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Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:03 am
by IrishCream
When I first approached game development around 9 or so years ago I originally had an idea for an epic Lord of the Rings-esque RPG - laced with Christian metaphors.
Over time I began to realize that it's just not very doable. Eventually I began to set my sites on simple casual games - games that had a doable scope but ultimately I was building them with no real meaning. I was simply making games for the sake of making games.

My question is this: is there any reconciliation between games that have purpose and scope?

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:42 am
by Mike
I have written small games too. The problem is with a small game you have fewer components that make up a game. So you have to decided on a game that is all purpose or none.

I suspect there is a solution - perhaps basing a game on a parable or story about a moral and then putting the parable on the end screen. Not sure I have an answer but I think I understand the problem

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:59 am
by RockinRickOwen
There's something in Aristotle's "Poetics" about this, about the scope of a story (he was referring to length of time, specifically) and how the purpose affects this. A good example (mentioned in the short, both oh so important, book) is Homer's the Iliad. Whereas the entire Trojan War spanned about ten years, the Iliad only deals with a small portion, that of Achilles being offended, his withdrawal from the fighting, and all subsequent action.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:03 pm
by Mene-Mene
I don't know what you mean by purpose. I enjoy making small games simply because I enjoy the small games. I can have fun playing a simple strategy game, or a game like, "Impossible Alone." I also enjoy the actual making the game. I don't see where there's a tradeoff.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:57 pm
by bugala
Even simlpe already existing game can be made into having a meaning by having a background story.

For example, lets say you ake yet another tetris clone.

Games starts with a story telling about how prayer affects thing in the unseen dimension. And this prayers outcome is decided by Tetris.

Now you can have for example 4 different levels where in each level player character is praying for something, and ultimately in last level hes friend becomes converted for example.

Or it could even be so that it is like two player tettris, except the other one is computer.

And that computer is Demon, and your tetris is prayer or angle or whatever. So you need to beat the devmon in Tetris game each level to get forward with teh story.

Then another thing about making small games vs big games. Casual games like tetris, that are small enough to be fit inside another game.

Well, you can make that tetris right from beginning so, that while you are now making it as standalone game, you are making it in such a way, that at any time in future, you can with only very little effort make it part of bigger game.

As example.

When you go to Tetris, you could send it some info like the speed to decide the difficulty.

At end your Tetris could return 0 if you failed that tetris level. Or 1 if you completed that tetris level.

Naturally, if you failed the Tetris level - nothing happens. But if you completed it - you got one extra life.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:25 pm
by samw3
Great topic. :)

Off the top of my head, I think it's doable. It would be similar to a short story vs. a novel. Short stories (best I can tell) are even more focused on meaning than a novel(RPG) is. They are more like a parable. If you want the reader to experience something it must be meaningful for a short story. Whereas, in a novel, meaning isn't as much of a requirement because you give the reader loads of content to experience. I think that parallels games.

I think HanClinto's Endemia idea is an indie scoped game with meaning. Not quite a casual scope, but definitely a smaller scope.

Now, regarding purpose. All good games have purpose, but I believe what you mean is purpose in a Christian sense? A worthwhile purpose? Many games are chock full of world views. And can be anything from environmentalism to religious tolerance, to inner peace, to venting rage.

Maybe we could try an experiment (if you're game) and come up with a game idea right here. Can you think of Christian worldview concept that you'd like to communicate? (sort of how Jesus did it with parables).

God Bless!

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:25 am
by IrishCream
I've made the original post purposely vague to help generate discussion - so yes the terms I used are not very well defined.

This is what I had in mind when I said 'purpose': Purpose can be anything that you are passionate about. Something you see that you want to say something about thru a video game. It could be about geopolitical issues. It could be about the environment, it could be about your anger at a particular point of brokenness in this world. It seems that often the Christian approach to game making is to make an RPG with a story that has a salvific allegorical message. Does it have to be that? Can we make games that the mechanics say something in and of themselves. Does it always have to be an RPG with a story pasted on top?

Secondly as Christians I don't think we are married to always be doing allegorical games about personal salvation. Christianity is far more than just personal salvation. I think games can be a great way to weave restoration into this world.

Here's a game I found - this is the type of stuff I'm thinking about: The game is called Greed Corp. It's a commentary on war and the unsustainable harvesting of resources. I think the mechanics themselves illustrate this point.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:44 am
by IrishCream
Sorry to double-post. May the forum gods forgive me.

I'll take you up on that challenge sam - although I'm cheating a wee bit.

This is an idea that popped in my head a week ago or so while playing another game. In this other game I was in a castle that was in ruin and part of me wanted to clean up and restore the castle and then it hit that there could be a game where you do just that - restore a castle. It could be an RPG of sorts - you need to clear out the room of monsters and then make things pretty and nice.

