What can go wrong in game design

On gamasutra recently published an article where the author shares his thoughts on the topic of what errors can be tolerated when creating a game and what to do about it. And the author argues as a reviewer of games, he is not a game designer. It is interesting to read the "view from the side". Only the request not to be perceived as a personal point of view, simply decided to translate and share, so that there was an understanding of how people perceive the work of gaming companies from the outside. Under the cut translation.
What can go wrong in game design

One of the most difficult things for me in running a channel is to do reviews on games that do not meet my expectations. I played great games, which I could not tear myself away for hours, and in games that I lost interest in a few minutes. It's very simple to make a review of a cool game, but try to write it for a game that does not "go" at all to you.
Many people do not need to make a video for YouTube, in which they pour water on any game and its developers, and I can not just pounce on someone like that. After all, none of the developers specifically set a goal to make a bad game, and trying to define what a really bad game is not a simple process.
Three types of catastrophes:
When it comes to video games, there are three types that are generally considered bad. The first are intentionally copied titles collected from free assets in the image and likeness of another famous game, or in general its direct clone. Such clones were never created to become hits, but were conceived to quickly draw money out of people, after which they either disappear from Steam, or roll down in a hundred. Such games are easy to distinguish and I never play in them.
The latter are the ones I call the "Great Shows." These are games that have been raised thanks to HYIP, the hype around them and the famous "pedigree", but still got a ton of negativity in their favor, and in some cases also towards the developer company. For example, these are games such as Mass Effect Andromeda, X-Men Destiny, Dead Space 3 and Godus.
It is difficult to make reviews about them, discussing such titles and their shortcomings, as usually these unsuccessful sides are quite specific. Sometimes they are related to the problem of the publisher or some behind-the-scenes drama, and such cases are difficult to perceive as errors that a novice developer could learn.
And the third type is games that fail silently. As already said a lot, for every game that has achieved success, there are hundreds of those that could not. Such games can be considered when you need to understand game design and what it is like to be a developer.
Death from a thousand problems:
Some time ago I wrote on the difference between AAA and indie games in terms of development and quality. AAA games may not be super unique, but they can offer a polished quality product, thanks to their many years of experience (and, of course, all this money). And in the indie segment we can stumble on titles that you will not find anywhere else, but they usually do not have enough polishing level.
Even if you are an industry veteran from the company's geymdev, in the case of working on your own project it is difficult to control all aspects of the game development yourself. Today, indie studios are increasingly difficult to break through and stand out from the competition, and any problems in game design can eventually become a metaphorical nail in the coffin of the game.
It's not just that there is only one chance to make a good impression, but also that the quality bar in games has risen noticeably. I already lost the account of games in which I was faced with problems of game design and raw unfinished product in the first 10 minutes of the game.
It's sad that such problems are for me the reason why I cease to play such a game at all, no matter how wonderful this game could be for me in a few hours of playing it. That's why one of the key elements of game design is the playtests.
In the process of developing a game, there never comes a time when you can stop showing your game to people. So, referring to all the developers who are probably reading this article now, I want to say that you have no serious reasons and excuses not to conduct playtests of your game. It does not matter if you spend 2 hours going through your game or 2? or more than 100 - you have to show your game to others during the development process.
Do not need hundreds of hours to notice problems with the interface, quality and gameplay in general, such things are usually visible within a few minutes of the game. That's why I'm so critical about games with such obvious problems and shortcomings.
The analysis of the market:
Sometimes it happens that you have finished developing the game, making it as ideal as you could do it at all, but it is still not sold. There are no guarantees when it comes to releasing video games on account of which one of them will still ignite. You can not plan in advance that your game will be the next PubG or Undertale.
Another trap, which fall into the developers-beginners - is that they do not investigate what is happening in the sphere of games or game design outside their circle. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that the game you want to create is not necessarily a game that can become successful.
This is a continuation of the topic raised above about the importance of iterations and playtests. The ability to receive and work through feedback is one of the key components of your growth as a game designer. Analyze the market is at least in order to understand what is your game in comparison with its closest competitors, or with the most similar games with it.
So it's very important not to do game design, to close in your personal perception bubble, but to do it, analyzing how other representatives of the genre have grown and evolved. It's not about copying someone's game, but about watching how their game was perceived by the public, and what aspects the players liked the most. Gaming genres have grown, as well as consumer expectations from them.
If you are going to present your game as "ARPG" or "Souls-Like", or even "Battle Royale", then you will need to understand what key elements are present in these games. Moreover, it is worthwhile to think about what points can be improved, and try to ensure that your game does not already have known shortcomings.
The genre and game design of the project can change as it develops, from the beginning to the very end. If you are trying to become competitive in a popular genre or compete with a very large title, then you will either need to develop something even cooler than that game, or move in a different direction. The painful lesson that game designers have learned from the failure of many MMOs in zero is that you can not chase the top leader of this genre and hope to overtake it.
Learn from the mistakes:
As I mentioned before, developers do not tend to create bad games, which is why I can not criticize the nines, even those that I did not like.
Many games fail not with a bang, but quite silently, which makes it difficult to determine the cause of failure. You can say things like "Maybe I let the game go at a bad time" or "Consumers did not understand my game," but that does not help you grow.
The phrase "cream always rises to the surface" is also applicable when it comes to the best games of the year. However, even given their high quality, their developers have done much more than just created a game design for a good game. This is research, and PR, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work, all in order to be sure that their projects have every chance to influence the market.
So much can go wrong with your game, that you can not even realize it until it's too late. In the end, if you still decided to take the step from a hobby to playing video games before becoming a game designer, then you will need to do much more than just 2-4 years of your life doing some kind of game. In the gaming industry, nothing is guaranteed, but this does not mean that you can simply fountain with different ideas, hoping that some of them will get accustomed.
If you are able to continue your journey, after a failed project, then take everything you learned in the process and move forward, because not everyone gets a second chance.
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