How Scores in AURO Will Be Different

ScreenshotI’ve written numerous times about why many people tend to not care too much about scores in videogames.  In these writings, I explained that the reason for this is that videogames score systems suck.  While this is completely true, I didn’t realize that in videogames, even the way we use scores is flawed.

If you haven’t read those articles, let me sum up the basics so that you’ll be able to understand where I’m going with this article:

– A game needs a single, clear goal that is achievable.  So, the goal in Tetris can not be “survival”, because at what point have you survived?  The answer is never – no game end would result in survival, so it’s unachievable.

– In an evergreen skill-based “single-player” game, score is a good way to measure performance, because it can rise perpetually (effectively perpetually, not literally) with the skill of the player

– Scores should be small, preferably under 100, because we need to feel like we own our scores, and human beings are really bad at comprehending numbers well above 100.

– For the same reason as above, the way points are dealt out should be extremely simple and not involve weird behind the scenes math or hidden information.  A good model for score is sports, or European designer boardgames, both of which keep their scores under 100 (often under 10!)


I’m sure some people would like to fight me on some or all of those points, but for now you’ll need to take them for granted to understand the next thing I’m about to explain about scoring in AURO.


The “High Score”

Imagine if you decide to play a game of golf with some friends.  You all go out and play a full course.  Then you tally up the results, and hey, it looks like you had the best score of everyone who was playing!  Great!  Except, wait – the goal was to beat Uncle Ricky’s score from 2007, when he played that one amazing game.  So, since you didn’t do that, actually, you lost.

In sports, we have “the score of the current match”, and we have “the world record”.  The former is what is actually used to determine winners in a game right now.  The latter is, essentially, trivia.  Yet in videogames, this is how we tend to operate.  Some guy hits some amazing score, and it goes up on the scoreboard and stays there, and in order to “win” you have to beat that score, which for many players is nearly as impossible as the logically impossible “survival” goal.

Sure, some more modern score based games will wipe their score board from time to time, or have a “best scores of this week” section, etc, but none of these solve the problem.

The problem is that we’re confusing “world record” and “score of the current game”.

What is my goal right now exactly?

If I look at this list… what is my goal exactly?


The Solution

I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as a single-player game.  When I say this, I of course am referring to game as in my definition – a contest of decision-making – also known as a “Strategy game” or “competitive game”.  What we need to be doing in score based games is creating “matches”, exactly the same way that Golf is played.  What this means is in a system where the objective is beating a specific target score, it’s inherently competitive.  So this is what we’re doing in AURO.

When you start the game, you’re given three gameplay options:



  • STORY BOOK – This is the game’s STORY MODE.  It starts off with a tutorial (skippable), has cutscenes (skippable), and an easier version of the main game, capped off with a final boss fight and more skippable cutscenes.  This will be primarily for introducing players to both the lore and mechanisms of the game.
  • QUICK MATCH – This is one of two main ways to play the game, and technically probably the most “legitimate” in that it is the most evergreen.  In this mode, you are auto-matched with another player.  You and he both play a single game of AURO.  In these two games that are played, both players get the same random level generation – same monsters, same scrolls, etc.  After both players have played, their scores are compared and a winner is pronounced.  Possibly this mode might have more wild, somewhat unfair swings in terms of what can possibly appear than other modes, since both players have to deal with it equally.  So maybe on one level, the map is just surrounded by squids.   One level, tons of Brutes all the sudden.  How do you and the other player deal with this?  We’re trying to test a very wide range of skill in this mode.
    When you win in Quick Match mode, you get a WIN, when you lose, you’ll get a LOSS.  Simple as that!  We’ll have leagues and matchmaking and all of the stuff that you expect in a competitive online game.
  • TRIALS – This is what most people expect in a “single player” score based game.  In this mode, you try to beat your own high score.  We’ll have numerous “Classes” that you can unlock (ranks, sort of, like Journeyman and Apprentice, but with maybe better names than that) by reaching certain score thresholds.  So if you beat your high score, you pass.  If you don’t beat your high score, you fail.  Sometimes when you pass, you get a PROMOTION!


