Creative potential, will we run out of game ideas? & 2D vs 3D

I once asked you about reaching the end of creative possibilities and you responded that there is still so much not being done. You used the example of palette swapping a small picture and receding spikes in a IWBTG mod. Ignoring the fact that that mechanic has been used in Mario games…

I didn’t say palette swap, I was talking about every single possible 100×100 picture. It was a metaphor. Think about it. Every picture you’ve ever saved has a thumbnail, about 100×100 big. You can frequently identify pictures just by their thumbnail. There are a tremendous number of pictures possible that are still identifiable from their thumbnail. Math says there’s a massive number of possible 100×100 thumbnails. The concept I was trying to get across was that if there are so many visually distinct thumbnails, then surely the number of visually distinct full size pictures is many orders of magnitude bigger. The number of different possible thumbnails is so large that it’s impossible for them all to simultaneously exist in the same universe (more permutations than particles in the universe by several orders of magnitude for something as small as a 100×100 picture).

The implication here is that if something that small can have such variation that we’ll never exhaust all the possible permutations of it, then surely something more complex like games won’t run out any time soon.

You got me on the Mario games, I forgot that there were those platforms that switch when you jump. I could be picky and say, “but it’s not spikes,” but that would be dumb. I’ll include a new mechanic in the next post, I thought a game idea up recently that hinged on a mechanical idea.

(and probably other games), I don’t see how you those are proper examples. The picture might have millions of different colour combinations, but at the end of the day, it’s a simple picture and the only combinations that will matter are those that are very distinct (e.g. a red pic vs a blue pic), but being a different shade of red of blue won’t separate it from the original red and blue version of the picture. Similarly, some platforming gimmick that is done slightly differently than another platform gimmick isn’t a very strong example of creativity.

As said, it was a metaphor. There’s a billion ways you could code something, I’m pretty sure we haven’t made up every possible mechanic yet.

Here’s one that I’m pretty sure has never been done before:

I had a thought for an antigravity racing game recently. What if there were 3 thrust modes, regular, one that had you suspended low off the track, and one that had you suspended high off the track? And these thrust modes would change the handling/top speed of the vehicle. And when you switch between the thrust modes from a lower to a higher one, you’d get a jump proportional to the change in thrust. So low thrust to normal thrust would be a small hop, normal thrust to high would be an average jump, and low directly to high would be a big jump.

Courses could have obstacles you can jump/hover over/under and of course crash into, so players need to use their thrust modes wisely to avoid trouble and of course go fast. Beyond that, if you move onto higher elevation terrain just as you jump, it could boost the jump even further, sort of like the same effect in dark souls and bloodborne, adding another skill component.

In low thrust mode I imagine you have better handling, maybe switching into low thrust as you do a turn lets you drift. In high thrust mode you could have a higher top speed, but worse handling since you’re so far off the ground. So if you want to go fast, high thrust is the way to go, but of course in high thrust mode, you can’t jump without going to a lower thrust mode and back first. Naturally obstacles like high rises could be put in the way that need to be gone under in low thrust mode or jumped high over so people who go high thrust all the time crash.

My thought was that racing games have courses that are fairly easy to clear by themselves, leaving the real challenge to time trial. If you had more hazardous courses and more means of traversal then maybe you’d end up with a more interesting single player experience, or maybe just a more interesting game overall.

I don’t have any new platforming gimmicks on me right now, but well, how many games are similar to Gimmick!? You can create stars that bounce and ride on them.

or Fire n Ice? Where you can create and destroy ice blocks, but only downwards diagonally.

or Bio Miracle? where you inflate enemies to use as platforms or projectiles that you push.

Obviously, as the work in question gets more complex, the potential for creativity increases (a simple picture will exhaust its creative potential long before a game will), but there is still a finite space for ‘meaningful’ creativity. And this goes for settings as well, not just mechanics.

Sure, there’s a finite space, but that space is larger than there is room to express using the entire universe as a canvas. Realistically speaking, there’s no limits on creativity relevant to humans.

