Dimensions of Quality - what is your priority?

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david
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Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:04 am

Following up on some PMs with EvilKing, I've been thinking about the areas that define a 'good game', which key areas are important and, of these, which have the higher priorities....

What areas are most important to you in other games and, of course, GOAT? ;)

Here are my thoughts, though I could easily swap length* VS graphics:

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*By 'length', I don't mean too long - for me an 8 hour campaign is PLENTY.
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evilkinggumby
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Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:46 am

this is actually a great idea for a thread. I'd love to see what fans thought was important in games. :)
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david
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Fri Jun 20, 2014 5:09 am

evilkinggumby wrote:this is actually a great idea for a thread. I'd love to see what fans thought was important in games. :)
@EvilKing... thank you!

What are your thought on this.. :D

I'm guessing that story and characters will rank higher for you, right?
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KwisatzHaderach
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Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:37 am

Interesting thread...

For me it depends on which type of game I'm playing. Breaking it down, there are two different types of games that I enjoy: Competetive Multiplayer and Storydriven Singleplayer

1) competetive multiplayer like Natural Selection/Team Fortress/Battlefield/Starcraft
- With these games the focus for an enjoyable experience must be balance above anything else, because loosing due to unfair advantages/exploits is never fun.
- Then come the controlls/interface. The more control a game gives you over your character, the better your skill can be transfered into the gameplay.
- Skill floor/ceiling. This determines how easy a game is to learn and how hard it is to master. If these parameters are right, a game generally enjoys a larger and longer lasting player base with both casuals and hardcore players getting fun out of it. Natural Selection 2 for example has a incredibly high skill floor making it hard for new players to enjoy the game, hence the low player count. On the other hand, it is just as incredible fun once you invested enough time (ca. 200h) to get a grasp of most of the games mechanics. Ideally a game has a skill floor/ceiling like TF2, but unfortunately that has become a bazaar rather than a team shooter.
- Content. The more content the more variety, the longer it takes you to get worn out by certain gameplay situations. One must be careful though not to add too much content in regards to making items feel interchangeable or destroying balance. It is better to have a few versatile items than 1000 different skins for the same weapon. A good example of a game that failed to deliver content wise was the recent Titanfall. Too few costumisation options, too few (original) game modes and too few weapons. I also despise the idea of unlocks in a paid-for multiplayer game. It is detrimental to the players crativity, only encourages farming (enemy #1 for mp-games) and should be banned, stabbed to death with a crys-knife and nuked from orbit.
- Level design. It should encourage team work and out of the box thinking. It should allow for behind enemy lines sabotage, big pushes and a little bit of fortification too (at certain key points). It should challenge a players tactical and strategical abilities and never forget about that we life in a space with three axes of movement.
- Net code. Dying behind a corner from bullets that hit you two seconds ago is not fun.
- Graphics/Atmosphere. Obviously if you're playing competetive this isn't so high on the priority list, although I would never be able to enjoy to a play a texture stripped, neon-coloured and polygon reduced version of Quake. I do prefer textures :D

Sorry to be such a bore to the Singleplayer audience this forum probably entices :P


Of course, SP games are a wholly different beast:
2) Story driven singleplayer games that rely on narrative, atmosphere and player-environment interaction
- Controlls/interface. There are many great games I loved playing when I was a child. Little Big Adventure, Grim Fandango, Interstate '76, MDK... And it is great that most of them are now available again on GOG. But there is one reason why I never played them longer than a few minutes upon repurchasing them over the last few years: controls. When playing older games it becomes painfully apparent who much a bad control scheme sets the player apart from the game world he is supposed to get lost in. It makes you realise that despite the many abominations of modern game interfaces (quick-time events, circular selection menus instead of number-quick select, strongly automated player movement) how far we have come. Games like Titanfall (I know, no SP game, but it doesn't matter) or Dishonored draw a lot of their experience from the movement system. As a player you feel in control of your character and how he interacts with the environment, you merge with that world that you move through. Same thing goes for different genres: Starcraft has such a streamlined command interface that, once you learned the keys, feel like you're actually managing and commanding an interstellar army of marines/bugs/psychologists/whatever.

