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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneralTop 10 Best-Feeling Games?
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Steve Swink
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« on: July 05, 2007, 10:18:28 AM »

Loved xix's thread about the controls of Mario64 and games that feel good just to move around...I had a thread a few weeks ago about a proposal for a book on more or less the same topic.  Anyhow, the book was accepted; the title is "Game Feel: a Game Design Guide to Virtual Sensation."  Or somesuch.  One does not have much control over these things, as it turns out Smiley.  Anyhow, I'm revving up the writing process and I have an interesting question:

What are the 10 (or so) best-feeling games of all time? 


Note that when I say feel I mean it in a very specific sense. Specifically, not in the emotional or thematic senses.  Not 'a western feel' or 'I feel happy.'  Rather, like this:

Quote
Me: Ok, so, you know the kinesthetic, tactile sensation of manipulating a virtual avatar or agent?

Friend: *blank stare*

Me: Ok, so, you know how when you play Mario Kart or whatever, you lean left and right in your chair and sometimes you swing the controller around when you get carried away?

*I pantomime swinging an imaginary controller left and right, pretending to control a game*

Yeah, that feeling, that sensation. 

Friend: Ooooooh, ok, yeah. Like when my mom plays Tetris and she freaks out, trying to make the piece move farther left by leaning and pulling…

Me: Totally.



I'm looking for stuff that is important in the development of game feel. It doesn't necessarily have to be totally fleshed out or part of a really good game...just looking for the best-feeling games.

For me it would be something like this:

  • Spacewar
  • Asteroids
  • Star Wars (arcade)
  • Mario64
  • Super Mario Brothers
  • Joust
  • Ski Stunt Simulator
  • Street Fighter 2
  • Gunvalkyrie
  • Captain Skyhawk
  • Outrunners
  • Super Mario Kart


Thanks!

-Steve
« Last Edit: July 05, 2007, 11:59:10 AM by Steve Swink » Logged

Steve Swink
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2007, 11:03:44 AM »

no time to drop a top-10 right now, but i have to bounce at least one over:

ICO

this game has one of the most tangible, connected, and unique feels when you're holding yorda's hand.  you can feel her tugging back when you start to run, change directions, etc.  it's almost eerie at times - in the best of ways, of course  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2007, 11:15:55 AM »

Even though you named my thread as one of the reasons for this thread, I'm going to have to say that this is a pretty misdirected thread idea.

Top 10s establish heirarchies when we really need games, especially emotive games, to exist next to each other. Zelda's almost baroque overabundance compared to Shadow of the Colossus's bare minimalism. Sonic's blazing speed compared to Mario's plodding nature. All games show emotion, what we really need are lists of games that:
  • Show a breadth (variety) or depth (range of intensity) of emotion
  • Are very obvious about the intentionality of the emotions

Sonic is a good early example. Blast processing and super-coolness was the feeling Sega wanted you to have. It worked. But that's just the beginning. Diehard 4.0 is definitely a suer-cool type of movie, but no one talks about it as being a Top 10 Best Feeling movie!

So... I suggest changing the thread name, and the purpose of the thread. This thread is a lot like the screenshots thread, actually. Encourage people to discuss games and how they affect players emotionally. Sometimes it's by developing characters, mimesis, and identification. Sometimes it's by atmosphere and mood. Sometimes it's a typical Joseph Campbell style adventure.

Also: I was reading a book by this guy from my Uni. What Videogames Have to Teach Us About Learning has a chapter about a game called Arcanum. He is a 50+ year old professor and he played a young female prostitute. The feelings he felt? Yeah. It's a really fascinating read.
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Steve Swink
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2007, 11:57:32 AM »

Ha ha...whoops! I guess I didn't convey the point of this thread very well.  It's not intended to be a 'cool thread idea' or whatever; I'm interested in this community's take on the subject of "game feel" (as described) as a reference for my book.

When I say 'feel' I am specifically *not* talking about emotion. I'm not talking about how the game makes me feel, how the creators intended it to make me feel, or the emotional palette of games (which I agree is a fascinating subject and deserves its own threads/books/classes/school of thought etc...)  Again, what I'm talking about here is the tactile sensation of control in a game.  For example, your Mario64 reference - it just feels great, at the most basic level of interaction, to move Mario around. 

