Thursday, March 13, 2014

Out There and Creativity Versus Coding

I've learned so much from playing Out There.

Most importantly, I've come to a much better understanding of creating a game structure that allows creative expansion as a multiple of the coding effort.

Gridiron Solitaire has a lot of stuff going on under the hood. I focused on pushing as much content to the user as possible, so the pregame broadcast, halftime show, text events, and images are all pushed to the user, displayed for a defined length of time, and then removed. Everything the user pulls during the game (with the exception of dismissing the stats clipboard to end halftime) is connected with a strategic decision that must be made.

I really like that, in concept. And for the type of game that GS is, I had no choice. It just wasn't possible to make the user click through a ton of screens because it would lengthen the game, and it would become tedious.

The problem with this structure is that it's hard to modify. So much content has to be held while pushed content is displayed that the timing can get very complicated (for me, anyway). So every time something gets added to the game, those "held events" can make things very difficult.

These kinds of complexities were one of the reasons I decided an espionage game (which I very much to make) probably wasn't going to happen.

Then I played Out There.

The game tells a fantastic, expansive story, wrapped around a simple but beautifully designed game structure. All the content is pulled, but it totally works.

My basic understanding of the game structure is that it's a decision tree with dice rolls to determine if certain events happen inside a planetary system. It's not that simple, but it's close. And I'm not knocking it by calling it simple, because it's brilliantly simple. Want to add more events to the game? Just add them to the decision tree. The game structure allows a ton of creativity and content to be added with minimal coding on the back end.

So this should be the goal, it seems: a game structure that allows geometrical increases in creativity and content with only arithmetical increases in coding. Or something like that.

Now I see that espionage game in a different light. A superstructure of a geopolitical environment (a country and station map, basically), with a structure underneath focusing on individual events and narratives. All content pulled, with only rare exceptions.

That's something I see as entirely manageable. And entirely possible.

Site Meter