Erick Wujcik - the history of role playing games
Here are some quick and unstructured notes from Erick Wujick's talk (the designer of Amber).
- First, individuals characters were introduced to strategy games to provide things like "what if Gandalf had been fighting with the Allies"
- Magic was originally a form of artillery
- "People tried to kill me because I was trying to take their dice away from role playing when I was talking at Gencon about Amber"
- "Zen and the art of roleplaying"
- Removing everything that is not absolutely necessary - turns out that almost everything can be removed (dice, combat system, game master, players) => a role playing game has no essential components
- "I have no idea what a role playing is, even though I do it 30 hours a week for 20+ years for a career"
- "Every hour you are playing a role playing game YOU're paying for it - thus it's stupid to fall asleep (as in not being aware)"
- You can only create an experience if you try something new; not repeat what you have already done
- We have to break the rules - do things we've never done before
Random change of subject: Computer games
- 2003 US game market worth about $20 billion USD - more than Hollywood + all TV
- 2008 global gaming market worth about $46 billion (est)
- Games not that different from 10 years ago - technology is only better
- Moore's Law
- Every second of a movie takes about two hours to fix by one person
- In a few years, the game industry is movie quality. Where do they go next? So far the designers have not been an important part of the team - graphics people and programmers dominate the field.
- To which designers should the game industry go to?
- Example: Starcraft sold 3 million copies - 500,000 of them to South Korea
- One person installed them in all Internet cafe's - all computers could play Starcraft
- All copies were legitimate, hence plenty of money generated
- Own level generation and creativity became a huge thing among kids
- Government support for game industry starting at 1999: $500 Million USD support
- 1$ Billion revenue in 2003, 80% of it from South Korea
- Major game studios opening in China in the next couple of years
- Not a lot of creativity in Asia, though, due to education system (no mistakes, too much time used for learning to read/write. They are afraid to do stupid and bad things. Correctible through training.)
- At the age of 18, most Western kids know 500 games. In Asia, they know 40.
- In role playing games, you are not following anyone else's script
- Until you put your own toys together, you don't really understand toys (if you've never played with Lego...)
- Small countries lose their own culture under the pressure of the big ones
- What happens to the culture within games?
- In Gencon, 20 new game companies every year => always new stuff being produced. US gaming culture is thus protected because of the inability to understand that most companies fail ;-)
- Small countries should dip into their own strong culture and mythology and history for creativity
- Computer games are only narrow slices of the RPGs
- GTA III is actually closer to roleplaying than FPS-games - it allows you to "go anywhere"
- Computer game designers do not understand games - they understand technical issues, but they do not understand the fundamental differences between multi-player and single-player games. Most MMORPGs are FPS -games, expanded to just multiple players.
- How do we create games that allow for complete immersion
- Last 10 years of published RPGs have been going to the wrong direction
- Game designers are too good in creating rules that are perfect (too well balanced, "something for everyone")
- It's a dead end
- Difficult part in gamemastering is challenging players until they want to "get out of the box"
- "I once ran a really horrible game. Then I saw Alien 4, and was glad - because my game was better, and I didn't spend 100 million dollars in doing it."
- "I know how to run a perfect game. I've done it a hundred times. But it's not transcendent. Many of my ad-hoc games are better. Because I take risks and confront the possibility of failing. When I don't know what is happening."
- Part of the problem of computer games is that they are making other people rich - licensing only makes the IP owner richer. The future of RPGs is about creating IPR.
- "Most people who say they did roleplaying and are now in the games industry only played mechanical combat simulations. Very little character gaming." They replicate their own good moments in game industry(?)
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