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SherrelE

Theory of a "Perfect Game"

18 posts in this topic

Hey guys.
A friend and I were having a debate about game design the other day and the topic of a "perfect game" came up. He is of the opinion that there is absolutely no such thing as a perfect game, that all games have their flaws. I am of the opinion that there is such a thing, but here's my definition: A perfect game is a game that successfully is what it strives to be and has no room for improvement. Honestly a game I would consider perfect is Cave Story, as an example. I feel like it completes the objective of being a fast paced platform shooter and I can't really see a way in which to improve it. My question is, what's your definition of the "perfect game", and is there such a thing?
I realize this is such a trivial thing, but it's nothing to take too serious.
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My perfect will be different from your perfect.

I cannot imagine any game that fits your definition of "no room for improvement". Ask the developer of any game and they'll talk about bugs that shipped and good things that had to be cut.

There is no one-size-fits-all perfect game.
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Ha... my perfect game.
It is the game that is set in a world that I shape since I am a kid and that I will always seek. I don't think I will be able, one day, to concretize my [i]perfect [/i]game ideas in one single product, but it is always nice to keep polishing it in my mind.

I remember the first time I played Dungeons & Dragons and a friend of mine was teaching me the rules when he said: "This game is perfect because it runs on the best video card in the world: our brain and imagination".
Man, he said it all! Edited by kuramayoko10
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A game in which the boss of the previous level is the 'common enemy' of the current level.
Imagine: You fight so hard to defeat the last boss, but once you defeat him, it becomes easy to defeat him again and again.
The game shouldn't give the player more power over the levels i.e. nothing like after you defeat the boss, you get a gun which insta-gibs the boss. The player should have equal resources throughout the game, only thing that changes is his own skill.
Amorhpous+ does this nicely.
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The original Western version of Tetris -- the Spectrum Holobyte version that ran on like Amigas, Atari STs, and Apple IIgs's -- was perfect I'm pretty sure. Beyond that ... I don't know ... Super Mario Bros. 3?
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[quote name='MathAddict' timestamp='1354070614' post='5004801']
A game in which the boss of the previous level is the 'common enemy' of the current level.
Imagine: You fight so hard to defeat the last boss, but once you defeat him, it becomes easy to defeat him again and again.
The game shouldn't give the player more power over the levels i.e. nothing like after you defeat the boss, you get a gun which insta-gibs the boss. The player should have equal resources throughout the game, only thing that changes is his own skill.
Amorhpous+ does this nicely.
[/quote]

That's pretty specific (. _ .) Though I can see what you mean as far as player skill. Player strength > avatar strength always in my opinion.

[quote name='jwezorek' timestamp='1354142340' post='5005110']
The original Western version of Tetris -- the Spectrum Holobyte version that ran on like Amigas, Atari STs, and Apple IIgs's -- was perfect I'm pretty sure. Beyond that ... I don't know ... Super Mario Bros. 3?
[/quote]

Yeah, tetris! Honestly I haven't even seen the version you're talking about, only played the NES version myself and I'd still call it just about perfect. Classic stuff like that, like pacman, I find those to be some of the definitive perfect games in my opinion.
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There can be no perfect game in the sense you describe.

Perfection cannot be reached, only approached asymptotically. The closer you want to get to perfect in your sense, the more you have to invest - and chances are you're shooting at a moving target anyways. What might be 99% perfect after 4 years of development might actually only be 80% perfect after another additional year of rumination and hindsight.
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[quote name='ApochPiQ' timestamp='1354146102' post='5005127']
There can be no perfect game in the sense you describe.

