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What makes the perfect game?

By The Great Wakka in Op-Ed
Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:09:51 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

What does make a perfect game? In today's world with so much crap being produced, I think that it's time for a return to quality.

In that spirit, I've listed the eight most important points for a good computer game...

One: It must be infinitely replayable

That's right. I should be able to play it 20 times and not get bored of it. Alpha Centauri approaches this but the game mechanic get monotonous after about the fourth time through, and you have to take a break.

Two: It must be "skill scalable"

Why? So someone supremely untalented can play the whole thing through and not lose, or someone who is a game wizard can play the thing through and lose.

Three: It must be always fresh

Nethack is an excellent example of how this might work. Simply stick so much stuff in there that it becomes impossible to see it all in just one game.

Four: Include a campaign, "freeplay" and "sandbox" modes.

A campaign is good for people who want clear and concise objectives. A "freeplay" mode would be one in which you have any number of objectives, and can work at any pace towards achieving them, and you can achieve any number of them you want. Sandbox means that any "financial"-like aspect of the game is disabled, and you can simply build/shoot/fly/drive to your heart's content.

Five: Be able to move the game from a simplified mode to a complex mode.

That means that you can turn off some of the more complicated aspects if you want, preferably in a dialogue box. Railroad Tycoon 2 has this, but you only have limited control.

Six: Have an comprehensive, optional tutorial

If you want, build the tutorial into the campaign mode. Many games already do this. But many of the games today have non-optional tutorials, or if you want to learn some specific aspect of the game, you must also plow through the universal stuff like how to move, build, etc.

Seven: Make it fun.

Many games simply are eye-candy or are a demonstration of an idea. Black and White comes to mind, it is both. Wow. I've also seen some games that do this too. The easy test to do this is if you strip off the graphics, is it still fun?

Eight: Include Single AND Multiplayer modes

Very important. Sometimes, you just don't want to interact, other times, you want to have fun playing with other people. Games should include this flexibility.


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What is the most important point?
o One 18%
o Two 3%
o Three 10%
o Four 9%
o Five 2%
o Six 1%
o Seven 49%
o Eight 4%

Votes: 122
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by The Great Wakka

Display: Sort:
What makes the perfect game? | 119 comments (86 topical, 33 editorial, 0 hidden)
Really (4.27 / 11) (#1)
by shrike7 on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:14:50 PM EST

Point seven is all you really need to make a good game. I think of my top five games, none came out after 1999. What they all have in common is gameplay that is fun.
half-life; classic vs. perfect (3.80 / 5) (#2)
by suntzu on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:24:53 PM EST

Half-life is probably my favorite game ever. It really breaks your first rule (well, the single player does), but it's so damn good the first time through. I always called half-life perfect, because it was everything I wanted in a single player experience. Since I guess half-life doesn't qualify as a perfect game by your standards, how many of the criteria would you say have to be met for a game to be a classic? Five or six seems like a reasonable number. I'd say half-life misses #'s 1 and 3, and maybe 4 if you don't count the mods that are out for it (though I can't see why you wouldn't).

Also, do you have an example of a perfect game by those criteria? I can't think of one off-hand.

Replayability (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by Dolohov on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 08:40:37 PM EST

See, I don't see that as a problem with Half-Life. Sometimes good stories just don't bear a second or third reading / playing. Sure, there were a few "winks" thrown in for replayers (That is, stuff designed to make an experienced player smile) but other than that, much of the dramatic tension comes from not knowing how things are going to go. Without that tension, the game just turns into a difficulty.

I should note, however, that I am not a person who re-reads books. I've read the Lord of the Rings three times, which I think is a record for me. Even for some of my favorite books, I've only devoted a single reading, and then the occasional look-back to jog my memory. Movies, too, I tend to only watch once or twice.
Given that about me, I think it's unfair to include replayability as such a major factor. Perhaps it could be added as a minor consideration?

[ Parent ]

Most of your list (4.37 / 8) (#3)
by codespace on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:29:04 PM EST

Doesn't apply to the first-person shooter genre. You seem almost exclusively geared towards strategy games, and while I enjoy a good strategy game every now and then (StarCraft is definitely coming to mind here), I enjoy FPS games a whole lot more. The adrenaline rush alone is enough to keep me playing em.

today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
Multiplayer immaturity (3.75 / 4) (#4)
by jasonab on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:33:27 PM EST

Doesn't apply to the first-person shooter genre. You seem almost exclusively geared towards strategy games, and while I enjoy a good strategy game every now and then (StarCraft is definitely coming to mind here), I enjoy FPS games a whole lot more. The adrenaline rush alone is enough to keep me playing em.
I've been playign Jedi Knight II multiplayer for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say that I'm enjoying it less and less as time goes on. Mostly, that's because the other players are complete pricks. If they're no whining about one thing, they're trash talking you and generally acting like the unsocialized 16-year-olds they are. This happend when I played Total Annihilation several years ago as well (although my EQ experience was a little better).

Are there any adults out there, or are they jerks online as well?

America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
[ Parent ]

It all depends, really. (4.40 / 5) (#7)
by codespace on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:43:36 PM EST

I've found some really cool players on the servers for TeamFortress Classic. On CounterStrike, the second you show any form of skill, you're automagically cheating. In TRIBES 1, there's a lot of really cool players. However, videogames are marketed successfully at the youth of the world. Bear that in mind when you get irritated at the children you play against, so you can direct your anger at the appropriate department: Marketing.

today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
You have to have a gaming group. (4.00 / 4) (#9)
by EriKZ on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:02:20 PM EST

Internet play sucks. You're lucky if no one is cheating.

Develop a good group of friends. After that it's easy to set up a LAN game. Or set up a virtual network for a LAN game.

[ Parent ]
Tie it to a community (3.83 / 6) (#6)
by Eloquence on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 04:39:17 PM EST

It's really simple -- you have to tie a game to a community to make it infinitely replayable. That means: online playability, discussion boards, chat rooms, news sites, and most importantly, organized community submissions of "mods" and items. The more modifiable you make the game, the more likely it is that people will keep sending you new stuff. Mods could be approved and automatically integrated into the main game after a testing period on beta servers. Online games also have high addiction value because of the social community that forms within the game. To optimize this community, moderation/reputation systems may be helpful.

But you're really talking about engineering a drug here. I don't think that's a good idea. I'd rather try to use the addictive mechanisms of computer games for positive causes (e.g. political action -- gather points by coming up with creative real world action).
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Proposed Point 9 (4.33 / 6) (#8)
by holycola on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 05:22:28 PM EST

Make it modifiable or otherwise extensible. The Sims is a good example of how the game's underlying architecture invites users personalities into the game. For example, the game allows users to to point to mp3's that play in the game when the jukebox or radio is on. Providing opportunities for customization beyond a list of checkboxes can make a game go so much farther for players.

This is not a sig.
Don't be silly... (4.72 / 11) (#10)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:07:39 PM EST

"The perfect game" is a context dependant notion.

If I've got a few minutes to kill before class, I've done the readings, and already have my coffee, then the "perfect game" is something that takes about 5 minutes to play a couple of times. This game looks nothing like the "perfect game" for when I'm in the mood to build an empire or command a large army through a war.

