How long should it take from pressing "Start Game" to player's first battle?

onipunk

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"If the games we make are celestial objects"

They're not. They're games, man.

Genres get redefined all the time. Platformers used to be single screen affairs until scrolling platformers came along. Genres are not immutable, unchanging things and they never are or have been in any sort of media.

I feel the conversation is straying somewhat away from its original purpose. There is no right answer. It comes down to personal preference. For me, I want the story to be told well and invest me in what's to come because that's why I personally play RPGs. If I wanted a game of pure mechanical mastery I would play a roguelike or something similar. It's in the name - I want to play a role, whether it's one I choose myself or one that's created for me - and I can't do that unless I have an idea of who I'm supposed to be in this world, or an idea of what the world is like to decide what role I'm going to choose to play in it.
 
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Every response in this thread is completely wrong HOWEVER, every response in this thread is also completely true. JRPGs come in all sorts and so do the people who play them. Make the game that appeals to you and like minded individuals will enjoy it.
 

Kes

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Ah, the joys of differing time zones - so many replies since I went to sleep!

I think @Tai_MT made a really good point about the 'why?' questions. This is something I want to know as a player - otherwise I come up with my own why question: why am I investing time in this?

It can also be an absolutely fundamental aspect of what a particular game is about. I'll use use one of my own games as an example.

In 'revenge' games, I have noticed that, in effect, the character seeking revenge becomes no better than the antagonist - they kill with impunity, take everything they can lay their hands on etc. So I wanted to explore the question of how can someone seek (and get) revenge without becoming the same as the person they hate. An essential part of that involved setting up what sort of person he was before the precipitating event, as well as the devestating impact it had on him. That involved a multi-map, quite fast moving cutscene going from the start of that day to him throwing himself in grief on the graves of his wife and child that he had just had to dig. That lasted about 3.5 minutes. Then he has to organise himself, finding whatever is left to help him with his quest, but also giving more opportunities to establish things about him and his previous life. e.g. down in the basement where he's getting a few things he sees the teddy bear he and his wife were going to give their child on his birthday, and he reflects that the bear will now always be bigger than his son. Lots of small things like that, plus finding a clue to the identity of the protagonist, working out what weapon a simple farmer can use, as he's not a trained knight (a shovel, since you ask). All told about 12-15 minutes before he gets to his first battle. Could that time and content have been cut? Not, imo, if I wanted an in-depth story about this particular character. The player now has a decent understanding of the character, what happened, what his objective is, and a central moral dilemma he has to face. There has been plenty of interactivity and exploration, both of which are important aspects of the game play of this particular game.

Does this mean that every game should go down this route? Of course not. Each game should start in the way that seems the most appropriate for what the developer wants to do with their particular game, with the particular audience they have in mind, and their own particular skills. As someone once said: "Let a thousand flowers bloom."
 

Henryetha

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A good way is to have an early tutorial battle.
Meaning, implemented in the intro (story) and have it losen with actor dialogues and short tutorial texts during the battle.

Early action but not "thrown into cold water".
 

coyotecraft

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@onipunk You can thank at least 2 Global Moderators for changing the subject. Or allowing it to continue as is.
And Subject is exactly what this is all about. Don't you see? The topic is objectively the same topic. Subjectively it's changed. If the moderators really wanted to they could split it off into a new topic. But I think it's has greater education value this way.
It's the same connection that games and genres share.

Yes, @trouble time , because gameplay is what you play at. That's the subject. Not the rules you play by, because that would be "The Game" - the object. You can give multiple things the same name, @Tai_MT, that's how names work. Objects don't describe Subjects. Subjects describe objects. But subjects aren't merely words. That's why they're nouns and not adjectives.
A game(Object) can have more than one type of gameplay(subject). Just like this Topic (Object) currently has many subjects inside it. Which means you could categorize the topic in to just as many genres(if someone cared to invent names for them) Because that's what genres are, a group of objects that share 1 subject.

