Homeplay – Crawl

Crawl is an asymmetric rogue like local multiplayer game where 1 player controls the humanoid while others play as ghosts that can incarnate into monsters and traps.

I find the concept of monsters becoming the hero after murdering the hero interesting. It reminds me of Chinese folklores where monsters and animal spirits always have the assumption that human life is the best life, and regard the attainment of human form as their ultimate goal. It is also the reverse of the concept of the hero becoming the monster after defeating the monster, which might also be an interesting theme for a game.

The gameplay is overall fun, and I think the responsiveness contributes to the experience the most. All the visual elements are overreacting to the players’ tiniest commands, which feels morbidly satisfying. I think this is the same kind of “juiciness” one of the readings mentioned.

However I also found the display quite confusing at first, with everything moving around in different directions and I didn’t even know which thing I am. Since everything is pixelated and moving at high speed, I imagine the game will be very confusing for those who don’t play video games a lot.

I think asymmetry is an important element in the game. As the hero you just need to dash at and cut everything that moves. As the monster or trap you’re usually severely handicapped, attacking using some obscure vomit that never manages to hit. While all the monsters are sort of collaborating to kill the hero, they’re also sort of trying to betray each other by stealing the killing blow. When I’m playing other games, I often try to think in the AI enemies’ shoes about how their lives must have sucked. Crawl gave me the chance to actually experience it.

The game seems to be well-received by its audience, with “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on steam. However, I think that for local multiplayer games, players are playing each other as much as they’re playing the game. In other words, the game is merely a platform, a tool for friends to play each other. And thus the love of the game is partially a transference of people’s love of playing with other people.

Reading Response – Level design lesson: to the right, hold on tight by Anna Anthropy

I find the problem of tutorials level addressed in the reading particularly interesting. In my opinion, this type of design is like a bridge between the real world and the game world. The designer first tries to appeal to the player’s common sense, for example in Mario’s case, a height difference entices you to jump on it, and that malevolent beings entice you to murder it. While the player perform these more instinctive tasks, the designer subtly implants logics that are special to the game world into the player’s mind, e.g. banging your head against the ceiling gives you bonuses. Thus the player smoothly transitions from the real life into the game’s context.

I also noticed the effectiveness of this type of tutorial level depends on the experience of the player. Since we’ve all played Mario, we don’t really need to be taught the basics of any platformer: you try to go left and right and jump and kill stuff and collect stuff to reach a place. In this sense Mario is like the tutorial level for almost all platform games. I imagine the mechanics of these games will probably hard to grasp for aliens that move by floating around in mid-air. An interesting effect of such failure is that sometimes I’ve been playing a much harder version of the game for a long time before I realize there’s a button that does some special thing.

But on the other hand, in some cases I feel that tutorial is not even necessary. The urge, the eagerness to play is simply so great within us that we eventually figure out how to play (likely by poking everything) even when we have no clues. I have a friend back in China who recounted his experience as a child when he played a complicated game in English, which at the time he couldn’t understand a word of. Yet apparently he somehow figured everything out had great fun. Human’s surprising willingness to figure things out in order to have fun amazes me.

7 Micro Games – Lingdong Huang

GAME 001 Imagination Game
(1+ players)
1. Everyone gets a bottle.
2. On the count of three, everyone starts drooling into their bottle.
3. After some arbitrary time, Compare the amount of saliva in each bottle.
4. The player who drooled the least is the loser. 
5. The loser drinks everyone else’s drool.

GAME 002 Name Your Champion
(2 players)
1. Find a non-empty room.
2. Each person name an item in the room.
3. Bang these items together until one of the breaks.
4. The player who named the broken item is the loser.

GAME 003
(2 players)
1. Find a trash can.
2. Each player picks up an item from the trash can.
3. Taking turns, fling the item at the other player’s face.
4. The player who runs away first is the loser.

GAME 004 Deluxe version of GAME 003
(2 players)
1. Find an unflushed toilet.
2. Each player picks up an item from the toilet.
3. Taking turns, fling the item at the other player’s face.
4. The player who runs away first is the loser.

GAME 005
(2 players)
Taking turns, make an offensive statement about the other player. If the other player cannot disprove the statement, they lose; Otherwise, the game continues until a loser emerges.

GAME 006 Voting Game
(2+ players)
1. Each player casts a vote for whom they think should be the winner. 
2. The player who received most votes wins the game.

GAME 007
(0+ players)
The fattest person wins this game.