Friday, 24 July 2015

I wish we could all game in the mountains, at high altitude


Fringes are fascinating.

I tend to find that most of my better ideas occur in the grey margins between two areas of thought/endeavour. Take this realisation from last night, for example:

Developing an idea for a video game as if you were developing it for a board game means that (generally) you are placing yourself in a situation with: (A) more restrictions; and, (B) more concrete materials.
Which is a good thing.

Why? Well, these two points (which are actually tied together--they're both a direct result of the very physicality of the game board/cards/pieces you're using) create (at least, in my experience) a situation where: (A) the greater restrictions force you to be more novel/creative in your design and approach; and, (B) working with more tangible materials enables you to get down to highly basic/fundamental ways of solving seemingly complex problems.

I don't want to turn this into an essay but, as a (brief) example:

I've been wanting to design a "better" (read: more verisimilitude) lockpicking minigame than what you'll see in Oblivion/Fallout 3/Skyrim for years now. The trouble is, how do you simulate the feel of your lockpick touching & manipulating the pins or tumblers of a lock? I'll not bore you with all the ins and outs, but it's only in the last few weeks that I sat down to consider lockpicking as a board game mechanic that I finally worked out how to do it--and have now managed to reverse engineer it to work in a video game. ^_^

tl;dr

The rarefied environment of the board game (where I couldn't have sound, or even show visuals of the lockpicks at work!) enabled me to "simplify, simplify, simplify" (H.D. Thoreau) and thus crack a design chestnut I'd been gnawing on for years now.

tl;dr of tl;dr
Hurrah! It's Febuaray 3rd! \o/