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At what cost


Colin

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This topic is here for Members and Developers alike.

The decision making process in a game is one of the most important, pre planning will ultimately make a wining game, that is played for years, or if badly planned make a one day wonder.

I would be interested to know how you make the decision, put something into a game or leave it out, no matter how important it might be either way.

When do you decide?

How do you decide?

How does Technology influence these decisions?

I for one want to understand the reasons for such things, why we can’t have some things we want in a game, that are replaced or not put in at all, with something that appears not so important, to me the gamer.

Will there come a day when, all we want in game is their, now I’m talking common sense here ok, and will be made as options.

So a great FPS with all options to play the game exactly the way you want.

Thank You in Advance for any sensible answers.

Colin

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Honestly, most of the time the gamer has absolutely no idea what they'd really like. What they'd want would tend to lead to a broken game, and an extremely difficult development.

A huge amount of selfishness is found among videogamers.

For some insight, you may want to look around the websites and blogs of popular game developers.

Cliff Bleszinski is a good start:

http://cliffyb.1up.com/

http://cliffyb.com/did.mp3 (His speech from GDC05)

And the rest of my posts' be a long line of quotes from his blog:

Critical mistakes such as having inconsistent branding from the print ad campaign to the box art... "bullet point" marketing, etc... can all contribute to sales failure...

So, keeping with the "original designs" - Tim Schaefer (who made the excellent Psychonauts) recently commented in an Xbox magazine that he's been told by publishers that users don't want original content.

I think there's a balance to be had. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Take an existing formula and twist it. I don't think it's always a good thing to be 110% unique. Sometimes, the more unique your game and universe design the more difficult it can be for millions of gamers - ranging from hardcore to casual - to latch onto your game mechanics and characters...

Unreal was Quake with color, unique weapons, and more open ended worlds. Halo was Unreal/Quake with vehicles and great controls on a new console - marketed like mad.

The bottom line is we need to hit from both ends. We need Ico and System Shock as much as we need Madden and Burnout.

Then, every so often, a game hits on both accounts. And you have a GTA.

---

And, BTW, you don't need 40 weapons in your shooter. Shooter design tip 101: More is not always better. The more weapons you have the harder it is for the user to tell the differences between them which muddies up his Clarity.)

---

Demoing Gears of War once again - this time at X05 - proved to be enlightning as always. My highly scientific research has yielded the following valuable videogame industry data, that game journalists are obsessed with three things:

1. Walls you can destroy

2. Vehicles

3. The Heads Up Display

So I've come to the conclusion that the ultimate game would be a cross between a Bulldozer simulation and Steel Batallion. Kind of like when that guy went crazy in San Diego a few years ago and stole a tank from the National Guard armory or the guy who built his armored bulldozer and went on a rampage running through a small town. (From which a mini internet phenomenon popped up where people were worshipping the "Killdozer.")

3 out of 4 journalists quizzed me about the fact that in the demo builds of Gears the only Heads Up Display in the game was the crosshair.

"Why is this?"

"Are you attempting to make a more cinematic experience?"

"What kind of statement are you trying to make with this?"...

You know, now that I think about it, we should abolish this scourge known as the HUD. Let's take the same mentality and apply it to the driving experience. You should be able to figure out how fast you're going just by looking at the road, right? Why do you need a speedometer?

It's SO 1975.

Seriously though, I just don't like "mushy" design. I like for there to be clear differences between my attacks, defenses, and foes. If everything is mushy and grey then it's not obvious when you want to have a strategy. In a slower paced game like Silent Hill you can get away with not displaying a health meter because the combat is pretty infrequent. Having the main character limp and the screen get fuzzy is perfectly fine. But if you were to pull that ###### in Halo 2 I can guarantee you'd have millions of ###### off gamers on your hands.

Do we want games to be immersive? Yes. Are games movies? No.