It's a symbol of mankind's purpose. When we were first created, we were created to be stewards of God's creation and bring order to it. Likewise God's new creation (His people, the church) is here for the sake of the world. We are meant to bring restoration and healing to the world (as well as the way to be reconciled to God - the ultimate healing)

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:58 pm
by Mene-Mene
IrishCream: I'm a believer in that typically, if there's no temptation to do anything but the right thing, you don't learn anything, so, there would be some benefit to not cleaning out the room or something, that in the end falls hollow. Like for example, in my Do Not Disregard game, by donating money to the poor, you built up treasure in Heaven, which didn't have any real value until comes judgement day, where your score is tallied up. Whereas you can choose not to give, in which case you have money.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:05 am
by IrishCream
Mene: I don't know if that's entirely true. Also I don't know if it's necessary that the player comes away with a value life lesson. This is just meant to be a game with a relatively small scope that the mechanics have some kind of meaning. This one taps into the natural human desire to bring order to things.

Also, I thought your idea was good too. In a more abstract sense it can be a game where you have 2 particular resources - one which is worthless in the first half and the other which is worthless in the second half.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:43 pm
by samw3
I'm interested to know, IrishCream, what you came up with first, the mechanic or the purpose? Because, it seems to me, that the purpose was shoehorned to fit the game mechanic, but maybe that was just from the order you presented it in.

God Bless!

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:05 pm
by IrishCream
It was a fairly simultaneous process - It came to me in a process of perhaps a couple minutes at most.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:26 am
by TheLittleSettler
Afternoon Fellers,

In Short, read the last few paragraphs.

It's been on my mind for a long time, this purpose driven development. Let me tell a little bit of the passion I have, which is the basis for any Christian game I independently make. is a true story (different names, though):

Bloke named Rob gets off the school bus and walks across the pedestrian crossing. He has some sort of mental issue and he's middle aged. A few buses are there, lots of high schoolers getting on and off or just milling around talking while they wait. Three or so fellers standing in a group, talking. Jim approximately 14y/o, Bob's maybe 16 and someone-or-other-else much the same age. Mostly dirty jokes. Not much else they think to say. Nothin much else keeps em amused. The way it is. Pretty typical, common.

Rob pauses and horsely says "Have a good day." to Jim.

No response. Jim heard.

Again, "Have a good day.".

Again, no response. Again, Jim heard.

Here's where I'll stop the story 'cause I've gone far enough to make my point and to make clear my passion, but first I'll introduce another feller.

Jim never knew Dylan (also 14 at the time) and probably never will. Dylan was nothing like Jim, or maybe he was everything like Jim with one main difference. They looked pretty similar to me, yet in some way - very, very different. You see, Dylan cared. He cared for his friends and family and he was quick to say hi. Dylan still cares. Jim doesn't care, didn't care - not much for his friends and nothing for anyone else. At least, as far as I could tell.

That's the real tragedy, though. That Jim doesn't care. Oh, I know - Rob probably was, to some extent, cut by Jim that day. But you see, Rob will meet some good fellers that treat him good. Jim, on the other hand, will have dozens of memories just like that. Jim, best case, regrets most of his teenage years. That's the difference between Jim and Dylan. Dylan will try to remember his teenage years; Jim will try to forget them.

There's a lot more Jims than Dylans around...

You see, this is a tragedy. Nations full of uncaring teenagers that will regret the most part of a decade of their life (if it can be called life). If there is one thing I could look back on on me deathbed and say I did a good job at - I want it to be changing that. With that in mind I've some thoughts and a lot of questions on what a Christian game should be like. I'll ask some questions to Christian teens, another get their opinion on it all.

How would I make a Christian rts or a game Christian without a story... effectively help teenagers to care?

One answer: Make an Age of Empires (thinking of early versions) type game where the Stone Age is after the flood (ie. stone tools 'cause no time to forge iron ones...gotta eat). Man and Dinosaurs live together, but of course ya have to kill or tame all the dinosaurs (ie. dragons) so the civilians don't get eaten.

Why it helps em care: Makes em think about the science of it. Questions like "What the heck is the pterodactyl doing - he should have died <insert ridiculously large number, exact to 234 significant figures> (note sarcasm) years ago." come to mind. But they keep playing because it's a good game. Then they realize it's actually plausible that they'd be there. Being an interesting topic, they may do some googling.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:26 am
by bugala
Thanks TheLittleSettler!

I have been having this idea about after flood game for long time in my backhead, but i have been stuck on couple of things. This comment of yours really helped me get new ways to solve the issues.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:46 pm
by PhoenixFire
TheLittleSettler wrote:One answer: Make an Age of Empires (thinking of early versions) type game where the Stone Age is after the flood (ie. stone tools 'cause no time to forge iron ones...gotta eat). Man and Dinosaurs live together, but of course ya have to kill or tame all the dinosaurs (ie. dragons) so the civilians don't get eaten.
That's the case where Christians don't make a game filled to the brim with symbolism, they don't present the gospel story in some other world, with other characters, they just make a game, and let their world-view shine through. Those are the kinds of games that I think we need, now don't get me wrong, I really LOVE fiction and allegories and stories that retell the gospel in a unique and creative way. (in fact, I have TONS of story and game ideas that do just that). but I think that games that simply present the Biblical world-view are needed just as much.

