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What do you think about multiple genres in a game?


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#1 LunarKnite   Members   -  Reputation: 219

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:46 AM

New poster here. I'm just wondering what do people think about games that combine two or even more genres together? I'm not talking about simply mashing up elements of genres, but actual gameplay can be said to be Genre X and Genre Y.

I don't see too many games like this often, but for me, they are some of the most fun I've had. A few examples of games like these are ActRaiser (a platformer/city building game) for the SNES, Dark Cloud (an action RPG/town building game) for PS2, and Reccettear (an action RPG/item shop simulator) for PC. Is it because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? ActRaiser was a critically acclaimed game, but ActRaiser 2 was mediocre as it had scrapped the city building part of its gameplay. I'm not sure I'd play just the platforming parts or just the town-building parts myself.

I do understand genre lines have largely become blurried but the games I've mentioned above are ones that combined two genres that are not thought of to being mixed together well, yet they work very well. I can't think of others like them, but they games like these work? If so, why do you believe there aren't more games to mash completely different genres together. If they don't and these three are part of the exception, why do you think that is?

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#2 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3677

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:20 AM

Consider these:
* Take a look at old games, there was a lot of genre mixing, now there are very few such games. Why?
* How many games that were mixing genres ended up as blockbuster games with people loving them?
* When you browse gamer forums (and especially reviews of old games) do you see more people complaing that they liked one part of the game but didn't like the other and how many times you have seen people complaining that a game was too bland and would be best if they added more genres to it?
* How many time you have heard "I love this turn strategy but why, o why, they have not added arcade elements!" :)

To me it's clear, as a rule of thumb, genre mixing leads to degenerated gameplay and should be avoided at all cost.
There are a few exceptions through where mixing was what made the game great, but these are very rare anbd I would not count on it.

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#3 japro   Members   -  Reputation: 887

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:30 AM

uhm, there is a lot of genre mixing going on... namely everyone and their mother seems to make a game of genre X with rpg elements. Its almost cliché at this point ;)

#4 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4915

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:59 PM

I'm fond of games that alternate two genres, or use the rewards of one genre as resources to advance in the other, or have minigames of one inside another. But it's probably more development hours for the same amount and quality of resultant game, so the economics don't favor it unless you can leverage code reuse and maybe also graphics reuse.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#5 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2123

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:50 PM

It can work, it has been done before, but if it involves two very different modes of play (e.g. action vs puzzler) then you have a reduced market who would like both things. Of course if it's an optional mini-game it's not too offensive. For example in Fallout New Vegas you can often get into a secret area by the lockpicking mini-game (which also allows quickly "forcing" the lock with a high chance of failure), the computer hacking mini-game, or just skipping the secret area / hoping a plot event will open it later.

#6 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1540

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:36 PM

Gamers like movie goers have expectations, many expectations. This makes its easier to market games but it makes it hard to market things outside the bubble of those expectations. The good games stick to their guns (in games quite literally) and don't stray from what works, the great ones and the worst one's break convention and are willing to try something new. Crossing genres is a natural outcome of the mass marketing of specific genres. I think its really important to cross genres in the design, but it is a risk to attempt in production.

In short, I love it!

#7 LunarKnite   Members   -  Reputation: 219

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:42 PM

A lot of good points brought up. There are plenty of current games that take elements from other genres, for sure. Usually in those cases the elements are integrated enough so that it becomes one seamless experience. What I'm talking about specifically are games like I mentioned in my first post, games that can be considered two different game experiences. Mini-games are indeed a smaller example of that. In Final Fantasy X, you have a small sports game (and a few other mini-games) placed inside of a huge RPG. However I suppose it isn't required by necessity to play them which helps the marketing aspect in case RPG players don't like sports games.

A bit on a tangent here, I know most gamers have their preferences towards game genres, so what different genre combinations would possibly hold as much of the market as possible? (Visually, which genre combinations would have the center portion of a Venn diagram largest?) What would you think about an action/adventure and town building hybrid game in terms of market?