Now, we’ll still have “world records” so that players can see who has achieved the highest score ever, but this is no longer the primary source of competition.  It’s more like some Baseball stat for some guy that pitched a perfect game – it’s neat and cool to know, but it is not really what baseball is about.


The Major Takeaway


And that’s really the major point that I realized.  Getting some freak astronomically high score once isn’t what AURO is really all about.  What we really should care about is “how good is this player at this system in a broad, holistic way”, as measured over many games with many different circumstances that come up.  So, our Quick Match system does that.

I’m really happy that we’ve figured this out before it was too late to implement, because as I’ve said all along, it’s not good enough to do a good score system.  We have to fundamentally change the way people even think about score in videogames.  This shouldn’t be too hard, since people already think the way we’re asking them to think with regards to sports.

Of course, we’ll have other modes in the future, and I really welcome your feedback in terms of what I’ve written above.


keithburgun • 05/03/2013

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  1. Herpy Derpy 05/03/2013 - 7:36 pm Reply

    Survival is much more fun of a goal than getting high numbers :/
    Actions should be rewarding for their own in-game benefit, not because it’ll give an out of game reward of being on some silly list. I guess you’re the sort of person that did the school education game of trying to get high numbers instead of trying to enjoy the subject at hand. It is good to have games cater to different personalities I suppose.

    • Blake 05/03/2013 - 8:49 pm Reply

      So by logical extension you think a football game shouldn’t have a score? And they should just enjoy playing for its own sake? If you follow this to its logical conclusion, anyone who enjoys their job should not be paid for it. The enjoyment of the work is incentive-enough, right?

      Take the narrative-driven single player “press A to win” fests you’re most likely defending. Take out the ending. you get no ending cutscene, you never learn what happens to your characters, you never get to “finish.” Shouldn’t you be happy with that? Shouldn’t the experience be reward-enough?

      No lives or timer in smash bros. either. Just play until whenever.

      The point I’m trying to illustrate is that “points” are one type of mechanisms that all games share, and that’s intrinsic motivators/rewards. Without such intrinsic motivators and rewards, your actions are futile, and there is a bleakness to the experience. This applies to any interactive system of all forms, all vocations, or even survival situations. If you were immortal and invincible, would you run from a lion “for the fun of it?” Or stand there and ignore it?

      Either you’re falsely assuming Keith is asserting “points” to be the only viable win condition for a game, or you’re arguing dishonestly.

      • pkt-zer0 05/03/2013 - 11:43 pm Reply

        “If you follow this to its logical conclusion, anyone who enjoys their job should not be paid for it. The enjoyment of the work is incentive-enough, right?”

        Better quality-of-life instead of higher wages is a valid business approach, actually. That usually doesn’t mean zero monetary compensation, seeing how food/electricity/shelter aren’t free in most cases, but you get the point.

        • blake 05/03/2013 - 11:57 pm Reply

          Good thing I’m not arguing that. Speaking of vocational calling, you should build strawmen professionally.

        • Dasick 05/04/2013 - 1:05 am Reply

          I think that’s irrelevant to the point Blake was making, since either way there’s an external motivators for doing the job, and people aren’t just doing it for the hell of it.

          • blake 05/04/2013 - 6:01 pm Reply

            Yes…it was relevant because i am arguing that herp derps argument, when taken to its logical conclusion, is that enjoyable activities require NO intrinsic motivators, whether they be vocational or recreational.So you coming in claiming that there are motivators other than money is a strawman. Nobodys arguing that, and of i was it would be valid.

      • LanguiDude 05/04/2013 - 12:08 pm Reply

        You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

        • Blake 05/05/2013 - 8:25 pm Reply

          I think I do, thanks.
          The crux of Herp Derp’s argument is that, if an “experience” is rewarding in and of itself, there is no need for intrinsic motivators of any kind. “the experience should be enough.” If you take that argument to its LOGICAL conclusion, it follows that any inherently rewarding interactive system(a system in which pursuing a goal is “fun” enough) should need no intrinsic motivator to function. So, it follows, LOGICALLY, that no salary(or “quality of life” benefits, Dasik) should be given to people with rewarding, fulfilling jobs.

