What Is a System? And How Did They Save Zelda?
What Is a System? And How Did They Save Zelda?


The term systemic game is something that seems
to be getting thrown around more and more as time goes on, people don’t like them
any more, apparently they do again, and even zelda’s getting in on the action… again.
And, I’ve got a bit of a confession to make about these kinds of games, for all the talk
of games that are obstinately about systems- I wasn’t really sure what, exactly, made
a game systemic. This was a deep and well kept personal shame for ages, until I figured
out no-one else really knows either. One google for systemic games doesn’t turn up any results
for things you can actually play, but a bunch of designers and writers- as well as a weird
youtube guy trying to explain to you how a systematic game gets made. It’s a hard topic to concisely explain,
because “system” is such an abstract, terrible term, it basically just means a bunch
of things working together, not to mention the fact that basically all games have systems
in them. And yet, systemic games like deus ex and MGS 5 rdefinately have a unique vibe
that makes them different to play. Without really being able to articulate what makes
a game systemic, it’s even harder to explain the strengths and weaknesses of this particular
development style. So, that’s what I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to do- to
develop a theory of systemic games that’s easy to understand allows me to talk about
what makes systemic games better or worse in certain areas and crucially doesn’t require
me to spend 10 minuites trying to define the word system in a way that’s actually useful,
because that sounds really boring. Enter, the legend of Zelda, which I think
is a great framing device for concisely showing the differences between systemic and what
I’m calling directed styles of design. Did you know, that the legend of zelda was
originally inspired by Shigeru Myamoto’s adventures in the woods. As a kid, he used
to spend hours adventuring into caves, finding cool wildlife and generally making his own
fun, so when he pitched the legend of zelda, his intent was to translate his childhood
fun into videogame form. Which makes it a bit weird that the vast majority of Zelda
games are… kinda bad at doing just that. From the original legend of zelda, aaaalll
the way up to skyward sword, zelda games had a gradual but clear trajectory away from exploring
an unknown wilderness armed only with your wits, and towards a series of cinematic, tightly
segregated and bottlenecked theme parks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of most zelda
games, and they excel at tight dungeon designs, brilliant audiovisual moments and occasionally
great stories, but they’re not exactly games about exploration, adventure and discovery,
are they? It wasn’t until nintendo set things back to zero with Breath of the wild that
Miamoto’s 30+ year old vision was finally realised. BOTW is all about freedom and player experimentation,
it’s got a truly open world where you can head to the final boss straight away, a bunch
of clever problems for you to solve that rely not on figuring out arbitrary puzzle mechanics
but your understanding of the way the world works and the ruins of hyrule are able to
generate spontaneous stories seemingly at random by combining various rulesets together,
like this perilous climb up a tower whilst under guardian fire, explosive chain reaction
assassinations, and self-inflicted electrical deaths. Breath of the wild isn’t the only zelda
game to have fire mechanics, weapon degradation or terrain destruction, what sets it apart
is how these mechanics interact and coexist with the player as part of a living systemic
ecosystem. Take wind, for example. In skyward sword, wind comes from the gust bellows, and
is used to do two things, spin these windmills, and blow away dust- it doesn’t meaningfully
interact with the world in any other way, and you can only really use this item when
the game tells you to. But in breath of the wild, wind affects and is affected by the
entire world, it blows light objects around, and is blocked by dense objects as shown in
Rin Oyaa’s shrine- wind can also be generated by the weather system and by you with deku
leaves or by fire- which creates an updraft capable of lifting link into the air – and
don’t even get me started on the fact that every object in the game has its own mass
and density which allows for stuff like there weird balloon forts in master mode. Mypoint
is, all these mechanics, rather than being seperated and highly controlled all work together
and interact organically to create a world that feels natural and responds in predictable,
consistent ways to your actions. In a systemic game, the player is just one
portion of a dynamic, reactive world that could theoretically exist all on its own.
For example, each sim in, the very creatively named, the sims will live a complete virtual
life, get jobs, have kids, get trapped in a ladderless pool and die completely on their
own- the player just gets to interact with them rather than being the star of the show.
And in sid meier’s even less creatively named Civilisation, the ai nations will go to war,
sign trade agreements and grow even without the player’s input. The key difference between systemic games
and directed games such as walking sims or cinematic action blockbusters is that directed
design produces games that are much more rigid in nature, in order to give the player much
more specific experiences where the mechanics are kept tightly controlled. This is where the real strength of systemic
games lies, – rather than being funneled through a linear or restrictive experience where you
have to engage with the game in a particular way- players get total freedom, if it’s
possible within the game’s system of rules and interactions, you’re free to do it.
This cultivates a much more experimental, improvisational relationship with the game,
where the narrative isn’t communicated to the player by the developer, but the player
gets to collaboratively create it for themselves. The challenges players face in systemic games
can also be sourced from the ecosystem of mechanics, an Orc leader that killed you might
