The Five Games You Wish Modern Designers Would Play and Why

29 replies [Last post]
Keith Burgun
Keith Burgun's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2010
Partially good list, but...

>4. World of Warcraft. How many billions of players does it take for people to realize Blizzard has stumbled upon the ultimate secret sauce? It's very simple.

Why is there an argumentum ad populum here? I think if anything, designers should still play World of Warcraft, just to see what NOT to do. DON'T allow there to be no-brainer grinding, and make sure there are actual penalties and ways that you can win and lose. Further, WoW is not a game - it has games in it, but it itself is no more a game than an amusement park is, itself, a game.

I think with #5, you were just a little desperate to pick something new? There are plenty of older games that are far better and support the kind of multiplayer interaction you're talking about.

Cymon
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2011
Oh, you want me to respond to yours?

I just listened to the podcast and you complained that no one picked apart your list. Well, I wanted to do that for you, I really do, but I just can't. That's your list and you have reasons for picking what you did (tho I think you're missing the dark and nefarious underbelly of WoW by suggesting it). But your last one, Wii Sports, got me thinking.

Wii Sports is essentially a justification for the Wii's unusual control scheme. It's little more than a polished tech demo. Yet that polish has made all the difference. In fact what's the difference between a tech demo and a full game? Does Wii Sports have compelling narrative? No. Does it make use of million dollar cut scenes? Chuck Tesla says "Nope". Unfortunately every frustrated hollywood drop out who falls back on video games doesn't ever think of this. To them games are another storytelling medium. Yet WiiSports is just what it is, tech demo with polish. And that's how video games differ from movies. They are a versatile way to interact with your audience, unlike movies which hasn't had a decent innovation since sensurround.

n/a
Cymon
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2011
Thank!

I actually have to thank Extra Credits for the eye opener on Missile Command... tho I don't remember which episode.

There is a surprising amount of innovation coming from the Interactive Fiction people. Surprisingly innovative and surprisingly playable. Not all of it, mind you, but there are some that I did not resent the time I spent on them. Double surprising, actually. Surprising because this is an OLD medium and surprising because they're not ideas that came from other mediums, nor do they transfer to other mediums. Take a look at my game, ASCIIpOrtal (shameless plug) and it's pretty obviously an extension of an idea that's already been implemented in 3D (tho a very clever implementation if I do say so myself). But some of the things the IF community are doing are just so IF specific that I have to wonder where these ideas have been hiding for the past 20+ years.

n/a
davyK
davyK's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/21/2006
in no particular order:Super

in no particular order:

Super Mario Kart - it looks so simple. A basic racer created from the elements of a platform game universe. Genre defining, tracks squeezed into scant resources, character classes, weapons and the since abandoned coin pickup for speed mixed up in a great grand prix format. Not to mention the battle mode - an almost throw away bonus that spawned a million hours of gameplay.

Tetris - a bit unfair to point to as an example as its really a one off. A genre was created with this. It is super compulsive and accessible and maybe Puyo Puyo is ultimately deeper and better designed, but people will be playing this 100 years from now.

Super Mario Bros. The sense of inertia and pixel perfect placement of enemies still impresses me today. The duality of the levels which are designed with Mario and Super Mario both in mind and the little side goals - shell chasing, coin hunting, combo enemy hopping, flag pole jumping - keep it replayable.

Worms Armageddon. Infinitely replayable. The humour hides the deep gameplay lurking underneath. Alliances are made and broken in a second. The range of weapons allows for specialisation ,and the firing mechanism rewards skill that can always be improved upon.

Asteroids - no two games are the same. Has a compulsive, "tidy up" feel to it merged with the great basic feeling that shooting and hitting gives you.

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Great list, Cymon! I

Great list, Cymon! I particularly agree about Missile Command. There's a subtlety to the power of the message. Even with the minimalist audio-visuals - or perhaps because of them - both the message and the gameplay came across perfectly.

I also agree about the adventure genre. Very stale. I think there's more innovation on the text adventure side, though that's almost primarily limited to non-commercial products these days versus adventure games, which again have at least some commercial presence.

n/a
Cymon
Offline
Joined: 09/20/2011
I've had this thought in the past:

This is a really tough question. If it were merely "Your top 5 favoriate games" then this list would be much different. I almost feel like it's a reflection of what you value in video games and what you want to see more of. Personally I value innovation. I like things that instead of copying, blaze their own trails. So a list of games from me that are "games I wish were copied" is kinda silly. Still, innovation comes from having a broad experience base to draw from so my list is going to be games that represent a genre that never really got the chance to blossom.