Ok, what if I explain it like this. Colors aren't objects, they're subjects. Do you like M&Ms? Great. We'll take all the blue M&Ms and put them in a group. We'll give that group a name "BMMs". That's a Genre! Can you put a blue skittle in that group? No. Different Object. If you licked the blue candy coating off one of BMMs would that one still be a BMM? No because now you've changed the object.
Let's pretend M&M's had emotions. There's a red M&M that's sad. Did you know the word blue is a synonym for sad? Can we put that sad red M&M into the BMM group? No. Because color and emotion are different subjects.
You can nickname the red M&M "BMM" as a joke if you wanted, it's just a name. It would be a misnomer because it wouldn't have the same Matter&Meaning.
Ha. See what I did there? Was that cleaver? I thought it was cleaver.

But seriously guys. This is a fundamental understanding that you can't deny. Why are you here? How can you expect to objectively improve your game, your art, your stories, if you're answer for everything is "anything goes because it's subjective and that means whatever I want it to mean". I'm being persistent because I sense a lack a understanding.
If you know the game that you're playing at, then you can objectively rationalize this question: How long should it take to get to get to the first battle?
 

onipunk

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Okay I slept on this and woke up and six hours later I still can't stop thinking about "game genres are Pluto!" because that is the funniest goddamn thing I've read in a long time.

I really have no idea what the hell you're getting at at this point. Throw around all the capitalised Objects and Subjects you want and keep finding ways to describe genres as anything except what they are - a loose collection of tropes, mechanics and aesthetic ideals meant to serve as a broad categorisation. Sure, genres are M&Ms now. And the M&Ms are sad, or something. If there's a "fundamental lack of understanding" maybe it's because you're saying a whole lot without really saying anything.

The thing I find most telling is that you described this as having "educational value". Not "discursive value". You're seeing this as a chance to educate us. You're immediately placing yourself in a position of knowledge and authority over the rest of us, as if you're the only one who can help us drooling plebs attain genre nirvana. You never intended this to be a discussion, you came into this under the assumption that there is a right answer and that only you know it. There's never a one-size-fits-all answer to game design, and these types of topics are never intended to find a solution, they're to foster discussion and get different perspectives from all across the board. The minute you enter into one of these with the idea that you've cracked the code and that everyone else needs lectured on it, that's when I check out, especially when said person's astounding take is "games is Pluto".
 

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Questionable and/or dumb things I've read in this thread:
1) If the game doesn't start with combat in it isn't an RPG
2) Combat is the main reason people play RPGs and basically the only interesting thing in them
3) Game genres can't change or evolve (also something about Pluto)

While each of those points is ridiculous, staying on topic I do prefer the JRPGs that give you some action at the start, instead of dropping you into Starter Town / Starter Forest and saying "EXPLOOOREEE! YAY!" and then you run around trying to find the plot for 30 minutes.

I guess what I prefer is for the player to have meaningful interactions with the world during the first 15 minutes, instead of clueless free-roaming/'exploring'/random unexplained battles with no setup.

I think the word I'm looking for here is a 'hook'. So yeah, 'hooking' your player during the first 15 minutes (basic attention span?) - with combat or otherwise - is essential.
 

bgillisp

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@coyotecraft : I'm sorry but no. You are sticking to a rigid definition which is the same thing that kills AAA companies. When you refuse to adapt, you often get left in the dust. This thread is about debate, and so far all we see is you refusing to move when others have told you that you are flat out wrong. So either defend the position or leave the thread.

Also as mods we are allowed to have our opinions too, and are allowed to state them and can even disagree with each other and users. We are not robots.

Now I have a simple question for you. How have YOU handled this in your game? Why? Can you answer that? And don't say the definition says as sometimes the definition is wrong. Try to get people to define an RPG and see how much that even varies to see what I'm saying.

@Dankovsky : YES! If we all made RPG's like Ultima I or Wizardry I our games would be panned these days, yet those games were state of the art back when they started. The definition of what is an RPG has evolved and what goes into a good one has evolved with time.
 