- Setting/atmosphere. Best example is NaissanceE, a platformer/exploration game that offers nearly no story or player interaction but merely through an atmosphere of dense emptyness sucked me in and kept me forlorn in its worlds even after I shut down my computer. A more popular example would be Dear Esther, which is a little overrated but nevertheless was very enjoyable.
If a game has no sense of place it can not establish a purpose for the player to interact.

- Soul. Sorry, this is a very blunt term for a post that has tried to keep things technical. But I can't help it. I don't know why, but, across all genres, some games have it, some games don't. Gothic has it, Skyrim has it not. Jedi Knight has it, (new) Medal of Honour has it not. Psychonauts has it, GTA has it not (yes, YES, this is so!). Dark Souls has it, Dark has it not (just kidding)... There are few games with a soul, but those few shine above all others, no matter how severe their flaws might be. Interestingly, it is mostly games that are widely considered to have some major flaws, that have a soul.
DISCLAIMER: If a game has a soul or no soul is totally down to my OBJECTIVE judgement. Just because not everyone is able to perceive the soulness of a game, doesn't mean it has none.

- Music. We have a whole thread for this on this forum, so I don't think I need to highlight why I think this is important in a game.

- I'm running out of time so I'll stick to a tabular listing
- General Audio
- Graphics. More graphics are always welcome. Crysis is still the game with the most graphics btw.
- Story and Characters

I don't much care for replayability and game lenght as there are too many great games to play anyway, and most of them come at such a cheap price nowadays (yay, steam sale!)

-
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david
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Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:15 am

@Kwisatz... I read your post with great interest. Your assessment of multiplayer priorities very closely matches my experiences playing Halo 1, Battlefield 2042, Battlefield Heroes and Team Fortress 2.

To be fair though, I was just mid-ranked in BF2042 and BF:Heroes and always cannon-fodder in Halo and TF2: I could blame the lag in playing from China or Hong Kong (at the time), though I suspect also that quite a few of my opponents were just quicker, also with better tactics and strategies :D

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I think, for single-player, it is a bit harder to separate all the elements of success, because they are often intertwined, but it is interesting and relevant nonetheless. I totally understand your choices, which are somewhat different to mine. The weird thing is, if I look at my own list, I could change it quite a bit without too much pain... especially the top 4 or 5 elements are so close together in importance... I'm having second thoughts about 'length' and considering putting it much closer to the bottom ;)

Your comments on 'Setting and atmosphere' and 'Soul' also hit the mark... the feeling one gets from a game is totally, totally relevant, especially as games are now art too :mrgreen:
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evilkinggumby
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Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:29 am

david wrote:What are your thought on this.. :D

I'm guessing that story and characters will rank higher for you, right?

Sorry to take so long to reply, been busy with work lately and I figured it'd be good to give other folk a chance to chime in prior to my own wall-o-text :)

I'm generally all over the board. I think the biggest core element I would like to see boils down to one word.

Diversity.

That concept can add a lot to a game. Diverse levels and areas to see, diverse npc's to interact with, diverse enemies to deal with, diverse weapons and armor and customisation options, tones, plot points, genre's, stories, attacks and movement, animations, voices, ambiance and mood.. You name it, if a game has a diverse set of ANYTHING it helps my enjoyment of the game.

That is to say, I don't require every game to be diverse in everything, and I don't expect the diversity to be in the hundreds for EVERY detail. But every extra option, mood, character, setting that they imbue into a game is one more flavor and texture I can appreciate.

Variety is the spice of life, yes?

Sadly to offer diversity is a ecconomical nightmare for developers, so it is rare that we see a lot of it beyond some of the most core elements. Usually we'll see diverse weapons and armor, diverse enemies to fight, and some diverse NPC's to interact with. There is always some allotment of different places to explore and fight through, but depending on genre and style, it often hits the same beats everyone else does. Every game has a sewer level, a fire level, an ice level, a forest area, desert, etc etc etc. That leads me to the last diversity aspect I really love.

