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1047489 Posts in 42461 Topics- by 34305 Members - Latest Member: Chrizzii

September 30, 2014, 05:50:51 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignThe danger of over-polish
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Author Topic: The danger of over-polish  (Read 3204 times)
Richard Kain
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2012, 10:14:00 AM »

Perhaps "railroading" would be the term we are looking for?

And as I wrote earlier, there is a place where removing control from the player is appropriate, or even desirable. I would point to the Dead Space franchise as an example of this. The first game in the series offered greater freedom of movement and exploration. But when the second game took that away, and offered a more linear experience, it didn't really suffer for it. This is because the rest of the design decisions made around Dead Space 2 were in service of its more linear nature. The developer accepted that they were taking agency away from the player, and rolled with that. Dead Space 2 is an example of railroading done right, a polished, enjoyable experience despite the lack of exploration.
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2012, 12:07:05 PM »

I still like using "streamlining" the best so far. I'd say that "railroading" is a streamlining technique.

i'd say that was untrue of starcraft 1 -- they took the rts genre and made it more interesting by having 3 opposing races, instead of the usual 2. that was pretty risky and paid off for them

Yeah, true, credit where it's due and all that jazz. Starcraft is a game that founded the RTS genre. I'd give credit to Age of Empires for first breaking the two race mold though. I'm not gonna admit to being an RTS connoisseur though.

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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2012, 12:09:29 PM »

Quote
I'd give credit to Age of Empires for first breaking the two race mold though. I'm not gonna admit to being an RTS connoisseur though.
Yeah but in AOE the differences between the factions were relatively small. In SC every race has its own unique set of units and buildings.

On topic:
I don't think player agency or railroading directly factors into this. An "overpolished" game is a game whose design has been polished to the point of feeling bland and contrived. It's the videogame equivalent of a Steve Vai album or those lame kitten paintings you see in second-rate art galleries. Technically flawlessly executed but lacking in any interesting or original content.

Railroading can be a byproduct of that and is probably the result of the designer obsessing over showing off his "clever game design" and wanting to dictate every little aspect of the player's experience.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 12:26:00 PM by C.A. Sinclair » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2012, 12:31:16 PM »

yeah -- and not just unique ones, but there was also no overlap, which i think is important. wc1 and wc2 had different 'types' of units for each race, but they were both basically the same -- trolls were almost exactly like archers, grunts were almost exactly like soldiers, etc. sc1 was a pretty great feat of balance, since every race had things to counter every other unit of every other race
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2012, 12:41:34 PM »

While I don't have anything concrete to add to this topic, I'm watching it closely because I almost uniquely focus on polish over everything else, so I'd like to hear what other people have to say.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2012, 12:42:03 PM »

Quote
but there was also no overlap,
but that's exactly what i meant  Huh?
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2012, 12:44:25 PM »

you said "In SC every race has its own unique set of units and buildings." which doesn't necessarily imply no overlap, since that is just saying that each race has its own unique ones

example: "xbox360 and ps3 each have their own unique games" is true
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2012, 01:00:54 PM »

I said "own unique SET" implying the entire set is unique. whatever.
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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2012, 10:57:58 AM »

While I don't think over-polish is inherently bad for a game, it runs the risk of making it take far longer to complete. If the developer is too much of a perfectionist, they'll be compelled to fix even the slightest mistakes and imbalances that are discovered, leading to a never-ending cycle of testing and tweaking - known more commonly as Duke Nukem Forver Syndrome. Wink

In other words, over-polish is more dangerous for the developers than it is for the game itself.
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« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2012, 11:03:46 AM »

I don't think over-polish was the reason for Duke Nukem Forever's long development. They just switched engines all the time because they wanted to always be working with state-of-the-art stuff. Kinda ironic how old and dated the game then actually felt upon release.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2012, 12:21:56 PM »

Yeah DNF is more unfinished than overpolished. It's like a Frankstein creature stitched together from the decaying flesh of several dead games.
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« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2012, 12:33:56 PM »

Yeah, true, credit where it's due and all that jazz. Starcraft is a game that founded the RTS genre. I'd give credit to Age of Empires for first breaking the two race mold though. I'm not gonna admit to being an RTS connoisseur though.

Nitpicking:

Starcraft did not "found the RTS genre." It was a genre that had been mostly codified with Herzog Zwei and Dune 2. You know, games that came out in (respectively) 1989 and 1992. Starcraft was 1997.

Age of Empires also didn't really break the "two race mold" as the different races in Age of Empires are mostly the same. All races share the same tech tree, with modifications.
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« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2012, 04:40:12 AM »

Polish is good, which makes an "over-polish" concept problematic. The only real example of true over-polish I can think of is Enya (I like Enya, so shoot me): she has a well-known tendency bordering on obsession to add layer after layer of echoes and superpositions of her own voice to create richness and vibrancy to her music. In some of her pieces this is especially obvious and actually detracts by making her obsession with "polished perfection" obvious, or rather conspicuous. It is like that Matrix quote (paraphrased): "we made the world to perfect so no one believed in it"; in some way we need some imperfections.

