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TechnoGoth

What makes a game "Good"?

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TechnoGoth    2937
When you play a game and say to yourself that was or is a good gam what about that game made it good? If you have two games of the same type one good the other bad. What in you mind makes one Good and the other one bad? Is it the features? the graphics? story? replayability? flexibility? or something else?

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Kest    547
My advice is to go play some games. Sounds like you need some inspiration ;)

I like Tekken. And I like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series. And I like all of the Super Dodgeball games. There's no way I can describe one quality they all have that make them fun. I need a theme to input some opinion.

Tekken is better than Virtua Fighter because the attack moves are more intuitive. RTK is better than Command & Conquer because there's more strategy and planning, as well as all of China as the territory to conquer. Super Dodgeball is better than tennis because it's way cool how the little dudes get whacked across the screen when you nail them with the ball.

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
When you play a game and say to yourself that was or is a good gam what about that game made it good? If you have two games of the same type one good the other bad. What in you mind makes one Good and the other one bad? Is it the features? the graphics? story? replayability? flexibility? or something else?


(I'll assume video games, but most should apply to board and card games.)

Easy to learn, hard to master. For me to enjoy a game, I need to be able to be competitive relatively quickly. This doesn't mean "good", but it does mean "don't get my ass handed to me every 5 seconds".

Number of hours it can keep me entertained. I don't have a lot of money to spend on games or much time to spend learning new games. This means I need a game that I can keep playing. Replayability is important only in so far as it adds to hours of enjoyment.

Doesn't require a huge time investment. Sometimes I only have 20 minutes to play. Sometimes I can't play for a several days in a row.

Feels "solid". Graphics, sound, interface, programming, etc. are important in so far as they enhance/hinder the game's style. They needn't be great, just consistent.

Story is important in RPG's, adventure games, and sometimes puzzle games (Myst, not Minesweeper). Otherwise, story isn't important, but its mere existence helps (Doom would've been great without a story, but the story did help some).

Examples:

Tetris: Probably the greatest game ever. Exteremely easy to learn, but always room for improvement (made it to level 15 once, but I've heard of higher. *twitch* *twitch* Makes the fastest paced FPS seem to crawl!). How many hours have I watched those falling blocks? A game or two can easily be squeezed in and I don't miss anything if I skip out for a week.

Minesweeper: Up there with Tetris. Any nay-sayers should realize that more man-hours have probably been wasted on this game than any other. Very well designed. Great interface. Always more patterns to recognize, and can always recognize old ones faster.

Zelda series: Always have a great feel and an entertaining story. The controls aren't hard, and it's always fun to swing your sword at things for a few minutes.

Fallout series: I'll admit, I have a thing for the that high-tech, run-down feel (steam punk?). I also have a thing for that retro look. Well put together games. Pipboy gives enough information to get back up to speed after not playing for a while. Also, there's really no secret mix to a good character. Most setups work well enough. Story was good but didn't get in the way.

Infantry: Man, haven't played that since it went pay to play, but it's another all-time favorite of mine. The slower paced 2D combat made it easy to be competitive, but there was still plenty of room for finesse and skill. Customizable characters allowed you to change play styles if things were getting a little boring. (Never seen that style of CTF anywhere else. Loved that twin peaks map.)

Final Fantasy series: Great where the story didn't get in the way of the game play or vice versa. Have a distinctive "feel" that keeps me coming back.

MMORPG's in general: These usually fail me. I've never found someone who plays exactly as much as I do. If you don't, then one of you will quickly out class the other. Maybe this has improved recently, but the time investment is still high.

RTS's in general: I can't get up to a competitive level fast enough for the game to be entertaining to me or my opponents. I don't play them often.

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jbadams    25713
Quote:
Original post by Servant of the Lord
Something that you could always play no matter how many times you beat it.


That's replayability. A game can be absolutely breathtaking but only really be playable once, and I think that game would still qualify as 'good' as long as that single playthrough was worth whatever price you payed for the game. That being said, replayability is certainly something to consider.

