Author Topic: Games Without Avatars  (Read 3797 times)

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Offline Jaleho

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Games Without Avatars
« on: May 15, 2009, 08:33:53 am »
Need some brainstorming power from the community...

What are some games where you DON'T control a visual character?

Obviously in most games you have an avatar like Mario or Link. Others have a vehicle, or perhaps a controllable object, like a PONG paddle.

In a puzzle game like Tetris, you may not have a character, but for a few seconds, you DO control the falling piece.

In a First-Person game, you may not see your character, but you are at least controlling a CAMERA around a 3d world.

I'd even go so far to say in many games, a simple MOUSE POINTER is the character you control. You might not directly drive the troops in an RTS, but you need to select them, and unless you're typing the location of a chess piece, you either select it with the mouse or by moving a flashing square to the right location.

Past that, I've found a few possible examples.

First is non-graphical games (like Zork or any other text-based game). Even some of their graphical counterparts worked this way -- you couldn't actually control the character with arrows or a mouse OR click on the ground, so other than "exit room" the character was not actually directly controlled by the player.

Something like MYST or modern flash "escape the room" games are like this - no real character that moves around, just a slideshow of screens with clickable areas.

Dragon's Lair and Space Ace are like this - you don't actually control the character as much as you pick which movie will play next based on a selection.

Duck Hunt and other light gun games might be like this - modern flash versions of sniper games have a target that moves like a pointer, but there really isn't anything like that in Duck Hunt or Hogan's Alley, etc.

Board games and card games, I think those might count. Even then, you sometimes have to move a pointer to select a card or a space to move to.

Anyone have any other ideas? I'm trying to distill down the basics of all games, and having some input moving some graphic on a screen, even if its a pointer, seems to exist in almost every graphical game.



Offline PatMan33

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2009, 08:48:39 am »
Seems like you hit most of the points. Finding a somewhat reliable definition of "video game" might be a good starting point.

Video Game - Dictionary.com
Video Game - Wikipedia
Game Mechanic - Wikipedia

Offline Uroboros

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2009, 10:47:34 am »
If a tetris block or a mouse pointer can be construed as the player avatar, then your examples of Myst, Zork, Dragon's Lair, Duck Hunt, and even board games are also rendered invalid. Even if no character-avatar is outlined, as you said, the camera is assumed to be you. In text-only games, even if you were to control and roleplay as an incorporeal force you are still given an avatar, an in-game medium through which to interact with the world. Duck Hunt? Maybe, but the game casts you as an off-screen hunter. Dragon's Lair style games has you as the on-screen protagonist though your control method is detatched from the normal direct methods. Board games often have avatars in the way of pieces on the board, and even failing that, you yourself are effectively the avatar in just being the "red player" and referenced directly.

So what it really boils down to, is that you're trying to find a game where the method of player interaction is pretty much a non-element. That kind of eliminates the ability to recieve in-game feedback, and also pretty much halts your ability to take part too.
Error : Mismatch

You are currently taking part in an exercise of absurdity. If the 'camera' or the mouse pointer can be considered an avatar, then you cannot have a game without an avatar. It seems you need to tweak your thinking on this one.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 10:53:09 am by Uroboros »

Offline IamMe

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2009, 01:16:56 pm »
You are currently taking part in an exercise of absurdity. If the 'camera' or the mouse pointer can be considered an avatar, then you cannot have a game without an avatar. It seems you need to tweak your thinking on this one.

Um, isn't this why he's asking us?

Offline Null

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2009, 04:02:00 pm »
It is what it is... you don't have a game that has no user input or interface. The mouse is not a character, but simply the method with which you interact with the game.

See also: films, books.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 04:07:17 pm by Null »

Offline Jaleho

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2009, 04:59:37 pm »
If a tetris block or a mouse pointer can be construed as the player avatar, then your examples of Myst, Zork, Dragon's Lair, Duck Hunt, and even board games are also rendered invalid.

Good, this is why I provided examples that someone would argue against - I need help nailing this down.

Quote
Even if no character-avatar is outlined, as you said, the camera is assumed to be you.
Duck Hunt? Maybe, but the game casts you as an off-screen hunter.

If the camera is fixed, however -- in every FPS you're MOVING a camera around. In something like Duck Hunt, the camera never moves, so you're not controlling it.

I'm trying to find a game where the method of player interaction is...
...detached from the normal direct methods...
...still allowing the ability to receive in-game feedback...
...without halting your ability to take part.

I'm looking for games where you don't press a key indicating a direction and something on the screen moves in that direction. No character, no camera angle, no menu pointer. Games where you don't use a mouse, joystick or gamepad of any kind, WASD or arrow keys, yet you still interact with it. Games where you aren't moving an object.

Imagine SimCity if, instead of the mouse, you had a drop down menu with "1. Build Residential; 2. Build Commercial; 3..." and you hit a key to select an option, THEN, you typed in X and Y locations for the zone to be built at. No direct controls, no avatar, and assuming your city all fit on one screen, no camera view movement. the game would STILL be just as playable (but very slow going) as the mouse version. THAT is the kind of thing I'm curious about.

