terça-feira, 25 de agosto de 2015

quinta-feira, 13 de agosto de 2015

Creating sense in the impossible

Here's the situation: you are a powerful warrior in the city of Yharnam, a place fulfilled with an army of beasts and ancient monsters. You have a huge war axe and an arsenal of explosive potions. The battles against the creatures always end in a complete carnage. With your powers, you can destroy colossus, face the undead and survive in inhospitable conditions. But, there’s one thing you can’t do: open a closed wooden door.

This example comes from Bloodborne (Playstation 4, 2015), one blockbuster game created by FROM SOFTWARE and launched this year. Besides the great power of your character, some simple situations like destroying wooden doors are impossible in the gaming universe, forcing the player to tread more dangerous paths. Surely, you have found this kind of situation in other games: your character can free-fall from high levels, but is killed with a punch; a weapon that exterminates gods can’t cut a rope; a missile that explodes tanks can’t destroy a wall. And, normally, this kind of situation makes perfect sense in the gaming universe. Sometimes, we even wait for this kind of absurd situation in games.

Why can we accept this kind of anomaly – that makes no sense in the real world – in gaming narratives? One good explanation comes from Ensslin (2015) that postulate one nuclear point of this discussion: some games are “unnatural narratives”.

Following this author thoughts, we can say that some games have more unnatural content inside its narrative than others and “(c)learly, mainstream videogames are full of physical impossibilities” (ENSSLIN, 2015, p.53) allowing a kind of suspension of disbelief by the players. Ensslin (2015, p.53-54) also says that we can find another unnatural details in games like anthropomorphised creatures, “the anatomic dimensions of some hypersexualised characters would be anatomically impossible”, “teleporting, between geographic areas is a standard form of fast in-game movement” or the Bloodborne’s example previously commented in this post.

We have lots of games that explore fantasy and the impossible in its interfaces. It’s part of the nature of some games. On the other hand, we have games created in a very realistic way that work with a great dose of credible facts. To better understand this relationship we use the words of Ensslin (2015, p.55) again

some games are more “unnatural” (…) than others because they deliberately violate the ludo-narrative conventions of their genre and the medium itself in order to evoke meta-ludic and meta-fictional reflections in the player – as well as other types of philosophical and critical processes.

One point should be emphasized in this context: the fun offered to the player is always fundamental in any case. A good game design work is fundamental to balance the equation of the fun blended with the unnatural elements of the gaming narrative.

We’ll discuss more on this subject.


ENSSLIN, Astrid. Video games as unnatural narratives. IN: FUCHS, Mathias. Diversity of Play. Meson Press: Lüneburg, 2015. Click here for free download.

quinta-feira, 6 de agosto de 2015

Game Design Lessons: Presenting Perfect Puzzles

Excelent game design lesson from The Game Prodigy channel. Simple, objective and ludic.

Puzzle games, by definition, focus on logical and conceptual challenges, although occasionally the games add time-pressure or other action-elements. Puzzles are a good format to structure interesting choices in games and this brief presentation synthesizes these ideas. In this short video we have inspiring ideas for game design and gaming concepts.