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Discuss your manifesto!

A topic by Oportet created Feb 13, 2018 Views: 394 Replies: 9
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These manifestos seem like a great jumping off point for a all-encompassing conversation. The meaty kind of conversation, the one you aren't allowed to have at Thanksgiving dinner because uncle Ted is wrong and won't admit it.

I've been browsing through the manifestos being submitted. I'm pretty sure we're all insane. Also, there's a lot of manifestos. So why don't we start talking about them? What could possibly go wrong?

If you see a manifesto that deserves discussion, either yours or someone else's, post it here. I got too much free time, so I wouldn't mind taking a look. And I'm 90% sure other people are just like me (insane). But fair warning: we're writing over-the-top, blunt-as-hammers, highly-idealistic crap.  I'm expecting deep philisophic differences are going to be exposed, we're all gonna hate each other, and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT HOW COULD YOU.

I'll start! My true realism manifeso discusses rules and techniques for game creators to avoid negatively impacting their audience. It also establishes new rules for games criticism, to make it as useful as possible. Oh, and I really love Monstrous Love And Heroic Failure. I've always though of designating something a monster not only unsatisfying (99% of monsters would be cooler if you could team up with them), but a worrying shortcut for villiany. If you can't figure out what makes a villian, then you aren't qualified to spread your opinions with games.

This is gonna be a fun conversation.

Submitted (1 edit)

Another opportunity for long-winded rambling about how much I love this jam? Boy, would I!

First of all I'm so happy with how my entries turned out. I had some plans and intentions beforehand but the actual developing/writing process felt like flying by the seat of my pants. I had a specific vision for how the YSRF Manifesto was to look and feel, and I basically surprised myself at how exactly on point I was able to realize the project. I've always kind of harbored the notion that creating something (even just writing or talking about something) always places a distortion filter around the original idea, so one can never really truly understand the inside of someone else. But idk, this might have taught me that that's not always true.

Also I'm curious about what people think about YSRF games, and if anyone has ideas for existing games (besides my two) that maybe...have some of these elements in them? I always love looking at other games for just feelings and ideas to absorb. There's one game that kinda gives me similar vibes called Backdoor, but there's bound to be more that I just haven't heard of. Half of my life is just coming up with ideas and then finding out that someone else has done something very similar. :'D

The Notecards were born out of the fact that doing the handrwriting part of YSRF was super fun, as well as kind of inspired by the manifesto dumps of mark and ari. Plus like, I didn't realize until now how much pent-up opinion-ness I wanted to let out? (I'm usually very quiet and non-confrontational. I want people to like meee!!!) It was cathartic. Plus...handwriting, which has always been kinda cathartic for me.

Also a thing I think is funny is that, in Roll-Your-Own Manifesto, one of the D20 words is "fish" which I put in there as a random word for lulz, but then one or two of the manifesto entries actually coincidentally used the word "fish" and it made me giddy.

But eNOuGh aBOut me,,,,, I wanna discuss I Was Trying to Make a Game, but my Dog Was Sitting on my Lap, because it's one (of maaaany many) that really stuck with me! It frames the conversation of inclusivity in a way that was new to me. Plus the whole game is so carefully crafted to be soft and contemplative, which I love. I love the winding path you take while reading that makes you take it slow and think, similar to like the concept of labyrinths? The path could also be a symbol of the journey of a gamedev. I love the pink. I love the dog. I love the secret hidden messages! It's like eating cotton candy.

I could go into more manifestos specifically, or talk about what I've learned from this jam as a whole, but I think I'll stop there for now; my friend and I are gonna go out for sushi.



While reading the YSRF manifesto, I couldn't help thinking of Pikmin. Admittedly, it was already on my mind (I already mentioned it in my own manifesto), but the game technically satisfies many of the manifesto's requirements.

You're a human-ish explorer stuck on an alien world, with your only speaking companion being your ship's sassy AI. While the titular Pikmin have debatable sentience, they don't speak your language. The only friend you have is a talking machine, whose well-being is tied to yours. It knows its purpose, and it complains about it sometimes, but its grumblings never amount to anything. Meanwhile, you're exploring a post-apocalyptic Earth where humanity has gone extinct, only known through small baubles they left behind - many of which are electronics. There's even some hybrid animal-machine creatures that have become a natural part of the ecosystem after literal eons of human absence, suggesting human technology has permanently and profoundly changed what "natural" means.

As to whether the game "explores the relationships between humans and technology", I'd say no. Your ship's interactions are limited outside of brief cutscenes; it does things, but its lack of agency makes it easy to forget. Yeah, it accompanies you throughout your adventures, but it always feels distant, like its sentience doesn't change much. Characterizing humanity through their possessions is neat, but the characterization only comes through diary entries segregated from the gameplay; neat, but too easily missed to be communicated clearly. And the whole machine ecosystem thing is only explained, again, through optional diary entries. And the living machine entries don't even reflect gameplay.

