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Woody FX

What makes simple games so appealing???

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Games like tetris, Snake, pong and other games that play on Mobile devices i.e. Mobile Phones. The more i think about it the more it baffles me. 1) They are easy to understand and control.(Learning curve) 2) The object is simple, to get a high score. 3) You can pick them up for a few minutes and play them while on a bus or something I''m designing a Game for a Nokia at the moment and trying to perfect how it will play and how the player should be rewarded by the game. What is the best of this kind of genre..the simple yet highly addictive game.

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Sure those games can be addictive, but you CAN''T necessarily play them in a few minutes while riding the bus. They just go on and on and on until your lack of ability to deal with the increased challenge in later stages makes you lose, and if you''re really good that can take a LONG time.

The main thing that annoyed me about all the old Atari games was that you couldn''t PAUSE them. My mom once played Asteroids for 6 hours straight, which is really kinda ridiculous without a pause function so you can at least go pee now & then. I don''t know how mobile phones work, but if possible I highly suggest you make your games pausable because not everyone can lose a game in 15 minutes heh.

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"All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They reward the first quarter as well as the hundredth"
-Nolan Bushnell

[edited by - drslush on June 18, 2003 11:30:22 AM]

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I''d only put a pause feature in if the game really warrented it. Games such as Tetris and other examples are by nature quick to pick up and put back down.

This is because thier learning curves build upon the first few minutes of gameplay (usualy by simply becomeing faster). Every gameplay skill that is needed to play is learned the first time you pick up the game, and all you do from then on out when playing is refine your mastery of these skills.

Gotta go pee? Turn the game off and go...it will still be there when you get back, sure you would have to start over from the begining...but thats the whole point...part of the challange to such simple games is the player ability to stay focused without interuptions while mastering the game...odds are that with a pause feature the player will come back and do worse as they will have gotten out of the game''s rythem.

Remember with a simple game the enjoyment comes from playing...not from reaching some goal or simular achievemnt (the old "journey VS destination" debate)...sure things like score or number of lines formed in Tetris are important...but they only provide feedback about how well/efficient/improved the player has become while playing the game....high score isn''t the "be all/ end all" goal of the game...playing is.


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I remember this old PC game, I think it was called Night Break or something. It was like your usual gun turret type of game, like missile command, except with a rotating gun, not a cursor. And the missiles were actually paratroopers floating in from planes and the goal was to shoot down the planes and hit the guys'' parachutes. The game started off easy, a few planes, a few troops, spread out over a few minutes, and then it got more complex, less time, more planes.

A lot of the old games were like that. Tempest, shoot the bow ties and avoid getting shot yourself, later levels are harder. I think the trick to this is to just have a simple gameplay model and then continue with it. Though, I''d incorperate a level select feature, so you can turn off the cell phone when transfering to the train.

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Some very good points!

I was thinking of biulding on an Old 2D game and making it Better amnd adding a few new features like power ups and making it 3D.

New Phones now are pretty powerful even letting you Dev in C++.

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I''m an avid fan of simple ("classic") video games, and I''ve pondered this question often over the years. I''ve decided that for the most part, it all comes down to gameplay. It doesn''t have to do with having simple Atari-style graphics - good aesthetics will make a game more enjoyable but also risk making the game too confusing. I don''t think it has to do with being a short game, either - the reason this is perceived is because longer games usually have long breaks in the gameplay ie cutscenes, or it takes a long time to play through the tediously easy levels to reach the difficult ones.
I agree with your points. The simplicity of classic games makes them easy to understand and control, however this isn''t anything special. I''d argue that games that AREN''T easy to understand and control are just badly designed games.
The classic games aren''t really defined by the simple objective, either. The objective of FPS games is just as simple - kill enemies (i''m generalizing here). All racing games have the same objective - get around the course as fast as possible. The objective of all games is entertainment. High scores aren''t effective because they provide a simple objective, but because they provide a definitive ranking and this promotes competition, which makes people want to play more (to get a higher score than their buddies).
The ability to pick up a game for a few minutes is essential. This is the true sign of a game that''s chock full of gameplay. Actively playing a game requires the gameplay element to be present - I''d argue that good games (or at least the games that I enjoy) keep the action coming, or at least makes it available at all times. Good example - In the Legend of Zelda, the monsters regenerate if you venture more than a few screens away. If they didn''t, you would have lots of gameplay downtime when crossing from one side of the map to the other through already traveled terrain.
But overall, you have to be sure that the gameplay element is fun in itself. This is why so many high-budget games today end up sucking - in classic games, the gameplay was the entire game, so it had to be innovative and creative in order to be a successful game. Today, many games use media content as the framework and throw in an already existing gameplay engine or a badly designed one as an afterthought. Matrix, anyone?
I made a few simple games in Java that are on my website at "http://www.sfcave.com". necrocave and snake jump (on my site) are two of my favorite recent games. A popular commercial game that I really enjoy is Mr. Driller by Namco.
I''m glad you have an interest in classic-style games, but I really hope that you put more thought into your game design than "biulding on an Old 2D game and making it Better amnd adding a few new features like power ups and making it 3D". If you do that, you''ll prove that you''re no more innovative than the billions of tetris, asteroids, and breakout clones already in existence. Try and create something original.

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I think it is because they have a focus on Gameplay rather than graphics/sound/story... And of course the quick-to-action concept.

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For some people it is the simplicity in the plot, and the need to not have to read a manual for 30 different key commands.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
IMO anyone who doesn''t add a pause feature in any game is lazy and should. How hard is it to pause the game ? not very.

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