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Article - 'Adhesion' by Terin

An item about Game Design posted on Mar 25, 2004

Blurb

Tired of hearing that your game sucks? Trying to figure out a way to polish your game up, if you think it's pretty good so far? I'll tell you how!

Body

Lately there have been a few good games shining amidst the myriad of crappy ones. Yes, crappy ones. There are a lot of crappy games that have been uploaded and previewed at Gaming World. In fact, Devil Hunter - Seeker of Power, has received a lot of good reviews... No, it was only alright. Why? I'll get into it.

One of the most important things to do when making a game is to tie it all together. The graphics, storyline, music, and gameplay all have to work together as to make a snappy, polished product, rather than a gooey mess of crap. You're probably asking, "Terin, you've identified the problem, (you sharp devil, you) but what does this have to do with my game?"

The answer? Everything.

Every game has a specific mood and tone, which I've written on before. The mood is what type of feeling you get from it, and the tone is how it presents itself. For instance, community games usually have a light-hearted tone -- they're supposed to be funny. Easy-Mac had a dark and gloomy mood, as the enemies sought to destroy Kraft's Easy-Mac. This works sometimes, but most games that are good tend to be more serious.

Let's take a look at Final Fantasy 6, or as known on the Super Nintendo in America, Final Fantasy 3. We start off with an opening, introducing the fact that a war started some time ago, the War of the Magi. The music is very dark and menacing, giving the impression of regret and serious-nature. The characters are all imperial soldiers, heading to a remote town in search of a relic from this war. The tone is very precise and to the point -- it is serious. Think about it, though, for the tone. They're looking for something that was involved in a war -- isn't there a pretty good chance they're probably going to start that war all over again? The mood is already gloomy and depressing! What makes it even better is the look of the town that they head to. In the opening scene, they head to the remote town in a snowy wilderness, in the middle of the night. When they arrive, they slaughter those who get in their way and continue on. Is that pretty gloomy and serious? Indeed.

Thankfully for us, the game isn't depressing all the way through. In fact, it moves on to a tale of courage and coping with the problems that faced them -- the tone still remains very serious though. There are an occasional few scenes that are amusing and arouse some laughter, but for the most part it's pretty serious.

How did this work? Well, I pointed out that the music was pretty gloomy and serious, along with the scenery and storyline. All you really need to do is apply the same type of thing to your own games.

So, when polishing your game, look and see if it has uniting factors -- if all of the styles meet up, that is. Another important thing to do is to make sure that the game itself has decent grammar and spelling. If the game is meant to be serious and all of the characters names are sometimes mispelt or not capitalized, etc, (aside from if it is intentional for dialects, etc) then it's going to look shoddy.

So, in the end it's really simple. Make sure that everything looks the same and has unifying/ADHESIVE properties. If you're going to make the character talk with dialect, don't make them stop talking that way for no apparent reason. If the messages are displayed with the character's name in yellow, and all text thereafter indented one space, make sure ALL messages are done as such.

A plot can be crappy and the graphics may suck -- but if it has adhesive properties and can make things stick together and look like it has a sense of style (other than chat/e-lingo crap) then it will at least get a 6 or 7. Those who can polish and use several similar styles and the like, such as Legacy's Naufragar game, unite the principles of all of these things.

So, think glue when you make your game -- just don't sniff it... Unless you want plot ideas.