I've been posting my musings to livejournal for a while now, but other than the occassional "OMG SO HOT! WILL YOU BE MY BOYFRIEND?!", I'm just not getting the community I want, so I'll be reposting them here. If you'd like to check out my livejournal (where I've posted some art from a platformer game I'm working on) you can find it here: http://lonegameman.livejournal.com/
Been a while since my last post. Holidays and work and all that jazz. I'm sure you all know how it is.
At any rate, I've been pondering lately, what makes a good game? There's three basic parts to a game: Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay. Do any of those individual parts make for a good game alone? Or do they all have to exist together? Well, I finally got around to breaking it down...
Graphics: "Don't judge a book by it's cover," the old adage goes, but there's no doubt that magnificant meshes, terrific textures, engaging environments, and perfect particles catch peoples eye in a heart beat. The smallest detail can take a world from being realistic to ridiculous. Quality graphics can make a game engaging or annoying, but alone they can't make a game good. More than once I've been dazzled by the flash on the back of the box, snatched up the game and been sorely dissapointed when I realized that it was nothing more than smoke and mirrors to hide horribly underdeveloped game play. Still, if your world isn't attractive in some way, you won't keep your players playing, even with the most perfect of gameplay.
Sound: There's nothing like the clash of swords on shields or the rushing wind of a fearsome magical attack. And nothing can sweep you into the lore of an ancient story or the whimsy of a character's antics like just the right score playing in the background. Each game has it's own sound, some realistic some silly, but the sound has to fit the world. There's been many times that I've been playing a game or watching a movie and the score is just... wrong. Or the sound effects don't really do the job. It pulls you right out of the moment and right out of the game. But you can't hear the pictures on a box. You don't really know what you're missing until you buy the game, and even then, just because it sounds good doesn't mean it looks good or that it plays well.
Gameplay: And now the big daddy of them all... whether racing through arid desserts in fantastic vehicals, or bouncing a little square between two rectangular paddles, gameplay is what your players are REALLY in it for. It's the one thing that a perfectly quaffed visual show and the precise melody to emphasize the moment can't hide. If your game isn't fun, then your game won't succeed. Visuals and sound pale in comparison to this one. In more than one instance, a game has moderately okay graphics, and middle of the road sound, but the gameplay makes it something worth playing over and over, for example, games like Tetris or Breakout.
So all things being equal, gameplay is the most important of all. While graphics and sound play an important part in making a truly emersive world for your players to enjoy, if the world isn't fun they won't come back for more. When it's crunchtime, when it's choosing between tweaking that one graphic that still isn't perfect enough, or making that one game mechanic really shine... remember: make that gameplay SHINEY! :D