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monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-01-2005, 09:06 PM)
monchi-kun's Avatar
Postcard from GDC Europe 2005:
Game Design Mash-Up




"What do Grannies like?"
Following in the footsteps of the now recognized highlight of GDC, the game design challenge, host Robin Hunicke explained that the GDCE version of it was going to be more of a remix a twist on the usual theme. The goal was the same, to approach a hard design problem from a new perspective and with an important sense of humor still intact.

The theme for the Game Design Mash-up was particularly apt in a development age highly concerned with diversity devise a game for Granny. Robin laid down the rules of engagement and asked some important first questions: the audience is mainstream, casual, female and gray. How do we reach them? Who is your Grandma? What would she play?

The panel assembled for the event were drawn from a wider variety of game design backgrounds. Demis Hassabis, currently spending a year studying cognitive neuroscience was first to address the challenge. He explained he was going to explain his process, look at the concepts he rejected and then present the idea he had selected. His initial question, "What do Grannies like?"

After apologizing for any stereotyping, he proceeded to generalize at an entertaining pace. Grannies, Demis surmised, like knitting, reading, gardening, reminiscing, telling stories, playing bridge, grandchildren and gossiping. The full-house audience murmured an amused recognition at the selections. He went on to point out that complex controls would be unacceptable and that gratuitous violence, sex or profanity would also be a problem. What is clear is that it should be is social, friendly and in a familiar setting.

Demis then presented the ideas he had rejected. He dismissed the Hobby Simulation, real-time knitting guide and landscape gardening program as being 'too obvious'. His 'War Story Constructor' was a fascinating proposition, using voice input to render the wartime memories of the player in the Half-Life 2 engine. Demis conceded however that this was, 'too fantastical' although he did flag up the tantalizingly possibility of the constructed levels being released as maps for grandchildren to play; FPS-ing their way through Grandma's memory.

He settled on 'The Village', which he billed as the 'World's first MMO gossip simulator' or at a pitch level, 'Shenmue meets Sims Online meets Eastenders'. A mission based environment invites players to enhance or decimate reputations of others as they see fit, with AI characters playing key roles within the world and stimulating mission content. To the delight of the audience Demis alluded to the possibility of the kids playing within a game-world that they might find entertaining, creating the kinds of GTA-esque content that Grandma might not be so excited about but actually unwittingly participating in the Grandmothers game.

Nick James from Bizarre Creations had only had the train journey down to prepare and apologized that he wasn't actually going to pitch a game anyway. He began by answering a few questions. Firstly, he explained that being a Granny is, 'a bit like being drunk', having slower reaction times and poor hand to eye coordination. He went on to conclude that Granny is much like everyone else, in that she wants to be entertained, challenged and interact with like-minded people. He argued that Granny needs games that are relevant to her interests with relevant music and other cultural reference points, that the interface need to be much simpler with larger, bespoke controls. Finally he suggested that the gameplay ideas are actually already out there and what is needed isn't a revolution in gameplay, but in marketing.

He did venture an entertaining suggestion as to what a new 'granny game' might be, 'Ballroom Dancing Revolution' is at the right pace with relevant music but unfortunately requires a dance-mat the size of a gymnasium.

Finally Katamari Damacy designer Keita Takahashi took the podium. He introduced his presentation, "I thought really hard about this one, I haven't thought this hard since I was coming up with the idea for Katamari Damacy. I decided that I wanted to get old ladies playing games and bring a little of the sunshine that they end up losing when they stay indoors all the time back into their lives." The focus of his talk began with the controller, he explained that current hardware designs are inorganic and difficult to understand. He introduced the design of his new controller specifically tailored for the Granny, and a picture of a cat appeared on the screen to great amusement. He explained, "the shape of the cat and the heat waves that it gives out really gets the old ladies going as they get quite cold. They like the cat shape. The cat is designed to be rested on the old ladies knees." The cat controller was met with rapture from the audience as Takahashi went on to explain the gameplay concept.

The game would begin with the family suggesting to Granny that she wear the cat because, for example, her knees looked cold. Embedded in the cat is the capability for it to communicate wirelessly with other cat controllers (on other Grannies' knees) in the neighborhood. When the cat connects to another one, "..the onboard a.i. kicks in." This causes the cat to speak, paraphrased as "meow, meow, grandma, meow". Takahashi explains that the family are required to participate in the game by pretending that they haven't heard anything, because of this Grandma begins to build the perception that she is able to communicate directly with the cat.

