In honour of our new series, Playing with Aesthetics, and with a new Pokémon game approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to dredge up the topic of Core Aesthetics again, and use it as a lens on the design of Pokémon games (and the upcoming Pokemon X/Y). I believe that a lot can be learned about the broad appeal of Pokémon games by examining how it covers many different core aesthetics. Through iteration and improvement over its history, the Pokémon games have kept many core game elements constant. Instead of constantly changing or over-developing, the game has steadily spread to reach many more aesthetics than the average game can.
Here in the WILA posts, I oscillate between picking out a single game mechanic and elaborating on its many design benefits, and highlighting a single theme or goal of a game’s design and picking out the design choices which serve that theme or goal in the game. For Dragon’s Crown, I’d like to do more of the latter and talk about how the game packs itself full of story (of the flavorful characters, locations and histories kind) without stopping the action.
But first, a generally non-controversial assertion: players like playing.
Dragon’s Crown is Vanillaware’s latest masterpiece, and I plan to lose myself in it for many hours. It is an Action Beat ‘em-up style game, self-described as ‘Swords, Dungeons, Sorcery, Dragons’ with ‘gamemaster-style storytelling’. From Vanillaware’s past work (Odin Sphere, Grim Grimoire, Muramasa) I know to expect a beautiful, solidly-designed game.
[Note from Dustin: We’ve got a special guest writer this week – Florencia Minuzzi from teawithflo.com. She also happens to be my partner in a new game design venture. As a writer, I felt she was more qualified to step up and talk about today’s topic: creating resonance between the player and the main character of a narrative game. Nothing is really spoiled beyond the first few minutes of the game, but if you prefer to play knowing nothing, then you’ve been warned. I’ll leave the rest to her.]
If you know you have to go in blind, can you do anything to tip the odds in your favor? Well, there are two broad strategies we can consider. One is the haphazard learner and the other is the optimized flexibility strategy. Continue reading
Hey everybody, apologies for the break, but vacations happen from time to time. I’m back, so let’s get started. While on holiday, I blazed through Shin Megami Tensei IV. I had a few things in mind to write about it, but when I read Dyl’s post last week I knew it was a good opportunity to follow up on theme.
While discussing the post last week with my brother, I hit upon the argument multiple times that some of his comments reflect something about him personally, but are also signs that the mechanic as a whole is a bit broken. By ‘the mechanic’ I mean money acquisition and purchasing of resources in most RPGs, and by ‘broken’ I mean that it ultimately just wasn’t accomplishing much in the game to justify its use as a mechanic. I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment, but instead of dwelling on the reasons for this, I would rather spend my words here focusing on how I think Shin Megami Tensei IV quietly improved on the standard.
You don’t know Project Evolution (at least not the one I’m talking about), and I can’t link you to a convenient description. It’s a rough design for a tabletop roleplaying game I’ve been working on this week. I am running an early prototype playtest this weekend just to feel out the main concepts and mechanics, and thought it would be interesting for you to read about what I’m hoping will work out in my own design this time around.