reappear at the worst possible time in shadow of mordor, a tiger might join the fray in
far cry or weird terrain generation in a survival game might provide an interesting barrier
to exploration. Whatever the cause, the player gets to feel like their experience is unique,
and not being forced upon them by a second party. We can see this in immersive sims like dishonored
where you can progress through the levels by playing through them in a variety of ways,
and regardless of which way you pick you’ll end up telling your own unique story. YOu
could go full aggro and carve a bloody swathe through karnaka, you could play with the stealth
systems and clever ways of incapacitating enemies nonviolently to become a sneaky ghost,
or you could just kill bad guys in dumb, hilarious ways, it’s up to you. The game’s actual objectives are just ways
of pushing you into interesting situations that allow you to develop and test your systemic
knowledge. These electrified gates you need to bypass in kirin Jindoshes’ pad will obliterate
anything they’re not attuned to, so to get past them you’ll need to temporarily short
them out with an object, reprogram them or find another way around through enemy infested
territory, all of which will lead to some cool encounters. Unlockable skills too add
new possibilities and complications to your storytelling that let you push the game to
its limits and feel like a genius pulling crazy stuff off. My personal favourite interaction
is: combining Emily’s ability to summon a doppelganger, and another spell that links
enemies together, to allow you to safely dispatch entire groups by killing the doppelganger
from safety and letting the effect get chained to everyone else because your clones technically
count as killable humanoid entities. That doppleganger takedown method wasn’t
even intended by the designers, it’s just a natural extrapolation of Dishonored’s
systems and a true emergent solution to the age old question of “what’s the best way
to cheese the fuck out of this game?”. Moments like this are only possible when the systems
in the game act in a way that’s if not realistic, then consistent. In order to become a part
of the complex web of systems at work in, say, Hitman, the rules of the system have
to be clear. Enemies will always react in the same way when they catch you trespassing,
emetic poison always forces enemies to find somewhere to throw up, and unconscious bodies-
like this lady I knocked out with a rake, will always cause civilians to go tell a Guard
NPC, who will then raise the alarm. If the system is inconsistent, like in the
case of immortal essential NPCs in some of the newer Fallout games, then the player’s
understanding of the game is compromised, and it’s more difficult for them to get
invested in the stories the game generates, and makes creating their own emergent solutions
and stories harder as well. Uuuunfortunately, the trick to making a great
systemic game is a bit more complex than just tying all the systems together in a logical,
internally consistent way. The greatest strength of systemic games, namely their ability to
create emergent stories and problems can also be their greatest weakness- sometimes a systemic
game with every part working correctly can still end up creating boring, frustrating
or outright broken experiences. During the development of the fantastic Noita,
the developers, who previously worked on games like the swapper, crayon physics deluxe and
baba is you ran into this exact issue. Noita for those who don’t know, is an early access
rougelike that takes inspiration from that falling sand game everyone used to play in
IT classes when they were supposed to be learning how to use excel. There’s liquids that flow
around and all have different densities, explosives, a bunch of different materials all with different
effects like brittle ice and conductive metal, the works. Just like in its inspiration, Notia’s
world is governed by a set of systemic interactions, oil can be ignited, explosions destroy terrain,
acid melts through stuff, you get the picture. With all these effects in the entire world
going off at once, not only did the game eat up ungodly amounts of processing power, but
also the systemic elements would just obliterate themselves and each level long before the
player arrived as we can see in this early prototype. So, the devs decided to not simulate
the world all at once, but to generate fresh terrain as the player explored, and cleverly
unload areas the player was far away from. This means that the player gets to see and
interact with all the world’s emergent scenarios at maximum chaos levels, and is forced to
deal with all the literal fallout the systemic nonsense causes, rather than just wandering
around the aftermath. Being an early access game, Noita still has
some other kinks to work out, not those kind of kinks you perv. One issue that’s still
in the game as of writing is with these tunneling wormy boys, who have a nasty habit of munching
their way into between-level shops, pissing off the guardian shop skeleton and ending
my run. Both the levels destroying themselves and the worm sabotage are natural consequences
of Noita’s systems interacting and are certainly novel the first time around… but they aren’t
fun. And so it’s a real challenge for designers of systemic games to add, take away and tweak
things without restricting the player’s self expression or compromising that systemic
ecosystem. Derik Yu, creator of the grand daddy of systemic
rougelikes, Spelunky, has an interesting take on this, he says in his book: It’s easy
to add more and more things to a randomized game and rely on what I think of as the “free
value” that randomization offers.But to make it more than a glorified slot machine
requires putting together a collection of systems and rules that is worth understanding,
behind a world that feels interconnected.” Rather than simply hurling the player into
a chaotic maelstrom of chance mechanical interactions, Spelunkey’s rules are fined tuned to allow
for the creation of specific kinds of stories. There can be funny ones, like how a poorly-placed
frog can set of the shopkeeper alert, sending them all into a frenzy. There can be satisfying
