Minority Opinions

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Content Generation

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PyWeek judging is in its second week, and I’m a little tense.  Granted, I have lingering tension from other sources, too, but it’s a bit unsettling to know that my work is being critiqued, and that I can’t fix the two major flaws I discovered just a little too late.  On the other hand, it has been fun to help judge the other entries, so the experience as a whole is probably a net positive for me.  I would do it again.

A select few of the games share one major disappointment: I wish they had more content.  Tee’s Walkway is a prime example; in essence, it’s a simple puzzle with some similarities to my own entry.  However, its levels are each created by hand, where mine are randomly generated on the spot.  Each approach has advantages.

To Walkway’s credit, each of its levels is beautiful.  Many of them are symmetric.  They have a nice progression of difficulty, coupled with relevant hints.  In contrast, my levels are chaotic, and often include inelegant portions, like a door that won’t get opened because the goal is right around the corner.  My mazes increase in size as you complete them, but that doesn’t always mean that each one is harder than the last; some of them have long corridors with few or pre-opened doors, zipping you onward with little effort.

However, I swiftly finished all fifteen Walkway levels, and wanted more.  Restarting can let me play the same levels again, finding new solutions for some of them, but the excitement has waned.  In contrast, I never know what Rainbow Rooms will throw at me unless I set a static seed for the random number generator.  I’ve probably played it more than anyone, and would pick it up again in a heartbeat.  My kids, too, keep asking to play it.

The difference may well be based on a difference of strengths.  Just as I’m not great at user interface design, I’m lousy at puzzle design.  It takes me less effort to write a level generator than to design a level by hand.  At that point, why would I select a static set of levels, instead of letting the user see something new each game?  Okay, perhaps I could have selected a set with a decent learning curve and no way to get trap yourself, and would have avoided the lengthy wait for the generator to find something it likes, but would I have played through it more than twice?

Of course, I also started out with a Roguelike idea that morphed into a puzzle game, so perhaps my values are slightly skewed.

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Written by eswald

25 Sep 2012 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Entertainment, Python

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