How often have you seen settings with a hindu or buddhist influence? Or anything eastern that isn’t japanese? What about aboriginal? African? We’ve only had a few instances of arabian, including like prince of persia. If you’re limited to only recombining the world’s existing cultures, you still have a wide-ass palette.

If a simple 100×100 picture can have so many different possible variations that we literally cannot express them all, then what have we to worry about games or art?

What’s the difference between X fantasy setting and Y fantasy setting? So obviously, at some point humanity will enter a stasis until a great cataclysm wipes out almost everything and we have to start over. Or we can keep playing Melee.

What’s the difference between Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga (which actually does use hinduism as an influence)? Between those and Persona or Strange Journey? How different are Kingdom Hearts, The World Ends With You, American McGee’s Alice, Bloodborne, and Final Fantasy 7?

Looking back further, you have a ton of different D&D campaign settings, forgotten realms, eberron, spell jammer, dark sun, ghostwalk, ravenloft, and planescape.

There’s tons of variation possible. I’m working on a setting that I think is fairly unique for a tabletop RPG I’m developing. People just need to get creative.

Do you think 3D is more complex than 2D (or that 2D will be exhausted before 3D)?

There’s a lot of things limiting 3D that tends to keep the complexity about the same. When you’re constrained to a 2d plane, and have gravity pulling down on you, it tends to allow for certain interactions that don’t work as well in 3d. Like fireballs in 2d fighters. In 3d, you can strafe around that shit. That’s why the souls games have projectiles home slightly.

The other thing is, 3d is limited by our controllers. Most of the best 3d games tend to format the game to 2d in a way, then add in subtle 3d interactions. I’m sure you’ve seen the bloodborne video that makes it play from a top down perspective. Of course you can’t play the game the best that way, but it almost works. You could easily flatten a souls game and have something almost as good that would work without the jank (like if you flattened the hitboxes so nothing could go over or under anything else, much like hotline miami or GTA), except they definitely have some z-action going on in the original game, so you lose a bit.

Devil May Cry is sort of like this too, then they add jumping and things with height, but the fixed camera angles help show the game from a semi-top down perspective, almost isometric (except obviously not orthographic).

Also, this is why mortal kombat 9 can feel a bit janky with the hits. The hitboxes are in 3d and at the angle it’s portrayed at, it’s not easy to tell what the hell is going on.

In my opinion, 2d will never die

I’m kind of confused now, are we talking about mechanics or aesthetics? a picture is aesthetic. the way it looks can be infinite, but the painting technique is finite. likewise, ok, I guess there can technically be infinite settings, but mechanics will have to be finite (or infinite, but with negligible differences). there are people who claim that games will culminate in first-person VR, but that idea hinges on genres (i.e. mechanics) exhausting and then all that will be left if the aesthetic. but while you provided many different fantasy games, all of those settings have been done before in literature, film, or visual art. it’s only new for games because games are a new medium. and many of them are not really ‘original’ per se. DMC did Bloodborne first, KH is a crossover, SMT games all have thematic/aesthetic similarities, TWEWY is pop Japan with fantasy. like don’t get me wrong, I do think that there is tons of untapped potential. but then is it mechanical or aesthetic? like D&D has incredible lore, but that’s b/c there are a ton of games and they’ve developed everything so much.

Both. I was using pictures and aesthetics as a parallel.

I don’t think mechanics have a finite number of permutations then they’re kaput. At least none in close sight. Look at all these different abstract strategy games for example.

Only 2 fighting games (that I can think of off the top of my head) have normals that pull opponents in (for the grappler characters), Potemkin in Guilty Gear, and Big Band in Guilty Gear. Lucario (PM) and Slayer (guilty gear) both have teleports that make them invincible which can be canceled to retain the invincibility period.