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Trails of Cold Steel is a good example of 'battles in the first 5 mins' gone wrong. It is in my opinion the weakest and most irrelevant part of what's in overall a well made game. You basically start in the middle of the story with characters you have no idea who they are or what they are doing dressed like high school kids wielding weapons while fighting robots in a medieval like fort... I mean, what the foo? What IS this setting?!?

It didn't give me a 'taste' of the battle system either since I had no clue what the difference between a 'craft' and an 'art' was. Or why I would sometimes get these follow up attacks happening.

It wasn't until the game finally rewound back to the ACTUAL beginning that I understood what was going on or even started to care. Oh, so this is a early-renaissance like era using technology built on magic, and this school these kids are attending is a renowned military academy. Ah, so this is the MC and how he first felt upon arrival, this is how he met the blonde girl, this is how 'nobles' and 'commoners' react to and think of one another. The MC clearly just 'dodged' the question when asked whether he was noble, I wonder why...

Finally after a good 30+ minutes I enter battle and it actually teaches me how to fight and I'm actually enjoying the game (even before the first battle) completely forgetting how the first section left me lost and confused.

So long story short, the game would have been just as enjoyable if not more so (at least for those first 15-30 mins of utter confusion) if it had just started from the beginning instead of throwing me into the middle of the story. A section which served no purpose other than action for the sake of action and minor spoilers.
 

slimmmeiske2

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As others have said it depends.

I’ve played games where the first battle is 5 minutes into the game and a few of those worked, but most of them didn’t. They just made little sense to me; it’s hard to get invested in a battle when you don’t know your character or why you’re fighting.

I’ve also played game where the first battle is in 15+ minutes. Now those tend to work out a lot better, because we’ve had time to establish the character and their motivations.

I’ve also played games where the first battle is in 30+ minutes and those are my personal favourites. Usually the difference between this and the previous is a big city/event (like a festival) to explore and/or a protagonist that’s not a combatant type, so it wouldn’t make sense to throw them into battle right away.

As a side note, I love to explore and I want to talk to everyone/have seen every nook and cranny of whatever place your drop me in, before continuing on. So what might be 30+ minutes for me, could be a lot faster for those who skip exploration/don’t explore as intensely as I do.
 

Dankovsky

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Trails of Cold Steel is a good example of 'battles in the first 5 mins' gone wrong. It is in my opinion the weakest and most irrelevant part of what's in overall a well made game. You basically start in the middle of the story with characters you have no idea who they are or what they are doing dressed like high school kids wielding weapons while fighting robots in a medieval like fort... I mean, what the foo? What IS this setting?!?

It didn't give me a 'taste' of the battle system either since I had no clue what the difference between a 'craft' and an 'art' was. Or why I would sometimes get these follow up attacks happening.

It wasn't until the game finally rewound back to the ACTUAL beginning that I understood what was going on or even started to care. Oh, so this is a early-renaissance like era using technology built on magic, and this school these kids are attending is a renowned military academy. Ah, so this is the MC and how he first felt upon arrival, this is how he met the blonde girl, this is how 'nobles' and 'commoners' react to and think of one another. The MC clearly just 'dodged' the question when asked whether he was noble, I wonder why...

Finally after a good 30+ minutes I enter battle and it actually teaches me how to fight and I'm actually enjoying the game (even before the first battle) completely forgetting how the first section left me lost and confused.

So long story short, the game would have been just as enjoyable if not more so (at least for those first 15-30 mins of utter confusion) if it had just started from the beginning instead of throwing me into the middle of the story. A section which served no purpose other than action for the sake of action and minor spoilers.
I haven't played this game but thanks for the great write-up! I wonder if they made the "normal" beginning first and then were forced to change it to the random cold open because a) playtesters whining "hurr durr I don't want to read a visual novel in my RPG for 30 minutes" b) executive meddling.
 

trouble time

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pseudo-intellectual spew
Well someone wants to be seen as smart. Maybe you should have eaten a book on plain language writing so you could regurgitate it along with the book on game design you clearly ate without actually understanding. You've decided that your interpretation is the objective one. At this point im convinced youeither trying to project an "intellectual" image by throwing out as many "smart" words as can and doing a bad job.
 
