What makes a 'good' game?

Monkey Archive Forums/Monkey Discussion/What makes a 'good' game?

TeaBoy(Posted 2016) [#1]
I know this question is very vague but what actually makes a good game that
entices players to come back time and time again?

ratking(Posted 2016) [#2]
Procedural generation (for the levels) can help, as it makes the game fresh and surprising with each restart, at least in theory.

Monklet80(Posted 2016) [#3]
People write books to answer this question. My thoughts currently run something like this.

You come back to a game because it gives you something. Some kind of "fun" that you want to have again. This "fun" can come in many forms, including:

- Roleplay/fantasy "Wooo! I'm a sneaky spy man fighting robots!"
- Exploration "I can't wait to find out what the next boss is like/what it'll be like to have my next skill/what the best sword is, etc"
- Challenge and competition "Dammit, I almost had it! I'll try one more time."
- Related: mental challenge: "Solving the puzzles in this game makes me feel smart. I like to feel smart. I like this game."
- Narrative/story "What will happen next?"
- Beauty "Wow, look at that!" (Visual, audio, and even gameplay can be beautiful. Journey has beautiful gameplay as well as visuals.)
- Collectors drive/completism "Gotta catch em all!"
- Humour "Look, my goat can fly!"
- Expression "I'm gonna build my house *this* way!"

There's an Extra Credits video that goes over an academic paper covering this very topic. Look for the video and/or read the paper, it really helped me think about this. For example, procedural generation can give a game more exploration fun, as even the levels you've cleared before will be slightly different this time. But exploration is only fun if it occasionally rewards you. So if your procedurally generated dungeon is just the same rooms arranged slightly differently, it won't actually add much. The differences need to actually make a difference, if you see what I mean.

When thinking about why a game is good, you can think of it in terms of what flavour of "fun" the game delivers on. Most games offer at least two of these, even ones that on the surface it look like a pointless Skinner boxes. A major console release will have some of all of them, but the emphasis can be very different. Some do games well with one, though. Flappy Bird is basically just challenge, with a bit of humour and retro appeal.

Are you making a game? If so, what "fun" is it going to deliver?

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#4]
I find it a lot easier to answer with two words, "Fun" and "Addictive"

No one will play a game that's not fun UNLESS it's also addictive, look at flappy bird, colour switch, stackem, or any number of other one button variant, a lot of them are punishingly hard and you hear screams coming from people playing them, in a lot of ways they are not fun at all, but they are addictive, just one more go, just one more click, just one more play through.

The very hard question you might ask is what is FUN and the simple answer is that the question itself is pointless, fun to one player is not to another, so where fun is concerned your better off asking it of yourself and by default your audience will be people who like what you like.

The easier question and possibly more important one is what is addictive, and this is fairly simple as well, carrot and tick, give the player a carrot to chase after, this can come in many forms, for one buttons games like the aforementioned its star's or coins you collect or distance you travel or total score you accumulate, in any addictive game there will always be a carrot in some form, the stick is simply how harshly you punish the player when they fail, tune these two things right and you have a game that's either Fun & Addictive, or just plan Addictive, either way people will play.

I'n all honesty tho if you ask me the games that have gone viral are more lucky than well designed works of art, I have seen games far better looking, with more features and better game design sink to the depths of obscurity while games with brainless design have hit the stratosphere and it's luck, some kid in school likes it and shares it with his friends, if your lucky they like it and share it with their friends, and if your really lucky it goes viral, you just need to be lucky that your game gets seen by the right people with the right friends.

^^ all my own opinion others will differ.

AdamRedwoods(Posted 2016) [#5]
What makes a game fun?

My thoughts on this:
1. Immersion through theme or imagination
2. Discovery of something new
3. The feeling of accomplishment

If you can encapsulate all three elements, the game has a chance at being fun. You could also be very strong in just one aspect and still have a fun game.

To breakdown:
1. Immersion- good art, good storyline, a novel concept, lovable characters.
2. Discovery- game variation, new levels, new ideas, new challenges, expansions, hidden easter eggs.
3. Accomplishment- figuring out a puzzle, enhanced visual/visual feedback of completing a task, leveling up, organizing information, competing.

Examples to think about:
- What makes a text-only adventure game fun? (discovery, immersion)
- What makes playing Super Mario Bros. fun for the 50th time playing it? (accomplishment, level progression, competing against your own prior record, lovable characters)
- What makes tetris fun? (organizing, novel concept, level progression, competition)
- What makes hidden object games fun? (immersion, discovery, puzzles)

I've been playing a lot of "Euro" board games lately, and it has opened my eyes to gaming in general. I'm not talking Monopoly, but things like Stone Age or even One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

Pierrou(Posted 2016) [#6]
Our fellow Monkey coder Raph Koster wrote a book about it. I couldn't sum it up right now but it's worth reading

Monklet80(Posted 2016) [#7]
I like your three way breakdown, Adam. That's a really nice model to think about these things.

When it comes to addiction, I'd say that's just a type of fun, as "fun" is whatever makes you come back to a game. Also, addiction is no less personal than "fun". I've tried many games touted as "soooo addictive!" that I found just boring. Any game will have some kind of carrot-stick mechanic, otherwise... what's the game?