Are these not different enough for you, or are they only negligibly different and you want wholecloth creation practically? Mechanics are going to be about as diverse as your ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers as well as any derivative thereof. They’re going to be as diverse as your ability to define cross-sections of space and their ability to change over time. Going to be as diverse as the states defined for objects and what conditions will change or modify those states.

Those people who place such trust in VR as an ultimate solution are stupid. I don’t think the idea of eventually exhausting genres hinges on that, I think the idea is ignorant of mechanics. It’s like a form of blindness, to not recognize that you can’t get the same possibility space in an FPS game as an RTS or a 2d platformer.

The primary reason games have similar mechanics is because AAA doesn’t know how to innovate. EA admitted they have no idea how to innovate or roll out a new IP. We continually see the use of Batman Arkham style combat or QTEs because those things can encompass nearly any action from an aesthetic perspective. People don’t have a mind for modeling representational simulations, people don’t have a mind for how to construct a system that tests a particular skill. People don’t have a mind for what skills they can test in the first place or how to create a system of strategy between those skill tests that creates a large number of equally weighted possibilities, which is the real killer.

Far as the settings I mentioned go, I’m pretty sure TWEWY is rather original. Everything we know of fantasy had its basis in something. Invention is the recombination of information. Where else has japanese hip hop graffiti spiritualism happened? Same for the Vortex world of SMT3, literally Tokyo wrapped inside a sphere with a spirit sun at the center, and the Hindu Junkyard of Digital Devil Saga, even if the same artist was behind both looks.

Similar for Star Wars too in my opinion. Where the hell did Jedi come from? They seem like an archetype with no natural origin. As a sci-fi universe, the Star Wars universe always stood out to me.

And as I said, there are a ton of cultures and religions that have not really been explored in games or in media very much and I’m sure there are a ton of ways to twist them.

All the different tabletop RPG settings are like that honestly. Look at White Wolf RPGs. The recent Demon The Descent rulebook outlines a rather unique setting all by itself. It’s not a product of just time alone, they know what they’re doing. Most of the settings I mentioned last post are underdeveloped compared to their more mainstream settings.

When you say D&D has incredible lore, all I can say is, which setting? They all have different lore, and some of them are really out there too, like spelljammer.

I’m using the aesthetic potential out there as a parallel for the mechanical. I know there’s potential in both.

If you think that 2D has so many possibilities even compared to 3D (though that might be because games aren’t designed very much with 3d interactions in mind…), would you say that even… 1D has many unexplored possibilities, that haven’t even been considered? I’m being serious here.

There’s probably a fair amount you can do with 1d. A lot of 2d games could be represented in 1d, like karate champ, or berzerk (old game, think of flatland here). A few 3d games could probably be represented in 1d, like a lot of the Dragon Ball Z fighting games, especially the split screen ones, and the more recent naruto fighting games (kidding here, they aren’t actually one dimensional). There was Senor Footsies a while back which was essentially 1d. I’d say rock paper scissors is basically 1d, or nondimensional. What would Poker be?

I don’t see nearly as much potential for 1d though. I bet there’s a lot we haven’t done, but I don’t see as much we could do with that harsh a limitation. Like, you need to have a few variables that can be varied in some way, otherwise you end up with no means of differentiating options from one another, there’s no tradeoff.

Also also, line wobbler is an actually 1d game (not 2d with 1d vision), though I don’t know if it’s too interesting. I guess more interesting concepts could be explored in 1d, if anyone tried.

That’s cool. Definitely goes to show some stuff can be done in 1d, but as said, I think a lot of what’s possible in 2d just isn’t in 1d, you’ll be a lot more constrained than even the transition between 3d and 2d, because you need a certain minimum number of variables to get a decent sized possibility space.

Also related to that 1d question, there was this 2d first person game (so a 1d display) ages ago on the web, from a 7dfps, but I can’t find it, though I did find this seven dimensions one that displays in a series of one dimension lines (and a point)

Ah yeah, that’s like flatland. Cool stuff. I honestly can’t make sense of it from just the video.


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