What Makes a Game Great?
Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:03 AM
Looking over the true classics, it's pretty universally difficult to explain the appeal. In plenty of ways, there have been more "interesting" block games than Tetris... but Tetris is still the best. There have been more varied, nuanced, and deep experiences than the old text-based dungeon adventures, but I would go and replay those (or even King's Quest) long before I would replay, say, Fable III.
Recently I downloaded Superbrothers:Sword&SworceryEP for my iPhone, and it reminded me about the awesomeness of those 8-bit days... and reminded me that we've been pretty much stuck in a gaming box for many, many years, still playing by the rules that Miyamoto and others like him helped to write back in the 80s. It wasn't the particular presentations that made those games great... it was something else.
It seems that we're still trying to make games either more like movies or more like carnival games or more like a very interesting pop-up book... but is there something else we could be doing with them (and isn't it something else that those early creators were tapping into, albeit unconsciously)? Couldn't we be messing, somehow, with interactivity itself - with the fact that we are both manipulating and being manipulated by our environment in electronic media? Couldn't we make a game that lived in the tension between narrative (what the story is doing to you) and personal responsibility (what you are doing to the story and the characters), and asked us to find a real equilibrium with that dynamic through our in-game actions?
Maybe this is just too "heady" or esoteric for the average gamer... but if we aren't asking ourselves what makes games great, then don't we simply run the risk of games hitting the same cultural arc as film (basically peaking early as art, then becoming a special effects arms race, then devolving into formulaic blockbuster attempts in the interest of making money)? If NO ONE cares about this question, then I'm afraid that, like the film industry, the games industry will soon be left with nothing but the polar opposites of Call of Duty blockbusters and tiny indie offerings like World of Goo... and I, for one, find that a depressing prospect.
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Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:49 AM
Looking back though, I suppose they bring me back because Nintendo is all I really know. Third party games on the Wii are usually terrible, and I'm left with risking a loss of £30 or getting a game I know I will love.
Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:39 AM
Posted 30 June 2011 - 10:27 AM
Posted 30 June 2011 - 02:31 PM
I honestly don't think the original Super Mario Bros was great. I really don't like that game, but I do like the later games in the series. I'd say a great game is one that challenges you often and rewards you often.
I'd agree to both of these, but I'd add my own idea: The Central Gameplay Mechanic.
The experience and emotion. Take horror games like amnesia. It's so great because you can hear the sound of the monster , and you can't fight it so all you can do is run. This gives the player a sense of helplessness. It's all about the emotion the game gives off and how it plays. Or it can just be addictive like Mario
Don't believe me? some of the best games have had a very simple to understand gameplay concept. I'll use one of my Personal Favorite games: portal. The idea is simple; you have a gun that can shoot holes in the walls that are linked together. The execution, on the other hand, is brilliant. It makes Physics fun.
Games that refuse to use Gameplay effectively to do anything are like films that refuse to use cinematography in film to do anything.
NNID: Lord of Grape Juice /PSN: Nderbert/Steam: Harmonius EX
Posted 30 June 2011 - 05:25 PM
Posted 30 June 2011 - 06:03 PM
Oh, and the fact that everyone likes beating up Dan in training mode.
Posted 01 July 2011 - 12:05 AM
With Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, (especially The Thousand-Year Door), I just absolutely love the graphics, art style, the storyline, the quests and game mechanics. I also love the characters and their personalities.
I get sucked into those two games. They're just amazing, I can replay them over and over without getting bored of them.
Posted 01 July 2011 - 09:29 AM
In Mario 3, the rules of engagement are simple. You're a plumber and you need to jump on enemies. Your eventual goal is to complete the game, but the difference between that here and in say, Mario 64 or Galaxy, is that every move you make in the game has a direct consequence on achieving your goal. This makes every tight platforming challenge feel epic, fun, and hilarious. In a 3D Mario, game over means you come back with more lives instantly and try to get the star again. In Mario 3, you better save up those lives for World 8! You want to save a P-Wing for that annoying fleet level! Getting hit by an enemy even one time may cause you to lose the power that was going to make fighting the boss easy...or was crucial for uncovering a secret. Due to the simple mechanics (run and jump left and right) and the flexibility afforded to the player in how to overcome challenges, the game becomes fun and intriguing to try to complete. Hell if I get a Tanooki suit I start being super careful because it's so rare and so awesome, I don't want to lose it. What is there in Galaxy to REALLY make you care about your playing like that?
