Demergent gameplay

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by FAST6191, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    In the absence of a proper term I am going with that. For those not familiar with the term "emergent gameplay" it is an aspiration of many game designers where they seek to combine fairly simple elements and have a far more complex (and ultimately entertaining) game arise out of it. Just as sine waves can create music or noise there surely has to be an example of simple elements being combined to the detriment of the game as a whole. I am after examples with this thread.

    For the purposes of this thread I will avoid the more meta stuff; if you make a game where everybody on a team has to be a master of the game, even if only at high level play, then you usually end up with well DOTA or most online games and games platforms. However it is part of emergent gameplay and a very closely related concept, if not a facet of it, and such I am not inclined to dismiss it entirely. Certainly the concept of online scoring is probably the most well known example, if least acted upon, and a changeup in the scoring can radically change the way online works (it is commonly held that mario kart DS disconnects were to avoid a loss being noted in records).

    Further down the line what might be interesting is the idea of whatever the emergent gameplay equivalent of dissonance is (for those less familiar with music theory the concept of dissonance is one people are discouraged from using, however various aspects of it form the basis for many styles of music, metal being one of the bigger ones), my prediction going in is that it will be related to overall complexity and how much the would be player enjoys such things and maybe some others that do not care for having reaction tests added into what are traditionally games that favour some aspect of thinking.

    For me the first example will probably be something like monster hunter -- though the elements are often more complex entities than what usually gets considered elements I should like it as I like every element (crafting, having to carefully consider combat, roguelikes....) but having considered it for a while now the reasons I do not are that in this case they do not gel for me. However I recently picked up rogue legacy, which in many ways does an awful lot of the same things, and loved it.
     
  2. Ericthegreat

    Ericthegreat Not New Member

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    You ask for simple made complex, then you use monster hunter as an example.... Your question is too hard. Tic Tac Toe would be my example, extreme simplicity made into strategy (kinda).
     
  3. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    First I do have to say Tic Tac Toe/noughts and crosses is a solved game or at least a mathematically pointless one (which I guess is what your "kinda" was heading towards).

    Anyway I do not think I asked for simple made complex as much as simplistic elements or possibly disparate gameplay styles (from the traditional sense of disparate gameplay styles anyway) that were combined with the intention of creating a interesting game, such a thing having been at least partially achieved on many occasions, but ultimately falling short and actually becoming less than the sum of its parts.

    Truly emergent gameplay is hard to categorise but

    Tetris + shmup -> Rampart (and later down the line possibly tower defense)
    Tetris + tower building -> Eggo mania.

    All 5 there are actually some of my favourite game styles/games.

    However not all attempts to do things with tetris have worked, most of those are things like messing up the mechanics of tetris (tetris worlds) or maybe Tetris HD, however you might have something like Wordtris (though I do not mind the game) which combines something like srabble or boggle with tetris and might fall short for fans of the component games.
     
  4. Celice

    Celice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    These sound like scratchpad ideas, because you're throwing jargon and terms around that you seem to have a full idea in, but you don't explain in a way that we can share in understanding, and thus share in discussion.

    This leaves you alone in the discourse, or at odds with misunderstanding. Can you please explain what is an emergent game, for you, and what is a demergent game? Giving examples of other games doesn't really explain what it is you're trying to say--it only gestures ambiguously (likening to the referential puzzle "The man over there drinking wine is happy", which says almost nothing about what is being gestured towards).
     
  5. Gahars

    Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    Not so sure about demergent gameplay, but until publishers heed my calls on the need for a game focused entirely around the washing and drying of clothes, the world will never be able to experience the joys of detergent gameplay.

    And that's a tragedy.
     
  6. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I am not sure demergent gameplay is a term, emergent gameplay is and is when several components are laced together and ultimately create something greater than the sum of their parts. Typically this means an unintended consequence of sorts or the concepts playing off each other make things far more complex/enjoyable. It typically gets seen in four forms
    1) Genre blending. RPG elements, roguelike elements and * elements are often examples of this.
    2) Multiplayer mechanics. Some of this might be meta games but more commonly varying units/strategies/loadouts available to the player change how the game is played
    3) Mechanics blending. In physics a standard wave is boring as is another standard wave. If they are slightly out of phase and maybe with a slightly different frequency then you end up with a fairly complex affair at the end of it.
    4) Restrictions. Possibly a subset of 3) but there have been cases where things get taken away from you in a level and many find that quite memorable.