I think that might say something about YSRF as a genre. You can have a YSRF narrative, but without gameplay integration, you aren't a YSRF game. There needs to be some reason to take notice of machines' personalities, or else they become just another source of exposition. If your gameplay is the narrative ala visual novels or Telltale-style adventure games, then you're set. But if you're making, say, an FPS, then your talking gun needs to be more than a gun. Though considering how frustrated players become when they have to look after their equipment, YSRF might be incompatible with action games. Then again, personifying technology gives the player a ton of new stuff to get emotionally attached to, which might make the tradeoff worth it.

Okay, one manifesto down! Aaaaaaaaand about a dozen more to go. My "overanalyze everything" approach might need tweaking.


Oh my gosh, this is beautiful! "You can have a YSRF narrative, but without gameplay integration, you aren't a YSRF game." is such a powerful phrase and it's really gonna stick with me moving forward. Both the Machine and Human working together -- not only through narrative but through gameplay as well --  is definitely a big theme that I think is valuable in YSRF games.

I've (sadly) never played a Pikmin game, but I'd love to look into it for inspiration. Thank you for the mention!


I wrote The Embedded Puzzle Manifesto. It's a practical guide for how to make good puzzles in games with narratives.

Oportet, I think you'd get a lot out of reading The Inhumanity of Hitpoints. It touches upon some of the same ideas as your manifesto, but it's more about how reductive hitpoints as a mechanism for success and failure is, rather than how much it does or doesn't cohere to reality. 

Emma Dee, I liked YSRF (especially the hand-written version). It made me think of the friendly talking  cutlery in Broken Age.

I enjoyed a couple of the short and sweet ones, like [boundary manifesto]. They made some simple points that need saying.

No fun manifesto needs unpacking. I think the last claim that if you say something is a game then it's a game might be a defendable position, but insofar as treating something as a game and interacting with it in that way can make something a game, not that literally anything can be meaningfully said to be a game.

Towards Video Game Criticism dresses itself in hyperbole, but the substance of what its calling for is good practice and already what is demanded in critical writing about interactive fiction. (See for instance, these reviews.)

I DIED AND IT WAS GREAT is all good stuff about failure. It gels well with the thinking behind the Hitpoints manifesto too.

Submitted (1 edit)

First of all, thanks to everybody for the great great manifestos you made! This jam was wonderful <3

As for me, I wrote THE JOYFUL GAME, a text about the state of joy and fun in games. It came from a reflexion I always have when thinking about games, whether looking for fun as the main goal of games is a good or bad thing. Lots of people have said that games are meant to be fun, whereas others have replied that fun is an obstacle in the way to "making games an Art". The manifesto I wrote tries to propose another solution: what if joy was a way to make art with games?

I'm obviously not the first one to talk about that, several designers and people I admire already work that way, and I wanted to use this jam to take my stance about the issue, based on what I know and what I feel.

I'd love to hear what others think about that topic, especially since some of the manifestos made these last days call for avoiding fun or stopping looking for it: the most direct being EdwardGreysky's No Fun Manifesto, with which I don't agree wholeheartedly but is definitely thought-provoking :)

The manifesto I liked the most is, I believe, Let Us Embrace The Fleeting Nature Of Time And Free Up Space On Our Hard Drives by Holly Gramazio (phew that's a long name!). It's very radical and I'd love to see the world it would create (although I'm not sure if I'd like to live in that world, but I'm definitely curious).  Games and technology are moving so quickly that they become obsolete very fast already, so the ideas Holly develop could seem like just the next step to what's already happening, or a way to accept obsolescence and enjoy our time with our games, because we'd know they're not here for a long time. I don't know if what I said makes sense but that's just how I feel with this text: is it genius? But does it makes any sense at all?


I am so fond of the Joyful Game. I think it's important (especially in the gaming sphere, where things tend to get competitive at best and vitriolic at worst) that we have games that make us more hyper-aware of our positive connections to other people. Having joy in turn makes you want to share joy with other people!! And in the face of seriousness & pain out in the world, our minds need a sense, "fill up with joy" to combat the world! The definition of a Joyful Player is also nice. Could a Joyful Player in turn make any game into a Joyful Game?

I like how the examples of Joyful Games given all embody a similar aesthetic as well: bright colors, pleasant sound design, and friendly shapes! I'd also like to nominate Videoball by Action Button as a Joyful game. Maybe some people will disagree with me, I don't know. Also, I think what makes a good Icebreaker game is similar qualities to Joyful Games.


"Could a Joyful Player in turn make any game into a Joyful Game?"

