Monday, December 2, 2013

Practice 2013: Open Problems

These are the notes I took from the open problems session at Practice. Note: the questions and all the answers happen really fast, so these notes are often not in complete sentences.

1.       Brad Muir – Massive Chalice, you are the immortal ruler and also a matchmaker, what about gay couples? Let them adopt, magic gay babies, relics, fostering babies, nieces and nephews, magic surrogates and sperm donors, don’t specify that they’re kids, magic blood rituals (for every couple), let players form their own stories, push the problem off to an expansion, don’t make it different from straight couples, adoption is for all couples in general
2.       Dylan Rogers – FPS game that’s combining Gone Home and Papers, Please, find out if people are androids are not, they are the same but they have different behaviors (introversion, different thoughts about love and sex, etc.). How do you build empathy and impactful choices with characters you never meet? Writings on the wall, audio tracks, diary entries, Walking Dead’s environmental storytelling, every object is not a static, Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep?, have a written test somebody has taken, let people talk to you, messages between NPCs, you hear what people felt, hearing audio of neighbors, look for real-life examples of watching people’s rooms, stories that leave behind physical evidence, BladeRunner option, don’t introduce too many characters at once, snoop through e-mails and internet history, see dreams of people, look through their trash, watch movie makings.
3.       Willy & Greg - Yeah Jam Fury, PC game working for the WiiU, WASD to walk and jump, switch characters (one creates blocks, one destroys blocks, one can climb). Use touch to add blocks, use L/R to swap between characters,Yoshi’s Island red line, Lost Vikings, left thumbstick for movement and right thumbstick for the cursor, block placement should always be relative to your character, place Lego games to see how they handle changing
4.       Ilya Ziremski – party game, real-time, real simple, everybody gets 5 dice, every puts out 10 cards (6-6, 1-2-3-4), everybody starts rolling at the same time to match the cards, people cheat a lot. Encourage the cheating, give reward for catching the cheater, self police it, color code the dice, need to ritualize the moment of matching and grabbing the cards, create a guardian who referees the game, Jungle Speed, take someone else’s dice if you catch them cheating, try switching each player’s rolling each other player’s dice, make it coop, give different colored dice, give players ownership of the cards so they check other player’s dice, put cards that are impossible to get to catch cheaters, players pass the dice, make it digital, roll into a dice tower, roll into a communal dice pool so everyone looks at the same dice.
5.       Rob Lockhart – game where code is magic, can freeze time whenever you want to write code, high successful games should have low input to output, have faster feedback loops, but as you get better in this game, the feedback loop gets longer and longer. Create co-libraries so you can drag-and-drop pieces of code that you’ve written before, give hard limits to number of lines of codes, set the feedback loop to a specific duration, LISP is built from smaller LISP programs, continuously run the intermediate results of the program, set a timer on how much they can code, have a short and long feedback loops running at once, make the debug sequence really funny.
6.       Nikita Mikros – Killer Queen, best played with 10 players, barpool arcade game (one person pays for the game and 9 other people gather around to play), what can people do to gather a group of people? Dispense beer, reward people for bringing people back,  excitement draws people to it, print out stickers to wear, the bigger the prize if more people go in, make the game invitation only, set time limit to the game, speed bonus for more people on your team, custom team design and logos, always allow for jump-in and jump-out, reward system through card tracking, hire people to play, one player is a renegade that switches teams frequently, have display onscreen that says how many players are remaining, have instructions on the side of the cabinet so people can learn while waiting, put people’s name in the marquee, cheaper if more people play, AIs are super difficult, QR code to tweet score.
7.       Ben Johnson – Crystallon, match 3 game based on Set, how do you design procedurally generated levels with finer difficulty tuning? Dynamic difficulty, let players select the difficulty, Pandora model (let people answer a survey after a level to gauge their skill), take seeds and record them (use analytics to see which levels are fun), have player-driven hints, the game gets faster and faster, compare them to other players, don’t have a difficulty range, let players tailor the types of matches they want to see, have puzzles with multiple solutions, determine an approximate session length, increase difficulty sliders one at a time
