Factorio and the Human Condition

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tedbendixson
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Factorio and the Human Condition

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mmmPI
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Re: Factorio and the Human Condition

Post by mmmPI »

Interesting to hear :)

I felt the analysis somehow assume that "successful game" are made of the same ingredients, and do not adress much the target audience of such games. In the reasonning that analyzing one (sucessful) game can help identify elements that made such game sucessful, i think it is an important point. Games you took as example are very sucessful in raw numbers of sales ( because they are fun to play) but also because they adress a large public from all ages and without controversial content, such game are bound to have potentially higher distribution when they are sucessfull than game targeting niche public.

Factorio feel like everyday life with the ability to automate everything, which is empowering, if you can't in real life, that's a fantasy for a niche public which somehow "limit" how many players could be tempted to play, no matter the very high % of satisfaction for the players that do play factorio. It is one way to make a "sucessful game". ( to bring deep emergent truth down to level of our evolved instinct (sic) ). It is harder when the public is composed of very different people that have very different every day life of level of evolution for their instinct :D.

However if that was a necessary condition to make a "sucessful game", then (i think) candy crush or angry bird wouldn't be game we know, those are "sucessful game" regarding the money generated (similar to raw numbers of sales ) even if such games do not have the same depth. marketing people would say : "Sucessful game like Factorio are games that have found a public, no matter the quality of the game itself". ( that would not be an uncommon way of bragging in marketing that you can advertise for a product and make people buy it even if the product is not good).

To try and add to the analysis, it is possible to consider success as being measured based on one's objectives. Is it the pleasure of the players ? the respect of the vision of the creator in gameplay ? the amount of money generated ? the rank in a contest ? the number of copy sold ? the number of hour played by players ? the impact on society ? a way to be famous ? Sometimes sucessful games in money have sad stories behind them for the "human condition" refering to the title a bit differently to the meaning you used, there are different kind of success.

I think different "successful game" do not follow the same patterns for their public, or how much time they develop the game, the contingencies of publishing a game in real life, dealing with audience and timeframe, which other games may interest the same audience, other consoles / VR /technologies attracting the same audience, the marketing thing , those are also what help a game find a public or vice versa, and part of what make a game sucessful beyond the game itself which may goes against the idea that it is possible to analyze one, two, three, sucessful game, to try and extract a (magic) receipe from the point they have in comon.

Otherwise i think it's well done filled with references in case :D, it's only because you didn't provided an anti-thesis in the essay that i tried to provide one, the cynical marketing point of view, cuz in classical dialectic one has to do thesis anti-thesis, and synthesis at the end :)

tedbendixson
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Re: Factorio and the Human Condition

Post by tedbendixson »

Solid criticism. Thank you for sharing. I figured at least one person would think I'm being a little bit like our friend Giorgio A. Tsoukalos.

I had a few thoughts.

The cynical marketing tactics that make a game like Candy Crush successful, in my opinion, come down to exploiting our evolved instincts. Gambling, obviously, is the first thing that comes to mind. Many casino games have no depth, but they engage us nonetheless because we have an instinct that prefers risks over straightforward rewards.

Games like Factorio and Minecraft are different to me because they are both highly successful in a financial sense, but I also appreciate them for their gameplay. They strike the right balance. As a game designer, I would have been proud to have designed either of them. That's not something I could say of Candy Crush, which is more gambling and not so much depth, or in a more extreme example, a slot machine which is all gambling and no depth.

So you're right to point out that there's an assumption I didn't bring attention to, which is the fact that I simply write off anything with no depth. And if you were doing a strictly financial analysis, you're right. There's a multi-billion dollar industry hawking crappy games with no depth at people who are willing to waste their lives playing them.

If you don't mind, I might read your comment on another stream and discuss it because it's worth talking about. It raises many interesting questions like where do you draw the line between ethically made game that I would want to play vs. gambling/exploitation?

