Designers Name the Game That Most Inspires Them

Greg Tito

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Designers Name the Game That Most Inspires Them



Prominent game designers from the doctors at BioWare to Peter Molyneaux to Jonathan Blow from Braid sound off on the games that most influenced them, and you'll be surprised at some of the answers.

Like any artist, videogame designers take inspiration from all of the games that have come before them. Some of these are obvious choices, quintessential games that inspired a whole generation of people, not just game designers. But sometimes a designer takes a special interest in a certain facet of a lesser-known game and that pushes them into recreating that experience for others. Here is what some of our most prominent game designers chose as the game title that most inspired them.

"I'd go way back to 1979, 1980," Dr. Ray Muzyka from BioWare said, back when he was in sixth grade. "My science teacher said, 'Hey, I think you'll like this, you should check this out,' because he knew I was into technology and board games.

"It was Pirate Cove [aka Pirate Adventure] by Scott Adams. It was a text adventure game. It took three tries, each about three minutes, to load this cassette tape - the old squealing sound. The first two failed. I was ready to give up, and he said, 'No, trust me, you'll like it once it loads.' I played it, and in the first couple of minutes I was completely in love with videogames. I'd played some arcade games before that, but this was the first PC-based experience. It was just awesome, and it captured my imagination."

The other founding half of BioWare also went back to an old PC game. "There's this game called Dogfight on the Apple II Plus. You had a single screen, it had helicopters and planes, and you had left, right and shoot," Dr. Greg Zeschuk said. "We literally would have eight or 10 people play this game, and you'd just put your arm on this computer, seeing the screen through this forest of heads.

"We spent the whole summer playing, changing seats and hot swapping. It was our very first multiplayer experience. I look at that and go, 'Wow, that was remarkable,' because literally the amount of pain we would go through to play this every day, all summer. When you played this you realized how incredibly compelling that play experience was in a group of people."

You wouldn't think that Jonathon Blow, designer of creative platformer Braid, would be so moved by a shooter, but he names Counter-Strike as an inspiration. "Counter-Strike is influential because subtlety really matters in that game," he said. "What the texture is on a wall at the end of a long hallway matters hugely, because then that controls how well you can see whether a guy steps in front of it with a sniper rifle, and that determines your reaction time."

Some designers are inspired by offline games, like Chris Hecker, formerly of Maxis Games, who is most inspired by the Asian game of black and white stones [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)]. "It would have to be Go. Go is the most beautiful game ever made," Hecker said. "The saying about Go is, when the space aliens come down and they land on earth and we're trying to communicate with them and then we show them Go, they're like, 'Oh yeah, we have that.' For me it's inspirational because it shows the fractal complexity that can come from really simple rules, which is just amazing depth and beauty."

Peter Molyneux has said that the touch mechanic in Fable III was taken from ICO but here he goes even farther. "I think it's probably ICO," he said. "You go back to that title and have a look at it - there were no icons on screen to speak of, the story was told in such an amazing way, it was told without language, it was incredibly iconic, the environment still is one of the most mystical, enchanting environments ever made, its gameplay with the hand-holding mechanic was brilliant.

"If I made something like ICO, I'd be very happy to die."

Source: Eurogamer [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/games-that-define-developers?page=1]

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Taxman1

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Wow I'm very surprised that Jonathon was inspired by Counterstrike, maybe I should go into games that I will never play at first glance.
 

Casual Shinji

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Greg Tito said:
Peter Molyneux - "If I made something like ICO, I'd be very happy to die."
You'd better prepare yourself to be sad on your deathbed, Pete.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Greg Tito said:
It took three tries, each about three minutes, to load this cassette tape - the old squealing sound. The first two failed. I was ready to give up, and he said, 'No, trust me, you'll like it once it loads.' I played it, and in the first couple of minutes I was completely in love with videogames. I'd played some arcade games before that, but this was the first PC-based experience. It was just awesome, and it captured my imagination."
And to those tykes who don't know what he means...

12 minutes long btw.

I think the first game that really got me was this one:
Reminder: This was 32K for the entire game. This webpage is bigger than that (42K)
 

KEM10

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Andronicus said:
What the hell is Go? o_O
An old Chinese game that takes 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
There was a bar by us that had a table with the 19x19 game board etched into it and you could get the pieces if you asked the tender and gave up your ID. We would close down the bar during the week playing it every now and then.
 