Star Control. 1. The first one. (This is my introduction to you guys, I keep this game on a pedestal.) Star Control 2 was great, don't get me wrong, but it was a very different game than Star Control, in particular the Star Control full game. Star Control was an extension of the Archon formula, a juxtaposition of action and strategy that has had a few games try to carry the flame, namely Unholy Wars, Chess Kombat in Mortal Kombat Deception, as well as a game for XBox that I can't remember right now. But Star Control 1 also used a 3D rotating map that if you got was insanely satisfying to get, but most people took one look at it and turned away. As a designer ask yourself "how would you get someone to swallow that pill, or in other words how would you get a player over a hurdle like that?

Missile Command. Talk about telling a story with nothing but setting. At some point in the game you're going to have to make a choice and sacrifice a few cities so that others can be better protected? How hard will you fight to avoid that choice? With a little better graphics the consequences of that choice could be better communicated but then the game would be rendered almost completely unplayable by any rational human.

Robot Odyssey on the Apple IIe. Created by the guy who made Adventure on the Atari 2600 Robot Odyssey had you wiring robots to accomplish certian tasks and meet your goals. The game itself would never fly today. It's too slow. The goals are too broad and not very well laid out. The maps are confusing. There's very little to tell you "here be a puzzle" and there's nothing to tell you "here's how to solve it". Let students play it with a walk through so they can appreciate what it was trying to do. What I love about this one is that the wiring of robots doesn't pull any punches. No fancy AI or limited boxes to put things in. It was messy and raw but as a player you felt you were really building things. Granted the game required a master's degree in electrical engineering to win on your own, but that's the challenge of a developer: how do you overcome these issues?

Moon Base Commander. When I finished this game I felt there was so much more that could be done with it. However, finding this game was a chore. It died almost out of the gate, and that's a shame. If you ever get a chance to buy or even pirate this game, do it. It's worth it. Unfortunately there's not much more to say on this one. Go check it out, I wish there was more like it.

Myst. If I see one more box sliding or key gathering puzzle I think I'm going to scream. Games these days need to learn how to do puzzles. Now Myst had puzzles. And clues. And clues wrapped in atmosphere and story. If you want people to not mind reading the fruit of your writers stuff clues in their narratives and in the margins of their narratives and put all their narratives in a library. Then tell your writers to go easy a bit and tell them if they wanted to write a book they should go find a publishing deal. If there's one thing I hate is drowning in dialog (I'm looking at you Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door).

I wanted to mention a few games that didn't make the list, and why:

Grim Fandango and Neverhood. As much as I adore these games they represent to me the very peak of the Adventure Game genre: Grim Fandango not only features fantastic characters, settings, and dialog but also took the horns of the technology and really worked it, and Neverhood for well, it's freaking beautiful. But these games represent to me the most you can accomplish with the adventure game genre and really, good riddance, tho it pains me to say that. Adventure games really had 2 things that defined them: Story heavy and inventory puzzles that involved gathering stuff and rubbing them against each other and the environment until you got more stuff to rub against each other and the environment. It's like Sokoban, it was fun the first few times but I'm getting tired of it now. And while I'd actually recommend to everyone to play these games if I have to endure one more "use chicken baster on bong water on sailor's drink at opportune moment" I think I'm going to snap.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
My stab at the five...

I tried not to think too hard about these so only the most "obvious" ones would pop into my head. This topic could easily make a kick-ass book...

Civilization - It's a lesson in taking a wildly sophisticated and all-encompassing concept and turning it into something addictive and playable on everything from the SNES to extremely-modest-by-today's-standards-computers.

Angry Birds - How to take a well-worn concept (the artillery game) and applying extreme personality, playability, and accessibility to make a game that appeals to the masses. Plants vs. Zombies does the same thing for RTS/strategy games.

Tetris - It's a game playable on any device with a display, yet is addictive and timeless.

NBA Jam - Another lesson in taking something that can be very, very complicated and distilling it down to its most playable form, which allows even non-fans of the particular sport to love the game. In other words, it's designed in a way to not require the trappings of the sport it's based on to be a top-notch game.

Space Invaders - I was debating about going with Pong here, but in this case I went Space Invaders. It's a triumph of minimalist design and technology, while still maintaining a surprising depth of strategy and technique. The real lesson though is how to use sound effects to generate an emotional response in the player. The "duh-duh-duh" bass-like sound helps make the game what it is. Integrating sound so profoundly into the gameplay experience has sadly rarely been practiced since.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.