One of the things I find is that I think a lot. I'm not sure it ever does me any good, but I'm sure there must be a good reason for it. Perhaps I'll work it out one day. But seriously, thinking is an important part of how I address what I do - from comic strips to dialogue to game design.
I was thinking just this morning about games and what differentiates a game from a sport. I have no idea what the academic distinction is, but it occurred to me that for my purposes if people are playing a game, then it's likely that they'll be taking turns, whereas in sports opponents (singly or in teams) are actively battling it out against each other at the same time.
Football, rugby and tennis are good examples of sports under this definition, but snooker, darts and golf would have to be classed as games, which may mean that my distinction is flawed from the start, particularly when you look at something like cricket or baseball.
These two could be said to fall under both categories as each team takes it in turn to have an "innings" while their opponents take the field. However, they are also actively battling against each other at the same time, though in different roles.
Anyway, the purpose of this rambling isn't to define a set of rules but to show my thinking process, no matter how odd you may find it. If I think about computer "games" in a similar fashion, I can't help but feel that multiplayer deathmatch or capture the flag are more like sports than games.
I began to think of other games, too, but in particular the adventure. I came to the conclusion, as it's likely that others have done before me, that adventures are neither games nor sports. They are in fact puzzles.
We tend to refer to the gameplay in an adventure as being a series of puzzles - and well they might be - but I believe we should think of an adventure game as one big puzzle that is filled with lots of smaller puzzles, each of which add to the whole in a fulfilling way. In many respects, the adventure has a lot in common with the crossword if you pull back and look at them both from a high level.
The crossword is a puzzle made up of lots of little puzzles (each word and clue), many of which can be solved with the aid of solving others. There is no set order in which the crossword should be solved, but the complete solution is fixed. Each puzzler can get their own enjoyment from it.
One of the ways that I approach a game design is to think about the game as a whole as if it's one big puzzle that must be split up into lots of component parts in order that I provide enough of a challenge and continual gameplay for the player to gain the pleasure they desire. Without this approach a designer will run the risk of the game simply becoming a congomeration of lots of small puzzles that have no overall plan. It's like having lots of crossword clues without the grid to put the solutions into.
Although I've been aware of how I write and design games for some time, being able to think of it in these terms gives me a level of clarity that enables me to relate my processes to others.
So maybe the thinking stuff is good after all...
Labels: Creative Process