And the point of asking for a 'top 10' is not to try and establish a hierarchy of any kind, merely to encourage people to make more suggestions. If I said 'what is your favorite game feel ever?' I'd get fewer responses. 

And, yes, I have read Gee, and he does have some interesting observations. Again, though, I'm taking about the tactile sensation of control, not feel in the emotional sense (you should create that thread Smiley.)
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2007, 12:02:05 PM »

my top ten feeling games are my top ten games period.  This is the number one most important thing for me when I play a game, even more than story or art or anything like that.

Smash Bros. Melee
Metal Gear Solid
The Sands of Time
Castlevania: SOTN
Resident Evil 4
Super Metroid
Super Mario 64
Chronotrigger
Flashback
Metal Slug 2
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2007, 12:06:07 PM »

my top ten feeling games are my top ten games period.  This is the number one most important thing for me when I play a game, even more than story or art or anything like that.

Smash Bros. Melee
Metal Gear Solid
The Sands of Time
Castlevania: SOTN
Resident Evil 4
Super Metroid
Super Mario 64
Chronotrigger
Flashback
Metal Slug 2

Awesome. Want to be interviewed for the book? Wink
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Steve Swink
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2007, 03:55:09 PM »

Oh, games that feel good to play. That's a little different. I see hat you're getting at, though. I still think it's kind of subjective. Games like Outrun, Ridge Racer, and Gran Turismo all feel different, but they all feel good, too. It's a little ambiguous for my tastes Undecided
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2007, 05:05:21 PM »

haha for serious?  sure, if you think i should be anyways...
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2007, 05:05:51 PM »

It seems a bit weird to essentially say "game feel" == "controls". I know you're not trying to say that exactly, but I'm also wondering if there's a term to describe what you're talking about that's more specific.
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2007, 05:17:12 PM »

Hey, congrats on the book being accepted!  I can't wait to read it. Grin

I'm not sure if you're talking specifically about whether the character's movement feels good or whether it feels good to me to be actually use the controller to move the character, but...

Gears of War actually felt really good.  I believe we talked about this when you were here for GDC, but I love how heavy the characters feel.  Whereas in most FPS's you're like the hulking guy in armor but you're jumping around like a ballerina, in GoW you feel like you're actually constrained by your weight.  The way the camera moves gives you this sense that you're following a charging rhino around.  And I think it actually makes a difference to how hard to press the buttons and move the analog stick around.
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2007, 05:28:34 PM »

Getting something to 'feel' right in a game - which I guess I'm calling "virtual sensation" - is an amalgam of a bunch of different tricks, all geared towards creating the impression of physical sensation in the player's mind. For example, you might have particle effects that get triggered when things run into one another - dust, or a spray of little stars or sparks depending on th game.  Then you might do a Squash and Stretch animation on the object in reaction to that collision and a camera shake, sound effect, and/or controller rumble.  These are what I'd call reactive motions; they have predefined effects that play back linearly in reaction to events in the game.  Contrast that with what I'd call proactive motion, which is motion that happens in direct response to player input. Without player input, nothing happens.  That's controls, and that's what the mechanic designer mostly deals with: how the system reacts given a particular input at a particular time.  Both of these are crucial to creating a good feel, since they're indistinguishable from the player's perspective. The impression they create blends seamlessly in the player's mind to become a mental model or system image of the virtual space they're exploring, including the laws of physics that govern it.

