player games do have better plots. I don't know anyone who would argue that point.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:34 pm

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:in a few years what seems impossible now, may well be common.

Absolutely true. But I don't see computers ever equalling the human mind (in my lifetime at least). I have no proof to back that theory, but I hold to it.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:Umm, you do realize there is absolutely no logic to that statement right? The fact that you can do the same things plot-wise in both setups in no way proves single-player games are superior when it comes to story.

I stated it unclearly. You can have the same quality story, but it would be repeated over and over, only slightly changed, which would be pointless because the objective is to generate "original" stories. In the case of Freelancer, if this was done, you'd change "where" each scene took place, rename the planets, and change your name from "Trent" to "Bob". In order for the story to maintain its quality, the scope of the changes would be limited. With a story that repeats over and over, the replay value would be pretty low.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:That said single player games do have better plots. I don't know anyone who would argue that point.

We are in agreeance.

wwarnick

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