Gamecast – Episode 70 – “ Taboo Tweetin’ “

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Gamecast – Episode 70 – “ Taboo Tweetin’ “

Postby Link Antilles » Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:21 pm

In this show, we talk about a crazy tweet from Kojima, Activision and how not to do business, and many many games.

Stream the show from here or download it directly from here.

Question to the Audience
In a recent Twitter post, Hideo Kojima talked about taking on a taboo in the game industry. Leaning on the side of this being a gameplay taboo (and not content), what do you think a taboo could be?
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Postby bigsleepj » Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:45 am

In a recent Twitter post, Hideo Kojima talked about taking on a taboo in the game industry. Leaning on the side of this being a gameplay taboo (and not content), what do you think a taboo could be?


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To be honest I can't really think of any way you can really break a gaming taboo, unless the golden rule is that the player must always have fun and the taboo is to deliberately want to rob them of that. A book or a movie does not have to be fun or entertaining to be considered "great". Indeed, most great works of literature as well as movies are not always entertaining, unless you like being challenged. But entertainment is so integral to the concept of a video game that doing something that works against it deliberately is the only taboo I can think of that would really get one fired, or angry enough to destroy your fanbase to warrant being fired. There is a precedent for this, however. Lucasfilm Games, before becoming Lucas Arts, released a game called Maniac Mansion, a game which had several deliberate red herrings and situations that implied solutions for puzzles that had no solutions, frustrating many as they tried anything on everything to solve puzzles. Even though the game could be finished it was more difficult than it normally would have been because of this. Not many people seemed to mind because, if anything, the old 1980's type of adventure games had a knack for people being stuck on a single puzzle for weeks, so it came with the territory. Lucasfilm Games was also a very small company back then when creating games were relatively cheap. But in today's game environment for a high-profile internationally renowned designer to make a multi-million dollar game where frustration is part of the experience would be career suicide if the public and press react negatively to it.

Edit: This is so counter-intuitive that I consider this explanation to be highly unlikely.

Either that, or "gaming taboo" for him would just be writing a very simple story. Something like two jobless people riding trains all day to pass the time and reminiscing about life in general. Press Y to gesture and X to pick up cigarette stubs.
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Postby uc pseudonym » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:33 pm

Like everyone else, I have a hard time thinking of something Hideo Kojima would want to do that would have such serious consequences. However, in response to the question I do have one thought that’s sort of an unwritten rule. This doesn't really work, but I think it fits a few criteria.

Generally, players are insulated from the consequences of their decisions or actions. Most of the time that just means getting a game over instead of continuing with a failure. I’m not suggesting that this is bad, since a game where you died once and then couldn't play again would just be a novelty (it has been done, but not in a commercial game).

However, this “rule” gets more interesting in games that have an element of freedom and choice. These choices are typically just like flavors – some players like to think of themselves as bad, some as good, but either way the consequences are always relatively minor.

The biggest offender is probably Fable. If you play the evil side and kill everyone, the plot just keeps going regardless. Maybe one character attacks you, but it’s just another fight and then the player can continue unhindered. Or in the sequel, you can interrupt or walk away from most story events, but no one really cares and they just pick up where they left off.

This even affects good games, like the Baldur’s Gate series. They celebrated the fact that you could kill anyone in the game, but in practice, it just meant that you had a bunch of generic NPCs who weren’t attached to anything, and all of the plot-related characters only appeared in brief sections where the player didn’t have control. At most one of your characters will attack you for a decision, but you can just loot the body and swap in another character.

The problem with a lot of moral choices in games is that they always present a set of equally viable paths, when in reality not all options are equal. The idea that the player can do whatever they want with no real consequences is sort of an unwritten rule of choice-based games. Imagine what a game would be like if the player could walk away from an NPC, only to have them leave and never give the quest that allows the game to continue. A game that consistently allowed the player to permanently ruin their save file might not exactly break a taboo, but it'd be frustrating and I imagine the designers wouldn't be appreciated for it.
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Postby GeneD » Mon May 31, 2010 6:29 am

I don't listen to the gamecast, but...
bigsleepj (post: 1389428) wrote:
Edit: This is so counter-intuitive that I consider this explanation to be highly unlikely.

Either that, or "gaming taboo" for him would just be writing a very simple story. Something like two jobless people riding trains all day to pass the time and reminiscing about life in general. Press Y to gesture and X to pick up cigarette stubs.


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