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1037841 Posts in 41923 Topics- by 33539 Members - Latest Member: Kalaniseguin

August 31, 2014, 11:31:09 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignThe danger of over-polish
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Author Topic: The danger of over-polish  (Read 3185 times)
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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Dragonmaw
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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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Ben_Hurr
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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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Mikademus
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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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J-Snake
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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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« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2012, 02:54:30 AM »

To me it seems the word you guys are looking for is OVERDESIGNED.

Here is a blog post describing good design and the dangers of overdesign pretty well:
http://nomeswisdom.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/the-designers-folly/

Basically, you play a game and whatever you do, it feels like you do exactly what the designer wanted you to do, there is nothing to explore and zero room for emergent gameplay. Something like that  Cool
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #41 on: February 10, 2012, 05:02:02 AM »

this article pretty much nails what im trying to get at, thank you.

i already said this but i think its an ego thing mainly. some games feel like the designer is jerking himself off over his own "cleverness." either that or the assumption that players are idiots who cant figure things out for themselves or make their own decisions and need everything shoved down their throats.
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« Reply #42 on: February 10, 2012, 05:14:51 AM »

There are no overpolished games. That's literally like saying something is "too good".
What happens is when a game is actually bad, but there are so many good-looking and well-executed details that you WANT to believe it's not a bad game, until you are just tired of it for some reason. We call these "polished turds".
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J-Snake
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« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2012, 07:48:31 AM »

Basically, you play a game and whatever you do, it feels like you do exactly what the designer wanted you to do, there is nothing to explore and zero room for emergent gameplay. Something like that  Cool
That's another nonsense in play of words. These are just design-decisions. Rage is a good example for their hand-holding. One might call it "over-polish" but it is the ultimate consequence of their design-decision. What if the designer wants to provide a world to explore? That's what a designer might want you to do. And in a puzzler I don't want the player to have cheap solutions in a challenging level, that is why I am blocking them off. I call it quality, not "over-design".
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battlerager
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« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2012, 07:54:05 AM »

Basically, you play a game and whatever you do, it feels like you do exactly what the designer wanted you to do, there is nothing to explore and zero room for emergent gameplay. Something like that  Cool
That's another nonsense in play of words. These are just design-decisions. What if the designer wants to provide a world to explore? That's what a designer might want you to do. And in a puzzler I don't want the player to have cheap solutions in a challenging level, that is why I am blocking them off. I call it quality, not "over-design".
I think this has a lot to do with the genre and type of game. Also I never talked about "cheap" solutions.

Oh, about the article I linked, it's about DotA style multiplayer games, but it is very much general and applies to a lot of genres.
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