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October 02, 2014, 02:26:17 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignWhy aren't we asking the question, "what makes a good game"?
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Author Topic: Why aren't we asking the question, "what makes a good game"?  (Read 5494 times)
DinofarmGames
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« on: February 07, 2012, 11:56:45 AM »

Hey TIGForums.  Wrote an article today asking why we aren't trying to establish "what makes a good game"?  No one seems to really be asking this question so I thought I'd explore.

FTA:

Quote
We all know that things are changing pretty dramatically these days in the gaming world.  From how games are designed, to how they are produced, marketed, sold and played it is all dramatically different than it was even ten years ago.  And the evidence indicates that we are not near the end of this period of change.  Its likely that ten years from now, the world of games will have changed ever more dramatically, into a shape none of us would in 2012 would recognize.

So things are going to change.  The question is how are they going to change?  Well, how do you want them to change?  We, the people who play, design, and write about games, are going to have a significant impact on how this change occurs.

Personally, I do not like the direction that things are headed in.  Or at least, I see several parties trying to steer the ship in a very bad direction.  I feel a responsibility to do my part to steer it back in what I see as the correct direction.  This is nothing new;  this is the basic nature of any dialogue on any topic.  I want to participate, because I have something to say and because I care about the future of games.

Were talking about games a lot but what very few of us are doing is coming out and saying hey this is what games ought to be.

http://www.dinofarmgames.com/?p=786

Let me know what you think!
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2012, 12:01:06 PM »

i think it's because a lot of us (most of us?) believe that what makes a good game depends on the individual developer and their audience. whether it's true or not, what makes a good game is treated as a matter of taste. it's like asking what makes a good cheeseburger. some people think lettuce and tomato do, others think bbq sauce does, others think ketchup does, others think mayo, etc.

consider ff13. in the west it's thought of as a bad game, too linear and story-heavy, too many cutscenes and not enough freedom, in japan it got nearly a perfect score in famitsu and is outsold all the other final fantasy games and is considered one of the greatest games ever made. so i don't think 'what makes a good game' is something that you can scientifically investigate, because it varies so much, and first you'd have to decide by what standards, etc. etc.

i do think everyone should ask (and answer) "what makes a good game -- for me, by my standards", but asking 'what makes a game universally good, so that everyone will like it' is a dead-end question i think. there's no game that everyone will like, and that's a good thing
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Hardcore
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2012, 12:09:57 PM »

So we could ask what makes a bad game Smiley
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2012, 12:14:27 PM »

the answer to that is to watch AVGN
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J-Snake
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2012, 12:18:25 PM »

What a boring generic question. A good game is everything I am making.
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rivon
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2012, 12:43:35 PM »

consider ff13. in the west it's thought of as a bad game, too linear and story-heavy, too many cutscenes and not enough freedom, in japan it got nearly a perfect score in famitsu and is outsold all the other final fantasy games and is considered one of the greatest games ever made. so i don't think 'what makes a good game' is something that you can scientifically investigate, because it varies so much, and first you'd have to decide by what standards, etc. etc.
Famitsu is no longer an independent magazine. The reviews are paid for by the developers/publishers so they get good score.

A good game is everything I am making.
I wouldn't say so. TrapThem looks really boring. Maybe for a few first levels it might be fun, but it looks very repetitive and sometimes too much precision-based. IMO you're just obsessed with perfect gameplay mechanics and the underlying technology and the game seems fun to you cause you're it's creator.
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2012, 12:45:10 PM »

The most fundamental reason we aren't asking "what makes a good game?" is because we can't settle on an answer to the question "what is a game?"

We like to love on Cave Story around here. It's well designed and executed from many perspectives. However, the notion of a "single player" game is extremely new. Just fifty years ago a "game" would, by definition, involve multiple players.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2012, 12:47:09 PM »

@rivon - what about the sales difference, tho? the game also sold extremely well in japan, but only average to poor in the west. in any case it was just an example of a general principle, the specific game doesn't matter. anyone here can probably name a game that one country or area thinks is amazing which falls flat and is thought of as a terrible game in another area
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Dragonmaw
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 01:02:10 PM »

We don't ask that question because it's a stupid question.

