Perseverance: Co-op Puzzle Game

I went to the ‘House of Games’ game jam this weekend and ended up creating something pretty interesting with some pretty talented people there.


We decided on a genre of games that I think is somehow one of the least common and yet easiest to make something interesting: the multiplayer puzzle game.   Our game is called Life Line, and is a co-op game featuring two rock climbers connected by a rope.  The rope functions as the main mechanic of the game, and if one player falls the other can grip tightly to the rock (by mashing the A button), allowing the other player to swing from them until they get their grip.  Dangle too long from your buddy, and he loses his grip and you both fall to your doom.  It’s all for one and one for all.

Not surprisingly, my coding contribution in the 28 hour project was the dynamic rope physics and player movement, which was a lot of fun to implement and I think has a potential that is only hinted at in this video.  I can imagine taking this mechanic to all kinds of logical extremes – tying the fate of two players together figuratively and very literally, and yet using that interplay to increase the reach of the team beyond the sum of the two individuals.  In the video you can see how we used this: one player can climb to a certain height, while the other one jumps off the rock and uses the rope anchored to his buddy to swing to an otherwise inaccessible rock while the anchored played mashes A for dear life. I’d like to push this mechanic further, and might do that with a future project.  Some ideas:

  • How would this work with 4 players, each chained to the next in turn? Could get some really complex/interesting acrobatics.
  • Life Line as a mobile game.   I’m picturing a multiplayer Temple-Run style game, where all 2/3/4 players are continuously climbing up along different tracks, and players can jump off the rock by swiping left or right, and if your buddy is dangling from you, you survive by tapping the screen to grip the rock.    The multiplayer infinite runner, I think it could really work.  Would need to support seamless matchmaking and easy ways to play with friends on a single device, via bluetooth, or over an internet connection.  With the right amount of polish and a casual, cheeky flair (like Ski Safari with its Sasquatch vehicles) I could see the game taking off.
  • We need a ‘cut the rope’ button because it’s just such an emotional moment to have to cut your buddy loose when he’s dangling from you and you have no other choice.  Push this button and be haunted forever.
  • What else could be done with this?  Lots I think.

Here’s the windows executable if you want to try it.  Use two controls, or keys:

  • Player 1:Arrows to move, Space to grip, Enter to release
  • Player 2: WASD to move, E to grip, Q to release


One response to “Perseverance: Co-op Puzzle Game”

  1. Evan Witt says:

    Nice write-up of the work, John.

    I was surprised at how interesting this mechanic turned out to be (considering the short dev time), but I think what really makes it work is the constant requirement of actively putting your success into your partner’s hands (whenever you jump). A lot of co-op games have fairly passive interdependence, like needing your teammates to revive you whenever you get hit, etc, but I think this has a nice twist to it (he he).

    That said, I’m not convinced it could work for more than two players. Hmmm… I’d need to think about it a little.

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Real Crime in Virtual Worlds

Phoenix Car Chase

What are the stories of the every day world that most interest us? Turning on the TV we can see it on the news: car chases, pursuits, shootouts, crime and punishment, justice served or not. It strikes me how little events like these affect the lives of their onlookers, and how that contrasts to the huge amount of attention they receive. Why is this case?

It’s spectacle. It’s excitement, danger, horror, suspense, mystery, tragedy. It’s all the elements we see in movies and stories, enacted live on television in front of us. For better or worse, it captures people, their sympathies and angers, their rapt attention. It’s an event of note, because it’s uncommon and affects lives profoundly, it’s society going off the rails, a life skating along the abyss as it breaks all the rules, on its way to ruin with all the powers of society in hot pursuit, flared up to defeat the abomination. We cant look away.

The pull of events like this are so strong they retain their interest even when fictionalized. A huge portion of stories (and one might argue all stories, in a more abstract sense) are about this – transcending, breaking the rules, stepping outside the norm. The ‘hero’s journey’, the monomyth that fits so many stories, always has the hero enter that special world, and things are never the same. And video games too play this theme, probably more blatantly than any other medium. The car chase, the shoot-up, the defeat of the giant beast that threatens the world. Breaking the rules of society, defending a land in peril, transcending, events worthy of a story.

Only, not. They’re all false.


