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That Jumping Story...

J'adore lire Dan de Lost Garden. Son dernier talk commence par une histoire d'horreur d'un autre temps (enfin, j'espère), puis revient sur certains principes de GD qui lui sont cher ^_^


Not so long ago there was an experienced team, working with a known platform, and a known engine. They had just scored a popular girl friendly license valued at roughly $160 million. Their game had the potential to hit as big as Pokemon or Nintendogs.

The designer ignored all this. You see, he had always wanted to make a Zelda clone...one with the critical element that has always been missing from all Zelda games: Hardcore jumping puzzles.



If the team missed the milestones, the penalties were extreme. So they crunched in happy little silos of artists, level designers and programmers, all in accordance to a strict production schedule. It was the only possible way to get all the specified content done in time for the looming holiday ship date.



Uh oh. They relied heavily on laboriously constructed jumping puzzles tuned to the old jump mechanics. The last few levels of the game were massively broken.



Surprise, surprise, the end result wasn’t a very good game. It received miserable scores, but even worse, the core audience who would have bought it on the license alone was completely alienated by the design decisions.


They wanted to befriend and grow cute little animals. They didn't want to die repeatedly while being attacked by spiky monsters while scrambling through military obstacle courses.


When the licensee pulled out of the sequel, the team collapsed. The human cost was immense. Home were lost, families relocated, many were so burnt out on game development they left the industry permanently, their passion crushed.


[ Lost Garden





5 trucs pour améliorer lees jeux...

1Up revient sur 5 problèmes récurrents des jeux qui sont pourtant connus depuis longtemps ^_^



1. Unskippable Cut-scenes

.... Maybe I already played through this thing once. Maybe the voice acting is embarrassing to the point that I want to mute the TV on the off-chance anyone nearby might suspect that I'm enjoying it. Maybe I just wanted to play the game more...


2. Save Points

...Nobody should ever be faced with the prospect of saying "right after I get to a save point" when someone is calling you to bed. Actually, you deserve whatever happens if you ever actually say that, but the temptation shouldn't exist. In the age of hard drives there aren't many sound technological reasons why I can't save my game at any time....


3. Quick-Time Events

...Seriously, this is about as minimal as gameplay can get while still technically being described as gameplay. They generally don't even contain the elegance and entertaining deaths of a halfway decent laser-disc game from 1989. Rent a copy of Clash of the Titans and get an old Simon off eBay. Congratulations, you just played through half of God of War II...




[ 1UP



La philosophie de la récompense

Ces 10 dernières années, la notion de récompense a pris une importance cruciale en game design, ayant vu d'ailleurs, son incarnation la plus spectaculaire dans le principe des accomplissements sur le Xbox Live.


Comme le THC est l'élément actif du canabis, la "reward" agi directement sur le système cognitif du joueur, produisant satisfaction et motivation. Du coup, donner corps et gérer les récompenses sont devenues des problèmatiques majeures ^_^


J'en parle dans le champ lexical des narcotiques, puisque certains types de joueurs sont litéralements accros à cette notion. Ne parle-t-on pas d'Achievement Junkie d'ailleurs ? :-D




A reward is something you receive and feel positive about.




What exactly that reward is, is of course subjective, but there must be something about the game you enjoy, otherwise you wouldn’t play it. Maybe you play Bejeweled because the sound of falling gems relaxes you.


Or maybe you play Quake because killing monsters makes you feel powerful. Or maybe you play Civilization because you enjoy the fantasy of building an empire. Then again, you might prefer to play The Sims because you like the idea that you can take out the trash using nothing but your mouse.


Or you might play System Shock because you like being scared shitless. Or maybe you play Paradoxion because it makes you feel smart. Whatever game you play, you play it because you want to get something out of it, something you feel positive about (even if others find it weird).




In order for a game to provide a rewarding experience as a whole, it must contain certain elements that are rewarding. You can’t create a game that constantly kicks me in the shin - something I find extremely annoying - but leaves me feeling that the game as a whole was quite enjoyable.


