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New video! -Video Games and Choice-


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Just finished the fifth in my little series of game-related video lectures! Today's topic: Choice.

This should show up on Gamasutra.com in the next week or so along with James Portnow's article on the issue. It goes a little more in-depth on game design than usual, but the general tone remains the same. I've already got my next topic picked out, so the gap between this video and the next shouldn't be nearly as long.

Extra special thanks to Anthony Lofton and Joshua Morse for unwittingly providing outro music, and to CarboHydroM (as always) for providing me with an intro theme.

Enjoy!

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Very nicely done. I always liked your format, even though you admit to mimicking Yahtzee, I feel yours is still different. (I mean, how many new ways can things be brought across to people?) I kind of mimic it myself in the videos I do.

Is your voice really that high-pitched?

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Is your voice really that high-pitched?

No, I pitch-bend the narration up about 10-15 percent. I like that he has a voice of his own and (sort of) stands as a character separate from me. Also, my normal voice is pretty boring.

Pretty cool as usual, just wondering why Fallout 3 didn't get a mention in this? I'd be curious to see your thoughts on what actual choices there are in that game.

Actually, I was pretty impressed with Fallout 3. The decisions weren't nearly so cut-and-dry "Good vs. Evil" decisions as you tend to see in, say, Bioware games. And while a lot of the quest conversations are basically just "Will you help out this old man or ignore him?" scenarios, it really felt like you were free to choose your way in the world. You could handle situations however you wanted, and your choice would lead to consequences, good or bad.

A lot of the choices in the game may still have just been very cleverly-concealed problems, but that's still a step in the right direction.

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Very interesting, actually! Clearly presented, kind of reminded me of that great 'crisis of credit' animation recently: easy to understand yet without oversimplification.

It reminds me of the Gabe Newell (Half Life)/Warren Spector (Deus Ex) debate about linearity in games. I've always thought about the debate in terms of linearity vs non-linearity but problem-solving vs choice is actually a more interesting way of thinking about it, now I've seen sephire's video. The non-linearity is really a quality that arises from the decision to make use of choices.

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I think I was able to infer correctly on my own, but it might have been worth mentioning that the helping the old man "choice" being reduced to a mere problem also seems to have reduced the outcomes to a mere "get money" or "not get money", and therefore are not exponentially increasing the game's size.

As always, a pleasure to watch and learn from.

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Nice work, sephire. Always a fun learning experience.

I have to say this was enlightening. It seems so intuitive but I've never thought about choices vs. decisions in terms of gaming. Certainly gives me a different perspective.

Oh, and labeling Inky and Clyde = hilarious.

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Great Video as usual!

It seems to me like this exists more on a spectrum though.. from what you're saying, if a choice has any weight behind it... that is, if one choice can be considered preferable, then it's a "problem in disguise", to me that makes it seem as though the only thing that you could call a real grade A USDA approved "choice" would be something that has zero impact on the game.

Like, if a character early on asked you to choose sides in a dispute and depending on which side you choose, a race of people later on in the game all have red hair instead of yellow hair, then it's a choice I suppose unless you prefer one color to the other, in which case it would become a problem because you'd want to make the "correct" choice, the one that would yield your favorite color.

The thing is, I don't see any decision as worth making if I don't have something invested in the outcome...like say if I were colorblind, then the hair color would be irrelevant. The same goes for "choices" that would create branches in the gameplay...if a decision in a game gives me branching paths, people will have preferences as to which branch is more to their liking. Like Castlevania 3 to a degree, moreso if you took the extra characters out of the equation.

So I see it as any given decision either being closer to a choice or problem based on how much weight is given to the outcome. In order for something to be a pure "choice" by what I see as your definition, it would have to be totally inconsequential and therefore meaningless, like naming your main character with the stipulation that the name never appears in the game because if it did... it might move into problem territory since I'm sure there would be some name you'd prefer to see for whatever reason.

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