Let's start with the mechanics, as usual:
- You control a single paddle that can move left and right.
- There is a 2D array of blocks.
- The Paddle is at the bottom of the screen, the blocks are at the top.
- There is a ball that bounces off your paddle, the walls, and the blocks.
- If the ball hits a block, it will destroy the block, making it disappear.
- If the ball goes past the players paddle and hits the bottom of the screen, you lose the game.
It's pretty simple, however to help you, here's a picture:
So, this was extremely popular back in the day. What made it so popular?
Well, it was a single player game. At this time, Pong required two players and was very simple. This simply blew people away, and it didn't require someone else.
It also had interesting game-play. Pong was relatively simple compared to this, and this was far more addictive. Failing when you were only 1-3 blocks away was common, and kept people hooked. Newer versions of breakout (Such as Arkanoid, etc.) also had power-ups and more levels, making them even more addicting. Working your way up a steady stream of harder levels, and trying to get the next power-up, still remains fun and challenging. (If you want to try, I've attached DXBall, a newer version of breakout, for you to play !)
This game doesn't really need to be that "polished". The one "polish" aspect of it that I see being important is the GUI, however besides that, this game is fun even with bad sprites/collision detection (In this time period, of course. Back when it was an arcade game and it cost a quarter to play, having buggy collision detection would make no-one play it because you could randomly lose your quarter. Now, however, it's free and having slightly buggy collision detection isn't that big of a deal.)
Implementation is very important. If the ball is moving too fast, you can't survive long enough to get rid of all the blocks. If there is too many / too little blocks, your player will get bored / feel ripped off. Level design isn't that important, considering you can really do whatever you want for level design and it still is generally fun to play. The actual core values of the game is important (Like the Paddle Speed, Ball Speed, Amount of Blocks, etc.) however many of the extra things (Power-ups, special blocks, etc.) are nice extras that really help tie it together, yet aren't needed if you can make sure your player is having fun without them.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Keep calm and sneak on !