Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tunguska: Polish and Value

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the analysis of Tunguska, but I think your central idea -- that there is a contradiction or apparent contradiction between "you can't polish a turd" and "polishing an established idea is good" -- is just wrong. You seem to be assuming that an established idea is the same as a turd, which is silly: usually (admittedly not always) an established game design idea is established because it is a good idea!

I'm not saying that innovation isn't nice, but it certainly isn't necessary to avoid turdhood.

27 December, 2008 19:57  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

You are right, this is somewhat a strawman argument.

But I still think the two myths overlap at least to some extent. The "Turd" one is just so hyperbolic. "Turd" in this means a "bad" idea. This can mean old, boring, over-used or even cliché. Fixing that with just polish might not be enough as in case of Tunguska.

Or to put it differently: The flipside of "established" is that you have larger footsteps to fill.

27 December, 2008 21:02  
Blogger Christophe said...

humm, haven't play the game so I may be wrong, but it looks like the problem is basically that the story suck ... a problem common to a LOT of games :(

01 January, 2009 16:03  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

Story Sucks - I guess you could boil to this. But there is more: In some games, a bad story is acceptable if there are other redeeming factors: innovative game ideas, unique themes, interface innovations, Lebensrelevanz (more on that later) etc.. Experience 112 or Fahrenheit are good examples. If none of that is present all you left with is just the bad story.

And it's not just that the plot is cheesy and unconvincing. It also has no meaning beyond the superficial action. There is even no character development.

02 January, 2009 16:23  
Blogger Christophe said...


02 January, 2009 17:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The flipside of "established" is that you have larger footsteps to fill." That's a good point, and it's something that producers looking for a surefire hit seem to forget. Yes, a copycat knows that a market exists, but why should anyone play Game B if it's the same as Game A but worse?

OTOH, the games that make the large footsteps aren't the ones to first introduce a new idea (Dune II), but the first to show off an idea in polished form (Warcraft II). This, I think, is the core of successful game publishing: let others generate ideas. Some will be turds, others will be established (but not yet done-to-death) ideas. Steal and polish the latter. Profit!

06 January, 2009 09:45  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

About your Dune II vs. Warcraft example - actually there were a lot of differences between Warcraft and Dune II. The polished version of Dune II was rather Command & Conquer.

Things get more difficult when we talk about action and strategy games. For example - both are re-playable which means they offer value even if you already saw the content once. So bringing out another game with more of the same gameplay is less problematic. This less true for adventure games.

10 January, 2009 17:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesss! You are absolutely right. A computer game is not just programming technique. It is story and design. For me design means that one can say "Oh how beautiful" or "Wow, impressing environment". You can find that in Syberia 1 and 2, in the late Myst 5, 5 and Uru.
All these games are story-driven. You are not just looking for stupid stones and nails to put them together to a tank-tool, even if you have no idea what this tool could be used for.
And then, these never ending "dialogues" drive me crazy. One problem of this game is that the player does not know what he wants and how he could reach his goal (difficult if he has none).
The 3D environment is, well, 3D. It is neither interesting nor beautiful. It is not even functional.
Some guys tried to make a buck, and that is it.

26 January, 2009 14:40  
Blogger Krystian Majewski said...

I do appriciate your enthusiasm but I suggest you should re-consider your concept of what "design" is. It's a lot more that making things "beautiful". Actually, it doesn't even have to do anything with "beauty" at all.

26 January, 2009 15:16  

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