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Old 10-29-2011, 11:48 PM   #1
Totenkopf
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So.....what exactly makes a VG great?

After reading through some of the latest entries in the ME3 thread, I figured this was a reasonable question for LF (it's not in KC b/c frankly VGs don't really rise to the level of "serious biz"....unless it's your livelihood....no matter how opinionated we are about the subject). So, what are peoples' thoughts here (with specific examples, both of those qualities and the games that embody them) of what constitutes a "great" game vs a merely fun one?


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Old 10-30-2011, 01:08 AM   #2
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I've been having very similar discussions with people around the net lately... starting with an article over at Aussie-Nintendo that suggested that Xenoblade Chronicles was overrated and that the game wasn't great at all.

It's mostly to do with personal experience than anything else. Also, I've discovered that some people like to get into the nitty gritty of the game mechanics and point out every little flaw and compare each individual component to other games that have the same or similar component...

Others like myself prefer to see every game as being more than the sum of its parts. That despite every game sharing the mechanics with every other game around it, there is still something special about that particular game that makes it unique. For example, despite Halo being nothing THAT original... I still like Halo: Reach quite a lot... and despite Xenoblade Chronicles being like an action JRPG mixed with MMO without the MMO part, it still made be explore and discover the world it created.

A lot of times I find something great about the games I play that'll get me hooked on it and love it... but with every game it seems to be something different that does it... or maybe something the same that works differently, I dunno lol. I can go as far as comparing the greatness of Xenoblade to the greatness of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn to someone as if they're the same type of game when they're entirely different forms of RPGs and people will look at me thinking "how can you compare the two? they're nothing alike" even though I like them for the same reason despite their differences.

But yeah... they're more than the sum of their parts... when a game works, it works.

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Old 10-30-2011, 05:17 AM   #3
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I'm probably the least 'Gamer' type here. Generally I need Compelling Story, re-playability, usually some form of Sci-fi or fantasy. I wont play something like Black Ops, it holds zero interest for me, Basically I only play Bioware games and the GTA series lol... although I own both Mass effects but I've never actually got past half way on either, I think I just jumped on the hype train, but didn't enjoy it enough obviously to complete it. I will play things like SW: Battlefront because its Star wars, not because of the genre.

Other than that I enjoy a good sports game, like NBA 2k, EA: MMA, EA: Skate... Just because its something I can pick up or leave at anytime.

I have friends who buy like 2 or 3 games a week, pre-order all the main releases... I'd have an epileptic fit with all that screen watching man.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:49 AM   #4
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Hmm.. good question Totenkopf.

Normally I'd fall under the "as long as it's fun" banner, but since you distinctly called for "Just fun" vs "Great" (crafty you ) many of my qualifiers are hit on by a mix Lynk's and adamqd's posts.

Re-playability, compelling story, and just that little "hook" or tweak that whets the appetite to delve forward. Mostly however, is if the game can draw me in deep. If I start playing and wind up quitting only after several hours later (due to gameplay and not restarting the damn thing due to bugs ) it's a runner for "Great"

NWN (SoU/HotU), Baldur's Gate (1 & 2), Fallout series (1,2 & 3), Elder Scrolls (all) managed to to do that. Hours upon hours of gaming without a sense of how much time had passed. Man, I can't count how many weekends I've lost to those series..

Gameplay mechanics factor in however. Maybe I'm getting old or perhaps I'm just "dumb downed" nowadays.. but micro-managing is becoming less and less attractive. So much so I'd say it bumped ME1 down to "fun" (while ME2 teeters between fun/great). Yeah I know "HYPOCRITE!".. NWN/BG was nothing but micro-managing. True. I can't really argue (despite my willingness.. hehe). Perhaps if I went back and played them.. my opinion and ranking may just *gasp* bump them down to "fun" too... but I also have to base my list somewhat on nostalgia and game lifespan?

Sure if we wanted "accurate" results we'd all have to go back and play every single game we've ever played.. but that isn't going to happen. So I'm judging many of the games I play on what I felt during my time I had with them.

Hell, back in the heyday, I spent 2 years playing NWN and expansions. 2 years! Not a single game interested me in tearing myself away from it. THAT is what makes it one of the greatest games I've ever played. Elder Scrolls? Well.. let's just say I've wasted half a day (each game) with the sole goal of just collecting all the books to read the lore (and in a non-completionist manner at that). I was just that interested. Snoozer huh? But it drew my sorry butt in to the story and it's world. I can't dismiss something like that.