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Dankovsky

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By the way... to give some actual examples to this thread from our classics.

1) Final Fantasy VI: starts with linear combat-heavy dungeon-delving opening with very little context that lasts ~15-20 mins and even involves fighting a boss. There's been many praise for it but for me it was a little too overwhelming and long.
2) Final Fantasy VII: starts with cool cutscenes and some light fighting, dialogues and exploration. Felt great and had great pacing and character interactions.
3) Final Fantasy IX: starts with one mock battle that's very short and sets up the story nicely. A great warm up, in my opinion, if a bit too short.
4) Final Fantasy X: starts with some cutscenes and then proceeds to action-heavy intense battles. A pretty good in-your-face epic opening.
5) Chrono Trigger: starts with waking up and calmly going to the fair, where you may or may not fight a robot. For me this type of opening didn't work too good since it basically dropped me into an open world and forced to explore with no clear goal or action (CT is still an amazing game though).
6) Lufia 2: cutscene -> very short town exploration -> tutorial dungeon, in quick succession. It did succeed in teaching the game and not being super boring, although could be labeled as a little too straightforward and ham-fisted.
7) Persona 3: yeah okay it's 30-45 minutes of world building and story before you go into the first dungeon. I can admit that was hard to bear and I got bored at times.
8) Bravely Default: being a 3DS game it's pretty straightforward and structured. I don't exactly remember how it starts but I'm pretty sure you get into the first dungeon at about 10 minutes of playtime after some character introduction and set up. It worked well.
9) Earthbound: I think the fighting only starts after you explore the meteor and get some lore dumps at about 15-20 mins. But since it's not a classic fantasy smashy rpg it doesn't feel awkward here, at least for me.
10) Legend of Heroes (1st one): there's plenty of running around town and dialogues before you get to the first dungeon at ~20 minutes. I dislike the running part but I can appreciate that the game didn't drag it for too long.

I know this was random but yeah I'm obviously listing the games I've played.
Take your pick for ye awesome opening!
 

Tai_MT

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@coyotecraft

I think it's a little amusing that you presume to lecture me about Grammar (Objects and Subjects) when writing is basically what I do. Even funnier is that you aren't even describing the "Object/Subject" relationship properly in the Grammatical sense.

Look, the Subject is always who or what. Though, this gets fairly murky when you begin talking about intangible things. Object is always what is acted upon. "Tai MT(Subject) played (Verb) an RPG(Object)." To contradict you... here's the other sentence in which RPG is the Subject :D "RPG's (Subject) are fun(Object).

For a sentence to exist at all you need the Subject and the Object. Generally speaking, they're linked by verb or adverb. Though, again, this can get a little murky sometimes. This is some pretty old Grammar Lessons from like 20 years ago (man, did I ever hate diagraming sentences, especially ones in English as there are so many rules and exceptions with our crazy language), but a lot of it still holds up.

So, now to the crux of what you tried to lecture me on... Subjects do not describe Objects. Objects do not describe Subjects. You're thinking of Adjectives. Adjectives describe them. Subject is always what the sentence is about, Object is always the explanation for why the sentence is about that Subject, and Adjectives describe the Subject, the Object, or Both. Verbs link the Subject and Object together into a coherent thought. Adverbs describe the Verb.

A game is not an "Object" unless you place it into the sentence as such. It is not a Subject unless you place it into the sentence as such.

Now, let me blow your mind a little here :D

"Game" as many different parts of a sentence :D

"The game was too difficult." (Subject)
"I really liked playing the game." (Object)
"Shelly tried to game the system." (Verb)

It doesn't always have to be a noun. In fact, lots of words in the English language which are nouns can also be verbs.

But, I merely suspect you're trying to talk about existentialism and have grafted Grammar Rules onto it as an attempt to sound intellectual. At which point, you're doing existentialism a disservice as you're providing a very poor explanation of it while also insulting grammar as you aren't even describing that properly.

