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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignMaking a 'Classic' Game
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Theophilus
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« on: May 22, 2011, 05:14:22 pm »

Hey all.

There is a contest here about replay value: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/thousand-year-game-design-challenge.html

The goal is to make a game that is classic, with replay value, a game that can be learned, with strategy. A game that can be played for 1000 years and still be as charming to newcomers as it was when it was invented.

I think these games would be:

-Chess
-Backgammon
-Checkers
-Poker
-Craps
-Roulette
-Blackjack

etc.

My question is, what makes these games fun, popular, and re-playable?

I think it is...

1. Strategy

Games all have some kind of strategy, whether it is common sense or a science. For instance, PacMan, you must maneuver across the labyrinth, avoiding the enemies. All the enemies have a particular behavior. This can be studied. I think it rare for someone to be great at PacMan the very first few plays. The same can be applied to run-n-jump games, where all you need to do is time the jump right. There is a degree of strategy. It might be considered easier than RTS games or PacMan. All games have different type of strategy.

2. Luck

Many games incorporate some kind of chance. A classic game might have some element of luck so as to make things different. This is pretty straight-forward. One example of a fusion of luck and strategy is any card game ever.

3. Easy to Understand

The best games are the ones that can be picked up quickly by anyone. You can often learn how to play card games and many video games by simply watching.


Please post about what you think makes a good, long-lasting, re-playable game.
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SundownKid
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2011, 06:38:46 pm »

Abstraction - The pieces in these games are as vague as possible, to give them a lot of possible meanings and focus on the core gameplay. If they have to be something, they are the most broad term - e.g. "King" rather than "King George".

Simplicity - There is no story being told by the game itself, the pieces are merely tools and the real fight is between you and your opponent.
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Sankar
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 10:30:34 pm »

Popularity is a very complex theme, because it is not direct related to any other "quality". This happens to every one of us lots of times:
We find a game/music/movie and we think "Oh boy, this is better than *insert very popular and memorable thing here* how come it isn't that famous!?"

Lots of things influence how something is perceived and its "durability" in people's memory, why something lasts or not has nothing to do with its quality (Nikola Tesla anyone, the guy was a forgotten genius).

I feel that lots of "famous" things are SO famous because of the snowball effect, there is no middle ground for fame. You are either not-famous, somewhat famous or VERY famous.
Chess and Backgammon are very famous because everyone think they are extremely complex games, played by NASA-like computers against Gods in human skin.
Black Jack, Poker, Roulette are always played by Paul Newman, dressed like a classy rockstar, surrounded by pretty women who are always ready to wish him luck as bets millions on some flashing Las Vegas Casino.
Its the snowball effect, these things tend to appear lots of times in lots of places, simply because its way easier for the Media to use them as example to evoke a emotion, than to come up with a whole new game that nobody knows about.

This may sound off-topic, but what I'm really saying is: There is no way to design a game that is remembered for 1000 years without LUCK. Its not a matter of quality. Sure, quality has a place, but there are lots of other things going on.

Now, if you ask me what makes a good game, I would probably say:

EASY to start, SLIGHTY challenging to learn, HARDto master.
Poker is a great example of this, its easy to start playing, a little harder to memorize all card combinations and very hard to master a real game (when to bet, how to bluff, how to read other players).

All these games are very social, and people love to be together specially if they can beat each other and prove they are smarter.

Anyway, being easy to learn and hard to master, and having a good player-base is the secret of every lasting game, either table-top or videogame.
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2011, 11:54:22 pm »

Right now I put my stock in these things being "popular elements":

Reflective game dynamics: Even simple-to-learn-and-to-master games like Tic-Tac-Toe have several game mechanics in play - turn-taking, filling squares, and the final goal of connecting three. The game dynamics that result make everything in the game important at all times: what the other player does, which squares are empty, and whether goals are achievable. There is no point during play where you don't care about one these things, so they're nearly a reflection of the mechanics, a property which Tic-Tac-Toe shares with most board games. (What's the difference between dynamics and mechanics?)

Fast setup, fast feedback: Grognard-type games, where you spend hours just setting up the game, and more hours pushing around units and throwing dice and consulting tables, have never been popular. People want crisp immediacy from their games, and popular games do exactly that.

