People and Absolutes

One of the things that makes blogging about game ideas difficult at times is the level to which other people will misconstrue what you mean.  Take, for example, my Monday post about procedurally generated content (PGC).  Almost every conversation that I had throughout the day with people on that subject jumped to the level of Love, which is a game that is using primarily PGC for its entire game.  For me, however, my intent was only for the rapid generation of content that would require a minimum of tweaking to sit alongside hand crafted content.  Have the PGC engine whip up a huge city of a hundred blocks, and then zip back in and touch up the buildings, even replacing some with entirely hand built ones.

One of the arguments was actually someone insisting that PGC will NEVER be used, and that games needed to be 100% hand crafted, all the time, forever and ever.

Whenever I see things like that, I’m reminded of a friend of mine, let’s call him Bill.  Bill loved EverQuest.  He played it five or six hours a day, minimum.  He spent most weekends, from Friday afternoon until 3 a.m. Monday morning playing.  When we dragged him out of the house, he talked about playing it.  He encouraged other people to try it.  And then one day, he decided he didn’t want to play anymore.  Not only that, but no one should play.  The game was destroying our lives and ruining our futures and every minute we put into the game was a minute wasted.  I’m pretty sure he broke and burned his original CDs.  Instead of EQ, Bill started up Kung-Fu, which was awesome.  He practiced every day, and all weekend.  When not Kung-Fu-ing he was talking about Kung-Fu and how everyone should be doing it.  Well, until he decided he didn’t like Kung-Fu anymore…

Another great example of people going to extremes: try entering into a discussion of MMO features and suggest that you’d like to see more benefit to grouping.  People will proceed immediately to claiming that “forced grouping” (an MMO Myth, by the way) is terrible and that eliminating solo play is bad, regardless of the fact that you might even be saying that solo is a perfectly viable way to play the game but you’d just like to see grouping have some advantage beyond “not playing alone”.

As with most things in life, moderation is usually best.  There is a time for everything, an appropriate amount of everything.  Game design is no different.  Every idea is worth considering, and not as an absolute, not as “the way”, but as a tool, a flavor, one thing among other things that can help you.  PGC has a place in gaming, and different companies will use it in different ways.  I’m just waiting for some game to come out, blow people away with their awesome design, and then for the devs to come out and explain how PGC had a large hand in it.

Of course, if that happens, the gentleman above who was insisting PGC had no place in gaming will probably start insisting that PGC needs to be used for every game, always, forever and ever.


  1. I remember Bill. I remember the email chains with him and the others that involved us talking about EQ and him tell us all we were doomed to die alone or something. He wasn’t my favorite person.

  2. Another place I see this quite often is when people go on diets. Entire plans are built around either gorging yourself on one type of food or starving yourself of one type of food. Neither of those is good for long term health, and therefore make, in my opinion, bad short term diet changes. Going on the Atkins diet might cause you to drop weight real fast, but unless you make more moderate long term changes to what you eat, you are just going to gain it all back when to stop the diet plan.

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