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October 04, 2010


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Awesome, this reminds me a bit of your theoretical work on that Dickinson game, when I (and everyone else in the audience, I imagine) went: who the hell is this Hocking guy and why haven't I heard of him before?! While I do love all your work on character-based immersive games, I find it a lot more interesting when you theorize about under-served subjects and genres. Keep it up :)

P.S. As a metrics guy, I would immediately set up a system where I could publish reports like

"What styles are most likely to get you killed?"
"Which designers are favored by the best snipers?"


I want to read through the data that you gather - that sounds awesome.

I recently proved, using nothing but Zoo Kingdom item sales data, that Canada is the most Canada-loving country in the world. Followed by Mexico in a distant second.

Aside from AI crowds wearing the fashions, this is more or less what already happens in Second Life - players can design clothes in a totally open system, set up stores with their own brands, other players buy them and wear them. My wife has spent hours "shopping" in Second Life, not only to see what people have come up with (some of it is pretty well-made) but to do a virtual version of people-watching at the mall, seeing what other avatars are "wearing," making judgements on what looks good and what doesn't. Context, like you said.

Second Life obviously is much less structured than any sort of dedicated fashion game would be and prone to its own well-documented problems, but anybody seriously thinking about fashion as expressed in a game-like system might do well to check it out.

I couldn't agree more with this - the lack of effort put in by some game designers is disheartening to those of us trying to get into the industry. Just because you're not working on a multi-million dollar, triple-A title, that's no excuse not to exploit every aspect of your brief and create the deepest, most enthralling experience you can.

Clint, I wonder what you would feel was the most important underlying cause for it? Is it the lack of diversity (are too many designers white male nerds with fantasies of being a super-soldier)? Or perhaps the lack of established training/academia surrounding game design? Or an obsession with the bottom line/a marginalization of design in favour of easier production? Something I haven't thought of?

On another note, the superficiality of "dress-up" elements in otherwise deeply character-driven games has always annoyed me. Why, in a game like Knights Of The Old Republic, can I strip Darth of his favourite gun because I think another one might suit my tactics better, even send him into battle buck naked, and he never seems to care? Managing a team - whether you're developing software or saving the galaxy - is often about the little human things that you can't track in numbers. Why can't we exploit that once in a while?

APB did something similar to what you're suggesting. It had a really robust character and clothing designer, and the ability to sell your designs to other players. It was by far the most exciting and interesting part of the game. It's a real shame the game didn't have more of a chance, I'd have loved to see where the fashion design elements of it would have gone.

Yeah, except replace GTA by Second Life or APB, you single player minded guy.

"The fashion designs of all those designers touching the lives of millions of AI driven Libertarians."

There's a "fashion victim" joke to be made here, but that would just be tacky so I'll refrain.

There are some interesting ideas in here, but I have to take contention with a few of the implications of this post. First of all, I feel like the GTA:GD idea suffers from the same problem as the theoretical racing game you use in your analogy: namely, that it deprives players of the immediacy of the central act (racing, fashion design) by hiding it behind the bland facade of a spreadsheet. The whole cloud idea is great in theory, but simply hitting "publish" to share your boutique is a bit opaque and I'm not convinced that it would be inherently satisfying unless the player could actually watch their styles proliferate somehow, or directly interact with the people who came into their public boutique space. Without this aspect of the experience, all the environmental integration is for naught and the player is left with either the vague knowledge that their fashions are being seen by random strangers, or they must resort to combing through a spreadsheet and monitoring whatever the set of anonymous metrics is that functions as their primary source of feedback regarding the popularity of their designs. When it comes to fashion, this type of aggregated data is not necessarily the most meaningful kind of feedback. Obviously, providing something like the Sporepedia and allowing players to have more direct interaction (sharing feedback and comments, etc.) could mitigate these problems to a limited extent, but there is still a huge qualitative gap between a comment thread and the glamour of a runway in Milan, just like the gap between the visceral experience of driving an F1 race car and your example of the racing simulation.