ones where you set up an ambush by manipulating arrow traps to kill enemies. Or tense ones,
like when you’re navigating down the ice caves as UFOs destroy what little safe terrain
exists. These stories are all generated by nothing more than Spelunkey’s rules in action:
arrow traps are activated by anything, the shopkeepers have a hair trigger and UFOs move
towards the spelunker, only firing when they’re directly above him- and yet, there’s that
little touch of directorial intent in there. For example, spiders always drop straight
down, making them a natural candidate for some sneaky arrow trap action, Derek Yu’s
influence is very much hands off but it’s crucial for ensuring that spelunky remains
fun and never gets frustrating. Derek Yu also goes on to explain how simply
by tweaking the enemy spawn rates, individual levels can be made to feel very different
from each other, contributing to a universal narrative for each run. The further you explore
into the jungle, for example, the higher proportion of enemies will be mantraps, which have a
habit of devouring everything else, leading to really tense engagements where you’ve
got to sacrifice less dangerous creatures to the carnivorous plants in order to slip
by – a far cry from the earlier levels filled with monkeys which spawn earlier on who are
more of a funny, often suicidal nuisance. Other systemic games can do this to- in Rimworld,
Raiders grow in strength proportionally to the combined material wealth of your entire
colony, meaning they’re a constant threat and even when you get lucky, that wealth won’t
last forever. Or in total war games, where the inherent balance of power between factions
create predictable game states that end up giving each empire a lot of character. The
high elves will nearly always confederate under tyrion, the skaven always have incredibly
unstable empires constantly on the verge of collapse because their economic and defensive
buildings suck, and everyone likes to bully skarsnik the goblin because he has the weakest
start in the game. These quirks are really nothing more than a few statistical changes,
but they go a long way towards making each empire feel unique. From monkeys, to worms, to wind to whatever
the hells going on here, it’s clear to see that systemic games are different – not because
they’re special or they contain something other games don’t, but because of their
difference in perspective. They embrace the emergent and simulationy properties of the
digital medium to create experiences that let the player get immersed into reactive,
dynamic world that can tell stories with minimal amounts of direct authorship. They can be
used as a springboard to let players have adventures, explore mechanics and make their
own fun by giving them the tools they need to gradually understand how to manipulate
the world, without ever truly putting them in the spotlight. It’s easy to see why a lot of people think
systemic design is the future, that all games should start taking cues from breath of the
wild, or dishonored or spelunky to create reactive worlds that have almost limitless
potential ways to have fun in them. But I’m not convinced, systemic games are great and
we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we’re capable of making with this approach,
but as I’ve hopefully shown here, systemic games do have limits, and there are things
that other, more directorial styles of game design do better by using systems in different
ways. Take the experience of playing highly-linear
narrative games like Nier automata or hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice. These games tell stories
in a way that’d be impossible to do in any other medium, by giving us a physical empathetic
link to the characters, tightly controlling what we can or can’t do, and ensuring we
see things in the right order for everything to make sense. The big emotional moments and
incredible set pieces directoral games have to offer only work because players don’t
have the freedom to skip to the end or experience the story in a different order.These games
use systems which are at best opaque and inaccessible and at worst directly misleading, but ultimately,
that doesn’t make them worse, just… different. Breath of the wild might be able to great
the childlike feeling of going on a wilderness adventure, but it’ll never match Ocarina
of time’s ability to tell a coming of age story, or even skyward sword’s surprisingly
amazing boss fights, and that’s okay. Whilst figuring out what systemic games are all about
is pretty tricky, the most important lesson to take away is to broaden our perspective
and see that systemic games are just one element in the massive gaming ecosystem, and by understanding
it, we can enrich every other style of game. Just like how systemic games revitalised zelda,
and how a bit of hands-on fiddling turned Spelunky into an all time classic, understanding
and mixing different styles and approaches is what contributes best to our evolving understanding
of the systems involved in game design. Does this mean that the Wand of Gamelon probably
has a small but significant place in this system… unfortunately yes, look I don’t
make the rules, sometimes we’ve just got to deal with it, okay?
Hey Hey and thanks for watching the video, if you enjoyed it then please consider liking
it, subscribing to the channel and telling your friends by writing down the contents
of the video on a small scroll, rolling it up, attaching it to a rat and setting it free-
he’ll know what to do. Whilst you’re here, you should also check out TGBS, a cool channel
a bit like mine that focuses on playstation games from yesteryear and devil may cry, lots
of devil may cry. Now, that’s all well and good but I wouldn’t
be here without my wonderful Patrons, if you want to support the show, check out the link
in the comments and in return you’ll get cool bonus content and infinite absolution
for all adblock related sins. My top tier patreon supporters also get a shoutout and
those fine friends are: Alex Deloach
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Chao Thanks for watching, thanks for listening
to all that, and I’ll see you around – bye!