Consider the similar question about "the perfect sandwich". Do you think that you should be able to eat a single sandwich type again and again without ever getting tired of it or wanting something else. That sounds rather rediculous to me. Yet there is the same idea in your Points One, Two, and Three.

The only point that has any traction is seven, but that is just because you've used another context dependant notion, "fun". Sometimes fun = easy, sometimes fun = super hard, sometimes quick, sometimes long.

Why would you ever expect a single game to be able to meet all of your gameing desires? I don't even hope for such a thing. The games I like range from involved realism to silly shapes and simple abstract rules.

Escape Velocity (3.50 / 4) (#11)
by CokeBear on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:14:18 PM EST

Escape Velocity, from Ambrosia Software, meets most of these criteria, and its an awesome game. Bonus: It is extensible with plugins.

I've looked at it, but.. (2.00 / 3) (#12)
by The Great Wakka on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:30:36 PM EST

It's only for Mac! Oh well... I have played on friends machines, it has been awesome, but I don't own a macintosh. They ported their asteroids clone to linux, maybe they'll do the same with EV or EV:O

[ Parent ]
A game I couldn't put down... (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by Trollificus on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:35:43 PM EST

...was Gothic, by piranha-bytes.
This game seems rather dated, technology-wise, as it uses the old Tomb Raider core. But it's the most fun I've had in a long time. The story is very long and involving, with multiple storylines and a myriad of skills and weapons to master.
One thing I liked the most about this game was that the world was extremely huge. There was a LOT to explore. And after a week of playing, I still hadn't found everything.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL

You forgot one... (4.50 / 8) (#14)
by molybdenum on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:38:02 PM EST


I propose GTA3 as an example of a simple game. Why?

- You can go just about anywhere you want.
- You can attack people. Sometimes they'll attack you back.
- You can steal cars.
- If you get hit by something, you get hurt. Same goes for a car.
- If you get hurt too much, you die.
- The police don't like you.

Granted, I do also like games that have some complexities, but those which make you think and keep the game somewhat different on each run through.


GTA 3 - Best Game of All Time (2.00 / 2) (#25)
by zonker on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 08:50:41 PM EST

At least in my opinion. I've had the game for more than a month and haven't finished it and haven't gotten bored. (I probably could have finished it by now, but I've been having more fun just causing mayhem...
I will not get very far with this attitude.
[ Parent ]
don't froget (2.66 / 3) (#29)
by nodsmasher on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 10:05:21 PM EST

beat prostatuts with a base ball bat, thats a big thing too
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
Not perfect (3.33 / 3) (#15)
by rodoke3 on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 06:41:20 PM EST

I believe no game is perfect. I mean, can you imagine playing the same game forever? The entire gaming industry would be severely weakened if everyone bought one copy of the same game. Rather than perfect, I would say that these are elements of a successful game. The Civilization series of games has been successful in particular because they have some of the qualities mentioned in your article.

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky

The Perfect game... (2.66 / 3) (#17)
by /dev/trash on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 07:15:42 PM EST

Would be like Oddworld. Infinite lives, and a slightly addictive gameplay

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
*yawn* (3.00 / 4) (#18)
by Therac-25 on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 07:21:26 PM EST

Am I the only one getting sick of the "so many games these days suck" threads?

There are more quality games coming out these days than ever before. It's the best time to be a video gamer in history, be it computer, console or handheld.

Stop bitching about games, and start enjoying them. You only have so much time in your life to play video games, and you can't play them all.

"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
Hmm... (4.50 / 4) (#26)
by Danse on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 09:21:58 PM EST

I've been a gamer since I ran into my first Space Invaders tabletop arcade game when I was about 6 years old. While a really good game comes out every once in a while, I don't think that they are any more or less frequent now than they used to be. You only get one, or maybe two in a year. Most of the rest are mediocre at best. Although I grew up with console gaming, I find console games harder to get into now than I used to. I much prefer PC games because they almost invariably have more depth to them. That, and the fact that the mod scenes for most games really do add a lot to the entertainment value and longevity of a game.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
this is different (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by karb on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 06:16:37 PM EST

The last article quoted an author that appealed to reason and flawed statistics to validate his own personal taste in games.

This one is a little different. Every point made actually qualifies as something that can make a game great.

Also, he doesn't single out any 'problems', like the last guy. By 'problems', I mean "Things that I find distateful but that make other people buy games in droves, probably because they are morons."

I don't mind that point of view, at any rate, even though I disagree. I just hated the condescencion and the horrible reasoning.
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

Not sure... (none / 0) (#108)
by Therac-25 on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:43:18 PM EST

...what previous article you're referring to?

The "threads" I was talking about is the general attitude that I see manifested in many places that video gaming today somehow sucks compared with the videogaming Elysium of yesteryear (usually because arcades are dead, or someone's favourite console died, or Microsoft is in the gaming industry now, or because no one makes 2D games anymore, or the scrolling shooter is nearly dead, or games are too easy nowadays, or this, or that, or whatever).

"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]
I really liked Deus Ex. (4.00 / 3) (#19)
by rebelcool on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 07:24:44 PM EST

There were many ways to play it, besides the story deviations. You could play it silently as possible and get through the game without killing anyone (or by using only silent weapons), or you could gung ho it.

It was a *very* long game. If you took the time to have conversations with all the NPC's and played the side missions, it took well over a month to play all the way through.

The atmosphere was great. And it made good use of music. I've discovered something that games these days make much less use of... a nice soundtrack. Of those that have soundtracks often simply license a popular song, or only use it in certain areas. I miss the old days where every level would have a different song. Like DOOM..I still think DOOM/DOOM2 had one of the best game soundtracks ever. They fit the levels perfectly.

Deus Ex also had a decent multiplayer when that patch came out.. it was different than the rest. That's also why it wasnt that popular. You could use the augmentations more effectively in multiplayer than the single, using things like aggressive defense to blow up rockets before they reached you, cloaking, enhanced vision and so on. Really unique and fun.

The story was also interesting and engrossing. Gamespy recently put up a Deus Ex bible that explained it even more detail, from company documents. It details alot of the history and background that didnt make it into the game.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Associated link (4.00 / 3) (#20)
by cafeman on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 07:45:13 PM EST

For the lazy, here's a link to the article (in three parts, no less!). Deus Ex is one the of the best games I've played in years. I got holed up after having my wisdom teeth out, and it still took me well over 2 weeks straight to beat it and see everything. It's an amazing game.

"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"
[ Parent ]
Deus Ex (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by bigMAX on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 10:12:24 PM EST

I loved the game too. But I used to have problems with it occasionally crashing.
I poured so many hours into the game... I finally got up to the level with the missile silo and it crashed on me. Since I'd been playing for about 4hrs I thought I'd give it a rest, came back a few days later to find my save game completely gone!
Of course, the only other save game I had was still on the first level :)
Needless to say, after unsuccessfully searching the web for any way of recovering the game, I deleted it and will never play it again (as a matter of principal)..

[ Parent ]
Yeah it crashed a few times on me. (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by rebelcool on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 10:35:44 PM EST

Frustrating, but patches seemed to help. At least it wasnt a fiasco like Black and White was...the game was nearly unfinishable without a patch that look 5 months to come out.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Contradictions and Options (4.40 / 5) (#22)
by joecool12321 on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 08:02:50 PM EST

Your points one and three contradict each other in the manner presented.