Perfection cannot be reached, only approached asymptotically. The closer you want to get to perfect in your sense, the more you have to invest - and chances are you're shooting at a moving target anyways. What might be 99% perfect after 4 years of development might actually only be 80% perfect after another additional year of rumination and hindsight.
[/quote]

Well, what would be your description? If at all, that is, I guess.
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It doesn't matter; my statement holds for any definition of "perfection" that doesn't completely destroy the connotations of the word. It's a human project with finite resources; it's gonna be lacking [i]somehow[/i] to [i]someone[/i].
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[quote name='ApochPiQ' timestamp='1354146871' post='5005136']
It doesn't matter; my statement holds for any definition of "perfection" that doesn't completely destroy the connotations of the word. It's a human project with finite resources; it's gonna be lacking [i]somehow[/i] to [i]someone[/i].
[/quote]
It is nice how Microsoft takes this in consideration when rating your computer on the System menu.
The grade is from 0 - 10, but the maximum one computer can get is 7 or so. That is because the top notch computer of today can't be the top we will get, so a grade of 10 is too much and the threshold of 7 shows how much we have to constantly progress. :)
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Eh. I knew one a you guys was going to show up lol
My opinion is that there are some games that stand up above the rest, are well designed and well implemented, etc etc, and I have no qualms with calling those perfect.
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[quote name='kuramayoko10' timestamp='1354148154' post='5005144']
[quote name='ApochPiQ' timestamp='1354146871' post='5005136']
It doesn't matter; my statement holds for any definition of "perfection" that doesn't completely destroy the connotations of the word. It's a human project with finite resources; it's gonna be lacking [i]somehow[/i] to [i]someone[/i].
[/quote]
It is nice how Microsoft takes this in consideration when rating your computer on the System menu.
The grade is from 0 - 10, but the maximum one computer can get is 7 or so. That is because the top notch computer of today can't be the top we will get, so a grade of 10 is too much and the threshold of 7 shows how much we have to constantly progress. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]

Oh hey, never knew that was the reason. Cool!
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[quote name='SherrelE' timestamp='1354148710' post='5005146']
Eh. I knew one a you guys was going to show up lol
My opinion is that there are some games that stand up above the rest, are well designed and well implemented, etc etc, and I have no qualms with calling those perfect.
[/quote]
Nethack.

You can do everything. It has permadeath. It is very difficult. It can take several months of gameplay before you win. Even when you are maxed out on levels and have killed hundreds of every monster, you can still get to the end and die.

Best Game Ever. But not perfect.
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[quote name='SherrelE' timestamp='1354148710' post='5005146']
Eh. I knew one a you guys was going to show up lol
My opinion is that there are some games that stand up above the rest, are well designed and well implemented, etc etc, and I have no qualms with calling those perfect.
[/quote]

It just goes back to Frob's point. Pick a game you think is perfect, I'll find someone who can criticize it.

I have games which I think are [i]excellent[/i] but maybe I'm too much of an anal-retentive literalist stickler to apply the label "perfect" lightly ;-)
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the perfect game would be a game that asks me questions, and builds a game suited for me, then based on my input, improves the game automagically, until i have absolutely no qualm's with any potential aspect(this includes creating an infinity long storyline, so it never has to end), if it can do that for every unique person, then it would be perfect.
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[quote name='slicer4ever' timestamp='1354176310' post='5005219']
the perfect game would be a game that asks me questions, and builds a game suited for me, then based on my input, improves the game automagically, until i have absolutely no qualm's with any potential aspect(this includes creating an infinity long storyline, so it never has to end), if it can do that for every unique person, then it would be perfect.
[/quote]

Why does that remind me of Daggerfall? lol
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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1353987603' post='5004408']
My perfect will be different from your perfect.
[/quote]
Yep. I can generalize about a hypothetical group of games that might be perfect for me, but some people would hate them or find them mediocre. But, because it's fun, I'll take a stab at describing a game that I as a player would find perfect.

First of all, I like linear games with a lot of story and a distinct ending, though a "new game +" is a nice way of combining replayability with an ending. Some sandboxy elements, like house building and character appearance customization can be a lot of fun, but only games that lead the player through by regularly providing goals and story context to make those goals meaningful really work for me. So if there's a story, the question then becomes what should that story (and related gameplay) be about. Well, I like stories about personal evolution and technological/cultural evolution, stories about worldbuilding mysteries, stories with magic, stories where the main character solves other people's problems, stories where the main character breeds monsters or plants to discover new hybrids (yet more evolution), and stories with romance. This suggests RPG and sim play, possibly also tactical play, and I like arcade and speedpuzzle play too, as well as collecting sets and soloing dungeons. I do not like turn-based non-tactical combat so I would not include that under RPG elements.

