Tag Archives for: art game

What Makes a Game Meaningful and Why Innovative Mechanics Aren’t Enough

25 March 2012

During the production of my first few game prototypes [September-November 2011], I was inspired to create games with new game mechanics. But now as I am creating this month’s EGP game, novel game mechanics are not enough for me. It’s not enough to motivate me to continue creating.

I am now gearing towards Jenova Chen’s philosophy. Making a game that causes the player to feel a certain way.

Thinking about film for a second, as films have greatly influenced me, I cannot think of an experimental film that greatly affected me. The films that the were meaningful to me, that influenced me, were ones that made me feel differently. [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind did come to mind]

I can’t name many games that directly express a feeling. Most current great games have a novel game mechanic and fit the secondary art (story, graphics, music) around it [in good taste] to express the feeling: Ico (care), Shadow of the Collosus (epicness), Braid (enigmatic). Few games have a more direct approach: Dys4ia (frustration) [IMO, amazing], …But That Was [Yesterday] (sadness) and Between (lots!). Okay it seems now I’m just naming some of my favorite games. But perhaps that’s the reason they are my favorite. They were meaningful because they made me feel a certain way. They moved me.

Isn’t that the core of art, an expression of feeling?

What place do purely mechanical games such as (glancing at IGF) Spelunky, Antichamber, Beat Sneak Bandit, The Floor is Jelly, even the mechanically genius Storyteller have? In order for it to be meaningful to me, will these games have be fully developed, realized, harness an emotion for it to have a pronounced affect on me? [Botanicula did make me smile]

I think so. I don’t even care about most of those game as of now.

If Braid did not have the story, graphics, level design, and music that it did, would it have been great? I don’t think so. It would have just been another puzzle game with cool new mechanics. A forgotten IGF winner for best design. A squander.

The importance of “finishing your game” is reiterated. And by finish, it is implied to develop the game until every aspect is fully thought out, until you’ve spent years of your life creating something, something that somehow your life now depends on, in hope that it will be equally appreciated by others as it is to you.

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Development, Games, Personal | Tags: ,

Poorly Designed Upgrades

15 November 2011

Play the game

This game is my submission for this month’s Experimental Gameplay Project competition. The theme is upgrade.

I used ActionScript, FlashDevelop, and FlashPunk again.

Last time I promised EGP and myself the game would be experimental. It’s certainly more experimental than my previous games, but not quite enough. The ideas are there but I cheated myself and conveyed them on a shoot ’em up genre game. Never again!



Experiment with different upgrade setups to prevent enemies from reaching the bottom of the screen in various challenges.


wasd or arrow keys to move
space bar to fire
f to autofire (on by default)

while in sandbox screen:
– and + to decrease or increase enemy HP (can hold the key down)
[ and ] to decrease or increase enemy spawn rate (can hold the key down)
u to enter the upgrade screen
1, 2, 3 to start a challenge

while in upgrade screen:
left click on the canvas to draw the current upgrade. This works similar to the pencil tool in a graphics editing program
*you can only draw on the ship or a neighboring pixel of the current upgrade
*you cannot overlap other upgrades
*protip, each 4-connected neighborhood is treated as a separate gun
escape to go back to sandbox screen

while in challenge screen:
escape to go back to sandbox screen

Oooone mooore thing. The boosters and challenges are actually poorly designed. Really, it’s bad.

2 comments | Categories: Game Development, Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

My Justification of Art in Video Games

02 November 2011

I believe that if an enlightened person (someone able to distinguish art) were to look at past video games, he would not characterize the games as having artistic qualities. I want to disprove this.

Was all that time I played video games as a kid meaningless entertainment? I don’t think it was. I want to pinpoint the art of video games, and without the heavy use of auxiliary arts (graphics, sounds, music), prove this theory with a prototype.

The main thing that comes to mind is the feeling of exploration. Exploration of an unknown environment with unknown rules.

In Earthbound, the player comes across saturns whom speak in a ridiculous language ($#@!). Does that mean saturns are good or bad? The player interacts with them to figure out they are good.

Similarly, in Shadow of the Colossus, the player must interact with the colossi and the surrounding area to discover new elements which are required to solve the puzzles.

It’s this player interaction. It’s the discovery of game rules. This is unique to video games.

exploration -> player interaction -> discovery/learning -> fulfillment (the good kind)

Hmm..well that’s all I’ve got so far. I was going to draw a prototype, but I felt that the games that exist are enough to demonstrate this. Windosill is a the perfect example. This is enough to make me feel less bad for playing so many games when I was young. I just felt that it wasn’t a complete waste of time, that there was something there, some new experience that interested me.

Maybe there’s more than exploration and player interaction to it. I mean is that really enough to be art? Shouldn’t there be some auteur’s vision here? I dunno. I’ll come back to this if I ponder more about it.

I just realized the past video games I refer to in this post refer to a small portion of all of the games I’ve played. Other reasons to play include competition and social entertainment (with friends). I’m ignoring those games in this post.

Leave a comment | Categories: Games | Tags: , , , ,

Can You Imagine Yourself as a Verbal Assassin?

24 October 2011

Play the game.

The title of the post is the theme I chose at my first game jam, Castle Lab: Parsons x Babycastles.

I’ve also written more about my about experiencing my first game jam.

EDIT: To reduce frustration, I added controls to repeat the last command. Subsequently, the game’s length has been reduced to five seconds!

Leave a comment | Categories: Game Development, Games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,