Not everything I have to say is new. (In fact, I imagine that just about everything I’ve written is going to seem old to somebody.) However, a lot of what I write here are significant things in the realm of gaming. Today, I want to talk about an independently-made game I stumbled across awhile ago, an eight-year-old work-in-progress by the name of Cortex Command.
I ran across an interesting Internet phenomenon today: “Grow Games.” Before I knew it, 2 1/2 hours of my life were gone.
This solution video would rob you of the challenge if there was one.
The actual game design is simple: You have a number of objects. You use them in a certain order, you win. You use them in the wrong order, you lose. That’s really all there is to the game, but it’s made interesting because the game animates something every time you activate it.
So, how do you determine the right order? It involves keeping track of how many already-placed things “level up” when you place another – the goal is to “max” level everything. However, the few times you play, there’s no real way of knowing this, so you end up just keep screwing around with it. Because of this, I’d argue that these “Grow Games” are no games, under the definition that a player has to be meaningfully challenged to complete them.
That I spent 2 1/2 hours on three of them anyway is actually kind of interesting – I guess I’m a sucker for a cute animation. A full collection of Grow Games can be found at www.eyezmaze.com
An interesting tangent on a post I wrote up today lead to writing it into a Blog entry because, after all, truly interesting tangents are something I need more of around here.
Here’s the scenario: You’ve a player on your team who has powers that can benefit you (in MMORPG lingo we call this a “buff”) but he or she isn’t using them regularly. You feel shorted and disappointed this player isn’t granting you those buffs.
Not all related, here’s a nice screenshot of a certain City of Heroes task force to break the monotony. (Avoid clicking if you’re worried about spoilers.)
It’s easy to call blame onto that player, but the reason you feel shorted is you believe that player is obligated to buff you just because they have this power set. That’s an injustice because you’re looking on that player as being the power set, and they’re not, they’re players who have their own will and ability to play.
Basically, working with skilled and diligent players is a privilege, not a right. You’re not paying them, so don’t be upset if they’re not doing their job to your satisfaction. It takes skill and willpower on behalf of the player to do a good job. So, the next time you’re getting healed well or buffed well, try thanking the player, and not the characters they play.
That said, I usually play my characters quite well because playing games is practically all I do sometimes. When I notice there’s players in my party who aren’t using all their given powers as well as I can, that hardly surprises me: Given the amount of time I’ve invested in the game I’m likely a much better player. I’m willing to cut them a little slack, perhaps offer them a few pointers, but I’m not going to cut into their enjoyment and mind getting upset that they’re not very good players.
This is just another way in which an MMORPG can be made less enjoyable through lack of understanding amongst players.
Lately, if I give my mind sufficient idle cycles, it may meander over to matters of social commentary in ways that only high gas prices and an upcoming presidential election can.
Considering how hopeless it would be to assume that a humble layman (let alone a computer game addict) such as myself could ever have any chance of understanding the U.S. political landscape, I instead have had fun with this thought instead: “What if we frame designing our societies in real life in much the same way as if were designing a MMORPG?”