When we critique video games there are a lot of areas for us to look at. Game design, graphics and technical issues are usually the big three. But another area that does come up often is on replayability: Namely should a game be marked down for not being replayable? It’s an interesting debate and one that can impact a game dramatically.
Today’s post should be interesting, as I’m going to talk about another often overlooked area of making a great game — level design. As we’ve talked about on podcasts, it’s one of those topics where we can talk about what we liked or disliked about a level, but actually talking about what makes it good or bad is another story because you’re not just talking about one part of your game but every aspect that is playable to the player.
It may surprise some of you to know that even I’ve succumbed to the addictive qualities of the “clicker genre” — games whose sole mechanic is simply clicking something on screen and watching numbers go up or down. I’m not alone in enjoying these games and examining why allows us to look at one of the key draws of a lot of video games.
The big shocker for Early Access/crowdfunding lately would have to be Doublefine pulling the plug on their first Early Access title — Spacebase DF9. The game according to them will move from alpha 6 to release in October with most of the planned features scrapped in favor of letting the players mod them in.
As you can guess, a lot of people are not happy about this failing from Doublefine, especially after the breaking up of Broken Age into two parts. Looking at its development and Doublefine’s response, there are important lessons here for developers on what not to do with Early Access.