OT:

Yeah, true, credit where it's due and all that jazz. Starcraft is a game that founded the RTS genre. I'd give credit to Age of Empires for first breaking the two race mold though. I'm not gonna admit to being an RTS connoisseur though.

You jumped quite a few years and titles there, buddy. Before Starcraft you had--just to mention a few--Dune II and Warcraft I & II, the Command & Conquer series, Red Alert, Total Annihilation, Age of Empires, Settlers I-III, Dune 2000, Earth 2140, Battlezone... And don't forget Ancient Art of War (1984) and Populous (1989). So yeah, Starcraft certainly didn't found the RTS genre.
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« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2012, 12:55:33 PM »

Polish is good, which makes an "over-polish" concept problematic.
This is why I was reaching for a different term. I've always considered polish to be a positive concept. In my mind, the real danger of over-polish is the possibility of running over budget on a project. Over-polish is when games keep getting pushed back due to the obsession of the developer and the indulgence of the publisher. If I had to offer an example, I would point to The Last Guardian. That is a game that has been in development far longer than is probably necessary.

The original Legend of Zelda was a title that was quite polished. It had very little in the way of bugs. At the same time, the title allowed for an unprecedented level of player agency.
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« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2012, 02:32:24 PM »

...
I don't think player agency or railroading directly factors into this. An "overpolished" game is a game whose design has been polished to the point of feeling bland and contrived. It's the videogame equivalent of a Steve Vai album or those lame kitten paintings you see in second-rate art galleries. Technically flawlessly executed but lacking in any interesting or original content.

...

Ah, that's more a problem of starting with a bland game design and trying to polish it into a good game.  It's sort of like bronze-plating a lump of a shit.

Perhaps that's what happened to Skyward Sword?
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2012, 03:02:18 PM »

It could also be the result of starting with an interesting game design and "smoothing out the rough edges" until it becomes boring. Depends on what direction you're going in with your polishing I guess. I already talked. the "eliminating flaws vs. making strengths shine" thing a few pages backed.

But thing is, there isn't a universal definition of "polishing" a game entails because polish implies an improvement in quality and there isn't a universal definition of what constitutes quality.
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« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2012, 03:12:15 PM »

Mikademus EVADES the Semantic Snare spell.

Maychance metaphors are more useful? It IS possible to overpolish real metal things. Plated metals can be polished until the surface layer is rubbed off and the raw underlying material becomes visible. Perhaps in a similar way the underlying game mechanics in itself can be made to shine through?
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« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2012, 04:00:10 PM »

Trying to avoid too much of any design philosophy/stage is central to game development.  Streamlining a game can make it feel intuitive to the user, but too much can kill its character.  A strong feature list can make a game feel varied and interesting, but if it grows too big it can lessen the overall quality of the game and make it confusing.  There is also the obvious danger of the excess of either of these causing the game to extend development into oblivion.  Game design is the same as any other field of design in that balance is key.
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« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2012, 10:27:44 AM »

I will never get to the luxury to "over-polish" everything (exept for mechanics for me, there shall be no flaws) so there is no point to worry about that at all. I wonder about the level-design though, but I think it is more a philosophical question to talk about its ästhetics.
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« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2012, 03:45:33 PM »

Mikademus EVADES the Semantic Snare spell.

Maychance metaphors are more useful? It IS possible to overpolish real metal things. Plated metals can be polished until the surface layer is rubbed off and the raw underlying material becomes visible. Perhaps in a similar way the underlying game mechanics in itself can be made to shine through?

OBJECTION!

Judge:  Yes, Mr Edgeworth?

Miles Edgeworth:  Your honor, the defense has simply traded one set of semantics for another.

Judge:  Oh?  What have they traded?

Miles Edgeworth:  Polishing metal is a specific act that results in small amounts of material being worn away, which results in the finish being worn off a piece that is polished to heavily.  It's a matter of physics.

Judge:  Very interesting, Mr. Edgeworth, but this isn't shop class.  What's your point?

Miles Edgeworth:  My point is that game development isn't a physical act like polishing metal.  "Polish" here is a borrowed word, and the connotation that was borrowed is that "polishing makes something better", but the physical consequences of over-polishing weren't borrowed.

TAKE THAT!

Phoenix Wright:  It is the same word, and thus it's possible that the deeper metaphor was borrowed.

HOLD IT!

Miles Edgeworth:  That's quite the presumption, Phoenix, that the entire meaning of the word is carried over.  Well what about the other connotations "polishing" carries?  Maybe then game polish requires a cloth and some polishing compound?  Perhaps a vigorous rubbing motion?

Phoenix Wright:  Well of course it doesn't.

Miles Edgeworth:  Then does it follow that, perhaps, the consequences of "over-polishing" were not carried over as well, and that what is perceived as "over-polishing" is in fact a totally different problem entirely?

*BANG BANG BANG*

Judge:  That's enough for this session, gentlemen.  Let's get lunch.  Court will resume at 2:30.

Phoenix Wright:  Whew, saved by the gavel.  Better review my notes and get my defense ready for the next session.
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