[Competition] B: Concentrate (100% Pure Gameplay)

Comp B: Concentrate (100% Pure Gameplay)

A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Games are so complicated. It's easy to get lost in the heady awesomeness of an idea, adding more and more to it, until it represents the perfect game. The problem is that it's then impossible to make. There is elegance in simplicity and emergence in elegance. Let's see if we can't train ourselves to find it...

Build a game around a pared-down, single mechanic that you've concentrated to perfection. Practice minimalist gameplay design and distill mechanics, if you will. Be the opposite of a homeopath - stop diluting your games into oblivion. Boil a genre down to its bare essentials and then take away all but one of them. Hone your game design skills until you can see the progression, in things removed, from platformers to Canabalt, from Street Fighter to Dive Kick.

LOOK AT THAT PURITY! LOOK! ... So. What are you going to do? Take apart the fluff surrounding a genre you totally hate, exposing the juicy gameplay core in a way nobody's ever seen before? Emphasise that key thing that you're seriously damn good at in a game type you love, stripping everything else away? Parody? Satire? EMOTION?

Contentrate your game: Take a complex game and make it simple. But no simpler. See what happens.

  • Competition starts on November 1st, 01-11-2012.
  • Deadline for entries is November 30th, 30-11-2012.
  • The use of copyrighted material will not be tolerated. Do not steal!
  • Use whichever language, tool or development system you are comfortable in. Downloading and using Game Maker is recommended for beginners or if you've never prototyped a game before.
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.
  • Strive to cut away everything in your game that is not the core mechanic. Every time you run into a problem, see if you can't take something AWAY to solve it.
  • Your game must contain all files needed for it to run and should not require other bulky systems to be downloaded or installed, exceptions are browser plugins like Flash and self-contained dlls distributed with the game).
  • Your final entry must include a readme.txt that EXPLAINS THE CONTROLS, RULES and any other information you want to get across to your users. Although, if your controls are super-complex, exactly how well did you find your game's core?
  • Yes, you can totally enter the same game into other competitions. PLEASE ENTER YOUR GAMES INTO OTHER COMPETITIONS!
  • Competition is open to entry for South African citizens, current residents of South Africa and South African passport holders.
  • The judges' decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into. All risk or liability in case of copyright infringement or other legal issue resides with the entrant, MGSA takes no responsibility for entered games. (Other legalese included, implied and not intended to hurt)
To enter the competition, start a thread titled "B: NameOfYourGame" and post your design ideas and game releases there. As you release files, edit your first post to point to the most recent versions available.

Other people WILL reply to your post with their feedback and ideas. Any offensive comments will be removed, that said please do your best to take any and all feedback as positively as you can and use it to make your game better. Consider releasing your source code, it helps us pinpoint problems that you might be having and benefits the community as a whole.

This will be a prototype-heavy competition, that's kinda the point. Try out ideas and see what sticks. Don't spend time on graphics, sounds or storylines if you can possibly avoid it.

If you're having a hard time coming up with a minimalist gameplay concept, try picking a genre and seeing what you consider it's core element. What would a game built around that be like? What would a boiled-down JRPG be like? Would it focus on leveling and skill aquisition, only have that classic turn-based combat and nothing else, or be the world's most amazing hairspray simulation engine? What dark secrets lie at the very bottom of RTS gameplay? What if you made a shooter game where the only thing the player could actually do was choose when the character reloaded? What would a stealth game be like if you only controlled a spotlight that illuminated AI guards and the AI protagonist equally? How do you concentrate Tetris?

If you have multiple control systems, you're doing it wrong... Find the complex emergent gameplay that's hiding in the simplest systems. Also, seriously consider Fuck This Jam if you haven't already.


Good luck and enjoy the competition!


  • Yes! Yes! Yes! This is awesome
  • Weird O_o today I was thinking what constraints I would imply if I had to host a game jam, and this was exactly what I was thinking. So the bright side is I actually have and idea that I like.

    In other news arge fuck exams D:
  • edited
    AWESOME!!! That video.... INSPIRATIONAL X 100000. That's a game even I could make. Except of course that's their amazing idea.

    Part of me thinks... TOO SOON (since the last comp), part of me thinks FUCK YES.

    I guess time will tell :P (for me)
  • @Tuism: So spend some time in the bath or shower randomly thinking of how you could do something similar to other game genres?

    Miktar was all "Hey, make a Zerg Rush game, where that's all you friggin do!"
  • edited
    @Tuism You've got a month to make a game that is going to be judged on how little you put in to achieve something fun or indicative of a genre. You're explicitly not meant to polish any gameplay other than the core mechanic (though I'm sure some prurty art won't actually hurt, though won't help here either, except for personal growth).

    I mean, the amount you can learn from this is well worth one weekend's worth of time, and you probably don't need that long (so I hope everyone gets to participate).

    I sound like a fan boy of this comp.