As for that "hook" Lynk mentioned.. for me, it could be something awe-inspiring.. or something as simple as the Bat-Grappler and gliding. I'm still not sure how to categorize Batman:AA... sure I can complete it in under a few hours, but damn if I don't squander half my gameplay grappling up buildings just to jump off them like a goober.. hehehe


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Last edited by ChAiNz.2da; 10-30-2011 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:40 AM   #5
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:20 AM   #6
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:01 AM   #7
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I'll go beyond the obvious and ignore elements most gamers would nod and agree and aim at something else.

For me, what makes a video game great is when you feel it does more than what's necessary for it to be good. Duh. I know it sounds a bit retarded but allow me to elaborate. A game to be good must be first functional. But it's not enough. Most games allow you to have a comfortable gameplay and intuitive controls and, nevertheless, they suck; you'll soon drop them or finish them and never touch them again. So a game needs to be fun, and that's the hook Chainz mentioned a few posts above, IMO.

I'd say a game does more than it ought to when it keeps adding content and you're totally not expecting it. From what I've gathered, some companies do this so often that you'll probably find that in most of their games.

Atlus is a fine example of a developer with such idiosyncrasy. Persona 3 is nice example: when you're on the 30 hours mark through it and you think you've nailed down how it works and when the next big event will happen (the game has a calendar which makes you think you can anticipate everything that will take place next), the game comes around and slaps you on the face, and then shatter the ground under you and leave you naked with all but your hands to cover yourself. From then on you start looking at the calendar more wearily. But then, 10 hours later, a new gameplay mechanic is introduced and you start considering changing the way you play the game completely (notice you're not forced but changing your style anyway will definetly suit you more). The game is surprise after surprise and when you think it's ending, it's not. And that without any - God forbid - DLCs. This happens in almost every other Atlus's game that I have played and they rarely drop the ball.


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Old 10-30-2011, 12:45 PM   #8
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To me I guess it boils down to timelessness. Basically, a great game is a game you can replay and not be bored while doing it no matter how many years or sequels have passed since its release. Some examples of what are, IMO, great games are: Grim Fandango, Hitman: Blood Money, Diablo II, Starcraft.

Fun games, on the other hand are much simpler to define - if you're having fun playing it and you are even willing to play through it two, three, or more times in the near or immediate future, that means the game is fun. If you play through it once and don't want to touch it ever again, it was probably more tedious than fun. If you need a break before having another go at it, it was probably OK, but nothing special. The difference is that a game which is simply "fun" is actually "fun at the moment", while a game that is "great" is "fun at any time".

What makes a game fun or great? As others have said, the criteria varies from one person to the next. A story that never gets old, a gameplay that fits the genre of a particular game, absence of bugs, music that fits the overall atmosphere are some of those I take into account when deciding if a game is "great" or just "fun at the moment". Ctrl Alt Del mentioned surprises (during one playthrough, if I understood correctly) and I'd just like to go a bit further and say that it's a big plus if you can see something new or do something new in each new playthrough without any DLCs.

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Old 10-30-2011, 03:28 PM   #9
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Thrilling Gameplay.


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Old 10-30-2011, 06:18 PM   #10
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For me a great game is the kind which you end up getting completely immersed in, the kind you have to play as much as possible, that you can't get enough of. So for example, when I first got KotOR 2, my life consisted of working, playing football and playing TSL. I was completely hooked on the story and wanted to know what was going to happen next, I couldn't tear myself away.

The best films are like that too, the first time I saw Star Wars (IV, V and VI), the Dark Knight and Seven Samurai. They were films which had me wanting more, when they ended I was gutted they had ended, they're also timeless in that I can watch them again and again.

Fun games I think are games which you can pick up and play, enjoy but they don't hold you captivated. If any of that makes sense?



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Old 10-30-2011, 08:44 PM   #11
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For me, I think the best games are the ones that have all their parts working in unison and amplifying each other, and so pulling you completely into the universe. Gameplay that helps make the story more exciting, and story that makes the gameplay seem more important, for example. Games like this tend to age very well, like some of the series already mentioned here like KOTOR and BG.

