Pretty much what I wrote many times about “systemic” Vs linear games.
The problem I see is that the “character based” games very quickly wind up running down the same treadmill, not just for the players but for the development team as well. Every new expansion effectively invalidates an equivalent amount of old content, every extension of the level range requires ways be found to reduce the time investment to reach the basline for the new cap. So you don’t move forward in your gameplay, you just replicate it with shinier technology and bigger numbers.
Contrast this with Eve Online: Every bit of content they have ever created is still valid, every bit of gameplay is still accessible, expansions are literally expanding the scope of the game rather than simply changing the scenery. I suspect that I’m going to be using Eve as an example a lot, simply because it’s the first game to break away from the Diku model and succeed in a big way without simply being a casual game writ large.
I was thinking that I didn’t really understand how the first line was linked to the rest (and in fact I was going to cut it from the quote).
Then I thought that maybe it’s tied to the fact that “character based” games are locked only on that kind of “personal progress”, so where the world is just a passive backdrop without any persistence or signification. Fixed, static. Disposable.
Which is why a systemic approach isn’t about another form of character progress, but more about interactive worlds.
In a systemic model:
– The players are brought together. The model is represented as a circumference, where the players/dots create groups or “cells” and move within while bouncing one against the other (creating alliances, conflicts, politics etc..). The space belongs to them (known) and is “managed”.
In a linear model:
– The players are spread apart. The model is represented as a vector, where the players are pointed toward an obligatory direction and have a set position that “qualifies” them toward the other players. The space is external, alien (unknown) and only conquered and progressively consumed.
In a systemic model every element has a precise function and is then linked with other elements in a complex relationship. This means that the function is always preserved. In a linear model, instead, the idea of progress means that you leave things behind. You use up. The function of an element is just about leading you to the next.
As Raph would say, those two models aren’t really “alternative”. Since the systemic model could easily contain one of more linear ones.
(Hm. I’m not sure “alternative” is the right word. My brain is fried. I mean “one OR the other, not both”.)