M88 Asia has put forward a great topic, the most important factors in game design. If you are into small casual games then there a very good source with a lot -and I mean a lot- of games to pick from that mainly revolve around gambling. So if you want to play something to entertain and maybe win some money give it a shot. There are many factors which must be considered when a game is created to be playable, let alone good. A games story, graphics, gameplay and the atmosphere created by the music to immerse the player. When these things come together in a good way you have a great game.
Story is a very important factor in game design as this is usually the motivation we have to play the game. A game with a fairly original story will always win out with me personally however to get it right within a game format is quite difficult. Games as a media platform are rather different then books, films and T.V shows. This means the story in order to be “Good” needs to take into account its mechanics and ensure it is an interactive experience for the player like the choices you make in games such as mass effect or represented by the gameplay mechanics in a game such as Thomas was alone. However, heavy storied games like RPG’s also have their own interactive narrative although it may not seem it. This is implemented by the game allowing you exploration of the characters and the world in a game like the old Pokémon games. Everyone has a story about that rare Pokémon they hunted for hours in the virtual grass (or real nowadays) only for it to run away and then having to come back again to try and root it out and finally nab it.
Gameplay tends to go hand in hand with story as it can affect how it is represented and really bring the game to life. Also, since this will be what the player is mainly doing through-out the game it is pretty essential to get it right. We have all played those games that have either really poor game mechanics that get stale fast or highly awkward controls that just make the game horrible to play. I’m looking at you Too Human. There are many aspects that are incredibly important to think about with a games gameplay design such as humane gameplay for example offering breaks to players and not punishing them if they need to go do something more important. Like take care of their baby or get some sleep for their next shift at work. There is so much to think about in gameplay a whole article on this specific facet of game design could be made. But, in essence gameplay is the core of a game and always intertwined with the story so if that core is bad then the whole game is going to feel pretty rotten. This is why a lot of games can still be great even if other areas are lacking like in some casual games such as M88 games. These have a good set of examples of this with many little games that are purely about fun little mechanics that will keep you entertained for a while.
Graphics is also a pretty important aspect to a game. By “Graphics” I do not mean does it have a 60 FPS or do those hairs render to the extent I can see every hair follicle but, does the game look interesting. With games getting to a very common point in terms of graphical quality it tends to add very little to the core experience. Hey, sure, some nice realistic skin looks good however if it was a choice between slightly shinier looking skin and an extra map to play on in a game like call of duty or an extra monsters to fight in monster hunter I think we all know what we would prefer. In fact I would say that it is more important that the graphics of a game reflects the experience itself with the games own style whether it is in 64-bit for a retro adventure genre or a heavily cinematic based game like last of us.
One thing that certainly helps a game give its own feel is the soundtrack created for it which is really important for setting atmosphere throughout. There are many games that have great sound tracks like metal gear rising revengeance which has an action packed soundtrack that really helps set the mood of the experience throughout and immerses the player. Matching the action packed adventure to a high tempo fast soundtrack. But, again, like in a games graphics it has to represent itself well within the whole experience as an off soundtrack can often make a game feel really boring and lead to players skipping segments and an amazing soundtrack can make you want to give that epic boss battle another go.
All of these elements are massively important to a game whether it is enticing you with the graphical style of a game and setting the mood with a good sound track or locking you in the game and fully immersing you in it with a great story and really fun gameplay. But, in general, gameplay is probably the most important factor as it is very much what makes a game a game and without decent gameplay it might be a lot more enjoyable to have the same kind of experience in a book or movie format.