So, I wanted to talk about a type of gameplay that I’ve been thinking about lately, one in which the player can set things up so that the game continues, progress is made, but the player can choose to sit back and watch things unfold. It creates a very specific feeling, or sensation, of being in control, but also not in control; it feels both powerful and relaxing.
I first talked about it in my Fun Gun Award for the Resistance series, specifically when I was talking about the Mutator gun. Then in my post about Diablo 2’s Necromancer, I talked about it again regarding the Necromancers AI altering skills. And it was at this point (during the Necromancer post) that I realized that this specific type of gameplay/gamedesign/mechanic is actually a unique artistic device that you don’t normally see outside of digital games. And it’s a very specific and unique experience that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone explicitly describe before.
[The Lugaru Dev Team has been working on an OpenSource version of Lugaru. Along with being free, OpenSource Lugaru also has a lot of single player campaign mods pre-installed, including my own single player campaign, “The Seven Tasks”. Check it out: https://osslugaru.gitlab.io/]
[This post is about some stand-alone challenge maps I made for Lugaru. You can still download these challenge maps form the Lugaru forum here.]
Previously I did a postmortem of a mod campaign I made for the game Lugaru, by Wolfire Games. The editing tools for making maps in Lugaru were so buggy and such a pain to deal with that I decided to never make any new maps for Lugaru again.
But then, while daydreaming during my freetime, I ended up brainstorming different ideas for individual maps. I’d think of some gimmick or trick that I could use. I ended up having so many ideas that I decided I would make these maps after all.
However, I wasn’t going to make a single player campaign like I had before. Adding story and cutscenes would have been too much of a pain in this engine.
Luckily, Lugaru had a Challenge Mode where you could play a series of 14 challenge maps that didn’t have story and weren’t connected in any way. You just booted up a map and tried to rack up as many points as you could. So, I decided to make some stand-alone maps for this.
“Daniel Floyd Is A Fool And Raven’s Will Peck Out His Eyes”
There’s this video posted by Dan Olson on his Folding Ideas youtube channel?/page?/account? It’s Daniel Floyd (writer for Extra Credits) talking about,
“…the very first game that I played that really made me… start thinking and looking for ways that games could do something with the narrative that nothing else could.”
For him, it was the ending to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which he states,
“… was the moment that lit the spark, that games can do something unique here, something that no other medium can emulate this in any way I can think of.”
Gibhard is a retro-2.5D-aesthetic FPS that is being made single-handedly by Bram Eulaers (I don’t think it’s even in alpha, yet). The game so far looks fantastic (visually, ludically, etc.)
Bram posted a video on twitter recently which shows off (among other things) a secondary fire function on a gun that I think deserves a Fun Gun Award.
So, if you watched the video then you’ll know which gun I’m talking about. It’s the one that sucks up physical objects and then spits them back out into the world. You can use this to press floor switches, or to crush monsters (I don’t know what the gun is called, but I’m going to call it “the Gibsucker” in this post).
I think this gun is ecstatically amazing, and the best way for me to explain my perspective is to compare the Gibsucker with a gun that seems superficially identical: Half-life 2’s Gravity Gun. I have no idea if Bram Eaulaers was thinking of the Gravity Gun when he designed this gun’s mechanic, but nevertheless it acts as a good foil.
There’s an indie game event-thing called BitBash that’s been going on in Chicago for a few years now. They’ve got a big one that happens in the summer as well as a few smaller events scattered throughout the year.
A few games I played at these events got me to thinking about depth in game design.
Recently I watched a good video by Mark Brown about the Last Guardian. He analyzes how the game communicates story through gameplay and he looks at one specific moment in the game. If you don’t mind mild spoilers on the Last Guardian then go check out the video, it’s pretty good.
This got me to thinking about other moments in games when story is being told through narrative.
Of relevance is an older post I made about Riven and how it manages to merge narrative and gameplay so that they are one and the same. The image at the top of the post is also for Riven, but there’s no storytelling going on there. I just like that view.
The Necromancer was always my favorite class in Diablo 2, and one of the things that always struck me was how unique he was compared to all the other characters. His entire design paradigm was completely different. This uniqueness changed slightly in the expansion with the arrival of the Assassin and the Druid, but this is primarily because those two classes cribbed some of their design from the Necromancer.
(I analyzed the unique and intriguing design of the Necromancer in a post long ago, but that analysis was obfuscated by me also trying to do other weird gonzo, humor things; in early posts on this blog I did a lot of experimental things that didn’t pan out.)
This has also been on my mind recently because I am designing a coop dungeon crawler board game and some of the character classes are inspired by my revelations about D2’s Necromancer design.
So, let’s get into what makes the D2 Necromancer so unique and different from the rest of the D2 classes (I’m not really going to talk about Diablo 3 at all, fyi).