          This illustrates that the argument is poorly constructed, and further, without intrinsic motivators and rewards, an essential context is taken out of the mechanism. There would be a futility to, say, shooting a free throw, regardless of how “fun” it may be on its own, without a system of intrinsic motivators and rewards.

          The reason that is a coherent line of logic is because there was no exception made for vocational systems of interaction vs. recreational ones, which is good, because such a distinction would be arbitrary.

          So, next time explain how I’m misusing the word “logic” instead of rudely and dismissively asserting it.

          • Bo Banducci 05/06/2013 - 8:54 pm Reply

            “The crux of Herp Derp’s argument is that, if an “experience” is
            rewarding in and of itself, there is no need for intrinsic motivators of
            any kind.”

            That is not what Herp is saying.

            He is saying that there are more exciting goals to pursue than increasing a number at the bottom of your screen. For instance: which is funner, killing a boss because you know its going to make your score go up, or beating a boss because you want the magic, glowing sword he is wielding? The latter, obviously. There is ALWAYS something much, much cooler than a score increase that you could be rewarding your player with. All those intrinsic motivators you listed, like cutscenes and endings, are examples.

            Herp’s argument comes from Alex Kierkegaard’s essay “Why Scoring Sucks and Those Who Defend it Are Aspies” (lol): http://imgur.com/a/q6BUr#0

            To be fair, the score becomes meaningful when you compare it to someone else’s. It’s fun to beat someone else’s score. But here we have the same problem: it’s even FUNNER to have a shinier sword, or a bigger gun, etc etc than someone else. So even when you’re looking at it competitively, there’s just no reason to use score for your metric.

            I’ll admit that score does a good job of accounting for minute differences between performances. You can beat the other guy by 1 point because you did just slightly better. But it’s still going to be more enjoyable for both players if you can represent that slightly better performance in a more interesting way. Fighting games do a good job of this because they allow for that razor-thin margin of victory, but you get to KO the other dude instead of just get a slightly higher number. And that’s the point: fighting games could play exactly the same if each hit just incremented a score, but its COOLER to see people fighting and killing each other!

            I agree with Keith that scoring in video games sucks, and he has found some ways to improve it. But scoring is inherently flawed because 1) it is boring compared to many other rewards and 2) (and for this point you should read the essay) it only has meaning OUTSIDE the game, when it is compared with other people’s score. So by focusing on your score you are drawn out of the game world.

            Icycalm, if you read this, I hope I have done you justice. Praise be your name.

            • Blake 05/07/2013 - 12:25 pm Reply

              Something way, way “cooler?” You’re conflating theme and mechanism, like so many in video games do. Score isn’t a “number” anymore than “getting the magic sword” is. The “number” is a numeric representation of your performance in the system. the sword is a “100 points” skinned as a sword. The sword represents your performance too. Which usually means “here is a square-peg-in-square-hole puzzle for babies. Complete the sequence of attacks 3 times, and you get the sword.” This is why, if it were “100 points” you wouldn’t care, because the system is flat and boring, and it’s a very binary and obvious reflection of performance. “complete the simple puzzle.” This is why it NEEDS to have a cool rendering of a sword to distract you. It’s video game life support.

              In Auro, the scoring system will actually reflect your performance in a dynamic way, and a way which is comprehensible to the player. If a basketball player scores 30 points in a quarter in an NBA game on his own, that “number” is suddenly exciting because we all know exactly what that means. We understand the stakes, rules, and difficulty of the game to such a degree that that number reflects an exciting and exceptional performance.

              Auro strives for the same thing. If the system is well-built enough, the difference of even 5 points will illicit exciting. “how did he squeeze out those last five points?”

              In games like geometry wars, which are spammy and don’t have a whole lot of depth, or gradius, which is a memorization puzzle, it’s no wonder you think “increasing a number is boring.”

              that’s not what we’re talking about. Try and appreciate that numeric score is simply a reflection of performance. A metaphor, if you will. If the system is boring, or a simple puzzle, or the score is superfluous like in Super Mario Brothers, the score will be boring. If the system is interesting and the score system is smartly designed, the number will be just as exciting as that shiny sword.