Mario has absolutely set the standard for 3D platforming, but the games can't be as fun or exhilarating because they're ten times more linear than the 2D ones. You complete the platforming challenge put before you and move on. Sometimes the game gives you a powerup that is necessary to the task, to add variety, and then it goes away. 2D games may seem linear but they're diverse in what matters: giving you options for how you want to tackle obstacles yourself. The fact that your choice in those options constantly affects your ability to progress is what tops it off and makes them addictive.
Posted 01 July 2011 - 05:27 PM
I constantly play the Final Fantasy series because they-give or take a few- have really interesting stories with characters that you care about. Going back to Nintendo for a second the characters that they have are really individual and unique, Kirby, Fox, Link and so on.
However what makes games great differs for each genre I think, I mean I don't go into Epic Yarn looking for a deep and riveting story .
Posted 02 July 2011 - 08:04 AM
I'll use one of my Personal Favorite games: portal. The idea is simple; you have a gun that can shoot holes in the walls that are linked together. The execution, on the other hand, is brilliant. It makes Physics fun.
Ya, I totally agree about this game... it's such a great example of a very simple mechanic making for a really deep experience. I think this must be a central facet of truly great games - the ability to put your active involvement with the game world front-and-center through a movement or mechanic that feels good to execute.
For me it is just plainly the content... Also the content has to be good obviosly
Yeah... this makes sense to me, in terms of a sense of value. I can think of a lot of games with massive content that are not at all fun... but it seems true that wealth of available content allows for a richer interaction with the game world - allows you to inhabit that created space more fully.
What makes a game good is how much you feel like your in it. The major advantage is that you are the fat plumber. You finally get to be the hero (or villian) you always wanted to be without any real life consequences... also, accomplishment. In games such as Tetris we aren't being a great hero. What keeps us coming back is the feeling of accomplishment you get from winning. Sometimes this victory makes us feel powerful, sometimes it makes us feel smart. That is what makes a game.
I'm not completely sold that I have a secret fantasy about being a fat plumber, lol , but I get the "chance to be a hero" thing. The odd thing is, however, that the games that seem most to make me really become the hero feature heroes that I don't want to become, whereas games with "bad-a" heroes that I would love to become feel only incidentally or artificially attached to me as a player. (Sure player man, you're Marcus Fenix, *wink*)
The sense of accomplishment is a great point. There is something about victory over a challenge that is just inherently appealing (something about the way our brains are wired... curious little monkeys, yes...)
In Mario 3, the rules of engagement are simple... Due to the simple mechanics (run and jump left and right) and the flexibility afforded to the player in how to overcome challenges, the game becomes fun and intriguing to try to complete. Hell if I get a Tanooki suit I start being super careful because it's so rare and so awesome, I don't want to lose it. What is there in Galaxy to REALLY make you care about your playing like that?
This also makes a lot of sense to me... and this is really what sets Mario apart from other great games featuring simple mechanics (like Angry Birds)... the fact that your performance is carried over between levels. It adds a requirement on the player, while keeping the challenge basically related to the simple core mechanic of moving, waiting, jumping.
Again, I think that this kind of greatness really stresses the interactivity of gaming - the fact that the machinery of the game world revolves around your input.
But now... what about the other side of gaming? What about the narrative aspect? Is that really (as Miyamoto has told us before) incidental to the experience, rather than central? Are games just being crazy in trying to integrate narrative with interactivity? Should they simply be providing backdrop to the mechanic, or framework for the mechanic to hang upon, rather than innovating a path toward real interaction with deep narrative?
Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:20 PM
Games with the "infinite lives" approach, starting in my mind (probably earlier) with Mario 64, allow more rich and compelling experiences, amongst them the storytelling. "Simple to learn, but hard to master" and "Deep and complex" games both have their distinct places I think, and should be developed independently.
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