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Adquisitio. Principles of Video Games. An essay on Acquisition.

In this paper, I endeavor to detail the principle of Acquisition, what I call a Gameplay Challenge and how it pertains to the development of a software suite I titled Diadema, that I am developing.

Diadema is a software suite which provides a Quest Engine component and related functions to Video Games, particularly RPGs, which I have been working on for quite some time. However, this software toolset will never be realized unless I come to a complete, intricate and elaborate understanding of the principles of Video Games (the fruits of my labor partially revealed in these blogs). In my last paper, I discussed how the prevalence of Items, and there various types, is a constituent of many games in variety. In this essay, I endeavor to example and explain the principle of what I call Acquisition, which is a Gameplay Challenge that involves acquiring (this list is not all-inclusive) an NPC, Creature or Item. However, before I detail this principle with examples of certain games it is utilized in, I think a simple glance at all challenges, in list form, is in order.

What follows is a collection of titles of Gameplay Challenges in abstract form. I created the following list via extensive analysis of numerous games I have played throughout the years: Acquisition, Adaptation, Ally Rivalry, Antagonist Hunted, Assemble Army, Attack Mission, Bearers, Blackmail, Broadcast, Civilization, Clearing the Hex, Command and Control, Contractual Acquisition, Crime of Passion, Cultivate Reagents, Dangerous Discovery, Deadline, Difficult choice, Divine, Enemy amidst Civilians, Epic impact, Epic challenge, Escape and Return, Escort mission, Exploration, Fix before Rescue, Flawed Intelligence, Gather Clues, Govern Civilization, Hidden Base, Hostile Environment, Inexperienced Command, Interference, Interview Witnesses, Invasion, Kidnap, Mass Combat, Ministers of Justice, Moving Goal, No Direct Conflict, NPC Resentment, Owned Treasure, Political Defection, Protagonist Hunted, Prove Innocence, Race, Reconnaissance Mission, Redemption, Rescuers become Rescuees, Rescue Those in Need, Valuable Person, Vital Dingus, Secret Discovery, Sentient Treasure, Shelter is Cause of Threat, Siege, Silent Cover, Struggle to Survive, Supernatural Discovery, Sustenance, Train Army, Travel, Troublesome Charge, Truly Not Safe, Unwelcome in Shelter, Vanished Courier, Warp Jump. A lot to digest at once? Of course!

Due to the fact that this list is extensive, in this essay, I will detail only the principle of Acquisition and future publications will detail, one by one, each Challenge across a variety of Video Games to demonstrate the abstract nature of the constituent and how they can apply to the development of any of our beloved pastimes. Thereafter, I will further detail other signature elements of a Video Game (each entry on this list having numerous constituents similar to Gameplay Challenges and also note that some games lack one or more of these categories): Player, Enemies, NPCs, Relationships, Play-styles, Achievements, Moral Disposition, Genre, Culture, Natural Forces, Theory, Puzzle, Music, Sound Effects, Weapons, Armors, Plot, Character, Art, Pattern, Rating, Lives, Code, Artificial Intelligence, Cinema, Visual-Musical Harmony, Theme, wow-factor, Gender, Graphics, Innovative Elements, Humor, Realistic or Stylized Design and Settings.

As briefly detailed in the opening paragraph of this paper, there are numerous constituents or differing types of an Acquisition Gameplay Challenge. I will example three: Creatures, Items and NPCs.

The Acquisition of a Creature is a type of challenge prevalent in Video Games. As an example, consider the Sega Genesis classic: Sonic the Hedgehog. In this game, the antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik has trapped Sonics animal friends in mean robots and prison like capsules, friends of which the hedgehog embarks on a quest to set free. Another example of this type of challenge can be observed in Super Metroid. In this critically acclaimed Super Nintendo Video Game, the player controls Samus Aran on the quest to find a Metroid (large parasitic organisms that can siphon life energy from any life-form) that was stolen from the Ceres Space Colony that Samus delivered it to, as the scientists there believed they could harness its power.

Consider the Legend of Zelda. Whereas it features an Acquisition of NPC challenge (the Princess Zelda), it also features the Acquisition of an Item: The Triforce of Wisdom. This item consists of eight fragments that were hidden in dungeons throughout Hyrule (the games setting, also an element of the Acquisition Gameplay Challenge in a peculiar way, but beyond the scope of this paper). The player, playing as the boy Link, must enter these dungeons and acquire the pieces. Remember? “Go find the eight units, Link, to save her.” In Dragon Warrior, the player roleplaying as the descendant of Erdrick, must acquire the Orb of Light which will, as it has before in the storyline, drive away monsters that threaten the kingdom of Alefgard. Similarly in an example drawn from my essay Inventarium, The Light Warriors of the first installment of Final Fantasy must restore the Light to four darkened orbs. Although Light is not an Item in its truest form as an example, it does suffice to be if we regard it as some type of “thing”.

In Vigilante, the player assumes the role of a dangerous man that deems himself a personal minister of justice to a gang of criminals that kidnap Madonna. The game utilizes the principle, Acquisition of NPC, as a signature element that defines the entire game. If there were no Madonna to save, there would not be a Video Game to play. The same principle is evident in The Legend of Zelda. Any gamer from my generation can recall the beloved gold colored cartridge, map and manual quest aids to save Princess Zelda from the clutches of the pig-like Ganon. Similarly in an arcade beat ‘em up classic many gamers from my generation endear, Double Dragon, twin brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee quest into the Black Warriors turf to save Marian, there mutual love interest.

Video Games since the dawn of their beginning have many parts like gears that work like clockwork to deliver a pleasant entertainment experience, catering to different gamers in numerous different ways. And it is knowledge of these constituents that I am unlocking and in-turn utilizing as I build Diadema, an application suite that developers can utilize to assist them with the development of games. Of course this will take some time as my programming capabilities are not up to par at the current moment. However, classes at MIT’s OpenCourseWare will certainly do the trick.

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