    For the purposes of this conversation part of this is slightly troubling as many of those have important things that are not really emergent gameplay but still concepts that are heavily discussed. If you prefer instead it is something like the pat you head and rub your stomach thing -- individually they require basic control of your arms but together they pose a greater challenge.

    Demergent gameplay would then be an antonym of sorts (I genuinely have no idea what the antonym is so I made one up) where two or more components get put together but by putting each other together they cancel things out and make things somewhat more banal than they might have been had they been left alone. If I may return to my physics analogy it would be like those two waves instead being synced and of of the same frequency but one is inverted and they cancel each other out to make something very boring.
    I am not quite sure it is what I want for an example but there have been cases of combat and there have been cases of health pickups. Both are tried and true mechanics but occasionally they have been combined and one serves to make the other pointless. I do not doubt examples might be harder to find as many cases would instead be dismissed as "broken"

    Finally it need not be a binary system either and may combine in odd ways to make something that is not truly emergent, not truly demergent, not a basic sum of its parts but something that occasionally crops up or something that might appear to be game breaking/demergent at first glance but at a higher level might change things up. Though I would love some examples here I can barely think of any straight up demergent things but
     
  7. Celice

    Celice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    Aren't all games, by that definition, emergent though? The smaller parts always comprise a larger experience, be it in the actual program code, the graphics, scripting and events, models, music, and such.

    So let's look at a game like Spore, which builds itself into both different genres and different mechanics. This still doesn't, to me, feel emergent (still don't have a working, stable definition). It's still highly structured, and in a way, predictable.

    To me, an emergent game must be one that somehow provides a multiplicity of experience without actually changing. This comes in two manners:

    1) A Firelit Room

    The more you play the game, the larger the implications of your actions become; yet, the game never actually evolves, but only opens into new demarcations of gameplay. It's a self-evincing structure that never alters itself, yet continues to provide a new, different experience. Perhaps Dark Souls's structure of gameplay and traps can also be thought as similar, along with Resident Evil 4, both games which as you advance radically repurpose their existing structures, but do not actually change in their functional gameplay

    Dark Souls initially throws agents and entities that the player must overcome, yet half-way through the game, once the player has achieved moderate success with direct combat, the game shifts into environmentally threatening the player via Sen's Fortress, Anor Londo, etc.; and then further flowers out into an "unscripted" place where the player is now no longer directly confronted, but must discover where to go next on their own).

    In the case of Resident Evil 4, it is similar to the above: the functional manner in which a player controls and enacts themselves in the game doesn't drastically change. There's always an context-sensitive action to take place, the same fundamental weapons exist for the entire gameplay. It is difficult to describe in a cursory manner, but the way I've likened to it before is to think as these games as developing worlds, first and foremost, which then dictate the gameplay a player will experience. The game is not modifying itself to tailor to the gameplay (Spore), but the gameplay takes place within the limits of that world. That our experiences can drastically change in a persistent and static structure is where an emergent game seems to happen, to me.

    2) The Stanley Parable

    Similar to point 1), but this differs in that the gameplay never actually changes; yet the player, as they uncover more of the narrative and in fact become an active agent not simply in experiencing the narrative, but in determining it in an extensional fashion (the player experience exceeds the scripted and static environment of the gameplay, which I don't think has happened before in other mediums of expression or art)--as the player progresses, their experience is something outside that of the game.

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    For a demergent structure to occur, it sounds to me like you're wanting not necessarily a cancellation of each element, but their product to be something lesser than each previous sum (for if they cancel out one another, how could a new thing come out of them, even if lesser?). But again, this sounds like it can be the basis of any basic gameplay. For example, in order to advance in the King's Field series, I usually am forced to survive through several labyrinthine areas and to discover numerous key-like items in order to bring them all back to one specific and linear location, so that I might advance further in the game. What blocks me is a single locked door; how to proceed requires I master an esoteric combat system, manage my memory of numerous halls and chambers so that I don't get lost, keep attention to NPCs that show signs of significance and then experiment with which items interact or further their importance (like the King's Quest games).