Week 1: Audience and Experience
For this week, I had read through the Homo Ludens chapter and the Jerked around by the magic circle article.
In regards to Homo Ludens, it was an interesting read that looked at the definitions of play and its comparison to rituals and festivals often shown in human history.
It outlined the social structures in rituals and festivals of “spoil sports” who would be vilified for ruining the fun. In contrast it looked at the essence of those who would choose to participate and “play” even though they knew it to be only a performance went along with it anyway.
Overall it was a lengthy read but gave some interesting perspectives to outlining what counts as play.
The Magic Circle
The Article cleared up the misconceptions around the magic circle (mentioned in Homo Ludens) by essentially saying that depending on the person and their professional backgrounds, each one would take the definition of the magic circle differently, and that within the realm of game designers it is one of the most defining philosophies in the area. Someone with a differing background may arrive to a different conclusion, but that is ok, as to create a game with be to look at the contradictions and accept them/ learn from them.
For this week’s game, I played Depanneur Nocturne. The game itself held a simple task with a simple message, that got across to me perfectly. As I am a perfectionist in games, I like to explore everything the game has to offer, which led me to attempting to play the game entirely in French the first time through, I realised this was a mistake since my French is on the level of a toddler’s, which prompted me to restart the game.
On the second playthrough, I was able to understand (in English this time) exactly what the game wanted me to do, Although I feel that the game is supposed to be played in French to be understood from a cultural point of view (as the game gives 2–3 chances to switch between the languages smoothly). Even though I played it in French, I did instantly know what to do for the game, just looking around and finding the coins, I instantly knew their purpose was to collect them and spend at the right time.
Overall, the game held a lot of mystery with its history, giving the player random objects that held a lot of information in each one, that only led me to explore more, it used elements like presenting a lamp that would show a ghost, that would send me on a witch hunt(pun intended) around the shop looking for me spirits, or use a crowbar to find a hidden door around the game, at one point the player is presented a loosely bricked up arch-way, that I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to open. It was a really simple story, with a simple objective and I enjoyed every minute of it, I ran through the game a couple of times to see if choosing a different gift would result in a special ending (not that I noticed) and I though that too was also ok. The context of the game was easily understood from start to finish, where the player could easily get context to the location, their goal and what to expect out of the game. The game worked well on many levels and could be enjoyed by players of all ranges.
Dark souls in relation to the planes
I will be looking a Dark Souls for the 5 planes of space as it’s my favourite game.
In regard to the first question, the first impression of the game can be wholly overwhelming, as the player’s first true test is understanding that the game will try to deceive the player, as they are presented with a boss 5–6 times their height with nothing but a broken sword, the immediate challenge would normally separate the casual players from the masochists, but as time progresses, this deception has become widely known among players willing to pick up the game. So where before a player may decide that the game is too difficult, they would now simply just run straight past it. Since the game encourages replayability, the player would only need to know the “trick” once to understand how to beat it, this game structure exists throughout the entirety of the Dark Souls series, where players are rewarded through their ability to persevere with the seemly impossible challenge that they face, this leads to a contrasting behaviour from other games and advice from the community is often met with the phrase “git gud”. One could argue that the virtual space no longer truely governs the actions of players in Dark Souls because of this, but it may still occur with the newer generation of players, although originally, I believe that it would have been much more prominent.
Rule based space:
Often times there is a “right” way to beat the game as most bosses have a weakness of some sorts. It is the player’s job to find these weaknesses.
The player is given status bar at the top left to indicate their health and stamina, both of which can run out and be healed through various ways in the game.
The game often feels unfair due to the management between health and stamina, where every action needs to be methodically thought out before the player decides to execute it lest they get caught out of position and countered by an enemy.
Audio cues are often given to the player to give indication of progress, or when they have successfully executed a parry (often regarded as the hardest utility to execute) the same applies for backstabs, these abilities will either provide a multiplier to the player’s damage.
DS often uses the game level architecture as a way to progress, as the player initially needs to ring 2 bells in order to open up the path, with one bell being the highest point of that accessible area and another being one of the lowest locations in the game, both times the player is met with a trial that seems almost impossibly against them.
The scale of the player in regards to the enemies the player needs to beat tend to give the player clear indication that they are the underdog and that the enemy ahead of them is a threat worth noting.
Symbolically, they are often travelling through to either the highest or lowest points in the game, and is rarely played on a flat surface.
DS keeps the multiplayer aspect of the game without breaking the immersion, the player is given a “soap stone” used to be summoned by other players. If a player wishes to summon another player to help them, they themselves would need to use a (limited) humanity and become human, being human has drawbacks though as they then open themselves to being invaded by other players(red phantoms), this goes one step further as a punishment system is in place for invaders and sinners(people who rule break and kill important NPC’s) where a covenant of blue phantoms (players) would also join the world as the invader joins to intercept them.
These colours give clear indication to the player of what is good and what is evil, and can make for scenarios that the player will remember throughout the entirety of their gaming lives.
When playing the game, they player is constantly told they are the chosen undead, with this constant reminder through the game it can make the player think they are unique within the world, and with the explanation of “alternate dimensions” it allows every player to feel like the hero even though every playthrough ends one of two ways.
With almost every enemy being a constant threat, the player is always wondering the difficulty of the next enemy around the corner, and with this steep curve, the satisfaction of killing each enemy gives the player a constant rush of adrenaline. They need to remind in constant focus else they risk dying, the fear of losing their souls only elevates this.
With all these elements, DS’s magic circle has been created and forever keeps evolving, with the upcoming release of Elden Ring, the memes about its delayed release has stemmed from DS and the creators, their name and brand is widely known across the gaming industry, DS has historically been called the hardest game ever, but as time has gone on, there are games that clearly deserve that title, still, Dark Souls will likely hold the title for hardest game ever until a game as revolutionary comes out.
For the first week of progress, I was playing around with the different types of ideas that I thought would go well after the introduction to this unit.
I wanted to look into the areas of relatability for this project. From the previous unit, I wanted to carry on the theme of an idea that feels real, with real characters.