Monday, July 11, 2011

Game Design: The Secret to Fun

Why are so many games today so repetitive? The enemies monotonous, the puzzles identical, the quests copy and pasted, why are games so boring? If you look at classic games you will find many different enemies in different environments but a lot of games today, even AAA titles fall short on variety, and as such a very common qualm with games today is that they are repetitive. For a game to be fun it can't be repetitive, it has to have variety.

A games structural design can be summed up in three parts: enemy/puzzle design, environment/geography and difficulty curve. The game may have more defined features like combat mechanics, aesthetic, etc. but strip a game down and that is what you end up with. If those three points are put together right, your game is built on a much stronger foundation. But today very little emphasis is put on these and often repetitive, boring games result.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My First Monday

Well one week on the internet and my blog is still going... not much of an accomplishment now that I think about it... I'm sort of sad now.

But not really because I have great news Team Fortress 2 if free to play on steam, there is literally no reason to not jump on this. I'm going to have to buy a gaming PC just to play TF2, but even if it is free to play, go ahead and buy some weapons (and yes hats) in the digital store, Valve deserves it, they don't make anything other than joy (except for yes again hats [and terrible release schedules but no one holds that against them cause the games are always worth it]). The new TF2 promo video is out too (even though it really isn't a promo because the game is already out) Meet the Medic is one of the longer meet the team videos by Valve and if you haven't seen it or any of the other meet the team videos go over to RIGHT NOW!!!

Also remember that if you would like to contact me in a way other than leaving a comment just send your email to, I have gmail open all the time so I am sure to respond promptly

That's it for now, normal blogs resume tomorrow

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Genre: Can We Really Apply This?

Hack 'n slash adventure sandbox... not something you want to write out every time you define Assassins' Creed; however useful, it may be it may be too cumbersome of a title to be used for a categorizing term like a genre. But is it really without merit? Have we been talking about genre all this time only to create something that we can't use? In short, no; this new genre system is still useful even if you can't use it as a genre, it creates a vocabulary for gaming,  something important for any medium, especially a growing one like gaming. But even then, can't we use it for genre at all?

Our current genre system is not terrible (save for the vague action-adventure genre that needs to be redefined to maintain usefulness) and it does fulfill it's purpose as a way to group like games together, but to go back to our reoccurring example there needs to be a differentiation between Creed and Red Dead. Is it possible to use the specific system as sub-genres?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Genre: How We Should Define Games

We've established that genre doesn't work for games as a viable system for defining them, a more specific and informative system is needed to fulfill  its purpose. We need to not only talk about the core feature of the game (first person shooting, platforming, etc.) but also other features that effect gameplay.

Assassins' Creed is a game often described as action-adventure, now redefined by me as adventure sandbox; however, as we talked about yesterday even adventure sandbox doesn't do a good enough job differentiating for the consumer the difference between Assassins' Creed and say, Red Dead Redemption. So we'll breakdown the key features in Assassins' Creed (Brotherhood, specifically) and re-redefine its genre to be helpful without being overwhelming.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Genre: What does Genre Really tell us?

The thing about genre is it tells you relativity nothing about the game itself, look at two mainstream FPS, Call of Duty and Halo. The games are the same genre, have a mostly shared audience but the games themselves have almost nothing in common: COD has guns based on real weapon models, Halo doesn't; Halo is set in the distant future, COD isn't. So what does genre really tell us, well they are both in the first person perspective and feature shooting stuff, but even the shooting is different. COD features iron sights, a realistic approach to aiming where you hold down a button to look down the sights and aim, where Halo features a more classic 'from the hip' approach to aiming found in old fashion shooters like Doom. But even those traits are quantifiable (meaning you can describe them in a manor that can be taken as fact), still other differences between the two games include graphics, physics and countless other software differences; as well as opinions like personal preference and overall playability.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Genre: What is an Action-Adventure game

Gaming is an innovative industry by nature, with every game the way we make games improves along with the quality of the games themselves; but through this innovation we also push boundaries and push into new genres, and when these new games are hard to define, we often lump them in as 'Action-Adventure game.'

Wikipedia defines action-adventure games as, you guessed it, a game with the qualities of an action game as well as an adventure. It defines an action game as a game that requires quick thinking, skill, and reflexes; while adventure titles feature puzzle and role-playing elements that need more careful planning as well as a story centric gameplay. Now that seems fair as a definition until you realize that every game on the market features opportunities for planning and story as well as fast paced combat encounters. The action-adventure genre literally covers every game out there (with the exception of a few purist adventure indie games.)

The main difference between adventure games and easier to define RPGs is adventure games don't give the player as much choice. Adventure games might feature open worlds, branching paths, etc., but every playthrough is more or less the same, where as an RPG features varying storylines and encounters based on your choices.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Genre: How do we define games?

All art forms use genre to sub-define themselves; movies, books even television shows all use genre to help consumers choose which product to buy. Gaming itself is built off of several 'core' genres:
First Person Shooters and Third Person Shooters (FPS e.g. Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War)
Real Time Strategy games (RTS e.g. Starcraft, Age of Empires)
Platformer (e.g. Mario)
Role Playing Game (RPG e.g. Final Fantasy, Zelda [Zelda may be arguable but we'll talk about that tomorrow])

But genre is not a perfect system, and we often see it limit the potential of games. When a producer green-lights a game, they often do it based on genre; if they are producing an FPS and the product is very heavily based on puzzle elements they are less likely to produce that product because they are worried that their core FPS community won't be as interested in that game. That game may have been really fun, and the puzzle elements may have helped the game sell better, but the studio is afraid to cross genre lines. This is why FPS/RPGs are generally not FPS/RPGs but rather FPS with a dash of RPG on the side (Borderlands, Mass Effect 2).