Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What makes a GOOD game and a GREAT game?

Anybody who knows me will surely know I’m an avid gamer.


Anyway, I have always wanted to write about what makes a game great and what doesn’t. Here is a list of the games I played for the past ten years.

2000 - Star Craft

2001 - Pokemon

2002 - Counter Strike
- Ragnarok Online
- Elysium Online

2003 - RYL 2
- Warcraft 3 (Both Reign of Chaos and Frozen Throne)

2004-2009 - DOTA
- COD 4
- L4D
- Fallout 2
- Granado Espada
- Maple Story
- Lineage 2
- Perfect World
- Celestial Destroyer
- Red Cliff
- Dawn of war
- Generals

2010 - World of Warcraft

Now games are games and I agree that one mans meat is another mans poison. However one should never forget that all meat do not taste the same. So what does it take to make a GREAT game?


So what catches your eye first when it comes to games? Graphics. I love my game with nice graphics. I have played games with awesome graphics to name such as Lineage 2 and Granado Espada. Korean games have the best graphics for MMOs. As for first person shooters, HALO, Half Life 2 and COD 4 have superb graphics to name. Graphics however is not the determining factor. In terms of MMOs, Granado Espada and Lineage 2 beat World of Warcraft by miles. Yet WOW is still on top. Do graphics matter? HALO, Half life 2, L4D and COD 4 have SUPER graphics an average graphic card would get you nowhere in their game. Counter Strike however has poor graphics if you think about it. Yet it is always the core game in every tournament.


There are two kinds of DEPTH. One is for the story line; the other is for the game play. When we talk about real time strategy games, why is it only Star Craft and War Craft are mentioned? Other games like Generals and Dawn of war barely made any names. Red Alert and AOE did but they are ancient! Star Craft came out in 1998 and is still the hottest game in Korea because of its depth. Its almost the national sport there to the point it comes out on TV so often. I love Dawn Of War don't get me wrong. I have known Warhammer since 1999 and it is awesome. Yet these games fall short due to the lack of a SOLID storyline. Why is WarCraft so BIG? With over ten million subscribers, Blizzard is making money rain.
Marketing on a strong story line, it is only right to call it the number one game in the world. With so much lore and how the main characters are connected to each other, it is what keeps players always coming back for more. This is what makes the games last. DEPTH. Most FPS games do not have a story line which often makes it run dry rather fast. HALO and COD do have story lines yet the story line has no DEPTH. Valve insists that L4D has a story line yet if it requires the producers to “insist” that there is a story line, is there really a story line then? Even so, zombies and survivors with guns just sound so Resident Evil. It becomes cliche and not original. Games just being fun alone are insufficient as they can only draw attention but not gamers.


DOTA has been the hottest public game worldwide since 2004. Just a glance at it, NOBODY will know what is going on. This is called DEPTH. In First person shooter (FPS) games, everybody knows what is going on just from a glance. Man with gun in hand, all he needs to do is shoot the opposing team, they die, and he wins. Zombies come, I kill them, I survive, and I win. There is no DEPTH here.


DEPTH has often been argued to affect the learning curve of a game. This is true but this creates what we call VARIATION. Why do FPS games run out of gas and are known no more in such a short time? Who talks about DOOM or QUAKE anymore? The variation is very little. It is so little it often becomes PREDICTABLE. Over time, being PREDICTABLE leads to boring and this period of time varies according to players.


From 2004-this day, DOTA is still the most played game in cyber cafes. Why? Here are two simple reasons.

1. Long learning curve. Some players have been playing it for 5 years yet have barely mastered the game.

2. Unpredictable. No two games are the same. With over a hundred heroes to choose from, you can expect a lot of variation. This provides something fresh in every game which makes players constantly come back for more. Based on the equation above, Its almost impossible for it to reach the BORING level as it is unpredictable.


Now when I talk about balance, its about being fair to both sides. Be it between players or between players and NPCs (Non playable characters)
Players often despise games that are unbalanced. For example, at one point in some online games, a certain class would be totally overpowered and there would be no way to overcome it. Like the Assassin Cross in Ro. In free to play online games such as Perfect World, there were players who were more gifted in the wallet sector and pumped characters with cash items making their characters unbeatable. This is not balance. Why does WOW still stand? They are pay to play which first of all ensures maturity in the game. With this, there is balance. It is only a question of how much time one can invest in the game. Even DOTA is constantly checking for signs of imbalance where a character can become overpowered without any effort. Hence, nerfing comes in. Some cry some rejoice but its all for the greater good.


Most people think that complicated games are stupid hence they go for less complicated games. It is in most people’s natures to reject things that do not come by easy for them. The learning curve is often debated about how it should be gentle in order to lure the crowd. This holds some truth. World of WarCraft has one of the most gentle learning curves among all the MMOs I have played.. Simplest learning curves are found in FPS games while some of the longest learning curves are found in real time strategy games and most MMOs. Dota by far has the longest learning curve among all the games I have played. Gamers are often attracted to it right away but this often makes it hard to attract new players to it as they have to go through so much theory they just give up and call the game pointless as it has so much requirements and they play games for fun only. But it’s like sugar. Its almost impossible to resist with how it supplies fun in so many different shapes and sizes and how it can cater to almost any appetite.