100 thoughts on “What Is a System? And How Did They Save Zelda?”

  1. Adam Millard - The Architect of Games says:

    HEY! HEY! OI! YOU! YEAH YOU! HEY LISTEN! BUTTFACE! LISTEN! HEY LISTEN! I have a patreon 🙂 https://www.patreon.com/ArchitectofGames
    Find my sophisticated musings on life, the universe and everything right here on twitter: https://twitter.com/Thefearalcarrot (disclaimer, none of those things can be found here)

  2. Adrian Moreno says:

    Now I know why I don't like open world games. BTW Old Zelda titles DO have meaningful exploring and discovery WTF.

  3. R3GARnator says:

    Multiplayer makes any game systemic to some degree. Horde modes in particular, where the game adapts to the human player's capabilities and where to spawn. In Mass Effect 3's horde mode, there was a map where players learned to hide in a small room and fortify it, using indirect attacks to kill everything. That effected how the new enemy type, Collectors, was created to more easily force players out of camping spots like that (besides editing that room out of the map), forcing players to be on the move.

  4. eddebrock says:

    The one thing I'm sure we can all agree on is that BoTW is a trash game and Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves!

  5. Sans from Earthbound says:

    Are we gonna get some Adam Millard v GMTK action going on? That'd be cool

  6. Onetrueginge says:

    #ratswap

  7. GhostFS says:

    The day "Chao" will stop to contribute you need to find a new ending. 😀

  8. Malcolm Tolman VO says:

    Released rat with scroll attached… Rat gave me black plague then ate my sock…. would not suggest this systemic gameplay experience….

  9. noah moore says:

    Is that what the golf at the end

  10. Mad Hatters in jeans says:

    For Rimworld if you're struggling with putting out a fire draft a colonist and command them to move right next to the fire, they will automatically put out the flames adjacent to them. (generally in this example I would put out the fire on the dead animal first then haul it. The more damage the animal takes form fire the less resources you can harvest from it. And draft some more colonists to help put out the fire. With all of those wooden walls you can't afford to risk a fire spreading out of control there.)

    I see your base has wooden walls but stone tiled floors. Generally speaking it's a good idea to have stone tiled floors but first the walls should be changed to stone.
    As wildfires will often start from outside the base it's the walls that must be adapted first.
    Those outer walls made of steel are an issue, not bad as a short term solution but you'll want to replace those with stone as well, because steel burns and is far too useful for crafting items and production stuff to use as a construction material. But this is a lesser concern, given the size of the task of replacing all of that steel. The wooden walls make me nervous.

    Those bedrooms are a nice big size, but the problem with larger bedrooms means your colonists will spend longer going to/fro from work and activities and they eat up valuable space that could be used for other things. So you can afford to make them a little smaller. Then over time slowly expand them when you have more colonists available to do the extra work and the higher demand for prettier stuff as your base wealth increases. You only need a 3 X 3 room to begin with. It will also help with regulating temperature. Less heaters to spread around and such.

    A bottleneck you'll soon come across is components, with 13 it's going to have to grow. They're used for everything in the more advanced stuff you'll want to use, and things like randomly broken down heaters/coolers burn up components as well. Mine/buy/steal components where you can. They're worth it.
    It's one reason I like to start in small hills or more terrain, those kinds of terrain usually have a nice big supply of materials I can harvest, and more components available too.

    I also notice a lot of animal meat, which is fine but if your cooler breaks down or an electrical storm occurs that stops power from working that meat will start to spoil. very quickly.
    I like to use meat first in meal creation, vegetables last far longer when not frozen.
    Another thing i've learned is if you keep a few dead animals on shelves in the freezer (make sure to adjust the items restricted to them) you can effectively double the amount of time you have to burn through the emergency supply of food that animal would create once harvested.
    Pemmican is an amazing resource, it's light so ideal for meals for caravans and it can give an extra use for all that meat you'll build up over time. It's also a great emergency food store should you run out of regular food for whatever reason.
    You can also use some of that large amount of meat mixed with hay to create kibble, no need to use valuable vegetables or berries on kibble, if you plan to make any.

    Kibble is also used as an emergency food source for caravans, and your colonists can eat it if you run out of food. Though they will be very unhappy about it.
    I tend to use some for prisoner meals, by creating a small zone in the prison and putting food priority for kibble there as critical. That way the prisoners don't use too many extra resources. Eventually I will switch the prisoners to regular meals when their resistance to recruitment goes down close to zero, I mean assuming you want to keep them to recruit in the first place.

    Incidentally, with prisoners if you want to harvest their organs but you just have a colony of regular people who don't like prisoners being chopped up, wait until they've had a party or a marriage. It helps offset the mood malus from harvesting the prisoner organs.
    Alternatively if you plan to sell the prisoners this is useful too.
    Just be careful about harvesting too many organs, they have very high value and tend to skyrocket your base value so you face larger raids sooner.

    Sorry, I play a lot of rimworld so just wanted to throw those suggestions at you. I've learned these tricks from many hours playing it. The wall of words just comes to me with games I play so much. Lots of fun to play in though.

  11. Zigurat9 says:

    When the shot with looking up systemic game came, I fucking lost it when checking your other browser windows. I was checking them because I knew you would use it for a joke you cheeky bastard. First time writting under your video but been watching you for quite a time. It´s great Adam. Keep up great work!

  12. Pasta Heart says:

    So systematic games are going to be the new open world. A type of game that everyone says all other new games should be like, without them putting any thought into how that would affect things.

  13. Yanis Boucherit says:

    "Fallout 76… Best knives… Where does Todd lives ? How to hide a body" 😂 You sir are a genius.

  14. B. Janisch says:

    my favourite YT-Chanel uploads: i like

  15. Stelzenboy says:

    Amazing video as always.

  16. Mooster Raind says:

    Adam. I love your stuff, but this video seems kind of unnecessary.

    Systemic isn't that hard to define
    First off, all games have systems. They are all in a sense Systemic. How systemic they are can be put on a scale and if they lean more towards systemic side, it's okay to call them systemic.

    It's easier perhaps to define systemic by its opposite: Scripted. A game that is scripted its full of set pieces that have to. Be carefully hand crafted and tested to make sure the user experience is what the designer intended.

