Some small thoughts about a small game

Last week I had been playing Yidi’s game which is his assignment of freedom. I’m not saying I got addicted, but the game was pretty fun and engaging, and it did give me some thought about the industry.

The game is called “You”, and you could easily download it here:

It will only take you 3 minutes to get the idea of this game: Shoot, fly, and survive.

Three things this game made me think of: The real fun in game versus its market value; The fun being a tester of others’ game as a designer; One important property to be a good game designer.

The fun of a game versus its market value

Mostly, this thought is about reality. The game industry is very much commercialized now. There are so many steps in its production chain, you have to make sure nothing goes wrong in the chain, to make your game be able to publish. However, no one could tell whether it will be popular before it gets shipped. It’s like opening a chest, you don’t know whether it’s gold or monster in it. As a conclusion, because of so many other things can go wrong, and so many other things can affect a game’s sale grade, the importance of being fun is correspondingly becoming less.

But when we’re not talking about money, or about business, how fun a game is must be the most crucial evaluation criterion of it. Like all of the games in the game jam, and this little game here. I most likely won’t pay for it (only if it’s not for free), but I feel a lot of fun playing it, and can play it continuously for a long time.

As a conclusion, it seems in the industry recently, the fun of a game is becoming less and less decisive in its production process. I’m not saying people make game without aiming for fun, but the difference between making a fun game and making a profitable game is now really getting huge.

The fun testing others’ game as a designer

This is the part I love the most. From my recent experience, when designers are working together, a lot of problems occur just because none of them can be persuaded by the others. In design phase, there’s actually no proof of most of the things people talk about-because they are all based on assumptions. Different people make different assumptions, which lead to different opinions and conclusions. The fight can never stop.

However, if as a designer, I’m playtesting other’s game, I could give much more constructive opinions. More importantly, I can enjoy the conversation, because everything we talk about is based on a concrete fact, not assumptions. There might be another reason: when you are giving opinions to other’s work, you’re not talking about your own creation, so you would be more willing to give up some thoughts/control.

Like for this game. I’m not the designer of the game, but I helped to find some bugs, and gave some suggestions. I knew Yidi didn’t have to listen to all of my opinions, and I was also not expecting that. So the atmosphere is much better than if we were designing this game together and I really insist on some feature that I want.

This might conclude in a good point we learned from the very beginning of the semester: make instead of talk. But in a different way: not about how one single designer can improve his own design, but about how collaboration between designers can improve. It can also explain why a design team is normally small: if you have more than 4 people, you probably can’t decide on anything. Lastly, it also supports the method of “everyone go back and make something, then we talk about each of them next time.”

One important property to be a good game designer.

I might be wrong on this; but I think we haven’t talk about how important the taste of a game designer is. My opinion is, it really matters. I don’t mean it’s totally decisive, but it could affect a lot.

Firstly, different tastes drive people to play different games. With a good taste, one could have better game experience than another, even before he/she becomes a game designer. The width of taste is similarly important: if one only plays several types of game, he/she would get less knowledge about different mechanics, systems or even art styles.

More importantly, when a designer make decisions, he/she will do it according to his/her own taste. He/she will make what he/she thinks is fun, and how much other people will like the game is pretty about the taste. Another occasion: if one is not making the game he/she thinks is fun, but just some games others think is fun. That brings the request to the designer of understanding others’ taste.

In a word, a good taste of a designer is really important to me. It means how he/she can evaluate and analysis a game, and make decisions and predictions about it.

Ending words: These are just very little thoughts that went to me after I played this little fun game. They are pretty random, and I hope they could give you an relaxing time reading this blog.