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why complex games?

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I''ve noticed that there are many hugely complex and ambitious game designs being discussed here...boardering on life simulators...what is the draw to developing such games? (can "game" even apply?) what happened to game focus? Why is "realisam" so highly in demand (not by the players but by the designers)? When Tetris was released, gamers were already playing some fairly complex games in those days...gamers were used to Ultima, Street Fighter, even Mario and Link games...and all market research showed gamers wanted "more of the same only better"...but here comes Tetris...a game that could be playied on virtualy any gameing platform then made...and gamers were hooked on it''s pure gameplay....which pretty much negates any idea that a "simple game" wouldn''t sell today. Yet, today, that sort of game is "looked down on" from a designer standpoint..."it''s too simple", "not ''realistic'' enough"....yeah, Tetris is a puzzle type game (and there were a lot of imitators)...but I''m MUCH more concerned with the "raw gameplay" then the genre it fits into...it didn''t add lots of graphical effects...or try to present a simple "face" that hid some uber-complex understructure...it didn''t even try to come off as being more complex then it really was....there was nothing remotely "realistic" about it...the game simply existed on it''s own terms... Not trying to say developers should be working on "puzzle games"...or any such thing...this has nothing to do with Tetris other then how straitforward it presented itself Just wondering why games have to be "realistic" and/or complex these days...and why something ''simple'' is looked down upon?

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I used to be more concerned with just the gameplay of my games, but people now expect more. You might say that the audience is maturing, demanding more of an experience than just good gameplay. "Fun" just isn''t enough anymore. Since the players think that way, designers must too to make games for them.

A lot of little webgames get very popular being so simple, but they tend to get used by a different audience. Most games I hear about target the hardcore gamer, who just won''t spend money on something that silly or simple.

At least that is what my very limited experience has taught me, I kinda hope I''m wrong.

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Because simple has already been done. Many designers are like fine artists. They want to push the envelope and do new things. They want to be the next Warren Spector, Peter Molyneux, Sid Meier.

But it isn''t as if simple games _aren''t_ being made. Take a look at GBA sales, indie/shareware sales, the success of Yahoo Games and RealArcade games. Look at how Bejeweled has captured the hearts of both casual and hardcore gamers.

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I do both, right now "big" games are a huge financial risk, so small games provide bread and butter.. plus, they are fun to design, and quick to implement...
Big games are intriguing because they are our sandboxes.... to do things which haven´t been done before. If I want a game that´s easy to make then I´m probably making it already... the complex ideas are food for discussion.

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I wonder just how popular and well sold Tetris would be if it wasn''t included with a Gameboy?
I can''t see spending $40 for a simple game like that.

And if gamers didn''t want realism, then "realistic" games wouldn''t sell so well. They do, so they make them.

Same argument for the reason why so much of the same is put out. Gamers pay for it. It is clear that it is lucrative for a game developer to make FPS and RTS since no matter how many people complain about the staleness, those same people seem to have no problem buying into the staleness.

Of course, a game like Snood, is amazingly popular. Why? I don''t know, but it isn''t because it is refreshingly new. Bust a Move and other names have been given to the same game. Snood just seems to have caught on more, especially in dorms on college campuses where the computers are probably sub 200MHz. New and realistic games can''t compete since they can''t even exist on such computers.
In any case, every game seems to be a knock off of something, and gamers will pay for knock offs and other "inspired" titles.

So it is kind of unfair to say that simplistic games can do so much better than the "realistic" titles would. Frogger 3D? The original Frogger fairs better. The new Pacman titles? Not as popular as the original. They are all the same game, just some have advanced technology.

Gameplay is the main selling point. Pacman was incredibly fun. No name titles are usually not.
No One Lives Forever has come out with a sequel, even though the first did not do well in sales...It wasn''t a popular title, but it did have good gameplay that made it different from other games.

Tetris had simple and amazing gameplay value. Follow ups, like Tetris Attack and such just didn''t have the same following because they couldn''t find the right formula. Dr Mario was decent, and Tetris 2 was similar. Both had some following.

Solitaire somehow has this amazing following, if you look at Download.com for any indication. Simple gameplay.

Monopoly sells well to the point that it has multiple custom versions of the same game (New York, Chicago, NFL, all editions of Monopoly).

Diablo was simple.

Quake 3 was simple.

Is it the simple gameplay that wins out?

It is hard to say. Rogue Spear and its like are still selling well. James Bond games do well it seems.
Flight simulators do well somehow, even though they require you to use the entire keyboard rather than a few special keys.

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Think about a simple game: 8x8 board black/white cells, 6 kind of pieces, 1 unique type of movement each one. It''s a pretty simple concept isn''t?