              • Blake 05/07/2013 - 12:27 pm Reply

                One minor caveat, the “sword” might also be useful as an item as well, but considering most video games are mini-maxing “press a to win” fests, it’s really just “functioning” as an accolade for completion, or, “points.” The inherent complexity of these content-heavy puzzles renders most items, spells, abilities, etc useless noise.

              • Bo Banducci 05/07/2013 - 1:08 pm Reply

                Yes, I’m conflating theme and mechanics. There is a whole school of thought, a very intelligent one which I don’t pretend to be able to represent, which does so. You should read that essay I linked if you haven’t already.

                That school of thought argues that when we play a video game, we are essentially being transported to that game’s world. And if we like that world and what we can do there, we like the game and we want to keep playing.

                Theme (the world) is extremely important, because if we don’t like the theme we won’t like the game. If you took Halo’s mechanics but put them in a Barbie Horse Adventure theme, I would not like it. Because when I play Halo, I am a cyborg supersoldier killing aliens, which is cool. The mechanics support the theme and allow me to interact with that world in an excellent fashion. But allowing me to interact with Barbie’s horse ranch in the same way would be boring because riding Barbie’s horse is not exciting to me. So theme is very important, and you need to improve the theme, make the world more interesting, everywhere you can.

                So, if I’m playing inside Auro’s world, it will be a lot more exciting for me if I am working to obtain a magic sword than if I am to improve my own performance.

                When you say that a sword is exactly the same as points, but re-skinned, I have to disagree. I like magic swords because I can hack and slash things with them and look like a badass, on top of the feeling of excellence I get from having a good performance. Whereas points are completely meaningless by themselves. They do not make the world more interesting in any way. In fact, they withdraw me from the world because I’m comparing them to other player’s scores, which exist outside the game.

                Obviously most “competitive” games do this, and are successful. But the most competitive players of those games, the players who have taken scoring to its extreme, aren’t playing to have fun anymore. They don’t enjoy the world. They are playing just to win, just to beat other players. They find the game boring and have to grasp for ways to keep it exciting. They force themselves to play with training regimens (like LoL teams). And that is ultimately what scoring leads to.

                Or you could get rid of the score and give me a magic sword, make me fall even more in love with your game, and draw me deeper into your world.

                • Blake 05/07/2013 - 1:37 pm Reply

                  I would bet you wouldn’t like barbie Halo because you have a thousand other options that play just as well, that are the same FPS design we’ve played a million times, so you can have your preference for theme fulfilled and get, roughly the same, and in many cases, a better experience.

                  If Tetris was barbie themed, or minecraft was barbie themed, I would bet it would not lose very many players. The system is original, deep, holistically new and interesting(not in the same way. Minecraft is a toy, Tetris is a game, but they’re both great.)

                  Spectacle, graphics and theme distract a player from a boring, retreaded, derivative or otherwise mediocre system. Again, I don’t blame you for having such a strong preference for games themed to your tastes, because the games are boring.(by that I mean most single player modern videogames) If you become immersed in a deep, rewarding, interesting system, the theme leaves your mind. The pieces, characters, levels, etc. become abstract. You start focusing on what they mean, what they do, and how they further your goals in the system. It’s why GO has been played for thousands of years and doesn’t need a theme at all. You can imagine a “battle” and “capturing” and “killing.” The system is immersive.

                  most video games are the opposite. They take a derivative, shallow, boring system and gussy it up with spectacle and theme to extend its lifespan. It is sometimes a valuable tool in expressing what certain mechanisms “do,” like a “bomb” theme for a mechanism that “explodes,” but often times it’s spectacle as a means of distraction or life support. Nobody would give these boring systems 5 minutes without an advent calendar of chocolates. An asset tour. A trail of breadcrumbs. I suppose this is why this “school of thought” exists. To apologize for this phenomenon.

