Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Games Design

Game play is what it says on the tin. I take it to mean how the game engages you, how it manages to create conflicts that keep you enthralled. Games that rely solely on visual stimulation tend to fail on game play…

The perfect example for me would be Assassins Creed. The graphics are stunning - Ubisoft have created a game that is truly beautiful. But my God is it boring. Sure enough, the general public are diverse and they react when you walk past, and yes riding around on your horse is quite fun… but really! Too much freedom becomes mind pulpingly dull. The battles are repetitive and monotonous, and the story line is a little bit lacking. After a while each crazily detailed city looks much like the next…


There is not enough challenge or interest to keep you enthralled in the game. But yeah, its purdy.

One of my favourite game designers  would have to be Fumito Ueda, the designer of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.  He describes the approach to his games as "design by subtraction"  and it works. His games are unique and quirky, the challenges and puzzles prove addictive and you can feel his passion lift the whole game. He is an example of a guy that takes an idea, no matter how fantastical, and runs with it. I am already having fits of excited giggling at the thought of The Last Guardian coming out.…

There is something fantastical about playing a game that is not photo realistic. It allows full freedom, I can allow myself to relax into a style as there is no pressure to remain in reality. That is something I have yet to achieve with any old war/alien shoot ‘em up.

Talking of style, I was also impressed by Owen O'Brien, the main producer for Mirrors edge. Original idea and seriously addictive game play.

It seems nowadays big projects involve big numbers of brains to make them work. Gone are the days when Tetris ruled the roost, those could be designed and programmed by one guy. Games these days have such a large budget and many elements to them (audio, visual, technical, production) having just the one poor soul to deal with it would be impractical. All elements of a successful game need to run smoothly. I guess this helps with the overall shape of the game in the end, a bunch of brains working together will have a much better creative resource than just the one.

But then… too many cooks may well spoil the broth! Maybe that’s why too many games these days are buckets of sexist, sadistic man drool.

Too much testosterone for one studio. I honestly don’t mean to sound bitter… really!

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