Appropriate in many contexts: Monopoly has managed to be a real survivor of a game, even though it's flawed from a competitive standpoint, because it has the right hooks for most people. It's not particularly gimmicky(though it has wacky player pieces and little houses and hotels and named locations) and the game dynamics emerge straight out of the real estate biz, giving it a familiarity that can beat even really solid modern games like Settlers of Catan.
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 12:26:37 am »

Reflective game dynamics: Even simple-to-learn-and-to-master games like Tic-Tac-Toe have several game mechanics in play - turn-taking, filling squares, and the final goal of connecting three. The game dynamics that result make everything in the game important at all times: what the other player does, which squares are empty, and whether goals are achievable. There is no point during play where you don't care about one these things, so they're nearly a reflection of the mechanics, a property which Tic-Tac-Toe shares with most board games. (What's the difference between dynamics and mechanics?)
Kind of like this:
Emergent Complexity:
Simple rules interacting with each other to create complex situations. ie. in draughts, all you can do is move or jump over another piece to take it, but this creates complex situations, because your pieces will change position with every move you make; and this affects what the other player will do, and what you can do next turn.

Skill Chains:
Once players have mastered one skill, they'll use it over and over again in order to learn another. The more skills you can work in to your game's 'skill chain', the longer players will stay interested. Read more here: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1524/the_chemistry_of_game_design.php
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 12:40:33 am »

easy to learn hard to master isn't by itself enough though -- there are plenty of bad games that are easy to learn and hard to master. for instance, hatris



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gimymblert
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 05:29:38 am »

interplay!
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mirosurabu
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2011, 09:48:25 am »

interplay!

what about them?
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2011, 10:19:41 am »

They made some classic RPGs.  Wink

Lame jokes aside, I think one of the things that makes like chess, poker, backgammon etc. as long-living as they are is that they're a "public good." No one owns the copyright to these games so everyone is free to create their own playing pieces and make them publicly available. Variants, which are also free to create and distribute for everyone, go a long way towards extending the life span of these classic games as well.

So yeah, if I wanted to make a "classic" videogame accoring to the above definition, I'd make it open source (and easily portable to all kinds of different platforms) and claim no copyright for any part of it. I'd also make it simple enough to be easy to clone/rip off even for beginning game developers.
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SplinterOfChaos
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 06:02:07 pm »

Isn't it a little early to be thinking about making timeless video games?

One of the things that i think makes card and board games long-living is that they aren't digital. If you wanna play Checkers, and you don't have a board, it's easy enough to use paper. In contrast, it's hard to program a game if you can't afford/find it.

Then again, we still have games like Mario, which i and friends occasionally still go back and play. I can imagine i'll still play it after grow old and become sick of all other games. It has a great simplicity that modern games can't get away with. I like Mario 1 & 2 (Lost Levels, not Doki Doki Panic) even more than Mario 3 or SNES's Mario World probably because of this reason.

Fast setup, fast feedback: Grognard-type games, where you spend hours just setting up the game, and more hours pushing around units and throwing dice and consulting tables, have never been popular. People want crisp immediacy from their games, and popular games do exactly that.

What about D&D? Maybe it's not really that old, but i imagine the game will outlive all of us. Non-digital, takes only paper and pencil to play (though there are official versions), it's social, many veriations, etc.

Chess and Backgammon are very famous because everyone think they are extremely complex games, played by NASA-like computers against Gods in human skin.

I've been studying Chess recently and it's got a lot more going for it than people thinking it's complex. First of all, it's a heavily tactical game. Every move is impacting, so every move you make is important. It also is highly dependent on your observational skills. It's a focus in AI programming because we have yet to program an unbeatable player (to my knowlegde). It was used to train army generals (like Go). People who've played it their whole lives still have things to learn about the game.

I don't disagree that superficial like what you mention don't attribute to its popularity, but i highly doubt they are the basis. Did people think the same way about Chess 100, 300, or even 1000 years ago? Games like this aren't just popular today, they've been popular for centuries.

Quote
Black Jack, Poker, Roulette are always played by Paul Newman, dressed like a classy rockstar, surrounded by pretty women who are always ready to wish him luck as bets millions on some flashing Las Vegas Casino.

Maybe, but there's also the fact that people just really like to gamble. As for why specific gambling games are popular, you might be right, but along with what i said about Chess, i think we also need to respect that these games just speak to people.

Quote
This may sound off-topic, but what I'm really saying is: There is no way to design a game that is remembered for 1000 years without LUCK. Its not a matter of quality. Sure, quality has a place, but there are lots of other things going on.

QFT. I wonder what great card/board games just never got popular enough to be remembered.