Diversity Beyond Convention. I love to see games defy the common game rules and what is popular or a "sure fire win" . I absolutely loved Dungeon Keeper back in the days of classic PC Gaming because at the time, nothing like it had been done (that I knew of at least) and it took my idea of games and threw it on it's ear. And Dungeon keeper, you'll notice, has a lot of diversity too. Tons of monsters to lure, tons of ways to build your dungeon, a lot of types of traps, ways to train and grow the monsters, spells to learn, monsters to possess, etc etc. Even for such an old game, it had quite a lot to enjoy about it.

Beyond that concept, I do appreciate a unique well crafted art style. Some of the games that Sony Studio's has done have been my favorite despite having awkward controls or other issues. All time fave for the longest time on PS2 was 'Primal' due to the adult tone, amazing art prowess and overall AAA execution (it just had crap controls). Same for team Ico's stuff, Folklore (ps3) and so on. As an artist I appreciate when the dev's have an especially talented crew working on a game. And that doesn't have to be just "eye bleeding details in 3d graphics". A lot of the kickstarter campaigns I backed are not 3d, but got backed due to having exceptional artistic skills. Here is a few examples:

Bloom:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13 ... enture-rpg

Knight and The Ghost Lights:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/20 ... ost-lights

Mage's Initiation:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/21 ... -adventure

And many others (a few that failed their campaigns, sadly).

The games I'd say I have played the most and enjoyed the most (and have replayed a few times in my life because they're such a joy) would be :

Persona 3 and Persona 4
Fallout 3 and Fallout NV
The Last Remnant
Tecmo's Deception Series

P3/4 would be the highest ranked, as I've sunk more hours into those 2 games than most others (possibly more than them combined). It was a total departure for me in terms of RPG gameplay. It defied convention and was a anime rpg with dating sim elements and a strong cast of characters and story with a TON of creatures to summon, people to meet, activities to do, and varies plots to hash out. After playing it and getting deep enough into everything, it ends up feeling like a living breathing world, and one based in a semi-modern realistic Tokyo so it feels almost possible (though after a while it gets a litttle outlandish). Persona 4 takes that notion and amps it up even more with a lot of the nuance and charm of a small town setting, tons more characters and people to interact with, a lot of themes and ideas (some very adult ones too) to work through, and all the rpg goodness p3 had. Neither game has kickass graphics, though they're no slouch either.

The Fallout Games gave me the sandbox variety and freedom I really loved, with a rich diversity of skills, perks, abilities, weapons, armor and items to enjoy. Toss that in a massive free to explore wasteland (something I've been morbidly fascinated with since I was a kid) and a whole slew of characters and quests and I was in heaven. Fallout NV wasn't quite as good, but wwith a lot of expanded ideas and added features, it still managed to shine.

The Last Remnant is sort of a guilty pleasure. It was one of the few games that Square designed using someone else's engine (Unreal) and whereas it allowed them to bang the game out fast and with a CRAP TON of stuff, it has a lot of.. flaws. Lackluster story, hit or miss voice acting, a protag thats kind of a whiney slaphead, stiff animation cycles that look too "hand puppeted". But despite this the graphics still look great (especially if you tweak the CFG files in a few ways) and once the game hits it's stride and allows you a true large roster of npc's to control it is just totally addictive. Tons of enemies and a massive variety of locales and vista's to appreciate, characters to talk to, quests and items to get, hidden monsters to fight and rae loot to gather, weapons to craft and use, skills to unlock, etc etc. I sank about 270 hours into this one and I've been itching to revisit it (I had briefly last year but something got borked with my pc and the game was insta-crash whenever I loaded it so I eventually took it off).