You say the game must be "infinitely replayable", and we're supposed to do this by, "[sticking] so much stuff in there that it becomes impossible to see it all in just one game." But, inherently a limited amount of information can be accessed. Rather, point three should argue for interactive feedback, so that no two games are ever the same. The closest modern games (in my experience) are MMORPGS and Maxis' SIM line of games.

As for non-computer games, let me suggest NOMIC: a Self-Modifying game based on reflexivity in law. It meets one, two, three, five, and seven. It quasi-meets some others, when you read Hofstadter's commentary on nomic. More information can be found by googling nomic.


half-life (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by nodsmasher on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 10:03:48 PM EST

half-life only fits #7&#8 but many people (including pc gamer) would call it the best game ever, explain that
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
No, Halflife is More than That (3.66 / 3) (#35)
by matthead on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 12:00:44 AM EST

Half-life fits more of the list than just 7 and 8.
  1. I guess it's not infinitely playable, but I played it through quite a few times. I don't think anything is really infinitely replayable - but like books, a good game is still fun the fourth or fifth or tenth time through. Half-life fit this.
  2. I guess Half-Life isn't exactly skill scalable - at least in single player mode. Multi-player mode is much better. Of course, the skill level required depends on who you're playing with.
  3. With all the mods available, half-life has quite a bit of freshness left.
  4. OK, so there's not really "campaign" vs. "freeplay" vs. "sandbox." I still think it's one of the best games I've played.
  5. Does turning cheats on count as moving from complex to simple mode?
  6. Half-Life has a great tutorial that was, in itself, fun to play. It definitely fits this requrement.
In conclusion, Half-Life is my personal favorite first-person-shooter. I think it definitely deserved the game of the year title.

- Matt S.

[ Parent ]
oh ya (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by nodsmasher on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 03:36:43 PM EST

frogot about the tutorial, that was fun especialy in op 4
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
halflife's wildly popular, but why? (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by beleriand on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 05:46:25 PM EST

1. hmm, i only play'ed it through once, after all the enemy's in the single player are all bots and the plot is all scripted, so what's the point of playing it throught multiple times? Ok, i played through quake1 multiple times, but half-life's just a (well done) quake mod, so why bother?. 2. skill-scalable? Doesn't it have a difficulty setting? I guess since you can save the game at any time and reload later, and the enemys are just some really dumb bots there really isn't much "skill" in single player anyway. 3. But that's the mod's, and not half-life itself? I hope they don't publish half-life 2 or something.. we don't need another tomb-raider syndrome.. 4. hmm, maybee campaign = normal single player, freeplay = multiplayer and sandbox is /devmap (or whatever its' called in halflife)... I think half life fails #1, replayability (im talking about the single player part here) .. yeah you can play it through a few times, but compare it to pirates!, sim city or civ1...

[ Parent ]
HL (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by BelDion on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:22:34 PM EST

Explain it?

How about the fact that the PC game mags are subsidized by the game companies?

[ Parent ]
um (none / 0) (#102)
by nodsmasher on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 03:41:48 PM EST

it also won teh reader poll on best computer game ever, plus its still has 10x more players online then any other game, plus its just god damned fun
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
And another important element: (4.33 / 3) (#32)
by pietra on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 10:43:56 PM EST

Make it thoroughly entertaining for another person, particularly your girlfriend or housemate, to watch you play the game for hours. GTA3 is a source of endless amusement in our household, and I've yet to pick up the controller. I genuinely like watching other people play it (though this follows in the same vein as gawking at car crashes on the freeway). Deus Ex rates pretty high on this score too. Ditto Jedi Knight II and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Red Alert, alas, rates a 2 out of 10 on the Girlfriend-Entertain-O-Meter.

I've got the perfetc game(s) (4.40 / 10) (#34)
by scheme on Sun Apr 21, 2002 at 11:00:38 PM EST

You should try a game such as chess, go, shoji, or xiangqi. They all fulfill most if not all of your criteria.

  1. Every game is different.
  2. you can put as much or as little thought into strategy and tactics as you want.
  3. You'll always be finding new tactics and strategies
  4. You can play quick fast games, longer more intricate games, etc.
  5. The rules are fairly easy to learn so complexity isn't an issue.
  6. There are many books covering these games at several levels
  7. You can play a text mode version and it is still just as fun
  8. There are computer programs that allow you to play single player, against others on the net, or you can play the game without a computer.

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein

You might enjoy this (4.60 / 5) (#69)
by epepke on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 03:27:49 PM EST

A review of chess.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Nethack (4.20 / 5) (#37)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 04:48:15 AM EST

Nethack is _the_ game that comes to closest to perfection. I've played it (off and on) for over 15 years, and enjoy it every time I re-discover it (this seems to happen every two years or so when a new version is released). The only thing it lacks from your list is multiplayer capability, which is regrettable. Even then it is worth the effort it might take for the PS2 generation to understand what the hell is going on with all these strange characters instead of nifty graphics.

BTW, regarding your opening paragraph: it's not only today's world where so much crap is being produced; 90% of everything is shit. History just tends to forget the Take That's (the band) and Armageddon´s (the movie) of the past.

My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
Meatgazer Frau gr3y

heh (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by pb on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 12:59:44 PM EST

For multiplayer, try mangband.

ToME is cool too, but not really stable, and of course they could all use a rewrite.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Armageddon (2.00 / 1) (#81)
by smallstepforman on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:29:31 AM EST

Hey, I liked Armageddon. Its a no-brainer flick, with hundreds of 'cute' one-liners. Who can forget the Dr. Strangelove reference and the "no nukes" scene. Cinematic classic, in a jouvenille kind of way. And the Russian cosmonaut is a legend - "American technology, Russian technology, its all made in Korea."

[ Parent ]
NetHack (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by BadmanX on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:01:19 PM EST

Hmmm...I probably would have liked NetHack if it weren't for two things:

1. It needs a better interface. See, there's this thing called a mouse that got invented about twenty years ago...

(Yes, I know about Falcon's Eye, which is nice and pretty, but NetHack's interface problems go deeper than that.)

2. The game is incredibly arbitrary; you can die for breathing wrong in this game. Case in point - I was down to one hitpoint. I went down the stairs to the next level. The game tells me that I tripped, stumbled, fell down the stairs, took a point of damage, and died. Yay. Way to take my character away from me. And I'd been doing pretty good up to that point.

I think NetHack is actually more of a "Unix mindset creator/stimulator". Did you just delete all your files because you put a tilde on the end of your command by accident? Hey, it's just like that time you lost a 32nd-level character because you fell down the stairs while holding a cockatrice corpse!

[ Parent ]

why you don't like nethack (4.50 / 2) (#100)
by fringd on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:21:40 PM EST

you're stressing it cause you tripped. that's your fault actually. i don't think you really understand the point of the game.

while it flows from rogue, and is in the same format as all roguelike games, (or diablo-like if you're not familiar w/ rogue) the main thrust of the gameplay in nethack is discovering what the rules are, and learning how to twist them. NOT just blowing through levels, getting cool weapons, and eventually killing the big badass and winning.

in your case, if you played a few more times, you would learn that trying to go down stairs when you are carrying too much always results in you hurting yourself. don't do it if you've only got 1 HP.

what you're complaining about is really the biggest draw of nethack as far as i'm concerned. it's a tight world where a mis-step can mean death, and a subtle trick can weild great power. i think the sensitive nature of it is why it's called net "hack" as it's similar to the way hacking goes.

anyways try to stop stressing about when you die, and concentrate more on what you can learn from each death. notice that it is fun to experiment with new things, and don't read the spoilers, the most fun is learning something new. so good luck, and keep hacking!

