what seperates a good game developer from a great one?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by fxokz, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    title^

    Just a random thought i wanted to discuss. What skills does it take in order to shine out from the rest?

    (in your opinions)
     
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  2. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    1- You need a strong sense of knowing what is high quality and being obsessed about delivering it.
    2- Discipline and patience
    3- Being an extremely good planner
     
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  3. Surgeon_

    Surgeon_ Symbian Curator

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    A good gamedev makes a game people want to play, a great gamedev makes a game he/she wants to play. This is a bit on the philosophical side, but nowadays big companies are struggling (and often failing) to release games which are good in something other than graphics, while Indie studios, who don't have to conform to their bosses and shareholders, are doing better than ever. This is also a very much simplified point of view, but hopefully you get the point.
     
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  4. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    Ive thought of points 1 and 3, 2 is quite obvious to me. Being an extremely good planner is something i personally have a lot of trouble with because most of the time i try to implement something i realise that it should have been a part of my game from the very beginning. So yes definitely being a good planner. Now for the high quality part. This is where i always have a hard time because i always have to rely on others for high quality graphics/art sound effects and music and even programming. Thats the part where i feel a great sense of hopelessness..
     
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  5. Llama_Code

    Llama_Code Member

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    Just remember that high quality does not always equal amazing graphics and sound. The graphics can be merely passable if the game play is good. As long as the graphics make sense, and are all styled alike so they look like they go together then you will be ok. That is often where AAA games fail, they obsess so much over how the game looks that how the game plays suffers.

    Game play and making sure your game is actually fun should be first and foremost in your mind when developing a game.

    Yes, your going to get the graphics snobs who won't play your game simply for how it looks, but in the bigger picture they are a minority and if your game is actually good a lot of people will play it, and in the end they will be the ones losing out.

    There are tons of examples of games with low quality art that still do well, Minecraft being the biggest example. Then you look at games like Hotline Miami where the graphics fit a certain style so the looks good without being AAA quality.
     
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  6. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    What you said made so much sense, there was a halo 3 video documentary where one of the developers were talking about how the game must be fun before it looks good. and you are here saying the same thing which is quite awesome haha.

    The weird thing is that for some reason it was always planted in my head that my game must look good or else it sucked which im slowly realising.
     
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  7. Dantevus

    Dantevus Guest

    I can't agree with them more. Especially when it comes to making a game YOU want to play.

    I'm working on a game right now that I can't wait to play. And it makes coding fun and it makes me want to do it every free minute of my day because I'm excited for it to come to fruition. If you're making a game you love, you will come up with great ideas and your end result will be all the better for it.

    The only thing I don't enjoy is the stress of the art side. I'm going to get where I want to be code-wise, but my art skills are nil so I'm relying on my girlfriend. Having that out of my hands stresses me out from time to time.

    But then I just start coding again and all that goes away. Haha.
     
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  8. chance

    chance predictably random Forum Staff Moderator

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    I agree that indies don't have to "conform to bosses..". But making games they want to play themselves won't necessarily make anyone great (as opposed to just "good").

    Granted, I see where you're going here -- i.e., making games we like ourselves is more fun. So we're more creative. But if you're a mediocre developer to start with, then having the financial freedom to do what you want won't create greatness.
     
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  9. THTerra

    THTerra Guest

    In my Eyes, a good Game Designer is someone who can handle criticism, and someone who finishes Games, instead of making only Tech Demos.
     
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  10. nlolotte

    nlolotte Member

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    Couldn't agree more, you're naturally going to feel defensive about your game because it's a piece of work you've created but criticism is you're best tool to improve not only the game but yourself as a developer.

    There a whole youtube channel here that discusses this in depth
     
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  11. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    IMO goodness and greatness are the same thing, just in different quantities. A great developer makes the same things a good developer would make, but adds more polish and some sort of memorable touch. I've seen far too many indie games that doesn't even try to be unique, just adding the same mechanics one expects a game of their genre to have, and then just call it a day... and they get forgotten, because they never tried to be remembered. Then we have studios like the makers of Big Rigs, the makers of Slaughtering Grounds, and Konami; they get remembered for the wrong reasons. To be a great dev, you need to make good AND memorable games - neither of these qualities will make you great on your own.
     
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  12. HammerOn

    HammerOn Member

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    This only means that the art team is doing a better job than the gameplay designers.
    People can talk like all the meticulous work and care on the art side is passable but we are not going to hold back when doing it. As far as we care about the quality of what we create.

