Game Design: avoiding bots

Oliver  —  9 months, 1 week ago [Edited 22 minutes later]
When approaching the game design, I had some ideas that I wanted to base the game around. One of these ideas was the decision to avoid having the game be solved by a bot. This inspiration comes from the January music toy (link posted in the projects description). A bot could easily play the game with the game only having three key inputs. But as there are no end goals or progression, it would miss the point of the game.
You just enjoy the sounds that are made.

As Mind Man uses discrete movement steps for entities on a discrete board, it is a very clear candidate for a bot. I wondered what the game would look like if we couldn't program a machine to derive the purpose from the game.

One way would be to have no end goal (like January). At the moment the game does progress to different levels. However the goal to the game could be a higher purpose that isn't explicitly explained. In Braid there is a very clear progression to the game, with levels and boss fights. However the underlying meaning goes much deeper than that. There is something that human beings have that make it mean more than what it is on the compute: sprites following defined behavior.

Following on from this, we could make higher processes a integral part of the game. An example of this is 'the Witness'. The game is based around solving puzzles with definite solutions. And the main game has a clear end point. However the game is more than this. It is about the higher processes happening within our brain, about understanding the rules of the puzzles when we haven't been given any, about eureka moments and intuition. This also goes for other games like Go and Chess. Even though Ais can beat the world's champions, they use different ways of doing it. The top players use intuition, whereas the machines use brute force or
machine learning.

As a consequence to these observations, the game design does have music as part of the experience and the player does have to understand what the puzzles ask in a subtle way. Hopefully as I build the game, more ways that support the decision to avoid having the game solved by a bot present themselves.

Avoiding having a bot solve the game is just one Ai influenced decision within the game. The next blog post Ill talk about the inspiration behind the game.

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear what other people think about this topic!
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