So, let's go to your existentialism. A thing is just a thing until something else gives it meaning. Yeah, pretty basic concept. However, you've managed to prove that categorizations are Subjective in your next paragraph, so you're proving this first bit correct. A person could categorize those M&M's any way they like, because their classification and splitting into groups has no meaning anywhere in the universe, until an observer decides they do. What if I were to come along and split off the Blue M&M's that had misprints on the tops as they weren't "true" M&M's to begin with? Say, if they had any part of missing or too faded text, they couldn't be an M&M, because I decided that what makes an M&M an M&M... is their self-proclaimed label? What if someone came along and made the exact same candy, but it didn't have this label on it? Are they still M&M's? Candy coated chocolate? Or, does that word on it make all the difference? The law would argue that it might. But, what of regular individuals? What if I simply decided that I wasn't going to subdivide into "M&M's" and simply said, "All things here are Blue?" and included things like Tricycles, Ribbons, Crayons, Sprinkles, Chairs, Cars, etcetera?

It's all subjective. Things are what we collectively agree they are. That's existentialism. We agree on the definition of something, we agree on how that definition is applied in most instances, so we agree upon the label of something. Things have no meaning, significance, or value, until someone assigns it.

I mean, it's interesting stuff to study... But it's a lot of naval gazing and feeling smart for confusing yourself. Which... ultimately... holds no value.

So, to get back on topic here for a minute. It all kind of ties together here, I promise.

What is "good game design" is ultimately subjective personal opinion. Personally, I think "On Screen Encounters", "Crafting Systems", "Combat in the first 5 minutes of gameplay", "Class Systems", "Combat easily won by mashing attack", and "Dedicated Healer Characters" are all bad game design. Lots of people on these forums would disagree with me. Most of them have. But, it's my subjective personal opinion. It doesn't stop them from making the games they want to play, or think others would enjoy playing. I prefer narrative and exploration based RPG's, so those are the games I enjoy playing, I enjoy designing, and I think are the best and have as few flaws as possible.

But, do you know what the truth is? The truth is that you will never have 100% of people hate your game or 100% of people love your game. The truth is that there is no "bad game design" unless your goal is to achieve wide mass appeal in order to make a lot of money. No matter what you might do... someone out there is going to enjoy your game. They're going to have fun playing it. That's the purpose of a game, to provide fun.

As long as one person finds "fun" in playing your game, it was designed well.

This is generally why many people, upon encountering a glitchy and essentially unplayable mess don't say, "This is a bad game", they say, "this isn't even a game." instead.

What people found "fun" in terms of mass appeal 20 years ago, they don't find fun now. What people find "fun" now, they may not find fun in another 20 years.

As Bob Dylan says, "The times, they are a changin'".
 

coyotecraft

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@Tai_MT I appreciate this. I really do. You're opening statement really hit the nail on the head. I was so focused on getting the significant objectivity and subjectivity across. The fact that the words object and subject were structural terms in grammar never crossed my mind. I knew it I was tripping over the words somehow. But you've clarify the point I was trying to make with language, and how it's easy it is to conflate ideas.
Objects are things in coding too, but I realize not everyone is into programming language so I ditched that idea.

Your understanding of m&m's doesn't sound right. You split them into "True M&M" and "Misprints" and assigned them specific meaning. Actually, you didn't specifically name the misfit category which muddles it classification and I can interpret it two ways. If someone else (Not affiliated with Mars Company) made the identical candy intentionally without the label, it would still be a "misprint". You spelled it out specifically, "the the M is missing". The name of the category "misprint" is a misnomer. The implication of intention is not inherent in the classification. That's a mouthful to say out loud.
However, if you meant misprint as a classification of intention. You don't explicitly say "who's intention" The creator? The Imposter? Without defining it the category doesn't exist. Even if we say it's your intention, and you change it according to your wims all willy-nilly, you'd be fundamentally changing the classification. Each new intention you have is a new category. That's to say, it's not a variable.
And no, the name of the candy doesn't matter. The name isn't matter. The objects, the M&Ms were identical, as you said.

