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BlahMaster

Game Style

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I was watching a Jackie Chan documentary on HBO yesterday, and it got me thinking. Basically, in this Jackie talks about how his style is what made his action movies better than other action movies. Most of his earlier movies flopped, since they lacked his current style. As you know his style is a mix of comedy and nonstop action involving the use of the surroundings. I haven't read anybody talk about game style, but I think that cultivating a distinct game style will make games even better. Let me sort of give an example of what game style is to clarify. Let's first talk about books to compare the two. In books, the same story can be told by different authors. Let's say two authors are writing about a room, one person emphasizes the various colors of the room while the other person emphasizes the various objects in the room. They are pretty much talking about the same thing, but telling it slightly differently. For the game designer I believe the same game can be told by different people too, emphasing different points. For example, most side scrollers are pretty much the same--start from point A and get to Point B, while stomping on bad guys. I think it is safe to say that Sonic and Mario are the same game, but with different styles. Sonic games are fast, while Mario games are slow but have more exploration. Anyway, I haven't read anything about game style and would like to discuss it. I haven't exactly defined game style, but I think most people understand what I mean by the previous example. Anyway what do you think is a good definition of game style? How do you think style can help games? Just freely talk about anything game style related. Also, I would like to keep the discussion away from art style and music style since they aren't game style, but you can prove me wrong on this point. I don't care, just tell me what your thoughts are on it. [edited by - BlahMaster on August 16, 2003 8:52:03 PM]

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Actually I believe the type of art/music used can have a fairly big impact on overall game style. In Earthbound, everything just fits together. The enemies you fight, the plot developments, the weird psychedelic backgrounds of fight scenes, the usually weird (if crappy imo) music. The Zelda SNES game has a different definite style to it, which includes how the music is done imo. Stick a Zelda song in Earthbound, or psychedelic backgrounds in Zelda, and either way it''d stick out like a blizzard in Florida.

To my mind, if everything fits together then the game has a definite style. If not, then it''s just a bunch of mismatched crap that probably won''t sell.

If a squirrel is chasing you, drop your nuts and run.

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Perhaps there isn''t a good definition for style, and I think we don''t need it. Your example showed well enough what style is anyway

Style is not only helping games, I think it''s crucial for gameplay.
If you have somthing like your own style, then your games are different in many small points, the game has a style of it''s own and is probably far away enough from being merely standard.

I forgot the numbers, but there is a very small percentage of games that sell really well, was it 1/7?
Given that, is there a chance to make such a game without a certain style that makes your game different from all the others in the genre? I guess not.

If you really managed to produce a well-selling game, it means (most of the time) the people really liked it. They play through, and someday the''ll want more.
If you managed to know your style, you''ll perhaps be able to produce a new game that ''feels'' like the old one.
Consider Civilization I/II/III for example.
I think these are splendid examples for game style and that''s the way it should be.

Of course having ''deep'' style, wanting everything your own way can also cause you a lot of trouble. Just think of all the producers not wanting your game because they think it''s bad.
If there''s a chance, go somewhere else. Perhaps the next guy likes the game especially for the things the current one disliked it for.
But if you produce only standard, it most probably won''t be enough.

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Onyxflame, I agree that music and art are a big part of game style, there''s no doubt about that. Like you were saying a Zelda song in Earthbound just wouldn''t work.

However, games don''t need music or art to be games. You could make the original Zelda with stick figures and no music, but with the same exact gameplay and it would still have the same game style. The reason I wanted to stay away from music and art is because the game designer can''t do anything about these two things. The only thing they can do is make the gameplay or game mechanics. I guess what I really want to discuss is adding style to game mechanics.

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Sorry Mumboi and Onyxflame, I was confused. I now understand why you say art and music are important. You are thinking about game style, while I was thinking about gameplay style. Yes, I should have named this topic gameplay style as opposed to game style. Now you can see why I wanted to stay away from the art and music aspect. My apologies.

Anyway how do we add style to gameplay? What is good style and how do we make it even better?


[edited by - BlahMaster on August 17, 2003 6:50:45 PM]

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I think art and music style are very much complementary to the gameplay style. Imagine playing something like Sonic to, say, the Can-Can (Lemmings) Or Space Invaders played to the Blue Danube waltz Or Sonic played with a backdrop not of bright primary colours, but of subtle shadings and intricate details.

Also important to gameplay style is the control style. A fast paced shooter wants simplicity - a very sparse style with sharp contrasts - both between enemy and background and between waves of attackers and lulls. A slower, exploration-based thinking game wants a lot more details both in range of available actions and in terms of art, music and world designs.

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I think probably that style (whether of the game in general, or just the gameplay part) is one of those things that either you can do it or you can''t. It seems to me that it''d be one of those things where when you think of an idea, either it just "feels" right or it doesn''t, and if you don''t have the ability to tell the difference I don''t know if anyone can teach you how. Going back to Earthbound for a minute, can you imagine someone putting an encounter with Master Belch in some other game that was completely different? (A few teenage game designers would probably have tried this, heh.) It may be your idea, it may even be a good idea, but is it good for the particular game you''re making?

Some people can probably design a room in a house with a color scheme of green and purple and have it not look disgusting. Most people can''t. When it comes down to it I think it has a lot more to do with personal flair than any formula that can be taught.

If a squirrel is chasing you, drop your nuts and run.

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Every little detail in a game merges down to settle the style. I completely disagree that the art (not the technical enhancement of the game, but the art itself, wheter 3D, 2D, with a millions or mere 300 polygons, on in 1024x768 or 240x160) and the music AND sound effects are uninportant for the game. They complement the gameplay to form the final product.

You can''t simply pick a Zelda game, put stick figures drawn in MS Paint with no animation, remove the music and expect to feel the same. The sprites, the animation and the music worked together with the gameplay to present the game style and feel, and modifying any of those will change the final game experience a bit lot, just like ripping all graphics and sounds from the SNES Zelda 3 ROM and using them to make a homebrew game with utter crappy controls and gameplay.

When you play a game, you''re not merely processing the game logic in your brain and racting to it. You are also seeing the game, and hearing it. So, if the gameplay, the graphics and the sound work in some harmonic way, the game will feature a more enjoyable experience.

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Games should provide a fluid way of expressing one's self, in an environment that has a certain consistency to it.

No One Lives Forever, for example, always has enemy characters holding funny conversations until they know you are there. When they are standing alone, they might yawn in funny fashion, but with a similar kind of humor. It is one of the elements of the game that remains consistent. Another element of humor is the style of gadgets. Grenades look like lipstick, and robotic animals just do something strange and only slightly related to what they are (I set up a robotic cat, hoping it would attack the coming enemy, but instead just exploded. A robotic poodle released pheromones to enamour the attack dogs).

The game should set up a certain amount of expectation and stay consistent with it. It would be just like a level designer that sets up half the levels and then lets another person come up with their own levels without any regard at all to how all of the first levels were set up. You would suddenly be playing a different game and the whole groove would be thrown off.

It's important for games to not feel like an assembly of player-contributed levels on one disk. They need to have a flow to them.

If the game lacks that consistency, it just feels like a demo, or an engine that a bunch of people made mods for.


[edited by - Waverider on August 21, 2003 12:11:21 PM]

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