Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Deferred Agency in Games

I've been playing a lot of weird games recently, and thus experiencing some truly strange and interesting mechanics. However, one of the greatest mechanics I have started seeing more and more has gotten me incredibly excited.

Unfortunately, this awesome, amazing, and potential-filled mechanic genre doesn't seem to have a name - at least, not one that I could find in my vast forays into the Internether... So I've coined one. Whether you use it or not, you should at least check out the games being made around it....

...because Deferred Agency is the bomb!

Deferred Agency in Games

What is Deferred Agency?

Deferred Agency is a mechanic wherein part of a player's agency (their ability to control their avatar in the game space) is given over to another player (deferred) who in turn is giving some of their agency back. 
Hopefully the co-ordination is better than this.
They are co-op games like never before, because instead of a situation where two or more people must work together with separate avatars to complete a goal, now you have two or more people controlling the same character.

For a prime example of that I'm talking about here, check out Spaceteam. Trust me. It will be the most fun you and three friends will ever have together.
We're here to kick arse and rotate the turboflange...

What's So Good About It?

Deferred Agency opens up the possibility for truly engaging game play between people, where two or more people can collectively explore a game and delve into the concept that the mechanics are the message. With other co-op games, a sense of ambient sociability can be created, but with Deferred Agency, true reliance and team building can occur.
You'll be yelling at friends, and isn't that what friends are for?
Imagine a game set in the Pacific Rim universe where two players must co-operate to control a Jaeger against Kaiju. Both players must perform different actions, perhaps one controlling the left arm and one the right arm, to work in sequence the defeat a common enemy.

Or consider a platform shooter where one player moves and jumps the character and the other aims and shoots the guns. Or a game set in the 40k universe with the same make up but controlling a Titan. Or a tank crew. Or a more serious take on the spaceship bridge idea...
If he had of just locked in that auxiliary power when asked, they wouldn't have been in that mess...

What's Next?

You know what? I'm not sure. I'm not a farseer, and anyone telling you otherwise is lying to your face.

But I am a Games Designer.

And I am building something along these lines...