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January 23, 2005


Sören Höglund

The thing about save points (as opposed to save anywhere) is not that it's intrinsically bad, but that it's really, really easy to mess up. And when you do screw up the save system, you get incredibly frustrating sections that can make the player give up on the game. It's much easier just let the player save anywhere instead of paying that extra bit of attention to balancing and testing. The games that end up on top of gamerankings are usually the ones that polish things to perfection, so it's not really surpising that the save system isn't an issue. (Nitpick: Zelda does let you save anywhere. You just have to continue from the start of the dungeon, or some pre-determined spot in the metalevel.)

And yes, game mechanics is a much better term than the hideously vague gameplay, which must be banished from all existance.


Various game mechanics, sub-games, whatever we call it backed up with a well designed game tend to be very massmarket and in nearly every game reviewer more tickets for get a good score.
The same happens with other medias like movies, e.g. Star Wars, The Incredibles or many Disney movies, most comic based movies like Spiderman, heh. They have their action, some love affair, some funny jokes, etc.

Anyways this matter is more noticeable in videogames, imho. Why? I think one of many reasons can be the lack of gaming culture and lack of games being stablished in society's habits. I say this after taking a look at monogame products that have success like driving games, sports games, fight games, rythm games in asia, mmogs in korea, etc.
The passion for driving, sports and fights are not new. They were there and games simulating them can heritage that passion. Simulating without adding too much abstract or novelty things. Futuristic games in these genres don't have much luck.
I don't think my comment is a big point. Just a comment that appeared on my head thinking about the great success in both critics and units sold of monogame mechanic titles like Soul Calibur, Gran Turismo, Madden, Fifa, Pro Evolution Soccer, many "bemani" type games in Asia, etc.

Li'l comment: I think Metroid Prime(s) have way more sub games. Boss fights are a completely separate experience, then there is puzzle-solving and the morph ball is a more drastic change than Zelda's horse riding or sailing.

Nathan McKenzie

On multiple game types in a single game:

Go take a look at Actraiser for the SNES and the Guardian Legend for the NES. They're both games that, really, should NOT work - and yet I really like both of them, and I think they're both remembered pretty favorably.

TGL is particuarly interesting, in that, normally, I'm not especially drawn to forced-progression top-down shooters - but apparently the moment you interleave that with Zelda-style exploration, I'm in LOVE with the top-down shooting (and interestingly, they included a mode in the Guardian Legend to let you excise all the Zelda-style part if you're not into it).

The funny thing is, Actraiser (which is part side scroller and part strategy), isn't really strong at either. If it only had one mode or the other, it wouldn't be exceptional at all (which is sadly proven by Actraiser 2, where they remove the strategy part). Likewise, TGL's shooting sections are really very good for the NES, but its Zelda segments really pale in comparison to Zelda itself... but at least for me, it doesn't seem to matter.

Warioware is another pretty fun example for this - if ANY of those games lasted substantially longer than 3 seconds, the game wouldn't be particularly fun. None of them are close to good, in a conventional sense... and yet, glued together the way it is, I find it pretty addictive.

I think it's just a pacing thing - no matter how super amazing fun your activity is, people need a break. It's no different than a horror movie including lulls in the horror or even some black comedy to help keep things from becoming monotonous, I think.

Joel Martinez

Just wanted to cast my vote on the "sub-games". I absolutely love the way I can just pop in san-andreas and play the game in so many different ways.

To me it's not just about having mini-games as filler, it's about allowing the player to play the game in their own way ... to do the things that are fun to them.

Darren Korman

*Quote* It's much easier just let the player save anywhere instead of paying that extra bit of attention to balancing and testing. *Quote*

I don't think there is a programmer on the planet who would agree with this statement. In the projects I've been on with "save anywhere", some poor programmer gets locked in his office from alpha to gold master trying to figure out every stupid little save game bug that comes along.


Sorry if I misinterpreted you, Raph, but didn't you say something along the lines of us having to discard dressing if we truly wanted to approach game development as an art?

Not exactly. What I said is that if we really want to advance game design (as a whole) as an art, then we need to pay more attention to advancing game mechanics, and less to advancing the dressing. We make quantum leaps on dressing all the time. Advances in mechanics are fewer, and they seem to be stumbled into, and we rarely see someone consciously attempting to make a paradigm shift.

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game