In video games, shoot-ups are the rule, there is no society to transcend. The events that happen in a game are exactly what’s meant to happen, they’ve been tested thousands of times by a team shooting the same triggered baddies with the same virtual bullets. It’s rote, it’s illusion. At the end of a quest in the ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ I defeated a magnificent monster threatening the world, only to stroll out of the cave past a queue of adventures heading in to defeat that same boss, respawned. Of course we know its an illusion, and we accept that games must (like with movies or books) require our suspension of disbelief in order for them to perform their magic on us.

Or must they?

What if we didn’t have to create these false worlds, primed for explosions? What if these events were actual, real things happening in a virtual world? What if a crime spree was more than a pre-programmed sequence of events designed to give the illusion of an exciting chase (cue gunships to enter at the third checkpoint), what if crimes in games were real, they affected real lives, they were perpetrated by real people breaking real rules, and the heroes that pursued these criminals were actual heroes, truly protecting a virtual world? It’s possible, and it’s where I think games are ready to go.

The entire concept of real crime in a virtual game hinges on a couple of factors. First, how can crime be real in a virtual world? The answer is that although such a world is virtual, the value created inside it is not; it has tangible worth outside the game world. This is evident when one considers the gold farmers of WoW and real-world markets for games like Diablo. If there is real value in a virtual good, there can be real crime when it is stolen.

The second factor is the concept of rules, aka laws. Creating a game is not like creating a society, it’s more like creating a universe: You’re inventing the very laws of physics. If you want to make it physically impossible to pickpocket, it’s easily done. If a virtual world is programmed to not allow theft between players, that is not a societal construct, that’s a physical law of nature. To create a society, you need to have two layers of rules, what is possible and what is acceptable. You can only create a society if you create rules that can be broken. This distinction of rules is extremely important in a game and so often the two are confused, no distinction is made: Stealing is not allowed in many games, because it is physically impossible. The societal rules equal the physical rules.

What is the result of that? Safer, more predictable results. Protection of value. Avoidance of the unexpected. All the very things that make a story dull. The complete erasure of what’s interesting in a society. There will be no transcendence in a world whose physics prevent it, nothing you can protect because nothing can really be destroyed, no value can really be damaged, no risk, no real threat. The only thing you typically risk is your time, and there are scarcely real consequences for any action. The vast majority of games lock their rules down like so, and in the process they make the game safe, accessible, boring. Every path is laid out before the players on a thousand-tested track. In place of real risk we are given an illusory substitute, the impression of risk where none is present.

The states of the citizens of modern day virtual worlds are that of Clockwork Oranges, beings propelled to do good because bad has been made impossible. Can a choice be said to be moral or meaningful if it was the only one possible? By preventing players from breaking laws, you’re making good actions meaningless. By preventing value from being at-risk, you’re making it worthless. If something can be lost, it is that much more precious. To add meaning to a world, unlawful actions need to be possible.

And what do you get with the allowance of unlawful actions? You get criminals, players who aim to take advantage and break the rules of society, to harm their fellow man at their own gain. But that’s not all, and that’s not even the most interesting part. You get protectors, you get defenders, clashes between real good and evil, those that seek to harm and those that seek to protect and advance society. You get the car chases, the mysteries, the tragedies, the heroics and redemption and justice and punishment that make up all those stories most interesting to us, but this time they’re real and they mean something.


The closest a game has come to this is, once again, Eve, in a player run crime that was so fantastic it captured attention well outside the tight-knit circle of the game. It raises the question, should crime in a virtual world be punished in the real world? In that virtual world yes, punish them by all means, but in the real world I say no, and that is an important distinction to make. By leaving the real world and entering the virtual world, players are granting that they are at risk for crime, and in exchange they get a rich society where actions have meaning. Value may cross between worlds but punishment should not.

I await the day that we follow a crime in a game and all its attendant pursuit and punishment with attention as rapt as we give the stories of the real world, because they will be in fact be real crimes by real criminals, apprehended by real heroes putting themselves at risk. We have platforms for these types of interactions already in existence, the technology is already here. It is again only a challenge of design and imagination, a bridging of the central paradox of this discussion that is needed: To make these worlds meaningful, we have to put them and their occupants at risk of destruction.

2 responses to “Real Crime in Virtual Worlds”

  1. anon says:

    Given Diablo III’s real money auction house, it is only natural that items would not be at risk.