There's some research to suggest that the most addictive game would be one that gives you a carrot for doing the thing, but only sometimes. That is, usually the reward is a bit of a dud, but occasionally you hit the jackpot.

Make of that what you will.

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#8]
Your final comment made me puke in my mouth a little , if anyone here has played Archeage and crafted they will know why.

Games can be fun but not addictive, hence separating them, for me for example Minecraft is Fun but not very addictive, I can pick it up and play for a few hours then leave it again for days, on the other hand with an Addictive game I would play for a few hours take a break then want to play more, there is a very striking difference between something that's fun and addictive.

I'v seen Adam's list posted other places and it is a good way of looking at it as it covers most of the bases, but there is no perfect solution or way of looking at it, people are far to random in what they like or do not like your best bet is to make whats fun for you and then see who else likes it.

AdamRedwoods(Posted 2016) [#9]
Our fellow Monkey coder Raph Koster wrote a book about it. I couldn't sum it up right now but it's worth reading

I've read his book. It's has great takeaways, but it also layers a lot of his personal experiences that I found to drag a little. I wish it was a bit more condensed and with more research examples.

A video that sums it up:

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#10]
that was a nice watch Adam...

Monklet80(Posted 2016) [#11]
"Your final comment made me puke in my mouth a little"

Dude! Gross!

Why would you say that?

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#12]
In Archeage the game I mentioned which is an MMO it's got a crafting system that your final comment made me think of, In Short, each time you craft for example a level 1 bow into a level 2 bow you have a stupidly low chance of the level 2 bow you get being up-gradable to level 3, and once you hit for example level 5 the game then add's the chance that all your hard work is lost with a high chance of the item being destroyed and all that time, effort, work gets pissed down the drain, so when you suggested a system that only some times rewards the player it made me think of Archeage and crafting which does the same thing only worse.

It's a very very bad idea in my opinion, and one that does not need to be propagated.

Gerry Quinn(Posted 2016) [#13]
I can see the strategic value in such a system. Be content with your L5 bow, or gamble on getting a L6? Your choice! (I suppose most players build a second bow and then gamble?)

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#14]
In reality like 20% or less probably a lot less of the community craft's beyond the break point and they sell the subsequent item, the vast majority of players just save up and buy the items, trouble is that the cost involved for a single item could equate out to months of in game work and that's just for 1 of 7 items any player might need.

It's a system I hope I never have to encounter again.

ElectricBoogaloo(Posted 2016) [#15]
Don't focus on making your game "good".
Focus on not making your game "bad".
Download 100 or so mobile games, and play through them, making a list of everything that annoys you in the games.
Bad art, (as in, art assets that don't fit together)
incorrect physics, (by all means, go "gamey" with your physics, but try to ensure the "world" feels right)
terrible IAPs, (ANY IAPs!!!)
controls that don't make sense, (The jump button and the shoot button should be in the right places, otherwise the whole game feels wrong)
awful level design, (Holes in the floor, areas to get stuck in, spikes..dislike!!!)
music that loops badly, (where you can hear the 2/3 beats where the music tries to loop, and it's really, really noticeably broken)
repetitive sounds (where the gamedev hasn't even bothered to add a randomiser to the pitch so you end up with EXACTLY the same sound over and over and over and over and over and over....)

... Make a list of bad stuff, then make 100% sure that your game doesn't have any of the items on the list.
That might not make your game "good", but it helps make it better.
Every time I load a game that needs a Gamepad to play it, but a mouse to click "start", I usually click exit first.

Monklet80(Posted 2016) [#16]
That sounds annoying Paul, but one bad implementation doesn't mean the idea itself is bad. Any game that has some kind of "rare drop" system uses the occasional jackpot idea. If you go way down the mine in Minecraft, you'll probably find some redstone and maybe some gold or lapis. But just once in a while you'll hit on a clutch of diamonds. That isn't bad design. It's exciting and fun.

I'm not saying all games should be glorified slot machines. In fact, I'm not advocating in favour of addictive games at all. But if you want to make an addictive game, for whatever reason, you may as well try to understand what makes something addictive.

Paul - Taiphoz(Posted 2016) [#17]
I just rather games be about more skill than luck, and any system that introduces random once in a while drops can run the risk of become more about luck than skill and that's never a good thing in my opinion.

I drop powerups randomly from some objects but they are not required by the player to advance their simply a bonus which I think is fine, I have seen more than a few games coming out of Korea where the thing being dropped actually is vital to player advancement and some of the items have drop rates as low as 0.001% that's just so stupid.

ElectricBoogaloo(Posted 2016) [#18]
I mostly agree, but 95% of my games feature pseudo-random levels, so I probably shouldn't wholeheartedly agree!!
Although I try my best to make the generator do things in a sane way.. There's always the odd occasion when randomly generating levels creates an insane predicament!

Also, every so often, I love to make a TOTALLY random game. A slot machine, a game with cards, dice based stuff, things like that..
I LOVE to make those, but geeze, you should see the rampant feedback on those sorts of things.
"This game is completely random" whinge the commenters. "Where's the skill" they ask, as they find no logic in rolling a dice, and having random elements evolve...
Well, duh!! That's kinda the point!!!