April 8, 2016 - Tinytouchtales
Yesterday Max, Oliver and i visited the German Games Award, DCP in short, in Munich. We were really lucky to be nominated in the “best game design” category with two other games Deponia: Doomsday and Shift Happens. Here’s how it went (spoiler we did not win).
The Ceremony itself was held within the BMW Welt in Munich which is a super rad futuristic building that easily could be a secret flying saucer from Men in Black. There were about 300-350 invited guests from the industry and the whole event was very high quality, had free drinks and a lot of delicious food as you would expect since is basically payed by German taxes. The Award show part was rather short had some slightly boring talks in between, a pretty funny live music act and was live streamed via the Internet. As far as i know there were no television broadcasts, which is still odd as the event was presented to have a big political relevance too.
Game Design Category
First off we think Shift Happens is a cool game and it deserved it’s praises, so even if the next paragraphs will come out a bit snarky: kudos to Robin and his Klonks!
To have a common ground for my critic i would describe the discipline of Game Design as the “craft/art of inventing rules”. A game with a great design to me is a game that uses it’s rules to create an emergent, endlessly interesting system that potentially never should be solved by human or ai. While this is obviously a rather ambitious goal i think it should be at least a guiding compass for everyone calling him self a game designer.
Shift Happens in that regard has it’s high points with a shifting mechanic that makes the interaction between the two players really interesting and allows for quite interesting “moves”. Throwing each other, shifting mid air to gain momentum etc. All of this is really cool but it’s roots so to speak are pretty common and overused. There are at least 10 other coop puzzle platforms that use similar ideas to create the same interaction between players, one of the more recent ones would be Ibb & Obb.
Here’s my critic: Why are gimmick platformers still considered outstanding designs in 2016?
I understand why a jury would pick Shift Happens over Card Crawl and i think the one point is accessibility. Card Crawl is no easy game to pick up. It’s difficult because there are actually a lot of new rules (which i consider good design) in it that you have to learn and understand first before you can appreciate the game. Picking up jump & runs 30+ years after Marios inception is rather easy in comparison.
Again it’s always difficult to judge a jury’s decision without any transparent judging criteria.
So here’s my next critic: Why is the judging so intransparent and shouldn’t there be a bigger emphasis on why a game won but more importantly why a game has won over the two other games?
The DCP was an enjoyable event, held in an impressive location. Food and Drinks where good and plenty. The political relevance of games in Germany is still rather small and it seems that there is a lot to improve. The categories of the nominated games were diverse and seemed good, but the way games were associated with those categories were often mysterious and rather intransparent. For the next DCP i would wish for more experts from games in the judging panels. Especially people who really understand that part 3 of a series is not a game that should be nominated in a category that uses the word “new”. Let’s see if we can start a second attempt with Card Thief next year!