DEVELOP CONFERENCE: Lively session sees industry luminaries consign ugly game design to the dustbin

Nazis and ‘No Feet’ go into Game Design Room 101

An afternoon session at the Develop conference yesterday, according to host David McCarthy, let "video game luminaries consign their pet hates to the dustbin of video game history" with game design staples such as Nazis, collecting items, helping NPCs and Sudoku all elements under scrutiny.

Eidos’ Ian Livingstone was up first, nominating that Nazis be banned as a narrative device in games, saying "developers have got to think of something new" and thatc creating a game based on WW2 with the Third Reich as the enemy was "an easy target".

It was only lazy developers that relied on these elements he said, reiterating that they should look a little wider to find antagonists in their games – bemoaning that for some that extends as far as "alien Nazis". Studios would do well to pull their ideas from more recent headlines, he said, where enemies might have less black and white, or obvious intentions.

Despite McCarthy’s playing Devil’s Advocate to suggest Nazi characters could be represented with shades of grey themselves to treat the subject more originally, the suggestion was almost unanimously voted in by the audience as a game design device to ban by attendees.

Next up was PKR man Jeremy Longley who wanted ‘collecting’ elements in games to go in.

Although a staple of video games since their inception, collecting items, coins or other arbitrary items was not to Longley’s liking as they often are counteractive to the flow of a game.

"Sonic gets it wrong," he said as an example, explaining: "You’re supposed to blast through at speed, only to realise you have to go back and college rings at snail’s pace."

Developers were once again classed as "lazy" if they used this device without any meaning in the game – however his choice failed to win favour from the audience, who voted to keep the device out of Room 101.

Kuju creative director Ste Curran took to the stage next, unsuccessfully lobbying for Sudoku to be put in Room 101 as it represented the derivative nature of the way games are treated in the massmarket. Plus, as a ‘game’ he asserted it was a fairly hollow experience, saying: "It’s quite depressing watching a man’s face as he completes a Sudoku puzzle. His face goes to nothing because all he is left with a grid of numbers."

The audience, despite having just a handful of confessed Sudoku-ites, were having none of it, and the game didn’t make into 101.

Audience members, however, were successful in getting their ideas into Room 101.

One spectator successfully lobbied to have FPS games with scant character design, dubbed ‘No Feet’, into Room 101 as "You’re meant to be a character but you’re just a flying arm holding a gun."

Another suggestion that went into Room 101 was Melee Combat which all agreed was "just characters slapping each other with swords".

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