What makes a game good?

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alexdrummer 101 Mar 20, 2012 at 01:41

I’m doing a research project on video games. my question is “What are the critical aspects of a video game that game designers adhere to in order to create a successful game?” things like story, gameplay, graphics, multiplayer etc. I’m looking for any amateur game developers who can give their own opinion to my question, but for others i have a survey going atm and would really appreciate some more numbers. here’s the link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RYV92ZL. thanks.

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Stainless 151 Mar 20, 2012 at 09:36

To be honest, there aren’t any.

In the most place it’s a case of “this game was successful, so let’s do a sequel”

There are very few new games coming out these days.

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geon 101 Mar 20, 2012 at 10:46

@Stainless

To be honest, there aren’t any. In the most place it’s a case of “this game was successful, so let’s do a sequel”

Not entirely true. Often, there is a matter of not having reached the original vision or the full potential with the first game. A lot of game sequels are better than their original. Day Of The Tentacle (if it can be considered a sequel of Mani Mansion) and Pinball Fantasies (Pinball Dreams) comes to mind.

Listen to this Portal 2 post mortem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLqk4aqpXlQ

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TheNut 179 Mar 20, 2012 at 12:34

Alex, your survey is not that good. From a gamer point of view, they want everything, so I can’t imagine why anyone would tick off only one option in question 1. Question 2 lists points that are generally related. Question 3 is actually quite limited in selection. There are dozens of genres and even various combinations of them (RPG + FPS + MMO). I know some people like “simple” games and others want to try everything. I think it’s better to redirect your research to analyze the types of gamers and communities and less on game genres.

Geon, I think it’s safe to say all classics had great sequels :) In general, if you look at game ratings you’ll often see most gamers rate sequels much lower than their originals. The most recent sequel for example, Mass Effect 3, seems to be taking a beating from gamers. I think very few companies are successful (in terms of gamer satisfaction, not sales) with sequels and it has a lot to do with patience and hype buildup.

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Stainless 151 Mar 21, 2012 at 10:04

TheNut is right, one of the things that annoys me is the fact that often they don’t learn from their mistakes as well.

For example, the modern warfare franchise. The one player game is ok, nothing special, it’s the online multiplayer version that makes the money.

Yet the design of the network code is awful, and this hasn’t been addressed in any of the sequels. I live in a village and simply cannot get a good enough connection to play the online version, before I can fire a round, I’m dead.

Mass effect 3 seems to be the exact same engine as the other two games in the franchise, with a new set of graphics and a new storyline. Apart from removing a few sections to gameplay to fit the storyline, I cannot see any progress in the product.

The financial risks of doing something truly original seem to preclude any of the big boys taking the chance, so we are looking to indies for innovation.

I am lucky in that the products I am working on take advantage of new technology, so they are completely new. Not because I am using my jedi mind tricks to foresee the future, but because I HAD to come up with some way of using the new technology.

If I have got it right we will have to wait and see, sales figures don’t lie, but they often disguise the truth.

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alexdrummer 101 Mar 21, 2012 at 10:20

@TheNut

Alex, your survey is not that good. From a gamer point of view, they want everything, so I can’t imagine why anyone would tick off only one option in question 1. Question 2 lists points that are generally related. Question 3 is actually quite limited in selection. There are dozens of genres and even various combinations of them (RPG + FPS + MMO). I know some people like “simple” games and others want to try everything. I think it’s better to redirect your research to analyze the types of gamers and communities and less on game genres. Geon, I think it’s safe to say all classics had great sequels :) In general, if you look at game ratings you’ll often see most gamers rate sequels much lower than their originals. The most recent sequel for example, Mass Effect 3, seems to be taking a beating from gamers. I think very few companies are successful (in terms of gamer satisfaction, not sales) with sequels and it has a lot to do with patience and hype buildup.

The survey actually isn’t limited to one answer per question. It’s possible to tick more than one box. And the point you made about Q3 being limited in selection is true yes, but that’s why i put an “other” option: so that people can give a more detailed answer if they wish. any response I get is helping, so feel free to go back and add to your answers if need be. However, your feedback is very much appreciated.

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zynithra 101 Apr 03, 2012 at 14:08

damn, I think I just checked all the boxes. to be honest, though, you left something important out.

usability. (unless that is what you meant by gameplay)..

usability can make a semi-bad game excellent, and bad usability can make an epic idea suck goatballs. so, my number one choice would have been usability if I was allowed to rank the checkboxes (I did, after all, select everything). The next down from that would be story, but then again, there are times when you just want to kill stuff and gameplay/graphics win the day.

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dev_str 101 Apr 06, 2012 at 01:36

I picked entertainment value for why I play games and my favorite feature being the multiplayer component.

I think most games suffer from a lack of originality. An example could be the current MMO Industry. Most AAA MMOs have been following the same formula since the days of EQ. I’ve played dozens of MMOs and they can no longer hold my interest because no matter which MMO I play, I feel like I’ve been there, done that. There is almost no innovation; there are just improvements to the genre. Sure, automatic grouping for raids and what is nice, but it just makes things more convenient. It does not significantly change my game play experience.

