Monday, November 3, 2008

Animal Paradise

I've always thought it healthy for a gamer to play a game that's widely outside their spectrum every now and then. Studying a game intended entirely for someone else is almost like observing 2 people talking while they ignore you. It helps you get a better appreciation for the language of game design and how it's working on your brain. In that sense children's games are particularly handy because it's a very simplified version of much more complex games. Kinda like looking at the original version before it mutated into Spore or Halo 3.

I can appreciate that this review might not be very high on people's personal interests but Animal Paradise ended up being a very interesting game demonstrating how not to do an animal sim.

"There are a couple of different ways to get a person to care about something that isn’t real. You can get them to want it to be true, you can get them to be afraid it’s true, or you can make it somehow involve them personally. Video games usually rely on a combination of the first and last of those but with a simulation, all three elements are utilized. A pet sim typically depends on inducing enough player involvement that the program is now acting like a mirror or reflection of the player based on their choices. The successes of that reflection, your pet being happy because of your actions, then becomes a motivation for conduct because you want that success to be true. The same happens when you avoid failure; it’s a reflection of you and you don’t want that to be true so you work against it. A proper sim thus sustains a long-term gazing into the mirror by the necessity of your continued involvement: your dog just pooped and the game reflects that you’re a good person by cleaning it up. As bizarre as it sounds, this will keep you interested and playing a video game for hours on end by the laws of sheer human self-interest."

Man...I would love to see the look on an 8 year old kid's face when someone read that to them.

Here's the rest.

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