Monday, July 30, 2012

What makes a game?

So, this time I've decided that I'll talk about what I actually prefer in a game. This will give a little more definition as to what kind of gamer I am, my views, etc. As I said in my little About Me box, I got started playing video games on the NES, when my dad got me playing Super Mario Bros. Oddly enough, I haven't really turned into a platform game type. That would probably due to the fact that most of the games I've played since have included, as stated in my previous post, such games as the Legend of Zelda series, the Metroid games, as well as a mixture of racing, puzzle, action/adventure, strategy games.. I've pretty much ran the gamut of video games basically. Over the years I have, of course, favored certain genres and/or certain games over others, as any usual gamer will. As right now, my main genres that I enjoy playing are action/adventure games (so long as they have a decent story, I love going out and exploring places like that), strategy games (i.e. Sins of a Solar Empire, although technically that's a real-time-strategy/explore, expand, exploit, exterminate type game), with a few racing and puzzle games tossed in for variety. Oh, I almost forgot that I do play some FPS games now and then, but I don't feel like I got exposed to those types of games early enough to have the same reaction time as those who have been playing it for years, so I tend to get a little frustrated.

Now, why do I like the games I do? Well, I'm of the personal opinion that if a game has a story, it should be told well. Hence my preference for action/adventure games. Even though a lot of them can tend to be linear in their gameplay, the story is usually decently written. I admit that some action/adventure games can have really horribly written stories though. What makes a good story? Generally speaking (and again, this is my opinion), it is one that engages the player in the story itself. There should be a connection between the player and the characters in the game. If there is a character in the game that ends up dying, the player should either feel happy or sad that they are gone. Happy that they're gone because the person was a 'villain' and was causing horrible grief to the world/whatever setting the game is in, or sad because the person was highly useful and had a great character. As far as I'm concerned, a player should never just feel 'meh, no big deal' whenever a major character dies in a game. What else makes the story good? When the world the game takes place in is properly fleshed out. This is one of the few things that I have against one of the games I love, Fable. There is the world, and the world as it is because of events that happened long in the past, but that history is never explored. The only tidbits that we, as the players, ever get, is that such and such event happened in the past that still has an effect on things happening in the timeline of the Fable series. That's it. Nothing else is said about why these why these things happened, who or what caused them to happen, or anything like that beyond little bits and pieces here. Now, I know that a little more information has been given in various websites, but they are still just little pieces that don't really flesh out the world of the Fable series.

An example of a game with a rich story? Darksiders. Not only do you get a feel for the main character, but you also get a pretty good idea of why things are happening in the world. The rest of the characters also feel really nicely thought out, with well done personalities as well as reasons for their actions. They also did a good job of giving players the impression that something in the world just isn't quite right, and in the end confirm those impressions solidly. Since the game itself takes place on Earth and not some fantasy realm, they didn't have to delve too deep into history and instead simply had to focus on a bit of history for the characters and events happening in the game itself. I will have to admit that the gameplay itself is a little simplistic, but hey, it's kind of to be expected from a game that's mostly hack-and-slash. That's not to say the game isn't fun, because it is. And I think I need to stop here on this post, because my brain seems to have died out on me. Just one of those days. I'll try to continue this in a future post if I can, probably dealing with gameplay mechanics or what-not.

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