I’m not saying there has not been any attempts to innovate though. There have been numerous MMOs that have tried to innovate. Wurm Online, Puzzle Pirates, Xsyon, Darkfall, Mortal Online, Eve Online and whatnot. A lot of these really innovative games suffer (well, besides EVE) from lack of funding because of being a small start up company or a bunch of volunteer game developers working on a project in their spare time. AAA developers need to get in on the scene; there is money to be made.

This even applies to single player games … just look at the Xbox 360. What are the major games played on it? Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Gears of War. Sure, they’re fun games. Are they really that different, though? Every time I pick up a new CoD game, I have fun for a few hours finishing the campaign but then I hop into Multiplayer and it feels like the same game I was playing four years ago.

I understand that a lot of people buy these games and that it makes sense as a business to keep creating them. That is what businesses are for, to make money. However, what really amazes me is why there are not -more- AAA studios making innovative games. Look at Minecraft for instance. It has simple graphics, but an -amazing- concept, and it sold incredibly well with almost no marketing. Take a look at Kickstarter, too. People are willing to shell out their cash prematurely to fund innovative projects.

Innovation, that is one of the most important parts of a game to me. I’m not saying every game needs to be innovative … just a higher number of them. Sure, I enjoy playing some of the new games from the big studios …. it’s just that Assassin’s Creed 1, 2 , 3 , 4 or Call of Duty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 can get a little boring. Give me a unique experience like Harvest Moon, Sequence, or World of Goo any day!

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Stainless 151 Apr 07, 2012 at 08:34

I totally agree, I do see why innovation is a problem though.

Firstly, it’s an over used word. You get marketing BS coming out all the time that says <INSERT GAME NAME> features an innovative <INSERT FEATURE> system…. when it really means. “We have moved the attack button from ‘A’ to ‘X’”

People in the marketing department wouldn’t know innovation if it bit them in the arse. { Sadly this problem has moved to the patent lawyers as well, did you notice that someone was granted a patent for using floating point on mobile devices the other day!!!! }

Secondly it’s risky. With the huge cost of producing a AAA game these days, not many companies have the balls to try a brand new concept. If it flops, the company could fold. It’s much safer to just churn out Monty is really, really, really, innocent … version III than to try a brand new game.

Thirdly most of the really good ideas have been done. Truly innovative games came out of adversity. When you can only throw around 1000 polygons a frame you are not going to be able to write Modern Warfare Black Ops. You could write Virus, or Elite though.

I am hoping technology like true 3D and kinect et al will spawn a new range of innovation, but I am pessimistic. I really thing that we don’t have the volume of games coders we used to have. We have hundreds of thousands of excellent games software engineers, but very few games coders. It’s a different mind and skill set.

I could pick up the phone right now and phone half a dozen brilliant engineers who could write a graphics/physics/particle/sound effect/ system from scratch which would be the best graphics/physics/particle/sound effect/ system ever seen, however I can only think of one guy I would call to discuss a brand new idea.

And I work with him already…. :D

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dev_str 101 Apr 09, 2012 at 05:19

The whole money issue of the business side is definitely true. I think I read somewhere that back in the early days of gaming (before my time!), one video game success could fund several failures. Now with some games costing over 200 million to produce … I can see why companies are weary to take risks.

I’ve found the Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect to be a lot of fun. Some of the games, like Just Dance 2, really give you a workout. I’ve found that the Kinect (when I played with it, at least) had issues recognizing if I was actually standing in front of the screen or not. The WiiMote also dampered the immersion for me. I just didn’t feel immersed in the game. That is only my personal opinion; once the technology matures I am sure that the games will get better and who knows what will come from that.

I did see the patent on floating point the other day. I can’t believe it is even possible to patent that. Also, on the subject on patents, a company is suing a couple other gaming companies for something along the lines of ‘a method allowing users to interact in a virtual space.’ If game companies stopped suing eachother and attempting to hinder innovation, we would all be better off. I’ll leave it at that, though. I’m sure we all could write pages and pages about that subject.

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geon 101 Apr 09, 2012 at 14:35

@dev_str

I did see the patent on floating point the other day. I can’t believe it is even possible to patent that.

The US patent system awards a patent for pretty much anything, and lets the courts decide if they are valid. And the courts are pretty much ruled by whoever has the most money, unless it’s an especcially obvious “invention”.

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Stainless 151 Apr 09, 2012 at 17:33

In the UK we have this thing called “prior art”, which is supposed to stop nuisance patents. Doesn’t always work of course.

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Reedbeta 167 Apr 09, 2012 at 17:40

Well, the trouble with the US patent office is that the patent clerks are overworked and usually are not experts in the specific field to the point where they can reliably tell the difference between bullshit and a real invention. What geon said tends to be true in practice but it’s now how it’s supposed to work according to the law. We do recognize “prior art” too. :) However, they seem to err on the side of granting rather than denying patent applications, which means the patents later have to be challenged in court.

It does work correctly sometimes. I saw a story just in the last couple weeks (unfortunately can’t find it now) about some big-deal tech patent application that was denied by the US patent office for being too similar to something else that already existed.

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sujay 101 Apr 30, 2012 at 14:44

I feel Game should include Gesture recognition and also speech recognition.These technologies are still immature.But the should be incorporated into some kinds of games.Making a game responsive to speech, like in a boxing or a tennis game..where the player you are controlling actually can speak what we speak…:)…this will be nice…