Guess that went a little ranty...basically, my definition of game feel includes anything that aids the virtual impression of physicality, the virtual sensation.  Does that make any kind of sense? Smiley
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Steve Swink
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2007, 05:37:14 PM »

Oh, games that feel good to play. That's a little different. I see hat you're getting at, though. I still think it's kind of subjective. Games like Outrun, Ridge Racer, and Gran Turismo all feel different, but they all feel good, too. It's a little ambiguous for my tastes Undecided

Well, right, but saying that is useful to me because I'll go look at all three of those.  The difference between those three is actually a really great point to make - I think that despite being "racing games" they're very different kinds of games, and feel is one clue for separating them.  So part of the book is looking at things like that...how are the tunings different for each of those three and what are the benefits/drawbacks of each kind of tuning relative to the type of game you're making?  The whole point is to give a designer who's sitting down to make a game a leg up, some insight into how to create a specific feel. 
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2007, 05:54:12 PM »

A short, probably not-so-helpful, esoteric essay I wrote a year or two ago:

Quote
Pointless Fun means the game is enjoyable even without diagetic goals, enemies, or a story. Video games are an interactive medium, and well-designed games must be fun even without the cinematic or even arcade trappings we are so accustomed too. Otherwise you are unnecessarily sacrificing video games' greatest strength!

At first Pointless Fun seems like it is simply a way to provide entertainment without a system of goals. For example, Mario 64 is fun even if you aren't trying to complete a level or stomp on koopas. But it's not quite that simple! Pointless Fun is a system of player reward and feedback that is constant and qualitative, not quantitative.

A good Pointless Fun system is always active, always taking input from the player and returning feedback to them. It is the first layer between the player and the game; it must modulate all feedback to be fun and stimulating. For example, if your game is menu-driven, then the basic menu functionality should be engaging and fun to look at, and provide good sound effects or other feedback during interaction.

However, this does not mean that there should be discrete, quantitative rewards for every action in the game. Use sound effects and eye candy to engage and stimulate the player. Animate difficult moves in a cooler way. Allow players to avoid or exploit other game systems by taking advantage of particularly difficult maneuvers.

Pointless Fun is the most important and most real extension of the player into the virtual world of the video game. It must be respected and tuned to perfection before any other game element is even considered.

This is how I judge a game's feel.  If I can strip away the goals and points and score and items and upgrades and story and characters...and it's STILL fun...to me that is the high water mark for this weird idea of "feel"
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2007, 06:10:01 PM »

Yeah, I feel you. Wink

I guess I'll help out with the distinctions, then.

Outrun and Gran Turismo are both driving games. Both try to capture the feel of flying down a road, but they do different things to get the effect. OR is arcadey, obviously, so it constructs rules of its own. The mechanics are made up, but they capture the sensation of speed by letting the player get faster and faster making an entire country fly by in ten minutes. Pedal to the metal, yeah. It's a little like Sonic on wheels. Very Blue Sky atmosphere. Fast music, too. The girl in the passenger side seat? Essential.

GT does it the other way by being very limiting with your speed. It models its rules after reality, and everything falls into place that way. If OR seems like a cross country driving adventure, GT seems much more intimate. You have to learn your courses, the lines. If you've ever gotten really close to the outside of a car or a racetrack, if you've ever put your cheek against the body of a new car or new asphalt on a hot day, that's what GT feels like. Everything is excruciatingly modeled, the cars, yeah, but the physics too. The girl? Haha, girls don't belong.

Ridge Racer, my favorite, tends to be a different game despite being a combination of the above two. It takes the arcade, fast, floaty feel of OR and the intimate nature of GT. The mechanics are constructed, but you don't care because it has the slightest sense of realism that makes it OK. The fantastic car designs just accentuate the superreal feel. I don't mean superreal as realistic; I mean superreal
as more than real. That each game used to be centered around one city with different courses that had overlapping parts helped accentuate that realism, that interconnected consistency. You got to be intimate with the RR world, even though it wasn't a real place.

I guess I could be more specific to the controls and how they feel, but I'm not inclined to feel that way. I guess I could write something up, but you'll have to ask me to first.

Btw, Derek, what do you think about Resident Evil 4? GoW seems like RE4 with Western Sauce.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2007, 06:32:44 PM »

Btw, Derek, what do you think about Resident Evil 4? GoW seems like RE4 with Western Sauce.

You know, I loved Resident Evil 4!  It's an incredible game.  Great atmosphere, very fun.  Lots of little details.  It's also one of the best-looking games I've ever seen. Smiley

I like RE4 better as a game because the design feels tighter.  But in terms of "feel" as I'm interpreting what Steve's asking, I think Gears stands out more to me.  They're very different in that regard.  In RE you feel very human and very vulnerable, but in Gears it's like you're this giant wrecking ball with a gun attached to it, which is pretty sweet.

