The fundamentals of fun
What makes a good game?

What do all these games have in common? Outrun, Marble Madness, Super Stardust, Zelda 3, Super Aleste.

But what makes a 'good' game? What seperates the good games from the bad? To get even close to answering this, we need to dismantle all of the components in a game.
Let's start by splitting up a 'game' into 3 parts: Graphics, Sound, and a mysterious cryptic factor called 'playability'. No, hang on, graphics is maybe a subset of playability isn't it? Outrun just wouldn't 'play' like Outrun if the action was viewed from a bird's eye view instead ot the driver's perspective - even if the game's underlying control, design and layout was identical. As you can see, this is the kind of thing that makes game analysis all very confusing, but it leads us nicely into what I'll now refer to as the 'game dimension'.

How many dimensions in the playability?

Not to be confused with the graphical dimension, this refers to the 'levels' of control in a game. For example, car games such as Gran Turismo or Sega Rally look 3D, but their control dimension is actually mostly in just 1 dimension. Mostly you're steering just left or right to navigate. Acceleration and deceleration could arguably count as another dimension, but this would still make the game 2 dimensional at most.
On the other hand, certain graphical 2D games play as though they were in 3D. Examples might include Zaxxon (up/down left/right in/out), Midnight resistance (mainly 2D, but the extra joystick adds an extra dimension to the gun movement), and even Asteroids (this time, the same joystick doubles up to give a third dimension for the shot direction).
Then there's sound in a game. Most of the time, the sound and music add to the aesthetic background in the game, but this isn't always true. A siren could provide that vital split-second warning that a boss will fire an instant death-laser covering the full length of the screen.

All of those 'little' things.

R-types mini spiral explosion, The graphics can certainly look different, and they all probably inter-relate to some degree, but now I'm going to try and split them up further:
Sound: The , sound effects, and that all-important backing music.
I have often noticed that some of the best sound effects try to match the pitch of the accompanying music. But what makes a great tune or sound effect? We've hit a brick wall here. The answer is blindingly complex, as it goes to the very root of aesthetics. Visit the Music and Art aesthetics page for more info. Playability: This splits off into graphics and control. Graphics: Are they clear, elaborate, and do they complement the rest of the game? We're looking for beautiful graphics, but also functional graphics as they need to be servant to the playability. In fact, what you see on the screen is very closely tied to the Okay, now I'm stuck. , sounds effects, and general aural soundscape. Graphics

This page will be completed sometime in the future, but for now, I'll post up some useful links:

OPCFG - The organisation for the preservation of classic forms of gaming.
I love the first paragraph from this site - so funny - and true!

The Scratchware Manifesto
There has to be some reason why game standards have dropped in quality over the past decade. I'm not quite sure if I agree with all the opinions in this document, but it certainly provides an insight into the gaming industry.

Flat Batteries - The most overrated games ever
A look into why some of the most popular games ever made, are in actual fact, not very good at all ;-)

Skytopia - Forum
Various threads on why yesteryear's gaming was more fun.



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