    An example of a game that is the antithesis of systemic is Detroit or Heavy Rain. They're basically movies with QTEs.

    Yet, even they have Systems. There's the menu system, which required some UI code, there's the dialogue system, etc.

    So what makes games weakly systemic pour strongly systemic?

    It's how much faith the designer has I the system. When a designer makes Systems that interact dynamically with one another and he is sure that they can stand I their own as content the player will enjoy, without requiring the developer to adjust every minute of gameplay. That's a strongly Systemic game.

    Advantages of a systemic game; once you build the system, content is easy to put in

    You don't have top keep testing all the stuff, because you tested the systems and you're sure they'll work with whatever you throw at them.

    Disadvantages: Harder to conceptualize and properly abstract info code.

    Let's use a game concept as an example. Say it's a hack and slash where you only have melee weapons

    The weakly systemic game might have a few preset weapons like a sword, axe and club with party stats and animations.

    A heavily systematic game could give you a quantity of steel and let you design a weapon, whatever shape you wanted, out of that steel. Depending on what shallots you give out, it will have a different balance point, damaging surface, etc
    Your characters stance would assist to better handle it. The speed with which you hit would change, etc
    Maybe you even choose to shape the steel into something other than a weapon, like a utility item that lets you advise the level geometry

  17. Arttu Kettunen says:

    8:16 Noita? (Everyone who's from my country will know the rest of the comment)

    SUOMI MAINITTU TORILLA TAVATAAN!

  18. SavvySpirit says:

    Ah yes, ‘BOTW’, an acronym that only makes sense when typed, not spoken – with two more syllables than what it stands for – ‘Breath Of The Wild’. We stand in awe of it, along with WP and GSW.

  19. *Steel Beam* says:

    I remember when I played Red Faction Armageddon, and just realized that I could kill everything with the magnetic gun, staying in one place, and rebuilding it every time it got destroyed, even throwing chunks of the place at enemies, and occasionally throwing the Nanoshield (?).

    I found it very cool. You could take rockets and send them back, throw exploding enemies, and other stuff. I really loved to experiment with the basic rules of the game, and had a great time doing it.

    But it was a very linear story, with very linear levels and no other forms of interaction. It was still fun though. An exploration game with those mechanics would kick ass.

    I see an amazing potential for systemic gameplay, when interesting mechanics are implemented in a non-linear world. There is no need for complex AIs, massive open worlds or cutting edge technology.

    You just need some well defined rules and freedom to explore and exploit those rules. I just want to see more indie developers giving systemic gameplay a try.

  20. Matthew Stephenson says:

    OK I got the rat, but it shreaded the note fairly quickly, what's that mean?

    Also it scratched me quite a lot, the bleeding not stopping, send help

  21. Razvan Efros says:

    HA! the youtube channel about game design dissed the other youtube channel about game design!

  22. Raymond Hu says:

    I never knew Noita is Powder Toy Adventure

  23. Dave Scurlock says:

    Such good videos!! Love your work

  24. PsychOsmosis says:

    "BOTW" is not something you're suplosed to say out loud. It's longer to articulate than "Breath Of The Wild"!

    Other than that, great video!

  25. Unknow0059 says:

    8:30 that's not "falling sand game" that's PowderToy
    you could say it is inspired by Falling Sand but it's not that.
    13:10 oh my GOD Gunpoint! I love that game.
    14:35 didn't use Dolphin?

  26. yqa free says:

    There's got to be an even better balance between systems and directed gameplay

  27. Tordek says:

    Adam: "The grandaddy of systemic roguelikes: Spelunky"
    Rogue: "Am I a joke to you?"

  28. The Arcanian says:

    During the intro AoG says he "[did] not know what a 'systemic game' means." But during that whole intro I was thinking "Wouldn't a 'systemic game' mean a game driven by its systems instead of scripted reactions to player actions?"

  29. Matthew Doucette says:

    This video’s timing was spot on. Here to learn about systemic games. Thank you!

  30. Anthony Norman says:

    Sometimes I forget you and GMTK are different channels. 😅

  31. SoulGame says:

    14:07 is this a Neir Automata minigame? If not, I'd be interested to know what it is.

  32. Shaka12 says:

    just look up 0451 games. You'll find more stuff

  33. Pomai Kajiyama says:

    I think the future of games is a combination of the two, systemic directorial experiences that give players the ultimate feeling of freedom, while secretly pushing the player towards a more directed narrative experience. Like how Westworld is depicted on HBO.

  34. ShadowBR0414 says:

    I legit thought you were going to explain saving in zelda.

  35. DanielisAwesome52 says:

    I just saw a video about Paper Mario TTYD and failing Grubba's No attacking condition, that Dishonored thing reminded me of it. If you use any item that can inflict status on yourself (the guy in the video healed using an item that can freeze Mario) it counts as an attack and he failed the condition

  36. GraymanPlays says:

    Woah? You're at 150k already? I remember when you were 100k and you asked us to give you telepathically-delivered questions. Keep up the good work!

  37. Giraugh says:

    It's also really satisfying to create the systems in a systematic game because you can see it all slowly fit together plus witnessing people discover emergent effects is kind of neat.

