What's In A Game?

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  • I know this question has been debated for all eternity - *GRINS* - but I was curious about everyone's take on this.

    What makes a game GREAT? Graphics? Controls? Innovations? Music? Story?

    But let's change it up a little... Rather than pitting these different areas against each other, how do each of these areas compliment each other? What do we lose if we don't have one area done well? There are obviously some game genres where one area doesn't really even apply (like a story in a strictly puzzle game), but this is not the case most of the time.

    What are your thoughts?

  • What makes anything great is the that the creation stimulates.

    Even a game with no to little graphics can be great if music, story, controls works well. A game can be great even when there is no music if that silence enhances the theme of lonliness.

    What if any of these makes great entertainment. All and none. it's in the execution of the experience. very hard to manage though; at least for me :D

  • What I see:

    Graphics: Marketing, makes people choose your game over other games.

    Sounds: Well made sound effects takes players into the game world and helps to forget the real world.

    Music: Well made music helps with marketing, makes people come back to your game. If made wrong works just the opposite way.

    Design and programming: These are the ones that activates conversations, makes people tell good and bad things about your game. These has to be well executed or else the game sucks and it's only a matter of time everybody avoids the game.

    In my opinion the most important thing with game music is that it adds to your game and doesn't irritate people. You should never hear when the music starts and when it ends. The music also should not contain too much high frequency sounds.

    Sound effects should leave enough room for multiple sound effects overlapping. Sounds playing repeatedly such as guns should have little variations made wit different sounds or with slight randomized pitch changes.

    Graphics should not be too bright in contrast, because displays are in the end just lamps that people stares. As in many movies, the sudden added brightness can be used to make people feel like they are crying in a sad scene.

    Good music can save boring games and alter the players expectations or control the overall mood. Would Forrest Gump has been the same movie with Looney Tunes theme or with Gangham Style. What makes simple games such as Hotline Miami so appealing is the sounds and music in it.

  • AWESOME input, guys! It's late, but I want to come back and comment more specifically to both of you. But you gave me some things to think about for my own works. Thanks!

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  • Well, nobody's mentioned gameplay and playing some of the games on the arcade, that does not surprise me one bit...

    Pretty graphics and sound will make a good game shine but the core game must be involving, challenging and fun

    Seems like these type of games are a dying breed and most are happy to play and develop flappy bird clones...god help us all...

  • Indeed, pixel perfick... It's one thing if you, speaking generally of the indie developer, are still learning and can only make a "so-so" game. But even the big names in the industry are becoming masters of shine but have virtually no polish. Not ALL big names, but many. Reinventing the wheel might be the most novel concept yet. And it's rarely even tried.

  • Warning.- I'm quite old school, so if you don't get the reference, please use google etc.

    When I think the games I have spend a most time with, there have been so many different types.

    At Apple II ... Lode runner (150 levels) and Castle wolfenstein (2D), relatively long games (hours), single player with primitive AI enemies.

    At C64 .. so many.. Like M.U.L.E. multiplayer strategy competetive/co-operative game. Numerous arcade-shooters ..

    On unix machines Moria, Angband and Nethack. Deep, hard and quite unforgiving

    On Amiga .. A lot, way too many to mention (many ideas are from this era). Gfx and Sound become more important, but also the ideas and story likes are more complex.

    On Consoles (PS2 and PS3) Metal Gear series game mechanism, hide, don't prefer brute force .. Games like Bioshock and Fallout3 for the atmosphere and storyline. Valkyrie chronicles and Flower.

    On PC .. Point&cliks.. some unique ideas like Frozen synapse, Spacechem. Simulators.

  • I think there is no one thing that makes a game great. There are great games that have earned that distinction solely thru their content, not their gameplay...and vice-versa.

    I'm thinking, for example, of one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy X. The gameplay may appear to be deep on the surface, but looking at it now...well, it just isn't. If I'm perfectly honest with myself, it's just a simple set of rules, and a lot of grinding.

    That being said, it's an incredibly rich and imaginative world, and has excellent artwork, music, and a moving tale that still stands as one of the few successful attempts in gaming to tell a love story. The gameplay is used to involve you. That's it. I don't regret a minute spent with it.

    THAT BEING SAID...gameplay is still important, and is more often overlooked. I see final fantasy as somehow different from, say, advance wars, or quake live, or even bioshock. It's not anything less or more, just...different.

    It seems like many indie devs aspire to recreate a feeling, an atmosphere, thru art/music/controls/design, that reminds them and their audience of the games of yesteryear that they loved the most.

    But, ironically, that often requires a lot more work than something a bit off-the-wall, innovative, or different. It might be more straightforward, but people's expectations are high, and you have to meet them.

    The strength of being an independent developer is that you can make whatever the hell you want. It does not have to be art-by-consensus, nor does it have to recreate something extant.

    But...often that's what we WANT to do; to recreate something, to rekindle that magic. It feels...safe, nostalgic. And often, it's a whole hell of a lot harder than it looks.

    Or, you can try to build something novel. It's harder, because the guideposts are...well far apart, if in sight at all. But the advantage for a resource-limited indie -- what, you can't afford voice actors, an orchestra, and John Kricfalusi on pen and ink? Pfff... -- because it can be simple, but still involving.

    However, it's also harder to know what's good and whats shi...er, not...

    Anyway, that started good and got all rambley...story of my life...


    I didn't quite use every smiley. Sorry.

  • A neat GUI helps game play and graphics allot.

  • Loving the input! I think this is where we can all help each other understand the different philosophies that go into game-making.

    • Tight controls
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  • Wrangler - I actually attended that school online years ago. I even still have one of the books.

  • I love the arcade shmups of the 80's. One of my favorites is Pooyan, simple shooter, simple graphics but addictive game play. For some great game play check out MAME...

  • I love the arcade shmups of the 80's. One of my favorites is Pooyan, simple shooter, simple graphics but addictive game play. For some great game play check out MAME...

    I'll have to check that out later on. Pooyan sounds only ever-so-familiar...hmm...

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