Contemplating Player Input in Craft Simulation Games
As part of a study I did surrounding crafting simulation game for my dissertation I created a method of calculating player input. I did this while studying my MA in Independent Games and Playable Experience Design.
Excerpt from my dissertation:
“ Games which rely on the collection of materials often focus on a virtual depiction of skill which improve over time based on the player’s continued engagement with the crafting system. Games that directly require player input within the crafting mechanic rely on players’ real-world dexterity but are also modelled with the concept of the player improving over time through continued practice in using the crafting system. Games which rely mostly on the collection of resources tend to put slightly more weight into the importance of material properties. Stardew Valley (2016) separates resources into a wider range, for example, within the game there are three types of wood Hardwood, Wood and Driftwood, each type of wood is different and where it is found, how it has to be collected, the way it can be used and, depending on the object crafted, how long it will last. Games which mostly rely on player input tend to focus more on modelling the action and desired outcome in the game. In Crafting Mama (2010) the sole focus is on creating the items which the player has picked, there is no need or opportunity to collect resources as they are provided for you but the player is required to follow the directions in order to achieve the crafting steps required to produce an item. For example when threading the needle the player has to wait for the right moment when the string can go through the eye of the needle by clicking on the screen at the moment that the eye of the needle and the string line up, the success of this is solely based on players’ input. Based on this idea I created a calculation to work out the player input in percentage.” Thompson (2020)
In order to allow for more accurate comparison between games when I use this calculation the engagement time does not include the time it takes to gather materials as not all crafting games require players to do this.
Excerpt from my dissertation:
“The level of user input required in order to simulate a craft depends not just on how additional information such as resource behaviour and use are applied but also on the craft which is being simulated. Within the extraction of crafting mechanics within simulation role-play games automation, often done through animation or dialogue, is an important feature in modelling the system and providing players feedback but a level of player input, which creates an engageable level of the feeling of agency is also an imperative consideration when creating a crafting mechanic that flows. Crafting mechanics which rely solely on either player input or automation simplify crafty mechanics to a negligible level but crafting mechanics which sit somewhere between these features are more successful in providing a relatable simulation that reflects real world crafting. Westcott (2013) surmised that “Contemporary craft is about making things. It is an intellectual and physical activity…” as such a digital version should also encompass the aspects of both intellectual and physical activity in order to create a true reflection.” Thompson (2020)
This is an area I hope to explore further and in my continued exploration refine my calculation even further by applying it to a wider range of crafting games and games with crafting elements.
- Boerstra, J., Toivonen, M., Bergensten, J. and Persson, M., 2011. Minecraft. [Platforms] Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Raspberry Pi, Universal Windows Platform, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV ,Mojang, Microsoft Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Barone, E., 2016. Stardew Valley. [Platform] PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS],, ConcernedApe, Chucklefish Games.
- Cooking Mama Limited, 2010. Crafting Mama. [Platform] Nintendo DS, Square Enix, Majesco Entertainment, 505 Games.
- Thompson, Shanique (2020) How is the abstract knowledge of craft and material properties shared with the user in simulation role-play video games? M.A. Dissertation. pp. 17–19
- Westecott, Emma (2013) Independent game development as craft. The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association, 7 (11). pp. 78–91. ISSN 1923- 2691 Available at http://openre s e a r c h.oca d u.ca/id/eprint/376/