Monday, April 8, 2013

Outlining an Essay

My mind wonders pretty regularly, sometimes I get ideas I want to discuss but there's no one around to discuss them with. So I discuss them with myself and on occasion can think of some robust concepts. It seems like a decent idea to start keeping track of some of these ideas, as any time I do get to typing them out they turn into essays anyway, and actually write something decent on a topic. I've recently re-played the Metal Gear Solid series in release order and, as I'm sure Nick will relent as he recalls my 'brief thoughts on MGS2' that turned into its own essay, the way the mechanics evolve through the series is fascinating. I've also recently started playing Dark Souls, which may have some of the most sound game mechanics of anything released this generation, at least that I've played. So I want to write a piece on game mechanics and their importance. I've got a few ideas, but knowing how my mind works it won't really start to come together until I really get into it. I also haven't written anything proper since I was in university and even then I never wrote more than a rough draft that I would hand in a few days later. So this will be a bit of a dual exercise, both in refining my long-form writing, and hopefully in objectively analyzing my long loved hobby of gaming without ruining it for myself.

So onward. I've got a few rough ideas, but most importantly for now and where I'll leave off for now, my rough thesis;

More so than sound art direction and graphical fidelity, or plot, theme, and good writing, what sets apart truly lasting and revered games is their mechanics. Without solid, well executed, and most importantly enjoyable mechanics, a game will not stand up over time.

Now, I don't know if this will ever actually be finished, but I'm hoping that by getting this bit down and out there I'll have something to build off of, and at least a couple people to prod me to keep writing, or maybe even hold a public forum on the topic. As I think more on the subject I'll try and post my drafts and outlines for not only myself to keep track of my progress, but for anyone else who is interested.

So, what are your thoughts on game mechanics? Can a game transcend having poor mechanics if it's good looking and the plot is interesting? Can good game mechanics save an ugly game with no story and cement it in the hearts of millions?

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