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jbadams    25713
'Good' is pretty subjective - some people will absolutely love a game that others hate. There do seem to be some general things you can apply to improve the quality though:

Intuitive Controls:
The player should be thinking about the game, not about the controls. For example, the player should be worried about jumping the correct distance at the correct time, not about pushing the right button at the right time. This goes for both interface and input devices/setup. The player should never have to think about how to do something as much as possible, but rather about what to do. For a complex game the player might need some time to learn the controls and/or interface, but this should never be a complex process, and shouldn't take a long time.

Easy to play, hard to master:
This seems to be a bit of a golden rule, and has already been mentioned. Players should easily be able to pick up and play the game, but should be challenged if they so wish. The game should avoid frustrating the player if possible, but should provide a challenge appropriate for the player's level of skill (which can be a bit hit and miss, as most games don't adapt much). For a bit on both this and the above, check out Designing Games For Novice Gamers (requires free registration).

Avoid wasting the player's time:
Again, this is already touched on. Did you know that the card games that come installed with Windows are some of the most popular games out there? Have you thought about why? Apart fromt the factor of the gameplay generally being simple and intuitive (and often already familiar), these games respect the player's time. There isn't any splash screen, and no loading time. There isn't a menu to navigate before gameplay. As soon as yo launch the program, a game with the default (or last used) settings is available for the player. Check out the excellent article Designing Games For The Wage Slave.


Anyways, those are just a few points that I personally tend to keep in mind when trying to come up with game designs. It really is quite a subjective thing though. Hope it helps you out. [smile]

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AfroFire    471
It's all about the interface baby - easy to use and easy to learn.

Its gotta feel good too... movement wise - thats the difference these days between Quake 2 and say... Half Life or Doom 3..


One is way more clunky and "realistic" feeling. It all depends on taste in that case too though, some people feel Battlefield 2 is way better then Half Life 2. Featurewise i'd agree- but I hate feeling like I'm doing something "realistically" I play games to play games, and I want it to feel arcadeish

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someboddy    100
It has to be complete, with attention on details. The most amazing thing in Half Life 2 is not the advanced physics engine - thats just a bunch of formulas (Yhea, I know, it's a fast and efficient bunch of formulas, but still). The thing that made the game sooooooo good is the attenetion of the developers to details. This game is good beacause they payed attention to every rock and leaf in the game's environment. Thats the key to a good game.

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Extrarius    1412
If I was going to consider buying a game, it would have to have replayable multiplayer. I might enjoy a single player mode depending on the type of game, but without multiplayer I can only play it once no matter how much different playthroughs can vary.
I also require modability where it makes sense. In a tetris game, I don't really care, but in an FPS, RTS, RPG, etc, I want to be able to change things and make my own levels, modes of play, etc.

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Telastyn    3777
Since this is game design, the best way I've seen/considered/thought of to measure the 'good' of a design is comparing two games' ratio between 'meaningful player decisions' and 'rules'.

The higher the ratio, the more 'depth' to the game, and generally speaking the better the design. That of course ignores a few things, like the number of choices and the value/fun/satisfaction of the choices which make a design fun/good... but [imo] using that measurement of depth is the best differentiator.

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Kest    547
Keep in mind that you're asking for the opinions of developers. We obviously love to build and create things. I doubt all players have the same perspective(s) as we do. Especially the majority gamer who just likes pressing buttons to kill things without requiring any sort of challenge. It is an entirely different playing experience, and they enjoy entirely different features.

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Beige    188
If people don't play it, it's probably not any good.

Assuming equal exposure.

Of course, you could always blame the gaming audience, that's always productive.

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by Kest
Keep in mind that you're asking for the opinions of developers. We obviously love to build and create things. I doubt all players have the same perspective(s) as we do. Especially the majority gamer who just likes pressing buttons to kill things without requiring any sort of challenge. It is an entirely different playing experience, and they enjoy entirely different features.


I like pressing buttons to kill things without requiring any sort of challenge. [grin]

Well, maybe not that bad, but I like pressing buttons to kill things without challenges that require too much of my time. If I'm not good at a game and it'll take too much time to get good enough at it, then I won't play it. If I'm good enough at a game but a given challenge will take too much time, then I won't play it. Grad school's a huge time sink, free time is at a premium. Now, back to homework...