  38. Omegagreen Labs says:

    I think some features in Minecraft haven't really been clicking because they're directorial features in a game that would benefit mostly from being systemic.
    For example, the overhaul of villagers is interesting because they're now a dynamic part of the world with slightly complex behaviour rather than just pigs that run towards doors at night. Polar bears, on the other hand, are not influenced by anything other than the player attacking them, which is a worthless action because there is nothing to be gained from fighting polar bears (not anything you can't get from aquatic biomes anyway). This makes unable to tell any story apart from "the time the player attacked something unprovoked and were consequentially attacked".
    This is why I'm not too interested in dungeons and bosses for Minecraft, it doesn't fit the kind of game it would be best at being.

  39. Jess Little says:

    Dude, I've been watching so much of your stuff the last few weeks. I've been a gamer my whole life, and have taken most of them at face value. Its awesome to learn how to analyze games to further appreciate them, and I've been learning that from you!

    Semantics question:
    So immersive sims are a subset of a systemic games?

  40. Firock Finion says:

    Apparently Oblivion had to actually tone down systemic aspects, because it was ruining places in the game world before the player got there. Stuff like skeletons from nearby dungeons wandering into towns and killing off all the NPCs there, including the vendors and stuff.

  41. Matt Wyndham says:

    Thumbs up for the Sims death joke

  42. Eli Wiederhold says:

    what was the name of the game that Noita was based on? I vagley rember it and its names not listed in the "you saw" list

  43. Danny BRITZMAN says:

    PLAY NOITA! It’s fantastic. Do yourself the favour

  44. Tommy Wakeman says:

    Well excayuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSEEE MEAH PRINCESS

  45. Rudrangshu Nandi says:

    Does anyone know what the GDC talk was that was shown in the video at around the 9:10 time?

  46. Wokarol says:

    I noticed that in practice, most noticeable thing is that narrated games tell a story, while systemic games show the world and allow player to create their own stories.
    Either you're the main focus of story, or not.

  47. Sander David says:

    Does Half life 2 count as this? Just started playing it and im blown away by the physics

  48. Audiojack says:

    Reading the original Deus Ex design documents gives a good idea of the concept: "We hope to create a world simulation (physics, object density, object properties, NPC AI, etc.) deep enough that we can confront players with obstacles, rather than arbitrary puzzles, and give them a high degree of freedom to determine an appropriate solution. Every problem in the game should have multiple solutions by design or, better, just because our simulation allows alternatives to fall out naturally. … We simply want a world with lots of usable objects (objects other thanlcrates!) which, when used, produce predictable, satisfying and useful results. This will allow players to experiment with the world and manipulate its contents in versatile and powerful ways."

  49. Devon Montoya says:

    Good to know theres a word to describe what i like in games

    Too bad there isnt a perfect balance though

    I like botw but combat is ass and experimenting works only sometimes because its zelda. So its limited to few combinations

    I like dishonored but its a little too linear in how levels work.

    Open world is best for systemic

  50. Lieutenant Luxury says:

    Breath of the wild = 4 syllables.
    "Bee oh tee double-yoo" = 6 syllables.

    Yep… Humanity is eff yoo see kay ee dee.

  51. bificommander says:

    I at the same time like BotW, and hope it is not going to be the model for all future Zelda games. It was a shot in the arm that the series needed after Skyward Sword, and it felt great to wander the world and be amazed. At the same time, it has less replay value than the linear puzzle games to me. Because I might not remember how every puzzle works, but I do remember everything you can possibly encounter while wandering, since that is a pretty short list.
    The short shrine puzzles range from okay to entry level mobile phone physics puzzles, and don't have a theme. I quickly began to prefer shrines that had a fun quest to unlock and just handed you the reward once you entered. The Divine Beasts make pretty good dungeons, although all of them having a similar gimmick of manipulating the layout once you find the map is a shame, and there are only four of them. There are some fun side quests, but the game's open design prevents it from giving any interesting rewards. We can't have a hookshot upgrade, because God forbid there is any part of the map the player can't travel to without it. And while the story is original, it's 90% backstory.
    I'm curious what BotW 2 will be like. I actually hope that they reuse much of the map and tech, and use the time saved to make the world more lived in, holding more unique scripted encounters and stories. And please bring back some progression in your puzzling kit.

  52. Lofen says:

    I was with you until you showed footage of Cube World…

  53. Ely Rogers says:

    Correction, none but Ken Levine knows what systemic games means

  54. Gabriela Montemor says:

    Although the way its explained isnt "wrong", I feel its waay more complicated than it should be because its being approached by a player perspective which inadvertly steps into game design territory that, although not completely disconnected, isnt the actual reason for the systemic / scripted separation.

    From a dev perspective, the difference is much clearer if you think about how would you proceed to make a simple game mechanic and ask the player to do a simple task. for example:

    Imagine a Portal test chamber where the player needs to drop a cube or stand on a button to open a door.

    The systemic way of creating this would be to setup a physics system where objects have weight, gravity pushes objects down and the button is merely a weight sensor. things weight down on it and if it detects a force on itself equal or more than the necessary weight, it activates.

    The scripted way would be to set it so that weight isnt evena thing. a button would be merely a volume that checks for objects inside it and if the objects are identified as either "cube" or "player" it plays a pushing down animation and activates.

    Both have its advantages and limitations.