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I actually greatly respect whoever created Tetris, I think he must have been some sort of super-genius!
''cuz for the life of me, no matter how hard I try to come up with a simple idea I can implement on my lunch hour and sell millions of copies of..., I just can''t think that way!!
Personally, I gravitate towards ''complex'' ideas becuase those are closer to stuff I can identify with in everyday life.

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Maybe you are so happy with tetris
that you''d gladly pay $40 for a copy?


I think that bring up a very different point. If a game is developed from scratch to finished product, by a single coder in his lunch hour, should he sell it for $40.

There are a lot of spin off machines that were made to play only Tetris (That''s right no catridges, no multiple game selection) and people who didn''t have gameboys were buying them by the ton (For a long time I didn''t want to touch that game becuase I feared it induced some kind of chemical addiction in the brains of those who did ).
They didn''t cost $40 though

quote:

Think about a simple game: 8x8 board black/white cells, 6 kind of pieces, 1 unique type of movement each one. It''s a pretty simple concept isn''t?





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quote:
Original post by GBGames
I wonder just how popular and well sold Tetris would be if it wasn''t included with a Gameboy?
I can''t see spending $40 for a simple game like that.


Remember how there used to be entire consoles that just played Pong? And people paid large amounts of money for them?

BTW, Tetris started off as a good-selling PC game.

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quote:
Original post by thelurch
I actually greatly respect whoever created Tetris, I think he must have been some sort of super-genius!



Alexey Pajitnov, actually a very sad story, but afaik he got the rights back this year, so he can finally start collecting royalties.

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So...very...many....quotation marks...GAH!

Now to the point.

I see your point, to a certain extent - BUT - simple, yes, has been done before, and as far as I am concerned, I can only play simple games for so long. I am not easily entertained. If developers had stuck to simple game design, then they wouldn''t have made such games as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Morrowind, or Halo, or Unreal Tournament (not overly complex but, more so than Tetris and Asteroids etc..) and the list goes on (I''m not meaning to exclude any certain game, so don''t take my list the wrong way).

I hope you see my point, because I have attempted to see yours.



Of course that''''s just my opinion, I could be wrong.
-)(-Dennis Miller-)(-

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Yeah, actually Alexey Pajitnov (the designer of Tetris) gave a talk at my university which I missed. But I do know a bit about how it was made. Basically there was this game called Pentaminos (or something like that) where you had all these shapes made of 5 blocks and you had to fit them together. Pajitnov made it simpler so that everything''s made out of 4 blocks. At first the game was pretty boring because blocks kept stacking up and the screen would get filled, so he just changed the rules a little by saying "when blocks line up, you eliminate a row". Boom, tetris was born.

(Hopefully that''s not completely inaccurate hehe. I read it in my illustrated history of video games book a few months ago)

Raj

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Why do only complex games get made? Because everyone that makes games has to do it for fun. If they just make games for money, they drop out of the industry because of stress. And what''s fun?? Complex is fun, simple is not.

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I am the master of stories.....
If only I could just write them down

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Would you call Deus Ex, Black & White, Thief, or The Sims "simple" games? I certainly hope not. And yet these games have sold astounding numbers of copies. Has it occurred to you that maybe there are people who LIKE complex or realistic games?

The real issue is not dumbing down the game -- its dumbing down the interface. People will play any game of any complexity as long as the control interface makes sense to them -- for some people, a realistic simulator with a twelve hour learning curve is no biggie, but most people want to be up and playing easily within no more than half an hour -- ideally they want to jump right in and already know how to play it. Easiest way to do this is mimic the interfaces of other games -- the next best way is to make the controls simple to understand, a la Black & White.

I think this is why I take exception to those who tout Game Focus as the solution to bad games. Game Focus is a myth in my opinion -- game focus is another way of saying "the thing the game does" -- suggesting that the game is "too complex" to play if it offers the slightest degree of true interactivity. I say Pshaw. Build it -- and make it Accessible -- and they will come.


Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

"I create. Therefore I am."

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In some games complexity is appropriate, others not. I haven''t really run into a situation where simplicity was looked down on, so I can''t help much there. Simple doesn''t really sell well though, and as to why I can only say that gamers seem to be looking for the added depth that a more complex game can provide.
The other thing is that simpler games lack a certain "coolness" that attracts potential buyers and impresses reviewers. You can''t wow them with a Tetris-like thing nowadays.

It would seem to me that it doesn''t really matter whether it is complex or simple, so long as it is an enjoyable experience for the user. Unless you want to sell a lot of copies, in which case it also needs to attract gamers. That is something "raw gameplay" can''t do because they haven''t played it yet.

I think I''m only stating the obvious...I dunno, the complex/simple debate seems much like the 2d/3d debate in that fun, successful games can be made either way.