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Vanke    100
For me what makes a great game is if it's fun, if I like playing it then it's fun, this is a highly subjective question you are asking and I very much doubt that anyone will be able to give you a more definitive answer then If someone like a game then to them it is good.

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Kest    547
Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
Well, maybe not that bad, but I like pressing buttons to kill things without challenges that require too much of my time.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about REALLY liking the game. As in wanting to play it all day or every day all week. I have fun playing Pacman. But after 10 minutes, I'm bored with it. I played Fallout like a depraved zombie for weeks. Had to slap myself to eat, and things like that.

I'm just saying most indie developers puting so much time into their game don't want to make a quickie experience. They want to make an epic end-of-the-world experience. Mindlessly shooting things doesn't work well for such scenarios. Or at least not from my perspective. But perhaps from the 'other' perspective [lol]

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by Kest
Keep in mind that I'm talking about REALLY liking the game. As in wanting to play it all day or every day all week. I have fun playing Pacman. But after 10 minutes, I'm bored with it. I played Fallout like a depraved zombie for weeks. Had to slap myself to eat, and things like that.

I'm just saying most indie developers puting so much time into their game don't want to make a quickie experience. They want to make an epic end-of-the-world experience. Mindlessly shooting things doesn't work well for such scenarios. Or at least not from my perspective. But perhaps from the 'other' perspective [lol]


I think that's a very narrow definition of REALLY liking a game. If asked, I'll probably tell you Tetris is my favorite game of all time; in other words, I'd tell you I REALLY like Tetris. However, unless I'm also doing something else (e.g. talking, checking out a new CD, baking cookies, etc.), you probably won't find me playing it for more than 20 minutes a pop. So, are you calling me a liar? [wink]

Or, look at it this way, there's probably been more man-hours per year dedicated to playing Pacman than Fallout or any AAA title. Same for Minesweeper. In fact, the proven replayability of Minesweeper puts nearly every other game to shame. That's part of what I was getting at with my comments on replayability.

I also think it's misleading (although possibly technically correct, especially depending on definition of "indie developer") to say that most indie developers don't want to make a quickie experience. There seems to be a large and healthy indie community making flash games.

In any case, I didn't see anything about "games that turn you into depraved zombies" or "games likely to be made by an indie developer" in the original post, so I feel my original post is valid. Any disagreement between us is likely due to a difference of definitions (I say I REALLY like Tetris, you say I don't).

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Kest    547
Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
I think that's a very narrow definition of REALLY liking a game. If asked, I'll probably tell you Tetris is my favorite game of all time; in other words, I'd tell you I REALLY like Tetris. However, unless I'm also doing something else (e.g. talking, checking out a new CD, baking cookies, etc.), you probably won't find me playing it for more than 20 minutes a pop. So, are you calling me a liar? [wink]

Of course not. No offense at all intended, but it is possible you're on the 'other' side. I'm not trying to draw any lines, but there is a pretty heavy distinction between the builders and slayers. Before I got into game development, I was a pure builder. I played fighting games, but other than that, it was all RPG or strategy. Game development absorbed most of my creative energy, so I started enjoying mindless blasting a lot more. But I'm still a builder. Even though I like mindless death and chaos a lot more now, I still get bored with it pretty quick.

Quote:
Or, look at it this way, there's probably been more man-hours per year dedicated to playing Pacman than Fallout or any AAA title. Same for Minesweeper. In fact, the proven replayability of Minesweeper puts nearly every other game to shame. That's part of what I was getting at with my comments on replayability.

Yep. That was my whole point. The majority of gamers are not builders. But in this forum (and all of GameDev), they most likely are. So it might not be the best place to seek game design advice, depending on the game type. If RPG or complex strategy (nearly all WIP indie games), then this is the place.

Quote:
I also think it's misleading (although possibly technically correct, especially depending on definition of "indie developer") to say that most indie developers don't want to make a quickie experience. There seems to be a large and healthy indie community making flash games.

