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Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Geek Ranting

Sigh... it never ends.

Apparently, Portal 2 will be delayed until 2011, for the reason that, "Making games is hard." At least they still have their senses of humor. There will supposedly be a Portal 2 "surprise" at this years E-3 gaming convention, which makes me wonder if they're planning an early release and just want to be schmucks about it and create buzz first. Very possible. If so, I take my hat off to you. But if not...

Dear Valve. (I feel like bitching today in letter format.)

Years ago you created an awesome, enjoyable first person puzzle game with some action overtones. Despite it's short length, it was very popular for six reasons:

1) It is creative.
2) It is just challenging enough to be fun, not so challenging as to be frustrating.
3) Hidden information that is slowly revealed, creating a sense of mystery and making the player want to know what's really going on. (The cake is a lie!)
4) Dark, dark humor.
5) An AI villain that speaks in increasingly hysterical, paranoid, alternatively childish then Jewish-mother-guilty manipulative monologues.
6) One of the best songs ever written for a computer game.

In short, it is ENJOYABLE. Get it? Few games these days are ENJOYABLE. Most of them just try to make as much cash as they can off of you with over-hyped bullshit that makes you angry you wasted your money. Instead, people love it because it is ENJOYABLE. Do I need to say it again? MAKE A GAME THAT IS FUN AND ENJOYABLE.

The only thing that really needs to be improved is the length (the first game was a freebie in the Orange Box release.) If you want people to buy a full-priced game you need to make it worth their while. Concentrate on a good background story that is slowly revealed, that's the best way to keep gamers enticed. You don't even need a new engine - the Half-Life 2 engine is beautiful for this game, and after six years you should have all the bugs worked out for any platform.

Throwing money at it WILL NOT HELP. Many low-budget independent movies are classics because they are ENJOYABLE - there's that word again - while many blockbusters suck.

Improving the special effects WILL NOT HELP.

Making meshes and textures so high resolution that no one will be able to cleanly play the game until a new graphics card comes out in two years because you're getting kickbacks from the manufacturers, (not saying you particularly are, but this seems to be a common practice with new games,) WILL NOT HELP it will just piss people off.

To sum up: make an ENJOYABLE game that YOU test thoroughly without expecting players to buy and beta-test at their expense and then have to wait months for a patch, (Don't get me started - there's no excuse for this with console games, everyone has the same systems. You can't blame it on different configurations, and you're just proving you were full of shit when you did it for games on the PC,) and you'll be fine. You'll have a winner and make gobs of cash, everyone will sing your praises, people will want to have sex with you, whatever.

Just remember that one word. ENJOYABLE.

TTFN
-Tony

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