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Shane C

Gameplay vs. programming abilities

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I once had a bit of a debate with someone I knew. They debated that having better programming skills would lead to making better games. I debated that having programming skills doesn't necessarily mean you can produce a game with good gameplay. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Really I don't think good programming skills do a whole lot for making games. Because there are some workarounds to not being a good programmer and that's all you have to do. You still need programming skills to make a game, but I'm talking novice vs. expert programming skills.

While we're at it, I have another question. In what order are aspects of a game important, in your opinion? Here is how I would list importance:

Good gameplay
Good art
Bug free
Good concept/storyline
Good music
Good sound effects

Sorry for such controversial, potentially subjective questions, but sometimes you can't ask questions beneficial to you without opening a can of worms.

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Game development is similar to generic software development. All parts of the whole software must have decent quality to be good software. For example, very good software with terrible GUI will be always less used then good software with good GUI.

 

Apply this to games - you need good software, good art, good interface, good music, etc. - being terrible in one case means that game will be considered worse.

Edited by Vilem Otte

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Each system complements the others. No one is really more important. And of course, an expert in any field (including programming) can certainly make things happen that a novice can not. This can certainly enhance the gameplay experience - sometimes by a very large factor depending on the situation.

 

Music

Story

Major-bug Free

Gameplay

SFX

Graphics

 

Just sayin'

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My opinion about that question is that with high programming skills you are not suddenly able to develop a game. because next the to the ability to code in generally you need more skills. It's not only important that you have good art/concepts/storyline/etc. ... You have to know how to present all that stuff in a combination the user like. And the ability to do that or better the experience how you do that are not connected with your programming skills in general.

 

I think for example who is used to programm database systems would not be able to create a very good game because of his leck of experience in the field of game programming. So it is not the question about how good your programming skills are it's more a question how much experience someone had in that field or how much passion he have for that field.

And also  you cannot be good in anything is a reason to why high skills are not  enough

Game development is similar to generic software development. All parts of the whole software must have decent quality to be good software. For example, very good software with terrible GUI will be always less used then good software with good GUI.

 

Apply this to games - you need good software, good art, good interface, good music, etc. - being terrible in one case means that game will be considered worse.

 

I can only agree him !!

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I once had a bit of a debate with someone I knew. They debated that having better programming skills would lead to making better games. I debated that having programming skills doesn't necessarily mean you can produce a game with good gameplay. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Really I don't think good programming skills do a whole lot for making games. Because there are some workarounds to not being a good programmer and that's all you have to do. You still need programming skills to make a game, but I'm talking novice vs. expert programming skills.

While we're at it, I have another question. In what order are aspects of a game important, in your opinion? Here is how I would list importance:

Good gameplay
Good art
Bug free
Good concept/storyline
Good music
Good sound effects

Sorry for such controversial, potentially subjective questions, but sometimes you can't ask questions beneficial to you without opening a can of worms.

 

I'd say good programming/math/problemsolving skills are essential for some games but not all, it depends quite a bit on the mechanics you need, how important and complex the AI is, if you need to make a custom engine, etc.

 

Games that are content/design/story/enviroment heavy (RPGs, Puzzles, Adventure for example) tend to put a lot less pressure on the non-engine programmers than games that are AI or mechanic heavy (management, simulation, strategy, etc).

Edited by SimonForsman

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A lot of the work in a game only requires programming skill. But IMO, anything involving player control, timing, AI, etc. should be done by a programmer-designer. Most people who go into the game industry do so because they love playing games, and thus usually have a little design sense. But at least from my own observation, really good gameplay programmers are fairly rare. Not as rare as programmer-artists, though. But those aren't needed very often.

 

Programmer-musicians are nice to have sometimes too.

 

And then there are the crazies like myself who attempt to develop all of the necessary skills to a high level.

 

As for order of importance, in general I'd say gameplay design is most important. But most games are just knockoffs of a few different basic designs, and since they've all been done very well several times already, nowadays it's highly unlikely you can get by on gameplay alone. The order of the other elements depends on which base design you're starting from. e.g. story is much more important to an RPG than it is to a racing game.

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I think a lot of the skills that allow someone to be a good programmer are the same ones used to create a good game.  To me, most programming tasks are like puzzles.  I feel like there is this idea of programmers needing to be borderline autistic, socially awkward to be "good."  I think programmers are actually MORE creative than so called "creative" people.  Just think about some of the insane hacks required to get stuff to work.  Some great gameplay ideas that I have had have resulted from coming up with programming solutions to problems.

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I would say having better programming skills raises the complexity of the game you're able to potentially create. And it might also help the game, by the virtue of a better programmer generally having fewer bugs than a worse programmer. I would at least assume this is statistically true.

A programmer skilled in gameplay, or in design in general, might have a better understanding of what would make the game better or more fun to play, but a more "general" programmer might be better suited to implement it in a robust and efficient manner.

 

In terms of rating various aspects in order of importance, I think that's mostly an exercise in futility, especially given how many of the things listed are extremely subjective -- what constitutes good music, for example. Reading reviews will often leave you with "person x really thought the music added a whole lot to the experience, while person y didn't care about it at all", which can be extended for most other aspects as well.

 

I don't think there is/will ever be a definite list to rule them all, both for the above reason, as well as games are fundamentally different from each other, as well as "gameplay" actually being influenced (more or less) by the other factors.

A story heavy game (e.g. The Walking Dead) has a lot more to gain from a good story and concept than e.g. a twitch competitive multiplayer shooter.

Music might be a lot more important in a music game like Guitar Hero than something else.

 

Even within a specific (sub)-genre, you can have the game's focus being on something different than the norm, shifting the priorities.

 

I would think the most general thing to have as a high priority would be a low bug countseverity. Mainly because this can limit the players from experiencing any of the other stuff. Who cares if you've got the best gameplay in the world, if the game crashes on startup.

But even in this case, there are clearly cases where fairly buggy games can achieve a high status, due to its other merits.

 

To me, it all boils down to being able to recognize what is best suited for the game in question. Although perfect marks in all categories is a noble goal, resources being limited will force the developers to have to prioritize. Given two games, their (correct) choices can be wildly different.

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If the game is buggy and assets won't load/crash/is not supported by the code, then the efforts made by the asset experts are in vain. This means that the game can only be as "good" as the programmer is. Also, a game can not exist without at least some code. A game with no assets (text-based) is still a computer game. 

 

As a result I think the programmers set the bounds in which the assets experts can operate. 

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