Category Archives: what we can learn from

firewatch-art

what we can learn from…

Here is a quick list of some of the few games I have been playing  and what we can learn from them.

Firewatch (PS4)

Probably one of the best-written games ever. It is so rare to have such real characters in a game that it actually makes all the other games quiet poor. I really like that the game use all those video game cliché stories to trick you.

Learnings:
– take the time to reveal your characters – it’s a game, you got way more time than a movie
– make sure the game acknowledge the choices the player made in some ways (change the dialogue…)
– for immersion, add things that the player can interact even if they don’t necessary impact the story

Horizon Chase (iOs)

Virtual controls can work on mobile. Horizon Chase manages to do it well by combing the auto-steering to recreate the same vibe from classic arcade racing games like Outrun or Top Gear. It is also worth mentioning that this game could have been free to play (they got many variables like coins or gasoline), the developers decided not to as it was probably damaging the experience.

Learnings:
– if you make tactical controls, get ready to build systems to help the player
– make it free to play if you can; can’t deal with micro-transactions? Put your app as a free demo like they did

Dying Light (PC)

A great example of game full of ideas that delivers a great experience if you can deal with all his problems. It is the “bag of bits game”: some players would love it despite all the bugs and the lack of explanation, while some others won’t even bother after a few hours. I personally enjoy it, but it’s too bad to see how that even the expansion The following suffers from the same problems.

Learnings:
– if you’re making a First Person game, then you must look at this game
– Techland understood that game as a service means updates, patch and new free content, not just paid DLC; too bad it is too rare…
– if your game got too much stuff, don’t be afraid to take some out, polish them later and release them as free content

Call Of Duty Black Ops 3 (PS4)

Say what you want about Call Of Duty: it is still a very solid shooter for consoles. This last iteration got a solid multiplayer and gives many options for players to enjoy the game how they want and with who they want.

Learnings:
– give quick options for players to join then friends or invite them
– to let players customize their characters in any modes, make clear distinctions to avoid balancing issue – your character in single player is different than in mutiplayer
– show the player’s stats – it gives them things to talk about, compare and improve

Life is Strange (PS4)

There are too many games in the style of Telltale, but Life is Strange is really worth looking at. Dontnod adds a very clever mechanic to let the player experience all of them.

Leaning:
– if you have to make a game about choices and consequences, try to build a mechanic to let the player experience all of them

the_crew_2014_game-wide

The Crew

You should play bad games and try to understand what is wrong with them and what could be improve. Just like The Crew because there are some great takeways :

always choose quality rather than quantity; The Crew has 200 ideas but most of them have not been iterated and it’s too bad because there are some interesting ideas (the simple challenges in the open world, the map, the customization…);

make sure your world team is working with your handling team; the world of the Crew just isn’t fun to drive, and you can see that the team did try to recreate the US but without the handling in mind (90 degrees turn is just too hard for a racing game).

– create a light fiction rather than a simple story;  I’d rather play a racing game where I must become the champion than revenge my brother; think more Forza Horizon than the terrible Need For Speed movie;

let the game creates multiplayer events to play together rather than letting them sending invitations for multiplayer constantly; The Crew allows you to send invitations for every event but you end up playing alone most of the time; think Destiny’s public events;

 

Introducing “what we can learn from”

Over the past few years, I’ve learnt that playing games and having opinion about them is key: you should understand what it is good and bad about every game you can play.

So I decided to start writing “what we can learn from”: the goal is to share what I’ve learnt from the games I’ve been playing. It is not about telling you which game you should play because I generally believe you should play anything, good or bad.