Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Real Makings of A Bad Game

When we talk about a bad game we often mention some obvious things like bad controls, bad graphics and sound or even about broken game mechanics. It is a well known fact that judging a game can be something that is quite attached to your own taste for gaming, but there are some aspects that can be the definite tell tale signs of a poorly made game and today we are going to see some of them.

Recycle Keyboard Key
Sometimes it does feel like they did had a recycle key on their keyboard.
1) Excessive Recycling of resources
Let's start this one by stating that it is not possible to develop a game in which every thing is completely hand made and different and that is because of technical and financial reasons. The type of recycling that is considered bad and the one that gives the first sign that a game is not that good is when developers actually abuse of the material they use and have us gamers seen the same things over and over again. This includes different buildings with similar materials (in walls, floor, etc), repetitive characters/enemies (with a slight shameful change like color or name) flora and fauna on a game level (nobody wants to see countless patches of the same bush or animals repeated) and similar things like that. This type of recycling makes the game look generic, boring and uninspired. If they are going to recycle something they should at least not make it obvious.

Exceptions: Games that a growth based (mmorpg, online games) or puzzle games.  

Good vs Bad Game Design
Which one would you prefer?.
2) Generic Game Design
Game design is something that can be quite hard to do (a little harder than just scribbling a stage layout on a piece of paper), but if a game is announced and advertised as a AAA experience, it should NOT have a design that looks and feels generic in nature. Examples of this include the "corridors and small rooms" design in some first person shooters, redundant game content that has the player doing the same thing several times with no clear objective, story lines that are separated into pointless sequences and game material that is so simplistic that it becomes insulting to our intelligence. These kind of crappy design faults reflect very deep faults in the development process of the game like designers been forced to make dumbed down versions of otherwise good ideas, the team rushing the game to meet an unfair deadline or just plain laziness by everybody involved.

Exceptions: Dungeon crawler rpg games, growth based games, sandbox games

Final Fantasy VII Fort Condor
Final Fantasy VII is an example of a GOOD linear game. The place in this picture is Fort Condor and
it didn't have anything to do with the main storyline, but it was awesome and it showed how
a linear game can be fun when done well. 
3) Bad Linearity
This one was briefly referenced in the previous bad game characteristic, but it is in within itself a very bad thing on many levels. Nowadays there seems to be a war against linear games, but what most people are not realizing is that linearity itself is not bad. The really bad thing is linearity gone bad and that is a whole other concept that should not be generalized. Back in the 90's and before the advent of "open worlds" in gaming, most games were linear in nature and up to this day we have some legendary titles that are still considered to be masterpieces. Those games were a good kind of linear experience that was so well designed that it did not felt linear at all. On the other hand, there are AAA games that feel as if they were designed by an poor amateur at best. We have scenarios in which the players find themselves going from point A to point B without doing anything significant other than getting to the next cutscene or game worlds that try to lie to us gamers by trying to look big and well made while the sad truth is that we are running through the same stuff without any purpose at all. Bad linearity is not acceptable and gamers should make notice of this and let it be known, half baked ideas will not be tolerated.

Exceptions: Games with randomly generated material.

Bad Game Meme
Wrapping it up
Basically, the bottom line is that a bad game is not necessarily bad because of technical aspects. A bad game is one that becomes boring because we are doing stuff that is not fun and we are doing it for no significant reason. Some games can get away with this because they are addicting and we don't mind grinding for hours just to get what we want, but the moment we feel like we are are just pressing buttons for nothing is the moment when our attentiveness towards the game begins to shrink and sooner than later we will find ourselves playing something else. Mediocrity in games is something that should never be accepted and it is up to us to stop it where ever it appears, let's just vote with our wallets and make sure that game companies get the idea.

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