BTW: How is it no one has mentioned the most popular game around that we're all playing? Life! It's perfectly accessible, challenging, and you could be 150 years old and still not have mastered it.
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 02:14:03 am »

Isn't it a little early to be thinking about making timeless video games?
The competition doesn't ask for videogames, and yeah, with technological change, a videogame is probably not the best medium to try to build a timeless game in.  It actually says "In addition, your entry may include an interactive demo of your game, playable online. This is not required, but will certainly make it easier to play and judge your entry."
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2011, 05:11:16 am »

I don't think people will still be playing D&D in 1000 years tbh.

How many trademarked franchises (of anything, not just games) have even lasted more than 100 years? I'd wager it's less than 1% of all the franchises ever created (maybe even less than 0.5%)
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gimymblert
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2011, 06:12:44 am »

Do people remember Chaturanga?

Go is still the winner of elderly of formal game!
I think having the license of the yin&yang brand really help him stay afloat all those year. Yin&yand is still strong on today's market. It's an exemple of good design, the original one receive very little patch or dlc, nor it have (successful) sequel. While the mythology had been streamlined over the year, loosing important chunk like the dragon Hei-zi and Bai-zi, the universe has still strong resonance and people still resonate with 4000 years after his invention. I guess storytelling is a bit important as long you drop the literary pretense and the huge sprawling backstory to only drive identification that match the gameplay. Much later when the mostly unplayable artgame "the game of life" was realease by conway, go receive new praise for predating the achievement of that game for many century ahead, but "the game of life" while thematically close to go also shed new understand on the mechanical aspect of go and reinforce fascination th public already have for that game. Now the yin&yang brand and the go are now on the public domain for the greater good of humanity. One simpler, more accessible and streamlined sequel did reach a similar popularity but is much less respected and is essentially view as a small kid game as it lack complexity, it's called "tic tac toe".

Chess on the hand is the most successful sequel made from a series, so successful it nearly eclipse it's predecessor. It's funny people don't realize it's a sequel and mistake him for an original game. But as a sequel it feel pretty much a patch version of previous game that only to balance the game instead of innovate.
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Uykered
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« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2011, 07:06:16 am »

Chess is such a terrible game now, there's hundreds of better board games not to mention videogames.
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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2011, 08:43:36 pm »

Chess is such a terrible game now, there's hundreds of better board games not to mention videogames.

 Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
I don't know if I laugh or rage.
Chess is not terrible, seem you suck at that game and not enjoy turn based games, and just hate strategy in games, or just want to troll.
Chess IS THE a game that even is considered a real sport, at least an intelectual one.

I used to play a lot chess when I was in school, and the game IS really complex, not because of the rules (pieces have 1-2 movements) but because these rules allowed really COMPLEX behaviours. Some people called them Emergent behaviour.
I think new tactics, openings and strategies will be found centuries after our deads in chess.
"There are many dozens of different openings, and hundreds of named variants. The Oxford Companion to Chess lists 1,327 named openings and variants" Wikipedia

Just seek here to see just the opening game in Chess:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_opening
That's the first movements (I think less than first 10 movements).

Saying Chess is not complex is like saying Music can't be complex because It only have 7 notes (ok, 12). WTF are you talking about?
Some people study chess during fucking years, just to be able to compete in international level.
If you haven't tried to play Chess at profetional level then don't say the game suck, It only shows you don't know nothing about the game.
The game make you think, but It's not slow, have you seen a thunder match made between two masters with only 2 minutes to play?

Chess is a really beatifull game where you must outsmart your oponent, where you can easily make a plan for the next 20 moves and win mentally the match, but you know also the oponent can easily see your plan so you must make a distraction here and there, also having the fear of not seeing a critical enemy piece nor discovering what is your oponent's plan, each time a piece is moved you need to rethink your entire strategy, what if you made a little mistake?, what if you have a feeling about the next move becoming a genius movement that will break the enemy forces?, what if your entire plan you harvest the entire match abruptly end by a genius movemenent of your adversary?
Do you think Chess Is not complex nor it's exciting?
 Angry Angry Angry Angry (I rage, lol)

Do people remember Chaturanga?
I haven't played Chaturanga because I don't have a pal to play nor learn it, the same happens here with Go, Shogi (I'm highly interested in shogi), but no pals seems interested in learning a board game (they only play lighly chess).

