Top Ten Most Crucial Elements in Gaming
Games sure have come a long way since the days of Pong and Pac Man, as have the design elements inside the games themselves. When we look back at games from our past then compare it to the present games we find some major upgrades given to the tried and true formula we have grown used to. In this day and age, gamers are spoiled by amazing graphics and powerful stories, so much so I feel we tend to take for granted the simple but crucial elements to the games we know and love.
Today, I am going to list the top ten most crucial elements within games we all play.
Disclaimer: This list is the sole opinion of me, your views may differ from mine and that’s the amazing thing about the gaming dynamic, everybody has their own opinion.
10. Save Points/Check Points:
You find yourself progressing onward through a very difficult level, having pushed through hordes of demons standing between you and the Dragon Lord who has terrorized your village for years. Your health is low and you have no health potion in your pack, but you see one in the distance guarded by a demon lackey. You think to challenge him for it, so you can complete your quest but wind up getting yourself killed in the process. How infuriating must that be?
All that progress you just made all lost in a single moment by a low level enemy. Luckily moments before you hit a checkpoint/save point.
These helpful little guys help us keep track of our progression through a level, show us a bit of compassion after having the crap knocked out of us a hundred times, and give us reason to shout out in joy when realizing we will never have to endure such torture again.
9. Save Feature
I know, I know. I hear your cries already “Jay, you just did save points! You can’t count it twice!” Well, first of all, I can do whatever ever I please as I am in charge here, and two there is a pretty distinct difference between Save Points and a Save feature.
The biggest difference is that you have the option to save at any point and time you want instead of waiting till a predetermined point in the level. It not only adds comfort and ease to our weary minds, it also allows us to stop playing a game and turn off the console without having to write down a password to load you from your level progression.
You remember those? At the very end of each level of Power Rangers for the NES, the player was given a password so that way if they had to stop and go to dinner or have family moments to attend, the next time they started the game up, they could load straight to the next level. If you lost or wrote down an incorrect password, it was bye bye save spot, hello playing through 3 levels all over again. Makes you feel pretty special getting to choose when you save, doesn’t it?
8. Game Testers
Ok, sure, Game testers are not technically apart of the game itself, but without the hours put in to play test every level, slam into every wall, shoot every item, the games would turn up buggy and extremely flawed. Sure many games have come out that way, Venetica being one that comes to mind at the moment. Go ahead and look it up and you’ll see.
These games probably had low playtesters or none at all as from the first minute of the game, you are made aware of so many flaws and oversights it makes you want to just scream out “WTF?!”
Playtesting is integral to the design process, as the developers are just way to close to the subject matter and will become hard pressed to say anything is wrong with their baby. Some games have had amazingly funny/exploitable glitches that weren’t found in the end, but when you start to think about it you realize that is just a small drop of glitch in an otherwise clear ocean of awesomeness.
Game testers don’t get a lot of credit, so to all of you that have done play tests before, thank you for your service to the game industry. We appreciate you!
7. Easter Eggs
One of the nicest things someone could do for you is give you a gift. Well this is what game developers do for us when they include in easter eggs inside their games.
From hidden rooms, the odd, randomly scripted conversation, or literally a chocolate covered easter egg (GTA I am looking at you), game developers like to treat us to something extra every now and again.
This concept isn’t entirely limited to the recent generations, as many a Nintendo game featured hidden cameos by select series stars. (Mario and Luigi inside a Kirby game?!) Yet as the years have gone on, developers have taken advantage of the technology and given us some amazing treats, like the Crysis 2 elevator dance party, yeah it’s not fantastically ground breaking but it sure is funny as hell.
When consoles hit the Xbox 360/PS3 era, trophies and achievements have become a big staple of games. The idea isn’t to pull focus away from the game itself, but rather to give a symbolic reward for the progress the gamer has made, or perhaps for a particularly amazing skill she/he pulled off.
It was, and still is, a great idea for games to have these rewards for performance. Do people abuse the trophy/achievement system?
