Why Not Games




A System Analysis of City So Far

Written: 2016-01-25

City is at a point where there have been a lot of features added to the game and so taking a step back from adding more features and examining the game holistically seems valuable to me. I'm just going to list out the aesthetics I want from this game and how the systems further them. This exercise will be much more useful when all of the pieces of the game are in place as the dynamics will then be concrete.

Aesthetics

My previous article goes over some of the concepts that I want to represent in this game with examples. For this post though, we're going to try to reduce that to more exact emotions. This is more the question of why do I want to represent things than the question of what I want to represent. These aesthetics are, in order:

  • Familiarity in novelty / self-discovery - Presenting familiar ideas and situations in a novel manner / using the game interactions to better understand your own actions. I expect that players will feel the first if they've thought about the point before and the second if not.
  • Challenge - I want the game to be difficult enough that players cannot get everything they want so as to force interesting decisions.
  • Narrative - The game needs to generate meaningful stories for the players.
  • Expression - Players need to be able to create the characters they wish to play.

Systems

System Novel communication Challenge Narrative Expression
Emotions being generated from sources X X X
Towers dealing damage to creeps X X X
Different parts of the day X X
Towers generating events that create entities X X X
Towers generating currencies X X
Items/goals consuming currency X X X
Entities transforming due to emotional state X X X
Activities taking focus X X
Placing towers/paths X X

Takeaways

  • The game is in a pretty ugly state right now, this table needs to be collapsed.
  • I've been dubious about the focus and day mechanics for a while. When fixing or replacing them, it's worth focusing on how they can reinforce the core aesthetic of novel communication.
  • Placing towers and paths is a core activity that doesn't hit the most important aesthetic. This isn't unforgivable, but is worth consideration.
  • Only one mechanic currently supports player expression. This is actually a problem, the game does support enough player expression right now. I feel that it is the least of the desired aesthetics, but it needs to be served better than this.
  • Towers generating currencies is necessary to generate currencies, but fails to support the aesthetics of narrative and expression.

- @murthynikhil

< City: The Core of the Game Article Notes 2016-01 >

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