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June 13, 2004



"I don't see Mario; I see a cursor"
Hmm when Elite was being ported to the NES, they came up with a problem in user testing wherein the players (particularly young ones) were confused as to who they were playing in the game, perhaps the quote came out then?


>>(I just looked for that bit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest about how the bird at the head of the V can't hold that position forever and needs to take turns but couldn't find it.)

That would be geese flying during migration, and it's true that they often trade lead and split/join during the trip to curb exhaustion. At least that's the popular theory.

Here's the quick and dirty of it:

Unless I'm just imagining it, I think I remember hearing stories about how this has been applied, with at least some success, to leadership roles in other industries as well. Though I wouldn't be the one to guess how it would work in any given group. I assume the more powerful geese lead more, and the weaker geese fall back more often, for the betterment of the group. Think people could pull that off?


"Underneath all the pretty graphics there is a rule system. Blackjack or shoot an unaware opponent and they die; once they're aware, the blackjack does nothing, and the arrows hurt but do not kill. Not a very good simulation [...] but a good game, one that encourages stealth above all."

While a system like this could arguably make for a better game, I don’t think I would consider it. It simply defies ALL logic. A system where enemies are more vulnerable to attacks from the back than from the front is justifiable. A system where enemies “raise their shields” once they are alerted makes more sense. But there is no somewhat believable reason for Thief 3’s system.

It completely turns me off when a game imposes a “rule” on me that does not have a justification. It pulls be out of the universe, and reminds me that I’m playing a game. The least designers can do is come up with a paper-thin reason for their game design decisions.

Chris Busse

"It completely turns me off when a game imposes a “rule” on me that does not have a justification."

Fun gameplay is it's own justification. I agree, come up with something that makes "logical sense" if you can, but if you can't good gameplay trumps logic every time.


That Thief:Deadly Shadows was so good after Deus Ex:Invisible War was so bad, is more than a little phenomenal. Then again, they had six extra months, and NO HARVEY SMITH.

For anyone who's got to the Cradle mission in T3, blame Jordan Thomas for that one. That guy's some kind of fuckin' game designer, there.


Here are some examples of where illogical gameplay makes the game more fun:

- I can see the direction enemies and cameras are facing on my radar in Metal Gear Solid.

- There are Precursor Orbs sprinkled all over the world, and they happen to give me hints about where to go next in Jak & Daxter.

- I can carry a rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and submachine gun on my person at the same time and still be “sneaky” in Deus Ex.

Here are some examples of where illogical gameplay makes me want to chuck the controller:

- You cannot kill your fellow UNATCO agents in until predetermined missions Deus Ex.

- You can only aim in first person with certain weapons in Grand Theft Auto 3.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the inconsistency in the gameplay that makes the game less fun for me. The game teaches me to play one way, then for an otherwise inexplicable reason the “rules of the universe” are changed. I will take illogical and consistent over sometimes-logical but inconsistent any day.

If you have to change the rules on the player, try to come up with a reason for why they’ve changed. And if you can’t justify it, at least spell it out to the player. Otherwise you might be in chucksville.

Jamie Fristrom

I liked the Thief series better than the Deus Ex series as well, but I think that's simply because they focus on one kind of core gameplay, (and a kind of core gameplay I like...shooters tend to bore me) and Deus Ex suffers from having to do it all. But that's just me (and you): in the reviews Deus Ex is only lagging a point or two behind, which could be explained by random variation. So all it really means is Thief is more our cup of tea. Maybe that's because we're game designers. If only the whole world were populated with game designers...

The Cradle level was great for storytelling and atmosphere, but it was broken in a couple of ways: why would I go through the effort of collecting more toys when I have quicksave? (You could argue that excessive use of quicksave is meta-game, that I was cheating or being dishonorable, that the extra toys are just there for people playing with an iron-man/hardcore style (a concession to a meta-game) but it bothered me none the less.) Also, it was too ambitious for its budget - going into the past would have been So Cool if the geometry changed, or if once you were in the past you saw events play out that gave you clues about what to do in the future, but just seeing the same geometry with a different FOV and a green filter was disappointing. I suspect they wanted to do the full, cool thing and then scaled back because they ran out of time or hardware limitations messed them up. Still, like I said a few days ago, I'd rather see something ambitious done poorly than something stale done well. The Cradle level really was one of the high points of the game.

Jurie Horneman

Uhh... do tell me about that director protection technique please... I wrote about that issue here: http://www.intelligent-artifice.com/2004/06/bad_stress.html not that long ago.

Jamie Fristrom

In a nutshell, we're going to have two "creative directors", splitting the work that Tomo did all by himself on the previous project. Which is really the same thing that you were talking about: too much work? Delegate. Some warning bells might be going off, though:
- how are we going to divide responsibilities?
I'm not terribly worried about this; we'll draw up a czar chart and shift things around as necessary.
- who gets final say?
I'm not terribly worried about this either; it's pretty easy for two people to achieve consensus.

Oh, and thank you.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game