The Joy of Being Clueless

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The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby ShaneDalton » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:10 pm

So, I've once again been playing minecraft trying to get back into it yet failing everytime. I sat down for awhile and thought about how game used to entrance me for hours on end, yet now I can't play it for more than 30 minutes. This thought process led me to trillek, and preventing this situation from occuring. Then it dawned on me, when we first played minecraft it was such a scary concept wasn't it? We didn't know anything, we knew at night time monsters came unless we had light, we knew how open the game was. But other then that we were clueless! This was what made the game addictive! And this is what saps the fun out of the game! So what I'm talking about design wise, is well avoiding this exact issue. How? Well, that's something I haven't quite figured out yet.. it'd be great to hear people thoughts on how we could combat this.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby croxis » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:17 pm

That is the very question Raph Koster takes on in a Theory of Fun.

A player has an internal model of how the game works. The game itself is often a black box to the player. They can't see what is going on inside. They develop this model by putting input into the game, and observing the output based on the game rules. He used the example of his kids playing tic tac toe. They had fun playing while they were still learning the patterns of the game. The problem with tic tac toe is that it doesn't take long to figure out the optimal strategy to end in a draw every time. With no more patterns to learn the game is no longer fun.

The thesis is that figuring out the black box and learning patterns is what makes a game fun.

What you are looking for is a game design where it takes a while for the player model to figure out the black box. One of the big ways to make a system big and complicated and limit the feedback to the player. There is a great risk in doing that. If the player doesn't get enough feedback to figure out how a systems works, or their internal model is incorrect, the game will feel random to them and they will blame the game for being random, even if it isn't (see: Diplomacy AI in vanilla Civ V).

Another way is to balance the mechanics in such a way that there isn't one optimal pathway for the player to take, but several pathways with different tradeoffs. World of Warcraft use to have an elaborate skill tree system. The problem was that the players quickly figured out the one or two optimal skill trees setups. After years of trying to adjust the balance blizard simplified the skill system to a couple of check boxes.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby Eximius » Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:31 pm

I would like to think that the inherent difficulty of assembly programming coupled with the nigh-infinite variation in ship design will lead to some very long-term cluelessness. We will start to see some general ship trends, but I doubt anyone will make something just so incredibly awesomer than everyone else that the only thing to do is make that ship. And then there will hopefully be some emergent politics (in a good way). And everyone in politics is clueless. :)
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby Qworg » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:15 pm

Players are ultimately unbalancing, as are quasi-intelligent NPCs/simulations.

We should have plenty of both.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby kibbles » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:46 am

I think the real mystery in this is the players. If fun is the process of going from clueless to less clueless, meeting a random player in a random moment when you have no idea of their intention makes for some pretty goddamned fun game play.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby Xamanthas » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:17 pm

Whilst i am a newbie here, i feel i should add my 10 cents.
What makes and/or made minecraft fun was the exploration, the idea of building up supplies to build up that 'epic base', interacting with other players online and mining together and ultimately the notion that you could do more, discover more rules and guidelines. Its all about rewards and returns, find that biome with tons of wolves +1, find a dungeon +1, the list goes on and minecraft definitely capitalised itself on these principals.

What can also make minecraft fun even to those that know the games is the freedom to do anything, for example i still enjoy minecraft quite a lot, as i return to it every week or so and i have the sense of nostalgia that also drives that creativeness because i still have the world i first created. Now its quite late at the time of writing (12pm) so i think rather than straining my dead brain to summarise this, i suggest you read these:

A informative well-written blog post, laid out in a easy to read concise manner, great for quick reference:
http://www.pentadact.com/2011-05-27-wha ... ames-good/


An in-depth study by Thomas W.Malone, titled 'What makes things fun to learn' published in 1980, i can assure you its a very detailed and intelligent study but will require some time to read and thus to gain much from it:
http://cci.mit.edu/malone/tm%20study%20144.pdf

Anyway i'll likely not check back here for weeks, so i wish you all the best and safe travels in space!
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby VladVP » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:09 pm

A never-ending storyline would definitely make me play a game for ever and ever. Just a shame that it requires a quite big amount of players.I think most MMO's do a really bad job at utilising the amount of players that they've usually got at their hands. If we make an MMO-like game, we should not have a point where it all ends and there's nothing more to do. The reason that the growth of Minecraft's playerbase is slowing down, is because everyone completed everything. Everyone has mined every resource, slain every boss, achieved every achivement. We have to keep adding more gameplay for the individual player as they progress through our game.
How could we do that?
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby Xamanthas » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:12 am

VladVP wrote:A never-ending storyline would definitely make me play a game for ever and ever. If we make an MMO-like game, we should not have a point where it all ends and there's nothing more to do. The reason that the growth of Minecraft's playerbase is slowing down, is because everyone completed everything. Everyone has mined every resource, slain every boss, achieved every achivement. We have to keep adding more gameplay for the individual player as they progress through our game.
How could we do that?


