I have two incompatible beliefs. One is that we should make remarkable games. Another is we should just do it: write some code, lay out some assets, make some game, whether we feel we have a remarkable idea or not. Because perfectionism is an unhappiness habit. Because if we wait for that one perfect idea we might never make anything.
They're not that incompatible, actually. We can make a lot of games that we think aren't-that-remarkable, and maybe that's our insecurity talking. Maybe they're more remarkable than we think. They didn't expect Canabalt to be as huge as it was. Sage LaTorra just commented that he didn't think Dungeon World was particularly remarkable, but it is, in a variety of ways.
So how do we know? If our game is unremarkable or we're just being insecure?
If you're working on a game, you can get an idea how remarkable it is by sharing early. Post a youtube video. What percentage of likes do you get? How many views? You can compare that to other games. Put a link on reddit. How high does it get voted up? How much do you get retweeted on twitter? Etcetera. Far from an exact science. But it gives you an idea. Some say it's dangerous to show crap early, because people will think and say negative things about your game, but the real problem there is just that it hurts our feelings. It's not necessarily going to hurt our success down the road, and may even help as we fix and address those issues that they complain about.
And supposing our game is not that remarkable yet. Almost nobody Likes. Nobody comments. What do we do then?
Well, we could abandon it and start over. Try another idea. Shoot our baby in the crib. That's probably the right choice - stop trying to polish the turd, stop throwing good resources after bad. We've learned a lot and hopefully enjoyed the process and we'll probably just have to accept that's all we're getting out of it, this time.
Or we could keep working on it, trying to make it remarkable.
Nobody can help us with that decision - even if we write a long list of pros and cons, assigning point values at each one, we're still going by our gut at some level.
One thing we shouldn't do is keep shilling our unremarkable game. Let's not bother the press and our friends anymore until we've made some kind of significant improvement.
So here's my question: can you make an unremarkable game remarkable? How would you do it? And let's hear stories about games that were or seemed unremarkable at first but turned a corner.
*English is not my mother tongue, so please excuse me =)
2 years ago, when we still under developing a multiplayer game, We're too scare to show our game early, scare it will affect our road to success, so we wait ... we continue develop for almost 8 months and release it. Needless to say, it fail miserably, players keep telling us, it need bots to keep the game entertain. The mistake was so obvious, we surprise we didn't notice it sooner. On the other hands, lot of players love the art/theme while our artist actually not that satisfied about it.
We learned our lesson in a painful way. If only time can be reverse, we will show our game much more earlier to the players and patch it based on players comment/feedback.
To answer your question : can you make an unremarkable game remarkable? To me, it is all about game design and how to re-use the mechanic creatively.
Posted by: TwisterK | January 06, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I've made several unlisted youtube videos just for perspective and fun, and recently decided to start making them public. I was pretty reluctant, but finally thought "who do I think I am, trying to protect my non-existent reputation?"
One blogger posts about my game, and suddenly my perspective shifts. NOW I feel insecure, and am going to slow down with the updates like "Here is one new enemy" or "this is a funny joke". The feeling is that I had better get to the point before people think I'm proud that I can make "a" game, rather than something interesting.
Anyway, my thoughts are that most games are intended to be remarkable, but as reality sets in and corners start getting cut, you end up with crap. I remember my buddies scrambling to finish a demo for GDC last year, and despite the epic design documents, the result was unremarkable. Instead of fully implementing a free-roaming quest system, they had to force a linear path through the main objectives, which made the game feel like one long cutscene.
Posted by: Mojotron | January 06, 2013 at 08:38 PM
I realise you've just discovered the motivational work of seth wossname and have your head in marketing land.
You do know that "A game made by Paris Hilton!" is the pure definition of a remarkable game?
Keep that in mind mkay.
Also try and balance out your reading material with this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manual which although rather dated probably contains more marketing truth than the bald guy will sell you.
Posted by: Wetgenes | January 06, 2013 at 08:48 PM