Saving New York City
For the last two weeks, I have been playing Tom Clancy’s The Division by Massive Entertainment on the PC. Tom Clancy’s The Division is an online only open-world third-person shooter that takes place in mid-crisis Manhattan. You take the role of an unnamed Agent that has been activated in response to this crisis. The agent can be customized by the player to provide differences from other players. The agent can also wear clothes that have no bearing on gameplay but for aesthetic purposes only.
Who is the Author?
The authorship of Tom Clancy’s The Division is Massive Entertainment. Massive Entertainment created the world and the ability to play within the space. I do not consider one person of the development team to have sole authorship over The Division as there are too many influences on the development of the game. The developers all had a meaningful addition for the game. Also, the developers have looked at feedback from the community and have made proper adjustments that have kept the game running. There is not a single developer that raises to mind when I think of Massive Entertainment. I think of them as more of teams of authors instead of just a single author.
The team that is responsible for the narrative of the game is different from the team that is responsible for the actual gameplay of the game. Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek in MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research state that “From the designer’s perspective, the mechanics give rise to dynamic system behavior, which in turn leads to particular aesthetic experiences. From the player’s perspective, aesthetics set the tone, which is born out in observable dynamics and eventually, operable mechanics.” The developer might care how the game plays, while in the player is concerned with the aesthetics that the game presents.
Why does it matter who the Author is?
By stating that Tom Clancy’s The Division has multiple authors, I am emphasizing the fact that triple A games require many people to complete. Hunicke et al states “Agents in this space, in addition to coordinating movement and attacks must operate over a wide range of sensory data. Reasoning about the player’s position and intent should indicate challenge, but promote their overall success. Will enemies be able to pass over obstacles and navigate challenging terrain, or will you “cheat”? Will sound propagation be “realistic” or will simple metrics based on distance suffice?” These ideas need to be coded in and be told to trigger at specific points or when the dynamics that are being inputted at the time. The aesthetics that are perceived by the player can trigger a reaction based on those mechanics and dynamics on what to do. Do they stay in cover and fight back or do they retreat and reset the rules of engagement?
Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek – MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research