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Started by droqen, November 06, 2021, 07:18:32 AM

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Quote from: droqenI just realized I've been trying to design games without gates for the past 3 years. It's weird, though. I guess in general I think gates are bad. I don't like 'em. They are very useful for a lot of things and it's been important to know that. Understand your enemy.

Quote from: @wombatstuffokay so let me actually write an essay in here:

**All Game Design can be seen as Doors**

Games are full of locked doors, for good reason. It is one of the most easy to understand problems for us modern humans:

Door locked, find key, open door

You encounter a problem, solve that problem and get to continue.
All of game design is just different types of locked doors:

An enemie with 10 HP? You just got to throw 10 keys at it to open the enemie-door!
A puzzle? You just have to imagine the shape of a key in your head to open the puzzle door!
A Dialogue? You just have to use the key of reading text to open the dialogue door!

This framing helps to get to the core of a game quickly.
Because, in the end, each game locks some of its content behind a door.
To understand a game, you just have to understand what is a key and what is a door.

So a weapon upgrade is not a part of a combat system, it just means your keys can now open doors faster, a new puzzle mechanic is a Door that needs a new type of puzzle key, etc.

Basically, this system allows you to frame everything in a game through a single, unified lense, which helps you to see a game in its whole-ness, even if that hole-ness is key shaped!


"in the end, each game locks some of its content behind a door."

I resisted this metaphor for a while, I think because it represented the most pure oppositional viewpoint of what I have been trying to design for years:

Games without doors.


But you must know your enemy. I adored this talk, Design Tips for Long Form Games, even though it spoke in similar terms, of things that were my enemies. Economy. Progression. Gates.


Basically I've been recontexualizing what's been on my mind these past few years:

1. When I was working on Bravery Network I was pushing for all fighters to be unlocked right from the beginning.

2. Afterwards when I was experimenting with Playables, I asked "What is a game without gamification?" What if a game didn't set up rewards and hoops, but was just fun? At the time it was "What if a game had no goals?" but now I'm leaning more towards games that don't enforce their goals, or... don't require you to complete them. There are goals, but they don't lead to keys, or doors.

3. The other day I released 31 unmarked games, which doesn't gate content except by a little bit of time - you can go through all the games as quickly as you like. You don't have to finish one game to see the next one. That was prompted a bit by Randy Orenstein during one of the only playtest sessions I ever did of it.

There seems to be a pretty strong throughline of NO DOORS. I'm specifically avoiding describing things as "optional" or "required" because I think those concepts are a bit made-up anyway. Nothing is "required;" you can just quit a game at any time. Everything is, technically, "optional." The only question is what is the reward for completing it, and are you willing to pay it? Does it seem like you're supposed to do it, or does it seem like you should only do it if you like it?

I think everything in a game should be something that you only do if you like it. If you don't like it, then you should figure out how to like it, or you should not do it -- I don't like when I do something that I don't like for a reward.