    A systemic system may be generalist, allowing for a more expansive design, (like for Portal where basic physics between objects were a thing to be explored throughout the whole game so its worth investing on a robust system to cover all of them) but it can take WAY more time to be implemented and debugged correctly. if your game has a single room with a physics puzzle it might be better to fake it, like with the conventional Zelda mechanics that never show up outside of temples, than spend double or triple the time and resources making a perfect simulation that will be used once.

    A scripted set of gameplay isnt expansive, meaning if you need it to do anything else apart from the exact interactions you already have you'll need extra work (for example, while weight sensors would pickup on anything to activate the button, allowing for later puzzles using Turrets and other objects, with scripted you need to manually alter the game's systems to allow for those new objects), but its quick and simple to do and test, freeing up resources for other parts of the game, and while players might forget this from time to time, games are 90% smoke & mirrors anyway.

    If it plays like the real thing, its just as good.

  55. Simpson says:

    not gonna lie, BotW is boring as hell.

  56. Maurice Raat says:

    Surely I'm not the only one noticing the striking parallel between 'Systemic Games' and 'Open World Games'. Both have been called the 'future of gaming' and for both more of it isn't necessarily better.
    Take GOW (2018) for example, it's not Open World (more semi open world) but that fits it perfectly 🙂

    Also, I just noticed, they're both departures from 'linear games' :p.

  57. BorgadnRager ' says:

    I wonder if Stalker Shadow of Chernobyl would fall under this category?

  58. Nonno says:

    Neir Auto Tomato?

  59. CreativelyJake says:

    the fun question to answer in systemic games i find is often seeing if something is possible within the systems of the game. trying to understand exactly what the rules can allow you to do, and what havoc you can cause

  60. XDevantX says:

    Looks like the Light Blue Pharaoh is about to kill the Purple Pharaoh general. Light blue's line is collapsing and it's just a question of who's moral is going to hold longer after purples general dies. Depending on the difficulty either side could win that battle. I haven't played Tomb Kings so I don't know how general dependent their army is. I tend to avoid that continent as there is nothing really worthwhile objective-wise for the other factions there.

  61. Joseph Tochtrop says:

    But you literally have to explore in zelda I to find anything what

  62. ZoidbergForPresident says:

    Uuuuh, civilization isn't systemic…

  63. Niall Crabtree - Game Design says:

    Don't know if it was smart threatening Todd Howard, he is a human still.

  64. Geoff F. says:

    Games are awesome and you need to have a varied diet. Message received! 😀
    On The Wand of Gamelon: Sometimes you learn from something what not to do.

  65. steve cooper says:

    I find it amazing how even in Breath of the Wild an huge Systemic Sandbox Adventure RPG game the quests tell amazing stories like the survival Island trail off the south east coast on a small island just big enough to host a trial where link must survive without any gear or food items he's collected and kill off hinox(s) to get the activation balls onto each shrine pads to unearth the shrine itself, link doesn't talk or anything nether does the enemies being stupid tribalistic ganon minions but probably as intended by the developers it creates a sense of personal achievement that you good sir/madam are Link the Hero that Seals the Darkness even without your trusty Master Sword,
    The From the Ground Up quest is also an amazing quest where link helps a Construction worker named Hudson build a new town simply by handing over some wood for building material and going to get people around hyrule help out build and inhabit the town, the town itself has a theme song that adds different instruments to it as more people join the community and really gives the player the feeling that they have an impact on hyrule and the people that live in it by you being able to physically go to the town that you and Hudson built – From the Ground Up

  66. PabloC4 says:

    I Tought Link had saved Zelda.

  67. Dan King says:

    do you purposely say "chao" last because it sounds like "ciao?"

  68. Christopher G says:

    Could you say that most Pen & Paper RPG's are by design Systemic games?
    Unless of course the GM prefers a very railroady/directorial approach.

  69. Chicken Fingers says:

    When you say botw out loud it's longer than saying Breath of the Wild and no longer a shortform, why would you do that.

  70. David Beaumont says:

    I think things like Dishonored are nice examples because they are, in my opinion, a tightly curated story experience with a limited sandbox/system experience. They sit on the line between directed and "systemic" games. Yes, there are combos in the gameplay that might have not been thought of by devs, but there's still a fairly limited set of ways to combine things.
    Compared to BotW, where you really do have an underlying "physical world" being modeled (which is what mediates most of the interactions) it's quite a different thing.

    And to me that's really the definition of a "systemic game", one in which there's an underlying "reality" being modeled that doesn't know about the game narrative or treat the player differently. Systemic games are, at some level, a physics simulation of some kind with gameplay and narrative layered over the top. The simulation doesn't have to be accurate to the real world, but it should be unaware of the "drama" being played out on top of it.

  71. _Vallee _ says:

    As a Game Developer (Programmer) making systemic games is the most fun i usually have. There is something about making a System that interacts with other Systems with complex AI that is just so fun to watch and make.
    Systemic games gets its name from systemic programming IE: Creating a universal system that interacts on its on like a Physics System. As appose to Hard coding when instead of making a physics system you hard code in a knockback system for every position. I know that sounds vague but that is what a systemic game is, things which the designer or developer don't fully know what can happen as appose to Linear games where everything is built with intention. It's more of a spectrum then clear distinctions between the two.