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Permanent Record

The paradox of online worlds

I’ve been playing a board game called Risk Legacy, the latest incarnation of the classic board game, and it features a surprising take on the role of permanence in games. Over multiple playthroughs the rules and board will actually permanently change based on what happens in each game. Winning the game will let you found a city, placing a sticker on the board. Continents can be named after a victory by actually writing on the board (sacrilege!), and territories can be permanently ‘scarred’ with combat modifiers. Certain actions will have you rip up cards and throw them in the trash. What’s more, new rules are actually added to the game when milestones are achieved.

The effect this has on the game is transformational. While the base rules are nearly the same as original Risk, the act of playing Risk Legacy feels much more meaningful. You aren’t just playing a game, you’re playing a role in that game’s history. You’re making history, and everything you decide to do in the game is now tinted by this knowledge. Your actions cease to be transient and are suddenly important.

As perhaps the first dalliance into permanence in the field of board games (besides the more free-form D&D style games) I’d say the experiment was very successful, and it brings to mind how we’re using the concept in our field of choice, video games. How are video games using permanence to give relevance and meaning to the experiences they provide? The technology of video games makes this a much easier (and less costly) thing to implement, particularly with the advent of the internet, and while there are some very interesting uses of permanence I believe the surface has barely been scratched.


Saving the world

Permanence is easy to achieve in a game where the full world exists per-player, and single-player games take advantage of this wholesale. Destroying some great evil and saving the world is one of the most common archetypes of video games, and usually your character will be permanently changed along the way. It’s an established, standard approach to give meaning to what the player is doing, but it is meaning that is limited to the black-box experience of that particular game world.
Permanence in online worlds on the other hand presents both much more promise and many more problems. Now the player is but one of hundreds, even thousands of people, each whose actions must be as meaningful as the next. Surely not every one of them can be the savior of the world; and yet ‘they must’, according to conventional wisdom about video games and the well-established legacy of single player games. That’s how games work, the player is always the center of the world and should be made to feel important.

Thus a paradox is formed: the player will be the one savior of the world, and so will everyone else. How do games deal with this paradox positioned right at the foundation of these online games?

The most common solution to this problem implemented by games like World of Warcraft and its imitators is to only give the illusion of the world changing. That massive horrible monster plaguing the world that you and your guild of 50 just destroyed? Respawned in 15 minutes. The important mission the archmage needs you and only you to complete? Nothing will change if you don’t do it, and hundreds are doing it simultaneously to you.


Getting off the roller-coaster

As a solution to the paradox this approach obviously works, as millions of WoW fans will attest. The game is fun, and as long as the player is comfortable playing under a suspension of disbelief (as they’re already doing given the fact they’re in a fantasty world), it can prove interesting. You can still engage in permanent advancement of your own character with your friends, even if the world doesn’t actually change.
Nevertheless, it feels unsatisfying. The reality of this world is compromised at a basic level, and it gives the entire enterprise a false feeling. Nothing you’re doing really matters in this world, and how could it? If I killed the boss permanently, no one else would get to play. The result is a game that feels less like a living, breathing world and more like an amusement park ride, where everyone is going on the same roller-coaster.

While I would say this is the most common solution to the paradox of permanent online worlds, it is not the only one. Many games have player-controlled spaces which can be gained and filled with permanent enhancements.  ‘Planetside’ allows you to push an enemy back to its spawn point, claiming all the land for your own team (though since you cannot destroy the source it is inevitable that they will regain their captured territory). ‘Eve Online’ has large swathes of zero-security space that players can dominate and develop, forming the basis of thriving economies and ecologies of resources. Eve’s approach is especially impressive, and the stories of subterfuge and destruction that occur in its world underline the fascinating scenarios that are possible in online worlds where their reality is not hamstrung by preventing permanent change.


An example of an online world where permanent change is fully embraced to great success is Minecraft. In Minecraft, permanently altering the world is the entire game. How do they avoid the paradox of online worlds?  They simply side-step it, and solve a different set of problems.  There is no roller-coaster ride of fighting evil and saving the day and the maximum number of players in a Minecraft world is in the dozens rather than thousands.  Building the world with your friends is the entire thing. Its meteoric rise to success highlights just how much players crave that kind of experience, a malleable world of other people where your actions have lasting effects and meaning.


