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Feature: 'The Designer's Notebook - Ten Years Of Great Games'

To celebrate Gamasutra's seminal 'The Designer's Notebook' feature series turning ten this month, veteran game lecturer/designer Ernest Adams looks back on the
On its tenth anniversary, veteran game designer/lecturer Ernest Adams' "The Designer's Notebook" feature looks back on the last decade in gaming to highlight those titles that "showed great imagination, contained important innovations, or left a lasting legacy." The games Adams chooses aren't necessarily the best sellers or the ones with the highest ratings -- for example, Adams says, the big genres of sports and driving won't get much mention here, as "their designs tend to advance by evolution and refinement, not wholesale change." Adams also deliberately avoids sequels for the most part, even though he admits they're "frequently better than their predecessor" -- largely because sequels generally represent a refinement of gameplay rather than a dramatic change. Adams picks some titles that underperformed commercially, and explains: "Like Grim Fandango, Planescape: Torment was a commercial disappointment, and for many of the same reasons: its world was unfamiliar to most players and demanded attention and commitment. The game's art, story, characters, challenges, and even language (based on 19th-century British working-class slang) are all unlike anything seen before in the role-playing genre, or any other genre, for that matter. Planescape now has a cult following, and I consider it one of the greatest games of all time. Among other innovations it managed to create a reasonable in-game explanation for why your avatar is resurrected every time he dies." He also points out The Sims as "casual gaming's first star," and explains the significance of the lessons learned: "It just goes to show you that not all players like to be entertained the same way, and there's more to video games than adrenaline. The Sims established the age of user-created content by letting people take screenshots, caption them, and assemble the result into stories that they could upload for other people to read. Modding had long preceded The Sims, of course, but this was different -- it was easy and required no tools. The Sims' legacy is huge." You can now read the full feature, which spans 1998 to the present and explores those titles that made an impact, each for its own reason, and helped to create gaming as we know it today (no reg. required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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