May 17th, 2005


(no subject)

Today I am a bit cross with Guild Wars. Sort of unfairly so; the thing that's annoying me is something that's true of all games of similar genre, and Guild Wars avoids it more than most. But not entirely, and today is the point at which it impacts on me. The decision of wanting to play as a different class, and having to bloody start again and re-do all the stuff you already did.

For player-versus-player, Guild Wars largely avoids this problem - my already-advanced character could switch secondary class through all the other classes, and unlock all the skills, then I could create custom PvP characters fully powered and equipped at whatever level I like. The problem lies in the two post-completion non-PvP areas, which can only be accessed with non-PvP characters, which means all the levelling up, and acquisition of skills and equipment, must be done from the start.

I realise a lot of people enjoy the whole levelling thing, but it's not really my cup of tea. I realised how annoying it was when I played the platform game I linked to the other day and had more fun playing that than recently playing Guild Wars. Which set me wondering whether the game-design I have in my head for future development is actually going to be fun or not. After some pondering I realised that the answer is "sort of". That there are completely distinct sorts of fun, and my brain-stored wargame would score highly on my favourite of them.

So now I'm trying to mentally codify what sorts of fun there are in games.
  • Chore fun - the one I don't enjoy but that plenty of people seem to. Levelling up, walking a character from A to B, anything repetitive. Prevalent in RPGs, especially MMORPGs. You get better by repetition and patience.
  • Twitch fun - games of quick reactions. Mario, Sonic, R-Type. You mostly get better by practice. Probably the most fun of the types, but also relatively short-lived.
  • Concentration fun - Chess, Go, wargames. You mostly get better by learning. My favourite of the types.
  • Power fun - giving orders, management games. The Sims, Nationstates, Black and White. There is no getting better, because there is no winning. In some management games you might get better by fine-tuning, minor adjustments.
  • Solving fun - puzzles. Tetris, crosswords, all those bloody games with diamonds. I'm not entirely sure how this is distinct from concentration, but the learning curve is a very different shape, flattening out much more swiftly. After only a short while, any improvement in Tetris play is twitch improvement rather than solving improvement. Perhaps the distinction is that solving has simple rules and that's where it ends, while concentration has sets of simple rules interacting to form complex systems. A computer program easily beats a human at a game of solving, but needs a lot more work to win at a game of concentration.

So, the wargame in my head is pretty much all Concentration, and, on consideration, very little Chore. So that's good, as far as I'm concerned. The other simpler multiplayer puzzle-ish game I'd quite like to make would be Twitch, Concentration and Solving. And Robobeasts, the game that's actually in development already... doesn't really fit into any of the categories very well at all. But I'm fairly convinced that it would be fun, so I must be missing a type. I don't know, maybe it's a bit of everything but Twitch. Perhaps cooperation and competition are more types. Ah - diplomacy? I don't know. And what sort of fun are personality tests?