Constraints in Games.

Been a while since I blogged.

Here’s an interesting thing. I was talking with Scotty Foe over at Nokia about Reset Generation, and the constraints that came with making the product.

While it’s online (as online can be), the roundtrip ping times in the worst case of phone to phone means that you can’t do anything remotely twitchy – FPS / 3rd person games are out – even the relatively paltry online requirements of an RTS means it’s very hard (but not impossible) to do over an NGage Phone to Phone connection.

Then there’s gamer attention span. People play games on phones when they are on their way somewhere, or have time to spare waiting for something. No one sits down at home for an evening of Phone Game Playing (well maybe they will in future given the iPhone’s power, and it’s possible that Teens might if they have no other console at hand) – so the play times need to be low – 20/30 minutes as a max session.

Lastly the nirvana is something that can be joined in progress. Reset Generation currently isn’t that kind of game, but the ultimate would be where you could join in an already active turn based game, play a bit, then put it down without destroying the game experience of someone else who’s still playing.

Those are interesting constraints. It’s almost an MMO, except there are situations in an MMO where you need twitchy responses. More like a persistant turn based RPG style game.

Either way, the infrastructure to build a persistant world is Big – more than most people will like to fold into a phone game, at least at this stage of the phone games development infrastructure.

So what else can you do?

It’s an interesting challenge. I have a few ideas….

Anyway, all that is really just pre-amble to my real question.

Do narrow constraints result in better games? From a developers point of view I think that scope limiting is wonderfully focusing. Sometimes the constraints can be too much, but most of the time being able to say No to a blind alley because you can’t go down it is great.

But, from the point of view of the gamer, I think it may not be such a great thing. What tends to happen is a massive fragmenting of game genres, with the few genres that are available and that work being massively mined with lots of Me To product. In this case you end up with a million variations of the turn based Quiz games and board games. Games that would be larger in scope and have lots of mechanic spurs just don’t happen and thats a shame.

On the other hand the actual experimentation that occurs with natural constraints is great – lots more people finding new ways to use what limited resources / approaches that are available.

Ultimately I think it’s a good thing, as long as it’s not the only way people are forced to make games; it’s good to have powerful consoles like the PS3 and the 360 too:)

P.S. What, exactly, does Diddly Squat refer to? I understand it’s contextual meaning, but what the hell does it actually refer to??

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>