After playing Knights of Pen and Paper, I remembered the fun of playing tabletop games in real life. From my own experience, translating tabletop games to videogames is no easy feat. The issues people face in this conversion has nothing to do with creating the right environments for fantasy or sci-fi, but they lie in … Continue reading Is Knights of Pen and Paper a Metagame? →
After playing Knights of Pen and Paper, I remembered the fun of playing tabletop games in real life. From my own experience, translating tabletop games to videogames is no easy feat. The issues people face in this conversion has nothing to do with creating the right environments for fantasy or sci-fi, but they lie in the numerous actions people can make in tabletop games. In this log, I would like to discuss my thoughts on Knights of Pen and Paper and its relationship with tabletop games and videogames.
As I mentioned before, the translation of tabletop games to videogames is quite difficult. This leads to videogames based on Dungeons & Dragons, for example, to fall through in terms of popularity. People want to play table top games because they offer a sense of creative freedom. Videogames, however, face plenty of limitations. It is too difficult for game developers to make a game that allows the player total freedom to do whatever they want since there are only so many programs most computers or consoles can run until the game crashes, especially for role-playing games. And in most RPGs (role-playing games), a narrative must form with cued actions from non-player characters (NPCs) according to the actions of the player.
Then how does Knights of Pen and Paper blend these two elements? First, it pays respect to the gamer stereotype. The room you play in looks like a basement where most people imaging tabletop games to occur. Also, though the player cannot say what they want, the party is created by the different “players” you can choose to fill the available chairs. In a sense, you control the “player characters” while the Game Master controls the monsters… until the game goes rogue!
The plot thickens when the Game Master reveals that he is not controlling the actions of his NPCs which reminded me of our class discussion of the Magic Circle. Knights of Pen and Paper seems to act under the premise, “What if the Magic Circle was a Magic Circle?” The objective to defeat those responsible for breaking the circle that separates reality from imagination is then born for the game’s plot. Using this plot, the player can experience the history of tabletop games (namely Dungeons and Dragons) and the tropes associated with these games, making this mobile game a metagame.
I played Telltale’s The Walking Dead on my iPhone. Despite the connotations that typically surround mobile games, The Walking Dead is anything but a simplistic, time-wasting experience. Instead, the game functions as a sort of next-generation choose your own adventure, with the player’s decisions and relationships with in-game characters shaping the course of the story. Beyond this, actual gameplay … Continue reading Game Log #5 (The Walking Dead): Is This a Mobile Game? →
I played Telltale’s The Walking Dead on my iPhone. Despite the connotations that typically surround mobile games, The Walking Dead is anything but a simplistic, time-wasting experience. Instead, the game functions as a sort of next-generation choose your own adventure, with the player’s decisions and relationships with in-game characters shaping the course of the story. Beyond this, actual gameplay is limited to occasional swipes to navigate and interact, and The Walking Dead ends up sharing more similarities with a movie than it does with anything else. It even progresses in a series of episodes in the spirit of The Walking Dead television program on AMC.
Is The Walking Dead a mobile game? Intially, I would have to say that no, it is not a purely “mobile game.” While I played it on a mobile device and had the ability to be physically mobile while I played, its length and price run counter to the short and sweet characteristics typical to most iPhone games (I recognize that countless hours can be poured into certain mobile games, but I am referring to how many of these games are designed to be played in short, incremental sessions in moments of boredom). At a length of 5 episodes and a 22 dollar price tag to purchase all the installments in a bundle, the The Walking Dead certainly resembles a full-fledged game experience that one would find on a PC or a console. This is due to the fact that the game was made for these platforms along with the iPhone version that I played.
On the other hand, I also have trouble defining The Walking Dead as a purely console or PC game. The fact remains that I did play it on a mobile device. While I occasionally played it in long stints, I also used it as a time killer just as I would utilize Angry Birds or Bloons Tower Defense, with some of my gaming sessions admittedly occurring during visits to the restroom. The mobile version of The Walking Dead also has an in-app purchase system for acquiring the different episodes, and I will profess that this turned me off from playing beyond the first episode. In-app purchases tend to push me away from continuing to play a game as I feel as though I am missing part of the experience due to a paywall. The reaction I had to The Walking Dead was similar to ones I have had to countless pay-to-win apps that I have downloaded and quickly deleted in the past.
So the question remains: is The Walking Dead a mobile game? I would have to conclude that in this case, there is not a real distinction to be made. In the same way that viewing a film on a phone may not be as “full” an experience, will lesser visuals and sound, the film can still be watched on the device regardless. The movie, at its core (title, dialogue, plot etc..), remains the same movie regardless of the screen it is watched on. I think this is an effective way of thinking of The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead treads the line between console and mobile categories, but in this case there does not seem to be any reason to make a distinction. Telltale interactive even designed The Walking Dead with an engine specifically designed for multi-platform compatibility, and I think it is safe to assume that to them, the game was never strictly meant for one platform over another. To the developers, multiple platforms ensured maximum players and profit.
While I understand this may not be the most revolutionary of conclusions to make about the game, the fact remains that The Walking Dead is neither a console nor a mobile game. It’s both.