    And: What's with @Dislekcia reading everyone's mind. I was already thinking of building a totally paired down JRPG and now that he's pre-empted me I may have to do something else (frustated but amused face).
  • Actually I'm so amped for this I wrote a blog about it and a million inspirations (ok 5). Then I got so much more amped for this that I came up with an idea before I was able to fall asleep :) So yes I totally see the point of this - make it simple, the longer you take the harder you're failing :P
  • Sooooo exited for this comp! Only one problem. I kinday already made a (barely playable) prototype while hanging out at the open window open day with my sister. Kinda forgot about it but it's perfect for this competition! Would it be ok if I entered it? I only spent about 30 minutes on development so I'm not at a badass time advantage here.
  • @notsimon207 I bet it's another physics game :P I'm sure it's ok but ask the overlord for final sayso :)
  • How did you know it's a physics game? You must be some sorta psychic!
  • Well, considering that the premise of this competition is to create something which we'd naturally assume ISN'T a timesink of development, I don't think the time advantage would be deemed too heinous :P


    :'D GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I'm a little confused by this comp; once we have our single game mechanic do we stop? Do we put in all the puzzle permutations, polish up the graphics and build a complete level (or levels) or do we move on another prototype?

    I feel I'm done prototyping my game and either I build a full castle to explore or I move onto another prototype. What should I be doing in keeping with the spirit of the constraints of the comp?
  • I think the idea is to keep iterating on the one idea/mechanic, take out things that are not necessary, and end up with a "concentrated" game where you focus on the aspect you chose.

    There has never been a problem with multiple entries.
  • I doubt there are any restrictions on how much content you produce. But my impression is that you'll be judged only on how elegant your core mechanic is.

    So I imagine permutations are a good thing if they allow you to iterate on your core mechanic better or allow you to demonstrate more emergence.

    But you won't be judged on the quality of that content, and, if it makes your gameplay less elegant then it may affect your game negatively in the judging.

    What @Edg3 said actually.
  • This is a "no simpler" kind of thing: If you're just adding stuff to flesh out gameplay that's not really condensed, try removing more fluff to see what you end up with; If you're at an already gleaming, polished core and have an idea that might add to the gameplay in an emergent way, then go for it.

    It's all about learning for yourself where that boundary of reduction/compression vs expansion/complexity sits. Often it's not where people expect it to be, which is how neat stuff like Canabalt happens.
  • Make a no button game instead of a one button game!
  • @notsimon207 Well how hard that is depends on whether or not you call a joystick axis a "button" :P
  • @D3zmodos Good point. Let's say any external device that can send the computer a boolean typish value. Clicking also counts as pressing a button. ;)
  • We should put all the games (those that won't be developed further after the competition, and were only done for the purposes of the competition), and sell it for very cheap online. The proceeds can go to mgsa, and we can use it to buy pizza for the meets :D
  • edited
    @Denzil, I would rather just give it to people for free. And then maybe have a place where they can make donations if they so desire(people love free stuff, if you give them free stuff they will even pay for it :P). I don't feel we need to charge them for experimental prototypes. But we should definitely get people playing the games though :)
  • @Rigormortis Yeah I was sorta just kidding around, although the donations sound like a good idea. Then we can all have pizza. And cookies. Everyone loves cookies. Although, last time I was there I think there were cookies already.
  • edited
    2X Cookies... (Dare you do it?) (smiley face)
    Thanked by 1Denzil
  • God, I would *love* to build a high-profile marketing campaign with tearjerking visuals and emphatic pleas to help us collectively raise $50 for pizza and coke.

    Use Kickstarter.

    Goal: $50 to afford a humble amount of pizza and coke for the next meetup
    Stretch goal: $100 to afford a respectable amount of pizza, coke and other beverages for the next meetup

    - One-dollar donators get a copy of all the finished games and an honorary mention on a powerpoint slide somewhere during the meetup
    - Five-dollar donators get a personal invitation to the meetup and a chance to play Butt Pugs From Mars with @bevis, @Aequitas and myself
    - Fifty-dollar donators get all of the rewards from the above tiers, as well as the chance to work as an unpaid intern at one of the local game development studios FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK. High-fives will be given
    - Five hundred dollars: a helicopter ride around Table Mountain with one of the devs, followed by a luxury dining experience in Constantia and a wine-tasting session in the afternoon. (Max 4 backers)

    Yes? Yes.
    Thanked by 3Tuism Denzil Ally
  • - One thousand dollars: All previous tiers and a MS Paint rendering of yourself done only with the pencil and a mouse by @Gazza_N
    - Five thousand dollars: None of the previous tiers and no other rewards because you're obviously too stupid with money to care what you get
    - Ten thousand dollars: @aodendaal will dance around on a table of your choice while singing your name; or not, it's up to you
    Thanked by 1Nandrew
  • @Nandrew HAHA the chance to work as an unpaid intern!!! Great! "Bitch, bring me my coffee" :P

    We should totally do this though!

    @aodendaal $5000 = win
  • @aodendaal: Is the mouse a Live(tm) mouse with modifications, or what?

    I'm downloading all the games now :) Feel free to keep working on them, but these are the versions I'm going to be judging against each other for fairness-sake.
  • Still working my way through the judging... Sorry it's taking so long. IGF jury duty has put a serious amount of stress on the time I have to play games in. Also, wow, IGF games this year are hardcore.
  • Did we ever get any judging on Comp A?
Sign In or Register to comment.