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Ten games every designer should play


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#81 Yohumbus   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 06:28 AM

Normally I dont play many rts games but with the discussion over starcraft and total annihilation I have to add my favorite, Kohan. While the single player sucked and some of the game mechanics werent well tuned the design of the units system was fantastic. Instead of individual units there were companies of 7 units that could go into formation and be controlled as a single unit completly removing micromanagement issues. These companies could also be led by a hero that could be found in the game. For resources each unit cost a certain amount to build (you could only build them whole companies at a time) but each unit required certain resources per minute. All of the recources were done per minute and if you were in the negatives (one of your main cities was taken while you had many units) then money would be taken and eventually your units would die.

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#82 Oluseyi   Staff Emeritus   -  Reputation: 1678

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 10:51 AM

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Original post by kseh
If you wanted to be a writer you would want your readers to get the most out of your work. You do that by learning to write well. You learn to write well by examining the works of other authors. Especially the ones held in high regard.
No, you learn to write well by writing as much as possible and soliciting unbiased feedback - releasing your material to writers' groups (Gotham Writers Guild in NYC is one such), publishing it to independent magazines and collectives. Reading and studying the works of other writers will turn you into a poor copy rather than an interesting artist with a voice all his own.

Which is exactly the problem with video games. Far too many of them too closely emulated existing or preceeding games, which has the plus of providing familiar launch points for the veteran, but the huge minus of alienating the newcomer. And there are still way more newcomers than veterans.

Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
I don't really like the whole concept of sports games personally - these are things you can attempt in real life - sure, you might not be as good as you could be in a game, but you'll get real benefits in fitness in addition to the fun of playing.
While you may be able to play basketball in real life, can you play in the NBA? Can you coach or manage an NBA franchise? While you can drive a car in real life, can you drive the Indy 500 or Le Mans? While you can fly a plane - a Cessna, for example - in real life, can you fly an F-18 fighter on a mission for the US Army? While you can wield a sword in real life, can you wield it in battle against orcs and ogres and demons and various other vile enemies?

What's the difference? Because I sure as hell don't see it, and I tire of the narrow-minded excuse that "you can just go outside and do it." Clearly, you can't.

Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Not a single sports game on anyone's list. Interesting.

Bollocks, I mentioned Tecmo Bowl, Bases Loaded, Blades of Steal, and Gran Turismo (not "Grand Turismo" or "Gran Tourismo") long before you joined the thread.
You're right, but it doesn't change anything else I said.

#83 MangaFox   Members   -  Reputation: 142

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 12:58 PM

Here are some games that designers really need to look at for inspiration:

VS System (CCG) - Simple rules that allow for really deep and engaging gameplay. Incredible game design. A design/development team that actaully cares about what the consumers have to say. And its got super heroes.

Magic the Gathering (CCG) - I cant vouch for the game now but back when i used to play (about 9 or 10 years ago) it was great for the same reasons that i mentioned for the VS system, only instead of superheroes it had mages and dragons.

Star Chamber (PC) - Takes gameplay features from board games and CCGs and successfully combines them into a simple yet deep gameplay experiance.

XCOM: UFO Defense (PC) - What an amazing game. So deep its not even funny. Turn based combat that actually creates a bit of tension and occasionally startles you. Go play this if you havent already.

Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1) - Another amazing game. Cusomizable characters. Cool abilities and super deep combat. Three dimensional battle field that was as much a dynamic in combat as the characters were. If it had a multiplayer mode it would be perfect.

Street Fighter 2 Turbo (Various) - Capcom has YET to produce a better fighting game. Interesting characters that played very different from one another. Aproachable yet deep fighting system. Near perfect play balance.

Castlevania: SotN (PS1) - Side scrolling perfection. Period. Weapons have secret moves, spells with street fighter like inputs, two huge explorable castles, secrets galore, etc...

13 Dead End Drive (Board Game) - Wow, was this game fun. May not get any awards for anything and it was time consuming to set up, but man was it a joy to play with a good group of people.

Heroclix/Mage Knight (Miniature Board Game) - Why balance a character to some standard of characters (like fighting games have to) when you could instead justifly them to a point system instead? Rules problems notwithstanding, this game has some design ideas with great potential. And its got Super heroes.

Tomb Raider 1 (PS1) - While the graphics are quite herrendous the exploration and puzzle solving themes are solid. Too bad the later games are so horrible...