    What illustrates the interaction of the game with the player is the art. Whatever the style, you can increase the fun factor or dull the experience of the gameplay.
    The majority of developers don't pay attention to what degree the art is "interlaced" with the gameplay and setting or if it's well supported by the programmer side (interpolations, interaction, feedback). The result is one thing nullifying the other instead of adding to the product.
    Some games published by Atlus and Arc System are taking the mix of technical and art to another level. They shine out from the rest.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The art and code to support them are research and designed since the first stages of development.
    They are examples of what designers and programmer can achieve working together with the artist instead of ignoring or leaving it for later.
     
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  13. NazGhuL

    NazGhuL NazTaiL

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    Passion.
     
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  14. chance

    chance predictably random Forum Staff Moderator

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    I agree. Accepting criticism and "following through" to finish games are both important qualities.

    But let's be honest: game sites are full of games made by hard working devs who finish their games and accept criticism. And most of those games are mediocre to good. Precious few are truly great.

    I don't think any of us can really define "greatness". The quality of greatness is elusive. Like Yal said, it's something beyond simply being good, making it "memorable". Some special touch...

    Like they say: We can't define it, but we recognize it when we see it.
     
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  15. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    Pure truth.


    -------------

    And about the sense of quality I mentionned, it doesn't mean "technically advanced". It means having a good presentation, effective and intuitive menus, consistent art, fun level design with good rythm, a bug-less game as much as possible.
     
  16. Galladhan

    Galladhan Member

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    This.

    I think that you need a spark (a vision, an intuition) to make a great game. Some great developers have it once in a life (Alexey Pajitnov with Tetris, Notch with Minecraft), some others have several of them (Gunpei Yokoi, Shigeru Miyamoto, Fukio Mitsuji, Yu Suzuki...).
    In other words, if you're not from Japan you won't probably create more than 1 memorable game in your life :D
     
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  17. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    I don't think these things make you a great game developer, they are incidental qualities of good game development. Being hard working and being organized not rare traits, and to say this is the key to being a great game developer is not dissimilar to the lie in life that working hard leads to success; for many people it doesn't and never will.

    There is no good answer to this question because a "great game developer" is too ambiguous of a label. How do you define or measure that? My feeling is that nobody should be concerned with whether or not they are a great game developer, it isn't for you to decide and it won't help knowing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  18. Juju

    Juju Member

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    Discipline. Motivation will get you as far as a minimum viable product. Discipline will get you a finished game. Make enough finished games and eventually you'll get good at it.
     
  19. fxokz

    fxokz Member

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    Ive never fully finished a game. Ive been close on 1 game but i got bored of it and never bothered. Its actually so difficult to finish games and that to me is a topic on its own. I mean how do people finish games? what drives them to finish or what makes them give up? For me its the fact that i start to hate the game im making, it made me over work. Once i spent 3 days trying to make a simple day and night cycle in my game and that alone wore me out and made me sick of the whole project. I realize it sucks and that it doesnt have any potential.. its not fun etc etc but yeah im not diving into that too much,
     
  20. hdarren

    hdarren Member

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    If you sell your game then you will want to finish it.
     
  21. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    Perhaps there's something in the typical Japanese mindset that makes being creative easier? I've heard origin stories about several big franchises that have some very random things giving a stroke of inspiration - Starfox was inspired by a bunch of ceremonial gates outside a temple of a fox goddess, and Shigeru Miyamoto figured gates like that would be the perfect level design for a 3D game, for instance, and Pac-Man's design was inspired by a pizza missing a slice (the devs knew they wanted to make a game about food at this point, so I guess someone went "maybe we should make the protagonist look like food too?").

    Finishing a game doesn't guarantee it's great. Heck, it doesn't even guarantee it's good. The devs of Mighty No.9 certainly wanted to finish their game... :p
     
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  22. Galladhan

    Galladhan Member

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    This is very interesting. Another Miyamoto's example is about the Chain-Chomp/Bow-Wow: he once revealed that he got the inspiration from an angry dog that used to run after him while he was wandering in the country around his home, during his childhood.
    Or Satoshi Tajiri with his early passion for insects: he used to catch them and study them (and probably make them combat each other too), and this led to the Pokémon concept.
    Maybe japanese people are more able to take inspiration from everyday life? Or maybe they're more inclined to talk and to "keep in touch" with their inner child?
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  23. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    *gets an Ahaa Moment*
    I think you're onto something here. You know the concept of chibi? Cuteness basically is considered attractive even for adults, so a lot of products gets advertised with SD cartoon mascots, they're used on warning signs... even stuff we westerners wouldn't consider it suitable for because they're "too serious" gets the treatment. I think that has a connection to the "keep in touch with their inner child" business as well... kids universally seem to prefer cartoons over live-action footage no matter their background.
     