As the dialogue with the cat develops, it suggests that Granny make some soup but faster than the other granny down the street who has also received the instruction. A competitive element emerges and gradually the cat suggests more and more group activities that Grandma might engage in, culminating in trips to the park. "..So they all go outside and eventually they meet other old ladies with cats and they all become friends. So it's a game that involves the participation and love of the entire family." Takahashi ended the presentation by commenting on the possible production path of the cat, "Namco and Bandai are merging so when I get home I will submit my proposal."

Following a vote-by-applause awarded Takahashi the first prize, questions were invited from the audience. One question in particular struck home, "Do any of you envisage playing games when you are older? If so, won't the problem just solve itself?"
--------------------------------

he criticized EA for not doing a good job with Katamari's manual for the PAL release.
Lord Error
Insane For Sony
(09-01-2005, 09:20 PM)

The game would begin with the family suggesting to Granny that she wear the cat because, for example, her knees looked cold. Embedded in the cat is the capability for it to communicate wirelessly with other cat controllers (on other Grannies' knees) in the neighborhood. When the cat connects to another one, "..the onboard a.i. kicks in." This causes the cat to speak, paraphrased as "meow, meow, grandma, meow". Takahashi explains that the family are required to participate in the game by pretending that they haven't heard anything, because of this Grandma begins to build the perception that she is able to communicate directly with the cat.

That's just fuckin' genius :lol
mCACGj
Member
(09-01-2005, 09:31 PM)
I love this man...maybe it's because I love his creation of Katamari Damacy, but he seems so cool. I just love him! :lol
I can't wait to see what he does next other than this, and hopefully he comes up with something as unique as Katamari Damacy and this cat.
MetatronM
Member
(09-01-2005, 09:34 PM)
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That Takahashi is one wacky dude.
Geek
Ninny Prancer
(09-01-2005, 09:34 PM)
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Sorry, but with that Granny game idea, he's a confirmed genius.

I can't wait to see what giant sci-fi robot game he has up his sleeve.
op_ivy
Fallen Xbot (cannot continue gaining levels in this class)
(09-01-2005, 09:43 PM)
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the guy certainly is creative. i'm not sure i want a video game cat telling my grandma to do things though :lol
brandonh83
Banned
(09-01-2005, 09:45 PM)
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the shape of the cat and the heat waves that it gives out really gets the old ladies going as they get quite cold. They like the cat shape.

Sounds like dialogue from Katamari Damacy.
sonycowboy
Member
(09-01-2005, 09:55 PM)
Brilliant. The guy is exactly what this industry needs.
MassiveAttack
Banned
(09-01-2005, 10:04 PM)

Originally Posted by sonycowboy

Brilliant. The guy is exactly what this industry needs.

Exactly. And it is particularly disillusioning to recognize that neither Katamari Damacy nor his Granny game would ever be greenlit by any of the major US publishers. While he may be a "genius", his ideas would be largely ignored and dismissed by the brand marketing armies of virtually every North American and European publisher in the business.

There may be a general acknowledgement of a crisis of imagination in the industry but the publishers could hardly give a damn.
Kangu
Banned
(09-01-2005, 10:11 PM)

Originally Posted by monchi-kun

Postcard from GDC Europe 2005:
Game Design Mash-Up




Takahashi explains that the family are required to participate in the game by pretending that they haven't heard anything, because of this – Grandma begins to build the perception that she is able to communicate directly with the cat.

Turn my grandma into a schizo? Sign me up!
Kakusha
Member
(09-01-2005, 10:16 PM)

Originally Posted by monchi-kun

This causes the cat to speak, paraphrased as "meow, meow, grandma, meow". Takahashi explains that the family are required to participate in the game by pretending that they haven't heard anything, because of this Grandma begins to build the perception that she is able to communicate directly with the cat.

