"The most boring game site ever"

I generally enjoy the news items here, but this one was really ignorant. In case it isn’t obvious, Gamasutra isn’t a site for people who play games, it’s a site for people who create games. Some of the content there is highly technical, and if you have trouble understanding it, so what? It’s not written for you!

I look forward to your upcoming article on the merits of Dr. Dobb’s Journal and CNN.com as gaming sites.

One of my favorite Billy “Whacked Out” Wilson things, at the old Voodoo Extreme, was when he’d call that site “Gamas Utra”. The whole pun name just flew right over his head. I could just imagine him scratching his pate and saying “Why did they remove the L from Ultra?”

And your explanation doesn’t explain the writing Lee. I read Gamasutra all the time, and even when it’s over my head (frequently) I still find it readable.

How could anyone find a review like this boring?

Looks to me like, absent any explanation of the very brief news comment, you’re taking a wild guess as to the reason he finds it boring. Making an assumption like that and using it as the basis of a retort calling the item ignorant is rather silly. :roll:

I’d actually stumbled across that article a while ago and thought it was pretty exciting. Then again, I fall into the camp of folks that likes complex, dynamic, games if, perhaps, a little too much for their own sakes. Back in the day, when there wasn’t much else to compare what the author calls ‘systemic’ designs to I used to refer heavily to dynamic campaigns in flight sims and the freeform nature of Daggerfall as good examples of the kind of gameplay other genres should adopt. I still do. While I agree the author was a bit verbose it does seem there’s a knee-jerk tendancy to just mock anyone who takes games ‘too seriously’ around here.

We probably need that kind of deflation in the community but I also like seeing some folks, if not always elegantly, reaching out excitedly to new ways of thinking about game design. I just wish they could express their ideas in less buzzword laden ways. I wish I could. :P

Ack! I couldn’t get through the first paragraph:

“In order to truly make a mark upon the face of any industry, it’s absolutely critical to possess one quality in abundance: originality. This isn’t to say that uninventive products won’t succeed financially, as a great idea repeated a second time still remains a great idea. However, this reproduction is far less likely than the original to have an impact upon the course of history and the minds of those involved. The digital entertainment industry is a great example of this phenomenon, as imitations of popular games rarely feature the same innovative flair as their predecessors. Might and Magic VI, for instance, stood as a creative break from the previous products in the series, while its two follow-up titles were so similar as to be largely forgettable. Nevertheless, there are some offerings that manage to make their presence known by simply adding a few creative twists to an existing concept. The racing genre is particularly prone to this effect, as its very nature necessitates a common element of competition. This can sometimes be a positive thing, as it was with Longbow Digital Arts’ highly entertaining, tank-racing Tread Marks, although it can also lead to incredibly dull and lifeless items such as Wizardworks’ Swamp Buggy Racing. Hoping to fit into the former category is the newcomer Hard Truck 2, a title that brings the previously unknown world of commercial trucking to the racing realm.”

That’s quite a lead paragraph!

As for Gamasutra, yeah, I know it’s not for us groundlings. That doesn’t mean they have to write gobbledygook and regurgitate each other’s invented jargon. So it’s boring for that, if nothing else.

Especially for a game called Hard Truck, which is a budget game about Trucking.

-Bub “who has originality in abundance”

“We probably need that kind of deflation in the community…”

Oh yes indeed we do. I know he’s trying to put a conceptual framework around the process of game-making, but we’re getting some pretty damm good games coming down the pipe already without the gobbledey gook. It’s like trying to put a conceptual framework around stand up comedy. Once the stand up comic starts thinking about this shit, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts he ceases to be funny. I’m not saying game designers don’t need to be aware of these…er, principles, but the danger is when this kind of thinking becomes preeminent. Then you’ll have a handful of self proclaimed ‘experts’ deciding what is and isn’t good, like in painting.

etc (sorry, mtkafka, this rant really deserved an ‘etc’)

DeanCo–

That doesn’t mean they have to write gobbledygook and regurgitate each other’s invented jargon.

Why not? When specialists in any field talk to each other, they often use a technical lexicon that is incomprehensible to people outside that domain. But they understand each other just fine. If I were a mathematician talking about some point of group theory, a basic term like “normal subgroup” may look like gobbledygook, but it has a rigorous meaning that another group theorist would understand immediately. I come from a computer science background with 20 years experience in software analysis and design; I have no trouble understanding what Harvey means when he talks about “use cases” and “finite state machines”.

Again I say, you’re not in the article’s target audience. If you find it boring, don’t read it. Do you read medical journals and demand that they be gripping works of creative writing, completely accessible to the casual reader? Don’t be silly.

“Rule-based system”, “finite-state machine”, and “feedback loop” are common, specifically defined AI concepts. As a professional writer/editor, how would you have changed that sentence to make it both clearer and more concise? The article isn’t a technical paper, but it does appear to be written for laymen with some interest in and prior knowledge of AI programming.

First off, we have to blame the prose of the article on John Mclean-Foreman, as it’s his notes on GDC Europe, and not Harvey’s actual words, that we’re reading.