  72. Thomas Quinn says:

    Love that shout-out to tgbs

  73. CountDravda says:

    I recall reading once that making rolling bombs out of jeeps and C4 in Mercenaries wasn't something the designers intended, either, just a natural consequence of the game's systems. Pretty cool!

  74. EnderSpirit says:

    IMO the best example of systemic game is Factorio : in this game everything is predicable and consistent, the goal is to launch a rocket by creating totally automated lines of production that don't need you anymore, every single item that you can craft in your inventory can be crafted automatically by your machines, even your machines can be crafted automatically by other machines. At some point you will even be able to program your machines and create a robot networks that maintain your factory automatically in a predicable manner. All machine are interacting consistently with other machines : the game will always do exactly what you what you asked, when your are doing well it is because you designed an efficient factory.
    Also, more complex systems are emerging from simple rules, when you are more advanced in the game, you are no longer thinking in term of single machines but in term of complexes of machines, in term of throughput and ratios. The rules are incredibly simple : you have primary resources (iron, copper, coal…) and your machines transform them in more advanced products, but at the end of the game your base is an immense complex where thousands of items are transferred every second. Some bases finish even by looking like a microprocessor with a main bus of resources and factories that are linked on it.
    Now I realize that if Factorio is one of the most addictive game I ever played, it is because it is a systemic game. 😀

  75. Vasquez Beardoracci says:

    nintendo gey

  76. Graceful Charity says:

    Amazing work man !

  77. Chibi Qilin says:

    Eyyy noita gameplay!

  78. Complete_Phased says:

    Its weird that you say Breathe of the Wild was the first time Nintendo tried that style of game but in reality Link Between Worlds was the first time they allowed such an open style of gameplay in the series.

  79. Pan Z says:

    6:25 "You'll need to short them out with an object" Throws human being.

  80. Tideray says:

    I think Dishonoured games are a great example of systemic games. I remember the devs talking about a situation in the first game where they had intended for the player to navigate their way down the building they were on, stealth across the ground, and work their way up a tower. They told a story about one of the first playtesters immediately running as fast as they could off the building and using all of the teleport dashes to get straight to the tower, which lead to them developing the systemic aspect further. (or something to that effect, it has been a long time since I've seen it)

  81. JupiterSky says:

    I personally called these games "dynamic games", calling them "systemic games" is kinda strange, because games aren't games without systems, even if they are basic.

  82. Patchpen says:

    Unpopular opinion: the only way BotW returned to the LoZ roots is via the initial "adventuring" vision. The original LoZ is actually far more linear than anyone wants to admit, and doesn't lend itself well to the type of emergent stories described in this video.

  83. bagok701 says:

    👍 for Closed Captioning.

  84. Chris East says:

    What gets to me is when games seem to have some systemic thinking, but it doesn't quite work out. An example being Skyrims inconsistent fire and which flammable things like which fires.

  85. Robbi Solihin says:

    You know, saying "Breath of The Wild" is taking less syllables than spelling "BOTW"

  86. Michael Ramin says:

    "Spelunky"
    "Never frustrating"
    Several people are typing

  87. SageWaterDragon says:

    Hey, now, Breath of the Wild's story is perfectly compelling, intricate, and good! It's just different.

  88. Eichro says:

    I never heard of Noita but if it's inspired by The Powder Toy it can only be good

  89. Katrina Payne says:

    So would Daggerfall be a Systematic Game? You did mention that Skyrim did not really apply here… but there is a HUGE difference between Skyrim and Daggerfall.

  90. says:

    "skywards swords suprisingly impressive boss fights"
    me getting flashbacks on fighting that giant black toe boss 3 times

  91. Camilla Whatcott says:

    2:40 This is the mother of all nitpicks, but when an abbreviation takes longer to say than the phrase, don't say the abbreviation. BOTW has six syllables. Just say Breath of the Wild.
    This has been a PSA by Aunt Josephine

  92. Random Guy says:

    This video is awesome! Thanks for making this

  93. Moses stanworth says:

    Nice Mark Brown tease love his content

  94. CFood0 says:

    Funny enough, Mother's Basement scratched the surface of this in his video about BotW before the game came out. "The New Zelda Isn't So New – Breath of the Wild is a Return to Form" I'm glad this wasn't verbatim and actually touched other games as well.

    I feel like I could have skipped the first 4:20 tho lmfao

    I just think this is cool is all, glad you've scratched the surface a little more than both MB and GMTK

  95. Jerome Alday says:

    I wouldn't say that old LoZ games aren't adventures. It's a linear adventure puzzle game with some combats mechanic thrown in.

  96. metalgamer 817 says:

    Skyward Sword and BOTW happen to be my favorite Zelda games. Odd how I like the exact opposite styles so equally.

  97. Pyro Snake says:

    you forgot about the best systemic game

    G O O S E G A M E

  98. Bowraga says:

    I thought this genre of games was called something else. I wana say immersive sims or something

  99. Amber Pawn says:

    Durability mechanic in BotW makes so much sense now… It's a kid in the woods picking up anything that looks like a weapon and using it as a weapon… Hence the ability to use rods as swords even when they aren't charged

  100. Lucan Keyser says:

    Yay noita!

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