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Short guide for making a classic game for ages to come

Posted: 27.10.22

Videogames achieve legendary status for a variety of reasons. Some are lucky and remembered fondly because they were played when gamers were younger and more impressionable. Others have what could be called an "X factor" that solidifies their appeal in our hearts.

This X factor could be something as simple as great graphics or an immersive story. But what is it that sets these games apart from the hundreds of others released each year? Is there something we can learn from them? Can we bottle this X factor and use it to create future classics? So let's look into the legendary games that did it differently and try to decode their secrets.

Street Fighter II - Turn fun into the skill

Street Fighter II was not the first fighting game, but it was the game that popularized the genre and established many of the gameplay conventions that remain in use today. Before its release, most fighting games consisted of simplistic brawling with little to no combo potential or special moves. In contrast, Street Fighter II featured a six-button layout that allowed for a more varied moveset and a host of unique special moves that could be performed by inputting specific joystick motions in conjunction with buttons. This greater level of moveset depth, along with the game's focus on stylish combos and flashy special moves, helped to establish Street Fighter II as the standard by which all subsequent fighting games would be judged.

Lesson to be learned: Street Fighter II showed that adding more depth to the mechanics of gameplay can make a game more fun and more engaging. This helped to create a more passionate and dedicated player base, which cherishes it even today.

Doom - Create a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master

Doom is a first-person shooter released in 1993. The game was notable for its graphic violence and its fast-paced and chaotic gameplay. Players assume the role of a space marine who must fight his way through hordes of demons to survive. The game was widely praised for its addictive gameplay and intense action. Lesson to be learned: Doom showed that a game could be easy to learn but challenging to master. The game's simple controls and straightforward objective made it easy for players to pick up and play. Still, the game's challenging enemies and vast levels ensured that players would have to put in a lot of practice to master the game. This helped to create a sense of replayability and addictiveness that kept players returning to the game for over 20 years.

Half-life 2 - Bring the environment to life

Half-Life 2 is a FPS released in 2004 by Valve Corporation. The game is set in the dystopian City 17 and follows the story of Gordon Freeman, a scientist. He must find a way to escape the city after it is overrun by hostile aliens. One of the game's most iconic features is the gravity gun. This weapon allows Gordon to pick up and throw objects and manipulate the environment around him. The gravity gun is used for combat and puzzle solving, and its unique mechanics help to make Half-Life 2 a stand-out game in the genre. But the most revolutionary thing about gravity gun is that apart from being really fun to use, it makes the environment a part of the gameplay. The barrels, buzz saws, and other scrap iron become relevant, immersing the player even more in the game.

Lesson to be learned: There is always a way to use game elements you wouldn't have thought of at first. The more interaction is possible - the more the game comes alive. Instead of being just an observer in the game world - the player becomes a part of it, which makes the experience even more memorable.

World of Warcraft - The perfect storm of social gaming

World of Warcraft is a MMORPG released in 2004. The game is set in the fantasy world of Azeroth and follows the stories of the Alliance and the Horde, two warring factions. The game is massive in scope, with dozens of races and hundreds of quests to choose from. What really sets World of Warcraft apart, however, is its social component. The game is designed to be played with others, and the player-driven economy and social interactions are integral to the game. World of Warcraft is the perfect storm of social gaming, and it has become one of the most popular games in the world as a result.

Lesson to be learned: Social interaction is a key component of a successful game. World of Warcraft shows that players are more likely to stick with a game if they feel like they are part of a community. This sense of community can be fostered through in-game features such as chat, forums, and player-driven economies.

Minecraft - Teach a Man How to Fish

Minecraft is a sandbox game with no specific goals to accomplish, allowing players a great deal of freedom in how they choose to play the game. However, the game does provide players with tools and materials that they can use to build whatever they can imagine. This freedom to create has led to the development of a vibrant and active community of players who share their creations online. In this way, Minecraft has become much more than a game; it is a platform for creativity and self-expression.

Lesson to be learned: Giving players the freedom to create their own content can lead to a passionate and dedicated community of players who will help to promote and support your game.

The Legend of Zelda series - Endless wonder and discoverability

The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most successful and beloved video game franchises of all time. The games are known for their sprawling open worlds, packed with secrets to discover. Each game in the series features a vast array of hidden items, side quests, and secret areas to explore. This sense of discovery is a big part of what makes the games so enjoyable to play.

Lesson to be learned: Giving players a reason to explore every nook and cranny of your game world is a great way to keep them engaged. By hiding secrets and Easter eggs throughout the game, you give players a reason to keep playing even after they've completed the main story. This can help to extend the life of your game and keep players coming back for more.

Duck Hunt - Look for innovations outside of games to improve gameplay

Duck Hunt is a classic Nintendo game in which players use a light gun to shoot ducks that appear on the screen. The game was released in 1984 and was one of the first games to use a light gun. The light gun allowed players to aim and shoot at the ducks with greater accuracy than was possible with a standard gamepad. The use of a light gun was a major innovation at the time and helped to make Duck Hunt a classic game.

Lesson to be learned: Sometimes the best way to improve gameplay is to look outside of the game itself for inspiration. In the case of Duck Hunt, the use of a light gun was a major innovation that helped to make the game more fun and addictive. So, don't be afraid to look to other industries for ideas on how to improve your game.

These are just a few examples of classic games that did things differently and found success as a result. There are many other games that could be included on this list, but these five games exemplify the importance of thinking outside the box and of taking risks in game design. So the next time you're working on a game, ask yourself: what can you do to make your game more engaging, personal or unconventional. And look out, you just might create a classic.

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