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  24. Galladhan

    Galladhan Member

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    Absolutely yess! The chibi example is brilliant.
     
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  25. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    I totally get it. And I know myself its fun to play devil's advocate too. Let me however turn this around and read between lines with you.
    Let me rephrase this topic:

    Can you tell me what are the common traits you could notice that most those developers that are consistently pulling off great games are having in common?
    This is a question you can answer. And it will answer this thread's question just as good as my previous answer.
     
  26. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    Don't insult me. My previous message is my sincere opinion.

    Your response did not answer the question, and I'm not convinced anyone can in a satisfactory way. I don't mean to be impolite but that was the main point to take away from my previous post and I thought I was clear with my explanation.

    The only post I can agree with so far is that put forward by Chance, who I seem to share a similar view with. I also feel you should know that my post was not directed specifically at you, your quote was just a tidy example of the kind of responses in the thread so far (and the easiest to quote).
     
  27. GMWolf

    GMWolf aka fel666

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    Objectively, a great game developer makes a lot of money.
    That being said, I don't consider the companies that build all the trash mobile games filled with microtransactions good developer. Even though they make a ton of money....
     
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  28. Adrien Dittrick

    Adrien Dittrick Member

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    I personally think that a good developper is one whom other people think is a good dev. He manages to have good publicity, which means a good dev is one who also manages advertizing, social networks, and in general uses player-based feedback to make his work better.
     
  29. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Maybe. Maybe this thread is just a whole lot of confirmation bias and pseudo-anthropology. :p

    There are plenty of non-Japanese developers who have had multiple successes (Tim Schafer, John Carmack, early Peter Moleneux, Will Wright, Sid Meier, shall I go on?) and plenty who've found creative ideas from everyday life. The reason you're finding a Japanese trend is because you're almost exclusively looking at the Japanese pioneers whose work came to define whole genres, long before American game development companies had the IP domination they do today. I think the lack of existing games forced developers to look to real life for inspiration, whereas now we tend to look at other games and figure out what we'd change.
     
  30. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    That's not how I take it don't worry. Even with the "devil's advocate" comment, I didn't mean your opinion wasn't sincere or yours, it just happen to be the one that wasn't in line with the others, the one that was more philosophical.
    I get and like your point of view. We probably cannot build a perfect answer, maybe not even an answer you would categorise as "good" and it doesn't really matter. What I find interesting in that can of opinion that you expressed here is that this question isn't one you can't answer, its just one you don't want to answer. This makes your opinion, while totally valid, a bit hypocritical. If you couldn't find traits of what makes a great game developer, would have an idea of what to strive for. You wouldn't know how to become a great developer yourself. Even deeper than that, if your brain would not be able to find common traits about a type of person or anything for that matter, you wouldn't even be functional as a human. You wouldn't even know what an apple is. Your brain kept in memory a series of different traits and characteristics that all apples are sharing and this is what makes you able to decipher if a new fruit you've never seen is an apple or not.

    I don't want to derail the thread further now. I just thought your stance is interesting, on the verge of being funny. You CAN participate in this thread and give traits you associate with "great developer", its just that you don't WANT to do it. And that's fine by me. Just don't tell us its not possible to find those traits. And if the list of traits we find together or discuss together is a satisfying answer for you or not well, that's another matter entirely afterall.
     
  31. Galladhan

    Galladhan Member

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    Well, you will forgive me if i asked questions of anthropological nature without having a degree in anthropology. You know, sometimes even ignorant people like to ask questions and have opinions ;)

    I knew that somebody would have taken me literally on that "joke". I was expecting it. :p

    Edit: Sorry for the OT. I go in silent mode now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  32. Ninety

    Ninety Member

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    Yes, Yal took you literally. :p

    Not to worry. I know your theories weren't intended to be exhaustive. I was just continuing the discussion.
     
