Fun Factor in Games
Some games are nice, some games are boring, some are deep, some are addicting. But what really makes a game fun?
In the process of studying games and developing games, I have cracked the answer to a very very important question: "What makes a game fun?". It is very important to have a fun factor in a game, if you want to have your game's players enjoy the game for a substantial amount of time.
It is true that game developers have a lot of different goals. Some are to make money and they don't care about the long-term fun that their players will get. Some want to make their games as appealing as possible, graphics wise. Some developers do care and want to make sure the game impacts the players so much that their game will be remembered through time. None of the goals are wrong. Every game developer's situation is different.
However, for those who want their players to feel "Wow. This is a great game. And continue to play the game after days, weeks, months or even years, and continue to say Wow This is a great game", the game has to have a fun factor. But what IS fun factor? Some people say it's the interactivity, variety, randomability, dynamic environment, map, explorability, storyline, etc... That maybe true, but only to some extent. For example, there are some games that are super interactive, and players love them, but after some time playing, they get bored of the interactivity. For a storyline game, players will feel the game is "over" once the story is complete. And some players will even hate the storyline and say it is a bad game. Which they are free to do.
From some of my findings, the depth factor in a game plays a bigger role in this fun factor thing. I tried searching for articles online about depth-factor in games but I only found stuff like more variety, more ways to accomplish objectives, more challenge, different challenges... I felt like the surface isn't scratched yet. Their talk was all about "more" and "different". I don't think that was it. We can have a puzzle game with 5000 levels, but the player can feel bored of the game mechanics after 100 levels even though the levels are different. And you might say, hey, let's create a level with different mechanics. But that would be akin to creating a different game altogether.
Then I tried studying well-known successful PC/console games as well as flash games. There are flash games that become timelessly super popular. Including some of my games. And there are flash games that get really popular and quickly died down. After a considerable amount of time observing and studying, I noticed that there is a depth factor in the superior games. And that depth factor is a "2nd dimension" gameplay. If the game has more than one dimension of gameplay, it will have a higher fun factor. What is this 2nd dimension? It is a different gameplay inside the same game that is of a higher level which is influenced by the lower level gameplay. Lower level gameplay can be battles, skill levels, puzzle-solving and etc. Higher level gameplay can be tournaments, storyline progress, season, growth THAT DEPENDS on the lower level. An example of such a game that I found is "Duck Life". Simple graphics, simple gameplay (Duck race and other simple stuff). But it is so popular, it gets featured on lots of big portals and even on game advertisements. That duck is just hard to miss. WHY? Because the simple gameplay determines the growth of your duck. The higher level gameplay is your duck management and growth. Now THIS is my meaning of the depth-factor in a game that will contribute to long-term fun and replayability.
Besides this depth factor, there is a different factor that I found that would make a game fun. But that story would be for next time...
But one notable issue here is the success factor of the game. Mountains of people believe that a very very fun game will be very very successful. From my experience, this is just not the case. Success rate depends on other factors such as game theme design, marketing, promotion and business decisions. That is why a lot of fun games don't go far and even gets production discontinued to the dismay of lots of fans, whereas other not-so-fun or "bad" games -according to lots of game players- get sequel after sequel with sufficient funding. This is also why a lot of aspiring game developers, some indie, try very hard and sacrifice a lot to create fun games, exploring different ways, thinking that the end-user satisfaction will contribute to the success of their games. And some succeed but a lot fail. Some experience fastidious complaints from players. Sometimes spoiled and ridiculous demands. And thus they think that they have failed to provide enough satisfaction. Some developers experience great feedback from satisfied players (such as Great Game, Addicting, Very Fun, etc...), but their games don't seem to reach a vast majority of players. And thus they wonder why their game is not widely popular although they got very satisfying feedback. The reason behind this is that in most cases, fun factor is somewhat similar to luxury. You got to spend (resources, energy, time) to create that fun factor in your game. But the fun factor will not yield much monetary returns to balance up the spent resources. Sure it will get your game a good reputation. But that alone will not sustain your game development. Funding does. Lots of players loving the game do not equal lots of money, especially in the age of the free and the piracy. Unless those undying fans are willing to donate to you or purchase your game, letting you collect a Genki Dama, or you somehow cut costs... but that will make your game less satisfying. The whole thing is like a big see-saw. It is really hard to get two sides of it down without breaking the whole thing. A good reputation can increase popularity, but only to the level of social media sharing and word of mouth from limited seeds. That is not a bad thing though, depending on the situation. But still, game development must be treated like a business and a venture. Because labor is needed. If the business cannot sustain itself, it will either be a hobby or a failure. If it is a failure, it should not be ventured into. If it is a hobby, it would need external funding.
But with that said, of course, if a developer, after calculations and estimations, really DO have sufficient funds to create the necessary satisfactory fun factors in his/her games, then it is a must to do so. Because it is the next level of the evolution of game development.
Tags : Fun Factor in Games, gaming, what makes a game fun, fun games, game development, free, online, opinion, info
Posted on 2015-07-05 [Sun] 21:15 with 27305 hits