Andronicus

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KEM10 said:
Andronicus said:
What the hell is Go? o_O
An old Chinese game that takes 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
There was a bar by us that had a table with the 19x19 game board etched into it and you could get the pieces if you asked the tender and gave up your ID. We would close down the bar during the week playing it every now and then.
Oh, I know that game now.

Hehe, in my haste to know what it was, I totally missed the link in the article. My bad :)
 

Korten12

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Aug 26, 2009
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Casual Shinji said:
Greg Tito said:
Peter Molyneux - "If I made something like ICO, I'd be very happy to die."
You'd better prepare yourself to be sad on your deathbed, Pete.
But what about the Last Guardian..?
 

Korten12

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ForgottenPr0digy said:
"Go" I always wanted to learn how to play that game because I use to read the manga called "Hikura no Go" back in my Shonen Jump days.

FYI Counter Strike is awesome. I love that game to death.
omg! I was going to mention Hikaru no Go, ah, such a good series. :D
 

Deacon Cole

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"I'd go way back to 1979, 1980," Dr. Ray Muzyka from BioWare said, back when he was in sixth grade. "My science teacher said, 'Hey, I think you'll like this, you should check this out,' because he knew I was into technology and board games.

"It was Pirate Cove [aka Pirate Adventure] by Scott Adams. It was a text adventure game. It took three tries, each about three minutes, to load this cassette tape - the old squealing sound. The first two failed. I was ready to give up, and he said, 'No, trust me, you'll like it once it loads.' I played it, and in the first couple of minutes I was completely in love with videogames. I'd played some arcade games before that, but this was the first PC-based experience. It was just awesome, and it captured my imagination."
For those curious about the game Dr. Mazyka found inspirational, the designer, Scott Adams (not the Dlibert guy) has Pirate's Cove and fourteen other games available for download for free [http://www.msadams.com/].

I had Adventureland and Pirate's Cove on the Commodore ViC-20. I liked Adventureland, but I got stuck in Pirate's Cove. It's possible my game had a bug because years later I got a Laser 128X (Apple II compatable) with some software including Pirate's Cove. I played it up to the point I had gotten stuck and managed to beat it fairly easily.
 

mjc0961

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Nov 30, 2009
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Jonathan Blow is prominent now? As far as I know he's only made one game. And it sucked. "Oh look I can't be assed to make some decent levels and challenges so I'll just let you rewind time instead of having you run out of lives and start over when you fail because of our poor design."
 

FoolKiller

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mjc0961 said:
Jonathan Blow is prominent now? As far as I know he's only made one game. And it sucked. "Oh look I can't be assed to make some decent levels and challenges so I'll just let you rewind time instead of having you run out of lives and start over when you fail because of our poor design."
Please don't talk trash of a game you clearly haven't played. There is much more to the mechanic of rewinding than just fixing errors.

I agree with Molyneux. ICO is one of the more breathtaking games and the lack of language made it all the more enchanting, although infuriating.
 

cerebus23

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i would like to vote for sid meyers pirates on the c64 and others, i mean that was the first game i played where you could get totally lost in time and look at the clock to realize that you had been playing for countless hours and look its 3 am i swear it was 8 or 9 pm and i got school in the am.....

gunship by sid was also amazing, but not quite as time suspending as pirates was.
 

Casual Shinji

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Korten12 said:
Casual Shinji said:
Greg Tito said:
Peter Molyneux - "If I made something like ICO, I'd be very happy to die."
You'd better prepare yourself to be sad on your deathbed, Pete.
But what about the Last Guardian..?
What about it?

*gasp* Peter Molyneux isn't making it is he?
 

Torque669

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And the only one Ive played is Counter Strike. I need to play some of these games, they're probably dirt cheap now anyway.
 

Korten12

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Casual Shinji said:
Korten12 said:
Casual Shinji said:
Greg Tito said:
Peter Molyneux - "If I made something like ICO, I'd be very happy to die."
You'd better prepare yourself to be sad on your deathbed, Pete.
But what about the Last Guardian..?
What about it?

*gasp* Peter Molyneux isn't making it is he?
oh whoops, never mind read the line wrong. I thought he wanted someone else to, not himself. XD
 

mistwolf

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cerebus23 said:
i would like to vote for sid meyers pirates on the c64 and others, i mean that was the first game i played where you could get totally lost in time and look at the clock to realize that you had been playing for countless hours and look its 3 am i swear it was 8 or 9 pm and i got school in the am.....

gunship by sid was also amazing, but not quite as time suspending as pirates was.
Pirates! was one of those games I couldn't get enough of. It's weird, the remake recently was very true to the original, but it just didn't GRAB me the way the original did.