Tecmos' Deceptions series is similar to Dungeon Keeper in that you play a sort of "evil" entity that has to place traps and use them with the environment to survive and get rid of the people seeking to kill you for a variety of reasons. The story is convoluted and mostly ignored, voice acting has always been in the native Japanese, and graphics improved over time (the third one on ps1 was really a game that should have gone to ps2) but never was a powerhouse. But again, there was a massive variety of traps and trap tweaks you could do, ways to add up exp and money killing foes, and devious methods to pile up a combo.

So yeah whereas I do love a great story and characters, TBH, in games it is so rare to find exception writing that provides that so I stopped expecting/looking for it. It is changing, slowly, to where newer games are using more nuance and so the story and writitng is better. But because it is still generally lackluster, I don't pay it much mind.

I just loves me my variety. Allows every playthrough some uniquity, allows creative thinking and problem solving, allows the player to create the experience THEY will enjoy(not what the developer thinks is the koolest, necessarily) and allows replayability in most cases. I even appreciated Mass Effect 1 2 and (until the end) 3 because I was able to tweak the world and story and events to match my characters backstory and really roleplay her the way I wanted. Replayability showed me a lot of the variety was not REALLY there, but the first rundown was a right good time.

Wow that took a while. And sadly I didn't organize and break out the details like Kwasatz did, sadly. But hopefullly it gives you a whole different idea of what players may appreciate.
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david
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Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:36 am

evilkinggumby wrote:So yeah whereas I do love a great story and characters, TBH, in games it is so rare to find exception writing that provides that so I stopped expecting/looking for it. It is changing, slowly, to where newer games are using more nuance and so the story and writitng is better.
Yeah, I totally agree... Seith would agree too here I think...
evilkinggumby wrote:diversity is a ecconomical nightmare for developers, so it is rare that we see a lot of it beyond some of the most core elements.
I understand where you are coming from, I love games that allow diversity in playstyle... although diversity in the other elements doesn't really matter so much to me personally. On the other hand though, having depth across characters, weapons, systems, locations, and gameplay is certainly an excellent thing. As you know though, creating this immensity of content can become a developer's nightmare: making tons of assets and programming/balancing a ton of mechanics can become expensive and can take... well... forever :D
evilkinggumby wrote:Beyond Convention. I love to see games defy the common game rules and what is popular or a "sure fire win"
Innovative games that change/defy/create convention is an exceptional point. I get what you are referring to when you speak of this Persona 3 and 4... I haven't played them but they sound fascinatingly unusual and wonderfully exotic: I love the Japanese art style! The Last Remnant is new to me, but the screenshots look really nice (exotic-looking too).

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As for me, in a broadly similar vein, I have such affection for non-conventional titles like:

Goat Simulator, Lemmings, World of Goo - original, wild, wonderful and wacky concepts and mechanic (for Lemmings, I think the core mechanic was new at the time)
Saints Row 3 - the setting is a hilarious -beyond over the top- world although the gameplay itself is normal (this is a controversial choice, I admit, but the satirical absurdity of this game made me laugh and smile)
Dear Esther - as the first 'walking simulator' that I know of, it brought a new emotional dimension to gaming, though I found the experience of playing a bit dull if I'm honest. I did buy several copies and gave 'em to people as gifts
Limbo - the two dimensional, black and white visuals showed me that sometimes less is more
SWAT 4 - it surprised me that it was really interesting to manage a team on the fly, and play as one of the team, directing the others at key points, in a more technical and tactical FPS simulation

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evilkinggumby wrote:allows the player to create the experience THEY will enjoy(not what the developer thinks is the koolest, necessarily) and allows replayability in most cases.
Huge agreement! I enjoyed playing through SWAT 4, Crysis 1, Far Cry 1, XIII and Splinter Cell (Conv and Blacklist) in my own way, making it harder for myself by not using a lot of the mechanics, setting challenges for myself (typically... kill everybody in the level, though in real life I try to be more of a pacifist). Mainly I enjoyed just messing about with the AI and (occasionally) physics rather than just going objective-to-objective.