Of course, just go buy Avatar The Last Airbender: Burning Earth game for the Xbox 360, you’ll find out you can simply grab a full games worth of points by just hitting the attack button within the first 5 minutes of the game.
It is something that needs to be tweaked and refined, as it is reaching out to other media, such as World of Warcraft, the system is something that can become much more versatile and useable in most, if not all games.
5. Advanced AI
This one is a godsend in my opinion. In the old days, the games we played had very little enemy depth. And with good reason! The character was designed to simply do particular actions instead of being able to think and calculate on its own. Simply walk forward, punch, kick combo and try to block when an attack is coming their way.
These days, we have advanced technology that has given us wonderful gifts within our technology and design work. One of the better benefits has been an improved sense of AI thought. While some games haven’t fully ironed out the bugs *cough*residentevil5*cough* many others have given us a very hard won fight, such as the AI in the game F.E.A.R., or the AI from the Hitman series who give you a run for your money.
The idea of competent AI has been around for a while, whether it has been perfected is an opinion you will have to come up with yourself, but I say the AI systems have a lot of room to grow.
Ah I am sure many of you saw this coming on this list, and to you I’d say you should probably stop expecting so much, the world only has so much to give. Then I would apologize for my rude behavior and just move on with my day.
Enough about that, Co-op games have been around as long as one could remember. From the second panel in Pong or playing the second turtle while playing Turtles in Time in the arcade or on the console. The idea of playing together has always existed has only seemed to have gotten better as the years have gone on. What better way to improve upon something some great?
That’s right, introduce a game play mechanic that not only lets you play with your friends, but lets you play against them. Such a better way to solve that dispute whether your dad is better than your friend’s dad by kicking their butt in some online team slayer?
If you were expecting graphics to be higher up, I just didn’t have the heart to do it. Sure graphics have come a long way since the days of arcade cabinets and NES cartridges, but to focus solely on this aspect would be a bit of a downfall on my part.
Sure after years of design work, gamers have gone from seeing a 16 bit man chasing after Donkey Kong to save his girlfriend to seeing greatly detailed suits of armor attached to an alien killing machine, blasts of techno color exploding around him.
Yeah, we have definitely improved since our childhood.
2. Voice Acting
One of the biggest components to exist in a game is voice acting. There is just something about having a voice to go along with the dialogue the characters are putting forth that just gets a person engaged in a game. From tone of voice, their diction, and own personal emotion behind it, voice actors truly do bring the characters to life.
Did you know that at one point and time we didn’t have voices in video games?
Me either, and to everyone that tells me this, I always call them a liar.
The Nintendo and Sega era had very limited to know sound bites in their game besides the music and sound effects, voices just weren’t important at the time. We were content with reading a story to get a good feel for it instead of letting a character pull us in himself.
Some games did come out with voice clips every once in a while, or even made an attempt to be live action games so the voices were not exactly option. The results still scar me to this day. *Night Trap nightmares*
1. Story Telling/Narrative
Now I know I may get some flak for saying this, but I feel this is the biggest, most important element in gaming by far. Some wouldn’t agree with me, and that is their opinion to have and to hold, however my opinion differs just ever so slightly.
The basic gaming experience was built upon, in my opinion, telling stories, inciting fun and enjoyment from the players. Sure some games didn’t really seem to have a story, you were just jumping over barrels or climbing up ladders. The world fell in love with some of the many stories the game industry has created, heck there was even a series that was dedicated to great story and rpg style gameplay. It spanned over 14 sequels, going by the name of Final Fantasy.
The emotion and life some of these stories convey has truly become the cornerstone of gaming and one of the deepest roots that developers have grown over the years. Some maybe short, others maybe long, but an immersive story inside a game just calls to mind a happy place. The freedom to explore new worlds and do amazing things is given to you, the player but it is the developers’ job to create a compelling story that will remain in our hearts for years to come.
This has been the Top Ten Most Crucial elements in gaming. Agree or disagree with this list?
Let me hear it in the comments below or on my twitter @respwnpoint or on facebook.com/tehrespawnpoint. You can also send me your feedback or your own top ten list or suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org subject header Prodigious J Feedback.