  33. Zuurix

    Zuurix Member

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    I'll tell you as soon as I become great. That might take a while through =P
     
  34. Ethanicus

    Ethanicus Ethan L!

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    I would say in addition to taking feedback, you have to, y'know, apply it to your work. It's not enough for you to listen to someone say "He needs to run faster," then nod and go lay on the couch.
    I've also noticed many great games tend to take an existing genre (generally one that is very stuck in its ways), then flip it inside-out. Undertale, for example, looks at the typical RPG setup and says "Why should I have to keep it like that?"
    Then again, that could be correlation/causation going on there.
     
  35. Ehsan

    Ehsan Pirates vs Clones

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    I think when you're a good developer, greatness is just around a "coincidental corner". A special/memorable touch, like Yal said, is something that comes with an accidental idea. Planning, sense of quality, discipline, etc. is, imo, are qualities for a good (team of)developer(s). A good developer creates a soothing envirement to breed greatness.
     
  36. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    It isn't about having the perfect answer. The point is that there is no accurate answer because nobody has yet satisfactorily defined what a great game developer is. You can measure the success of a product somebody has made or the qualities they have, but these are not factors that are necessarily relevant to making them "great". Telling people to "work hard and be organized" is not exactly a pearl of wisdom. It is not a question of what skills a person has because being a "game developer" in itself is a pretty board term and covers anyone from jack-of-all-trade indies to programmers, artists, or project managers who may not share skill sets. What about circumstantial considerations like the team of people that "great" person worked with? What about luck, good timing, or just having an idea that happens to click with people at the time? Is a game great because it is influential, or because it is praised in mainstream media, or because it sells a lot of copies? If you think you can answer this without exploring what the question really means, you're wrong, and pointing that out is in no way hypocrisy. You misuse the word.

    On the contrary a game developer should not be striving for some superficial idea of being "great" or they are surely doing it for the wrong reasons. I couldn't agree less with you on this, and actually, I wouldn't claim to be a great game developer or claim to know how to be one. I hope everyone in this topic can at least agree that would be delusional or at the very least embarrassing to say so, I think if any of us had really cracked it we probably wouldn't be here discussing it.

    I have no idea what you are saying here but it is such a crazy tangent I had to at least honour it by quoting.
     
  37. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    You want to make a good game, you want to do something fun that you will like and hopefully people will like too. If you succeed in that, you have been good, maybe great for some. Of course I have an idea of what being a great game developer is. And you have an idea too or else how can you tell what you're doing is quality or not? How do evaluate your work is worth something or not? We strive to achieve a quality standard, a level of greatness for our products that we get from our gaming education, looking at other people's product and noticing stuff that makes it great for us. We build ourselves a model, an ideal. Consciously or not. But its there even if you might think its not there. That's why I can tell (just like anybody) what's a great game developer from a less good one or a bad one. Sure there's subjectivity to it. I just think its absurd that one would honestly say he can't tell.
     
  38. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    So it sounds to me like your definition of what is "good, maybe great" is a game that the player, or the creator, finds fun and likes? Is that not true for every game that is released? Someone is bound to like the game or find it fun even if it is for reasons not intended by the developer. This also suggests that a game could be considered great even if the product was uninspired and technically basic, so long as it is popular. One such example is Flappy Bird, which can hardly be considered a masterpiece. If this is true, then it is no longer about skills or ability.

    I don't believe I can objectively know that may game is worth anything just based on what I like and what I know. I can know if I like it based on what I enjoy. I can know if it conforms to technical standards; code that is efficient and stable, interfaces based on human-computer interaction and design principles, music and art I feel suits the style of the game and that I think looks and sounds good. This doesn't mean I am a great game developer, only that I've accurately used technologies and followed a process to produce a quality product. Many individuals and companies succeed in this way, but commercially fail, and they are not regarded as great game developers.

    And there in lies the problem. If "great" can only be narrowed down to what people like individually, then there is no standard for what is great, and it is meaningless to ask the question. If you want to ask "what do you believe are the skills and qualities associated with game developers widely considered to be successful" then I could answer that for you, but this question is asking what skills make you great and "shine out from the rest" and I don't think there are any skills that satisfy that.

    Why are Beethoven and Mozart among the most famous musicians in history with a respected musical legacy? Was it because they were organized, wrote nice sheet music, worked very hard? Perhaps they did, but there was obviously more to it, and to tell someone they just need to work hard and become a good piano player to be a great composer is a useless statement. You can speculate as to why they were great people; are people born with a creative genius, was it their upbringing, did they see the world in a unique way, was there something about their brains or their experiences or personality?