Everything I've stated are my own theories. I have no numbers to back anything up. Sorry if I made anything sound like a fact.

Quote:
In any case, I didn't see anything about "games that turn you into depraved zombies" or "games likely to be made by an indie developer" in the original post, so I feel my original post is valid. Any disagreement between us is likely due to a difference of definitions (I say I REALLY like Tetris, you say I don't).

I wasn't targeting you. I'll just revert back to my original theory that most indie developers want to make a truely wicked game. Not just something interesting or something to make quick cash. They may resort to such games to learn or climb a ladder, but they're probably aiming much higher. I definitely want to make players forget they are playing my game. That's the whole point of it all for me. To make them lose themselves in my game world. It's fine to make a small and simple enjoyable tetris like game. But I doubt I would ask for advice on quality with such a game. But that's just me, and I'm totally off-topic, so I'll shut up now.

You really need to experience the good and bad of games for yourself if you want to infuse it into your game. It's a pretty complex question.

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by Kest
Of course not. No offense at all intended, but it is possible you're on the 'other' side. I'm not trying to draw any lines, but there is a pretty heavy distinction between the builders and slayers. Before I got into game development, I was a pure builder. I played fighting games, but other than that, it was all RPG or strategy. Game development absorbed most of my creative energy, so I started enjoying mindless blasting a lot more. But I'm still a builder. Even though I like mindless death and chaos a lot more now, I still get bored with it pretty quick.


First things first, no offense was taken. Rereading my post, I can see where it could be taken slightly aggressive. It was all tongue-in-cheek.

You also shouldn't get the impression that mindless death and chaos is all I enjoy. I love cultivating an empire in 4X games, immersing myself in the world of an RPG, etc. I also make a distinction between being immersed in the gameplay and being immersed in the game world. RPG's I tend to immerse in the game world, FPS's I tend to immerse in the gameplay, 4X's and adventures I find myself somewhere in between.

Quote:

Yep. That was my whole point. The majority of gamers are not builders. But in this forum (and all of GameDev), they most likely are. So it might not be the best place to seek game design advice, depending on the game type. If RPG or complex strategy (nearly all WIP indie games), then this is the place.

Quote:

Quote:
I also think it's misleading (although possibly technically correct, especially depending on definition of "indie developer") to say that most indie developers don't want to make a quickie experience. There seems to be a large and healthy indie community making flash games.

Everything I've stated are my own theories. I have no numbers to back anything up. Sorry if I made anything sound like a fact.


Like I said, I think "nearly all" is misleading and (since it's a strong statement) more likely incorrect. "Quickie" games are large in the indie world and, if nearly all work-in-progress indie games are AAA rivals, I'd say nearly all completed indie games are quickies. But, like you, I have no numbers.

Quote:

I wasn't targeting you. I'll just revert back to my original theory that most indie developers want to make a truely wicked game. Not just something interesting or something to make quick cash. They may resort to such games to learn or climb a ladder, but they're probably aiming much higher. I definitely want to make players forget they are playing my game. That's the whole point of it all for me. To make them lose themselves in my game world. It's fine to make a small and simple enjoyable tetris like game. But I doubt I would ask for advice on quality with such a game. But that's just me, and I'm totally off-topic, so I'll shut up now.


Assuming you wanted to make a quickie, why wouldn't you want it to be of high quality? I would think a builder wouldn't be satisfied with a half-assed job (not meant as an attack).

As might be obvious, I think your theory is wrong (basically assuming everyone thinks like you, a mistake I make all too often). I think there are plenty of developers who only intend to make quickies, and that not all developers want to make what you would consider a "truly wicked game".

And, I didn't feel you were targetting me. Again, no offense was taken and no offense was meant.

Quote:

You really need to experience the good and bad of games for yourself if you want to infuse it into your game. It's a pretty complex question.


Absolutely. There are very few good authors/painters/musicians/actors/etc. who only look at their own works.

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Kest    547
Quote:
Assuming you wanted to make a quickie, why wouldn't you want it to be of high quality? I would think a builder wouldn't be satisfied with a half-assed job (not meant as an attack).