I'd get more, but his blog's the only link I remember. :unsure:

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I always have been amazed a what a wealth of marketing info this forum board could be to any developer that would use it. Any dev that would implement the sum total of the suggestions and wishlists posted here, would be sure to have a product that would be a superior fps.

Since many of these individual features had been to some extent sucessfully done before, they could be copied and reproduced for new games, but instead we have seen devs insist on trying to "reinvent the wheel" and actually produce features that are inferior to what has already been done before. An great example of this would be how grenades are controlled, numerous games after GR1 have come out with a grenade tossing system that are badly flawed despite the fact that GR1 has already done this so well.

A developer that would incorporate every one of the features that have worked in the past, and add real innovations, would become a leader in the industry that would set a new standard.

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A developer that would incorporate every one of the features that have worked in the past, and add real innovations, would become a leader in the industry that would set a new standard.

That isn't true. This forum is full of a lot of people who think they could make games but don't have any idea what it's like.

Just piling on a bunch of 'Oooh, it'd be cool if we did this!' things is exactly what videogaming needs to avoid.

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A developer that would incorporate every one of the features that have worked in the past, and add real innovations, would become a leader in the industry that would set a new standard.

That isn't true. This forum is full of a lot of people who think they could make games but don't have any idea what it's like.

Just piling on a bunch of 'Oooh, it'd be cool if we did this!' things is exactly what videogaming needs to avoid.

I believe the forum is full of people who have terrific and creative ideas and preferences.

I believe that a smart company will listen to their customers, but when they actually give them free ideas of what will sell them in the future, they really should take advantage of this.

I know of no other forum that has as much of these type of discussions as here on this board, and it's a real treasure that should be mined by developers.

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A developer that would incorporate every one of the features that have worked in the past, and add real innovations, would become a leader in the industry that would set a new standard.

That isn't true. This forum is full of a lot of people who think they could make games but don't have any idea what it's like.

Just piling on a bunch of 'Oooh, it'd be cool if we did this!' things is exactly what videogaming needs to avoid.

I believe the forum is full of people who have terrific and creative ideas and preferences.

I believe that a smart company will listen to their customers, but when they actually give them free ideas of what will sell them in the future, they really should take advantage of this.

I know of no other forum that has as much of these type of discussions as here on this board, and it's a real treasure that should be mined by developers.

A: Great ideas in theory.

B: You don't seem to understand. Just jamming what you think would be a good game onto a DVD rom and shipping it will make an awful game.

C: It's everywhere, and there's a reason there's no perfect game yet. Nobody in any of these forums has any idea what they're really talking about.

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The perfect game to you would sell EXACTLY...1 copy.

The perfect game to me, would sell EXACTLY....1 copy.

Take 10 million dollars, build your perfect game, and have a blast.  Don't worry about MP support though, you won't need it.

Man, this is a GREAT quote :thumbsup:

I can see this quoted someday in some game development theory textbook ...

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The perfect game to you would sell EXACTLY...1 copy.

The perfect game to me, would sell EXACTLY....1 copy.

Take 10 million dollars, build your perfect game, and have a blast.  Don't worry about MP support though, you won't need it.

LOL!!! :rofl:

Not true. Game makers and publishers prove everyday that people will buy games they don't think are perfect. :P

There would be at least a few thousand people who would buy "my" perfect game, and they'd probably beat me at it too. :D

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There would be at least a few thousand people who would buy "my" perfect game, and they'd probably beat me at it too. :D

You do have a point. A game will always sell a few hundred or even thousand copies, no matter how bad it is.

But that doesn't illustrate the point near as well as what Serellan said. The perfect game to one person probably isn't a very good game.

If that person doesn't understand and respect game development, it's probably not a very good game at all.

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There would be at least a few thousand people who would buy "my" perfect game, and they'd probably beat me at it too. :D

You do have a point. A game will always sell a few hundred or even thousand copies, no matter how bad it is.

But that doesn't illustrate the point near as well as what Serellan said. The perfect game to one person probably isn't a very good game.

If that person doesn't understand and respect game development, it's probably not a very good game at all.