I thought I saw what you were getting at. But I'm not sure. Like you were trying to rationalize the subject of the M as being part of the object. Because by thinking object (singular) I was picturing only 1 M&M.
This put my head through the wringer, I momentarily forgot that it wasn't about the object it was about putting it with objects (plural) of the same kind.
It's not a label. It's a grouping.
Is that's what's happening? I think I see why people think a genre is a label now. Because they're focused on 1 game. They're not conceptualizing it as a many. They're thinking of putting it in a box instead of a pile.
 

trouble time

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I think I see why people think a genre is a label now. Because they're focused on 1 game. They're not conceptualizing it as a many. They're thinking of putting it in a box instead of a pile.
20180903_152937.jpg

Genre is a label. also i think your the one putting things in boxes. I mean with the "persona is a primarially SIM" nonsense. I mean for good sakes you've put GAME DEVELOPMENT into a box.
 

Autofire

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Wow, there's a lot going on here. Before I jump in, let me give my definitions of these things. I know it doesn't fit with other people's definitions, but at least it'll be clear where I stand. Feel free to debate my definitions, but let me remind you that this isn't the goal of this discussion. Furthermore, I'm not necessarily going to change definitions that I've built up a decade of analysis and experience.

A game is any engineered experience which one or more people participate in, and these participants have some amount of influence on the game. Reasons for participating in a game are usually recreational, but they can also be educational or therapeutic.

By this definition, we could call many things games, but the main point is that they are intentionally designed, either by the player(s) or some other group. IMO, it's useless to quibble over what is and is not a game. Really, if people are participating (one way or another) and it has been intentionally designed, it's a game.

This means that even the simple act of rolling dice could be considered a game. The game exists as long as players are actively rolling dice for the sake of rolling dice. The only way for it to cease being a game is for everyone in the world to cease rolling dice for the sake of rolling dice.

Not that throwing dice is very interesting on its own. The rules of many games incorporate dice, however, and this makes them much better. For example, Monopoly incorporates dice, making dice a mechanic of Monopoly.

A genre is a sub-category of media. In particular, a game genre is a broad category that describes a game. It usually focuses on the style of play (e.g. Turn-based strategy, Exploration), the camera angle (e.g. First person, Side-scroller), or the theme of the game (e.g. Horror, Survival).

Game genres are atrocious. If I tell you I'm playing a first-person game, that could mean I'm sneaking around guards, shooting hoards of demons, thinking with portals, or exploring an empty house. These categories are so broad that they've become almost useless; we always have to go more in depth or mix genres to get across what kind of game we're talking about.

As others have pointed out, some genres have had their definitions change over time. This makes them even worse for categorizing things, because our definitions won't be consistent between decades. (Not that this is something we can avoid, but for design-talk, I like to avoid using genres.)

Aesthetics are appeals in a game, and what players feel when playing the game. Core aesthetics are the main reasons players play the game.

I highly recommend watching the Extra Credits video on this topic. Actually, watching their videos helped shape my current views of this stuff. I've definitely come up with my own conclusions and views, but, still, go watch their stuff!

But if you don't want to watch that, here's the basics: aesthetics are the "themes" or "feelings" of the game. It's what the game delivers when you play it. What it asks you to do, or offers as a reward for playing along.

These are the aesthetics I use:
  • Sense (e.g. beautiful graphics or music)
  • Fantasy
  • Narrative
  • Motor Challenge
  • Mental Challenge
  • Fellowship (i.e. PvE or co-op)
  • Competition (i.e. PvP)
  • Discovery
  • Expression
  • Abnegation
It's almost exactly the same as Extra Credit's list. However, I think that it's important to distinguish between Mental and Motor Challenges simply because those are two totally separate kinds of challenges, each asking totally different things from the players.

Aesthetics are really what set games apart from other media. Yes, other media can deliver on some of these. For example, some shows could deliver on Abnegation, Discovery, Narrative, or Sense. However, many of these are exclusive to games.

Alright, now that this is all out of the way...

