It should be no secret that creating a great game should be all about creating a fun game. What exactly makes something fun is debatable to say the very least as opinions on this matter vary wildly. Everyone looks for different things and taking a game from great to unforgettable takes a combination of many things. For myself, one of the things that can make a game truly unforgettable are just the little touches of whimsy and weird that they through into a game. These are things that feel like the moments of real life that elicits the response "No, I'm serious. You can't make this stuff up!" Truth is though, you can make it up but the problem is that it often can't feel force in any way shape or form. It has to be something you stumble upon on your own and it definitely feels like something not every player will experience. Perhaps one of the best and clearest examples I can think of is this guy:
It may be kind of a silly thing to say, but most of the people who want to work in the entertainment industry are those who want to create content that they love to make. Why bother creating something that you hate, right?
Hack 'n Slash is easily one of my favorite genres out there and when done right they're nearly peerless in terms of making the player feel empowered. However, that "when done right" is a HUGE caveat to the whole experience because they're so easy to screw up. Hit boxes are something that in many other genres have at least a bit of wiggle room. Great Hack 'n Slash though really can't be quite so loose with them though. Games like Bayonetta, DmC (New and old), even The Witcher 3 are all about dodging attacks by narrow margins so you can then go on the counter attack.
One of the things I tend to hear when people work with some of the game engines out that is that they're "awful." Creation Kit for Skyrim for instance, can be kind of a clunky tool to develop with at times. Trying to cobble together a new space out of pieces of existing places can be frustrating. The main reason for this I believe is that the pieces sometimes feel like they're unnecessarily linked. Instead of having "floor" "wall" and "ceiling" pieces, they're all one static mesh which means they can only be rotated certain ways or it looks weird. Then if you do have a gap then trying to find filler that roughly matches the same style can be frustrating. In addition, with pieces being as specialized as you are you can actually start building an area and then realize that the exact piece you need doesn't exist and now you have to figure out how to fix it. In these ways I can understand how these complaints are valid to a certain extent. Of course, you can always make your own pieces but that also requires quite a bit of prior experience and skills.
So running along the same vain as my previous post (HERE) if you want to be any good as a game developer you will have to accept the fact you will fail... all the time. Not only will you fail, but it will happen at critical moments and you will still be expected to get the work done on time. Since developing a game is a huge team effort, you not getting your work done has a gigantic impact on the rest of the team. So not only will your boss be upset, but the rest of the team won't be thrilled with you either. No one will care that you had issues and thus couldn't get your work done. All of them had issues too but they worked through it and got on with their lives. Failure isn't really a pleasant thing. When I first start in an editor or a game engine there is usually quite a bit of growing pain to be had there. Things that seem like they should be straight forward don't really function the way that they should and worse yet can cause much bigger problems. But there is a lot to be learned from failure.
At UAT we try to have professionals from the industry come in to talk to the students when possible. It's a really cool opportunity to meet some of the people who have actually done all of the things that we one day hope to do ourselves. No matter what discipline they're in though, there remains a pretty consistent theme among all of the professionals: they went above and beyond what other students around them were accomplishing. To perfectly clear, this isn't about having a 4.0 GPA because some of them even admitted they were kind of middling students. A high GPA absolutely never hurts, but it's about much more than that. I'm talking about putting an epic amount of work into the things that you will eventually show off to your employers in your portfolio.
So it's not exactly a secret that I'm crazy excited for The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Seeing all the reviews start to come out is exciting, though I'm carefully avoiding any of the actual content of those reviews and just looking at scores. Which all rock by the way, it's getting very high 9s and even 10s. Normally though I would say that the scores are the least important part of the reviews. You want to find out WHY the game the game is good and not some arbitrary score it's assigned. In fact, it's important to note that when you're looking for a job as a designer and they ask you for your opinion of a game they are looking for why you think what you do rather than what you think. Telling them "the game is good" is useless.
Currently in my Ethics in Technology class we're covering debates. In the past few weeks, we decided on a topic to present to the class, creating three separate propositions from that topic and then discussed those propositions using various ethical systems. Frankly, most of the topics were really interesting and for the most part everyone did rather well though one thing that I did notice is that people tend to get caught up in their own view of things. They have their own view of the situation and almost anything outside of that view is practically considered evil. So much so that they don't even stop to consider the other side of the issue. This isn't just confined to the classroom however, as you can usually see this kind of behavior clearly exhibited by people in the world everyday. In the real world I find this stance to be a little disappointing. It often seems that people either don't know or don't care about the other side of the issue and frankly it makes their argument weaker as a whole.
Everything that has ever been made has been influenced by something and games are no exception. Discovering these influences can bring about a new understanding and new appreciate for the game as a whole. For instance, in studying film noir I recently found that the Bioshock series is heavily influenced by film noir and it's various elements. From the start of the very first game you start off on a hazy plane, cigarette in hand as the main character talks briefly about his life. Its in this haze that you really start to go from guy on a plane to someone who becomes trapped within something much larger than themselves. Of course, some of these elements can be present in other forms of media as well so it wasn't absolutely definitive perhaps until much later when Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Part 1 was released.
I will do my best not to spoil anything from the previous two games but this is another game that I'm really excited for this year. Batman Arkham Knight promises to be one of the best games this year and frankly it's hard to imagine they'll miss the mark. With each iteration of the Batman Arkham series the games have successfully grown larger, with more varied gameplay than the the time before it. Really one of the critical gameplay decisions they've made though with each game is ensuring that even though the map is growing, you are suitably equipped to cover the distance. In Arkham City they've added the batwing and they really expand on gliding through the city. It was something that I personally never got tired of from start to finish. But there's really a lot more to it than that. Gliding above the city like that it could be easy to pass by possible opportunities for the player to engage with the game. So they add essentially a radio to tune in on crime as you fly around the city so you can engage or remain disengaged as you like. In the newest game, they're actually adding in the Batmobile in order to add yet another way to move about the now massive city. I highly recommend you start checking out some of the trailers and gameplay footage.