Game Theory: What makes a game fun?

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here’s a list in no particular order :

Ease of use : Most players aren’t going to read the help section to figure out how to activate that special key. (See Next Item)

Easy Learning Curve: As you progress in the game, tool tips pop up to show what that little lever does and whether or not to trust the little elf.

Illusion of Choice: Players love to think the are outsmarting the programmer when really no matter what they do ends in the same result.

Easy Controls: When I play a game I don’t want to have to read a ten-page account on the different key’s and what they do.

Lack of Bugs: Any small problems and any illusion of a seamless(professional) game is instantly shattered.

Achievments: Pull handle receive cookie. Players love the feeling that they are actually accomplishing something and not just wasting a valuable day at work.

Pretty Graphics: If a player sees an ugly platform or cliff,  the illusion of a big important programmer high up in the sky is shattered, and the realization of an smelly middle-aged man is discovered.

Special Effects:  When I see a tremor in the screen when I shoot that enemy or I see a flash of red when my spaceship is hit I assume a ton of work and effort went into the game

High Scores : Competition is what makes baseball, football, and Super Smash Bros. fun. Flash games are no different.

Upgrades: What would a Tower-Defense be without the ability to upgrade that water tower? Boring.

Many Custom Items: (See Above)

Illusion of cleverness: People love to feel smart. Just look at a game like Doodle God . It is nothing more than clicking two different labeled blocks until ou stumble upon a pretty animation revealing yet another pretty block. Rinse, Repeat.

Likable Anti-Hero : Examine Portal, without GLaDOS, this would be a very boring game.

***Sponsor Logo*** :  This one might be controversial, but look at a game like Epic Combo. Without Armor Games logo on the beginning of it, I feel peoples opinions would be quite different.

Style: Know what you plan to make before you start writing a game! I have seen so many games that are like sponges. On one level the art is beautiful, yet on the next it looks like cartoon-art, and on the next it looks like steam-punk.

Good Sound FX: Immerse the player in seamless sound effects. Make them forget that PS3 or 360 in the corner.

Flawless Spelling/Grammar : (See above )

That’s part 1 folks. I would love to get peoples reactions below. 🙂

  1. A lot of the things mentioned are general polish. I’m not sure that polish is what makes a game fun, but it certainly makes me appreciate the hard work put into the game. Of course, that’s because I know how much work it takes! Most players don’t give a damn!

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