Concerning open ended games and philosophy

hey everyone, i have always been a strong proponent of abstract and philosophical thinking and discussion in the context of video gaming, since it has always been a big influence in my life. i have been following this game for a while now, since about the time whales went on hiatus, and most of you seem to have played Tarn Adam’s “Dwarf Fortress,” but either way, i have a little bit of background material i’m sure everyone here can appreciate. so i will leave a few links after the break, and i hope to spark a bit of discussion because i figure you all seem to be pretty intelligent bunch and i love to read some of the things i find here. so without further adieu ~
now here is a game that blows my mind. i have played and loved df since around the time of the 3D transform in early 2010, and this particular article really sold it for me. i sat thinking long and hard about the ideas presented here, the implications of a game not having a win condition (minecraft was blowing up around that time too iirc) and of course inevitably comparing this game and Tarn’s story ( to my personal interpretation of the state of the AAA games industry today.
even if DF is not for you, the article on losing (aka “fun”) is an interesting read and is pretty relevant to cataclysm, i’d say. but this article isn’t really worthy of a whole discussion on its own, and here i’d like to take the chance to plug one of my favorite ever web series, Extra Credits.

ive been pretty busy with school so i dont get a chance to really play much anymore but ive tried the newest build and i just gotta say… you all have done some really great work. i thought cata was amazing even when whales was done with it, but its really going to the next level now. i do frequent the forums and i think you are a pretty cool bunch (i used to game online a lot 360/pc, not everyone is so nice) so i definitely would like some reactions or thoughts from anyone who watches one or two of those episodes, not everyone has the time but they are a very intelligent couple of dudes who have a lot of very interesting thoughts about the game industry, what a game is and should be, and what it means to be a game designer. their earlier stuff is better, the middle stuff is pretty philosophical and the newest stuff ive found to be just political banter about the game industry, though it still holds merit.

do you think there are lessons or skills to be learned via cataclysm, or any other game for that matter (but keep it relevant) that may prove or have proven useful in real life? i find that it helps keep you thinking ahead, and that inventory management helps tune your organizational and memory skills, especially for cata, lol.
what sort of behaviors do you find yourself doing in the game that you do irl? or do find that you play a completely different character than your rl self? what level would you rank your RP in game (making decisions based on character and not on more obvious RL goals like, well, surviving at all costs)?
but most importantly, why? why do you think you do this? some things are a bit personal lol but really. the whole point here is to think about it on a higher level. thats the idea, anyway. so why do you do this? why do we do this?

obviously im fascinated by player-character interactions and how your play style exemplifies your RL personality, especially in the context of this particular game. it would be nice if we had a big community pool of videos, and that taking a GIF of your play was simple for everyone, so i could see other people’s styles of play. there are some LP vids on youtube and whatnot but you know… im just saying. also i was reading the forums and had visions of bloodlines games similar to those of DF yore, where players swap saves after playing for a predetermined amount of RL or in game time; except in cata, you could play with your own different characters and swap worlds. idk much about programming or what it would take to do such things but hey… food for thought.

how do you fare with the general lack of a “goal” in cata? do you ever get bored? you could basically hoard a bunch of food and just stow away somewhere nice and quiet for a while… what fun would that be? what exactly makes cataclysm fun? what is the goal in cataclysm? obviously surviving indefinitely isnt usually that fun, so then is the goal to die?

on a side note, when are we going to have roving packs of zombies? ive been waiting for that since day 1

and what general impact has video gaming had on your life? positive? negative? ever been addicted? (EC has an excellent episode regarding everquest and WoW, and the episode “skinner box” linked above regards facebook and other social gaming media. pretty interesting stuff.)
what is your fondest memory of gaming? i still remember the first time i was thinking about my DF fortress, and i just sat and listened to the music, and it really touched me. the music is always what gets me. way back to zelda OOT, and pokemon r/b/y. video games, when done right, also can communicate strong morals, ive learned a lot of life lessons through gaming. (dont kick the chickens!!! hehe)
i dont want this discussion to turn towards violence in video games or anything political at all. this is purely philosophical. video gaming is maturing as an industry and it has become a central part of some peoples lives.
is it art? any why or why not?

oops, i almost forgot. i also have grown very very fond of the “draw your cata” thread, and i really want to ask you guys to somehow memorialize or at least catalog the pictures there, idk what that would entail, maybe i could even do it myself with photobucket or something (if thats even still around?) but if someone else has the skills and the time to do it nice, i really think it deserves it. theres some real characters in there and i would like to see some sort of central repository for cata media like drawings, screen caps, gif’s, etc… you are a pretty talented and creative bunch.

anyway its cool if no one even cares about such high brow discussion. i probably will not even have time to check this again until well into next week, what with the snow coming again to RL new england, and coming up into midterm season now as well. in any case, here’s to you guys and gals who put so much work and thought into this game, i hope to spend many more late nights holed up in a dark and cold grocery store being caught in town after sunset, cramming chips and soda into my face for sustenance and checking my bullets… with a smile

Oh thank you for posting this! I’m really liking these links; they have a lot of good stuff to make you think about.

