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Three Ways Today’s Games Can Be Improved

/ Dec 21st, 2012 No Comments

Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic II

Games have evolved. No longer are they considered a pastime for hobbyists but a worldwide phenomenon that encompasses people of all ages. They look good and play even better. Plus, thanks to technology, they’re continuing to raise the bar and it shows no sign of refusing to stop getting higher. But for all the progress that has been made in video games, great missteps are still taken. Graphics unfairly take more priority than gameplay; stories promising to be grand wind up being criminally short and glitches abound where there should be in short supply. For a medium that is supposed to be evolving, it feels at times that it is getting worse in terms of genuine quality and the lack of true effort taken by those who make them.

How can game be better? What can be improved upon that quality is more assured? Well that would take a whole book to explain all the best methods. But let’s just abridge those reasons down to a mere three instead.

#1: Listen to the Players

Whenever games are made, game makers tend to ignore the most important element that determines the success of their games: their audience. When making games, developers often make the assumption that the game they’re creating will be popular. Assuming what gamers want sometimes pays off but often it tends to backfire leading to those being the exact opposite of what they want. This can be avoided. Instead of assuming what gamers want, game makers should do something better: deal directly with them instead.

By interacting with gamers and inquiring about how the game should look, feel and play they can acquire criticism, feedback and suggestions that can be used to make their games more enjoyable. They can mold their games accordingly and more efficiently by doing so.

By allowing the input of gamers, developers also show tremendous respect for gamers treating them as individuals with voices, not just as customers. They show it even more by incorporating those ideas into their games. It creates a stronger connection with gamers making them feel like they are practical making the game alongside the developers. And when the game is released, those who helped contribute will undoubtedly feel like that the game made is truly theirs and not just another game they’ll buy simply for fun.

#2: Take Big Gambles

Vegas Stakes

Vegas Stakes

One of the most important ingredients to success in any business is taking risks. Refraining from doing so too often or indefinitely is a surefire way to promote ill effects that can result in a number of negative consequences such as low credibility, lower quality products and being outflanked by people who took the risks you didn’t. Game companies are not exempt from this and suffer equally for not taking chances.

Take for example Sega. Sega was once a powerhouse famous for revolutionizing the gaming industry with its unique games and innovative concepts. The Japan based company has waned though becoming far less brave in what it creates and publishes. You’re likely to find them working hard on games with their trademark character Sonic the Hedgehog more so than on more original titles.

This has resulted in negative consequences as they have played it safe too often. Newest games in the franchise have been very sub-par featuring poor storytelling, lackluster gameplay and filled with glitches. Furthermore the games have polarized fans and have received no end of critical reviews.

Such are the effects of playing it safe instead of grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns. Companies like Sega must take more chances. While it is alright to play it safe on occasion, making it a habit is never a good business decision neither does it bode well for gaming as it deprives players of titles that are truly original and innovative.

#3: Extending Deadlines is Not Shameful

Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic II

Knights of the Old Republic II

Deadlines in video gaming have become almost sacred. When a date is set, developers are expected to make the game by that set date. But things happen and sometimes a game will be delayed pushing the deadline to another future date instead. However, it is a good thing, though it may be irriating to expextant gamers. Sometimes it is better to jettison a deadline in favor of more time to develop a game. Not doing so often results in a game being less than it was meant to be.

Take for example the Lucasarts published Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. What had the potential to be an excellent followup was derailed mainly by the deadline. Pressure was constantly piled on developer Obsidian Entertainment by Lucasarts to finish the game swiftly for its intended release in December 2004 not at all caring in the least for the final product. Obsidian, not feeling up to challenging its publisher, agreed speeding up production. The cost being that much of the game’s content was entirely cut from the game and plans for others not yet implemented were scrapped.

While the game did sell well and received a generally positive reaction, the game suffered immensely. The game was filled with glitches, the story almost incomplete due to the cuts in content and being overall rather weaker than the first game. The game is still regarded as being the weaker of the two games in the Knights of the Old Republic series chiefly because of many problems plaguing it.

The lesson games like Knights of the Old Republic II can teach is that if it is apparent that a game needs more work then it is better to prolong development than to release it. If need be deadlines should be pushed forward rather than maintained so that more development is put into a game and result in a stronger product. That means more time for glitches to be fixed, stories can be fully realized and gameplay can be further tweaked to be more enjoyable.

Even though gamers may not enjoy having to wait longer and may be irritated the promised deadline is not met they should be a little more at ease that the developers are spending more time ensuring the game is the best it can be. Quality is something that is always worth waiting for.

Jonathan Anson

Jonathan Anson

A resident of Southern California, Jonathan Anson has been a lover of games ever since his father brought home a Windows 95 computer where he was first introduced to his first games. He previously worked for The Gamer Studio before jumping ship to Gaming Illustrated where he can be found showcasing his other love: writing. He is also in the process of attempting to acquire an AA degree in Journalism from Saddleback College.
Jonathan Anson

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