                  • Bo Banducci 05/07/2013 - 10:59 pm Reply

                    “I would bet you wouldn’t like barbie Halo because you have a thousand other options that play just as well, that are the same FPS design we’ve played a million times, so you can have your preference for theme fulfilled and get, roughly the same, and in many cases, a better experience.”

                    This sounds to me like you’re saying I would enjoy the other options more because they have themes that appeal more to me, which is my point. Even if you reject theme as being the more important piece, you agree that good theme can improve the experience. So why not change the score to something thematic?

                    “If you become immersed in a deep, rewarding, interesting system, the theme leaves your mind. The pieces, characters, levels, etc. become
                    abstract. You start focusing on what they mean, what they do, and how they further your goals in the system. It’s why GO has been played for
                    thousands of years and doesn’t need a theme at all. You can imagine a “battle” and “capturing” and “killing.” The system is immersive.”

                    I’m familiar with this feeling, but I don’t think you’ve proved that mechanics don’t need theme. I don’t know how to prove that they do, but I can offer up some examples that support the idea. For starters, you should never use GO as an example of mechanics trumping theme. That game was popular during an age without computers, and now that we have video games, which provide better theme, who the hell plays GO? Old chinese dudes that don’t have computers? People that have never played a video game? Kids whose parents won’t let them play violent games? Same story with Tetris. Most people playing that game today are people that are either really bored or have no experience with more appealing games. GO and Tetris were popular because there was nothing better. Unless you can point to masses of experienced gamers choosing Tetris over modern games, I don’t think it does anything for your point. I say “experienced” because someone that has never played a good modern game booting up Tetris doesn’t say anything about which they would prefer.

                    It sounds like you’re saying that a game stripped of all its theme would be just as fun. That would be a step even below the original Dwarf Fortress’ graphics. But we know that people abhorred that game’s graphics so much they took it upon themselves to create graphical mods that made the game playable. So where is this example of game’s not needing theme? Does it not exist?

                    On the other hand, there’s evidence everywhere you look that better graphics and more immersive elements make games more enjoyable. Playing games on higher graphics settings just straight up makes them more enjoyable. And why is that? That’s an important question.

                    Being able to interact with a world, even in a way that is unrelated to the ostensible goal of the game, makes it funner. For example, being able to pick up and throw objects, kill NPCs for no reason, etc. A system that allows you to kill anyone in the game world may be less complex than some JRPG leveling system, but it’s clear by the popularity of the games which is more enjoyable. And that’s because it makes the theme stronger. Why don’t people prefer the complex JRPG leveling system? If what we love is understanding a system, why do we love, in Skyrim, being able to press a single button and end someone’s life, with barely a second’s thought?
                    I recognize that if Skyrim had no complex systems, it would be boring. If guards didn’t react to you when you killed someone, it wouldn’t be as fun. But that’s just making the theme stronger. I also am aware that to a strong degree people enjoy understanding and mastering systems. But there needs to be a strong theme to that system. I loved mastering the combat in TERA, where I was a magical archer. But I find my computer programming job for the most part boring.

                    I think you would say that if the system was perfectly designed, it wouldn’t need any theme a all. What would that look like, and how would it play? And do you really think it would be fun for any extended period of time?

                    • Dasick 05/08/2013 - 9:13 am

                      “So why not change the score to something thematic?”

                      Because it usually takes an artists working weeks or months to create the pretty wrapping for each significant step of the scoring system. Numbers are much more efficient at conveying the gradients.

                      Not only that, but magic swords of +1 are detrimental to the game itself. The better you do, the easier the game gets… do you see the problem?

                      At the end of the day, score is feedback you get for your performance. Feedback is important in the process of self-improvement, which is the only real way to feel powerful.

                      “That game was popular during an age without computers, and now that we have video games, which provide better theme, who the hell plays GO? Old chinese dudes that don’t have computers?”

                      Dude, calm down. I’m neither old, nor Chinese (not even Asian). I grew up playing video games my entire life. Some of my earliest memories are of Doom and Civ. And I tell you this – Go has survived because it’s a deep and complex game, deeper and more complex than any video game EVER, and it will survive long after trash like Skyrim gets abandoned and forgotten. Speaking of which, have you ever played Go yourself?

