One of the spring's big gaming conferences takes place this week. Slashdot has an article about Raph Koster's keynote comments. The former Privateer Online lead always has an interesting take on game design philosophy.
The console manufacturers are currently recommending 8 hours of gameplay rather than 40. Because people get it already! The brain is trying to optimise the chunks away. Fun is the process of encountering bumps along the way. A new pattern to master. New data thrown into the mix. This is what levels in a shooter should do. They should teach you different data per level. I'm giving you a hammer and I'm going to show you every variety of nail under the sun. This is a "possibility space" and a game is iterating through the possible combinations. The problem is, computers suck at this. This is why, until the advent of the computer, you played games with other people. This is why with the internet space, we’re rushing back to it, to that social play. Other people offer a much more interesting challenge than an algorithm. People introduce a really interesting array of problems into the question.The GDC seems to be a nonstop schedule of keynote addresses. There'll probably be more interesting ones later in the week. The most recent has EA's John Batter discussing their plan to dig into the mobile phone market very aggressively.