@coyotecraft
Some board games make it a rule that players have to roll a 1 or a 6 before they can get on the board. That's a rule of the game, not of board games (genre). Concerning the rules of play, that beginning instance of gameplay rolling dice, can't be classified as a "board game" because you're not on the board yet. It's not gambling because they have nothing to lose. And there's no skill or decision making. The only thing that makes that instance a "game" is the objective to gain the advantage over the opponent; not because it's a "rule" of the game. You can't just make rules and call it a game, see?

Not trying to attack you, but this kind of distinction will get us nowhere. If four people want to take turns rolling dice until someone gets a six, this is a game. Is it a silly game? Yes, absolutely. Would I play it? No way! But it's game none-the-less. As I previously mentioned, a game is a game as long as players are playing it. We cannot call this "work" because they aren't gaining economic benefit from rolling dice. I can't think of anything else to call it.

My problem with the kind of distinction you make is... where do we draw the line? If games need a certain number of rules, or a certain kind of design, what is enough to call something a game? Who decides this? What does it mean if this dice-rolling game isn't actually a game? Are the players stupid for playing this non-game? Should they not be allowed to participate in this non-game?

No, this won't get us anywhere. Let each player decide for themselves if they want to participate in the activity. Let them decide if it's fun. And you can (and should) do the same. This is your first choice when consuming any media: is it worth your time?


But seriously guys. This is a fundamental understanding that you can't deny. Why are you here? How can you expect to objectively improve your game, your art, your stories, if you're answer for everything is "anything goes because it's subjective and that means whatever I want it to mean". I'm being persistent because I sense a lack a understanding.

Games are a mix of science and art. In a scientific sense, I agree. There's an "ideal" in games, but that ideal is not something we can really attain. If we found an ideal, everyone would play it. Every game that used it would be good. Yet this is simply not the case. Maybe this ideal doesn't exist. Or maybe we just haven't found it.

(I'll be talking about core aesthetics here. Those are capitalized to make things clear.)

What is "ideal" differs from player to player. It differs depending on the core aesthetics as well. Some players come to games just for Narrative and nothing else. Ideal design choices for them are going to fall flat for players that come looking for other things. Heck, they fall flat for people who want a mix of Narrative and Mental Challenge.

This is where the artistic side comes in. What group are you going to cater to? What aesthetics are core to the game you're creating? What do you primarily deliver to your players? These are the choices that don't have right answers. If you have an economic interest, or maybe if you're targeting specific people, then maybe some answers are more right than others.

But, when making games, we cannot simply say that some aesthetics are better than others. Even if some aesthetics are less lucrative than others, it could just be that there are no good games that appeal to that aesthetic. Or maybe there is artistic value is appealing to certain aesthetics.

I am not suggesting we scientifically categorize games by aesthetics. However, when working on a game with a certain core aesthetics, there are lots of bad design decisions one could make. In some cases, there are even right answers. However, clinging too tightly to this kind of doctrine will close us off to experimentation and make games feel too samey.


Finally, I can come back to the question @SOC asked in the first place. My answer is:

It depends on the core aesthetic of your game. If your game leans most heavily on Narrative, then you can get away with delaying your first battle, possibly for hours. However, if you want to focus primarily on Sense and Mental Challenge (i.e. a tactical turn-based RPG with beautiful backgrounds and awesome music), delaying your first battle too much might mislead players, and make them feel that you are delivering on other aesthetics.

Pick what aesthetics you want to deliver on, and treat them like you would the thesis of a paper. Your core aesthetics should inform the mechanics you implement. And if you happen to have a few mechanics you like, decide what kind of aesthetics you could deliver on using those mechanics.
 

coyotecraft

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@Autofire Maybe we should step outside of the realm of entertainment if you want to explore game theory. There are other kinds of games that we don't normally think of as games because they're not played by people or done for fun. You can't understand them as games by reading a wikipedia definition. But they have rules and goals none the less. The way a spider weaves it's web for example. There's a rhyme and a reason to it's pattern and it's placement as a trap. You can recognize it's capacity to to catch prey based on it construction. There's no aesthetics, or narratives involved.

I realize when people talk about "games" here they really mean their project. And therefore "gamedesign" in that sense implicates storytelling and marketing and whatever other associations could possible draw into it because they do everything themselves.
But when I talk about games, I'm talking about it in an elemental sense. You'd start drawing a line separating it from all those association and learn to look past context.

