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Formula for a Great Game

Formula for a Great Game article

There are the truly great games, like Grand Theft Auto III, Super Mario Bros III, God of War, and Resident Evil 4, and then there are scores upon scores of mediocre games. However, what divides the great games from the mediocre or bad games? What is it that makes a game great?

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D'Marcus Beatty, Co-Site Director

What makes a game great? There are a number of things that go into making a game great and memorable, but the number one thing that a game needs is the ability to immerse the player into the game, no matter how fantastic or ridiculous the game world is. To do this, all of the game's various elements must mesh well enough to keep the player from realizing that he's playing a game. Lovely graphics but bad controls will jolt a gamer into the real world every time with frustration, but stellar controls with ugly visuals are capable of turning the player off as well.

When crafting a game world, the developers need to create a sense of realism that surrounds the player, whether the game is Ghost Recon or Super Mario Bros. A consistent, well thought out game world is the key to creating a good gaming experience, especially if the game world sets and follows its own rules. Every game has to strike a balance between all of its elements, from graphics to controls to sound to replay, not sacrificing too much in one area to make its lack apparent. All of the great game developers know this, and are able to strike the balance and achieve the je ne se pas of the really good games, the games that make you lose track of time or forget yourself, even momentarily.

Formula for a Great Game article

Maria Montoro, Co-Site Director

How could we describe what makes a great game in just a few paragraphs? Each game has its own charm, and if developers knew the winning formula, most games would be amazing. Truly, there are only a few games that have actually made an impact on me, although there were more that I'd put in the "very good" category, if not "great."

I think the most important factor for me is a good storyline; one that is engaging and keeps me hooked all the way to the end. I got this kind of satisfaction with Super Paper Mario, the Prince of Persia trilogy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Beyond Good & Evil, to name a few.

Interesting and credible characters play an important role as well, at the time of building a solid title that the audience will consider "great." Kratos did that very well in God of War and God of War II. You'll get to know the character deeply, and you will understand his strong and aggravated personality. He's not just some random warrior but rather a character affected by emotions and the circumstances around him.

Sound effects and graphics are not as important for me, although they can definitely be an annoyance and make the game really bad. Of course, if the game is really good in all the other aspects, sound and especially graphics could be determinant factors that put the game in the "great" category and not just "good."

When it comes to puzzle, fighting, racing, and party games, of course the storyline won't really do much for the game. The "addiction" and "fun" factors will play the most important roles here; if you keep thinking of the game even when you're not playing, and you don't have a problem to go back to it, that clearly states that the game is at least good. If you can't live without it, it's probably one of the greatest games ever made. Isn't it? Tetris and the Wario Ware games did that for me.

Formula for a Great Game article

Jonathan Marx, Freelance Writer

Great games are rare indeed. For the developer, the creation of a great game requires vision, experience, time, and money. Seldom are all of these elements together during the development and production process, however. When they are all present, there is still the inexplicable element of luck that brings them all together and creates a smash hit.

As gamers we can take all of that for granted and simply focus on more tangible, less esoteric elements of games when speaking of the qualities that make a great game. If we are playing an adventure, we need a great story. In order to have a great story, we need to have a handful of great characters, both good and bad. Originality also goes a very long way. New gameplay or unusual plots greatly enhance the overall experience. Sports games buck the trend and don't need a story, but they do require incredible attention to detail. The more detailed and realistic the sport simulator is, the easier it is to become captivated by it. Additionally, the modern gamer demands deep online and multiplayer capabilities. A title with highly social gameplay becomes legendary. Finally, length plays a huge part in a games success. Gamers want a lasting experience that will test their skill. However, games that are too long can make even the best titles seem dull.

The ultimate game is well crafted, has a thoughtful story, employs unique concepts, pays great attention to detail, has incredible online and multiplayer modes, and has enough content to get us hooked and make us shell out our hard earned cash for the sequel. These qualities are achievable so long as the develop has vision, experience, time, money, and just a bit of luck!

Formula for a Great Game article

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