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....
Games get made more complex now for the reason that being original is difficult, but it''s easy to be complex.
-->Remember the Othello/Reversi sloagan: a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.
-
Tetris is not a game that most people would pay $40 for. Then again, it is not a game that would cost $40 per copy to develop either.
~

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complex games are made because they can be made.
You dont see metal gear solid being made in 1989 do you.
Think back to the days of the snes, most games were great, all had great gameplay. Then come to next gen. I dont know how many of you have seen the advert for the x-box about how great the games are, ''cause the way I see it is that they have great grafix but barely any of its games have gameplay. So as technology develops so will games because they can. Its like you dont see many people using a typewriter anymore.
Shame really the snes gameplay is still the best, another reason why the gameboy advance is the best selling console because its basically a snes.
Now days you dont get the same feeling. I also suppose that you need a good idea. If someone thought of tetris today it would still be a hit, but with a little more flavour.

Tetris is the kinda game you play when you are bored and you dont have to be a fan of gaming to play it. Sorta like plug and play, not plug, read instuctions, do tutorial, read help file, play for 1 hour to get used to it.

I rule the universe, you just dont know it yet

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complexity/simplicity
who cares?
what it all boils down to is how good the gameplay is.
a game could have the worlds best graphics but if the gameplay is shotty and not enjoyable.. then no one is going to buy it.
making a simple idea that people can enjoy is one of the hardest things to do. having yourself a complex game is a little easier to make enjoyable for the player cause there are more elements to tweak.
quote:

Shame really the snes gameplay is still the best, another reason why the gameboy advance is the best selling console because its basically a snes.


agreed. the gameboy advance has 32bit power but none of the 3d hardware distractions. developers have to focus solely on gameplay to make their games sell for this. they can''t boast "BEST 3D ENGINE!" or "BEST GRAPHICS" in order for their games to become successful.

"The human mind is limited only by the bounds which we impose upon ourselves." -iNfuSeD

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quote:
Original post by iNfuSeD
what it all boils down to is how good the gameplay is.


Let me correct your statement:

"What it all boils down to is how FUN the GAME is"

As you said, It doesn''t care if it is complex/simplex. Jumping the cord is fun, flying an F-14 is fun. Telematch''s Pong was fun, Unreal Tournament is fun. And even games which have a bad gameplay (not too much anoying) can be fun. If the game is fun, people will play it. The rest are details.

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quote:
Original post by iNfuSeD
agreed. the gameboy advance has 32bit power but none of the 3d hardware distractions. developers have to focus solely on gameplay to make their games sell for this. they can''t boast "BEST 3D ENGINE!" or "BEST GRAPHICS" in order for their games to become successful.



You know, there are several 3d games for GBA, Doom and Doom2 for example. Of course it''s not hardware accelerated gfx...yet

-Luctus

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I mainly asked this question because the game ideas disscussed on the board are of the more complex nature...and I was wondering why simpler games are never disscussed here in the game design forum.

quote:

making a simple idea that people can enjoy is one of the hardest things to do.



I think that sums it up best. complexity is easy to do...you can always add more and more stuff...this isn''t to say that complexity is easy to do well...but that it is very easy to add complexity to a game idea....it''s much harder to strip a complex game down into a simple one.

For example in GTA3, players can listen to the radio...they can turn it on, switch channels, and turn it off...it doesn''t really add anything to the gameplay...and players interaction with it is very limited...at best gameplay wise it can act like a mirror, by reflecting what players have already done/what they know about/and what is to come story wise...but all in all interacting with it is more of a illusion...the reason it is in the game is for game immersion...just one more "realistic" option for the player to mess with...players can''t call in and request certain songs to be playied, nor can they change the role of thier character into a radio station DJ.

Also game focus isn''t a myth...in a flight sim the focus is on flying a airplane, not on driveing a car, of performing brain surgery...game focus is "the arena that a game explicitly defines as haveing worthwhile gameplay interactive features"...the radio in GTA isn''t explicitly in the games focus because interaction with it is not paramount throughout the game...in one area/mission it may provide a signifigant story clue...but in others it is little more then background noise...success in the game doesn''t depend on the player "mastering" the radio for each area/mission...Tetris has a very narrow game focus...GTA has a wide game focus...in Tetris, everything seen/heard at all times is in support of the game focus (not exactly part of it, but it allows the player to make better assestments of the game state..."next piece" indicator..."lines" and "level" scores, etc..) But in GTA3, the radio isn''t always in support of the gameplay (immersion, yes...gameplay, no) and players must "master" driveing and various forms of fighting to find success in the game...the focus is wider.

This has nothing to do with whether GTA3 is a good/bad game...or whether complex/simple games are better...or what people prefer...this only has to do with my original question of "why simple game ideas are not being disscussed here on the form?"...

and I now think that: "making a simple idea that people can enjoy is one of the hardest things to do." pretty much sums up the answer

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