QUEST: What Makes a Good Game?

What Makes a Good Game?

(Read this post entirely or just scroll to the bottom to find out…)

 

Prometheus’s Admiral’s ridicule of our troops in EdTech 532 has forced the crew to dip our toes into the thick mud of game building… Our first quest was to explore Sploder. A super easy (albeit time consuming) way to create cool games (for free!)

Sploder300

This is how the folks at Sploder.com describe this cool site:

“Want to make your own online games for free? Sploder ™ makes it super easy for you to make your own free games online. Make your own arcade games, platformer gamesspaceship shooters, or space adventure games. Advanced game maker? Try the physics game maker for creating original minigames! You can even customize it with your own game art using our free graphics editor!

Sounds cool, ah? You should definitely give it a try!

Below I will be adding some of the games I have been creating as well as some observations of the ones I played.

 

GAMES I PLAYED:

TYPE: PHYSICS GAME MAKER

Sploder Physics Olympics

A weird spasmastic game, the Physics Olympics is a simple game created with the Physics Game Creator. A happy green bricked-head attempts to avoid the bad guys (angry white bricked-heads…), use the green friends’ heads as elevators, in order to get to the beautiful smiley white head.

OK… so I didn’t get to the second level… I was very close though, but after maybe 20 patience-testing attempts (the re-loading of the game takes more time than it should be…) I gave up.

LIKED: it’s simple

DISLIKED: The background is too trippy, there are no real instructions, uninteresting graphics, the first level is too difficult, if you hit a bad guy and slide into other bad guys then you lose all three lives, there is no way to get more lives (at least in level one), buttons are too sensitive. That’s enough critiquing for the first game…

TYPE: SPACESHIP SHOOTERS

Defend the Emprium 2: eXtreeme

This is a kill-all-them-robots type game. The player is a robot trying to get all bad robots in an attempt to retrieve precious crystals. The setting is pretty simple with a path to follow. There is branching, and teleporters beam the player to different places within the same level.

LIKED: It raised my temperature levels and heartbeat rate. I played it about 10 times in a row. It’s simple but exhilarating. Forced me to think of strategies to defeat the baddies.

DISLIKED: The graphics are simple and the sounds are a bit too much to handle. Simple machine-gun sounds are still ringing in my ear… Instructions for what different objects in the game are not labeled, so it’s hard to know if one should take or avoid them. Lastly, the first level was very difficult. Although the level of difficulty in the game increases at the beginning of the game, it would have been nice to pass the first level. I felt like I did not get enough rewards to keep on trying.

TYPE: RETRO ARCADE 

I played Haskell’s Test Game.

Go get coins, jump on everyone’s head and reach the end to complete stages.

LIKED:

nice and simple design, simple to understand, different paths

DISLIKED:

Sounds (urrgghhhh… They need to do something about these sounds!), there are many areas players don’t need to pass through (which makes it a waste of designer’s time, I think…)

TYPE: PLATFORM CREATOR

Pirate

Fun gurilla-gets-beamed-to-heaven-after-killing-everyone type game. Gather weapons, boost up on energy, climb up ladders and swim with sharks, now go shoot the baddies.  This type was my favorite so far, but I’m not sure if it is because of the fun games I played under this category.

LIKED:

Graphics- changing as the game continues. Simple to understand the game and the objects chosen were easy to understand due to their image (i.e., a cross for health). The different vehicles, weapons and armors make it a fun experience.

DISLIKED:

There was only one level, and once players are familiar with it, they can win without anything interesting happening. The sounds are again quite atrocious.

TYPE: 3D Mission Creator

Countown to Destruction

Team up or go solo on a rescue mission to save the scientist! This is a high energy game where you bump into switches to de-activate radiation-filled doors, boost up on heath, gather weapons and go on a shoot-and-kill path.

LIKED:

Fun and high energy, increasing difficulty, interesting graphics and design, great story.

DISLIKED:

Aiming weapons does not work without a mouse (at least on a Mac…)

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It has been fun and educational to play all these games. Some took me way back, while others were a complete new experience for me. I had fun, I was frustrated, I begged games to finish, I tried again and again, and I won levels.

So… What Makes a Good Game?

  • Increasing difficulty as the game progresses
  • A variety of artifacts to see and use
  • Sufficient activities in different levels (the game should not end too quickly)
  • Alternate paths
  • Attractive and relevant design (background, still and interactive objects, etc.)
  • Clear and reachable goal/s
  • Attractive rewards
  • Immediate formative and summative feedback
  • Appropriate and non-intrusive sounds that enhance the game’s atmosphere
  • Variety of characters and meaningful interaction between them
  • The option to re-gain health
  • Acquiring objects and using them later on in the game

After watching The Awesome Dr. Puentedura’s podcast What Makes a Good Game I believe there is more to it…

I liked the use of the term “game patterns” to discuss boring (non-fun) games. They can repeat too much, not enough (no new patterns are introduced), unclear, uninteresting, etc. I also liked how he grouped elements by what boring games are, what to avoid, and by reasons to have elements. It makes more sense!

Here are the additional good game elements items:

  • A variety of game patterns
  • Game design seems deliberate
  • Have “activities” (such as the one I mentioned- acquiring objects and using them later on in the game)
  • Have a “narrative space”
  • Different challenges that require different acquired objects AND skills
  • A varied and definite cost for failure
  • A way to accommodate both beginners and experts (when playing multiplayer)
  • Variation in strength and skill in NPCs

 

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