There must be at least something in the game that I would consider a reward, otherwise the game won’t provide me with a worthwhile experience. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything should be a reward, or that nothing can be annoying.


After all, I do enjoy a game of football (or soccer, if you prefer) on occasion and that includes a bit of shin kicking, which I’ll just take for granted. But still, for a game to be rewarding, it has to include rewards.




[ Casual Game Design


Ré-écrire le gameplay de Street Fighter 2...

Pfiou, voici un job a haut risque: Pour la nouvelle version HD se SF2, David Sirlin a eu pour tache de refaire le gameplay du jeu pour la mettre au gout du jour (plus facile, plus accessible, etc...).



Autant dire qu'il a pas intêret à se rater O_o 


Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix was originally going to be a graphical update of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, but along the way some magic happened.


HD Remix is now a completely new Street Fighter game—the 6th installment in the SF2 series. It also includes an arcade perfect gameplay version of SSF2T with new art and music. You’re actually getting two games in one.


For years, I’ve been a care-taker of the franchise, helping to present the games in the best way in Capcom Classics Collection 1, 2, and Remixed. Now I have the honor and burden of improving upon what I consider the very best Street Fighter game ever: Super Turbo.


So many have said it’s impossible to improve upon the polished gem of ST, but as Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” so Capcom and I felt that it was worth taking a shot.


Here are the design goals:


1) Make the game easier to play—more inclusive rather than exclusive
2) Make the game even more balanced for tournament play
3) Add fun as long as it doesn’t interfere with #2.


[ Capcom blog


Les 5 clefs du jeu d'action/aventure

Le directeur artistique du dernier Ratchet & Clank revient sur ce qui doit faire le succès du jeu d'aventure orienté Action aventure ^_^





1. A Beginning with a Bang


Nowadays more and more games are starting off with a heart pounding opening that gets players on the edge of their seats and keeps them there. Other forms of entertainment like movies, books, and theatre have been doing this for years.




The first level can also serve as a technical showpiece for the game. ... Why not kick it off with a showcase of amazing graphics, physics, sound, and special effects?


A beginning with a bang can both dazzle and engross players by demonstrating what's in store for them. From a game developer's perspective, we think about when to schedule the level so that it can reap all of the benefits from the lessons learned during production. Planning a level based on both the technological and design discoveries results in a polished and tighter experience unlike the clunky levels that are often produced at the beginning of production. As we've found with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, the first level can also serve as a great demo. It required no previous training and entices the player with some of the best moments of the game.


2. A Compelling Main Character


...One of the key factors that I believe separates it from other genres is a playable main character that is central to the gameplay and story. Like a great opening level, the character's visual design has a lot of influence on shaping player's first impression of a game. Great characters tell a story simply through their appearance. Whether it's their clothing, an interesting gadget, body tattoos, or an eye patch, there are aspects of the character that make them feel unique and compelling to play.


Of course, no matter how appealing the character might be, the real test is how they control. The camera and character are probably the two biggest challenges faced in developing third person action games. Since the controllable character is over 75 percent of the experience and ties into the moment to moment gameplay, it's critical that the character feels just right and is fun to play for many hours. There are many trade offs that developers make to ensure that the character both looks and feels good during gameplay. They must decide whether a character needs to snap into position to give immediate feedback, which does not always look good visually yet feels good for gameplay. Other times the character will have "anticipation"; they will have a wind up before following through with the action which reads well visually, yet might feel unresponsive due to the delay. A great action hero will pick the right times to be showy and when to be quick and responsive.


3. The Pace of the Progression


An engaging action/adventure teaches players new skills, gives them interesting ways to use them, and let's them feel the power of having mastered them. The player's skill progression can feel very rewarding in that each situation challenges the player in different ways and as a result they feel empowered with each new accomplishment. A game with great pacing knows when it's time to teach new lessons and when to go out for recess.




