Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
For example, the progenitor of the video game RPG is Dungeons &
Dragons . D&D generated most of its meaning from its role playing ele-
ments, since it allowed players to verbally play out any fantasy story they
could imagine. Almost as soon as computers became capable of it, D&D
was translated into a video game, in the form of Rogue . Rogue displays
a dungeon from the top down in text characters. The player controls a
hero who explores a sprawling, randomly generated dungeon while kill-
ing monsters, gaining experience, and looting ancient treasures. On the
surface, Rogue is a fairly close computerized approximation of D&D . But
it creates experiences in a very different way. Whereas D&D works mostly
through role playing and socialization, Rogue is driven by emergent story
and schedule-driven rewards acquisition. At the time, these were revolu-
tionary advancements in game design. But Rogue 's designers didn't plan
this. They stumbled upon the power of rewards scheduling and apophenia-
driven emergent narrative while trying to copy the experience of D&D . The
game worked fantastically well for reasons its creators could never have
This kind of serendipity isn't unusual. The famous Big Daddy char-
acter in BioShock was originally a generic mutant in a diving suit; the
addition of vulnerable Little Sisters sparked the creation of a fascinating
father-daughter relationship between the huge golem and the little girl.
The voice of GLaDOS from Portal , one of the most popular game char-
acters ever, only became robotic when Erik Wolpaw noticed that people
found a temporary graybox line performed by a voice synthesizer fun-
nier than they should. The sublime final level of Braid wasn't discovered
until the game was mostly finished and Jon Blow realized how he could
use time-shifting mechanics to reverse not just time, but character. Tetr is
emerged from a computer version of the traditional Russian puzzle game
pentominoes. The Sims was developed from an architecture simulation
when Will Wright noticed that players liked playing with the characters
more than building the houses. Even Wright's original hit SimCity was de-
veloped when he noticed he enjoyed making maps for a helicopter combat
game more than he enjoyed blowing them up.
Serendipity is one of the greatest benefits of iteration. For deep plan-
ners, capturing serendipity would means throwing out a beloved and
costly plan. Often, they throw out the serendipity instead. When we iterate,
we don't have to do this, because our future is open and we can fill it with
new discoveries as they appear.
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