I went to Harvey’s systemic level design lecture at the 2002 GDC, and, once I managed to figure out what the heck he was talking about, I did, indeed, come to the conclusion that he over-complexified the issue by using terms that aren’t easily linked to the concepts that he was trying to express. Funny he should do this, as a member of an industry who’s sole purpose should be finding the most efficient and instinctive ways to communicate to its audience.

In any event, I find it amusing that, between him and Warren Spector, they are creating the game-designer’s argot. With terms like “systemic design” (creating games where objects can interact with one another) and “emergent gameplay” (gameplay that is created unintentionally from the interaction of game elements), we are on the way towards having a reason why people should have to go to school to learn how to make games.

Quite easilly. All one has to do is, well, read it. :roll:

As an overeducated ex-academic and published game developer, I’ll let you in on a little secret: all that gobbledygook and technobabble is about as meaningful to the people here as it is to most other academics. It’s usually a sure sign of having to pad a scientific paper that has about 2 paragraphs of useful information (if that) out to 20 pages or more.

Sure, there’s a place for much of the jargon (like proving Fermat’s Last Theorem or providing a Grand Unified Theory), but the guys who really make a difference are the ones that can make it read like a Tom Clancy novel.

Here, let me summarize: make the damned AI flexible, give it some choices about modifying its strategy in response to the player’s actions, and your gameplay will rock. It sure worked for us. See? The guy didn’t need to snort the choad of Grady Booch or even bow down before the god of extreme programming to get his point across

It looks like AVault and Gamastra have been hiring out-of-work English professors. Writing a conceptual tech article is good but when you need a dictionary to read it then it basically has lost focus.

Does the average game developer talk like this these days or is this another way of talking up their salaries.

No, most developers still talk in Klingon. Geeks. :lol:

Hmm, technical jargon can often be an indulgence and a method of self-inflating club-membership announcement. But it is often necessary too. I don’t think all ideas – particularly mathematical or scientific ones – can necessarily be explained in clear, plain english. Of course some scientists have written great, seminal texts that were accessible to a lay readership… Darwin comes to mind. On the other hand Newton’s “Principia” would be tougher, even if you do translate the Latin.

I don’t know jack about computer game design, but I would think that the more technical aspects of it (particularly involving coding, graphics, etc.) would need a certain amount of jargon in order to be explained precisely. But then, at my level of understanding, I can’t tell the difference between the “good” jargon and the “bad” jargon in that particular field anyway. It’s all FORTRAN to me, dude!

Sure, but in the case above, it looked like a pretty clear cut case of expressing a simple idea with Star Trek: Voyager technobabble in order to make it sound truly profound.

What’s even more amusing is when a couple guys who are reasonably eloquent figure out they can charge a great deal of money for 2 days of soundbite-level tech talks.

I don’t know jack about computer game design, but I would think that the more technical aspects of it (particularly involving coding, graphics, etc.) would need a certain amount of jargon in order to be explained precisely. But then, at my level of understanding, I can’t tell the difference between the “good” jargon and the “bad” jargon in that particular field anyway. It’s all FORTRAN to me, dude!

IV, 77, or 90? Don’t sell yourself short. If it can’t be explained by the likes of James Gleick, Martin Gardner, James Burke, or Carl Sagan, it’s probably not all that important, and the sooner management types figure that one out, the sooner the techies will stop snowing them into submission. A presenter at GDC should strive to hit the widest possible audience IMO - it’s a pretty diverse crowd. Once interest is spiked, snap up your victims^H^H^H^H^H^H^Haudience with a couple URLs to more detailed papers.

Yeah, I’m not smart enough to write like that. I think the opening sentence in my Hard Truck review mentioned it sounded like a porn parody game.

But your usage of “normal subgroup” and “finite state machines” don’t have to occur in contrived, esoteric sounding sentences. They can occur in simple sentences to assist the reader/listener. You understood what Harvey meant, sure… but did you understand it completely after reading the sentence at normal speed only one time? I doubt it. I understood it too, incidently, but only after three slower careful readings.

But your usage of “normal subgroup” and “finite state machines” don’t have to occur in contrived, esoteric sounding sentences. They can occur in simple sentences to assist the reader/listener.

This is a valid point. Using technical vocabulary does not absolve us from also using elegant prose. A book I very much admire, despite (or because of?) the fact that at least half of it is over my head, is Charles Rosen’s “The Romantic Generation.” It is loaded with music-theory terminology but the gist of what he is saying is often clear to the moderately educated layman. For instance this passage:

“The main theme, one of Chopin’s most original inventions, extends the harmonic ambiguity – an ambiguity of surface, as the tonic F minor is never really called into question. There is, however, no cadence on the tonic but only, mezza voce, a floating movement to the harmonies of the relative major, A flat, and then to the subdominant minor, B flat (bar 16). It is, in fact, the subdominant which then receives all the emphasis without rising even for a moment to the status of a new tonic: a weak half cadence on its dominant F major (bar 18) is followed by a full cadence on B flat minor – which then delicately, and at the last possible moment, slips back to the central F minor. The tonality is sketched by half lights on the surface, while the underlying structure remains absolutely transparent.”

This is quite technical, but the essence of Rosen’s thought can be grasped by people with only a passing acquaintance with music theory – in part because the less-technical first and last sentences ease us into and out of the thicket of more advanced terms.