There are plenty of ways to do so, unfortunately im not sure as to the direction of the game (such as an MMO, server based worlds etc) so i cant go in detail on two-three points on how to do this but ill list them generally here:

    Regular updates:

      Minecraft is a prime example of this, along with LoL, DOTA2, TF2, WoW too name a few big ones. Having regular (or well recieved and/or well spaced updates) pulls the user back into the game providing a sense of excitement and interest, giving them a whole new batch of things to explore, read up on and to engage in, is a prime way to keep the user-base playing (i know it did for me). An example of well-received updates or rather content expansions would be WoW, i know many people, my age and those much older than i (such as teachers) who because of the lvl. cap increase, new classes and all the yummy new content, came back to play after not playing for months. The main idea here is obviously to try to keep the game fun for -you- the developers and have reasonably regular updates, as if those who are working with it 24/7 (maybe not) then its likely to be fun for those who play it as a game not a project.

    World Events:

      Again WoW is a great example of set instances/events occurring. On specific dates events occur that are symbolic of the times, such as the Lunar Festival which is a reference to Chinese New Year. In Trillek this could be the occasional dates such as Halloween, Christmas and and some others or it could have timed based events such as how Espeon and Umbreon only evolve at their respective day and night. Maybe a certain mob might become active, a time to find a passing trade fleet, collect rare ores, prehaps prices are cheaper or the world might adapt to these time changes and on each planets specific nights less people are about and you have the chance to mugged or something, only your imagination limits you on this so who knows? The main idea is just to keep a new surprise around the corner for the player never allow them to predict everything.

    The promise of power or ranks/status:

      Title is self-explanatory, give them new powers (upgrades for ship areas?), ranks in a leader board or become the leader of some NPC or Player clan army and you have yourself something epic like BF2 and BF4's commander mode mixed with starfox.

    Loot!:

      Well i'll be dammed if i need to explain this in detail. In trillek this is undoubtedly still waay down the list of priorities as the player rewarded with item/s for quest/battle comes after design, engine, art and a playable release with all basic features (no sfx, placeholder sprites, and very basic art) just get the foundations down, then proceed from there ^^

    A Reactive World:

      This one is up in the air as it would depend entirely on whether the coders want to put in the effort for this one, as it would require conscious knowledge and thus design around that, do you want to put the code into making players have a bounty, or a positive rating, npc reactions to player decisions and/or actions and prehaps most importantly is the terrain going to react? i.e destructible terrain,materials and supplies take awhile to re spawn as they have to 're-grow' and if so would it affect the flora and fauna on that planet

    Ability to explore:

      No walls, no boundaries and make it interesting for those that explore space in Trillek whilst also making it dangerous risk and return. This danger could be present in the form of aggro mobs that are present in Trillek version of dungeons or alien nests ;)

Anyway there's more than that but if you want me to go more in-depth just ask.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby VladVP » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:31 am

Xamanthas wrote:
    A Reactive World:

      This one is up in the air as it would depend entirely on whether the coders want to put in the effort for this one, as it would require conscious knowledge and thus design around that, do you want to put the code into making players have a bounty, or a positive rating, npc reactions to player decisions and/or actions and prehaps most importantly is the terrain going to react? i.e destructible terrain,materials and supplies take awhile to re spawn as they have to 're-grow' and if so would it affect the flora and fauna on that planet


I think this is a bad idea. If the player constructs a giant mechanical version of Galactus, and accidentally suck every single resource out of a planet, we should force them to seek out to different planets. "Re-growing" loot doesn't quite work from a realistic standpoint, does it? And considering the amount of playing space we've planned for this game, I would become kind of disappointed if half the playerbase dicked around in the same few solar systems all the time.
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Re: The Joy of Being Clueless

Postby Xamanthas » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:41 am

VladVP wrote:
I think this is a bad idea. If the player constructs a giant mechanical version of Galactus, and accidentally suck every single resource out of a planet, we should force them to seek out to different planets. "Re-growing" loot doesn't quite work from a realistic standpoint, does it? And considering the amount of playing space we've planned for this game, I would become kind of disappointed if half the playerbase dicked around in the same few solar systems all the time.


Indeed my friend, i never meant these to be guidelines for trillek but ways to keep interest in any game, which is also why i said it was a bit up in the air. Though by 're-grow' i meant plants, possibly some sort of sci-fi organic metal that regrows and various species of this organic metal is used in the ships, and other natural things not planets 0,0 Apologies though i should have elaborated on that a bit more, though i do know this, if players were able to destroy planets..well it'd be a hole new game.
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