I wanted to start posting on a regular basis again. So here is an interesting game I found some time ago. It’s called Parameters and it is made by Nekogames, that Japanese Game Studio, that also did Cursor*10.


Talking about games, that look like spradsheets…

It’s supposed to be an RPG stripped down to bare numbers. Different percentage bars represent quests and enemies. You have to click multiple times on a bar to tackle the task at hand. When you fill the bar, the quest is over / enemy defeated. But attacking enemies will also reduce your Hit Points. Once you reach 0 hit points, you have to wait until you recover. Enemies recover as well. So the trick is to judge if your stats are high enough to defeat an enemy. Defeating enemies will give you keys which will enable you to open up previously locked quests / enemies. The

It occurred to me that it’s not exactly a stripped-down RPG. Parameters allows you to select from a huge amount of challenges with a very wide range of difficulties. That’s not what RPGs offer – certainly not Western ones. RPGs are usually much more “grindy” and more directed. They will usually provide you with a challenge just about right for your level. They won’t offer too many challenges to chose from anyway. Selecting the challenge, which is right for your current level is hardly ever a concern.

The game reminds very much of Hunter RPG by Daniel Benmergui. It also strips away a visual projection of the game world in favor of a more abstract interpretation. But as with Hunter RPG, the space never really goes away. Instead of a map of continents, rivers and seas, we navigate the colorful and chaotic map of quest percentage bars. It’s no accident that the bars are arranged in a chaotic and visually striking pattern. No doubt, it’s one of the reason for the game’s attractiveness. It’s also a part of the challenge – find the smallest percentage bar among the chaos. Where is Waldo?

Also, in spite of the game’s minimalism there is one particular effect that the game’s designers decided to indulge in. When quest and enemies will yield items, gold and various bonus points. Icons and numbers will pop out of the percentage bars and spread out in a tactile, bouncy manner. They need to be collected by a mouse cursor which will make them float over to their respective indicators on the UI. Not only is this effective information design. It’s also cute and entertaining – to some extent even addictive. This “juicyness” is clearly a significant driving force that keeps the player engaged. But it is also an example of the game being not what it appears at first glance – bare-bones minimalism.

My point is that spatial representation and physical interaction (”juicyness”) are to some extent the very source of a game’s engagement. No matter how far you manage to reduce the game to it’s “core”, you will never be able to strip away space and physics. To some extent they are the game more than the actual rules are.

However, as Parameters and Hunter RPG show, there can be many ways to evoke space and physicality. Both games show that questioning the dogma of direct visual representation of game worlds can open up those new possibilities and unhinge commonly accepted truths about game development – creative as well as economic ones.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

5 responses to “Parameters”

  1. daniel

    very interesting post. thank you!
    (as far as i can tell, i guess you pretty nailed it)

  2. daniel

    i have trouble playing the game. is something wrong (randomizer seed from my pc) or am i stupid? i can’t make a first move: the lowest (by far) is a 32/32 and when i click it goes down to 28 (while i go down to 78/100)the same repeats for 5 turns, until i am dead andit is still over 20/32.

    please, what am i missing?

    i really love progress-bar games (C:

  3. daniel

    googled a lot, read forums – nobody seems to have my problem … or i am missing something so basic others didnt miss it.

    can you please explain me what exactly you do when you start the game from scratch. what do you click, how do call it a “success” how does it continue?

    thanks in advance :-)

    1. Krystian Majewski

      You need to click on the black percentage bars first to level up your character. They represent exploration quests. Here is a video:

      1. daniel

        perfect! thanks for the hint. nearly all black boxes have a lock symbol on them, but the few in the top left corner. i did miss that – and its of course nowhere explained =)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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