A successful game as told by YoYo Games
I found this one walkthrough particularly clear about what makes a great game. I wrote down some notes just to see who could call these things out if I asked them. I am not sure I could have but these are some great discussion points that a team could use when they sit down to write a game.
- You can read the full-length article here.
What makes a great game? The link above really provides a great summary of what makes a game great. I pulled out some key quotes that resonated with me about what makes a great game.
It is about the player making decisions
Giving the player tough decisions that have clear outcomes is a basic feature of any great game.
- The more interesting the decisions, the more interesting the game is. There can be very simple low-level decisions or very high-level strategic decisions
- A game allows a player to make decisions through the control of game objects and resources, in pursuit of a goal
- If the player chooses a helicopter instead of a plane, it should be logically coherent in the game, the player "needed" a helicopter
- Player decision affect game objects, such as a prince, a cave monster, etc
- Be careful about giving players lots of control
- There needs to be a careful balance of freedom of control and dramatic effect
- For example, the player may make a decision during a game that avoids some cool graphics in the game. You want the games best features to be seen by the player.
- A satisfying game can be played over and over again and there are different strategies that lead to success
- Games cannot be too easy or it become boring quickly
- When the game progresses and the player becomes better at it, he should get more and more complicated decisions to make
- This can be achieved by introducing new features gradually during the game
It is about Goals and RewardsThere should be goals and sub-goals and reaching a goal should have a reward.
- Goals should not be too easy to achieve
- There must be a challenge
- A learning curve is very important
- Make sure the player notices the rewards he gets and starts understanding why he gets them
- Permanent rewards are given when bigger goals are achieved
- Examples of rewards are better weapons, power-ups, spells, or knowledge about the game world
- Knowledge about the game world is perhaps the most effective type of reward
- Game players are picky about their rewards
- If the rewards are too small they will not work hard to achieve them
- But be careful with failure
- It can easily put the player off, making them stop playing
- Make the player feel that they could have avoided the mistake
- There is a balance
- A player can hopefully become determined to avoid this mistake the next time
- This feeling keeps the player playing the game
There should be obstacles. Obstacles give challenges to the player and the player develops abilities to conquer these challenges.
- Challenges can take the form of monsters to beat, obstacles to avoid
- The game designer needs to balance player ability to the challenge and obstacle level
Managing Game Resources
The game designer must carefully manage resources, such as the amount of food, wood, stone, gold, weapons.
- Make the resources interesting to use
- The powerful weapon can fire only one shot per second, or the ammunition is more expensive, or it cannot be used in a cave, or one opponent is more sensitive to a particular weapon than another
If you create a two-player game, you better make sure that the best player normally wins, and not the most lucky one
Art and graphics matter
Be immersive by adding wonderful graphics, music and cut-scenes.
- Special effects can have an important effect on the player
- Invest in great explosions or sound effects
- Details matter too
- Well-detailed three-dimensional game world with lights, shadows, and special features like mist and water is crucial to give the player the feeling of presence
- Be realistic
- The player has to see what a real fighter would see, otherwise the game becomes artificial
- For a flight simulator the world should also look as realistic as possible
- A hard-core lover of flight simulator wants full instrumentation
- For an adventure game a realistic three-dimensional world is not so important
Story telling is important for adventure games
While not all games tell a story, this is known to be a powerful success factor.
- For adventure games the story is crucial
- Give a higher level meaning to the actions the player is performing and deepen the satisfaction when reaching their goals
- Develop characters that the player becomes emotionally attached
- The player can hate them and try to kill them or like them and try to help them
General Here are some more useful tips to creating a great game.
- Good games come up with surprises, all the way till the end.
- Maximize the real-time element that is not present in non-computer games, such as board games
- The game keeps going even if the player does nothing
- Player controlled opponents are very effective that make each game unique
- Not all players are the same - children versus hard-core gamers - know your audience
- Give the player power, not the computer controlled opponents in the game
- Do not continually increase the firepower of the player while the opponents get equally stronger. The player should feel superior to the computer controlled opponents