A challenge of design

It feels like the video game industry sees one successful solution to a problem and assumes it is the only one. World of Warcraft created a fantastic online world nearly a decade ago, and its roller-coaster approach is taken as the only solution in countless similar games. Nevertheless, the fact that games like Eve and Minecraft are experimenting and pushing the boundaries of how an online world should work is very encouraging, and I believe developers that continue down this path of allowing permanent effects will find games of much deeper meaning and value.

Games like Minecraft allow us to craft these worlds, and it is only an iterative step to take that further. We have allowed characters to change and grow from the beginning, and we are just now allowing worlds to change with them. It is not a difficult to imagine allowing the interactions between players themselves to grow and change through player action. Let us bring rules to these worlds we create as players. Let us define our economies, our laws, our government, our justice systems. Let these worlds pulse with the same chaos of real life. To build an online world that allows thousands of players to interact simultaneously and then locking down this world into a static state is a failure of design, and most of these games are neutered versions of what is possible within an online world.

As designers of these universes we must find structures that promote and harness permanent change rather than prevent it. We must reexamine the solutions we have chosen to the design problems posed by these worlds. The technology to do this exists, it is possible and exemplified in many games already. It is at this point only a challenge of design, a challenge that we have not fully accepted.


4 responses to “Permanent Record”

  1. Ron says:

    Hmmm, permanence is usually a single-player thing, isn’t it? A player choice might affect the world, but only for that one player. Player-directed permanence across play sessions, for multiple players, doesn’t happen often.

    The designer of Risk:Legacy was on the Three Moves Ahead podcast a few months ago:

    He had some interesting comments about their playtesting and the iterations the game went through. In early versions of the game, there were a ton of choices available and players were (permanently!) digging themselves into holes without knowing it. Part of the designer’s challenge was keeping players from shooting themselves in the foot, so they had to come up with a way to restrict choices at first, but open them up as the players get more game experience under their belts. Hence the system of envelopes that only get opened once certain milestones/achievements happen in the game….

    • John K. says:

      It makes sense that he had to take a restricted approach to permanence – its a dangerous mechanic to apply in the raw, in board games or video games. It takes lot more thought to design something when you add that extra requirement, but the potential for something amazing is so much more.

  2. I think permanence in online games should become more popular as those games gain meaningful complexity. I’m glad you mentioned Eve in this article because it’s exactly what I was thinking of when I read the intro paragraph. I find the world of Eve Online extremely intriguing. I haven’t played a lot of it, only a month after a trial stint, but I have read a lot about how the game functions, how they had an actual economist come in and start setting things up in the markets and item prices.

    I think the beauty of Eve is exactly as you mentioned, the “empty space” that anyone can conquer and hold. The fact that you can become a mercenary and guard shipments of resources back and forth to warring factions (real human factions) is incredible. The one thing I found with Eve was the learning curve was incredibly steep to start out with, and that I think has kept it to quite an exclusive club playing in the way that a lot of us wish we could.

    My dream game would be something similar to Eve, but a lot softer learning curve into the economy. I think if it was land-based and set on a few planets instead of vast wide space you could attract a lot more people to play as well. Build up a fairly simple resource based economy and have factions that need to work together or against each-other for territory and control. Allow mining and tunneling so you could have factions underground, or on mountains, etc. I realize it’s getting close to mimicking real life, but there’s so much other fun you can have with a video game universe.

    Great article.

    • John K. says:

      I found the learning curve of eve pretty forbidding as well, but I like the direction CCP is going for their next game, integrating a first person shooter into the Eve universe. There’s room for all levels of players in these online universes, and with the right design a casual player can be as useful to the world as a hardcore player. Thanks for the comment.

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On Technology, Games, and Opportunity



We live in a world where a vast number of people walk around with what would previously have been considered supercomputers in their pocket. Each of these enormously powerful machines remains in high-bandwidth connection with every other connected machine in the world. Clearly we have arrived in the future. What are we doing with all this amazing technology surrounding us? Not nearly as much as what we could be doing, this blog will argue.


In the field of video games we have been ever advancing towards photorealism for decades, and with each new technologocial advancement we see an almost immediate improvement in graphics. The vistas thats developers and artists are able to create with this power is undeniably beautiful, and this progress should (and will) continue. However, there is another direction that is in comparison almost wholly ignored. It’s easiest to apply improvements to technology in an incremental fashion, continuing trends where improvement is obvious (higher poly count, more shader detail), but what about the less obvious consequences? What about those pockets of experience that, previously impossible, can now suddenly be discovered?  What about gameplay, AI, physics, connectivity, what new possibilities are created with our latest technology?


