Monday, 7 May 2012

"Parameters" and Minimal Mechanics

Amusing? Entertaining? Infuriating? These are some possible reactions to the "one page computer RPG" Parameters, by Nekogames. This little Flash panel contains boxes representing your character's stats, shops, quests, monsters and special power-ups. There is no description of a game world; just numbers and very minimal icons. Everything is done by clicking on the boxes, from fighting to gold-farming to leveling up. The goal is to beat the final boss in as little real-time as possible.

It's not quite a satire of the mindlessness of such games, as Progress Quest was; there is gameplay and strategy, of a kind. And it does inspire some thoughts:

1. What a difference just a little description would make ... add words like "Orc" and "Mine Gold" and "Giant Ant" to the boxes, and the people who are cursing its minimalism would instead be praising its concision. Extra amusement at those who are implying (comments) that somehow, doing so would make it a real-io trul-io ROLE-playing game.

2. I'm also imagining what a little artistic flash would do ... treat the grid like the gilded architectural framing of a late medieval altarpiece, or like an Advent calendar.

Or add some silhouettes ... yeah.

3. But really, these thought experiments also go to show that there needs to be very little beef in the gilded burger. The story and monsters and cities and setting can cover up for game play that is really simplistic; in fact, increasing immersion by pulling you away from the bean-counting, min-maxing game layer. It's detailed, not abstract, combat systems that risk getting some trivium of chain-mail ablation wrong.

4. Honestly, what this probably represents is a programmer who wanted to save time and money on writing, sound and graphics. A lot of time and money.


  1. "It's detailed, not abstract, combat systems that risk getting some trivium of chain-mail ablation wrong." Yes! And in slowing things down, they lose the feel of real combat.

  2. Yeah, that game is awesome.