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@jseakle's essay on Cinco Paus' ~ ❈ Treasure Cap ❈ ~

Started by droqen, October 30, 2021, 10:03:46 AM

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droqen

Essay by @jseakle

Quotei'm playing a lot of Cinco Paus again, and I've been thinking about

~ ❈ The Treasure Cap ❈ ~

What is it?

A vivo (run) in Cinco Paus is divided into 50 jogos (games) of 5 zonas (zones) each. To survive, you'll need to find ways to create lots of the 5 types of treasure, which open doors, heal, identify spells, build into permanent upgrades, and score points.

Within each zona, you are only allowed to create 10 treasures total. After that, treasure creation abilities will do nothing.

How does it play?

Often, you don't notice it. In most zonas, you never come close to 10.

Sometimes, it's crucial — there exist some rare infinite combos in the game, and if there were no cap, you could never leave and farm infinite points. (infinites were still a bit too strong, so the latest build has an additional anti-infinite measure.)

In between those cases, it's frustrating! The game is all about optimizing limited resources, using one wand to do 3 different things. But sometimes, you optimize a bit too well, and suddenly you're left with extra treasure wands you can't use.

Doesn't that suck?

No. It's amazing actually.

Complex systems naturally give rise to narrow, degenerate strategies. Many games suffer from wide-open possibility spaces that you should just ignore if you want to play optimally. The treasure cap resists this. Instead, advanced play means evaluating your position early, realizing you're likely to cap next zona, and thus going out of your way to burn your resources "inefficiently" so that they won't be completely wasted later.

This is a very exciting kind of play! Using tools that are normally very valuable to set up tiny bits of marginal advantage because you're just too rich to use all of them normally is such a unique and delightful feeling. More games should punish you for doing too well — as long as they provide outlets for you to preempt this by spending your resources in "worse" ways that are still better than nothing.

droqen

This essay lived in my mind for a while--I'd like to make a note here that the BEAUTIFUL FORMATTING helped a lot. The passion w/ which this #game-design-essay was conceived made me give it a second thought, then a third--and I just so happened to fall into an extra-meaty couple days of droqtober.

I was thinking, most of all, how I related to the treasure cap to creativity, motivation. This section, specifically:

Quote from: @jseakleHow does it play?

Often, you don't notice it. In most zonas, you never come close to 10.

Sometimes, it's crucial — there exist some rare infinite combos in the game, and if there were no cap, you could never leave and farm infinite points. (infinites were still a bit too strong, so the latest build has an additional anti-infinite measure.)

In between those cases, it's frustrating! The game is all about optimizing limited resources, using one wand to do 3 different things. But sometimes, you optimize a bit too well, and suddenly you're left with extra treasure wands you can't use.

When making games, often, motivation runs out. You never come close to "going infinite" with a project, so to speak. Sometimes, you run into an 'infinite' well of motivation, and if there were no physical constraints, you could never leave that well and be infinitely creative.

It's frustrating!

droqen

The rest of the essay on the excitement of this kind of play is harder for me to wrap my brain around but it feels important. Like, the answer to resolving crunch lies along the same path.

Designing games has given rise, as we have seen, to degenerate strategies. Crunch. Creative tasks suffer from wide-open possibility spaces.

Being punished for doing too well -- for running into a well of creativity too rich not to crunch on -- is a material property of our bodies, of the world around us.