Searchlight at the HIde&Seek Weekender 2012 from Hide&Seek on Vimeo. Searchlight came out of one goal: to design an interesting game for Kinect. Working on The Building Is… in Paris left us with a lot of knowledge and ideas about how to integrate technology into real-world physical games, and we wanted to test them out. [...]
It’s the opening day of the exhibition in Paris! And the Hide&Seek team, along with all our collaborators, having been working very hard indeed. This is a very ambitious project to pull off…
Maybe the best place to start explaining how narrative and game design weave together in The Building Is… is to talk about interfaces. If you’re reading this, you’re a human, mostly (hello bots!), and so the idea of getting to know a sentient building presents some challenges.
Today’s blog post – and tomorrow’s, and probably the day after’s – are about narrative frameworks. One of the many things that frustrates me about the ‘games v story’ debate is that it’s presented as a binary – narratologists over here, ludologists over here – with debate revolving around ‘action’ vs ‘cut scenes’. It’s absurdly reductive. A good narrative envelops and intertwines the game design, kindling moments of meaning throughout the system. And that’s what we’re making.
Something that’s important when creating games for buildings is the question of identity. Identity – registering a person, linking the state of a game to a person, tracking essential data – is fundamental to a satisfying game experience. Imagine if Blizzard’s World of Warcraft servers just forgot you, and your Level 57 Death Knight disappeared… We expect that a game will remember where we were up to, and pick up exactly where we left off, and we expect that to be seamless and instantaneous.
Coming to the end of week 1 of our install and we’re in reasonable shape – we completed our first playtest yesterday, of the Building Sees, and it was mostly fun! Mostly fun is a pretty great state to be in at this stage…
Things I didn’t realise would turn out to be a massive design constraint #7432 – it’s complex to drive two different screens, displaying different information, from the same programme. This runs counter to two things:
Today’s design blog is about game literacy, and its effect on physical games. Our goal is that everyone who plays our game enjoys it – that means it has to be rich and rewarding enough for the hardcore gamers, and comprehensible and accessible to newbies. Because the game takes place in physical space, and is intended to run without too much human intervention, we don’t have the EASY / MEDIUM / HARD option. Instead, we have to integrate difficulty settings into the physical elements of the game…
When we playtested the Smells course, we built a long, linear route for people to progress along. You can see it in this video:
Drunk Dungeon really came about because I was trying to solve an age-old live game problem: getting a roomful of people into teams.
Getting people into teams is hard, on almost every level – conceptual, practical, functional. There’s a whole other blog post to be written on why, and people better qualified than me to write it. But, broadly speaking, you need teams that are equally appealing (or you’ll get an uneven split, which you usually don’t want), teams that resonate with people enough that they care, (but not so specific that they feel they’ve got no choice), and that you can visually communicate effectively and cheaply and pleasantly. It’s *hard*. We spent longer designing the teams for the New Year Games than almost any other individual element.
Friday night saw the debut of Drunk Dungeon, a game commissioned by the NYU Game Center for their annual No Quarter event. There’s a nice preview of the evening from curator Charles Pratt here, but I wanted to write my own quick introduction to the world’s most ornate drinking game.
Drunk Dungeon was conceived as an ambient party game. The concept is explained on the right, or you can read more detailed rules here. I wanted to make something that reflected No Quarter’s unique atmosphere – here’s beer, there’s conversation, there’s an audience of world-class game experts mixed up with curious newcomers.