[ Parent ]

Playing the game (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by QuantumG on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 05:38:34 AM EST

Sometimes I'm half way through a game and I'm like "gee, I really wanna see what happens next" but I just dont have the skill to beat it. Around this point I start to get pissed off, I've paid for the game, you're not gunna get any more money out of me, why cant I see the rest of the plot line? So here's my feature: There should always be a way to skip to the next level.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
That's what cheat sites are for (n/t) (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by webwench on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 01:54:41 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Exploration and God Mode (none / 0) (#107)
by cam on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:27:23 PM EST

There should always be a way to skip to the next level.

I have played all the First person shooters, like Doom, Doom II, Quake, Quake II, Unreal etc and more recently Medal of Honour in God Mode. I like exploring the world they have created without worrying about getting killed. I also like to do a bit of shooting along the way. I think Wolfenstein was the only I didnt do this on, but back then I was young enough not to know any better.

When I played Unreal I think it was, the one with scientists and aliens, there was one tower where a scientist yelled for help but always fell just before i got to him. I tried it often enough that it was obvious that the scientist falling to his death was scripted to always happen when I came close enough. It was disconcerting, because I couldnt save a figure that was obviously in need. I also got angry that a game decision made by the designer stopped me playing the game how I wanted to. I stopped playing it after that incident.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

No such thing (4.50 / 4) (#45)
by Urthpaw on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 07:17:52 AM EST

There is no perfect game, just as there is no perfect book, or perfect movie.

There are extremely good games, but no perfect ones.

I think that the properties of an excellent game can't really be listed. Of course, they're all "fun", but how can you define that, or give it instructions.

Many of my favourite games don't have multiplayer, or don't have singleplayer. Some are very hard to play, some are very easy to play. Just because I can't beat it doesn't mean a game is bad.

This would be a better article if it was "tips to make a good game". However, any competent game designer already knows this. If they disagree, on any points, then they have a reason to disagree. Most games that suck don't suck because they failed to follow a list like this. They suck because the original idea sucked, they didn't get enough funding, their publisher rushed them, there were internal problems with the team, they were lazy, or they simply set out to make a low-grade title.

How about suggestions... (3.50 / 2) (#46)
by limelight on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 07:55:41 AM EST

...for some ways we can entice game developers to follow these rules? Following some or all of these would probably make a lot of the current crop of games much, much cooler to play, but it would probably at least double game development times.

It's also worth noting that some of these rules don't or shouldn't apply to some genres. Good luck applying most of them to RPGs or adventure games with tightly crafted storylines.

how about... (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by tenpo on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 08:48:14 AM EST

After including all of these features in your game you should be well and truly 2 years behind schedule to hit your release date.

In all honesty these ideas are all good, but they are also quite vague and nonspecific. Given a balmy evening and a bottle of red i'm sure any 5 of us sitting around a table could come up with the same list plus a few more.

You Forgot One ... (4.25 / 4) (#50)
by Bad Mojo on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 09:40:20 AM EST

The game must also turn a decent profit.

This is where I think most bad PC games actually come from. The lure of insane profit (id Style) seems to promote companies giving tons of money to projects that shouldn't be getting it.

The PC Gaming industry is a fucking mad house and I only hope that it settles down into something resembling a normal business. Though, my job at a corporate software giant tells me that even the regular software industry is a giant Mickey Mouse operation gone haywire.

If you don't like a game, don't buy it. If you can't play it before you buy it (ie a demo), pirate it.

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

If it was run like a business... (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by Eater on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:55:42 AM EST

...we would all be playing either Deer Hunter #231312 or nothing at all. ID, despite being one of the more profitable "real" game companies, is still not as bad as the companies that make games just for the sake of turning a profit, and nothing else. If they only cared about the money, they too would be turning out Deer Hunters by the hundreds.

[ Parent ]
A game I have not tired of in nine years (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by IHCOYC on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 12:36:58 PM EST

"Unlimited Adventures" is a game that originally came out in 1993, published by SSI.

If you remember those old Gold Box style AD&D adventure games like "Pool of Radiance," "Death Knights of Krynn" and their progeny, you know the system. Basically, the Unlimited Adventures game, in addition to containing the final installment of that series, also has a game editor that allows you to create games that play in the same system.

The Magic Mirror, mirrored here, is a site that contains most of the thousands of files --- adventures, support art, and hacks --- that go along. Hack manager programmes like UAShell allow the player to expand the abilities of the programme far beyond the game as originally shipped.

The best games, IMO, are those that allow the player to create his own world and share it with others. A successful programme of this sort allows play that is literally unlimited.

This message has been placed here IN MEMORIAM by the Tijuana Bible Society.

Like a great movie (4.00 / 3) (#56)
by karb on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 12:54:44 PM EST

There are genres of films that require disregarding normal rules. Throwing 'good' plot elements into an action movie isn't always a good idea.

Many good games are infinitely replayable. I especially liked them when I was a kid. however, now, I'm a lot more pressed for time. I sometimes enjoy punched up content that is only interesting once, because I usually have five to seven _unplayed_ games on my shelf at any given time.

Any game in a well-defined genre often can't, and sometimes, shouldn't, be really accessible to everybody. Because they become more simulation. Or because the 'audience' is mostly composed of people that have played the past five games in the series. If the previous five games were bestsellers, why do you want to make an easy game that may turn off the people that made the previous games a hit?

Basically, what I'm saying is that the audience is foremost. I really like your criteria, actually. (good job!) However, you have to recognize that sometimes really pleasing your audience requires ignoring some of the rules. And sometimes making a few people really happy is better than making everybody kind of happy.
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

Interesting subject, horrible article (4.28 / 7) (#59)
by jmzero on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 01:38:13 PM EST

"Infinitely Replayable", "Always Fresh". That's great. Might as well say : 1. Make it a really good game. 2. And really fun. 3. And good. 4. And you don't get tired of it. You're saying things that are important - everyone wants a replayable game. But you give us very little in the way of what "what makes a game replayable? And Alpha Centauri was the game you thought of for replayability? I was tired of AC before I was finished my first game (which I won handily - and I have yet to play it again). It may have been innovative, but single player AC is not exactly compelling. "Include Single AND Multiplayer Modes". This is a dumb idea that many companies' marketing departments have really latched onto. It's led to many great single player games with stupid multiplayer games tacked on. It's great if a company can deliver both - but it shouldn't be an ideal for every game. Some games weren't meant for multiplayer, and the effort just detracts from the single player experience. "Black and White" is the game that comes to your mind when you think of fun? How about Ms. Pac-man or Jumpman or Super Monkey Ball or Crazy Taxi or Wolfenstein? Strategy games are not typically about having the most fun - and even for a strategy game, Black and White is not exactly a big-box-o-joy. It was certainly interesting, and it took some amazingly tedious micromanagement to win - but surely it's not what you think of when you think "fun"? Come back when you've really explored this topic and thought things through.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
The most fun (computer) game... (4.00 / 3) (#63)
by SIGFPE on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 01:55:46 PM EST

...is writing (computer) games. Just wish I had time for more of it.
Gameboy Advance - Advance Wars (3.00 / 3) (#68)
by jlinwood on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 03:16:41 PM EST

Advance Wars is the most addictive strategy game I have ever played. It meets all 8 of your criteria, plus it's portable so I can take it with me wherever I go, or play it outside in the sun.