***
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What is a classic game, why people will enjoy it in the future?
A point I want to clarify is... Are we talking about Competitive games? or other types of games like the childs games like Tagging:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_(game)
About classic games, It seems games we still play from Atari 2600 and NES (70-80) like Contra, Tetris, centipede, Mario (NES), Pacman, will be still played in new years, games that are still played even if their graphics or technology make a huge diference with today, I think they will be played by a long time (Castlevania SOTN, Mario 64, AoE II, FF 7, GTA, Goldeneye 007). But like other people will think, they're new games (they have less than 20 years) so they need more time.
But I'm pretty sure 70-80 famous survivors will live a long time.

***
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Why a game becomes a classic?
Well, first it's the gameplay, if the gameplay feels "complete" (no bugs, no lag, no broken controls) and the art surround it and complement the gameplay very well (story, aesthetics, music), we could have a good game.
Also, the game rules should not be vague, or not having a clear use.
But It's not enough to be a good game to become popular, the game also needs to be simple and straighforward in the controls (not the same as dumbed down), the player need inmediate response (in the form of animation, sound, spark, dialog) and give the player something to inmediately acomplish (a goal).
But to be an interesting game, the game also need to have levels of hidden stuff (gameplay, levels, enemies, art) that is unveiled when you play.
To be a competitive game, the game needs layers upon layers of gameplay mechanics, also it needs a strategy level to compete (gamers need to create a mental algoritm to win, a mental plan to win the match), generally this mental strategy takes the form of TIC-TAC-TOE, a triangle where one element kill one but is killed by the other.
Even KOF (a fighting game) has this mental elements, they took the form of hoping (jumping low), low hard kick and standing ligh kick.



Watch this video to see the mental algorith when playing Street Fighter II.



See how complex is Street Fighter II?
A competitive game that is popular, is popular because It's easy to understand the laws of the game for newcomers, but It has this mesh of deep gameplay mental mechanics to remember that gives the game the feeling that It's hard to master.
Like you said, easy to play, hard to master.
It will be popular because the game allows for new elements to be found after a while (new tricks, combos, strategies), that will keep the game alive years after it's release.
But that alone is not enough, the game also need to allow for the player to become better with the time, to make a better performance, to improve over time.
I easily see this in Starcraft 2, easy to learn, but hard when looking over +50 units on the map also while watching enemy's units and thinking one's strategy.

I think that's all what you need.


Then again, we still have games like Mario, which i and friends occasionally still go back and play.

The first Mario is so good because they entire subject is: "To go over an adventure to rescue the princess"
The entire design of the game represent's that.
Also It's a short game (that motivate you to play, you seem to think: Ok, It'll just take 5 minutes), but It doesn't mean It's an easy game.
It also gives you the liberty to experience the path to rescue the princess in 8-4, that choice alone keep the game fresh each time you play. (will you go by the portals in 1-2 and 4-2?, will you use only one portal or you'll go by all the levels?)
Also it's a game that can easily be played by non-gamers, they doesn't feel frustrated nor scare or overwhelmed when playing it, that's why It's hugely popular. (2 year old kids, 95 years old grandmothers)
It has these kind of "discovering" new stuff, each level has new things to explore (1-2 is underground, 1-3 has these scary sky platform, 2-1 is an underwater level, 2-2 has these flying fishes, each four levels is a castle, 3-1 has the dark sky) For a non-gamer it's a HUGE impression (especially little kids). Even I got surprise a little each time when I get to 8-1 and look at the black monster that is a like a dark hellmet (It's a new experience this new monster).
Why It's still played?, because of these feel of discovery each time you play it, also you seem to think: Ok, now I'll make a better time whithout making mistakes, just pressing B (run) and not dieing. This last thing appeals to hardcore gamers (To make a better performance) they need to feel they could make it better next time, in Mario 1 is the speed run the performance they need to improve.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 08:51:46 pm by filosofiamanga » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2011, 08:09:56 pm »

Most games we play today are not that old. But it does seem that the best or at least longest lasting games have one element in common:

Easy to learn but difficult to master

The best games need to spread players along an experience curve which maximizes outcomes and therefore increases playability. This also encourages players to play more and play often. It encourages gambling and risk taking. The complexity of the game may be low but the complexity of each game played varies based on how players play. Because of the complexity of your options, players may choose to study the game.

An example:
Mah Jong is still a well-played game. When I say Moh Jong I do not refer to the matching game that everyone seems to know about but the game wherein you make sets. This game is older than every known variation of chess. It is popular world-wide. People belong to leagues and associations. It is compatible with gambling. It is easy to pick up but to play it well requires a significant knowledge of probability as well as keen observation and memory. Every year there are new hands to achieve.
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