Honestly, I want to play a game like Gears set in a medieval-type theme.  The same way "giant dudes with guns in games" always seem to control like ballerinas, so do "giant dudes with swords in games."  Rarely do you see a medieval-era game where you feel the weight of all that friggin' plate mail your character is wearing.

Have you seen the movie "Excalibur?"  I love that movie because the fighting is so dirty and everyone looks so tired running around in their armor.  It's like the one knight movie I've seen where it looks like they're actually encumbered.
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2007, 06:57:47 PM »

Oooh! Oooh!
In no particular order.

Also i haven't played alot of console games, so most of these are PC fare.

1. Quake 2.
Ok so there was Quake before that, but Quake2 was the first FPS i think that got the control down perfectly. From the head bob to the way your guns fired. I remember running around alone in empty deathmatch maps just cause it was so much fun to control.

2. Soul Reaver
I know it was based on a million other plaformers and the credit should probably go to them, but this was polished to a tee and popped into my mind before them all, so it takes the cake.

3. SMB
This game has to be included on every top 10 list. I think it's the law.

4. MDK (1)
Ok, this game was like the gaming equivalent of the word "Wheeeeeee"

4. Bloody Roar (all of them)
This is still probably the only fighting game that got it right. Im sorry, no other fighting game rivals BR in the fluidity of control. In fact if i had to choose a number one on this list, this would probably be it.

5. Zelda : TP
This was my 7-day nonstop introduction to the wiimote. And just lots of fun all around.

6. Blade of Darkness
This is an obscure one, but one of my most favourite games (if you have a PC and havent played it, you pretty much have to). Despite its incredibly clunky controls, chopping off someone's arm, then beating them to death with it was pretty much the best thing ever.

7. The Sands of Time
Once again, almost perfect controls.

8. Half-Life 2
I take it back about Bloody Roar. This game is the real number 1 on this list. It was so much fun doing absolutely anything in this game that actually playing it was absolutely orgasmic. It had its flaws of course, but none in its amazing gameworld.

9. World of Warcraft
I don't actually play it that much. I never really got past level 20, and I usually get bored of it after awhile when I do come back. That said, what i usually end up doing in it is wandering around doing absolutely nothing and the fact that that's fun is a good reason for it to be on this list.

10. Halo
I know everyone hates Halo, but tell me you didn't have fun driving around in a Warthog with two dudes firing frantically at everything around you.

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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2007, 08:08:04 PM »

Btw, Derek, what do you think about Resident Evil 4? GoW seems like RE4 with Western Sauce.

You know, I loved Resident Evil 4!  It's an incredible game.  Great atmosphere, very fun.  Lots of little details.  It's also one of the best-looking games I've ever seen. Smiley

I like RE4 better as a game because the design feels tighter.  But in terms of "feel" as I'm interpreting what Steve's asking, I think Gears stands out more to me.  They're very different in that regard.  In RE you feel very human and very vulnerable, but in Gears it's like you're this giant wrecking ball with a gun attached to it, which is pretty sweet.

Honestly, I want to play a game like Gears set in a medieval-type theme.  The same way "giant dudes with guns in games" always seem to control like ballerinas, so do "giant dudes with swords in games."  Rarely do you see a medieval-era game where you feel the weight of all that friggin' plate mail your character is wearing.

Have you seen the movie "Excalibur?"  I love that movie because the fighting is so dirty and everyone looks so tired running around in their armor.  It's like the one knight movie I've seen where it looks like they're actually encumbered.

You're right. Not many games have heft and weight. I think Halo was the first FPS I ever played that had weight. Metroid Prime did the same thing, but I'm wondering how intentional that was. As far as Gears being hefty, yeah definitely. But if we're going to measure how close RE4 feels like a cop vs. zombie game compared to how close GoW feels like space marines vs. baddies? I'm not so sure it even matters.

It feels like they finally got gaming's bass drum going. Walk, stop, and pop. I haven't tried Lost Planet, but I'm sure it's very similar. I'm thinking the rhythmic nature is what makes it feel good.