Advance Wars is a turn-based strategy game where the objective is to either destroy all of your opponents forces, or to conquer his main base. You have a choice of 8 commanding officers, all with different attack characteristics and special attack moves. There are islands in some levels that troops must be airlifted or boat-lifted too. All units are extremely well balanced, and the animation is amazing for such a small screen.

This Gameboy game comes with a full tutorial, a full campaign with replayability (you can use a different commanding officer), 1-4 multiplayer, either on one gameboy or linked gameboys, a shop to purchase more maps with coins you win in the campaign or war room modes, and a map designer.

It hasn't gotten old yet.

For me it would be... (2.00 / 2) (#71)
by X-Nc on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 03:38:16 PM EST

Mindlessly easy and one finger playability. Think Tetris only not so hard.

I'm afraid that I don't play computer/console games. I find that hacking/coding and sysadmining to be more fun, really. And games are so difficult anymore. If it requires more than two brain cells and 25 seconds of thought I don't mess with it. I just don't have the time, really.

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.

do you have a clitoris? [nt] (3.75 / 4) (#72)
by fn0rd on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 04:06:08 PM EST

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
Re: do you have a clitoris? [nt] (none / 0) (#112)
by X-Nc on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 04:06:58 PM EST

Yes, but the woman it is attached to is on the other side of the planet. :-(

Oh, wait... You mean me, physically!
No. At least not last time I checked. Why?

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]

I don't play games either (2.00 / 1) (#73)
by halo64 on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 04:41:19 PM EST

i find most games to be really dull and boring. FPS games bore me. Games like Age of Empires are repetative. I have yet to find a game that can hold my attention for more than two or three hours total time.

I prefer to read, write, take pictures or just do nothing.

Besides that, moving the mouse around the desk constantly makes my arms hurt.

/* begin sig here
I don't have one because I'm lame
finish sig here */
[ Parent ]

Mindlessly easy? (2.00 / 1) (#92)
by pin0cchio on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 09:58:43 AM EST

Mindlessly easy and one finger playability.

You want Hampsterdeath. Just point and shoot. Part of the freepuzzlearena™ package.

Think Tetris only not so hard.

Tetris isn't hard unless you're fucked up.

[ Parent ]
Please.. (2.66 / 3) (#78)
by darthaya on Mon Apr 22, 2002 at 06:31:44 PM EST

God, do not make it a FPS.


Then WWP is the perfect game (3.66 / 3) (#85)
by carbon on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 01:03:47 AM EST

Most of these points fit many game genres, but some do not, and for specific games, there are contradictory or missing points. For instance, my favorite game genre is the RPG. In an RPG, you really can't have infinite replayability, becaues the 9th point for RPGs specifically would be "Complex and unpredictrable plot, and good character depth". With non-linear RPGs, the plot always loses some quality or self consistency, and it's practically impossible to create a game you can play forever with a linear game (you can get close, as with Chrono Trigger, but you can't really do it forever without making it non-linear).

But not all games are RPGs,and it seems that the author of the story is not a big fan of them, leaning more (I think) towards strategy, FPS, and simulation games, strategy games in particular. Looking at the list again, I'd say that the Worms Worms Party (or its very similar prequel Worms Armageddon) is the perfect game, or close. Certainly, it covers every point listed at least partially. Going down the list:
  • 1: WWP is infinitely replayable. In addition to the fact that games are customizable by the player from the location to which they teleport to the exact hilarious weapoin with which they use to defeat their opponents, there are a huge number of maps included with the game, and also the possibility for adding more user-made maps, adjusting weapon power and frequency and effectiveness with minute control, altering any number of options on a per-game basis, and so on and so forth. This game just lasts forever.
  • 2: WWP is mostly skill scalable, for those who are willing to spend a little time finding the right missions. Since it's community expandable, just go and get tougher or easier missions, or adjust the settings of missions yourself to make the enemies smarter/stupider and numerous/few, or to turn the general strategy of location against you. Not to mention the training mode, where (once you've figured out the basics) the objective is not to win or lose but simply to try and beat your own record, a system that's been proven to work all the way back from Tetris.
  • 3: WWP is always fresh, because there are very many hidden weapons, and it's completely community expandable, so in the unlikely event you get bored of the built-in missions and trainers, you can go and get some more missions, not to mention netplay.
  • 4: WWP has many, many modes of gameplay. Regular mission (campaign) mode is of course nice, and user expandable. The training mode seems rather similar to the freeplay mode you describe, in that you can attempt to beat your own record under any parameters you'd like, yours or pre-built. And, a sand-box like mode is possible with the mission editor, which allows you to build any sort of game you'd like. Someone who's good with the mission editor can practically expand the game into a different genre. For example, ropetrick competition mode and battle race mode, which were both built by worms players after Worms Armageddons release, are so different you'd almost think they were two seperate games entirely.
  • 5: WWP allows both simple and complex games. You can make any sort of mission you like, from complex to simple, both online and off.
  • 6: WWP has a tutorial mode, which although not optional if you intend to complete the entire campaign mode, can be completed in pretty much any order, and very quickly indeed by a good player. The training modes also provide both a reflex enhancing mode for the new player and a gameplay mode in and of themselves for the experienced player.
  • 7: WWP is quite fun, due to the amount of stuff put in and the sheer flexibility of the game. There are loads of weapons, some of which are so rare and hilarious it's almost worth playing the game over and over again just to see them. There are many different styles of play because of the user expandability of the game, which I've already covered. The amount of stuff that the player can mess with and have fun with not even related to the game, from drawing their own flags and gravestones, to generating voice sets for their characters and sorting through the 50 or so voicesets included with the game, is just crazy. And there is no maximum skill level, because the better your opponent is at defense, the better you have to be at offense, to a nearly infinite degree. And gameplay depth goes from one tablespoon to one mile depending on the mission and the players.
  • 8: WWP has single player modes, which are heavily customizable, and because of it's nature can reasonably support about 6 people at one keyboard, and don't even get me started on how cool the netplay mode is, with ranking systems and heavy clan interactiion.

If you actually went through that list (*phew*) then you've probably noticed a single pattern : the key to allowing a game to keep on getting more and more fun is to give the players as much leeway as you can. Don't limit any aspect of the game, and let players customize and improve everything about the game, and everything about their own strategy and records. IMO, that's the secret to a perfect strategy game build a really good and flexible engine, and the players will come and improve it as much as they can. Worms Armageddon was released many years ago, and although it's never been as popular as Quake2, W:A Wormnet and the W:A Clan League are both still fairly active, and WWP Wormnet and its Clan Leage even more so.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
Gaming Perfection (3.50 / 2) (#86)
by Obvious Pseudonym on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 05:34:42 AM EST

What does make a perfect game? In today's world with so much crap being produced, I think that it's time for a return to quality.

Tabletop roleplaying games give you everything you have asked for here and more. They are a great social activity (hey - I even met my wife through them...) and a wonderful and educational source of entertainment.