Well, the quickie games are usually built around something fun. If you know what you're trying to make, you most likely have it all.

Ehh, to be perfectly honest, I don't follow the original question completely. Features, graphics, story, replay value, flexibility, etc. All of these things make games good. Which being the most important depends on what kind of game you're making. But that wasn't mentioned.

The only way the question makes sense for me is if TechnoGoth is referring to the type of game that I [perhaps wrongly] assume everyone is trying to make. In which case, all of the above mentioned aspects are very important to the game, and he's asking which is the most important.

If so, my choice would be flexibility. It's the easiest way you can win over the big companies, who seem to love limiting the player's choices. But yet again, we're falling into that builder/slayer thing. A slayer player may prefer a solid direction to move in, with less confusing choices.

Quote:
As might be obvious, I think your theory is wrong (basically assuming everyone thinks like you, a mistake I make all too often). I think there are plenty of developers who only intend to make quickies, and that not all developers want to make what you would consider a "truly wicked game".

Maybe so. I don't see many around here, though. I can't imagine anyone spending several years of their life learning the complexities of this line of work without some heavy inspiration to build something really freakin amazing.

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Wavinator    2017
I think that a game is good if, to the player, the game is "larger than life." That is, if the game is about something greater than just itself in the eyes of the player, it will be considered good. This is most certainly not universal among all players, particularly those that want more simple games as a diversion-- but I think the majority of players are very forgiving of a game which engages their subconscious needs for wish fulfillment and taps into their desires at a subconscious level. The game doesn't have to be perfectly polished, nor employ the latest technology, so long as its presentation, style and gameplay fulfill (and don't get in the way of) the desires/fantasies the player wants to see rendered in an encompassing fashion (that is, made "larger than life" or large enough to rival--at some deep level-- the concreteness of life itself for a time).

All games have flaws, but the degree of wish fulfillment a game grants determines whether or not we notice them, and whether or not we deem the game good. If a game is successful at granting wish fulfillment, it will stir up the right emotional mix (say, of competitiveness, or mastery, or nostalgia, etc.) that will allow us to wrap ourselves in fantasy. We then say to others that we were "entertained."

There are many different factors which help shape the fantasy a game offers. For example, the user interface, learning curve, and/or thematic presentation often ultimately help determine whether or not the player's thoughts are submerged in the fantasy or focused on a game's flaws. If the user interface inspires ire and frustration, or the learning curve is too steep or shallow for the target market, or the thematic presentation makes the player protest or think of absurdities, the illusion is lost. The player's mind is then left to wander, become bored, or nitpick the game's presentation, gameplay or content.

I think this somewhat helps explain the vast differences in how "good" is defined among players. Take MMOs for example. The grind is something that tens of thousands of players happily endure (a flaw) because the wish fulfillment of social cooperation, acknowledgement, fame and a simplistic good/evil view of the universe are enormously satisfying. To me, however, no MMO can be good-- despite features, graphics, story, or replayability-- unless it taps into the wishes I have (complex problem solving, worldbuilding, cooperating with friendly/respectful people, strategic trading, etc.)

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TechnoGoth    2937
Well there's been some good answers so in summary these are what people consider to be "good" in a game.

1) Pick up and play - The game is easy enough to play that it requies no manuals, or tutorials. In additon the player is playing almost from the time they double click the exe. Auto loading of the last save would facilitate this.

2)Mutable - The game changes as results of the players actions, decisions, and play style rather then remaining static.

3)Easy Catch up - The player can easily find out what they where doing and where they left off last time they played.

4)Thematic Elements - The theme, setting, story, and characters.

5)Challenge - The game should challenge the player without hindering weaker players or removing the sense of acchomplishment for overcoming the challenge.

6)Longevity - Multiplayer support, addons, and modding support

Does that about some up the general aspects people think go into making a game good?

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Telastyn    3777
I'd add something like 'pace' or 'addictiveness' to that list. Whatever wording you think best to measure the ability of the game to hold a player's attention.

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