Seed discusses the natural biases of worldbuilding and interaction


Here’s a statement that should be rather uncontroversial but might be otherwise: You do not exist in a vacuum. The experiences that have shaped you have left you with a large number of unconscious perceptions regarding the nature of the world and human beings, and any world you design will naturally reflect those perceptions regardless of their veracity. That’s one of the big takeaways from a design document posted by the Seed team, which talks about the background going into the worldbuilding for the game and some of the overarching elements in worldbuilding itself.

As pointed out here, there are certain assumptions based on both simplifications for game environments and a disconnect between what players will engage in and what developers intend, citing Second Life as a case wherein developers had one sort of environment in mind and a very different one emerged. While it may not tell you much about Seed itself, it should be an interesting read for anyone interested in examining the underlying assumptions in making a game. (Which are more extensive than you may think.)


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Oh my. I wonder if Yoko Taro has seen this design document. He would have a lot to say about it, I think.

Who is Yoko Taro? He is the creator and writer of the Drakengard and Neir series of games. His game designs are unique for many reasons (give him a Google) and one of the biggest is this idea of natural bias and world building.

Now, I won’t get into the details. Too many walls of text for a post here. Heh. But suffice it to say Taro has been critical of developers ad hoc world building. He has also been critical of players who want to be spoon-fed the same crap over and over again without asking why. “Kill 100 mobs? Done. Next quest.”

Nier Automata is Taro’s reaction. It is a game about games. The insanity of ignoring the human experience and making games where the object is seemingly just killing mobs. And the stupidity of bias resulting in doing things over and over again expecting a different result.

If you have played Automata with a critical eye, you know the onion of which I speak.


A few points:
– it IS an interesting essay, and he’s spot-on in his observation that we generally only simulate conflict and that conflict is almost invariably simulated as violence. First, I’d say that we ARE seeing a more sophisticated, less simplistic genre of games come out that aren’t solely about conflict – cf the Sims – personally I find them astonishingly boring but they ARE breaking that paradigm. Secondly, I’d agree that the simplification of conflict into violence is simplistic. Crusader Kings does have other spectra of conflict but still it pretty much boils down to armies in the field. Victoria II (another paradox title) might do it a little better, in their random-event system that sort of ‘generates’ interstate conflict over unpredictable things …but still it ends up with armies in the field. Larger-scale economic or cultural conflicts are much harder to simulate, the players have less control (rarely fun in a game) and involve MUCH more subjective analysis/bias from the developers about how and why such conflicts occur and how/why (and even IF) they can be resolved.
– Wagner James Au had a front seat at a very early internet digital conflict that was curiously non violent in Second Life (it was very violent superficially, but the violence was meaningless and more emotional grandstanding than substantial), and wrote an insightful essay on that too . I don’t believe the issues he observed in-play there have been resolved on the internet to this day…how much different is the War of the Jesse Wall than what’s going between conservatives and Twitter/Facebook and the media today?