Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday afternoon tidbits

No drinking beer and falling asleep on the couch for me this weekend! I'm going snowboarding. Let me just apologize in advance if I break my wrist and can't type come Monday.

A few items of note before the weekend begins:

-The comments have been great around here recently, so thanks to everybody who takes the time to respond. Blogging should be a dialogue and not a monologue. I always appreciate any considered comments, whether they're assenting or dissenting. Group hug.

-Every time I think I'm done talking about Fairway Solitaire around here, they pull me back in. Bill Harris linked to an interview with the game's designer, John Cutter. It's probably more interesting if you've played the game, such as when you come across passages like this:
"One of my theories about game design is that there is a direct correlation between the quality of an action's feedback and the perceived enjoyment of that experience. So with that goal in mind I was pretty diligent about giving players great feedback each time they "play" a card to the foundation," he said. "I really wanted this action to feel like a golf shot, with a nice solid "WHACK" sound and the card spinning and arcing down to the bottom of the screen."

It's totally true. I can't stress it enough: Fairway Solitaire is an absolute gem. At least try the demo.

-The anonymous scribe behind Magical Wasteland rarely posts, but each new update is always required reading. "In Defense of the Meaningless Video Game" touches upon some of the issues we talked about in yesterday's post on racing games. A key quote: "World of Warcraft means something (to millions of people) because it provides the framework for meaningful occurrences, not because it, itself, contains and delivers meaning." That's true. But the meaningful occurrences people create for themselves are naturally shaped by the decisions of the folks at Blizzard, whether or not either the developers or the players mean for that to be the case.

Without arguing any of the author's core precepts -- that some games are fun for fun's sake, and that most don't need to be overtly relevant to the world we live in -- I still can't shake the notion that every game has some kind of meaning. The reason it has meaning is because conscious decisions had to be made about even its smallest aspects. Yes, you can take this to ludicrous and self-parodying extremes. But think about it: For each design decision made, an infinite number of options was rejected. If you ask yourself why a particular choice was made, then that's where you'll find the meaning -- no matter what the game.

-Today, Game|Life, Kotaku, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun all posted gushing previews of the dystopian Parkour game Mirror's Edge. I agree that it sounds neat. But honestly, people: Have we learned nothing?

No comments: