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United Mining Exploration Commission: A group of friends playing JumpGate-- "a MMORPG that launched smoothly, breaks from fantasy character setting, emphasizes PvP, and is the first persistent world space simulator that nobody talks about." ~Scorch
 
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Gardening

 
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BaadF00d
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2003 3:41 pm    Post subject: Gardening Reply with quote

No - not farming, especially not matcon farming... Gardening.

It struck me today, thinking about a game, and why I played it - what exactly it is about certain games that makes me enjoy them... it struck me that the answer was not the expected one... the one that game designers seem to think drives people to play games.

I do not game to explore, to achieve, to kill or even to socialize. I game to garden.

I played Diablo II. On the surface, a hack and slash dungeon crawl. There is however no real sense of risk - even when I played hardcore characters I played safe... This is a game about gardening - about growing something (a character) into something...

I played Transport Tycoon - the game that brought these thoughts up, and realized that the time of greatest enjoyment was AFTER I'd ammassed a fortune, and defeated the AI opponents. It was when I had free reign to prune the cities, to direct their growth by editing their road networks, and supplying them passengers.

My enjoyment of numerous strategy games - ostensiably "competative" games vs computer opponents - stemmed not from defeating my opponents, but building great bases, that could resist attack and gather resources efficiently. The enemy I destroyed somewhat reluctantly only when base expansion opportunities had been exhausted...

Even in Jumpgate my activities were those of a gardener - I moved cargo around the way my grandfather might mow his lawn - to make the universe grow in the way I wanted - to make it look more neat. More efficient, to grow larger fruit, to be well stocked with engines.

So, I think that perhaps I am not the abberation, that perhaps the opinion I see often, that games must be competative, must have an element of risk (of losing) in order to be enjoyable... Most games, playing against the PC, there is no element of risk, not once you know how to play.

The element of pride, the pride of a gardener, is NOT that their character in a CRPG has prevailed agains the enemy, but the degree of effiency that they exhibited in prevailing.

In transport Tycoon I try to maximise the amount of cargo a number of trains can move. In Diablo II, maximise the number of cows per second, while minimising the chance of being killed by said cows. In StarCraft / Command & Conquer / Homeworld it was making an impressive base / fleet, and destroying the enemy with a minimum of casualties. Hell - in one homeworld campaign I finished the game without the loss of even a single corvette or larger class ship (those damn fighter class ships were too damn easy to die to keep track of!).

I didnt enjoy any of these games, until I had learnt them well enough that the possibility of loss was really remote, untill I had amassed sufficient funds that I could do essentially as I pleased...

And, I suspect, that I am not alone. Consider - its always the gardening oriented features of games that cause the most controvesy :- people do not like having their gardening activities curtailed... Any amount of attacks on my Homeworld fleet is tolerated, and repulsed - except attacks on my harvesters - attacking them attacks and impedes my gardening ability - my ability to grow and extend my fleet. Which will certainly result on my evental loss, but my frustration is immediate. Likewise, grief killers - in games that have them, are irritating for no larger reason than they directly effect other peoples gardening efforts. In counterstrike you are not growing a character, you kill, live and die in a space of minutes without a thought... In any game where you invest significant time and effort into building a character or similar game entity, and someone destroys that, that is when you feel true frustration, when someone destroys your garden...

Ha - well Ive dragged that metaphore out far further than it deserved to go...

The Sims - is a gardening game - you spend time - as a gardener - watering, pruning and allowing your houshold to grow.
Sim City... Transport / Railroad Tycoon - were more fun AFTER you had money.
Black and White tried to be a gardening game - you got to "grow" your own AI - but it turned out the AI resisted most efforts at direction, continued to throw crap in the food supply, corrective efforts, rather than preventing crap flinging tended to make it psychotic and eat villagers, and ultimately you worked out the monkey was irrelevent and all you were really doing was playing a strategy game with a focus on irritating levels of micromanagement.
All the god games, most of the sims, civilization, most CRPGs, all these have at their core a gardening element - you control the growth of something into something greater.