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Old 10-31-2011, 12:20 PM   #12
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Of course the difference between a good game and a great game is going to be very much subjective to your own personal taste. In my personal opinion the difference between a good fun game and a great game is the chances the developer takes. However, that isnít the only criteria or Peter Moylneux would be one of the greatest designers ever, but I only put Fable 2 and Fable 3 in the lower fun category and far from the great.

BioWare would be my best example of producing fun games. Even what they consider innovations are really based on things that have been used and worked in other games. They donít seem to take many chances, but, at least in my opinion, BioWare produces solid fun to play games. They are my favorite game developer, but as much as I love the Mass Effect franchise, the Dragon Age Franchise and games like KOTOR, NVN and Jade Empire I do not consider any of them great games. That said, BioWare does produce games that I enjoy playing over and over.

Obsidian while not the greatest with innovations or game mechanics in general, does in my opinion take major chances in their story telling. This can produce some great games (again in my opinion) NWN 2 Mask of the Betrayer, TSL and Fallout New Vegas, but it can also produce some really bad games; Alpha Protocol. Rarely do they just produce something in between but it does happen; Dungeon Siege III (fun, not in the ME range, but still just fun).

Fallout: New Vegas, is now one of my favorite games for the simple reason, it takes what I love about Bethesda games and adds depth to the story telling. Yes, the game is mechanically flawed, but 99.9999% of those have been cured on my system with mods.

Still love ME and ME2, but I donít consider them great, but fun is what I look for in a game. That and the ME franchise has something no other game hasÖ
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:54 AM   #13
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The one game that incorporates all the elements mentioned before, fun, story, re-playability, engaging, good looking, etc etc...

Ocarina of Time

This is what makes a great game, you can make a remake of it for a 3D handheld a decade after it came out and still have a legendary game that puts others to shame.

For me there is obviously a great sentimental value to it as well since I was about 10 when it came out, it really made an impact on me growing up.



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Old 11-07-2011, 07:00 AM   #14
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I'm kinda agreeing with J7 and Mim (though apparently not concerning AP ), a great game in my book needs both immersion and to make that.
Immersion is a must and elements that detract from that is one of my major gripes with otherwise good games (cut scenes, especially cinematic ones, breaking the fourth wall, unbelievable characters etc), that said immersion =/= realism, Alpha Protocol isn't realistic, but the unbelievable characters (like Heck) are consistent with the game world.

A game also needs to keep in mind that it's a game, not a movie, a game has to embrace it to be great in my oppinion. As an example Alpha Protocol gives the player freedom of when, how and to some extent if missions should be done, and provides a constant stream of consequences that made me feel like, yes, I did that, instead of feeling like I was jumping to the designers tune (Before Mim kills me, I have many gripes with AP, however it did some things better than any game I can think of).

My definition of fun games is the same as J7's.


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Old 11-07-2011, 11:07 AM   #15
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BioWare would be my best example of producing fun games. Even what they consider innovations are really based on things that have been used and worked in other games. They donít seem to take many chances, but, at least in my opinion, BioWare produces solid fun to play games. They are my favorite game developer, but as much as I love the Mass Effect franchise, the Dragon Age Franchise and games like KOTOR, NVN and Jade Empire I do not consider any of them great games. That said, BioWare does produce games that I enjoy playing over and over.

Obsidian while not the greatest with innovations or game mechanics in general, does in my opinion take major chances in their story telling. This can produce some great games (again in my opinion) NWN 2 Mask of the Betrayer, TSL and Fallout New Vegas, but it can also produce some really bad games; Alpha Protocol. Rarely do they just produce something in between but it does happen; Dungeon Siege III (fun, not in the ME range, but still just fun).
Iīd definetely call KOTOR a great game for the simple reason that i have played through it countless times and it still grabs me by the balls every time i play it, same with JE and ME2. I think the thing that separates great games from just good ones is the possibility to make chooses in a world that immerses the player. But this is not enough, you need to also have replayability and make an emotional connection to the player. An example of a game that could be amazing, but isnt because it lacks the latter two is DX:Human Revolution.

A funny thing about Obsidian is, that I consider most of their games horrible, I love AP. It has so many great ideas and the way the story builds and varies each time make up for ****ty mechanics and crappy graphics.


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