8.       Josh Debonis – Meriweather, Lewis & Clark expedition, “facet system” – when you make a choice, it levels up his stat in that category. “narrative structure” – flashbacks to events. The two things don’t work well together since it creates a time paradox, you are leveling up the character’s attribute, but it changes the past events. Don’t need to address this problem, you don’t get to level up in the past, you level up Thomas Jefferson in the past to help you in the future, let the past raise a facet cap but not the facet itself, dialogue choices in the present level up a skill but choices in the past open up the skill tree, make it a steampunk game with a magic phone, do stuff in the past that lock off things you see in the future, read letters/diary entries instead of flashing back to the past, make the flashbacks dreams, show the stat change happen after the flashback is over.
9.       Gemini – emotional experience between two characters, two stars get close and will rise up, it’s very hard to explore the environment with this mechanism. Zoom out as the stars move away from each other, give players something to collect, have a delay before it starts rising/falling, have stars illuminate different colors and use additive colors to explore the environment, use the stars as colored light sources, make interesting braiding pattern with their trails, create floating cities that are specifically designed for two floating stars, shift the power levels so they are not equal all the time, have a line between them so you can see their relationship, the star who is damaged would call for help, the more of the map they explore then the closer they can come together, give motivation for the star to gain control, towing a car is interesting, certain landmarks can have gravity and pull them towards them, study dance, have small planets in the level, wrap your 2D plane on a 3D object so they wrap, ask what the relationship of the two stars are (not the what, but the why), have objects that can only be gotten if they are apart and some objects only be gotten if they’re together.
10.   Robert Yang – interested in Starcraft, are you a commander sitting at a table? What is the fiction embedded in UI? How do you know what you know? What if it’s a spy game where your units can be mistaken or lie to you? What games abstract mistrust, deceit, and knowledge? Eternal Darknessbroke expectations of what’s happen onscreen, board games with betrayal mechanics, The Mountain Witch is a tabletop RPG where every character has a dark secret, DeadlineMake it Good, ambiguous game states, quantum state world, Poker2 Boys, switch back and forth between characters in the same scene, have a bond system, turn the tables and have people working for you but you have to betray them as well, Call of Cthulhu did insanity mechanics, UtopiaNobunaga’s Ambition, have a vision radius and a theoretical vision radius
11.   Rob Seder – games that train people to do something, if you allow people to save then they can just reset when they fail, are there options besides no saves and lots of saving? Make x actions before you can save, hit milestones before you can save, Max Payne game that gave you limited number of saves per difficulty, have a brainsize that has number of saving, you have a save and a quicksave that deletes itself if you load from it,Resident Evil saving as a resource, Spelunky’s unlocks, Save the Date, the more times you save then the game gets harder, save games are memories and the memories are broken, purchase saves and that cost higher the further in the game you get, get more points for less saves, have only one save slot, Vulgar the Viking where you have to play the game without dying and cannot get the true ending if you saved, Chrono Trigger events have impact much much later in the game, draw the map, have two separate systems to save, remove all failure scenarios when you’re teaching something to the player, resource loss every time you load a save, be careful about how many times a person can save, give people an easy mechanism to retry
12.   Jesse Fuchs – Lessons from developing Guts of Glory, a developer on a board game contributes very little to the core mechanics. Core mechanics, key mechanics, game feel. Vlaada Chvatil’s ProphecyMage Knight. There are cards that just give you good luck or bad luck, but doesn’t change any of the mechanics.
a.       However long you think it takes, add six months to it and a pizza budget.
b.      There’s a reason everyone’s making deck building games.
c.       If positional knowledge matters, make it spatial.
d.      Game components subliminally create expectation.
e.      Do not put the name of your game on the back of your cards. It should be the null state of your game.

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