Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Games

On one hand we have a very slick looking game with 3D flash and fantastic art. However, this is a bad game.

Play it here.


On the other hand we have a awful looking game, that sort of looks like a 6 year old did the graphics for it. However, this is a very good game.



Play it here.

With these two games you can make simple distinctions on what makes a game good. Let me break it down.

Art (and sound)

By those screens which one would you try first? Well usually the one with the fancier graphics. (As long as its in a style you like.) If you don't like swords and sorcery, you wouldn't even try the top one. But all things equal, graphics give the game the initial push for people to try it out. If a game already has good gameplay, they can enhance it.

The same goes for sound by the way. In fact I'd argue that the right sound and music can enhance games MORE than the right graphics.

So to make it clear. Art is important. But not more so than good game play. It functions as the attractor and enhancer.

Technological Wizardry

The top game has 3D flash graphics (to a limited degree). And since games are about giving a new experience to the user, doesn't this make it a good game?

Well not really. Having new features or types of gameplay you've never seen before can dramatically enhance a game if it fits very well into a game already designed for it. But it doesn't work on it's own. The design, the fit and the control are what is important with the new technology. Not the technology itself.

Putting it in for the sake of putting it in, doesn't necessarily help anything. In fact it can cost a lot of time and headaches. So unless something fits and enhances the core experience. DON'T ADD IT.

Prototyping

Especially when there is one or a small group of stakeholders, prototyping is key. You source out "what is fun". And once you have that, with crappy graphics. You've got gold. Putting better graphics and sound will just enhance things. And if you have a particular bit of technology that will really add to the experience, you can consider it and play with it in the prototyping phase.

Just don't get carried away. Especially when groups get larger with more stakeholders, prototyping starts becoming arduous. The "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation happens, with each person having their own idea of what fun is. For these situations prototyping has to go back to a small team with a limited time frame.

What I'm doing

So we are more than half way through the week and I have a number of things ticked off that checklist you saw at the beginning. Lets go back over the list:

  • Save / Load feature - Pushed to next week
  • Audio + Audio Controls - 50% done
  • Prototyping some zooming / scaling - Done
  • Pickups - 0%
  • Other Characters running around - 0%
  • Drag and Drop - 0%
  • In Game overlay menus - 0%
  • Back end cleanup and bug fixing - 90% done
  • Authenticating facebook users
    - Pushed to next week
So it was an ambitious list, and I did have to push some things to next week, but I still feel I've made excellent progress. Additionally I should state that I've decided I'll be doing a top down game for both games.

This means a number of things, the first of which is that I'll be choosing a tile base set type of game, which means I actually have to code a tile level editor. (You can't really make proper levels with the flash development tool). I've already started work on the system, and it's a lot of work, so it set back some of the other goals this week. I still plan on getting most done though.

I've worked out the rough design for the first game. And I may share a pitch document with you this weekend. We'll see how things turn out.

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