Would I Play My Own Games?

That’s a question that just occurred to me while finishing up some irritating stuff in Kicker. Would I actually play my own games if, say, someone else had made them and I heard about them via the “usual” channels like IndieGames.com or freeindiegam.es or somewhere else? For the lion’s share I pretty confident that the answer is yes, I’d give them a go. Epic Sax Game? Yes. The Artist Is Present? Sure thing. GuruQuest? Uh-huh. But then there are some of the other games…

Like, would I actually bother playing Two Player Breakout? Well maybe I would, just to find out what that actually meant. I doubt I’d play it beyond the immediate “oh okay” moment that occurs about one or two seconds into play, though. War Game? Maybe if I’d heard it was supposed to glitch out over time I’d be keen to see the glitches, but the concept of “retro handheld shooting game” would exactly bring me running. So there are some borderline cases there. It’s not surprising that they’re games I was a bit less excited about while I was making them (though to be fair I made Two Player Breakout in like an hour or two).

And then there’s You Say Jump I Say How High. Ah, yes. Now there’s a game I really don’t think I’d play. A screenshot wouldn’t lure me in. Neither would an explanation of what happens along the lines of “you set up the physics parameters to solve the levels”. The whole thing makes my jaw drop with boredom, actually. Not a big surprise that it was disappointing in terms of the “I made that!” factor, even though it was really rewarding for lots of other, personal reasons to do with the development process.

The annoying thing is, when I originally thought of that game it was really funny to me as an idea, it was one of those “ha ha yeah” ideas for a game. But then I totally wrecked it by getting all “I am a puzzle designer!” about the whole thing. But the not-so-breaking news is that I’m not actually a puzzle designer. (I think I was feeling jealous of increpare’s English Country Tune at the time, possibly.) In short, it was a game I made according to how I understand as a tried-and-true approach to making games. You have an idea (for a platformer, generally) that has a bit of a twist, and then you crank out levels that exploit the twist in “interesting” ways. Yeah… no. Not for me it seems. I’d call it “playing to the market”, but I don’t think that’s fair on the idea of “playing to the market”, even.

Making games you wouldn’t play yourself is a pretty terrible idea, in short. And you know when you’re doing it, my friend. And you probably shouldn’t do it. Except maybe for a learning experience about being “true to yourself” or something.

Because you know we don’t hear enough of that from the mainstream media.


13 July 2012
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