So lately I’ve been playing through games, dutifully noting what I enjoyed, what was fun, what ideas were extra cool, any many other things that a casual player may miss in a game. Great video games are mostly made by passionate teams or individuals that come from a background of playing games as a kid. Almost like tradition, people who play awesome video games use it to draw inspiration from. They incorporate it in their lives, and it’s not just another memory that is forgotten.
No developer TRIES to make a shitty game, its usually the consequences of a few factors, such as a lack of direction when designing, weak mechanics, or not paying attention to details during development. So I came up with a few ideas, based on my own experiences developing a game as well as playing games, on what makes a game good.
I came up with three catagories:
A pretty generic word I apologize, but I use it to refer to what it’s like to actually PLAY the game. This includes mechanics, game progression, a story-line, and in general, how it plays. If a game has a strong core (by that I mean a solid idea that’s a viable idea for a game) on top of solid gameplay, it’s a sure winner. We can look at examples such as Minecraft. A solid idea, placing blocks to build whatever you desire, but also with that, it’s backed up by solid gameplay! The progression of gather resources, the mechanics of having a character and leveling up your gear and gathering inventory, it’s all quite entertaining.
A video game, my friends, is not just lines of code that makes the computer draw stuff to the screen, as well as regulating logic and input. It’s a work of art! And it’s how you put that art together that matters so much!
Appealing colors, awesome model choices, quirky little effects, the list goes on! While these aren’t TECHNICALLY necessities for a game, they often what is loved about a game so much! The cute little creeper head that kids wear as Halloween costumes, Solid Snake’s bandana that makes him look bad-ass as hell, your game should have elements that appeal to your players!
The difficulty with this catagory is that while you can do many technical things to make your game look great (alpha manipulation, color schemes, mood-setting art), I personally think it’s really hard to teach someone how to do aesthetics. While you can follow as many guides as you want and probably get a nice result, talent and creativity is the main component here.
Last but certainly not least! The most important of the three, yet somehow the least important! That doesn’t make sense, you say?
Polishing is what actually makes a game shine; when you complete a level, maybe your character says a funny catch phrase! When you perform a unique action, maybe something taunts the player! When you score points, all the visuals are clear, crisp, and concise. That my friends, is polish.
The reason I call it polish, is because you usually do it AFTER everything else is completed. You can’t polish and clean your car if it isn’t built yet! Similarly to waxing a floor and maybe cleaning your windows, the point is to not make something functional, but rather something ENJOYABLE. Quirky little things that show you’ve put effort into it, almost like a little part of yourself in the game, is one of the results of polishing.
Polishing shows you care about your game, and didn’t just dump it into the market with no thought. It shows that you carefully combed over your game and made it appealing, like adding a little shine.
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