An experiment at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center took three disparate game genres and combined them into a single social game.
CMU's ETC launched a semester-long project called Asymmetrical Cooperative Gaming (ACG) that would combine racing, puzzle and first-person shooter genres into a single socially-competitive experience.
While there were snags in the process -- and plenty of lessons to be learned -- developers found that integration of genres in a socially-centered game can be done as long as certain key concepts are kept in mind.
"Merging the mechanics of multiple genres is not especially difficult," said Stephen Dewhurst. He's the designer behind Fusion, the the experimental genre-blending game.
In Fusion, gamers can play together at the same time, albeit in separate "modes" -- some may choose to play matches using Fusion's puzzle mechanics, some may choose driving and others may choose FPS.
"A well thought-out framework that translates player intent and skill between modes is an essential first step," Dewhurst added. "This framework must provide a clear goal for the team of players independent of the specific modes."
He continued, "Once developed, this framework makes the process of integrating the games no different from any other design process. Then the development of specific interactions and features can progress just like any other design."
Dewhurst added, "Merging audiences is similarly possible. The premise we worked from was that these different people already want to play together; they just do not have an enjoyable way to do so."
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