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Re: Factorio and the Human Condition

Post by FuryoftheStars »

tedbendixson wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2024 7:39 pm
The cynical marketing tactics that make a game like Candy Crush successful, in my opinion, come down to exploiting our evolved instincts. Gambling, obviously, is the first thing that comes to mind. Many casino games have no depth, but they engage us nonetheless because we have an instinct that prefers risks over straightforward rewards.
Is it the risk, or is it the difference in rewards? Things with more guaranteed rewards tend to also have less desirable/valuable rewards, whereas the higher risk have more desirable/valuable rewards.

I mean, I guess I can only speak from my perspective, but gambling (for money or other valuables) tempts me only because of the rewards. What stops me is my reminding myself that the risk is very high and thus, mathematically, is not worth it. Shiny that is otherwise worthless just simply doesn't interest me.

Edit: Although, yeah, there are definitely some people out there that love high risk stuff (cliff diving, etc). But they get a thrill out of it, which is the desirable reward to them.
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Re: Factorio and the Human Condition

Post by mmmPI »

I guess we're all someone's Giorgio a little x), i imagine this universe where in the future humans find aliens, and realize that 1 time Giorgio was indeed correct, and they mention it much more than the other time it was not so clear, and even forget about those to the point where they remember him as a great visionnary, and there's this weird guy that keep claiming the true story but people mock him with meme x).

I have seen some time ago infuriating videos from editors/publisher addressing indie game devs by telling them their product will be judged on their "USP" unique selling point, and how it is important to make " a product that you can describe easily to the publisher because then it is the one that will have to sell it to clients and if your game is very weird and unlike any other it will make its job harder to explain it to potential customers".

I had that in mind when watching your video, and some learning in marketing :oops: , i was pleased to hear something that sound more like what i'd like to hear from game devs if i'm going to play the game afterward :), it leaves much more room for creativity :)
tedbendixson wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2024 7:39 pm
The cynical marketing tactics that make a game like Candy Crush successful, in my opinion, come down to exploiting our evolved instincts. Gambling, obviously, is the first thing that comes to mind. Many casino games have no depth, but they engage us nonetheless because we have an instinct that prefers risks over straightforward rewards.
Marketing people could say they provide "hope", casino is "hope" of getting rich like gambling. Or "dopamine shot" / "adrenaline" which would be exploitation of human physiology. With the risk/reward mechanism. Games could exploit those to make up for the lack of depth to a certain extent i think, not much "risk" in Candy Crush, but constant shiny reward, i mentionned the audience as also a key, because not all "players" will search for a game that have "depth", and so the lack of it won't necessarily prevent them from finding such public.

In casino things that are important would be ( i suppose ) "how much time a player play in a sitting ?" , "how much money a player carry for a session?", "how often does drink are needed?" and all sorts of questions that have nothing to do with the game themselves but all to do with the customer. ( since games are mathematical, identical from one casino to another , there's not much way to distinguish oneself here for a casino compared to another one)

I have watched your video "why i stopped playing your demo", and i think part of what i could have said you are already aware of it, the strategy to make a player engaged in a game and have fun despite maybe the initial phase of learning, i learned a few stuff :), i don't mind if you want to use the comments, the ideas, or whatever, no credit required for another video x) I felt it was related, sort of "what are the emotionnal lever that are activated when a player engage in the activity of "playing the game"".

Part of it are the personnal motivation of the player, which are beyond the game, some players play to kill time / have some fun , to have some mental stimulation, to relax, "to win", to compete, to get reward, to build something overtime, to learn , to engage with others and so on ...

That's from marketing angle of view, but it can extend to art direction, to create some logical association, if you have defined the audience, and what you want to provide to them, you can use "their" reference to convey things. ( betting app typically advertise how a winner look like depending on their target audience, the vocabulary and visual look too, depending on different countries for example). I'm not saying it's useful to make good games, but it's a line of reasonning that's out there, applied to the "industry" that maybe other member of your audience have heard of or will when making a game.

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