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Bennet Foddy talking to Steve Gaynor about game design, cricket and draws


[Starts at 53m 50s.]

Foddy: There had never been a good video game adaptation [of cricket]. The context of a video game is totally wrong for cricket. Cricket is about trying to concentrate for five days with no break.

Gaynor: It is? Wait, tell me more about cricket.

Foddy: When you're batting, you're there for as long as it takes. Sometimes, one batsman's out at the crease for two or three days. He has to face hundreds of deliveries and...

Gaynor: Why??

Foddy: That's the game. Because he's got a big wide bat. And because in baseball you have to run if you hit the ball in play, but in cricket you do not have to run. You just have to defend your wicket. It's not that difficult of a task to do once. But to do it five hundred times is a difficult task. But we would never play a video game that took that amount of endurance. I had an idea of how I could redesign the game, capturing some of what I liked about cricket.

Gaynor: batter is there...

Foddy: There's two batsmen. They are at opposite ends. Every time you hit it you try to run to the facing end.

Gaynor: So you have two batsmen. Are they hitting the balls at the same time at each other?

Foddy: No. No, only one at a time.

Gaynor: So you're saying it can take that many days because it can take that many days for either of them to get it through the wicket once.

Foddy: No, there's ten wickets on each side. So to win the game of cricket, I have to get ten players out twice. Each time is an innings. If we can do that within five days, we win. If we run out of time, it's a draw.

Gaynor: Jesus.

Foddy: Which is very, very common.

Gaynor: So, it's the second most popular game in the world after soccer? Why do people love ties so much?

Foddy: No a draw is not the same as a tie. You can also have a tie in cricket. That's very rare.

Gaynor: Oh, come on.

Foddy: That's when you get all the people out, their innings is over and the scores are tied.

Gaynor: [Laughs.]

Foddy: This is the biggest cultural difference between European and American game designers. I had a conversation with some of the folks from Riot, and Chris Hecker who was trying to design the matchmaking system for SpyParty. Chris was like, 'The problem is...your ranking in Sniper might be really good and your ranking as Sniper might be really bad.' [Meaning: Everyone should have to play both roles an equal number of times so their skills are fairly judged.] And I said well why don't you just make it so that a match is [each person playing each role once]. And he's like, 'Well, then you could have a draw.' And I'm like, 'Fine! Let's have draws.' And Chris and the two guys from Riot immediately turned around in unison and say, 'Draws are boring.' It's just an axiom of American game design, because your sports don't allow draws. And also because of like, you know, rugged libertarianism and manifest destiny and capitalism and entrepreneurialism and empire.

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