The communication of the gameplay elements is also important. For players to understand what's going on, the gameplay needs to be communicated consistently and clearly. If red switches open red doors, then they should be consistently red and should always open red doors. While this sounds fairly obvious, I'm amazed at the number of times games break these little rules due to something as simple as the level lighting or a game element is modified to support the story. The more the game world feels consistent and clear, the more confident the player feels in executing what they've learned.




4. A Strategic Meta-game


A meta-game is an overarching game system that ties into the player's more immediate goals. Most meta-games involve an economy or upgrade system. As the player progresses they get more money, upgrade points, and other things that can be spent or used to improve their character's abilities. This adds more depth in that it gives players strategies in how they play the game.




5. Fulfills the Fantasy


I think most people play action/adventures as a means of escape. They want to become a heroic character and act out a fantasy of being on an amazing adventure. A great game can put players under a spell and get them so immersed in the action that they forget they are playing a video game. Maintaining immersion is the result of the overall presentation and how all the elements of the story, gameplay, graphics, and sound come together to create a believable fantasy that the player can get lost in.




 [ Level Up ]


Le game design vu du point de vue Indy...

Voici quelques vidéo de conférences au sujet du GD dans les jeux indy, donc d'un point de vue peut être plus arty que porduit... ^_^


The first lecture was the keynote at the FreePlay conference, a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne. The lecture is about how to minimize risk and maximize quality as an indie developer, while creating art instead of products; also, it goes pretty deeply into my views about what we could/should be doing as game designers.


[ via Braid

Prototyping for Game Feel...

La sensation primal de TOUT les jeux vidéo, c'est l'acte d'agir sur un espace virtuel. C'est une sensation très importante, une projection de soi qui est au coeur même de l'art du jeu ^_^


SteveSwink revient sur la sensation de "feel" , cette chose cruciale tellement importante...


It’s intangible, below the surface, on the tips of fingers and the tips of tongues. It’s been with us since the beginning, since Pong, Spacewar, and what came before.


The tactile sensation of manipulating a digital agent. The thing that makes your mom lean in her chair as she plays Rad Racer. Proxied embodiment. Game feel.


However you describe it, it’s hard to deny that the sensation of controlling a digital object is one of the most powerful - and overlooked - phenomena ever to emerge from the intersection of people and computers.


There are lots reasons for this, but the main one is that game feel is slippery. It’s mostly subconscious, a combination of sights, sounds, and instant response to action. It’s one of those ‘know it when you feel it’ kinds of things. If it’s off by just a little bit, a game’s goose is cooked. If it’s “responsive”, “tight”, and “deep”, it can be magical.



[ SteveSwink





11 vs 11

Oui, le foot bien sur. On en parlait l'autre jour dans les commentaires. Apparement, EA aimerait permettre aux joueurs de jouer en ligne à 22, soit deux équipes complètes. Perso, ça me semble une bonne idée, d'autant plus que l'organisation de tournoi internationaux en parrallèle à la vraie coupe de monde devrait être possible.


Par contre, c'est un vrai challenge en terme de gameplay. Le foot, comme tout les jeux collaboratifs, repose sur la confiance et la culture des reflex acquis durant l'entrainement. A l'opposé, le joueur de Fifa est en principe seul maitre à bord. Est ce que jouer en défense va être fun ? Comment communiquer efficacement entre coéquipier? Quid des tricheurs et autres mauvais joueurs ?...


EA is hoping to support 11 vs. 11 play in time for their FIFA 2010 World Cup edition. This will allow them to have a "Virtual World Cup" with 11 of the best players from each country representing.

FIFA 08 producer Joe Booth says, "In the long term we have big plans. We'd like for the 2010 World Cup to have a virtual World Cup at the same time, and build an organization in each territory that finds the best 11 players and flies them out to South Africa, and have a full-on tournament there.