I almost get the sense that you mean mechanics in the way that I mean gameplay. But I'm having trouble penetrating your lingo.
 

Tai_MT

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@Tai_MT I appreciate this. I really do. You're opening statement really hit the nail on the head. I was so focused on getting the significant objectivity and subjectivity across. The fact that the words object and subject were structural terms in grammar never crossed my mind. I knew it I was tripping over the words somehow. But you've clarify the point I was trying to make with language, and how it's easy it is to conflate ideas.
Objects are things in coding too, but I realize not everyone is into programming language so I ditched that idea.

Your understanding of m&m's doesn't sound right. You split them into "True M&M" and "Misprints" and assigned them specific meaning. Actually, you didn't specifically name the misfit category which muddles it classification and I can interpret it two ways. If someone else (Not affiliated with Mars Company) made the identical candy intentionally without the label, it would still be a "misprint". You spelled it out specifically, "the the M is missing". The name of the category "misprint" is a misnomer. The implication of intention is not inherent in the classification. That's a mouthful to say out loud.
However, if you meant misprint as a classification of intention. You don't explicitly say "who's intention" The creator? The Imposter? Without defining it the category doesn't exist. Even if we say it's your intention, and you change it according to your wims all willy-nilly, you'd be fundamentally changing the classification. Each new intention you have is a new category. That's to say, it's not a variable.
And no, the name of the candy doesn't matter. The name isn't matter. The objects, the M&Ms were identical, as you said.

I thought I saw what you were getting at. But I'm not sure. Like you were trying to rationalize the subject of the M as being part of the object. Because by thinking object (singular) I was picturing only 1 M&M.
This put my head through the wringer, I momentarily forgot that it wasn't about the object it was about putting it with objects (plural) of the same kind.
It's not a label. It's a grouping.
Is that's what's happening? I think I see why people think a genre is a label now. Because they're focused on 1 game. They're not conceptualizing it as a many. They're thinking of putting it in a box instead of a pile.

It is at this point that I have no idea what you're talking about. I suspect you don't either. I suspect at this point you're trying to sound pseudo-intellectual like someone who would say "far out" and "groovy" too much while missing the point of everything.

Look, I'm not trying to be mean, but you keep saying these things that I don't think you know what they mean. You keep just inserting lingo that has no meaning into a conversation as well as actively avoiding what people are telling you.

You are ignoring what people are saying to you.

Stop it.

Seriously.

Stop also taking what we're saying 100% out of context just so that you can slap it into your own muddled worldview. Look, we have no idea what you're talking about. You keep conflating your own ideas and misusing words and their definitions to fit some kind of strange personal bias you hold.

My point was easy to grasp. You deliberately missed it. Deliberately tried to shoe-horn it into some ideal you've got.

So, I'll be as plain with you as I possibly can be.

Game Theory is not something ever set in stone. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar, a cheat, and a moron. Game Theory is a mixture of Marketing Practices and Human Psychology to try to create a game that is more fun to more people and produces less frustration among more people. What is "proper" Game Theory by today's standards is not the same as it was 20 years ago. It will not be the same in twenty years. Namely because it depends upon people not changing and growing as a species as well as ideals and intelligence levels changing in that same amount of time.

Fun is subjective. A game you find fun, I might not.

Your entire post assumptions are based upon the notion that you can design games by putting them on an Assembly Line. You cannot. Though companies like EA and Ubisoft are trying. That there is some magical and mystical way to design a game to appeal to 100% of people and doing anything other than this formula is bad.

"Bad Game Design" is simply when a dev creates something without an intended purpose and without considering the consequences of what they've done. Fairly easy to spot it as even a player.

What people here have been trying to tell you is that there is no way to create a game the way you want. There is no "optimal" way to do it. No "hard and fast rule" for it. Only morons or conmen would have you believe otherwise.
 
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A game thats designed to appeal to everyone in the end will appeal to nobody.

Simple.
 

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