The game I chose is Skyrim elder scrolls. I chose this game in particular because it’s a game I used to play when I was younger (about 8 years old), and because it was a great game that used the ‘adaptive gameplay’ mechanic, coming inherently from its roots in Dunguns & Dragons.
Game Play Analysis
|Name of the game: Skyrim elder scrolls V||Skyrim elder scrolls|
|The platforms: |
Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.
|Time played: |
about 6-7 hours
|If you could work on this game (change it), what would you change and why?|
If I could work on the game, I would make it so that the NPC’s wait for the player when they go to a section that they could loot, so the player doesn’t get stuck. (I did this once and I had to restart the game, which was aggravating)
|How many players are supported?|
The game is solely single-player and you don’t get companions in-game that help you with quests.
|Does it need to be an exact number? |
|How does this effect play?|
It makes it so that the player must go solo, but then players can loot to their heart’s content without looking to see if their companion is looking.
|player framework Present:|
PvE – Player vs. Environment
|What are the players trying to do?|
This is another game that shows ‘adaptive gameplay mechanics’ like Fallout 4, which I analyzed in a previous blog post, link to the post here.
|There are three categories of (what the book Rules of Play calls) operational rules: |
Setup – the things you do at the beginning of a game.
in this case, the player is sentenced to execution as the player comes into the game, during which the player determines his/her character’s race, looks, stats, and what their character’s name is. at which point the execution is interrupted by a dragon coming to attack the town, then the player gets to escape and chose one of two NPC’s to follow to their safety, during which the players get to obtain starting equipment and afterward the players get to explore the game world freely.
Progression of Play – what happens during the game.
at this stage the players get to chose whether they follow the story or do their own thing by whether or not they follow the NPS’s recommendations on quests to do. otherwise, the character is free to do what they please. and the game adapts to the player’s choices in that the kingdom guards will actually attempt to arrest the player if they do things that would warrant such behavior, and they can do magic and other actions similar to that. The game’s adaptivity and gameplay are mostly inherent from the game’s basis in Dungeons & Dragons.
Resolution – How an outcome is determined based on the game state.
This is not existent within the game as the game continues indefinitely and has a variety of main goal “resolutions” that the player can achieve.
|What controls are used?|
in this case, the game mostly uses a control-set where they are rigged for advanced movement and attack/item usage.
|Was there a clear introductory tutorial?|
The controls and game function part of the tutorial was very clear and understandable. However, the NPC’s are non-action forgiving and do not wait for the player if he/she decides to loot, look around, or fully participate in the tutorial displays.
|Were they easy to understand or did you find yourself spamming the controller?|
the controls were extremely easy to understand and the game provides reminders on what buttons do what in your current situation, especially in the early game. I never found myself rapidly spamming the controller, although I did accidentally press the wrong buttons for the action I was trying to do when I forgot what that button did and the result was less than favorable.
|Resources & Resource Management||NOTES|
|What kinds of resources do players control?|
Items and areas of the game world after completing quests to gain the nearby populous’s favor.
|How are they maintained during play?|
weapons do break in this game and will disappear completely from your inventory when such does happen, and other items are naturally consumable by their nature, like arrows or health packs.
|What is their role?|
to help the player feel like he/she is leveling up in the game and feel like they are becoming better at it.
|A resource is everything under the control of a single player. Could be the money in Monopoly or health in WoW. Other examples include: |
Territory in RISK,
The number of questions remaining in 20 Questions,
Objects picked up during videogames (guns, health packs, etc.),
Time (game time, real-time, or both),
Known information (like suspects in Clue)
|How much information in the game state is visible to the player? |
the locations on the map that players have seen in travel, and the health, mana(for magic attacks), and experience for their characters power level(determines trait bonuses that they earn as they gain level and health and mana max.)
|A snapshot of the game at a single point is the game state. The resources you have, the un-owned properties in Monopoly, your opponent’s Archery skill all count towards the game state. Some example information structures are:|
Total Information – Nothing is hidden, like Chess.
Info per player – Your hand of cards is only visible to you.
One player has privileged info – Like a Dungeon Master.
The game hides info from all players – Like Clue, where no one knows the victory condition.
Fog of War – In video games, where certain sections of the map are concealed if you do not have a unit in sight range of that area. You also cannot see other players’ screens, so each player is unaware of the other’s information.
|In what order do players take their actions? |
this is not applicable in this case, as there is only one player and NPC’s.
|How does play flow from one action to another?|
in Skyrim action takes place in a real-time flow structure.
|Some structures include:|
Turn-based – Standard board game technique.
Turn-based with simultaneous play – where everyone takes their turn at the same time (like writing something down or putting a card down in War).
Real-time – Actions happen as fast as players can make them. Action-based video games.
Turn-based and time limits – You have this long to take your turn.
|Some examples of player-NPC interaction include:|
Direct Conflict – I attack you.
Negotiation – If you help me do this, I’ll help you do that.
Trading – I’ll give you this for that.
Information Sharing – If you go there, I’m warning you, a dragon will come and kill you.
|Theme & Narrative||NOTES|
|Does it have an actual story structure? |
Yes, though it is optional for the player to participate in the full story.
|Is it based on a historical event (or similar)? |
|Does the theme or narrative help you know how to play?|
It actually recommends that you do your own thing, and reminds you that there can be consequences to your actions.
|Does it have emotional impacts?|
|Also, look for en media res (does it start in the middle of the game)?|
|The Elements in Motion||NOTES|
|How do the different elements interact?|
the elements have varied interactions depending on gameplay so I don’t have a definitive answer to this question.
|What is the gameplay like?|
slow-paced with lots of traveling, and a few random battles here and there, plus some crafting and advanced tutorials throughout the later game.
|Is it effective?|
yes, as it varies so lots of different people can enjoy it.
|Are there any points where the design choices break down?|
yes, as during the beginning tutorial the player can get lost after being distracted by loot or story.
|Why did the designer make these particular choices?|
I don’t know.
|Why this set of resources?|
to make it far more enjoyable.
|What if they made different decisions?|
the design may have been more fast-paced or confusing and therefore less enjoyable.
|Does the design break down at any point? |
not really after the tutorial.
|Graphics & Sound||NOTES|
|Does the game art pair well with the mechanics?|
|Did you find any bugs or glitches?|
personally, I didn’t, but they may exist.
|What about sound?|
it was great for the time period when I played the game.
|Can you spot any technical shortcuts?|
|Various Stages of the Game||NOTES|
|To wrap up, some things to keep in mind (as if there aren’t enough already) as you play:|
|What challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them? |
in this case, enemies and story quests, as well as being locked up because of the player’s choices, which to overcome require a lot more planning than some players may be comfortable with, although that element made the game more enjoyable to me.
|Is the game fair? |
most of the time, although the jail escape part only gives you one bobby pin and they break easily unless you know what you’re doing when you pick locks.
|Is it replayable? Are there multiple paths to victory or optional rules that can change the experience?|
yes, as there are multiple choices the player makes early on that determine gameplay and story goals.
|What is the intended audience?|
teen to adult
|What is the core, the one thing you do over and over, and is it fun?|
thinking of a creative solution to your problems, most people don’t like this level of creative solutions, but it makes the game more enjoyable to me.
This analysis form was adapted from https://notlaura.com/a-template-for-analyzing-game-design/
- Playing Like a Designer – I: Examine Your Experiences by Extra Credits
- Playing Like a Designer – II: How to Analyze Game Design by Extra Credits
- Game Analysis Guidelines by MIT
- Level 3.2: Critical Analysis of Games at learn.canvas.net