To provide the most scope for evolution to happen within the game, I think it would be good to start with the playable character being quite blank/generic. Their clothing would be limited to gray or brown rags or a very boring gray or brown uniform. They should also have boring hair and faces, no tattoos or jewelry, no race or class chosen before the game starts; since those kind of choices are the fun part they should all be in the game itself, as rewards. The game could start either with the main character being marooned on an alien planet with no nearby signs of other sentient life, or as a student enrolling in some kind of mysterious fantasy or sci-fi academy that serves as a gateway to a fantasy or sci-final world once the student demonstrates enough basic skills to be allowed to explore on their own.

So, if I'm marooned on this alien island, the first thing I would have fun doing is walking around to reveal all the immediately-accessible parts of the island on the map. At the same time I'd be looking for gatherables with which to start crafting my way up the tech tree of civilization. So that would be about exploration with the world itself serving as a test of the player's ingenuity; the distant dangled reward would be the hint that the player will find some other people after they master their island and become able to travel. The school version on the other hand would have more of a feel of socially imposed challenge and testing, with the player striving to be good enough to gain rewards that would mark them as competent and adult, such as cooler clothes and weapons, possibly a cool mount, and the ability to explore outside the school. In both cases the player might also gain some initial magic or combat abilities. Shapeshifting is possibility my favorite kind of magical ability, but elemental magic is also pretty cool, as are fancy weapon techniques, or captured and bred pet monsters could have various animalistic abilities. Real-time combat and tactical combat are both fun; for a realistic game development project I'd pick on or the other, but since this is a hypothetically perfect game I'll be greedy and say it should have both.

After the player has been able to learn the rudiments of combat and crafting and customize their appearance a little, then the game world can open up for them. Some mysterious ruins to explore which hold hints about the worldbuilding as well as two or more rival factions that want the player to build reputation with them would be a good start. Also some romanceable NPCs, who give out quests by which the player can earn their good opinion. If it's an MMO, they can now try PvP, minigames, and then begin a journey from the local capital (where they have arrived after completing the beginner area) to the world capital. There's a whole list of common MMO features that I would or wouldn't want in a perfect game, but it would be boring to list them all; the most important one is NO forced group play. The other people are there to have someone to show off your cool loot to and to make the world feel alive, but it's not all that fun to actually have to work with them. Overall, the player would continue to customize their appearance, climb their tech tree, develop their property/house, breed pets/plants, earn more magical techniques, collect collectibles, earn achievements, play minigames, climb the PvP rankings, and explore the game world to find more clues about it's mystery.

Edit: Oh yeah, and for bonus points let's sprinkle the world liberally with adventure-game style puzzles. And give the player a gazette and level/treasure completion map ala Vagrant Story to keep track of their progress at finishing off all the content (achieving all the achievements and being rewarded for them) in the world. Edited by sunandshadow
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[quote name='SherrelE' timestamp='1354148710' post='5005146']
Eh. I knew one a you guys was going to show up lol
My opinion is that there are some games that stand up above the rest, are well designed and well implemented, etc etc, and I have no qualms with calling those perfect.
[/quote]
I would call those 'best' games, but that doesn't mean they are perfect games.
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I recall back when Game Grumps was still new, I was talking to this guy and he calls the show perfect. Well, I says to him that sure, it's a good show, but I wouldn't exactly call it perfect. So he elaborates a bit that he didn't exactly mean that Game Grumps was the highest level of entertainment that could be achieved, but more that it was something that just happened and was immediately something he'd like to watch.

I think I'd like to classify a 'perfect' game as something like that; something that when you first experience it, you just immediately want to play the whole thing; be it apt or timeless, it's something that is [i]just right[/i] for you to play.
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