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Look, we're Game Designers! - Qualified Perceptions
Look, we're Game Designers!
mjperson and I went to talk to shumashi's picture-game team today. I hadn't thought before about the oddly recursive nature of talking to a team about a game we made up in part inspired by the short description of their game. It was also interesting to hear Mike talk about it - I know all the things *I* think, but he wrote the rules while I built the infrastructure, so we have different points of view, and we have a long history of managing to divide up all the important bits of a project into stuff he thinks about and stuff I think about. Plus Mike is better at instructional lecture than I am, having spent more EPs on teaching skills, so I probably found it almost as educational as they did. I don't know how much of a lesson Octopus Wars is for their game, though, as it is very much designed for noodlyness and "people I know". Still, between meeting Warren Spector the other week and talking about game design at an actual game design lab, I have some amount of nostalgia from when games was something I did Officially instead of just something I did with a spare timeline. :)

Current Mood: happy happy

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jdbakermn From: jdbakermn Date: July 8th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)


I feel like I'm missing out (not being a game designer). Wish I could have been around to hear what you and mjperson presented.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 9th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Darn.

(added some of the things we said to the comment below. :) )
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: July 8th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, encore! I want to hear the talk too!
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 9th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't actually a Talk talk, just an hour of answering questions. Marleigh mentioned some of the things, but stuff that came up:
  • The player pool was very much self-selected for people who thought 'run around with a stuffed octopus and take pictures with it' would be fun.
  • The infrastructure got rewritten a lot as we went in response to people's suggestions, adding features they thought would be interesting. Stuff like "comments", we didn't think of, but make it more social.
  • The appeals process is designed to be silly but let people try to get things changed; we tried to do *something* in response to an appeal when possible (hence splitting contests).
  • The artifacts provide positive feedback, to encourage the game to end, because a definite ending is better than trailing off as everyone gets bored. The alternate endgame (leaders fight!) is in case the positive feedback wasn't sufficient.
  • Biases and commentary, and having their names on the contests, make judges interesting, and let you try to cater to their particular whims. It's different than having a black box do the scoring.
  • Having no ending deadline for individual contests lets people take their time, but also means they can be unseated later.

Um, that's all I can think of offhand.

Edited at 2008-07-09 02:53 pm (UTC)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 9th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, we discovered that the leap from "Well, okay, I can make you all octopodes..." to "...but then they have to FIGHT" is not universally obvious. :)
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: July 9th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
People wanted octopodes without wanting to be in the Wars? Clearly stuffed animal deprived! Hard to fathom!
twe From: twe Date: July 8th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Deleted comment)
merastra From: merastra Date: July 8th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh that's really neat. I had no idea that Octopus Wars was inspired by people in the industry. What's WS up to these days?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 9th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
(We spent a while trying to figure out a way to have octopodes in California fight with octopodes in Massachusetts that was more eccentric than something like playing on-line paper-scissors-rock. Since all game development is done at lunch, and Marleigh has been added to Team Lunchbuck, she suggested picture-taking.)

I'm not actually sure what project WS is working on, but he was going back to CA to have a meeting with Bob Iger, which impressed me! :)
ricedog From: ricedog Date: July 9th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a year old, but he was working with The Mouse.

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