Zelda, any except for part 2 (Various) - Gameplay perfection. Exploration, puzzle solving, fighting, rpg elements, these games have it all. I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't experianced the brilliance of this series of games.

Metroid, any (Various) - Same as above.

Mario 3 (NES) - This game is just as relevant today as it was when it was released, and just as fun. Even after so much time you'd be hard pressed to name a platformer thats better. Here's the sad thing: i dont think there ever will be.

The Squaresoft golden age games (Chrono Trigger, FF4-FF6, etc...) - Great games that really show how to have great gameplay in a genre that generally focuses on story instead.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PS1) - Definitaly not because of its derivative and simple gameplay but instead because of the way it tells an incredibly cool story integrated into its gameplay and its great voice acting (a rare achievment in the game industry).

Super Smash Bros. 1 & 2 (N64 and Gamecube) - You might think that this is a relatively simple party fighting game, that is until you spend a couple hours hooked into it. Another example of simple game design that is incredibly deep in execution. I wish more fighting games were like this.

Twisted Metal Black (PS2) - Car combat at its best. Special moves, unique super moves, stellar graphics, this game has it all. Now if it only had the level design of vigilante 8 it would be perfect.

War of the Monsters (PS2) - Its too bad that so many people missed out on this gem. Incredibly fun game with a unique split screen system and FULLY destructable environments.

Beyond Good & Evil (PS2) - Mature themes handled in an elegant way, all with a strong female (fully clothed) protagonist. This was a great game and its really a shame that it was virtually ignored in retail. See my comments on Zelda for why this game is so good.

I know that was more than 10 but ah well.

Here are some examples of games or features that DONT need to be copied or studied:

Fighting games without online play - I refuse to buy another fighting game without online play. Period. Ok, maybe not period b/c im gonna buy Tekken 5 but after that, Period!

More Cinema then Gameplay (MGS1-3 in particular) - I recently rented MGS3, turned it on, and then proceeded NOT play the game for about 15 minutes. How silly is that? Did i rent a movie or a game?

Strategy game without multiplayer support - If it doesn't have some kind of multiplayer support it just got relegated to "rental" status.

FPS games with the same feature set as the last 10 FPS games - How many versions of Medal of honor are they gonna release?

Sports games with no real innovations - I love football, but am i the only one that notices EA is selling the same game every year for full price?

RPG's where i have to go to a "Battle screen" to fight - This design feature is so outdated.

Thoughts, comments?

Peace.

#84 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 08:22 PM

To reiterate a previous poster, I believe the board game Go should be included within the list.

Go is a strategy game similar to chess, while looking more like othello.

Go has very few rules. [essentially: Black plays first. Stones surrounded are captured. The player with the most empty space surrounded wins. (and the rule of ko)] It's noteworthy, that despite these very few rules, the game quite deep and is 'unsolvable' by computers. Futher, computer AI for the game is currently, and for the forseeable future worse than any master level human. It also is debatably the oldest game still played, clocking in at around 4000 years.

#85 Beer Hunter   Members   -  Reputation: 712

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 08:42 PM

Perhaps not the greatest games ever, but Deadly Rooms of Death, IVAN and Jumper Two are interesting games indeed.

#86 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19072

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 08:50 PM

Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
To reiterate a previous poster, I believe the board game Go should be included within the list.


It's on my to-do list - thanks for the additional info on it.

#87 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 12:34 AM

Does anyone know the name of the Chinese chess game? (not the chinese drawers named Go, thank you very much...)

#88 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4692

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 12:48 AM

I agree with alot of the game posted, but I'll mention Ninja Gaiden. First it was in arcade form which was later ported to the Atari Lynx. Then reinvented with a different gameplay dynamic thru the NES. Then completely and most successfully resurrected and reinvented thru the XBox and is one of the most gorgeous, well played games to date. So yeah... Ninja Gaiden (the series).

#89 Genjix   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 01:09 AM

your going to get a lot of different views..

Final Fantasy VII - many people will understand ;)

Tomb Raider I - best concept and good story (spoiled in later series(

Dino Crisis 2 - excellent action game (no other equal action game)

Wip3out - epitome of perfection and design

Parasite Eve 1 - brilliant story concept

Abe's Oddesey - original and great gameplay/style (fmv's are good too :))

Command and Conquer: Red Alert


#90 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2788

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 01:37 AM

Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Does anyone know the name of the Chinese chess game? (not the chinese drawers named Go, thank you very much...)