Offline Gungnir

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2009, 05:10:54 pm »
Uh, what about text based rpg's?

"You open the door."
etc.

Offline Jaleho

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2009, 05:33:59 pm »
Uh, what about text based rpg's?

"You open the door."
etc.

Yeah, see all the Zork games were like that. And inbetween the text-only and the Sierra/LucasArts graphical adventures, there was a period of games where you DID see a room illustrated, filled with exits and objects to collect and enemies and occasionally you as an avatar. Yet, you were still restricted from either typing in commands or selecting actions from a menu.

Maybe something like an animated choose your own adventure book, where you hit a number to choose a path, then you get a little action scene, and make another choice.

Offline Null

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2009, 06:01:34 pm »
How is hitting (typing) a number any different from typing a command?

Offline Jaleho

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2009, 06:39:35 pm »
How is hitting (typing) a number any different from typing a command?

English Language Text Parsing:  trying to read a sentence typed in words vs a pre-written command with an ID number

Hitting the number one to pick up a sword is much easier for a computer to interpret than reading and understanding
"take sword"
"get sword"
"pick up sword"
"obtain sword"
"lift sword"
"grab sword"
"put sword in bag"
"take the sword"
"take a sword"
"take any sword"
"take all swords"
"take the big sword"
"take blade"
"take knife"
"take dagger"
"take rapier"
"take sabre"

Offline Null

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2009, 07:02:02 am »
Ease of use has nothing to do with the fact that you are still typing commands be they a number or a phrase.

Easier than text interface? So is using a point-and-click interface, such as a mouse. Uroboros is quite correct, what you are looking for is a game that is not a game. Besides brevity there is nothing different between text and numbers. You are looking at the user interface systems, you are looking for a system that requires minimal input. And yet you reject the mouse as an avatar, but you say that numbered keys are not? And in tetris the arrow keys are the interface. What is typed on specific keys on your keyboard means nothing. In games you can tie any game command to a key. If a game used 4 numbers for its user interface (1234), you can tie the game that uses those numbers to use the asdf keys or even the arrow keys instead and it will still make no difference in playing the game or in how many keys you type. I agree with Uroboros - what you are looking for does not exist.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 10:32:51 am by Null »

Offline /lurk

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2009, 07:17:22 am »
Maybe something like an animated choose your own adventure book, where you hit a number to choose a path, then you get a little action scene, and make another choice.

This topic doesn't really make sense at all, but it does give me an excuse to link to Which Way Adventure, which is excellent.
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Offline The_Kev

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2009, 08:18:21 am »
What about The Incredible Toon Machine? ;)
(http://www.geocities.com/auhouse/misc_dir/tmtsolnbrainstrain.gif)
You do not play any certain avatar... I think
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 08:25:40 am by The_Kev »
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Offline Uroboros

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2009, 09:03:52 am »
I'm trying to find a game where the method of player interaction is...
...detached from the normal direct methods...
...still allowing the ability to receive in-game feedback...
...without halting your ability to take part.
Well thats not quite the same thing as what you said in your opening post...

Quote
I'm looking for games where you don't press a key indicating a direction and something on the screen moves in that direction. No character, no camera angle, no menu pointer. Games where you don't use a mouse, joystick or gamepad of any kind, WASD or arrow keys, yet you still interact with it. Games where you aren't moving an object.
Your only option left then is to look into the entire 'brain controlled interface' thing, and they're horrendously unreliable.
Even then, your wording of "camera angle" is strange. That only applies to 3D games. Unless you meant "no mobile viewing point", which just means you want the entire game constrained to one screen... but why? Because thats too conventional? You don't want a mobile viewpoint, you don't want it to be adjustable either? Hell, you might as well say "having optical feedback is too overdone too". Even then, there have been concept games where there was no visual element, where everything was totally blacked out, but it was controlled like a 3D shooter (mouse and WASD) and you had to navigate by sound alone. Aside from a little novelty fun, it all boils down to be a bit pretentious, or grasping at straws in hopes of being the next big thing.

Uh, what about text based rpg's?

"You open the door."
etc.
They have both an avatar and a conventional control method. You cannot see your avatar, yet you are directly linked to the main character, who is your presence in the game world and representative of 'you'.

Now, all in all, what you seem to be trying to do is hit off on an original idea. The problem here is that you're dealing with the roots of human interface, and thats a really bad way to go about it. Its like trying to invent a vehicle that doesnt move. You're tripping along an interesting line of thought but there is a kind of 'mismatch' in your approach. Two plus fifteen does not equal beaf casserole. I mean what the hell man, thats not even a number.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 01:01:31 pm by Uroboros »

Offline madis

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Re: Games Without Avatars
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2009, 10:40:43 am »
The closest thing I can think of to an avatarless game is a simulation.

A simulation where you just stare at what something does, without having any possiblity to change what happens.

But that really isnt a game.

Click on the picture.
Tick, tick, tick the time goes by,
tick, tick, tick the clock blows up.