Now stay with me while I try to put this into political terminology: you have Liberal, Conservative and Independent, two sides and the middle, and no matter who gets elected it's always beacuse of the Independents, the swing voters as they call them. Now apply that to games, look at Age of Empires 1, I'd call that an Independent game, but even it was influenced by evolution, because that's what the creators thought was fact. That was their world-view.

if Christians should be successful, we must learn to have games that are Christian messages as well as those that are "independent", yet still filled with the Christian world-view

Those are my thoughts, I hope you find them interesting, or, at the very least, thought-provoking.

In Christ

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:36 pm
by Mene-Mene
Irish: I'm not sure exactly with what you disagree, I'm not saying that every game must have a life-lesson or anything. I'm saying that every game in order to be considered Christian much have a purpose. (Or at least tell of the happenings in the Bible)

I think you need to remember your audience, these are TEENAGERS, not toddlers... They're a little bit beyond dinosaurs... Zombies, maybe. As far as the question you propose, it'll require more thought... Perhaps I'll reply tomorrow.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:11 pm
by TheLittleSettler
This is all thought provoking :) Good topic

I am a teenager, Mene ;) 18, but that still clasifies. Spent as much time with the grade 9s (14 y/o) last year as with my fellow year 12s. Last time I read of Leviathin, he was a sea monster that breaths fire! Oh, I think there's plenty of dinosaur material for a teenage audiance - it just has to be done with a teenage audience in mind.

Mind you, I reckon 14y/os like their adventure games first and formost. Then, perhaps arcade (thinkin of flash and whatnot) and fast paced stuff (like raceing/fps).

I do see ya point, though.
restore a castle. It could be an RPG of sorts - you need to clear out the room of monsters and then make things pretty and nice.
I like this idea. This could also be a strategy game. Or perhaps an action game, though that would be a little harder - I think it would need to be in 3D to capture the richness of what ya've restored.

I intend to compile responses from christian teens as to what a christian game should be which I'll post here. I'll make it as usefull as possible...I'll get their age, their general answers plus some more specific things to help me understand the target audience...Waiting for the rebelution forums to be reopened after the christmas break.

@ Bugala
Looks like we're getting somewhere with this...Dunno if anyone's pointed this out but, in your tetris example.... Wouldn't the payer part hinder the gameplay? Is there an underlying implication in that example that God plays games to decide on prayers? I am quite dubious about that example and generally disagree that it should be done like that.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:18 am
by Mene-Mene
TheLittleSettler: I'm a teenager as well. When I was fourteen, I had pretty much the same gaming tastes as I have now... Heh, I even programmed an RTS for speedgame... I couldn't stand adventure game... :) But it's not the gametype that I was pointing out. I mean, that's largely dependent on the person. Some people like adventure games their entire life, others prefer RPGs and TBSes. Dragons are an exception, but for the most part, the thought of dinosaurs to me, reminds of me of my younger years. Something many teenagers are trying to forget.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:09 am
by Kukanani
I want to second PhoenixFire. Think, for example, about a game centered around the Magi journeying across the middle east. Doesn't have to be preachy, it could easily be an epic adventure game in the style of Zelda or Assassin's Creed, but the Christian view shines through.

Re: Purpose vs Scope

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:37 pm
by TheLittleSettler
Haha. As if dragons aren't dinosaurs! Check out . Job 40, 41...talks about behemoth and leviathan. Not exactly pink plastic toys for toddlers.

Anyway, I look forward to your answer...I've found one of my own. It ties in with what people have been saying. I'll wait for your answer first, though.

So I agree with PhenixFire, in that there should be both epic rpg type games (Like a good novel by a christian author with a good message.) and games in wich the mechanics alone send a message, like Greed Corp.

However, I reckon the message should not be vaugue or drowned out by the gameplay itself. I reckon that Greed Corp is the perfect example and anything less obvious is...not going to have much of an effect. It should be intensional and well thought out. It should communicate a clear, non-contradicting message that is unavoidable.

I like the notion of a game based on a parable, followed by that parable on the end screen. I think it still needs to be done ever so carefully, but it's a good idea.

Here's another idea:
A rpg in which ya can choose evil or good quests. Some of them appear borderline, like "It's not that bad." or "It's not that good." but they are all, at some level, good or evil. It would be a free roaming game. There would be no end screen tallying up treasure in heaven (They shouldn't be motivated by treasure in heaven but by compassion...I'm not sure the treasure in heaven teaches anything good.). Simply, the company you must keep when playing 'evil' is an untrustworthy, vile, proad lot. In the same way, the company you must keep when playing as good help you in every way they can (without you having to ask for it), trustworthy, valient, humble. The thing is, evil can do evil things which are almost always more profitable. Things like kidnap royalty for ransom and steal the crown jewels.