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April 29, 2007



I do agree 100% with one thing and that is, most western designers are like little kids who just want more more more. Ask the average 8 year old what the ultimate video game would be and they'd say something like.

"It should be like God of War but the fighting should be as detailed as VF5 but then you should be able to get in vehicles like GTA except the racing should be as detailed as Burnout but you should have all the cars from Gran Turismo but the cars should have guns and morph into mechs and fly like fighter gets and then when you should be able to add soldier units to your party and oh yea, zoom out and give them tactical commands like C&C and if it was all online, yea, that would rock" :-(

God of War is in fact a good example of less = more. Less (it's not open ended, there is almost no exploration, you have no control of the camera, you can't go where you want generally or decide to do all kinds of different things. What they got because of that is the ability to make the most beautiful game on the PS2 ever with great feeling viseral brawler style combat.

Ask 9 out of 10 desginers in American studios though and they will not let themsevles be restricted in any way. They want it all "Make it as pretty as God of War but as big a world as GTA:SA, you should be able to see to the horizon and have 100 people on the screen and full physics on everything over the net."


Look at the GTA series as a counter to your argument. They have a lot of content and a lot of gameplay elements (racing, shooting, flying - heck, they even have rhythm games!) In my opinion a lot of these elements are not high quality, but that hasn't hurt reviews and sales.

I do agree that just adding more of something doesn't necessarily make the game better, but it can help in certain situations. But I think it depends on the type of game that you're making. If you're making an open world sandbox type game, players expect more content (i.e. they expect their immediate actions to have reactions, everything in the world should fall over, speak or make a sound, have interesting physics); if you're making a casual game where gameplay is king, then you should concentrate on making what you have the highest quality.

Nathan McKenzie

When I heard the designers of Ico talk at GDC, they claimed that their entire design process revolved around removing as many elements as they could from the game until they couldn't possible remove any more and still have the game work.

Not sure how that fits into your scheme - it seems like there is a qualitative difference between "this game will have three weapons rather than five" and "this game will not have any dialogue / HUD / experience points / what have you".

I actually talked about some of this stuff at length in my Games / Learning / Science presentation last summer (http://hosted.mediasite.com/hosted4/catalog/?cid=12038d65-bcea-442e-a9ae-8079ad3953e0 - then click the presentation labeled "Interactivity & Choice in Games" - I'm the second presenter, around the 40 minute mark. If the video player asks you to install crap, I think there's a second like that let's you skip that, and it still works)

Jamie Fristrom

"Look at the GTA series as a counter to your argument. They have a lot of content and a lot of gameplay elements (racing, shooting, flying - heck, they even have rhythm games!) In my opinion a lot of these elements are not high quality, but that hasn't hurt reviews and sales."

That's very true. But I think the GTA team consciously goes for size at the expense of quality. (In fact, sometimes I think they keep that crappy jump animation in there just to rub it in our faces.) If you set out to say, "Let's get a lot of STUFF in there and we don't care if it's all that polished," and then achieve that, great! What I'm really railing against is not being able to tell the difference.

That said, isn't GTA an anomaly? Most games that are big-but-sketchy do get relegated to the land of poor reviews and low sales...

Stephen Madsen

Hi my name is Stephen Madsen; I am currently working on my Bachelor Degree of Science in Game Development at Full Sail. I have been following your blog and it has been very helpful. I am in one of my last classes now and one of the goals is to network with a professional in my industry. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your life in the game industry. Thanks for your time and your wonderful blog. My email is madsen.stephen@gmail.com.

Stephen Madsen

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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