So what does grinding really mean?


Now where can we constantly see grinding? An example would be Lineage 2 and basically any Korean MMO out there. They can sit for hours whacking the same mob just to get to the next level. Nobody likes grinding yet it often comes in different forms that we cannot see. One example would be Left for dead. The game play doesn’t change much over time. The horde never changes; the only thing that can spike the game’s excitement is the appearance of the elite in the game. The tank, spitter, charger, etc etc etc. Other than that? The meta game is already solved. Stick, grab shotguns, determine the tanker and you are good to go.

I wont talk much about this part. Its simple really. In order to get to the masses, you have to supply the masses what they want but according to what they can receive. Games that require powerful graphic cards are normally pointless. Goes back to prove how graphics do not determine everything.


One must know the striking difference between a PLAYER and a GAMER. A person who plays games alone is not a GAMER but just a PLAYER. Trying to obtain advice and recommendations for games from these people is pointless. They will just give you a game which they think is fun. A GAMER however, is the absolute asshole when it comes to picking games. He/She will reject any game which doesn’t cater to his or her needs. However, a GAMER will evaluate a game if it is worth their time, giving it a benefit of the doubt before rejecting it. GAMERs have an instinct and it is called THE GAMERS INSTINCT. Throw any game at them and they will abuse whatever exploit available. This is why GAMERS are often called in by game companies to test play their games and give feedback. This level of testing is vital yet often neglected. It takes a lot of elements for a Good game to become a GREAT game. Producers at S2 saw the power of DOTA's DEPTH and wasted no time making HON. An online game with cooler graphics and rather similar game play.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


Yes, rain is finally here! No I am not talking about the Korean RnB pop sensation Mr Rain

but rather how its finally raining in Sabah after such a long drought. It was so hot in Sabah at one time. Your fan just couldnt do the job of cooling your room. You just had to get an air con or sleep in the fridge. The drought was intense. Bush fires about twice a week. DBKK had to go around hydrating the trees so they wont go up in flames. The rivers were actually drying up too. Without the rivers, Sabah will be out of power. Running on the hydroelectricity alone is bad when the drought comes around. Oh well at least it is raining now.

datang lagi lawak searching for a Rain God. Bah siapa mahu derma dua anak?

Now about Rain the RnB pop sensation. Cant wait for his upcoming album. Hope its gonna be fire. Highly anticipated BACK TO THE BASIC

Waking the world

So with the Worldwake prerelease over, the metagame is still sooo random at eh KK Magic scene. So, with Jund again taking the top spot at the PRO TOUR, looks like its gonna be a tough guy to beat for now. Its amazing to see some veterans attempting control. the Blue white control deck to be exact. Its quite nice actually. I just dont like the idea of Iona sheild of Emeria in the deck.

The deck is pretty expensive though. Running a playset of Jace the mind sculptor. That bloody card costs over a hundred ringgit and a playset alone is already almost five hundred ringgit.

This deck has what it takes to go against simple aggro decks. Jund? I dont know. With a playset of Day of Judgement and two Martial coups, it will have you feeling


Gonna try out my own version. Minus Jace though. Will be playing Sphinx of Jwar Isle instead of Iona.

Most Worldwake cards are kindda sad, The best card has got to be Jace. Thats all. Aint it sad that there is only 1 good card in the entire set? Got a playset of Loam lion.


Damn strong. Thinking of running it in a standard Zoo deck though that is kindda impossible =( Its hard when you dont have them fetch lands.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Minus one

So Math went off to work at Layang Layang. Wont be seeing him around here for months. Known him since we were 5. The chicken however will be coming back next month. Woohoo!

Recently watched two movies which were rather interesting.



For Book of Eli, I have always been waiting for a wasteland movie and I must say I wasnt disappointed. The action was good. Fighting with a knife makes things more personal compared to shooting with a gun. As for the book, its none other than the Holy Bible. Love how he would go through the waste land carrying the Bible for 30 years just by following the voice of God. "For we walk by faith not by sight" But there is a big debatable matter. Is he really blind in the movie? Well, the Bible he was carrying is in Braille and near the end of the movie, the camera zooms in up close to show that his eyes are silvery white. However, there are so many things in the movie where it is impossible to accomplish without sight. Like how he beat those guys and never stumbles when he walks. How he knew the corpse had fine leather boots.

Soloman Kane is great too. It has a Van Helsing feel to it. Ya know, the hat and gun = witch slayer? Its great to see a one man army. Hence the name Solo Man Can = SMC. Yes he will send you to SMC if you mess with him. The best part for me is at the beginning where his men says "There are devils here!" and he says "In here, I am the devil!" So throughout the movie he is hunted down by demons yet just like Book of Eli, they dont say WHY he is hunted down by demons and why his soul is Damned. I am guessing he made a pact for power but I still wish they had shown that.