It is an extremely relevant and lucrative question. In a market crowded with me-too games and ostensibly ‘safe’ bets, there is enormous potential for games that do something different, that push the envelope, and consumers are ready and fast to notice. It is a market incredibly ripe for these kind of advancements. While game makers scramble to recreate the latest hit title, there lies an ocean of unexplored possibilities laid before them. As an example ‘Draw Something’, a game only 6 weeks old, has already garnered 37 million downloads and was today purchased by Zynga for $180 million. How did this happen, and why now? The technology to create a title like this has existed for a few years at least, and the connectivity it requires through social media has been available as well. What can account for that delay? A game where you draw with friends seems like the most obvious idea in the world and the perfect use of this technology, and yet it took this long for it to hit. The fact that a game can go from nothing to 37 million downloads in less than 2 months points to a woefully underserved audience, and I believe games like these have barely scratched the surface of new experiences that technology now allows and that consumers will readily embrace.


Looking at the length of time between when a truly new game is created and when the concept would have been possible on current tech is an interesting excersie, and almost always the game trails the tech that makes it possible by 5 years or more. When did the technology exist to create the space-warping gameplay of Portal, or the time-bending puzzles of Braid? Years before the games arrived, and yet no one explored these gameplay possibilities until much later. Notably, in both these cases the leap was created by game industry outsiders.  Braid was created by an independent developer and Portal’s original concept by a student.  The fact that hundreds of companies and thousands of employees in the mainstream games industry were unable or unwilling to create either of these styles of gameplay (both very high rated, industry-defining games) despite the technology being available for years indicates a focus that is critically missing in the games industry. However, rather than see this as a fault and a reason to lament, it should be seen as an enormous opportunity. The tech to make these types of games is here, and the audience is here. It’s simply a matter of taking the ‘risky’ bets and building these kinds of games, and in the current climate of the games industry I would easily swap the conventional ideas of what is safe and what is risky.


So in the field of games, what can be done with technology that currently is not? It is a question whose answer has the power to transform the games industry, push games as an artform, and form the basis of a solid business.


Through the Loop is a new blog meant to explore that question. Each article will focus on the strange new worlds and expereiences that are just becoming possible with available computing power and connectivity, examining existing instances created by today’s innovators, following where they lead, and looking at ideas on the horizon as they approach. It is written by myself, John Krajewski, a programmer and designer at Strange Loop Games where our primary focus as a studio is creating games that push the envelope of gameplay using technology. At first glance a blog that discusses the very ideas that we hope to develop would seem to give away the cow, but I subscribe to the notion that ideas themselves are cheap, and that sharing them will multiply their value, gaining you both insight and support from the community at large.  I hope you’ll join the discussion.

11 responses to “On Technology, Games, and Opportunity”

  1. Kregoth says:

    Interesting read I can’t agree more! The gaming industry is now just starting to come out of it infantile state… Sure the industry is huge and all, but for the lack of better words it still acts like a child in terms of innovation and originality. It is pretty sad when basement dwelling programmers are capable of wowing the general public more then those with multimillion dollar budgets.

    I honestly think that it’s not due to large companies unwilling to innovate or take the risk on something new, but because they have yet to open themselves up to the public more. They need to break themselves into a habit of sharing there ideas before creation, spreading and sharing information is far superior then the past, they just haven’t tried using it correctly yet. Similar to your idea of sharing your brainstorming sessions to the public (I still want to take part in those FYI :P)

    I think game like yours, minecraft, project zomboid and many others are proof of the industry trying to move in a better direction. In all likeliness though sadly it might be a few more years before these smaller groups are capable of causing enough of a rippling affect to cause this to happen. “Seriously enough with the FPS remakes, and hand holding game play lol”

    I for one though am happy for the future of the industry, we are finally at the point where game design is far more approachable then it was a few years ago, coupled with the ability to share those ideas… I think we will start seeing these changes sooner rather then later (fingers crossed :)”

    • John K. says:

      Thanks Kregoth, I actually think this is the best time to be in the games industry, there are so many avenues for inventing and funding innovative titles and a wide-open market for them. The ‘keep things secret till we’re ready’ mentality seems inappropriate these days now that you can be funded directly by your players ala kickstarter, etc.