[ Joystiq


Splinter Cell: l'animation en force de ventes...

Après Lucas Art, au tour d'Ubisoft de mettre l'animation de ses jeux en avant. Dans Spliter Cell Conviction, Sam Fisher a appris deux trois truc:
Past Splinter Cell games weren't exactly inviting to those who weren't willing to get past the steep learning curve and figure out the controls. Simply opening a door involved a series of button presses as you approached it, peeked through, and then chose from a list of entry methods.
The developers at Ubisoft knew this would not fly in Conviction. A game that requires players to make quick reactions must have a control scheme that allows for easy interaction with the environment.

To meet this necessity, a three-button schematic has been put into place. One button will be for grabbing on to objects, say a chair, a doorknob or an enemy. Another will be for aggressive interactions. Depending upon the context, it might be used to kick open a door (or just throw a shoulder into it if you're running) or punch a cop that has the drop on you.
The last button will be for stealth. Pushing it near a desk will cause you to duck underneath to hide, slowly open a door, or imitate the crowd around you. You can see how combinations of these buttons will allow for more complex interactions whereby you can do things such as picking up a table and then hiding behind it for cover or throwing it at an enemy as a weapon.


Le pouvoir de la narration...

Robin Hunicke revient sur le pouvoir que les histoires exercent sur nous, au point que nos préférons de jolies mensonges à la simple vérité. C'est un principe intense, que de nombreuses industries ont bien comprise...


It’s that last one that really works, at least, for me. Right now, I’m looking at the story of different players and using that to communicate how different people might experience alternate tunings. Sure - the data can be crunched from save files and displayed in beautiful graphs with the help of spreadsheets and so on… but it’s the story that makes people nod and smile. Even when I’m talking about a player very different from them.


What makes stories so effective - even when they sell the wrong information? Something about us just loves the way they wrap everything up into an explainable phenomenon, I suppose...


[ GewGaw


Game Over!

Il y a des crimes en game design, particulièrement quand on parle de l’accessibilité ou des contrôles. Touts les joueurs ont connu la frustration d’une camera qui refuse de montrer l’ennemi en train de nous tirer dessus, la plateforme sur laquelle on doit sauter mais qui bouge trop vite, les explications de commandes pendant le chargement mais qui disparaissent avant qu’on ai fini de les lire ou qui ont visiblement été traduit par BabelFish … ^_^


Bref, voici « Game Over ! », le jeu qui va tout changer ! Game Over, c’est un jeu un peu particulier. En fait, c’est un jeu tellement mal conçu… que vous ne pouvez pas le gagner ! Pensé comme un véritable catalogue d’erreur universelle, GO a pour ambition de vous apprendre celles a ne pas commettre !


"Game Over!" is the world's first (and hopefully only) universally inaccessible game. This practically means that it is a game that can be played by no one. But why was such a game created? Well, the goal of Game Over! is to be used as an educational tool for disseminating, understanding and consolidating game accessibility guidelines.






SpaceCute: Prototyping challenge

En voilà une idée qu'elle est bonne. Lost Garden a remarqué une vérité fondamentale. Les programmeurs manquent souvent de graphistes pour illustrer leurs projets, et les graphistes ne savent pas coder. D'ou le projet SpaceCute. 


Lost garden fourni des graphs de qualité et un embryon de design, il ne reste plus qu'a coder un prototype!


The weekend is here and it is time for a short prototyping challenge! Over and over again, I've heard the sad tale that there are talented programmers lacking sexy graphics. I, on the other hand, can't program a lick. So here's a thought: I'll provide some quality graphics and a seed of a design idea. All you need to provide is a working prototype of the core game mechanic. :-)

For each prototype I receive, I'll post it up on the website and the learned folks who lurk here can discuss its pros, cons and opportunities for improvement. It should be a good learning experience all around. As we go, I'll add more graphics and we'll see where it all leads. Continue reading to grab the graphics and read the seed idea.


[ Lost Garden