Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Short Games rock

Here's a wonderful article on short games by the fellows who made Strange Adventures in Infinite Space:
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050502/carlson_pfv.htm

I like this design philosophy for several reasons:

  • Innovation friendly: You can try a bunch of interesting systems and you don't have to rebuild a dozen levels.
  • Design testing friendly: You can test these games rather quickly and gather interesting statistics. Gathering 3 - 4 game play data sets per day from a user is a lot better than gathering one data every 2 weeks.
  • Minimal plot: I love how they really just 'suggested' a plot with bits of setting randomly strewn about, but didn't really put one there. Good enough for me and a more economical use of development resources.
Some users will dismiss this type of game for not having an epic story. Wake up and smell the innovation. There are other forms of pyschological reward than an arbitrary injection of plot. Character building, social rankings, and such are equally enjoyable and actually give you more gaming bang for your buck.

Here's a dirty little secret. Most game genres are in the form of short games that just happen to be tied together by a simple metagame that relies on plot snippets as a reward mechanism. RPGs? Short tactical battles. Adventure games? Short puzzles. FPS? Short tactical shooting sessions. Remove the story and you still have a delightful gaming experience.

take care
Danc.