I think so! I played The Binding of Isaac with a friend some time ago, and while the game is super stressing and gory, we'd try to play in tandem, them controlling the movement and me the shooting, and vice versa. And this is a thing I've heard everywhere: people are playing games like Dark Souls with strange constraints, there was this 'Twitch plays XXX' thing that was really fun and unique (until it got stale of course)... So yeah, if you have a joyful mind, you can play anything in joyful ways, alone or with your friends :)

I didn't know Videoball, I looked up a video online, and I think it'd be at home with all the other joyful games! And it made me think of Rocket League too. I don't have much experience with icebreaker games but if the goal is to have quick laughs and get in the mood to engage with people you don't necessarily know, then it definitely has connections with the joyful game.


Having read both THE JOYFUL GAME and the No Fun Manifesto, neither proved persuasive.

On the one hand, fun has positives. You get to destress, relax with friends, enjoy life. THE JOYFUL GAME explains this better than I ever could; I won't go on about something you already know.

On the other hand, there's other benefits to games besides fun. And I don't just mean that cold, clinical education side of gaming. I think of Pathologic. If you aren't familiar, it's a janky Russian horror game that might be the most depressing thing in existence. It is the exact opposite of fun, but in doing so, primes the player to explore deep, emotionally-charged themes. When people play it, they can't help but argue. This guy argued killing one to save many. These guys called each other fascists. The lack of fun made people think about important questions they never considered; I wouldn't want to take that from games.

And don't forget; fun can be manipulative. I'm thinking of exploitative free-to-play schemes, drip feeding dopamine in just the right ways while exploiting their playerbase. And then there's series like Far Cry; fun games, but they come with unfortunate implications. If we only judged games for fun, we'd open the door to exploitation and propaganda.
My question: why can't we have both? Why can't we have fun games with greater meanings? I mentioned Far Cry's narrative, but the core gameplay loop (scouting and clearing bases) doesn't make the game fun. It's superfluous; you don't need dumb to have fun. And then there's games like Minecraft, which use fun as a vessel to be educational, to explain complex engineering concepts in a way people enjoy. I can see both side's point, but I don't see a reason to fight over this.

While I'm typing; I strongly disagree with Let Us Embrace Our Long Titles. Looking back a lot of my childhood games, leaving them in a box for a decade has let me revisit them for whole new experiences. If anyone here has played Pokemon XD: Gales Of Darkness, try replaying it today. Turns out, your most powerful ally is a benevolent cable news executive who, among other things, puts you in contact with a whistleblower. I guess Pokemon supports journalism. I don't know if it was uncontroversial at the time, or if 12-year-old me didn't think about it, or if I didn't have needed context my first time around, but the game was definitely different the second time around. If I had traded it in. And it's not the only one: literally every game I've owned has become a new experience over time. Each of them has shown me how much I've changed as a person, in ways I wasn't even aware of. Ten years down the line, I'd love to revisit the games on my hard drive.

The very idea of deleting our games scares me. If anything, we need to be saving our games. We live in a world where online-only games can be lost forever as soon as the servers shut down, where games can be wiped off the PS4 storefront because Konami said so. We have a history to protect; wiping our hard drives will only shoot us in the foot.

Submitted (3 edits)

I totally understand what you're saying, and I kinda agree with you: games don't have to be fun, or to put fun at the center of their design. My take is that it's OK for some games to be focused around simple fun, and fun can have the "greater meanings" you're talking about: Minecraft is a good example of that, and I'm thinking of Tearaway, a game about paper made by the studio behind Little Big Planet, which explores the link between the player and the digital world in clever and unique ways, and it definitely has interesting things to say about creativity and how everybody can create. Fun can let players explore deep themes, it's just a particular lens to do so, and it isn't the best one for some subjects of course. In a way, the greatest meaning I can think of (for this specific kind of games I called joyful games) is if a game makes you want to share it with others, play with others and get to know others: putting people together is the best thing that these games can do, in my opinion.

On the other hand, I'm completely okay with games that aren't fun. I didn't know about Pathologic, but I have a few examples in mind of games that explore frustration, fear or disagreement between the player and the game in interesting ways (Papers Please comes is the first name I can think of). As for exploitative fun games, I hadn't thought about that: of course there are things to avoid, but as long as there's big loads of money to gain, some studios will take the manipulative path. Fortunately, for each of these games, there's a respectful game out there somewhere.

Another thing that comes to my mind: you talked about Pathologic as a game that let people argue, defend their opinions and, in some way, engage with each other; and I talked about how joyful games can aim to get people together. Isn't that the same goal? Would it be possible to say that, beyond fun or no fun, games have the power of connecting people, and they just take different paths to that?

I don't know, but it's such an interesting subject.