Very few game designers however seem to realize that the gardening aspect(s) of their game is the(a) fun part, often attemting to relegate gardening behaviour to 2nd class citizenship. Jumpgate thought it was all about PvP. The SIMs online thought it was about making cash. Warcraft III didnt understand that I *like* to make large armies, and bases that can actually defend themselves, and a "hero" is no substitute. Neverwinter Nights server admins and DMs think their modules are about "roleplay", and enjoyment stems from a struggle to get past level 1.

Well - thats my thought for the day. Tear it apart, ignore it, read it whatever.
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MajorFreak
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2003 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:morn: safweflkj ...philosophy & mornings don't mix.
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MajorFreak
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

erm...what was i gonna say again? uhhh...something about the fine line between micromanagement and Real Dynamic Content.

oh yes, and also that niggly little detail called, "willing suspension of disbelief" and how crappy micromanagement really shows the flaws of a game.

relating to JumpGate, it bothers me how little focus is on the improvement of key concepts relating to "suspension of disbelief"...i believe it's a major problem when the devs/commserv think that buying the game = "willing" part.
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Nellie
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Joined: 06 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice analogy. If you havent already, you might want to take a look at A tale in the Desert. An MMORPG (not that I have seen a great deal of RP) with no conflict of any sort (ok you can grief, but not by bopping someone over the head with an axe), and very much a "gardening" game.

Quote:
relating to JumpGate, it bothers me how little focus is on the improvement of key concepts relating to "suspension of disbelief"...i believe it's a major problem when the devs/commserv think that buying the game = "willing" part.


Couldnt agree with you more. The current patch priorities slay me, quite literally by the looks of the shiny new pirate tags (rather than shiny new PoS bug fixes). Generally speaking I buy the game because I like the sound of it. It has something that appeals to me, normally because it lets me "make something" or Garden to use Baadf00ds terminology. CIVIII to me for example is not about fighting wars with other Civilisations, the joy of Tropico by and large is not playing the set scenarios and so on. This bit...
Quote:
I played Transport Tycoon - the game that brought these thoughts up, and realized that the time of greatest enjoyment was AFTER I'd ammassed a fortune, and defeated the AI opponents. It was when I had free reign to prune the cities, to direct their growth by editing their road networks, and supplying them passengers.


Really struck a chord. Yes the "discovery" and subsequent build up is quite entertaining, but that really sums up my approach as well.
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MadCat
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2003 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL It seems that Baad and I like to play the same games, for the same reasons. Out of all the games he named in that post the only 2 I havn't played are Transport Tycoon and Diablo II, and I've spent much time in the store debating whether to spend money on them =P

I too like the 'Gardening' aspect of games. When I play RTS games such as Starcraft or C&C I have been known to put in 3-4 hours of game time into a single mission before ever launching an attack against the enemy. I use that time to build up my base to the point where I don't have to worry about it. It's also amazingly satisfying to watch a Harkonnen 20 tank combat group get shredded by a double tier turret wall in Dune 2000, or to see 6 Romulan Warbirds stumble into the fire arc of no fewer than 4 starbases in StarTrek Armada. When I do launch an attack I am very protective of my units, sometimes to the point of considering the attack a failure if even 1 is lost.


If I want PvP style killing I play UT. Any other game I play to garden
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the premier forum on the net FFS




u guys rock! Baadfood, another fine post.
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Nicator
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Joined: 10 Nov 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm.....this is an interesting one. I guess I'm not a typical 'gardening' player. I enjoy the act of construction immensely - but only up to the point where I feel that it is of benefit to me. Attacks on 'harvesting' units only frustrate me when I know that it is my mistake that caused those units to be vulnerable. Efficiency is a strong goal, however - I love winning a game of starcraft while losing only a tiny percentage of my army.

I've certainly got a more pvp-focussed approach to games. Building concerns me, but only to the point where it is useful - I rarely enjoy building just for the sake of it. What keeps me going is my perfectionist aspect - in Jumpgate, honing my PvP ability. In Starcraft, winning a game with the most efficient strategies possible, without losing my supply lines. In Sim City, building a city with the optimum balance.
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MajorFreak
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hands up everyone here who thinks Nic is a Rusher.

ZERG RUSH!
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Nicator
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pah, rushes suck :D.

I'm the evil bastard that brings up a load of whatever outranges your defenses and giggles insanely as all your turrets blow up :D


edit: Or preferably, sneaks something in and blows up your peon line. Anything as long as it's evil, really :)
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