Sometimes I find myself surprised by the simplest things.
It’s distractions like this that lead me down all manner of thought trails and ultimately, and inevitably I have to shelve my current project to go and investigate my ideas a little further.
I am not an adventure gamer by rule. I much prefer to play “arcade” games. I rather enjoy the theory if it all but the concept of pretending to be an Orc or a Paladin and venturing off to find treasure in “them thar hills” is a bit beyond me.
Atleast that’s what I thought.
I recently picked up a few old games, one of which was Dungeon Siege. I was convinced it’d get an hour of my time and then I’d uninstall it. To my surprise I played it through and thoroughly enjoyed it. Being a designer of games I decided to invest a little thought in to what it was that actually grabbed my attention so much.
I found the answer was within my definition of the term “arcade gaming”.
To anyone older than 20 years the thought of an arcade game meant standing in a game arcade waiting patiently for a “go” on a game machine. I still remember fondly pacing the grotty floorboards of the local arcade with a fistful of coins looking for a cheap laser thrill. Great days. But arcades of course died a death thanks in no small part to their abuse by factions of society that used them as havens for pushing drugs and getting smashed on cheap booze.
To a modern gamer an arcade game is a simple, casual game enjoyed thanks to the internet. Probably.
My problem is that I’d always assumed an arcade game was a ton of sprites drifting around with a wee player sprite striving to destroy them all in some way shape or form. Certainly these are the games I love to play.
I re-evaluated this and decided that a truer description was probably better defined by my attitude towards the game rather than the style of the game itself.
In the arcades you were prepared to spend a short space of time playing a game. You certainly didn’t expect to be there for hours on end.
I simply haven’t got hours on end to spare for gaming. Those days are gone.
But I am a keen gamer in that I enjoy the challenge of computer games.
Dungeon Siege allowed me to progress through a fantasy game world at my own pace without the hassles of guild membership or any kind of commitment to a pre-arranged tournament. I’m sure those things are available but I didn’t use them.
So it strikes me that a great game might be found in a fantasy adventure that is designed to be played in short bursts.
A kind of “dip in and dip out” style of game that prompts the player for a decision or action then shuts up shop until the next time the player returns. In the background you might move the game world on a bit so that the player returns to a “living” situation.
This is quite different to the “what do I do next?” style of game that I had previously been thinking about.
Better still the game needn’t use any graphics whatsoever.
I could play the game on my mobile phone and just “dip in” once in a while to see what’s changed and what I need to do to survive.
This may sound pretty pedestrian to anyone used to the graphical thrills of World of Warcraft but from a designer’s perspective (especially somebody happy to consider the more cerebral aspects of such a game) this is where the fun is.
So I am now moving more and more towards an adventure game in an open world where the player initially must simply survive.
Once I’ve finished the “inbetween” game that I’m working on I am going to enjoy sketching out the framework for a big fantasy project.