What makes a good game
In my first year of my master's program, I was confronted with the question of what makes a game a game. and what is the difference between a simulation and a game? I had a spirited argument with a colleague who adamantly believed that a game is anything that person can experience and have fun. and in all honesty who am I to disagree. People have fun playing the sims, sim city, rollercoaster tycoon. in terms of board games, people love parker brothers. however, there is still a distinguishing characteristic that exists, at least as far as my reading has led me.
according to Jay Little creator of the star wars X wing game. A game requires players have a meaningful choice. Over overtime, I thought I knew what that mean. meaningful SHOULD be any choice that makes a player feel like they are altering the space they inhabit. but in this discussion of "fun" could a meaningful choice be in interaction with the simulation. we do that a lot in all honesty. games of chance are all simulation-oriented (if you don't cheat) the choices you make alter no outcomes, instead, the outcomes affect the players. when it comes to gambling it results in monetary gain, but in things like candy land or monopoly, it's just that you have fun.
perhaps the discussion of what makes the game a game isn't really one that is worth having unless you intend to apply a genre to what you create prior to actually creating. but I've never really liked that mode of creation. in the barest possible way of explaining it. I'm a doing thinker. I can't understand what I'm thinking until it's sitting in front of me halfway finished and filled with holes that are filled out with context.
Design requires the creator to think things out and reflect upon them as you go. as a result this question does circle around my head a lot. buuut maybe the solution is found not through static observation but through doing. As a side expiration, Aside quest if you will. I want to know what makes a good game for me. what my design voice is when I make games. currently, it revolves around players feeling like their choices matter. but that can mean anything.
ANYWAYS ONTO THE MAPPING OUT OF MY GAME
Original map for context
New game map considering Cycles
when I last spoke to Scott we talked about making sure that my game's world layout had a fleshed out map that placed in where I felt I could give players this access to choice. thought-out the whole experience I saw that Choice and consequences don't have to be immediate to be fulfilling. what if a player made a choice at the beginning of the game that altered not only how the player moved throughout the level, but also how the enemies treat them.
games that require hack and slash you do want to reward players for getting better at it by making the fights more engaging. ramping up challenges while ensuring they feel that they've improved. but in a game where all my characters save the main character are already dead, could a pacifist run be something different.
and I'm not saying games need pacifist runs I'm saying I would like to design one where it doesn't punish a player for engaging with the fighting mechanic.
What is the meaning behind meaningful?
I'm still at a loss on this question and I think that's ok. meaningful can change from person to person, from design to design, and from experience to experience. So what is meaningful in this game?
I think it's deciding how you respond to a situation. how it makes you treat the characters you interact with. how it makes you feel about the characters in the end.
Do I play enough games to know what a fun game is?
This is just a thought I had recently. I only recently picked up playing video games and TTRPGs in an attempt to give myself a crash course in its design. and it always feels like I don't know enough practically. Theoretically, I've read up on the subject but I think it's like experiencing a really good piece of art. you can go to school read up on a painter work and why they make the choices they make but then you stand in front of Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes, and you think, and you see something fundamentally different, not the practice, but the experience they wanted you to have. it's a fun thing to not know about because the way you research is just, getting a new game, so I'm not complaining. I've been in so many Dungeons and dragons sessions now. but at some point is this a hindrance if I wasn't always a fan, to begin with?