When we were young, there was no distinction between a AAA title and a badly done Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game. As kids, there was only one deciding factor on whether we liked a game. It had to be fun. So, now looking at games in a more informed light, is being fun the only factor that defines a “good” game?
In my experience, there really isn’t a substitute for fun. If a game is fun all the way through, then it’s not, by definition, a good game, it’s a great game. However, so many games these days don’t make parts of the game fun. Now, with the stunning visuals, immersive storylines and a not-so-unique combat mechanics, games these days slap the gamer with so many incoherent and disjointed layers until they finally submit that the game was “fun,” so how do we break through this almost comatose-like state of placateness and determine whether a game is good?
What distinguishes a good game from an okay game is when those disjointed layers become one. The most important layers that have to be coherent are:
The gameplay mechanics
I might not want something innovative, although it would be nice. However, gameplay must be smooth and easy to use. I don’t want something that’s clunky that puts me off the game. I also don’t want something that is overly complicated so that it takes me the entire game to figure out how to do “that” combo. Gameplay is an integral part of a good game and a bad mechanic makes the game bad.
I want a storyline that makes me want to say “moaarrr!!” Games with a great storyline make me want to keep playing. It makes me remember the game a few weeks later, which is a big plus in deciding whether a game is good. In many cases the storyline doesn’t even have to be convoluted and full of twists. Take Super Mario Bros. For example, its storyline was: princess captured by spiky turtle and the goal is to save the princess. To this day Super Mario Bros. is still played by kids everywhere and is still considered a good game.
In many cases, developers are making games with ultra realistic characters with giant rendered worlds that make us go “wow.” But do we really need shiny guns, or a fiery explosion in the background for every game? Graphics in games should suit the theme. Take Heroes of Might and Magic V. If that game was pixel shaded I’d still enjoy it, in this case you have to ask whether the developers could have taken money out of building a shiny griffon so they could add some different mechanics.
Let me explain choices first. To me, choices are two things, the first being choices in a storyline that may give you different endings and outcomes. The second being choices you make when you start the game up. The reason why games such as World of Warcraft are so famously addictive is because it gives you things to do, choices to make. Without choices a game would become stale and just frustrating.
So four important factors in making a good game, without each other the title of “good game” goes into the trash. These days so many publishers promote “realistic graphics” or “innovative gameplay,” but the other layers are left by the wayside. These layers are something to keep in mind next time you play a game. Remember them the next time you try to decide whether the game is good or if it should be collecting dust on the shelf.