#8 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2689

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 02:51 AM

Some genres are particularly compatible.
In some cases they are not too different to begin with, like stretching real-time strategy to include construction-intensive tower defense (starting with Warcraft II, arguably the birthplace of tower defense) or action-intensive fighting and shooting with single units (e.g. sneaking around with a lonely Ghost in Starcraft to call a nuclear strike) or complex and abstract actions above the single unit or building level (e.g. building roads in SimCity).
In other cases there are straightforward synergies, like the markedly different tasks of designing, building and overseeing deathtraps and other types of automated structures in Dwarf Fortress (themselves only an aspect of the overall strategic development) or choosing a loadout in detail before using it a combat mission in countless flight simulators and some shoot'em ups.
Produci, consuma, crepa

#9 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7420

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 05:25 AM

Why genres and not player skills and interests ?

Most gamers have certain skills and interests and will play games where they can use their skills. I.e. some gamers like fast action and reaction(FPS), other want to take their time and think about options (turn based game), other want to experience with long term strategies, other want to sit down and watch their own creation, others want to fly around, others want to explore huge worlds ...

Most genres only challenge one or two skills, therefore the real question is: Is it suitable to mix skill requirements/interests ?

Yes, for sure, but when you mix two skills, the potential audience will shrink to the intersection of both skills, mixing even more skills could result in a game which many found interesting (ohhh.. that feature sounds cool and awesome) and nobody want to play (yeahh.. I need to do this and that which wasn't fun for me at all).

That must not be bad, most AAA games try to maximize the potential audience by mixing different genres/skills (i.e. FPS + RPG elements), for you this could be a chance to create a mix which satisfy a certain, smaller niche but not the masses, because the masses are owned by the big companies only which don't have a lot of interest in any niche audience (ok, the 'I want to create something' masses are owned by Notch Posted Image ).

#10 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 387

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:45 AM

It doesn't count if they just add the elements of rpgs. Most people consider CoD a fps, and no rpg fan would touch it. In order to merge to genres, you have to make something fun for both audiences.

the above post says that, when both skills are required, the audience shrinks. I believe that a genre-mixing game should make it so that you only need one to get by if you have basic knowledge of the other. However, you are still encouraged to discover new things.

#11 Finthis   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 08:04 AM

A lot of good posts on here!

I do find it interesting that a lot of games are adopting RPG-like elements. I agree with some posters that adding in those elements doesn't necessarily make it a genre-combining game, but I think it is a good example of borrowing elements from another genre that make that genre appealing (for example, I think we as humans like to invest, grow, nurture -- all things that are involved in leveling up a character in an RPG). These kinds of things are what blur the lines a little bit.

I think my favorite genre-combining game (and a success) is Puzzle Quest. There have been a lot of copycats and sequels that haven't had the same success though. I think creating a successful game that combines genres requires the game to be both new and familiar at the same time in different aspects...a tough balance! I think Puzzle Quest knew it's audience too...it was targeted at RPG fans, not match-3 fans.

#12 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1540

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:04 AM

I think an action adventure game is marketable (Will Wright sure thought so). I think Spore is actually a good example of what Ashaman73 is talking about. The trouble is you have to really make the action/adventure surround the reasons why a person wants to plan and design city's. This reminds me of the series Deadwood and the "city planners" in that show. The city planning has to come from the character's personal experiences throughout the adventure and answer the clear issues the player faces or fulfill the desires the narrative builds.

If you've ever seen the documentaries for the Zeitgeist movement, I've always felt this mash-up of genres is exactly the design that would best suit spreading message that movement advocates. The game's action would be activism (both digital and personal) and social dueling, the adventure would be gathering the right materials, technologies and volunteers to start making change and the city design could explore how well a player can implement the technologies and build a moneyless world. Sorry for the tangents.

If you're game design makes the city building a necessity to the adventure and an extension of the action it could be a very good game. The trick with any genre is getting the player entertained enough to want to learn the genre, teaching the genre without losing the player to its difficulty, challenging the player at a good pace then pushing that challenge to a breaking point. The player has to easily learn the game but never master it. By throwing a second genre you have to play double duty on this task, many players are up to the challenge but many designers aren't able to deliver. Most players can pick up an adventure game pretty quick but they get tired of the hack and slash and are often just playing to finish the story, many players enjoy creating a city but they get bored of outcome since it never really leads to anything. Consider these genres individually as you mash-up genres. I would almost suggest not mashing them up unless you are using elements of each genre to try and fix the things you dislike about the the other genre.

#13 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4915

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:09 AM

A bit on a tangent here, I know most gamers have their preferences towards game genres, so what different genre combinations would possibly hold as much of the market as possible? (Visually, which genre combinations would have the center portion of a Venn diagram largest?) What would you think about an action/adventure and town building hybrid game in terms of market?

