Do What You Want

I’m a strong believer that there’s no wrong way to play a game; each method is just a series of choices made by a player.

You can point players in the general direction of what you want from them, clearly defining rules at the start of the experience so players know if they try to do something you haven’t planned for they’re going to walk into an invisible wall or make nearby characters bob up and down like ghost ducks. Or both.

In most games, certain choices will be outside the scope of anything the designer ever expected or planned for, so making those choices will cause the game to glitch. The designer’s aim is to either plan for every eventuality, or to design a core system robust enough that it can take whatever is thrown at it. Or in the case of Half Life 2, a Barney robust enough that he can take whatever furniture you throw at him (with the gravity gun).

It costs more to build underground but it could pay for itself.

It costs more to build underground but it could pay for itself.

With my work-in-progress Debaser I want to give players the tools and say “here you go, do what you like”, then players can think of ways to use these tools to outsmart the other player. For example, you can build underground. It’s a little more expensive (because excavation costs money, right?) but there are at least two advantages: one, there’s natural cover from the ground (although it can still be hit by projectiles), and two, you can tunnel to the other base and annoy them with explosives.

When one player chooses to build in a certain way this will influence the other player’s choices, which should lead to dynamic exchanges. I want people to play my game and say, “oh you think that’s clever, huh? Well what about… THIS?” [insert unexpected change of tactics and evil laughter].

I think the fun of my game will come from the variety of tools at a player’s disposal to help them decide the way they want to play.



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