Indie game dev, Videogame writer, Game enthusiast, Guitarist,


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What makes a game great?

The reason for me writhing this blog is because I received a message from a fellow gamer recently, it read as follows.

"Earlier I was told via the internet, that I shouldn't like Bayonetta as much as I do. It being my favorite game this gen, its clearly too "niche" and "not even AAA" so how could it be any good? Another human being said that to me. *shrug* I turned to my fiance and said well it has beautiful graphics, amazing
art direction, animation, sound design, some of my all time favorite music, and the best game feel of any action game I have ever played. He agreed it has all the trimmings of a AAA game but not the budget, I think thats a rare thing nowdays."

So this comment got me thinking, what actually does make a good game? or better yet what makes a game great? Now I know a lot of it comes down to personal taste and preference, but for the sake of argument let's say that a great game is one that implements certain features so well that when they all come together in a single package it stands as a work of art, you mite not be a fan of a certain game per se, but you should be able to appreciate why others mite be. I've said many times before how I'm not a fan of Uncharted, but I respect the franchise and I understand where the appeal is coming from even though the games are not appealing to me.

As far as Bayonetta goes I think it is a great game, the music, the art style, the gameplay and the story... alright maybe not so much the story, but pretty much everything else is all very well done, and it all seems to work so well together that it escalates the game into "greatness" it may not appeal to everyone but like I said a great game needn't do so.

Now I expect many would argue that the high production value behind a game is indicative of its overall quality, however given the fact that many AAA games rely almost solely on good graphics and generic gameplay in order to appeal to consumers, it simply is not the case. It's not correct at all to assume that a AAA game must be superior to a game that was created with a lesser budget, after all we needn't look much further than the indie scene to realise that greatness is not solely limited to the amount of cash that's poured into a project, with games like Journey, Flower, Limbo and Bastion having received critical acclaim while more and more AAA franchises like Dead Space, Resident Evil and the like are getting paned by critics for being bland and generic.

I hear many times over how fans of AAA franchises snub other games and genres, because they believe their chosen franchise to be above that of games like, Bayonetta , Dark Souls and many others that have a lower production budget, but honestly those two games I mentioned have a lot more originality and appeal to me than that of tired, over milked and generic franchises. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying big budget franchises are naturally bad, sometimes a popular franchise goes on unchanged for a long time purely because the devs are busy appealing to their core fanbase, but it does seem AAA franchises are the first to change in the name accessibility and mass appeal and often at the cost of what made them great.

I discussed before how watering down a game or franchise in order to widen the games appeal only ever ends up creating a bland experience, so then it stands to reason that in order to create a great game it's necessary to carefully target your audience, for example it's pretty obvious that when either Bayonetta or Dark Souls were in development the devs didn't much care for appealing to fans of FPS or Sandbox games like GTA or Infamous, but instead decided to create a game that would appeal to fans of Action games (Bayonetta ) or challenging RPG style dungeon crawlers (Dark Souls)

Not every game is the same and it's likely you will simply not enjoy certain types of games, but I do urge you to at least try out a game before dismissing it as bad, and even if you end up disliking it, ask yourself is it because the game is truly bad? or is it because it simply holds no appeal to you?.

Just so I don't get labelled a AAA hater, there are some AAA titles that have pulled off a truly great gaming experience, titles such as The Last Of Us for example have proven that the use of tried and true gameplay mechanics isn't necessarily a detriment as long as they are implemented properly and not just thrown in, in order to tick boxes. In truth, TLOU uses many gameplay mechanics that have already been done before, like stealth, decoy tactics, an upgrade system and looting, but merges them into one game so expertly that it lends to the emersion factor, basically TLOU shows us how a AAA title should be done, it didn't need a AAA production budget behind it to be a great game but the Story, gameplay and game mechanics along with the high production polish helped escalate it above and beyond most of its peers.

So let's recap a bit. A great game is one that does almost everything that it's trying to do right, whether it be original or not, has great graphics and/or AAA polish is not important, what is important is that the whole package comes together to create a fun and entertaining experience that caters to a demographic that would find the most enjoyment in playing it.

So that's pretty much my views on what makes a great game.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and if you want to add something or disagree with any of the points I made, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Ducky1707d ago (Edited 1707d ago )

They way I usually judge things is that I go in with a certain level of expectation, and then when I come out, I gauge how the game matched up.

The truly great games are those that greatly exceed my initial expectations.

Now this is admittedly not only arbitrary but also a bit unfair because it puts games with hype and bigger budgets (AAA titles) at a disadvantage since they have to do something really spectacular to propel themselves above and beyond the expectations. But they have the budget, they aughta be able to step it up.

So to me, games like Battlefield3 or Uncharted3 or even new IPs like Dishonored, are just good games because they matched my expectations. I may have enjoyed playing them or spent hundreds of hours on them, and the game might accomplish what it set out to do, but it just didn't wow me so it's not a great game to me.

Whereas a game like DemonsSouls, Bioshock or Portal are great because they have something surprising: a soul crushing boss fight in the beginning, a shocking twist in the middle, or a seemingly portended ending which leads to a new journey. (Ok, that last one was a bit of a stretch)

That's just my take on it.

HammadTheBeast1707d ago

Naughty Dog.

No but seriously, a great game is, in my opinion, either one that does something bold and innovative, and one that perfects it's particular genre.

So I'd say CoD 4, GTA, and BF3 are "great games" in their own rights, maybe sub-great games...

And then The Last of Us, Pokemon games, Bioshock Infinite, and Persona are great games.

Just my 2 cents.

1707d ago
dedicatedtogamers1707d ago

It's rather fitting that you use Deus Ex as the picture for your blog. When DE came out, the graphics were poor compared to the competition, the voice acting was terrible, the controls weren't as smooth as other FPSs (remember, this was a year after Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 came out), and it had mediocre sales.

And yet, it is regarded as one of the greatest games of all time.

khowat1707d ago (Edited 1707d ago )

For me what makes a game great is when it can be many things, the combination of its mechanics, it novelty of mechanics or if the game has a powerful message

Graphics don't make a game great because no individual aspect can make a great game. Also graphics are apart of the art style and direction, which may not always need ultra realistic graphics.

Also not every game had to be great some of them might just be enjoyable experiences, or interesting ones, or compelling ones, in these cases they don't have to be a perfect combination of elements

also I think you used mite when you meant might and pears when you meant peers :)

zerocrossing1707d ago

I agree with you, I didn't mean it to sound like only the points I made lead to a great game, of course there are many exceptions.

Oops I did didn't I, lol oh well I'll take better care next time ;)

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