So people are required to play dumb while taking their grandmas for a tool? :/
kaching
"GAF's biggest wanker"
(09-01-2005, 10:29 PM)
kaching's Avatar
Definitely amusing as a mental exercise. Beyond that, not so much.
Companion Cube
Member
(09-02-2005, 01:51 AM)

Burn it down.
the year 20XX
Member
(09-02-2005, 01:58 AM)
Dude didn't even design a video game. He designed a, uh, cooperative robocat communication game? Awesome.
jkeeling
Member
(09-02-2005, 02:13 AM)

Originally Posted by Shinoobi


Burn it down.


Haha, that's great!
LegendofJoe
Member
(09-02-2005, 02:14 AM)
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This man is my hero, it takes a special person to have an imagination like that.
Mama Smurf
My penis is still intact.
(09-02-2005, 02:18 AM)
I kind of thought The Village was better, as far as videogames go.

IF, however, you could get the family members to join in and lots of fellow grannies involved and not have them falling over and breaking their hips in the rush to beat Enid down the road, that could really take off.
Shaheed79
dabbled in the jelly
(09-02-2005, 02:39 AM)

Originally Posted by op_ivy

the guy certainly is creative. i'm not sure i want a video game cat telling my grandma to do things though :lol

It's Awsome though! The young adult version could be called Son of Sam!
Dynamite Shikoku
Congratulations, you really deserve it!
(09-02-2005, 02:42 AM)
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Originally Posted by Kangu

Turn my grandma into a schizo? Sign me up!

:lol
monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-02-2005, 03:20 AM)
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i can't wait to see what else this guy is capable of designing....hope Namco has him on other projects besides Katamari, being type-casted is bad for your long term career
mCACGj
Member
(09-02-2005, 05:11 AM)

Originally Posted by monchi-kun

i can't wait to see what else this guy is capable of designing....hope Namco has him on other projects besides Katamari, being type-casted is bad for your long term career

I hope the Katamari series is done. I think they should leave it at two, and this is coming from a guy who thought they should have left it at one. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to play 2, but I think the second just makes the first a little less magical for some reason. I'm crazy, I know.

Anyway, with that said, I really really hope he's doing something else, cause I can not wait to see what it is.
MrDaravon
Member
(09-02-2005, 05:22 AM)
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That's just awesome. Great to see that there's at least some people like that in the industry.
acklame
Member
(09-02-2005, 07:24 AM)
he sure is creative :)
Kobun Heat
コブン41号
ドリンキー子犬倶楽部
(09-02-2005, 07:41 AM)
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To get caught up in quibbles about whether the specific game Takahashi described is technologically feasible or marketable is to totally miss the point.

The other two panelists seem to have taken the panel as an opportunity to crack some jokes. For all their thinking about what grannies like, they weren't able to get past the sarcasm. Ballroom Dance Revolution! The Sims, but with old people!

Well, they're not going to be blazing the trail.

Ignore the cat for a bit. Read between the lines. What was Takahashi really hitting on?

-Organic, natural controls. Something that instantly makes sense.
-Personal interaction that feels real and specifically tailored to you, the player.
-An appealing external design.
-Introducing game theory in a way that is comfortable to the audience; a game that plays off of their existing life knowledge rather than forcing the player to learn a new set of rules.

Genius? Yes. Next industry darling? We can only hope. Helping to blaze the trail to a new age of game design? Without question.

Listen to this man.
FightyF
Banned
(09-02-2005, 07:46 AM)

he criticized EA for not doing a good job with Katamari's manual for the PAL release.

Haha, sweet. Respect + 10000.

As far as a new Katamari goes, I was hoping for another on the PS3. Besides the obvious graphical enhancements I think the physics enhancements alone would be sweet. Imagine crushing objects as you get heavier and larger. Chairs, desks, vases, etc. collapse under the pressure and you become a big ball of stuff. It would be very different and radical and that might turn people off though.
monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-02-2005, 07:50 AM)
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just to add...this guy is very down to earth and approachable (i met him at GDC this past march)
monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-02-2005, 07:52 AM)
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Originally Posted by Kobun Heat

For all their thinking about what grannies like, they weren't able to get past the sarcasm. Ballroom Dance Revolution! The Sims, but with old people!

Well, they're not going to be blazing the trail.

well, the applause that Takahashi got pretty much shut up the other panelists....JAPAN FOR THE WIN!!!!
Ironclad
Member
(09-02-2005, 07:56 AM)
Brilliant brillaint idea.

