Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

That Cloud Game

Posted on | March 13, 2014 | 1 Comment

The main focus of Tracy Fullerton’s book and proposal is that games should always strive to be “play-centric.” While many people talk about a game’s feature advancement or technological innovations, Fullerton argues that the entertainment value or player experience should be the primary objective of all games. I immediately have a problem with this idea as I don’t think it is fair to assume that players aren’t getting enjoyment out of feature advancement, or even enough enjoyment to play the game. The highest metacritic user scores usually go to games that combine both, so is it as naive to say that gamers only care about experience as it is to say they only care about graphics? Cloud aims to focus on emotions that are missing from most major game play. Most people describe the games they like as being “addictive, stimulating and competitive,” so Fullerton created a game that was tranquil, relaxing and joyful. She compares it to a “core game” in that it offers an emotionally rewarding experience without much time commitment, where it is almost impossible to fail yet is not “easy.” Players of Cloud are not given any points or special abilities and are only awarded by taking aesthetic pleasure in their creations. In Chapter 4, Working with Dynamic Elements, Fullerton lists 10 types of players and it seems only one, the artist, would be interested in her game Cloud. I am a collector. I spent my childhood wandering back through Mario levels to find the one coin I missed. But many games, like Mario, allow collectors to play with competitors and achieves since there are multiple objectives. Can we really assume that a large number of people want to play a game based on relaxation? And is the artist a popular enough game player that this game can interest even 10% of gamers? What is the social context of cloud? Is it more along the lines of an empathy game, with the goal of getting players to understand themselves? Finally, she continuously makes a point of saying that play testing at an early stage is not industry standard, but I just can’t believe this. Playtesting has been a part of every game manufacturer since the 90s. She even notes the 3000 hours of playtesting Halo 3 underwent. Surely this must have been at various stages of game development? I can’t find any evidence to back up this claim, but I don’t believe that they most successful games out there, that outsell the biggest blockbusters in the world, aren’t going through the same kind of audience testing as movies?


One Response to “That Cloud Game”

  1. cowdery
    March 19th, 2014 @ 8:49 am

    Its a good question? Do game developers often fail to play test their games. From some reading in Wired I would say it does happen. Some of these game developers, it would seem, as they become larger and more successful are under pressure from various sources to produce. As such it would seem that they sometimes blunder onward with production when they haven’t actually designed the entire game. This too happens with films. Yes many times they audience test things before production but it also happens that they are writing the script while they are shooting. This is clearly not an ideal situation but it does happen. So with Halo (which i understand is quite an amazing experience) it is clear that they took the time to do it right. With other games I’m not so sure this is the case. – Cowdery

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