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EnochDagor

What defines polish?

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So I've seen it in many places that games need tons of polish. I've heard mention from players that certain game X or Y is good but needs more polish. So, my question to this community: What is Polish? What aspects of the game are considered polish?

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Quote:
Original post by EnochDagor
So, my question to this community: What is Polish? What aspects of the game are considered polish?


This is a good place to start

But seriously, it is something that is hard to define. If, when playing a game, it feels professional, consistent and appealing, I'd consider it polished. It conveys a feeling that time was spent on all aspects of the game, not just those that were fun and interesting.

For example a game that has no menu screen, no tutorial, and no way to re-map the keys is in good need of polish.

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Polish? I imagine anything from Poland would be considered Polish...

Only joking, my idea of polish is the action of taking something good and making it better, like polishing your shoes or car. For example, supposing your game has lots of side missions, polish would be adding loads of extra ones. If you re-use the same models from one area to another, polish would be adding new skins for the second area. Stuff like that.

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Polish is improvement after construction is complete. That definition is important, because polish features can seriously hinder your progress if you make changes to your project. Minor tweaks can turn into major tweaks. An analogy would be trying to move the door on a car after the paint job. The previous paint job is ruined, the paint may complicate the door changes, and you'll have to paint it all over again.

For a home construction team, paint and furniture would be polish. It's almost necessary, but you definitely want to wait until it's ready.

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Indeed, _after_ you've finished you're game, polishing up your game. Improving the parts you let down a bit when you were developing, and further improving the good stuff already there. It's these tiny little details that can make a game so much better.

It can make or break the difference between a professional and a, so to say, noob.

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Some of the things that I look out for when polishing:

- Consistent look and feel. That means graphics which work well together (ie. not patchwork odds and ends), and consistent sound effects.
- Well finished art. It doesn't have to be beautiful, but it should have a consistent palette, with consistent style (think line width). No stray pixels or rough edges from bad image editing.
- Full GUI flow. A proper main menu and an options menu will get you a long way. Again, solid, consistent look and feel (layout, font sizes, colours).
- Stable. Minimal or no bugs.
- A tutorial or help screen to explain the basic controls really helps.
- Proper game flow. Start a new game, score some points, loose some lives, game over. Lots of hobby games skimp on this.
- Save/load games if appropriate.
- Save/load use settings automatically.
- Reconfigurable controls.
- Background music is nice.
- Non-glitchy animation and movement. No single-frame oddities like getting embedded in floors or walls when falling, etc. No random sprite flickering due to off-by-one-frame initialisation/destruction issues.
- User feedback. Points when you do something. Sounds/visuals for collisions, pick ups, etc. Highlighting on buttons when mouse over or pressed, etc.

Lots of these can be seen as optional, or "nice to have". You don't need them all but the more you do have the more polished and complete your game will be. And I'm sure lots of others have their own stuff to add on to the list. [grin]

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Ok, to add to the original question...

At what point does polish begin on an MMO... an MMO that will constantly be changing?

"feature complete" is a moving target with an MMO even after initial release.

Is it taboo to neglect polishing an MMO until after initial release? Or should considerable time be spent on polishing an MMO before initial release with the knowledge that a lot of features may change?

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- All writing has been gone over by an editor; if necessary it was rewritten to be more poetic or funny, but even if it was good to start with the editor needs to make sure all spelling and punctuation is correct.
- The controls of the game have been playtested and tweaked until they feel fun and intuitive to use - I've seen published games where either the whole game or a minigame was crap because the way the controls were programmed was unresponsive and caused errors. This is especially likely to be a problem if a game was ported from console to pc or vice versa, and if there is a speed/action/dexterity minigame in the middle of a turn-based main game.
- Playtesting should also identify any in-game objectives that are simply too hard or too annoying, any problems with earning money or getting raw materials for crafting or leveling anything, any areas where there is way less to do than other areas, respawn times - basically this is playtesting against a checklist of things that were really annoying or otherwise unfun in other games of the same genre. In certain cases even characters mey be too annoying (consider JarJar Binks, should he have been removed or redesigned in the movie's editing phase?)
- Sometimes polishing a game means adding sound and visual effects, and adding internal variety to gameplay such as more combos, strategic choices, aesthetic choices; this is often the case when the game was designed in a very barebones way and was implemented one feature at a time, game developers get tired and want to avoid doing anything unnecessary, but doing too little can make the game feel unfinished in a too thin/too simple sort of way.

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Quote:
Original post by EnochDagor
Ok, to add to the original question...

At what point does polish begin on an MMO... an MMO that will constantly be changing?

"feature complete" is a moving target with an MMO even after initial release.

Is it taboo to neglect polishing an MMO until after initial release? Or should considerable time be spent on polishing an MMO before initial release with the knowledge that a lot of features may change?


Not really...Useing WOW for example.

"Feature complete" is basicly everything is in the game. In the case of WOW Blizzard had a release target. The release version was to have X,Y,Z. No MMO worth its weight in subscription fees is going to be released with a bare basic walking engine framework. Rather the developers set out with certain goals in mind that the release will have...players should create characters, be capable of fighting monsters, trade items, etc...When feature complete all that stuff is in the game...but either buggy or possably broken. Yeah, Blizzard could have released the feature complete WOW. but they are too smart for such a amatureish move.

Polishing a game is basicly refineing it. Makeing it better, fixing those bugs, solveing those gameplay issues. But that is only the start, real polishing goes farther.

Yeah, players would like and frequntly expect a way to change key settings. But a game with real polish doesn't just give them a generic menu screen to do this...a real polished game goes that extra mile to make changeing the key settings as simple and painless as possable. and it doesn't just let the player change the keys from the main menu, it lets them change them anywhere within the game.

A real polished game won't just have a tutorial. It will have a tutor that not only informs me it might be a good idea to jump across the chasm. But the tutor will inform me exactly what key setting jump currently is...even if I changed the jump key from default "spacebar" to "j" it should be reflected as such in the rest of the game...that is polish!

Blizzard released WOW in a pretty polished state. Sure more features get added over time (but these too are expected to be highly polished when implamented) but the general idea is the same for a MMO or a single player flash basied game. The more polished/refined the game is the more players will be willing to stick through it.

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Although not a precise science, something "polished" feels professional and well thought of... Very fluid and a fluid presentation of it all.

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