Developing a mechanic [3 of 3]
This is the third part out of three of a manifest about My Little Humanity's creative process. They're not in a perfect English, but even though I feel important to write them down. (Spanish version here)
This would be an initial statement that I used as a principle for making this game, below are some sheets with annotations that define the mechanics.
I want that the mechanic is based on an initial hypothesis, not on other genres.
My principle for this game is not to develop an interesting mechanic, but to search for something to say, and only then, see how to adapt it to a proper mechanic.
If I only seek an interesting mechanic, I would be talking about mechanics itself. Is not bad if I aim an advancement of the formal language over other things.
But in this work I'm interested to look outside and enter external problematic to the videogame's world. Possibly make them more related to society. Anyway it's also important to note that it was worth me look other videogames and influence me, instead of starting from scratch.
On the other hand, it's true that not everything is easy to translate to a mechanic, so you can't say whatever you want in video games. Each medium has its own way, and in a transmedia era, it's seems more appropriate to find the right medium that suits each content. So in other cases (like a graphic adventure) the discourse may be more linked to the story than to a gameplay, although, still useful.
Some thoughts on the decisions I've taken
Why using missions?
I force the player to take the place of another person. To think like the other, but without being judgmental: to answer and agree with quotes that another person would say, to relate something very palpable like the economy (surveillance) with political ideals.
Why a 5 minutes strategy game?
UPDATE: This may change, I'm thinking of doing it different.
My idea is that you can play several times and while iterating you relate people's quotes with a way of thinking. It's a constant process that the player does, and little by little, she would internalize that there's no truth, but opinions on the reality. We're children of a time and a place. Being so short, the game allows you to fail and learn fast.
Why to avoid addictive gaming?
But to be short has a limit: it shouldn't be addictive, but proposed as a challenge. There's a moment when it doesn't make sense to continue playing: the player already internalized the model and should continue with something else. Addiction is a loss of self-will caused by an external entity. I want precisely the opposite.
Game mechanics in social sciences
I have found that working with a system that is not related to the physics, for example (like most action games), require a programming methodology where actions and the results are not linked so hard, but in shades of gray.
What we would be creating is a soft rating system, at least in the view of the player. This requires:
- Use slight random numbers to avoid fixed number. If I use a wide the range of possibilities of randomness, the effect produced by the player may be unpredictable for her. It is important that the randomness is cautiously measured, and the player may still have predictability.
- Hide Data: people's reality is not measured statistically. In My Little Humanity's code, as in any game, there are several algorithms that determine how the system works, but not always the player must know rationally, they can also feel them, know that they exist, but don't need to handle them.
UPDATE: I've seen that it became very difficult for the player to understand what was going through other elements that aren't accurate data. It seems that I have to be very careful what to hide and not.
Our value system is, after all, a multidimensional vector
Surely enough, we can think a lot more this relationship between systems that exist in society, and videogames mechanics. But so far with this game only, I could only draw these conclusions.
This is the third of three manifestos on 'My Little Humanity'.