Do you mean the Chinese chess game Xiangqi?
Or the japenese chess game Shogi?



#91 Shadowdancer   Members   -  Reputation: 319

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 01:58 AM

Designers should play good, bad and mediocre games:


  • (++) Anachronox: IMAO, one of the greatest games ever made. It is a bit challenging, has a decent amount of eye-candy and the storyline is great. It is very linear, but still one of the games where it didn't bother me because of the nice storytelling.

  • (++) The Dig: Classic graphical point&click-adventure with good storytelling, nice graphics and very nice music. I still play it once and again. When you don't know how to go on: use the shovel.

  • (++) Unreal Tournament 2003: In terms of "no need to think", this one takes the cake. You start a deathmatch against bots and enjoy an hour or two of pure stress relief. Rumors have it the game also has a multiplayer-mode, but that's not important here.

  • (++) Enemy Engaged series: If you want to know how a flight simulation with a dynamic campaign must look and feel, this is it. The graphics suck by today's standard, but there is no better sim out.

  • (++) Descent Freespace: After the Wing Commander series had come full circle with Prophecy, there was nothing much to do in terms of space shooters, or so one thought. Volition created one of the greatest linear space shooters ever, that brought back some of the feeling of the first two Wing Commander parts (minus personal interaction).

  • I-War / Independence War, I-War 2: Edge of Chaos (technical merit): After Elite, the first game that actually had space that could be called "vast" and used it. Granted, the player should have had a bit more freedom and guidance in EoC, but overall it delivered the feeling of a believable, living environment.

  • Ultima Underworld: The first useable attempt at having a classic RPG in a 3D environment. Most of the time, the interface didn't get in the way, it had a good old-fashioned "save the princess" story and many memorable moments. Improve the graphics and it'd compete with the best of today.

  • Max Payne 2: The game can be beaten in less than a day, yet it tells more of a story than most other shooters on the market will have told after the third expansion. It is some hours of good solid fun, I want more of that.

  • (--) Freelancer: A bad attempt at re-capturing the feeling of I-War (hell, the keyboard shortcuts are frightening similar). With a fixed "economy" and a strict level-based system of star clusters and a resulting lack of real choice made the game a bland ripoff of the original Privateer. In privateer, you could (in theory) finish the storyline in 75% of the available ships (or 100% if you were really good), in Freelancer you are basically forced to buy the meanest fighting machine you can get your hands on.

  • (--) Gunship!: If you want to know how a flight simulation must not look, have a look. Collision detection sucks, campaigns are static and multiplayer is badly synchronized. After years of waiting, this is one of the worst sequels.

  • (--) Prince of Persia: Warrior Within: Too long, too unfair, bad camera control, you name it, this sucker has it. Sands of Time was decent, but WW is just a bad attempt at milking the franchise. The "designers" should be shot.



And there are many more that I just can't remember well enough.

(Multiple edits: A preview would be nice)

#92 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19072

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 02:10 AM

Quote:
Original post by Shadowdancer
Designers should play good, bad and mediocre games:


Indeed they should, I think I need to make some more highlights of bad features in my organised list as well, so that people can see some good examples of things that should probably be avoided, or potentially good concepts that need to be done better.

#93 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 03:25 AM

In fact, I meant shogi. And that one too is OVERLY difficult to play. let alone to master. But it's another one great strategy game. I am not sure anyone interested in game designing should have to play it, but anyone interested in strategy games should. respect.

#94 methinks   Members   -  Reputation: 217

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 10:54 AM

Grim Fandango.
What makes this game so unique is it's interface (Or lack thereof)
There are no displays on the screen, no stats, icons, or even a cursor. In fact the only interface is if you go into the menu, or if you talk to a character, and have to choose what to say (then it shows a list of choices on the screen.)
For everything, the environment is the interface. You control the character with the keyboard, and when there is something that he can interact with, he will look at it, and you press a key to use it. The inventory consists of him pulling one thing after the other out of his jacket, until you find what you want.

Other games:
Beyond Good and Evil (For all the reasons already mentioned)
Myst series (Especially Myst IV)
Twinsen (if only it would work on new computers)
ZORK (An absolute MUST, it'll teach you the basics of setting, immersion, story telling and interaction WITHOUT the use of glitzy graphics...)

