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The Designer’s Dilemma: Geek Love

Don't try this at home, kids...

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and you don’t know how tempting it is to make another game about suicide just for the occasion. Instead, however, let’s put a slightly more optimistic face on the grim occasion, and try a more upbeat game of inevitable failure. See, in all the work I’ve been putting into my dialogue-driven games, I realized that there was one already existing genre of games that I’d been ignoring entirely, and one that had potentially the greatest potential for narrative, gameplay and emotional connection:

The dating-sim!

My thanks go to Kunal Gupta and Charley, Matt and Eric from my thesis class, who offered a lot of input that went toward efforts to greater clarify what the player needs to do at any given moment. The most basic functional change this provides is mostly concerned with answering questions– pay attention to what you’re being asked, because there’s a range of difference between “Yes,” “No” and “Answer.” If you don’t believe me, just watch any given episode of “Law & Order” and see how lawyers grill opposing witnesses…

Once again, click “Answer” and “Question” for an Open Question, an “Yes” or “No” for a Closed Question. Pay attention to how far you’ve gotten, and you might just win the bookworm of your dreams! As always, constructive criticism is the most necessary of evils.

Until next time, pleasant dreamers, remember not to plan any picnicking near Australian volcanic rock formations, unless you’re turned on by a good mystery…

One Comment

  1. Charles Joseph wrote:

    This is definitely the best one so far. Having something to keep track of your progress is definitely a big help. There were times that I actually felt like I was having a conversation. Unfortunately, there were also times when I realized that the secret to success was pretty much trial and error (though this may be the moral of the game anyway).

    Probably the best moment was towards the beginning, when my character actually cued me to ask a question. Because what you’re making are mostly linear puzzles, these sorts of hints help a lot. While it’s not exactly agency, knowing what I need to do and knowing that I can figure out how to do it goes a long way in keeping me interested.

    Monday, February 11, 2008 at 4:09 am | Permalink

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