That's an interesting and challenging question. I'd approach it by first looking at game types that are so ubiquitous we hardly even notice when they are blended into other games, and ones everyone has played. Games which the player already knows more-or-less how to play have a lower barrier to entry than really unfamiliar ones.

For example, "shopping" - A huge percentage of the games in existence contain some sort of money system, where the player receives income either as a direct reward, as a time-based or level-based stipend, or randomly. The player will generally have enough money to buy something but not everything. The player's choice of what to buy may be strategic if it affects game play, or may be satisfying in a different way if the choice is mainly aesthetic, such as being able to purchase various character customizations.

Another super-common gameplay element is "scheduled resource allocation". What that means is that the player makes a choice or set of choices about what will be automatically developed or invested in while they are doing something else. Some examples: owning only one flower pot and deciding which seed to plant in it, allocating your character's offline time in an MMO, deciding which pet or mount to equip because the equipped one passively gains a share of earned XP, or the rather famous materia-equippage system in FF7 where spell-gems equipped to weapon slots gained an XP share, weapons had varying numbers of slots which gave varying shares of XP, if you maxed out a gem it produced a baby one, and if you maxed out one of every color you could combine them into a big gem which could be equipped more efficiently.

Some other extremely common gameplay elements or activities players will already be familiar with from real life:
- Selling
- Card games, both solitaire and multiplayer games like poker, trick-taking games, shedding games, etc. Card-battling games are not going to be familiar to as wide of an audience but a large percentage of video gamers will have some familiarity with them.
- Non-card turn-based solitaires ranging from minesweeper, maze-navigation, and leapfrog pegs/marbles to adventure game puzzles.
- Real-time solitaires such as tetris, frozen-bubble, match-3
- Sim real-life activities such as gardening, fishing, cooking, and interacting with pets
- Efficiency games, these may include shopping as mentioned above but also include worker placement and task queuing.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#14 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4915

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:15 AM

On a different note, I think people in general react well to a game where the player can move, at their own choice or at a steady alternation, between a challenging activity (either strategy or speed and adrenaline, the player faces a constant moderate danger of losing or dying) and a relaxed sandboxy activity where there is no danger and instead there is room for creative customization or reading/hearing/seeing some story, or other slow-paced activities.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#15 eugene2k   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 01:26 AM

Is it because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

Of course not. It's because the idea is refreshing and the gameplay provides a new kind of challenge. Simply mashing up several genres in one game won't automatically make the game popular, on the contrary when designing a game you shouldn't think in terms of genres at all - rather you should think of what gameplay would best fit your ideas for the game. In the end you might end up with an RTS or an FPS or a mix, but it will not feel forced.

#16 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 10:25 AM

More genres means less time to work on each genre. Reccettear felt like half a shop simulator and half an action RPG. Rather than two wholes. Both aspects felt underdeveloped. If they scrapped one genre and sent all the time and resources on the other, perhaps the remaining genre would be better made.

#17 LunarKnite   Members   -  Reputation: 219

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:16 PM

A focus only on genres wasn't my intent, but it's simply the easiest term to deal with for expectations of gameplay and such. I do have to agree that genre mashups work particularly well when they are of opposite paces.

Also, the games I mentioned earlier while they do have two different halves to their gameplay, they aren't equal halves. I think all genre mashups have to have one that's the primary genre, with the other as the auxillary. As for Reccettear, I felt the shop simulator was fully developed for what the game was aiming to achieve, while the action RPG was the auxillary portion of the game, thus more simplistic and not quite as important. However if they scrapped either of the portions, it would be an entirely different game, not necessarily better or worse simply due to more effort, time, and resources put into a singular genre instead of 2.

It seems that some think genre mashups are seen to be two halves that should have been wholes by themselves because then they would be better games. But again, (and this is what I really meant by the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) is the overall experience the same? No, it wouldn't be. I can't imagine playing 40 hours of just the Reccettear Action RPG portion, or just the shop simulator, even if both were better realized to their potential having barred work on the other type of gameplay. Part of the charm and allure of Reccettear and other genre mashups are because the two halves work together well. It may not be the absolute best the individual parts could have been, but I believe it is more the combination of the two gameplay styles together where genre mashups succeed or fail.




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