#95 Sir Sapo   Members   -  Reputation: 769

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 09:01 AM

I recommend Axis & Allies being placed under the boardgames section , that was one of the best strategy games ever(Except setting up the board) in my opinion.

#96 SirSmokey   Members   -  Reputation: 229

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 09:42 AM

Quote:
Original post by Sir Sapo
I recommend Axis & Allies being placed under the boardgames section , that was one of the best strategy games ever(Except setting up the board) in my opinion.


It takes just as long to set the damn thing up as it does to play! Well maybe not that long but it sure feels like it. It's a great game though.

Anyway my little list:
Zelda - Links Awakening: Not original seeing as it's modeled after A Link To The Past but it i think it's just all around a better game. I even like the graphics better.

Castlevania - SotN (and all the rehashes for GBA) These are simply great games. It's an action game done to perfection, theres nothing better then being able to explore a game world and in this genre you can do it quickly and have fun doing it. This is in contrast to old school RPGs (which are still fun) but when simply exploring or getting from one place to another just becomes a chore. eg: Dragon Warrior
*Note: Metriod obviously goes along with this too, and metal gear. ANd to a lesser extent, Duck Tales! Anybody ever play the old NES Duck Tales 1 and 2? They're great!

Chrono Trigger: I know it's been given many times before but i don't think you can understate the greatness of this game. It's a perfect RPG, it's quick to move through with an ever evolving story that really draws you in. It's the only RPG that i've played that actually has interesting characters and actual character development (one of the basics of stor telling!) The battle system is great. It's interesting and actually fun to do and you don't fight wave after wave of random enemies. Is wonderful how "cinimatic" the encounters can be at times. I think it's funny that this game never really contributed to the development of the genre. It's a real one of a kind.

"Old school number crunching RPGs": I do love these games despite thier flaws. I wish there were more of them. I'd play em for sure. I'm sick of every game trying to be unique or innovative. I would really love to see a game with great 2D graphics (Legend Of Mana, ohh man) old school game play, and i'm sure someone can create an interesting story like, and i think we'd have a winner. But that's just me.

There ya go. A couple games that i think define "great games" Theres lots more but these are at the top (yes i know 1 is a style and not a game). These, in my opinion, are at the top and are the games to learn from. And yes any game i create will follow in these lines. I don't see a problem with that. You can make a great game even if someone can say "it's just like yadda yadda!". Yes it is but is it fun? Cause really when's the last time some came out with a real original game style? It happens once and while and then it gets improved upon. It's just the way things go.

It should be noted that i have a biased towards old games. I play my nintendo more then anything else.

#97 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 05:50 PM

I personnaly think anyone trying to design a RTS, a TBS, or even a strategy game should start playing the General Bughouse variation of Chess.

This version requires two players and THREE chessboards. The players draw the color they are going to play on the central board, and play the opposite color on exterior boards.
The pieces taken from exterior boards can be "dropped", as reinforcements like in shogi, as a regular move, in the central board.
The pieces taken from the central board can be "dropped", as reinforcements, like in Shogi, on either fo the exterior boards.
The winner is decided by counting victory points: 1 point per victory over one board, 0.5 per draw game.

This is hell to play and master, but when you CAN master it, then there is nothing in a strategy game that will hold you back for long. It requires you to think both in and out of the box, and you've got three boxes to juggle with.

Good luck, Jim.

#98 Saluk   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 03:52 PM

I tried to pick things that havent yet been mentioned. There have been sooo many great games that it would be a shame to repeat what's been said. Although I just have to break my rule and say Deus Ex is one of the best games design-wise. Mixes so many styles of play, and just works. I've replayed deus ex more than any other game!!!

Out of this world/Flashback
One of the first games which featured a great "storyline" without ever interupting the gameplay. It was also incredibly difficult, but kept you trying over and over just to get to the next section. One of the first games I can remember that did not have "levels" but was all tied up in one big world. It also was one of the first games to have scripted events. Many of the encounters with the enemies were completely original from any other encounter. Like the part where you have to kill the guard by watching his reflection in the lightbulb a screen above and shoot at the right moment. Or the section where you go to the next screen but a guy knocks you down and knocks the gun out of your hand and you have to roll and pick the gun up and shoot before he kills you. Or the part where the guy is rolling the grenades at you and you have to kick them back. And the combat system! ONE button controlling EVERYTHING. You can kick the little slug guys, shoot weak shots, charge for medium shots, charge longer for power shots, make limited shields. You have to watch the guards when they make sheilds so that you can blast through with a super shot and then blast one more time to hit him before he makes another sheild. Flashback is similar, but doesn't have as cool of a combat system and encounters are a bit more repetative. I can't believe no one has mentioned these yet!