I'm just having some fun. :devil:

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"I would be interested to know how you make the decision, put something into a game or leave it out, no matter how important it might be either way."

I will speak from a MOD and student perspective, assuming much of the ground work is done. I will also focus on the inclusion exclusion of only one idea.

Is it fun or functional?

(I will assume fun)

Fun:

Does it add to the game?

How long is it fun for? (meaning is it novelty or long term)

Does it break/conflict other features?

Do any features need to be removed if this is included? (Break or replace them)

How much resources are needed to implament this feature?

Have any other games done something similar?

Does it fit into the theme of the game? (GRAW meets Drum input device...)

Would it be a core gameplay mechanism?

Can the target system do it?

If not can I fake it?

Does it serve a purpose?

Will it appeal to the target market?

How would it work?

What would it influence? (balance wise)

ect.

Lots and lots of questions, and research. This idea gets run by other people. Often the idea will fail and stay in the no go list. The ones that make it further often tend to change and evolve. At any point it could be decided that the level of resources to produce the feature out-wieght the reward and it gets axed. The ones that do survive go on a priority list. When time runs out features that are not complete and debugged and all in the list untouched get set aside to complete the project. If a priority feature (for example a core gameplay element) takes more resources than expected these resources are pulled from the bottom of the list up.

In the last thing I worked on (not a mod), it was amayzing to see a hard push for certain features (bloat) that would be fun but where not capable with in the time/tech limits. This cost heavily other features. In the end some did not make it in. (I cant stand feature bloat).

Edited by Suli
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Just piling on a bunch of 'Oooh, it'd be cool if we did this!' things is exactly what videogaming needs to avoid.

If developers would stick to the same format/ideas we'd be still playing Pong now.

Sometimes innovations are just crazy ideas, working out well.

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Just piling on a bunch of 'Oooh, it'd be cool if we did this!' things is exactly what videogaming needs to avoid.

If developers would stick to the same format/ideas we'd be still playing Pong now.

Sometimes innovations are just crazy ideas, working out well.

That's true, but 'crazy ideas' and 'I THINK A GAEM WULD BE GOOD IF WE TUK EVERYTHING FRUM EVERGAME MADE EVR AND WE MAED IT REALSTIIC' aren't even close.

The speech I linked has a great point about just what you said, though. Using Burnout 3 as an example; a racing game that takes the control away from you to turn the camera and show you crashes.

It sounds insane, but works perfectly.

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I have to agree with Sup. More and more useless additions to games make games lamer. A good example of this is in MGS3 with the directional microphone. Cool? Yes. Functional? A couple of times during the game to the average player. Add much depth to the gameplay? Not really. Weigh that against the camoflauge system. Cool? Absolutely. Functional? Better believe it. Add much depth to the gameplay? An incredible amount. Both of the ideas are progressive, but one adds to the game, the other one is just smoke and mirrors. "oooohs" and "aaaaaahs" only do so much before they get old.

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Another great example is destructable environments. Some games add them for no apparent reason. It's cool for sure to see that rocket you just fired blow off a chunk of a wall, but what does it do for the game? Translate that down to a game like Command and Conquer Red Alert 2. Being able to blow down an enemy's walls to raid them from the rear is important. Cool stuff is just that: cool.

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Wow. A great discussion.

I've got some catching up to do.

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Awesome, Suli, that's a great write-up. :)

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Everybody's version of perfect is different. Something as little as a gun animation not functioning in the way that the player thinks it should, may ruin it for that particular player.

For example, I'm into consistency. I don't know how many of saw the Fantastic 4, but the only part I remember from the whole movie was the part that ruined it for me. There was a big fight with a dude at the end of the movie, and everyone was involved, and it showed a close-up of Jessica Alba's face. She had a cut above one of her eyes, and blood was streaking down her face. It went away from her for maybe five seconds, and then went back. And... huh? There was no cut, and no blood. That ruined the whole movie for me, and I walked out right then.

