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Log: Ramblings on the fundamental structure of games
by Marius Holstad on 12/02/13 05:17:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 
If we could make a game that would adapt to the user's input and create a perfect story structure and climax every time with whatever we throw at it, like episodes of a tv series, would it be a good game?
 
I think I would not have enjoyed a game like that, because I would have liked to go back and experience something similar again.
 
So what is it that would have been desirable about a game like that? For me, it would be the influence I would get. So what would I like to have control over? I would like to form my own approach to an objective.
 
If we could make a game that would let me create my own approaches to an objective, and still stay true to the story structure and climax, would it be a good game?
 
I think it would remove the feeling of not being in control of your avatar, but I feel it would add a lot of clutter and unimportant scenes. It has value in itself, but it requires the right kind of mindset from the player to work and it would be unreasonable to expect the player to make the effort without being asked to do so.
 
But what we can take from this is; the feeling of not being in control. This is what we are trying to eliminate from the storytelling. And we learned that this does not necessarily mean to be in control of the plot.
 
If we could make a game that would explore a theme or aspect of the human condition from a variety of different angles, would it be a good game?
 
I think I would like that type of exploration, but I find it difficult making each aspect an enclosing climax in the plot. It would rather be a sub-system of interactions, not too important to the overarching plot.
 
So what would be desirable about a game like that? I like the idea of not giving only a single viewpoint, but to show that the topic is a complex matter. So there could be a single conflict that would be better understood with each playthrough.
 
If we could make a game that would be better understood with each playthrough, would it be a good game?
 
This runs the risk of being too unapproachable to first timers, like video games isn't too complex already... This would be bad. But I like that the player would learn the structure and patterns better and better. So while being approachable, we need to present a structure of patterns that would welcome deeper immersion.
 
But what we can take from this is; that we should design a system based on something we believe to be a part of the human condition, and dress it so that repeated playthroughs reveal more truths about that theme. It would reflect what we believe are the laws of life. This does not have to affect the plot and it must neither be a static if/then puzzle with a single outcome.
 
How do we create a game that eliminates the feeling of not being in control and that reveal more truths about the human condition with each playthrough?
 
First we would have to answer the questions:
What makes you feel in control?
What makes you feel not in control?
How do you reveal truths in a game?
etc.
 
And also to answer the question:
How do you make a game approachable to someone who has never played a game before? How do you teach them how to speak the game's language?
 
More on this in a later log.

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