Secondly, I'm just generally skeptical about this particular notion of convergence, mainly because I worked on APB for two years and I was never fully convinced of how it was implemented there either. As noted, APB is pretty much the closest anyone has come so far to realizing your GTA:GD idea, but in my opinion we never really found a way to alleviate the dissonance (not the ludonarrative kind, mind you) between the temperaments of players that want to primarily design clothing and the players who just want to find more efficient ways to kill each other. The latter generally don't care about aesthetics, and the former might consider the restrictive focus of a shooter to be a factor that limits the game's potential as a domain in which to share their grand designs. When you propose GTA as the perfect context for fashion design, this very well may be the case for you, but that doesn't mean that the primary audience for fashion games necessarily feels the same way or shares the same taste. That sort of convergence just isn't reliable, and it certainly doesn't arise organically. So while I admire the sentiment of wanting to bridge that gap and integrate wildly divergent types of players, the cynic in me thinks there is a lot more involved in actually accomplishing this than simply believing in the whole "if you build it, they will come" mantra. Because we did, and they didn't.

One possible solution might be to divorce the creation from the context, to whatever extent that's feasible. Even just releasing the APB fashion design tools as a standalone application akin to the Spore creature creator would be a great start, although I doubt this will ever happen. Think of when Chaim initially released the info about how to export creatures from the Spore creature creator as separate models in an open file format: it was as a major step toward making the tool into a much more versatile content creation suite. Now imagine a toolset for fashion design that had comparable flexibility and power, and allowed players to share their creations across a much wider range of compatible games. To me, that's a substantially more intriguing opportunity for convergence than dictating a specific context to the player.

I think some of you are missing the point, just a bit. The idea isn't to make a game with that element, but rather to connect two completely separate products and create that resonance between different player types.

If the designer can design dresses in their own, separate product and then sell them to a population of GTA players, I think that's something pretty special. It's not the same as an MMO where you kill stuff and oh, you craft armor too. It's a completely separate title dedicated to clothing design.

Anyway, that's my take on it. Love the article Clint.

There are several problems with this convergence concept.

First, you're essentially getting the people playing the fashion design game to work unpaid for the people making the GTA game. I'm not sure the games industry needs any new ways of exploiting the people interested in fashion design.

Second, the problem with linking the games in this way is that the criteria for judging the fashion design part of the game are made subservient to the desires of those playing GTA. You're no longer playing a fashion design game, you're playing a 'design clothes for a GTA game' game.

Second Life is relevant not because it's already a place where you can design and sell virtual clothing, but because it's already a place where you can design and sell clothing to be worn by the people in a virtual world. Second Life already *is* lots of different games being played with the same kind of convergence between them.

One of my long term plans is to make game starting in 3209 where robors would be the only remaining civilisation and customisation is a central point of their industry, it would allow all players to both make and customise existing stuff from both pre-designed components and 3D/2D creations of their own(including standalone and online editors).

There could easily be one or a few fashion-centric games that "export" to a whole lot of games. So I could look how I want in Yakuza and wear that same brand in Street Fighter or Brink, to use current examples.

This is a brilliant bit of future-think. Costume packs are pretty much fluff as DLC, anyhow.

That GTA:GD would make sense as a costume pack, I think once more games successfully implements the idea, it will become common place, and piggybacking on that GTA:GD idea, there could also packs for vehicle, real estate and radio customization, with such a level of immersion, where a player could find an unlimited choice of cars, picking a beat-up black 96 porsche carrerra with zebra paint, buying/renting a liberty city cocaine kingpin hideout on the oceanfront while listening to Daft Punk latest remix compilation ... it's not only possible but I think probable that in the future as games include more social elements they will include those elements as they would provide greater immersion for players, greater revenues for gaming company, and marketing inroads for brands and designers.

Gareth @ Video Game Canon

Animal Crossing DS did a basic pattern editor with a persistent world. It was really amazing to see AI friends running around with the clothes I made for them. Even cooler when they asked me what I thought of it.

It's not a big step further to start linking single player worlds together, the way Farmville does, so people can share and promote fashions.

I honestly think the way to bring about a game like this is not to build a giant GTA world, but to start small, where budgets are less risk-averse. Facebook games seem perfect here. Zynga has proven the market, despite the lack of gameplay.

Aside from a little vision, a focussed design and a modest budget, what else do we need?

Yeah, except replace GTA by Second Life or APB, you single player minded guy.

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