Game talkThe Devil Wears Prada game

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Mar 062013
 

The Devil Wears Prada game:

Easy Mode

  • A game about climbing the ladder at a fashion magazine. Lots of special event parties and lots of character customization

Normal mode

  • A game about attempting to edit a fashion magazine successfully — including taste-setting and photoshoots and budgets and ambitious editors

Hard mode

  • A game that teaches you that even the most frivolous-seeming of professions and activities have surprising depths; and people who passionately dive deep into the minutiae; and more, even consider it to be important to human civilization

Nightmare mode

  • A game that seems to be about the prices we pay to be at the pinnacle of a profession, and about what we sacrifice; but that in the end reverses it all, and becomes about the fact that we all make a commitment to something, even if it is inactivity, or a balanced life, and that in the end, we always still sacrifice everything we chose not to do.

The Cabin In the Woods game:

Easy Mode

  • A game wherein you have to stay alive during a vacation while someone is trying to cause a horror movie around you.

Normal mode

  • A game where you run a facility that generates fear and horror to feed an elder God. You have to put teenagers into horror movie scenarios (lots of theme-park style building game) and run them through your gauntlet, hoping to get them all killed.

Hard mode

  • A game about rituals that hold us back from disaster, and whether the sacrifice of a few for the sake of the ritual is ethical; but that manages to also raise the question of whether the imprisonment of all-powerful and presumably advanced quasi-deities for the sake of the survival of a bunch of entities that are nowhere near as advanced is ethical either

Nightmare mode

  • A game that seems to be about the construction of artworks that subvert tropes in a genre, but actually ends up being about the gleeful exercise of said tropes while knowing that it is a betrayal of the higher-minded ethos we lie to ourselves about; about the fact that by questioning the tropes we are perpetuating them through critique.

The Jiro Dreams of Sushi game:

Easy Mode

  • A game about making sushi, with lots of motion controls.

Normal mode

  • A game about running a sushi shop, with supply chains and choices on fish quality, and the issues of when and whether to promote assistants

Hard mode

  • A game about alienation of family due to artistic passion. Points are scored by how many family members and followers you manage to suck into your world, balanced with the artistic perfection of the pursuit. Multiple failure states: lots of followers, low quality; no followers, high quality; no followers, low quality.

Nightmare mode

  • A game that seems to be about the prices we pay to be at the pinnacle of a profession, and about what we sacrifice; but that in the end reverses it all, and becomes about the fact that we all make a commitment to something, even if it is inactivity, or a balanced life, and that in the end, we always still sacrifice everything we chose not to do. Hmm, wait, we did that one already.

Your turn. Pick a movie, and post the four levels of difficulty.

Edit:

I clearly needed to explain this post, based on some of the reactions I got. :)

Basically, these are the difficulty levels for game designers. Easy mode is the cop-out game adaptation, the easy answer. A more adventurous team might go for normal mode. But Hard and Nightmare are the regions we rarely venture to in games… some would argue because they aren’t commercial enough. But the movies mentioned all get these points across — in commercially successful content even… so why couldn’t the games?

 

  13 Responses to “The Devil Wears Prada game”

  1. Drive
    Easy mode: A game about a getaway driver, eluding cops in a tricked out Chevy Malibu
    Normal mode: A game about being a mercenary criminal, with brutal hand-to-hand combat and intense driving
    Hard mode: A game about protecting an innocent woman as you attempt to juggle a romantic relationship alongside the unspeakable acts of violence required to shelter her
    Nightmare mode: A game about suppressing your demons, sacrificing yourself to protect a symbol of innocence, and treating your existential loneliness by driving

    It’s not just that Nightmare mode doesn’t sell. Games just aren’t effective at creating these themes and emotions yet. Every form of media has to create immersion and flow in order to suspend disbelief when attempting to conjure up complicated themes like sacrifice and emotional betrayal. Movies and books already have a formula for creating this trickery and illusion. The tools that video games have at their disposal do not work well here. These themes usually involve people and interpersonal conflict, and the tricks that games have just don’t work well with people yet. Resource management, risk reward, reflex and timing, input dexterity, memorization, visual acuity, these are not the tools for that job. One day though…one day.

  2. […] Raph's Website » The Devil Wears Prada game […]

  3. Watchmen
    Easy Mode – a game about pummeling villains with your not-quite-superhuman abilities.

    Normal Mode – a game about averting nuclear annihilation by piecing together a mystery (while pummeling some villains).

    Hard Mode – A game that teaches the consequences of vigilantism: exploring doing the right thing vs the legal thing and the morality of extreme measures such as torture and murder. At what point do you cross the line from doing good to doing evil?

    Nightmare Mode – A game that seems to be about good versus evil, but is really about challenging your conception of good and evil. Can short-term good be long-term evil, and can short-term evil be long-term good? Bonus points if one is a tragedy and millions isn’t just a statistic, but a million simultaneous tragedies.

  4. […] Raph's Website » The Devil Wears Prada game ICYMI: Blog this morning on how hard is it to design a good game adaptation of a movie? Do we usually cop out? http://t.co/ydKaaBdeHc […]

  5. This is a neat post. I’m going to think about such exercises with the next few movies I watch.

    I think you’ve illustrated part of the reason that devs don’t typically do Hard/Nightmare mode games. In all of your examples, the Easy/Normal modes give examples of gameplay structure (e.g., make sushi, manage supply/employment/budget). None of the harder modes, however, give any such examples. You give concepts for the easier modes, and wishes or goals for the harder modes. Can you come up with potential ways to structure your harder-mode goals into gameplay concepts?

  6. […] in awhile until Alexis over at Tao of D&D referenced this post about game design thought out in game difficulty modes.  From the […]

  7. House of Cards

    Easy Mode: The Sims DC: customize clothes, read the tabloids, follow the drama

    Normal Mode: Grand Theft Auto DC, where you arrive in DC as a Senator from a Southern State and try to become President

    Hard Mode: A game about the complicated tradeoffs and gambles inherent in attempting to reach a top political office. Points scored on how far you move toward the top office. Risks are flashed on screen but then disappear.

    Nightmare Mode: A game that seems to be about the sacrifices to reach the top, and the moral sacrifice; but in the end its about the commitment we make to play the one game in our lives, breaking every rule to reach the destination while only occasionally pondering why that destination matters at all.

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