If you are looking for the 'best of the best', then the best tabletop roleplaying games (and I realise this is just my subjective opinion) are -

Call of Cthulhu (the original Chaosium version, I reserve judgement on the 'd20' version until I have seen it)

Dungeons and Dragons (3rd edition - it has seriously cleaned up the flaws in the earlier editions)

Ars Magica

Champions (I just got the 5th edition Hero system and it is wonderful)

In that spirit, I've listed the eight most important points for a good computer game... (my emphasis)

Damn... you were talking about computer games - why didn't you say that in the first place.

Well, I suppose you could play a roleplaying game on a computer (via IRC or something) - but they are much better if you play face-to-face.

By the way. There is no such thing as a 'computer roleplaying game' - that description (when applied to games like Diablo or Deus Ex) is just something invented by marketroids and those games bear no relationship to real roleplaying.

Obvious Pseudonym

I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.

CRPGs (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by ferret dude on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 07:17:49 AM EST

C'mon the Bioware Games (Baldur's Gate Series) can be called Computer Role Playing Games without insulting the genre.
Mainly because they are based on D&D rules.
But I agree that Diablo and other Mana-based games aren't so.
Life is short and hard like a body building elf - Bloodhound Gang
[ Parent ]
Computer RPGs (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by BadmanX on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:47:52 AM EST

My, aren't we catty. The truth is that there are two aspects to paper-and-pencil roleplaying:

1. Combat and Levelling. Rolling dice to do damage so your XP goes up and eventually you level, giving you more hitpoints and making you better at what you do. Computers do this marvellously. In fact, computer roleplaying grew out of programs hobbyist programmers wrote to keep track of their characters. And there are lots of paper-and-pencil roleplayers out there for whom this is the aspect of roleplaying that they enjoy most - killing monsters, getting their stuff and going up levels.

2. Plot and NPC Interaction. If properly programmed, computers can do this passingly well. Well-scripted events, strong character dialog and A-Life routines can make the characters in the game seem at least as real as characters from a good book. And if the overarching plot is interesting, the experience can be quite good.

On the other hand, if the computer isn't programmed well, it won't handle plot and NPCs well at all. But then a lot of human GMs can't do this either. Honestly, I've had roleplaying experiences in front of my computer that were much better than some of my live roleplaying ones, simply because the GM wasn't capable of making the plot hang together or making NPCs come alive.

I'll grant that making good computer NPCs is difficult, and that's why most recent computer "RPGs" like Diablo II and Dungeon Siege haven't really bothered; they've focused on the levelling aspects of RPGs, and lots of people seem to like that. But for you to say that Ultima VII wasn't a roleplaying game...that Deus Ex wasn't a roleplaying game...that Baldur's Gate II wasn't a roleplaying game...that Planescape: Torment wasn't a roleplaying game...that Fallout wasn't a roleplaying game...well, you're just wrong, and that's all I have to say.

[ Parent ]

Paper + pencil RPGs over the net (none / 0) (#106)
by Locando on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 07:57:32 PM EST

Well, I suppose you could play a roleplaying game on a computer (via IRC or something) - but they are much better if you play face-to-face.
Actually, you'd probably use something like OpenRPG, which actually works quite nicely, allowing for mapping and character sheets and such. It's not the same, I know, but it's a good option if you can't find enough good RPGers around.

People are strange.
[ Parent ]
The real 7 points (4.50 / 2) (#87)
by NotZen on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 06:02:07 AM EST

1) It must be good
2) Really good
3) Even better than that
4) And you must want to play it a lot
5) You know, all the time
6) And it should adapt to how you play the game
7) Even if you'd rather be playing something else, it should adapt to that too and become a completely different game
8) It should also bring about world peace and an end to famine, poverty and boy-bands.

Civilization II (3.50 / 4) (#89)
by ferret dude on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 07:22:19 AM EST

'nuff said.

Been playing it for 7 years and it still can beat me. And I've got 522% on King Lvl and 455% on Deity Lvl b4 without cheating. (I'm so proud of that, it makes my crappy existence worthwhile....)

Multiple Objectives:
Colonization of Alpha Centauri
World Domination
Population Growth
Old Fashioned Killing for the hell of it

Minutiae rule the day in that game.
Life is short and hard like a body building elf - Bloodhound Gang
Old Arcade Classics (3.33 / 3) (#90)
by froseph on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 08:40:09 AM EST

I don't know about you, but I still play the old classics, epecially the originals, such as Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders etc,. These are great old games that never seems to lose value, but they don't have some of the things that you mention of (hmm Pong, the campaign).

Even Tetris can have a campaign (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by pin0cchio on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 09:50:35 AM EST

(hmm Pong, the campaign)

For games primarily built around a deathmatch, if you want a campaign, set up a "Regular Season" and a "Post Season" like the console sports games do. Or set up a Vs. CPU tournament ladder like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and even some falling block puzzle games (Kirby's Avalanche, Wario's Woods, Puzzle Fighter II). Mario Party 3 has two ladder modes, but because you must win every game (and the game itself is mostly chance, leaving the player little opportunity for skill), it ceases to be fun.

[ Parent ]
GTA3 (4.00 / 2) (#93)
by trippin on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 10:19:21 AM EST

One of the best games I've played lately has been Grand Theft Auto 3. I've only played it on the PS2, but theres a PC port available. It hits most of these points, but it unfortunately misses others.

Point One: Is somewhat replayable, cant say infinitely because of the lack of multi-player mode, but it is the one game that I am always playing for at least a couple times a week.

Point Two: The game starts out nice and easy so you can get used to the controls and the gameplay. As the game continues, the missions become increasingly harder, to near impossible for some of them. In my opinion, a very nice ramping of difficulty.

Point Three: In the campaign mode, there obviously is something fresh with every new mission. After that is completed, though, there are a few other things to keep you interested, side missions etc. Again, without the multi-player mode, this point is left unfinished.

Point Four: The story line is decent for the "campaign" mode, not that you'll be on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next, but there are some interesting characters and some dark comedy. I love playing the game in a sort of "freeplay" mode, just driving around and creating havoc, causing as much destruction as possible until death or capture.

Point Five: There really isnt a complicated mode, so this isnt applicable.

Point Six: No tutorial, either, simple concept with an easy beggining so the player can learn the game.

Point Seven: Great graphics with the jump from the 2D overhead view to the 3D view. And the added playability in the 3D world is superb.

Point Eight: The single biggest drawback of the game is the lack of a Mulit-player mode. I dont know the exact reasons why Rock Star did not include this, but this game would be infinitely better if you could duke it out with your friends in this remarkably designed world.

With a couple additions, a game similar to GTA3 would be the perfect game, at least for me.


Ummmm.... PC Version? (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by brainrain on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:21:50 PM EST

One point to ponder:
The PC version of GTA3 is NOT out yet, therefore the multiplayer version of the game is not out yet. (There will be a multiplayer version of the game included in the PC release)
Please hold your criticism, of the game, until May 21st, when the PC version is actually released.