                      Your example with Dwarf Fortress actually disproves your point. If theme was so important, no one would bother playing it, and there wouldn’t be a community of people to dress it up nicely. DF is just so rich and complex that people DIDN’T CARE that it had no theme, they played with it anyways.

                    • Bo Banducci 05/09/2013 - 4:56 pm

                      “”Because it usually takes an artists working weeks…”

                      We aren’t addressing development issues. This is a discussion about game design theory.

                      “Not only that, but magic swords of +1 are detrimental… ”

                      In no way does the replacement of scoring with thematic rewards necessarilly make the game easier. If in one circumstance it does, that’s down to the specific implementation and could be changed.

                      “At the end of the day, score is feedback you get for your performance. Feedback is important in the process of self-improvement, which is the only real way to feel powerful.”

                      Yes, and thematic rewards can be that feedback too.

                      Imagine if Ocarina of Time wasn’t about saving Hyrule from Ganon, and instead you just went through dungeons one after the other trying to get a high score. The story being told in that game that made you want to continue was a thematic reward. It could have been replaced with a high score system. Which would have been incredibly lame. And Blake’s response to that is, “if removing the story from Zelda makes it worse, then that means the mechanics weren’t designed well enough and they were being supported by the theme”. I don’t think that’s the case. We loved that game because: we got to be a brave young elf fighting monsters and exploring dangerous dungeons! Not because it allowed us to master a system. The theme transports us into a new world, and the mechanics let us interact with that world. Both are necessary, but ultimately mechanics support the theme by making the theme by letting us feel like we are there.

                      “Go has survived because it is a deep and complex game…”
                      Go certainly has survived for a long time, and it certainly is a complex game. But seriously, who plays it today? How many experienced gamers sit down at their computers and decide to boot up Go? Very few.
                      “Dwarf fortress… ”
                      People DID care that it had no theme – that’s WHY they made the graphical mods. My point was that despite the complexity of the system, people simply could not enjoy the game without stronger thematic elements.

                  • Dasick 05/08/2013 - 9:16 am Reply

                    *Cough* *cough* Bronies *cough* *cough*

                    My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is themed to appeal to young girls, yet it is enjoyed by a diverse demographic, that includes 20-something white males, due to the depth of characters and plot.

                    Problem officer?

      • Herpy Derpy 05/06/2013 - 8:06 am Reply

        No. I’m saying that using score is pretty bland in a videogame, when there’s so many other fantastic goals and scenarios that are much cooler than trying to raise a number up. As i mentioned at the bottom of the page.

        As long as the Story mode has no score numbers clutterying the screen then I’ll be happy to try the game, since it seems tactically interesting with nice graphics (I assume the other modes will end when you reach a certain score, otherwise score won’t feel like the goal and level progression will).

    • Aaron Cooper 05/03/2013 - 8:50 pm Reply

      Well I think the purpose of high score lists is not to see numbers increase, but to be shown how skilled you are at a game in a tactile, competitive way in comparison to the rest of the world. I think getting good at a skill, even a trivial one, (like, say, geometry wars) is just as legitimate a goal as seeing an interesting story.

      • Herpy Derpy 05/03/2013 - 9:41 pm Reply

        I didn’t say anything about skill, of course skill is awesome. If you need a number to try and tell you how good you are at something though then that’s a shame.

        • Dasick 05/04/2013 - 1:15 am Reply

          numbers != e-peen.

          Skill is relative, how good you can do something as compared to some sort of a plank, whether it’s the skill of someone else, an ideal or a base standard. Numbers are how humans objectively compare things in a way that makes sense.

          And honestly, think about soccer or basketball or whatever. Is it a shame that the winner, the team that played better,is the team that got the higher number? How else would you judge who won or lost?

    • keithburgun 05/03/2013 - 10:18 pm Reply

      Like I said, survival is not a “goal”. A goal must be achievable.

      >I guess you’re the sort of person that did the school education game of
      trying to get high numbers instead of trying to enjoy the subject at

      Nope, I never cared about score my whole life either, because videogames SUCK at it. I did care about score in sports and boardgames, where I’m sure you do too.