The video about operant conditioning is very telling. They’re quite right that it’s exactly why most of the big money productions are such terrible games.

Good stuff!

I believe that video games have changed me in three significant ways. They helped me control my anger issues when I was younger, they unlocked within me a love of classy head wear, and they provide me a topic of discussion that approximately only four people I know in person find interesting.

I found that my goal in Cataclysm, besides playing with all the various sub-systems, is to forge a story. That’s something I’ve loved since I played X-COM as a kid. Once the aliens killed my brother on a routine recovery mission, Cydonia had fallen; the Aliens simply hadn’t realized it yet.

Not much for videos but read the articles. Looks like they’ve some idea what they’re talking about there.

Recalls “who killed videogames?”

I was wondering, Mr. Frequency, if you play any pen & paper RPGs? If you do, what thoughts might you have on how they relate video game design?

Specifically, I think several systems have interesting takes on social interaction through game mechanics, and I’d be interested to hear what someone else has to say on the subject.

For me, I don’t think this is high brow. I think folks haven’t found the right frame of reference for video games as entertainment yet. Maybe less now, but 5 or 10 years ago it was more than fair to say no one really understood what games meant for people as a pastime.

What it boils down to is: I like understanding video games better so that I can really point out what I like… to find more of it. I got turned onto this by extra credits: applying Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics to games is rewarding.

First, here are the links I have in my ‘game’ favorites for when I want to refresh myself on how we can describe games better than ‘FPS’ or ‘RPG’. <- this is the one to read first to get the idea of MDA <- where the paper came from

Other random stuff to get the juices going <- great quote about baseball vs hockey in describing dynamics

Then I make a quick 15m list of points about a game and see if they really boil down to what I like; discovery is a big one for me. I’m drawn to games with big skill trees that you can tweak like Path of Exile or Payday 2. Both very different games, but they draw on this aesthetic well.

Go here if you want to see how I experience Cata.

You probably share a few of these and may not think of them this way or you may disagree. I can bet the vehicle thread folks would be appalled that I did not put vehicle creation under expression (I usually repair a solar car and that’s it; I think it may lend some credit to the overall psychology of this idea to know that one of our bigger vehicle builders also does illustrations :slight_smile: ).

wow, thank you for sharing that, i thoroughly enjoyed it.

i wish. i know a lot about them, but unfortunately ive never had a real playing experience. i have long recognized and lamented the general trend of gaming towards the exclusively single player experience (whether the game is sp or not), though i accept that it is simply inherent to the times… there are great mp games out there like left for dead and minecraft, but long gone are the days of mario party, super smash bros, and imo tabletop gaming. kids these days are being conditioned to sit at their big TV by themselves with a headset and earn achievements and feel special and unique and pat themselves on the back for another job well done. they buy more games this way. the industry makes more money this way. it is an unfortunate byproduct of the expansion of the game industry, casual gaming, appealing to the masses. i feel that one day we will again play games that are “nintendo-hard”… aka a worthy challenge. but i think multiplayer is a dying horse.

i remember chilling with my friends and getting wasted and playing monopoly on 360, now THAT was one of the best mp experiences ive had, and i cherish the memory to this day. one controller, passing back and forth to four players, crowded around one TV, with pizza and beer and weed. we shit talked and got rowdy and if you heard us from across the hall, you would think we were watching football or something. when i tell people about this, theyre like wtf, monopoly? even the guys, i think, were only playing it for lack of a better AAA game being released that quarter, or whatever. but i really GOT it. i dont like monopoly, any more than i like checkers or backgammon, and i wouldnt sit there by myself and play it against computers, but i appreciate it for the game that it is. when you get four dudes together and the competitive juices start flowing, it really doesn’t matter what you’re actually DOING. another game i used to love playing my friend or alone in was Geometry Wars on the 360 arcade, that is one of my all time favorites.

Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator is a game ive been really into lately, i would recommend checking it out, but you cant really play it by yourself (though i did try. you should have seen the look on my moms face when she saw me using four laptops and my smartphone at once.) if only i had friends. its another one of those games that isnt really exciting by itself, but the potential for social interplay makes me shake with desire. since one computer is exclusively dedicated to running the server, you can literally have as many people as you want manning starships and going pvp or pve. incredible potential. god, i wish i had friends.

cata and dwarf fortress are really the only games i play these days, ive been too preoccupied by school (finishing my engineering A.S. finally) and playing guitar. let me know if GTA5 ever comes out on pc, maybe ill pirate that (fuck those sellout crooks) and give it a whirl. ive always thought of going to the hobby shop again some time and checking their games out, i know they host D&D sessions there but i think its mostly kids that attend. i think most of the adults play other, way more complex tabletops and card games, because they cannot settle for social interaction, and instead prefer to crunch numbers and optimizations in their own little world and play by themselves, regardless of the other players present.

well, the industry is still very young, and we are just now starting to take it seriously and consider the potential of video games as a medium for more contemporary artistic concepts and storytelling. we are starting to see games like Alan Wake, Dark Souls, and even indie subs like Braid and others that take the medium seriously and really try to break the mold and be something other than a game in the strictest sense, a vessel for storytelling and conveying deep emotional and philosophical concepts.
im not saying thats what i want… i like fun games, just as a like fun movies, and fun books and fun paintings. i appreciate deeply emotional or philosophical books and movies for what they are, but i dont go to them for entertainment, i go to them for enlightenment. now we are seeing games being created for the point of enlightenment, rather than entertainment, but we also see games created for the sole purpose of exploiting the bored and complacent mass state of mind, and for more nefarious purposes such as cultural and behavioral engineering in the style of gamification. look at paper print, radio, tv, and cinema. the same has happened. in their infancy, they were nothing more than a light hearted hobby, and grew into central cultural media outlets for everything from the news, to the entertaining, to the macabre, to the utterly terrifying.
i really loved that “who killed video games piece” and want to point out that the “evil psychomathematiconomists” are real, they are out there, and they are making disgusting amounts of money these days.

ran my whole battery out typing this up. lol. didnt mean to spend such long time on it. cant help myself, but i gotta go now. or else i would just keep on going prbly.
ill put a break just to save space
thank you for the responses, my favorite part of cataclysm is th community, also the procedurally generated open world game genre which lends itself nicely to replayability. every time i play, it is a completey new experience. thank you guys for a great game

Well, you asked for the fondest game memories we have. The first PC game I played was RuneScape. Probably the best memory from RS I have was when I beat Barrows for the first time, and got a LOT of Barrows equipment. I was only 8 back then, but wow, that was amazing. I can’t even describe my happiness then. Just the thought of it made me very happy. And thank you for the compliments. This forum needs more people like you.

Well um…

I haven’t exactly met any NPC missions yet (they all hate me cause i’m ugly!) but from my initial thoughts, when I was waiting for it to download in other words, I thought it would be the thrill of getting through really clutch moments. Examples?.. jumping through a window and getting a bite on your foot from one of the millions zombies outside before dragging a chair with you half way across the house so you can lock yourself in the the bathroom and give yourself enough time to reload and clean up that bite and shred through them with your gun just as they break down the door… yeah, my internets pretty slow.

But I have to agree, the game does make stashing a mountain of food under a mountain a hanging out there for a few years look like a pretty good option, not gameplay wise but, well, in real life.

Conclusion: there needs to be more adrenaline situations, I do agree carrierprimoris in that forging a story is the aim, but there almost the same thing, both of which you kinda only get by running the game in your head, thats how I got the story above isn’t it? So what do we do about that, well we could do nothing, we are getting pretty cool stories and stuff, but there is demand for more, that’s what frequency is saying isn’t it, we need more! So, I’m just going to suggest that roaming zombies is good, and that there should be some sort of each-town-you-reach-has-more-zombies-that-the-last option at least, just something that gives at least a better structure or basis of a story.

Also I hear they could be making some sort of ‘rush to the west’ game mode that keeps getting harder as you rush to the west, sounds a little like what we are after.

“rush to the west” sounds fairly interesting, can’t wait for some New Features now that most bugs have been buffed out

I just realized cataclysm has taught me to be honest… I used to use the debug menu all the time, but these days I look forward to challenging myself, and see wishing as more boring than dishonest. of course, I’ve had a lot of fun trashing the joint in power armor but now that I’ve gotten it out of my system I can really hunker down, try to actually play and have fun without cheating. maybe it really comes down to a learning curve thing than being honest lol idk. just thinking.