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Can Illogical Videogames Still Be Enjoyable? 155

Posted by simoniker
from the crazy-like-a-fox dept.
Thanks to Skotos for its editorial arguing that there's a certain level of 'realism' that all games must stick to in order to be enjoyable. The author starts by suggesting: "Bringing realism into a discussion that includes fireballs, trolls, energy swords, blasters, and nanotechnology is, at first glance, totally out of place", but goes on to explain: "Fun [videogame] environments both surprise and reassure us. They surprise us by working on rules that are very different from those of the real world, and reassure us by having an internal consistency and logic that is reminiscent of that we find in the real world." Are there some games which break all rules of logic and still remain addictive?
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Can Illogical Videogames Still Be Enjoyable?

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  • Gaming logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neostorm (462848) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:24AM (#8157363)
    "Are there still games that break all rules of logic ..?"

    I don't know about today, but definitely in the earlier, 2D era there were plenty of games that had at least completely illogical aspects to them. I recall that being a huge draw to games for me. There have been a number of recent articles concerning this very same subject, and while some of these have expressed a desire to see more "realistic" content, I say we should try to hold onto that original nonesense to some extent.
    Take, for example, Super Mario Brothers 3. As far as I know, this is held as the best 2D Mario ever conceived. The game worlds were plentiful, varied, and fresh. But take a moment to look at the actual gameplay, specifically the logic employed in it:
    In order to obtain the powerup that allows mario to fly, one has to first obtain the *leaf* object. One the leaf is obtained, Mario acquires a *racoon skin cap*, and by batting the tail on the hat up and down fast enough, Mario is able to lift off the ground.
    There is a certain logic in this over time as the player is introduced to the game vocabulary, and experience with past platformers gives them added intuition, (like the ability to grasp the concept of powerups and other platform style gameplay).
    However the symbolism involved is just... what? Leaf? Racoon hat? What?

    Beautiful!!

    Of course there is the underlying logic found throughout the game that the article speaks of, and this I can agree on simply because it's a logical assumption in itself to have common and established ways for the game to communicate to the player. Otherwise there will be no progress, and then no one will play it.

  • Personally... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by odorf (733882) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:32AM (#8157404)
    I find the less realistic ones more fun, Zleda, FF7, Mario and such. Games where you can do completly unrealistic things like have mushrooms fall through your head that make you grow bigger, or gamws where you play little songs on instruments and are transported to different places, not everybody likes those kinds of games. But I think they are the best.
  • by Louis Guerin (728805) <guerin&gmx,net> on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:33AM (#8157416)
    I've gotta go with Spock, really. Logic, even if it's not real-world logic, is a must, because it enables you to actually learn and adapt new strategies to fit a game. A game has to be predictable, not in a plot sense, but in the sense that, once immersed in the game world, you should be able to expect certain reactions and consequences from certain actions.

    There's not much more satisfying than grokking a game's engine or AI or setup well enough to use its own internal logic against it. But in a legitimate way, not cheap exploits like fake-talk or rocket-jumping.

    L
  • by MikShapi (681808) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:37AM (#8157438) Journal
    The first and foremost rule of SciFi (and fantasy) is exactly this.

    While a SciFi story tells of something that cannot happen in the real world (at least as of the time it is written), it will first set the rules, define what can and cannot be done. This can include adding technology that doesn't exist in the real world, yet-undiscovered scientific discoveries or even completely imaginary impossible concepts such as magic or the force.

    But once the pieces are set, SciFi takes extraordinary care to play fair by those exact rules. The moment this unwritten law is broken, we, the spectators/readers, instantaneously lose interest.

    Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.

    We lost contact with the movie at that moment. It became illogical, according to the rules it itself had set forth. It lost consistency. And in doing that, it lost us. Doing that in any form of SciFi/Fantasy work - whether movie, book or video-game instantly repels the spectator because he cannot put himself in the shoes of th ehero and follow any of the plot when the director/writer throws "Oh yah, we didn't tell you but the hero can destroy all the bad guys instantaneously with a twitch of a finger"-type twists.

    We lose interest. Most SciFi writers/producers are well aware of this, and have been since the birth of the genre. It's anything but new.
  • But once the pieces are set, SciFi takes extraordinary care to play fair by those exact rules. The moment this unwritten law is broken, we, the spectators/readers, instantaneously lose interest.

    Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.


    Playing devil's advocate here, but who says that the writer has to delineate the rules to the reader/watcher/player? The characters were going by what they thought the rules were, and something came along to break the rules, thus keeping things interesting-- and forcing the reader/viewer/player to re-evaluate what the rules are.

    Personally, games that change the rules on you-- like Metroid, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and some of the really old shooters-- are my favorite types simply because it's a challenge to figure out how to adapt to a new situation and scenario. Certainly you can do that in a game like chess or Uno-- but if there's a twist to the rules that doesn't come into play for a little bit, then you have to re-evaluate your entire strategy and gameplay.

    Admittedly, you don't want all the rules changing at once-- there has to be some consistency-- but that's probably what sets a good game aside from a great one. If you think of it that way, then shaking things up every once in a while is a really good thing.
  • by jakell64 (719977) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:01AM (#8157879)
    Could this also be a discussion of the acceptable level of abstraction? Lots of the games mentioned still had relatively grounded concepts guiding them: Pac Man has eating and running away from things chasing you. All of the platformers mentioned involve some physics, like gravity for instance. Puzzle games can be quite abstract, but many are still addictive and enjoyable. Tetris has "gravity" though. Would it have worked as well if the blocks fell up? Could the reasons some critically acclaimed games, like Frequency/Amplitude did so poorly is because they were too abstract with too little grounding in reality?
  • Maniac Mansion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MagicM (85041) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:27AM (#8158118)
    Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. Most warped type of logic in an adventure game *ever*, and yet one of the most enjoyable ones.
  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:17PM (#8162875) Homepage Journal
    I had to read the article a few times because it was giving me tired head, it's afternoon and my ADD is in full gear. So if you're like me, here's a summary of the article:

    Paragraph 1:Fantasy vs. Reality gets talked about a lot.
    Paragraph 2:Too much fantasy is bad. Too much reality is bad. You have to balance them, otherwise people complain.
    Paragraph 3:I like neuropsychology. I read things that told me that brains like to figure things out.
    Paragraph 4:If brains can't figure something out, it reacts negatively. Brain like to make sense.
    Paragraph 5:Never mind what I said previously, because games are fun because they are goal-oriented and brains like that.

    Gah! Five paragraphs with no real point. Nothing to back up any claims made... and I'm not sure what those claims are. In fact, the person submitting the /. asks a question that isn't even addressed in the article. Are there games that make no sense logically but fun? Sure, take the H2G2 adventure game where the solutions make no sense. (Stick a fish in your ear? Towels? Fluff? Brownian motion?) There's your answer.

    The Fantasy vs. Reality argument is really a non-argument because it doesn't exist. Well, at least the vs. part because they aren't against each other as much as they compliment each other. Every game has portions of fantasy and reality and strike a balance somehow. It would have been far more interesting to see an article written about the design decisions that go into balancing the two or when one prevails over the other. Instead there's a lot of Dr. Phil talk about an argument that doesn't exist.

  • fsck yeah!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drathos (1092) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:19PM (#8165749)
    Incredible Crisis is one of the coolest games ever!

    They don't get more illogical that that..

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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