      • Kregoth says:

        definitely, @timoflegend showed just how much people are willing to show there love for something they want to see happen with his 3+ million worth of backed funds 🙂

        I think the current set of events that have been occurring in the past 3 years is going to really shake up Publishers more so then Developers and I for one am happy to see that happen 🙂

        Now I just need to get back into the industry, would love to do community work for some indie developer group like yours specially if they are in Seattle 😛 you hiring by any chance? I am really good at stuff I promise! 🙂

        Can’t wait to see what else you add to this blog, I already got it added to my RSS reader and am looking forward to reading them… I’ll try my best to always add comments for you.

  2. hanging_rope says:

    I think you are completely right. Very well written article.

  3. Justin says:

    Hey John,

    Justin from theBitFix here. This is without a doubt one of the most exciting blog posts I’ve read about the video game industry because it states concretely something I’ve felt in my bones but have been unable to put to words. The two most popular genres for video games (action/shooters and RPGs) are becoming repetitive and are begging for new ideas, but when there’s a market to consider, larger game studios can’t take risks – it’s the downside of creating big projects.

    You guys are famous for your puzzler “Vessel” but I’d love to see how Strange Loop could apply this philosophy to the aformentioned genres. How about an RPG without orcs, elves, magic and swords, maybe like a more complicated version of flOw ( You’ve already got an engine with fluid mechanics, and it would be interesting to play as a liquid-based life-form that can grow and make progress in some way or another.

    I’m working on an editorial at theBitFix regarding the philosophy espoused in this post and its impact on genre. I find innovation in video-games fascinating and there’s a lot to be said on the topic. Hope that you can check it out when you get a chance (I’ll tweet you the link when it’s published)

  4. John K. says:

    Hey Justin, great to hear its a sentiment that’s rising in the industry. Putting our tech to work in something new and different is something we’re currently looking at. We’re thinking about making the process for thinking of our next game very public, so you should be able to see it soon.

    Good luck on the editorial, would be happy to weigh in if you want any opinions in there.

  5. This just makes me want to quite everything and become an EVE addict… But at the same time I don’t want to spend all the time doing the boring, realistic stuff – like mining for hours and hours, or flying from one spot to another for culminating hours and hours. I do like the idea of realistic chaos, but why do we have to include hours of boredom in our fantasies?

    Also, I’ve always been unattracted to how MMOs usually reward players based on time spent gaming. Of course you want to reward players that play a lot, but, for instance with WOW, you have to get to level 70 (or whatever it is) just to get to the actually fun part of the game, PVP. And then when you get their I imagine the strongest players are the ones who have played longest and thus have the best items. There might be an important difference between learning curve and time-invested curve.

    Boredom and time-investment, two hard nutshells to crack for MMO gaming, perhaps its just a complaint of a lazy gamer. But on the flip side, I have put in hundreds of hours with Counter Strike, which has much less boring time (albeit they do have a wait in-between deaths, but not hours and hours, usually less than a minute) and player strength is based on skill, not items or character level-ups.

  6. Ryan Irby says:

    I totally agree with you John and one of the most interesting blogs yet. Games made today have so much more potential in the aspect of structure and game play it’s amazing.

    Back in the 90s we were pushing video and graphics development at a rapid rate to create that next photorealistic feel because that’s what games lacked in. Well it’s 2012, “supercomputers” can now fit in our pockets and I believe we’ve made some milestones in that area. Of course there is always room for improvement in the field of graphic design but like you said, that shouldn’t be the focus now.

    Very well laid out article John. I believe you and your “strange” company will not only inspire a new era of fun and innovative games, but also inspire a new generation of fun and innovative game developers.

    • John K. says:

      Thanks Ryan, glad to hear it may be a common sentiment. With this wide-open field of things to try with technology I think it will be a very fascinating future ahead of us in games.

  7. Cong Cong Tang says:

    I think permanence is a great concept to work into games. I’ve rarely played a game where I have had to think about the lasting effects my character’s actions have on the game world. I have seen Risk Legacy and would love to see more games where the player is given enough agency to affect their environments to the same level.

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