    Steve Jobs is considered a marketing genius and a notably successful businessman, but he was widely regarded as an arse by those close to him. Why is it nobody ever considers negative traits in these types of threads? Why do people assume successful people must have behaved in a way that conforms with positive traits and ideals? I suspect that is because most of us only have a vague, logical idea of what we can do to help us succeed, but not necessarily what will lead to success.

    If it turned out that a game developer you respect a lot actually just sat in his pants eating pizza during the development of his game while other people worked on it, would you still consider him great? How do you know that isn't the case? We can't truly know what these people are like or what their process is, unless we ourselves get to work with them. This makes me think that this thread is more about the quality of the product, and how that reflects the developer; Notch is now great because of Minecraft, Will Wright is now great because of The Sims. If this is how you define great, you still have the problem of subjectivity around what makes a great game. Are we saying Minecrarft and The Sims are great because of their mainstream success? This goes back to the Flappy Bird problem.
     
  39. Ethanicus

    Ethanicus Ethan L!

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    I'd like to amend my previous answer and replace it with this: maybe we're thinking too hard.

    Minecraft, FEZ, Undertale.
    Minecraft: a game about an infinite world made entirely of blocks that you can destroy and place. Even when it was just dirt in the first place, it was fun to see what you could do with your unlimited creative landscape.
    FEZ: an 8-bit platformer with a twist; literally. You can rotate your two-dimensional world to solve insane puzzles.
    Undertale: a game that takes the RPG and throws its rules out the window. Interactive fights, unique characters, an endearing world and a deep moral.

    What do all these have in common? I mean think about what they are: new, original, and fun. And in the end, isn't that all we really want out of our games? Something fun, enjoyable, memorable and new?

    So that's what I think. I mean, sure; polish, shine, gameplay and progression and all that are important. But we're thinking too deeply when the bottom line should be this: they are fun, because we've never seen them before. It's fine to learn from other's successes and mistakes, but in the end, being your own is the most important.

    Just my manifesto two cents.
     
  40. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    Yeah I think you're right Ethanicus, successful games seem to be those that try to offer something new in the way of re-imagining game mechanics and styles. That sounds straight forward enough, but a lot of us are guilty of replicating traditional game mechanics or following old trends, when we should be more inventive.
     
  41. RangerX

    RangerX Member

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    Even then, new doesn't necessarily means its gonna be fun. Old can also be fun.
    I immediately think about GTA5 which is to me one of the best action games ever made. Yet when it came out it was old formula.
     
  42. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    GTA V had significantly different game mechanics to its predecessors, largely in terms of online play features. There is no game quite like it. It also has the benefit of being part of a powerful brand with a huge following and a massive budget to back it up, so it is perhaps an awkward example to draw conclusions from. That said, the GTA series overall has been groundbreaking for the sandbox genre, so it would be strange to argue that it hasn't found success due to innovation (which is incremental in the case of later titles).
     
  43. Electros

    Electros Member

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    Perhaps going quite a bit broader in scope, but a great developer would be like a great person in any field - makes a substantial and memorable impact that lives long in the memory.

    To me, great composers have created symphonies and works I will never forget, great developers have created games and gaming moments I will never forget.
     
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  44. Strawbry_jam

    Strawbry_jam Member

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    A good game developer makes games that are good. A great game developer makes games that are great.

    Players decide how good a game is.

    Take the average of what every player thinks of the game and that's how good it is. You may even only consider players of that particular genre. Just like people have a preference of music some people like only certain genres.

    The formula for how good a game is varies from player to player. Some may consider how fun it is the only thing that matters. Some may consider every aspect such as graphics, music and sound, gameplay, features like co op or PvP, replayability, and so on. Of course if a game is solid with everything, the more perfect it is, the more likely you score high with every player.

    Most players will think a game is better if it's good and stands out. You can try to create the best clone of flappy bird with better gameplay and beautiful graphics but at best it will probably be average.

    Some games are great simply from popularity. Call of duty is cloned over and over. I consider most of them great games from multiplayer. If they weren't popular, they would be below average games. This case, the other players are part of the game experience.

    So to conclude, to know what it means to be a great developer, you must first define what it means to be a great game. Great games are decided by the players (probably).
     

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