For as long as I can remember, whenever I've played a video game, I've always looked at it from a technical standpoint. I've always considered how functional it is, if it's easy to use, where improvements could be made, and what was just outright poorly designed or not functional. This basically left me wanting to make changes to nearly every game I've ever played, but if it didn't; I considered that game a good game. This is why I wanted to become a game developer/designer.

But, after having a conversation with one of my friends today, I understand how the average gamer judges the games they play. They pointed out that the reason they like most FPS games isn't really due at all directly to the game play, or the functionality of the game; but simply put "The rest I like just because they're awesome".

This has lead me to several revelations:
A. I now understand how games like GTA4, Devil May Cry, Gears of War, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed can get wide-spread praise and awards; while games leaning more towards perfection like GTA:SA, MGS4, Hitman: Blood Money, and Star Ocean: First Departure can go somewhat under the radar. Honestly if MGS4 was the first in the series I doubt it would have gotten any publicity at all, aside from some chatter about its graphical quality (Crysis for example).

B. Graphical presence and fancy attacks/actions/special effects mean more to gamers than highly functional and in-depth game play systems. This will majorly effect how I design my games.

C. I can see now why so many people play HU. Up until now I've always wondered how it managed to pull in such a large player base. Honestly, I wouldn't have touched that game for more than a few hours at most, and I'd even rate it as a somewhat poor game (though not so much by BYOND standards).
Even though vast majority of the game play is far from perfection; there are more fancy special effects and pretty characters to choose from than most, if not all, other games on BYOND.
Hey, you might make a good tester. :) I'm constantly picking everything apart including games. To me, I just do it like I breath in and out. To most, this constant 'negativity' is unbearable and they think its a bad thing.

Anyway. I prefer eye candy up front and depth when I don't expect it. When depth is shoved in your face, it becomes work trying to figure everything out. I want the depth to just appear when I've gotten bored with the shallow end.

In response to Tsfreaks (#1)
When I judge games, i get really annoyed by the average pick. I hate bugs, I hate bad choices, and most of all I hate designers who cover up flaws with eyecandy...

BYONDers have no excuse to leave bugs in their games, no deadline, no money involved. Your making the game for yourself so its ok to leave it if you dont care, but for online its another story. Quality is more important than looks pretty. Features are also important, but fix the bugs first, or at least dont ignore them.

If a game has been thoroughly tested (which is always fun!), then it should have very few bugs. Once you've gotten here, add depth to your features. Bigger worlds, more insane special effects, etc are only fun if they function!

Just push yourself to fix the grit, and all thats left for your fans is sweet sweet content.
In response to Expert Novice (#2)
Yeah.. but there is something to say about initial impact as well. If you can wow people, you buy some time to fix bugs. If they take one look at your ugly game (regardless of quality) and leave, it still fails. I think it's a very careful balance between investment and returns. It will vary between genre type as well due to the types of mentalities which are drawn to it.

Eye candy is what draws them in and depth is what keeps them there? Yes... no?

In response to Tsfreaks (#3)
Well said friend. Neither side can win on its own, it has to be a balance.

Still, theres no excuse for bugs.

I was talking about developers who fill thier games with awesome graphics, you get wowed for 10 minutes and then run out of things to do, and the things you can do glitch out. Bad Game, nice graphics.
Picture the same designer spending less money on graphics and thus having more time to develope, fixes those bugs and adds content. Sure it lost its AMASING NEXT GEN GRAPHICS, but its fun for a few hours if you try.
In response to Expert Novice (#2)
And might I poke at you a little bit. How many games have you produced yourself? :) Making games is not an easy business. I'll give you a reason why games are published earlier than they should. No money and the early 'dreamer flame' tends to get smaller and smaller until it flickers out. This is what leads to early releases. People are hoping to reignite themselves by getting other peoples input and I suspect it usually backfires.

I've been writing a 'Tower Defense' clone for the last couple of weeks as a sort of distraction project. I thought... super easy, nothing to it, but no... I was wrong. I've been buried in the little stuff and fit and finish. Fit and finish always seems to be an amazing amount of work. I could have released it as-is because it's been a fun side project and I don't care but I'm going for Foomer like quality which means I may never finish it. I don't know how he does it.

One other thing. Having a single person act as dev and tester isn't a great way to find bugs. It's not like you put on a tester hat and start thinking differently than you did as a developer. Bugs will always be found in that type of environment regardless of beta's and etc.

I'm ready to criticize as much as you are. However, attempting to develop my own games has softened me up quite a bit.


In response to Tsfreaks (#5)
Ha! You phrased this much more friendly than the post I was working on. I was trying hard not to rant too much about freeloaders with feelings of entitlement again. =)

In addition, I'd like to point out that some of us on BYOND do indeed set deadlines and are trying to get money involved. As for those who aren't, putting their work online where others can experience it doesn't necessarily mean that their work was intended to benefit others.
In response to Tsfreaks (#5)
Tsfreaks wrote:
I could have released it as-is because it's been a fun side project and I don't care but I'm going for Foomer like quality which means I may never finish it. I don't know how he does it.

Funny you mention me here because I was going to comment anyway. I actually have terrible, terrible problems finishing anything because I usually can't dedicate large amounts of time on a project.

For the most part the games that I complete are games that I've been thinking about for a long time. Before I started Solar Conquest I was messing with a butchered half-functional space game AI project, and when it got to the point where I found the AI decently fun to play against, I decided I might turn it into an actual game. I borrowed space ships and planet graphics from my other projects, slapped together some interplanetary movement systems, conflict calculations and all that obnoxious interface stuff and made a game out of it. Took about two weeks.

For Tomb Explorer I was stranded at work for 12 hours a night doing a really, really boring job that left me with a lot of time to play Solitaire and Minesweeper on the computer. And I thought to myself, it would be fun to have something simple like Minesweeper with puzzle/exploration elements. So I ended up brainstorming and drawing up little maps at work, coupled with some borrowed graphics I managed to slap together the actual game in 2 days when I had some free time, then I gradually replaced the temp graphics with my own art and fished out all the bugs over a week or two and then released it. Now I just need more maps.

Bottom line though, if I can't get the actual game finished to a playable extent within a few days, it probably won't happen. Most of the graphics come from older projects that never made it off the ground. You should also realize that most of those projects were preceded by several failed attempts to create similar projects. Sometimes games just don't work out.

One thing is for sure though, single player games are a heck of a lot easier to make.
In response to Tsfreaks (#3)
Tsfreaks wrote:
Eye candy is what draws them in and depth is what keeps them there? Yes... no?

And here I thought people just played whatever games their friends were playing. :P