Author Topic: GTD: How are game aspects linked?  (Read 2614 times)


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GTD: How are game aspects linked?
« on: 24 Jun 2006, 06:10 »
Whether, it's noticable or not, there is a link between one aspect of a game to another. By aspect I mean graphics, music, story, dialog, etc...

Obviously, these aspects are linked in the fact that added together they create the game. But there also linked in how they affect each other. For instance graphics and sound have a strong link. If a room looks scary, the music and sounds will also lend towards giving an atmosphere of fearfullness. But I want to take this link, and apply it with the evolution of technology.

Using music and graphics again. Take an old school game. We first started out with the ability to use very few colors, maybe 16. Of course, the ability for the computer to play music was limited to the computers internal speaker, which if you've ever heard it play music, is nice if you like different pitches of beeps. But let's bump up the graphics to we need to bump up the ability for the computer to play even better sound. I'm not saying that one led to the other, these things were naturally going to come about. But if we increase the graphics more, let's just skip ahead to today, with 3D getting closer to photo realism. Regardless of the fact that there can be some good music made using MIDI's, we need more. This isn't a bad thing, but you can't just slap on MIDI music to game with todays standard graphics...regardless of how good the music is. As graphics go up, so to does music.

This almost goes without saying, they play off each other well for creating atmosphere/mood. As these two are closely related, they're relationship is apparently direct. But what about the story or puzzles? Are these linked to graphics and sound. If I make a game with 3d graphics and full orchestrated music, should I expect that the story be improved as well? Improvement of story is subjective to oppinion, naturally, but can I expect a well written, interesting, more involved story than years past?

Should my puzzles be more intricate? I have more room to flesh out a story line, shouldn't my puzzles be fleshed out as well. Working with the better environment, my character has 3D to work with, yet in most games it's really essentially down to two dimensions. It's very rare that a puzzle in an adventure game is made to adapt to the 3d environment. Rather we just stick in older conventions, that worked previously, but now the player just has more to look at.

Let's take The Longest Journey as an example of a new game and analyze it (I haven't played Dreamfall yet, otherwise I would use this). Graphics, sound, and storyline are more fleshed out than games of the past. But the puzzles remains pretty much the same. And although the dialog was a lot heavier, it hasn't changed from 2-dimensions. I'm not saying that it should, but perhaps the problem adventure games are having as of late, is bringing certain things to a new level.

All the aspects of the game are linked somehow. And as one improves, it only seems naturaly that others should improve, as well. But it seems that while we are making breakthroughs in some areas, others are being left behind, because they worked previously. So I just want to discuss what we think hasn't been improved. What needs revamping?

Graphics, Sound, Story: Imroved
Puzzles, (Adventure Game) mechanics, dialog: Needs Improvement




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Re: GTD: How are game aspects linked?
« Reply #1 on: 24 Jun 2006, 10:18 »
You've made some interesting points, though I suspect that improvements in graphics and sound were probably primarily motivated by technological advances.

I'm not sure that, as graphics and sound improved, the story needed to catch up. To borrow a cinematic term, the mis-en-scene of a game is made up of graphics and audio. With modern graphics it's more possible to achieve subtleties in mis-en-scene which means that game makers can communicate narrative and atmosphere more delicately. This doesn't mean, though, that the narratives themselves have become more subtle or delicate.

You are right about puzzles though. The much maligned adventure-games-committed-suicide moustache puzzle in GK3 would have worked alright with the mis-en-scene of the first game or of DOTT. Because a clear attempt had been made at realism had been made with the graphics and sound, the puzzle appeared ludicrously unlikely.

I don't think it's the case that 'better' graphics require 'better' puzzles though, it's simply that the style of the puzzles must be in key with the style of the graphics.
« Last Edit: 24 Jun 2006, 11:23 by Ali »


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Re: GTD: How are game aspects linked?
« Reply #2 on: 24 Jun 2006, 21:48 »
Good puzzles, that don't rely on a variation of the old "Key/Lock" conundrum, are as hard to create as good, interesting dialog is to write.

Giving a puzzle several steps to complete, such as:

Get coat hanger/use pliers on coat hanger/bend coat hanger into key shape/ use coat hanger key on lock not a puzzle, per se, but merely a delaying tactic on the part of the designer.

Just as bloating dialogs with useless information or "Back Story" is a way to slow the player down, artificially stretching the length of the game.

But the graphics are the hook, whether we like to admit it or not. Which explains why a lot of games put more effort into the graphics, leaving the story/dialogs to be fleshed out by an intern or whoever isn't too busy at that moment.
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Re: GTD: How are game aspects linked?
« Reply #3 on: 25 Jun 2006, 01:11 »
Puzzles can only go so far, before becoming either dull or pointless.

The CSI games are relatively new, so I'll use them as an example.  Everything's done by the book.  There's no flexibilty.  Every piece of evidence has to be collected in the correct way.  It's linear.

Monkey Island is quite old, so I'll use that as another example.  It's pretty logical.  Every puzzle has a solution.  Every item can be used on something to get you somewhere.  It's linear.

Key word: LINEAR.

Graphics improve, sure.  But they just get better.  More pixels.  Anti-aliasing.  Other stuff.
Music improve.  MIDI. MOD. MP3.  It's still just technical qualities.
I'm not going to bring writing into this, as that's a debatable subject.

Now..  Puzzles.  Where do we go? How do we improve them?  We can't make them "technically" better, since it's all imagination.  We can come up with more and more illogical puzzles, so people have to think harder, but that would just result in people trying everything on everything.

The way I see things going, and the way I plan on making things, is to make more puzzles than the average game, but make them far more flexible.

S'pose you need to get an electric circuit to join up.  In your inventory you have a whole bunch of things that are metal.  Most games would only allow one item to be used to complete the circuit.  I want to allow any of the possible items to be used, and figure out later puzzles in the same way, whether you have the intended item or not.

Difficult, sure.  But it also adds to replay value, since you don't have to play the same way thru the second time.


Also, GTD?


The replay thing.  I want to try an vary the plot, too.  So you can play thru the whole thing a couple of times, and encounter different minor puzzles each time.  Only the main plot will be similar.  I'll vary that as much as possible, too.
« Last Edit: 25 Jun 2006, 01:15 by Spleen »
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Re: GTD: How are game aspects linked?
« Reply #4 on: 26 Jun 2006, 12:51 »
Game-wise, part of the fun of adventure gaming is exploring. So yes, to match with better sound and music, a game should allow multiple solutions to puzzles, multiple paths, preferably multiple endings even. Possibly multiple characters that react differently. And above all, have a lot of useful interactions even if they aren't strictly necessary.

A game that comes to mind is Origin's Savage Empire... it has massive amounts of usable objects and combinations. For instance, you can simply find torches and use them. Or, you can 1) break a branch of a tree; 2) get flax from a plant; 3) weave the flax into cloth; 4) cut cloth with scissors; 5) dip cloth strip in tar; and 6) tie tar strip around branch. You end up with a torch. The point is that you need not do it the convoluted way, but everything does work as expected.

Ironically, I think that on this front, we can take a leaf out of IF's book.