Let’s pretend you show three fruits on a plate to a five-year old and tell her that she can choose only one of them for her snack. On the plate there’s the following:
-A rotten apple
She could pick either the orange or the apple and you would agree without any problem. Wich one she picks could be because of any number of reasons. She prefers one over the other, she likes one color better, she tried one before and now want to try the other one. No matter the actual reason it’s a personal choice and you cannot be angry with her because she didn’t choose the one you would have actually chosen. It’s a matter of taste, simple as that.
Now, if she chose the rotten apple you would stop her. And when she asked why, you would tell her that’s because a rotten fruit is not good to eat.
If your asking yourself why you offered the rotten fruit in the first place then ask yourself why game companies does the same with us. Since the first day of video games, there are companies out there who have no qualms about offering us a rotten game, hoping we won’t recognize it for what it is. But what’s truly amazing is that some gamers will defend the rotten fruit and call it an apple and say we have no right to call it rotten because in fact it’s all apples and oranges.
Sorry but I will never buy that crap. I am against this line of thinking that I see so often that people have no right to comment on others because it’s all personal taste in the end. When I see something broken I call it broken.
This doesn’t mean that every game I play is perfect. WoW for example suffers from numerous problems and when people point out there’s a worm in my apple I agree with them and I try not to eat it.
How do I got about recognizing a rotten apple?
The golden rules of an unbroken game
I’ve searched high and low all week for insight on what rules game developers use in order to help me identify clearly a bad game. The problem is not that I’ve been unable to find anything but rather that I found way too much information. There are hundreds if not thousands of pages/blog/videos of developers, game designers and all sort of people who each have a different opinion on what makes a successful game. What follows is my attempt at summarizing what I felt where the three elements that came back most often and that covered most of what designers were saying.
1. A game must have a unique and compelling setting
This one took me to summarize but it’s probably the most important and thankfully, the one where games stumble the less often. Basically this says that a game must not be a duplicate of another game and that it needs to take place in an interesting setting. developers leave a ton of tips on how you should create your universe, on how to inspire yourself and how to make your FPS #354 a bit different from all the rest.
It doesn’t need to be a huge difference either but the player must not think he’s playing WoW simply with another skin on it for example. A good example of a game that succeeds at this would be Lotro. Most of its mechanics are taken straight from WoW with little variation but it’s setting is completely different and turns it into a different game.
2. A game must not fight itself
This, I feel, is the most interesting rule. When developers create a game they set rules and gameplay mechanics that define how the game is played and the experience the player will have. For example if I make a MMO about exploration, I will have mechanics that encourage exploration and actual places to explore. My world will also probably be vast so my players have a lot of space to explore.
A game has the right to set for itself all the rules and gameplay it wants. It’s up to the players to decide if they like that particular gameplay or not. Continuing the above example, someone might love long travel times as it simulate an experience of travelling to far off place while another player might feel it’ s a waste of time. This is where I fully agree with players who comment that it’s pointless to rant on a game that was not designed for you. After all, why the hell are you playing a PvP game if you have Pvp?
However some games fail by fighting themselves. If you make a game about PvP your mechanics should be there to encourage PvP and allow players to experience it. If you set rules that say that only max level characters can participate you are killing your own game and people are justified to call it broken. To finish my exploration example, FF14 has exploration has a core component yet use the same repetitive terrain features everywhere wich kills the point of a new place to explore.
3. A game needs to be playable
Simple enough but funny how often that rule is dismissed. If I can’t play or complete your game, tasks or simply play as it was intended because of bugs, lag or missing features then the game is broken. A game breaking bug is game breaking, simple as that.
So there they are. If I feel that your game is breaking these rules I will be unmerciful and call them out. Not because I hate you but because when I see a worm or a rotten fruit I will call it for what it is. The goal of this is not to nitpick to death to find out that a particular game break or follow the rules. I’m pretty certain you could make a case for any game if you spent enough time. This is about common sense and calling things broken when they are.
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