He truly is a genius of our age. New industry darling? Most definitely. This man is very creative. I am definitely anticipating his next idea.
monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-02-2005, 08:02 AM)
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the thing about his genius is that he relies on the obvious and observation of life and people. not really surprised because of his art background. i'm not sure how many of you guys attended his GDC peice last year but before Namco this guy was doing sculptures. One of the things he created was a wooden table that transforms into a robot but it took 2 people to transform it because of size. he apparently planned it this way so that his work of art became a social event, something appreciated/interacted by 2 or more people.

This pretty much reflects his creed for games....they are frivolous and unimportant but at the same time can be a means of experiencing some form of happiness.

I don't see Takahashi deviating from this philosophy much, I hope he lasts long enough in this business to create a few more landmark games before he gets tired and decides to move on because I don't think he would have a problem leaving the videogame world if he had to.
Optimistic
Member
(09-02-2005, 08:02 AM)

Originally Posted by Kobun Heat

To get caught up in quibbles about whether the specific game Takahashi described is technologically feasible or marketable is to totally miss the point.

About this specific game, yes, but whether or not games like it are feasible or marketable is a very good question, as you know, we won't see them if they're not. Which is what was earlier said in the article, that ideas like this (and I'm, paraphrasing here), and a few games going in that direction, have been bouncing around for a while, so what's needed is a revolution in marketing. Finding a way to successfully market these games is the key to proliferating their production.

Originally Posted by Kobun Heat

Ignore the cat for a bit

I think you mean, "read past the first line or two of text that talks about the cat", which I imagine everyone's already done.

Read between the lines. What was Takahashi really hitting on?

-Organic, natural controls. Something that instantly makes sense.
-Personal interaction that feels real and specifically tailored to you, the player.
-An appealing external design.
-Introducing game theory in a way that is comfortable to the audience; a game that plays off of their existing life knowledge rather than forcing the player to learn a new set of rules.

You don't need to read between the lines to see this, you just have to read the article. Anyway, these principles aren't new, it's essentially what Nintendo's been going on about for the last couple of years. As for him being a genius, sorry, but the idea he described may be "neat" or "clever", but that's it. Many similar ideas (not necessarily linked to game design) have been expounded by dozens of scifi writers in the past, so perhaps you should save the "genius" comments until he actually makes some of these neat ideas of his a reality.
drohne
hyperbolically metafictive
(09-02-2005, 08:12 AM)
i'm not sure how kobun read a vindication of nintendo's latest dogma into takahashi's borderline autistic fit of whimsy. the cat is charming, but it's of no conceivable relevance to anything. i suppose he's too busy making wonderful games to make any sense. good for him.
FightyF
Banned
(09-02-2005, 08:16 AM)

Originally Posted by monchi-kun

well, the applause that Takahashi got pretty much shut up the other panelists....JAPAN FOR THE WIN!!!!

He didn't shut up Nick James from BC. He actually supported every single thing Nick James said...

Nick James from Bizarre Creations had only had the train journey down to prepare and apologized that he wasn't actually going to pitch a game anyway. He began by answering a few questions. Firstly, he explained that being a Granny is, 'a bit like being drunk', having slower reaction times and poor hand to eye coordination. He went on to conclude that Granny is much like everyone else, in that she wants to be entertained, challenged and interact with like-minded people. He argued that Granny needs games that are relevant to her interests with relevant music and other cultural reference points, that the interface need to be much simpler with larger, bespoke controls. Finally he suggested that the gameplay ideas are actually already out there and what is needed isn't a revolution in gameplay, but in marketing.

He just put it to an actual idea...and it jives with all of these points.

"I'M NICK JAMES, BITCH!"

Sorry I so had to.
monchi-kun
United under V.A.G.I.N.A.
(09-02-2005, 08:17 AM)
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i was talking about the crowd...but i agree...marketing dumbfucks whou could care less about the videogame industry will (are) ruining it faster than 1 million John Romeros


SUCK IT DOWN!!!!
Barry Lightning
Banned
(09-02-2005, 08:43 AM)

Originally Posted by monchi-kun

marketing dumbfucks whou could care less about the videogame industry will (are) ruining it faster than 1 million John Romeros

yea and all those EB sales associates that somehow manage to get into e3 too...

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