Kleptotherapy - Helping those who help themselves
[ Parent ]
PS2 version and PC version (3.00 / 2) (#99)
by trippin on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:44:26 PM EST

Good point. I was reviewing the PS2 version, assuming that the PC version will be essentially a direct port, with little to no changes. With a little research, I found the following from a review on GameSpot. Basically, it says that there will be minor changes in the graphics and sound to take advantage of the PC hardware and a change in the controls so players can comfortably play the game with a keyboard and a mouse. It also states that there will be no multi-player mode in the PC version, explained here:

We felt we made massive advances in the design of 3D single-player action in Grand Theft Auto III. Attitude, characterization, immersiveness, and the seamless combination of driving, gunplay, and running about in a fully developed world while following a nonlinear story. We always felt the multiplayer versions failed to do justice to the single-player games in previous iterations of Grand Theft Auto, and now that the game is in 3D, we thought this would only be exacerbated by the completeness of the single-player game. With a multiplayer version of the game, we want to do something more than just a deathmatch mode in order to stay true to what the game concept is all about. It is going to take a long time to get this perfected.

So maybe we'll get to see it in GTA4.

[ Parent ]
Bad Code (none / 0) (#110)
by devnullify on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 06:45:15 AM EST

I think that one of the reasons multiplayers was never used in the older GTA games (GTA and GTA2) was that it consumed ungodly amounts of bandwidth. Playing GTA on a 10mbit LAN was laggy at best, GTA2 was not much better and less reliable.

[ Parent ]
After a quick search on Google... (none / 0) (#111)
by brainrain on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:43:12 AM EST

I was able to confirm your point, but found something else of interest:

"I think a patch will be released for the PC version as the developers will leave hooks in to fuse the game together into a multiplayer type thing. "

Of course, this is quoting a GTA rumor site, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's something to look forward to!

And just to throw something into the mix, I found this rumor site. We'll have to see now, won't we!

Kleptotherapy - Helping those who help themselves
[ Parent ]

Games I've Liked (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by epepke on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:41:27 PM EST

I've been trying to get a handle on this, especially as I've been trying to get together an open-source game editor and engine. I've come to the conclusion that it really isn't possible to come up with a single list. What makes a game really good depends on the person playing it, and it's usually something ideosyncratic about the game. Just as a reference point, here are some games I've liked and not liked so much.

Games I've liked.

  • Deus Ex (1st person shooter, plot-based, with RPG elements)
    I think what I like about this is that it combines so many different elements, providing a great deal of choice within a plot that is basically linear, with a few branches.
  • Escape Velocity Nova (2-D space game with combat, trading, missions, and six story threads)
    Escape Velocity was fun but limited; EV Override was much bigger but unfocused. EV Nova seems to have hit the sweet spot.
  • Avernum/Exile II (Oblique (Avernum)/Plan (Exile) fantasy party-based RPG)
    The interface is simple, but the game is immense. This is the first game where I actually felt sorry for one of the computer characters. There's also a lot of interesting mythology built into this game.
  • The Space Bar (Panorama/Cinematic adventure game)
    Quirky, comic noir detective story, set in a bar not unlike the cantina in Star Wars. Excellent characterization and production values and even some decent social commentary. Very Hollywood in the good sense, using Marshall Efram and other people like that who live in the cracks. Segasoft abandonware, which is a shame.
  • System's Twilight (puzzle)
    Almost impossible to describe, the only other game in this genre is The Fool's Errand. A whole bunch of computer games that will make you think "Yeah, I remember having played that once" and some that you've never seen before, tied together with a mythology that is half Tron and half Voudou.
  • Riddle of the Shphinx (Panorama/Cinematic adventure game)
    I'm playing this one now.

Here are some games that I really didn't like so much, though others seem to:

  • Myst/Riven/Myst III (Image/Panorama adenture game)
    It was a breakthrough, the series is beautiful, the mythology and logic are interesting, but they're just too easy. Myst took me four days, Myst III two. Riven took about a week, but that was mainly because it kept crashing.
  • Baldur's Gate II (Oblique RPG wth small party)
    Could have been interesting, but there's just so much UI mechanics that get in the way.
  • Diablo (Oblique single-person RPG)
    It just seems tepid to me.

As far as I can tell, there is no real pattern here, at least one that reduces to enumerable elements. Strong narrative comes close, but it doesn't quite cut it. The fact that other people's perceptions might be different muddies the waters even further.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Does not cover so many things (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by rho on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:23:19 PM EST

I'm not going to beat you up for it, but your list is so PC-game-centric. You've ignored the best of gaming's history to make this list.

For example, the old arcade games: Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Centipede--they aren't fresh, they aren't multiplayer capable (not in the modern sense), but they are undeniably fun, and undeniably great examples of game play.

These old games flip your 8 points over because they have a different focus, and better accessiblity. Why isn't Civ II as popular as Pac Man? Oh sure, there have been a lot of Civ II games sold, but in comparison to the rage of Pac Man it doesn't compete. Pac Man was simple--a single joystick. It was non-threatening--no blood. It was separated from reality--what the hell is Pac Man? Pure escapism. Civ II is a bit too realistic.

Young and old, men and women played Pac Man. Quake, Civ II, Warcraft competes for a much smaller market.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw

Perhaps (none / 0) (#115)
by DarthGreg on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 12:01:09 PM EST

But I think you are missing a very fundamental point relating to depth and skill scaleability.

Vintage games like Pac Man, Asteroids, Galaga, etc. are undeniably fun. My local bowling alley has one of those Ms. Pac Man/Galaga anniversary arcade machines. One day while a few of my friends were playing pool in the gaming area I wandered over to the machine and fell in love with Galaga. I've been known to spend 30-40 minutes at the machine at a time trying to beat my high score (which is somewhere around 1,000,000).

But what's the point? What then? In some of my better games I've reached level 150 in Galaga, which is numbingly challenging. In each new level more of the alien bad guys come at you faster firing faster projectile vollies. But what's so great about that?

It makes for a great rush, yes. But when you've played it once, you've played it a thousand times. And there's not much to be said for being an experienced Galaga player. Surely, the better you are the higher level you will reach, and thusly the higher your score will be. But really, to anyone looking for a more in-depth gaming experience, there just isn't anything more to the game. It is shallow.

I will now discuss my pet example: Team Fortress Classic. As I said in a previous comment, the game has a steep learning curve and significant depth. Not only that, but there are several levels at which you can play the game. If you're committed to the game, with time you can rise to a very high level of competition, which in turn is very rewarding. You can participate in the clan community or not (though unlike games like Quake, it is impossible to be even respectable without clan experience), and should you choose to get involved in clanning, there are several tiers of play you can participate in.

The game is scaleable, which makes it interesting and gives you something to work towards other than a high score with lots of 0's at the end. As a direct result, a very lively and active community has risen up around Team Fortress Classic that, truly, is older and more stabile than the (hugely massive) Counter-Strike community.

TFC has what every serious gamer wants: depth.

Within the very top tiers of competition there are some serious issues with the skill scaleability of the game (mainly involving movement exploits), but on the whole it is the scaleable nature of TFC's gameplay that distinguishes it.

Fuck the nay-sayers
[ Parent ]

Generalizing the Eight Points (none / 0) (#103)
by LodeRunner on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:09:09 PM EST

Well, while reading to the article I had this subtle impression that you are a RTS fan... ;) I think some of the points could be "generalized". I'll compare the points to my favorite game, which is, obviously, Lode Runner, and others that are equally great, such as Tetris.

