TGDRT #25: Information & Obfuscation

Episode #25 is live!

David Heron, Jon and Dirk noodle over the role of information and obfuscation in game design. Why does ‘Persona 4’ work when the BioWare games do not? And when can hiding info be GOOD for a game?

The role of information, and its cousin abstraction, is something I’ve already written about, and it was great to discuss it with a larger panel. I honestly had some trouble thinking of more modern games that didn’t obfuscate enough, but I think David’s suggestion of the BioWare titles is spot on.

In thinking about this topic especially, it’s really become clear to me that game design is much more about “feel” than many mechanical designers (and those trying to pump up its value by applying a form of scientific method or standardized process to it) like to admit. What the game does and does not give away is a fundamental decision the dev team makes very early on, and it may not even be done consciously.

Yet another feather in the cap of, “There are certainly good and bad ways to design games, but you’d have a harder time arguing that there are good and bad game designs.” It’s almost like baseball – every season is a long grind filled with dramatic ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll have a week where every at bat you hit the ball hard but right at someone, and at other times you’ll flail, break bats and loop game-winning hits over the infield. All you can do is hone your fundamentals and trust that good process will win out over luck eventually. Fortunately, it does.

– Jon

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