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Kojima on Rules: A Poll

January 20, 2009

From an article on 1up:

Kojima also points out that the hi-definition era has changed the rules of game design itself. “Game design up to now has been about making rules,” he notes. “It was like a card game; there were lots of things that weren’t possible and had to be cut. With hi-def, the more real it gets, the less instruction you need to give, so preoccupying yourself with making rules seems silly. Western developers have realized this, but Japanese ones are still preoccupied with making these rules.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2009 1:34 pm

    It seems to that the rules are now multi-level, rather than just the obvious level. It used to be that the hardware dictated a lot of the rules, as did the software, but those rules have been backed off, so we need to define our own set of rules for that same space. How is the player allowed to circumvent the obvious rules? What rules do we put in place specifically for the environment and emergent gameplay? That’s my opinion.

  2. January 21, 2009 10:44 pm

    I think Kojima is banking too much faith on what hi-def and realism can really bring. Games still have to be abstractions. I agree with the previous commenter that video game design allows for more layers of rules and different rule systems playing off each other more intricately, but at the very core of things rules are necessary.

  3. January 22, 2009 11:54 am

    Yes things have changed, but even without technical limitations, there needs to be rules for the game to be fun. A game needs a clear objective, and for that to be the case, surely there must be a way to fail, or else success is inevitable. The only games that don’t need rules are these new fangled “toy” games. That is what technology can grant us.

    Technology means we can set out these rules in a more intuitive way. Before, you can’t go somewhere because the devs ran out of memory and put an invisible wall there. Now, you can’t go their because there are super strong enemies that will eat you.

  4. Olick permalink
    January 23, 2009 9:48 am

    This is a hard question to answer yes or no. Yes, they can be more than rules, they’re an experience, so I agree.

    But MGS4 was taking a lot of stuff from movies (so I hear) and so if he means ‘games can be more like movies’ then I disagree.

    Also if he means making things photorealistic is the future, then I also disagree.

  5. January 24, 2009 8:13 pm

    Is anyone really surprised that Hideo “I make movies not games” Kojima is saying that game designers should concentrate more on making movies and less on making games?

  6. January 24, 2009 10:02 pm

    I think there’s a siren’s song in using the “realistic” aspects of high definition as a crutch. We know what (relatively) high-quality “realistic” entertainment is like; watch TV or movies.

    A friend of mine once commented that he thought game designers should do more games set in “realistic” appearing contemporary settings, pointing to the recent GTA games as examples. The problem is that it’s difficult for us to make the contemporary settings look believable. High definition takes us toward that goal.

    But, I think the flip side is that games could explore settings that were prohibitive for the more “realistic” media. All the great science fiction shows (Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica) have had one repeating complaint: they are too expensive to make. Yet, look at the high-quality science fiction games we have, such as EVE Online.

    An even better example would be The Lord of the Rings, where a movie version was only really possible by the perfect storm of modern film techniques, cutting-edge computer effects, and a crazy-insane dedicated group of actors, directors, and producers. Yet we have a plague of Tolkien-knockoff games all around us, some of them actually being enjoyable.

    So, I think that while it’s not necessarily a bad thing to try to go for photorealism and try to achieve movie-like results, but I think that misses the point of what games do best: let us explore alternate realities and situations that can’t be represented well (and as cheaply) by other visual media. I think there’s a reason why genres like science fiction and fantasy are strong sellers, and not just because gamers are socially retarded geeks who don’t want to face “reality”.

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