Infinite replayability - I think that games that are based on the simplest ideas are the ones that have the greatest replayability: Lode Runner, Tetris, Pac Man, Quake. (I actually don't like Quake, but the basic idea of FPS is indeed simple and people keep playing them ad nauseam, so I think it should fit the example).

Skill scalability - This actually should mean two things: (i) that the game should have its own learning curve; and (ii) that the curve should be well balanced (not too easy, not too steep).

To explain (i), let me use an example: I remember playing King's Quest VI and getting stuck, until a friend of mine who played lots of games of that genre came over, played for a few minutes and went much farther on the game than I had in days. Great games are unique: being skilled in Pac Man does not make you skilled on Tetris, which does not make you skilled in Lode Runner.

On item (ii), I mean that playing Lode Runner makes you skilled on Lode Runner. Playing KQ6 over and over didn't raise my skills on the game, but skills earned from other games seemed to do the trick for my friend. (Maybe I'm just really bad at this type of game, but take this just as an example).

Always fresh - This is related to the way you explained "make it fun". Great games are timeless because the ideas they are based on can't get dated. If Tetris never existed and someone invented it today, it would be great.

Modes of playing - I think this is the implied thing at point 4. The game doesn't need to provide separate modes of playing, but should allow the player to play it with different mindsets. For example, in Lode Runner you can only focus on getting the treasures and avoiding the monks and succeed, or you can also take into account how many monks you kill and pay attention to the score in order to get extra lives.

Mindless playing can be more fun, but not enough on later stages -- on the other hand, if you concentrate a lot on that aspect, you may get better in the "action" part of the game and end up not needing all those extra lives. Again, a good learning curve (well designed stages) will make points 5 (simple/complex modes) and 6 (tutorial) unnecessary.

Single and multiplayer - while it is nice to have in most cases, this can't be a general rule, in many games it doesn't make much sense.

Make it fun - This is the recurring theme in all points, after all, a great game is nothing but a fun game. Isn't that what games are for, having fun? (Not video hardware and graphics algorithms showcasing, that's what "demos" are, or at least, were for -- is there a demoscene somewhere that I am entirely missing?).

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner

The perfect game (none / 0) (#104)
by DJBongHit on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 05:34:12 PM EST



GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

problem (none / 0) (#109)
by KaizerWill on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 12:07:53 AM EST

the only problem with chess (acording to the standards of this article) is the fact that it has no fulfilling single player mode. it still owns pretty hard tho

You were there for that...
[ Parent ]
no, no, no (none / 0) (#113)
by sab39 on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 04:56:30 PM EST

The perfect game is Mornington Crescent.

Hey, didn't I just win?
"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#116)
by DarthGreg on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 12:03:15 PM EST

Chess is about as close as we've gotten to the "perfect game."

Fuck the nay-sayers
[ Parent ]

The sims. (none / 0) (#114)
by fortytwo on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 08:24:20 PM EST

It implements all of these. 8 is questionable, but there's always the sims exchange.

starcraft (none / 0) (#117)
by christfokkar on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 01:16:44 PM EST

My favorite game is still starcraft, because it is infinitely playable and always fresh. What they did with starcraft is analogous to a chessboard or deck of cards - you have a set of pieces that can be assigned arbitrary rules and behaviors in order to create different games. A rook, a jack, a goliath...a pawn, a deuce, a marine. Gamers decide on the rest.

Lots of popular movies, tv shows, board games, and other video games have been re-implemented as starcraft maps. It's a testament to the versatility of the system. Granted, any game with a map editor is capable of this, but the motivation to edit maps comes from balanced and generalized gameplay mechanics.

First-person shooters have a strong culture of map editing, but IMHO FPS is weak. Either you make a platformer with satisfying character movement and environmental interaction, or you make a game that is strategic. FPS is neither.

Starcraft is not the only game with good mechanics, RTS or otherwise. But the other contenders for the crown didn't have map editors...

No. (none / 0) (#118)
by DarthGreg on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:55:44 AM EST

The problem with the first person shooter genre is how it is typecasted into the mindless run-and-gun stereotype it seems to have earned at the hands of early games like Quake and Doom.

Install a copy of Half-Life, download the latest patch, and navigate your way to a competitive TFC (Team Fortress Classic) server. I, myself, help administrate a server called the [TDA] Phat Farm, which I assure you maintains a level of competition that will frustrate all but the most experienced players.

I've brought up my game several times in this thread in reference to different comments:

I will now discuss my pet example: Team Fortress Classic. As I said in a previous comment, the game has a steep learning curve and significant depth. Not only that, but there are several levels at which you can play the game. If you're committed to the game, with time you can rise to a very high level of competition, which in turn is very rewarding. You can participate in the clan community or not (though unlike games like Quake, it is impossible to be even respectable without clan experience), and should you choose to get involved in clanning, there are several tiers of play you can participate in.

The game is scaleable, which makes it interesting and gives you something to work towards other than a high score with lots of 0's at the end. As a direct result, a very lively and active community has risen up around Team Fortress Classic that, truly, is older and more stabile than the (hugely massive) Counter-Strike community.

TFC has what every serious gamer wants: depth.

Is TFC an exception to the rule? Perhaps. In any case, it's a game that hasn't recieved the recognition it deserves in larger FPS community.

Fuck the nay-sayers
[ Parent ]

tfc (none / 0) (#119)
by christfokkar on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:09:06 PM EST

I played some TFC a couple years ago, and I thought it was excellent.  It does have depth, and I'm sure I only scratched the surface.

My problem, though, is that even with TFC you're still playing an FPS - that is, you can't see your own character and there's a gun sticking out of the bottom of the screen.  After a while, I get tired of blindly turning corners and not knowing what's behind me.  I want a better camera angle.  I want to be able to see my guy on the screen.

Of course, the problem isn't really the camera angle, because in most games you have your choice.  The problem is that FPS's are designed for the first person perspective, and it's limiting.  Left, right, forward, jump - that's pretty much all you get in terms of movement, and the jump is always awkward.  It's kind of a huge step backwards from 1985 when Mario's jumps were smooth as silk.

Thus, I maintain that FPS is a hack, a hybrid where you have a 3D environment but essentially 2D rendering and movement.  I don't think it was ever supposed to evolve into a genre, it was just the simplest way to do 3D back in the days of Wolf and Doom.  Cut out the character and the camera, and suddenly 3D becomes tractable.

I'm not here to bag on TFC or any other classics.  Hell, if you're going to play FPS, play TFC.  But I question why new FPS games are hitting the shelves.  I think game designers are afraid of 3D and gamers are letting them get away with it.

What are some examples of good 3D?  Mario64 is my perennial favorite example.  Ground Control and Homeworld are good.  Isometric-type stuff like Dungeon Keeper or Syndicate Wars is generally pretty nice to work with.

Magic Carpet was an outright FPS, but you could fly.  Blows Quake3 out of the water in terms of play control.

As an analogy, imagine if the FF7 or Resident Evil hack of using pre-rendered backgrounds in lieu of 3D environments became a "genre."  Wouldn't that be a bit horrifying?  FF7 is the exact same kind of unnecessary 2D/3D hybrid, it's simply the converse of FPS.

[ Parent ]

What makes the perfect game? | 119 comments (86 topical, 33 editorial, 0 hidden)
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