NEW GAME TO ADD TO THE LIST: PHANTASY STAR ONLINE. amirite?
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2007, 10:07:57 PM »

10. Halo
I know everyone hates Halo, but tell me you didn't have fun driving around in a Warthog with two dudes firing frantically at everything around you.
Huh? Who hates Halo.  I didn't think Halo was hated even on tigsource.  IMO it has one of the best feels of any FPS.

My list goes something like this:

1) True Love
2) Season of Sakura
3) Three sisters story
4) Virtual Valerie 2
5) Knights of Xentar
6) Sexy Beach 2
7) Rapelay
Cool Battle Rapers 2
9) Do you like horny bunnies
10) Casual Romance club

Wait... you're not talking about that type of feel, nm.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2007, 10:26:47 PM »

I'm really partial to these games, I think they're better than what's being posted (especially Impossible's list)


5.) Windows Solitare
4.) Snood
3.) Minesweeper
2.) Stair Dismount

This one might suprise a few people, but easily #1 on my list

1.) Don't Shoot the Puppy
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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2007, 12:07:39 AM »

whut.

anyway, I have a couple of suggestions.

Soul Calibur II
I can still sit down and play this with my friends, and we make it look so damn easy, because it is. Everything just feels right - even the moves are mapped to sensible buttons. For example, pressing backwards and down along with a weapon button will almost always do the same type of move no matter what the character, and what's more, they're always moves which just fit what you're trying to achieve by pressing those buttons, whether you know what you're doing or not.

Twilight Princess
I'd almost say Ocarina of Time is as good as this, but the Wiimote sets it apart. Sometimes I just find a big patch of grass and run around, swinging my sword, until it's all gone. And then I find another patch of grass. There's this little run he does, you see, and he has a fairly tight turning circle. When you swing your sword, he just keeps running, and I don't know why, but I love it. It's just very tactile. (Especially with the little speaker in the Wiimote - it really adds to the feeling of chopping grass.)

Unreal Tournament
Yeah I know, everyone has their favourite shooter when it comes to feel, but I always preferred Unreal Tournament to Quake. Maybe I didn't play enough Quake (never really played it all that much), but it always felt too slippery. I was never quite sure when I was touching the ground. Unreal Tournament, though; I bought it on a whim, seeing the GOTY edition for a tenner, and I seriously did nothing else for a week but play. It just felt natural. Even Team Fortress Classic - my favourite shooter ever - didn't feel this good. That doesn't have any real sensation of running; like most shooters, your acceleration is essentially a fixed curve, and Half-Life (and its mods) used the wrong curve, or even none at all. Oh, and don't get me started on the weapons. I mean, how amazing is the Flak Cannon? They totally buggered it with 2003, although I did get used to the new one.

Flashback
While it may not have been very fast-paced, I loved the way Conrad moved. So slick, and not just the rotoscoped animations, but just the simple range of moves they had allowed you to do. It wasn't much, but it covered everything you always wanted to do in a platformer, and still look damn cool while you're at it.

Virtua Tennis
This, as many people before me have said, is probably the best sports game EVAR. You actually feel like you're playing tennis. You can actually feel how fast the ball is moving when you hit it. It's almost sad, seeing as how Wii Tennis should have been that game. Still, I'm assuming Nintendo didn't go for a simulation, and left that to another time or another developer. But Virtua Tennis with the Wiimote? I'm not sure. It's just too perfect as it is, with the Dreamcast controller, which I also happen to adore. I hear the 360 version is even better, but I haven't played it, so I don't know.

NEW GAME TO ADD TO THE LIST: PHANTASY STAR ONLINE. amirite?

I kinda agree with you. It's mostly just a "controls" thing, but it does feel nice. Especially when you get the 3-hit-combo thing down with the weapons. That feels gooood.

A couple of others I agree with here - SM64 obviously, and RE4. Personally I never felt the Super Mario World love. Sonic was always my manhedgehog. And though it's kinda floaty and possibly a little too light (and makes some people froth at the mouth for being SO DAMN 3D), I really like the way Metroid Prime plays.
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