Resident Evil 4
Way too new to be a classic, but this isnt a list of classic games, it's a list of games that are well designed. Most of the things that are good in this game are good because these features were horribly executed or obviously missing in previous incarnations. But there is still some good stuff to learn from it. Shooting a guy and then kicking him down, being able to jump out of windows or over fences, having to keep holding the controller in cutscenes because you never know when they are going to have some button you have to press to get out of the way (ok so maybe this is a bit too much, but it was an interesting idea) Also, this game is a perfect example of pacing, it's close to perfection.

The SIMS!
This game brought in a large group of people who never played games before. It's not REALLY a game, but it definately did something no game had really done before. Closest I can think of is little computer people (house on a disk!) and that only let you play with one sim. Sims lets you play with a whole family! And simspeak was such a good idea that its been horribly copied in other games, like pirates! and republic.

Zuma, bejeweled
Look at these for games that pull in a totally different market than traditional games. Simple, yet still incredibly addictive and fun.

Solitare
Um, yeah. The original crack game.

Worms
A clever rendition of scorched earth or tanks, really good humor, destructable terrain, just a fun wargame.

Divine Divinity
For rpgs, this hasn't been mentioned yet, but it is a really good genre blending game. It straddles the line very finely between a diablo style hack-em-up and a full fledged story based rpg.

School Daze
This really fun game has you control a little guy throughout a school week. You can basically just mess around with stuff, like not going to class, beating up the other kids, sneaking into rooms your not supposed to - and you can watch whats going on in all the rooms! The original grand theft auto:) I wish there were more games like this - small simulated scenario with endless freedom to mess around in.

Escape Velocity
The game that made me almost want a mac. It's like elite or privateer, but with a simplicity that those games really should have. Also a good example of letting the players make their own worlds (although the editing tools were quite buggy) The sounds on this game proove that you can get a lot of immersion with sound even with cruddy graphics.

Alter ego
Simply no other game like it. Text based "live a life" game. You choose male or female, and go through many episodes in your life starting from birth and ending in death. I remember playing this on the apple2e at school. A much earlier version of the light-dark system knights of the old republic. Much more complicated as well. EVERYTHING YOU DO HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

Die by the Sword
Very innovative control style. One of the only games I can think of where you can control your sword directly. Cutting off someones leg, picking it up, and beating them senseless with it? Great fun.

Codename Eagle
The game that started battlefield 1942. The single player campaign is decent, but it really has a hard time mixing flight sim with fps. Multiplayer however, is extremely fun. I played the DEMO level at a lan party for 5 hours. So simple, how can there be so much depth???? A good example of how bad physics can still be fun :)

Blast Corps
Um, just a very original puzzle/action game. You have to stop a nuclear truck from blowing up by - KNOCKING DOWN ALL THE BUILDINGS IN ITS PATH!

Shenmue
Massive epic compination of fighting game, adventure, rpg. Has some issues with focus, but definately worth a look from a designers perspective.

"There are so many board games out there that are just begging to be converted to the computer.
I mean, if you have ever heard of Car Wars, don't you think this should have been made into a computer game years ago ? (yes, all those Interstate 76, Carmaggeddon, and other drive and kill games are all based on this game, IMHO)"

I seem to remember a car wars game out there somewhere. Check abandonware sites:) It's fairly old.

#99 ArchangelMorph   Members   -  Reputation: 262

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 07:19 AM

Saluk Out of this world (AKA another world) is a completely different game to Flashback.. But I agree that both deserve serious recognition as they were both incredibly innovative games for their time (albiet very similar to each other..)

#100 Raloth   Members   -  Reputation: 379

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Posted 26 March 2005 - 06:28 PM

To the turn based strategy I would add another, earlier Sid Meiers game, Colonization. It is essentially the same as the other games but takes place in the revolutionary period. In my opinion it was more fun than any of the Civilization games, and actually winning the revolution was hard.




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