Wednesday 29 August 2007

I'd rather have a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. than a Bioshock

I like to keep track of other games development blogs. Two in particular stand out, Introversion's blog (the developers of Darwinia, Uplink and Defcon) and another game in progress, Infinity Quest, which is developed at the moment without funding.

What they both have in common with roguelikes is a love of procedural generation of content, which I'm sure to write more on. Procedural content generation in game, in particular, storing the whole world map in a seed is what powered Elite and a lot of other games in the 8-bit era. These games feel a little more expansive then much of what is produced these days - its riskier to not be able to reliable control and censor the whole game space, as I've mentioned previously, and I think its something modern game publishers have shyed away from (With the exceptions of Will Wright and arguably Deep Shadows, who developed Boiling Point). Even Bethesda have turned away from the incredible world-spaces of Daggerfall to the more limited and limiting Morrowind and Oblivion and now Fallout.

As amateur and independent games developers, I think we have a responsibility to explore these sorts of spaces left behind by the modern game publishing world. Dwarf Fortress is the best example of a new breed of games by independent developers, and luckily one that parts of the games journalism and games criticism communities are starting to recognise. These games have communities built around them while they are still in alpha, they have developers who directly interact with the community instead of hiding behind a publisher and, unfortunately, they tend to have lots of bugs.

Infinity Quest has just released a new video showing the power of this. Go watch it here. Stick with the somewhat boring first half - there's a nice surprise in the second half, especially if you haven't been following the development so far. I think you'll be inspired by it.


Andrew Doull said...

I just wanted to add a quick postscript here. I think the lots of bugs is a feature of these types of games as much as procedural generation of content or interaction with the community. I'd like to think that this is a result of the rise in the complexity of the game environment to the point where you no longer write test cases, you write automated players.

Mikolaj said...

I think most of the bugs are caused by:
1. Creative matter is harder to debug.
2. Creative people have less time for debugging.