      • Herpy Derpy 05/04/2013 - 2:59 am Reply

        Yeah ok so surviving to the end would be a goal (and a great one too).

        Yes I love boardgames a lot, but I’m not that fond of arbitrary score in boardgames (I mean like, just trying to get a high number for the sake of it), I prefer it when games try to have the goal make more thematic/aesthetic sense. Such as destroying another player’s capital building, or even if it’s something like a ‘prestige’ value that you want to get high in a medieval setting — at least that makes more sense to the game’s theme, and is a value that you and others can manipulate.

        • Blake 05/07/2013 - 2:40 pm Reply

          I admitted in the podcast that I LIKE good art and music and animation. It is my taste to have really nice aesthetics with a game, but where you’re mistaken is in your use of “immersive/engaging.” Those words are not very useful unless you provide some kind of context.

          If you’re a realist painter, what is “immersive” is different than if you’re a cubist painter. When you’re watching a film, “immersion” involves things like continuity and internally consistent rules in the universe and narrative, cohesive lighting, filming style, etc. In games, most people today use the standards of narrative or fantasy simulation to gauge “immeriveness” or “engagement.”

          Games have their OWN form of “immersion.” In a game of tetris, when things are really tense, and you’re at the top of your game, playing at high speeds, you move with the pieces. your whole body is connected with the motion on the screen. Or in a game of GO you’re deeply immersed in the game state, intensely focused on as many possible outcomes as you can manage. That is “immersion” as it is relative to games.

          Worrying about characters, whether a tree looks like a tree, whether it has “epic music,” back stories, etc. Those are narrative criteria, not game criteria. Again, we judge modern video games on narrative criteria because the game systems themselves lack “immersion” because they lack any kind of emergent depth.

          So yes, I like good aesthetics, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a replacement for good game design, or function as life support for bad game design, which is often its role.

  2. Brandon 05/06/2013 - 8:02 am Reply

    Survival is absolutely achievable, and thus a valid goal, by your standards. You’re just looking at it wrong. It seems like you’re talking about games where failure is inevitable, because games conclusion is open-ended (like Bejeweled). But how about this… survive until the end of the map, until the timer runs out, until backup arrives. There are blockbuster games that are premised on pure survival.

    As far as using “survival” as a performance metric, I can’t really think of a way to handle that. I suppose “survive for as long as possible,” with the comparative metric being time survived could fit that bill.

    • keithburgun 05/06/2013 - 1:01 pm Reply

      >survive until the end of the map, until the timer runs out, until backup arrives.

      Yes, you can do that, but that’s a “solution” state. If you survived to the end of the map, and doing so is the objective, then you can’t possibly do any BETTER than having survived to the end of the map, and no reason to really interact with it again. So, I refer to this kind of system as a puzzle, because it’s simply about solution, not about pursuit of mastery of the *system*.

      AURO, on the other hand, IS a game about pursuit of mastery of the system.

      >I suppose “survive for as long as possible,” with the comparative metric being time survived could fit that bill.

      Yeah, that would be OK, and could be a decent AURO variant with some other major rule changes (i.e., we have a Fire spell tree that is very good at killing but hurts you, which would be terribly underpowered against the Air tree, which is the opposite – good at letting you survive).

  3. Erenan 06/03/2013 - 9:08 pm Reply

    What I’d like to know is whether players will be able to compete against other players who are playing on different platforms (i.e. iOS players vs. PC/Mac players vs. Android players, etc.). In addition, I hope that we will be able to choose specific players to play against as well as play against random opponents. The usual options.

    The “two players compete by playing the same random scenario” sounds like fun to me, and I’m looking forward to playing in this way. I wonder whether there will be anything more like the football model of direct competition with one another (i.e. Chess, Checkers, Outwitters, etc.). If you don’t already have something like this in the works, then it might be a little impractical to try to implement this now, but I thought I’d throw it out there. I learned about Auro just today, so I hope this isn’t information that you’ve covered before. If it is, I’m sorry!

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