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How to Be a Good Game Developer

[Ed.Note: In order to start off the year 2000 just right, we here at Game Zero offer you secret insight into just what it takes to make a good game that will sell in today's market place. Take these suggestions to heart and you'll be sure to have a hit!]

If the game is about a sport, be sure that no one on staff has ever played the sport. Making a game play anything like the actual sport will spoil that "arcade" feel. Pay an expert big money for advice to impress the magazines, but do not actually listen to anything he or she says. After all, experts only know about the sport, not games.

If your product offers an arcade mode and a simulation mode, the simulation mode should be unplayable. Gamers won't believe the game is very realistic if you can actually play it. All things are impossible to do in real life and the game should reflect that.

All cars have tremendous oversteer and/or understeer and should be accurately modeled as such in your game. Don't worry if players have difficulty keeping the vehicle on the road at 80 miles per hour... after all, who can keep a real car on the road at those kind of speeds? Really, isn't that why the maximum speed limit in practically every state is 75 mph or less?

Focus groups with actual gamers are for losers. Real game developers don't care what gamers think because real game developers tell the gamers what to think.

Real game developers should also tell the magazines what to tell the gamers to think. Gamers always believe the magazines because most magazines have honest and informative reviews that come from playing the game all the way through. After all, magazines never review games based on two minutes worth of gameplay on a beta release, video tapes or a marketing manager's word.

Make sure your game tunes its difficulty to artificially control the player's win:loss ratio, ranking at a particular point on the track, high score on the fourth mission, or whatever naturally applies to your product. Gamers are stupid and will never figure out that if they throw the second round the boss will be easier to beat. It will be much more fun for them if you control their successes and their failures in a bold and obvious way than if they felt that they won or lost based on their own merit.

If the player outwits your artificially controlled play tuning, the game should take a cheap shot. The boss should perform an impossible move, the AI cars should teleport to a position just behind the player, the skill level should arbitrarily increase tenfold, or the player should be required to perform a blind maze with a timelimit and lose a man if they do not complete it perfectly. Remember, players will not feel satisfied if you do not control their successes and failures for them.

Challenging gamers to play your title three times through to get the "real ending" is the best way to extend the life of your product. Make sure you change absolutely nothing but the ending video and possibly the main character's shoes. Gamers enjoy rote repetition for the sake of two more minutes of animation and the right to feel like they're a man.

THQ will publish anything.

So will Acclaim.

Gamers think THQ and Acclaim rock.

Gamer nicknames for publishers like Micros~1, Ack-Lame, Crapcom and Schmegma are signs of affection and do not have anything to do with player feelings of frustration with bad titles. Gamers always forgive bad titles, even if they paid a lot of money for them, as long as you've released at least one or two good titles. Just relax and maybe you'll be lucky enough to get a fun nickname, too.

Old code is good code. If you change the UI, the players will never realize it's last years engine. Remember, gamers are stupid.

If you can write directly to the hardware in unpredictable ways, do. If you can't, use an obscure third-party library.

Don't waste time designing an efficient, lightweight architecture. A faster putpixel/drawtriangle/transform will always make up for wasted code elsewhere.

Ship date is more important than quality. Always.

Good licenses and good gameplay are mutually exclusive. Having both will only confuse people.

The best way to make a top-selling title is to make it exactly like another top-selling title.

The loud mouth guys on the message boards and the greasy 23 year old guy at Babbages represent the vast majority of all people who purchase games because no one else likes games. *If* you *must* listen to somebody, listen to them and ONLY to them. When Moms and dads and kids and girls wise up to how cool assault solidiers, sports cars, grotesque space mutants and women with big boobs really are, then maybe they'll buy more games; but until then, you'd better rely on the teenage guys for opinions or you'll never sell anything.

If you read the magazines and listen to the guy at Babbages, you'll also know to ignore Nintendo because they'll never sell any of their fruity games anyhow. Only a mom or a dad or a kid or a girl would buy something that queer.

American Laser Games "Games for Her" series--which featured important girl stuff and primo game material like shopping, makeup, boy-chasing, and 300 variations on Tetris--only further proves that girls just don't like games no matter what you give them!

Lara Croft's ass does not offend girl gamers. Girl gamers wish games had more ass.

Respectable female heroes are not desirable. The first Metroid game was a fluke.

If you must make a game targeted at children, you can save time and money by writing it with MacroMedia Director and Quicktime. Kids can't tell the difference between a good game and a bad game anyhow. In addition, it's okay if it crashes because with children's naturally short attention span they'll never play the game long enough for it to crash anyhow.

Fun children's games should favor verb conjugation over problem-solving skills. Children will enjoy brightly colored characters who spout rhyming adverbs far more than clever scenarios built on their level that make them think and explore. Besides, you're helping the little darlings grow their mind, because any game developer worth his salt knows that grammar memorization is a far more important lifetime skill than any form of critical thinking, creativity or reasoning.

Managers and marketing staff always have unique game ideas because they aren't jaded from having played lots of games.

If you want a game to sell well, make sure it has one of the important keywords like "3-D", "Extreme", "2000", or "X" in it's name.

Gamers want more "attitude". More "attitude" makes your game cool. "Extreme attitude" will make you the ultimate. "Attitude" is more important than gameplay.



Addendum for PC Developers:
Your RAM requirements should NOT have anything to do with how much data your application must manipulate. Instead, your RAM needs should be based on the calendar year. Newer games must require more RAM, even to play Pong. Likewise, base your processor requirements on the squared value of the calendar year.
If players can overclock their cutting-edge systems to run your game at a decent frame rate, your system requirements aren't high enough. If households composed of anything other than single guys, dual-income-no-kids couples, and families supported by triple-digits salaries can afford to buy a system that runs your game, get out of the business. Working families do not deserve to play computer games; and it is your duty as a game developer to maintain these important standards.
Help gamers stay up-to-date with the latest hardware drivers by refusing to allow your game to operate properly with anything else. This will also prove how cutting-edge you are.
Keep the player's system primed and in clean condition for your next release by making sure your uninstaller hoses the video drivers so badly that the operating system must be reinstalled.
And most importantly, remember that no one will ever hack your game file formats. After all, even you can't figure out how to write a decent editor for your files yourself.

[Ed.Note: ...Game Zero magazine is not resposible if you fail to succeed after following these suggestions. Your milage will vary greatly. ;p]