So, theoretically, a perfect game for me would be one with absolute consistency. Everything is cohesive; there are no holes in the way the game world is put together. Some games come close to this, but the fact of the matter is, there will probably NEVER be a day when a game meets that criteria.

A very puzzling issue, indeed.

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And I'm with Sup on this one, guys.

Our studio goes through a long, and quite tedious, process to sort out ideas.

We start with the idea bank, which is as several people have already stated; the huge pile of every idea imaginable. And then we whittle it down. We start with the things that just don't make sense. Like, for example, putting a gun in (this is just for example, I'm not allowed to actually talk about what I'm working on) that with a single shot killed every single enemy in the whole level, while healing all of your allies to 1000% health and spawning a purple hippo with laser beams and an invincible sports car with the power to open wormholes and suck enemies into oblivion (heh). Although this may sound super-cool and badass on paper, in a gaming sense, it completely breaks all of the play mechanics and after a while it would just get boring.

From there, we take the ideas that sound really cool, and we know wouldn't break the game, or, if an idea is so good and ingenious, take it and build a whole new play-mechanic around that idea, and set those aside for ones that we would like to see come to fruition.

After we've got all of the really cool ideas together, we start to put the ones we think will be the most fun and work the best together. As more and more ideas see the light of day in a playable form, things start to become clearer as to what's possible and what just won't work. I've had ideas that I thought would be the best thing in the world, and when you put them into motion in an actual scenario, it just isn't fun, or it doesn't make any sense at all. Sure, it sucks, but not everything is going to work together.

People should think about these kinds of things before shooting down developers because their idea didn't come to light. They should also think about this before they submit "OGMGFDG CRAZY AWSUM?!" ideas that they think would make the greatest game on the face of the planet. It just doesn't happen. And to be honest, I don't think it ever will.

While games get better all of the time, they will continue to do just that, get better. They'll get better until games are no longer of interest, or the game industry crashes, but they will NEVER be perfect.

-----

In closing, and getting back on topic, I'm going to be writing up a whole big article just for you guys that answers the questions asked by Colin in the first place. Well, at least from my standpoint.

Cheers!

- Drew

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People this is good stuff, fantastic read.

I would like to throw one more in if I may.

As a developer, do you ever lose the abillity to be a true gamer, with all the ideas going around and testing and retesting, dont you just lose the plot.

I know some of the modders here and they would far more mod than play, does this make you the Dev as a devloper lose site of what a gamer enjoys in a game.

Or do you still look at the game from a gamers point of view.

Look forward to the follow up Drew :thumbsup:

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Of course i am no developer, but i can imagine it changes the way they look at games. perhaps they look at other games with their developer mindset, looking for glitches, good gameplay ideas and the way the game was made.

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I hate to offer an answer to a question that is not asked towards me but i cant resist.

"As a developer, do you ever lose the abillity to be a true gamer, with all the ideas going around and testing and retesting, dont you just lose the plot."

No but I enjoy them differently. I still love playing a game, but I have a difficult time letting go of the analitical aspenct when playing. For example, I have played quite a bit of Burnout3 and 4 with my cousin. I have a tendancy (and he can tell, I start losing) to start observing the techniques that are used. Like the mild camera shake that makes the player think there is more "action/motion" going on than there really is. Then when I have a chance to stop moving I watch the rythem and frequency of the camera movement, and imagine how varying that would effect the feel. Then I notch it into my brain as an immersion technique that could be used in a heavy firefight. I literally run code through my head and visualize how I would accomplish the same feeling.

My view of games has altered from OMG thats so cool I wish I could do that to; How do I make this entertainment product appeal to X market, how do I make gamers say OMG that is so cool I...? (And many others views)

I even think this way about a Mod, for the next installment of OE I sat down and thought about who is my competition, what will be the focus of the game, ect?

So its all still a lot of fun, and I still take time to be a gamer (dispite the fact my classmates and professors make fun of the fact I play games the least of every one) it just fun with creativity.

Edited by Suli
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