Tuesday, September 2, 2008

8 Qualities A Game Should Have

What qualities does a game need to have for you to want to play it or purchase it? 

My list:
1. Entertaining - if it's not fun, why bother? 
2. Genre/setting/theme that interests me in some way. This could be something like: low fantasy, morally ambiguous game that asks the question: How far will you go to change the world? 
3. Simple rules. I hate stopping game play every ten minutes to look something up. ESPECIALLY when there is no index, or the index is awful. 
4. Potential for ongoing games/stories. I've played several indie games as one shots, and I enjoy them, but I prefer to have longer games that allow characters to develop over time and the potential for long stories. 
5. Fun or short character creation. I hate spending an hour (or longer) on character creation that feels like work. Simply put: character creation needs to be fun or short.
6. Does not require supplement books to play. I don't mind supplement books, and often enjoy them. However, I can't stand lugging around a shelf of books unless I have a damn good reason to do so. 
7. Conflict resolution that is either cinematic, simple or both. I don't mind making four dice rolls for a single turn if I get to narrate something cool, but I'd much prefer making a single (easy to figure out) roll and getting to make that same narration. 
8. The game should promote roleplay. I don't care if other players aren't using funny voices (I do), but if the game doesn't get them to think about their character as a character and not a pawn to move around, then it's not really a roleplay game. - I will say sometimes this is the player's fault, no matter how good the game is. 


Typhinius said...

I'm not sure I totally agree with #3. I think the rules should be simple or intuitive. I think the WoD d10 system is a decent example of the latter (which is important because navigating their books is an adventure in frustration sometimes).

There are pretty complex rules that cover a lot of ground in their books, but if you don't know the rule, it's pretty easy to come up with a roll that makes sense for that particular situation. Then if it is something likely to come up again, you can look it up after the session.

For myself, I'd also add #9: The game has something that makes it stand out in some way from other games. A game might be good without that, but I probably wouldn't buy it. It doesn't matter much what it is...setting, mechanics, or a 5ft tall hot pink talking grasshopper.

Jack Phillips said...

I'd agree to 'intuitive' for rules. It was actually the WoD Mage system and Exalted that made me think of my preference to simple though. Both of those systems had too many nuances for me that either got ignored during play or had to be looked up frequently to get right. However, I agree that the storyteller system apart from that is fairly intuitive.

as for your #9, personally, I see that covered by #2. But I'd disagree that I want something to "stand out" just for the sake of standing out. Not thinking out why something ought to be different, to me, implies lazy design or creation. Did you make a new mechanics up just because this mechanics didn't exist? That seems unnecessary. Did you make up a mechanics because your mechanics does something that is lacking in other mechanics? That seems reasonable to me. Same goes for setting, et cetera. I want to play games that were well thought out, and not different for any other reason. But I asked this as a subjective question, so feel free to disagree.

Jack Phillips said...


my mistake - I read you as saying something that stands out in the game solely to stand out - and you don't say this. my apologies for misreading you.

Typhinius said...

I can see what you're saying about Mage, but even with Mage, if you don't remember the specific way something works, what you "think" it will be usually is relatively close to what is in the book. I should have said nWoD d10. I agree that Exalted, oWoD and everything on that d10 system is too unwieldy.

I'm not sure I don't think that #2 is specific enough for what I'm talking about. Yes, the game must be interesting in some way, but more than that, it needs to "catch my eye" and separate itself from the crowd. The way it does this could merely be the way Blizzard separates itself, just by doing the same exact things better than anyone else.

Typhinius said...

And wow...read that last post at your own risk. That's what I get for not proofreading. Yikes!

Patriarch917 said...

This may seem weird, but I'm not the only one with this preference: I want the game to use weird dice. A d6 based system just isn't enough for me. I like having lots of interesting dice out on the table.

Expanding on that, I prefer a tactile element to the game, whether it be dice, miniatures, props, handouts, a jenga tower, toy guns, etc. To me, that's part of what makes the difference between mere role playing, and a role playing game.

Stupid Ranger said...

I agree with this list! I would add one more to the list: Balance. A good game has a good balance all around: roleplaying-to-battle ratio, party composition, stressful-moments-to-frivolity times. Without a good balance, the game can get bogged down and less fun.

Zach L said...

I'd like to second Stupid Ranger, with one caveat: balance is only significant when and if it comes into play.

What I mean to say with this is: a game can be fun and exciting for everyone involved even if the PCs are trouncing the NPCs at whatever the goals are; but a given group of players may begin to feel cheated by the DM for doing this. The DM has a very strong power for balancing; they can add or remove monsters, traps, or non-combat-based puzzles as they see fit to make the game challenging.

however, a serious balance issue arises when the players perceive a lack of viable choices. When the players go "There's no point in being anything other than a soulknife" or "if we ever see a [monster here], we have to run, they're impossible" then that limits the game's possibilities. that's the most important kind of balance.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the list you're presenting here and I don't think I would make any serious changes to it (at least not off the top of my head.)

As far as #3 goes, I'd say that not only I want my rules to be simple, I want them to be able to handle whatever I can throw at them. This does not mean that I want Rolemaster like rules, just that they're flexible enough so I can modify them as I play along. There should be no instance of me thinking, "oh darn, we can't do that thing using the game rules." The old storytelling system (White Wolf) did this quite well, I personally disregarded all the little details found in the combat section of the books and ad-libbed as necessary.

As for #7 I'd say that both this and this state some of my points of view on the matter. To keep it short, I'm with you on that one as well.

About #8, I require that the game at least doesn't get in the way of roleplaying (the ideal would be that the game promoted it)... something that (for example) D&D 4ed does not do for me.