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Derakon

Can a game be too polished?

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Here I am thinking in particular of the differences between Escape Velocity and Escape Velocity Override (EV and EVO) versus Escape Velocity Nova (EVN). These games, if you don't know, are old-style space exploration/trade/combat games, made by Ambrosia Software. All three games have a plugin system that allows third parties to add or replace content to/in the game. The first two games had scenarios that were each entirely crafted by one person (a different person for EVO than for EV, mind). In that kind of situation, there's going to be areas where that person shines and areas where they don't. For example, 3D modelling is a hard thing to do well; the models for EV and EVO were not displeasing to the eye, but they were also obviously the work of amateurs. In contrast, EVN was made by a team of people working together, including several highly-skilled modelers. Their work did look professional. Might this have been a bad thing? Disregard any problems that come from working in a team. Assume that EVN was entirely made by one person who was just very good at what they did. Can a game's quality be too high? Perhaps not when it stands alone. But when you're talking about games like the EV series, where a significant portion of content has been created by third parties after the fact, I believe that setting the initial quality level above what an amateur can achieve on their own has a chilling effect on third-party products. One of the common terms you'll see on Ambrosia's EV forums is "TC", for "Total Conversion". These are plugins that completely change the universe that the game takes place in. All of the systems are removed and replaced with new ones. New missions, new storylines, new ships, new outfits, everything. The original EV had numerous total conversions and projects with similar scopes - half a dozen at least, and almost all of quality at least as good as the original scenario. EVO had a roughly equivalent number. EVN has one. And that one was originally an EVO plugin, that got "upgraded" to run under EVN. The next-largest finished project for EVN is roughly equivalent in size to a single main storyline; it adds a handful of systems, perhaps five new ships, and new outfits to equip them. And it took well over a year to produce! Now, it's a very well-made plugin, but it's not remotely close to the scope of a TC for the previous games. Of course, I'm sure there are multiple factors that resulted in reduced plugin production for EVN than for EVO or EV. For one thing, the series has not aged as well as it could have. Certainly the plugin architecture is best described as "archaic". And the games have collectively been around for 11 years now. But I still feel there's something amiss when EVN can't accumulate in 5 years what EV could in 2. And in large part, I feel that people who have ideas for the game are looking at the base scenario, thinking "Man, I could never make something that fits in with that" (most TCs start out as adjuncts to the main scenario, instead of replacements), and just giving up right there. What are your thoughts, not just on the EV series, but in general?

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There's definitely a point in production where you have to ask yourself: is this done, or am I/are we over-doing it?

I think the success of EV was largely in part due to it's graphics (high-end for the era, if you ask me). The art is beautiful, but the gameplay just plain sucks; so I guess they kind of evened eachother out.

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Interesting question. Normally I would say no it is impossible for any entertainment to be too polished, but the specific case you are talking about made me think of the game series Creatures - Creatures 1 and 2 were 2D and a ton of user-created content was made for them, but with Creatures 3 the game went 3D and suddenly users couldn't make sprites good enough to look acceptable alongside the ones which came with the game. The amount of user-created content was much smaller even though the game gave away tools to help users create content, and the series died.

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I think that a game can have too much content but not too polished. Theres always room for improvement, but too much content can result in slow load times and lagging. But to keep improving the content already in the game just makes it better, especially with graphics, movement, or level layout. I think you should make it as best as you can, but not as big as you can.

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Here's how to know when a game is too polished:

[grin]It takes too long to load![grin]

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I certainly don't disagree that if you're making your game to stand entirely on its own, then your only limitations for polish are what you can afford and what your customers' machines can run. But what about the case, as I outlined in my original post, where your game is serving in large part as a vehicle for people to add their own content?

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Quote:
Original post by iMalc
Here's how to know when a game is too polished:

[grin]It takes too long to load! Duke Nukem Forever![grin]

Corrected.

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Quote:
Original post by Derakon
I certainly don't disagree that if you're making your game to stand entirely on its own, then your only limitations for polish are what you can afford and what your customers' machines can run. But what about the case, as I outlined in my original post, where your game is serving in large part as a vehicle for people to add their own content?

If the point of your game is usr created content, and users cannot actually create content, then does it really make sense to call it "polished" anymore?

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Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Quote:
Original post by iMalc
Here's how to know when a game is too polished:

[grin]It takes too long to load! Duke Nukem Forever![grin]

Corrected.
Ah, good call!

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