A better question is "what makes a game within this particular genre good", and even then there's lots of variance there.

Basically you're dumb.
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 01:12:47 PM »

Yeah, I'm sorry to join the dog-pile, but it's a meaningless question. What makes a game good is almost entirely subjective. As Dragonmaw stated, it might be meaningful to ask the question about a genre, but I am wary of even that (admittedly, so was he).  For example, I love the streamlined nature of Brogue, but that might be the thing that turns off a lover Dungeon Crawl. (or Nethack). 

I would say that what makes a game good is what you like, and as developers we should try to make the games we like.
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 01:24:36 PM »



Maybe, but I highly doubt it, as this would require the establishment of new genres, massive technology shifts, or some kind of holographic sex game.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 01:32:40 PM »

We like to love on Cave Story around here. It's well designed and executed from many perspectives. However, the notion of a "single player" game is extremely new. Just fifty years ago a "game" would, by definition, involve multiple players.
Klondike aka Solitaire has been around since like the 18th century my bro. I'm sure there were other single-player gams before that.
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 01:35:42 PM »

mahjong solitaire is also pretty old i believe (it used to be called "turtle" or something)
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DinofarmGames
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2012, 01:40:10 PM »

>What makes a game good is almost entirely subjective.

We have to be able to establish some GUIDELINES.  Not rules, but guidelines, just as we have in every other medium.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2012, 01:41:09 PM »

i'm pretty sure that if you went to any other medium and asked "what makes a member of this medium good?" you'd get similar responses to what you're getting here

try it, go on a forum for novelists and ask what makes a novel good
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unsilentwill
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2012, 01:56:47 PM »

Studios prefer to ask, what makes a good game for this market? Indies prefer to ask what is a good game for me to make? Asking what is a good game for everyone is too hard for them to think about apparently. Which is fair, it's not easy to create a universal classic.

There are two sorts of games, the way I see it: sport/challenge/score games and story/emotion/message games. They are very different in the goal the player achieves. Thinking about what you want to do with the player is the simple way to think about what makes the game good, or effective, or memorable. Tap into human drives: competition, power, connection, exploration, justice... the basic themes that make any classic book or film worth talking about beyond it's time and context.

Edit: To answer your question, some people do ask the question, but we don't like asking other people because they think we're pretentious and think if we call a game good we're hating all other games. It gets old quickly, so we just do our best to make good games.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 02:19:24 PM by unsilentwill » Logged
swordofkings128
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2012, 02:19:08 PM »

good game needs:
1. cool graphics
2. cool music
3. cool story
4. decent gameplay(if the other things are good enough, decent gameplay is excusable)
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stevesan
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2012, 02:21:28 PM »

No one is exploring this question? That is a very naive, ignorant, and conceited thing to say. I think you clearly need to read more and do better research. There are PLENTY of people exploring this question on websites, books, and forums like this one.
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lasttea999
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2012, 02:28:01 PM »

I dunno if this helps, but I've seen pixel (creator of Cave Story) (website) as well as another Japanese developer who goes by Tatsunami (website, TIGForums. topic for his puzzle game Hanano Puzzle) write about this kind of thing. Mostly in Japanese, that is, although they both seem to be making some efforts to accommodate English-speaking fans.

In their devlogs, these developers ponder such topics as what kinds of aspects draw in the player. In fact, I think Tastunami may have written some comments like that in English in the TIGForums. link I posted.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 02:33:18 PM by lasttea999 » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2012, 02:38:08 PM »

We like to love on Cave Story around here. It's well designed and executed from many perspectives. However, the notion of a "single player" game is extremely new. Just fifty years ago a "game" would, by definition, involve multiple players.
Klondike aka Solitaire has been around since like the 18th century my bro. I'm sure there were other single-player gams before that.

There are notable exceptions but the basic principle of play being social is there. I can't begin to speak to the semantics of the word "game" at any rate.
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