Made with: Unity
In collaboration with: Andy Noelker
Play online version here (on Andy’s site)
Made with Andy as part of our MA final project, which we called “the work of play”. Featured in the V&A Museum’s Digital Futures programme in July 2013. Andy and I were interested in the fact that many popular videogames have basic foundations which are iterated on:
Though dressed up with different settings and special effects and given context with story, these are at heart the same actions repeated ad nauseum. It can be difficult to notice these formulae when playing, as it’s easy to get sucked along for the ride, but these are reliable, tested chunks of play that game- and level-designers can fall back on to flesh out their product. The ultimate goal is to get players to do the same tasks again and again and call it “fun”.
We had this lecture from Jonathan Blow in mind.
What we noticed about first person shooters like the Call of Duty franchise is that most levels are built out of a few repeating elements. These are placed end to end to make up a level, and the slight variations between them (this one is a straight line, this one goes around a corner, this one spans a vertical space) keep players interested and reward them for progress.
This isn’t a problem on its own, but I take issue with the fact that these levels are constructed out of replicable blocks designed not to give players unique, enriching experiences but to keep them hooked. I completely accept that “unique, enriching experiences” is very vague, but it’s the best way I can express the fact that games should offer players more than iterative experiences which only serve to train players in a very specific skillset and show them extravaganza to reward their continued attention. Games should be more than “attention in, arbitrary feeling of progress out.”