In most of these games, the variety of mechanics and the quality of the AI allowed me to pick and choose my activities, routes and tactics. I have a blast when I can make up my own fun... good times! :lol:
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Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:39 pm

All the aforementioned subjects are all critical to a good game. Personally I've been at a low point in interest in many new games as a lot of them have been meh to me. To remedy this I've been playing a lot of old games I enjoyed like twisted metal, crash bandicoot, megaman, resident evil, croc and other miscellaneous oldies. I found that many were STILL awesome to play. I can't pinpoint why, but it be nice to have that same kind of "retro" feel with GOAT. Maybe in mechanics or difficulty or things like that. Like Croc was really frustrating, but really fun. Also, I enjoy smooth combat immensely. Something like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning would be greatly appreciated.
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evilkinggumby
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Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:56 pm

it is hard to put a finger on why some older games just 'hit' it right and are fun. seeing your post, it reminded me of what a co worker said when I showed him this game and linked him the alpha video and screenshots. He had this wash of youthful excitement and eager "fun" come over him, like " oh boy a fun game like when I was a kid!". It didn't have a lot of the bitterness and greed and hype that modern AAA publishers typicaly have, no spin, no rumors or negative news stories or articles about how half the dev team works 2x the hours for 1/2 the pay and got fired just after completion..

I think that in itself is an interesting and important thing to bring to the table. Like how we felt as kids when new nintendo games popped out (and the internet wasn't yet a thing) and we got to anticipate it via magazine articles and crappy screenshots. We were mostly blind, ignorant, and purely EXCITED for games. And that in itself can season your enjoyment and appreciation a lot. :)

I give Seith and David Kudos for adding that bit of seasoning to this game, and really, making it a gem AND a joy to anticipate. :) Amidst all the games I loook forward to, this is by far one of only a few that feels just "right".

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Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:31 am

evilkinggumby wrote:it is hard to put a finger on why some older games just 'hit' it right and are fun. seeing your post, it reminded me of what a co worker said when I showed him this game and linked him the alpha video and screenshots. He had this wash of youthful excitement and eager "fun" come over him, like " oh boy a fun game like when I was a kid!". It didn't have a lot of the bitterness and greed and hype that modern AAA publishers typicaly have, no spin, no rumors or negative news stories or articles about how half the dev team works 2x the hours for 1/2 the pay and got fired just after completion..

I think that in itself is an interesting and important thing to bring to the table. Like how we felt as kids when new nintendo games popped out (and the internet wasn't yet a thing) and we got to anticipate it via magazine articles and crappy screenshots. We were mostly blind, ignorant, and purely EXCITED for games. And that in itself can season your enjoyment and appreciation a lot. :)

I give Seith and David Kudos for adding that bit of seasoning to this game, and really, making it a gem AND a joy to anticipate. :) Amidst all the games I loook forward to, this is by far one of only a few that feels just "right".

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Good point! In a day and age when pretty much every game is affordable after a few months (see the current sale madness), it is hard to get excited over a game. In the olden days it was an achievement (winkwink) to even purchase a game: getting the money, getting to the right store, sometimes finding the right person to buy the game (HL1 was only allowed for 18+ audience in Germany, that is if you didn't want to fight ugly robots).
Add to that the difficulty of getting intel on the game, like evilkinggumby mentioned. I don't know how often I read the same article in PCPlayer about Jedi Knight before I eventually bought it :lol:

Another thing that evilkinggumby mentions, that I'm sure overlaps with my "soul" aspect of games: how the devs feel when making a game.
I have read and watched many interviews of the makers of Gothic and Little Big Adventure (some of my favorite games btw ;) ), where they talked about how things were done back then. They all say it was a child of love, they sometimes weren't even realising they were working. That's not to say they didn't work hard! They also state they pretty much had no life outside of making that one game, they thought will be the most awesomeness game ever (and they kinda succeeded).
So, it's really that not only the audience that used to be less overstrung, less opinionated, more naiive in a good sense. It was also the devs.
The Indie-boom sort of brought some of this back, but it will never be as it was, back when there where no internets, no socialnetwork integration coop-achievements and no weapon unlocks :cry:
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